Shell Houston Open interview: Henrik Stenson

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March 31, 2013

Q. Birdied 17 and 18. On the 18th hole the closest shot of the day was 20 feet. You hit it 9. That says about how you're feeling about your golf game right now.
HENRIK STENSON:
We were still trying to stick it to 9 feet. I did exactly that. So, like Gary said, maybe I should start aiming to the hole when I'm hitting it this good. Yes, two solid shots. It's a tee shot and we stood there and thought we're almost going to get called off when we're on the 18th, started to hear a bit of rumbling and lucky to hit a great tee ball down the middle and left only a wedge to the hole. Yeah, I guess I had a good break here timing-wise.

Q. Go inside, relax, hopefully might get in today, if not we always have tomorrow.
HENRIK STENSON:
Yes.

Q. You had a good finish. What are you feeling right now?
HENRIK STENSON:
Obviously very happy coming -- as I said to my caddie, walking up 18 no matter what, we're playing for a green jacket in a couple of weeks. That will be nice. That was the main goal coming here. And when I played as well as I did, put myself in a good position, I'm still trying to do well here and then give myself a chance to win this tournament. Whether that's going to happen or not, we'll see, but very pleasing finish, 4 birdies in the last five holes. Some great shots coming down the stretch.

Q. Were you hitting your irons today or what was the --
HENRIK STENSON:
I was just like playing sensible. Didn't make too many mistakes. The only real bad one was on 15, bogeyed a par 5, hit a poor tee shot. Left it in the bad spot in the trap. Had the layup short of the hazard. Couldn't get on the green. Only bad one of the day. But I came back straight off by hitting a 6-iron to half a foot on 14 and to great 3-woods to the green on 15 to birdie that one and then 17 and 18, four great shots and two birdies.

Q. Quite a few lower scores today. What was the difference? It was still breezy.
HENRIK STENSON:
Yeah. I don't know when they came. It's normally earlier in the day the low scores are out. It's funny on this course, because it's got some extremely tough holes, but it's got a lot of good chances as well.
So, I mean, it's all about getting the balance right there. If you take advantage of the birdie chances and manage to sneak maybe a birdie in one or two of the tough holes, you've got a great score. You get it the wrong way around and really don't birdie the easy ones, starts struggling on the other ones, can be a tough course to shoot under par. It's got all the ingredients of a good golf course.

Q. How much is your mind on the Masters?
HENRIK STENSON:
It's been there all week a little bit. As I told you earlier in the week, it's all about keeping my head down and doing my business and I know I have a good chance to do it. I put the foundation down at Bay Hill last week, I finished tied for 8th and moved up to 5th, 3rd in the world rank. I knew a Top-10 would pretty much make it here.
Just a lot of energy, not trying to think about that and then focus on what I need to do, and coming down the stretch, it's about winning this golf tournament and hitting right shots. I've done that. Whether it's enough, we'll have to see.

Q. Do you think you'll have a chance to get back out there?
HENRIK STENSON:
I mean, I hope I get a chance to get back out there, it's a playoff at least. I'll take that from here on when you're behind the year, take my chances in a playoff. We'll have to see. I have no idea what the weather is going to be. We have to hang around and very pleased with my performance and see what happens.

Q. When did you feel comfortable that, okay, I've got the Masters?
HENRIK STENSON:
That was when I stiffed it to 9 feet on 18. I. Said we're playing for a green jacket in two weeks' time. Before then, you can't really -- on 18 in particular, pull it left off the tee and start wrapping up a 6 or 7 in no time. You never know where the world ranking points and how people finish and so on. That's why there's no point -- if I'm coming up there and I'm going to be in the Top-5, I know I'm going to get in for next week. Just been a great you turnaround these last two weeks and played really solid this week.

Q. Did you think you were going to Augusta last October?
HENRIK STENSON:
You always think that. It was looking good at Christmas time. I was just outside when the year finished. I thought should I go and play someone else for one last chance. I kind of stayed away from that one because it had been a long, long season, and I was just hoping I was going to play a little bit more solid early on to get in Doral and kind of just keep ongoing, but I came over here after the middle of the swing and didn't get anything going and got a little bit frustrated but got it back on track with some good work last week and this week played really solid.

Q. Did you go to Australia late last year?
HENRIK STENSON:
No. I was in the Middle East. One or two tournaments I could have gone to. I had such a long year and I was out there for, I don't know, like ten weeks on the road, more or less. I was kind of done at Christmas.

Q. Do you feel more prepared now this year than the previous years?
HENRIK STENSON:
I never felt like I went to Augusta playing well. If I can keep what I got now, at least I feel like I'm going there hit some nice shots and the game is in a nice state. Yeah, probably be the most I ever looked forward to going, given how late I got in as well.

Q. Will you play next week?
HENRIK STENSON:
We'll have to see about that one. I've played quite a few on the road now. We'll see.

Q. Were you working out? It looks like you have muscle?
HENRIK STENSON:
I just did a few boxes. I've done some working out, but I've done a lot of eating as well. Right now we're on the regime of trying to lose a bound or two and keep it going.

Q. What are you doing?
HENRIK STENSON:
Mixed bag of golf specific exercises, flexibility and mobility and strengthening small muscle groups and just general stuff as well. I'm thrilled with my performance especially the last few holes. It was the bogey on -- I didn't get the birdie on 12 and bogeyed 13. I was kind of going in the wrong direction. When I birdie four of the last five, I hit some fantastic shots. I was very pleased.

Q. What were you trying to do with your second -- with your second on 13 there? How far were you trying to get it down there?
HENRIK STENSON:
I was trying to get it down like 110, 115 yards short of the ditch. It was in the -- a great lie. Close to the lip. Trying to play cute with a fairway bunker shot. I might as well had a go at it with an iron and worse comes to worse, I would have dumped it in the sandy hazard or whatever. Yeah.
Couple of maybe bad decisions on that hole, but, you know, I don't think too much about those given the good ones I had coming in.

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