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May 21, 2014

Henrik Stenson


PAUL SYMES:  Henrik, many thanks, as always, for joining us, your first time here since 2010.   Perhaps start by telling us why you decided to come back to Wentworth and play the BMW PGA Championship.
HENRIK STENSON:  I made a promise.  I was asked last year, I think it was around Augusta time, if I could make it over and I said I wasn't going to change my schedule last year, but I'll come in 2014 and here we are.
PAUL SYMES:  And your form coming into the week, you had a slightly slow start to the season by your high standards.
HENRIK STENSON:  I'm working away but it's not 100 per cent, but it's coming along.
Putting was good at Sawgrass.  That's kind of a big plus.  Even though I haven't been swinging and striking the ball maybe quite as good as I did on the back end of last year, it's still been good enough to produce decent results.  And at Augusta I played good tee‑to‑green, probably the best I've ever done at the Masters.  It was really the putting that let me down early in the season.
So I had my best putting week at Sawgrass but as always in golf, there has to be something; and striking was a bit off and dumped a few in the water here and there and didn't turn out to be the week we would have liked at Sawgrass.
Overall, it's okay.  I'm definitely playing better early on that I did last year early on.  So no panic in that sense.
I've said it before, it's been a bit of a hangover from last year in terms of energy and time to be able to spend enough time on the game and have enough energy to do that as well as keeping up all the extra commitments off the course.
PAUL SYMES:  Straight into questions.  We won't keep you too long, Henrik.
HENRIK STENSON:  Good thing you don't need to translate all that, right.

Q.  Why did you stay away?

Q.  From here.
HENRIK STENSON:  I'm not sure if we need to go into that in detail (smiling).
It's for a couple of different reasons.  One, I've just never done any good here.  2001 was my first year on Tour, and I can't remember if it was 2007 or 2008, I managed to get a T‑8, a Top‑10, I got one Top‑10 in about ten tries.  So I just never managed to play any good around here.
There's a point where you say to yourself, should you‑‑ I know it's a big and an important week for us, but if you're struggling on the golf courses and you can't quite figure it out and do any good results, should you just keep on banging your head against the wall trying to get better, or should you do a different schedule.
And then also being a dual member, it's a limit to how many times you can go back and forth.  But obviously now it was better, I'm playing in Sweden, as well, and I would have liked to come back here of course with the success that I've had, as well.  But sometimes it's just different tournaments that you can't figure out and it's a question of how many times you keep on trying.
I'm going to make some adjustments on my PGA TOUR schedule for next year because there's a few weeks now I've played three or four years, but just not getting any good results.  So it's either the courses or tournaments you might make a change or two.  That's part of it, yes.

Q.  You're in striking distance now; so where does becoming world No. 1 fit on the bucket list?
HENRIK STENSON:  It's definitely on there.  I don't know, I haven't given it too much thought in that sense.  I've been more trying to work on my game and try to get back in good shape because I know if I get my game to where I want to have it, then, you know, that's definitely an achievable thing in the near future.
But just solely looking at that, I'm more into trying to focus on the processes of playing good golf and giving myself the best chance to become world No. 1, and if I can win some tournaments this year, I will have a good shot at getting there.  Whether you want to try and squeeze a tie for 14th and get by by a 100th of a point, I don't know if that gives you greater satisfaction or not.

Q.  What do you think coming back here?  Can you see more to fit your eye now?
HENRIK STENSON:  Not really, no.  (Laughter) I'm still‑‑ I just don't feel like I play well on this golf course, and it's hard for me.  But I'm going to try my best.  I'm here and it's the same course as everyone else is playing.  I'm just going to go out and try to do a really good job and hopefully I can squeeze something better than the T‑8 from 2007.

Q.  Is there something about this course where it polarises opinions to such an extent?
HENRIK STENSON:  Well, I think we've got kind of before and after, as well, don't we.  2010, which was the last year I was here, was the first year that it was re‑designed.
You know, as always, everyone's got different opinions and it fits different players.  For me, it wasn't a question of playing great here and then we had the re‑design and I played poorly.  It was I've just never been able to get it going here.
I haven't figured it out, so I'm open for suggestions.  (Laughter).

Q.  Have you won on a course that you didn't like?  Have you ever performed beyond expectation on a course that doesn't suit your eye before?

Q.  Where was that?
HENRIK STENSON:  I'm not going to tell you (laughter).
But I can tell you that; that if the mind surely wants something, then you can overcome some of those things.
So that's part of the thing, as well, motivation really putting your mind to something.  If you have got a different purpose; if you would tell me that you're going to strangle me if I don't squeeze a Top‑10 in here, I might be able to do it.
Are you going to strangle me?  (Laughter).

