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March 14, 2017

Henrik Stenson

Orlando, Florida

JOHN BUSH: We would like to welcome Henrik Stenson to the interview room. He's making his ninth start at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He enters this week with four consecutive top-10 finishes at this tournament. Henrik, it's going to be an interesting and different week without Mr. Palmer here. You've had a lot of success at this tournament, just talk a little bit about his legacy and also about how much this tournament means to you.

HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, of course. It's a very different week with Arnold not being here with us. He's meant so much to the game of golf, of course, to this being his own tournament on his own golf course. So he will be dearly missed and we will do our best to make it a very successful week without him and pay tribute to him to his career and everything that he's done for the game and for everyone involved. So, it will be a special week, it will be a good week, and I'm happy to be back, of course. Even though it was a lot of traffic, it should be close by home.


It's always the one that lives the closest that comes late. So it's nice to be back home, get a week with family and get the extra local support. There's no question it was one of the tougher losses that I had in 2015 when I didn't manage to win here, despite having a great opportunity. That's the way it goes sometimes, but I hope I can make up for it and I win this tournament in the near future.

JOHN BUSH: Let's talk about your season up to this point. You're in the upper 30s in the FedExCup. I know you would like to add another FedExCup title to the one you won in 2013, but talk with about the season so far and how your goals are progressing for this year.

HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, it's been a good start. I played a lot of good golf, as you know, last year, and managed to pick it up pretty much where I left it off, I feel. Two good tournaments in the Middle East on the European Tour and even though my first outing for the year in Mexico didn't turn out the way we wanted to, I played some pretty good golf last week and managed to get another top-10 in Tampa. So, yeah, I hope to step it up a notch every week I play and get ready for early April.

JOHN BUSH: Questions, please?

Q. Talk about your preparations for early April. Do you plan on going up to Augusta for a scouting trip or do you kind of have a routine now that you can just get there early?
HENRIK STENSON: I will try and stop by on my way to Houston. That's what I've done the previous years. It's always good to get a refresher and have a walk around the course and hit some shots and hit some putts. So, even though the golf course itself up there doesn't change too much, it's always goods to have a little early look.

Q. Speaking of preparations for Majors, just curious, did you do anything different leading into The Open Championship last year and is it really possible to peak for a major does that get over blown or over thought about at all?
HENRIK STENSON: I think it's a combination on that subject. I think you got to give yourself at least what you believe are the best circumstances and as always, if you want to play well at a certain time, you got to put the work and the effort in at an earlier stage. When the time to perform comes, the time for preparations are over. So you got to do the work some time. It's more figuring out when is the right time for you and how are you going to, how much are you going to play and rest in the lead up. But I can never guarantee that I'm going to play well at a certain week and peak at a certain week. Not so much maybe with the game, it's probably more mentally you can try and give yourself the right ingredients and if you really want something, you're going to aim for that and that's going to be in the back of your mind over a long period of time. And when you finally get there, I think if you really want it, that kind of mental preparation in the lead-up is going to help you for that.

Q. Has your process evolved over time? Have you found a formula that works for you?
HENRIK STENSON: In a way. I think that looking at my history I think it's definitely good for me to play the week before a tournament that I want to play well in. Because I'm an analyzing guy and if I'm coming too much from a practice perspective analyzing mode, I don't have enough time to get into playing mode and so that's why as much as I can I try and play the week before one of the big ones or one that I really want to play well at. Again, it's not uncommon you see if someone doesn't quite do it that week they might be pretty dangerous the week after, because you always got all that prep work and time and also you might have a little bit of a revenge if you don't get what you want that week in a major or whichever tournament it might be, then you might play really well the week after. So, that might be something to bear in mind.

Q. How much motivation is it for you to get back to No. 1, especially in this day and age when we're so tight with four or five guys? Is that motivation for you?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, since I haven't been No. 1 it's definitely motivation to get there. I came pretty close in 2014. I guess you could say there was no one that played better than I did at the end of 2013, so we were kind of in the driver's seat at that point. But I didn't quite reach the No. 1. I said back then that I would prefer a Major over being ranked world No. 1. I think the world rankings are great, but it's still, I mean that's what shows how you played in the last two years and if you win golf tournaments, you're going to move up the rankings as well. But of course it would be a nice one to have, being ranked No. 1 at some point in my career, and if I get going and then play as good as I can do, it is certainly within reach at some point.

Q. I'm sure the demand for your autograph has skyrocketed especially in the last year. What's that been like for you?
HENRIK STENSON: I can give you a special deal.


It's just been a bit more busy. At the events it's busier. I feel like I got to be careful with my time and it might even be that I'll try and come out a bit later, travel later to some of the events, to get more time to practice and so at home and then just come out later and just kind of get going. So it's been a little bit busier, which is nice, but also it takes away a little bit of focus from practice and what we're out there to do. But I've taken my fair share of selfies and signed things in the last six months, I would say.

