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April 8, 2019
THE MODERATOR: Please join me in welcoming two first‑time competitors at the Masters, Alvaro Ortíz and Takumi Kanaya, welcome.
These two outstanding young players were victorious in tournaments that continue to blossom as part of our Grow the Game initiative. Alvaro earned his invitation with a victory in the 2019 Latin America Amateur Championship in the Dominican Republic this past January and Takumi was victorious at the 2018 Asia‑Pacific Amateur Championship held in Singapore. I'll begin with Alvaro Ortíz.
Alvaro, welcome again. You have played brilliantly in the Latin America Amateur Championship, twice runner‑up before claiming your first victory there in the DR this past January.
Tell us, if you would, have you had the opportunity to play Augusta National since that victory and then tell us some of your feelings and emotions when you came down Magnolia Lane as a participant in the Masters.
ALVARO ORTIZ: Yeah, I had the opportunity to come all five times I was able to. If not, I probably would have lived here for the past two months. It was exciting. I had never been here before. First time I got to Magnolia Lane, I was lucky enough to share that moment with my dad, which made it more special, and yeah, it was just astonishing, you've dreamed about it and you've thought about it ever since I'm a kid, especially, you know, sharing golf moments with my brother and we've been thinking about it.
You know, driving down, it just gave me the chills, and it just‑‑ to come back here as a player, too, this week, it's amazing and I'm really lucky to have this opportunity.
THE MODERATOR: Takumi, you said after winning the Asia‑Pacific Amateur Championship that going to the Masters was one of your greatest dreams. Could you share with us your emotions and feelings about coming down Magnolia Lane as a participant in the 2019 Masters?
TAKUMI KANAYA: I'm so happy to come here. I'm so excited. It was definitely a dream come true since I was a little kid to be able to be here, and I'm just happy to be here.
THE MODERATOR: We're delighted to have you.
Q. After the victory in January, it was a big deal, obviously, for you and your country. You're going to be the first Mexican player here in an awful long time. What was the reception to you winning and how big of a deal has it been for Mexican golf for you to now be a competitor here?
ALVARO ORTIZ: It was a huge deal for my family and me for sure, and the whole country, when I came back to México after winning, it was all cheers and people were so happy. People were so proud that I was going to be able to put a Mexican flag up there. I felt all the love from people I've been receiving from people, in the last couple weeks, especially. My phone has been blowing up with good luck messages. It's awesome, 40 years since a Mexican players has been here, and to be able to do it myself, it's unbelievable.
Q. Do you know who the last Mexican player was?
ALVARO ORTIZ: His name is Victor Regalado and the last amateur was Juan Tony Estrada.
Q. Do you know anything about Victor and his career at all?
ALVARO ORTIZ: I don't know very well, it was way back in the day. I know he played for a couple pro events, but I don't know much about him.
Q. Can you tell us a little bit about your golf upbringing, why did you start playing, where did you start, things like that?
ALVARO ORTIZ: Yeah, I think it was a family thing. I remember since I was a kid, I preferred to play soccer over golf, but luckily I stuck with this sport and ended up here.
I think my first family member started playing with my grandfather on my mom's side, and then my mom, my dad and my two brothers started picking up, and I think it was just, I mean, it came like that to me.
I started‑‑ I grew up playing since I was like five years old, six years old, and started taking it seriously when I was 13. I came to the States for one year to a junior academy to develop my golf there, and from there, I've been going upwards with my golf game and went to college, and then I'm here.
Q. Two questions for Takumi. I was there in Singapore when you won the Asia‑Pacific Amateur Championship, and you said that it was the best tournament that you have ever played in your life at that time. What do you think now, now that you are at Augusta National?
TAKUMI KANAYA: Of course, this is my first major. It's a dream I've had since I was little to play in the Masters, so I'm just excited to be here.
Q. Also, I think Hidekisan was one of the first person to congratulate you when you won the Asia‑Pacific Amateur Championship. Have you had any chance to interact with him on the golf course and have you had any kind of advice from him and how to play it?