Q.  Not till after the conference.
HENRIK STENSON:  I'm not even getting the help that I need here.

Q.  The major venues, do they suit your eye?
HENRIK STENSON:  Yeah, I think‑‑ we play all around the world and there's going to be‑‑ if you're used to quick, then slow is going to be harder.  And if you're used to soft, then firm might‑‑ adjusting to the different surfaces we play, as well, is hard when you're traveling around the world.
And that's why when we play the British Open, you more or less have to play some links golf before, because you need to adjust your game to it.  It's not what you play every week, because if it's drop‑and‑stop, that doesn't work at Hoylake.  So you need to get into the new way of looking at it, and yeah, sometimes that's easier than harder.
Pace on the greens is definitely one thing.  We know that we are putting on slower greens in Europe than the U.S. and you need to have a few days to adjust to that; it's not always easy.

Q.  After a prolific year like last year, is it all about peaking around the Majors now for you?
HENRIK STENSON:  Well, yes and no.  I look at it, I hope I've got three, four, five good years ahead of me and that will be 15 to 20 Majors, and hopefully play good enough in a bunch of them and be up there and give myself a chance.
It's hard to pinpoint one or two weeks in a year when you know you're going to play your best.  But it's about preparation and trying to do the right things leading up to it and hopefully it will pay off that week.
But sometimes players‑‑ take Lee, for instance, he won the week after, and he played well at Augusta, but you never know kind of when you're going to hit your absolute best.
But surely, preparation‑wise, they are on my mind.

Q.  Do you know the permutations of what you need to become world No. 1 this week?
HENRIK STENSON:  No, because Adam is playing in Crowne Plaza I think.

Q.  And will you be looking at what he's doing?
HENRIK STENSON:  Not too much.  I normally follow golf when I'm not‑‑ if I'm at home, I've got Golf Channel on and seeing how the boys are doing in Europe and likewise in the States.
Surely I will check the scores but I don't think I'll check more just because he's playing than I would normally.

Q.  And if you did finish tied 14th and became world No. 1, surely‑‑
HENRIK STENSON:  Have a big party on Sunday and you're invited (laughter).
I mean, it would be nice to have it.  I know how well I played in the fall last year, and it's kind of an accumulated thing.  If I were to become world No. 1 now, it's not because of the first three or four months of the season.  It's mainly because of what I did last year.  I'm happy with what I've achieved there, and I don't know if becoming world No. 1 this week would make a big difference to that.
Boring stuff, right?  Yeah, sorry.

Q.  Speaking of parties, what was last night like for you, just to receive the spoils of all your success last year?
HENRIK STENSON:  Yeah, that was very nice, and that's one of the great things of being back here to see a lot of familiar faces and a lot of friends from long back.  It was nice to see those videos and get the applause for my achievements last year.  It was a very enjoyable evening, and picked up a few more awards, yeah, that's nice.

Q.  First of all, just to confirm that invitation‑‑
HENRIK STENSON:  For all of you.

Q.  Can we bring the family along, too?
HENRIK STENSON:  Sure.  Come on.

Q.  In China, how close did you come to pulling out and is all that behind you and you're back to 100 per cent?
HENRIK STENSON:  Yeah, it was one of those viruss and they went around in the States, there was a lot of people getting that stomach bug and I was keeping my fingers crossed.  But as soon as I landed in Hong Kong, I found like I wasn't going to be that lucky, then spent Monday night and Tuesday and half of Wednesday in the hotel room.  So it was just a two‑, three‑day virus and then you're up again.
I was very pleased with my tournament there, finishing fifth in the end after not seeing the course, not playing a shot before the Thursday round.  Maybe I should get another virus, I don't know.

Q.  And playing on the slowest greens you've probably played on all season.
HENRIK STENSON:  Yes, they were very slow.  Paspalum is a slow grass.

Q.  You said it's always something in golf.  When was the last time you felt like you played in a tournament where you were firing on all cylinders in every aspect of your game?
HENRIK STENSON:  I don't know if I've ever had.  I think when I won the Nedbank, Sun City in 2008, and I think I stood on the 17th tee box and I said to Fanny, "Do you think we can finish this off," and I held a 12‑shot lead.  I think I was playing pretty well at that point.  (Laughter).
Well, then, of course, Kenny Perry had to spoil it all and go birdie, birdie, and I went for a sucker pin on the last and only won by nine.  I think we were pretty close to firing on all cylinders that week.  James Kingston was unhappy; he said it was totally unnecessary to make everyone else look foolish. 
PAUL SYMES:  Thanks a lot, Henrik, and look forward to the party on Sunday.

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