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March 9, 2017

Henrik Stenson

Palm Harbor, Florida

Q. Did you hit a lot of irons off the tee?
HENRIK STENSON: It is a second-shot golf course for sure and I did keep the same strategy I've done for previous years which worked out pretty well for me. A lot of positioning off the tee and try to set up birdie chances.

Hit a lot of good iron shots into the greens every now and again and took advantage of the par 5s on the greens and made sure I birdied all of those and one or two long putts. So it was pretty tidy, most happy with the putting for sure. Long game, not always as good as I'd like it but all in all a solid day.

Q. The thing I'm most impressed with what you've improved the most is putts inside six feet. They are so solid and firm over the last few years, you don't miss them even in the middle now.
HENRIK STENSON: Thanks for jinxing that. I worked on the putting with my coach, and I've made some good progress. I feel like I hit a lot of good putts out there. If you're on solid greens like this week, if you hit it online, it tends to go in.

Q. How is the body? Is it back?
HENRIK STENSON: Somewhat, when your stomach goes a bit, it always takes time to get it back, but getting the probiotics down and getting a little bit of rest. We're pretty much back to normal now.

Q. Somewhat surprise yourself finishing 7-under?
HENRIK STENSON: I'd say I'm very happy with the way I putted today. Makes a big difference. Sometimes a round can go in either direction and I birdied 11 and then I hit a poor second shot and got a bad lie, plugged it up in the face and managed to get it up-and-down. Then drained a 45-footer on the next for birdie. It was one of those, kind of kept the momentum and then picked up three birdies in a row. I was 4-under through six holes, so something like that, on the back nine.

So got off to a good start and just kept it pretty tidy. Putting is really solid. Long game maybe not where I want it, but good enough.

Q. With the talk of the top five or six guys in the world right now, DJ getting to No. 1, do you ever feel like you're getting lost in the shuffle right now?
HENRIK STENSON: It's not something I really focus about. If they don't want to mention the old guy, you know, it's fine by me. I try and do my thing and play as well as I can and get prepared for the big events. Yeah, just one round at a time, one shot at a time, really.

Q. Are you comfortable, obviously you are, but your thoughts on laying back off a lot of tees with irons forwards on par 5s and leaving yourself a longer iron; but you spoke to that being your strength, anyway?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, when the putter feels good and short game is in good shape, a lot of times I see it more as guaranteeing having a second shot into around the green or hit the green, even if it's a longer club. That's kind of what I've done around here the previous two times and it's worked out fine. So yeah, I'm just keeping the same game plan, really. There's always times during an event, if you're coming in Saturday or Sunday, and you need to try and press. There's certainly a few holes where you can try and push a little bit. Thursday is not really the day where you need to make those kind of decisions.

So I'll stick to the same game plan, a lot of times when I played well, that's what we've done throughout the whole week and that's really paid off. No need to change that.

Q. What did you have left for your club, second on the sixth?
HENRIK STENSON: On the sixth? Well, that was when we got the wind a little bit wrong. I hit 4-iron off the tee and they left me a 4-iron. Perfect, you bring out the only one --

Q. I wasn't talking about direction. I asked you for a club and you went into this big soliloquy here?
HENRIK STENSON: Off the tee it was really a 3-iron and I went for the 4 and it came out way short than we wanted, so we should play 3-iron or 6-iron or something like that and it ended up being two 4-irons today. Got the up-and-down, so no harm done.

Q. What a great chip that was by the way?
HENRIK STENSON: Thank you. Glad you mentioned that.

Q. Preparing for the bigger events, going into Augusta, how important is to be in good form going into Augusta?
HENRIK STENSON: I think it's important. I know how important it was to get that win in Germany at the BMW International Open last year two weeks prior to The Open, and it gives you that confidence, so I'd love to, more than anything, of course, play well; but if I'm playing well, I know I'm always going to have a chance to position myself to win golf tournaments in the lead-up to Augusta.

So that's what we're focusing on getting the game in order and putting was really good. That's one box ticked, if I can keep that up, and we're just working away a little bit on the long game and yeah, it would be nice to pick up a bit of confidence, too.

Q. How would you rate your game now versus how you were playing last summer?
HENRIK STENSON: It's not near as good tee-to-green today. And certain days, you can hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens, and I did that today, even though I didn't feel particularly good over the shots a lot of times.

But again, it's just a work-in-progress and it's always promising when you can shoot a good number, even though you're not feeling great. So yeah, there's some work to do but we're not where we were playing at The Open last year, I know that much.

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