Annika Sorenstam Press Conference Transcript
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I just --I can't believe it. It is a dream come true. I really don't know why all this is happening to me but I am very, very thankful. I mean, this is what a golfer can dream about. I am a lucky one and it feels great.
Q. Obviously last week was a dramatic emotional week. This weeks a dramatic emotional week. Can you compare the two of them?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: It is tough to compare. I mean, because this golf course is so different compared to last week. This one I don't think I have ever been so patient, which is what the key was this week. I was just trying to hit one shot at a time. I knew every hole is going to be difficult. It is a challenge that I didn't really look ahead. Last week was more of an easy golf course that I knew I can make birdie the next hole ago and I never felt the pressure that I did this week. I didn't shoot 59 this week, but through the circumstances and this golf course, this really ranks up there by a 59. Just to finish the way I did, I mean, it was such a race. Just looking at the leaderboard one shot moves you up 10 places and one shot moves you down 10 places. I knew I just have to be patient and I am just -- I am really happy I was.
Q. When you were on, I guess it was 11 when the leaderboard finally showed that you were alone at 5, did you see that and then, I mean, you made the subsequent birdie, bogey, birdie, I am wondering if you saw right when you had gotten the lead solo?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I didn't see the leaderboard on No. 11. I did see though that I was tied with Pat after 9 and then I saw it on No. 12. So in between there I didn't see anything.
Q. The bogey on 12, the first putt, tentative putt?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Yeah, you can say so (laughs). I had 30 feet and hit it eight feet short and it is -- that is the way I react in these conditions, when I get nervous I get very tentative. I felt like I hit the putt but it just went nowhere. When I get nervous I lose my feel and that happened there and it happened on a few putts coming in. Luckily it didn't cost me anything but that one really cost me.
Q. At the start of the day you were one back and all kinds of people had an opportunity to win this. You were you say you were trying to stay patient. Does that mean you weren't thinking I have to shot a 70 today or I need to shoot 68? Dottie said she thought 67 would have won it for her today. Were you not thinking about that at all?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: No, not at all. I did not have a score in mind at all when I started the day. I was just trying to pretend that it was an 18-hole golf course and I had to go out and play the best I could today. I tried to do the very best I could on every shot; not think about the previous hole and not think about the next hole. I was just trying to stay so much in the present and not -- I mean I always look at the leader boards. I look at it three or four times a hole, but today I said it doesn't matter what the leaderboard is. You still got to do it. That is what I kept doing. I took a little peak at it, but other than that I was just kind of focusing on each hole and you know, I played eight holes, and I said, it is 10 more. Then I went to the next, I said, now it is just nine. I just kept counting down just because I wanted to give it all on every hole and not think about too much overall the whole tournament.
Q. This is the major you have been looking for a while. How satisfied are you?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I am very, very -- I mean I am so happy I am -- you know, when I have been home I have been putting and thinking this putt is going to win, you know, the Nabisco Championship, this 2-putt here, these are the thoughts I have had all winter. I have come here and I have played and I have walked along the 18th here and I knew there is a little spot there and I wanted my name on it. Those are the fantasies that you have. But I knew one day that that is what I wanted and I can't believe it happened this year. But I knew I had a chance obviously today going into the round. I said it is in my hands, just take the opportunity and things were just going my way. Like I said, I don't know why it is happening so much at this time, but I am very thankful.
Q. Coming off last week and the sensational week and the media attention and then going right into the first major of the season, was there any special thing you did to mentally prepare for this or to put yourself at ease or anything special that you did to scope out this week?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Well, I didn't really prepare the way I wanted to coming into this event because of the last two weeks. I was exhausted coming home on Sunday. I rested Monday and Tuesday. I did miss out on my practice round this week. So I really didn't feel like I had what I wanted to prepare. What I had going for me was I was playing well. Confidence was there. I knew the course. I have been here so many times. That is what I just keep telling myself, you know, you have been here, you have done it and you can do it. That is just what I kept telling myself. And I mean today I actually wrote a little note on my visor, I just want to look at it all day long. I just kept reminding myself. It's in Swedish. To translate it: Don't be afraid or just go for it kind of thing.
Q. Do you think that Tiger Woods will now be known as the male Annika?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Oh, I don't think so. But thank you.
Q. You have openly said that what Karrie has done the past two years has motivated you and that you came into this year wanting to overtake her. Do you think that you have caught her?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I haven't looked at her ranking, but I am just so happy the way I played. I beat her the last seven, eight times I played with her so, that gives me an edge, I know, and I have come out with such great starts this year; now I want to keep playing. I think by the end of the year we will see.
