#HSBCChampions Preview: What they said

Wed 26 Oct 2016

#HSBCChampions Preview: What they said


Shanghai, October 26: Read what leading contenders have to say ahead of their title challenge at this week's WGC-HSBC Champions.

Dustin Johnson (Usa)

ALEX URBAN: We'd like to welcome Dustin Johnson, winner of the World Golf Championships - HSBC Champions in 2013.

Dustin, talk about what it feels like to be back here in Shanghai, a place where you've won before.

DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, it feels good. It's a place I really like. I like the golf course. I've had a lot of success here and it's a place I look forward to coming to every year. The game right now is in pretty good shape. I've had three weeks off, so took a nice little break, but you know, it's good to get back into the mode of tournament golf and I'm excited to be here.

Q. Two-part question, if you can bear with me. What do you like about the World Golf Championships; secondly, when you went to the Match Play this year, did it ever cross your mind that nobody has won all four of them?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: But no, I didn't know that. But the World Golf Championships, they are big tournaments. I mean, in my mind, they are right up there, probably just behind the majors. So I don't know, I just always enjoy playing in the big tournaments, good fields. It's always got the best players in the world, and it's just, I don't know, I've just always liked them. They are fun tournaments. They are always at good golf courses and they are great events to be at.

Q. Do you remember your first trip to Asia?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: I do. It was USA-Japan team matches. I went to Tokyo and played at a golf course outside of Tokyo.

Q. Were you in college?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: I was in college.

Q. Did you win?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: We won, yes. It was, I think eight guys and four girls versus Japan, eight guys and four girls.

Yeah, it was -- we won.

Q. Would you have thought then, that Asia would be kind of a regular stop on your schedule?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, I mean, I don't know, at that point, I think I was maybe a sophomore in college. So I really didn't know what the future held for me at that point. But yeah, I enjoy coming over and playing, so yeah, it's something that I definitely would have liked to come back and played.

Q. Can you share your secret, how to get the longest drive?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: Swing harder (laughter).

There's not really a secret. Just the gym, working out helps. I think I was just blessed with being tall. But I do put in a lot of work in the gym to keep my -- to be able to keep my strength and keep my distance. But as far as a secret, I don't have a secret.

Q. Do you sense that your generation of Americans are more enthusiastic about coming over to Asia than your predecessors?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: I really don't know. But for me, they have big, big tournaments over here, so it's hard not to come over here and play. It's hard not to want to come over here and play. So it makes sense for me.

As far as for them, I can't speak for them.

Q. But what about your friends, are they like that; do they want the same?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, I mean, this is a World Golf Championships, so they have got a great field here this week, I think 40 of the Top-50 guys. So you know, even tournaments in America don't get 40 of the Top-50.

I think it says something about HSBC. It says something about this golf tournament. They do a great job here. But I think you see more and more guys wanting to come over here and play.


Henrik Stenson (Swe)

STEVE TODD: Henrik, many thanks for joining us right off the golf course there. Welcome back to Shanghai. Talk about the golf side of things in a minute, but if we can just touch upon last night. You were bestowed with some superhero powers. Talk about the launch last night.

HENRIK STENSON: Of course, I hope those powers will remain throughout the week. I brought my normal arms today, though. I left the metal ones in Shanghai yesterday.

Yeah, it's a fun thing. It's always good to come and see downtown Shanghai and see everyone involved with the tournament and have that little bit of fun, and hopefully that will attract a few new fans to the event. I guess it's always interesting to see superheroes. I'm not sure if we are able to keep up with the expectations, but we'll give it a go anyway. Yeah, it was a fun evening.

STEVE TODD: If you could just touch on the event, as well. Of course you've already got a major in the bag this season, an Olympic Medal. How nice would it to be add a WGC title to that?

HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, it would be great. It's been a great summer for me, as you know. We've still got some golf to play. I've been resting up a little bit here. I didn't play too much the weeks before The Ryder Cup and the weeks after, so I'm feeling fairly fresh and ready to go.

It would be great to get a good start for the final couple of weeks this week here in Shanghai. It's a great event. It's gone from strength-to-strength over the years. It's become a World Golf Championship. It's the biggest tournament in Asia and attracts a very strong field.

So yeah, I haven't had super results here in the past, but hope I can turn that around this week and throw my name in the hat and be there on Sunday afternoon when it's all going to be decided.

Q. I was going to say, if you have to have another name, superhero name next year, what would you choose for yourself?

HENRIK STENSON: Another superhero name? I thought one of those two was enough, weren't they? Oh, how much time do we have.

