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September 10, 2013

Henrik Stenson


MARK STEVENS:  We'd like to welcome Henrik Stenson.  Henrik, you're coming off a big win two weeks ago at Deutsche Bank.  If you want to talk about what you did in your week off, and you just got done playing out on the course.  If you want to talk about the course, also.
HENRIK STENSON:  Yeah, it wasn't as much rest and relaxation, I guess, which is always a good thing when you're having a week off, when you get a bit more busy after a win, but it was nice to get home and still be at home and do whatever needed to be done.  A lot of texts and phone calls and emails and some media.  You guys follow us all over, huh?  Never catch us a break.
And then a couple of days' practice at Lake Nona before I headed up here.  I came in last night.  I managed to lose my suitcase from the aircraft to the baggage belt, which is always a great achievement, but they found it a couple of hours later and I got it this morning, so at least I'm here in my own clothes.
As I said, yeah, I played the back nine, and it was blowing pretty hard out there, and if I understand it correctly, the prevailing wind is kind of the opposite to what we played today, so it'll be interesting to see if that changes tomorrow in the pro‑am and so on, because obviously I've only seen the nine holes as of now, and I will see the other nine tomorrow and see what the conditions are like.
I mean, it's a good golf course and set up for some‑‑ I think it gives you quite a few different opportunities and tactics.  If you want to be aggressive or if you want to play a bit more conservative, I think if it firms up and is blowing a bit like it was today, then you've got to be a bit careful on a few holes.  Since I've never been here and we haven't had a tournament here, I guess it's kind of hard to know what to expect and what numbers could be out there, which is kind of good in a way.
I'm going to approach this week as I've done with the other ones; it's a brand new week, and I'm going to keep on working away on the things that's worked out well for me in the last couple of months, and we'll see where it takes us.
I'm excited.  I've got two of the best players in the world the first two rounds, so if there ever is a motivational problem, that wouldn't be playing with Adam and Tiger.  You know, it's going to be full on and full focus and so on.  I'm excited about that.  I'm excited about these two weeks, and I'm obviously going to try my hardest to try and keep the voice behind me.

Q.  I'm curious how you describe to people kind of in a shorthand way what caused your slump and your return to prominence.
HENRIK STENSON:  Why do you always have to talk about the bad times when it's good times?
Well, I mean, looking at it in the bigger picture, I went through a tough journey back in 2001, 2002, and basically for two seasons, so two years I was struggling with form when I was on the European Tour.  I had won at that stage and went through a rough patch, and I came back and all the way up until fourth in the World Rankings in 2009.
And then 2010 wasn't great but still had some decent results.  I was third at the British Open, but then I had some health issues on the back end of that year, so that whole fall kind of just went away.  And then '11 was the year when I played really poorly.  It was different compared to back in '01 and '02.  It was I'd say more frustration.  I know what I'm capable of or how well I can play, and when I'm on I can compete with some of the best players in the world.  I've shown that a number of times, and of course it's going to be frustrating times when you can't deliver and can't play the way you know you can.
Just starting in the beginning of '12 season, it was just a long, hard way, working hard.  First of all, I tried to make sure I could start scoring with whatever game I had, and I did that for the first part of '12, and it got gradually better.
I've got a great team around me.  I've been working away with those guys for a number of years, my swing coach Pete, my other coach, my sports psychologist Torsten.  I've got a great caddie in Gareth Lord and a physio in Cornel Driessen.  I've got a great team around me.  They've had their input, and we've all worked in one direction long‑term and that's obviously paid off throughout this summer as much or more than anybody could expect.
There's no magical potions or anything like that this time, either.  It's just hard work on the right things that eventually pays off.

Q.  Would the good times be good if you didn't have bad times before them?
HENRIK STENSON:  Now we're talking.  Now we're talking some interesting questions.  I think it's‑‑ I think that's‑‑ I mean, life is ups and downs, stock market, golf, everything kind of goes in cycles.  Yeah, I think definitely when you're not getting what you want and you have to work hard for it and then you get the reward, of course it's going to feel better than if you get it all the time, I guess.
Like I said, it's life in general, I guess, in many different things.  But it's going to be highs, it's going to be lows, and we move on.

