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June 16, 2009

Henrik Stenson


BETH MURRISON: Good afternoon again from the 2009 U.S. Open media center. We're pleased to have this afternoon with us Henrik Stenson, who has enjoyed some nice success this year winning the 2009 PLAYERS Championship. You're playing in your fourth U.S. Open; did not play in 2002. Can you give us some of your initial impressions of Bethpage?
HENRIK STENSON: Hard. Long. Wet. Rough is thick. It's going to be a very challenging week as always. U.S. Open, I think, is the biggest test that we get put through and this year is going to be no different, I would imagine.
So just to bring lots of patience and hopefully a good game. Haven't been playing great the last couple of events. But I hope I can turn around this week and have another good championship.
U.S. Opens I got 26th I think at Winged Foot. And two missed cuts. So obviously would like to improve that a little bit and we'll see it come Sunday.

Q. What did you end up doing over the weekend? Did you head down to Orlando for a while or come straight up here?
HENRIK STENSON: I came up on Saturday, came up here, and didn't do any golf on Saturday. Then played a full 18 on Sunday. So that was nice to get 18 in on a more quiet day and the pace was obviously better.
So played 18 then and played nine yesterday and played nine today and nine tomorrow. Probably as many holes I've played leading into a big championship. It's always nice when there's a new course to make sure you've seen it enough?

Q. Have you ever played on a course with a giant warning sign on the first hole, and what do you take from that? Is it necessary, do you think?
HENRIK STENSON: I think it's a fun thing, really. I haven't really played much courses with warning signs. It's more for the ski slopes, isn't it. (Laughter).
So it's a fun thing, obviously. It's a bit of a gimmick. Might be a little bit seriousness in there, as well.

Q. You mentioned the pace on a practice round. I'd be curious in the decade or so of playing the odd major, have you found that the practice rounds, especially Monday, Tuesday, even into Wednesday, have become such a burden that it's almost worth it to get in ahead of time so you're not having to --
HENRIK STENSON: I think so, if you're not playing the week before. And it's definitely worth getting a round in on Sunday, I think.
Once you got a full 18 out of the way, you can sort of mix your practice and playing the practice round, just go nine holes.
It is very slow. I don't know, it's almost like a lot of people think it's slow; so we're only going to play nine and then they take even more time and makes it even slower.
So it's, I don't know, it takes -- I think it took two hours for us to play the first six holes then kind of speeded up a little bit. And the guys who carried on took about three hours for them on the back nine.
So it gets pretty long days if you're going to be out there that long?

Q. Have you noticed a shift and when it started, just slowing down?
HENRIK STENSON: Tough golf courses and everybody wants to practice bunker shots and pitches out of the rough, this, that, and the other. So it seems to take forever.
I think it's frustrating for the guys who just want to play a quick 18 that don't seem to be happening during these days.

Q. Can you tell us a little about the very long 7th hole and which hole you consider the hardest one on this course?
HENRIK STENSON: The 7th is obviously very long. It doesn't feel like it's any different compared to the 4th. I think they're about the same length or even if the 7th is a touch longer and the 4th plays more uphill but it's almost like it's two par-5s and one got a 4 and one got a 5 on it. It's just numbers, really.
It takes a good drive and there's probably a 5-wood left or something on 7. It's playing long. And obviously with the ball stopping straightaway, it's playing really long, some of the shots and some of the holes out there.
In terms of hardest hole, I think 10 is pretty long and could potentially be a pretty tough hole as well. What else have we got? 16 -- wow, all the par-4s that are long in numbers, if you don't hit the fairways, you're off straightaway.
So you have to drive the ball nicely and if you don't hit the fairway you're not hitting the green pretty much on all of those. So I don't know if one is going to play harder than the other.
But I could give you a list of five or six instead of one.

Q. How many times do you think you'll hit driver? And the second question will be, I recall you waiting behind the 18th green among the fans when Harrington was finishing up at the British last year. I know he's a friend of yours. Was there some small part of yourself out there saying to yourself, 'so this would be what it would be like,' because you were fairly close there and fairly close at the PGA and had a chance to win, and are seemingly sneaking up on this thing?
HENRIK STENSON: I think obviously it was Padraig, a friend of mine, who was winning, and it's nice to be there to congratulate him. And it's not too many events where you have that great an atmosphere like at the 18th at the Open when the Champion is coming up there, and it was just nice to have a piece of that experience.
And yeah, of course you kind of take it in a little bit, as well. And in your own mind, you could swap Padraig for yourself, sure.

Q. How many times did you use driver?
HENRIK STENSON: Driver, a couple of times. It's all going to be down to how I feel, and then on a few holes you pretty much have to hit driver. I'd say 7 would be one of them where it's coming out.
There will be a couple more. I was hitting it really good on the range now. See if I can let loose on the golf course like I was on the range just half an hour ago, I am probably going to hit a couple more times. It's a question of feeling confident.

Q. What do you hear from Robert? And did that surprise you to hear of his withdrawal?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, first it seemed like they thought it was some ear infection, but it seems to be something with his eye. I haven't spoken to him.
Obviously not fun to hear that he has to withdraw for a number of weeks here. But those things happen. And most importantly that he get his eye sorted and he can be back and playing well again.
So I guess just going to have to take the time it takes for it to get well and it's no point trying to play if you're not fit to play.

Q. Secondly, what have you heard about the gallery in New York, particularly around this golf course, where there's so many, many and they say what most people just think? Have you been warned? Do you have any advice on how to deal with it. Is there any --
HENRIK STENSON: I didn't see any signs about the galleries. Maybe that might be the next sign to come up.
No, I mean, they'll be a little more loud, I recall from playing both Winged Foot and Baltusrol. It's going to be lively at that at times. They love the sport and just want to have them on your side.

Q. What will they know of you?
HENRIK STENSON: I don't know. TPC winner. Underwear shot. Normal stuff. (Laughter)

Q. You mentioned you would like to get your Open record a little better. What do you need to do better in the Open that you haven't done in your previous appearances?
HENRIK STENSON: I think it's been a combination of things. I haven't been in the best of shape leading into this event.
And I've tried to do it differently this year by playing the week before and staying over here, rather than coming from two weeks off in Europe and seeing a lot of family and friends and traveling over here.
So hopefully I should feel a little bit fresher and more in the game by doing that. And as I said I haven't felt great playing the last couple of weeks but it's still not far away.
So other than that I think it's been a slightly different ballgame; thick rough, firm greens and I just haven't really been able to nail it.

Q. You feel you can adjust your games to these kind of conditions?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah. It's going to play longer, but then again, when the greens are softer, it's going to make up for that and you're not going to be in as much trouble if you short-side yourself and so on, because you can stop the ball quickly enough.
It's going to be played -- the golf course is going to play slightly different now compared to what it normally does at the U.S. Open.
So we'll see how that goes.

Q. The results of last month have been pretty confusing. Do you know where you're standing at?
HENRIK STENSON: As I said, my game doesn't feel too far off. But it was just -- one of the players went on vacation and sort of rushed back to Europe to play two weeks there and didn't play great, and started to work on some things.
Yeah, it can just -- it wasn't quite in the ball game. And felt better last week. But still not great on the course.
I think it's moving in the right direction. I'm not overly concerned with a couple of missed cuts. But ups and downs.
BETH MURRISON: Thank you very much.

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