Friday 6th February 2009

An interview with Nikki Campbell

Q. Ten under after two days. You must be very happy.
NIKKI CAMPBELL: Yes, very happy. I played well the last two days and any time you go into the weekend at the top of the leader board is successful so I’m pretty happy.

Q. What were the highlights of your round? I think you made a couple of very good saves out there.
NIKKI CAMPBELL: Yeah. I hit a few bad shots but got away with them and hit some good recovery shots as well. I guess a lot of it for me was when I hit bad shots trying to stay patient and handle the situation.

Q. Did you hole one of your shots?
NIKKI CAMPBELL: I holed a chip shot on 12, the par five, so that was nice.

Q. I understand you had a five-footer on the last hole. It must have been a relief to hole that putt.
NIKKI CAMPBELL: Yeah. The putts seemed to be dropping today so I just tried to put a good stroke on it. Putting is definitely a key to playing this course well. It does give me a bit of confidence but every day is different so I’ll have to try and have a good attitude tomorrow.

Q. Have you led a tournament before going into the weekend?
NIKKI CAMPBELL: I think so. Usually in Japan we have a lot of three rounders so we’ve only got one round to play on the weekend. I’ve played in a lot of last groups.

Q. Are you playing as well as you can play?
NIKKI CAMPBELL: This is probably going to sound funny but my ball striking the last few days hasn’t been as good as it has been before. The score doesn’t show it. I could probably go out and flush it and not get the same score. Golf is about getting the ball in the hole and how you hit it is important but its how you score and how you get the ball around the course that shows up at the end of the day. Although I know that I am capable of hitting the ball better I couldn’t have asked to be in a better position going into the weekend. I’ve been working really hard with my coach Gary Barter from the Australian. I feel like things have really improved over the last few months and I’m looking forward to a good year this year.

Q. Do you still live in Canberra?
NIKKI CAMPBELL: Yes, I live in Canberra and play in Japan so I’m home every four weeks and I see Gary once every month or two months. We’ve got a really good relationship so we can talk on the phone and discuss things if things are not going quite right so that’s good.

Q. You still committed to Japan?

Q. What would make you change?
NIKKI CAMPBELL: America’s really the only place I’d like to go to other than Japan. I’d probably want to finish top ten on the order of merit in Japan before I looked at doing that. My best finish is 12th and I;m usually 19th/20th. I’ve putted well the last two years but putting has really been holding me back the last two years. If I can improve that and improve my stats in Japan then that would give me confidence and I might look at going to America. At this stage, there is too much that I still want to achieve in Japan so I’m not really looking past that yet.

Q. Are you going to have to shoot low to stay on top?
NIKKI CAMPBELL: The scores would suggest that. I think playing a good round a golf on this course is five or six under. A great score is eight or nine under. You have to assume that there are lots of good players who have had great scores the last two days so anyone could go out and shoot 67 tomorrow. I guess a lot depends on the wind. If I could hit the ball a bit more consistently than today and hole a few more putts then the scores will be good. The course is in great condition and it’s a matter of putting yourself in the right place and holing a few putts.

Q. How will you approach the range tomorrow to get that ball striking right again?
NIKKI CAMPBELL: I haven’t been hitting it badly, I’ve just hit a few bad shots. I don’t know if that is a little bit nerves or if it’s anxiety. I’ll go out now before I go home. All you can do with golf is keep trying to play your best when you go out and whether its playing well this week or next week you’ve got to look ahead. I think that golf is just an ongoing process. As long as you keep working towards being the best player you can be then whatever you get as a result is great.

Q. You say eight under is a great round. What would you call ten under?
NIKKI CAMPBELL: I know Kirsty shot ten under, that is fantastic. I think she just turned pro a couple of weeks ago or maybe late last year and this is one of her first pro tournaments. This is just fantastic. I hope she can do it again because it’s great for women’s golf. Hopefully she’s got a lot of confidence from it. I think I’ll be playing with her tomorrow so it will be really interesting to watch.

Q. Are you a good front runner?
NIKKI CAMPBELL: I’ve never really been in a position to be a front runner. I’ve only won two professional tournaments and I won one by two shots and the other by three so I don’t think that’s really being charging ahead. I’d love to say I was but I don’t know.

An interview with Kristie Smith

Q. You must be happy with the way you played?
KRISTIE SMITH: Yeah. I’m pretty stoked with that round to be honest with you. My best round ever is 66 so I’ve just broken it by four shots, which is very nice.

