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January 19, 2017

Henrik Stenson

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Q. Prior to this, racing around on your jet bike on Lake Nona with the Claret Jug strapped to your chest and a bit of skiing, and you turn up here with a 64.
HENRIK STENSON: Must be the lack of practice that does it. Lack of sleep, practice of practice. Delighted with that score. I think I scored a bit better than what I played, but I kept it under control somewhat and hit a couple of close iron shots and made the putts. And yeah, it wasn't too much stress out there.

Q. Really, how much practice did you have before you teed it up this week?
HENRIK STENSON: It wasn't a whole lot. I was working on my putting. That was the main thing, and some short game. Hit a couple of buckets last week, and then flew to Sweden. Was there for the sports awards. Came down here on Tuesday morning.

So yeah, very limited preparation. So that might be the way forward, I don't know.

Q. No. 1 player in Europe; champion golfer of the year. How do you set your targets for 2017 with that in the background?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I just want to keep on developing my game. Keep on working hard on that, and come into the majors well prepared and well rested and try and put myself in contention. I feel like I can get the Claret Jug some company if I do that. I'm going to try my hardest.

Q. Life is good; are you happy?

Q. 64 to open the 2017 season. Do you consider this a continuation of last year or a fresh beginning?
HENRIK STENSON: Let's go with a continuation because I didn't do much practice before. So it seems like whatever I did at the back end of last year, seemed to be working still.

Yeah, I put a really good score together out there. I don't think I played as well as I scored potentially but the putter was working. I kept it tidy. Chipped in once when I missed the green and a couple up-and-downs, and so not too much stress, and very good start to the year.

Q. Did you learn something through this experience of maybe not grinding as hard in the off-season?
HENRIK STENSON: I think if you finish off playing pretty good like I did in the Bahamas, like I did at the Hero World Challenge, there's nothing that says you can't pick it up where you left it.

Of course, after a month or month-plus, it's going to feel a little -- your lines and aiming up and lining up and things like that. But it doesn't mean that you have to lose your game just because you have a break.

Q. Winning in Qatar and Dubai already and looking for the third leg in the Desert Slam. At your level, is that something that could be a motivation for you?
HENRIK STENSON: I'd say so. Again, this is the first one, so I didn't come in here expecting too much, given the light startup I had, but with this start, of course I hope I can keep it going throughout the week.

Didn't do much practice before I left but the practice I did do was pretty good. I was quite amazed how good the game felt coming into today. But again, I feel like I scored better than I played. Main thing was the putter was working out nicely and had a chip-in and a couple of up-and-downs around the greens.

So didn't put myself in too much trouble and yeah, 64, it's the second best score I've had here in Abu Dhabi. Good start to the week.

Q. How important was the front nine?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I got off to a hot start there. I made a good birdie on 10. I hit a good shot into 12 and birdied that one, and the same on 13, so I started off with some nice birdies. Then when I did miss on 14, I chipped in from about 30 yards or so. I mean, there were a couple of bonus birdies out there.

The main thing is you take advantage of them and keep it going and no dropped shots, which I think is probably a first in the first round of a season for me.

Q. Lovely way to finish.
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I'm just going to keep on working away. I still feel like I can improve, of course, and going to have lunch, go down and hit a few balls, do some physio and gym work and get ready for tomorrow.

Q. What are your thoughts on where the Tour is at in terms of Ryder Cup and Tour membership, everything that's going on?
HENRIK STENSON: The Tour is in a pretty good place and we're working towards making it more interesting, attracting young fans and players to the game. I like quite a lot of the initiatives. I might be a bit conservative on some of the stuff out on the golf course during competitive play. I think I prefer to leave that one alone as much as we can.

But otherwise, I listen to a lot of music when I practice back home. Golf is a lot about rhythm, and you definitely get that if you got some nice beats going when you're down there practicing, so I'm all for that.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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