April 30, 2003
NEAL REID: I was wondering if you could start out with opening comments and talk about the golf course, what you think about it, and what you have been doing the last couple of weeks and your summer coming up.
SUZY WHALEY: The last couple of weeks I have been getting work together, our golf operation opened finally after a very long winter. I'm the head golf professional at Blue Fox Run in Avon, Connecticut for those of you who don't know that.
I've been trying to practice up there, unfortunately our weather hasn't cooperated. I went to a Future's event in Tampa three weeks ago and played in that. I went to Phoenix for a couple of days to practice into a corporate outing and now I'm here, we arrived on Monday, late in the evening. I hit some balls and chipped in, and practiced my putting a little bit. I didn't get the chance to play on Monday. Tuesday we played 18 holes.
The golf course is unbelievably good. It's hard. It's precise. You have to drive it well. You have to hit your irons well. The rough is brutal. It's long and thick. It will be very demanding this week on everybody.
The person who wins here is the person hitting it the best, obviously.
I think that the greens are much smoother. This morning I played at 6 a.m. this morning nine holes before the pro-am, and I like the shape of the greens better today. They were a little slow yesterday. They are speeding up as we go. And the ball is rolling better and they are getting faster each day. So hopefully they will get speedier by week's end. But it's just gorgeous here. There are flowers here and grass and trees with leaves. It's very nice. So I'm having a great time.
NEIL REID: Can you tell me who is caddying for you this week?
Q. Victor Hamilton. He is local. He caddies on the PGA TOUR in the summer. And he is a social studies teacher by trade in the season. The summer he caddies in the PGA TOUR. Wayne hooked me up with Victor. I didn't have any relationship prior to this?
NEAL REID: Wayne the tournament director?
SUZY WHALEY: Wayne the tournament director, yes.
Q. Was there a sense of relief or disappointment or neither when Annika announced that she was going to be playing at Colonial and sort of took some of the steam out of your story?
SUZY WHALEY: For me, Annika, if this is something that she wanted to do for Annika, I support her 100 percent. She is the best female golfer in the world. I wish her the best at Colonial.
Q. But were you disappointed at all that you were not going to be the first since Babe Dirderickson?
SUZY WHALEY: No, I wasn't disappointed. Annika and I -- I can't speak for Annika. I can tell you why I'm playing. Our reasons are a little different. I'm a PGA club professional who earned an exemption into the Greater Hartford Open by winning my section championship.
As such I have a lot of opportunity to inspire a lot of people to get out on the golf course and help grow the game which is really our mission.
NEAL REID: Have you heard back from a lot fans and people?
SUZY WHALEY: I have. I received hundreds of letters since I decided to play in the Greater Hartford Open. More so recently from young women in high school. I received two or three from women in high school who now told me that they have the opportunity and the guts to try out for their female girls golf team, because they feel if I can go and play on the men's TOUR they can at least try for play their female golf team, and that was fun to receive those letters. I feel I have done some aspiring and that's pretty special.
Q. Obviously, you have to do certain things well, you haven't been able to practice as much as you wanted to, you are obviously doing a lot of things and you have a real job on top of this, how do you feel coming into this event, how you play and what is your expectation?
SUZY WHALEY: I have 2 real jobs, I'm a mom to. I have more than one. I am hitting the ball very well. If I can hit some fairways and greens, I feel pretty strongly about my performance here. I think I can play well here. Obviously not having played in the ropes, I don't do this on a weekly basis, that makes the difference. It's a nice opportunity for me that the sponsors have given me to do this prior to the Greater Hartford Open, because getting inside the ropes, it's all about comfort zones, and it's all about feeling like you belong and wanting to play well here and if you try too hard it doesn't happen.
So, for me, I'm going to try to play my game, try to hit alot of fairways and greens and maybe drop a few putts.
Q. What is playing well by definition for you?
SUZY WHALEY: Playing well here I would like to make the cut. That would be great. Of course, every tournament I enter I want to win.
Q. Annika said she had gone on a major fitness kick to add some length to her game, she said she had a conversation with you and you said, I need a little bit more short term than you, what was that about?
SUZY WHALEY: That's a true conversation. I met Annika for the first time in December at a Golf World photo shoot and she was getting her hair and makeup done, and I deluged her with questions about her workout routine, and I asked her what she was doing to bulk up and hit it farther. She was nice with me and she shared with me, quote/unquote you need to lift a lot of weight. I worked out two and a half hours a day, every day, 7 days a week, since the end of November. Since we are playing, that has been curtailed. I don't woke out that long. But I have put a lot of seriousness into my preparation and really have become stronger but certainly I have only had five months to do it. I wish I had 3 years.
