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August 22, 2017

Henrik Stenson

Old Westbury, New York

CHRIS REIMER: Our most recent PGA TOUR winner, Henrik Stenson.

HENRIK STENSON: Say that once more.

CHRIS REIMER: Our most recent PGA TOUR winner, Henrik Stenson.

HENRIK STENSON: Sounds good.

CHRIS REIMER: All victories are good, but this moves you into the top 30 as we start in the FedExCup Playoffs. Maybe some comments about peaking now as we reach this important stretch of golf.

HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, as we know golf is a funny game. You never know when a win is going to come knocking on your door. I've played some fairly solid golf in the previous month. I was 11th at The Open and 17th at Bridgestone and 13th at Quail Hollow. It was some good stuff in there but not enough good stuff obviously to challenge for any of those titles.

And then last week, I just hit it a little bit better, approach shots were really good and my putting was excellent. I think I was third in putting overall.

Yeah, it all came together at a perfect time. Get that win, momentum and confidence heading into the Playoffs, and you know, we'll see if we can make a run at this, as well. I wouldn't say I played 100 percent in every area last week but obviously mentally and putting and approach game was excellent, and it was good enough to get to 22-under.

So I'm excited about the next couple of weeks.

Q. What is it about that winning mode that you understand that you're in? Is it a tunnel vision thing? Is it just you see the shot before you hit it?
HENRIK STENSON: I think certain things become clearer. When you're under pressure and you know you need to perform, it becomes even clearer what you need to do. Still, you've got to stick to your routines and do all the kind of groundwork as you do before every shot, and working with my caddie -- but I think that extra bit of pressure, adrenaline, it just makes you focus that tiny bit harder.

You've got to enjoy being there, as well. Trying to hit the shots when they matter the most, and I've been able to do that over my career quite a few times. Yeah, very happy to deliver both on Saturday, when I was kind of falling behind a little bit. I caught up on the last six or seven holes with a bunch of birdies to hold the 54-hole lead, and the same on Sunday. I saw after nine holes, I think we were four or five players tied for the lead pretty much or there about. It was going to take a bunch of birdies coming home to win it, and yeah, just going for my shots, going for my putts. It was my day. I was in a good frame of mind, and I made them obviously.

Q. You've probably been asked this 10,000 times, but how much did that Open victory mean to you, and how much does it still mean to you at this point?
HENRIK STENSON: It means an incredible much. It was a career -- a career dream, a career goal to win a major and to win The Open Championship. It was one of the first golf tournaments that I ever watched as a kid back home in Sweden back in the day, and I've seen all my childhood heros and the best players in the world hoist that trophy. And then to one day stand there yourself and being announced as the champion golfer of the year was truly special.

I've had a great career, even before winning The Open and winning the FedExCup. I think I've had a great career, and those things are making it even better. Yeah, it's kind of interesting. I feel like I'm certainly into the back nine of my career, into the second half, and see what we can try and do here. I'm certainly eager and hungry to challenge for a few more major titles before I'm done.

Q. How does your preparation differ and what do you try to accomplish on a week when you're playing a new venue like this course?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, normally it would require a bit more time out on the golf course. That's time that I didn't really have this time now. So I'm relying on Gareth to do good work today. He's out there walking nine holes now, and I've got some other obligations this afternoon, and then he's going to suss out the plan for the other nine.

So it's obviously a bit more on him. The only chance I have to see the golf course is tomorrow during the Pro-Am. So he will have come up with a plan before then and then we'll try and execute that plan and then make some tweaks and adjustments if needed and when needed tomorrow.

So it's always an advantage when you're coming back to courses and venues that you played before and you don't need to do that extra bit of work. But I'm sure we'll figure it out anyway. There's been times throughout my career where I've been injured. I think that was my second European Tour win, I had a neck injury, and I couldn't even play a practice round on the Tuesday. I walked the course on Wednesday and I ended up winning by four I think.

You know, at this point, it's all about strategic, the way you look at a course and numbers and where you're going to hit it. It's not so much about being out there hitting the shots. I'm going to spend time today on the putting green and chipping area, make sure you figure out what kind of sand you've got in the bunkers and the speed of the greens and so on. So I'm pretty confident we'll be ready enough come Thursday.

