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March 18, 2014

Henrik Stenson


MARK STEVENS:  We'd like to welcome Henrik Stenson.  Henrik, kind of a home game here for you this week.  If you want to talk about your thoughts coming into the week and then we'll have a few questions.
HENRIK STENSON:  Yeah, it is a home game.  It's nice to have a 20‑minute drive, 25 minute drive from your home to the venue.  So that's always exciting to be playing here in Orlando and had a good week here last year, finished 8th, I think, when we finished on the Monday.  And that was kind of the start of a very good run.
So, I'm looking forward to trying to do something similar this year.  Have a good week here and press on for the rest of the year.
It's been very much the same as last year, I had not too much going on in the early part of the year and then from mid‑spring onwards it was pretty neat.  So we'll see if we can replicate any of that.

Q.  Is that just sort of the normal biorhythms of your golf game that you're kind of slow to start and then all of a sudden once you get to this part of the season‑‑
HENRIK STENSON:  It's kind of been different over the years.  Back in the day I think I used to be quick out of the blocks.  And then I didn't do too much in the summer months, which was a shame, because that's when most of the big events are.
And then I used to finish pretty strong at the end of the year.  So it kind of goes in cycles a little bit.
But thankfully I've been able to turn that around a little bit in the last five or so years.  And have more good tournaments in the summer months.  And it's just been‑‑ it was a great year for me last year and I didn't have much of a rest in between the seasons.  And I think I've paid the price for that a little bit in the early part of this year.  It wasn't really until I came here in the early part of February that I felt like I have landed, I put my bags down, I can be at home for a few weeks.  And then try to get going again.  It feels like it's heading in the right direction.
My game is much better now than it was last year at this time, that's for sure.  I'm not really too worried.

Q.  Just being mentally tired?
HENRIK STENSON:  I think a bit of everything.  It's been very busy off the golf course.  Certainly I wasn't mentally where I want to be or needed to be to play any absolute best for these early tournaments that I've played in.  And the results kind of showed it as well.  If you're tired mentally your patience is going to be a little bit off.  And then you get a bit more upset with bad shots or the odd, funky course design and all the rest of it.  So it's harder to keep your mind where you want it to be if you're a little tired and a little slow.  Hopefully we can turn that around.  And as we know, this is a big week and then we've got a lot of big weeks coming up, as well.  I'm just trying to get going.  As I said, I'm not too worried.  I'll wake up at some point, I hope.

Q.  Is the house finished yet?
HENRIK STENSON:  The one over here is not finished.  The one we built in Sweden is more or less finished.  There's been some challenges off the golf course, as well, building two houses, more or less at the same time, probably makes my year last year, even better.  But we've got an eagle in the backyard, that's delayed it a little.  Having chicks at the moment.  If you don't mind climbing up there feeding them, we might get going a little bit earlier.

Q.  When did you start thinking about Augusta?  When does that figure large in your mind?
HENRIK STENSON:  I think it's there all the time in the back of your mind.  It could be, like I said, I would have liked to be maybe a little bit more up and running, but on the other hand it can be a good thing, as well.
In this game, as we know, all you need is a good week.  All you need to get going, it could happen pretty quickly.  It might be a good thing to not be a hundred percent, where you feel like you want to be.  And we've got still some time.
I'm playing this week.  Got a couple of days with the family early next week and I'm practicing, and then I go to Augusta for a little scouting and play Houston and then we're back there.  So schedule‑wise, it feels pretty good leading into the Masters.  Yeah, I don't think the motivation should be a problem when we get there.

Q.  Is the bird nest in your backyard here or in Sweden?  What's going on with that?
HENRIK STENSON:  They kind of got one nest in Sweden and one here, and they're flying in between the two (laughter).
No, it's here.  It's on the lake, on the 13th at Lake Nona.  It's a bald eagle's nest in the backyard.  It took a while to get the permits.  And then they have certain ways to go about it when they're nesting and so on.  So it's a bit of a delayed building process.  But they're beautiful birds, though.

Q.  Staying with animals, last week on Twitter there was a photo of you with either a baby crocodile or an alligator, holding a boa.  How many animals did you hold and is there any concern when you grab these things, and whose birthday party was it?
HENRIK STENSON:  It was my son's 4th birthday party.  I have to admit, I was the one kind of pushing it to go in that direction.  So, I don't know if you should call me Dr. Doolittle or something.
So I thought, yeah, let's go for some animals.  It was this place you could call up and they came out with‑‑ it was a bird, like a parrot or a cockatoo or whatever, it was a small alligator.  It was the boa, the snake, there was a couple of other lizards and stuff.  And, yeah, it was good fun.  The snake was awesome.  It was pure muscle.  That was good fun.  And the gator was actually potty trained, believe if or not.  That was a new one to me.  But it made some signs, and then the keeper, she took it to the bushes, and they had a wee‑wee (laughter.)  So maybe I can sell tickets to next year's birthday party?