Q. Have you seen results?
SUZY WHALEY: I have. I am stronger.
Q. How much length have you gained?
SUZY WHALEY: It's hard to tell only because it depends where you are playing and the fairways you are playing on and how hard they are and how soft they are. I'm hitting it farther off the tee and farther with my irons.
Q. What's the difference approaching this week and approaching the GHO?
SUZY WHALEY: No difference. The biggest thing for me, more people, more press. I look for my game and what I'm doing for my game in preparation, that won't change.
Q. Do you anticipate, you being in the same sort of spotlight as Annika will be in Colonial -- maybe on a regional or local level as opposed to a national level?
SUZY WHALEY: I think so, certainly not in the same respect that Annika is getting at Colonial. I think I heard yesterday that it's 6 media credentials per player that have been requested. So there will be an incredible amount of media at Colonial. I wouldn't want to compare it to that.
So locally I have an amazing amount of support and I think there will be quite a big crowd there.
Q. Were you surprised by the attention (inaudible)?
SUZY WHALEY: If there is anybody that would understand what happened to her it would be me. I was overwhelmed by the amount of attention. I don't even know how to describe it to you. I won a tournament, went to bed, thinking that that's what happened, I won a tournament. We celebrated, we were thrilled about the fact that I won it. I woke up the next morning and by the end of the day I had at least 300 phone calls, my email was locked, my cell phone was locked. My husband had at least 300 calls to his workplace. Most stories I think in the media have a peak, and they go on to the next thing. For me it was a story that kept evolving. And then when Annika announced, obviously it happened all over again.
Q. When people draw too many conclusions from this tournament, saying, oh, she did well here, so she should do well, have a good showing in the GHO (inaudible)?
SUZY WHALEY: I hope they draw a great conclusion if I play well. I think that would be natural for people to draw conclusions. Certainly for me there is no pressure to have to play well here. It's part of my preparation working into the Greater Hartford Open and I think pressure is all self imposed. People will draw their own conclusions, yes. But for me it's not going to affect the way I continually prepare.
Q. Obviously, when we heard you were going to play, the expectations of -- we were excited about it because of how you got in, because of winning, playing well and winning your way into that event.
SUZY WHALEY: You mean for Hartford?
Q. For Hartford. And there is no expectations by I don't think any of the PGA Tour players that they are worried about Suzy Whaley, they will embrace you and everything else, how do you feel about playing with the men in that environment as well as are there certain players -- obviously some players are from up there, Brad Faxon, Billy Andrade, have you thought about who you would like to play with?
SUZY WHALEY: Some people asked me that question. The only way I can answer is, no, I haven't. I would like to play with 2 gentlemen who have the ability to be a little less serious, so I won't feel as much pressure on myself to stay out of their way. I'm working very hard and making sure I take the amount of time alloted for me to hit the golf ball and not try and run off the green when it's their turn to play.
So for me maybe some people that are laid back or can be fan friendly at the same time they are getting their job done. The guys who play on TOUR I think people don't realize, 144 is just an unbelievable talent on that TOUR. So I can't pull a bad pairing.
Q. You talk about pressure being self imposed. There is enormous pressure on you in that tournament, how do you internalize that pressure?
You are human, you have to be feeling that.
SUZY WHALEY: As long as I can get the tee in the ground on the first hole. You have to laugh. I don't want to sound like I'm not taking this seriously, I want to play really well there. I'm hitting it very well now. So I'm going to do my best to play well. But at the same time I think you have to keep it all in perspective and the fact that I'm a club professional, in our area, or in our section, the last 21 section champions have not made the cut. There hasn't been a cut made in 21 years. Would I like to be the first? Absolutely.
I think if I can keep the media in perspective, the day in perspective and steal a quote from Annika and say, the golf ball doesn't know what course it is playing. That's my favorite quote I heard her saying, she is absolutely right. If I can stay in my game, play my strategy, play to my strength and not my weaknesses, I think I will do well.
Q. What's the most nervous you have ever been on a golf course?
SUZY WHALEY: When I was 16 years old I qualified for the U.S. Open and I signed up for a practice round at NCR Country Club and at about 3 o'clock in the afternoon to avoid any player that I would have to run into, JoAnne Carner walked up on the tee and told me she that was playing with me and I thought I would die. I had her poster on my wall and a scorecard signed by her on my wall, and I said, no, no, please, Miss Carner, you go first. She said no, I signed up with you, let's go, put the tee in the ground and hit it. I hit it airborne, popped flied it about 100 yards down the middle of the fairway. She said, way to go, you hit it. It was probably one of the best days of my life. She treated me unbelievably and a very classy lady.
