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November 16, 2013

Henrik Stenson


SARAH GWYNN:  Henrik, that was some finish.  That must give you a lot of satisfaction to end that way.
HENRIK STENSON:  Yeah, of course.  It was a bit of a tough day for me.  I didn't pick up any birdies early on.  And then made two nice ones on 5 and 7, and then kind of put the momentum the wrong way with a poor second shot on 10.  I hit it at least an inch behind the ball I guess on the sand iron, and playing bermuda, that normally turns into not much of a contact.  So that turned into a solid bogey.
Then I had to make a good par putt on 12, and at that point, not too many things were going my way.  But I still stayed patient, and you know, got off to a nice birdie on 14 and made a crucial putt on 15 after a good bunker shot from a bad position, and two good shots down 16 and a nice putt.  So three birdies in a row that kind of got it back on the right track.
Then we said, both Alejandro and myself 2‑putted 17 and we walked off and said, there's probably only four people who knows how good those two putts were, because from a distance, you can't see.¬† We were far away from the pin; it's uphill into the grain and then it just turns the other way downhill quick on the other side.
I left myself a nasty little four‑and‑a‑half footer sliding down there and Alejandro hits his to tap‑in distance, but I had to work hard for my par there and a lovely chip from behind the green on 18 set up the birdie.¬† That's a tricky pin; I'm sure you've seen some casualties around that one today.
SARAH GWYNN:  You're on the verge of something incredible tomorrow, you must be very excited for what's about to happen.
HENRIK STENSON:  Yeah, absolutely, but there's no point getting ahead of myself.  There's till one more day to go and I have to give it my best.  It's all about being in position on Sunday afternoon, and once again, at least I'm in position when we start on Sunday.
I know the guys are going to try their hardest to attack again tomorrow.  Ian and Alejandro and the guys who are a little bit further behind.
And then of course Victor is playing incredible golf at the moment.  I heard that expression, that I was the hottest player in the world, but I think he's just jumped up and grabbed that title the last two weeks, winning last week and then shooting the score that he did today and being one off the lead here.  So he's obviously someone to watch carefully tomorrow.
I'm just going to go out there and try to play another solid round.  We'll have to see coming into the back nine the last three or four if I need to make any adjustments.  Otherwise I'm sticking to my plan and try to execute my shots and give myself opportunities.

Q.  You just did this in Atlanta and you did it years ago in Cuba where you won the last tournament and won the overall title, so you've done this before, but what is the key to kind of keeping your mind on just the ball and not this extra stuff that's going on in the perimeter.
HENRIK STENSON:¬† Yeah, I think that was‑‑ in a way, that was a tough thing the last day, the last night before Atlanta, because all of a sudden it kind of‑‑ I came back a bit on the Saturday; some of the other guys moved up.¬† I had a healthy seven‑,¬† eight‑shot lead on the back nine and fumbled a little bit and Dustin Johnson made a couple birdies and all of a sudden it was more of an Open ballgame.
All of the talks were about that I could win the FedExCup even if Dustin won and all that stuff.¬† Early on in the week, I was out with Tiger, I was out with Adam who were my closest rivals for the FedExCup, and I knew I was either going to leave with two trophies or none and that was kind of the mind‑set.
All of a sudden everyone started talking if you finish sixth and he finished second and if‑‑ you know, it became so many different scenarios.¬† So I'm trying to avoid all that.¬† I know I can win the Order of Merit or Race to Dubai title even if I don't win tomorrow.
But, you know, at this stage, I'm leading the tournament.  Why should I not aim and try my hardest to win this tournament, because if I do that, we know both of them are going to come home with me.
So that's my focus.¬† And doing that, sticking to my game as I said and not letting my mind being on‑‑ you know, winning in general and winning the two titles, I can win here tomorrow.¬† So one shot at a time like I've done so far, that normally works out the best.

Q.  Do you watch leaderboards normally?  Will you tomorrow?
HENRIK STENSON:  Yeah, I normally watch a little bit.  I've done that all week.  You know you've got to have some excitement when you're out there playing (laughter).  I normally keep track of things.

Q.  And when you were looking at leaderboards, perhaps in the middle of the back nine this afternoon and Ian is creeping up, as you say, there's no momentum for you; what's going through your mind at that point?
HENRIK STENSON:  I just kind of said to myself, Ian is creeping up and I've got not much going on that moment (laughter).
No, again, I know that if anything, it just makes me try even harder and focus harder.  But once again, I know you can't win anything on Saturday afternoon, either, the same as you can't win it on Thursday.
So even if he's having a good day like I had yesterday, and he's closing the gap, then, you know, it's still a new day tomorrow.  And I'd rather be even with him going into tomorrow than two behind, because if I start doing something stupid on the back nine trying to chase; and once again, he's the one that needs to overtake me, not the other way around in that sense.
So I'm just‑‑ yeah, trying to stick to my plan.¬† It's obviously been working out good so far, and I don't see changing anything at this point.