Q.  Just to follow up, you weren't worried, though, that you might lose a finger, get it bitten off or anything like that with the gator?
HENRIK STENSON:  It was probably the gator that needed to be worried, that I wasn't going to bite him.

Q.  Changing subjects a little bit, but‑‑
HENRIK STENSON:  Probably a good idea (laughter).

Q.  Not going to do anymore wrestling.  What do you like about this golf course, and how much have you played here?
HENRIK STENSON:  I played‑‑ I can't remember, I know I haven't played every year, but I played quite a few of the years since '07.  Probably five or six times, I would have guessed.  And I think it's a good golf course in the sense that you've really got to hit some good golf shots coming down the stretch, and also like the 3rd, the 6th, 8, 11, 13.  So there's quite a few, both off the tee and into the greens where you've got to be precise and I like that.  It's really risk and reward.  And especially the last three holes, three or four holes coming down the stretch.  It's very much so.  You've got to hit some good golf shots.
It's a demanding golf course.  Winning score is normally not that low.  So it's a tough course and I like it because you've got to hit some good shots and if you don't you're paying the price for it.

Q.  As a top‑five player in the world what do you think when Patrick Reed says he is a top‑five player in the world when he isn't?
HENRIK STENSON:  Can we talk about the birthday party again (laughter.)
I didn't hear his interview.  I read some of the comments.  I think it's very natural that you're feeling confident if you won three times in a short period of time.  And obviously he feels like he belongs up there when he's playing well.  And if he keeps on winning another couple of times I'm sure he's going to be in the top five.  Time will tell.
Is that a good political answer?  Thank you.

Q.  When did you start feeling mentally refreshed again?  Was it a struggle to get motivated the first three months of the year after last year?
HENRIK STENSON:  Did I say I felt fresh?
Well, I almost felt like last week I was not up for it in the beginning of the week.  And then towards the end of the week I felt like I was ready to get going again.
So it's just been‑‑ a little bit slow in the last couple of months here.  Like I said, I didn't get much of a rest, and then you're trying to jump start in the early part, it was busy down in the Middle East, and I was trying to get going.
But when the tank is a little bit empty it doesn't matter how much you want it, it's just not happening.  I had a few rounds this part of Christmas, where I felt like I've been close to where I need to be and played a couple of good rounds, but I haven't put it together for a full week, that's for sure.
Hopefully we're getting there.  And like I said, knowing myself I think if I'm either up against a wall enough or I really want it enough then I'll mobilize that extra little bit of energy that needs to happen.  But it's‑‑ after a long year, I kept on doing that week in and week out, almost from summer onwards last year and at some point you've got to have some time to recover and I haven't given myself that really.  So that's why I said I was paying the price a little bit here, not really being fresh and up and running.
It's hard, I played the most tournaments in the last two years‑‑ two seasons that I've ever done in my career on a worldwide schedule.  So it's going to take more out of you to‑‑ if that was the ring tone I'd change it.  That one was horrible, wasn't it?  (Laughter.)  It just wouldn't stop.
Golf.  Golf.  So I played that much golf and that's going to take more out of you, playing 31 tournaments in a row, than playing 22, 25 in one part of the world, for sure.  And that's something I'm kind of looking into.  But it's also hard being European and playing internationally and keeping two memberships and all the rest of it.  And what do I take away?  There's a lot of good tournaments on either side and it's just hard to get the numbers down.

Q.  What did you think of the changes to the Race to Dubai?
HENRIK STENSON:  I was positive.  I think that it's‑‑ like we've done over here with the FedEx it's been a continuing evaluation and slight tweaks and it's been the same in Europe.
I think now it's more‑‑ it's a system where it's more down to the player, how much you want to play, but it's still a very good incentive to play a lot, which is perfect, because then you decide yourself if you skip a few you're going to have much less chances of winning the overall.  And if you're willing to go in and play all of them you're going to have a much better chance, but you're still not cutting anyone out from playing like the final, even if you don't want to play a lot leading up to it.  I'm really happy with that.

Q.  Because of the worldwideness of golf, you playing on both Tours, do you think it's time both Tours to sit down and assess a way to make it easier for guys that want to play both ways, that they can, without some of the stuff that you've been talking about?
HENRIK STENSON:  Yeah, I think it would be welcome, I'm sure, among a lot of the players in the top 50 that play worldwide schedules, whether it's possible, I don't know.  I mean that's kind of beyond our reach.  We can ask for it and hopefully Tim and George and everyone else that's involved there can try and work together as much as possible.  But we can only wish for it and then it's up to them to try and make it happen.  And possibly make it a little bit easier at times for the schedule.

Q.  You're still on the European Tour board?

Q.  And you could bring it up?
HENRIK STENSON:  Yes, and that's always been there in the background on both Tours.  Everyone has different agendas and different business models and all the rest.  I don't know how easy it is to combine everything.
MARK STEVENS:  Thank you for your time, Henrik.

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