TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola interview: Henrik Stenson

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September 22, 2013

THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Henrik Stenson. I think you've been with us every day this week. So welcome back to the media center.

HENRIK STENSON: Thank you.

THE MODERATOR: Our 2013 TOUR Championship by Coca Cola winner and FedExCup champion.

You said it out there how close, and it kind of went back and forth. But to be finished now and have both trophies in your hand, just give us your reaction.

HENRIK STENSON: Wow, it's been a great week and obviously a great playoffs for me. It's been a great season. It's been a great summer. It just keeps on going in that way.

And then very, very happy and pleased with this week, of course. It was a lot of things on the line.

It was probably as tough of a situation as I've been in in terms of having that big lead yesterday, didn't finish that great, and Dustin made a couple of birdies coming back. And all of a sudden, that seven, eight shot lead I had coming into the back nine yesterday was down to four. We know four is never over when you've got a four shot lead.

But in one sense, it could have been good as well because it really made me focus, go out there, and really play my game because I knew I had to play a good game of golf today to hold the guys off.

It was perfect conditions. It's a tough golf course, but it was still always going to be one or two guys going fairly low and giving it a shot, and I saw Jordan and Webb shot some great scores. They kept coming at me.

So a couple of crucial points there on the back nine. I made a mistake on 14 and then hit a flier over the green, but then to come back with a birdie on an important par on 15 to make the birdie or keep the lead or extend it back to three. And then just scrambling for par and trying to play as smart as I could coming in.

Yeah, it was a great day, great week, and it's been a great year.

Q. Henrik, how incredible would it be for you to also win the Race to Dubai. You've got a great chance now to go ahead and accomplish that as well.

HENRIK STENSON:
Yeah, I mean, that's obviously next on the horizon. Thankfully, I've got a whole month now I can rest and enjoy this incredible run that I've had.

It was great to have a week off after winning Deutsche Bank, and now I've got a month off after winning these two trophies.

It's going to take a little time for this to sink in. I'm going to be busy, I know that much. Phone's going to go pretty hot, I think.

And then have some time to get back into get some good practice down before I head out to the BMW tournament in Shanghai there on the 19th of October.

Yeah, I'm in a great position for winning the money title in Europe. Again, it's going to take some good play. I've got Justin and Graeme chasing me down there. There might be another couple of guys by that time up there. So it's going to take some good play.

I'm going to try my hardest to accomplish that. No one's won the FEDEX and the race to Dubai. Luke and Rory won both the money titles.

Of course, we're going to give that our next shot.

Q. Did you have an idea on 14 that Jordan had got to within a stroke there for a couple of minutes?

HENRIK STENSON:
I saw he was 11 under through 16, right?

Q. Yes.

HENRIK STENSON:
I heard the roar, so I figured I'm not just a pretty face. I could put one and one together. I figured it was him that made the par on 16.

And then I was not in a great spot. It was all about getting back up on the green and trying to knock a long par putt in.

I knew I had the par 5 coming up. If I could hit a good tee shot and get myself back in good position to try to make birdie. Once I made that one, I'm not sure if I saw that he might have did he bogey 17 or 18?

Q. 17.

HENRIK STENSON:
So probably when I walked off 15, I saw he was back down to 10. But Steve was the group ahead of me, and he was 10 at that moment. So he would have had a chance to pick up some shots as well.

It was definitely game on, and I just tried my hardest to make pars and play smart the last couple of holes.

I managed to scramble for par on 16 and 18 and great bunker shot on 17. I guess on 18 it was more just get it up on the green there, and we could play around a little bit and still be the champion. So it was kind of a nice feeling there.

Q. Two questions, Henrik. At what point were you the most nervous today?

HENRIK STENSON:
It was probably before in the morning. I had to spend a little time yesterday to shake like I said to you guys, I was in a better position after three rounds than I was after two rounds. I still kind of had a little bit of a feeling that I let a few shots go away too easily there on the back nine in the rain.

