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December 6, 2016

Maha Haddioui

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

BETHAN CUTLER: Delighted to introduce Moroccan No. 1 golfer, Maha Haddioui, back in the OMEGA Dubai Ladies Masters for the fifth time.

You've had an amazing season, so you're 46th on the ranking, so assured of keeping your Tour card now for next year, and also had your best finish in Abu Dhabi, tied for 14th. So you must be very happy with the way things are going so far this year.

MAHA HADDIOUI: Well, it's been a very eventful year. A lot of things happening, a lot of good things. Definitely relieved to be keeping my Tour card and really happy to finish the year here in Dubai. It's one of my favourite courses, so it's always a positive. Very exciting year and lots of good things. Had a really good week in Abu Dhabi. The course was amazing, as well, so yeah.

BETHAN CUTLER: Do you feel more at home in this region playing here in the Middle East?

MAHA HADDIOUI: Yeah, obviously there's something about it. I mean, being the only Arab player, you feel -- you almost feel on home soil. It's a pleasure for me to be here. Obviously I know people are looking out for me.

I meet the same people all the time, and even new tournaments like Qatar and Abu Dhabi, I was greeted differently by the staff being the only Arab. It's something really nice. It's like a home tournament without the pressure of a home tournament.

Q. All these years we've had a Desert Swing for the men's tour, and now you almost have a desert swing for the women's tour. Being the only Arab player from the region to play on these tournaments, what do you think about this new schedule that you have?
MAHA HADDIOUI: We're having a lot of tournaments in Morocco and the Middle East. It's something I'm really happen and I proud of. I think it's a region that has a lot to offer to women's golf, and women's golf has a lot to offer, also, to the region. It's a good thing.

The way it started, Morocco and Dubai have really been like the first ones to do it, and they have set a tradition of doing the women's tournaments. It's had a positive impact on other countries that are now doing it, so it's great.

Q. Is that a statement for the region, of the belief in other part of the world that that women are treated differently here; does that show that that's not the case?
MAHA HADDIOUI: Of course. The Arab world is n getting the best publicity now with what's happening. There's a lot of kind of -- how do you call it, people think differently of the region we're in. And I think organising women's events in any sport, is a good thing. You come here and we just feel like it could be anywhere; you could be in the US and it would feel the exact same way, and a lot of people don't know that.

Even for players coming here, and just posting pictures and seeing things. I mean, obviously everyone knows about Dubai. It's Dubai; it's really cool. But it gives out a statement for the whole region and it's really opened and it's doing now as much for the women as it is for the men, so it's good.

Q. Just to follow that, because of your status, the only Arab golfer here this week, is that important for to you embrace can do you feel you need to promote it, as well? Is that extra pressure or responsibility that you want to take on?
MAHA HADDIOUI: Yes, because I mean, when you have a tournament, and it's only foreigners playing, or western, like people from the U.S. or from Europe, maybe young girls will not identify with it as much as they would with me. I'm from Morocco and I grew up in Morocco, and if I do it, they can do it, too. If I can do it on Tour, they can definitely play on Tour. For me, I want to show an example of what an Arab woman in a modern country can do.

Q. Does that have any disadvantages? Would there be more pressure on you coming into tournaments like this? Do you feel that?
MAHA HADDIOUI: I used to feel that. I used to feel pressure thinking I have to do well this week because I'm in an Arab country being the only Arab, but I don't feel that as much now. I think I just got used to it, and I try and look at the positive of things.

Q. This year especially, you had several very good starts. You have not been able to maintain your consistency through the four rounds. Can you talk something about that and what you are doing to make sure to get these four starts and good finishes, as well?
MAHA HADDIOUI: I'm working and it's all to do with the mental side of the game and I'm working on that a lot. I'm still working on it and I will still work on it. Basically sometimes when you're in a good position, you try a little too hard to do well. And then things just don't flow and you try and control the shots a bit too much. I think that's what's happening to me. I think this week really, regardless of the outcome every day, I'll just try and start a blank page.

It's really easy to say. I'm saying it now but obviously it's something that takes a lot of work.

Q. How do you work on the mental side specifically? It's easy to say that you just need to be better mentally, but what do you do?
MAHA HADDIOUI: The first thing is realising what's happening. I mean, I was not aware of this happening to me. I was just like, oh, I had a bad round. But then when you start knowing what is happening to you, like inside, you're like, okay, well now I'm just trying a little too hard.

And the second phase would be, you realize what you are doing but you have no action on it yet. You're not able to actually make it better. And then finally, when you're able to work on it, when you've worked on it and you're able to make a difference.

So basically, I'll just give an example. If I'm feeling really pressured on the first tee, which everybody does, I mean, even when you play Sunday golf, you'll still have some pressure on the first tee. I just try and play the shot 100 per cent, and then if I miss it, I miss it. But at least I gave it a full shot, and it's something, again, that's really easy to say, but once you actually commit to it and you commit to the shot, you realise, there's very little chance of you missing a shot that you've 100 per cent committed to.

Q. Are you getting the benefits from that this year?
MAHA HADDIOUI: Yeah, a lot of benefits. I'm taking things in a lighter way, putting in a lot of work at home. But when I get to tournaments, it's not the day before the tournament that you're going to practice for seven hours and make yourself better. It's when you're home and you have two weeks off and that's when the actual work gets done.

So during tournaments, I just try to take it a little easy and during the round, I know it can be really frustrating as a professional, and also as an amateur. You can get really, really frustrated on the golf course and at the end of the day, it's just golf. So that's what I tell myself. It's just a golf, it's just a game and just play. I'm trying my best any ways. So there's no need to put extra pressure and anger and frustration on it.

Q. What's the target then for this week? Is it just go out and play good golf --
MAHA HADDIOUI: Well, I always put an objective in the back of my head. I know I want to make a Top-10 this week. So I have that goal. But if I -- it's like your driving. You know you want to drive but if you put your head like this in the steering wheel, you're not going to do well. So it's the same.

I have my objective in the back of my head, but it's just there, and then I just need to play golf and try and make good shots and play every shot 100 per cent, and then if it works out, great. If it doesn't, I mean, I've tried my best, any ways.

BETHAN CUTLER: Has the Olympic experience given you a confidence boost since then?

MAHA HADDIOUI: Honestly, no. Olympics was really tough for me. I didn't have a good week there. Didn't play good golf. I think once again, I set up an objective that was too high, and I kind of just stuck to it the whole time, and it made me more tense than -- I mean, Olympics is already quite big, and trying to do too well, just can make it worse, and that's what happened to me.

But I learned so much from it, and it's hard enough to play golf when you're trying to make a living and trying to keep your Tour card. But then playing to represent your country and having like not only golfers in Morocco watch you, but every Moroccan watch you, it's something bigger.

I think that has helped me in the rest of the season, and I think that in the coming years, when I think back to it, I know it's going to help me. But for now, I don't have enough distance from it to actually realise that.

BETHAN CUTLER: I'm really interested to know about your languages, as well, because in Qatar they were asking you about the Arab I can that you speak and the dialects and so on. Can you tell us about the languages that you speak?

MAHA HADDIOUI: Well, I speak Arabic, but I speak more Moroccan Arabic, because in Morocco, we speak Moroccan, which is a dialect that's a bit of mixed Arabic and French and some words that I don't know where we got from.

But yeah, it's different from the Arabic. I will understand everything in Arabic; I watch movies in Arabic. But to answer, sometimes you just don't get the vocabulary. Yeah, other than that, there's English, French and Spanish.

BETHAN CUTLER: Thank you for your time today. Good luck in the tournament.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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