TAKUMI KANAYA: I have played two days with Hideki here, and he's taught me many things. You know, don't hit it here, or hit it here and there will be a slope that will bring the ball back here. So he's taught me a lot about the golf course.
Q. What have you been doing since your win at the Latin America Amateur Championship? I know you graduated with school, so you're done with school. What are you going to do after this week? I know there's some talk about making golf your profession. Curious on those two questions. And then I'll ask, if I may, over there.
ALVARO ORTIZ: I finished school last May. I was lucky to finish. Glad to finish, too.
Since my win, I've been doing pretty much the same thing as I was doing before the LAAC. I think preparing the same way. Maybe mentally, a little bit different. I've never experienced a major crowd or the feelings or the emotions that are going to be presented to me on the first tee on Thursday.
So just trying to visualize that moment and try to feel comfortable with that, and I'm going to turn pro in seven days, Monday, after the Masters. Try to get some exemptions. I'll play anywhere, and just pretty much just try to get a new start, so I can get on to the tour.
Q. Curious, how many times have you played this golf course, just twice with Hideki, or have there been other times you've gotten to play Augusta National?
TAKUMI KANAYA: We came Friday and that was the first time I played.
Q. When you first played this golf course and stood on the first tee, was there one hole that you couldn't wait to get to, and why?
ALVARO ORTIZ: Oh, man, I think there were all 18 holes that I couldn't wait to get to. But I think there were a couple in my mind that I really wanted to go there and see if they were that hard. Like No. 10, No. 11 and 12. Especially Amen Corner. Everybody talks about Amen Corner and everybody wants to go just see it and the flowers and everything. It's special, you know.
But I think 11 was the hole that shocked me the most. I thought the tee shot was harder, but just the second shot, what it requires is just a really good golf shot, a quality golf shot, to be able to have like a 30‑footer or 40‑footer for birdie. I think hole was probably my favorite.
Q. Do you think your Masters experience will be complete this week if you don't have a pimento cheese sandwich?
ALVARO ORTIZ: A what?
Q. That might be the problem. A pimento cheese sandwich.
ALVARO ORTIZ: Yeah, everybody was talking about that. Actually, I received more arguments about the barbecue, the chicken barbecue sandwich, which I think is pretty good, I already tried that one, but I'll have to try the pimento cheese.
Q. We're very proud to have you here competing at the Masters. It was a huge thing for our country, obviously, for México. But what would be for you a successful Masters? What are your real expectations this week?
ALVARO ORTIZ: Well, it's hard to answer that question because I've received a couple recommendations from players, like Jhonattan Vegas or Russell Knox or a couple guys that have been here for a couple times, and they told me just to come out here without expectations and without expecting anything. Just try to accept the week and how it goes and however I play.
In my mind, I'm out here to compete, really, and I want the green jacket. That's why I'm here. I think every player is thinking like that, at least.
Of course, winning the low amateur would be nice. Making the cut would be a really good finish, too. But I mean, if you give me a Top‑10 right now, I'll sign it for sure because I'm coming back next year.
I just want to go out there and have fun and enjoy it. I'm here with my family. I feel like it couldn't be a better week to finish my amateur career, so I'm happy with whatever way I play.
Q. How special was it to play with Sergio today? He obviously knows the course very well, and we see you talking with him a lot today.
ALVARO ORTIZ: Yes, Sergio is a really nice guy. I really like him. He's friends with my brother. He really knows the place. He really knows how to get around, and especially just the way they kind of like set themselves up for the next shot. It's not about hitting it close or driving it to the perfect spot. It's more about how can you set yourself the best way to not screw up, pretty much. Like not to make a bogey or to have any blemishes on your scorecard, and I think he's really good at that, and the way he showed me around the greens ‑‑ and around the greens, especially some chipping, everything is really, really tough out there. So the advice I got from him was really good and I appreciate it.
Q. Were you able to follow what Maria Fassi did on Saturday, and also, I think the Razorback men were playing a tournament and some were going to come out today. Did you see any of them today?
