ORLANDO, Fla. – The most interesting man in the world might drink a certain kind of beer every now and then. The most interesting man on the PGA Tour, on the other hand, can flood you with dry humor, often impromptu, always with off-beat Swedish creativity. Wind up Henrik Stenson and let the playfulness begin.
And so it was that the No. 3 golfer in the world was entertaining Tuesday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational by going on about kids, animals, Doctor Dolittle, alligators, nesting bald eagles, unusual construction delays and, take a breath, the fatigue that is behind his slow 2014 start.
Stenson’s 4-year-old son, Karl, had a birthday party last week at their Orlando home, and it was dad’s idea to bring in some animals after checking a party website. “So I don’t know if you should call me Doctor Dolittle or something,” he said Tuesday. Certain is that an exotic-animal rescue group came with a variety of animals and reptiles, and Stenson provided details with his usual bent.
They came out with “a bird, like a parrot or a cockatoo or whatever, and a small alligator,” Stenson said. “There was a boa, the snake, and a couple of lizards and stuff. The snake was awesome. It was pure muscle. And the gator was actually potty trained, believe it or not. The keeper took it to the bushes and they had a wee-wee.”
Listeners laughed at that point, of course, and again when Stenson, asked if the alligator scared him, answered with, “It was probably the gator that needed to be worried, that I wasn’t going to bite him.”
The party was attended by 15 children or, as he pointed out, “16 with me.” He’s not kidding about that last part, for his wife told him that he was smiling at the party more than any of the kids. “That’s probably because I was the only one the snake couldn’t eat,” the 6-foot-2-inch Swede said.
At one point after his news conference, Stenson pulled out his smart phone to check the name of the animal organization. “I took a picture of their van in case I need to get in contact with my friend the snake,” Stenson said.
It goes without saying, but golf could use more personalties like this, people who take their craft seriously but not themselves.
When explaining how fatigue has contributed to his slow start this year, Stenson mentioned a long 2013 season, offseason commitments due to his rapid rise up the world ranking and the fact that he is having two new houses built – one in Orlando, another in Sweden. Construction of the Orlando project has been delayed, he said, because an eagle is nesting in the backyard.
“It’s having chicks at the moment,” he deadpanned. “If you don’t mind climbing up there to feed them, we might get going a little bit earlier.”
At one point during the Q&A session, a reporter’s cellphone rang and Stenson, in mid-thought about something else, couldn’t resist commentary.
“If that was a ring tone,” he cracked, “I’d change it. that one was horrible, wasn’t it? It just wouldn’t stop.”
People laughed, as they often do when Stenson is around.