home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


August 23, 2003

Casey Wittenberg


PETE KOWALSKI: Casey, congratulations and thank you for your patience again here. Congratulations on your victory and what comes with it, which is great stuff. If you could give us a little bit of a snapshot of how you won the match, holes that were critical.

CASEY WITTENBERG: Okay. I won the first hole with a par. Lee hit a bad 3-wood off the tee almost popped it up and he had a really long shot into the green. It's pretty difficult to get the ball close from that far out with that much slope right there in front of the green and he ran the ball over the green and made bogey. I had a 7-iron right there on the front of the green and just layed it down there and I got one up there.

Lee beat me on the next hole, on No. 2. I hit it in the front bunker and was plugged. I couldn't get up-and-down.

Number 3, Lee hit a bad drive left. I hit 3-wood off the tee. And I thought that I had hit a pretty good 7-iron into the green but ended up a little short. Lee then hit an approach shot that came up short too. We both couldn't get up-and-down. So I made five and he made six. So I won that hole.

On 4, we halved 4 with par.

On 5, I hit 3-iron off the tee and had like 160 or something like that to the pin. I hit an 8-iron to the front of the green. Lee hit it in the back bunker. And I 3-putted and he didn't get up-and-down. So I went back to two up there.

Then I hit a 6-iron on the next hole about 25 feet. Lee hit a 6 or 7-iron to probably 35 feet. Lee hit a great putt; it didn't go in. I ended up two-putting mine so we halved that hole.

On 7, I hit a great drive down the center of the fairway, Lee hit it in the left rough. He hit it short of the green. I hit a 6-iron I thought a little right but I thought it was going to be fine. It was long and right of the green. I didn't get up-and-down and Lee did. He won that hole.

8 is really the only really poor mental hole that I played. I hit a 2-iron in the center of the green and Lee hit it in the left bunker and was Lee kind of stymied by the lip and he hit it out and he had a bogey and I had a two-and-a-half footer and I went brain dead and missed it. So I ended up halving that hole with a four.

On 9 we both hit bad drives in the left hazard, both dropped out. He hit it in the front right bunker. I hit a 2-iron short left. I got up-and-down; he didn't. So I went back to two up.

On number 10 I made a great shot off the tee, down the center of the fairway with a 3-wood. Then I hit a pitching wedge to about 20 feet behind the hole and Lee hit it in the right rough and then hit it in the left rough. He putted it down there and was going to make bogey. I 3-putted mine for par.

On 11, I hit 3-wood down the center of the fairway; so did Lee. Lee hit a great approach shot to about 35 feet. I hit a 9-iron in there about 30 feet. Lee missed his and I made mine. It took me to four up.

Then we both played 12 decent, considering how difficult that hole has played all week as far as getting the ball close to the pin. It's almost impossible.

13, I hit a 7-iron to the front of the green. Lee hit a good shot. It was behind the hole about 30 feet. With how fast the greens are right now it was just a wonder it stopped, unless he was going to make it. And when it rolled by, he rolled it by 20 feet almost. He missed that. And I had about a four-footer to win the hole there and I made that to go five up.

Then on 14, I hit a 3-iron off the tee, hit 9-iron to about 15 feet. He hit 3-wood, wedge to about 20 feet. He hit a good putt, but it didn't go in and I just laid mine down there to end the match.

Q. Did you hit 3-iron there all week or did you back off a little today?

CASEY WITTENBERG: I backed off one today.

Q. How much faster was it out there today with the greens?

CASEY WITTENBERG: It's ridiculous.

Q. Is that right?


Q. How do you really feel? How so? Any holes in particular?

CASEY WITTENBERG: It's not necessarily that the green speeds have really picked up; the firmness of the greens have picked up and obviously there's no humidity out there today and yesterday it was kind of hazy and humid so everything was a little bit slower. Today everything was dry, a little bit windy, everything was fast. But it's just the pin placements. They're cutting -- they can put them in spots on the greens that they're not that fast, but they're not doing that.

