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March 19, 2016

Henrik Stenson

Orlando, Florida

JOHN BUSH: Henrik Stenson joins us after 2-under par 70 currently at 13-under par. Henrik, great start out there today with the birdies on 4 and 5 and then the eagle on 6.

Just comment a little bit on the round as a whole.

HENRIK STENSON: Yeah. I got off to a better start in the 3rd round than I had done in the previous couple of rounds. Seems like I it picked it up on the back-9 on those. Did better early on.

The weather came in. I hit a shot on 7 and plugged it in the bunker and took my medicine and made my 4 and then it was a little bit of a grind, little survival contest there for a number of holes in the middle of the round.

Raining pretty hard and just trying to give ourselves a bit more margin and, of course, played tougher obviously with those conditions and I felt like I had one or two kind of bad breaks on the back-9 and didn't really happen for me there. Hopefully I'll save those for tomorrow. And, all in all, happy with the patience and that save on the last definitely feels like an important one.

Q. What did you hit on 12?
HENRIK STENSON: Second shot. I just hacked a gap wedge. It was plugged under the lip there. One of those another yard off the tee it would have been 30 yards down the middle of the fairway. Went for a stinger and didn't quite catch it.

I knew I was in trouble when I saw where it landed and saw the splash. In the bunkers, as we know, are really big hazards here because of the sand. It plugs I guess 50, 60 percent of the time you're in trouble. So, I was in four bunkers today and three of them were plugged. It's definitely a case of staying out of the sand.

Q. What is it about this course that kind of suits your game or kind of fits your eyeball? You always seem to play well every time you come here.
What is it about this course?

HENRIK STENSON: Lot of mid to long irons both on par-3s and into the par-4s and also on the par-5s a lot of times you got long irons and that's one of the strengths of my game when I'm playing well, I hit good mid to long irons and that's what you got to do around here to give yourself birdie chances. It's a good course for me in that sense. The same as last week in Tampa, really. It's two good weeks for me.

Q. First of all, how old is Gareth?
HENRIK STENSON: You shouldn't ask a lady that. He's 43 today.

Q. Was that a surprise to him what happened --
HENRIK STENSON: That he turned 43 (laughter)? I don't think so. I think he saw it coming.

Q. Was it a surprise --
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, it was actually Justin's caddy who kind of got it fired up there on the last. Just -- if you can be silly, why not?

Q. Then the last bunker shot on 18 talking about the plugs, was that as good as you thought you could do to get in that position, leave yourself the uphill?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, absolutely. I mean it was pretty deeply plugged and all I -- I had to play a bit of a -- had to be very gentle with and try to pop it out of the bunker and then I knew it was going to feed down to the hole and it came out just perfect in that sense and it's not much -- you can't be more aggressive because you got water on the other side so, if anything, you got to almost leave it in the bunker if it doesn't come out right.

So, yeah, it was a nice one. That's going to make the dinner taste a little bit better with that up and down on 18 and keeps us in contention obviously a bit more for tomorrow.

Q. Henrik, what did you learn during the last round last year that will be helpful tomorrow?
HENRIK STENSON: I don't think I did too many bad things last year and didn't really feel like I maybe take a little bit more time if you get on the clock (laughter). That was kind of the one thing.

Like, you know, last year we got put on the clock on 15 and I felt like I rushed myself on the routine on the putt and three-putted that one and that kind of threw me off my rhythm a little bit.

Other than that, just got to go -- when you're in contention you got to go out and play a solid round of golf. I played all right last year but I didn't get it finished. Hopefully we're in a different position now. We need to come from behind and play really good round tomorrow if we want to have a shot at it.

Q. On a course like this which is a high risk/high reward, is it harder to play with the lead on the final day, do you think?
HENRIK STENSON: It could be. You can definitely end up in positions that when -- if you're playing safe you can end up being far away on the pin like on 18.

If you got a one shot lead coming up the last, you could have someone hitting it to ten feet and leaving themselves a nice birdie putt and then if you dump it 35 feet left it could be possibly 3-putts.

So, you know, I think you got a lot of good risk and reward shots throughout the whole golf course but especially on the last three holes here when you're coming in, it's a lot of things that can happen. You can go eagle, birdie, birdie finish and you can go par, bogey, bogey. It could be a big swing coming in.

So, I know which one I like out of those two.

Q. You shot the lowest at Bay Hill in the past four years out of anybody. Being in Orlando, do you get to come out and play this course often?
HENRIK STENSON: I played Sunday last year. That was the last time I was here (laughter). I don't. I don't play a lot at Lake Nona. I got a busy traveling and playing schedule. I tend to practice more than playing regularly.

So, I haven't been back since last year but the course, even though it's been re-laid and got a great surface on it now it's pretty much the same golf course and the game plan that I've had in the last couple of years hasn't changed due to that. I feel like I know it well enough and Wednesday was the first time I was back.

Q. What are the biggest challenges for you in dealing with the rain like the one out there today?
HENRIK STENSON: Just -- everything becomes kind of slow. You got to keep things dry. I think one of the things I tend to, I hit my tee ball and then I walk off and Gareth is standing there, wants me to come back with the club and we can put it back in the bag under the umbrella. I just walk off all the time.

You got to take your time and make sure to keep the things dry and, of course, if you got little strong winds and rain it affects the golf ball a bit more and got to give yourself bigger margins.

It's hard to play precise and attacking golf in those conditions. So, but that's the same for everyone.

Q. Curious, if you can go back earlier in your career, you have a couple guys in the mix, one who has never won out here, one who just won for the first time last year.
When you were in that spot do you ever get a sense that the guys who have won multiple times like you and Jason in that case give them more respect than they give themselves in terms of their ability to win?

Do you recall when you were younger thinking whether you could do it so much.

HENRIK STENSON: I was winning so much it was never an issue (laughter). I was lucky enough to win my first year on Tour in Europe and I had that down to winning three times on the Challenge Tour the previous year so I felt like I was -- I kind of learned how to win on the Challenge Tour and that really helped me when I came on the main Tour. I see what you're saying.

It's a pretty good point. I think it's always hard to win for the first time and, of course, you might end up selling yourself a little bit short compared to guys who won a number of tournaments and sometimes that could be to our advantage then hopefully.

Q. Have you ever stood on a closing stretch in a tournament with someone who hadn't won much or hadn't won at all thinking you had an advantage because of it?
Way too much.

HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, it hurts (laughter). Nothing that comes to mind like that but on the same -- that's a dangerous road to go down as well because if you start then you're clearly not thinking about your own game and what you need to do if you start thinking you've got an advantage because someone else hasn't won before, you got to stay, you know, focused on your things, really, and what's been in the past is not really something that's potentially going to help you in that situation. I know what you're saying.

When Tiger was at his best he was like one up or two up when he teed it up because everyone was scared of him and it can definitely play a part but I think tomorrow for me it's just going out and try to play the best round of golf I can do and hopefully that will be good enough.

JOHN BUSH: Anything else?


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