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April 4, 2017

Henrik Stenson

Augusta, Georgia

MODERATOR: Henrik is starting off his 2017 season, he played in the WGC‑HSBC Champions and finished tied for second.
Before we open it for questions, Henrik, you've had a terrific year. How does that make you feel coming into this week.
HENRIK STENSON: Well, I think it's always nice to have won that first major championship obviously and won that last year at The Open. So we don't need to discuss it, if that's going to happen this time. I'd of course love to add something to it and give myself a chance to win a second one here. It's all about putting yourself in position. We talked about that time and time again.
Yeah, this week would be another chance to do that. There may be once or two times I've been in somewhat contention here. It hasn't been that many chances, but I'd like to work hard this week to put myself in that position once again.

Q. You obviously just mentioned the win, and not necessarily having the greatest success here. But how much did getting that monkey off the back, winning The Open, will help you this year here?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I don't know if there ever was a big monkey, but it's of course nice to be a major major champion. I think it just takes away that focus. Like I said, in the long run, it was all about making it happen, and of course I feel very happy that I did make it happen last year. Now we can look ahead and try and make that Claret Jug, give it some company.
I have to change something around. You've seen the record. I've been here 11 times before and haven't been‑‑ it's the least successful major out of the four. Yeah, I'm working hard on trying to make that turnaround and, again, if I could get a little bit closer this week, I'd be happy.

Q. Is there any specifics in your mind as to why this has been your hardest major?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, but I'm not going to bore you with all those thoughts. I've had a lot of times to think about it and analyze it. But, no, I think there's a few things that I hope to be able to be a little bit more aggressive off the tee on a couple of the holes this year. I'm not normally someone who shapes the ball a lot and on a couple of the holes, it really makes a difference if you can try and get it a bit farther down there.
And to take an example, 13, for instance. If I could get another 20 off the tee and try and get around the corner a little bit more on that one, that would be lovely. It's certainly a more inviting second shot into that par 5 with a 6‑iron than a 4‑iron off that side slope.
There's a few little bits and pieces. Putting, having the opportunity to putt on quick greens with a lot of undulations beforehand, and the boys did a good job for me down at Lake Nona and speeded up the greens about a week, ten days ago. We've put a little bit extra practice in on that.
Hopefully all those things will come together and we can be a little bit better off than we have been in the past.

Q. Whether it's a hole or a specific spot on a hole, what's the most special place to you on Augusta National and why?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, Amen Corner is a very special place and a place where a lot of things can happen. I think I'm no different. I've had success; I've had failure down in that part of the course, and yeah, you've just got to be on with your game.
And 12th hole in particular is one that certainly can come and bite you. We know, I mean, supposedly there's no fans down there in the trees, but it seems that way a lot of times, right. You sure there's no fans down there? It's a tricky part of the golf course and you've just got to be committed and hit the right shot at the right times down there.

Q. What's the most underrated spot on the golf course that you don't think gets talked about as much as it should?
HENRIK STENSON: I would say maybe the fifth hole is a very tricky hole and I don't think that one is showing as much on television as some of the other ones. I mean, we know back nine, pretty much every keen golfer knows most of the holes there.
But on the front nine, there's normally a couple of blackouts and you know, the third is a short par 4. But it can be very, very tricky, especially on those left‑hand pins. That's another one you hope to do a good score but it could certainly prove to be a very difficult one, too.

Q. How do you feel about the form?
HENRIK STENSON: The form on paper or my form? (Laughs).

Q. Your form.
HENRIK STENSON: I feel all right. I've put a lot of effort into the prep work this year. Probably as much as ever. I guess that the previous couple of tournaments, I just haven't performed the way I would have liked to, which is negative in terms of building some momentum and confidence out on the golf course. But at the same time, I've been working trying to find that form and hit my shots better and putt better and everything else.
Hopefully I can still put it together this week. I feel like it's not too far away and I'm certainly no worse off this year than I've been any other year coming in here. Yeah, that's why we're here. We've got four days to figure out where we stand.

Q. You mentioned being in contention, that was 2012, and you had an Irish caddie on your bag. What do you remember about that year and how it felt?
HENRIK STENSON: Obviously it's always very exciting when you put yourself in contention, whether it be a major or another golf tournament. But no, it was great to be out among the last groups here, and that was the year that Louis made a double‑eagle on the second, if I recall, right. It was a great atmosphere out there, and playing late on a Sunday, that's what you want to do.
It didn't end anywhere near the way I wanted it to end; whether win or lose, but I had a pretty bad back nine. Yeah, I'd rather not think about how that felt coming off that golf course on that Sunday (laughs).

Q. Earlier today, a player was in here answering a question about Lexi, and suggested that there seems to be a momentum out there of players that are mis‑marking their balls on the greens; something that probably needs to be addressed. I'm just wondering if you've experienced that, seen that, and think that it is an issue out on the TOUR?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, I wouldn't say that I've seen that on many occasions over the years, but I'm sure there's always been times when rules have been broken; whether intentionally or not.
But I mean, I think certainly we need to address that whole scenario that was going through; whether it's a penalty or not, and if it is, then that whole situation, we're getting penalized further for the scorecard and opening the scorecard and back and forth. There's a lot of different things to look into on that.
I think it's obviously not an ideal situation for anyone when a tournament kind of gets hit with that.

