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August 24, 2003

Casey Wittenberg


CRAIG SMITH: Casey, you were making a run at a comeback here that would have allowed us to say you only led at the most important time all day long. Is that what had you in mind? You only needed to get the lead once.

CASEY WITTENBERG: Well, I didn't really have that in mind. But towards the end I was just trying to grind it out. He was giving me opportunities and I really wasn't taking too much advantage of them. But I played poorly all day.

It was an extremely hard golf course. Your average shots turn out to be bad. The final match of the U.S. Amateur, you just got to step it up and I just couldn't do it.

CRAIG SMITH: Which let you down, the driver?

CASEY WITTENBERG: I didn't hit very many fairways at all. When I did hit fairways I didn't capitalize on the situation. I 3 putted on 16 after he was going to make bogey more than likely. I did hit a poor shot on 11 when he had about 50 feet across the green left. Just certain things that when you're trying to win a U.S. Amateur, you just can't do.

Q. Talk about, you've been down before, but four down after the first 18, what were you thinking?

CASEY WITTENBERG: It's just a long day. You just got to get out there and grind it out. I knew I wasn't playing well. I hit a bunch of balls. I went straight from the 18th green down to the range. I hit a bunch of balls and tried to get back in some rhythm. I just couldn't find it. I tried to gut it out and figure out a way to get back into the match and I was fortunate enough to force it into extra holes, but he beat me on the first playoff hole.

CRAIG SMITH: The approach shot on the 10th hole. The first extra hole. Did you think the lie was better than it was?

CASEY WITTENBERG: I did. In that situation with the position that he's in, you got to try. I thought I had hit a good shot off the tee, to be perfectly honest, but obviously it wasn't.

Q. Did you give any thought on 17 to pulling driver? Had you not done that all week?

CASEY WITTENBERG: I hadn't done it all week. I didn't do it in the practice round so I didn't know where I was going to put the ball. I wish I had because everybody that did it on me seemed to put it in pretty good position. I had my game plan to play that hole and it just didn't really work out.

CRAIG SMITH: I guess this is the hard question, but measure the disappointment. Emotionally for you, where are you?

CASEY WITTENBERG: On a scale of 1 to 10, it's an 8. I made it to the finals of the U.S. Amateur, at 18 years old, and the disappointing part of it is that you could be the best player for the next three or four years, however many years I continue to play in the U.S. Amateur, and not make it to the finals just because match play is such a funny game, the way that matches work out, the way that things happen. So when you get that one opportunity to play in the finals and do, try and win, it's just extremely disappointing to not take advantage of that.

I've had a great summer. I'm excited about going to England on Thursday. I guess I'll go to the school for a couple days and see what that's like then head on over there for a little bit, then come back.

Q. Most people think it's mentally exhausting to go around this course once. What's it like to go around twice on a day on those greens?

CASEY WITTENBERG: The greens, they were just unbelievably perfect. They're extremely difficult. It's an extremely long week of playing golf. I've been here since last Wednesday with the Walker Cup team. I've been here a really long time. You really don't think about that when you're out there in your match. You're trying to, or at least I didn't, because I was always behind, so I didn't really have time to sit back and relax and coast on a four or three or two up or one up lead. I didn't have that situation.

Q. After the morning round you were four down; what was the mindset then? What did you do in between the break and (inaudible)?

CASEY WITTENBERG: I practiced. The mindset wasn't any different. It really wasn't. Just tried to go out there and just play as good as I could play.

The only thing I can control is myself. I can't control what Nick did or how many putts Nick made or how many important putts Nick made or how many there's nothing that you could do about your opponent. You got to concentrate on yourself. I just hit the ball poorly today; poorly and an extremely difficult golf course. I made a lot of bogeys and not very many birdies and in the finals of the U.S. Amateur that's probably not going to let you win.

CRAIG SMITH: Which ones - you allowed Nick to win only two holes all afternoon, but which ones cost you the match?

CASEY WITTENBERG: 16 cost me the match. The 16th the second time around it cost me the match. If I could have won that hole I could have probably won without even having to probably play an extra hole.

Number 2, you have to hit the green on Number 2 this week. The only time I did hit the green I made birdie. I made 6s and 5s on it all week. I got up and down a couple times on it, but it's just I felt like I was hitting good shots. It's just an extremely difficult hole.

Number 16 my second way around, when I knew that he was going to I knew 18 was a good hole for me because he had driven the ball so well all day and hit so many fairways, he was bound to miss one. It was just going to happen. If I could have gotten all square on 16 or standing on 17 tee, I felt like I had a good shot to win, much less go into extra holes. It's disappointing, the 3 putt there. It's an extremely difficult putt there from an extremely long distance. I need to be able to handle that situation a little bit better than I did.

Q. When he misses on 17, with that six footer or whatever he had, that would have won it. Talk about what your emotions were at that point as you walked up to the 18th tee.

CASEY WITTENBERG: I really didn't think he would miss that putt on 17, to be perfectly honest. He had made everything else all day. There wasn't any reason for him to miss that. You're just trying to hang on. It's match play and the disappointing thing about match play is that instead of losing strokes, you're losing holes. When you're coming down to the end, those holes are pretty big. You might think it's pretty nice when you're out at the beginning, and I was one down, I had to figure out a way to win 18. I was fortunate enough to do that. I went to 10 and just hit a bad 3 wood.

