June 4, 2003
Q. What do you want to get out of the week?
SUZY WHALEY: For me it's a great, great opportunity to prepare.
Q. Can you talk about the golf course and how it's playing?
SUZY WHALEY: The golf course is extremely tough. The rough is a couple inches long, the greens are running at 11 even though they have had this much rain so, for me, it's a good comparison, it's going to help me see where I have improved my game, where mentally I perhaps might lose focus or where I might stay with it.
I've got to be honest with you, I told Bruce yesterday, I have been playing TPC from the tips, so I am hitting irons, I am happy. I am probably the only one here who thinks it's short. And certainly it's not short, it's playing quite long, but I am used to hitting fairway woods the last three weeks, so I'm used to it.
Q. Suzy, are you enjoying this journey so far?
SUZY WHALEY: Absolutely. I joke about it, but I am not checking people in this week, $15, please, for that nine holes, I am playing on Tour in a major. It doesn't get much better than that.
Q. In the next couple weeks you are going to be playing, if you don't play up to your expectations, will you still go out there with the guys?
SUZY WHALEY: Absolutely. Yeah, I have never looked back since I made the decision. I will be there.
Q. Has it been easier since Annika went first?
SUZY WHALEY: In what respect?
Q. That you saw all the attention and all the hoopla that surrounded her, would it have been you? I am sure you are still going to get a pretty good dose.
SUZY WHALEY: Put it this way, I was nervous watching it, so can you imagine being on the first tees? It was just a lot of fun to watch her play that well and to do the job she did. She did a tremendous job, and I think she played extraordinarily good golf. It was fun to watch.
Q. Will you seek her out?
SUZY WHALEY: I talked to her two days ago and she was just standing next to the putting green and I congratulated her on her great playing, and she was very nice and told me I could do it, too.
Q. She had a three- or maybe four-ring circus following her. What kind are you expecting?
SUZY WHALEY: Actually, about a 10-ring circus. Two to three is an understatement. Certainly not to the extent she had, but I think our event in Hartford is supported by the community 100 percent, we are the second largest-attended event on tour. Regardless whether I play or not, there are going to be a lot of people in that golf tournament and I hope they come out in droves. It supports charity, supports the event, supports the PGA Tour and hopefully a lot of youngsters will come out and see what golf is all about.
Q. What's the biggest crowd you have played in?
SUZY WHALEY: Probably Corning. I played here in 1989, I don't know what the numbers were. I played here as an amateur. To me, they were quite large then, but probably Corning, probably 40,000.
Q. Were you surprised to see her, particularly the first day, go out and not be a nervous wreck?
SUZY WHALEY: I say 71-70, so I called the first round. I expected her to play well, but she made it look easy, and certainly we all know it couldn't possibly look easy, and she didn't look nervous, and that's probably the question I would ask her: How in the world did you do that?
Q. Were you surprised either that there was -- or that little negative reaction to a woman playing in a man's -- I mean, it finally kind of came to everybody's consciousness, and I don't know if you thought there would be more than that or less than that?
SUZY WHALEY: I can only speak for me, but I will tell you, both of us knew going in there were going to be people who agreed and people who disagreed so, for me, it wasn't a surprise.
Q. But it wasn't a surprise that it was that -- you thought it would be about that or did you think it would be more or what?
SUZY WHALEY: About what?
Q. The reaction, at least publicly, the reaction to her.
SUZY WHALEY: For her to play?
SUZY WHALEY: You know, I have been going through it since September, it wasn't a surprise.
Q. What do you hope to shoot? What's your goal?
SUZY WHALEY: Here?
Q. Not here, at Hartford.
SUZY WHALEY: At the GHO, I have purposely not put a number on it. When I play golf, if I put a number on it, I don't usually hit that number or I end up being near the number, maybe one or two off the number. I am trying hard not to set a number. I want to play the best golf I can possibly play -- and I know that doesn't answer your question -- try not to play a power game, try to play to my strengths, try to hit the ball. I have got an opportunity to play well. I love to play competitive golf and I love to play it well, and I am taking it seriously and I want to play well, but it's an event nobody can handle.
Q. Do you think Vegas is going to put odds on it?
SUZY WHALEY: I am sure they have got odds. Google, I think the first hit is a bet on me.
Q. From the time you earned your spot, what were those weeks like?
SUZY WHALEY: Nuts.