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: Yeah, unfortunately I wasn't able to follow Maria, but I saw her the whole way on TV. I was fortunate enough, my second time that I played the course, Fred Ridley, the Chairman, had like a shootout with his friends and they put all Sunday pins out there. It was really nice to play them and see how the slopes work, see how can you attack them, how can you be aggressive and which ones not and all of that.
I think overall, it's such a challenging track that you have to be so patient out there, because maybe one hole you can have a 5‑footer for birdie and up with a bogey, and the next hole you have a 60‑footer and you end up walking away with a birdie. Situations like that, I feel that you have to be really calm and patient out there.
Q. The Latin American impact on kids' dreams of being in the Masters, do you think that that's changed the outlook for kids in México, and also, there's still the economic barrier to golf for some in México. How do you see that changing over time?
ALVARO ORTIZ: Yeah, I said this before. What the Masters Committee, the USGA and the R&A, what they did with the Latin American, they put an incentive for us Latin Americans to try to work harder and just get better at it.
You don't need to play a tournament every day to qualify in the Masters, and what this has done for us is just it makes us work harder. It makes us, you know, better players for sure. And I think it's not just in México that golf has been growing. I think it's been all Latin America. You can see in Chile, too, they have come out with great players, Argentina, Brazil and all those countries, too. It's just special for us, we have been playing with all Latin Americans since we were little kids, and it's good to see our friends do good, too.
Q. How far you were today with your second shot on the 9th hole?
TAKUMI KANAYA: 210 yards. Tee shot, I hit a tree.
Q. For each of you. Takumi, do you have family and friends here with you that have travelled to be with you here during this tournament, and for both of you, are you staying in the Crow's Nest one night or any nights?
TAKUMI KANAYA: My family is coming to watch this week. And tonight, I'm going to stay at the Crow's Nest.
ALVARO ORTIZ: Same. I think every amateur is staying at the Crow's Nest today since it's the amateur dinner.
Q. You had almost six months, you had to wait for six months for the Masters to come, unlike Alvaro who had to just wait three months. How difficult was it to just wait for this day to come since winning the tournament?
TAKUMI KANAYA: After I won, I thought, man, I have six months to wait, but 2019 came and it came by quick, and I knew there was only four months left to wait. No, it's come quick.
Q. When you first started to play golf, who had the bigger influence on you in Japan, Ryo Ishikawa or Hideki Matsuyama?
TAKUMI KANAYA: I would say both, but there are many, many great players in Japan that really influenced me in playing this game, and so yeah, I would say both.
Q. You said five times you came to practice between the win and here. What was your strategy in coming here? Was there a purpose specifically in each of those rounds, or were you just coming to familiarize yourself? Curious if you had some kind of a plan, if you will, how you were approaching each of those practice rounds?
ALVARO ORTIZ: The first two times I came here it was with my dad and I was just trying to enjoy it, let everything soak in and I was kind of spectating, pretty much, looking at every hole, looking at the trees, asking about the maintenance of the course and the members and everything.
Then the second round, I was just trying to pick my lines from the tee, trying to pick my line from the fairway, especially to the pins where‑‑ it was Thursday and Friday pins, and we tried to think what are the toughest. The last three times I came with my coach, Justin Poynter, and he made me chip like a thousand balls from every hole. We chipped everywhere, from everywhere to every single pin to every single position, from each bunker, from each blade of grass, literally. We just chipped and putted every day for a long, long time, taking three hours per nine, just doing that and just working on that and feeling comfortable around it.
I was lucky enough, it was like ten days ago that the greens were somewhat firm and really, really fast because of the jamboree, so I was just lucky enough to get a feel of what the tournament is going to be like.
Q. You said you had messages today from people encouraging you for this week. Was there one that was notable to you or stood out in your mind?
ALVARO ORTIZ: Yeah, actually a couple of my friends sent me a video together. There were like six of my friends. They made a video of them singing. It was really funny. Just friends from back home that are going to be back here to support me this week, too.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, ladies and gentlemen for being with us, and thank you, gentlemen, for being with us also. We wish you the very best luck in your first Masters appearance.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports