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July 12, 2016

Henrik Stenson

Troon, South Ayrshire, Scotland

MIKE WOODCOCK: We're joined this afternoon by Henrik Stenson.

Henrik, you're coming into this week on the back of a recent win at the BMW International Open and a good performance at the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart. Does that give you added confidence coming into this week in The Open?

HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, winning in Germany a couple of weeks back was certainly nice, and it always gives the confidence a little push in the right direction. So that was good, and we certainly got to test start some pretty gusty conditions, breezy conditions at Castle Stuart last week. It was pretty brutal on that Thursday afternoon. So it was a tough day, but something that we can encounter out here throughout the week as well.

So in that sense, I guess we've had a pretty good rehearsal, and it's always good to play the week before on links. And I came Monday-Tuesday before the Scottish to have a look at the course here. It's my first visit to Troon, and it's kind of the one that makes the circuit complete. It's the only one I haven't played in my professional career. This is the Open that I haven't played. So, yeah, after this, I guess when they add Portrush, then we've got one more to tick the box, but this would be the one.

Q. What are your impressions of Troon?
HENRIK STENSON: It's fairly soft. I guess it's had its fair share of rain in the last couple of weeks. Fairly short front nine when the wind is in the prevailing direction. It's downwind off the right going out. Short par-4s, and then that's where you need to make your scores. That way when you hit the turn, you want to hang on a little bit. It's definitely harder to make up the score in the back nine. So it's important to be on from the first hole and try to give yourself as many good birdie chances as you can for those front nine.

Q. We asked Rory, who was in just about an hour ago, how he got on the Postage Stamp this morning. He said he shot an 8 and a 9. Challenging hole, how have you gotten on so far on that hole?
HENRIK STENSON: It was a bit tougher when I was here on Tuesday morning last week. Today was quite easy. It was just a little three-quarter wedge today. But anyone who wants to see potential train wrecks, if it's blowing hard into off the left, that would be the place to sit in that left-hand grandstand and see a player struggle with that right-hand bunker. I believe it's one of them great little par 3s. On the scorecard it doesn't look much, but when the wind is blowing and you've got to be precise with a 7, 8, 9-iron, something like that, into the wind there, it's quite tricky.

I'm going to take a pretty conservative approach to that hole, especially the back pin. I think you're most likely see three pins on the front part of the green, which is kind of where you try to land it. You just better make a good two-putt on that back pin, because I don't think you want to flirt with that right-hand side too much.

Q. How does it feel to be going out with the defending champion, Zach Johnson?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, it will be good. It's a nice grouping for me. I've got Adam and Zach, right, so I've played a lot of golf with both of them. So it is always an honour to be out with the defending champion.

Q. Now that you've played all of the current Open rota courses, where would you place Royal Troon in the mix and what type of course it is and how it fits you?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I think it's a course that definitely can fit if I play well, which I have to at any golf tournament, never mind the majors. You've got to play some really solid golf to be up there. Given how difficult the back nine can play, I think it's something that suits me pretty good.

I'd say my favourites would be, Muirfield was my favourite and Birkdale, outside this would be pretty close to be there on Birkdale grounds. So, yeah, I'm looking forward to the week, and I might be able to answer it better once we've played the four competitive rounds as well.

Q. A little while ago Jordan Spieth said not playing in Rio is the toughest decision that he's ever made. Rory contrasted quite a bit and said it wasn't that difficult a decision. I know you've said you're proud to represent Sweden at the Games, but is there a little bit of disappointment that some of your colleagues, fellow golfers don't share the same enthusiasm, excitement?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, I think any golf tournament, I mean, we play around the world. You always enjoy playing against the best, so of course you would have liked to see as many as possible at the Games in Rio, but we've all got different views on Zika virus and scheduling and whatnot, and we're all free to decide on our schedules. So it is what it is.

I'm just happy to be part of it. It's going to be quite an experience, I think. And I hope I can perform well, and hopefully get one of the medals, and hopefully the best one to bring home. I think it would be pretty cool to have that next to some of the other nice trophies I've managed to win.

