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PGA CHAMPIONSHIP


July 26, 2016


Henrik Stenson


Springfield, New Jersey

JOHN DEVER: Welcome to your 10th PGA Championship of your career.

My question to you is: It's been nine on ten days now, has this Open Championship sunk in yet? Last we heard from you, maybe it hasn't yet.

HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, it's been an exciting time since we finished off at Troon. A couple of hectic days; a lot of media back home in Sweden. It was huge -- for me, of course, but for Swedish golf, as well, we have been waiting for a male player to win a major championship for the last 25 years, and it finally happened -- well, forever I guess. But certainly in the last 25 years since some of the early players had some chances, Jesper Parnevik in particular. That was massive.

Then I had some time with the family and of course I could every now and again give that Claret Jug a little glare and it brought a grin to my face every time, I'm sure.

Yeah, it's fantastic. It's a boyhood dream come true and something I wanted to achieve all my life, and then it finally happened.

So yeah, I'm delighted and at the same time, we're in the middle of a big season. It's a hectic season with the PGA Championship being the last major and then into the Olympics and FedExCup and Ryder Cup, and Race to Dubai finish. It's still a lot of golf, so we've still got to try and focus on what's ahead.

JOHN DEVER: Tell us about your 3-wood, interesting, your love affair with it and how it's going to play this week at Baltusrol.

HENRIK STENSON: I think it's going to be a lot of 3-wood. It's a course that you definitely want to play off the fairway. Off the tee, I think yardage-wise, it fits very well. It's going to be a lot of 3-woods and 4-woods and the odd driver here and there.

It's going to be aired a lot, and if it behaves like it normally does, I think that can put me in good position. It's a course with a lot of par 4s and some of them a bit longer, and that should play into my strengths, which is mid- to long-irons. So I think it's a good course for me.

Q. Is the quick turnaround a good thing for you with a lot of good form coming off of Troon, or would you prefer to have a little bit more time to decompress and then gear back up for another major?
HENRIK STENSON: It's hard to tell. I guess we'll see on Sunday. Yeah, preferably one more week would have been a good thing I believe. But at the same time, like you say, when you've got the momentum and you're playing well, it might not be bad to get straight back at it. It could be a bit of both.

But next year obviously with the success that I've had, I'm free to make the schedule, so I'm going to be the one placing the schedule on both the European and PGA TOUR next year, and they will just put all the tournaments where I want them (smiling).

Q. As someone who would appear to rarely be satisfied with his game when you're working on it, does winning The Open for your first major change any of that? Do you become easily satisfied or do you become even worse, worse in a better kind of way?
HENRIK STENSON: No, I want to keep on -- I think golf is a game you're never going to be finished. You're never going to get to the point where you're maxed out in your ability and how you're playing, so there's always that strive to become better. I got a little perfectionist in there that's always been pushing me forward and that can both make me and break me at times, when you're striving to be your best.

But no, I don't think I'm going to sit back and just say, okay, that was it, I'm finished. It's definitely the icing on the cake. If I look at my career, to win a major championship; that was pretty much the only thing I had not managed to achieve and now I have that. But then at the same time, you can look ahead and then try and win another one.

So I think I've still got a good few years in me and I'm going to try and keep on developing, and if you don't, these young guys are going to come up and take over. So I still think I've got a bit of fight in me.

Q. You talk about the compressed schedule and everything; all things being equal, what's more important to you, Olympic Gold or Ryder Cup?
HENRIK STENSON: It's two totally different things. It's kind of hard to compare The Ryder Cup to an individual tournament. I think that's always tough.

My priorities were always major championships. Olympic Gold would be followed close by there, and WGCs and TPC. That was kind of my priorities on winning those tournaments.

Ryder Cup is a very special event. I've had some of the most fun that I've ever had on a golf course make in a Ryder Cup with the atmosphere and the camaraderie and the team format, so I'm looking forward to this year's Ryder Cup quite a lot.

It's just hard to compare. I don't really want to compare and if I were to say that Olympic Gold is more important, then I'm going to have 11 angry teammates waiting for me outside. So I'd prefer not to compare them.

Q. How busy was it back in Sweden after winning The Open, and how do you refocus with such a short time after obviously such a momentous moment in your career?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, it was busy. I had a charity day together with Sergio GarcĂ­a, his foundation. I had a day in Switzerland, so there was quite a few of us who travelled straight from The Open down to Switzerland.

So I got back on Tuesday. We had a press conference in the afternoon and there was a lot of media. Someone even told me they were broadcasting it live on radio, so I guess that shows the magnitude of the win, if they broadcast the whole thing on radio, on national radio.

