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May 22, 2007
STEVEN FRANKLIN: Ladies and gentlemen, Henrik, thanks for coming in.
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, no worries.
STEVEN FRANKLIN: Well, it's the European Tour's flagship event, you arrive here sitting at the top of the Order of Merit, I guess that must be give you a positive vibe this week.
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I'm in a nice position on the Order of Merit, and I hope I can stay there all season long.
STEVEN FRANKLIN: How important is that target for you this year?
HENRIK STENSON: Oh, with the start I've had and the position I'm in, it's definitely one of my highest priorities for the season is to try and stay No. 1 and to win the Order of Merit.
STEVEN FRANKLIN: Have you had a chance to play the course out there this week?
HENRIK STENSON: No. I've only got time to do the Pro-Am tomorrow. Coming in from America, I feel a little bit slow in the body, and hopefully by Thursday we're going to be up and running again.
I've had three weeks in America, and it's good to be back in Europe and back at Wentworth and see everybody again, including you guys, all of the similar faces, or old faces again. Yeah, you look similar, that's what I was trying to say.
Q. Good form last week.
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I didn't play fantastic but it's always nice to shoot the lowest round of the week on a Sunday and I got a Top-10 so I'm quite happy with it. At THE PLAYERS I finished 23rd, and Wachovia I was way down, so it was at least moving in the right direction over the three weeks.
So hopefully a bit of form is coming back. I haven't been playing that great. Obviously since the Match Play, it's not been poor, but it's not been great either. It's been a lot of finishes around 15 to 20 or something, around there. It's just been slow in the calm waters behind the other guys the other weeks. Hopefully I can have my best PGA Championship so far.
Q. How tricky is it, Henrik, playing both sides of the Atlantic as you are now, and coming up with the schedule that suits you to peak at the right times?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, it's gone pretty well so far. And I've tried to get a good rhythm to the schedule where I get a good rhythm and I play a few weeks in the same places. And this is the last of four weeks in a row that I've played. Of course it's tough with the jet-lag coming back to Europe after being in the States, but then I'm doing the same I guess for the U.S. Open and BMW.
But I think for the remainder of the season after that, it's sort of good matches where I play either in America or in Europe for a couple of weeks in a row. So it's not too hard.
Q. So what would be your buildup to the U.S. Open?
HENRIK STENSON: Two weeks off. So, yeah, I still feel I played a fair bit of golf in the early part of the season. And with some of the things going on at the moment, I'm only going to play I think two out of the next seven weeks after this week. So I've got two weeks off and then playing the U.S. Open and then go to Munich and then three weeks off when we're having the baby. So that's the next couple of weeks.
Q. When is she due?
HENRIK STENSON: The third of July, between three and five.
Q. Did you feel extra pressure at the Masters because of the spotlight?
HENRIK STENSON: Not really. I did have a decent performance and I wasn't playing my very best there either, so it was -- but I guess to answer the question, it's a little bit more going on around me these days than it was maybe three years ago. It can take a little bit of focus away and just makes you feel a little bit more stress going on with too much to do at the same time.
Q. When you played with Tiger at Sawgrass, was there any baby talk?
HENRIK STENSON: A little bit of baby talk. He said that, you know, asked me about names and vice versa and so on. We decided that we probably didn't have any say in the matter, so we left it at that. (Laughter).
Q. What's the exact date that his wife is expecting; is it also early July?
HENRIK STENSON: It's fairly similar. I think it's fairly similar. Hopefully I can beat him to that one.
Q. Funny thing, wasn't it, back in December where you were playing with him in California?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I knew that we were pregnant, and I asked him if they were, you know, having any work in progress. And he said that they didn't have and I didn't say anything, and then we found out a bit later that both of us knew that we were having a kid and nobody wanted to say it. Obviously he can't say anything, you know, early because that would come out worldwide. But yeah, it was quite funny.
Q. Tell us something about the main difference between the U.S. Tour and The European Tour. Everyone says that the European Tour is more family-like and you have more fun here.
HENRIK STENSON: I think it has a little bit more to do with the fact that a lot of times you stay in different places in America. I think you get more options for hotels and so on. I think in Europe, a lot of times probably half of the players or 75 per cent of the players and families are staying in the same place. Maybe not this week in particular, but a lot of other weeks, and that becomes -- everybody hangs out and we'll have dinners together and so on.
And also I think more players are traveling with their families. It's a slightly different lifestyle over in America and on the PGA Tour, I think you tend to bring your family out a bit more. That sort of makes the players stay with their families and rather than hang out with each other like we do in Europe.
Q. Do you plan more and more to play on the U.S. Tour?
HENRIK STENSON: My tournaments, it's a bit half and half. But since six out of the seven majors and World Golf Championships are in America, it tends to be maybe one or two more tournaments in America but it's still sort of, of the regular tour events I play, it is probably half and half.
