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March 13, 2018
THE MODERATOR: It's my pleasure to welcome in defending champ, Anna Nordqvist. You've described Phoenix as kind of a second home to you. What's it like this week to return here as the defending champion?
ANNA NORDQVIST: It's always special coming back to Arizona because it's what I almost still consider as home. I went to school there. Played for Missy Kaye, who made a great appearance here at the press conference.
It means a lot. I still feel like this is kind of where my journey started. If I didn't get the opportunity to come here to Arizona State University I wouldn't be where I am today.
Winning here last year obviously made it even more special to come back. It's still going to feel like one of those moments I'm going to look back at in my career and be most proud of because it means so much.
I have so many people who support me, and just not be a golf fan, but also the person, and been there since day one.
I have my sponsors here. I have Isagenix and PXG. Just seems like always coming home. I have a huge smile on my face, and I am going to continue to do that all week.
Q. Gave a shout out to Missy and the ASU women's golf team. What's it like to have their support out here? I think they were watching you a little bit today.
ANNA NORDQVIST: I think it's awesome. Coach Kaye was my assistant coach in college, and she was always the supporting one and the one that made you feel at home. We were all so far away and we were all foreigners on the team, so she sure made it a great experience.
To see her become the head coach of the program and for her basically to build it back up and for them to win the national championship was pretty awesome.
Q. Kind of a whirlwind year for you last year. You won here, Evian. In between that you were battling mono. What did you do this off-season to get ready for this season, and how are you feeling?
ANNA NORDQVIST: Yeah, last year was a bit of a rollercoaster, to say the least. I had some great times, and I've had some moments where I didn't feel as good as I wanted to.
But I really struggled with the mono for a long time. I thought I was kind of over it at the end of the year, but then I got a cold and it lasted for three weeks. Usually that's not really what it does.
I found my immune system was still pretty low, so I took a lot of time off. I didn't start back until January working out or practicing. So enjoyed three weeks back home in Europe over the holidays and seeing my family and friends, but been working out since. Been working pretty hard.
This is only my third event, so trying to pace myself, which is not easy. I feel good, I feel healthy, and I'm motivated and inspired to go back and compete again.
Q. Still working with Cameron, right?
ANNA NORDQVIST: Uh-huh.
Q. Just curious what you focused on when you got together in the off-season? I know short game was something that you particularly worked on last year. Working on your full swing a lot, too?
ANNA NORDQVIST: Yeah, so I didn't have a coach last year from I think April until July. I started working with Cameron McCormick just before the U.S. Open, and that's in the same time I got sick. I never really had much time to see him. I saw him three or four times last year. I couldn't really put in the reps that I wanted to because I wasn't feeling too well.
So it was actually really nice. I saw him a few times in Dallas in the off-season. It was nice to go there and feel like I had time to really work on stuff. He's a very positive guy. I've been very impressed with the things he would do.
But also, I think it's a fine line as a coach knowing what to say. Sometimes you go to a coach and they want to kind of rebuild everything you've got. I think that's what has been really a great journey with him, because we started in the middle of the season, which I was a little nervous about that.
Fixed a few things in my backswing last year; worked a little bit on trying to get my speed back in my swing in the of off-season. I think that's been the biggest improvement. I feel like my body is firing again and it's back to full speed.
It's been great with dialing in all my new equipment. We worked quite a bit on putting because I feel that's an area I could improve quite a bit. Had two terrible putting weeks, so we'll continue to work on that.
He just keeps it simple. I try to see him once a month, so he gives me good drills and stuff to work on in between. I really feel like it's a good fit. It's been a great journey since I started working with him.
Q. Why did you choose him?
ANNA NORDQVIST: Well, I had heard a few things about him. Didn't really know what his coaching style was, so I went to see him for a lesson and this other guy for a lesson. I liked the way he was as a person, but also how professional he is.
You know, before I could spend like half a day or full day with a coach. I think my max is three hours because he's so efficient. You really have to be very focused when you're with him.
I like the way he does things.
Q. It's along the same lines: So Yeon Ryu, when she started working with Cameron, she worked a little bit on her backswing, but also saw a significant gain in distance, particularly from her tee shots. Hearing you talk about gaining speed, are you seeing any distance changes?
ANNA NORDQVIST: Yeah. I mean, I think I lost a good five yards, sometimes even ten yards, last year being sick and not being able to really go after it in the swing.
So I think a lot of the work was just getting back to - not where I was - but the speed I'm used to. I'm never going to be a power player and trying to gain a lot of speed. I know I have a lot of speed or strength in my body that I'm not using, but I don't think it's necessary for me to kind of change the player that I am.
I get it out there. I'm not one of the longest hitters by far, but I changed all my equipment this off-season and it's been a really great experience working with PXG. I am seeing gains in both the driver, 3-wood, and the irons. It's great to just know that it's in there.
I also found that I'm hitting it straighter now that I am working with Cameron, and hitting it straight has never been my problem either. It's a good combination.
Q. Mentally when I watch you play you're always really tough. Where do you find the strength on the golf course? I go back to the match you had with Lexi. To hit that shot on the last hole, where do you draw that mental strength from?
ANNA NORDQVIST: I think I like the pressure, just those moments that I live for, practice for. Being here last year, I shot a 61 in my third round. I got a lot of text messages obviously after the third round, and I was still trying to be a little bit chill about it because I had 18 more holes to go and I was focused about that.
I love the pressure. I probably hate losing more than winning, so that obviously doesn't help. Yeah, I guess the match against Lexi was so intense. I didn't really do anything bad on the back nine.
