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February 4, 2007
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
SCOTT CROCKETT: Henrik, special place in your heart, Dubai, obviously this means a more to you.
HENRIK STENSON: Very special now. As I said yesterday, I was one of the guys going out there with a chance of winning, and to be able to do it, I mean, I'm excited. It's unbelievable to win sort of your own tournament. I got so close in Sweden two years ago, lost in a playoff at the Scandinavian Masters. And obviously being based down here, this is my second home tournament, so to be able to win that one in front of family and friends and supporters, it's just you unbelievable, really happy.
SCOTT CROCKETT: It was a fantastic day to watch.
HENRIK STENSON: I'm sure. It was hard work playing.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Hard work, but enjoyable.
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, definitely. I just felt like with the tough conditions we had when we teed off, it was all about trying to stick it in there and give yourself a chance on the back nine, and I did. I could have made one or two putts definitely on the front nine and I would have been a few shots better going into the back nine. I just tried my very best until the end, and it was really down to the end.
I thought definitely Ernie was going to make birdie on last, and I sort of had yardage to go for it with a 3-wood, but then all of a sudden the wind swirled around a little bit and started coming against and I just felt that we just had to pitch-and-putt to win it really.
Q. How long have you actually lived in Dubai?
HENRIK STENSON: About three years.
Q. Made you move, just for the winter practise, etc.?
HENRIK STENSON: Many different reasons. Playing as many tournaments as we do down here in this region, I think more than anything if you want to compete at a high level you've got to be somewhere where you've got good facilities to play and practise all year-round, basically. And the only part when it gets a bit tough down here is in the middle of the summer, and then we're playing in Europe or America. The parts between October and May, it's really good practise facilities and the weather is perfect. Even though I mean it's kind of weird now obviously with having thunder delays and rain and stuff, but normally it's 25 degrees and sunny all winter through.
And then working with Pete, he's got the academy here at the Emirates Golf Club. Just a few different reasons to put me down here.
Q. You hit 51 greens in regulation out of 54 in the first three days and then 15 today in the tough conditions. Do you think you are hitting some of your best golf shots at the moment?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, I might not feel that I played my absolute best, but it was fairly solid. There's a difference obviously if you hit the greens, but if you hit it close to the pin or not. And I was sort of just trailing along hitting a lot of greens, a lot of 2-putts, giving myself chances and then obviously had a couple of really good ones and hit them close.
That sort of mind-set I had going into the week, just try to grind it out, fairways and greens and give myself chances and try to wear the other guys out, and I guess I succeeded in the end.
Q. Conditions were hard with the wind and the sand.
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, it was really tough, the toughest I've played down here for sure coming into the front nine in particular. Sort of the eased a little bit the last five or six holes, but in the beginning of the round, I thought it was tough. I didn't know where I was, in Scotland; it was like you're standing there over the 3-footers and putter is just going all over the place. (Indicating erratic shaking back and forth.) It was tough.
Q. Is that common here?
HENRIK STENSON: It's more normal down to Qatar to supply us with this sort of weather, wind and gusty conditions. Normally it's fairly predictable in Dubai.
Q. How much extra satisfaction do you get from winning an event where the world No. 1 was also in the field and made a good run through the field right at the end there?
HENRIK STENSON: It's always nice to beat Tiger obviously. It's probably the first tournament I've won that he's been in. I've played with him a few times and I enjoy playing with him. He's a great player, so of course that gives me extra satisfaction to beat him.
Nevertheless, to play four rounds with Ernie and to beat him with a shot coming down the stretch is, you know, pretty much the same satisfaction. So, you know, it's a good win to have on my belt, especially when he's playing in it.
Q. In that terms, do you regard it as the best win of your career?
HENRIK STENSON: I don't know, do we really want to go into this, trying to judge the different wins. The first one is always special. Pretty much all the tournaments I won have been fairly strong fields. This is my fifth win on The European Tour, and it's been fairly strong fields, all of them. It's been hard, but with both Ernie and Tiger in the field, it's probably the strongest it's been.
Q. What goals have you set for yourself this season?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, obviously, everybody tries when they tee up to win the golf tournament, and it's just a matter of giving yourself enough chances to win a few every year. Obviously I want to try and win in America, and since this is my second year now, I'm exempt for all of the majors and big events; that's the main goal to try and improve my positions there and try and challenge for one of the big ones.
Q. How much has your confidence grown through sort of Qatar last year, the Ryder Cup, now here; they are big steps when you are taking all the time by the sounds of it.
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I feel my career has always been slowly progressing in the right direction with a bit of a hiccup there in 2002 and 2003 where I played really bad.
But sort of after the comeback end of 2004, and I think 2005 was the year where I really sort of stepped it up. And even though I didn't win a tournament that year, I really played solid the whole season and sort of established myself within the Top-50 in the world and finished that had year 32nd I think in the World Rankings.
Then obviously last year coming straight out of the box and had a fantastic desert swing just as I had this year. I feel I've established myself as a Top 20 in the world player pretty much, and everything is moving in the right direction. It just try and keep up all the hard work and do it a fraction better all the time.
Q. How is your relationship with Fanny going on after five tournaments I guesses?
HENRIK STENSON: It's not bad, is it. She's a great caddie. I mean, she's one of the most experienced caddies and the best one out there. So of course, it's with great satisfaction that I've teamed up with her. Hopefully we can have many more tournaments like this one.
It gives me -- what's the word I'm looking for. I'm secure when I have her on the bag that she's going to give me the best information I can get, and she's working very hard to try to make sure she has all of the numbers and the data that I need ready when we tee it off. No, she's going to be a really good help for me.