Like on 6 today I hit a putt that at one point in time was an inch short of the front lip and I had four-and-a-half feet coming back and I didn't even get it to the hole and so it's probably coming backwards towards me. And those kind of positions that they're cutting the pins is what makes it so fast.

13, they're putting it in the center of the green. Well the center of the green is the most sloped part of that green. You can put it in the front or back, you kind of got a little bowl to put it in. But you put it down the ridge in the center, it's tough. It was extremely difficult to 2-putt that putt from any significant distance there. Because it's just hard to keep the ball around the hole. You're hitting good putts that you think are good and they're rolling, three, four, five, six, even seven feet by in some cases.

Q. How far did you have on 13, your 2-putt?

CASEY WITTENBERG: I don't know. I was in the very, very front of the green and whatever I think the pin was probably - 18, 19 on. 30, 40, 50 feet.

Q. Do you think that's the reason why the scoring wasn't as good today?

CASEY WITTENBERG: Definitely. The course is just getting harder and harder and the pin placements like on 10, it's almost, I believe, impossible to get the ball close on 12, same thing.

On 1, same thing.

On number 2, it's just playing ridiculous for such a short hole with the pin placements.

And number 3, was a hard pin to get to. It's just extremely hard to make birdies.

7, I hit a 6-iron, landed in the center of the green and I'm chipping from over the green long right. It's just -- you're hitting better shots than is showing score-wise, but that's the U.S. Amateur. It's going to be difficult and you just got to deal with it when you get in those chances.

It's going to be really, really hard for somebody to go out on this golf course tomorrow and run the table with birdies. If they do, then they're just playing absolutely incredible. The golf course is playing so firm and so fast right now it's just hard to keep the ball around the hole. It's possible, definitely birdies are possible. You can definitely make birdies out there. But the golf course is so difficult, I think it in the 36-hole match tomorrow, there's obviously going to be stretches where every person plays a little bit better. But I think that overall everything's going to be pretty even and everybody's going to have their fair share of mistakes.

Q. Did you allow yourself to think at all about what a victory today meant in terms of the Master's, U.S. Open, things like that; has it sunk in at all?

CASEY WITTENBERG: You try not to think ahead, especially in tournament like this. Because match play is such a -- I call it a dangerous game because for a person who is a little bit better player maybe in match play probably has a little bit harder time winning matches because you're the target. Everybody raises their level of game when they play against better players and you try not to get ahead of yourself in match play. Even though you feel like you're the better player and feel like you can prevail you just never know what happens, because you can make four and he can make six, you win one hole and he can birdie the next four and you're really down even though you're playing better than him.

So it's a funny game how it works out like that. I tried to kind of stay in the moment and focus, saying I'm playing in the U.S. Amateur this week and I'm not playing the Walker Cup; that's next week. So this week's the U.S. Amateur; let's just stay focused on that.

Q. Well, obviously tomorrow's all about winning the trophy and all that. But now that you've got The Masters, U.S. Open, what sort of meaning is that for you just knowing that that's ahead of you?

CASEY WITTENBERG: It's just awesome. That's great. It's just the first part of my summer and my spring, this April is going to be a fun time. It's a great perk to have for playing well. I'm just fortunate to be in this situation that I'm in.

Q. Talk about how frustrating the conditions could be out there and conventional wisdom would tell us that that would favor a more experienced player. We have an 18-year-old and a 19-year-old in the finals; what do you think?

CASEY WITTENBERG: I think that the game is getting younger. I think that I know a lot of kids from Australia, I know how they handle sports over there as far as getting their best athletes to go to, letting them train in what sport they're in. Kids are just more experienced now days. I play as busy of a schedule as some touring pros do. Even though it's not in PGA TOUR tournaments, I play just as many tournaments as some of them do. And we play at our competitive level and they play at theirs. And you learn on both sides. I think we're -- you're not going to run into a really developed collegiate or Amateur player that hasn't been in a lot of situations and had a lot of experience.

Q. What do you know about Nick Flanagan?

CASEY WITTENBERG: Nothing. I don't know anything about him.

