Paul Azinger Press Conference Transcript
Q. Through the years, you guys have always said that sometimes after a great round like you had yesterday, it is really, really hard to follow it up with another great round. So can I assume that you are pleased with the 2-under par round today and also with your position?
PAUL AZINGER: Well, yeah. I mean, it just played a little harder. I didn't hit it quite as good. It is hard to follow-up that kind of ball-striking round. Yesterday was one of those things that -- I'll never forget that ball-striking round. If I could have another couple more rounds like that this week, I'll be in great shape. Today, I had a few miscues. I really only made one mental mistake, and I did have to chip out on the sixth hole, but I managed to make a par. I missed the fairway to the right on No. 1 and was not able to get to the green. But, you know, it's just -- I didn't expect to hit it like I did yesterday. You know, I just wanted to think any way I had to think to get the ball to the hole.
Q. What was that club you put back in your bag twice before going to the ninth green and what did you finally hit?
PAUL AZINGER: I hit 9-iron. I had 114 yards. I had the pitching wedge out, you know, and the wind was gusting. I still could have gotten the pitching wedge there. I could have played a different kind of shot. So I kind of hemmed and hawed and decided to hit the 9-iron down. I hit it really easy and got a good dredge out of it, and it turned out to be the right one. I apologized to my partners for taking so long.
Q. Outside you talked about changing your state of mind in the most recent years. How do you do that?
PAUL AZINGER: Are you going to write about it or can we keep it a secret? (Laughter.)
Q. Depends on how good of an answer it is.
PAUL AZINGER: Well, I think that -- I probably went for probably three or four years. I feel like, you know, there's three things that can cause to you play really lousy: It could be your equipment, it could be your state of mind or you could just be really playing lousy. I changed my equipment. And it was probably an improvement, but I was still playing lousy. So the next step, really, was my state of mind. So I actually hooked up with Bob Rotella and worked with him. I realized I was maybe going through the motions a little too much; going to these tournaments out of a sense of obligation rather than being committed. So I decided to be more prepared before I left town to go to all of these tournaments, and that's maybe about it. I'm going more maybe with a purpose. I played really solid golf all of last year. Even when I played my best back in the late 80s and early 90s, I would still miss six or seven cuts a year, and I only missed a cut one time last year, which is pretty good. So I've just gotten a lot more consistent and going to each tournament with more of a purpose maybe.
Q. I'm confused, which is not usual, but you said that you didn't expect to hit the ball as well as you did yesterday. I know you had a good round, but why would you not come out and say --?
PAUL AZINGER: Well, I don't know that I said that. Did I clearly say that? Is that the court stenographer, Steve, or is that you? Because if that's you, we all know.
Q. You said 'I didn't expect to hit it like I did yesterday.'
PAUL AZINGER: Well, yesterday was like an anomaly. That's how good I hit it. Hogan, I mean, how many times did Hogan come off the course totally satisfied? Probably never by his standard. But for me yesterday, was just a great day. I don't know what else to say. I don't know what you're looking for. What are you looking for?
Q. I'm just surprised that if you play really well that you could come the second day and you would not feel that you would play as well.
PAUL AZINGER: Are you saying today I didn't expect to hit it? Well, I'm just saying yesterday was like an incredible day. You just know that you are going to have to think anyway -- the reality is that day-in, day-out -- you change every day out here. Everything changes. The weather conditions, the way you slept, the time that you have to get up to go tee off. You know, just one of those things where you just go out there and think any way you have to think to get the ball in the hole. I was very confident starting the day. I expected to play well. Let's just say this: I was prepared maybe to hit it not quite as well because yesterday was pretty special for me.
Q. Once again, what about your position now heading into the weekend? A little change in the mental attitude or are you thinking, 'Well, there are certain holes out here that I can charge if I have to,' or same pace of play for you?
PAUL AZINGER: Well, I think it doesn't really matter where you are after two days or after three; it's where you are after four days. That's what really matters. So I'll try to do everything the same, but I don't want to share too much because Scott Hoch just walked in the room. I don't want to give him any information.
Q. How have you changed since you won the PGA?
PAUL AZINGER: I've grown up a bit. I've been through quite a bit since then. But I would say that physically I'm a bigger man. I weigh 190 pounds instead of 165. I'm in a little better shape. I really should be just as confident.
Q. Has your game changed at all, how you play the game?
PAUL AZINGER: Not really. I probably know a little more about it. Probably a little better chipper and putter than I was. Probably a little better than I was, really. But I'm older. Old age with bad technique. Bad combination. (Laughs).
