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August 15, 2014

Frederick Wedel


PETE KOWALSKI: Like to welcome our first U.S. Amateur semifinalist, Frederick Wedel, from The Woodlands, Texas, a 4 & 3 winner over Nathan Smith. And looks like from your scorecard, you got up early, 2-up after three, and just tell us what happened in the match. Congratulations.
FREDERICK WEDEL: Thank you. I've heard that Nathan didn't hit it too far, and I figured, 1, 2, 3, that's a tough start. Fortunately, he bogeyed 1 I got up to a 1-up lead that I've done every single match and that just gave me a whole lot of confidence. On 2, long hole and I figured I had the advantage. Unfortunately I blew it right, hit it in the trees and made par. But I knew I had to get off to a hot start and take control of the match early, and once I had it, I just never gave it up. So that was the key.

PETE KOWALSKI: And looks like the birdies on 12 and 13 were pretty much big factors in the whole thing, too, as well?

FREDERICK WEDEL: Right. On 12, I went for it. I had 258 pin, like 242 to fly the water, and I was planning on just hitting a hybrid just at the left edge of the green and if I hit in the bunker, so be it. And if I pushed it a little, I figured I had enough distance to carry the water, but I caught it a little skinny and fortunately I caught a great break. Landed just left of the water. Kicked up there and rolled right. Then I took -- was I 2-up? Yeah, so I moved to 3-up, and I just wanted to shut the door immediately and fortunately stuffed it to about six inches on the next. And after that, the match was mine.

Q. Any thought of laying up on 12, or were you full-go the entire time?
FREDERICK WEDEL: I definitely thought about laying up, but I felt like I had enough club that if I hit it solid to fly the water. And I felt like if I'm going to hit a club, I'm going to have enough to fly the water, and that was the deciding factor for me. I felt like I had enough club to fly the water. That's what made me go for it. 3-wood was too much. And if I had enough club, I was going to go; and if I didn't, I was just going to lay up.

Q. Coming into this match, did you feel like you were the underdog, considering many people know Nathan and not many people know you. They will now; but did you feel like the underdog coming into today?
FREDERICK WEDEL: Not at all. Even though he's a four-time USGA Champion, it didn't faze me one bit. I felt like I had an advantage being that it's this deep in the tournament and I feel like I'm more fresh than he is. Especially since this course can be long, and I have a big advantage off the tee. So I just wanted to make sure I drove it well and put pressure on him early.

Q. You didn't have a lot of long-ish putts to save par today. Seemed like you had the speed of the greens, both with your putting and with your chipping today.
FREDERICK WEDEL: Yeah, that's the biggest thing is I always believe that if you're pin-high, you're going to be close. So I was just really focusing on speed. That was the most important thing to me. I mean, out off-line can I really hit a putt or a chip; but the speed was the big thing for me, yeah.

Q. One of the key moments to me -- and I'll let you decide whether it was on the front, after he got up-and-down for birdie on 5 and just missed a 10-footer on 6 to make it all-square and he missed it, did you feel like that was a moment where you took control?
FREDERICK WEDEL: When he bogeyed 7, I felt really good about it. But I mean, if he had made the putt, it wouldn't have really bothered me. Deep down I feel like I was in a better position than him to win this match, so if he had put it back to all-square, it didn't really matter to me. I felt like I was going to get it back eventually.

Q. You've got a birthday next week. What would it be like to win a U.S. Amateur before you turn 20 years old?
FREDERICK WEDEL: Probably be the best present that I ever get. I mean, honestly, I haven't won anything in a long time. I've had a lot of solid finishes. But I mean, to win a U.S. Amateur at 19, it would be the greatest golf accomplishment of my life.

PETE KOWALSKI: What is your last win?

FREDERICK WEDEL: My district championship my senior year of high school, and besides that, I don't think I've won anything -- my U.S. Am qualifier, but other than that, no.

PETE KOWALSKI: What would you like people to know about you?

