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August 18, 2006

Henrik Stenson


KELLY ELBIN: Henrik Stenson, ladies and gentlemen, in with his second consecutive 68, the leader in the clubhouse at 8 under par, 136, in the second round of the 88th PGA Championship.

Henrik, you had a good day at Medinah.

HENRIK STENSON: Absolutely, same as yesterday. I played good, had my chances and kept the score low.

KELLY ELBIN: Any different in the way you played today versus yesterday?

HENRIK STENSON: I'm not happy with the way I played the par 5s today. I only played them even par. I left one or two out there for sure. On the other hand, I made three birdies on the par 3s, so it's a bit of give and take, and still a little bit of room for improvement on the weekend. I'm just happy to keep it going.

Q. You've told your story and it's a pretty amazing one given the ups and downs. Is there ever a time, I guess we're talking just four years ago, where in your mind you might not ever make it back?

HENRIK STENSON: I think if I thought that way, I wouldn't be here today. There were some tough times, but I kept on going, and that's what got me back on track again. There's always room for improvement, but I'm happy with the way I've been working with my coach this week, and we seem to be on top of things and moving in the right direction. It feels pretty good now when we have these big tournaments coming up.

Q. You're known as one of the longest hitters. What went on on the par 5s today?

HENRIK STENSON: I just hit poor tee shots on 5 and 7, missed the fairway with a driver and then you're just hacking it out and having fairly long clubs in on those ones.

Then on 14, I hit a good tee shot, laid up, ended up in a divot. Then the same thing on 15. So I guess a little bit on those two. I dropped a shot on 15 and didn't really take a chance on 14. Hopefully I'll stay out of the divots tomorrow.

Q. Can you compare how the course played today compared to yesterday, and were you able to go at the pins today?

HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I would say so. It feels like it played pretty much the same as it did for me yesterday. As always, stay out of the rough, and if you hit the fairway, you can attack the pins.

Q. Are you guys surprised that the greens are so soft?

HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I would say so, a little bit. I thought they were going to be a little firmer when I came in earlier in the week, but they're not, and it's the same for everybody.

Q. Second shot on 18 when you were in the trees, what were your options, what was the club and what was the yardage?

HENRIK STENSON: I had about, I think, 210 or something to the front, and played a 6 iron to get up there. I felt like that was the only option really because I couldn't really hit the fairway if I hacked it out because you need to keep it low under the trees. If you hit it down the fairway sideways you won't have too much play. I hit a good shot and gave myself a chance to save par, which I unfortunately didn't do, but you lose a few and you win a few.

Q. Could you pick out what you saw as your shot of the day?

HENRIK STENSON: I almost pitched it in the hole on No. 2 with a 7 iron, and I hit another good 7 iron on 17, which set up for two birdies. I hit a 4 iron just over the flag on 13, as well. So it make three birdies on these par 3s, you're not going to see that a lot out there.

Q. Your game has been kind of building to this over the last couple years. Do you feel like you're ready to win a tournament of this magnitude? And secondly, if you did, what do you suppose the reaction would be back home? They're used to Annika and Alfredsson and all those. What would a guy winning one of these things be like?

HENRIK STENSON: I think that would be massive. I mean, Jesper has been close a couple of times at the British Open, and Sweden has never won a major, so of course that would be huge. I really need to get going to catch Annika, huh?

Q. After the 3rd in the Players and your result at the Asian, you've gone off in the world a bit.

HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I've been playing pretty average or on the edge of poorly over the last couple of months, have not been happy with my game. It just feels like it's starting to come together. I want to play well at the Ryder Cup and play well these weeks here. But I haven't been that worried about being out of form because I can only get back into good form while others who are playing well now could lose it. I took the slump on purpose (smiling).

Q. How do you feel about being in this position going into the final round of a major, and do you feel like you're ready to take that step and contend for it?

HENRIK STENSON: I think if you can win on Tour, you can win a major championship, as well. It's just going to be tougher. There's going to be better players, and there's more pressure. But I think if I can put myself in good position on Sunday afternoon, then I'll have a shot at it. I'm more than happy to try and take it.

Q. How aware are you of a drought when it comes to Europeans winning a major event, and how important would it be for you to win when no one else has been able to?

HENRIK STENSON: Of course it would make me quite happy. Tiger and Phil have played really good in the major championships over the last couple of years, and it's sort of tough to be up there and give yourself a chance to win it, and then to take it, as well. You only can just keep on trying, and eventually it will break through, I think.

Q. How important is it for the Europeans to put their mark on The K Club?

HENRIK STENSON: I think it's good. I don't know the importance of it, but it's always good to show up in better form and say that we're up for it.

Q. Typically a PGA will draw extremely warm temperatures this time of year. For the Europeans you've gotten moderate temperatures. Does temperature negatively affect European players in a championship of this sort?

HENRIK STENSON: It's been pretty hot back in Europe, as well, so I don't think it has that big of a difference, big of an impact. I'm quite happy that it's not ridiculously hot. I was down in Orlando for two days before I came up here, and it wasn't very pleasant down there. It's a little bit better up here.

Q. What were you doing in Orlando?

HENRIK STENSON: Just checking some courses and places out for next year. I'm thinking about coming over and playing a little bit more, so trying to find a base there.

Q. There's a fascinating story about you in Golf Digest which you've probably seen, and I was intrigued by something one of your psychologists had said about you playing with your eyes closed, which I can't conceive of. Could you explain how someone goes about doing something like that?

HENRIK STENSON: First of all, when I kick the soccer ball up and I had the pictures, you've got to see those. That's some still (laughter). No, I was a bit sort of blocked, just the impact of trying to get a better release and just shut my eyes when I practice a little bit on the range, then you can't sort of control it because if you get too scared when you hit the golf shot, it could be the thing that loosens up the knots a little bit.

Q. How much time did you spend in the States when Emma was playing in South Carolina? What did you do golf wise during those times?

HENRIK STENSON: It was very good. I came over and practiced in the fall and in the spring, probably six, eight weeks, each side of Christmas there. It was good, I played with the men's team and had a good time. I've seen Glover out there a few times, and it was good time.

Q. So given that, if you were to play with Glover and he beat you, would your wife speak to you ever again?

HENRIK STENSON: I don't know about that. He's a Clemson fan.

Q. That's the point.

HENRIK STENSON: Let's make sure we get it done then, huh?

KELLY ELBIN: Henrik Stenson, leader in the clubhouse at the PGA Championship, thank you.

End of FastScripts.

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