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July 15, 2009

Henrik Stenson


MALCOLM BOOTH: Joined by Henrik Stenson. Henrik, thanks for coming in. 2009 been a good year, winning THE PLAYERS Championship. Do you feel that's set you up now to win a major championship perhaps even here this week.
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I hope so. Obviously I can bring a lot of good experiences from Sawgrass. And again, starting to feel like this is going in the right direction, body feels okay. And I've been here since Thursday night last week, so I've had plenty of time to prepare, play the course three or four rounds in total, so that's probably as much as I've ever done leading into a championship. So I've got a good look at the course.
It's a beautiful course in good condition and very scenic place, and it's going to be good fun to play it. And it's all going to be down to putting myself in a good position if I'm going to have a chance to win, and whether that be or not, it's down to these four days to show, really.
MALCOLM BOOTH: Is there a reason for this extra preparation and learning the golf course more, or is it just something that you wanted to do this week?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I mean, it's my first trip to Turnberry, so I haven't been here before. I think it required a little bit more preparation. And also, given my schedule, I had two weeks off leading into this one. So it was a good time to go over a little bit earlier and get an extra round in and catch up with my coach and get a little bit of extra work, so I'm as well prepared as I can be and I think heading towards a good week.

Q. Does the course fit your eye?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I'd say so. Most of the holes are -- on a lot of holes you see where you want to go and so on, and I normally like that. It's a good course. Like I said, it's going to be a difficult tee shot, but it's fair and square and in good condition. So I think it's going to suit most of the eyes.

Q. You're coming off a major, the U.S. Open, where you were the worst end of the draw, and yet you fought really hard, and you finished in the top 10, which was an amazing achievement considering the elements you had to face. What does that kind of a performance do for your confidence coming into the next major?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, I think what I did at the U.S. Open and in terms of battle and patience and just hanging in there, obviously that's great things to bring with me. And if I could do the same and play a bit better, I hope I can be up there and contend by Sunday. But those are great things to bring with me, and it's definitely important things to have if you want to win big championships.

Q. Other players here are reporting the rough to be very challenging and the bunkers to be very punishing. Does that mean a change of strategy might be in order to put the emphasis on accuracy rather than length?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, a little bit. Each one of us is looking at the course differently, and there's a few holes you feel like you want to maybe be a bit more aggressive and a few you want to hang back a little bit.
And I've obviously spent a lot of time on this and how to attack the greens and pin positions and so on, as well. So on a few occasions definitely you've got to think more than once. And I normally like when you have to put a bit of think into it. Yeah, it is that type of course, for sure, and the rough is quite brutal if you end up in the wrong spot.

Q. You have had a lot of success with your 3-wood at Sawgrass, and that a club you can pull a lot here?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, definitely. It's going to be a lot of 3-woods for me and on some occasion might even be 5-wood and so on in finding position on a few holes. A lot is going to be down to the wind. Like today it's flat calm almost. And it seems like the most general direction is going to be into off the right on 1 and 3. And they play downwind a lot of holes until the turn and head back into the wind again on 12. So it's just going to be down to see what the wind does, and I'll play the course in both directions, so I'll have a fairly good idea what to do.

Q. So do you think being able to hit 3-wood gives you more success on maybe this course than other Open courses?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, when it's firm and bouncy, it's always been a case of finding a position and hitting a lot of 3-woods. So it's definitely something that plays into my hands hopefully.

Q. When The Open was here last in '94, Jesper obviously came second. Did you watch that, and what do you remember of it?
HENRIK STENSON: I don't think I watched it live, but I've watched it since. And yeah, it just shows you how small the margins are and how close it was back in '94 that we had a Swedish winner, because I remember watching it afterwards and I still thought Jesper was going to win it when I watched the reruns. So that's how set up it was. Unfortunate for him and better for Price. But that's how small the margins are when it can swing around like that, a three-shot swing in two shots, basically.

Q. How good are you, really, in your words, at playing links golf?

Q. Do you like it?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I like it. I like the challenge of it. It definitely -- you need to have a lot of different shots in your repertoire, and I'd say I have a fair bit of that. But it's different than playing target golf; if it's soft greens and 140 to the pin and you hit 140, you're going to have a short birdie putt. Here it's going to be a little bit more, it can bounce three yards one time, and seven yards another time; you don't really know. It requires a bit more patience, and I think I've got the patience it takes, as well, so I should be all right.

Q. Lately you've been doing very well in most of the majors. But there's been a bit of allegation that maybe you are not focusing too much on tournaments in between, you've been missing cuts after THE PLAYERS and after the U.S. Open, as well. Do you have to say something about it, and can you tell us how you try to peak yourself for a major?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I mean, I think it's definitely -- it's the big championships that we want to be our best. And to a small degree that might influence the performances in some general tournaments at times. And especially if you're not playing great, as well, it can be harder to pull yourself out of a 45th and get going, you know, after two or three rounds in a regular event.
But that's something I try and improve on. And it will be more the case of not playing too many tournaments then so you're actually up for the task every time you play. Sometimes when we play a number of tournaments in a row, when you've got a tough travelling schedule and a lot of commitments, it sometimes takes its toll on the game, for sure.