Q. Were you surprised to see your brother show up today?


Q. And the support he had?

CASEY WITTENBERG: That was kind of crazy. I was standing on the first fairway and I looked back and there's my brother. Nobody told me any of those people were coming up. But I'm excited that they're here and I was fortunate enough to win today in front of him and it's just even a better bonus.

Q. We were talking to your father and grandfather. They have never been to Augusta. You're doing this thing for yourself; obviously, you're doing this for yourself. Do you draw some satisfaction in the joy that they're getting out of this?

CASEY WITTENBERG: Of course. No matter how much I do this for myself I wouldn't be in this position without my family and my supporters and my friends that have been around me. They deserve just as much credit as I get for going out there and performing. There are a lot more things that go into playing golf well at this level than just going out there and hitting the little white golf ball around. There's a lot of distractions and things that happen behind the scenes, I'm sure as you all know, that allow me and other players to be able to play as well as they can when it comes down to it.

Q. Excited to see Jimmy and Jimmy at that event?

CASEY WITTENBERG: Oh, that would be awesome. It's just going to be a great experience. It's just another step of many to come.

Q. Your brother said you thrived on pressure and that this whole week, whenever you felt the TV cameras on you is when you played your best. Have you always enjoyed pressure situations, playing under pressure?

CASEY WITTENBERG: I think any person that's competitive enjoys pressure. I think they like to be in the spotlight. You would much rather have the cameras on you than somebody else because that means that you're playing better than the other person. I just enjoy it. That's the fun part about match play. You don't really have to worry about the rest of the field; you just have to worry about your one match and your one person that you're playing against.

It doesn't really matter if Trip Kuehne or Bill Haas is shooting 60 at Oakmont; if you're not playing them, who cares? That's kind of the neat thing about match play and it's kind of the neat thing about how the brackets set up. If you happen to get a good draw and a good bracket and you beat some good players early, then you can go a long way if you're playing well. Pressure's pressure and it's going to happen and it's going to mount even more each match you go further. But you just got to deal with it and take it as it comes.

Q. You talked about the experience that you've had and how many events you play in. You now know that this course is a different course than it started the beginning of the week. You know today that you did things that maybe you won't do tomorrow because of what you learned. How is your approach changing, not against the match but against the course tomorrow?

CASEY WITTENBERG: I don't think my approach against the golf course has really changed that much. I think that you have to keep the ball in the fairway. If you don't keep the ball in the fairway, the golf course is even -- it's almost impossible to get the ball close to the pin if you don't put it in the fairway. It's doable and you might be able to get away with it on certain holes, but over the long haul, especially in a 36-hole match if you don't hit fairways, you're probably not going to win. And so that's the first thing that I'm going to have to attack tomorrow. You have to put the ball in the short grass and then you have to hit some smart shots into the greens.

Lee hit a great shot into 13 but he was 25 , 30 feet behind the hole, almost an impossible putt. I hit it on the front fringe and I was 40, 45 feet. But I was probably almost had the upper hand a little bit. You got to try and keep the ball below the hole as hard as it sounds out here and as difficult the shots are, it's hard to do sometimes but you just got to favor those sides.

This is a U.S. Open golf course. No matter what people might think or might say. I really don't imagine the U.S. Open here in 2007 is going to be playing much more difficult than it did this morning. It might. They might throw something in there that I don't know about. But pars are good scores out here and in a long match a lot of holes, if you hang around par you're going to be doing mighty good.

Q. You'll be playing in that Open, right?


Q. Is it almost better that you're playing against somebody you don't know at all than somebody that you're more familiar with? Not necessarily familiar with, but friendly with? Does that help you, do you think?

CASEY WITTENBERG: I don't know. It's different. Having to play a Walker Cup teammate early on in the week was pretty difficult. Because we're friends, we're all pulling for each other, we all want each other to be playing well at this point in time because in the Walker Cup, that's coming up and I knew he was a great player, I practiced with him all last week with the Walker Cup team. We played a lot of matches together. We have been paired up a lot. I knew how he was playing, he knew me. It was extremely difficult. We knew we were going to push each other, and sometimes when you play with your best friend or friends you both play well because you're relaxed. Sometimes you play with your best friend you play bad because you aren't in the moment and you are out there having a good time. Your nose is to the grind stone now and you're out there to win it.

