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August 21, 2003

Casey Wittenberg


PETE KOWALSKI: Casey Wittenberg, congratulations on making it to the quarterfinals.


PETE KOWALSKI: Two wins today and obviously a hard-fought battle there in the afternoon with Adam. If you could give us a little quick snapshot of the holes that were important in both of the wins today.

CASEY WITTENBERG: This morning I got off to a great start. I was three up after three. And started struggling a little bit against Camilo, he's a great player. I knew he was. I knew I would -- I figured I would play Camilo and if I won I would play Adam again. He's a Walker Cupper and so obviously he played well this summer and he continues to play well. And Camilo, I won 9, to stay one up. And it kind of got me going again. Because I was losing holes. And I kind of got back going.

And then I won 12, I think. I won 12 with a par and then he birdied 13.

Then I won 14. Really I hit a poor shot at 14. I had a good shot into the green. Had about 15 feet and my -- we were on the clock at that point in time. So I didn't really have time to go behind the hole and look at how much downhill it was. And my dad told me that it was downhill, but I hit the putt by, 15 feet by. And Camilo only had about a 7 -, 8-footer for par. And when I made that putt coming back I think I kind of won myself the hole because I think he went from thinking that he had a chance to half the hole with me, but then he had a chance to win and then he had to half it again, and I think just the change of emotion right there, I think that gave me that hole.

Then I was kind of holding on until the end. Then against Rubinson, I really didn't play that bad. I hit it -- I hit two good shots into 2 both times I played it today. Something must be -- I've gotten fooled with the yardage. I guess I hit an 8-iron this morning, against Camilo, and I hit a perfect one. It was three feet from the hole, and this afternoon against Adam I hit an 8-iron again and I thought it was perfect and it was over the green. I hit a 9-iron in the playoff, what I thought was perfect and it was over the green. So maybe that hole just plays a little bit short for my perception.

But I lost 2, and then I played 3 very poorly. I lost 3. And then we kind of halved around and then I lost the par-3. He made a good par putt there, about 15 feet.

And then I lost 9 to go four down. And then he finally hit a bad drive on or hit a good drive on 10 but ended up in the rough and the pin was so close to the front you couldn't stop it. I got up-and-down from the back of the green and he didn't. So I kind of got a little bit of wind there.

He 3-putted number -- I knew how fast that putt was on 11 I had it this morning. When I saw him hit his I was surprised. And unfortunately he missed the next short one coming down the hill. I won that hole to get back all square. Or -- no; to get back to one down.

Even then I was playing the par-5. I hit a good drive. He did too. He hit a ball in the bunker, I hit an awful layup shot in the right rough. I hit it short of the green, had a really hard shot. I wanted to putt it. My dad wanted me to chip it. I ended up chipping it and ended up getting up-and-down for all square.

I was still one down I guess at that point. Then I went all square on the next hole where I made a par and he made a bogey. Then we halved and then I won 15 to go one up.

Then we halved 16. That's playing brutal. I hit 3-wood into it with that pin back there. If you're hitting it left of the pin where I have to go, it's just a really hard putt. We made bogeys there and then we made a really poor decision on 17 off the tee box, my dad and I did. I should have never tried to force the ball as far up there as I did. I should have just did exactly what Adam did. He hit to the left and played from down there, especially with a one-up lead.

I lost 17 because I had pretty much an impossible shot from about 90 yards, bunker shot over another bunker to the green. It was just almost impossible. I lost that hole.

Then 18 we hit great drives. He hit an unbelievable shot in there and I hit a bad 3-iron to the front. Probably had -- I don't know how deep that green is but I was every bit from the front fringe to the pin and I left it 10 feet short and just gutted it out. When it comes down to it, if you're going to win a U.S. Amateur there's going to be key points and key moments in the tournament where you got to gut it out and get going. And on 18, you know, it's just do or do die. You either make it and you keep playing or you go home. And I was fortunate enough to make it.

We both played 1 fairly well. He had a great 2-putt from the back of the green. And then we played two obviously he unfortunately he 3-putted two. And then I hit a great chip shot and made a big putt.

PETE KOWALSKI: Seems like at least three of the matches that you won you have had a stretch where you won multiple holes in a row and have gotten on a roll. Is that typically the way you play?

CASEY WITTENBERG: I think this golf course produces that. It's so difficult if you start playing bad for a stretch or if you kind of get out of rhythm for a stretch you just make bogeys like that. And if the other person is going, he's continue to make pars, he's just winning holes. And the greens are getting so firm out there right now and the pin placements, a lot of them are on the front of the greens today, so it's extremely difficult to get the ball close to the hole. Especially if you're trying to come out of the rough. And I've been fortunate to kind of get on some rolls when they have been playing bad and take advantage of the situation that I'm in.

Q. How deep was the rough on No. 2 where that chip shot came from?


Q. Six inches or better?


Q. You almost drown it was that deep?


Q. Is it almost better that it was in the rough though as opposed to the bunker do you think?

CASEY WITTENBERG: Much better in the bunker. I would have much rather been in the bunker.

Q. Is it mentally tough because it's so hot, so long, so much riding on this second match today, you got to make a comeback.

CASEY WITTENBERG: I looked at the brackets last night and you take the match, every one that you get one at a time. I played against Adam in the Western Amateur a couple years ago and he beat me. And so I knew he was a great player. I practiced with him last week with the Walker Cup team up at Laurel Valley. We played a lot of matches together. We did a lot of alternate shots together. We have very similar games as far as hitting fairways and greens. We're very alike players. He's a great guy, great kid and he's got unbelievable talent. And it's just difficult. The U.S. Amateur, unfortunately, somebody's got to lose. And today I just held on a little bit.

Q. You had a good run this summer. What's been particularly going well? Why do you think you've had such success?

CASEY WITTENBERG: Well, my back's been kind of pushed up against the wall a little bit this summer because I knew in order to get on the Walker Cup team I was going to have to have a big summer. And that was a really big goal of mine. I was practicing with Tim Jackson earlier this year down in Florida in February and January. We just kind of talked about goals and what we were doing. And we talked about the Walker Cup team, obviously we both wanted to play on it more than anything. And I played well the beginning of the year and kind of got some rhythm. And then I played well the first round of the U.S. Open qualifying and really had a legitimate shot to be able to qualify for The Open. And unfortunately I kind of fell apart right at the end. And then I went up to Sunnehanna, I kind of played poorly. And then I went to Monroe and I played well there. And I went to Northeast and I kind of played poorly.

Then I came home to play in our FedEx, which is the FedEx St. Jude. And I really played well. I played practice rounds with Ty Tryon and Hank Kuehne multiple times. Ty helped me on key points with what he was working on with David. And my ball striking has been very good since that point. My ball strike was really good during the FedEx. It's just difficult to play at home a little bit. And I had a lot of expectations. And obviously I wanted to play well. And unfortunately it just didn't happen.

But then I went, I left Friday night and went to Pinehurst and played well at the North/South. And ever since then I came back home and took a couple days off and hung out with some friends, did some things, kind of got my mind off golf a little bit. Went up to The Homestead and just kind of got on a roll.

PETE KOWALSKI: Any more questions for Casey?

Q. Can we call you "Comeback Casey" now?


PETE KOWALSKI: Casey, congratulations. Thank you very much for joining us. Good luck tomorrow.


End of FastScripts....

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