I know that the superhero power that I would really like to have would be to be able to fly, though. I think that would be cool. So you can work on the rest.

Or if you make a combination of the two, then I'd be the Ice Machine (laughter).

Q. We're so happy that you won your Olympic Silver Medal. Have you brought that to China? And where did you put your Silver Medal? And the second part is after winning a major and also winning a Silver Medal in the Olympics, how would you rate or how would you rank your Olympic Silver Medal among all the championships that you have won?

HENRIK STENSON: Yes, the medal is right up there. Someone is wearing it around their neck as we speak. So it's here.

Yeah, it's been in my trophy cabinet next to some of the other trophies. It's a new thing, as you know, for golf to be back in the Olympics, and I think winning a medal at the Olympics is just going to grow with time.

Still, I didn't win, and I can't put it in the same -- winning is always winning, so I can't have a second place as high up as any of my victories in that sense. But of course it's something that I'm proud of my achievement and the way I played that week. Didn't go all the way but I was close. I was there with a chance all the way to the last hole. It's something I'm very happy that I managed to achieve.

Q. Speaking of silver, can you tell us about any recent adventures of the other silver thing that you won this year, and along those lines, when you see people you haven't seen in some time, are they more inclined to ask about the Olympics or Troon?

HENRIK STENSON: Well, I can reveal that the Claret Jug has been on a jet ski in recent times. It was wearing a life jacket, so it was all safe and sound. It's returned back to the kitchen where it spends most of its time on the kind of bar/desk in the kitchen. So I get to see it every morning when I have breakfast, which is kind of nice.

What else were we talking about? Oh, yeah, people -- sorry. Jet-lag.

I think it kind of depends on your background a little bit. The people that are very much into golf-specific, > I would say they are more excited about the Claret Jug and winning The Open Championship.

People who are more kind of a broader sports fan or probably equally as intrigued by winning The Open and getting a medal at the Olympics and being there. Kind of depends on what angle you're coming from a little bit.

Of course, I've always said that before, as well. I would hold a Major Championship higher than the Olympics for me personally, but that didn't mean that you couldn't have both and I came close to getting both in the same year.

Yeah, I'm happy to have a medal and have the Claret Jug and I guess silver and silver kind of matches up pretty good, too. I'll let Justin have the other one at his house.

Q. Has anyone asked you about winning in Germany?

HENRIK STENSON: There has been a little bit less of that lately. But on that note, it was very important to me to get that win in Germany a couple of weeks prior to The Open. It really gave my confidence a little extra boost, and I think that was a crucial part of me winning The Open Championship, as well.

So sometimes it's just a little thing that happened -- little thing; it wasn't a little thing winning, but something else that was outside the actual week of Troon that pushed me in the right direction.

Rory McIlroy (Nir)

STEVE TODD: Rory, many thanks for joining us, and thank you for waiting up there for a couple of minutes for us.

Four Top 10s in five appearances in this tournament, combined with your great form at the end of the season, how excited are you about the prospect of this week?

RORY McILROY: Yeah, I am. I'm excited. After what happened in the States with the FedExCup and then at The Ryder Cup, I really wanted to regroup and sort of recharge the batteries a little bit. It was a long stretch of golf.

I wanted to come into these weeks feeling fresh and feeling ready to go, and hopefully play some good golf and give myself a chance to win another Race to Dubai.

But as you said, it's my sixth time in Shanghai, and I don't think I've finished worse than 11th. So I've played well here but not quite well enough to win. Hopefully I can try to change that this week.

STEVE TODD: You've had a WGC victory in each of the past two seasons, and obviously this week represents the last chance to do it this year. What would it mean to you to do that, to keep that run going, and also get a third one in the set?

RORY McILROY: Yeah, that would be nice. I didn't actually realise that, but yeah, it would be nice to get another WGC under the belt and keep that run going.

Yeah, you know, I don't know how many -- what the second -- I know Tiger's won like 18 of these things, I'm not sure. Second place is probably down around three or four. It would be nice to try and move up that list a little bit, too.

Yeah, I feel like I'm playing well enough and I've showed enough good form around this golf course before that I'm confident I can give myself a chance this week.

Yeah, another WGC and another one of those Wedgewood trophies would be very nice.

Q. First of all, I remember Brandt Snedeker calling the bank the next day after THE TOUR Championship to see if his money had been deposited. Even a man of your accomplishments, did you bother to do such a thing or did you just trust it was there?