Q.  You talk a lot about your swing and what you did to improve that, but you also had some health issues, stomach virus I think comes to mind, and there was kind of a financial issue right in the middle somewhere.  I'm curious which one takes a bigger toll?
HENRIK STENSON:  Well, I think if I‑‑ if we try and split it up, the financial thing is‑‑ we'll see where that ends up.  I mean, it's obviously not great for anyone to be part of the whole Stanford Financial thing.  But as I said before, I mean, that's a private issue, and we'll see what the outcome is.  I went out and won the biggest win of my career three months afterward, so I wouldn't put that down as a‑‑ of course it's not fun or something you wish on anybody, but I wouldn't have that down as an issue for playing poorly, if I can win Sawgrass three months after that was revealed.  I think that one is kind of done and dusted.
Health issues is a little bit tougher.  I was on a bit of a rise and fall, and I finished third at the British Open in '10 and then straight after I picked up like a viral pneumonia or something like that, and I didn't know I had that and came over here to try and play Akron, PGA, and I finished more or less last in both those tournaments, and I was struggling, and that took some time to get over.
But then the other part of it, we went on vacation November '11, and I picked up a parasite, a waterborne parasite, and that kind of took a while before I figured that one out, as well.  That was really hanging on all of spring '12, as well.  It's been gradually getting better, but there's still been tiny little things even probably a year and a half, two years afterwards.  You can still kind of feel sometimes that the system hasn't been 100 percent.
But it's not really affecting me at this point, but it took some time to get rid of that.

Q.  (No microphone.)
HENRIK STENSON:  Well, the stomach is a sensitive system, and we all know when we get a stomach bug, it kind of shuts down the whole body or blocks out.  No, I was still carrying on playing, but I lost some weight in the beginning of last year.  It doesn't seem to be an issue because it's easier to put weight on now, I'll tell you that.  I can get you a parasite if you want.  (Laughter.)

Q.  You're obviously set up very well in terms of FedExCup points, and you'll be in the top 5 going into East Lake.
HENRIK STENSON:  Is that a guarantee?  I haven't even‑‑

Q.  Yeah.  So do you let your mind wander at all about‑‑
HENRIK STENSON:  I haven't spent that much time looking at the points table, but I figured unless like the guy who's 6th wins and the guy who's 5th finishes second and blah blah blah, then it might have been a possible chance for me to drop outside.
But no, I'm just‑‑ it's another chance to either stay in the lead, or we'll try and stay as close to it as possible going into this week.  Going into East Lake, it's going to be my first time around there, and I'm just very happy and excited about having the chance to have it in my own hands coming into the last event.  You know, whether it happens or not, it's all about giving myself chances, and I think that's why we won in Boston, because we were up there and thereabouts again, and this time it was my turn, and I'm going to try and‑‑ that's kind of the same thing we're trying to do every week to put ourselves in position.
But to answer the question, no, I haven't been thinking too much about it.  I'm thinking about playing golf these two weeks, doing the best I can each round and each shot and each hole, and we'll see if it's good enough when we add it up.

Q.  Where did you get that parasite?
HENRIK STENSON:  I'm not sure if the tourist school of the Maldives is going to be happy with it, but pretty sure we picked it up in the Maldives.  It's a lovely place.  Obviously I'm fortunate to get there, but I can still recommend anybody to go to the Maldives because it's a very neat holiday vacation and one of my favorite spots in the world for vacation.  So despite the slight issue.