Q. You haven't won a major since for four years?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: 96.
Q. What part of your game was struggling and at any point did you think you were sort of letting yourself down and squandering any of your talent?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Well, I think right after 1996 you know, when I won two U.S. opens in a row, it felt so easy. I didn't have any expectations going into the Open. It just kind have happened. So when I came into 1997 I think I had too much of an attitude like this is going to be okay. And then you know, I shot myself in the foot the first day and there went the next major. After that I struggled a little bit because I wanted it so badly. I started out with a bad round in every major. I had to kind of catch up and it was too much to catch up. I think the last two years I have been more focused on what I had to do. I have been thinking more about what you know, each round and each shot and not get too much ahead of myself. And when it comes to my golf game, I have always felt like I had the game that was needed. I am not the longest hitter out here but I can hit a lot of fairways. And I hit a lot of greens. So I knew I could do it. But sometimes my short game has kind of let me down a little bit and that is what I have practiced a lot on this winter because I knew that is just going to be the key. I know I am going to hit a lot of greens but I have to make the putts to score low and that is what I have done the last few weeks. It is so nice to see. I mean, I have putted so many times and the confidence is really coming back.
Q. Did you find yourself having to hold down your emotions coming down the stretch? Were you starting to get emotional 16, 17 or was it not until 18?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Oh, definitely. I mean, I was in a spot where I wanted to be. I was telling myself that all day long, you are in the spot where you want to be. But just stay patient and let's just play this hole, hit one shot at a time. I mean I sounded like a broken record out there. My caddie has probably heard enough of me. That is just the way it was. It was repeating, let's hit one shot, hit the green, make the putt. That is what I have done all day. It is never over until it is over. I mean, even though I walked on this little -- the bridge on 18, I had two shots and it might sound like a lot, but under these circumstances it is not a lot. So was just trying to stay calm and just think about what I had to do.
Q. I don't mean to jump around too much, but after you know, what is next and -- well, literally the next two weeks, I guess, you guys have off. What will you do?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I am not going to do anything. I am just going to relax. I am not going to do anything. I am going to go home just take care of myself; take care of my husband; my cats and just I am not going to touch my golf clubs. I feel exhausted. I think I need a break. So that is probably the first four, five days and then I might go to the gym and just slowly get into golf, but then, you know, then it is L.A. and when you are on the road like this you want to continue, so I know I will practice the week before and I am going to continue. I mean, I am having a lot of fun and I don't see why I shouldn't keep working.
Q. Will you stay here in the desert?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Yes.
Q. You said yesterday you had caught a cold. I noticed on the putting green you were coughing a little bit. People who have colds aren't supposed to jump into Lakes.
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: (Laughs).
Q. Did you ever think about not doing that?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I'd do anything to win here. I just think I am just so tired and my immune system has probably gone somewhere else but that is okay. This means a lot to me and I got two weeks to recover and it if it takes all year, that is fine. This is the tournament that I wanted so I will go into any lake for it.
Q. This fitness regime, how much swimming has it included?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I don't know if you can tell on my dive, but I have been diving. I have been swimming a little bit. It is actually part of my routine, but this is the best swim I have had in a long time.
Q. Talk a little bit how important David is to you and to helping you achieve your ambitions and so on?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Yeah, I mean, Dave does everything for me literally outside the golf course. He is very supportive, but I mean he does everything so I can prepare, everything so I can practice, even though I won and I made the last putt, he is behind it too. He has heard me complain. He has heard me be happy. I mean, he has seen me work. He knows what my goals are and he has never been in the way. He has always been so supportive. I mean we live for my golf, and I am just very happy that he wants to do that because it means a lot to me, but when we do it together too it is kind of a team thing a little bit. So this victory here, this week and the last two weeks, I mean, he deserves a lot of credit himself.
Q. What were your evenings like this week? Last week I know you were spent some time at your sister's house, you cooked. Did you cook this week?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I cooked a little bit. My dad stayed with us this week, so I have had a chance to be with him a little bit. The evenings, you know we haven't done too much. I haven't really felt too good so it has been early evenings but we always sit in the jacuzzi and always talk about the day and do some crosswords just to kind of get my mind off golf. Just a way of being together because I won't see him for a while. He is going back to Sweden, so it was just nice to have him close to me this week: He has been here for two weeks.
