Linda Wessberg (Sweden) 68 (-4)
Linda: congratulations on your 68 today. What was the key to that?
I hit a lot of greens today and I made some really good putts. It’s rolling well on the greens.
Is it a course that suits your eye?
I played pretty well and I think that’s good. You can’t hit a lot of wedges. A lot of players are very good wedge players but here you have to hit longer clubs because it’s not rolling out very well.
You started at ten quietly and then had a birdie run with four birdies in five holes. Were they good birdie putts?
There were two that were like four or five metres but the other two were only a metre or two each.
Last week you were leading at the halfway stage. Do you feel like a win is around the corner?
I don’t want to look around that corner. There are still three days to go so a lot of stuff can happen on this course.
You are obviously playing well to be shooting 64 in Germany and 68 here.
It’s a tough course. You have to hit the ball on the right side of the greens and play with your head.
Laura Davies said eight-under might win. Do you agree?
I’m very happy where I am right now but you never know what is going to happen.
Would you like more wind and rain?
This is nice; this is very good but I just take whatever I get.
Most of your wins have come in wet weather.
Terrible weather! Come on rain! No, I don’t want it but I don’t mind it. I just put on the rain gear and go.
Laura Davies (England) 70 (-2)
A round of 70, two under par and obviously the first time anyone has played this course in tournament conditions. How good a score is that?
I think it’s pretty good because obviously they’ve had a lot of rain here and the fairways are wet which makes distance control a bit more difficult, probably. The greens are the obvious real challenge: you’ve got to be in the right spot. I think the tournament set-up today was fantastic. They found some really fair pins and you could really go at them and get a few bits of help from the contours of the green. I still think that two under won’t be leading but it’s decent.
It looks as though if you miss the fairways you can find some real spots of bother.
I had to chip put twice. If you’re in the rough it’s a proper penalty, which is nice. Some golf courses, it’s like the rough doesn’t exist. This rough does exist, I can assure you. I saw a good few people looking for balls out there and I was looking for mine a couple of times so it was difficult.
You mentioned the greens were difficult but how did you feel it went, putting wise? Obviously the finish wasn’t quite what you wanted.
I hate going through groups. We went through that group and you rush a bit. I putted so well all day; I made some nice putts and missed one short birdie putt on number two but other than that I hadn’t really looked like three putting and to do that was frustrating more than anything because I felt like I was rushing to get out of their way but overall I putted well.
Since your win in Germany, what have you been up to?
Well I went to America to try and qualify for the US Open for a two day trip to Orlando but didn’t do it. The golf course didn’t suit me at all it was one of those around housing estates, water hazards and OB. I ended up not even completing the second 18 because I knew I couldn’t qualify. I came back after a day in America and came over here so it’s been busy.
It must be disappointing that you didn’t qualify to play.
I think 1986 was my first US Open but I still have four chances if I could win one of the next four in America. Someone told me that the tournament winners get in the US Open so it’s a tall ask because I haven’t won in America for eight seasons but at least I’ve got four more chances to play in the US Open. I won’t watch it because it will annoy me too much because I love that course.
Back to this course: you said Turkey didn’t suit your game, Germany, they designed the course with you in mind. How do you find this one?
I think this is a great design of course for my style of golfer. You can take some chances. You’ve got to hit some irons out there, no question about it. You’ve got to be sensible on a few holes. I bogeyed nine but you can hit driver there and try and hit another driver on the green. There’s some good challenges out there and I’d put this down as a plus course for me.
I know it’s only the first round but what sort of round would you put down to win this event?
Johnny just said to me, because I was disappointed obviously when I walked off the last, he said, well if you shoot three more of those you might win, so I reckon eight under would be a pretty good total because you’ve got to assume we’re going to have more rain because obviously the mountains at this time of year, apparently they get a lot of rain, so eight under might be a really good score.
Press conference with Linda Wessberg, Helen Alfredsson, Laura Davies, Slovakian amateur Vicky Tomko and event Promoter Stephen Flanagan.
I’ll start with the tournament leader, Linda. How did you play today?
Linda Wessberg: I played very well today. I hit a lot of greens and made a lot of putts. There were a few long putts that I made like on number two, for example. Other than that it was pretty solid from tee to green.
Helen, how did you feel you played today?
Helen Alfredsson: I played alright today. I had it going for a while. I was four under and then I had a bogey on number two or three. I love to play in Slovakia and we’ve been very impressed with the food so, so far it’s been great.
Laura Davies, how did you play?
Laura Davies: I’m played pretty solid today and putted very well which was a surprise because I thought the greens were going to be really difficult. With the pin positions we had it was okay. Everyone has been so nice to us and it’s my first time in Slovakia so hopefully the first time of many.
Vicky Tomko: This is my first professional tournament and I was pretty nervous and I messed up the first nine holes completely. I caught myself on hole-seven.
Which hole did you find the most difficult and why?
Linda Wessberg: I’d probably have to say number six, because you really have to place the ball on the greens or you have to land it on the top area. If it stops there you’re going to have a long putt down but you really have to place it. Today I found it really tricky with the wind.
Helen Alfredsson: I have to say four because I doubled that today but I think it’s a very good hole. Driving is not very difficult and you can reach it in two. The second shot is very tricky; you can reach it but you have to take a big gamble and hit a good shot and I think that’s a very good hole.
Laura Davies: I agree with Linda. I think number six because the tee shot is pretty easy but then you have all the elevation down to a green that goes away from you. Like Linda says, if you pitch it too short you have an impossible putt. You can get lucky and have it roll down the green to where the pin was today. I think if the pin is on the front it will be even more difficult.
Vicky Tomko: Also number six because there is so much trouble around the green: water, bunkers. My heart was beating until I actually saw the ball on the green.
Laura Davies, you have already played 270 tournaments. Where do you get the motivation to continue?
Just playing with all these girls: the young ones and Alfie, who’s not quite as old as I am. I just love the competition. I am here in Slovakia to win and someone’s got to do it so why not try and do it? There is nothing else that I would rather be doing, put it that way.
How do you consider this golf course?
Laura Davies: I think it’s very difficult. You can’t afford to miss fairways. The fairways are very fair but if you miss the fairway, finding the ball is very difficult. Obviously when you get to the greens you can have problems with reading the putts. There are lots of big elevation changes and some blind shots. It’s pretty much everything. You’ve got 18, which is a great finishing hole, you should be able to reach in two. It’s got a bit of everything and I think it’s a good championship course.
When you won a tournament in Thailand in 1994 you gave a diamond necklace to your caddie. If you won a tournament here would you give something to your caddie?
Laura Davies: I don’t know about that. Back then it was a local house caddie and 16 years ago, this lady had walked around in the desperate heat for four days or five with the Pro Am, and it wasn’t really my thing. I would never have worn it so I thought it would be nice to give it to her but I would never give Johnny anything!
When you were thinking about course management, which holes did you think there were no birdie chances on and a par would be good?
Helen Alfredsson: I think you should go for birdie everywhere! They key is to really know the greens because if we are talking about six, if you know where to land the ball you can use the green. You don’t always go for the pin but use the slopes to get close in different ways. I think that’s the key.