Q. But in your mind, play or not play?
SUZY WHALEY: That's exactly what it was like. I woke up in the morning and I would say no, I am out, and I would go to sleep that night and say, yeah, I am in. And literally it went like that for about three months, and I talked to just about everybody that has been in contact with me through my golf career. I am a member of the PGA of America, LPGA Teaching and Club Pro Division, I wanted to get their support and know they were behind me. The PGA Tour, I wanted to make sure I wasn't taking a tour player's spot, I wanted to talk to Jim Audrey, there were a lot of people I wanted to talk to before I made that decision, and that's why I didn't make it quickly.
Q. You said each day you woke up feeling something different. Was there a watermark day which you said, yeah, I am doing it?
SUZY WHALEY: Yeah, my eight-year old daughter made the decision for me one evening, and I try to read to my children every night, and it was one of those nights I could do that, and she had a soccer game that day, and she didn't like the way she played, and I am one of those moms who -- she hadn't really prepared and hadn't practiced, and I am not going to tell her she played great if she didn't. I certainly support her, but I was having a lecture of working hard and taking lessons and said, "Why aren't you playing?" And I looked at her and said, "Well, I am," and the next day, that was it.
Q. What have you learned about celebrity that maybe you didn't know before?
SUZY WHALEY: This Celebrity?
Q. Being in the public eye. What didn't you know that you know now?
SUZY WHALEY: The time commitment it takes to make sure that everything you want to accomplish gets done by the end of the day. I have a job, I have another job, my first job is to be a mom, best mom I can be. My second job is I work at a golf course that I have an owner that I have to report to in the midst of our terrible horrible spring in Connecticut.
Now I am a wife, I am a golf professional who is trying to play tour events this year that mean a lot to me, especially this one. This tournament is the reason I turned professional.
So, I have learned, it takes a lot of management and it takes a lot of support and it takes a lot of people that you surround yourself with that believe in what you are doing and will help you get to where you want to be.
Q. Why is it, Suzy, this tournament is what made you turn professional?
SUZY WHALEY: I qualified for this tournament -- I was going together to law school, I graduated in New York, and that summer I was playing amateur golf, pretty extensive schedule, and played pretty well, and I decided my parents lived out here, and sister and her husband live in this area, and I qualified -- this was before the LPGA championship.
So, there was a qualifier. I qualified as an amateur, played in the event, played quite well. I missed the cut by one, but I turned professional. And I met two gentlemen that offered to sponsor me that fall, and we sat on the front porch and we talked about it, my family and I, and we thought it would probably be my only chance to talk about it if we had the opportunity, and I went to tour school and earned a nonexempt life and it changed my life.
Q. Why did you stop playing on Tour?
SUZY WHALEY: Number one, I wasn't very successful on Tour, played in 1990 and 1993. 1990 I wasn't ready to be on tour, but I would never have traded the experience. In 1993, I felt ready and still didn't play as well as I had hoped, and at that point -- I had been married in 1991 and we decided to start a family and I didn't go back to tour school to try to get my card back.
Q. When you say "it really changed my life," that's not 100 percent. I mean, you could be in the tourney right?
SUZY WHALEY: I could be in it. Can you imagine? I could be in a tourney right now, yes, correct.
Q. When you say "it really changed my life," are you saying in a totally positive or negative way?
SUZY WHALEY: Yes, absolutely, I am in the golf business because of this event, and I can say that sincerely, because of the McDonald's championship, and it was still the McDonald's championship then. I did decide to be a golf professional here on that front porch.
Q. You wouldn't rather be in a tourney?
SUZY WHALEY: In hopes of not offending anybody, I love what I do.
Q. You skied, obviously, at one time.
SUZY WHALEY: Yes.
Q. A good skier. Did you have run-ins -- I don't know any nice way of asking you -- with men in that sports thing? I mean, skiing is very competitive.
SUZY WHALEY: Right.
Q. Grabbing the same space and stuff.
SUZY WHALEY: Skiing, I have always played against boys; I have always played against boys. I played against boys in high school, I played against boys in college. You have to remember, when I was growing up -- I am not that old -- but when I was growing up there was not a lot of junior girls playing golf, nor were we allowed to. I grew up in Syracuse. My parents had to change clubs to do that.
But I have always grown up playing against boys, and I have played on a boys' high school golf club since the eighth grade. I went all the way through high school on a boys' team; we did not have a girls team. In college, it was the first time I really played on a team with girls.
