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March 15, 2018

Henrik Stenson

Orlando, Florida

AMANDA HERRINGTON: We would like to welcome Henrik Stenson to the interview room here at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard. You've had a lot of success here, this is your 10th start, but an 8-under 64 your best round here at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard.


AMANDA HERRINGTON: Looking at last week, I hate to bring last week up, one birdie last week in two rounds, nine today, a career best.

HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, it's better to save them all for one go, I think. There's no point wasting a few last week when I was heading home. So, no, I mean we know it's a funny game, my putter was not working at all last week, I actually hit the ball quite all right throughout the two rounds that I played, but I just couldn't make a birdie, really. I had to go and do a bit of work on my putting and got that going for sure. It felt good with a bit of a work on my setup and posture and I hit some good putts in practice Tuesday, Wednesday, and, yeah, today was beautiful out there on the greens, really. I hit a lot of solid putts and I think the stats said 20. I mean, I had probably three or four just off the fringe. So it was maybe not that low of a number in real terms. But I actually, surface putts, it was down to 20 then. And I hit a lot of good iron shots, set up some short birdie putts and kept it tidy on the par-5s and rolled a couple of mid-range putts in. So, yeah, very pleased with that start, of course.

AMANDA HERRINGTON: Well, 20 does tie your fewest putts in a round, so.

HENRIK STENSON: Yeah. Yeah. I can see that.


HENRIK STENSON: There's been times when I had 20 on nine holes, I know that much.

Q. There were a few kind of dire prediction that this was going to be a very tough scoring day given the firmness of the greens and the fairways and so forth, as of yesterday. What made it a little more accessible today?
HENRIK STENSON: Playing good and putting well, I guess. That's normally going to get you in the reds. No, it's a good golf course for me, this one, you're going to get rewarded if you hit a lot of fairways and greens and staying out of trouble and I guess that's why I had four top-10s in four years running before last year. Yeah, I don't change much in my game plan, it's just kind of the same that I've done year in and year out and trying to hit those same positions, try and get it as far up as you can without taking too much risk and then hitting solid approaches. I probably hit three or four good iron shots in there to good distance and a couple of 3-, 4-footers for birdie, a couple of 10-, 12-footers and got up-and-down on the par-5s. So I spin the ball quite a lot, so it makes it easier maybe for me to hold the greens. Our playing partners on one or two occasions couldn't quite grip it as much. And there's always the certain conditions it's going to play in your favor. Last week I felt like when I have too much spin I can't really get it to the pin, it comes back off the front on a few of the greens at Copperhead, so yeah, conditions are just pretty good for me this week.

Q. You've just touched on all the success that you've had around here. What is it about the golf course? Is it a matter of being home, is it mental, is it something about your game, why have you historically had success here?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I guess it comes down to the Tempur-Pedic bed that I have at home, that's the one that makes all the difference, right? No, of course it's nice to -- we spend enough time on the road, so to have tournaments near by where you can either like Tampa where it's a short drive to get there through the week, even though I stay up there then that's nice. And this week staying at home and you're driving across town -- even though Orlando traffic can be a bit crazy at times. It took me about an hour and 15 to get back home last night. Bad timing on my part, leaving in the middle of rush hour. But it's about a 30, 35 minute commute across town, so nice to stay at home and not have to pack up and leave. And it's just a good golf course for me that I played well over the years and yeah, very happy with the start that I had today. There's a lot of golf left to be played, there's a lot of strong players on the leaderboard just behind. So, so far so good, happy with the start and now it's time to look at tomorrow's round and after that.

Q. How, why is it that all the 40 plus golfers now are just beating up on all these poor kids out here now?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, we'll see how long that lasts. But, yeah, no, golf is a game where experience and so forth, you can draw a lot on that and we play these courses a lot of times and you make some mistakes and you try and rectify that. And when you got younger players coming up, if they're playing here for the first or second time they haven't maybe got the experience of a tough golf course and they might make one or two mistakes that's going to cost them a lot. So I think that plays a big part. Certain golf courses you are going to get more rewarded for a 320 yard drive, it's nice to hit a couple of 320 out there on this course at the right holes, but a lot of times it's about precision and hitting it down the fairway with a long iron or a fairway wood. As we know, that's the type of golf that kind of suits my game.

Q. Does that portend anything a couple weeks down the road at Augusta as far as the value of experience on a place like that and maybe a few older guys can keep it going through there?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, still Augusta is a course that's set up to bomb it off the tee and really get it up there. You got to be precise with your approach shots into those small sections on the greens and every yard kind of helps in that quest. So, yeah, it's a different type of golf. Here you got thick rough and the slightly, yeah, definitely slimmer fairways and more doglegs as well. So you got to be on the short stuff. Augusta is quite wide fairways and not very high rough. So it's a different course setup. But you still see Bernhard Langer and Couples and those guys climbing up on the leaderboard at Augusta, even though they might not be in their prime years still, even though Langer always keeps on going, he's like clock work. But it's a long golf course for the seniors, but they still manage to get up there on the routine and experience. For me it's about being a bit more aggressive at Augusta and try and turn things around. It's the Major that I performed the least over the years and yeah, we're back trying to change that.

