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August 23, 2016

Henrik Stenson

Farmingdale, New York

MARK WILLIAMS: Henrik, welcome to The Barclays, first of the FedExCup Playoffs events. You're the 2013 FedExCup Champion. Obviously also you've had a great season: Open Champion, Silver Medalist at the Olympics. That's a couple of pretty good things on the resumé, and you were also runner-up here at The Barclays last year. Just talk about your anticipation coming back to the FedExCup Playoffs.

HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, it's been great to be back. It's been a fabulous honor for me, as you know, winning The Open, won another tournament on the European Tour a couple of weeks before then, and them had a good showing at the Olympics.

So it's been a good summer on the golf course, and yeah, heading into the Playoffs where we knew it was going to be a very busy year, a lot of golf. I haven't had more than one week off at any point since end of May, so I guess we might not be fully charged but we're trying to conserve energy and not do too much out there. I haven't touched a club for a week. Last time I played on a golf course, that was that Sunday in Rio.

So I came out, practiced today, and luckily the ball went up and it went forward. So I guess we got all the right answers that we wanted to. As you know, the FedEx, it could be a fun thing if you get going, like we've done a couple of times. I came close last year. I didn't play too much golf in the middle of the summer. So I was really fresh, when probably the other guys felt like I feel now, then I was ready to go last year and had some great tournaments during the FedExCup Playoffs.

That being said, even if you are a little low on energy, I think we can still have a good run at it. Bethpage is a course I think fits my game pretty well. It's a tough track, and Boston next week, I played well and won in the past also.

Yeah, it's exciting times.

MARK WILLIAMS: I was going to mention, too, you're 14th in the FedExCup standings heading into the Playoffs, so you're in pretty good shape. You mentioned Bethpage; you played here in 2009 and finished ninth, so you've had a few rounds under your belt here, including The Barclays here in 2012.

HENRIK STENSON: That was a different showing, though. In 2009, I was the Wedge-and-Putt Master to finish ninth. I played horrible tee-to-green. I played horrible all week long but I managed to get out of it. I don't know what the course is looking out there now, because I haven't been out. I'm saving that for tomorrow morning in the Pro-Am.

But I would imagine it could still be juicy in places, that rough. Of course, fairways and greens are going to pay off.

Q. Obviously The Open Championship had to be the crowning achievement of your career, but how would you compare the Olympic experience in kind of a different realm, and what do you think that that did for your worldwide popularity, coupled with The Open Championship?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I think they go very well hand in hand. It was a great experience being part of the Opening Ceremony and watching some of the other sports, get to interact with some of the other athletes from my country. You know, it was a great experience.

Then on the course, it was a very good showing for golf worldwide. I think that's the beauty of the Olympics. You reach a different audience. I've had so many messages afterwards from people that never watch golf, and they said they got straight into it. They saw that final round, and even though a golf tournament -- I had a message on my Facebook from one guy who said, "I never watch golf; I was going to do something completely different this weekend, and I ended up watching golf for ten hours."

You get people interested in our game, our sport, and that can only be good in the big picture. And then when you represent your country, you definitely feel like you're playing for your country rather than yourself. You feel proud when you succeed and bring home a medal for your country, absolutely.

Yeah, it's been a great summer and it's two totally different experiences, but I'm glad I have them both.

Q. You have the medal in your golf bag, we saw it on the driving range --
HENRIK STENSON: It's in my pocket now.

Q. On the driving range you let people touch it and people were excited about it. Why is it important for you to share that with people?
HENRIK STENSON: That was more my putting coach wanted to have a look at the medal. Even though he just started working with Justin a little while back, so obviously had a Gold Medal he could check out, as well.

No, he wanted to see it, so I had it there. Yeah, then I can't remember who it was -- it was someone on the range that wanted to see it. Then the fans saw it. So of course they can have a little look.

I'm not one to run around and have my medal at the supermarket. I like to keep it a little bit more quiet than that. But of course it's a cool thing. It's the first time that golf is on the -- even though we were there 112 years ago, but it's kind of the first time that we're on the program, and yeah, there's only three Olympic golf medals out there.

Of course, it's an opportunity for the fans to have a look and if they want to see it, of course I'm going to let them.

Q. What is it about this time of year, or this series of events that has allowed to you have such success over the last couple years?
HENRIK STENSON: Historically I've always played well early in the year and late in the year, and then I guess at some point, I managed to tweak it around a little bit.

Like I said, last year, I had a pretty soft summer schedule. It didn't work out for The Open in the middle of it, but I was definitely rested coming in here. As you know, we play a lot of golf, a lot of tournaments, and you're going to have spells where you play well. I don't know if you draw on previous experiences of having done well in the FedExCup before; won it in '13, you can feel that taste again when you start getting going.

It's exciting that you can really turn it on. It's good tournaments against the best players and I always like to try and bring my best game when I'm up against the best. Yeah, I hope I can do that once again.

Q. Well done on your efforts in Rio. I was going to ask you now looking ahead to The Ryder Cup, just wondering what your thoughts are of the eight teammates that have automatically qualified for the team, what's your thoughts about the team so far? And as one of the senior members of the team, and five rookies already on the European side, how much responsibility do you think you'll have to take when you go to Hazeltine from a personal point of view?
HENRIK STENSON: I still expect them to bring their best game. I can't really do it for them (laughs).

Q. You know what I mean.
HENRIK STENSON: I know what you know mean. You know how I am; I'm always cheeky (laughter).

The team is pretty much looking -- I mean, the final nine there who automatically qualified, it's pretty much the same way or is the same way it's been looking for a good three or four months now. So not a lot of change on our team set up for the final part of the qualification process.

