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September 27, 2018

Henrik Stenson

Guyancourt, France

TOM CARLISLE: Henrik, welcome to the Media Centre.


TOM CARLISLE: It's your fifth Ryder Cup, but pulling on the Team Europe jersey, that must feel like a brand-new experience every time.

HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, it certainly never gets old. It's a great honour to be part of Team Europe once again. Got some of my greatest memories and experiences throughout the years in my golfing career playing for Europe.

Excited to be here and be part of the team once again.

TOM CARLISLE: It's been a few years since you played The Open de France, but have you quickly reacquainted yourself with the golf course?

HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, it's a great golf course. Haven't played I think since 2012, but yeah, I know this course really well. I played it many, many times over the years. Didn't take a lot of golfing around here to remember it and get familiar with it once again.

Q. What do you make of the inflation of the first tee, and is there a limit to how nervous you can get, or do they keep ramping it up with the bigger stadiums?
HENRIK STENSON: I guess we can answer that question a little bit later in the week a bit easier.

I think everyone is going to feel that first tee. That's normal for The Ryder Cup. And given the size and the setup we have here this week, which looks absolutely phenomenal, it's going to be something different, something special.

So I expect everyone to feel a little bit of jelly in their legs walking down to their first tee.

Q. Do you ever wonder what's going to come next, given how quickly it graduated from 2006 when it was quite small behind the first tee?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, 2006 to 2018, it's a few years in there. I don't know, might be at least another 20 years before we've got floating stands in the sky or something, I don't know. But it's certainly gotten bigger and bigger, and the atmosphere on that first tee is phenomenal, so really excited to see what that's going to be like.

Q. Question about the WhatsApp group you guys have got going?
HENRIK STENSON: Next question. (Laughter).

Q. You're known for your humour. Are you front and centre of the banter? Or if not, is there a particular person who has dominated?
HENRIK STENSON: I guess I can say I've participated, and it's probably best if it stays behind closed doors, yes.

Q. When you reflect back on hitting the first shot at Gleneagles, what are some of your memories that stick out, and did the experience match or exceed what you thought it would be coming into that moment?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I mean, it's a very different experience playing home matches compared to away matches, of course. In one, you have most of the crowd on your side, and of course, the opposite on the other one.

Yeah, Gleneagles was a very, very cool experience, and being on the first tee with Justin and playing away on Friday morning in front of the crowd was, yeah, something I will always remember, and I'm sure we'll have similar experiences here for everyone on the team.

Yeah, at this point, I can't wait to get going.

Q. Every week you play for yourself as an individual, and then you play for a lot of money, but this week you play for a team and no money. How does it mean for your motivation? Is it different?
HENRIK STENSON: Growing up, some of the early memories in my golfing career was from watching The Ryder Cup and watching my heroes play in this event. So it was always a motivating thing for me to try to make this team, and I had that dream come true in 2006.

Yeah, it's just an amazing week. You bond with your teammates in a totally different way compared to what you do out on Tour, on the regular tour. Yeah, you just build a special bond this week, and something you take with you for the rest of your career.

So you represent your country, your continent. You play for your teammates. Yeah, it's just a different dynamic compared to being out there in an individual sport and playing for yourself every week.

Q. How bad was the elbow injury, and were you ever concerned it would prevent you from either getting a wild card or playing here at all?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, it's been dragging on a bit, but I mean, I've thought for the most part I've been fit enough to play competitive golf.

Yeah, it's been probably more a hinder in the gym and not being able to do certain things and having to watch that a bit. But we hope that it's going to be completely gone there in a while, and yeah, we're just managing it, and it doesn't really affect my golfing capabilities at this point.

So yeah, it's just something we hope we can leave behind us shortly.

Q. But sort of ongoing this week, are you likely to play all five matches, or possibly --
HENRIK STENSON: How much we play and so forth, we've got a very strong and deep team. I think there's a possibility of playing potentially a bit less than previous matches, but we'll see. It's still early doors, and we'll see what the pairings are going to be like.

Q. Justin yesterday spoke about how delighted he was that he was on this team and the relationship you two have --
HENRIK STENSON: Oh, isn't that sweet (laughter).

Q. Can you talk about that partnership and how keen you'd be to play with him this week?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, we were teamed up together at Gleneagles and had tremendous success in that partnership. We didn't do quite as well at Hazeltine, but we still played well together. I think it's just having that trust when you are playing with a good friend and someone you've been out and playing with a lot, you trust him, and also, the part of feeling no regrets when you do hit a bad shot and you do miss, because that will happen.

It's just how you move on from there, and not being too caught up in that part of it. Yeah, trust and chemistry is important in the team format, and yeah, we all know that Justin and I got a good partnership. Yeah, we hope we can play well when we play.

Q. It's not every day you get to go for dinner in the Palace of Versailles. Could you maybe talk about the experience last night and just how much The Ryder Cup gives you experiences and memories off the golf course, as well as on it?
HENRIK STENSON: You're very thorough if you know my dinner plans every evening, aren't you.

Yeah, it was a very special evening, of course, having the team dinner in the palace and it all finished off with fireworks, and we got to see some family and friends that were also at the dinner.

