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January 27, 2010

Henrik Stenson


SCOTT CROCKETT: Henrik, welcome to Doha, with your superb record here which features a win and four top tens in your last five appearances; you must be pleased to be back here.
HENRIK STENSON: Absolutely, I think it's the 10th year, actually, so we have got an anniversary. Cake for everybody. Which one do you like?
No, it's great to be back. It's a course where I've had great success and like you said, I've got three seconds and a win and another Top-5 or Top-10 in the last five years. So it's been very good.
I probably would have liked to have two wins and two seconds out of those, but a couple of years back, Adam, what did he shoot, 61 the last day? I shot 65, I thought that was pretty good, but not compared to his 61.
And the year before I won it in '05, I think Ernie shot 65 on a very gusty day to beat me by one. I've been close another couple of times, but it's a course I like playing. I've done well, and yeah, we'll see how the week goes on.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Why do you think that is? Is there a particular element of the golf course that you think --
HENRIK STENSON: You need both good tee balls and good iron shots; seems like I've been able to do that in the past and certain golf courses, your eye kind of likes it better than others, and this is definitely one of them.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Results from last week, steady week, nothing spectacular, how do you assess Abu Dhabi?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, scoring was to the great for me. First day, I think I was 3-under through 17 and missed the short birdie on 17 and then made a clumsy bogey off the last. Instead of maybe be 4- or 5-under, I finished 2-under the first day. And second round, I was 3-under at the turn on the back nine and came home in 39 on front. That was not great, either, and just made it on the mark.
But I played better on the weekend. I made nine birdies on Sunday and still a few extra bogeys I wouldn't have liked to have out there, but if you make nine birdies you're definitely playing well. So it was -- I took some positives out of that week.

Q. Have you taken up membership on the PGA TOUR this year?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I've taken up membership this season. So I will spend most of the spring and summer -- yeah, it's going to be a lot of America until the late part of the season after these three weeks.

Q. What made you decide to do so?
HENRIK STENSON: A couple of different reasons but family-wise it's convenient to be based over there and have the family in the States and also, all of the big events are in America, from the Match Play up until the U.S. Open pretty much and then I just add a couple of regular ones in between, and also, I mean, I was a member in '07 and I felt that it was time to take up the membership again. Great tournaments and great weather and great competition, as well, so it's got a lot going for it, but obviously Europe is still my home tour and I'll be making a few visits here and there.

Q. What did you make of last week when the field in Abu Dhabi was much stronger than the PGA Tour event.
HENRIK STENSON: I missed that whole thing.

Q. There was concern in some quarters about the PGA Tour releasing players to play over in Abu Dhabi?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, that always seems to be the case on and off during the year that one week is strong on one side of the ocean, and another week it's the opposite. I guess it just kind of happens at times. But I guess The European Tour might feel the same at times, so certain weeks it plays out certain ways.

Q. Where will you be based?
HENRIK STENSON: We have a home in Orlando in Lake Nona. We built that one during '06. It was finished the end of '07. So that's where we've spent most of our time when we've been over in the States.

Q. What happened to change your mind (about the PGA Tour)?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, I just find that it's a little bit easier with the travelling with a young family, like I said, we've got another one on the way now in five weeks.
It will make it a little bit easier to be based in the States for a longer period of time, and also, I mean, I've tried to cut down my schedule a little bit over these last couple of years, and just going back and forth too much is just a little bit too hard I find.
It makes life easier to be based in one place for the whole six months or whatever, interest mid February until the summer.

Q. What persuaded you to try in the first place?
HENRIK STENSON: No, I mean, I kind of -- it was mainly the number of events. So when I wasn't a member, I could play those ten -- I think I played ten in ten weeks, I counted on the PGA TOUR last year.
Sooner or later, you have to make up your mind, do I want to go to a minimum of 15 or do I want to keep it to that number of ten, because those were the two options, either take up membership and go to the full 15 or more, or I'm only allowed to play the ten or maximum 11 I think.
So yeah, really, that's been the issue, and then the option to not being a member, then I would play a few more in Europe and that would mean more travel, as well. So just, I feel I get a better rhythm to my schedule if I play the early part of the season in the States and then to be able to throw a couple of the regular PGA TOUR events in there.

Q. Because you won the PGA Tour's flagship event, was there any extra pressure on you to take up membership?
HENRIK STENSON: No, I mean, I know they obviously would like to see the winner of the PLAYERS be a member, but I was not put under any pressure from the Tour. It was completely up to me. I would most -- I would say 90 per cent in my mind, I would have taken up membership, that being the last year of my exemption, because also from the Match Play, I was a member in '07 and then I had '08, '09 and '10, as being fully exempt, and since I turned it down in '08 and '09, I kind of had already given it quite a strong thought on taking it up, even before winning the PLAYERS. Because once your exemption runs out, you need to make up some sort of a decision anyway on that matter.