LEE PATTERSON: Why don't you take us through your birdies real quick.
PAUL AZINGER: Started on the back nine. No. 11, I was just short of the green in two, between the two bunkers and pitched it about ten feet. I bogeyed No. 1. I hit it in the right-hand rough and could not reach the green. I hit it in the bunker, but it didn't get up-and-down. 2-putted for birdie from 35 feet on No. 2. I hit 7-iron on No. 3. I would say 25 feet there, 30 feet. 8, I hit it in the left-hand bunker with no chance. I made a bogey there. 9, I hit -- we talked about. I hit a 9-iron a foot.
Full Coverage of the Players Championship
Alabama faces 'buzzsaw' Arizona for NCAA title
STILLWATER, Okla. – There was no way Laura Ianello could sleep Monday night, not after that dramatic ending at the NCAA Women’s Championship. So at 12:15 a.m., the Arizona coach held court in the laundry room at the Holiday Inn, washing uniforms and munching on mozzarella sticks and fried chicken strips from Sonic, her heart still racing.
Ianello got only three hours of sleep, and who could blame her?
The Wildcats had plummeted down the team standings during the final round of stroke-play qualifying, and were 19 over par for the day, when junior transfer Bianca Pagdanganan arrived on the 17th hole.
“Play the best two holes of your life,” Ianello told her, and so Pagdanganan did, making a solid par on 17 and then ripping a 6-iron from 185 yards out of a divot to 30 feet. There was a massive leaderboard positioned to the right of the par-5 18th green, but Pagdanganan never peeked. The only way for Arizona to force a play-five, count-four playoff with Baylor and reach match play was to sink the putt, and when it dropped, the Wildcats lost their minds, shrieking and jumping over the ropes and hugging anyone in sight.
Watching the action atop the hill, Alabama coach Mic Potter shook his head.
“I was really glad we didn’t win the tiebreaker for the No. 1 seed,” he said, “because they’re a buzzsaw with a lot of momentum.”
Given new life, Arizona dispatched Baylor by three strokes in the playoff, then turned its attention to top-seeded UCLA in the quarterfinals on Tuesday morning.
Facing two first-team All-Americans, the Wildcats beat them, too, continuing the curse of the medalist. In the afternoon, worried that the adrenaline would wear off, Ianello watched her squad make quick work of Stanford, 4-1.
“They’ve got a lot of great momentum, a lot of great team energy,” Stanford coach Anne Walker said. “They thought they were going home, and now they’ve got a chip on their shoulder. They’re playing with an edge.”
After a marathon doubleheader Tuesday at Karsten Creek, Arizona now has a date with Alabama in the final match of this NCAA Championship.
And the Wildcats better rest up.
Alabama looks unstoppable.
“They’re rolling off a lot of momentum right now,” Ianello said. “We know Alabama is a good team. But they’re super excited and pumped. It’s not the high of making it [Monday]; now they’ve got a chance to win. They know they have to bring it.”
Even fully rested, Arizona will be a significant underdog against top-ranked Alabama.
After failing to reach match play each of the past two years, despite being the top overall seed, the Tide wouldn’t be stopped from steamrolling their competition this time.
They roughed up Kent State, 4-1, in the quarterfinals, then frontloaded their lineup with three first-team All-Americans – Lauren Stephenson, Kristen Gillman and Cheyenne Knight – in their semifinal tilt against Southern Cal.
Potter said that he was just trying to play the matchups, but the move sent a clear signal.
“It gets pretty tedious when you never miss fairways and hole a lot of putts and your opponent knows that you’re not going to spray it,” Potter said. “That’s tough to match up against.”
They breezed to the first three points, draining any drama out of the semifinals. Of the 99 holes that Bama’s Big 3 played Tuesday, they trailed after only two.
“We’re always consistent,” Stephenson said, “and that’s exactly what you need in match play. Someone has to go really low to beat us.”
That Arizona even has that chance to dethrone the Tide seemed inconceivable a few months ago.
The Wildcats had a miserable fall and were ranked 39th at the halfway point of the season. On Christmas Day, one of the team’s best players, Krystal Quihuis, sent a text to Ianello that she was turning pro. Once she relayed the news, the team felt abandoned, but it also had a newfound motivation.
“They wanted to prove that they’re a great team, even without her,” Ianello said.
It also was a case of addition by subtraction: Out went the individual-minded Quihuis and in came Yu-Sang Ho, an incoming freshman whom Ianello described as a “bright, shining light.”
Because incorporating a top-tier junior at the midway point can be intimidating, Ianello organized a lively team retreat at the Hilton El Conquistador in Tucson, where they made vision boards and played games blindfolded.