Even though I didn't do badly, it was still just that feeling. I had to take a little bit of time to shake that. I knew it was a lot of things on the line.

In one way, it was probably harder when it wasn't one of the guys that also could win the tournament and win the whole thing up there because I kind of you know, I'm trying to win the tournament, but I still knew, if someone's going to catch me, I still need to make sure at least I'm Top 5. So it was kind of you have to battle with those kinds of things as well even though the main thing is to block everything out and go play golf, which I was pretty good at in the long run.

So it was probably before we started playing really. Once you get going, you kind of get into things.

Q. And secondly, can you kind of get your hands around just how much money you won today, $11.4 million?

HENRIK STENSON:
That's a fair amount. No. I mean, like I said the other day, that's definitely the second thing to me right now.
It's having these two trophies with my fourth time on the PGA TOUR and then to be the FedExCup Champion, that means a whole lot to me than the money. Of course, it's a nice bonus, and it will be able to pay for the extra four coke machines that I promised away to a few people and the party.

So, yeah, I'm sure it will sink in at a later time.

Q. It comes with a five year exemption, in case you have another slump.

HENRIK STENSON:
Yeah, thanks. Maybe I can throw a year over to you.

Q. Henrik, you were ranked in the 200s early last year. What does it say about you that you'll be No. 4 tomorrow?

HENRIK STENSON:
I think it says that I never give up. I went from way, way back down in 2001 and got back up to No. 4 the week after my win at Sawgrass in 2009. So I'm obviously touching my personal best there.

If I keep on playing well, I will have a chance, I guess, later on in the year to be able to improve on that.

No, it's just been a great summer. I mean, way beyond what I could imagine. The play that I performed here since mid July has been incredible.

It's obviously the work that I'd done before. It wasn't like you wake up in the middle of July and you start playing fantastic. I put the work in in the spring.

And once again, I want to thank my team because I owe them a big part of my success, and they're all working hard for me. All the support from everybody else, including you guys.

Q. Henrik, what do you think it says about the system that the guy that's been the best player over the last two months is sitting here with both trophies right now? Secondly, how long did it take you to get your confidence back after what you went through a couple of years ago?

HENRIK STENSON:
Well, I mean, the I think the way it turned out now, it was you know, I won twice within the four weeks, and then to win the whole thing it's been a number of years finding that balance. I'm sure you can always look at it from different angles and so on, but I think we've got a system that is very good.

I'm sure they're going to keep on looking at it, and it might be a tweak here and there, but I think we've got a great system. It's just where do you put that exact line in terms of your season on the performance and how much you should be moving up and down accordingly in the playoffs depending on your game?

We knew the script before that. The five guys had the chance to or would win if they won the championship, and I managed to do that. So I made it pretty clear, I guess.

I still would have had because Tiger and Adam and Zach and Matt was farther back, then I could have won it without the win as well, which is pretty logical as well in the grand scheme of things.

Q. And the confidence, how long it took for you to get that back?

HENRIK STENSON:
The way I had to battle coming in yesterday, I'm not sure what level my confidence was at in the rain out there yesterday.

You know, it's it's a funny one. Confidence can turn around very quickly in this game, but it can take quite a long time as well. You know, it's still something I think every player, no matter how good or bad you play, you still have to kind of battle certain feelings certain times, certain shots you don't like, and it's no different for me.

I'm just really happy with the way I stuck in there because it didn't feel the best today by far. To go out there and still shoot 3 under no. Yeah 3 under or 2 under? 2 under, I shot. Around a tough golf course is still a good score and a good accomplishment.

Q. Henrik, in some ways, does this win today validate that run of form you've been talking about since July? I.e., winning's obviously not easy, but would you have felt unrewarded to have just one win over that stretch?

HENRIK STENSON:
I think it would have been a tough one. Someone asked me yesterday, I think, if I would have felt it was bittersweet if I won the FedExCup but didn't win the TOUR Championship here this week. Given my position that far into the tournament with such a big lead, it probably would have.

