Deutsche Bank Champ. interview: Henrik Stenson

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September 02, 2013

MORE: Deutsche Bank Championship interviews

JOHN BUSH:
We'd like to welcome Henrik Stenson into the interview room after his win at the 2013 Deutsche Bank Championship. With it he moves to No. 1 in the FedExCup playoffs.

Henrik, first of all, congratulations, it was a great week for you and a great final round.

HENRIK STENSON:
Thank you. Yeah, that feels nice. Like we talked yesterday, you know, if you can try and get it together for a win, I guess I've done it over the last couple of months. And it feels great to get it here this week. And pretty perfect timing, I guess. There's never a bad time to win a golf tournament, I know that much.

Q. In recent weeks you were hunting other golfers. They were hunting you today. Just how different was that for you, and how did you hold up under that?

HENRIK STENSON:
Not too bad, I guess (laughter).

No, it was you know, it was a tough start for all of us in the final group. We all dropped a couple of shots early. And I guess I was the one that bounced back the best with some nice putts and some nice shots and made three birdies in a row, 4, 5, 6 and that put me right back in the ballgame. And great timing. I made a nice 15 footer for birdie on 8. And then the siren went straight after.

So I had a good lead. But still, you know, ten holes to go. And I think it was five guys chasing me down at that point, with a few others just behind. I knew I couldn't afford to make any mistakes. And preferably make a few birdies coming in. I managed to do that.

I made a bomb on 11, longest putt of the week. And then I had to make some good pars on 13 on 12 and 13, to hang on. It was important, as well. I made a good up and down on 12, straight after the birdie, to stay and keep the momentum.

And really hit it left on 17, I was going to hit a little 9 iron there and tugged it a bit left and got a good lie in the bunker. I thought I was going to look at a four, five, 6 footer for par. But, yeah, you all know what that turned out to be. So that made the walk on to 18 a little bit easier. And two solid shots up on to the green.

At that point I had a healthy lead. I saw that Steve made another birdie. I don't know what he's drinking to play ten tournaments a year, and be in contention every one of them (laughter.) That's a phenomenal job, and I wish I can get anywhere near that when I get his age (laughter).

But, like I said, I had a two shot lead and I was on the green in two. If you've got a couple, I didn't feel like I wanted to rush that putt up the back end of the green there and start messing about. So I left it a bit short and left the next one just perfect distance. I forgive myself for 3 putting the last one from 60 feet.

Q. On TV Johnny Miller said that you were a total mess not too long ago, rocking and reeling, didn't even know if you thought you could play. Were you really that bad and how did you get from that to playing as well as anyone in the world right now?

HENRIK STENSON:
Of course it was true if Johnny said it, right? (Laughter).

I mean 2011 was a really poor season, by any standards. And I started coming back here the beginning of last year. At the end of last year I got my first win in three and a half years, I think, by winning the South African Open Championship. And then I didn't quite get it going early this year, kind of from Bay Hill, Houston time, I got my ticket to Augusta, and from then on it's been steady progress, and a couple of fantastic months. And this obviously is the icing on the cake. I was longing for a win and I got it. Probably closer than I thought I would get it. So, again, very pleased with this week and my performances.

Q. Two questions, one, which hole, or which slump was harder to pull yourself out of, the first one or the second one?

HENRIK STENSON:
No, the one I had back in '01, '02, no question about it. It was more frustrating this time. Back then I was really, you know, lost and confused with my game and with my swing and everything. And now it's been more down to poor playing. And the frustration of dealing with that. I've done enough good results to know I can play this game at a very high level. And not to be able to be anywhere near that standard is, of course, is frustrating.

But once again, you know, the big turnaround, towards the end of last year, and then this spring, as well, to put some good long term hard work into place with my team. We've been getting the benefits this summer.

Q. Speaking of this summer, it's rare when you see someone contend in so many big tournaments for really a two month stretch. Was there any concern that that kind of stretch would leave you without getting a trophy out of it?

HENRIK STENSON:
Well, I mean I wasn't disappointed, like I said a few times, yeah, Scottish Open I had a two shot lead going into the last round and then I didn't play my best and then Phil came through and won that tournament. That's the one I felt I let go little bit. I didn't feel I played as well as I should have and could have.

These other three tournaments I've been playing trying my hardest. I've been playing really well and they've been won by some great players in great ways. I can't look back at my performance and regret it too much. I ended up in a sand divot on 14 in the PGA on the last round. I was two off the pace at that time. It pretty much sanded my chances, if you know what I mean.

And other than that I played great and so many guys have played better. And today was my turn. I was up there once again, putting myself in the mix. Really happy with the way I came back, because my caddie and I made a mistake on the second. I didn't hit that bad of a shot, but it was kind of the wrong club at the wrong place. And I was walking up thinking I was going to have a decent pitch up the hill.