Pretty much you know as far as the perks come you're out there to win now, because that's the only other way you're going to get - my more things. So because I don't know him, I don't think it's really going to alter my game one way or other, whether I did or whether I didn't.

PETE KOWALSKI: Casey, you were close to a good showing at last year's Junior and one of the things you said there was you would like to have had some USGA hardware and now you're a step away what from winning the U.S. Amateur; what does that mean to you?

CASEY WITTENBERG: It would be unbelievable. It's obviously the highest thing that you can get in Amateur golf. To win the U.S. Amateur, to be able to say that you've won a U.S. Amateur, have your name on that trophy with all the players that have done it, that's the highest honor that you can get. To be on the Walker Cup team and to win the U.S. Amateur, those are the two things that when you start playing Amateur golf, those are the two things that you want to do. I've accomplished one of those and if I play well tomorrow, I might be able to accomplish another one.

Q. Are you ahead of even your own ambitious schedule?


Q. As far as what you've achieved, what you're on the cusp of achieving.


Q. Yeah.

CASEY WITTENBERG: I don't like to say that I have a schedule. I do have goals and I have things that I strive for but I try not limit myself to certain expectations. I just kind of try and perform at the highest ability that I can at every tournament that I play in. Fortunately enough this summer has just been a great summer for me and I played well and I'm riding a good wave and I hope it will continue through tomorrow.

Q. Is this the best you've played this summer?


Q. Where was that?

CASEY WITTENBERG: I played pretty well at the Porter Cup. I played pretty well in the U.S. Amateur qualifier. Obviously this golf course as far as performance wise, golf wise, you can hit good shots here that don't turn out good and which you make bogeys, where on other courses certain other conditions you can get away with some shots and shoot better scores.

I've physically played better golf at other tournaments, but I'm definitely playing well this week. It's just key to just being able to get out there and grind it out. You don't necessarily have to play -- you don't necessarily have to be the best player in the field or even play your best golf to win a U.S. Amateur; it just kind of depends on how you play a little bit better than the person that you're playing.

Q. Have you played in Europe before?


Q. Did the short putt on 8, did that kind of charge you up because you won three straight after that; did you take control of the match after that?

CASEY WITTENBERG: Yeah, that was extremely frustrating from my viewpoint. When you get this late in certain matches and this is a U.S. Amateur you hate to make costly mistakes like that. Just like my shot on 15 yesterday not getting it out of the bunker, those are things that can cost you possibly advancing. And it was just a little bit of lack of focus. I knew what the putt was, we knew what the read was, it was no excuse to miss it. But it's just came at a bad time. But I was fortunate enough to be able to recover and kind of get back on a roll there for a little bit.

Q. You seemed to forget it pretty quickly.

CASEY WITTENBERG: You can't worry about it. Everybody's going to make mistakes out here. You can't let that weigh on your mind and it was still on my mind when I hit my tee ball on number 9 and you see what the consequences are for doing that. So you got to be able to block it out and just keep your emotions calm and try and stay really level-headed out there.

Q. Have you ever played a 36-hole match?

CASEY WITTENBERG: No, I have played a lot of 36-hole matches but I never played one 36-hole match.

Q. I'm sure you just keep playing the course?

CASEY WITTENBERG: Exactly. You just got to focus on yourself out there. You can't control what he does, and he can't control what you do. If you go out and you play well, and you make a lot of birdies, you probably will win. But if you go out and you play poorly or if he plays well and he makes a lot of birdies, he probably wins. But I can't control anything that he does and he can't control how well I play or how bad I play. So I'm just going to have to get out there and concentrate on myself.

Q. Have you even met Nick Flanagan yet? Have you ever spoken to him?

CASEY WITTENBERG: Formally, no. I have. Obviously, I know who he is now because I saw him hitting balls on the range this morning and there weren't too many people to decipher. But I'm sure he's a great kid. Obviously he's a great player to be in this situation. I don't know if he goes to school here in the States or not or what he does. I'm not really sure. I'm sure we'll have a good time.

End of FastScripts....

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297