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October 5, 2014

Oliver Wilson


NEIL AHERN: Thank you very much for coming in.  Oliver, congratulations.  First European Tour victory here at the Home of Golf, after everything that's gone before, it must kind of seem like some kind of dream come true here.
OLIVER WILSON:  Yeah, it's hard to believe.  I've dreamed of it, many a times, but in the circumstances that this happened, it's‑‑ well, I can't believe it.  It's unbelievable.  It's a dream.  It's a dream come true.
To win the tournament at St. Andrews, three weeks ago, four weeks ago, it was looking pretty grim for my career, and it's just amazing what's possible playing golf, professional golf.  Every week, we have an opportunity and it's up to us to take it, and for so long, I haven't taken it.  But to come here and do it at the Dunhill, at the Home of Golf, with Rory in front of me, best player in the world, Tommy playing great and the way I won today, that sounds funny coming out of my mouth.  Yeah, it means the world.  It's incredible, very cool.
NEIL AHERN:  We talk about tournament‑defining shots and moments, but that shot into 16 and the up‑and‑down into 17, are they more career‑defining shots?
OLIVER WILSON:  Yeah that 4‑iron into 16 was unbelievable.  Thought I left myself a little bit too far in.  We almost hit 3‑wood ‑‑ I put my heather wood in and didn't really fancy hitting that in and 2‑iron was too much.  I thought just smash a 4‑iron and it needed every inch of it that I had, and I wouldn't hit it any better.
And I hit a rocket straight to the flag and it worked out perfect.  I was hoping it was a little closer but I knew that was a big moment to give myself a chance.  You know, being honest, realistically, it wasn't about a win today.  It was about just putting a good, solid round of golf in, shoot under par, and I thought that might be enough.  But I knew that if I do decent, there would be Portugal and then maybe squeeze into the other two events.  That's what it was all about.
And all of a sudden it became not about that and it was about, all right, when you've got a chance to win the tournament and I've had these opportunities before and never, ever given up, never, ever feel comfortable and go, well, okay, I'll take second.  I would have took second but when I genuinely knew I had a chance to win, I said to myself, I've been in this position many times before, and I'll regret it for the rest of my life if I didn't grind it out as hard as I could.
You know, 17 was playing tough.  I hate that hole (laughter).  And I managed to, I knew my short game is my strength and I knew that I didn't have to stress about not hitting the green and just trust myself and get up‑and‑down.  I hit a great pitch.  Played a great shot there.
Once you get to the 18th tee, you feel like, could it really happen.  But I tried to, I thought to, got to make three, Tommy is going to make three, playing great, putting well.  And unfortunately, fortunately for me, I hit a great putt there, as well, didn't go in, and managed to sneak through. 

Q.  What was the absolute low point in the last five or six years?  And secondly, was there ever a point where you thought you would give this up and try something else?
OLIVER WILSON:  Five, six years ago, I was playing Ryder Cup.  It's only been the last three, they have been pretty grim.  Last year, middle of last year, playing Challenge Tour, shooting 80s, not being close to making the cut, playing Challenge Tour was pretty low.  You know, it was hard to take.  Didn't have any answers.  I knew deep down that‑‑ well, I thought I knew that if you keep doing that long enough and the things that make you a good golfer, the discipline kind of starts to disappear really.
You know, it was a rough time.  Yeah, I was starting to think, what am I going to do, if I don't play golf, what do I do.  It's expensive to play golf, and when you are spending 1500 quid, two grand a week, it goes fast when you're not making anything.  I did think about things like that and just tried to putt it out of my mind and just keep working, keep grinding out and keep working on what I thought was right.
I've been down many routes, many of them have not been right in hindsight but I'm a much better golfer now for it and I'm a much ‑‑ yeah, I'm a lot stronger for it.  I feel much more in tune with where I'm at and much more appreciative.  It's nice to put it behind me.

Q.  Back in 2008 and you were in The Ryder Cup‑‑ was there a sense of too much expectation or pressure?
OLIVER WILSON:  No, not at all.  My best year was after The Ryder Cup.  2009, I played great.  Things were going really well.  But I just got frustrated with not winning.  You know, I think‑‑ I'm not sure, I think I finished second here in 2009.  And you know, that was sort of my last good form, and I struggled the year after.  I remember thinking, I finished about 48th on the Order of Merit and it was like my world had ended.  And you know, I just struggled from then on.  I didn't feel like I was really working on the right things and I was just getting worse, and then I got ill and injured and a whole bunch of things were happening all at the same time and it just escalated.  It's funny how something so small can set in motion things like that and it was just a downward slope and I want get it back.  I was trying hard.  But started listening to too many people.  I was always very driven and disciplined, but all of a sudden‑‑ like I said, you lose the discipline of that and start listening to too many people.  I had so many things in my head, went down every single route possible, and you know what happened.

