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January 21, 2006

Henrik Stenson


SCOTT CROCKETT: Fantastic effort today, 62, new course record, etc., etc., but made all the better because you have not been feeling too well.

HENRIK STENSON: It's been a bit of a funny week. I pulled my back Sunday practicing at Emirates, so I've been having to have treatment for that a couple of days. And then between Thursday and Friday, I had a bit of a stomach bug, so I wasn't feeling well at all yesterday and it was a struggle.

I was tired coming up the last couple holes yesterday but I managed to finish birdie, birdie. And I shoot this score today, maybe I should keep this bug. I don't know what to say, it's like finishing with two birdies and starting with five this morning, so it was quite a run there.

SCOTT CROCKETT: Give us the details of your course record. You birdied 1.

HENRIK STENSON: I hit a drive in the waste there on the left and hit a fantastic sand iron to a foot.

Then chipped and put just short of the green on the second, probably about five, six feet, something like that.

3, I hit a wedge to about two feet.

4, that was a long one, probably 25, 30 feet. I hit 7 iron.

Then the next, similar, 30 footer on the next as well. Second shot was 8 iron.

8 was just pitch and putt from short of the green to two feet.

Then 3 putted, bad first putt.

SCOTT CROCKETT: First of your eagles?

HENRIK STENSON: 3 iron to about three feet.

13, I rolled it in from probably 12 feet. Second shot was 9 iron.

The last, change of plan there, slight downwind and changed to a 3 wood and hit a good 3 wood off the tee and put me in good position and a fabulous 4 iron to three feet.

SCOTT CROCKETT: Great way to finish, great day.

HENRIK STENSON: Absolutely. Not complaining.

Q. Your second shot to 18 on both days?

HENRIK STENSON: They were about similar distance. I think I had pretty much 214 meters both of them. I think it was same numbers on both of them.

Q. How far was the eight iron at the fifth?

HENRIK STENSON: The distance? That might have been 145 meters or something like that.

Q. Colin shooting a 65, and referred how long and how straight you drive the ball, would love to play with you at the Ryder Cup, that's something coming from him isn't it?

HENRIK STENSON: Obviously my striking is good when it's on, and that's why I've had some really good results here last year, and I've been gradually improving my short game over the last couple of years. It seems to be working in pretty good harmony for the time being.

Just happy to be up and playing well early on in the season because I had my best year last year, and when you have a bit of winter break, you never know how it's going to start. I'm right up in the mix, so I'm happy.

Q. Would you like to play with Colin? You played with him at the Seve Trophy?

HENRIK STENSON: No. I didn't play with him. I played against him. I beat him.

Q. Or Thomas?

HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, sure, I've played with Thomas quite a lot in these two events here, Seve Trophy and the Royal Trophy, so we seem to be working fine together. But I'm sure I'd be happy to play with anybody as long as I make the team.

Q. Painkiller for your back?

HENRIK STENSON: No, I've been all right. It was more the preparation, I didn't practice a lot.

Q. What have you been taking for the stomach bug?

HENRIK STENSON: Just two Imodium, the concrete is there now and we'll probably go onto Christmas now. (Laughter).

Q. Do you have an explanation for the relative slump in your forma after your first win?

HENRIK STENSON: It's always hard to put the finger on what was the reasons. The whole year I didn't actually play that well early on as I did in 2000, and then I got it together for two or three weeks there and fortunate enough to win at Benson and Hedges, The Belfry.

Then just sort of went way up again and started to hit it really wide. And then after a while, that gets to you, you start seeing trouble instead of opportunities. So I it was a long way back from there. I changed coach and started working with Peter Cowen and he's helped me a lot and I've improved a lot since I started to work with him.

It was a tough time there. I went pretty much 1 1/2 years without any good results. It was a struggle, but once you get through, I feel that I'm stronger than I was before and a better golfer than what I was before.

Q. If you were to win tomorrow, what would it mean?

HENRIK STENSON: Well, it would mean I can't really express how much it would mean, because I felt that I should have won hopefully won tournament last year and I was very close there and didn't have the what you would say, the margin on my side; it was very close a couple of times.

Of course it would feel great to start out with a win. But don't even know if we're going to be in the lead when the day is over, so there's a lot of good players and we are quite a few of us right up in the mix. It's a big day tomorrow. Just go out there and try and play well again and see where it takes us.

Q. Did it help playing with Vijay?

HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I always enjoy that, playing with the best players in the world. That might be that the mindset is really, you know, you feel like you've got to play your best and you want to match them. Obviously with the round today, I did enough of that. It's always motivating to play with the best players in the world.

Q. When did you get a good feel for the round?

HENRIK STENSON: Pretty much after five straight birdies.

Q. Earlier than that?

HENRIK STENSON: It was probably it's always hard to tell but obviously when I rolled on the two long putts in on 4 and 5, you sort of feel like you're on a roll and things are looking pretty good.

But it's still five holes out of 18. It's only the beginning. So quite a lot of golf left to play, and you've got to stay focused and do your best, and I managed to do that all the way through the end.

Q. What about holes like the 18th when you took out a three wood, what distance do you hit a three wood?

HENRIK STENSON: Probably 280 yards, like 250, 260 meters. I put a little bit of a smack on it.

When I strike it will well, I probably hit my 3 woods just around the average drive on Tour, so I've got a bit of extra in the driver. It's more for putting myself in position, I normally go 3 wood and if I want to have the length, I go driver.

Q. One of the things Colin said about you was that you hit it far and straight, is that accurate?

HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, when it's on, but like for everybody, if the swing isn't there and the timing isn't there, it's probably 300 in any direction. I've been pretty straight always except for this bad patch there in '02, '03, but it's obviously a good advantage being able to hit it both far and straight.

Q. He was talking about bunkers you can fly that he can't?

HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, absolutely, 14 on this course has been certainly one of them holes where I know that if I hit a decent drive, I'm always going to fly that trap and a lot of other players feel like they don't do it and have to go around it.

So it's a big advantage on courses where the bunkers are probably 265 meters to 275 meters. I feel I can pop it over the bunkers.

Q. What's the longest drive you've ever hit?

HENRIK STENSON: Not really, so much now with the conditions, obviously standing up on the tee box and it's downwind and altitude and all that, could be anything. I don't know, in Switzerland I seem to go a long way down the 14th or whatever, 360 or 370 yards or something.

But normal drive is probably 300 yards I would say, 300, 310.

SCOTT CROCKETT: Henrik, well done today. Good luck tomorrow.

End of FastScripts.

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