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March 25, 2010

Henrik Stenson


JOHN BUSH: We would like to welcome Henrik Stenson into the interview room here at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, a 5-under under 67, great start to the tournament. If we can just get your comments, please.
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I feel like I've been struggling a bit with my game throughout the early part of the season. I was just happy with the way I committed to the shots and made some great saves and made some good putts out there and kept it together pretty good.
JOHN BUSH: The bogey on No. 10 to start things off, but then you got it back on 12 and 13.
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I think one of the things that has not settled in yet is the bunkers. There's quite a lot of sand, and only in our group, I think Jim and Kenny, they probably had four or five plugged lies. And I started off with one that bounced in the bunker and still plugged off the tee, which is quite unusual. So you want to stay out of the traps, that's for sure.
And yeah, so I started off with a bogey and made three birdies on the back nine and continued with some good ones there on 1,3 and 4,6. So got it going pretty good, and made a bogey on 8. I was actually lucky; I hit a poor second shot that kind of stayed up on the bank, and chipped, 2-putt. Two solid passes on 9 and finished with pars.

Q. No sleep agrees with you, does it, golf-wise?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, it's obviously been good having the little boy here two weeks, just over two weeks ago or three weeks ago. A little bit less sleep, yeah, maybe.
But didn't seem to affect me too bad today at least. I'll blame that some other day.

Q. Is there any one particular thing that besides the baby that's kind of slowed things down for you in terms of getting your swing together and getting ready?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, just today, putting was good and then short game was pretty sharp. I just tried to really commit to what I was doing out there and pick my targets and make the passes.
When it doesn't feel quite right, it's easy to sort of -- you line up with the technique and not focusing on the right things. I think the head was a bit better there. Even point confidence wasn't great, it's still a great days work out there.

Q. It's kind of a myth that guys in your group play well and you wind up playing well, but all three of you guys played pretty well today. Anything to that, or is that just --
HENRIK STENSON: No, I think that definitely has something to it. Maybe Kenny didn't have the best of days but he turned it around, and Jim coming off a win, I don't know how exhausted he is, but he played solid today.
Yeah, I think normally you kind of pull each other on and if one guy makes a birdie, you want to make your birdie. Not saying that one guy makes a bogey you want to make one, but you tend to sort of push each other forward.

Q. What are you looking for with the Masters approaching? A good result? Good form? Good swing? What exactly?
HENRIK STENSON: Probably more getting the confidence up a little bit. Maybe the result would be of a little bit less importance. Obviously if you're up there in contention on Sunday, you always want to win, and then so on, but yeah, I want to get a little bit more confidence in my game and have a good week's practice next week and be ready for Augusta.

Q. I think it was Ernie at Doral who said, you know, we need to strike now; we have an opportunity. Do you have that mind-set as it relates to Tiger coming back, or is it not really part of your mind-set?
HENRIK STENSON: No, I mean, I think anybody out here wants to win every week. We know it's not going to happen, but of course when you put yourself in a good position, I want to win, and I've been quite fortunate in the past to win on a number of occasions.
It's always harder when Tiger is in the field, for sure, and it gives you a bigger satisfaction when you do win when he is in the field, as well. So I don't know if I'm feeling like we have to do it this week or next week before he comes back, but it's obviously a greater challenge to win a golf tournament when he's playing.

Q. You have a big week at THE PLAYERS Championship. Talk about how tough it is to do that week-after-week, month-after-month, you have a great week, hit every fairway; do you expect to do that more often after you've had a week like that?
HENRIK STENSON: I don't know. When I'm on good form and playing well, I expect to have a pretty high standard. Not saying that Tiger hit every fairway, because we know he doesn't. (Laughter).
But yeah, it is definitely hard work to be up in contention every week, and you see guys come into a good spell and do it for two weeks, maybe three weeks. That's why I guess he's played less in the past, as well. He probably plays less than anybody else, and he doesn't seem to practice as much at the tournaments, either. He's sort of more prepared when he goes there and he really spends his energy on doing well at the week and then do his practice away from the tournaments and be fresh and ready.

Q. What about you? What do you do?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, I've just been trying to focus on my game overall and get back into, like I said, I feel like I've been low on confidence and been off overall. So it's a bit of a struggle to raise up every department of my game again and get back into the groove. Yeah, it's going to be a few hard hours next week, as well.

Q. You just had a baby in Arnold's hospital a couple of weeks ago; correct?

Q. What was the process like? You told me this and I've forgotten whether it was a boy or girl and what the date was?
HENRIK STENSON: You're getting sloppy, are you?
Yeah, we had a little baby boy, Karl. It was Friday, three weeks ago. Can I have some cake tomorrow then if he's three weeks to celebrate? Yeah? (Smiling).
But everything went well and obviously it's a great facility. The hospital is great, and they look after you great when you're there. So, no, it was a good experience. Obviously a different one from Sweden where we had Lisa. So, I don't know, we kind of -- we live in Dubai, base ourselves part-time in America and go back to Sweden in the summer. So I guess if we have a third one, it better be in Dubai then to really make sure we spread them out.

Q. You've now got a Yank in the family.
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, two passports. I'm thinking he behaves, he gets the Swedish one when he's 18, otherwise he gets the American one. That a good plan, do you think? (Laughter).

Q. Did you just make fun of America?

Q. Speaking of which, how do you celebrate your birthday this year, week of the Masters?
HENRIK STENSON: Hopefully I have a late celebration with a green jacket.