Q. How do you prepare -- is there any special preparation for a major for you?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, I've had some time off. My other plans are to -- have been to play the week before this one. It turned out differently. And I think also with the changes of going from inland course to links course, I don't benefit as much from playing the week leading into this one.
And no, I just have done some more practise and played a few more rounds before the week starts. And that's kind of given me a bit softer pace these three days, but I did some work over the weekend, otherwise it can be quite stressful when you're trying to get a lot of practise rounds in and you still want to work on your game and you're running around a bit like a headless chicken. So you're trying to be more focused. I've done the work early and can do what I need to do these three days. No, I feel in pretty good shape.

Q. You've got a few rounds in now. Of course, depending on the weather, what kind of scores are there out there?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, I mean today I think the course, I wouldn't be surprised if somebody shoots 5- or 6-under, for sure, if it's this calm. Other than that I have no idea. I guess that's the beauty of it. You don't know what's heading your way, and you don't know what winning score is going to be.
And it was such a long time ago it was played here and there's been changes to the course, and so I guess that's why we try to take one shot at a time and not care too much about that part.

Q. You supported the Challenge Tour even in Sweden just a few days back. Can you tell us a bit about that and what kind of feedback have you got for the tournament, and how proud do you feel for doing something for the country's growth?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, it was a great week in many aspects. It's called the Princess, it was played in BĂ„stad in the south of Sweden. It was one of the biggest purses on the Challenge Tour this year. And, no, it turned out great. It was a good week; all the players seemed to enjoy it and gave the chance to the juniors on the Monday afterwards -- Adam Scott kindly enough came over and we had a little challenge match, and a lot of juniors and spectators came out to see us play. And also we had the opportunity to support a couple of charities and give a bit back that way, too.
So all in all it was a great week. And it's important to give the Swedish young players a chance to compete against some of the future stars of European golf. And they didn't quite come up with the play they wanted this time, but I'm sure they're going to come back stronger next time.

Q. When we look at the odds for this tournament, Tiger is out on his own. Is he that strong a favourite here, or are there contenders that can take him on and beat him over the four days?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, hopefully. Otherwise it wouldn't be fun, would it? Obviously he's the No. 1 player. He's won so many championships and he's just a fantastic, strong player. But he still can be beaten on any occasion, I think. It's definitely a number of names that could beat him. And I hope to consider myself one of them.
Q. Can you name some names?
HENRIK STENSON: How much time do we have? No, you'd have to say Padraig. He's lined up very well again with a win at the Irish PGA for the third year in a row, and he's won the other two Opens. So I don't know if the stars are aligned there or not, but he's going to be one of them. And it might be the odd outsider, as well. I mean, Sergio has come close a number of times. I'll stick to the Europeans.
And Steve Stricker seems to be in great shape. He won last week, didn't he. And I played with him at the U.S. Open, and he's putting fantastically. And he's got good control of his game, as well.
If he could recharge from last weekend, you never know, he might be one of the guys that's going to be up there.
McIlroy, wouldn't be surprised to see him up there. So we'll keep it at that.

Q. In the media we maybe draw the picture sometimes that Tiger is superhuman and that all others are to fear him. What do you feel about that? Do you think of it at all, or do you just see him as another competitor?
HENRIK STENSON: I've seen him play ping-pong, he's not superhuman. I mean, there has been times, I think, when he was definitely considered to be unbeatable. And if enough people consider it that way, it's going to be harder to beat him.
There's been times when he's been one or two up on the first tee for sure, but I think after a while people -- the other players get over that and managed to win tournaments when he was in the field. So he's going to be one of the names to watch out for every time. But he's definitely beatable.
Q. As someone who has been involved with Allen Stanford and his business, and I know you have an investment, have you had any recent updates on the situation?
HENRIK STENSON: No updates. I have had people look into that matter, I think it's going to be a very lengthy process. I think that -- I wasn't thinking about it until you asked, really.
Q. The last two weeks on the European Tour Martin Kaymer has won the tournaments. And we know that Fanny is like the sports psychologist for Martin. Have you tried to find out what she has been talking to Martin about lately?
HENRIK STENSON: No, I don't really want to win back-to-back, so I haven't asked her (laughter). No, what they do is -- I mean, Fanny helps me out at times. We talk about stuff with my game and so on, but I haven't looked into what type of work they do. I've got my own setup in that department and -- but it obviously works.
So if he wins another week, I might start asking questions, you never know. Obviously it's great for Martin. He's a great guy and very impressive to win two of the big ones in the middle of the summer. So I'd probably throw his name in there again, if he can recharge, because that's hard work, to just come off one win and follow it up with another one. That would be even more impressive than the first two, if he could recharge for the third time at the Open and win this one. But you never know, stranger things have happened.
MALCOLM BOOTH: Henrik, thanks very much for joining us.

End of FastScripts

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