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January 22, 2020

Henrik Stenson

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

CLARE BODEL: Thank you for joining us, Henrik, nice and early. So here we are at the OMEGA Dubai Desert Classic, a place where you won in 2007, you've had a bunch of Top 10s. What do you like about this place? What fits your game?

HENRIK STENSON: I have made Dubai my home as you all know for ten years, and great to be back and be in a very familiar environment. Know a lot of people. Obviously I know the golf course very well. Played it probably as much as any golf course that we play on Tour, and possibly one of the ones I've played the most out of all the golf courses in the world.

So yeah, I think at this stage, I know where to be and not to be, and it's a question if I can hit it where I want to be and not the other way around.

So yeah, we talked before about all the great facilities, weather, food, hotels, everything. It's enjoyable weeks to start out the year, and yeah, it's great to be back.

CLARE BODEL: You obviously ended 2019 with a win over in the US. Feeling good coming into the new European Tour season.

HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I think as anyone knows, when you win a tournament, it's probably better to keep on going. Possibly would have been better to have the OMEGA Dubai Desert Classic in mid-December, but yeah, I've had a nice break, and we're just trying to kind of pick up where we left off.

But it's still early, and got a few things that we're working on, and we're just going to try, as any week, you try and do the best you can out there and hopefully come Sunday, you're somewhere within reach, and anything can happen. It's tough competition and a lot of guys want to win the golf tournament these days, so if you can be there, you've always got a chance.

Q. As your career has progressed, you used to start the season really well over here, and now it looks like the middle of the season is becoming more of your kind of a game.
HENRIK STENSON: That sounds great, all the majors in the summer. (Laughter).

Q. Is that the right picture?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I think you're right. I certainly had some better runs in the early part of the year, probably a few years back, than it has been, I don't know if that's also a sign of long seasons and short breaks and then you kind of get going again.

The problem when you have not much of an off-season, we don't really have a chance to both take the breaks and have time to practice and prepare before you start up the season again.

So in a way, I guess the early tournaments, at the same time you want to play your best and play well because they are great events; it's also a bit of a chance to get going and pick up the pace for the year ahead, because if you've got four or five weeks off, you're not going to be out there on the range grinding it out during those four or five weeks. You need that mentally more than anything to get away from the game a little bit and rest up, and get ready to head out again.

So it could be a combination. I mean, awhile back, I used to live here, as well, so it was quite easy. You're just rolling out of bed and you're on the first tee. That might have something to do with it, also.

Q. And when you win a tournament towards the end of the year, how much of a confidence can you take into the new year, despite having that break?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, there were a few things that were really positive for me. Again, winning is never getting old. Doesn't matter how many times you've done it, and it certainly is a limited field in the Bahamas, but it's a stellar field, and it was a tight Sunday lineup with Gary and Justin Thomas, Tiger and myself I think within two shots, and then another couple, Jon, as well, and a few guys behind us.

So to come out victorious out of that game was very pleasing, and didn't really have much chances to win other tournaments in 2019. So when you pretty much have one chance, it's the last event, it was great to take that opportunity, and it's a confidence boost winning, even though I didn't feel like -- I probably played, I don't know, 80, 90 percent. I didn't feel like I played at my absolute best, but still did everything well enough to be able to get to 18-under, I think the winning score was in the end.

I think that was one of the key things for me. A lot of my wins, I feel like I've played really, really well, and I think in the Bahamas, I didn't feel like I played as well as I've done with some of my other wins. So to beat those guys when you still feel like you have a little bit extra, if everything is working, that was certainly a boost, as well.

Q. You said you had just about five weeks between the win and you would have loved for the season to continue. So what did you do? Did you put the clubs away for those five weeks?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, they were due for a break.

Q. Did you try any new clubs?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, there hasn't been a lot of golf before I headed out to Singapore. So a little bit of shaking the rust away in America. I stopped for a day here to see Pete on my way to Singapore, and obviously we're back up here this week.

Yeah, not much golf during those four weeks. I was driving a 40-foot RV in the California countryside. That normally doesn't improve -- it can improve your driving, which I think it did, but not much else in terms of golfing.

Q. This is the Olympic year, and you had a great 14 years ago. So I'm sure it's very much up there on your list of things. How do you look forward to it, four years of great memories of that, and now coming back?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I hope to get one of the two spots for Sweden in the Tokyo Olympics, and I had a great experience in Rio. It fun to see the Games from the inside and be a part of that.

As a sporting fan growing up, I always watched the big events in both Summer and Winter Olympics. Following that, it was never something on my mind really because golf wasn't in it, and then it did come on board in 2012. So we had a few years to really set our sights on being there, and we had a great time and did well.

I was having a good match against Justin there for the gold on Sunday and came out one short, but still, I think most people would take a place on the podium when you go to the Olympics. So it was a great week and I look forward to having another shot in Tokyo.

Q. There's a lot of good, young players in the game just now, but it's been a good spell you winning, Lee winning, Matt Kuchar winning. What message do you think that sends out, and is it good for the game that the older players can still compete with these young guns?
HENRIK STENSON: Definitely I think it's good for the older players to win (laughter).