Q. We have seen younger players, specifically players in their 20s winning more often and more consistently on TOUR this year. Do you have any explanation for that?
HENRIK STENSON: I think just the competition is really hard, as we know, it gets harder every year, but at the same time when players get hot, they seem to just want to keep on going. Why shouldn't you? If you're playing well and you get that confidence boost, obviously you can keep it going. But I'll leave that to you to figure out the exact answers.

Q. This might seem like a blunt question, but I think you can probably handle it. Do you ever, after a tournament, felt like you just choked one away or gave one away and how did you get over it, from youth days up to the challenge TOUR, wherever it might have been, and what are the hurdles to working your way back around that and flushing it down the toilet?
HENRIK STENSON: I think everyone that's had a successful career felt like they have given a few away over the period of time and you analyze what happened and what you could have done differently and then when you put yourself in those situations again in the future you try and act differently and do differently and hopefully you will have a different outcome. And I think that most of the guys out here have managed to figure that out. Otherwise, they probably wouldn't have made it into the next division and taken that next step. But of course it's painful, losing is never fun, but harder when you feel like something you did or something you didn't do was the reason behind it. I think it's always easier to leave a loss behind you when someone else makes a long putt or makes a birdie on the last hole or something like that. But if you 3-putt from 15 feet up the hill, you're not going to leave feeling too good about yourself.

Q. Anything in particular that jumps to mind that you really kick yourself over?
HENRIK STENSON: It was probably more so I had, I think I had a two-shot lead with two to play back in Sweden back in the day at a challenge TOUR event. I was still amateur at the time and I hit a horrific tee shot on the 17th hole and ended up doubling it and then lost out in -- I missed out of the playoff by a shot. So, yeah, that was a painful one. I remember that. I would say I got over it, but I can still remember it.


Q. Do you have a favorite memory with Arnold?
HENRIK STENSON: As I said, in 2015 I would have liked to have seen that memory being a little bit different than getting a pat on my shoulder and the hard luck one walking off the 18th here when I had a great chance to win. That could have been my moment with him. But I think just looking back at all the things he did, not just on the golf course, as we know about and the things he did outside and for charity and I got two of my three kids born at Arnold Palmer Hospital, Winnie Palmer Hospital here in Orlando. So, just being part of those nine Arnold Palmer Invitational's that I played and seeing him briefly every year here at the tournament. When I won the Open and I had a close look at the Claret jug, I saw obviously that he won at Troon as well back in '62, I believe, right? Or was it '61. '62. Yeah.


HENRIK STENSON: '62. And I would have liked to try and meet up for lunch here and share some memories from the wins. But, unfortunately, that couldn't happen. So, it's not a specific moment in that sense that stands out for me.

Q. What is maybe missing or what's different without him being here? What will it be like going up Sunday behind the green and him not being there?
HENRIK STENSON: Obviously, that he's not going to be there is going to be the big thing. But like I said, we are going to pay tribute to his life and everything that he's done. So, I think that I hope that could make up for part of him not being here.

Q. The vote this morning had the Muirfield to allow female members and it's officially back in the rotation. You played that golf course a couple of times. How important is it to have that golf course back in the rotation?
HENRIK STENSON: That's great news. I didn't know that. Thanks for that. That's the best news you ever brought to me.


Thanks. No, that's great. Muirfield is one of my absolute favorite, if not my favorite Open venue. I kind of ranked for me personally it was Muirfield, Birkdale, and it's hard not to put Troon right in there with Birkdale, probably. So, that's great news to be able to come back to Muirfield at some point.

Q. One last question about autographs. Jordan Spieth had a bit of problem with some professional collectors of autographs at Pebble Beach a few weeks ago. What has been your experience with that?
HENRIK STENSON: Did he not remember his name or?

Q. They wanted more than he was willing to provide, I think.
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, there's always -- I've always taken the standpoint that I sign as much as I can for whomever and if there's -- I know there's guys out there that kind of try to make a living out of signed memorabilia. But if that's the case, then I'm providing for them, too. So I just keep on signing. As long as we have time I keep on signing and I don't know if it makes it better or worse for the value of the autograph then, but there's plenty of Stenson scribbles around, so. If someone's willing to pay for it, I'm sure that there's a few of those around, too.

Q. Of all the things that Mr. Palmer did for the modern game of golf, what in your opinion is the most important?
HENRIK STENSON: He just made it a very popular sport among the average guy out there. I think he brought golf to the masses and made it a very popular game. So I think that's what really comes to mind. You could always argue his achievements on the golf course or his achievements off the golf course, given how involved in charity and Arnie's Army and everything that's been done outside the golf course. So, there's a lot of things to choose from, but I'll stick to that first one.

Q. You had a pretty popular interview the other day with Beef Johnston. Do you think the Golf Channel announcers have anything to worry about with Beef?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, he might just sneak up on them and turn it into the Beef Show. I don't know. I think that I gave him a little pass, I said, your playing career was pretty short there, Beef, but I'm sure it was fun. But, yeah, he's just having a bit of down time before he's going to get going again. So, no, he's a fun character, he's very lovable, and I'm sure we're going to see one or two more funny interviews by him and from him in the future.

JOHN BUSH: All right, Henrik Stenson, best of luck this week.


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