Emirates Golf Club

Friday 12th December 2008

MARIA VERCHENOVA

BETHAN CUTLER: Would you like to just talk about some of the highlights from the day?
MARIA VERCHENOVA: Well, definitely. The bunker shot on the 8th, I pushed the ball over, went to the bunker and just holed it in. I thought it was really good. My iron game was really good, and I hit a lot of greens and I’m happy with my game.

BETHAN CUTLER: What was the difference between yesterday and today?
MARIA VERCHENOVA: Well, yesterday, I mean, I had just a bit of damage in the fairways, too, so I made double, pushed the ball to the right and I was almost unlucky. So while Annika holed it, I had many putts today.

BETHAN CUTLER: We understand that Dubai is a special place for you, you spend quite a lot of time here practising and with your coach.
MARIA VERCHENOVA: My coach, Mike Walters, he lives here with his family. I just practice here quite a lot, like four times a year, on this golf course.

BETHAN CUTLER: Do you know it very well? What do you think of the golf course.
MARIA VERCHENOVA: It’s quite tough. Definitely to have a good short game, it’s a good golf course and it suits my game. It’s like before the week started, I feel like I was going to do well here.

Q. You were feeling confident after shooting 6 under?
MARIA VERCHENOVA: Yeah.

Q. What are the highlights or what actually clicked, like iron game, driver, was it the combination or the whole thing that clicked today?
MARIA VERCHENOVA: Today the putting was incredible. Everything was going in and I was getting really close to the hole all of the time. My driver has always been good, I was always in the middle of the fairway, so I think putting.

Q. How are the greens here, is it easy to read the greens?
MARIA VERCHENOVA: After I came back from Moscow, I didn’t play golf for two weeks and I went to play with Gary Player in South Africa and I came here. They are so quick here for me, and my caddie, he just helped me a lot because he’s a member here.
Well, they are quite difficult to read, because sometimes I just can’t see if it’s left to right or right to left.

Q. Some have said that women’s golf needs to be glamorous. Can you second that? Are you happy with the fact that you’re The Ladies European Tour female star; do you enjoy that highlight?
MARIA VERCHENOVA: Yeah. (Laughing).

Q. I guess you are the youngest competitor in this tournament.
MARIA VERCHENOVA: Well, I’m 22.

Q. How do you feel among all of these experienced players, and you did a very good job today.
MARIA VERCHENOVA: Well, you know, it’s just like to be the only one from Russia, it feels good and I really want to show the kids so that you can play golf and so that you can play good golf.
Well, I don’t care that I’m the youngest or that I’m the oldest. It just doesn’t matter. The main aim is to play good golf, definitely.

Q. This is Annika’s last competition, do you think it’s an honour to see her?
MARIA VERCHENOVA: Oh, definitely. Annika did so much in her career. She won just absolutely everything. It’s so nice to play with her in the last round. I think she will come back after she has a family definitely. But I mean, we will miss her.

Q. What do you like most about Annika, is it her play, her game, her mentality?
MARIA VERCHENOVA: Oh, just everything. You know, she usually gets everything all together to win a round. She is such a strong person and we can learn a lot from her.

Q. With tennis after Sharapova and Svetlana, how about golf in Russia, are many youngsters taking up golf in Russia?
MARIA VERCHENOVA: Golf in Russia? What about golf in Russia?

Q. How many youngsters play golf in Russia?
MARIA VERCHENOVA: Golf in Russia is not popular at all. It’s nothing like football or ice hockey. We need to deveflop this. Hopefully in a few years’ time, it will grow a little bit more and we need to get more young guys and girls playing golf. I think we are working on it very hard.

ANJA MONKE

BETHAN CUTLER: Like to welcome Anja Monke from Germany, the 2008 French Open champion. And you had a fantastic day yesterday and you started really well today as well, but you just finished with a double bogey at the ninth hole. So how are you feeling right now?
ANJA MONKE: Not bad. To be finishing with a double bogey is not a great way to finish, because you can’t do anything about it afterwards because the round is over. It was an unlucky one, but what can I do?

BETHAN CUTLER: What happened exactly?
ANJA MONKE: I tried to hit over that fairway bunker in the corner, and I hit it a little bit too far right off my target line.
So it went in the bunker, but it sticks like in the bank off the bunker and I really had an awkward stance and the ball would kind of tucked in that ridge. I don’t know how could that stay there. Normally they switch it up pretty firm and it bounces back and rolls off to the back off the bunker. That’s how the design is I think, and it didn’t work out today.
So I tried to be a hero and hit it out there towards the green, and it just was a sand wedge, of course. But that didn’t work and so I had another try from out of the bunker and then well, I hit it out and then I had like 95 metres left and made a good shot. It was like a two and a half metre putt.

BETHAN CUTLER: What was the best part of your game other than that? You had a lot of birdies and you were in contention.
ANJA MONKE: Well, I think I was leading pretty a long time this day, but when you make double bogey it’s over. I hit a few good shots but a few bad shots, as well. I wasn’t so happy about my game, as well.

