July 22, 2003
TODD BUDNICK: We would like to welcome Suzy Whaley to the 2003 Greater Hartford Open.
Suzy, thanks for joining us here today. Obviously Suzy is in the tournament today thanks to winning the Ellington Ridge Country Club last September.
Suzy was the first woman to qualify for a PGA TOUR event since Babe Diedrickson Zaharias qualified for the 1945 Tucson Open.
Suzy, there is a lot of history in this event today, why don't you talk a little bit about the historical perspective in playing in a PGA TOUR event this week.
SUZY WHALEY: For me it's just the pinnacle I would say of anything that I have done. I can't ever imagine having done this.
If you would have asked me last year if this was a possibility, I would have told you no way. For me to be here is an honor, a privilege, I'm thrilled to have qualified and I am looking forward to it. And to be on the list with Babe, the best athlete, probably ever, is pretty tremendous.
Q. Obviously, you knew a long time ago that you would be able to participate in this event so you had to prepare, you had plenty of time to prepare, for somebody who wasn't playing full-time --
SUZY WHALEY: I can hardly hear him and he is right next to me.
Q. You have had plenty of time to prepare for the event knowing that you were going to play this for a while, what have you done over the last few months differently to set you up for this week?
SUZY WHALEY: I worked very hard since I made the decision. I have done strength training. I have done cardiovascular work, core strengthening. I played in 4 LPGA tournaments. I played in a Future Event at Blue Fox Run golf course.
I tried to play as much competitive golf as my time would allow and was very happy with a few of my finishes on the LPGA TOUR.
So coming here my golf swing is in good shape and I feel good about it.
Q. You have had a little chance of looking at the course as it will be set up for tournament conditions this week, the rain has kind of hampered that a little bit, but talk a little bit about how you played today and what you saw on the course.
SUZY WHALEY: Right. I played nine holes this morning before we were rained out the first time. I played with Esteban Toledo, Peter Jacobsen and Bradley Hughes. We had a lot of fun out there. The golf course, I played it before, so there weren't any surprises out there for me.
The greens actually were slower than I expected them to be but that's because of the weather that we have had. So you know I didn't see many surprises and it really played pretty much the same as it's been playing for me all along, except it was obviously longer today because it was wet.
TODD BUDNICK: We will take some questions.
Q. Suzy, are you glad this week is finally here?
SUZY WHALEY: Can we move it to another week, a week farther now? Yes, I am very glad it's here. People ask me yesterday if I felt like time had just moved very quickly since I decided, and I actually feel like time was at a standstill. I'm thrilled this year.
Q. Suzy, you played this course before?
SUZY WHALEY: Yes.
Q. You played it from the other tee?
SUZY WHALEY: I played it from the back probably about 10 times.
Q. How is it different for you playing that much farther back?
SUZY WHALEY: Well, it's very different when it's dry. But now with this kind of weather it will be -- I won't get any roll, my carry yardage will be pretty much all I get. For me I will be hitting fairway woods instead of irons.
Q. You say you played 10 times, what would you say you averaged off the men's tee?
SUZY WHALEY: I'm happy with what I scored.
Q. Which would be what?
SUZY WHALEY: Which I'm not going to tell you. You will have to wait for that one.
Q. Suzy, you said at the LPGA event that you were constantly thinking about this, it was always in your head, now that it's here are you happy to be focusing on this?
SUZY WHALEY: I am happy to be focussing on this. I did find it hard, in my other events, to stay focused, where I was, at that particular shot, at that particular moment. I finally did do that last week in New Rochelle. It was the first event that I played in where I got the GHO out of my mind. I am happy to be here. It was fun to hit drivers on every hole today. Believe it or not, on the LPGA TOUR, the golf course, the last couple of weeks I played were quite a bit shorter. I only hit 4 drivers a round last week. It was kind of fun to free wheel it off the tee today. We never had to worry about what I was hitting.
Q. Obviously, there is a fair amount of attention surrounding your appearance here, how is that going to affect your play and do you feel good going in?