Q. Did she have any role to play on your decision on 18?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I think she's worked with many great players, and obviously being so long with Nick. But I think she always feels like the player is in the driver's seat, but she's there to try and give me the extra info and try to push me in the right direction if need be.
We were both on the same thought. I mean, first when I came up to the ball on 18, I felt to definitely go at it. I had the same yardages I had on Saturday morning when I finished off my second round, I hit a 3-wood to 20 feet and I had the same yardage.
So if I could have hit it straightaway I probably would have gone for a 3-wood, but then as we stood there waiting for the group ahead to finish, the wind started to back up again and it was a bit into. So then it felt like it was touch and go to make it over. So I've improved my pitching, so I'll try to rely on that one and it worked out.
Q. How far was that pitch shot?
HENRIK STENSON: I don't feel like I struck it 100%, but it wasn't bad when it came down two or three feet from the hole and backed up a little bit.
I think on that tough pin position that it is on 18, I mean, Ernie had a really difficult putt that he played tremendous. That probably gave me the best putt I could ever ask for on what you have to lay up with a sand iron. It just sort of came up next to the hole and backed up about six or seven feet, something like that. So I had pretty much a straight putt up the hill. I mean, he was in the back of the green and big break and played a fantastic putt. I knew I had to make 4 to win it basically. It always gives you more satisfaction when you do that.
Q. How much of your success is down to Pete and what he's done for you? Thomas said yesterday that he's done a lot for him recently and Jyoti Randhawa has also said the same thing.
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, Pete is a great coach and he's helped me enormously. He turned my career around when I was struggling. We worked hard for a couple of years there without really getting -- we were getting in the right direction, but I wasn't getting the results. I always sort of listen to his advice, and he's been there for me and he's one of the best coaches in the world for sure. I owe him a lot.
Q. Did he say anything in particular last night or this morning?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, I mean, the only thing he said that when Thomas won in 2001, he played with Tiger all four rounds and he beat him on 18, so he thought, since I played with Ernie for three rounds and he's the leader, he thought I should do the same, and I managed to do that.
I should listen to him all the time apparently. (Laughter).
Q. You're off to Mauritius on Monday?
HENRIK STENSON: Maldives for four nights, mini-honeymoon, vacation. So I think it's going to be a pretty sweet one, lay on the beach, have a swim and just think back to the 2007 Dubai Desert Classic.
Q. When did you get married?
HENRIK STENSON: 30th of December.
Q. And you haven't had a chance to have a break yet?
HENRIK STENSON: No, I just came back here on the 19th of December, family, friends, wedding, boom, off to Thailand and these three events. To be able to win this one and to squeeze that little bit of energy that I had left in the tank, I'm knackered, I'm not going to touch a golf club for ten days basically now.
Q. Things don't really get much better than they are at the moment, but how can you build on what you've done this week and take it forward?
HENRIK STENSON: It's just same thing, I mean, Pete is such a wise guy. He told me, I think it was in the middle of summer last year. I was in a little bit of a form dip, and he said, "You know, I want you to try and be within two, three shots coming into the back nine on a few of the tournaments, and I'll almost guarantee you, you can win one."
And that pretty much happened a couple of months later at the BMW. I won that one. That's basically all you can do. You're not going to win every tournament with the lead or being close to the lead. You can just try to put yourself in that situation and if the putts drop your way or whatever on the back nine, you're going to win tournaments. As we all know, you're never going to win all of them, so it's just a matter of putting yourself in the right spot.
Q. What happened on the 9th with the television tower? Can you take us through that?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, it was a very tricky shot. I had ball above feet, water left, the normal thing is to try and play a draw off the right edge of the green. You just want to get it up there and try to 2-putt and make par and get out of it. I just held it off a bit too much with the right wind and made it go on top of the roof.
It was more, I got a bit upset because I had to go off and try and identify the ball on top of the roof, and I thought we didn't have to do that. It was just that standing on somebody's shoulder, after standing on the rail of the second floor, I sort of had to tweak up and I almost felt like I strained my rib cage on the right-hand side.
So it was a bit of uncomfortable movement. I mean, you're at risk standing 50 metres up in the air, as well. So I was a little bit upset that I had to go up there. It feels all better now, though. (Laughter).
Q. How important was the 2nd hole for you, you birdied it every day, and I did today, how important was that?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, when I design my first golf course, it's going to be 18 holes just like that one. (Laughter).
No, of course, I played the second hole very well. I think I played the 11th very well, as well. There's been a few holes, 11 and 13, as well. There's been a few holes that I've birdied almost every day. Sometimes a hole can feel different, it can go fairly easy and I've given myself good opportunities, played good wedges on the two occasions where I left it short and the other two times when I sort of played it fairly close, I can chip and pitch it close again. So it's just a hole that I've done well.
Q. Are you actually attached to one of the courses down here?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, I'm a member at Emirates. My attachment is with golf in DUBAI, but I'm a member at Emirates Golf Club as well.
Q. So you're buying the members a round tonight?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I think we can throw a few beers on the account, yeah.
Q. How often would you play it in a typical year?
HENRIK STENSON: You know, I'll miss out weeks or something. A lot of times if I've got two weeks here I'll practise, I might play one week, it might be 18 holes, couple of nines or whatever. So, I don't know, in a year it might be 15 extra rounds or something. I think I've played every year here since 2001, so I know the course just as Ernie and a few of the other guys do. They know the course inside out, so of course that helps to be on your home track.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Thank you, Henrik, many congratulations.
End of FastScripts