BETHAN CUTLER: How do you feel about tomorrow and playing in the weekend?
ANJA MONKE: Oh, sure, it’s fine. Two more days to go and I think there are a lot of birdies out there, which I can make.

Q. You talk about that bunker shot. What do you think of the course conditions?
ANJA MONKE: The course conditions are pretty good. I think it was just an unlucky lie that it pitched in there and didn’t have enough to roll back out there. It was one of those unlucky ones, you know. I think that I haven’t got anything to do with the shape of the course, and I think the course plays well.
The grass on the greens is a little different than I was used to it from like the last two years, but I think the course is in good shape.

Q. What’s the key to playing a low round; is it putting?
ANJA MONKE: First to hit it in the fairway and then hit it close to the flag and then you make the putt. That’s the only way of making birdies.
Make them more often and then you play a bet you are round.

Q. Now can Annika is playing her last round here. What are your thoughts about Annika?
ANJA MONKE: I think for all of us, it’s an honour, and for the LET, especially, that Annika plays her last tournament on the LET where she actually started.
I think a lot of people will have tears in their eyes on Sunday when Annika walks up the 18th hole. And I think she is the best female golfer we have for the last 10, 15 years, and she has done everything for women’s golf in Europe and also all over the world. I think everybody knows her and knows her name and every girl admires her and wants to play well and as well as Annika does.

Q. Do you think there is anybody that can step into her shoes or it will be a long, long time?
ANJA MONKE: I think there are some good players out there. The question is, I mean, because there are more than one really good player at the moment, so they have a little bit more competition in between them. I think that the time of Annika, she was always dominant. I mean, she was No. 1 in the world for, I don’t know; you know that statistic better than I do, but more than ten years.

Q. Do you think that golf will miss that icon like Tiger Woods, that women’s golf will miss that factor?
ANJA MONKE: No, I don’t think so, because there are a lot of good girls playing out there. Just to name, Lorena Ochoa or Paula Creamer who did a great move this year, and then there are a few very good rookies coming on on the LPGA and over here, we have Gladys, who is a really good player.
And then a few other girls who are very, very good in my opinion.

Q. What in your opinion was your dream, what events?
ANJA MONKE: Every event I play in, basically. Why not? That’s what I come for. So just I mean, you didn’t do that

Q. People have fantasies when they grow up, maybe winning the British Open; you’ve won the French Open. Obviously you must be targeting British Open and make it part of a Grand Slam?
ANJA MONKE: Well, it’s also, what I said, it’s a fantasy to win every tournament you play in. But of course it’s great to win every tournament. I mean, I don’t really care, and it’s good if I win a major; if I win a major, it’s fine. If I win a tournament on The European Tour, it’s great. If I win a tournament on the LPGA, it’s perfect. Every win is great.

Q. Special?
ANJA MONKE: Yes.

MELISSA REID

BETHAN CUTLER: Like to welcome Melissa Reid from England who is this year’s Ryder Cup Wales Rookie of the Year in association with the Bill Johnson Trophy. You’ve had a really good year, three runner up spots, but can you just talk about how you feel about your season?
MELISSA REID: You know, I’m quite disappointed I didn’t win. I feel like I didn’t close out in Denmark and possibly at the English, played well and but a girl played well and actually beat me.
This time last year, I didn’t have my card anywhere. I didn’t make my Tour card in Europe. I can’t be too dissatisfied with my season. I’m pretty happy with the way it’s gone.

BETHAN CUTLER: What’s the highlight for you?
MELISSA REID: The highlight, there’s been quite a few. I think playing in Denmark the last round with Annika was pretty special, her last tournament in Europe. I’m just a bit disappointed not to finish it off, like I said, but it’s a great experience playing with her and I think it was pretty special.

BETHAN CUTLER: What are your feelings playing this tournament with her? Would you like to be paired alongside her?
MELISSA REID: Yeah, on Sunday, I definitely would. It’s great to be here and part of everything and playing in Dubai, this is one of my favourite tournaments of the year, and a lot of the other girls on Tour would agree with that.
So, yeah, it’s just great to be part of everything and it’s her farewell tour, so that’s good.

BETHAN CUTLER: Obviously a lot’s been said about the fact that you’ve got the association with Clive Woodward, are you progressing with that going forward?
MELISSA REID: I think I’ve narrowed it down to I’m working with five people now, and I’ve actually become a lot closer in the past year since I’ve been working with five. I would say we are a pretty strong team and everything is moving in the right direction, which is good. I feel like I’m improving all the time, so a lot of positives to take out of it.

BETHAN CUTLER: Will that be cemented going through next year, as well?
MELISSA REID: Yeah, I could see myself being on this team for the whole of my career, as far as I’m concerned. I’m pretty sure they feel the same way, and I just feel very lucky to have such a solid team like I do.

BETHAN CUTLER: You spoke about your goal of being world No. 1. Is that still your dream?
MELISSA REID: Yeah, it’s been my dream. For sure, I think I tried to qualify on the LPGA, which I didn’t get. But I believe everything happens for a reason. I think another year or two in Europe is going to do me a world of good. I’m pretty impatient, but I would love to play Solheim Cup, and golf is a grind and I think that you have to gradually go up the ladder.