I hit it to what, three feet on 11 and she holes a wedge shot.
I made a great putt on 14 for birdie and then she makes it on top of me.
She made a pretty impossible putt for eagle on 15 and I lipped out.
It was just such a crazy match. Like those are the moments that bring out the best in you. Just knowing that is what I love about this game, those moments, that shot on 18 was pretty special.
Q. You talked a little bit about pressure. What's the pressure like this week as you try to defend your title?
ANNA NORDQVIST: Well, I've done it in the past a few times, and you know going into the week it's going to be a little bit more tension around you and a little bit more things to do.
But I did it successfully in Atlantic City two years ago. I'm just trying to be happy, be grateful for everything this place has given me. I think coming back here this year knowing that I won last year, I mean, it's like I'm proud of myself and what I did.
So I'm just trying to embrace everything that Arizona has give me and continued to.
Q. Two questions: You talk about working and making changes with Cameron. I think many of your peers point to you as this most reliable, if not one of the most reliable, ball-strikers out here. Are these minor tweaks or wholesale changes?
ANNA NORDQVIST: This is what, my tenth year on tour? I don't feel like there is a reason for me to do any major changes. I've come to the point where I realize I'm turning 31 this year. I'm not going to start hitting it 280 all of a sudden.
I've been top three in greens in regulation the last four, five years. It's just been minor things. Trying to make it more consistent, but also improving where I can. We have worked a lot on short game, and putting is something I know Cameron is very good at, and he's given my a lot of good drills to work on.
But it's just maintenance work. He gave me a few drills and I continue to work on them, but usually hit it pretty good when I'm there so we don't have to do much.
Q. Non-related follow up. Are you a goal-oriented person? Would you share your goals for this year with us?
ANNA NORDQVIST: A goal person? I mean, winning my second major was a goal mine for a long time. Making to the Olympics was also a good goal of mine. I think I try to look at different areas of my game and try to continue to get better.
Like I don't really look at rankings anymore. I feel like there is so many things out of my control. If I have a great event and someone plays better, there is not much I can control.
Winning golf tournaments and trying to peak for majors is a good goal of mine.
Q. You've won two majors where par is typically a good score. Won ShopRite one year when single digits was the wining score. Do you prefer those difficult tests where your ball striking separates you? If so, was last year kind of a pleasant surprise at all to win a birdie festival?
ANNA NORDQVIST: It definitely was. I was joking going into the week that this wasn't my favorite place because you did have to shoot 25-under to win. I guess I didn't quite expect myself to shoot 25-under.
But I think it's a great course. Not every week we're going to win a 25-under par, but that's what makes it fun, too. People love watching birdies. Obviously boosts your confidence knowing you can make a lot of birdies.
Typically I like the more challenging courses and a lot of the major setups where you do have to hit it in the fairway and you might even have a 7-iron, a 6-iron. I think that sets up well for my game.
Q. Does the mentality change where you attack more than you would normally anyplace else when you're here?
ANNA NORDQVIST: I think I tend to get a little bit impatient when I know you have to make birdies and you don't. I think that's when I found the more challenging golf course, when par is a good score, sets up well with my game.
I just try to do my best. I do love these weeks, too. I think this is a good golf course. I mean, you still have to play well. There are a couple really challenging holes out there where you really have to place the balls, and I enjoy that challenge.
Q. It's a Tiger Woods week. He'll be playing opposite. Are you following what's happening with him at all? Caught up in that at all?
ANNA NORDQVIST: Yeah, I mean, I found myself watching. I was in Dallas on Sunday, but found myself watching as much as I could. I want to see him do well. Everyone is watching. He's been working hard, and a lot of people have been criticizing him for a long time. I really want to see him prove them wrong.
A lot of people said he would never come back. I do enjoy that. Living in Orlando, yeah, this is a week where you kind of want to be home and watch the whole thing maybe even live.
I admire his work ethic and being the greatest golfer of all-time.
Q. Since we have Missy and ASU here, since you're a little further removed from your collegiate career, what is your perspective on experience at ASU?
ANNA NORDQVIST: Well, I told Madison here that you really need to appreciate everything you get at college and the experience, because sometimes you don't realize all the things you had and all the support you had until you're not in college anymore and you're on your own as a pro.
But it's really an awesome experience. I went for two and a half years, and I still don't think I would be here without that experience. A lot of people or girls don't go to college these days, and I always wonder why.
College doesn't just teach you about golf, but taking care of yourself and time management, figuring out who you are and what you want to do. It's really a great experience. ASU is always going to be family to me. I think that's why it means so much to me. I moved away in 2010 to Florida, and I've been regretting my decision for many years - although I have a great setup now in Florida.
It's just I came here when I was 18 years old. I was very shy. I wouldn't speak up. I was not very mature. It was all about golf, and I had a goal of playing on tour. That's what I wanted to do and that's what was driving me every day.
But just to have a lot people caring about you and still do, that means a lot.
THE MODERATOR: What's it like to see some of the LPGA founders out here this week and some of the girls with girls golf as well?
ANNA NORDQVIST: I think it's great. I mean, Marilynn Smith just took her golf cart and drove straight up to the range today. She's always happy to see you. I played with -- I don't even remember names. I played with one of the founders I think two years ago in the pro-am. It's just awesome that they're still here and still so passionate about what they started.
And seeing young girls, I mean, I was once a young girl and looking up to these players. I know what it means. I try to do my best to be a good role model when I can, but I think it's just cool to see what this tournament brings and everyone that comes out and watches, and how much this tournament has influenced both the old and the new.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports