You have made a great start.
Yes. I did not putt well on the 10th. I had a poor bogey there. I did not get up and down. But from that point on, I had six birdies and a couple of up and downs to save good pars, which you have to do on a course like this. Luckily, I putted very well today.
Was your putting the difference today?
Yes. I putted well last week but I did not hole anything. When you have two eight or nine-footers for par and they go straight in the middle, that’s the sort of thing that keeps me going. I had a really short one, a tap-in, on seven.
Can you explain the shot out of the bunker on the 18th?
Ian Woosnam taught me that in Japan years and years ago. I’ve used it about 10 times in my career. When you have a really badly plugged ball like that was; you just hood it, as you could obviously see. You take it very steep away and as you are coming into the sand you let go of the club. As the club hits the sand it sort of cuts underneath the ball and pops it out. It was in such a bad spot that if I’d played an explosion shot, it would have gone to the back (of the green). I thought that if I hit it and missed and it came back, I could probably get up and down from a good lie. It was a risk worth taking. It is not a shot I don’t practise. I do practise it. It is nerve racking. If you get it wrong, people look at you like you’re mental. If you practise it, it is easy. It works. At the end of the day, if you practise it, it will work. I don’t know how it works. I’m sure if you looked at it with a slow motion camera, you’d see what happened.
How did you find the conditions today?
It was pretty blustery. The trouble is that that the hardest holes are all into the wind on this course. I took the decision to hit a couple of three irons that left be long shots in but because I was swinging so well I was not scared. The greens are quite big, as long as you hit the right part of them. If you go to the wrong spot they are always going to run off into bunkers. You have to strategise your way around. The longest hole, No. 12, I hit driver, three iron in there. That is just a great hole.
How does this course compare to where you won last year?
It is good because you can be aggressive on holes like number eight. I hit driver, sand iron in, whereas some players are coming in with slightly longer clubs. There are holes where you just don’t need driver. You can hit your irons downwind on number one, for instance. It is a really good mixture. It probably suits the higher ball flighter because missing greens in some spots, you are going to drop a lot of shots. If you can come in with a higher ball, it is going to stop a lot more quickly, then you are not going to be running through the back or going off on those swales.
You made a great start today. How confident are you?
I’ve come here in a confident mood, thinking I am one of the players with a chance to win if I play well and putt well. Today is a perfect start. I’m in a decent position. As for winning it, there is so far to go that you don’t even think about it. You just want to be in a position on Sunday where if you are two or three behind or two or three in front, that is what you are aiming for. It is a perfect start but no more.
Do you like being a front runner?
You don’t sleep as well. I’ve always had that throughout my career. It is nicer to be one behind going in to Sunday than one ahead, funnily enough. The big leads are the worst. You can’t relax at all. It is a mental effort.
What’s the biggest lead you’ve had and lost?
It was nine… And lost? Thanks a lot. I think I had a four-shot lead in Springfield and Pat Bradley got me. I shot 77 and she shot 64. I finished 15th. That was the most humiliating loss.
That’s not bad. Norman led Faldo by six at the Masters.
Yeah, but that’s Faldo.
Have you won more from behind than in front?
No. You like to think you do but you don’t. You win more tournaments when you have the lead on Sunday. If you win a lot of tournaments, you have to be in front. You are not always going to go past people. My strategy if I’ve got the lead is to shoot the lowest round of the day. I am not just trying to hang on. If I shoot the lowest number of the day, I can’t physically lose. That’s normally my way of thinking. It has worked a lot. All it does is mean you can’t relax, you can’t sleep at night, you don’t enjoy dinner, you don’t have breakfast. It is true. You’ve got it all to lose and nothing to gain. It is a mental thing.
The contrast with last year could hardly be greater.
Exactly. But I might be 10 behind on Sunday morning. You just don’t know.
Are you happy with your course management today?
On my 10th, the only bogey for the day, I went for a big drive because I thought we could reach. We probably can reach that hole in two but the green is so well guarded, maybe it is not worth going for. But the rest of it, I think we did pretty well. We accepted some long irons into some long par fours.
You have made a nice, steady start.
Did you enjoy it?
Yes, I did. It was a lot of fun. I had a great group and we all played pretty good.
You left a few shots out there. Your putting was not what you had hoped?
Yes, my putting was the only thing I struggled with. I I left a couple short. The greens were a little slower than I thought.
How did you enjoy playing with Karrie? Did she have much to say?
We did not talk that much but we said, “Good Shot”, to each other. She is a great player and I enjoyed the group a lot.
Did you feel comfortable in a group who has won a total of eight majors?
I felt comfortable, except for my first tee shot. I got over it. It was a great group.
What was the problem with your putting?
It was pretty much my speed. I left a lot short. Some short ones I did not trust that much.
How many professional events have you played?
I think this is my fifth.
Are you becoming more comfortable playing with the pros?
Yes, I am. All these are great experiences for me. It is a great experience every time I play one.
Will you play any more this year?
I have played in the Kraft Nabisco and I am going to try and qualify for the (US) Open.
Have you played in any majors?
Yes, I have played in three US Opens.
What was your best finish?
How old were you then?
It was actually last year so I was 14.
What is your goal on the professional circuit? Perhaps a top 10?
That would be nice. I try to do my best and shoot under par. I’ve got a good start here so hopefully I can keep it up.