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November 20, 2016

Henrik Stenson

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

STEVE TODD: Henrik, many congratulations. Not sure you'll get that on a jet ski, but fantastic way to finish the year. How proud are you to end up with that trophy after what has been a terrific year for you?

HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, it's been a great year. It's been the best year of my career when I sum it up, and this certainly didn't make it any worse. It's some very nice names on this trophy, so I'm delighted and proud to get my name on it again. It's hard enough to do one time, but to do two is something I'm very pleased with, and of course it shows how well I played over the course of the year.

As you know, the BMW International Open win, and the win at The Open, but then it was another I think ten really good tournaments throughout the year that when we sum it all up, that's why we're sitting here with this right next to me.

Yeah, very pleased with the way I perform this year and it will go down as the best year of my career.

STEVE TODD: And to sign off today, as well, with a good performance must be a good feeling.

HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, if you're going to be Europe's No. 1, you don't want to finish with a 75, even if you can afford it. It was nice to play some good golf finally and to shoot a good number on a Sunday. That never hurts. Yeah, solid round of golf today, and just sneaked me into the Top-10, right. So yeah, Top-10s are always fine.

Q. I actually wanted to ask something that Steve alluded to. To finish it off like this, how satisfying was it, and what was the thought process going into the final day, paired with Rory McIlroy, who is one of your rivals, and to have such a good crowd following you, even though you guys started so early?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I knew the scenarios when we started here this week, and then even though I felt a little bit of a potential threat from Alex and Danny, nothing really took off.

I was just trying to prepare myself for that scenario; that Alex could go out and have a Sunday like he had at Nedbank last week, and then he could threaten for -- even if it wasn't for the win, he could threaten for that second place finish, and then I needed to be top eight.

That was kind of my mind-set, to go out there and try to play a solid enough round to have a chance for a top eight, if needed. I came fairly close to that, and yeah, I played my best round.

And playing alongside Rory, he's a very aggressive player and can make a lot of birdies and so he did. We had a good round of golf out there, finished a high both of us.

Q. You were on a mission that was difficult to top a great 2013 and you've done it in 2016, so how do you top 2016? What comes next?
HENRIK STENSON: I don't know. I couldn't imagine possibly playing better golf for five or six months like I did in '13, and you could argue that I haven't played better golf than I did in '13 this year, but I obviously timed it at the right time. The performance at The Open and the silver, or the fight for the gold and ending up with the silver, in Rio was a good tournament. And then like I said, I had a lot of other good tournaments.

Winning another major would be nice, and like I said, always going to have a decent chance of getting your hands on this trophy again if you're up there in the big events.

I have to give a big credit to Alex the way he's played this year and also to Danny. I know he's disappointed not being able to sit here with this trophy, but you know, he won at Augusta and had a solid year, and Alex played some unbelievable golf.

It was tight all the way to the end, which it should be, and I'm just very happy that I came out on top.

Q. After The Open and the Olympics, it would have been easy for you to switch off for the year; but did this then become your sort of big objective?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I was definitely a bit fatigued after the Olympics. I kind of needed a bit of a break eventually. Also the body was giving me some signs that I needed to take some time off.

And then I really focused on being in decent shape for The Ryder Cup, which I was, and I was pretty pleased with my performance at The Ryder Cup. Didn't maybe get as many points as I was hoping and wished for, rather the way I played, but that's the way it goes in match play. I had some opponents that were playing phenomenal golf.

All in all, I was still happy with the way I played, and yeah, the focus was on this. I had a bit of a break and I knew I needed to have a big tournament at some stage to make up the ground that I was behind. I was roughly 500,000 behind Willett, behind Danny, when I headed into the last four events. It wasn't this week or last week; it was the week I had in Shanghai that really made the difference. It put me with a bit of a cushion and the other guys couldn't quite catch me, and I played two somewhat solid weeks here to hold them off.

Q. You alluded to it earlier, the other ten tournaments. Was there something in your game that made you so consistent this year?
HENRIK STENSON: I would say I putted better throughout the year, that would be one thing. There's been weeks where I haven't been striking it that game, but I would say the short game and putting, had been holding it together.

I definitely feel like I'm holing a few more putts than maybe the past, and that's something as a professional, you look at your game and you work on your game, and you are just trying to make small little changes and just to become a little more consistent to maybe make that half-putt to a putt every day, which makes a huge difference when you sum it up every week. I would say the work there has certainly paid off.

