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April 6, 2019

Nancy Lopez

Augusta, Georgia

NANCY LOPEZ: I'm telling you, I haven't felt that kind of pressure in a long, long time, I think when I was trying to win the U.S. Open. But what an honor and a thrill just to be here. Standing up there with Annika and Lorena and Se Ri, what an honor, some of the best players I played with and against on the LPGA Tour, and it was just the best feeling.

Q. Drive looked like it was right down the middle to me?
NANCY LOPEZ: I told you, I warmed up a lot and I hit that one good. I guess I can stand the pressure. It helped me hit the shot well.

Q. So that was 7:45 in the morning. What time did you get up to warm up and hit some balls?
NANCY LOPEZ: I woke up about quarter till 5:00 and I warmed up in the shower, getting some nice heat on my body. I was taking nice swings in the shower and stretching, stretched on the bed, stretching the whole morning, because I have been playing some, but your body, still this early in the morning, doesn't want to function as well as you'd like it to as it does later on.

Of course I have two new knees. I'm still trying to figure out how to use them because I haven't used my legs in so long. There's a lot of things going through my head on the practice tee but when I got out there on the first tee, I just got focused on the ball and just let the whole swing come and it was fun.

Q. Do you have swing thoughts at that moment, because looking at the four of you out there, and all the majors and all the tournaments, but this may have been a different kind of pressure?
NANCY LOPEZ: It was pretty intense, I have to say. The thing, too, when we were talking down, I was tearing up. I know Annika was, once we got to the tee, she looked at me, and like, yeah, I was trying to hold back tears because there's so much pride involved in this.

As I walked down there, I stood there and I was like, I'm going to start crying. But it was just a tremendous feeling to be there and represent amateur golf, professional golf and what golf stands for here at Augusta National. It was thrilling.

Q. Did you ever think you would see a day like this here?
NANCY LOPEZ: You know, I never did. But that was okay. That didn't really -- it wasn't something that I pondered over, but I know last year when Fred Ridley said that and we were going to have an amateur event here, I was thinking, wow, I'm going to get to watch lady amateurs swing at Augusta in competition, taking a divot, and trying to play the best golf that they can at a golf course that is all about golf.

Q. And what's the message that's being sent by the powers that be in golf to women and girls?
NANCY LOPEZ: You know, the thing is, I think Augusta National has always done it right. They want to grow golf, and the way you grow golf is with amateur golf. The thing is, too, for players, with young ladies that we teach in the LPGA, USGA, junior girls' golf, anywhere, now they have so place that they can set a goal, because I was always a goal setter, a goal to be able to reach, like I want to go to Augusta National and play in that tournament.

So I think it's going to inspire a lot of young women that maybe were thinking about maybe not playing anymore or love the game, but there wasn't really anything that they could set that goal to drive towards.

I think it's great what they are doing here. And of course the Drive, Chip & Putt Championship is awesome. I love to watch those kids. My daughter's never played golf, so I get a lot of thrills out of watching these kids wishing they were my kids.

Q. Do you wish you were an amateur again?
NANCY LOPEZ: I'm telling you, when Fred Ridley said that, I was thinking, how can I get to amateur status again. Because really, to compete at Augusta National, a lot of pressure, first of all, because you're playing a golf course that can eat your lunch. But yet, being able to step on those greens and trying to figure them out, trying to hit a great shot, you know, when I played golf, I always wanted to do that. Figure it out and play the best courses and play my best on those courses. I think they always bring the best out of you as a golfer.

Q. Undoubtedly way more little girls on that first tee today. How does that make you feel?
NANCY LOPEZ: Proud. Like Annika and I were walking down, I was trying not to cry, because I was so proud just walking down. I feel like I want to try now and I looked over at Annika, and I'm like, she's trying. She had tears in her eyes, so I guess I can do it.

But it's so awesome for little girls to play this great game. It's a great game for family and everyone. I've loved it forever. I will always love it. I never get tired of it. When my knees hurt, I didn't want to play as much, but now that I've gotten new knees, I've gotten new life on the golf course. I'm excited.

Q. How was the feeling?
NANCY LOPEZ: Breathtaking. I felt like I stopped breathing when I got on the first tee. It was funny, because yesterday when they told Se Ri she was hitting it first, she was, "Me," and then I started thinking, maybe I should hit it first because I know how far they were hitting when we were on the driving range and I didn't want to hit out of my shoes, I thought, maybe I should hit first.

But you see such great talent. Se Ri hasn't played for a while and she gets a driver out of the pro shop, and when she's out there hitting balls on the driving range, she's saying, "Wow, it's like riding a bike." Se Ri, she was such a talent.

It's my honor to be up there with such wonderful women that have such great character and did so much for the game and still do so much for the game. I was really proud to stand next to them.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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