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January 24, 2007

Henrik Stenson


CHUAH CHOO CHIANG: Thanks for joining us welcome back at the defending champion of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters. Some happy memories tomorrow.
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, it's great to be back and playing a really good course here that I enjoy playing. I've had some really good success the last two years being second and first, and so anything close to that would be a great week obviously.
CHUAH CHOO CHIANG: And obviously a nice start to the year in the Top-10 in Abu Dhabi.
HENRIK STENSON: I'm pleased with that. I didn't start this year as rested and prepared as I would have liked. I played late last year and didn't get back to Dubai until the 18th of December. And then everything around the wedding and all of a sudden it was off to Thailand for the Royal Trophy, and Abu Dhabi.
So it was not a very long break for me and might not be fully charged but going to squeeze out whatever we've got in the tank for these two weeks that I've got left now, and I'm looking forward to playing both this week and next week.
CHUAH CHOO CHIANG: Talking about looking forward, have you set yourself any goals for 2007?
HENRIK STENSON: Being exempt for the big tournaments a natural step is to try to do some really good damage at the majors and world tour events. They are the ones that I'll focus most on obviously and try to improve my positions there. And then prepare well for the majors. Everybody knows the majors are tough tournaments and takes a lot of energy out of you to play well in those.
That's pretty much the plan for the rest of the year and it's a great schedule coming up and I'm going to play a bit more in America, and still sort of once the year is finished I think I will have played about 50/50 on THE European Tour and the PGA Tour.

Q. Last two years you have played wonderful here, but it's so difficult to defend a title here, what do you think?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, was '98 the first year the tournament was played? It hasn't been defended yet. So, you know, it would be a good thing to do.
Obviously it is tough. We have a very strong field at the tournament this year, a lot of really good players. And to be able to defend takes some really good golfing on my behalf, and I can just go out there and try and do it. The course is suiting me pretty good and even the tough conditions that can be here in Qatar is probably suiting my golf pretty good. I've had a lot of good tournaments in the past in tricky conditions. So I think that's one thing.

Q. What's the key to your performance over here on this course? What is it in this course that suits your game?
HENRIK STENSON: It a pretty long golf course, especially when the wind is blowing and you've just got to -- always when it's tough conditions, you've just got to be patient, sort of grind it out, try and hit fairways, greens. Pars are never bad in tough conditions. And obviously try and take your chances when you get them on the easier holes.
And especially on the back nine, you've got 16 and 18 is normally downwind. So those are the two holes that really stands out on the back nine when you need to try to make birdies. There's a couple on the front, as well, but there's a bit of tough holes, the par-3 13th.
You know, we're going to probably use the new tee box on 11 and 12, so I think that's going to probably to see the winning score go up three or four shots over the week I would say. Because 12, you can just bomb it, same with 11 off the forward tee. We can just hit driver up near the green and have like a sand iron in there to make both of those ones, probably play 7, 8, 9 and might even be 5-, 6-, 7-iron on 12. It makes a big difference to the total score at the end of the week. So I think the scores are going to be a little bit higher because of that.
No, you've got to stay patient, do the pars on the tough holes and really take your chances when you get them on the downwind holes.

Q. Two questions, first is what do you remember particularly that you did so well last year, and the second is, how much better a golfer are you January in 2007 than you were in January 2006?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, if I start with the second one, I'm not sure if I'm that much better because I was playing really well last year. I got off to a flying start and played well in Thailand, Abu Dhabi and here and Dubai. Form-wise, I was in really good form last year.
More experienced of course a year later, played many tournaments and won one tournament and played well. So obviously more experienced.

Q. Higher in the World Rankings.
HENRIK STENSON: A little bit better as a golfer maybe, but form-wise I would say I was much better last year. You know, it's hard to get the right percentage and everything.
Well, a few things from last year, I thought I was going to have a pretty big lead going into the last round and I sort of missed the short putt on 16 and hit an awful second shot on 18.
So instead of maybe having a three- or four-shot lead going into the last round, I only had a one-shot lead. But that way I think that wasn't as bad anyway because that sort of brought me back to the field. I really felt when I teed it up on Sunday, I had to shoot a solid number. I had to shoot a 69 or 69 and I did, and that was enough to win it by a few.

Q. The thing I remember about it was some of the distance, it was the first time I became aware of how far you hit the ball, the shots on 10 and 11, and it was a very windy day.
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, it was tough wind.

Q. Do you remember those shots particularly?
HENRIK STENSON: I remember the one on 10 because I had a 3-wood there and got it up on the green in two into the wind. And I didn't manage to make a birdie; I think that's even more stuck on my mind.
But no, I hit some -- obviously I was in good form, timing, hitting the ball well and also I remember that drive I hit on 16 into the wind, which is a bit unusual to play the course with that wind and hit it to a couple of feet and made eagle. I think that was in the morning of the second round.
Other than that, no, I just played well and kept everything under control throughout the week.

Q. Do you remember what Paul Broadhurst said about you?
HENRIK STENSON: He was very hard to shake off that day; I remember that. I was playing with Paul and his short game was brilliant. I just couldn't get rid of him until I sort of put the last nail in the coffin on 17 there when I drained a 30-footer I think for birdie.

Q. What he said which was so nice, which I think was nice, he said, "Henrik is the next big thing in Europe." Do you remember that?

Q. Nice thing to hear.
HENRIK STENSON: I just didn't want to say it. (Laughter).
No, that's one of the nicest things when you get your colleagues to say nice things about your game and as a person. I don't know if he said it as a person, but about the game at least.

Q. Which of the four majors are you really looking forward to?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, it's been -- when I grew up and started to play, it was like two things. It was the Ryder Cup and it was the British Open. Those were the ones I was really keen on watching. They always have sort of been with me throughout the years. Obviously done the Ryder Cup. Now it's the majors, that's the next goal.
But I've sort of learned now from playing in the majors that probably British Open is the one that might not suit my game the best. So I'm more thinking U.S. Open or US PGA might be the ones I'm more -- that I will have a bigger chance if I play well.

Q. Your drive not just long but straight.
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, if I hit the ball well, I'm long and straight. I hit it pretty high on the -- I can stop the ball. I can hold the greens and also I've improved my short game around the greens quite a lot over the last couple of years and you always get a lot of tricky pitches out of the thick stuff at those tournaments.
So I would say I'm better at that than all of the pitch and bumps around the greens that you get at the Open. So I think if I win the Open, I'm not going to complain, I'm not going to give it back, nothing like that.

Q. What's your schedule after Dubai?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I have two weeks off, I have a little breather, heading to the Maldives for a few days, not bringing the golf clubs. Then I'll be going over for the Match Play, so I'll pretty much be in America between the Match Play and the U.S. Open. And I'm coming back to Dubai for one week and then going to London for Wentworth.
So it's only going to be about four months there, it's only going to be Wentworth and then the rest of the tournaments are going to be in America. Then I'm playing back for BMW in Munich to defend that one, and then I have a few weeks off, and that's when little Stenson is going to arrive. And then it's the British Open and then back to the U.S. a couple of weeks later.

Q. Is that enough time to recharge your batteries?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, I hope so. I hope so. I wouldn't mind to have three, but it's only two available. I cannot really skip the Match Play. But again, that's one week, you never know. You can play so-so and go all the way to the final, and you can play great and be knocked out in the first round. So it might be more days available for rest, you never know. Hopefully not.
CHUAH CHOO CHIANG: Thank you very much for coming in, Henrik.

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