Q.  You said, as little as three weeks ago, your career was pretty grim.  What were your options at that point?  What were you thinking three weeks ago?
OLIVER WILSON:  Three weeks ago, I was preparing to go to Kazakhstan.  I had just got in.  I just snuck in the field.  That was a good opportunity.  After that, it was Rome, this week and Challenge Tour and realistically just preparing for Q‑School.  And that's really what my mind‑set was.  Obviously Kazakhstan, I shot the course record on the Friday and had a fantastic opportunity, really.  I didn't have to do a whole lot over the weekend to get my card or at least get right in there.  Threw that away and after Kazakhstan, it was Dunhill, and Johan Rupert extended the invite to me and to be honest.
It was like, well there's not much point playing The Challenge Tour.  Play a proper tournament, great atmosphere, great course, good test and it was another week to spend with Robert Rock on my swing.
So I bit his hand off.  It was a great opportunity, but again it was just preparing for Q‑School.  The whole last month really has been preparing for Q‑School and trying to get my mind ready for that.

Q.  Had you even thought‑‑
OLIVER WILSON:  I have, didn't really come up with a lot.  I thought, maybe practice more.  Various things, but it's been so up‑and‑down, even the down times have been up‑and‑down.  One minute, things are like, okay, right, I'll be okay, going to do this, this and this, and especially my game.  It's been‑‑ in practice, I've hit the ball so good on the range for quite a while, but I get out on the course and I couldn't get it in play off the tee.  You know, I have no idea.  I've been hitting driver off the deck for 18 months; just to get it in play.
Then I started teeing it up early in the year, which is why my results in the summer probably haven't been as good as they should have been or could have been.  Like I say, it was just rebuilding, rebuilding my game.  And I've changed drivers last week, got a new Callaway driver, and I've driven the ball probably better than I've ever driven it in my life this week which is a combination of the driver and the work Robert Rock has done with me.
I keep saying rocky, but I'll never be able to thank him for what he's been able to do this week.  I'm sure I'll look back on the last couple of years, learned a lot.

Q.  Last night‑‑
OLIVER WILSON:  Well, apparently.  I don't know, I have no idea.  I didn't know she was here.  She mentioned flying up and I was like, no‑‑ I was just excited about getting home.  And then I saw her as I walked off 18, which was very cool, nice.  Very special.

Q.  (Inaudible.).
OLIVER WILSON:  Yeah, pretty chuffed.  Yeah, it hasn't sunk in.  I mean, there's so many things I'm so excited about.  Planning the future now, I've shut my mind off from all that kind of stuff.  It was so far away from where I was, but you know, what was the point thinking about it; to think about getting back into a World event or winning a tournament‑‑ yeah, I knew I was playing good enough to win tournaments, certainly in the last eight or nine year, but to deliver that was nice.

Q.  What's it been‑‑ (Inaudible.)
OLIVER WILSON:  It's been huge actually.  At one point, Ryan sponsored me when I was Top‑50 in the world and they were great sponsors.  It ended, I'm not sure, two or three years ago, something like that but we stayed in touch.  They are great people.  I saw them at the Scottish Hydro two years ago, and he said, what can I do, what can I do to help you.  Really didn't have any answers.  He wanted to pay for a full‑time caddie and I said, I don't think that's the answer you know, to be honest.
Again this year, he said, oh, I want to help you get back, I believe in you.  And yeah, it was a conversation like that, really.  He said he believed in me and sponsored me again.  When you're at a low point and a sponsor comes back on board, I was very grateful.  It did certainly take a bit of pressure off.  So it's a very nice way to repay them.  Yeah, it's very cool.
I said it earlier, there's so many people to think Ryan, Callaway, family, friends, but for Ryan to come back on board after a low point‑‑ very grateful for my sponsors.