RORY McILROY: I knew it was there when JP, my caddie gave me a text and said thanks, and I think his words were, "A tsunami just hit my

bank account, so thank you very much." JP got a nice percentage of that, so I knew at that point it was already there.

Q. I wondered if it's possible, if you looked at the history of the WGCs, if it was a reflection of where we are as an entire tours, golfing thing, where during a time one was that far ahead of everybody else and now we're in a great era of parity. Is it possible it's a reflection of where we are?

RORY McILROY: Yeah, I guess it is a reflection of where we are, as well. I think there's been a lot of things -- you know, someone like Tiger comes around, if it's not once-in-a-lifetime, it's definitely once in a generation.

I think with technology and with everything and with the knowledge that's in the game nowadays with the coaching, it's harder and harder to separate yourself from the rest of the pack.

Yeah, there's parity, and someone like me sitting here, I'm saying that sort of grudgingly because I would have loved to be on the other side of that where there wasn't so much parity. But it seems like anyone that tees it up has a great chance to win because of a number of factors. I think overall for golf, that's not a bad thing.

But for pure entertainment, for people watching the game and wanting to get into the game, they like rivalries. They like guys going head-to-head. You've had it in golf in the past. It seems like every generation, tennis throws up a rivalry in the men's game. Used to be sort of two or maybe three players, and all of a sudden we had the Big Four, the Big Five, the big whatever. It seems like that's the way it is in golf nowadays because it has become just that little bit more difficult to separate yourself from the rest.


Russell Knox (Sco)

CLARE BODEL: Welcome back to Shanghai, Russell. You're here as the defending champion, taking part in one of the strongest fields we've ever seen here in Shanghai at the WGC - HSBC Champions. How important is that playing in a field like this, having is this kind of test going into The Final Series?

RUSSELL KNOX: Yeah, it's amazing when you get to play against the strongest fields in golf. There are so many massive names here as there was last year and it's the best way to test your game to see how good you stack up against the best of the best.

So it's an honour to be the champion here and to come back and defend.

CLARE BODEL: Talking about the defence of your title, Russell, if you were to win here today, here this week, you would become only the second player after Tiger Woods to successfully defend a WGC title. Do you think about those kind of landmarks? Does that come into your thoughts at all?

RUSSELL KNOX: It does now. It would be unbelievable to be in the same conversation as Tiger Woods for winning back-to-back.

But no, I expect to come here and play well, but I mean, obviously winning is extremely difficult, especially calibre of field that is here this week. I'm just going to try and enjoy myself.

This is my first professional title defence, so I'm really going to try so soak it all in and do my best and see what happens. But by no means, am I going to put extra pressure on myself to try and do it again.

Q. Can you pick out three things from your life that have changed since you won this title 12 months ago?

RUSSELL KNOX: Bank balance, being the first one. Schedule; I've now got into -- get the opportunity to play in all these WGC events and the majors.

And third one, to be honest, not much has changed. I mean, I smile maybe a little bit bigger. But all in all, I mean, life was great before I won this tournament and it's still just as great. So to be honest, not much has changed.

Q. I think I remember you saying last year that you have very seldom altered your swing and it's been the same since. Does the same still apply or have you changed anything at all in the last few months?

RUSSELL KNOX: No, I still don't have a swing coach. I don't like being told what to do when it comes to that. The great thing about not having a coach is you can swing however you like. You can almost change your feeling or your swing day-to-day.

Right now, things are going well. I feel like I'm striking the ball good, so I don't feel like I have the need for one right now.

Q. Do you look at yourself on sort of video from time to time, or do you just leave it down to feel?

RUSSELL KNOX: Very infrequently, I'll look at a video. I took a couple yesterday. I don't really know what I look for to be honest. Just see how good-looking I am or something, good posture.

But no, I'm such a feel player that I feel like that's the way I play my best, and when I become too technical, too many thoughts enter my mind. I mean, it's just golf. You go out there and you whack it around and do your best.

Q. If you were really honest with yourself and with us, and you're tied for the lead going into the final round of a tournament, who is the last guy you want to be shaking hands with on the first tee, and why?

RUSSELL KNOX: Probably Jason Day. The few times I've played with him, I mean, he's played unbelievably well. And I feel like when he's playing his best, he's extremely difficult to beat, because he drives it super far and his iron game is very solid, and his short game and putting is incredible.

I would say Jason Day. But I would love the chance to tee it up with him tied for the lead. I love testing myself like that. So he's beaten me obviously more times than I've beaten him. But it would be nice to take him down.

Q. He's not here this week.