Q. Just to follow up. If you've ever seen a violation of the rules, players seem to be loathe to say anything to anyone about it. Have you seen violations of the rules where you've said nothing?
HENRIK STENSON: I think there's been times where you've seen something that, yeah, you kind of question, was that right or was it not. And then, yeah, it's always that, should you step forward or should you not. A lot of times, I'm sure you would keep on monitoring; if you think something might not be right, has been happening, then you keep on monitoring. But if you then don't get any further kind of proof or evidence of that, then obviously it's going to be a tricky situation to say something, because then you're not sure what you really saw in the first place, you know.

Q. How many meters do you gain by hitting the driver compared to the strong‑‑
HENRIK STENSON: I would say 20, 25 yards, something like that.

Q. Looked good today on the range, didn't it?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I hit a couple of decent ones.

Q. I think you led in 2012 in the fourth round, would that be right? Does that sound right to you?
HENRIK STENSON: Not leading the fourth round.

Q. First.
HENRIK STENSON: Sorry. Irish. Sorry. First; fourth, yeah (laughter).

Q. Do you remember saying to Jude, no matter what happens, we can tell our grandchildren we led the Masters?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, that's right, I think I made an eagle on 8 or something like that and we were on ton of the leaderboard, yeah.

Q. I think Jude, whatever he said‑‑ I hope he can extend it a bit more than that‑‑
HENRIK STENSON: Than the eighth hole. It probably lasted at least until the early part of the back nine, didn't it? No, it lasted until 18 when we took a few coming up that hill. So I guess 17 holes then.

Q. Just stupid question, you've got the Claret Jug now but what if you were offered the choice, you could only make one choice, green jacket or Claret Jug?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, that is a stupid question, isn't it? Since I already have one, I can't really give that one back, can I? That's going to look a bit rude, I think.

Q. You could swap it.
HENRIK STENSON: No, I mean, for me, it was always‑‑ I was obviously asked that question before quite a few times and it was never about‑‑ I mean, I'm not greedy in that sense. I would have taken‑‑ when you have none, would you have taken any.
Being European, being The Open Championship being some of the first golf that I watched on television when I was a young kid started playing the game and with the history that comes with that, of course that would maybe just be a little bit closer to my heart than any other one.
But I would say, in my pecking order, if you want to have that one, I would probably go: Open, Masters, U.S. Open and PGA. That would just, you know‑‑ but they are all four majors. They are wonderful tournaments to win and I hope I can give myself a chance to win a few of them.

Q. If you could go back to your first appearance here and across all those 11 that you mentioned, has it gotten easier to play or harder to play because you haven't had the success? Where are you now, 11 years on?
HENRIK STENSON: I mean, the first time around, it was hard. There's so many impressions and you know, it's a beautiful place and so much to take in. Possibly the first couple of years, you try and over‑prepare once you're here. It's a long week, if you're coming in early and you're playing all the practice rounds and working hard on the range; and then by Thursday, you're kind of, okay, is this when we're going to start.
I'd say after about maybe five or six times, I really felt like, okay, I know the golf course. I've got a good strategy. I've made the mistakes. I've done the good stuff and kind of figured that out.
So the last five or six times now, I feel like I've been comfortable on the golf course. It is a very difficult golf course, especially if the wind is up, and most likely we'll encounter it on Thursday and Friday.
But at the same time, it's easy to give it too much respect sometimes, too. So you've got to find that balance, and I feel like I have that. Like I said, I'm just trying to make small adjustments to give myself a better chance to succeed. Ultimately it comes down to playing well; of course not just playing the plans and know where you're going to go. You've got to be able to hit those shots and execute your round well. Quite a few times I've come here with pretty poor form, as well and that's certainly not going to help. Fingers crossed, we're in better shape this time around.

Q. How much practice have you gotten on this course of late? I notice you weren't out this morning. Do you plan to go out this afternoon? And of the practice you've had, what is your takeaway in terms of the way you've been playing the course?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, I came up for a little look Monday, like just over a week ago. So I spent quite a lot of time out there on the greens. We know a lot of the pin positions from previous years, and just spending time and freshening up the memory bank a little bit again.
So I spent a full day there and then I just flew in today. I'm going to head out and play nine holes this afternoon, evening, and I guess that will be it. Unless the weather holds out and we get lucky tomorrow, because then I'll try to play a few more in the morning.

Q. I know you have your own game to focus on, but I wonder if you've talked to Rory at all? Seems like this place is a good fit for him and something has held him back. Have you talked to him about why he has not won here yet?
HENRIK STENSON: No, those are not the conversations I'm having with Rory. I suggest you're not going to have it, either (laughter). I think he's occupied with wedding plans at this point.
MODERATOR: Thank you, Henrik.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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