ORLANDO, Fla. - As Henrik Stenson was introduced ahead of his news conference at Bay Hill late Thursday, a PGA Tour official informed the assembled media – and Stenson – that the Swede’s 8-under 64 was his lowest in 34 careers rounds at Bay Hill.
“Really?” Stenson said, thinking for a moment. “OK.”
Stenson poured in nine birdies in Round 1, including seven in eight holes, from Nos. 9-16. The only hole he didn’t circle in that stretch was the par-3 14th, where he made his lone bogey.
In 18 holes of golf, he recorded just 20 official putts, tying his career low on the PGA Tour.
“Yeah, yeah I can see that. There have been times I’ve had 20 in nine holes. I know that much,” he deadpanned.
“I mean, I had probably three or four just off the fringe. So it was maybe not that low of a number in real terms. But actual, surface putts, it was down to 20 then.”
It’s in Stenson’s nature to never sound all that excited. The Swede tends to mix a dry sense of humor with a bit of self-deprecation.
It’s also in his nature to show up atop the leaderboard at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
From 2013-2016, Stenson finished in the top-10 four years in a row, with three top-5s. The closest he came to victory was in 2015, when he lost to Matt Every by one shot after being put on the clock and three-putting the 15th and 16th greens.
Now the Lake Nana resident once again finds himself in position to win his adopted hometown event.
“Yeah, I guess it comes down to the Tempur-Pedic bed that I have at home. That's the one that makes all the difference, right?” Stenson said. “We spend enough time on the road, so to have tournaments nearby … that's nice. And this week staying at home and you're driving across town, even though Orlando traffic can be a bit crazy at times. It took me about an hour and 15 to get back home last night. Bad timing on my part, leaving in the middle of rush hour. But it's about a 30-35 minute commute across town, so nice to stay at home and not have to pack up and leave.”
Later on, towards the end of the news conference, a reporter asked Stenson what it’s like to sit on the lead while sitting at home. What will he do tonight? Will he light up the grill? Chill out with some beers? Help the kids with their homework?
“If we're going to carry on much longer, and given how bad the traffic was, the kids will be asleep before I make it back home,” Stenson answered, before clarifying that the barbecue is actually scheduled for Friday.