Q. Just wondering if Rory said anything to you that meant something to you. And also your thoughts on a 22-year-old winning the other big tournament on offer today.
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, Rory congratulated me on a great year when we finished and were done with recording. It's always nice to get praise from your colleagues and players of that stature. He had a pretty good year himself. He played really well during the FedEx and won that.

Yeah, glad to see my foursomes partner from Hazeltine come up with the goods here and make a nice putt on the last to win the biggest win of his career. So well done to Matthew, as well.

Q. Just following on from that, having played with him in The Ryder Cup and seeing what he's done, what do you think Matt's potential is, and also, if you could talk in general about the crop of young players who are coming through; obviously this was a year where Europe had a lot of rookies in The Ryder Cup.
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, we did. Ryder Cup is a different experience, and I think they enjoyed it. I'm sure they are thirsty to be back for more in two years' time in Paris, and I'm certainly thirsty to be back there and get the Cup back. It's a great event, and we had a great atmosphere in the team room, so I think everyone enjoyed that.

Yeah, it's good to see new players showing their talent and coming up, and the Tour is getting stronger. You had to play better and better to win, so all credit to Matthew for winning here this week. He's had a great year and a great -- yeah, he won on the back end of last year, and then got two wins this year.

So the last 15 months or so has been phenomenal for him. He's got big potential, of course. He's not playing the power game, but he's hitting a lot of fairways, a lot of greens and putting well, and got a solid short game. So he's going to be around for awhile, that's for sure.

Q. I'm sure you look forward to enjoying this year, but looking forward to next year, and in particular, the lead-up to The Open, do you know what your schedule might look like, and in specific, The Scottish Open?
HENRIK STENSON: (Laughs) I didn't start laughing; everyone else did.

My schedule hasn't changed much in the last couple years, and it won't change in the next couple years, either, I imagine. It will look very similar. That's giving you enough (laughter).

Q. You've come from the same background in a way with Matt Fitzpatrick, coming from the Pete Cowen and Mike Walker school. How do you think that's helped to develop Matt into the player that he is now?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I think that's a big part of his success. Of course, it's down to how hard he's worked and his talent, but also the help that we get along the way, the team that we create around us. Both Pete and Mike are part of his team, as they are of mine.

Of course they are going to have a big part of that success, and we as players, we know the effort our team members put in, no matter what their positions are, and I've got a good seven, eight people around me that help me on a daily basis with everything. So of course they deserve to feel that mentioning and that glory, as well, when we succeed on the golf course.

Yeah, it's great to win for yourself, but also for your team, and your family and friends. I'm sure Matthew feels the same. If you're lucky, you might get to ask him that in a little bit (smiling).

Q. You've had a long year and a very good one, at that, but there's still some more golf to go, in the Bahamas in a couple weeks.
HENRIK STENSON: I don't want to think about more golf right now (laughter).

Q. You're going to play with two other guys who were on the Olympic podium with you, Matt Kuchar and Justin Rose. Could you say a couple things about the tournament? You came close to winning a couple of years ago.
HENRIK STENSON: I came close to winning a few times. That's the last time the clubs are going to see grass this side of New Year's.

Yeah, it's a pretty relaxed atmosphere, and we're playing down in the Bahamas, which is not the worst place to have a golf tournament at in December. So yeah, looking forward to catching up with them and hopefully make a few birdies before we pack it in for the year.

And I have some Olympic flags that I need them both to sign, so it's all very convenient.

Q. Is there anything about your game or anything about the season that you think you need to improve upon next year?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, golf is a game where you're never finished. You can always keep improving. I'm no different. Given the competition that comes up every year and that it gets harder every time, you've always got to keep on trying to become a better player and keep on moving forward. Otherwise you're going to get run over and run past.

Yeah, there's areas for sure, but at the same time, I know that if I get my game in good shape and if every department is working, then I know I've got game enough to compete with the best and to beat the best.

So at the same time, as you're trying to become better, you kind of want to pick up on all the different parts and just making sure that you maintain them and keep them at a high level. But I hit some lovely wedge shots today, but that's certainly one area where I feel like I can improve I think between 90 and 120 yards, there's definitely room for improvement there.

STEVE TODD: Henrik, congratulations again and thanks for all the time you've spent with us this year.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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