Q.  Just comparing the last two rounds, the second and the third round today, what gives you more satisfaction, when you have a round like 64 where just about everything you are doing is turning out right, or something like today's 67, where you really have to battle hard for this kind of a score.
HENRIK STENSON:¬† Yeah, I think when we look back at the week tomorrow, you know, maybe that's‑‑ hopefully that's one of the key moments.¬† I put myself in the mix of things at the top yesterday but the strong finish today kept me there.¬† Hopefully that proves to be very crucial tomorrow when we sum up the week.
But yeah, I'm happy with both in different ways.  But sometimes, yeah, you're right, it could be even more satisfying having a strong finish like that today and pick up some shots coming in.  And yesterday I played nicely and gave myself more opportunities.
Today I wasn't playing as good ‑‑ well, it's still all right, though.¬† On certain days, your numbers are going to be better.¬† It's a bit like we said in Atlanta.¬† Those front nine on the Thursday, pretty much every shot I hit was inside ten feet or a couple of feet away from the hole.
Another day, you can hit similar strikes, but you're going to be ten, 15, 20 feet away.¬† I guess just today, I was probably in‑between clubs a few more times and I just didn't strike it quite as good.¬† But it's still pretty good.

Q.  You have a small but very noisy group of supporters who were cheering for you this afternoon.  Who are they?  How many of them are there, and do they have a particular name?
HENRIK STENSON:  The Stenson Boys.  (Laughter).  I've got about 15 of my family members out here.  I have friends who lives here in Dubai and then there's quite a few Swedes that came down.  If you're thinking about the boys with the banner, I don't know them since before, but they are obviously part of my family going forward as well (laughter).

Q.  I'm just wondering whether you've heard this week from Robert Karlsson, any sort of text messages.  And what was your reaction when Robert was the first Swede to win The Race to Dubai?
HENRIK STENSON:¬† No, I haven't‑‑ I actually saw last night that he was doing really well in M√©xico, which I'm very happy for that.¬† I'm hoping he can keep that going.¬† He played last week at Sea Island and I think that's why he got in on a Top‑10 into M√©xico.¬† Hopefully he can keep going in the PGA TOUR event.¬† But I haven't spoken to him this week.¬† You know, we sometimes keep in contact and so on.¬† We were speaking after the FedEx and so on.
Yeah, he had a great year back in, it was '08 he won?  Was it 2007?  Well, you can all get that later (laughter).  No, it was a great achievement.  To be the one that plays the best over the season in Europe or anywhere in the world, it's a great achievement.
I'd love to follow in his footsteps on that one, and once again, you know, we know what I'm aiming for and hopefully I can do it tomorrow.

Q.  How was it playing with Alejandro?  What do you think about him after Turkey?
HENRIK STENSON:  I don't like Spanish at all.  It was horrible (laughter).
No, we actually played together in the final round last week, as well.¬† He's working with Mike, who is his coach who is kind of Pete's assistant or‑‑ yeah.¬† I know him since way back, and he's a great guy and he's been playing good lately, as well.¬† He's going to be out there tomorrow again trying to put another strong round in.¬† He's a steady player.

Q.  Gareth was caddying for Robert Karlsson when he won this tournament a couple years ago.  What does it mean for you to have Gareth as a caddie?
HENRIK STENSON:  It's been great fun.  We started in January this year, I think Abu Dhabi was our first event together.  We knew each other since before for many years.  We won the World Cup together when I won with Robert in '08 and he was on Robert's bag in The Ryder Cups in '06 and '08.
We knew each other and it felt like it was very quick and natural to get together when were working.  He's been a tremendous support and we work very well together and we had a great season together.
Of course, he's accustomed to winning big tournaments and whether it makes a huge difference, him winning with Robert here or not, you know, I don't know.  But we've had a great season together and he's been a great support and big help.  So that's one part of the puzzle that's been working out for me.

Q.  I know this is kind of hard to ask, this type of context question at this point, but do you know why you're playing the best golf of your career right now?  Do you have any idea it's all come together for you the last six months?
HENRIK STENSON:¬† Yeah, like I said, it's all about eating double portions of carrots in June.¬† That's what turned things around.¬† No, it's all these‑‑ for me, it's all these little things that's I've been working at, addressing.¬† It's a holistic view to all the different parts, and of course, I'm hitting it a little bit better.¬† I'm putting a little bit better.¬† You know, everything is kind of‑‑ other things outside of golf has fallen into place, and a lot of different things.
One of the important things that I felt with my coach, Torsten, when I won back with him was that we put more of a long‑term, process‑orientated plan in place, rather than when you're a bit out, it's so easy chasing your own tail a little bit.¬† You want something to work for this week‑‑¬† if we need to work on the swing with Pete, for instance, let's give it two months or three months work on it, and sooner or later, you get the rewards.¬† That was a big, big part of things to give myself more time and.
Patience to work on things, and eventually it gets together.¬† So once again, this started long, long before this summer when I started playing really well.¬† And I think‑‑ even if I didn't play good for like two seasons or even more, you don't forget how to play good golf.¬† It's more about putting things together and then all of a sudden you have more experience than you had before, as well.
I think that's key in this game, as well.  You learn a lot, even when you're not playing good and you can benefit from that when you're not playing well at a later stage.

Q.  You said a nice thing about Victor just now, about how he was the hottest player on the planet.  What is the one strength of his that strikes you most forcibly?
HENRIK STENSON:  Hopefully I won't find that out too much tomorrow.
I've never played with him.  I didn't watch much of the golf last week, so from what I've heard, he can hit the ball quite far.  And I think he hit most of the fairways and greens last week and putted nicely.
I guess I'll have to see tomorrow.  Hopefully he won't take me by surprise too much.
SARAH GWYNN:  Thank you very much.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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