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WGC ACCENTURE MATCH PLAY CHAMPIONSHIP


February 18, 2014


Henrik Stenson


MARANA, ARIZONA

SARAH GWYNN:  Thanks very much for coming in and joining us today.  You've had the last couple of weeks off, if you wouldn't mind running us through what you've been up to the past two weeks.
HENRIK STENSON:  I had two nice weeks in Orlando, Florida, seeing the kids, seeing the family, bit of practice, just feeling like we could put the suitcase down and relax for a little bit.  So that's nice.  I'm feeling a bit fresher than I did when I came back from Dubai.
SARAH GWYNN:  Was it a good, on the whole, what, three weeks in the Middle East?  How do you rate it?
HENRIK STENSON:  Yeah, it was busy.  The success we had last year has kind of got some attention.  It's been a busy couple of weeks.  It was busy since I arrived in Sweden.  I played quite late.  I played up until the 15th of December, playing in Thailand.  Got back, had a crazy busy week the first week in Sweden.  A little bit calmer over Christmas and New Year's, whenever everyone else packs away their things.  And then busy again starting up in Sweden and back to Dubai to practice, back to Sweden for sports award, landed Tuesday night in Abu Dhabi, and I wasn't quite ready to go at that point.  And yeah, just trying to get my game going again.  And felt like I moved in the right direction during those few weeks, even though I didn't play my best.  Had a couple of weeks to practice and it feels like it's getting there.
SARAH GWYNN:  It really must be nice to be back here in a place you won in the past.
HENRIK STENSON:  Yeah, it's a whole lot warmer than last year, that's for sure.  I think the forecast is slightly better for this year's tournament than last year, as well.  And I won here.  I had two great years in '07, '08.  And then we changed courses, the record hasn't quite been the same since.  If anyone knows their stats, we've been going home Wednesday afternoon every year since.  Once or twice I played poorly, once I was sick, and just haven't got it going on this golf course.  And I'm just going to have to give it a better try tomorrow, I think.

Q.  I guess the obvious question is what, if any, pressure, do you feel being the No.1 seed with the unpredictability of match play?  Is there that same pressure as there would be in any other tournament?
HENRIK STENSON:¬† No, I don't think it's‑‑ I don't think it makes a difference for me here.¬† If you're going to have a good week, you need to play well.¬† You need to have better luck on your side and it doesn't really matter if you're No.1 seed or if you're No. 50 coming into this week.¬† It's going to be down to how you play and how you can get things working for you this week.¬† So it doesn't really feel like any added pressure in that sense.

Q.  I'm curious, would it have been easier if they held this tournament at Lake Nona this week?
HENRIK STENSON:  I think it would have made travel a lot easier.

Q.  You came out with G Mac?
HENRIK STENSON:  G Mac and Gary Woodland, and we've got Poulter here and we've got Rose here and Peter Hanson, and am I forgetting someone?  There's a lot of Lake Nona players here.

Q.  What was it like practicing with the boys last week?
HENRIK STENSON:¬† I think like Graham and Gary are playing each other in the first round.¬† We'll have one Lake Nona player through to the second round, we know that much.¬† We're sharing a flight out.¬† So that's‑‑ it's good or bad playing your friends?¬† You probably going to bump into one of your good friends at some stage when you're playing a tournament like this, if you're doing well.¬† So it doesn't really matter.¬† It's all to how you play.¬† It's good fun no matter what.¬† You just go out there and try to do your best.¬† If it's your week, it's your week.
I remember how close it was that I got knocked out by Zach Johnson in '07 in the first round.¬† I made an incredible up and down on 15, and he missed a good birdie attempt, and that was for me to stay 1‑down.
And then I birdied 16 and 17, and just so I miss a birdie chance on the last to win 1‑up.¬† If I wouldn't have made that up and down and he would have made his putt on 15, that time I wouldn't have been‑‑ I wouldn't have won that year.¬† So that's how small the margins are here.¬† So go out there and try to play well and we'll see what happens.