Q. Janice Moodie mentioned your situp routine. How many do you do a day?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: It varies. But I do a lot of it situps.
Q. A couple of hundred a day?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I do a lot more than 100. I do a lot of crunches. I do a lot of medicine ball. I do a little more than 500. I do between 500 and 1,000. It varies. Like I said, some are tougher than others, but I do a lot of situps. I do about 750 to be honest.
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Zero. I can't do more than 10 pushups. I can go home and practice (laughs) I work out during tournaments, yeah. I didn't do it this morning, no. This week I haven't done too much. I haven't felt so good, but I just think having a strong back in golf is good and situps is -- it is something that you know, I know Tiger does a lot of situps and I have challenged him but he hasn't said yes yet. So maybe he is home doing some.
Q. If you had to come up with one or two words to describe yourself what would they be?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I am sorry what was the last part.
Q. Because I am running out of adjectives.
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I am very, very stubborn. I am very competitive.
Full Coverage of the Nabisco Championship
Stunner: Inbee Park steps aside for Int. Crown
There was a big surprise this week when the LPGA announced the finalized lineups for the UL International Crown.
Rolex world No. 1 Inbee Park won’t be teeing it up for the host South Koreans Oct. 4-7 in Incheon.
She has withdrawn, saying she wanted another Korean to be able to experience the thrill of representing her country.
It’s a stunner given the importance the LPGA has placed on taking the UL International Crown to South Korea and its golf-crazy allegiance to the women’s game in the Crown’s first staging outside the United States.
Two-time major champion In Gee Chun will replace Park.
"It was my pleasure and honor to participate in the first UL International Crown in 2014 and at the 2016 Olympics, and I cannot describe in one word how amazing the atmosphere was to compete as a representative of my country,” Park said. “There are so many gifted and talented players in Korea, and I thought it would be great if one of the other players was given the chance to experience the 2018 UL International Crown.”
Chun, another immensely popular player in South Korea, was the third alternate, so to speak, with the world rankings used to field teams. Hye Jin Choi and Jin Young Ko were higher ranked than Chun but passed because of commitments made to competing in a Korean LPGA major that week. The other South Koreans who previously qualified are So Yeon Ryu, Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim.
Na: I can admit, 'I went through the yips'
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following his victory two weeks ago at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier, Kevin Na said his second triumph on the PGA Tour was the most rewarding of his career.
Although he declined to go into details as to why the victory was so gratifying at The Greenbrier, as he completed his practice round on Tuesday at the Open Championship, Na shed some light on how difficult the last few years have been.
“I went through the yips. The whole world saw that. I told people, 'I can’t take the club back,'” Na said on Tuesday at Carnoustie. “People talked about it, 'He’s a slow player. Look at his routine.' I was admitting to the yips. I didn’t use the word ‘yip’ at the time. Nobody wants to use that word, but I’m over it now so I can use it. The whole world saw it.”
Na, who made headlines for his struggles to begin his backswing when he found himself in the lead at the 2012 Players Championship, said he asked other players who had gone through similar bouts with the game’s most dreaded ailment how they were able to get through it.
“It took time,” he said. “I forced myself a lot. I tried breathing. I tried a trigger. Some guys will have a forward press or the kick of the right knee. That was hard and the crap I got for it was not easy.”
The payoff, however, has steadily arrived this season. Na said he’d been confident with his game this season following a runner-up showing at the Genesis Open and a fourth-place finish at the Fort Worth Invitational, and he felt he was close to a breakthrough. But being able to finish a tournament like he did at The Greenbrier, where he won by five strokes, was particularly rewarding.
“All good now,” he smiled. “I knew I was good enough to win again, but until you do it sometimes you question yourself. It’s just the honest truth.”
Koepka still has chip on his chiseled shoulder
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Brooks Koepka prepared more for this Open than last year's.
He picked up his clubs three times.
That’s three more than last summer, when the only shots he hit between the summer Opens was during a commercial shoot for Michelob Ultra at TPC Sawgrass. He still tied for sixth at The Open a month later.
This time, Koepka kept his commitment to play the Travelers, then hit balls three times between the final round in Hartford and this past Sunday, when he first arrived here at Carnoustie.
Not that he was concerned, of course.
Koepka’s been playing golf for nearly 20 years. He wasn’t about to forget to how to swing a club after a few weeks off.
“It was pretty much the same thing,” he said Tuesday, during his pre-tournament news conference. “I shared it with one of my best friends, my family, and it was pretty much the same routine. It was fun. We enjoyed it. But I’m excited to get back inside the ropes and start playing again. I think you need to enjoy it any time you win and really embrace it and think about what you’ve done.”