FREDERICK WEDEL: I'm definitely -- I'm extremely competitive and I'm sure some people saw that out there today. I mean, I'm a competitor. I'm a grinder. And I love this competition. So I definitely won't be stepping down to anybody. I mean, I guess -- I'm gritty.

Q. You say you're a competitor and we look at your Twitter handle and obviously you have a sense of humor, as well. Can you explain the story behind your Twitter handle?
FREDERICK WEDEL: What is Twitter handle?

Q. Are you Fred_Flintston3?
FREDERICK WEDEL: Yeah. No, that is me; I'm extremely sarcastic. I love poking fun. I'll mess with anybody. Generally I feel like if you don't handle sarcasm that well, then so be it, but why not have fun and laugh all the time. I'm a happy-go-lucky guy. So definitely Fred Flintstone, I don't know, just fit.

Q. Your coach was talking about your sense of confidence and he was talking about you played up at Chambers Bay and you would be back next year for the U.S. Open; do you remember that?
FREDERICK WEDEL: Yes, I do. I love Chambers Bay. That course is amazing. I made it a goal of mine after that tournament -- look, it's time. If you're going to get really good, you've got to do something and do something quick. My game has been coming along well, and I kept telling myself, I'm close, I'm close, I'm close. It's just good gluing everything together. I mean, when I showed up for my U.S. Am qualifier, I was like, this is it. This is your first step in playing in next year's U.S. Open. I didn't want to go through U.S. Open local qualifying. I told myself that morning, if you qualify for the U.S. Amateur; and then my next goal is the match play; and then my next goal is the quarters and my goal is ultimately to make it to the final. So I earn that exemption into the U.S. Open next year and I keep telling myself that if I keep playing well, I'll play the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay.

Q. How did you play that week at Chambers Bay?
FREDERICK WEDEL: I played pretty well. The greens were really beat up at the time, and I felt like I was in pretty good control of my game, but like I said, the greens were really bad. I told myself that week, mentally, the person that wins this week will not be complaining about the greens. I mean, I 3-putted my first hole and missed a two-foot birdie putt on the next, but mentally I got myself back into it, and I mean, that just set the tone for the rest of the way. I ended up making a 6-foot birdie putt on the next hole and then I was actually 4-over through eight holes and then brought it all the way back to 1-under. I think I shot 72, 67, 71 or something like that. So I think I came in seventh out of 95 or something like that. So it was still a good finish but once again it wasn't a victory.

Q. I apologize if this has already been asked. Your distance on 12 for your second shot?

Q. And that was a hybrid?

Q. Did you think you hit that one in the water?
FREDERICK WEDEL: I did. I really did. It was just right of the hole and I mean, it was flying straight but I thought what was going to happen was it was going to bounce up and roll right into the water. But fortunately I caught it solid enough to where it flew far enough to where it just kind of hopped the corner and didn't roll in there. I caught a good break there, but fortunately, I caught it just enough a bit to get up there.

Q. And 13, what did you have for your second shot?

Q. What did you think that the key moment, key shot -- best shot you hit today was?
FREDERICK WEDEL: Absolutely that wedge shot on 13. When I knocked that tight, especially knowing that Nathan was in there about 35 feet, I figured I was going to go to 4-up. And 4-up with five to play, the match was done at that point.

Q. Do you feel this week has accelerated your progress as a golfer or somehow maybe redefined you at least in the eyes of people watching, but even yourself; are you doing things that are surprising you?
FREDERICK WEDEL: No. Like I said, just everything's coming together at the right time. This week has definitely been big for me. Especially playing on a national stage. I've done a lot of good things. I've hit a lot of quality shots, a lot of quality putts, and under pressure, when it needs to be done. And I've made quite a few clutch putts, as well. So I mean, this is definitely huge for me and it's definitely making me a better player. I know deep down that I'm going to be a much better player coming out of this tournament.

