Melissa Reid, the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open champion, celebrates her 23rd birthday on Sunday 19th September on the day of the final round battle for the Open de Espana Femenino at Flamingos Golf on the Costa del Sol.
Here we catch up with the third season Ladies European Tour player ahead of her bid to earn the victory, worth €52,500, which could see her leapfrog Lee-Anne Pace into top spot on the Henderson Money List once again.
How did you get into golf?
I first started playing golf because I used to play football but then I couldn’t play with the boys anymore and didn’t enjoy it as much with the girls so I took up another sport and both my parents played. Football definitely was my first love and I still love it a lot. Like in the winter, it takes me away from golf. I play for a team in Loughborough so it’s definitely still there and one of my loves but golf is my passion and I never get bored of golf.
How did you find playing in the charity football match at the Evian Masters?
We played with basically half of the World Cup winning side of France, Bixente Lizarazu, Zidane, so it was amazing. These guys have so much time on the ball and to score a couple of goals as well was pretty nice.
Were you good at school?
I was quite academic when I was younger but I lost a bit of interest when I was older. Sport, I used to love doing PE and any kind of sport I fell in love with. I feel I’ve been gifted to play sports. I’m lucky that I’m one of those people that just absolutely love it. I love watching sport and playing sport.
Are you a competitor?
I’m a pretty competitive person. If we lose a football game I’m pretty gutted. It’s with everything. I think you have to be. I was always competitive at school, even with results, be it academic or sport. I was always quite competitive. I think it’s definitely benefited me in the path that I’ve chosen.
Who would be in your favourite fourball?
Me; Smithy from Gavin and Stacey, Laura Davies for good banter and Tiger Woods: because I want to ask him lots of questions.
What’s your favourite type of food?
English pub grub. Steak and ale pie, steak and chips, I’m a proper English pub girl.
Did you feel a lot of pressure when you first turned pro?
When I first turned pro I didn’t feel a huge amount of pressure. I felt that I was confident enough in my own game, I maybe expected too much out of myself. All in all I had a very good first year and learned a lot. To be fair I probably should have won a couple of times but I learned a lot from coming second those three times that I did.
What happened in Denmark in 2008, when you lost your six shot lead going into the final round and finished a shot behind Martina Eberl?
I felt like I didn’t throw it away. I shot level par or maybe one under for the day. Shooting that kind of score you’d expect yourself to win but I always felt that when I was in contention, someone always shot a really low score, like Hudson, she shot a 64 at the English Open to beat me by one and Martina Eberl shot 65 to beat me in Denmark. It’s happened, its golf and hopefully one day I’ll be the one shooting the low score and beating somebody else by one.
Did you learn anything?
I think I certainly did learn. I wasn’t quite as patient as I should have been. I was aware of everybody else instead of just myself. I guess it did make me a lot more selfish and I can’t really be aware of what everyone else is doing. I think I’ve got to stick to my own game plan. That’s what Dave Ridley, my coach now, has brought so much to me: stick to your own game and hit the areas you want to hit. There’s nothing else that you can do. If somebody shoots 64 to win then fair play to them. They deserve to win. I was already thinking about winning the tournament instead of getting the job done.
What about the people around you?
I did have a lot of people behind me, especially in my last year as an amateur. I had a really good team behind me, a team of 13 people pushing and pulling me in all kinds of ways. I think it was fantastic for me because two or three years down the line it’s made me go, ‘that worked well for me and that didn’t work well for me.’ At the end of the day I take full responsibility for myself and at the end of the day it is down to you whether you want to do it or not. That’s basically what it comes down to: who wants it more out here. I just feel that it developed me as a golfer much more quickly than had I done it myself. I feel like a much stronger person and this is what I believe in. I believe in fitness, my nutrition and this is the way that we’ve got to practise. Now I have a small group but we’re very tight. My team behind me now, I have Vicky, my manager, my coach and my fitness guy. We’re all on the same lines and going to get stronger and stronger as we develop through the years really.
Have you changed much since you started?
I’m a very different person now to what I was four years ago. I was very, golf, golf, golf, that’s my life; that’s all I think about doing, whereas now I have not only great friends out here, I’ve got my best mates out here, but I’ve a great set of friends at home who are also part of my team whether they know it or not. They take me away from golf and I’m very lucky all the way through my golfing career. I’ve got great parents, brothers and sisters and people like that and I’m fortunate that people have let me develop into who I am. I’m not a stereotypical golfer in that I love football, I love snowboarding and I am slightly rebellious in that sense. At the same time they understand that I’ve worked very, very hard at what I do. I just think now that I’m a much more balanced person. I work harder at my golf than I used to but I don’t put as many hours in, it’s more quality work. I do other things: I go out with my mates now and things like that. I think the balance of myself has made me a more confident person.
How important was winning your first title?
Looking back it was more huge than I realised at the time. It was one of the things I had to do. If there is a weakness with me it is my patience and it is my mental strength sometimes. I’m like, ‘why is this not happening now?’ ‘Why am I not fulfilling my capabilities?’ ‘Why am I not achieving what I want to achieve right away?’ I think winning in Turkey, looking back, it was really hard. It was tough; it was tough on that last day and I was just in a frame of mind where I just was so determined to win and I was so happy that I pulled it off. I turn around now and I still should have won two or three events this year. I think ‘why haven’t I done that’ and this is why. I do honestly believe that I’m going to win lots and lots of tournaments and I will win majors. As long as I keep doing the right things constantly and refer to my blue print that me and my coach have. It will happen.
Are you surprised you haven’t won again?
Yeah, I am pretty surprised I haven’t won again this year if I’m honest. Like I said, I am my own worst enemy. I’m so critical of myself and I think that has held me back. Then again, if you look at my year and I’ve had a very consistent year. Rarely on the European Tour have I finished not great. I’ve always been up there in contention. Lee was saying to me that we’ve been in the last group seven out of the last nine times. I feel that my game is getting the progression that I would like. There are a lot of things I need to work on this winter that will make a huge difference next year. I feel I should have won six or seven tournaments since turning pro but I haven’t and there must be a reason why I haven’t. I know that in some situations golf is golf and people are going to shoot better than me but I feel I’ve not put all the compartments together at the same time and when I do, I’ll take a massive step up.
How important is your caddie, Lee?
Lee has been awesome on the bag. My expectations of him, he’s completely exceeded them. We won the first week, which helps. He’s a top bloke and I like him a lot. He’s also a good player and he knows how it feels. He knows how it feels coming down the stretch and he knows how it feels when things aren’t going great. We’ve played a few tournaments together and he knows what to say when I’m not hitting it great or whatever I need. He’s starting to understand me a lot better. We’ve become a strong team and you never know, we might be together 10 or 15 years. There’s no reason why that can’t happen. I think we can take over the world, or whatever they say, take America by storm and I hope that I do do it with him because he’s a top guy and a fantastic caddie.
How is your form?
I actually was swinging it pretty horrendous in France and I wasn’t swinging it well at all so there were a couple of things to work on. Me and my coach have a blue print and there’s not much that goes hugely wrong in my swing but there are seven components in my swing and they get out of synch. Basically we work on the connection and making it more consistent a connection. There are a few problems in my strength and we need to work on that this winter to make it tighter, I guess.