And when I left college and started on the tour, it started all over again, and I played against the boys. I played in the national CPC last year, the only female to do that.
Ski racing is different. Skiing, you ski on the same course, but the women go first, the men go second, and you are only competing against the women.
Q. Given all that, are you surprised it took you so long to go for it for Hartford?
SUZY WHALEY: I could never have imagined that I would be sitting here talking to you about playing in a men's tournament. I never considered it.
Q. You never considered playing in a men's event?
SUZY WHALEY: Not in a PGA Tour event. PGA of America has afforded me opportunities that I am -- as I said before, I love to play competitive golf, and I joined the PGA of America not only for the networking and the procedure of the organization, but also so I had the opportunity to play more competitive golf.
The LPGA Teaching and Club Pro Division gives me two sections a year, a section championship and a national championship. The PGA gives me a tournament every week. I could play in a Pro-Am if I choose to do that, I can play in a Monday event if I choose to do that. It just gives me more opportunity to play, and for me, that was important, and it was enough. It will be enough next year, too.
Q. Suzy, the CPC that you played in, was there rules or requirements that you had to pick or play from a division or -- they have a spot for the -- what, 25 spots, the PGA add that?
SUZY WHALEY: Yes.
Q. Did you have to decide whether to play the tips or not?
SUZY WHALEY: We did. I didn't know that fact in the beginning. I wouldn't have chosen the tips, even if I had known the fact, but I wasn't aware of that. I just started playing from the 10 percent difference in yardage. When I made it to regionals, I was told that I would have had to have played from the tips to go through the PGA championship. It just wasn't a problem for me, I wouldn't have chosen the tips from the beginning anyway, but there is a rule for you.
Q. Why wouldn't you?
SUZY WHALEY: Because I am more competitive with a 10 percent yardage difference.
Q. Were you surprised that the section you won didn't have that policy in effect?
SUZY WHALEY: Honestly, I never considered it, it never was a thought in my mind, because the GHO I never considered. I was just trying to win a golf tournament. I have told people this before, but the PGA Tour was not on my 2003 goal list, it was just something that happened. It wasn't something I wanted. I have never entered the two-spot qualifier. It's in our section, and I won't ever enter the two-spot qualifier. It's just something that came along.
And I am very happy and looking forward to the opportunity, but it's just a place I really landed.
Q. What did you think about when they altered that rule a few months ago?
SUZY WHALEY: The PGA of America is just trying to be consistent. They are just following the CPC.
Q. Everybody debates what happens next or what the future holds. What do you see the future? We go back to normal, or what happens?
SUZY WHALEY: For me or for women's golf?
Q. For women's golf and for men's golf.
SUZY WHALEY: I think this whole year has given women's golf a tremendous shot in the arm. I think it's made people -- especially Annika, has made people who watched last week realize how extremely good a golfer she is and why she is the number 1 female golfer in the world.
And I think it was nice that people, perhaps, that had never watched golf before or weren't maybe interested in women's golf before now will take an interest and watch the LPGA tour and realize that they are the best female golfers in the world, and it's a tour that's entertaining and fun and has a lot of power to it as well as the men's.
And if it brings more viewers to the LPGA, she did a wonderful, wonderful thing.
Q. CBS, I guess they were planning on putting additional coverage on that Saturday and Sunday until she did not make the cut, so are we not just talking about women's golf here?
SUZY WHALEY: I think we are talking about golf in general. I think she did a great job for golf. I think it showed people that golf crosses genders and that females can love it just as much as males.
Q. What about Michele Wie, would you side with a little bit of caution because she is 13, too much too soon?
SUZY WHALEY: She is just an unbelievable talent. I haven't seen her play in person. Just from talking to some of the players in the locker room in Kingsmill -- I haven't talked to her, but I did speak to some of them in Kingsmill who played in front of her, and they made a comment that -- Laura Davies is by far the longest hitting player on the LPGA tour, it just never looks like that on the tour because she is hitting irons.
But she absolutely killed a shot, in her own words, on one of these driving holes, and Michele hit it 25 yards past her.
So, I think with a talent like that, she will be someone to reckon with in the future, if not already right now. What she decides to do, I have no idea which direction she will go. I certainly hope that she will play some LPGA tour events if she chooses to become professional and doesn't just try to play the PGA Tour.
Q. Your older daughter is eight?
SUZY WHALEY: Yes.