But I would have been very, very pleased if I would have only won the FedExCup, of course, also. But I think it's given all the good results I've produced over this period of time that put me right up in the top of things when the playoffs started, and then two wins out of four tournaments is yeah, then I'm sitting here with a Combined trophy.

Q. Henrik, when you have a stretch like you've had the last three or four months, you kind of wish both Tours weren't kind of winding down for the year. Would you like to just keep going and going and going?

HENRIK STENSON:
This month is going to be great, and then I got a very busy schedule. I think I'm playing seven tournaments in eight weeks starting from the 19th of October or the week after that.

So I definitely need this rest and try and get everything sorted and organized and then start up full for the back end of the year.

Being European, I've always tried to keep my membership back there, and we've got a Ryder Cup coming up as well. Of course, this win is going to help, together with the Deutsche Bank one, towards getting a spot on that team.

No, I'm going to be happy to play more golf at the back end of the year, and then looking forward to Christmas break.

Q. Henrik, just curious, you know you're playing with Dustin Johnson. You know Steve Stricker. What's your reaction when you see 20-year-old Jordan Spieth putting the most pressure on you?

HENRIK STENSON:
Yeah, I mean, I played a couple of times with Jordan this year. He's a very, very talented player, a great guy, and he's going to be around for a while, I'm pretty certain of that.

So very impressive. It's just great fun to watch, you know, someone that's coming straight out of college, more or less and getting straight on Tour and winning and playing so well.

He's fearless. That's great.

Q. Henrik, how much nicer was it to stand on the 18th hole knowing you had a little bit of a cushion as opposed to needing to make par on that hole?

HENRIK STENSON:
What do you think? Yeah, it was sweet even to have a three shot lead.

I was watching Steve carefully. You know, if there's one guy you don't want to let the chance from 30 feet across the green on the last day or two to put a bit more pressure on me, it's Steve Stricker.

So I wasn't really disappointed that I didn't hear a big roar there. So it was kind of nice to have five up on the last two to still win it. I was just trying to blast a 4 iron up the middle of the green. I leaped it a little bit and still a half decent shot and ended up in the bunker.

Walking down there, and a lot of people saying congratulations. I'm like, no, we're not going there yet. We're playing this bunker shot. Stranger things have happened. Played a nice bunker shot, and then it was done and dusted.

Yeah, it's a tough finishing hole, we know that, and like yesterday, I mean, almost made 2 and walk away with 4. So it's a nice one to have a cushion at.

Q. Henrik, when you fell down to 230 in the world, your swing looks relatively the same that it's always looked. What was the difference? Your ball striking is way up, obviously.

HENRIK STENSON:
No, I think it was a mix of things. You know, like I said, confidence is one thing, and I was not hitting the ball the way I can, just a bit of everything.

And once you're kind of on the downhill spiral, it's hard to break it. It was a lot of frustration.

I kind of showed a little bit of form back in '10. I was third in the Open back in '10 and then got sixth. So that washed out the rest of the '10 season. '11 was just a frustrating year.

I don't know either. It's timing. It's little things. Probably looked just as well back then as it does now, but when it's working, it's pretty efficient.

Q. You got a win in South Africa, I think.

HENRIK STENSON:
At the end of last year, yeah.

Q. Was that a big step?

HENRIK STENSON:
Yeah, it was big to be back in the winner's circle again at the end of last year, especially the way I did it too because I held a three shot lead after two days, a three shot lead after three days, and then it was kind of it was down to one because George could see either the 3rd or 2nd hole straight away and then I dropped a couple of shots and then made a double at 9. So we were all square at the turn.

To come back and win with a couple of birdies in the end, that was crucial. When it had been a couple of years since I was really up in contention and had a chance to win to kind of drop the lead midway and pick it back up in the end, that was very, very important, I think.
Yeah, from March onward this year, it's just been going in the right direction.

THE MODERATOR: Henrik, congratulations. Thank you for your time.

HENRIK STENSON: Thank you very much. Thanks for this week.

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