Q. Where was that 66?
KRISTIE SMITH: It was actually right here at Royal Pines in the Aaron Baddeley Junior is 2005.

Q. As you got round the course did you notice the cameras and photographers appear?
KRISTIE SMITH: Yeah, yeah. You definitely notice all the photographers and then a few people start coming out as well.

Q. Can you tell us about that experience of seven birdies in a row? What was going through your mind?
KRISTIE SMITH: I just wanted to get off to a good start today. I knew I had to shoot an under par round to make the cut, I thought. The putts just kept rolling in from the first hole so I got on a roll and it was nice: seven birdies.

Q. Did you feel any pressure as those kept on coming?
KRISTIE SMITH: Actually, no. Funnily enough I didn’t.

Q. That bogey coming in…
KRISTIE SMITH: I got a bit unlucky. I hit it in the bunker and it was right up against the lip. It didn’t even come back or anything. I would have had a pure shot if it had rolled back but it was actually right up against the lip so I could only wedge it out.

Q. You shot 62 but had a couple of bogeys. Do you feel a little bit cheated? KRISTIE SMITH: I’ll take 62 any day.

Q. Did you know it was coming, a round like that?
KRISTIE SMITH: Definitely. I’ve actually gone to cross handed putting the last two weeks and it definitely paid off: that’s for sure.

Q. How did your caddie react to losing his job?
KRISTIE SMITH: He’s okay I think. He’s pretty happy right now.

Q. Why did you change your grip?
KRISTIE SMITH: Just a feel thing. I hadn’t been putting very well for the past couple of years. Some of the best players in the world putt cross handed and I thought I’d try it. I gave it a go last week in New Zealand and shot 69 in the last round. I thought I’s give it another go this week. I putted really well yesterday just didn’t hole anything. Today they just all dropped.

Q. Was it your coach’s suggestions?
KRISTIE SMITH: No, purely my decision and dad’s.

Q. Does it feel comfortable for you?
KRISTIE SMITH: Yes, definitely much more comfortable.

Q. You were ill at this tournament last year. Did you have a virus or something?
KRISTIE SMITH: I was just really run down from the Australian Open and couldn’t even get out of bed on the first day but I wasn’t going to give up my key time playing with Karrie and Amy.

Q. What are you looking forward to this year?
KRISTIE SMITH: I’m going to go and plays on the Futures (Tour) over in America and I’m going to have a full schedule there with 16 events. I’m going to try and qualify for the US Open and pretty much get to Futures and try to get in the top five on the money list over there to get my LPGA card that way.

Q. What happened at Q-School?
KRISTIE SMITH: I just had a bad week; a bad week with the putter.

Q. What did you miss by?
KRISTIE SMITH: I missed the cut by three or four.

Q. You’re sitting here after a 62. Do you feel any different?
KRISTIE SMITH: No, not really. I just holed a few putts today.

Q. Have you got any other course records?
KRISTIE SMITH: I’ve got a few in WA, a few five under or so.

Q. You missed the cut for the LPGA Tour when you were an amateur. Can you tell me by how many places?
KRISTIE SMITH: I missed my conditional by two; I think it was, in 2007.

Q. Can you run through the first seven holes?
KRISTIE SMITH: The first hole I hit it to about 25 feet or so and holed the putt. The next hole to about 12/15 feet and holed that. I two-putted on the par five. I actually hit a good first putt which almost went in as well. I hit a great shot in at the next to about four feet.
On the par three I hit it in to about 15 feet or so and holed that one and then to about 10 feet on the next. I hit it to about three feet on seven. I was hitting them in close which was nice.

Q. Do you get into a zone like that? Any thoughts of a 59?
KRISTIE SMITH: You know that you are making a hundred or so birdies. It was just nice to see them rolling in. After the sixth one I just laughed at my caddie and after the seventh it was a little bit of an outer body experience but a nice one.

Q. What is your caddie’s name?
KRISTIE SMITH: Darren Weatherall.

Q. Did you hit the same ball?
KRISTIE SMITH: I kept the same ball for the whole round. It’s very beaten up and it’s in my pocket right now.

Q. Are you superstitious?
KRISTIE SMITH: A little bit, yeah. I probably get that from my mother.

Q. What are the superstitions?
KRISTIE SMITH: I used to carry a little rock with me and she would pull it out when there was a full moon. Little things like that. I carried it around and when I felt uncomfortable I would touch the rock a little bit in my pocket.

