Deutsche Bank Championship interview: Henrik Stenson

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August 31, 2013

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DOUG MILNE:
Henrik Stenson, thanks for joining us for a few minutes after a successful 8‑under, 63, Round 2 of the Deutsche Bank Championship.

With that I'll turn it over to you just for some comments on the round today.

HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, obviously very pleased with the score today. I played nicely yesterday, as well, but I really felt like I left two or three shots at the turn yesterday. I started on 10, and missed a short one on 18. And a couple of chances on 1 and 2 yesterday. And that never feels that good.

But today I didn't leave anything out there. I made 8 birdies and 10 pars, which is pretty spotless, I guess. And again, hitting a lot of fairways, hitting a lot of good iron shots into the greens, giving myself chances. And made a few more good putts today compared to yesterday. I guess that was the big difference. Solid round of golf, and up in contention once again going into the weekend, which is nice. So we'll just keep on plodding away.

Q. Seems like the kind of week where you've got to fire a bunch of birdies to get moving. Do you like that or is there anything you can do about it?

HENRIK STENSON:
Well, I think historically probably not. I've probably made ‑‑ some of my great tournaments and finest results have been on really tough golf courses. But it's a golf course with tricky holes, and it helps to hit it nicely around here. If that were to take, that's what I'm going to try and produce. And I've done it for the first two days. It seems like it's‑‑ when I looked at the leaderboard I think coming into the last three or four holes I was 10‑under and I was tied third. And then I saw you were on 20th on 7‑under, which tells you there's a lot of guys up there. It's not really separated too much.

Which means you can move up and you can move down very quickly in that kind of an compact field. So once again, not try and focus too much on that, just go out there and have two good rounds.

Q. Will we ever get separation before Monday?

HENRIK STENSON:
I don't know, but just in the number of players that are up there, it's a very compact field between 5‑, 6‑ and 8‑, 9‑under par. There's a lot of players in that region, any one of them can come flying through, as well. I'll just try and keep on playing as well as I did on these first two days and hopefully see you guys after the round tomorrow.

I've said it so many times over these last two months, it's a three and a half day marathon, to be on the back nine on the final round. And this week is no different. That's what we're trying to do.

Q. You talked about the contention that you've been in here the last few months. I'm sure you've been asked this a lot this summer, but is there an easy answer for‑‑ how would you describe the form you've been able to produce? Has it been a progression or did something click?

HENRIK STENSON:
Yeah, I mean it's been a lot of hard work and a long‑term process to get into the fine play that I produced this summer. And it was quite a‑‑ I almost surprised myself to be able to be up there in four tournaments and big events, as well. It takes a lot of energy out of you. Sure I felt that last week at the Barclays. I'm kind of empty on‑‑ I'm running on the spare battery at the moment. And I picked up a cold here a couple of days ago. And I thought I wasn't going to be able to get too much out of this tournament. But beware of the sick injured golfer. But it felt good today and yesterday, which was surprising to me.

I just need some rest. I've played a lot of tournaments, a lot of golf, not just being up in contention playing well over the summer. I think this is my 23rd tournament this year. And I've got another eight or nine to go. So it's all about getting some energy back and staying fit and healthy for the back part of the season, as well.

So I'm looking forward to next week, getting a bit of rest and then coming, hopefully in good shape for the last two FedExCups, and then I've got a full month off to try and rest and get some good work done, as well, for the remainder of the season.
But, yeah, two more days to go, here. I'm going to give my all and see where it puts us.

Q. The U.S. Amateur was here a couple of weeks ago, just nearby here, the win Matt Fitzpatrick said he'd rather pattern his game after yours than Tiger's. Do you know Matt at all? What do you think about that comment?

HENRIK STENSON:
Yeah, that's very flattering. He works with Mike, who's the assistant coach, kind of, to Pete Cowen, who's been my coach for many, many years. And I met him at the British Open and obviously he did really well there. He was leading amateur at the Open. And he went over and I saw that he won the U.S. Amateur. It would be great to see him next year at some of the majors, try to get a couple of practice rounds together. He's obviously very talented. I haven't seen him play, I've just seen the results that he's done. Yeah, very flattering words from him.

Q. Did you reach a point during this hard work and process where you stood over the ball and knew exactly where it was going?

HENRIK STENSON:
No, I'm still waiting for that moment. Hopefully that can come tomorrow. And that's some of the positives I really took out of this last couple of months. I was up in contention in some of the biggest golf tournaments that we have. And I still felt like I had another gear to give or another 15, 20 percent to get out of my game.