And I come up and they say no, it pitched way back in the water. I said, okay. That wasn't where I wanted to the start we were looking for. To come back and keep my calmness and produce birdies after it, that's what I take the most what I'm the most proud of out of this day.

And then kept my calm on the back nine. I knew I was ahead of the other guys, they were going to have to do something to catch me if I didn't make any mistakes.

Q. How long do you expect this form to last?

HENRIK STENSON:
Forever and ever, of course (laughter).

I was totally out of energy last week. I don't know how I did it this week. Maybe it was because I could see my bed in front of me, my couch, for the next couple of days, if that was an oasis in the desert or something. I managed to pull the strength out.

I guess once you're up in contention, you don't need to think twice about motivation and mobilizing the energy. But I need some time off. I need a break. And what could be better than to go on to a week off with this win?

Q. So is your next goal winning your club championship?

HENRIK STENSON:
I've done that one a few times in the past.

Q. I'm just kidding.

HENRIK STENSON:
The last time was not so good.

Q. So two parts, one, you touched on, you said you were mentally fatigued and obviously being in contention, that puts more on it, which showed up last week, as you said you were sick. Is there anything in particular you did to rejuvenate or get your rest back or get your strength back at all or is it the beware of the sick golfer kind of thing?

HENRIK STENSON:
No, surprisingly enough my body still felt good, even though I picked up this cold. I still felt good. Sometimes it can get to you more than others, and this one obviously didn't get to me that much. Like I said, when you're up in the hunt you keep on going. It's the Duracell bunny style. You just keep on going. And when you have a chance to win you're going to try your hardest.

Like I said, I've been up there many times and today the chips fell my way and I'm really, really happy about it.

Q. Totally different question, I noticed that this week when you missed greens you seemed to be getting up and down more frequently, like 17. You chipped it in. Do you think that was a factor, your scrambling, short game -

HENRIK STENSON:
- Putting was a little bit sharper this week. Short game normally, my pitching around the greens is pretty good. And I think at Akron I think I was No. 1. I think I had 17 out of 21 scramblings that week. So that's been good all along.

You can never expect to make bunker shots like that one, but I just played it perfectly. It was a nice bonus. And like I said, it made playing 18 a whole lot easier with that extra cushion. If I would have bogeyed it, the air might have been a bit thinner coming up the last.

Q. Aside from the win at the end of last year, what sort of got you over the hump in terms of just trying to get to this point?

HENRIK STENSON:
Well, I think a couple of things. I felt like in the spring I was still I had a good finish to last year, but I didn't quite kick it off early on this year. I was just hanging out top 50 in the World Rankings. I knew I needed one good week to be in and be in for all the big events but it didn't happen. That was a little frustrating.

But I came to a point where I looked at all the aspects of my game and decided this is what I'm doing, instead of for this week, this is where we're going to be in two months. And keep hard at it for a number of weeks. And that got me going. I think mentally I've been as good as I've ever been throughout this summer, and that kind of started in my preparations for U.S. Open. You've got to be able to take the hits there and keep on going. I did that that week pretty good. But I knew I could be better. And I jumped up a notch in that department. And just kept at it all summer. And that's the big reason to why I've been able to have so many good weeks in big tournaments.

Q. Just a quick follow up, earlier this week you kind of talked about sort of you still have work to do and we're sort of down playing how well you've played over the last month. I'm curious, why was that? And then secondly -

HENRIK STENSON:
- No, like I said, I took great positives out of especially the British Open, I felt like I had a lot more to give, but I was still up in contention and came that close to winning. When you're that close to winning a Major championship and still feeling like you've got a spare gear when everything is working, then that's exciting.

And it's going to be exciting work. I know there's a few areas where I really can try to become better quickly. I don't want to tell the other guys. But my wedge game I'm good within 75 yards. But my accuracy on like 100 yards, 110 yards, can be a bit better. When I'm striking the ball as well as I've done this week, I end up with a lot of wedges. And then just to be able to hit them a bit close is going to give me more birdie opportunities.

And putting has been great this week, but I can still improve in that area, too. It's exciting to feel like you've got more to give and you're still up there.

Q. Given the two slumps, for lack of a better word, that you had in your career, did you ever wonder you'd get to this point playing this level of golf?

HENRIK STENSON:
No, of course I've been low and frustrated at times. But I think if you let that get into your mind too deeply I wouldn't be sitting here talking to you guys today. I'm not giving up. I'm not a quitter. I'll always bounce back.

Q. Two unrelated questions. Where would you rank this win in the victories that you've had? And secondly, I think I heard out there that you're going to donate a portion of your earnings to the One Fund Boston, what prompted that decision?

HENRIK STENSON:
Yeah, it's always difficult. I've had that question before. I guess just of course it always feels better to win when you've gone through a bit of a tough time. That's always a nice feeling to come back. I'm not going to say anything stupid there, like if I win in Chicago, that this one feels better than Chicago. But it's great to win again. And they're all very special. This is going to be a special win for me, of course.