SUZY WHALEY: I do feel great and the attention has been there for me the last 6 weeks. I have really played in very high level competition. Obviously there is more here than there was there. I'm getting used to it as much as I could say that I'm getting used to it. So for me, it's great. This is a wonderful tournament. Our community supports it. It's for charity. The Jaycee's raise so much money. If I can be a help and bring more people here or, perhaps more media to cover the event, then wonderful for Hartford. I think it's a great thing.
Q. Along those same lines, the small gallery you had today, two or three little girls were talking about, oh, I look up to her, how does that affect you mentally, physically; what do you think about that?
SUZY WHALEY: That makes me feel great. I remember when I was nine years old and went to LPGA tournaments or PGA tournaments, and I would love when somebody would sign my hat or ball. I still have the scorecards from Nancy Lopez or JoAnne Carner. You think back on it and you wonder could that moment have made me want to pursue golf.
If I can do that for a little girl that comes out and watches, whether it's one or 100 this week, then I will have reached one of my goals.
Q. Have you met your playing partners yet?
SUZY WHALEY: To be honest with you, I don't even know who they are. I haven't seen my tee times yet. Does anyone know who they are?
Q. Anthony Painter and Akio Sadakata.
SUZY WHALEY: No, I haven't met any of them.
Q. Do you have a specific goal going into the tournament on Thursday, to make the cut, shoot a certain score?
SUZY WHALEY: Yes, I have a lot of goals this week. One of them is playing extremely well. I have a goal that I would like to inspire a lot of people to get on the golf course. I am a club professional. I'm a member of the PGA of America. I'm a member of the LPGA Teaching Club Professional Division. My job is to grow the game of golf, and I take that very seriously and am proud to do that here this week.
As far as the score, or the cut is concerned, I'm working very hard on trying to stay in my preshot routines, trying to stay in my own positive role as process goals go. If I meet all of my process goals, which are keeping everything in perspective, one shot at a time, making sure my preshot routine is the same on every hole, making sure that I stay at my own pace and not try to get out of their way, then a number that I like will come.
If I set a number though, I think as a professional golfer, you will find a lot of us don't set a number, because that's usually the extent that you go to. I don't want to put a number up there. Perhaps I will go lower than the one I'm thinking about.
Q. Suzy, will your daughters be watching you play this week?
SUZY WHALEY: Yes, absolutely they will be here.
Q. How about your parents?
SUZY WHALEY: My parents are already here.
Q. What about family, friends, how many people will you have in the gallery?
SUZY WHALEY: It depends. If it looks like it does outside with the rain, we are expecting a lot of people. It wouldn't be fair to give you an number. I wouldn't have no idea. I know at least 125 family and friends are going to be here.
Q. In the 10 months that you have taken to prepare for this, have you learned anything about yourself that you didn't know before?
SUZY WHALEY: I think you can only grow through adversity. You can only grow through taking on a challenge. This for me was that. I have learned a tremendous amount of time management skills, but I have also learned how hard I can I actually work. I think that you don't realize how much harder you can go or push yourself until you give it a try. For me, I felt like I owed that to myself, when I teed up on the first hole and knowing that I have done everything I possibly could in my control to play the best golf I can.
I'm proud to tell you that I am in the best shape I have ever been in. I have worked extremely hard on my golf game. But at the same time I have managed my family life. My children are doing great. I managed my job and I definitely have grown as a person through all of this.
This is the first time in my life I have been able to give back to charity, raising money for the March of Dimes. I have been able to raise money for the Connecticut Junior Golf Foundation. Things I would never imagine I could have done.
Q. Suzy, in general how has the reception been? I know not your playing partners today, but just the other fellows on the TOUR?
SUZY WHALEY: Great. Great. Every single person I have walked into has introduced themselves, wished me well, told me to enjoy my week and just have fun.
Q. Besides the holes this morning did you get any other practice in?
SUZY WHALEY: Yes, I played the back nine up until the 14 green.
Q. How did that go?
SUZY WHALEY: I played the back better than the front. I was little more comfortable on the back. I played today off the first hole and, you know, I really wasn't that nervous. I missed a couple of shots. I started to sweat a little and got a little more nervous and went into a panic mode a little. I'm glad I did that. I'm glad I went through that. You know I got it back, settled down. I started playing a little better around the front 9, around 7, 8 and 9. I played really well on the back.