Q. Last year, you came here on a sponsor’s invite and today, European Player of the Year.
MELISSA REID: Yeah, I should be pretty thankful to them, too, they gave me opportunity to play here last year, and I am so grateful and I’ve brought my parents out here this year, as well and they love it. It’s great to part and be in Dubai. Like I said, this is my first tournament, and I said this is all right. If this is what every tournament is like on the European Tour, this is pretty good. Every single player on the European Tour supports this event.

Q. What are your thoughts on the course here?
MELISSA REID: The Emirates, it’s pretty good. I really like the way it’s set up. You have to think your way around. The greens are pretty tough and they are not necessarily little back and forth, and the holes, they are usually on the side. I’m struggling with my putting a little bit the last couple of days.
Yeah, the Emirates Course is a pretty special course. Woods has played and won on it and it’s just very special to be here and playing on the course.

Q. So do you think putting will be the key to winning here?
MELISSA REID: Oh, putting is the key to winning everywhere. If you don’t put good, you can hit it close as you want, you are only going to finish pretty good. You’re not really going to win. You need to putt everything together to win and putting, I can’t tell you how important putting is in golf. It’s huge.

Q. You talked about playing in the LPGA; what tournament would you personally like to win?
MELISSA REID: All of them. All of them. I would say I would love to win this. I would love to win the English because obviously I’m from England and I would love to win majors. Majors are what I dream of at night, you know, I want to win the British Open and I want to win the Evian and I just want to win as many tournaments as I can.

Q. And the player you admire the most?
MELISSA REID: Annika, for sure. I think Annika for sure. I think she’s completely been amazing for women’s golf and she’s just a really nice lady, as well. I’ve met her a few times and she’s always nice.
Then you get someone like Laura, who my first started playing golf, Laura was the thing, and still, I still look at her and it’s like, you are absolutely amazing. So there are a few players that I look up to, but most of all it Annika.

Q. So Annika will be missed on the Tour?
MELISSA REID: Yeah, a lot of the girls will miss her. We don’t know if she’s going to come back or not but she’s just been so good to the game of golf and the women’s side. Yeah, we are going to miss her.

Q. Do you think among the new generation of players, can you name some of the players who, maybe won’t step into her shoes but make a Mark in the future?
MELISSA REID: There’s quite a few. There are quite a lot of Koreans out there at the moment which have a fantastic work ethic, and it shows; most of them are the best in the world.
But I don’t know, I think the thing is with golf, it you want to stand out, you really have to show your personality. I think there’s very much the stereotypical type of golfer, and that necessarily doesn’t get you up there but won’t necessarily make you an Annika or a Woods. You have to show your personality. That’s why ten years ago, Nancy Lopez and Betsy King and all of them were such a great group of golfers, because they all showed their personality. But the Koreans just don’t get it at the moment and they are just dominating the world I think.

Q. When we talk about the Koreans, what makes them so good; is it physical or mental?
MELISSA REID: They just work so hard. That’s why a lot of them actually burn out by the time they are like 25. But they just work so hard, and to maintain that work ethic, they dedicate their whole lives to golf.
Golf is very, very important to me, and I dedicate 90 per cent of my life to golf, but I also have a family and well, not me personally, but I have my mom and my dad and my brothers and sisters, and I do other things outside golf, other hobbies and stuff. And that’s quite important to me to have kind of a balanced life even though 90 per cent of my time is on golf.

Q. So you’re happy with the way things are at the moment?
MELISSA REID: Yeah, I would say I work so hard, and yeah, just really enjoying life at the minute. I just want that win. I enjoy working hard and you get rewarded for it.

Q. What is your advice to girls out here that want to play golf as a career?
MELISSA REID: You certainly get what you put in, you get, out of golf. If you really want to do this, you have to understand how much you do have to work hard at it and how much of your time it does take. It’s not like football or rugby where you’ve only got a 90 minute game. You’re out there for five hours, and you can practice for 14 hours a day and you won’t get everything done.
That’s what golf is like, and I think that’s what I really emphasize to people who want to do this, how much they actually have to put into it. You have to put something into it and you have to mess around and you have to enjoy it, as well.

Q. A question about the Koreans catching up. Do you think the Asian players are catching up on The European Tour now?
MELISSA REID: There’s not too many now. We have Yang who is a great player, but there are not too many. I’m not sure whether too many people are going to come over to Europe; it’s a bit too far. But most of them are all in America. Most of them have been living out there. They have been going to Leadbetter’s schools and things like that.
But they do seriously work so, so, hard. It’s really phenomenal and it’s inspiring really to watch them.

Q. What have you improved on since the last season and what would you like to improve?
MELISSA REID: I think the last two years, I have improved tremendously from what I was two or three years ago. There’s still a lot of improvement to do. My wedge play is pretty poor. I think that if I improve that, I could put myself into contention a lot more than I do.
I just think mentally, I’m not quite there yet. I think, you know, I just always want to move in the right direction and keep improving every day and keep ticking the boxes. But there’s always something else that you can do.
Certainly, my mental side to the game needs to be improved a great deal.