Q.  The other question is has there been a moment that you can look back on maybe a tournament or a result or something where you really felt like you're back, you knew you were going to be here?
HENRIK STENSON:  Yeah, I think kind of in life we want to call it the comeback or whatever over the last year, so getting the win in South Africa on the back end of last year was crucial, especially the way I kind of managed to do it.  I came down there late.  I played well at Disney, but result‑wise it turned into nothing.  I felt it was one of those I should have been no worse than top 5 the way I was playing, but I finished 15th or 20th or whatever.  So disappointed with the result there.
And then I traveled all across the world with some delays of flights and so on, so I landed on Tuesday night, went out, played a practice round on the Wednesday and then I was leading the tournament by three shots after two rounds and after three rounds.  Halfway through the final round I'd lost that three‑shot lead to George Coetzee, but I managed to dig deep and come back with a couple of birdies towards the end to win it.
I think that was crucial, to get that win when I was‑‑ that was more or less I think the first time for two, three years I was up in proper contention and I had a lead, and I kind of had it and I lost it, and then got it back again, and I think that was a key moment.
The other one was I didn't finish off the season kind of with the same momentum as I finished last year, and the turning point was at Bay Hill.  I was working on a few things, got slightly better, and I was digging deep, fighting hard, and I got a top 10, I think I finished eighth at Bay Hill.  That got me some points and got me just outside top 60.  I was 53rd, I think, went from 58th to 53rd with that finish in the World Rankings and went to Houston with a chance to get into Augusta, and I didn't quite know.  I thought top 10, top 15 would do it.  I think it was 12th or 13th or something in the end on my own that I would have needed to have.  I fought hard for a second place and got into the Masters, and from there on it's just kind of been heading more and more in the right direction.
Unbelievable summer, and I guess even if I stopped now, I guess it would‑‑ looking at the results and the tournaments where I've had these good results, so far it's the best season of my career so far.

Q.  (No microphone.)
HENRIK STENSON:  It was actually an interview I did with a Swedish radio station last week, and they said that, and all of a sudden I was thinking, yeah, it probably is‑‑ it is my best season.

Q.  (No microphone.)
HENRIK STENSON:  Not really.  There's been so much good stuff in these last three months.  It's a good thing, I guess, that you're not sitting down looking at that stuff too much.  Instead you're looking ahead.  Sooner or later we can get some time off and then we can really enjoy what we've accomplished so far.

Q.  Emma was telling us this story about you putting on a ski mask, going over to the balcony next to you, she thought it was Carl Pettersson's room, jumping in there, and I wonder if you could fill in the rest for us.
HENRIK STENSON:  Am I going to be in trouble now?  Carl can't sue me for something that happened that long ago, right?  There's like a time limit?
Actually my wife got a little bit mixed up.  The ski mask thing was a different time.  This one was‑‑ no, I heard Carl Pettersson and Ulla Karlsson, another Swede, they were sharing a room, and the balconies were in the way so you could actually jump over from one to the other, and I had a hoodie, and I kind of tightened the hoodie, and I was on the balcony, I heard them talking, I ripped the curtains about and I shouted, "just give me the money," and they were both like off their beds.  I think Ulla Karlsson wanted to throw the telephone at me or something like that.  He got seriously scared.  Yeah, it was one of them things you do when you're 25, I guess.

Q.  (No microphone.)
HENRIK STENSON:  No, I saw one of those‑‑ I was in a sports store, and I guess it's one of them you can have for when you go skiing and it's really cold or whatever.  So I bought one of those, and I was sneaking up on someone with that one at the house.  We had some people over.  Funny enough, they got scared, as well.

Q.  (No microphone.)
HENRIK STENSON:  You think it started yesterday?  No.  Luckily you guys can't see what's going on in here.  That's a good thing for me.  Yeah, I guess I've always been a bit of a prankster.
A good one is I bought this electric pen back in the day in Shanghai, and I walked around asking everybody, I don't think I got your email address, and whenever they got like an electric shock so they dropped the pen.  Yeah, that was good, too.  I got a few good stories.
Mark Roe likes that stuff.  He used to like it, on the European Tour.  He cut my hair once when I was getting a massage, took a little piece out of my hair, yeah.
Any serious stuff you want to talk about?
MARK STEVENS:  Henrik, thanks for your time.

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