Q. Just put it off for a week?

Q. When is the last time you were in Sweden?
HENRIK STENSON: Last September.

Q. Probably not going to be that pertinent anymore, but wondering if you've heard, since you haven't experienced, what kind of the Tiger scandal has been, how has that been received in Sweden, just given the nature of who he's married to?
HENRIK STENSON: It's obviously been in the papers the same in Sweden as elsewhere I would imagine.
It's obviously something that has been written a whole lot about. Yeah, hopefully now that he's going back to play again, that's going to be the main focus from here on.

Q. Do you notice the tone of the coverage different?
HENRIK STENSON: No, not really. Not really. It's been obviously a lot of things written about it. I mean, I know Elin and my wife knows Elin. We just hope that things are going to work out for the best for them. Yeah, she's a sweet girl.

Q. I apologize for another Tiger question, but there's a lot of speculation as to how he's going to be received in the locker room when he comes back and whether there will be any resentment harbored towards him for the way he's overshadowed quite a few recent events. How do you think he'll be welcomed back?
HENRIK STENSON: I don't know. I mean, I've met him already. I went to play a practice round at Isleworth about a week ago and saw him at the practice range and talked to him a little bit. So I can only say how I saw him, and same old sort of say hello and how's the game and so on.
Yeah, I don't know. It's really hard for me to guess on how players are going to greet him when he comes back or whatever and how the crowds are going to receive him, as well.

Q. What's your take on Fanny's relationship with Martin Kaymer? It's odd in that she spends a lot of time with him, she works with you; he's a damned good player, you're a damned good player and she's doing a little coaching on the side for a guy who is not paying her, I guess. You're kind of the boss. It's an interesting dynamic there. How does that all work out for you?
HENRIK STENSON: I mean, you'd better ask her boyfriend how he feels about it if she's seeing two other men. (Laughter).
No, that's been great. They obviously work together on the coaching, and since he's playing quite a lost the same tournaments as I do, that obviously works out for them to be able to do their part and that's never been anything that's been interfering with what we do. It's obviously great that she can do both things.
No, I don't feel any competition.

Q. No problems on your end?
HENRIK STENSON: Absolutely not. And not on theirs, either.

Q. In retrospect, it's been almost a year since you won THE PLAYERS Championship. What did that final round prove to you?
HENRIK STENSON: I feel like in terms of being able to win a major championship, which I hopefully will do one day, it kind of gave me the confidence that when I play well and deliver such a good round on the Sunday at THE PLAYERS, I feel like I should be able to do that at a major championship, as well.
So it's a nice confidence boost to know that I beat sort of the strongest field of the year on a Sunday. So that was a good confidence boost.

Q. And was there one shot or one hole that day that made you realize that something special might be about to happen?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, you kind of -- I mean, I had to make a few par saves, a couple of early putts, important putts early on in the round, and then made a couple of birdies and then sort of -- it was obvious when I stood on the 8th green that it was a very open ballgame. And I just kept my head down and kept playing really solid on the back nine and once I made a birdie on 13, I think I was three ahead, and when I got to double figures and the other guys were like 7-under, I thought like, yeah, continue to make some good passes and make your pars and hopefully a birdie or two on the way in, it should be hard to catch me.

Q. You mentioned how different the experience was having babies in two different countries. Can you kind of run through a little bit how were they different? Were the facilities and the treatment different?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I mean, to describe is it, you go into Sweden, it's a hospital, you go in to deliver. Here, it's a very high-tech facility/hotel sort of whole combination, if that makes any sense. Yeah, it's a little bit more on the side sort of -- the service and what you can -- I mean, you're not guaranteed to have your own room if you're having a baby in Sweden. It's sort of, okay, there might be four women, five women in the same big room afterwards, where you sleep and so on. I couldn't say overnight in Sweden when we had Lisa, so I went home. Here, I could obviously come back and stay overnight with the baby the first night, which was nice. There's some differences in the facilities.

Q. Do you think having a new baby in your life has maybe stopped you having time to overanalyze your golf game and today maybe was an instinctive round?
HENRIK STENSON: No, I'm pretty good at overanalyzing it, I promise you. (Laughter) I don't think any babies in the world is going to help me from doing that I guess at times.
Yeah, it's obviously a very pleasant time. And also, yeah, it's a change going from three to four in the family, and I know how much excitement and joy we have had with Lisa over these 2 1/2 years, so having another one is great. And now in the future I can get two hugs after a bogey instead of one.

Q. Am I right in thinking you're doing the Laura Davies thing with your driver and not using the tee? How did you end up doing that?
HENRIK STENSON: She just called me up and said, "You can really rip it if you hit it off the turf." So I tried it out -- no (laughing).
It's been good especially if its windy, it creates a knuckleball. I like to do it if it's windy and also it helped me a little bit with the swing, too. When I've been teeing it up high, I've been driving my hands a bit more but when I tee it up lower especially often deck, I stay down in the shot a little bit better, if that makes any sense.

Q. And you're going to do it on the immaculate turf at Augusta?
HENRIK STENSON: I did it about 40 times last year. So I'm sure I can do it again. If they let me in this time.
JOHN BUSH: Henrik, you took care of the bogeys. Take us through the par 5 12th hole.
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I hit the fairway with a driver and hit a good 5-wood to the green, two putts.
Next one, hit a wedge to about four feet.
16, same thing, driver, 5-wood back of the green, two putts.
1, hit a gap wedge to about eight feet or something.
3, hit a gap wedge to about six, seven feet.
4, I hit the green but it released over in the back bunker and made up-and-down, and same thing on 6. I was also in the green-side trap in two but made up-and-down for birdie.
JOHN BUSH: Henrik, thanks for coming by.

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