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June 6, 2019

Maria Fassi

Galloway, New Jersey

Q. It's been a very busy week for you this week. How is it coming off of the U.S. Women's Open in terms of feelings and how you're feeling out there on the course?
MARIA FASSI: Well, last week was tough, was long, very hot, so I'm a little bit tired. So it was nice to kind of get a day off yesterday since there was the pro-am going on. So I just practiced and worked out and kind of got my energy back where I'd like it to be. I'm feeling good. Just very excited to start, to play my first actual LPGA tournament. It's nice to do that here. It's one of the oldest tournaments, and it's just exciting to be out here. My golf game is where I like it to be, and I'm just very excited for the week to start.

Q. What does this tournament mean to you in terms of its history when it comes to being the start for people like Lexi Thompson and Brooke Henderson when they were so young in the game, being able to make kind of their pro debuts here? What does that mean to you, being able to have your second event as a professional here at ShopRite?
MARIA FASSI: Well, like I said, it just means a lot because I know how much history there is behind this event. I know Stacy won it a couple times, and it's just nice to see Razorbacks winning and being part of the tournament's history, and like you say, with Brooke and Lexi having this tournament be so special to them, and I think it's going to be very special in some way to me, because like I said, it's going to be my first LPGA upgraded tournament, if you will, start for me, so I'm excited.

I love the golf course. Everyone has been really welcoming, and it's just exciting to finally be out here.

Q. For you also, speaking of your time as a Razorback, being able to be a back-to-back winner of the Annika award, what does that mean to you, and how was it when you found out?
MARIA FASSI: It's great. I mean, winning it last year was definitely the best thing that could have happened with the season that I had, and then coming back and doing it again this year, having a very strong finish -- my last four events I was inside the top 5 for all four, and that kind of got me in the fight -- yeah, like just back in contention to maybe win it again, and then winning it again was just really special.

Well, I just love Annika and all she does and her foundation and what she means to the sport, and having my name not only once but twice in her award just means a lot to me.

Q. Now, there's been a quick turnaround from participating in anything as an amateur and also the NCAA championships to the U.S. Women's Open and now to ShopRite and the rest of the summer. How have you been handling the switch from college life to now professional life?
MARIA FASSI: Well, I think for me, it's been kind of easy, if you will, because I haven't really had time to think about anything. It's just been so fast that just going from one tournament to the other, and like I said, it just hasn't hit me yet. I guess that's the best way to put it. I'm taking next week off, and I guess that's kind of when I'll have some time to settle in and actually realize that I'm on Tour now and that I'm playing in the big leagues and doing what I love most.

I think from there, the summer gets very busy, so I'll be able to see how that looks like. But I'm just very excited. I've dreamt about being out here for 14 or so years, and now getting the opportunity to compete against the best in the world, it's just such a joy, and I mean, I've learned so much already from a lot of the players out here, and I know it's only going to get better from here.

Q. What kind of consideration did you have last year? You could have come out last year after college golf had ended. What went into your decision to stay another year and play college golf?
MARIA FASSI: Well, I enjoy playing with a team more than anything, and I knew that once I turned professional, that wasn't going to be kind of in the picture anymore, and I definitely wanted to take every opportunity that I had to be out with the girls for one last time. It wasn't hard for me to say no to the LPGA and have deferred my status for after graduation because I knew how much they meant to me and how important it was for me to come back, and my biggest hope was to come back and finish at nationals at home the way we did. Of course we fell a little bit short as a team, but it was amazing to get that individual title for me and do it in front of our fans and our people and all of our staff. It was nice to have the whole team out there supporting.

I think that was worth it, and then of course I got to play at Augusta, which was, I mean, another thing in itself. It was just so special to compete out there, and I know I could have not done that if I would have turned pro earlier. I think it was easy and hard in a way decision, but I'm very happy with the way I did things.

Q. What did it feel like at the Open to barely make the cut and then see your name moving up the leaderboard on Saturday?
MARIA FASSI: Yeah, it was definitely a weird feeling having to play kind of knowing that I was close to the cut line. I like to play fairly aggressive, and I had to hold back on a few shots just because I knew I couldn't afford a mistake. I didn't necessarily love that. And I think on Saturday after making the cut, I just knew I didn't really have anything to lose, and I just played my game and was able to post a good round and get myself back to even and then do the same thing on Sunday.

So I think it was a nice learning opportunity for me because I know -- I mean, I didn't really enjoy the way I handled myself maybe on that Friday, especially on the back nine. I was just kind of saving the score instead of just playing my game, so it's definitely a learning opportunity that hopefully I don't make that mistake again. I know sometimes, yeah, you've got to just make a par, but I also like to stay true to myself and to my game. It ended up working out perfectly for me on the weekend, and I think it was a nice lesson to learn my first start.

