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February 22, 2011

Henrik Stenson


PAUL SYMES: Thanks for coming in Henrik, first of all. Welcome to the WGC Accenture Match Play. You got up against No. 1 in the world in the first round, heck of a start for you.
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, absolutely. It's going to be a challenge tomorrow. Yeah, that's what happens when you're ranked 64 or 65, you get to play the world's best players at the moment. It's going to be a tough one. My game hasn't been the best the last year or so and it's a work-in-progress. It's moving in the right direction. I'm struggling a little bit with that. And then it's going to be a tough day tomorrow, but I'll give my best.
PAUL SYMES: It would get your confidence back by beating him.
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah. It's a tough tournament to win this one, we know. And if you're going to do it, you might as well knock a good player out in the first round. Everybody is good that's in this field. So you've got to beat some strong opponents if you want to go all the way.
PAUL SYMES: You can draw on that for inspiration.
HENRIK STENSON: Yes, we changed courses, so my results haven't been as good as they used to be. I've got a pretty good match play record over the years. And one here and one in '07 and finished third in '08. It's been good, Arizona has been good to us.

Q. What do you think the best attributes are for a match play player? Does it differ at all? Do you have to know in your own mind when to hit the gas, when to back off? There's a weird science to it, you've been fairly successful.
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I think so. It's definitely how you play the match might have an influence on the outcome, for sure. Yeah, it kind of depends on who you play. First of all, you've got to play good golf normally to win your match and then it has a little bit to do with try to sort of when to give it a push and when to back off. It depends on the kind of course, as well. This one seems to be -- they've got a lot to it on the greens. If you miss it in the wrong places on some of the holes, you're really dead. So sometimes you need to play a bit more conservative. But obviously if you go too conservative, you're not making any birdies. It's got to find balance to it.

Q. You mentioned that Arizona has been pretty good to you. Locally there's talk about the long-term viability. Would you like to see it stay here or go some place abroad, what do you think?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I mean, it's both plus and minuses to stay in one place, I think. I mean, first to look over at the World Golf Championships, I think that they should be moving around a little bit if they can in different parts of the world, preferably. But then you've got to get the schedule right. And obviously if you put a tournament too far away at the wrong time of the year, you're missing out on some of the players, as well. So it's a tough one to get right. I mean, I like to have a match play event, for sure, which I think -- I hope that stays long-term.
And in terms of moving here and there, I don't know. There are a lot of things to influence that in terms of what the sponsors want and what fits in the schedule and so on. So I'm just happy to be playing and I'll be playing it wherever it goes.

Q. Can you take us through when you found out and how you got here and how hard it would have been to have missed this tournament?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I mean, it was very close for me not to getting in the HBSC Championship in November. And this one was even closer. I've been hanging on a thin thread now for the last two WGCs, I need to pick up some game this week or next week to get in the rally. So I'm right on the bubble. I was going to play anyway. I was either going to play in Mexico or play this week. This is nice to get the call on Saturday and be able to make proper plans. I flew up here from Orlando on Sunday night.

Q. It's a mystery how you fall into 64th in the world from where you were?
HENRIK STENSON: Thank you (laughter).

Q. I'm serious. How does this happen? So is it still a mystery to you? Are you working on things in your game? Do you have a sense of what happened?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I've been struggling golf-wise for the last 12 months or so. And also last year I had some health issues. I had to pull out of this week, concede my match hereafter the first hole, I had a flu for a couple of weeks. And that started here last year. And then after -- straight after the British Open, I got another problem. I was out more or less for -- I was ill for almost eight weeks in total, but I still -- I was still trying to play, because I didn't know what the problem was. I mean, I was not good. And I still played Akron, PGA and Wyndham, and I finished last. I was the one saving Tiger at Akron, and then the two missed cuts and then a couple of weeks off. So I had a long stretch of problems there. So that obviously doesn't help, if you're playing and you're playing sick and playing poorly and then not getting any fresh points on the board.
So, yeah, it has taken a bit of a dip in the World Rankings, but I hope it's only one way from here on, and that's up.

Q. When did you leave Dubai for Atlanta?
HENRIK STENSON: We flew on Friday, so I got in Friday night.

Q. I know this is something you're probably used to. What's the adjustment like from culture, time zone, all that kind of stuff?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, obviously a long journey and then having the kids wake up at 1:30 and 4:30, and stuff like that. The first couple of days they're tough. I can still feel it, but it's definitely better going west than going east. It's been reasonably well this time.

Q. Could you talk a little bit about the par-3, 6th hole, and its strategic importance in the round? It comes in between a couple really difficult par-4s. Do you think you need birdie to win that hole more times than not?
HENRIK STENSON: More times than you lose on the birdie?

Q. As opposed to winning with a par?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, definitely. It's one of the shorter ones. So obviously a good tee shot probably plays 6, 7-iron at the most. And then, yeah, if you can give yourself a good birdie chance. But the greens are tricky, so it's not that easy to get close to the holes. But, yeah, you wouldn't expect to win on par too many times. So I probably need to make a birdie. And if you can get some momentum going early, it's always nice to be up early and the other one, your opponent is the one that has to chase and then try to make birdies to get even again. I'll take the birdies more.

Q. And the 12th hole, that's the uphill or the tee is elevated about 219 yards or so. There are some dangers there, could you explain some of those?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I think it's a very difficult green and standing high up as it is on the tee, and it's probably playing anything from a 4-iron to a 7-iron, depending on wind and the pins and so on. It's difficult. You need to hit a really good shot to get it close. And then if you don't do that, I think that's definitely a hole where you can win the hole on a par.
PAUL SYMES: Thanks a lot.

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