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March 22, 2007

Henrik Stenson


STEVEN FRANKLIN: Thanks, Henrik for coming in. Well, you did say on Thursday you had to dig deep this week --
HENRIK STENSON: I said it was ten guys. Now it's only seven. (Laughter).
Yeah, it always looks like it in the beginning of the week that it's tough condition out there. I guess today was probably the toughest it's been so far. So it's a bit of a struggle, but as you all know, I managed to get through it pretty well today.
STEVEN FRANKLIN: And you putted particularly well in those conditions today.
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I worked on my putting early on with my coach earlier in the week. I just felt a nice roll on the ball and a good stroke on it, so that definitely helped when the conditions are this tough.
No, you've just got to try and play smart, hit the fairways, hit the greens, try and give yourself the easiest putts possible, and if you miss, you want to be able to miss in a place where you can chip it close and give yourself the best possible putt as well.
No, you've got to think your way around the golf course a little bit more on a day like this.

Q. The gusting winds, your playing sounds pretty basic, but it seems like the gusting winds would make that very hard to do.
HENRIK STENSON: It is for sure. And a lot of times you're handing over a 3-footer, and I actually said that to Fanny (Sunesson), when some of the other guys are putting you're standing on the side and you just knock it in. But when you're standing there and your pants are flapping and the putter feels like it wants to go all over the place, a lot of times you have to step away from it.
I probably rushed one putt that I missed on the third. I had a three-footer down the hill for par, and, you know, just when you pull the putter back, you feel like you've got a gust over your shoulder and it's so easy to sort of jerk it a little bit. It's just patience and, you know, don't putt it before you feel you're ready to do so.
I said I wanted to keep it below the hole and I didn't manage to do it the whole round, but I left myself quite a few good par putts.

Q. Have you been playing as consistent golf as you are right now, and will that continue --
HENRIK STENSON: I'm sure I can prove you wrong later in the week.
No, for sure, it feels good that I go out and then play pretty solid and it seems to be able to bring it in around par or better. So obviously that feels like my low level is higher than it's been before, and I managed to get off the golf course with not too many shots left behind.
I don't know if my confidence is, you know, as good as it's been ever, but it feels pretty good.

Q. When a place redoes its greens like Doral has, is it almost an advantage not to have played here before?
HENRIK STENSON: It could have been. I have a similar experience from Europe from Barseback, my home course in Sweden, where they redid the greens back in 2003 I think, and we play the Scandinavian Masters in Sweden every now and then on that course.
A lot of times, you have old memories. You know it's supposed to break off in a certain direction and you're on the greens and it doesn't. So in a way I think it's better not to have played on them before.

Q. You won the last World Golf Championships, you're leading this one, is there something about a title, World Golf Championships, that pumps you up?
HENRIK STENSON: No, I just try and go out and play well every week that I play. But of course, the big events, the more you want to win it.
But it's still very early on in the week and I don't draw any conclusions. If I would end up with a one-shot lead on a day like this, and we have three days to go, it's one day at a time and I just want to give myself a chance on Sundays to win golf tournaments, as I said earlier in the week, and that's all you can do, really.

Q. You said at the end of last year you would concentrate a lot more on playing in the States. Did you have any doubts before you came and do you now feel comfortable here?
HENRIK STENSON: I've played probably nine events last year, so I had a good test of what it's like last year. So no surprises really.
I came with a goal to win a tournament, and managed to do that very quickly. And that's very nice, and sets up the season very nice and obviously trying to win more than once and, no, I feel comfortable. I'm happy to play sort of all over the world. I'm not sure if I would just play in one particular place all the time, either Europe or America. So I'm quite happy at the moment to sort of split my time between both Europe and America.

Q. Two questions. One is: How much more prepared are you to handle the situation you're in right now than back at the PGA last year?
HENRIK STENSON: The more times you get put under pressure, and if you manage to play well in that situation, of course you feel more confident in future situations like that one.
I mean, at the PGA last year, I was happy to be up there and I had been struggling with my game for a long time, and I managed to sort of get going in the right direction, and I won two weeks later.
It wasn't anything particular I think with being up and leading the PGA. I had won on TOUR a couple of times before, so it was just sometimes not just playing well enough when -- even if you've done that the previous days, once you're up in the situation, you're just not playing well enough on the weekend. I think that was the case, not so much that I was leading the PGA Championship, because when you're out there in the lead tied with a couple other ones and it's 36 holes to go, you're not going to think about winning it when you stand on the first hole on the third round.