Q. We saw last year you don't have to be Top-10 to win this whole thing; is that in the back of your mind where that win puts you in a specific area where now you can go for this?
HENRIK STENSON: I think it's more the confidence of playing well and winning. I think that's as much as exactly where I stand in the rankings. I think if I remember correctly, I was ninth heading into the Playoffs in 2013 when I won it, and then in 2015 when I came very close to winning it again, I started off 43rd. And Billy Horschel I think was even further down. I played with him in '14. He might have been like 80th or 90th when we started the Playoffs back then.

It's all about playing well in these tournaments because they weigh up four times as much as the regular season ones, and once you get hot and going and if you're in the mix, then you're going to make big advancements, and as long as you're top five going into Atlanta, you've got it in your own hands.

I'm probably more excited about winning and playing well last week than exactly if I'm 20th or 29th or 32nd; that kind of all kind of takes care of itself if you get going in these four weeks.

Q. You rely on that 3-wood quite a bit. Can you tell me when you got it and what it is?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, it's a Diablo Octane 13-degree 3-wood. I think actually the machine reading might be 12.5 or 12.8 or something, so it's a strong 3-wood. Got it in the bag in 2009. Not the same one because that one gave up in February this year. So I played one or two tournaments with a different one, with the new Epic one.

It's such a personal thing: The feel, the look, what you're used to seeing and what shot you're hitting. So I went back to the backup of my old one and it's been back in the bag, since, yeah, middle of the spring again. I'm pretty conservative with equipment at times. If I find a club that I really, really like, I go with the old don't fix it if it's not broken. That one still stays in there. Not saying it's going to be in there for ever but for the first time being, it's doing its duties and rather good.

Q. I know the FedExCup isn't that old. It's like, I think we're in the 11th year. Why is it so difficult that nobody has repeated yet?
HENRIK STENSON: Because Jordan Spieth made 50-foot bombs when he shouldn't have (laughter). Next question.

Well, I mean, to give you a more serious answer, even though that was rather serious, you've got to prove yourself time and time again to win the FedExCup. You've got to play pretty solid, even though we discussed that already; that you can come in with different kind of starting points from the regular season but you've got to have at least a pretty solid season in the back.

And then you have to play well in the first three Playoff events to make sure that you're inside the top 30, and you can tell me the stat on that later but most of the guys who have won it I'm sure have been within the top five. I think there's only been a couple guys outside the top five heading into the Atlanta; right?

CHRIS REIMER: Horschel, Haas --

HENRIK STENSON: So the majority has been within top five. So you've got to play a season to be into the FedExCup Playoffs and then you have to play solid in the first three to make sure that you're in the top five, and when you're in the top five, most of the times you're going to win it to guarantee. Otherwise if someone else is winning it there, then it doesn't matter, anyway.

So it's kind of an over, and over again, so if you're making two of those, great. You can have a solid season, and then you can be the best player for the first three Playoffs and head into Atlanta No. 1. But then if the No. 5 guy wins it, see you later.

So it is that kind of setup and I really feel, though, that we have a great balance in the movements, because the first couple of times, it was not much movement throughout the Playoff events and then it became too volatile I think, and now we're kind of somewhere in between.

So I think the balance is right for both kind of protecting someone who has had a good season; that they are not going to fall way down if they don't have a good week straightaway and there's still enough room for someone to move up if they do during the Playoffs.

Q. You've finished first at East Lake and second at East Lake. What is it about East Lake that you like so much and do you prefer to end on the par 5 instead of the par 3?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, I haven't been there since we swapped the two nines. So I can't really tell you. I think McIlroy likes this that way because he seems to hole out on 16 and things like that.

The golf course suits me. It's an old-style golf course. You really get a premium with that bermudarough on hitting a lot of fairways and a lot of greens, because that's normally my game when I'm playing well; solid off the tee in terms of percentages and then good proximity and good iron play. So whenever you have a course with bermudarough, you don't want to be hitting second shots out of that stuff and you don't want to chip-in around the greens there.