They laughed that weekend and all throughout the spring – or at least until Pagnanganan made that last-ditch eagle putt Monday. Then tears streamed down Ianello’s face.
Folding uniforms after midnight, she regaled Alabama assistant coach Susan Rosenstiel with stories from their emotional day on the cut line, not even considering that they might face each other two days later for a national title. She was too delirious to ponder that.
“I feel like a new mother with a newborn baby,” Ianello said. “But we’re going off of adrenaline. This team has all the momentum they need to get it done.”
Yes, somehow, the last team into the match-play field might soon be the last team standing.
Pairings, tee times set for championship match
STILLWATER, Okla. – Alabama coach Mic Potter has three first-team All-Americans on this team. It’s little surprise that all three are going out first in the Crimson Tide’s championship match against Arizona Wednesday at Karsten Creek.
Potter tinkered with his lineup in both the quarterfinal victory over Kent State and the semifinal win over USC. But with the NCAA title on the line, this one was a no brainer.
“We don’t want to sacrifice anything,” Potter said. “We just want to give ourselves a chance to win every match.”
Arizona kept its lineup the same all day Tuesday in defeating Pac-12 foes UCLA and Stanford in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively. That meant junior Bianca Pagdanganan, the Wildcats grittiest player this week, was in the last match of the day. She won twice.
Now, with all the marbles riding on the championship match, Arizona coach Laura Ianello moved Pagdanganan up to the third spot to assure that her match is key to the final outcome.
Junior Haley Moore, Arizona’s best player all year, is in the fifth spot and will face Alabama senior Lakareber Abe.
“Win or lose tomorrow, this has been a helluva ride,” Ianello said.
Alabama (2) vs. Arizona (8)
3:25PM ET: Lauren Stephenson (AL) vs. Yu-Sang Hou (AZ)
3:35PM ET: Kristen Gillman (AL) vs. Gigi Stoll (AZ)
3:45PM ET: Cheyenne Knight (AL) vs. Bianca Pagdanganan (AZ)
3:55PM ET: Angelica Moresco (AL) vs. Sandra Nordaas (AZ)
4:05PM ET: Lakareber Abe (AL) vs. Haley Moore (AZ)
Women's NCAA finals: Arizona vs. Alabama
STILLWATER, Okla. – It’s the SEC vs. the Pac 12 for the women’s NCAA Championship; Alabama vs. Arizona, to be more specific.
Both the Crimson Tide and Wildcats cruised in their respective semifinal matches Tuesday at Karsten Creek. Alabama easily beat USC, 3-1-1; Arizona defeated match-play juggernaut Stanford, 4-1.
Alabama’s top three players, Lauren Stephenson, Kristen Gillman and Cheyenne Knight were unstoppable forces in both matches on the marathon day. Stacked in the top three positions in the semifinals all three won their matches on the 17th hole, making the last two matches inconsequential.
Arizona, the eighth seed, won as decisively as second-seeded Alabama, but needed a miracle to be in this position in the first place.
Junior Bianca Pagdanganan drained a 30-footer for eagle on the last hole of stroke play on Monday to get the Wildcats into a playoff against Baylor, which they won on the second hole. Then on Tuesday, presumably running on fumes, they downed top-seeded UCLA in the morning, then crushed Pac-12 foe Stanford in the afternoon.
Pagdanganan, Gigi Stoll and Hayley Moore each won both matches for Arizona on the hot, draining day.
“I don’t want to let them down so I do my best to rise to the occasion,” Pagdanganan said.
Said Arizona coach Laura Ianello: “How many players, when you tell them under pressure that you need them, can really handle it,” Ianello said about Pagdanganan. “This kid can.”
NCAA DI Women's Champ.: Scoring, TV times
The NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championship is underway at Kartsen Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.
After three days of stroke play, eight teams advanced to the match-play portion of the championship. Quarterfinals and semifinals were contested Tuesday, with the finals being held on Wednesday. Golf Channel is airing the action live.
- Finals: Alabama vs. Arizona
- Semifinals: Alabama def. USC, 3.5-1.5
- Semifinals: Arizona def. Stanford, 4-1
- Quarterfinals: Alabama def. Kent State, 4-1
- Quartefinals: USC def. Duke, 3.5-1.5
- Quarterfinals: Arizona def. UCLA, 3-2
- Quarterfinals: Stanford def. Northwestern, 3-2
- Individual stroke play
TV Times (all times ET):
4-8PM: Match-play finals (Click here to watch live)