Q. Secondly, I know it is early, but right now the leaderboard looks very, very international. Can you just talk about that?
HENRIK STENSON: No, I think that's nice. (Smiling)
No, I mean, we've got a lot of strong players internationally. Europe's been producing a lot of good players, and same from other parts of the world. I don't know if the conditions we're playing today is maybe more to our favor. I guess we might be a little bit more used to playing in windy and tough conditions. A lot of times I think when it's raining -- it wasn't a heavy downpour today. It was just drizzles. But I think a lot of times, you get thunder when you get the rain, so I guess we're more used to being out there and getting soaked.

Q. With all of the success you've had this year, you said somewhere, "I'm not even the most famous golfer in Sweden or the most famous Henrik," are you typically that humble, or is it a case of being overwhelmed by all the attention right now?
HENRIK STENSON: No, it's been a lot more attention as you can imagine. But still, I'm trying to focus on the golf and try and keep my -- what I need to do outside the golf course, try and limit that so it doesn't interfere too much with my practice and my game and my rest.
So a lot of times, I think when you have success in a short period of time, you get so much to do, but it's easy to forget the game and all of a sudden you start playing badly and all of you guys will ask why we do that.
I think I try and be sensible with the amount of things I do outside the golf course. But, you know, I wouldn't say I'm not well known. Just a couple of other guys in Sweden who are more famous than me.

Q. When do you become the most famous?
HENRIK STENSON: We'll see. I might keep playing well, it might be in a short period of time. But it's not something -- I'm not there for the attention really. I'm there to play good golf and to be able to push on towards my goals.

Q. As a kid, did you play a lot in lousy conditions, and did you like it or hate it?
HENRIK STENSON: I played lousy when I was a kid a lot of times. (Laughter) Yeah, I think I've always -- I've had a lot of good tournaments when it's conditions like today. On the Challenge Tour, and also in Europe a lot of times when it's tough, you've just got to -- I think I've got patience. If I play decent, I've got the patience, and also I think in a way, it almost makes me free up a little bit because it's so tough out there, so you can't try and control what you're doing so you've just got to, you know, try your best and make up your mind what you want to do and then you just try and hit it there.
You know that ball is going to be blowing all over the course for everybody, so in a way I think it might be easier mentally to just relax and try and do whatever you can to survive out there.

Q. The Blue Monster had a reputation for years; did you know about this golf course? What did you know about this golf course?
HENRIK STENSON: I just remember seeing a couple of finishes on the -- used to be Ford and before that, it was Ryder? I think I've seen the last hole a couple of times and the finish of the golf tournament, but other than 18, I didn't really know anything.

Q. What's your most prominent memory of watching the Doral tournaments?
HENRIK STENSON: When Phil hit that great chip in the duel against Tiger, and that chip has been showed a couple of times; it just slips out on the last. I've seen the finish a couple of times in the tournament, but I guess that one stands out the most.

Q. It has not been so much of a monster the last two years; was it today?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I think it's a monster. When the conditions are tough -- I think it's a well-balanced golf course because you've got some really tough holes and you've got a few easy ones as well. And there's always going to be that when you've got strong winds because some are playing downwind and playing very short and others are straight into the wind. I think it's a well-balanced golf course, and you have everything from easy to really hard in there.

Q. Does it help you playing golf courses that you haven't seen before, if they are courses that Fanny has seen? How much help is she?
HENRIK STENSON: Of course it helps that she has been around the course before. But still, I mean, there's always a bigger chance of doing well I think if you've played the course before, especially if it's like blind shots and dog-legs and stuff like that. And if you know the course, you know the corner and what lines you can take, so it probably helps to play the courses.
That's one thing now this year is I will play a lot of new courses since I haven't been playing that much in the States before.

Q. Your relationship with Fanny, with Fanny having had such fame, do you feel more like sort of an equal partnership, or what is the situation?
HENRIK STENSON: I don't think I ever will reach the level of equal with Fanny. (Laughter).
No, it's funny, obviously she's well known in the golf world, and a lot of the times the shouts, "Oh, you've got the best caddie, and oh, come on Fanny." A lot of times they are cheering for Fanny. No, she's great and we have a lot of fun out there.

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