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An Interview with: HENRIK STENSON
Henrik, welcome back to The Ryder Cup. Thoughts on the first day yesterday and what you look forward to the rest of the week.
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, it was a long day yesterday and an early morning today. Yeah, it was good. We got to see the course for the first time; it was for me.
Yeah, seemed to be in good condition. Greens were a little bit slower than we expected, but that seems to be due to the previous heat that's been, and I'm sure they are going to speed it up as we go along. Really looking forward to the week.
KELLY ELBIN: Having won the 2007 WGC Accenture World Match Play, how might that translate into possible successes this week.
HENRIK STENSON: Well, I've got a pretty good match-play record, and that's always nice to bring to an event like this.
Q. What time would you usually get up?
HENRIK STENSON: Depends on what I'm doing, I guess. I like to sleep in (chuckling). Probably about 8:00, 8:30.
Q. So if this would have been a normal tournament, on the days leading up to it, you would have been lying in until 8:30, would you?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, sometimes you want to get out and get an early practice round. All depends if you're playing early or late on the Thursday, as well. But I don't think I would have seen you at 5:30 in the morning (laughter), any of you.
Q. On the same theme, what did you think when you were told you were required in here at 6:30 a.m.?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, obviously it took a long time yesterday to play the practice round and we had to cancel the interviews yesterday afternoon. It was just a matter of getting a good schedule together and, you know, make you guys happy in the morning, and I can go back and have a bit of a sleep in the afternoon if I feel I need to.
We were going to be up early anyway. I think we had a rules meeting at 8:00 and then we were going to play. So you don't have to be worried that you're destroying my whole day, just parts of it (smiling).
Q. What took so long yesterday? What was it about yesterday's round that made it so long?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, obviously practice rounds at a new course is always going to take a fair bit of time. We had not seen this course before, either, so it's both hitting a lot of shots around the greens and having a good look at the holes and how to play them, and then we did a lot of signing, as well, trying to win some fans over.
Q. Did you meet anyone from Kentucky who has been to Sweden, or knew where Sweden was?
HENRIK STENSON: No, they were dressed in blue, so I asked if it was blue for Europe, and not all of them agreed on that.
Q. Were you surprised to play in threeballs yesterday, and did you have a match of any sort?
HENRIK STENSON: No, we didn't have a match yesterday. I know some of the guys did. We were just playing a practice round and we're going to have some games today.
Q. Was it a surprise to play in threeballs?
HENRIK STENSON: No, just maybe got it down to only seven hours, so might have been a good move (laughter).
Q. How did you end up living in Dubai, and do you ever go to the horse races there?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I haven't really been to the horse racing. I came down and played the tournament in 2001 for the first time and my coach got an academy down there, so we have done some good winter practice over the years. With the central location for -- mainly when I started out, I was only playing in Europe, as well, and part of The European Tour schedule is down in Asia and Australia, and shorter travels and less time difference; just a very good spot to be based.
Q. How many years have you lived there?
HENRIK STENSON: Since, I think, 2003.
Q. Just going back to the thing about signing autographs, was that something that Nick deliberately pointed out to you guys as Bernhard Langer did at Oakland Hills, or was that just something you did spontaneously?
HENRIK STENSON: No, we sort of talked about it before, what we do out here. I think it's part of the thing to keep the crowd happy, and we spent some extra time on that.
Q. You were in the same group as Padraig yesterday; if that translates into a partnership, how much pressure does that bring, and how much of a thrill is it to play with a person who has won the last two majors?
HENRIK STENSON: Oh, that would be very nice. We played in 2006 and got beaten that time, so I don't mind a rematch together with Padraig. No, I don't think that would bring much extra pressure, not on me. I'm not the one with the three majors.
Q. In the time you played with Padraig last time, did you sense any type of pressure he might have been under just being in a home match, and how would you think that might translate to Kenny Perry/J.B. Holmes type of thing?
HENRIK STENSON: No, I didn't sense that he was pressurized when we played. Both of us were pressurized by Zach Johnson's putting that time. That was the main thing.
I didn't feel like he was under enormous pressure playing in Ireland. I think he enjoyed it like everybody else, and I guess it's more, you know, what you expect of yourself, and obviously playing in your home country or home state and a venue like this, you want to do well. I think that's the pressure that sort of builds up, if anything, the one that you put on yourself more than anything.
Q. There's a lot of talk about the 13th hole here and J.B. Holmes actually hitting the green yesterday. You're not exactly short off the tee. Did you have a pop at it yesterday?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, we had a pop at it. We're going to try to push him to do it later on in the week.
Q. And how did you do?
HENRIK STENSON: Ended up in the hazard just left there and chipped it up. I'm not sure if it was the perfect play or not, depending on where the tee is and how firm the greens get. We'll see. I'm sure somebody is going to have a go at it.