At Shinnecock Hills, Koepka became the first player in nearly 30 years to repeat as U.S. Open champion – a major title that helped him shed his undeserved reputation as just another 20-something talent who relies solely on his awesome power. In fact, he takes immense pride in his improved short game and putting inside 8 feet.
“I can take advantage of long golf courses,” he said, “but I enjoy plotting my way around probably - more than the bombers’ golf courses - where you’ve got to think, be cautious sometimes, and fire at the center of the greens. You’ve got to be very disciplined, and that’s the kind of golf I enjoy.”
Which is why Koepka once again fancies his chances here on the type of links that helped launch his career.
Koepka was out of options domestically after he failed to reach the final stage of Q-School in 2012. So he packed his bags and headed overseas, going on a tear on the European Challenge Tour (Europe’s equivalent of the Web.com circuit) and earning four titles, including one here in Scotland. That experience was the most fun and beneficial part of his career, when he learned to win, be self-sufficient and play in different conditions.
“There’s certain steps, and I embraced it,” Koepka said. “I think that’s where a lot of guys go wrong. You are where you are, and you have to make the best of it instead of just putting your head down and being like, 'Well, I should be on the PGA Tour.' Well, guess what? You’re not. So you’ve got to suck it up wherever you are, make the best of it, and keep plugging away and trying to win everything you can because, eventually, if you’re good enough, you will get out here.”
Koepka has proved that he’s plenty good enough, of course: He’s a combined 20 under in the majors since the beginning of 2017, the best of any player during that span. But he still searches long and hard for a chip to put on his chiseled shoulder.
In his presser after winning at Shinnecock, Koepka said that he sometimes feels disrespected and forgotten, at least compared to his more-ballyhooed peers. It didn’t necessarily bother him – he prefers to stay out of the spotlight anyway, eschewing a media tour after each of his Open titles – but it clearly tweaked him enough for him to admit it publicly.
That feeling didn’t subside after he went back to back at the Open, either. On U.S. Open Sunday, ESPN’s Instagram page didn’t showcase a victorious Koepka, but rather a video of New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. dunking a basketball.
“He’s like 6-foot-2. He’s got hops – we all know that – and he’s got hands. So what’s impressive about that?” Koepka said. “But I always try to find something where I feel like I’m the underdog and put that little chip on my shoulder. Even if you’re No. 1, you’ve got to find a way to keep going and keep that little chip on.
“I think I’ve done a good job of that. I need to continue doing that, because once you’re satisfied, you’re only going to go downhill. You try to find something to get better and better, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Now 28, Koepka has a goal of how many majors he’d like to win before his career is over, but he wasn’t about to share it.
Still, he was adamant about one thing: “Right now I’m focused on winning. That’s the only thing I’ve got in my mind. Second place just isn’t good enough. I finished second a lot, and I’m just tired of it. Once you win, it kind of propels you. You have this mindset where you just want to keep winning. It breeds confidence, but you want to have that feeling of gratification: I finally did this. How cool is this?”
So cool that Koepka can’t wait to win another one.
Despite results, Thomas loves links golf
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Despite poor results in two previous Open Championships, Justin Thomas contends that he has what it takes to be a good links player. In fact, he believes that he is a good links player.
Two years ago at Royal Troon, Thomas shot 77 in the second round to tie for 53rd place. He was on the wrong side of the draw that week that essentially eliminated anyone from contention who played late Friday afternoon.
Last year at Royal Birkdale, Thomas made a quintuple-bogey 9 on the par-4 sixth hole in the second round and missed the cut by two shots.
“I feel like I’ve played more than two Opens, but I haven’t had any success here,” Thomas said Tuesday at Carnoustie. “I feel like I am a good links player, although I don’t really have the results to show.”
Although he didn’t mention it as a reason for success this week, Thomas is a much different player now than he was two years ago, having ascended to the No. 1 position in the world for a few weeks and now resting comfortably in the second spot.
He also believes a high golf IQ, and the ability to shape different shots into and with the wind are something that will help him in The Open over the next 20 years.
“I truly enjoy the creativity,” Thomas said. “It presents a lot of different strategies, how you want to play it, if you want to be aggressive, if you want to be conservative, if you want to attack some holes, wait on certain winds, whatever it might be. It definitely causes you to think.
“With it being as firm as it is, it definitely adds a whole other variable to it.”