Yeah, a lot of interviews, and then I did quite a bit television the next morning and then some interviews stateside in the afternoon. A lot of media the first couple of days, but I still managed to spend some time with my family and relax for a few days before coming over. But my signature has been pretty sought after since I touched base here in New York. There's been a lot of signing these first couple of days out there.

Q. How do you refocus? You said how busy it was at home, and what a huge win that was. How did it refocus for this tournament with such a short turnaround?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I've just got to try and get back into my game and pay attention to all the little things that's important to play good golf for me. Exactly how to do it, I haven't been in this situation before. So I guess we've got to make the best I can and you live and you learn. And if we don't get it right, I'm sure we'll figure out why we didn't get it right.

But it's just important to do or get some shorter practice sessions with good quality where I get left alone a little bit, and they are kind of hard to come by these days. But I've still got to focus on my game. Because if I don't do that, then that little form and that little edge is sure to be disappearing. It's still important to play golf and get the practice done, so that's still my priority.

Q. How important is it for you and the bragging rights that Sweden got the first Scandinavian major win?
HENRIK STENSON: Well for me, it's always been a question of winning a major championship. I think if I was the first Swede, that's always a little extra bonus. And if you're the first one in Scandinavia, it wouldn't be the same.

For me it's always been the same about winning a major championship, whether I was first or second for my country or from Scandinavia to do it, and that didn't matter that much.

I've shown the other Swedes that it's possible to do it, and I'm sure the Danish players, you have a lot of talent and Denmark and you've been developing golf in Denmark for the last ten, 15 years very well and you've got a lot of strong players coming out.

So I'm sure they would get a boost out of it, as well, and I'm sure they want to bring one home for Denmark the same way I wanted to bring one home for Sweden. But it is nice to have that bragging right.

Q. How much did you draw upon Dustin John's victory at the U.S. Open, after he had come close after so many times? And how much do you think the victory by both you guys helps people like Sergio and Lee, who have also had a lot of chances to win?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, it just shows that you've got to keep on trying. I mean, it was nice to see or great to see Dustin win at the U.S. Open. He's had some close calls and some heartbreaking calls in the past four years, five years.

No, I think you can't have -- in a way, you accumulate up to it, but at the same time, it's not possible to do it, if it makes sense. But you've got to keep putting yourself in position, and the more times you do that, that's what gives you the chances for it to happen. That's what I've been trying to do.

And I came off a stretch where I had not been anywhere close the last five or six majors, so that was my goal at Troon to work hard to try to play well to put myself in position. Once I got there, I think that week, I just had a bit of extra belief that I could do it, and I was playing great golf, as well.

And the win in Germany on The European Tour, at the BMW International Open two, three weeks prior, was huge for my confidence. It definitely helped when I was in that situation at Troon.

So I'm sure there's going to be some of my colleagues that's come close that will be feeling that extra motivation and seeing it being possible.

Q. This might not be a memory that you've accessed in a while, but have you looked at your swing from 2001 and compared it, or had a reaction to it, and what would the reaction be? And going through all the work that you had to put in to rebuild your game, what was the most difficult and lowest point?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I've had some rough times and some good times. Possibly higher and lower than a lot of my colleagues. That being said, I think no one is going to go through a 15-year career or 20-year career out on TOUR without having some bad seasons. So that's kind of normal. But I've been possibly touching some bottoms and reaching some highs that's been higher and lower than others.

But looking at the swing, I think I was more, I'd say the biggest difference is that I probably turn more these days than I used to do. I was more kind of sliding into the ball back in the day and I became more -- added some rotation instead of sliding. That would be the one thing that kind of comes to mind.

Q. I'm wondering beyond a few words you had with Phil on the 18th at Troon, have you had a conversation with him, and at what point in the aftermath of winning the major, did it strike you how magical that Sunday was for both of you and for golf?
HENRIK STENSON: First of all, no, I haven't seen Phil. I'm sure I'll run into him later today or tomorrow, something like that, but I haven't spoken to Phil since.

It's one of those things, it doesn't really strike you when you're in the middle of it. But afterwards, with the 63 and the 20-under and the way we played, we pushed each other to the limit, both of us, for 36 holes more or less, and trading punches and blows all the way around the golf course for two days. That certainly is what made us play so well. We both wanted it badly and we performed so well because of each other.

I'm just delighted I managed to win it in the end. When you hear the words that Jack and Tom and a lot of the best players that have ever played the game are giving us credit for how we played, that's obviously very pleasing and very humbling.

No, I was out there playing a practice round today, and I don't know how many times I heard people saying that the way we played was the best they have ever seen and so on. That kind of takes a little while for that to sink in, too.