So I think it's -- when we play bermuda courses, it's tricky and it's an even higher premium on good ball-striking, which is kind of my strong side when I'm playing well.

Yeah, just, I like the place (laughter).

Q. Three of the last four FedExCup winners have won twice in the Playoffs, including yourself. Given how difficult it is to just win a tournament at all, is it more challenging to win twice in the Playoffs, as opposed to, you know, Jordan just winning THE TOUR Championship and not winning any of the first three events, or does it make a difference really?
HENRIK STENSON: I think it's just -- you've got the possibility to make up even more ground, of course, if you win twice in the Playoffs but depending on where you start and depending on how you play -- I mean in, 2015, I was second in the first one, second in the second one and 10th and second to Jordan. If he had not been there playing so well as he did, I potentially could have won it without a win.

So there's many different ways to do it, and there's not a right way and a wrong way. It's all about getting enough points to be in the top five and hopefully win the last one. And if you're No. 1 and you don't win the final, you've just got to I guess hope that whoever does is outside the top six and is good enough, anyway.

Q. Do you find that you can ride some momentum if you get one of those early wins?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, certainly. I think, and that's why I hope that this win at Wyndham last week is going to carry on some momentum into these weeks. You can never tell but it's always a nice confidence boost, and history kind of tells you that that's been the case. Even if you don't win the first one, then if you're up there, you know, you just kind of move on. And we'll see. Time will tell.

Q. How much do playing partners impact your performance, if at all? Do you get your pairings this week and say, this is going to be a good week or this is not going to be a good week?
HENRIK STENSON: No, not really. Of course it's an individual sport. Of course, you look at a week and it's like, oh, yeah, I haven't played with him for a long time check he can which or it's someone you're good friends with and haven't seen them for awhile, you can catch up a little bit between shots and so on.

But in terms of playing on the golf course, it doesn't really matter that much. It's like rain delays at this point in my career, when they call it, I walk to the clubhouse. When they tell us to start, I start again. Maybe the first year, it was, "Ohhhhh, rain delay" (in dramatic tone). Now you just go with the flow and it's the same for the pairings I'd say.

Q. Along those lines, would you say that Phil was the perfect playing partner for you last year Sunday at The Open, just because you were pushing each other all day?
HENRIK STENSON: There's no question. If you look at a group, and sometimes you can see on the board and you see one guy is level, one is plus three, and the other one is plus one and then the next group comes along and one is minus five, one is minus two, one is minus three; you certainly can get that dynamic within the group.

If someone starts playing well, it's almost like, oh, apparently it's easy to make birdies today and you start making one or two yourself, and if someone else -- if the other guys are struggling, oh, maybe it's a hard golf course.

But it tends to be kind of -- you can either pull each other along or you can hold each other back for whatever reason. That's kind of a bit of a momentum, as well. But I had played a lot of golf with Phil last year. We played together at THE PLAYERS, the U.S. Open, the Masters and the British on the Sunday, so we were like every other week. Yeah, so I was quite familiar with his presence.

Q. You seem to play a lot of your best golf in the end of the season; is there anything to late in the season that kind of turns you on?
HENRIK STENSON: There's a lot of things that can turn me on I guess (laughter) I don't know if August and September are the two.

I think we all kind of have our kind of cycles throughout the year; don't start me on that one. I think historically, I was always pretty referred up early on in the year. If I'm going back to probably before my days on the PGA TOUR, I always had strong tournaments in the Middle East and early on in the season and not too much going on in the summertime and then kicking it off again in the fall. That tended to be my rhythm back in the day, and then I figured out, we have got four of the biggest prizes in golf, or the four biggest ones in the middle of the season there, so I need to try and make something happen. Thankfully at some part, we did.

I'm suffering from grass allergies quite badly and I think that certainly didn't help me in my career. You're feeling fatigued and tired and knocks you down a little bit and your immune system and so on in the middle of the season when it's the worst. That could be one little part of it.

Yeah, otherwise, I don't have a great answer, really. I'm welcome to input.

CHRIS REIMER: I hope you peak in the next four weeks. Thanks for coming in.

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