Q. Was there any benefit at all today to playing on the other side of the draw from Tiger as opposed to last week with all the craziness and whatnot? Does that help at all? To be able to kind of play in a little more mellow?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, we certainly heard the cheering when he made a couple of birdies coming in when we were warming up. So, yeah, it's great to see him back competing, but it was a little loud out there last week. But that comes with the excitement of having him back and seeing him play well so I thought it was great. I was pretty confident that he was going to be there at the end of the weekend, given how he played and looked the first two days when I was out with him. So I was not surprised at all that he was among the top guys on the top of the leaderboard come Sunday afternoon. So, yeah, great to see him back and yeah, I guess it's nice to get a little bit of a breather at times though.

Q. Kind of a long those lines, when you take a five-week break as you do in the early part of the year, how much at home are you -- four? Four. A long time. How much at home are you working, how much are you resting and when you come back is there any, does it take time to get back into the tournament?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, a little bit. A little bit. So I had four weeks off, I played four weeks in a row out and about in the world, so I came home, it's roughly one week to get rid of the jet lag and then my kids were out of school so I had a holiday with them. So out of the four weeks I worked for two weeks and I had two weeks of easier time sort of. And then, yeah, I could say that I was a little bit rusty at Tampa, possibly, but if my putter would have been working okay I still think I would have had a decent week last week because it's still a good golf course for me as well and I wasn't playing bad tee to green, it was more malfunctioning on the greens that was the big problem. Yeah, in the beginning this is my second week out of a four week, four tournaments in five weeks with Augusta being the last one. So of course I want to see signs moving in the right direction and yeah, it was a good day.

Q. Was it important to see signs so quickly after malfunctioning?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, on the putter said certainly. Long game I've been having to work on quite a lot over a period of time, so, yeah, I wouldn't say my confidence is sky high, but I made a lot of good swings out there, a lot of committed swings and that's going to be the key for throughout the rest of this week to keep on working along those lines. And if I can keep the putter going, then I hope I can continue that flow of birdies.

Q. A little off topic, sorry, forgive me, please. But when Phil produced second in that British Open, he played well enough to win probably about 90 of them. When you watched or when you heard about him winning in Mexico City, did that bring anything back to you about your own British Open or what it was like to be Phil at that moment?
HENRIK STENSON: I was just happy to see Phil win. I know he's know he's worked really hard on his game. I played a lot of tournaments that he's played over the last couple of years and I've seen him out there doing long hours and putting the hard work in, so, yeah, delighted to see him get rewarded for that. That's the way in this game, if you don't put any time in, any effort in, you're not going to get anything out of it. There's no guarantees that you're going to get a lot out of it even though you put the hard work in, so when you do get rewarded it's a nice feeling and I was happy to see him win in Mexico. I didn't think much more of it than that.

Q. Did they ever make any arrests on the thefts last year at the British Open?
HENRIK STENSON: No. So any leads would be, I would be thankful if you got any leads. Thank you.

Q. When you do go home tonight what do you do? Do you help kids with the homework or chill out with some beers or help the kids with homework?
HENRIK STENSON: If we're going to carry on much longer and given how bad the traffic was, the kids will be asleep before I make it back home. I think it's just going to be a quick dinner, watch TV 4 in the shower and figure out what I'm going to wear in the morning. It's going to be a bit chilly, I think, so I need to prepare that. And then just chill out for a little bit and go to bed. It's early doors tomorrow, so not much time to do much else. It will be a barbecue tomorrow though.

Q. Not much traffic then.
HENRIK STENSON: It will be a quick commute. So that's good.

Q. One last thing before you go get stuck in traffic.

Q. Have you ever found yourself playing in a group and noticing someone to be particularly young or particularly old? Did it ever strike you one way or the other?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, but I try to forget about that, since I'm the old one these days. But, yeah, of course. The funny thing is with doing this, I remember I came out of Europe in 2001 on the European Tour and some of the guys I got paired with the first couple of years and you ask them how many years have you been out on TOUR and they would say, oh, 30 years or 15 years and you're thinking, geez, that's an eternity. And now I've been out like a few years. So time flies as we know and yeah, time out here goes by quickly. All right. Thank you very much. No? One more? Last one for the lady.

Q. All right. Thank you. Do you notice any difference in Tiger's demeanor now in this latest comeback, having played with him?

Q. And what, how so?
HENRIK STENSON: I played we got paired with Tiger in the Bahamas at the Hero World Challenge in the second round and I could tell straight away that he was more ready, had worked more on his game, he looked healthier and he was keen to compete again. It was a noticeable difference to me, compared to one or two of the other times where he's come back and you know he hasn't been healthy enough. It's one of them, he longs to gets back, he wants to, but clearly he wasn't, because he had to go back home and had an operation and get treated again. So, yeah, it was a big difference and I could tell that he was hungry and he was playing pretty solid. So that's why I was not surprised at all that he was there to the end last week, after a solid start in Tampa.

Q. How have you managed to stay as healthy as you have relatively speaking?
HENRIK STENSON: Talking about me now?

Q. Yes.
HENRIK STENSON: Wow, I guess it's just those Viking genes, I guess. No, touch wood, I've had two knee operations, I got neck is feeling a little iffy at times, a wrist. You're not going to do this for 20 or 25 years, beating golf balls every day and flying around the world and feeling fantastic. So it certainly catches up with you, but I've been so far so good. I'm trying to look after the body somewhat and do my work in the gym and stretching and everything else, but of course we're not getting any younger and it's even more important than before to address those areas. So I can go home and stretch now. Thank you.

AMANDA HERRINGTON: Henrik Stenson, everyone.

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