Q. Did you and Nathan have any conversations out there? Obviously he's got a lot of experience and big moments in the Masters and others. Did you have any conversations while you were out there?
FREDERICK WEDEL: Not really. I was just trying to walk as fast as I could and stay ahead of him.

PETE KOWALSKI: Tell us a little about your background. You're born in Alaska, and it's a pretty interesting story with your family. Just walk us through that, tell us a little bit about yourself.

FREDERICK WEDEL: Well, I was born in Alaska. My dad worked in the oil business and got transferred down to Houston when I was six months. And couldn't tell you much about the early stages but I know I got into golf at 2 1/2. I asked my dad to play golf; would you take me to the range. He was always an avid golfer, watched the PGA TOUR all the time. One day I asked him to cut down a 7-iron for me and he knocked one down and took me out. That's when I picked up golf. Him and I always shared that. We would always go together. I used to have temper tantrums on the golf course, like I feel most kids do. But whenever I did, my dad would be like, hey, quit acting up, this is a gentleman's game. You don't do that. So he would take me home off the golf course, and that's something that him and I shared my whole life. But whenever I was 10, as you all know, he ended up getting an abscess in his spinal cord and being paralyzed from the neck down, and that was devastating for me. I didn't handle it well. I ended up going to private school -- or I ended up acting up in school big time. I ended up getting kicked out of private school in eighth grade. Honestly that was good for me, I truly believe so, because it kind of opened up my eyes, and I was thinking to myself, this isn't how my dad would want me to be. Even in high school, like my freshman year, I acted up a little bit, but it just kind of took that maturity to really grow up. Now, mostly -- even in high school, and especially now, I'm just trying to be a gentleman, be a good guy. Obviously golf is great; it's a blast. It fills my competitive nature, but first and foremost, my dad always taught me to be a gentleman and a good guy and have manners, and that's basically what I'm trying to do now.

Q. Were you a club thrower or just a terror --
FREDERICK WEDEL: Oh, man, I would whine; I would throw clubs. I would just get really flustered. Yeah, I guess I would get on my dad's nerves; I can't handle this. Like I've got a little six-year-old, just acting like -- just a dummy.

Q. When did that light go on for you? Just one day you just stopped or it was a gradual --
FREDERICK WEDEL: No. It was a gradual process. It took a little while. Like I said, as I grew up and started to have the right people in my life, and started to have a good supporting cast, it's kind of whenever my eyes opened up to that.

Q. As far as walking fast, talking to your coach, he says you like to get out there and just really stay a hundred yards ahead of everybody. Where does that come from and what's the reasoning behind that?
FREDERICK WEDEL: Well, I think it gives me a mental edge. I talked about Jimmy Mullen yesterday, when I was in his match, and I told my caddie, I was like: Look, this guy might not know my first name, but he'll know my last when he sees Wedel on the back of the caddie bib the whole day. So it's definitely mental, and especially today, I wanted to walk quick, and kind of have a faster paced match to wear Nathan out. I know he went 21 holes yesterday. That was the strategy I had today. But I'll be ahead of the guy I play tomorrow, too.

Q. Coach was saying that you went home to see your dad at some point this summer and just spent some quality time with him and you said that you reconnected with him and everything. Can you talk about how that might have matured you some?
FREDERICK WEDEL: Yeah, I felt like -- you know, he has not been really in my life that much. He lives in Sacramento now and I go to school at Pepperdine and I only see him a couple times a year. I mean, we grew apart, and it's disappointing, because we can't have a normal father/son relationship and go out to the golf course and just have a great time, go play 18 and mess around. But I felt as though my dad kind of put the right values into me, and it made me appreciate him for who he was. Obviously he can't be there for me all the time but I want to be able to be there for him when he needs me, and especially I don't want to look back later in life and regret not having all those deep conversations or asking enough questions. I want to have that close relationship with him and I want my father to actually be my father.

PETE KOWALSKI: Congratulations on your great play.
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