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June 19, 2014

Mikko Ilonen


Q.テつ Tremendous round of seven under par, five birdies in the last seven holes, what were you thinking and feeling as that unfolded?
MIKKO ILONEN:テつ Well, on our 10th hole, on the first hole, I made a mess out of it.テつ I hit a big drive, middle of the fairway with sand wedge and I walk off with a 5.テつ Luckily I didn't get too angry with it, and I just get going and kept hitting greens and kept giving myself chances.テつ Luckily in the end I made a few putts.テつ I didn't feel so good with the putter today but in the end, it started feeling good.

Q.テつ You've been playing well this year, lost out in a playoff in Qatar to Sergio and a couple other Top 10s; do you feel a win is just around the corner do you feel in that sort of form?
MIKKO ILONEN:テつ A couple of weeks ago in Sweden I was playing really well and I finished 32nd, I believe.テつ It was still a really mystery how I finished 32nd that week, because I was actually hitting my best shots of the year there.テつ I felt really calm with the putter.テつ So I just don't know, maybe it's there but we still have a long way to go.

Q.テつ Currently 63rd in the world and obviously top 50 opens all sort of door.テつ Is that the goal and are you focused on that?
MIKKO ILONEN:テつ In the summer tournaments until The Open really, my goal is to get into the Top‑50 and that gets me into the Bridgestone that I can play in the States.テつ 63 gets me in the PGA, so I have that, but it would be nice to play two over there once you're gone.

Q.テつ Wonderful back nine and a wonderful score.
MIKKO ILONEN:テつ It was a slow start really.テつ The first sort of four or five holes I felt like I can't get anything going.テつ But I stayed patient and then the birdies kept coming, and especially in the end, I managed to hit a couple of good putts which was nice.

Q.テつ Anything just really click out there?テつ Are the greens very much to your liking?
MIKKO ILONEN:テつ A lot of the tee shots suits my eye.テつ I had to change the plan a little bit from Tuesday and Wednesday, instead of hitting drivers instead of 3‑wood.テつ Like on the last hole, I hit 3‑wood and ended up making birdie, and it suit my eye with a driver.

Q.テつ Put into context, I know you've been playing well.テつ You played well in Sweden without quite the result.
MIKKO ILONEN:テつ I guess it was frustrating but in the end it was nice to go back to defend your title over there and managed to hit a lot of good shots over there.テつ Probably one of my best shots of the year over there.
It was a disappointment to finish where I finished, but you know, I knew the game is there if I stay healthy, and I succeeded the last two weeks coming here, the first two weeks that I've had proper practise this year.テつ So might have something to do with this.

Q.テつ Because?
MIKKO ILONEN: テつIt's been a really broken winter.テつ We've been home a lot and obviously wintertime is not the suitable time to play golf in Finland.

Q.テつ I heard you say that Top‑50 is very much the target, because you're kind of on the cusp.
MIKKO ILONEN:テつ Yeah, I've never been there.テつ I'd like to get a sniff of that.テつ I'd like to get into it the Bridgestone again.テつ I was lucky to get in there last year, really like the tournament and it would be nice to play two in a row in the States.

Q.テつ Your experience playing in The Irish Open ‑‑
MIKKO ILONEN:テつ Two years ago in Portrush when I played with Rory the last day, it felt like it was the last group and we finished just outside the Top‑10, I believe, and it was some atmosphere for a regular tournament.

Q.テつ You're one of the 13 players in the world's Top‑100 here.テつ Are you surprised that there are not more here for an event of this size?
MIKKO ILONEN:テつ It's a tricky scheduling because of the U.S. Open last week.テつ A lot of the European guys, they feel like they might need a week off after an exhausting week like Pinehurst was.テつ It never looked easy, and I'm sure Martin Kaymer feels exhausted right now, so he needs a week off.

Q.テつ In terms of what that does for you, it gives you a slightly diminished field, albeit Rory McIlroy and Graham McDowell are here, but a chance to win one of Europe's biggest titles?
MIKKO ILONEN:テつ Yeah, every time we tee off we're thinking about it.テつ The standard of the players today, it's a lot wider now than it was maybe when I started.テつ There was only a handful of players winning the tournament.テつ Now anyone in this tournament can win it having a good week.

Q.テつ It looks easy but the rough is almost U.S. Open like lush and green and juicy, so it's not necessarily going to be a 64 every day?
MIKKO ILONEN:テつ Not every day.テつ If you do that, it will be a done deal but it's a little patchy over there.テつ It's not bad all over the place.テつ You sort of have to know where to miss it if you're going to miss it.

Q.テつ On the 10th hole, it's been extended a bit.テつ How did you find that hole?
MIKKO ILONEN:テつ I just tried to cut a driver around the trees a little bit, and I played it as a three‑shotter today.テつ When we started, it didn't feel like we were going to get there, so I didn't really go after that drive.テつ So I just hit driver, 8‑iron, and a little sand wedge.

Q.テつ Interesting the way the tee points there.
MIKKO ILONEN:テつ Yeah, it's really tough to cut enough really.

Q.テつ Will the score make much of an impact back home?
MIKKO ILONEN:テつ It will be noticed, yes, but not overly‑‑ it's not going to be overdone.テつ If I do well on the weekend, then it will be in the media, yes.テつ Obviously football, World Cup going on right now, it will be 99 percent of that and one per cent something else, and we are the something else now (laughter).テつ The good thing is Finland is not playing.

Q.テつ Did you get many headlines when you won the West of Ireland Championship?
MIKKO ILONEN:テつ Yeah, the media has been handling me pretty well back home.テつ So I have to appreciate that.

Q.テつ What do you remember winning the West?テつ The weather was good?
MIKKO ILONEN:テつ Excellent, yeah.テつ I've always said that I would like to go back there one day just for the memories that I have from the place.

Q.テつ Your best memory from winning?
MIKKO ILONEN:テつ It was probably, we teed off early in the morning in the qualifying of the first, and by the time we got to the green, we couldn't see the balls because it was snowing.テつ (Laughter).テつ We don't play golf in the winter; you do.

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