Q. First of all, how many times have you played with Tiger, approximately? And secondly, what is your professional assessment of how you played on Saturday afternoon at THE PLAYERS Championship and what was it like to outscore him by, I think it was seven shots?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, it feels good when you remind me. I think I've played about ten rounds together with Tiger in the last year and a half or two years. You know, it's always nice to shoot a good score, and of course I want to take every chance when I play with him to try and beat him. He was just not having his best week, as we all could see, and I would rather beat him when I shoots 6-under and he shoots 5-under than when he was struggling.
But no, I was quite happy with that score. It was one of the lowest ones of the day, and I always enjoy playing with him. I think it's a great challenge and I try to be my absolute best when I tee it up with him.
Q. What was the way in which he was most mis-firing?
HENRIK STENSON: I would say he didn't make any putts, even though it seemed like he was putting -- his putting was good, but it was just tricky on the greens. They redid the whole course since last year, so it was playing quite different compared to last year's. As we all know when it's a new course and new greens, they are quite settled in the beginning, so I think it was pretty tough for everybody to putt well that week. But I think it was more, it was more struggling with his long game at THE PLAYERS.
Q. When you know you're being paired with Tiger, do you prepare differently knowing the experience is going to be bigger crowds and more noise?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, it's sort of -- it depends a little bit where we're playing, as well. I played with him in Shanghai last year at the HSBC one, and that was hard work, for everybody in the group, him included. There was so many telephones and cameras. That was a bit of a circus.
I think there are some parts of the world where it's tougher than others. No, I think it's more that it's always going to be noisy and a lot of people, so before you tee it up, you know that you have to be more concentrated and try and stay in your bubble a little bit harder than you might have to do otherwise.
Q. Do you enjoy it more?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I mean, I enjoy playing with him. He's good fun and as I said, I get a chance to measure my game with the world's best. So I'd like to play with him every week if I could.
Q. Have you played with him in a major?
HENRIK STENSON: I don't think so. Hopefully late on a Sunday.
Q. When you say "he's good fun," is that because you sort of chat about things away from golf?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I mean, with the Swedish connection as well, I think he enjoys playing with the Swedes. My wife, Emma, is good friends with Elin, and so that sort of I guess makes the connection a little bit stronger.
He likes to tell stories, as well, but I'm not going to tell the one that is we told each other.
Q. The obvious perception would be that the lesser player would learn from Tiger. But could you cast modesty aside for the moment and do you think in that Shanghai tournament and any of the three in Sawgrass, there might have been just a little something that he might have picked up from you?
HENRIK STENSON: I can't say that.
Q. But you think there might? You can sort of hint at it, can't you?
HENRIK STENSON: I'm not the one to answer that. I think you'd better ask him.
Q. But he won't admit it.
HENRIK STENSON: No, of course he wouldn't. So there you go. You're stuck. (Laughter)
Q. But you'd like to think, even though you won't tell me that there is.
HENRIK STENSON: (Laughter) We can only live in hope, can't we.
Q. Will you feel pressure at Oakmont and Carnoustie to break the European drought for a major?
HENRIK STENSON: Which one?
Q. Particularly Carnoustie because it's in Europe.
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, Carnoustie, I think we would have a slightly bigger chance this year because we played the Dunhill Championship I think six, seven years now, and all of the European players have had good practise at Carnoustie. So it's going to play different in the middle of summer, I can imagine, but still, we've probably played 15 rounds of golf there in the last six, seven years now. So I think that could be somewhat of a slight advantage.
Q. Have you identified Carnoustie as somewhere you can win?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, I think the British Open is the one that I dreamt of winning when I grew up. But it's still probably the US PGA or U.S. Open that would suit my game a little bit better these days. But I'll definitely give it a shot. Especially if the baby is out by then.
Q. Are you on sort of the U.S. Open countdown now, what you're looking for from your game?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, in a bit. It's only -- it's this week now and then I've got two weeks off and so the second week of those two weeks is going to be my preparation week leading into the U.S. Open. So of course that's the next -- that's the next major ahead.
But I mean, still, we're here at Wentworth and this is the challenge that we have at the moment and it's quite a big one.
Q. Where is your base at this time of year? I know obviously you winter in Dubai, but will you go back there for your two weeks off?
HENRIK STENSON: No, we're going to Sweden. I haven't been back since October so it's going to be nice to see some family and friends again. Then when I go for the U.S. Open and BMW, Emma is traveling up north to be with the family in case that window between three and five is not enough.
Q. What is it about your game that's improved this year?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, I'm not sure it's so much has improved since last year. I still try and work on all of the areas. But I think it just sort of comes and goes a little bit. At times you get it together and you have a couple of good weeks. I was very fortunate there to be able to go back-to-back in Dubai in the Match Play and you know, I can't really push on something that's become so much better since last year.
It's more of a slight long-term progress of improving my short game and putting. I guess striking has always been a pretty strong part of my game and the short game, and with every win, you grow a little bit stronger mentally, as well.
STEVEN FRANKLIN: Thank you very much, Henrik, and good luck this week.
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