It's good players. Even though there might be rookies on The Ryder Cup Team, when you have someone that's the current Masters Champion, you don't really put them in the rookie category. They have all done well to get in that position and played really solid to automatically qualify.

So it's always good to have some fresh blood on there and I think we've got a strong team, despite having a lot of rookies. Yeah, it's exciting times. It's just over a month out, and of course I'm going to try and share some experience, even though I'm not the most experienced guy that's going to be on that team. I've been there a few times, and yeah, you can try with bits and pieces to encourage the young players.

And then of course, I expect a lot from myself golf-wise coming in there; I feel like I need to play well, and so does a lot of the other guys.

Q. Ten years into the FedExCup, it's obviously worked out pretty well for you. Curious your viewpoint, your take on it, in other words, do you view it as just a series of tournaments, something bigger? Where is it in the pecking order of accomplishments or your view?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, certainly when we started, there was not a lot of movement during these events. Then it got kind of swung over and got too much movement. And I feel like in the last three, four years here, we've really had the right balance in how much you can start moving up if you get on a hot streak, and if you don't play your best, you still kind of -- what you've done up to the FedEx is not going to vanish completely, either.

I think we've got a really good balance in the points system, and I mean, it's one of the bigger things you can win in golf. I mean, we've got individual tournaments, the majors and so on, but you've got the FedExCup and you've got The Race to Dubai.

It kind of shows who has been the best over the whole season. So yeah, it's definitely one of my better -- one of the biggest things that I've won, for sure.

Q. Not to ask you to look into the future, but how do you see this? Do you see this as a long-term thing that will sort of just continue to elevate its place?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, whenever you make a new twist to something, and I can see why we did it, as well; to fall in line with a lot of other sports over here that you have that kind of playoff system, and more excitement towards the end.

Yeah, I think it's just going to get stronger and stronger, and it's going to mean more and more each year; it means more and more to have your name on that trophy. Because I'm sitting there looking back, looking at the names on the Claret Jug, of course the more names and all those greats from the past that have their name on there, I've got my name on the FedExCup trophy; and 20, 30 years down the line, it's pretty sweet to be one of the first ones on there.

Q. I come back to the Olympics and winning the medals. What is the difference between representing your country for the World Cup of Golf and the Olympics?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, you're representing your country in both of them. But I think like I said at the Olympics, we reach out to a much much bigger, bigger audience. If you play the World Cup, then you're still within the golfing community. It's still golf fans that are watching. But yeah, it's a tournament I managed to win that with Robert in 2008, and I'm happy to have won that one for Sweden, also. It's always a great honor to represent your country.

Then, you know, scheduling and so forth, makes it not always possible to play everything. So I'm not going to play the World Cup in Australia this year. But it is a tournament that I've enjoyed playing over the years and I've had some great success at the World Cup. I'm happy that it's being played again.

Q. Is it the same feeling?
HENRIK STENSON: No, not quite the same feeling as the Olympics. Like I said, you still feel like the Olympics is watched by more people and it's on a bigger scale than the World Cup of Golf.

Q. Following up on what you said before that Bethpage fits your game and suits your eye, what is it about this place that agrees with you?
HENRIK STENSON: I think any tough golf course normally fits my game when I'm playing good, because it's about hitting fairways, and after you put the ball on the fairway, you have to be pretty accurate with your mid- to long-iron shots into the greens. And if I remember correctly, you're going to have a few of those around here.

So it's not just Bethpage in particular, but any course where you get good advantage of hitting a lot of fairways and greens. That's going to work out well for me, and my accuracy with my mid-irons is pretty good when I'm swinging well and playing well. So it should suit me pretty good.

Q. Unrelated, obviously you brought the medal here. What do you do with the Claret Jug? Where have you brought it and what do you like to do with it?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, that one's going to be with me, as you know, for the remainder of the year. I'm sure there's a few tournaments that normally likes to have it at their events, and other than that, it's going to be at my house. I've had some French bubbly drinks out of it and I'm sure we're going to have a few more before the year is over.

Q. You're fourth now in the World Rankings and there's that group of five up there that you're now a part of. How competitive do you think it's becoming at the top of the sport now with five guys who really stand out, including you and Rory and Dustin and McIlroy -- or Spieth and Day?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, it feels good to be part of the young gang there. Before it was like the young four or whatever, right. So you have to rewrite that, then.

Looking back ten, 15 years ago, and the way it is now, I mean, it gets more and more competitive every year. There's the players that are coming out on Tour now, they are younger, they are stronger, they play better at an earlier age. That's just a development of our sport and sports in general, I guess. You have more ways of becoming good earlier, as well. You've got more -- the coaches are getting better as the players are getting better, and the technology, TrakMan, all the rest of it.

Yeah, you've got to keep on moving at a good pace, otherwise you're going to be run over by the next generation. I still feel like I'm in pretty good shape and got another good four or five years; and I'm motivated and I've got to keep on working hard, otherwise I won't stay where I'm at at this point.

Q. Does winning the British Open change your perception of yourself or give you a new sense of kind of having arrived at a different level?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, it's definitely the icing of -- the icing on the cake. It is the crown of my career. I've had a very successful and nice career over a long period of time.

But without that major, it always felt like something was missing in a way and I guess that's just the way we look at it. There's a lot of nice golf tournaments to win but we have those four at the top. It kind of elevates everything you've done before, I don't know, by 50 percent; it's like your other stock goes up because you become a Major Champion. It does have a nice ring to it, I have to say.

MARK WILLIAMS: Henrik, we certainly appreciate your time coming in and spending time with us. Good luck at The Barclays this week and the FedExCup Playoffs.

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