Q. When did you last carry the rock?
KRISTIE SMITH: Probably a few years ago.

Q. Will you use the ball again?
KRISTIE SMITH: No, I don’t think so. I will treasure this one.

Q. Do you feel more comfortable as a pro?
KRISTIE SMITH: Yes. I’m slowly getting there. It’s definitely a different experience, making that big step and I’m slowly getting there and getting better as each tournament comes along. This is only my fourth professional event.

Q. How do you think you will fare tomorrow?
KRISTIE SMITH: It will probably be tough after shooting such a low number but I’m just going to try to hit as many fairways and greens as I can and make a few putts like I did today.

Q. Do you think you can shoot another 62?
KRISTIE SMITH: Probably not, no.

An interview with Katherine Hull

Q. Would you like to sum up the round for us?
KATHERINE HULL: I hit 16 greens today so pretty simple. The two greens that I missed I was putting anyway so nothing too complicated and I guess I made six birdies and one bogey.

Q. Yesterday you said you wanted to get out there early.
KATHERINE HULL: Yes, that’s golf. I put good strokes on it today and it was just a case of not matching the line with the speed perfectly. (Inaudible)

Q. You played with Jiyai Shin the world no.5. Did that help?
KATHERINE HULL: No. I don’t play a whole lot of attention to the others who are in the group. It’s great if they’re playing well because you can feed off the energy. I’m too focused on my own game really to worry about anyone else’s but my own.

Q. How close did you hit it?
KATHERINE HULL: On 14, probably 23 feet. On 16, I hit it eight feet.

Q. How well is it going out there?
KATHERINE HULL: I’m playing pretty well so it’s just keeping it going. I’m not going to change anything so hopefully I can match the speed tomorrow on the greens and make some more putts.

Q. What about the short game?
KATHERINE HULL: There is still room for improvement. I’ll be going back to practise this afternoon to try and get a bit better. I’ll be on the driving range and working on my short game. There is still work that needs to be done.

Q. Steve’s up here, isn’t he?

Q. What is his assessment of what is going on?
KATHERINE HULL: I’ve got to work on my short game for at least an hour a day, five days a week. Even if it is good I’ve still got to work on it. It’s just a maintenance thing. I’m not making any huge changes right now so just get the fundamentals right, keep shaving shots and that’s all you can do.

Q. How much would it mean to win in your home country in your home state?
KATHERINE HULL: I’d love to win here. Growing up as a kid you dream about winning the ANZ Ladies Masters or Aussie Open; it’s just what you do. It’s a huge goal of mine this year to keep doing what I’m doing and be patient.

Q. Have you done much work on the mental side?
KATHERINE HULL: Not a whole lot. The mental game has always been one of my strong points. I’ve always worked with Steve and he used to play as a professional himself so he knows what it’s like to be out there competing. My philosophy is just to keep it simple. I just try to play one shot at a time and don’t let the past affect me.

Q. As a kid, did you come and watch the ladies’ masters?
KATHERINE HULL: No. I was probably at school like a good kid. At the weekend I was probably playing golf.
I probably watched it on TV but never came down here as a junior. I went to college in the USA so lost touch with what was going on for a while.

Q. Are you enjoying it?
KATHERINE HULL: It’s always been enjoyable. I’ve started treating it more like a business and it’s kind of unfortunate because I don’t socialize as much as I used to. I guess in a way it is more of a business than it is fun sometimes but that’s just what it takes to achieve your goals really.

Q. No long lunches now?
KATHERINE HULL: No long lunches, no. Last night I had to cancel dinner with my parents because I needed to go to the gym. I have to get better at prioritizing.

Q. What did they think about it?
KATHERINE HULL: They were pretty good about it. They know that’s one area I’m working on.

Q. Where did you eat?
KATHERINE HULL: I ate by myself last night.

Q. Are you comfortable being out on top in the field?
KATHERINE HULL: Anywhere in contention is good Saturday, Sunday. Tee times I can play in the morning or afternoon, it doesn’t really phase me. I’m comfortable with that.

Q. Are the greens the best they have been?
KATHERINE HULL: Yes they are. They are grainy and down wind, downhill they are going to be pretty slick. Hopefully you don’t want to put yourself in that position too much.

Q. Was it benign out there this morning?
KATHERINE HULL: It’s no more than a club right now so it wasn’t too bad.

Q. The wind picked up. What difference was that?
KATHERINE HULL: Not a whole lot. You’ve got to pay more attention and a bit more with your club selection but it shouldn’t affect you too much.