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January 19, 2016

Gary Stal

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

NEIL AHERN: Thank you very much, everybody for joining us. Gary, first of all, how does it feel to be back in Abu Dhabi after such a special year last year?

GARY STAL: So I feel really good. I love the course. It's going to be the first time that I defend a title, so that's going to be quite exciting.

NEIL AHERN: Excuse my French, it's not very good, but I think you said outside, seeing your face on the board, it's a strange feeling to see your face on the big boards beside Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, etc.

GARY STAL: Yes, very strange.

NEIL AHERN: What is it about this golf course, apparently it's in very good condition this year. Is it one of your favourite golf courses of the season?

GARY STAL: Obviously I like to come here, and especially coming back as defending champion. The quality of the course is one of the best of the year, so I really appreciate the course.

NEIL AHERN: Can you tell us about the rest of the season? After this victory, how do you feel going into tournaments as the winner of such a major event, and how did it effect the rest of your year last year?

GARY STAL: So the main thing is it allowed me to play the WGC in Miami and Bridgestone, and it allowed me to experience courses and prepare for a WGC which is something I'm not used to before.

Q. Do you feel you're better prepared for the season having this those experiences? Do you feel good going into this year?
GARY STAL: Yes, of course, but I have to approach it like any other tournament. I'm a professional, so I do it that way. But it definitely helped to be able to experience different courses that I had not been prepared for before.

Q. How do you explain after Abu Dhabi, you had another great week in Dubai. I think you finished fourth over there last year. But what happened after that in the season? Why didn't we see more of you on the leaderboards? Why didn't the season live up to the kind of start that you had?
GARY STAL: It's kind of a common phenomena that when you win, you deal with things that you're not used to. I continued to practice and work hard, and I just have to accept that it will come back again. But for that period of time, it was something new and I had to deal with it. I feel now that I'm ready for the next step again.

Q. And how have you prepared for this season? How was the off-season for you after you finished playing in DP World Tour Championship? What did you kind of do and prepare for 2016?
GARY STAL: What I felt what I had to work with the most was the short game. So I worked a lot on chipping and that part of the game. I didn't change my swing at all. I just continued to practice what I knew and I feel that with the work that I've put in, I'm prepared for this season.

Q. That last round, 65, you said it was the best round of your career till then. Do you still feel that way?
GARY STAL: Yeah, the 65, I could have done maybe a couple of putts more. I could have done a little bit better. But I didn't miss a green and I had a lot of putts that did drop, so yeah, I feel that was probably one of the better ones.

Q. Sort of related question, obviously there was a lot of focus on Martin Kaymer losing a ten-shot lead last year, but do you think you didn't get quite the credit you deserved shooting a 65 in the final round to win the tournament?
GARY STAL: I feel that had I won the tournament on the 18th because whoever was leading did a triple-bogey on the last hole, yeah, then I would have been lucky.

But I knew that I was already leading on the 14th hole, and I resisted the pressure. I feel that I deserved the victory; on top of the fact that I shot 65. It was unfortunate, obviously, that Martin lost the lead by so many shots. But I feel good about my victory.

Q. Is the Olympics high on the agenda this year? I'm not sure where you are in the rankings, but is that something you're keen to try and make your way on to the Olympic Team?
GARY STAL: Yeah, of course. Definitely. I'm selected for the top places.

NEIL AHERN: Thank you very much, Gary, and have a great week, merci.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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