Q. Can you imagine her in five years?
SUZY WHALEY: No, I can't. And I wish Michele's parents well. I think it's a hard position to be in with somebody that talented in your household.
Q. SUZY, at the news conference where Annika said that she would say yes in a heartbeat, one of the prior questions was you, and she said that she just hopes people realize that you don't do this for a living, that you are not a touring pro and don't build their expectations up too much.
Do you get the sense that that might actually help you at the GHO, that people recognize you as a teaching pro and not a touring pro and keep things down? Do you think that will help the atmosphere of the situation?
SUZY WHALEY: That's what I am, I am a club professional. It isn't my day job to play on tour every day. So whether people recognize it or not, that's really just what it is. Does it mean that I am going to try any less hard? No. I am certainly going to do the best I possibly can to represent my section in the best way I can, try to keep my nerves in track and play some pretty good golf, which I am capable of doing, it's just a matter of the day, the time, and no matter what, I will walk off that 18th hole with a smile on my face having enjoyed it, I hope.
Q. If there were or are nay-sayers about this, do you think that was eased by the success of Annika?
SUZY WHALEY: I don't know. I think people who disagree with females playing on tour probably will always disagree, and I think maybe perhaps people who are middle of the road have been swayed in a positive way to watch the LPGA.
Q. You know a lot of guys, too, as well, because I do, who think this is the coolest thing in the world, Annika and now you, right? I mean, haven't you run into that, as well?
SUZY WHALEY: I have, I have. I have received far more support than I have received nay-sayers.
Q. Have you talked to Davis Love? I know you went to college at the same time.
SUZY WHALEY: I haven't spoken to him. I got a really nice note from his wife but I haven't spoken to him.
Q. Is he going to remember you as Suzy Whaley?
SUZY WHALEY: I don't know if he will remember me. I ate a little too much pizza in college, I don't know if he will recognize me. But you never know, he might, but I will reintroduce myself in Hartford.
Q. You played at the same time?
SUZY WHALEY: Not really. I was there in the spring of 1985 and Davis left at the end of that spring, so we were only together in school for a semester, so I knew him briefly. I knew his younger brother better than I knew Davis, his younger brother Mark.
Q. He remembered you.
SUZY WHALEY: Mark and I had some pizza together.
Q. Once Davis was told your maiden name was McGuire, it clicked.
SUZY WHALEY: He was an incredible talent. Mark was an extremely good golfer, too.
Q. I think one of the things that really helped Annika was her pairing, her two playing partners. Do you secretly say "Oh, man"?
SUZY WHALEY: Yeah, send them a note see if they will play with me, too.
Q. Do you secretly say that will make a huge difference?
SUZY WHALEY: I think it will make a difference if I get with two people who -- you know, they were rooting for her, they were cheering her on and supporting her. They showed the best colors of the PGA Tour, as far as I was concerned in the way they handled themselves, the way they treated her, and they were under extreme pressure themselves, which I think people have forgotten, to perform in front of just as many media personalities as she, so I think they did an amazing job and I would hope I could get as good of a pairing, but I have said before, I am not sure people understand that there is 144 players on that tour, all of whom are extremely talented professionals. I don't know that there is a bad pairing out there.
SUZY WHALEY: Perhaps. He is in a little different category than I am, though.
Q. Suzy, you said you want to play your strengths, and will you find yourself, do you think, trying to make par and avoid something that will get you a big number?
SUZY WHALEY: Yeah, no, definitely. You know, I have to stay out of the rough because here the rough is just brutal, and, you know, you just try very hard. If you are to get in any kind of trouble, you want to limit your errors on the same hole, so certainly you want to stay away from big numbers. I think my biggest challenge will be making sure I take the time allocated for me and not trying to get out of their way.
In other words, you know, if I am -- not rushing my routine, not rushing my own game to allow them more time.
Q. Did your girls come down with you for this one or are they still in school?
SUZY WHALEY: No, unfortunately my daughter takes dance class and she has to go once a week for the entire year for the recital, and her recital is Saturday, and I didn't have the heart to make her not go to her recital, so my girls are home with my husband and he is on recital duty.
Q. You have seen the recital before?
SUZY WHALEY: No, but I ordered the prepaid video that you are allowed to get, the $36 number, so I will see everybody's dance for the whole year, including my daughter's.
Q. Fast forward.
SUZY WHALEY: I am sure we'll have to watch the whole thing together, so that's okay.
End of FastScripts....