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March 21, 2015

Alison Lee


MATT HAAS:  First timer in the media center with Alison Lee after a 9‑under round today.  What was the key to your great showing?
ALISON LEE:  I don't know, just as soon as I started playing, I kind of played my own game, and I really didn't even realize that I was playing that well until the last hole when I finally looked at the scoreboard.
But yeah, I feel like, you know, I just stayed calm the entire round, and to hit one shot at a time and kept my pace, and didn't get too excited or too down on myself or put too much pressure on myself with every shot.  I just kind of stayed calm and confident throughout the round and I managed to hit a lot of shots into every green and made my birdie putts.
MATT HAAS:  We were talking on the way in that this is the first time in a round after a while where you don't have anything else to do to where you were taking classes at UCLA but you just finished that up.  Could you talk about that a little bit?
ALISON LEE:  Yeah, it's been kind of rough finishing up finals last week.  I finished my last final on Wednesday right before, so that was really refreshing.
Yeah, it does feel weird coming off the golf course, and not having anything to do, probably just watching Netflix when I get back to the hotel.  Yeah, I'm taking the spring quarter off and I feel like that will be good, getting my mind off school for a while and get used to everything out on Tour and get used to everything that's going on and get back at school for summer school online.  I'm taking a couple on lines classes.
So, yeah, it's nice.  I haven't had this feeling for a while, not having class.

Q.  What did you hit in on your last hole and how close did that end up?
ALISON LEE:  It was 130.  There was a little bit of a breeze coming in from the right back of the green.  And I was debating on whether or not I should hit an 8‑iron.  But yeah, like I said, I was hitting all my approach shots really well today, so I just decided to go with a 9‑iron and hit a really firm shot, and it turned out great.

Q.  How close did that end up?
ALISON LEE:  About a foot and a half.

Q.  And just your thoughts about being in position to win tomorrow.  How do you approach that?
ALISON LEE:  I really haven't even thought about that yet.  I'm still trying to sink in how my round went today but yeah, it's really weird, obviously I've been kind of‑‑ since junior golf and to college and now professional golf, I've been slowly progressively moving up; and to be here and to be able to play well out on the LPGA Tour against these professional golfers, I mean, just that in itself, I feel really blessed and really great and really confident that I can compete with a lot of the girls out here.
So yeah, I feel like I don't want to get too ahead of myself and I just want to play like I did today, tomorrow, with just being confident and not getting the whole winning thing into my head, because obviously a lot of the rookies have been playing really well this year the past few tournaments.  So it's a lot of good competition but yeah, I think I'm just going to do my best to stay confident and play my own game and not get too consumed with what's going on around me.

Q.  Looking at the leaderboard, you're 20; why do you think so many young women are playing so well right now, and how did you get into the game?
ALISON LEE:  Yeah, the LPGA is getting younger and younger every year.  I mean, it's getting really competitive.  I guess I would say that's partially why I decided to turn pro and play Q‑School this year.  I was obviously a student and I told my coach that I wanted to try Q‑School and see if I would make it, and I did.  And I turned pro as soon as I made it, obviously it's sad because I had to leave my team and give up my amateur status.
But yeah, I mean, I love it out here and I feel like my game was ready.  And I've been playing golf for a long time, and I've always wanted to be a professional golfer since I was a little girl.

Q.  What got you started in the game?  Was there somebody you followed?
ALISON LEE:  Yes, my dad.  I played golf, I think the very first time I played golf was when I was three.  I actually had this conversation with my dad like last week because we were looking through pictures.  And I found a picture of me when I was three with like a little plastic club on the putting green, and my dad told me that he was like a golf fanatic.  He would play golf all the time.  He would go out by himself early in the morning, play golf.  And my mom would be stuck at home with me and my little brother taking care of me and she would get upset.
She would be like, "Okay, John, take her out, take care of her for once."  
He was like, "Okay, I'll take her to the golf course."    He bought a set of plastic clubs for me and he told me as soon as I got on to the golf course, I was running around with the putter in the air, just running around and not playing golf.  But yeah, he told me I didn't like it at all.  Like I didn't like to practice.  I didn't like being out there.
So he bribed me, like what a normal dad would.  And he said, "Okay, like if we practice, if you come out and practice, play golf, not just run around for a couple days, we'll go to Disneyland."  So that's what got me started.  And then yeah, I remember, having season passes to every single amusement park.  My mom told me she hates Universal Studios now because she's been there so many times.
Yeah, I think I played in my first tournament when I was seven.  It was like a small local tournament, but I won that tournament, and that's what sparked in me the competition, being in competition, playing.  That's what got me started and, yeah, the rest is history.