Q. Suzy, what's the hardest most difficult hole for you on this course?
SUZY WHALEY: Well, I thought before today, 4. But that was the one green that I hit on the front. So it's not 4 anymore. You know, there is a couple out here. One obviously if it stays this wet will get hard, if it gets windy. 4, 10 is a tough hole for me because it's always wet in my landing area on 10, I won't get any roll there at all. 17 is a tough hole. So there is a couple out there that, you know, if I hit great drives and have a good shot in I will take it. If I don't then I will play it a little bit smarter and maybe try to make par a different way.
Q. Suzy, can you talk about Dr. Coop and what he was telling you today about certain shots and certain situations?
SUZY WHALEY: He is extremely helpful. This is a sounding board. It's nice to have him here. He knows a lot of the players. He has had the opportunity to see this golf course under competition before, and things we worked on today. He didn't say too much the first couple of holes, he was really just observing. He noticed I was rushing my preshot routine a little from what we had already timed it as. I was trying to hit it a little harder as we continually went on.
So those kind of things it was nice to have somebody point that up out, to stay within myself, to let the club swing me, not hit it hard. Around the greens we talked a little bit about the worse case scenarios, if I was here what would my options be, what would we do?
If I was in the rough perhaps where would I want to lay up in fairway to make my best shot in and he is helpful in that.
Q. If it's like this on Thursday without the thunder, how will that affect you? I don't know if you have played in a lot of rain.
SUZY WHALEY: Well, remember, I work here. It hasn't stopped raining here all year. So actually I'm very used to playing in the rain. The rain affects you -- it's something you can't control. And if it's raining it's raining, and I will do the best I can in the rain. The hard part of the rain is keeping your hands dry, keeping your gloves dry, keeping the grips dry. For me it will just be longer clubs in.
Q. Suzy, has this training regimen that you mentioned before, the cardio and the strengthening and all, has that made you stronger to the point where you are hitting the ball farther?
SUZY WHALEY: I am hitting the ball farther.
Q. How much farther off the tee?
SUZY WHALEY: I'm carrying it probably 15 yards off the tee.
Q. Which would be what an average?
SUZY WHALEY: I probably carry it about 240.
Q. Could you let us in on what your husband told you in the bunker on 14? I saw you go back by him.
SUZY WHALEY: Yes, I was taking it a little inside earlier in the round, in the bunkers. I wasn't cutting it as much as I wanted to, so I opened up my stance a little more, moved the ball a littler farther forward in my stance and started taking it outside. I stopped lifting it out of there and started hitting it out of there. The bunkers are wet and heavy. I was just playing the wrong shot out of him.
Q. How about Peter Jacobsen he seemed to be helping you overcome just about everything?
SUZY WHALEY: Yes, he is great. I am represented by Peter Jacobsen Productions. Peter just makes you feel -- that's just Peter. He makes you feel comfortable and that you belong and he wanted me to know that he thought my golf swing looked great, and there was absolutely no doubt in his mind that if I played the golf course in a conservative manner, meaning to the middle of the greens, and that I didn't go pin seeking, he thought that was my best plan of attack. He showed me a cool little chip shot today which I will be using, it is pretty nifty.
Q. Any thoughts on playing with Bo Jackson tomorrow?
SUZY WHALEY: Poor Bo. When he sees this weather, let's hope he still plays at 7:40. Bo and I played at Olympia Fields before The Open. We did that for ESPN Magazine and had a great day. I'm looking forward to it. He kills it off the tees. He is fun to watch and a really nice gentleman to play with.
Q. The big question is whether you can make the cut or not, if the course is wet, as wet as this, or maybe a little bit less than that, how much is that going to affect you being able to do that?
SUZY WHALEY: If the course is this wet, it will be this wet for everybody. So in my mind the cut number goes up and we will have to wait and see.
TODD BUDNICK: Thank you very much for stopping by today, Suzy, good luck this week.
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