So that's very exciting for the work ahead and hopefully come back next year and be able to have that extra gear, and a little bit more confidence, as well. Even if I played really, really well I'm sure in the past that I've been more confident with myself and with my game at times. But it's obviously not bad, because then we wouldn't be talking here. And I wouldn't have done those results. And I guess that's the nature of this game, as well. There's always a lot of room for improvement. You're never really finished with anything. So just keep on working away.

But it's really the long‑term processes and long‑term goals that's changed it around, where you get a little bit frustrated and low with yourself and not playing your best, it's easy to get into this, you want to find the quick fix and the quick solutions, and it's easy to end up there, and that's the big difference to the work that I've done throughout this season. If you do the right things over a period of time you're going to get the results eventually.

Q. And secondly, you mentioned the three and a half day marathon, which is right. But I'm wondering what it's like, if the pace just feels really fast for this marathon?

HENRIK STENSON:
Both yes and no. It can be frustrating if you're out in the last couple of groups and you're not getting it going. You can see everybody else making birdies, that can be a frustrating thing. But normally that doesn't help you make more birdies. So again, it's a mental challenge to just stick with your own game and do the right things. If the putts drop, they drop. There's certainly courses where you feel like you can play okay and you can hang on to your position, if you keep making pars. But not here you're not going to do that, that's a fact.

But I'm not worried. If I'm playing as well as I did on these first couple of days, I'm not worried I'm not making birdies.

Q. You've been on so many leaderboards lately, I'm sure people wouldn't be surprised if you ended up winning. Is there a fine line between taking positives from good play and sort of straddling the disappointment with not winning?

HENRIK STENSON:
No, not really this summer. Again, if I backtrack those four great weeks I had, yeah, probably the one that I was‑‑ the only one I was disappointed with was the Scottish Open. I had a two shot lead and didn't play my best on Sunday. And Phil came back strong after a bad start and won the tournament in a playoff later on. But that was kind of the one I felt like I got‑‑ let go. The other ones, not really.

I played a good round at the British. He had a phenomenal finish. Akron, it was a one horse race there. I was seven behind teeing off with Tiger. That's not going to happen around Akron.

And the PGA, I was one or two shots behind Jim and Jason. And Jason was bogey‑free, 4‑under through 16 or something. And I would have needed to throw a round out like I did when I won at Sawgrass in '09. And that's maybe once out of 10, once out of 20, when you're behind and someone in front of you is playing good. I've always said I'd rather be in front than behind, because the guys have to play better than I do if I'm in the lead.

I've got no disappointment out of that. Obviously I can't look in my crystal ball here and see what's going to happen the next few days. Of course you're going to be disappointed if you lose the tournament. But in my case here those tournaments have been won by some good players. And I've been up there. If they would have faulted maybe it would have looked different, but they didn't. I did as well as I could for the time being.

And like I said, I'm very optimistic about the future, I feel like I have more to give out of my game. If I can put myself in that situation in the future, and have a little bit more to give I can come out with a finish like Phil did at the British or like Jason did at the PGA.

Q. I'm wondering if based on this recent play, are you showing up at tournaments expecting to be in contention, and have you ever thought that way before?

HENRIK STENSON:
Well, it certainly don't come as a surprise if you put yourself in contention when you've been in the last four tournaments. At the Barclays I was up there again early on. Yeah, I guess you kind of get used to it. And you get used to playing in the last couple of groups and all the noise and all the things going on around you out there.

So it definitely kind of has you sharpen your focus and get used to being in the lead or in the last couple of groups. Yeah, I guess you're right on that, it kind of becomes the norm instead. You're expecting to be there instead of just hoping for it.

Q. Have you ever been to Omaha?

HENRIK STENSON:
I've been once, yes.

Q. What did you think?

HENRIK STENSON:
It was‑‑ I can tell you about that one. That would be as long as this interview, here. It took me a good 40 hours, I think. I had missed connections and canceled flights and technical problems. It was a bit of a hike. So I ended up landing at midnight, got up at 6, played 18 holes golf, back to the hotel for a shower and then I flew back to Sweden again.

So it was like‑‑ it was an experience. But they're great people. A great sponsor of mine. And to be honest I didn't get to see anything more than the golf course. It was dark when I landed, played 18 holes and then I was on my way again.

Q. First trip to Nebraska, I take it?

HENRIK STENSON:
Yeah, yeah it was. I didn't see any bison (laughter.) I was looking for some, but I didn't see any.

DOUG MILNE:
Henrik, congratulations on a great day, thank you for your time.

HENRIK STENSON:
Thank you.

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