Q. Of all the congratulations and kind words that you've heard since your victory, what's the one that's meant the most to you?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, it was actually on the fourth today. I had this long putt and I left it way short and someone in the stands shouted, "Does your husband play golf?" (Laughter) Shows you, you're not up there on that pedestal for very long.

That's a hard one. Of course some of the most important talks with my family, my team, my coaches, and also some of the text messages. I had, as you know, I had a friend pass away with cancer just at the beginning of the week. Some of the messages I got from his family, as well. There's been a lot of emotional moments and just tremendous support from my colleagues, from the fans; I guess no one mentioned, no one forgotten in that sense. But yeah, it's been a huge support and I'm very grateful for that.

Q. Your performance at Royal Troon two weeks ago was a great sensation. Will this be a high standard for yourself, and would you get frustrated if you can't do as well? And you've been to China to play the HSBC for several time. I know this will be a busy autumn for you, the Olympics and Ryder Cup; will you be going to China to play the HSBC this year? You should know how much those fans want to see you after such a good performance.
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, now I kind of lost track. What was the first part of the question -- oh, the standard. Of course I will be very frustrated if I don't shoot 20-under from every week here on. (Laughter).

Golf, even though we made it look fairly easy on that Sunday, at times it's a hard game and you can't expect to play that well every time. We always strive as professionals, we always strive to play the best we can, and you want to, but you know that's not always going to be the case. But at the same time, when you have a tournament like we had at The Open, I showed for myself what I'm capable of doing.

So of course I'm going to try and make that happen again. And whether it does or not, we'll have to see. But certainly the way you try and play, and I'm not going to be frustrated if I finish on 19-under this week, I promise you.

I've played a lot in China. I've played well in China. I'm certainly looking to go back and see my fans in China. I haven't 100 percent looked at my schedule for the back end of the year, but I would say there's a very good chance that I will be back at the HSBC tournament.

Q. With the summer schedule being so unusual and so condensed, do you have any plan or idea how to stay rested or ready when you get to The Ryder Cup in two months?
HENRIK STENSON: I know I'm going to be sleeping for at least a week after The Ryder Cup. That's kind of blocked out in the calendar. Just a couple of Zzzzzs next to each other for a week.

I knew this was going to be the case. We were going to have four months of virtually nonstop golf. It's always the busy part of the schedule, but even more so in the 2016 schedule. So I tried to pace myself by playing a little bit less in the springtime. I got nowhere with no more than one week off in between all these tournaments all the way until The Ryder Cup.

I'll just have to see after this week and the Olympics if there's anything in the FedEx series that I potentially need to miss out on, but at the moment, I'm sticking to my schedule. And you've just got to try and rest up on those weeks in between as much as you can, and then play as hard as you can when you have the chance.

But hopefully that less playing in the springtime will keep me fresher, longer, throughout this busy stretch.

Q. What is your appraisal of Baltusrol, and is there any kind of general target score you think could be worth putting down?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, like I said, 19-under, I think I'll take that. That would work most majors.

I haven't really looked at it. I still haven't played the full golf course. I'm going to play the back nine tomorrow morning. It was so hot yesterday and I did a bit of practice. I wanted to walk the course but I decided to conserve energy and not get out there any longer.

I played the front nine mid morning today, and as I said, there's a lot of par 4s, a lot of emphasis on hitting fairways and greens. The greens are, with a gradient, with a slope on them, quite tricky if you get on the high side. Position your iron play and leave yourself uphill putts as much as possible and stay out of the rough and you're going to have a good week.

Score-wise, I haven't even thought about that. Given that for one of the few times in my career, I didn't know what score I shot on Sunday. The last tournament I played there in the last five holes, I was so zoned in on playing one shot at a time. So it's probably a good thing not thinking about too much on the score. Just go out there and play as well as I can, and hopefully I will get somewhat close to the game I had at The Open.

Q. What was the first thing you drank out of the Claret Jug, and in the last week, have you had any chance to have a memorable celebration or moment with it?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, we've had -- it was champagne, and it was champagne, and it was champagne (laughter). So it's been a few occasions. But I had a great moment to together with Göran Zachrisson. He's been Mr. Golf in Sweden for 50 years commentating, I think 50 straight British Opens. I mean, he was in tears, I believe, when I walked up that 18th, and he thought he would never see the day I guess. He's 78 years old, and he had some champagne out of the Claret Jug in that evening afterwards.

Yeah, it's been some memorable celebrations. I'm sure -- I have it for a year, so there might be a few more sips.

JOHN DEVER: Thank you, sir. Have a great week.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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