Q.  (Inaudible.)
OLIVER WILSON:  I don't know, I was up early‑‑ I was up about 3 o'clock, and you know, it's one of those things that you're in bed and you're like, I want to let my mind wander.  I want to think about what would happen if I wasn't‑‑ what tournaments I would get in and what I'm going to do next week and all of the good stuff.
But I was like, do I or do I just‑‑ I don't know, I've never won a tournament.  I've tried different approaches every one and nothing's worked, so I didn't really know.  So I thought it was perfectly natural.  I'm experienced enough, so I had a little moment and then for the next five hours, I was thinking about all sorts.  Just trying to think about that and then sort of set a deadline and, right, stop that, think about other things.  But my mind kept going back to the golf and my golf swing and how I was going to play around and what to expect.
So I kind of walked my way around the course and kind of won the tournament three times in my sleep last night and my thoughts.  And I also went through the other routes and said, well, I've done it before‑‑ I played well last year and frittered a way a tournament throughout the week and didn't want that to happen again.  Obviously couldn't really afford to let it happen again.  You know, finally fell asleep about 8.30, about ten minutes before my alarm went off.

Q.  You admitted that this win is still sinking in, but what do you think it may do for your confidence going forward?
OLIVER WILSON:  Yeah, it's going to be pretty good I think.  I said a month ago‑‑ two weeks ago in Kazakhstan, stood on the 18th tee and I knew I wasn't going to hit the fairway.  There was no chance.  I made another bogey on the last hole and, you know, it's kind of, okay, well done, tournament thrown away again.  And you know, in golf, the little things, just the little feeling and stuff, the work I've done, completely changed my confidence and my confidence has grown immensely every day this week.
The first day, in practise I had played really good, certainly playing well enough to win the tournament, but you have to think, in practise, relax.  Carnoustie, first round and big test straightaway.  Each day my confidence has grown.
But that back nine, I felt pretty good, probably as confident as I've been in a long time.  I'm never one of those guys that's been‑‑ confidence over the ball, that's never been my strength, but I felt pretty good because I knew what I was doing with the golf club and had confidence in my driving.  The back nine, you know, to hit those shots was really, really good for my confidence.  Hopefully it keeps improving in the tournaments I'm going to play in the next few weeks and I'm going to keep building on that.

Q.  Did you go to Robert, or did Robert say, I think I can help you?
OLIVER WILSON:  Well, Richard Hill and I, caddie, he's working for Robert, and we've all been in touch.  A while ago, I helped Rocky with his putting.  And you know, Rich said, why didn't you send rocky some swings and see what he thinks.  Yeah, I was a bit cautious of doing that going down another route that maybe not was the right thing but I respect Rob for his golf and as a coach, I think everyone out here probably knows that he knows his swing better than anyone, any golfer playing.
So I thought, I'll do that, because what I'm doing right now isn't working.  I genuinely felt that it was my swing that was holding me back, nothing else, recently, anyway.  So I sent him the swing and he sent me this enormously long e‑mail with pictures and all sorts explaining it.  And I got it the Thursday night at Kazakhstan, and I was putting it away to read it until I finish the tournament, and I thought, I'll just manage to get it around 1‑over somehow.  I thought, if I play like that again, I'm not going to make the cut.  And then went out and shot a course record the next day.  You know, that to me gave me confidence that, you know, what everything I've been doing‑‑ there's no need to doubt myself.  I know what I'm doing.  Trust myself, trust my instincts.
It is my golf swing that has been letting me down and now I feel like I'm on the right track.  And since this last week, I've hit as many balls as I possibly could, and building more confidence each day.  He spent a lot of time with me this week, as well, which was very cool.  And yeah, just been improving each day.

Q.  Can you pick out one thing that he's told you?
OLIVER WILSON:  Yeah, well, generally I had been too tucked in my spine.  So it just made the club so out of control around the ball in practise so it was constantly just tying it.  So that's why on the range it was really good but then in wind or under pressure, I just couldn't hit the shots I was trying to hit.  And all that came back sort of instantly, all my instinct, the shots that I see, especially playing links golf, you work the ball a lot, and all that came back really quickly.  And I've hit a lot of balls in the last week, and the more I hit balls, the more I started to feel good and I could actually feel the club square through impact and I could feel I wasn't putting as much stress on my back.  I had a bad back through the summer because I had been swinging it so badly.  So, yeah, I knew it was right and I think as a golfer, deep down, you genuinely know whether it's right.
Sometimes you kind of think it is, and you hope it is, but when it is, you know it, and the quality of my ball‑striking this week, probably as good as it ever has been.  So to go from where it was so recently to where it is now, to where it was this week, is massive.

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