Paris and Versailles, it doesn't get any better than that. It's a City of the World, and to have the Ryder Cup here has been a very special experience. It gives you the opportunity to do things like that. I think it's been great so far.

Q. Can you compare the pressure of trying to win a major championship on Sunday to what it's like here at The Ryder Cup on Sunday?
HENRIK STENSON: I guess in many ways, it's similar. You've got to play well down the stretch and handle yourself under big pressure.

Yeah, I made kind of a winning putt in 2006, but it was not -- it was a big wave of blue across K Club at that time. I haven't been in the situation that Martin Kaymer has been or Paul McGinley had the winning putt at The Belfry. It's been others that's been in a much more tense situation or important situation than I was in 2006.

Yeah, I guess we'll see. We might be in that position this week, and since I managed to do the one part of the question, we'll see if I can answer that on Sunday.

Q. Bubba Watson yesterday revealed that most of the American camp are battling something. He's shattered and exhausted and taking medicine for a heavy cold. Is that good to know for the European camp, some sort of edge over them knowing they are struggling against germs?
HENRIK STENSON: I think at this part of the season, there's been a lot of golf being played, and we all know that a lot of the players coming straight here from playing in America and playing a long FedExCup stretch.

Yeah, some of them are going to be a bit fatigued and a bit battered. You know, there's a lot of players that had to make the journey across, myself included, and jet-lag is one thing that you have to fight against, as well.

I would imagine everyone's got a little bit of something that they had to fight, but yeah, it's a draining week this week. You're running on adrenaline, but at the same time, you can hit the wall at some point.

Yeah, we'll see Sunday which team is the strongest and who has battled the least colds, I guess.

Q. Being Swedish, do you have any particular remedies to fight off colds?
HENRIK STENSON: That's why I reside in the Florida sunshine. (Laughter) That was the only reason I went there, to get away from all the colds. One kind of cold, at least.

Q. As one of the veterans in the team room, have you given any advice to the rookies, as to the nerves and emotions they will encounter over the next couple days?
HENRIK STENSON: I think the more experienced players might have just spoken a few words of advice. Everyone's nervous. You're going to feel nervous walking to that first tee. It's natural. Just be prepared to expect that, and then when it comes to playing, as we know in match play and seeing at the WGC Match Play, sometimes you might need to shoot 9-under to win a match and another time you can be 9-over and win.

It might be easy to think in your own mind that you need to play perfect and you need to play your best golf to have a chance to win matches, but I'd say if you play solid golf, you're probably going to win more than you lose.

Yeah, just take down that little bit of pressure that you might feel like you need to perform at your absolute best. That's not always the case, and just go out there and play your game and try to do a good performance, and that will most likely get you the point.

Q. You're one of the go-to guys for the first match on Friday morning. Did you relish that, and do you want that to be the case this week? Do you still relish that?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, it's always fun to be out on Friday morning. Yeah, it's going to be a very intense experience for whoever is out there on the first tee on Friday morning. You know, pairings are not out yet, so we'll see who those eight players will be on Friday morning.

Q. Along those lines, on Friday morning, of the four team sessions, Friday morning perhaps the most important because it sets a tone for the rest of the week?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, it is an important -- that is the starting point, and both teams wants to get off to a quick start and kind of get a grip on things early. But it's not -- I mean, we had a poor opening session in Hazeltine, to say the least, but then we kind of battled back from there on.

So it doesn't necessarily mean that it's done and over with just because you have a good opening session, but it certainly sets the tone, and in any sport, you don't want to let the opposition get a good start and get a good grip of it early.

So yeah, we're going to be ready to go out and play good from the beginning.

Q. What did you make of Tiger Woods' performance in THE TOUR Championship on Sunday, and the fact that two of Europe's top players weren't really able to put any pressure on them at all? Does that have any impact on the morale in the camp at all this week?
HENRIK STENSON: No, I don't think so. Obviously all credit to Tiger to go out there and win THE TOUR Championship. He's had a great comeback, and as long as the body was holding up, I think everyone was thinking that that was a possibility, and all credit to him for making that happen.

Yeah, I guess for Justin, the main goal was achieved in winning the FedExCup from the position he was in, and yeah, Rory might have wanted a slightly different Sunday. But that's golf, and that was last week.

So I don't think any of that will matter this week.

Q. My memory is not what it used to be, but I seem to recall in 2006, was there a bit of a debate who actually did hole the winning putt because so many matches were close to finishing?
HENRIK STENSON: No, I holed the winning putt. There's no debate. (Laughter).

Q. Did you have to argue with somebody to make that clear?
HENRIK STENSON: There wasn't many big arguments about that. If someone else makes claims for it, I'm happy to give it away because it doesn't really matter in the end. We won and that's all that matters. It's a team event.

I was told it was me, but if you've got some other information, you know --

Q. I'm sure it was close between matches finishing?
HENRIK STENSON: If there's anyone with other information I'll meet you behind the Media Centre later on and we'll iron these things out (laughter).

Like I said, it was always going to be Europe at K Club there on that Sunday afternoon, so I hope we can have a similar argument after this match here in Paris and we can argue who holed the winning putt on Sunday, and I'll be happy to give it away to someone who finished long before me (laughter).

TOM CARLISLE: On that note, Henrik, thanks for your time.

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