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January 29, 2008

Henrik Stenson


RODDY WILLIAMS: Welcome back to the Dubai Desert Classic. You're the defending champion. Last week's final round, despite being beaten by some pretty spectacular golf by Adam, must have given you some confidence.
HENRIK STENSON: No, I was happy with the progress really. Abu Dhabi as a nice week but it was more down to good attitude and good short game and a lot of fighting spirit that week. So I didn't quite feel like I had that fifth gear to throw in there to challenge Martin in Abu Dhabi.
Then last week, I was hitting the ball much better, you know, still kept the other stuff that was good from Abu Dhabi. A little bit tired now after two pretty busy weeks, and always wears a little bit on you when you're out there fighting as hard as you need to when you're in contention.
So a very busy week here as you all know so they are going to try to conserve some energy and hopefully be as fresh as ever on Thursday.
RODDY WILLIAMS: How does it feel coming home for yourself, since you obviously live out here.
HENRIK STENSON: It's just been a nice feeling every time I've been to the club since I won last year. You've got the picture in there and you've got your name on the trophy. So it's always nice to come back to the Emirates Golf Club when you have won the Desert Classic, and at least have a chance to win it twice, two in a row.

Q. How shocked were you that 65 was not good enough to win last week?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, I guess if somebody would have thrown it in afterwards, I would have been a bit shocked. I sort of saw it coming, as they say. Yeah, it was a fantastic round. I played well but he played four shots better, so it was spectacular to see.
We all said I think on Saturday that with those calm conditions, if anybody was going to steal that BMW, it was going to be done on the Saturday. But the same conditions on Sunday and he started off with five birdies; it was kind of hard to follow.

Q. If you get the energy back, how far can you take your game to win this week?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, it's hard to say. It's all down to numbers, isn't it. If you need to shoot 20-under to win, and whichever way you do it, it doesn't really matter it. What you want is to win golf tournaments, and I think that's what I got into my head the first week in Abu Dhabi, that even if I don't feel great, I should still be able to putt a good performance on for the week, and I did that.
So, you know, if I can move up from last week or the previous two weeks, it's kind of hard to tell but I'll give it a try and you never know, I might not need to move up or I might need to move to a level where I've never been before. It's kind of hard to guess.

Q. You went off like a train last season with two wins early on, do you have any reason why the season flattened out?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, if you have a good answer I'll be more than happy to take you up on those -- no, it was a great start and I didn't feel like I had the same stability in the long game last year like I had in '05 and '06 perhaps. So that was part of the reason.
But it's many things. Of course expectations go up when you have such a good start, and I played a lot of tournaments these last two years and that's what I've changed for this season to give myself a bit more time to prepare and practise, and hopefully make a more stable season and some better results in the really big events. So can only guess why things go the way they did.

Q. How has your schedule changed?
HENRIK STENSON: I've dropped my PGA Tour membership for this year and I'm trying to cut down a little bit on the number of tournaments. And also, I played a fair bit all the way up until mid-December, so I got only two weeks out of the next nine after this one, so that should give me time to be rested and fresh for the World Golf Championships and the Masters.

Q. After a couple runner-ups will you string yourself up you don't win?
HENRIK STENSON: No, I don't think so. It all depends on how it happens really. Like last week was not -- the first week, I just didn't have the game to go all the way I thought, and Kaymer was the better player that week. And last week, I felt like I had the game to win and Adam had a really good performance and just out played us all the last day, so nothing to be disappointed about really.
Eight times out of ten, it would have been enough to win the tournament, but there's always going to be those two other times.

Q. Any thoughts on Tiger's win?
HENRIK STENSON: No, I mean, it's certainly his tournament. He owns that one, as well as so many others. No, he just seems to be in great shape, and I think everybody feels the same that it's going to take some really good golfing to challenge him this week.

Q. It seems we always talk about can you beat Tiger for instance Torrey Pines at the U.S. Open, he's won four in a row, do you think you can win the US Oe?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I have to, otherwise there's no point in going there really. It's going to be hard, that's for sure. The odds might not be the best, but, you know, there's definitely a possibility.
I think that's why some players have a hard time when they come out on Tour because all of a sudden they are playing with the big names. Instead of focusing on a good score, they start focusing on, oh, I'm playing with this guy or this guy. If he shoots 15-under, I need to shoot 16-under. I'm sure I can do it, but is it going to be that week or at that particular time; that's obviously not going to happen every time.
You have to believe it. I've done it once so I've sort of proven it myself that I've won a tournament where he's played at least. Yeah, you have to.

Q. Can you think of a few names that come to mind that could challenge woods over the next few years, does anybody come to mind?
HENRIK STENSON: I think -- I'll start with what you want to hear; Padraig.

Q. Rory?
HENRIK STENSON: And Rory. (Laughter).

Q. Everybody Irish. (Laughter)
HENRIK STENSON: Padraig is such a hard worker and he's just taking one step after another. He's going to be around and challenge for the big events I'm positive, and Rory has shown that he's got some great potential and great talent. Hopefully you guys give him a bit of slack and he can work on his game and he can continue, he should be fine.
Alex Noren is a good player. He can turn into something really good, as well; Kaymer. I have to say myself, as well, I guess, don't I? Or I was already in there, too, wasn't I.
So there's some good, young players coming up and hopefully we can expect some good things from the players who are around as well. But it's going to be tough against Tiger. Everybody knows that. It's possible, so you have to Venus yourself that it is.

Q. Do you think it's a case now that when Tiger first appeared, everyone was in awe of his length and strength, but that's been taken out and now it is his short game and mind?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, he's an all round player, the best player in the world and there's other things, his putting and his short game are and getting out of trouble with the wedges and stuff like that, a lot of times that's what's impressed me over the time I've played with him. I guess the only slight weakness at times he has is his driving, but overall he's the No. 1 player by far. I don't know if I answered your question or not.
RODDY WILLIAMS: Thank you very much.

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