Q.  You don't have anything to do tonight, and you're probably not going to have anything to do for a long time tomorrow because you're going to go off awfully late.  How do you normally spend those days and what do you anticipate doing?
ALISON LEE:  I'm still trying to get used to it, like yesterday, after my round, I literally was like, "Mom, I don't know what to do."  I just sat there, and like I said, watched Netflix.
But yeah, obviously I have a lot of hobbies and other stuff to catch up on, other stuff besides school.  Like, you know, obviously it's been a craze to get fit out here recently and everyone has been working out and stuff.  That's something I want to work on.  And obviously gaining distance and working more on my game and focusing more on my swing everything and like that, more golf‑oriented.
So, yeah, I guess that's the life of being a professional golfer full‑time.

Q.  You're going to be in one of the last two groups, so is that something that you're going to prep yourself for, and if so, how?
ALISON LEE:  I am really excited.  I'm really excited to be in one of the last two groups.  Obviously I've been watching the LPGA since I was a little girl, and a lot of the girls out here, I've competed against them since we were really young in junior golf.  Like, for example, a good example is like Jessica, Lexi, they are great out here, great Americans.  I've played golf with them since I was 13.  It's nice to come out here and reunite with them and have that friendly rivalry go on as we get older.  So I'm really pumped and excited.

Q.  If I'm reading this right, you finished tied for 26 at the U.S. Women's Open when you were 14 years old.  Just hard to fathom; what was that experience like?
ALISON LEE:  I really think I was just still a little girl, like not‑‑ I didn't even know what was going on.  I was just hitting the ball.  I had a really good week.  I just remember being super starstruck.  Obviously that was my first tournament as a professional‑‑ first professional tournament.  Yeah, I just remember being super starstruck and being on range and looking around and just shaking and stuff.  My dad was on the bag that week, and yeah, I didn't have too much pressure.  I just played.  I just went in with a mind‑set of, this is for fun.  I'm just here for the experience and that's what really helped me play well I think.

Q.  You did a really good job of talking about your mind state when you were playing today, one shot at a time, all that stuff.  Do you have any idea why this day was any different than any of the others?
ALISON LEE:  That's a good question.  I mean, golf is a weird thing.  You don't have control over what you want to think or what you want to feel.  But today, particularly, I was just very calm.  I played five holes in the morning, so I was kind of loosened up from playing, and then I went back to our hotel, just kind of rested for a couple hours and I didn't feel any pressure at all teeing off the first hole.  I was just very comfortable.  I finished my round off from yesterday fairly well.
So yeah, I was just really calm and thought positive thoughts.

Q.  What are you thinking tonight about how you're going to replicate that tomorrow?
ALISON LEE:  I really am going to try not to think about it too much because I have this problem with thinking way too much.  Like if I think about one thing, it just sticks with me, and the pressure builds and I just put additional stress on myself.  I feel like being in college has really helped me with that, obviously, with like being in finals and all that stuff.  Especially during Q‑School, it was like Q‑School was like the week before finals week and I just remember after I made it, you know, media was calling me, like management companies were calling me, parents were telling me what to do; I have to do this and I have to remember to study.  I just remember being super stressed out.  I kind of remember channelling how to be calm and let everything out and just stay focused on what I need to.

Q.  So instead of thinking about it tomorrow, you're just going to stay‑‑
ALISON LEE:  Yeah, like I said, I'm just going to go home, Netflix.

Q.  What are you going to watch on Netflix?
ALISON LEE:  Vampire Diaries.

Q.  Were you aware of the course record?
ALISON LEE:  Here?  No.

Q.  You tied it.
ALISON LEE:  Oh, I tied it?  Wow, that's cool.  Actually 63 is my lowest round, so I tied my lowest round, also.  I shot 63 two years ago at Mission Hills in a junior tournament there at the Dinah Shore.  So, yeah, like I said, it really didn't hit me how well I was playing until the last hole because I was just in the zone and just whatever, I wasn't thinking about.  So it was good.

Q.  You're taking this quarter off but is it still your plan to return to UCLA?
ALISON LEE:  Yeah, I already have classes that I signed up for over the summer for a couple online classes.  And I'll probably‑‑ I'm only taking spring quarter off.  So I already have roommates for an apartment next year close by campus in Westwood.  So, yeah, I'm planning to go back to school in the fall.

Q.  And what's your major again?
ALISON LEE:  I don't have a major yet.  But I am going to apply for international development studies in the fall.

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