Q.  (Inaudible.)
HENRIK STENSON:  There's no yes and there's no no to that question, really.  It's a stupid question.  Take it away (laughter).
Well, I mean, everyone is not playing everyone, so it's impossible to say in that sense.  I mean, this is the format and I can't see how we can have a better format playing match play to identify the best player.  Then everyone would have to play everyone and we would be here quite a while.
But it's different in that sense, because in stroke play you can shoot 70 the first round.  And then take Bubba, for instance, last week, shooting two great numbers on the weekend to win the tournament.  If it's this week, he probably wouldn't have the chance to shoot those 64s on the weekend because he would have been knocked out in one of the first rounds.  So that's just the way it is with match play and that competition.  We know you can shoot 64 and someone else shoot 63 and you're going home.  You can shoot 74 and you still squeeze by because the other guy is having a worse day than you are having.  That's what I meant with the luck.  You've got to be able to squeeze by on the matches when you're not playing that well.  Hopefully you'll win the ones where you're playing well.  It's all about timing in that sense.

Q.  Can you describe the process of getting your swing tuned back up?  You said you felt like you were close.  How do you gauge that you're close?
HENRIK STENSON:  With my shots now?

Q.  What's the process of getting it tuned back up and how do you know when you're close?
HENRIK STENSON:¬† I think I just felt like I was maybe fishing around for feelings a little bit too much when I started the season.¬† You're coming off a good year and you remember how it felt when you were hitting good shots.¬† And then I wasn't quite hitting them as good when I started in the Middle East.¬† And then it's easy to get tricked into looking for the feelings again instead of just looking, okay, what's the basics and do some solid work and then you will get the good feelings.¬† And I can kind of feel‑‑ I can see on the ball flight and I feel it when I do it the right way.
So it's getting there.  Got more pressure on the ball again.  If it looks like golf and sounds like golf, you're normally pretty close.

Q.  If you were the Czar of golf, what changes would you make to this tournament?
HENRIK STENSON:  I would call Ian as my No.1 assistant.  That's a good start, right?
Changes to this tournament?  I don't know.  To be honest, I like having match play tournaments.  I think 64, the top 64 in the world, is a good field.  And I wouldn't really change anything.  What would you change?

Q.  Well, I would consider, maybe, to get your take on this, maybe two or three days of medal and then take your top eight or so and play them off match after match?
HENRIK STENSON:  Yeah, it's a possibility.  I bit more like we do the British Ams.  Is the U.S. Amateur that way, as well?  You play stroke play first, and then you have the top 32, with 64 going into a match.  Yeah, we'll see.  The committee will let you know our answer (laughter).

Q.  Have you done European Tours world match play in the last couple of years where they've broken it down into four groups and there's a bit of a round robin and the top guy advances?  Have you done that one?
HENRIK STENSON:¬† Yeah, I played last year and I played, I think, back in '09 or something like that.¬† And I also played it before, when it was the original top 16, I think, or 16 players, and it was straight knock out 36‑hole matches.¬† That's quite long matches, so I think the round robin, yeah, it's‑‑ why do you wind up here, is this your fault, Jeff?
I kind of like the knock outs.  I kind of like the knock out form better than the round robin.

Q.¬† If they go forward and most likely leave, would it help at all or would it matter if they were to find a good 36‑hole complex to be able to have, perhaps, if they went into qualifying and more matches, something like Wentworth, something like Winged Foot, what have you.¬† Do you want me to refract that, too?
HENRIK STENSON:  I thought we were going to talk about my start of the season and all this.
Well, we could spend hours on this.

Q.  Days.
HENRIK STENSON:  Days, years, months.  I think you've just got to decide what format you want to play and then figure out the best place to have it.  And if that's having more players, less players, all the rest of it, I'm not sure if I should be on that committee or if we should be discussing that here and now.  I don't know.  Can I pass?  I'll pass.  Thank you.