Q. Talk about the lie on the 37th hole and what were you trying to do with it?

CASEY WITTENBERG: Well, the lie was not good. You're not going to get very many good lies in this rough. I was just trying to I had 178 to the front, I was just trying to force a 7 iron down there as far as I could. Try and get it to run on the front of the green pretty much where my chip shot ended up after I hit my third. It was coming off a side hill lie a little bit. Just trying not to let that club face turn over and unfortunately I just hung it out to the right and put myself in an extremely difficult place to have to get up and down for par.

Q. Was there anything in particular you were fighting?

CASEY WITTENBERG: I was extremely in front of the ball today. I really can't explain it. Maybe it was just a little bit out of rhythm. I tried to get back into it. For some apparent reason I just couldn't, could not get back into rhythm, what I had been doing all week.

To be perfectly honest I really didn't play my best golf all week, but I played well enough at certain times. I played my best golf at certain times. Today I just didn't play very well. But you got to give it to Nick. He made a bunch of huge putts and I kind of scrambled around there for a little bit and made some putts too and kind of got the match back to a little bit more interesting. But he gutted it out and he did it when it counted.

Q. Does that make it any more disappointing; if you had played really well and still gotten beat would it be easier to swallow then?

CASEY WITTENBERG: No. It's the U.S. Amateur. Obviously you don't want to loose.

Q. You're talking about the timetable for maybe a couple years you play more and you might not get this opportunity; did you have, in your mind, before you came here, or before the summer, a timetable for moving up to the pros and has this summer changed that?

CASEY WITTENBERG: I definitely have a timetable. As to when I feel like I will be ready to be professional, what that is, I just I do have an idea but it's just an idea. That's all I can say.

Q. What kind of report card do you give yourself for handling the crowds, the national TV and the pressure at the U.S. Amateur? Did you find out something about yourself this week?

CASEY WITTENBERG: I felt like I handled it pretty well. I tried to stay as evenly keeled as I could out there. Tried not to show any emotion one way or the other. Obviously when it comes down to the end, it's disappointing.

The crowds were definitely swarming. They were definitely around. You definitely noticed them. But it's fun to play in front of that many people. And I think that makes you play better. It's exciting to be in that situation.

Q. Were there a couple moments when you kind of squatted down and seemed to be almost talking to yourself. What were you trying to do there?

CASEY WITTENBERG: I was just trying to get myself back in the moment. It was just like I was just kind of out there. I was hitting some really poor shots at some really incredible times. I'm not I can't explain it. I didn't do anything different. I tried to stay with my preparation, with my routine as much as I could. I just hit some poor shots that ended up costing me the golf tournament.

Q. Did emotion affect your golf game today internally?

CASEY WITTENBERG: No, it didn't. Not at all. I was extremely even keeled throughout the whole entire week. I felt like I needed to come here and I felt like I needed to play well. I felt like I put myself in a great position today. I've opened up a lot of opportunities for myself by playing well here this week. We're just going to see where those opportunities take me.

CRAIG SMITH: Opportunities before this week, well after this week, you get to play on the Walker Cup team, invitation to play in the U.S. Open, invitation to play in the Masters. So even though you're disappointed I don't think you have any reason to be so hard on yourself.

CASEY WITTENBERG: That's correct. It's been a good week. I am extremely disappointed in the way that things turned out. I feel like that it was a result of myself and not anybody else or anything out there on the golf course or a break one way or the other. It was my swing, my shot, my ball. I need to have more control over it. I got a lot of great things to look forward to. April is going to be a fun month. Hopefully I can play well at the Masters and then play well at the U.S. Open and we'll just see where it goes from there.

Q. When you birdied 10 the second time around, what did you hit in? And how far?

CASEY WITTENBERG: I think I hit an 8 iron in. I think I had like 175 to the pin and like 163 to the front. It was a good putt. I was glad it went in the hole and didn't roll out.

Q. And 18, coming in, what did you have in, what did you hit?

CASEY WITTENBERG: I had 175 to the pin, I hit 7 iron just kind of three quarter 7 iron up there. Just trying to put it right of the hole. Because I had already been left of the hole once today and I realized that's not a good place to be.

Q. About 20 feet?


Q. In your mind when you go back home on the plane or whatever, do you consider that you lost this or that he won it?


Q. Go back straight to Stillwater now?


Q. What classes are you missing?

CASEY WITTENBERG: I haven't been to one yet, I don't know what they are.

Q. I don't know your experience in the Masters at all if you've ever been, watch it on TV all the time; can you just talk about what your thoughts are going to come around to between now and April?

CASEY WITTENBERG: Augusta is an extremely important golf tournament for me, and my decision on my golf career. There are a lot of perks that come for an amateur that plays well and makes the cut at Augusta. It's going to be a really important week for me to see where my career goes. I'm just going to try and prepare. Obviously being at Oklahoma State, it's the best situation, best place for me to be. It's got the best facilities and I'm going to be able to prepare better for Augusta up there than anywhere else and I feel like I'll be ready.

Q. Sounds like the Masters might affect your timetable.

CASEY WITTENBERG: No. Not necessarily. The Masters is an extremely important tournament.

End of FastScripts....

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