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January 16, 2018

Henrik Stenson

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

MICHAEL GIBBONS: Henrik, welcome. You started your season last week with a fine victory at the EurAsia Cup.

HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, we are 100 per cent this year. It feels great. Let's hope it continues.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: Quick reflection on that and how the game is and how you're feeling.

HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, had a fun week in Kuala Lumpur last week with the rest of the team. As you know, we don't get to play that much team golf, so it's always good fun when those chances arise. It gives you a chance to see where your game is at early on and what to work on and so on from there.

So some positives and some things that needs to be worked on, but we got two out of three points and we got the work done in the end as a team. I think that was good. The Asian team played very well the first two days, and put up a good fight.

So it was certainly very good competitive practise in that sense to be out there and you have to, even if my game might not have been 100 per cent, I still had to focus hard and play hard to try and win points.

So that's always good to start out the year that way, and I've done that in the past when we had the Royal Trophy going. I played that on I think five occasions, and a lot of times I came here and played really well in The Desert Swing after that.

Yeah, feels good to be up and running again, and looking forward to this week and the weeks ahead.

Q. Who impressed you in a team environment last week, both on the course and in the team room that you think will be a benefit in Paris?
HENRIK STENSON: I know there's certainly a lot of guys who are better at playing FIFA than I am. I know I can keep up with a few guys on the table tennis side of things.

I mean, a lot of the guys I know since before, and some are new to me kind of off the golf course. It was good to spend time with some of the younger guys; I wouldn't say I'm almost old enough to be their bad but we're kind of getting there. So it was a relaxed week in the team room.

Who impressed me, I don't know if any one -- I could tell that Matt Fitzpatrick's played FIFA a lot, so I guess that's the one thing I envy them. I'm not good at computer games. But I think it was just a good week for everyone to kind of get going. We got to tryout some potential pairings.

You know, you never know what the future holds in terms of Ryder Cups. Of course, you're going to see a number of players that were in Malaysia last week teeing it up in France, so it was certainly a chance for Thomas and for ourselves to get a chance to try some of that out. Yeah, I think you just take those things with you, really.

Q. Tommy was in earlier talking about expectation after winning The Race to Dubai last year. How do you feel you handled your own expectations last year after a great year the previous season?
HENRIK STENSON: I think it was a little bit similar to the spring of 2014, spring of 2017 was kind of the same. You just get swamped with -- obviously when you have a great run like I had in 2013 and in 2016, it takes a lot out of you mentally more than anything, energy levels gets eaten away at all the time and your calendar gets more and more busy.

When you achieve great things, the demand or your time goes up. I kind of feel the same on both occasion that the steam kind of run out a little bit, and last year it did for me. I guess in March and April, I was not much use on the golf course there for a little bit. Picked up things again and managed to get a win at the Wyndham Championship.

I'm still pretty happy with my 17th season. I think it was about 20 guys who accumulated more World Ranking points, so if you're not quite up to speed over the year and still can stay around those numbers, I think you've done it pretty good.

I'm pretty excited about my season, my scheduling, because I play a lot of golf now early, and then I have a longer patch where I can be at home and practise and then try and ref it up for the Masters again. So it's kind of on, off, on, for the first three months, and we'll see if that can get us ready for Augusta in the best possible way.

Q. With it being a Ryder Cup year, as well does that sort of help the energy levels after you've had a little bit of time to draw breath?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, it's exciting times. I played four Ryder Cup teams, and I'd love to be there in Paris of course. It's so much fun both on and off the course, and it's competition at its finest and a week that you don't want to miss when you've been there and know what it's all about.

We got to see a little peek of how the grandstands are going to look around the first tee and you start getting goosebumps, just because you know what it's going to be like, or maybe not even knowing that, because it was I think 1,500 around the first at Gleneagles and that was rather good. So if you triple or quadruple that, I'm sure it's going to be nothing short of fantastic.

I wouldn't say I'll change my schedule a lot. Because it's a Ryder Cup year, I hope that I can perform enough in these 20 events or whatever we play up until then to accumulate the points to be part of the team. But of course it's there in the back of your mind and if you ever need a little bit of a kick in the butt to go out and practise, you contend don't need to think too long about that when you have that on the horizon.

Q. Regarding the burden of expectation, if Tommy asked you for one piece of advice, what would you give him on that?
HENRIK STENSON: Become better at saying no. Because that's hard.

Like I say, you have a great year and a bright future ahead of you, everyone wants five minutes, and you know, it's only 24 hours in a day and every little bit you do is going to take away a little bit of energy and a little bit of focus from what you need and should do. That's a tough balance that we face.

I'm sure he's going to have a little -- well, not sure, but there's always a chance that he might come to a point where he feels like he's a bit worn out because of everything he's done. I don't think he had the longest of breaks, either, between seasons. You've got to be watching that side but you figure it out as you go along, as well. If you run into a bit of a dip on the energy side, then you learn better for next time, but it is a challenge, yeah.

Q. At a Ryder Cup, would you relish the prospect of shepherding a couple of the young players? The last couple, you've been with Rose.
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, he's also younger than me. Maybe not quite as much. No, of course I'd hoped for both Justin and myself to be there in Paris and continuing our great partnership.

But I really enjoyed playing with Tommy last week and I definitely see that as a possible pairing, as well, if we both make it there. You know, Justin is not a spring chicken anymore, so he might need to rest a round, so maybe I could play with Tommy (laughter).

Q. Before the start of the EurAsia Cup, you indicated you were stone cold coming into Kuala Lumpur, but especially the second round, it was like almost Henrik Stenson the 2016 Open. You were hitting shots which were just incredible. How much does a round like -- I know it was foursomes, but how much does a round like that give you confidence into these two weeks, or three weeks, rather, that you are playing in succession?
HENRIK STENSON: I think it was for me, having been beaten badly the first day, not playing too bad, actually but we bumped into a team that was playing, the first round they made 14 birdies in 11 holes. Even if I would have played on top of my game, I'm not sure I could have managed that, how they were rolling the putts in.

Yeah, I was just determined to go out and have a better day and you know, really tried hard at that. Foursomes, you only need to hit half the shots, so I guess I managed to do that. I picked the good ones to keep in that game, and yeah, it's always nice when you come through, and especially in a hard format like foursomes, to go out and play well and give your partner good opportunities and not put him in trouble, it's always a nice thing to do.

You never really lose that, the kind of, how shall I say, how to focus and get back into the mix. It might take a day or two, but then it was certainly tournament focus back to where it needs to be and we played a good game.

It's certainly a help these weeks to be game ready rather than coming straight from practise.

STEVE TODD: Henrik, always a pleasure.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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