Q.¬† You've got a radio show.¬† I'm curious what your plans are for the show and how many times a week‑‑ is it once a week, I guess?¬† What are the plans for the show?
HENRIK STENSON:  I think the initial plans were to do six shows pretty much once a month or something like that.  It's not that frequent.  I got to do a little bit of practice in between, as well.  I'm no radio star.  I'm just trying to get a little bit more connection with some of the fans out there, hopefully give some insight to things they wouldn't normally pick up.  And I've got plans to kind of bring my team in there a little bit, as well, to do one piece with my caddie, one with my physio.  And we can talk about the things that we do, and then also give a few good tips and ideas to the really keen golfers out there, as well.  So a mix of things.
If I get really insane, I might even bring my manager on there.¬† You never know what might happen in the future.¬† But it's good fun and we did the first show.¬† I didn't have‑‑ I actually missed it myself, so I didn't listen to it when it broadcast.¬† But I obviously did the material, so I would have known anyway what I was saying.¬† Did anybody listen to it?¬† No?¬† Okay.¬† Thanks.¬† You did?¬† Was it all right?¬† Okay.¬† Anything above all right I'm happy with.

Q.  How is the wrist?
HENRIK STENSON:  The wrist has been okay.  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't worried that it could be an issue at some point, too, in the season.  But it's been holding up pretty good to this first month of the year and practicing.  But I don't think it's the last time I hear from it.  But as of now, it feels all right.

Q.  Just curious, your buildup to the Masters is what this year?
HENRIK STENSON:  I'm playing three in a row now, so I'm playing Honda and Doral, as well.  Got a week off and then I play Bay Hill.  Got a week off and then Houston, Augusta.  It's going to be a fair amount of playing, and I'm trying to go out and do a little preview, as well, just before Houston.

Q.  Any history with the Eisenhower tree with you?
HENRIK STENSON:¬† I think‑‑ I'm pretty positive I've tried to take it down once before it actually went down.¬† I'm sure I hit into it at some point.¬† This would be my ninth Masters coming up, I'm pretty convinced I clipped it at some point.¬† I can't remember when and where, but I have a vague memory that I was hitting a long club underneath it at some point.

Q.  When you get to a stage that you reached, say, last summer and played at such a high level what's the hardest part of staying at that high level for long periods of time?
HENRIK STENSON:¬† Yeah, that's a good question.¬† It's one I won't pass on.¬† Thank you.¬† I think it's very‑‑ I think it's very hard to play at that level of course for such a long time and that's‑‑ I'm not sure surprised me is the right word, but I probably impressed myself that I managed to keep on going at such a high level for such a long time.
I think the two biggest challenges for me is ‑‑ of course expectations is going to be one, but then also to have the time and peace to continue to work on my game the same way I did before I had this success is also a challenge, because it's more media requests, it's more things to do off the golf course, more sponsor commitments and everything else that kind of takes away energy and rest and focus on my game.¬† So that's just something I have to try and deal with and become better at that I was ranked highly‑‑ I was between 5 and 15 for about three years, but I've never been as busy as I have been now in the last six months off the golf course.¬† It has been a different level of busyness off the course.¬† That's something I will have to deal with and plan my time wisely and make sure I can still get my practice in.¬† If you're not spending enough time on that, you won't be able to play as well.¬† And it's going to be hard enough to get near that run that I had last year, even if I spend 100 percent on my golf game.¬† Those are the two biggest challenges that I see.
And then we know it's never going to be a straight line like this.  I mean, it's going to be ups and downs.  But given the ups and downs I have had in the past, it's not like I'm getting worried if I'm not producing the results I want to in the early part of the season, either.  I've got patience.

Q.  (Inaudible.)
HENRIK STENSON:  I mean, in my book he's the best player that's walked on the fairway.  His achievements are remarkable.

Q.¬† Is it because of the fact that he never‑‑
HENRIK STENSON:  He's gone through some ups and downs, as well.  But to win that many tournaments and be as dominant as he's been for so long is just remarkable.

Q.  Since you won match play in 2007, does it give you a good advantage this week?
HENRIK STENSON:  I think experience in this game is quite important, whether it just be from winning a tournament like this back in '07 or from just playing on Tour and playing Ryder Cups and playing a lot of match play throughout the years, it's hard to say which one would be the most important.  But of course I think it gives a small, tiny little bit of advantage to have won a championship like in the past if you're trying to do it again.
SARAH GWYNN:  Thank you very much.  And good luck this week.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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