Q. What will you miss tournament wise in Europe?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, I will miss -- I haven't played that much in the spring the last couple of years anyway. It's not going to make any difference. It would be the odd tournament during the summer and then obviously I'm hoping to have a successful FedEx series leading into The Ryder Cup, so I will stay over in America from Bridgestone and onwards. Hopefully all the way up until Ryder Cup.

Q. Are you at the stage in your career when you are trying to peak for the Majors?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, definitely, I tried to work hard on being fully prepared and to play well in them and I think I succeeded to quite a good degree in the last few years. I've had a lot of strong finishes in the majors. I course I would hope to be able to take one in the next couple of years, so I'm going to continue to work hard on being prepared and I think I found the right way for me to prepare and if I want to play before or after, and so on, and obviously got to get your priorities right, and at some times affects your schedule and you can make the odd tournament disappointed here and there but in the long run, you've got to focus.

Q. Is there a particular Major which fits your eye more than the others?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, I feel Augusta is one I felt a whole lot more comfortable playing last year and I played it four times and gained some good experience. You need to have good experience to do well around there. It's a track I feel suits my game pretty good, and I'd be disappointed if I wouldn't be challenging for the Masters in the years to come.

Q. Have you found a driver you are happy with?
HENRIK STENSON: No, I mean definitely if you want to be up there and contend for the majors, you have to have a strong driver in the bag, as well, and I'm quite happy with the way it's progressing. I feel like I've been a bit low on confidence with the swing for quite some time, but I think it's moving in the right direction. And believe it or not, I think I hit seven drives on Saturday last week and five on the Sunday, so most of them were good, too.

Q. What does it take for you to get your driver out of the bag?
HENRIK STENSON: The way I was hitting it, surely you always got the -- you weigh up your options, if one is playing a course with big rough, you feel like your accuracy goes down quite a lot where the 3-wood, yeah, it's not really going to happen that much.
I guess it's both an advantage and a disadvantage having a long 3-wood because then you've always got the option to step down, but then I probably lose 20 yards. I don't hit it as well with the 3-wood, so I guess I can't knock it completely.

Q. Thoughts on Rory McIlroy?
HENRIK STENSON: No, I mean, he's playing great, and he's fun to play with. He's a great guy and I'd be very surprised if we don't see him in Wales in October, obviously, like everybody else, and he's going to be making up a strong part of The Ryder Cup Team and yeah, I think we are going to hear a lot more about him in the future, of course.

Q. What impresses you most about him?
HENRIK STENSON: No, he's very aggressive, and no, I don't think he's got any real weaknesses in his game. He's driving it great and he's solid all around.

Q. Has Augusta grown on you because weren't you quite critical early on in your career?
HENRIK STENSON: No, he was just -- I think it was the Saturday in '07, the Saturday when it was really brutal and, it was a very tough day out there. It's a course you can easily be beaten up on.
But I mean, it's the one major where we come back every year to the same venue, so of course you're going to learn and get more experience and some courses are like that, they can definitely grow on you. And in the end if you want to do well, you've got to like it and play well around it, but it's very much different I think the first time you step onto Augusta compared to just watching it on the telly.

Q. Did playing with people like Sergio and Rory force you to get the driver out?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, I've known that for quite some time. I feel like when I swing well and got confidence, I'm as good a driver as they are, and it's just a matter of getting back the confidence and getting the swing right and be able to hit the ball the way I know I can. So you know, it's taken a bit of time and might still take a little bit of time but I'll be back. I'll be swishing it by Sergio and Rory in the future, don't worry about it.
Any questions about Qatar? (Laughter).

Q. Do you have a game plan for the week?
HENRIK STENSON: I'm heading out in the Pro-Am shortly and I'm sure if the wind is like it is now, we'll experience both the sands and the rough and everything else, so I think that should be enough to be prepared for tomorrow.
Normally it was quite a bit of breeze up in Doha and I've played the course so many times, I think I've played it in every wind direction and in most different conditions. So I think I should have a fair idea how to play the golf course, and then obviously get -- it is a slightly different approach when you get tough conditions like today and possibly in the next couple of days. You just have to try and control your ball flight and battle it out. There's not going to be any pretty points in how you play in this kind of weather. You just have to get the job done really.

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