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March 21, 2019

Sarah Schmelzel

Phoenix, Arizona

Q. Nice start to your LPGA career playing at home.

Q. How was it out there?
SARAH SCHMELZEL: It was really fun. It was very comfortable looking over outside the ropes and seeing my boyfriend, my mom, my dad, and my brother and people from my golf club that I grew up at here.

So it was nice. It was comfortable. But really excited about the start.

Q. Were you feeling any extra pressure playing at home this week?
SARAH SCHMELZEL: Little bit. It was a little nerve wracking. I played in the two in Australia, but it's different when you come back stateside, especially in your backyard. So a little bit this morning. First couple holes I was kind of feeling it but settled down, which was nice.

Q. Was there a certain point that you felt really settled? Like after a shot or a certain hole?
SARAH SCHMELZEL: I think maybe after my birdie on the 2nd hole, No. 2. Just kind of to see one go in, ease the tension a little bit. That was kind of what got me to calm down.

Q. How well do you know this course?
SARAH SCHMELZEL: Pretty well. I've played in Cactus tournaments out here the past few years, so played it in competition probably three times; came out and played a couple times a couple weeks ago, so I would say pretty well.

And the conditions, just being dessert golf and being born and raised here, I think it's a little bit under-managed, but, yeah, pretty familiar.

Q. Are you based here still?
SARAH SCHMELZEL: I am. I moved back to Phoenix after I graduated from South Carolina.

Q. Some people were talking about you witnessing Annika's 59. Can you tell us that story?
SARAH SCHMELZEL: Yeah, definitely. I was in school. I can't remember what grade I was in in, elementary school. I just remember I got called up to the office. I was like, Oh, know. That's not good.

I saw my dad standing at the front desk and he said, All right, we're going to Moon Valley, the golf course. I was like, Okay, well that's a little weird. I knew the tournament was going on obviously.

He had a friend that taught out there that I knew really well that just told him to come on in, something special was happening. I got to witness most of back nine. For me that was a real turning point in kind of what I thought about golf, what I thought I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

Just seeing her out there inside the ropes and everyone was so captivated with what she was doing and how confident she was and how competitive it was. It just really kind of pushed me forward know I wanted to do this and I wanted be in her position. It's crazy that I'm here now. Trying to soak it in.

Q. Do you still have the ball she gave you?

Q. What did your principal think of you leaving school to go watch golf?
SARAH SCHMELZEL: I'm not sure. Should get in touch and ask them.

Q. Probably be pretty proud.
SARAH SCHMELZEL: Now they would think it was cool.

Q. You mentioned having family and friends out here and just having the start of your year on the tour, what's it like emotionally having all that going on at once?
SARAH SCHMELZEL: It's nice, you know, the added pressure you talked about, but also at on the end a little bit more comfortable just knowing you got your little fan squad that's been there for you the whole journey right there.

So that's really helped this week I think.

Q. Do you keep up with Xavier's program a lot?
SARAH SCHMELZEL: I do, I do. I just played in a Cactus Tour event out here in January I think with someone that just graduated from there and she's playing at Xavier University. Sister Lynn, always getting her Christmas newsletters and all that stuff and get text messages here and there from her. It's a family. You never lose it and they're great. So supportive.

Q. Are any of them coming out this week that you know of?
I think Sister Lynn and Tui are going to make it out a little bit. I'm not sure about the players, but it will be nice to see them.

Q. What grade were you in when you went and saw Annika?
SARAH SCHMELZEL: I think maybe fourth. I'm trying to remember.

Q. 2001. You seven?
SARAH SCHMELZEL: I think that's about right. I graduated in 2012, so 2001 I was at Hidden Hills Elementary School.

Q. Is that right in Phoenix?

Q. Were you in fourth grade already a big Annika fan?
SARAH SCHMELZEL: Definitely. I mean, obviously not as much as after, but I knew she was the biggest name in women's golf. We had gone out to watch her every once in a while. My dad would take me out to the tournament every year since it was basically in our backyard.

So I knew who she was, but from then on I really just tried to emulate what she does and how she got to where she is or was at that time.

Q. Have you gotten to meet her since?
SARAH SCHMELZEL: I have, yeah. I played in the Annika Invitational and the Annika Intercollegiate. Yeah, we talked about it. It's really fun to be able to share that with her and let her know how much she inspires me.

Q. You told her the story about being there?

Q. At times today when you had the solo lead, what was going through your mind right then?
SARAH SCHMELZEL: Yeah, just to keep climbing. At the end of the last Symetra year I kind of got into the mentality of looking at the top of the leaderboard rather than the bottom and the cut numbers, so I am just trying to look at the top and keep chasing the top.

Once you get there, just try to keep going and try to separate yourself practice.

Q. What do you think was working best for you today?
SARAH SCHMELZEL: I putted really well on the front. Made a lot of really crucial par putts. Just kind of getting a feel for the greens in the morning. I think that was the big thing.

Overall, just having a relaxed day with my caddie I think made a huge difference. Just plugging away one-shot-at-a-time kind of mentality.

Q. We got to hear yesterday about the new DriveOn campaign. What do you think about that, especially in a week like this where it's past, present, future?
SARAH SCHMELZEL: Yeah, it's amazing. What the Founders have done for us is something we can never repay them for, to be able to stand out here and live our dreams and play in front of these grandstands and everything.

It's amazing to see the opposite end of that where we have the LPGA Girls' Golf out here, and getting to see them and be the media room and everything. I really think it's good for us and good for golf.

Q. Where do you see yourself fitting in with that right? You're starting to be on the other side. And then you mentioned playing with Dana also being local and seeing each other growing up.
SARAH SCHMELZEL: Yeah, it's great. I remember seeing her dad and her mom on the cart path when we were ten, 11 years old walking down the fairway, so that was really nice to be able to share such a cool moment like playing in this event at home for both of us. It was really nice to be able to share that with her.

Q. Is this an event you've always kind of had a goal to play in?
SARAH SCHMELZEL: Definitely, oh, yeah. When it was at Moon Valley obviously I wanted to play there; we would go out when it was at Superstition; went out when it was at Papago. Yeah, definitely I can cross it of the Bucket List that I got to play here.

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