Q. Are you expecting more of the same?
SUZY WHALEY: I'm sure I will feel the exact same way.
Q. How many LPGA events are you playing in preparation?
SUZY WHALEY: This year 4. I played in one Future Event, and I play in a Future Event where I work at Blue Fox Run.
Q. What are the 4 events?
SUZY WHALEY: This event this week. I qualified for McDonald's by winning my national championship last year. I'm playing in that. I'm playing in the Big Apple Classic and I am playing the Giant Eagle in Youngstown, Ohio.
Q. You were the national club pro champ?
NEIL REID: Yes, the winner of that gets into McDonald's every year.
SUZY WHALEY: Which is exciting for me because I did not ever qualify for that when I played on TOUR.
Q. Have you tried recently or are you going to try for the open?
SUZY WHALEY: I am going to try for the open. I'm was exempted through local qualifying and I have to qualify. I'm doing that June 16th in Hudson, Ohio.
Q. What are you doing today?
SUZY WHALEY: Today I'm going to Colonial Williamsburg. I already played nine holes. I teed it up at 6 a.m. I practiced since then and I met with you. I'm going to have lunch and go to Colonial, Williamsburg this afternoon.
Q. Who is here?
SUZY WHALEY: My mom. She is right behind you.
Q. If your expectations at GHO are to play really well, what are your expectations of Annika given her status in golf at Colonial?
SUZY WHALEY: I always hate to speak for Annika because I don't know her very well and I only met her once. My expectation as an outsider looking go in, she will make the cut. She is the most determined hard working player I ever watched. As a teacher she right now is playing unbelievable golf, if you were to look at her golf swing on video, so I have hopes that she will do very well.
Q. How important is it at Hartford, if you make the cut, to have the bragging rights over your peers who haven't made the cut? Is that part of your thought process to say, I did it.
SUZY WHALEY: I hadn't considered it. But, yes, it would be great. But, no, I hadn't even thought about that. I think that in my decision-making process in going ahead to decide to play, my first and foremost factor, I was concerned about taking a player's spot. When I talked to the PGA TOUR in regards to that, they assured me that that spot was a section spot. If I didn't take it, a section rep representative would take it. It wouldn't be a TOUR player.
Also I was concerned about how many section champions had made the cut. So I checked into that as well. It was something helpful to me in helping me make my decision. But certainly nothing motivating me to make the cut, I have my own reasons for that.
Q. Did you look at what section champions had done, 81, 79 missed the cut?
SUZY WHALEY: 88, 90 last year. You have to realize going into a PGA TOUR event or an LPGA TOUR event as a club professional, is a dream all of us have as club professionals. It is something we would love to do. We see it every week. It's like a vacation week for us when we are trying very hard to show case our game. All of us are good players. This is what we do for a living. It is different when you get under the ropes. I would never want to sound like I was making fun of somebody for shooting that, but certainly we have all been there. But it eased the pressure, yes.
Q. When you visualize the TPC as you are playing, what you would do there as you are playing here?
SUZY WHALEY: That's a good question. I did that in January. I did find myself doing that in January when I played an event in Florida. I do not do that anymore. I tried very hard not to because it's distracting. I tried to stay focus on the job at hand, the task at hand. It's not going to perform the way I want it to.
Q. How did you find yourself doing that?
SUZY WHALEY: In Florida I would be sitting over a shot saying if this were the GHO and there were 100,000 people -- it's too much mental anguish for you over a golf ball. I needed to be thinking about what club I was hitting and where I was hitting it to and what my shot process was and not six months down the road.
I think any good golfer that you listen to, and that you learn from, they talk about one shot at a time. They talk about staying in the present. That's what I'm trying to do. I try to stay away from shots about the GHO, if they creep in, I back off and I start over.
Q. You said you played the TOUR before, how different is it, your approach going in as a club professional then as somebody trying to make a living and a name on the TOUR?
SUZY WHALEY: I honestly believe it's easier. In 90 and 93 I played on the tour as a non-exempt member. I struggled. I loved being out here but struggled with my game. When I come out now I don't have anything to lose. And I have a job and I have a family. And I have a lot of things that I love other than playing golf. But I love to play golf too. It's not the end of my day or the end of the world if I don't play well. I certainly would like to play very well here. If I don't, I can go home and practice harder for the next one.
Q. What was your best finish? Do you remember?
SUZY WHALEY: I don't, I'm sorry. I made a few cuts along the way. It wasn't a top-10. I would remember that.
Q. How old are your kids?
SUZY WHALEY: Jennifer, she is 8. And Kelly will be 6 on May 6th. So she is 5. So she will be 6 next week.
Q. Have you seen your game in your head changing from when you qualified to the GHO to now, have you really seen a lot of changes in what you are trying to do?
SUZY WHALEY: No, no, I haven't seen it change. I have seen me be able to hit stronger shots out of the rough. I seen it harder off the tee. But as far as my game changing, no, I am the same player I was in November. I had a good season last year so I hope I have one as good as this year.
Q. What's it like lifting weights?
SUZY WHALEY: I used to be a national ski racer in high school, so I did lift weights then, but I did not lift weights from college on. I always done cardiovascular every day but never did strength training. It's addicting. I enjoy it. I don't enjoy two and a half hours a day of it. I do enjoy it and I do see the benefits of it. And in realizing and researching what I have done to get stronger, I realize that all women, especially my age and older should be doing strength training for bone density.
Q. Is it Mo --
SUZY WHALEY: Mo Malachi (phonetic), a Body Balance facility. And Randy Myers from PGA national in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla, helped design my program.
Q. You talk about inspiring high school girls to try out for a team, how much of it is personal with your own daughters?
SUZY WHALEY: A lot of it is personal. My oldest daughter probably made the decision for me. Every day I went back and forth. One day I would say I'm in. The next day I would say I'm definitely out. I mean it was a daily thing for us. I told my daughters every day, I want them to grow up believing that you have to work harder than the person sitting next to you. You have to take the opportunities when they come, because it's rare that they come and when they do enjoy every second of them, and my daughter looked at me one night when I was giving her my lecture after a soccer game and said why aren't you playing? I said you are right. I am. That's the day I decided. My daughter really decided for me.
Q. You seem have relaxed now, are you working hard to just enjoy this along the way?
SUZY WHALEY: I am. It's way to early to get nervous. The GHO isn't for another 12 weeks. I went through a period of time after I first decided, it was extremely stressful. I was doing interviews daily. I was saying yes to just about everything and it was a very stressful and then I was concerned about what my performance would be. I realized in the last couple of months that just don't work for me. I'm a much more laid back person than that. On the other hand, I'm very serious about my preparation and what I'm doing to play well. When I am not preparing or sitting here with you, it's more fun than it is anything.
Q. Had you played in the sectional before?
SUZY WHALEY: One time before, the year before. You can only play as a PGA member and I received my membership in 2000.
Q. Who are your friends out here?
SUZY WHALEY: Donna Andrews, she is the LPGA president now of the player board, Michelle McGann we traveled together in the early 90's. A long time ago. I thought about that when I joined 3 years ago.
NEAL REID: Have you seen JoAnne Carner this week?
SUZY WHALEY: I have. She came up to me and gave me a big hug and congratulated me and wished me a lot of luck. Jo Anne makes an effort at every U.S. Open, and I found that out after when I got on tour, to play with amateurs, and to show them really different shots. She taught me a bunker shot I still use today. It was fun to see her.
Q. Did she talk about when you were 16?
SUZY WHALEY: No, we talked about it when I first got back on TOUR. We haven't talked about it since. That was my scariest moment on the golf course.
Q. Where was it?
SUZY WHALEY: NCR in Dayton, Ohio. It was in 1982 would be my best guess.
Q. Just think how long ago that was?
SUZY WHALEY: I don't want to. I will say I'm glad I'm going through this at 36 and not at 23. It's a lot easier. I think I have a little better perspective on it now. I have a great family and friends that are in full support of me and that's really nice.
Q. You talked about all of the media attention that you got, does it amaze you how good some of these players can be not inside the ropes but having to deal with everything outside the ropes and then having come inside the ropes and play?
SUZY WHALEY: It's a talent. It's absolutely a talent. It's something that you need to do. I think it's really important for both tours to have people on their TOUR that are willing to give their time and talk about the LPGA and talk about the media. But it is very hard to schedule it because it's time when you want to practice, or play, or if you have had a bad round, and you know you don't want to give your time, but you still have to it. It's a talent. I think it's takes a lot of organizational skill. I have a PR firm. I have an agency both of whom are managing it for me. If I was doing this all on my own -- the LPGA, Neal helps me, the PGA helps me. 4 national bodies are helping me I'm just one person. You could imagine if I was on my own it would be virtually impossible.
Q. What will you learn from tournament here that you can translate up in Hartford?
SUZY WHALEY: I learn about what I need to work on under the gun. Probably not a great expression. When the ball flies, it's always different when you hit it on the range. And nothing on the line. It will help me see what my swing changes have done, not done, what needs work, whether my short game is not anywhere where it needs to be, whether it was good, whether my putting needs more work. It will shed some light on what areas I have not focused enough time on.
Q. You said you support Annika 100%, do you feel that's a general feel out there?
SUZY WHALEY: I do, since I have been here. I don't speak on a daily basis to the players. I email a few of them on occasion. I haven't had the opportunity to talk to any of them how they felt about me playing or Annika playing, only what I read, and I do feel they are in support of Annika, and I feel that they feel the publicity has been excellent for their TOUR and they hope when she returns from Colonial that more viewers will come with her.
Q. Did anyone recognize you down here?
SUZY WHALEY: A few. A few. I think most people when I say my name they know the name but they don't know where from.
Q. Have you received any endorsements out of this?
SUZY WHALEY: I am representing Burberry, I'm representing Webster Bank. I will be wearing Walter Genuine Shoes at the Greater Hartford open and Titleist. But I was already with Titleist.
Q. What was the one before Titleist?
SUZY WHALEY: Burberry, Webster Bank, Walter Genuine Shoes.
Q. Are you pushing Calhoun off?
SUZY WHALEY: I wear a size 12, so they can't get them made fast enough for me. This week I'm wearing FootJoys.
Q. Are you pushing (inaudible)?
SUZY WHALEY: No, we will be side-by-side. I don't know if they will do bill boards. For Webster Bank, corporate outing work for them and some speaking engagements locally. The Webster Bank logo, we find a way, that's their slogan. We got together because they felt like I will find a way in face of a lot of adversity. It was a nice fit.
Q. Has Augusta National called you?
SUZY WHALEY: Augusta hasn't called me. I certainly would have read about it if they called. If they called, I would go play. I would love to play that golf course.
Q. How about for membership?
SUZY WHALEY: Well, I would love to see female members at Augusta. I said it before, I'm in full sport of a private club choosing its own membership.
Q. How many times have you played the GHO course?
SUZY WHALEY: Probably about 15. My husband and I were talking about it the other day. Not enough, not that many. It's because what we do. People think golf professionals in the golf business play golf. We don't. We watch other people play golf. I haven't had an opportunity to play that often. Certainly this spring I will play more.
Q. Have you been playing from back tees?
SUZY WHALEY: They just opened last week, I haven't had the chance. I need to know where my landing areas are. Obviously they will be much more different.
Q. Have you changed clubs because of that?
SUZY WHALEY: I changed drivers. I'm playing a 983 K, I went from a 975 J.
Q. Not knowing what's in your bag are you more of a fairway wood player?
SUZY WHALEY: This week I am because of the rough I put a 9 wood in the bag. I carry a 1, 3, 5, 7. This week I have 1 3, 5, 7, 9. And I have 5 through 9 Callaway. I play Cleveland wedges, a 60, 54 and 49.
Q. Are you assuming this type of setup in your bag may be what you are using at Hartford?
SUZY WHALEY: I am assuming that because of the rough. I was the only player glad there was long rough. Because it will give me a chance to use my 9 wood and see how it works.
Q. Does Jennifer know she made the decision?
SUZY WHALEY: She does.
Q. Does she think that's cool?
SUZY WHALEY: She thinks that's cool.
Q. What was the soccer situation --
SUZY WHALEY: They lost their game and my daughter had had her best game. She had 2 goals which she never had more than one goal, and my daughter she is not a soccer star, she is 8 years old. She was really upset that they lost and I'm one of those moms who likes to tell my children pretty much how it is. I don't sugar coat it but I want them to still be motivated. I very rarely say good game if it wasn't a good game. I will say you played well. I try not to sugar coat it. We were talking about it. I said I don't know if you guys have a right to be upset. I don't think your team played your best. You played great today. One of your best games. That's how it came about. And she looked at me. But mom I had my best game, you know. She is learning. I think children learn by playing team sports, what it takes to be a team and work together.
Q. When did she say that to you?
SUZY WHALEY: I read to her every night.
NEAL REID: Anything else?
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