To answer the other, you know, we are all wearing this ribbon today and this week, and I just felt like if I have a nice day today, I want to give something back. So that was kind of pretty much before I teed off today.

Q. (Inaudible.)

HENRIK STENSON:
If I had a good day, I said (laughter). It might have been a different amount (laughter), but let's not talk about that now.

Q. You clearly have a great sense of humor. Has that been something that you've had to develop to get through all the lows or have you always had it and that's helped sustain you through all these up and downs?

HENRIK STENSON:
I think I've been pretty good I mean, I don't know if we should involve the family in the back there. But I think I've always been pretty good. If I've played badly, of course I'm going to get angry with myself or frustrated. But I still think I'm pretty good at leaving it on the golf course. When I'm off the course I can be myself and keep my sense of humor. I don't think I've developed it. I think it's been there all along. I've always had a crazy sense of humor, it just maybe takes a little bit longer for certain people to notice.

Q. How, if at all, does your mindset change now that you're the guy that everybody is going to be chasing going into Chicago?

HENRIK STENSON:
I'm just going to continue to try to play my best. And that's gotten me a very long way. It's going to be no different going to Chicago. I'm going to try my best there and then Atlanta. I've always been a pretty good front runner. I always liked to think that the other guy is going to have to play better than I do, if I'm in the lead. So that's always been the mindset I've had. I won a lot of my tournaments, I think I won, from the lead and being up there. Yeah, I'm just going to try my hardest. We see what happens, happens.

Q. We can all agree that yesterday was kind of a crazy day on the golf course. Did you feel like you needed to take the drama out of today and did you feel like you did that?

HENRIK STENSON:
I'm not with you. What was more crazy yesterday than any other day (laughter)?

Q. Do you feel like it was a crazy day yesterday with all the guys going low

HENRIK STENSON:
Scoring wise, you meant?

Q. Yes.

HENRIK STENSON:
Yeah, I mean we knew all along there was a lot of low scores out there this week. I don't know why this is only the second time I'm here. When you walk around the course or play a practice round, normally I wouldn't see 22 , 23 under winning this tournament. And not just in a week a couple of guys can get really hot. This week it's so many players playing well and shooting so low, I don't know what's up with that.

I didn't see that when I first came here. But, again, we knew we had to keep on going, anybody that was up at the top. It's not like you can cruise into victory here with a couple of pars. You've got to make birdies and shoot good numbers. And there was always going to be a couple of 62s, 63s. I had one 63 earlier in the week, that combined with another couple of really solid rounds obviously put me in front.

Q. You've been on Ryder Cups with Sergio. What do you say to him after as happy as you are, I'm sure he was disappointed?

HENRIK STENSON:
Yeah, I was I really wanted that pitch to go in. He had a lovely pitch on 18, and that would have given some comfort, at least. He bounced back. He had a horrible start. And it's we've all been there. He's been there before. I've been there. Everyone that's out here has been in that situation. It's a tough day. He'll be up there again and you know what a great player he is, and he's a good friend of mine. We were chatting away and it's just it wasn't his day. And it's always tough to lose when you're leading. That happens. It's part of the game. We've all been there. It will come back.

Q. Just details on birdies 4 through 6, if you could?

HENRIK STENSON:
Yeah, I hit it left on 4. I had a tough shot. Played a nice flop. The conditions were it was wet and not it was very wet in certain areas, so I didn't have a great lie. But played a nice flop up and made, I don't know, 12 footer, 15 footer, for birdie on 4.
And then 5 I hit a lovely 7 iron to about two and a half, three feet.

And then hit a nice 6 iron into that left pin on 6 to probably about 12 feet, 12, 13 feet, and made that one.

And then nice 5 iron to 15 feet behind the pin on 8. And rolled that one in just before the delay.

And then on 11 I hit not my best 4 iron, but middle of the green and made a bomb, like, I don't know, 30, 35 footer up and over the ridge.

Q. Did the delay come at a bad time for you?

HENRIK STENSON:
I had great momentum. I think it was great timing that I managed to make my 15 footer on 8 before that. And then Graham was going to roll his in from three feet when they blew the horn. Timing wise, at least, I made a nice birdie. So I came off with some great momentum and made a nice putt.

I don't know, I mean, it's written in the stars what would have happened if we kept ongoing. But I wasn't I wasn't feeling like it was a bad break for me. I was on a good roll. And then we have a break. And like I said, my warm up after the delay was even much better than the one I had this morning. I was feeling good walking on to the golf course again. And I started with an absolute rip down 9 with my 3 wood. So it was not like it came at a bad time for me.

Q. You've been to Omaha. Have you been to Chicago?

HENRIK STENSON:
I have. I played the first three FedExCup tournaments in '07. But I haven't been to the course. Chicago. Yeah.

JOHN BUSH: With that, Henrik Stenson, congratulations.

HENRIK STENSON: Thanks guys.

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