Q. Just a quick follow-up, but are you planning to walk in the opening ceremony? And what about staying in the Olympic Village?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I'm going to be there for the opening ceremony. I'll travel down on Thursday night from Florida and be there for Friday morning. I'll stay at least part of the stay I'll be in the Village, for sure. I haven't quite decided exactly how my ten days are going to work out. But I've got wife and family and stuff coming as well, so we'll see how we all -- I know they're not staying in the Village, so we'll see how we're going to work it out.

Q. You alluded to this earlier, how much pressure is there to do most of your scoring on the first six holes or so?
HENRIK STENSON: I think there is a fair bit. It's not something you can not think about. You've got four shortish par-4s and two par-5s downwind going out. So you know it's not going to get any easier on the back nine, so you better get off to a fast start. But at the same time, knowing that can really make you focus on that and it can be a good thing, also. If it doesn't happen, it's not a good thing.

Q. Do you feel like you have a good handle on the various wind conditions here?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, I think I've got a good idea of how to play the golf course. You've just got to make those adjustments. I'm yet to see the golf course play in the opposite wind direction, and I don't know what the forecast is. I haven't really looked. I don't know if there's any point in Scotland looking too far ahead. And if it does change, then I think we're pretty well prepared to play in different wind conditions. You still have your spotty areas where you think is the smartest to be playing from, but of course there will be some thought going into it if you're standing there and it's completely different wind. But I feel pretty comfortable with that scenario, too.

Q. What would you say are the three key holes here for either success or defending a score?
HENRIK STENSON: Certainly 10, 11. 11 is probably the hardest hole on the golf course, I'd say. If you need a par to win, 18 would be the one then. It's into the wind it can be a tough finishing hole for sure. It can come down to the last hole, then that can be a tough one.

Q. Does the Postage Stamp play on your mind in case you get through there and start again?
HENRIK STENSON: I guess it has a little similarity to the 17th at Sawgrass. It shouldn't be much of a problem, but it can certainly be one. I'd say probably you've got even less margins at the Postage Stamp than you have at 17 at Sawgrass. So it's not something you worry about, but you've got to be careful on that one, for sure.

Like I said, you're not telling anyone if I -- yeah, my game plan would be to try to hit it for that kind of front left position and then you'll be in pretty good shape for most of the flags, then you just have to two-putt for the back one. But I know in practice I threw a couple balls in that right-hand bunker, and you can be down there a while if you do go in there. It's not just a case of a difficult bunker shot, but you've got a big bank, so anything that comes up short will come back down. But it's more making sure you've got to swing. Either you can be too close to the lip as it just trickles in, so you can't get enough height and forward momentum to get it out, or you can put too much pace in the corner, and you don't have a good back swing. So it's to be avoided at all times, I think.

Q. I don't know if you know this, but six Americans have all won Open Championships here back to 1962.
HENRIK STENSON: I play a lot of golf in America, so that's good.

Q. There's no obvious explanation for that. How significant or not is who holds major championships in a Ryder Cup year?
HENRIK STENSON: I don't know if that makes a difference. I think any player wants to win, of course, and the Europeans want to win as badly as the Americans, whether it be a Ryder Cup year or not. But, yeah, potentially it might be a little bit of an advantage if we were to have a lot of European major champions in the Ryder Cup year. Certainly those players would come into the Ryder Cup with a little bit more confidence. And it wouldn't be a bad thing for the European team, of course.

Why it's been six Americans winning here, I couldn't tell you. It's my first time around, so I think you're better at guessing that than I am at this point.

Q. Also you touched on this, but how did you play the 18 hole with the prevailing wind?
HENRIK STENSON: I haven't played it this week yet. I'm going out for the back nine tomorrow. But when I played last Tuesday it was all of a drive and then a 4-iron to the middle of the green. So in a way I think it almost made it easier, because you couldn't reach some of the fairway bunkers. It was not much of a question about laying up. A lot of holes in general on links it's always either take a bunker out of it, and if you do, another one is in play and so on. When it's pumping into, you can just hit it as hard as you want up on that right-hand side. It probably made it easier in a way with the tee shot.

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