May 29, 2001
SOUTHERN PINES, NORTH CAROLINA
RHONDA GLENN: Carol Semple Thompson is one of the most celebrated amateur players of our time. And I guess it's an honor to qualify for the Women's Open and be the oldest contestant. That's what I've been reading this week, Carol. But there's also been some discussion about exactly how many USGA Championships you have played in. Can you put a number on it for us, please.
CAROL SEMPLE THOMPSON: I believe I've played in 86. This is my 86th.
RHONDA GLENN: 86 USGA Championships, for which she has qualified. What are you going to be trying to accomplish this week.
CAROL SEMPLE THOMPSON: Well, normally I would say I'm trying to make the cut. But I've decided I have to cut that up a bit. I'm going to be low amateur. I'm doing this positive talking.
RHONDA GLENN: She's also -- she has more Curtis Cup victories than any player in history on either side and has been on more Curtis Cup teams than any player in history. Carol certainly has a wonderful record. We have, I believe, 19 amateurs in the field this week. That's a fairly high number for a Women's Open. What do you think about being in the field with a 13 year old amateur?
CAROL SEMPLE THOMPSON: Well, I think it's terrific that Morgan Pressel qualified. I'm very proud of her. I met her yesterday, sat with her in the rain a little bit. She seems very mature for her age. I think it's indicative of what's happening in women's golf. The young players are realizing that they can play very well. They're maturing very quickly. And I think there are going to be more young players that come out of the woodwork.
Q. Carol, all the years I've known you, I have always wanted to say one thing, you've always been a good golfer, you always had control, you always do well. Why have you never turned professional?
CAROL SEMPLE THOMPSON: Well, I think the reason I decided not to turn professional happened when I just got out of college, which was in 1970, which was the dark ages, we all know that. And there wasn't that much money on the Women's Tour. And my father really asked me not to turn pro right away. He wanted me to just play some amateur golf. And he offered to support me for a year. So of course any college graduate jumps at that opportunity. So I went to Florida for the winter, practiced all winter. And the next summer I was a total basket case. I figured after I had worked so hard on my game, if it hadn't improved, then I certainly wasn't going to be successful on the Pro Tour. So that's when I decided not to turn professional. And then I became fairly successful on the Amateur Tour, if you will, and decided to just stick with it.
Q. Were you ever tempted to turn professional after the money on the Tour became what it is now and the prestige of the Tour grew, were you ever tempted in later years?
CAROL SEMPLE THOMPSON: I really have never been tempted, even after my game started to improve. I decided that I liked being a big fish in a little pond, so to speak. And I was able to play on some Curtis Cup teams. And I just loved all the international competition that I was able to do. And I could only do that really as an amateur. The Solheim Cup hadn't come along then. But I would say that the Curtis Cup team and the world teams have been my greatest thrills, to represent your country.
RHONDA GLENN: More than winning the U.S. Women's Amateur and the British Amateur?
CAROL SEMPLE THOMPSON: Well, winning the British -- well, winning the U.S. Women's Amateur was a thrill. But that was my first foray into really being successful. And that was really for my parents. So winning the British was a big thrill. And that was for me. But I don't think there's anything that can really compare with watching the flagging up the flag pole and representing your country at international matches.
Q. Is amateur golf today, considering all the young women who are turning professional, is it a little -- a little easier than it was in the dark ages?
CAROL SEMPLE THOMPSON: Well, I think there are always new, young, good players coming along, so it's never easy. But you're right, many of the players are turning professional. And as far as my making Curtis Cup teams, it's been easier. Because a whole new batch turns pro each year. The ones who have made any name for themselves go ahead and turn pro. And it is true that maybe the depth of some of the fields in the Amateur events are not as deep as they could be. But I don't know that I'd ever say that it was easy.
RHONDA GLENN: Thank you very much, Carol. And really good luck in your 86th USGA Championship.
Q. Were you surprised when Jay Sigel turned pro?
CAROL SEMPLE THOMPSON: Yes, I was. I was quite surprised, because he had always been -- actually, someone in my State of Pennsylvania, to whom I'd looked up, and I just thought he would never become a pro. But he's been very successful and very happy, I think. So I was surprised. I suppose if there were a women's Senior Tour, I could be tempted. But I don't think I really would be.
RHONDA GLENN: Thank you, Carol.
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