Q. It showed a lot of toughness to kind of have to come back on Saturday morning and finish up that round knowing that you're flirting with the cut line and getting it done?
MARIA FASSI: Yeah, it was hard for sure. I kind of got in a little bit of trouble on 7 and 8 and was able to hit a fairly decent shot on 8 on to the ground and two-putted from like 60 feet, knowing that I had to make three pars in the morning. It was just an odd feeling because we don't ever play like that in college. Yeah, it was just different for sure. But I am happy that I was able to make three pars and move on to the weekend.

Q. Do you have a team in place, caddie, coach, agent?
MARIA FASSI: Yes. Yeah, so my caddie, his name is Gary Matthews. He's been on the PGA TOUR for a very long time, and he caddied for a few players here on the LPGA. I think he was with Lydia for maybe six or eight months, and then with Minjee Lee for like a year, as well. Yeah, he's going to be helping me at least for the rest of the season. My coach, Txema Sanchez, I've been working with him for four years now, and he's not going anywhere. He's a great guy, and I'm just very thankful that he's part of my team, and he's working at the Leadbetter Golf Academy, so I have not only his support but everyone behind Leadbetter Golf Academy, this being strength, nutrition, sports psychologist and David himself. He's been really helpful. It's a great resource to have for sure.

Then with my agent, his name is Carlos Rodriguez, and he works for Impact Point, and they don't have any other players on the LPGA. I'll be their only girl. But they have quite a few guys on the PGA TOUR. They manage Sergio and Luke Donald and Vijay and a couple other guys. They've been around for a very long time, so they know what they're doing. Yeah, I'm just very happy with the way everything has worked out, and I'm very comfortable with my team. I trust them a lot, and I definitely enjoy being with them, as well.

Q. For people who are coming out tomorrow who have never seen you play, how would you describe your game, your style of play?
MARIA FASSI: Well, I'd like to say that I'm fun to watch. I hit it far, and that's always interesting. I kind of like to interact with the crowds and stuff. So I think people enjoy that in a way. They appreciate a smile. I mean, I'm a fighter. I won't give up, even if it's a tough day, so I guess that's something that could describe me.

But yeah, I think it will be fun, and hopefully people enjoy it, and we can, yeah, just keep bringing more people to the game.

Q. How was your initial reactions to playing this course?
MARIA FASSI: It was not what I was expecting from a course up north. I mean, I don't really know what I was expecting, but it was definitely not what I saw. But I was surprised, but I really enjoyed my practice round on Tuesday. I think it's a really nice challenge. It's short, but it's tight. You cannot just rip driver on every hole. You've got to really think what your play off the tee is going to be, and hitting fairways definitely pays off because you can be a little more aggressive with the shorter things. The greens are tricky, too. They have some subtle slopes that are kind of hard to see, and they'll mess up with your ball.

It looks wide. It's not really wide because you have of course the tall grass and the rough is quite long, as well, but it's a really nice challenge, and I'm excited to start tomorrow.

Q. Did you try a shot out of the fescue?
MARIA FASSI: I did, yeah. I tried a couple because I know it's a possibility. I mean, it's basically just chipping it out from there. There's not -- unless you get really lucky, there's not much you can do from there. Of course trying to avoid that, and even the rough, you can have some really ugly lies from there. Around the green there's some really tight lies and stuff.

I think -- I mean, it's short, but it's also very tricky, and if you make a mistake you're definitely going to be paying for it.

Q. Do you know what your schedule is going to be like coming up?
MARIA FASSI: Yeah, so I'm off next week. I play KPMG and Arkansas, and then --

Q. You're going to play Arkansas, huh?
MARIA FASSI: Yeah, going to go back home. And then I am off after Arkansas. I think that's Thornberry. And then I go to Marathon, hopefully Dow, and then Evian, then hopefully British, as well.

Q. Got a partner lined up for Dow?
MARIA FASSI: Yeah, if we do get in, I'll probably play with Jennifer Kupcho. We're very excited about that, so yeah, we're trying to get ourselves into that one. Yeah, it will be fun to play with her for sure.

Q. Was Augusta like sort of a bonding experience for you and Jennifer?
MARIA FASSI: It was actually the Palmer Cup last year where we -- because I mean, I have known her for a while, but we were never close, and I think she's really intimidating, and she thought the same about me, so we were always like keeping our distance. And then at Palmer Cup, we -- at like the dinner after the tournament, we just talked, and she's like, you're scary with your sunglasses, and I'm like, you don't have sunglasses and you're scary like that. It was just funny, we laughed about that, and then from there we just had a really good relationship, and then at Q-school we played a few rounds together, and we just spent two weeks out there, and we got very close there, and then from there it just has been a really nice relationship, and then definitely playing at Augusta together and to win what we did definitely helped our relationship and our friendship. Then of course we went to New York and did all the fun stuff over there. Yeah, we've just gotten closer and closer over the past few months.

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