Yeah, the golf course doesn't know if you're 20, 30 or 40 when you're teeing it up, right. It's all about bringing as good of a game as you can do, and we know experience is a good part in this game to have, and played it in different conditions over the years and different courses and all the rest.

So I think we -- at times we can't really compete with the longest players in the game but we can compete with other factors, and of course, that's something we try to do as good as we can and yeah, we certainly keep the dreams alive of winning golf tournaments.

Q. You've done pretty well yourself getting on to Ryder Cup teams. How difficult is this one going to be given the talent that's around at the moment?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, every time there's new and upcoming players that are going to take a spot, and that means a few of us who has played a few of them are not going to be on there.

It's certainly one of my main goals this year to play in Whistling Straits. I've had a pretty nice run at The Ryder Cup. I've played five and been part of the winning team three times, but they have all been in Europe. So I feel like it's one little box to tick and that would be being on a winning team on away soil and I think if that's going to happen, 2020 is the one.

Q. You mentioned the break that you needed and the time to practice, but you also mentioned the Olympics, The Ryder Cup. With the four majors and Scandinavian, how would you pace yourself in an ideal world?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, it's going to be busy. I'm having all February off from tournament play, and I play all of March in the States, and then it's a little bit of an on/off for the next couple of months there.

Once we get to Sweden, then it's straight back to U.S. Open, and yeah, from kind of when the early part of the summer, it's going to be quite a lot of golf, a lot of travel and big events. Yeah, you don't want to get into that part of the year being exhausted, because you will run out of fuel at some point then.

So yeah, hopefully that break in February, we can come out ready and strong and pick up some momentum for that spring and summer.

Q. Similar to the question about Lee Westwood winning and longevity, the success of both your careers on The European Tour, what do you put that down to, and did you send Lee a text or anything after that win?
HENRIK STENSON: Sorry, say again, if I?

Q. The longevity of your careers on The European Tour, what do you put that down to, and can you share with us a story of you and Lee, maybe on Tour in your early days?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I actually played with Lee one of my first -- it might have been the first time I played the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, and we were far back in the field. I guess we needed some motivation, so I ended up taking 20 quid from him on the back nine at Wentworth (laughter).

I know we're not supposed to be betting against each other, but we needed something to spark, and I got 20 pounds from him back then. So that would have been one of the early memories. I think that was the first time I played with him.

Quite long careers. I guess we pace ourselves. I don't know if it's down to possibly swing; if your swing is not taking too much toll on your body and not wearing your back down too much, you probably can keep it going. It's down to I've spent a lot of time on the physical side the last ten years to try and buy myself some extra time, and for recovery and practice everything and else.

I guess both Lee and myself, we've been solid ball-strikers, and if you have a good foundation to fall back on, you can be out here a long time.

Q. In the last few years, you've successfully done things away from the golf course, the golf course designing, the book, Hank. Is Hank making a comeback, first of all, any time soon? And how is your designing business going? Are you looking into any new course, and what's the kind of feedback that you received for your course in Sweden?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, Hank, he's still alive. He's still around. I don't think he's going to make any new -- we need to sell a few more of the old books before make a new one I think (laughter).

I mean, those were kind of some fun, side projects. Yeah, the business in the golf course design, it's still going very much. We're trying to launch the brand in America. So we've got some people over there that's going to do some work and see if we can get it going in the States, because as you know, a big part of the golfing world is in America, and golf course design-wise, we opened the first course in Stockholm in September last year. It's been well-received and had some really good feedback, so that's great for your first project.

We've still got another golf course to design there in the next couple years, and yeah, we'll have a few requests here and there around the world and we'll see where the next one will be.

Q. We just spoke about Stockholm and your Scandinavian Masters. Can you tell us about how the Scandinavian event, with you and Annika hosting it, how did it come about and will it be a mixed event?
HENRIK STENSON: So the Scandinavian Mixed, it's really a brand new concept. As you know, The European Tour has been very innovative in the last five or ten years working with promotors and coming up with some different concepts.

Yeah, we lost the ladies tournament in Sweden about five or six years ago, and given the history we have with so many great women players coming out of Sweden and with the success they have had, it's really a shame that we didn't have a ladies tournament anymore.

Yeah, the thought came from the guys who have been running the event, really, LET jumped on board and Annika came along and it's going to be the first of its kind. One first prize, 78 men, 78 women playing, different tee boxes of course, but everything else is as is, and I think it's going to be a very exciting week. I think it will be a great week for any golf fans in the northern part of Europe, and feel free, if you've got your week off, then you can come and join us in Stockholm.

I think it's going to be great for all the golf fans to see men and women playing together. Imagine the time savings, you don't need to go to two different tournaments, you come to one. You're saving a week's time and vacation. We should be thanked a lot (laughter). Time management at its best. Look forward to seeing you here this week and in Stockholm in June.

CLARE BODEL: Thank you, Henrik.

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