Q. Was that the back tee?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, back tee with a 5-wood (laughter).
No, we played one tee up and I hit a full 3-wood and I think it would have reached the green. It just caught the top of the tree and bounced out.
Q. It was more or less the same, but there's a short hole on the front nine, 5; what did you do there?
HENRIK STENSON: We tried it both off the back tees and the forward tees, and seems like a hole where you can be pretty aggressive and take your chances with a short little chip around the green or something if you get the chance, if the conditions are all right.
Q. To go straight at the flag or the green from that tee is what sort of distance?
HENRIK STENSON: It was I think -- I don't know, 295 from the forward tee to the front of the green. Then, I don't know, 340 maybe from the back, something like that. But you can fly the bunker off the back tee and get it up fairly close to the green and leave yourself a 50-yard pitch or something and I think that's a pretty good play, as well. So we'll see what the conditions are like.
Q. How does the team room differ from 2006 at The K Club, and how has Nick Faldo been so far? What's the dynamic like in the team room in terms of the characters in there?
HENRIK STENSON: We've been in good spirits. It's still early in the week and really only spent one night together at the hotel. It's good fun. Everybody knows everybody really well and getting along. No, we're just enjoying ourselves and enjoying the week. And Nick's been a good part of it.
Q. I think you went to the Muhammad Ali place last night; did I overhear something that Muhammad Ali was there?
HENRIK STENSON: I think he was -- he was trying to make it but he got in later last night apparently. So we might see him later in the week, that's what they told us.
Q. And what did you think of the place?
HENRIK STENSON: It was a very nice place, definitely a worthwhile visit. The only bad thing was that we didn't have enough time to sort of spend. You felt like would you have liked to be there two or three hours to see the whole thing properly, and hopefully we'll get a chance to do that in the future.
Q. Would you be a Muhammad Ali fan and would you have any recollections of him growing up, watching him box?
HENRIK STENSON: Not too much. I know a little bit about him and picked up a few more things yesterday about his life and what it was about and what he's about. It's a little bit sort of before my time, if you know what I mean.
Q. Have you had a go on the drum kit yet, and do you think it's a rather significant thing to have in the team room and it's important?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I got on it there before I came in here and played a little song and nobody really seemed to care too much (laughter).
Q. What song did you play?
HENRIK STENSON: I don't know, something Irish, come on, quick --
KELLY ELBIN: It's early. (Laughter).
Q. The other thing is there was quite an atmosphere here yesterday with J.B. Holmes and Kenny Perry out in the group. Have you felt an atmosphere like that at the golf course before, and do you think an atmosphere like that obviously will have a positive impact on the home side, but can it have a negative impact on a visiting side, or is it something that would lift you, as well?
HENRIK STENSON: I have to say where I was at the course yesterday and so on, I didn't pick up too much on where the Americans were. I just saw there was a lot of crowds out there and thought it was a very good atmosphere for a Tuesday. I think it will be pretty loud and cheerful this week.
Q. Is that in any way intimidating?
HENRIK STENSON: I wouldn't think so. It was pretty loud at The K Club, probably more on our behalf.
It will be interesting. Obviously different to play in America than to play in Europe.
Q. You've got six rookies on the U.S. Team and four on The European Team. You're coming into this having one experience; how valuable is that experience to you and how do you feel now, as opposed to how you felt two years ago?
HENRIK STENSON: It's definitely different now. I mean, it's more relaxed and knowing more what it's all about and so on. When you're playing as a rookie, you don't really know what to expect. I guess you're more curious on how everything is going to be this week and so on.
Getting the experience of playing once, you're more sort of thinking about preparing. Not that I didn't think about preparing last time, but you're more sort of acclimatized to everything and just looking forward to the week's play and to try and do well.
KELLY ELBIN: Henrik, can you talk just for a second about initial impressions of the golf course and any hole that may have stood out?
HENRIK STENSON: I think it seems to be definitely more bouncy and firm than what it looks. I think it's going to be hard to hold the ball sometimes on the par 5s and the longer par 4s if the greens keep on firming up and getting quicker. It's going to be pretty hard to get close to the pin at times.
Q. Speaking of home crowds, how important is it for Sweden to get a Ryder Cup the next opening, or is it just a Solheim Cup country?
HENRIK STENSON: No, I think Sweden really wants to get the Ryder Cup, and we'll try at most to get it in 2018. I don't know; am I too young to be captain then? What do you think? (Laughter).
HENRIK STENSON: Possibly. It would be nice to play, though, in Sweden if that would be.
Q. What courses would be the options there?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, there's a couple of different ones, but I think it would be the new one that's built in Stockholm, Bro Hof, that's the main candidate I would have thought. They are building one down south, as well, that the Swedish PGA is involved with. We might find something else. We have a few years to work on some other courses, as well, then.
KELLY ELBIN: Henrik Stenson, thank you very much.
HENRIK STENSON: Bright and early. Back to bed.
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