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August 20, 2003

Casey Wittenberg


CRAIG SMITH: You had a couple of days or at least one day before this one, getting in the match play was even a struggle before you had this struggle. Monday to Tuesday you went from a 70 to a 67.

CASEY WITTENBERG: Oakmont is just an extremely tough golf course. I didn't play that poorly the first day. I hit some poor drives and I put myself in positions where your just going to make bogeys and there's not so many birdies out there. If you get going bad it's really tough. And I got over to the other course, I was playing well and I had to post a good number to make the match play and I gutted it out and got it done.

CRAIG SMITH: You had yourself a heck of a summer winning a couple of tournaments and then being named to the Walker Cup at age 18. Give me some of your emotions going through the last month.

CASEY WITTENBERG: Obviously making the Walker Cup team was my main goal starting the year back in February when I played the first tournament at Sea Island and it was just a long summer with a lot of playing but you just had to gut it out and try and complete your goal and fortunately I have played well the last couple months and I got picked for the team.

CRAIG SMITH: Okay. Let's get into your match. You sort of got started on about hole 5. How did you feel after going bogey, bogey, bogey, bogey and being three down.

CASEY WITTENBERG: I was just really out of rhythm this morning. I really can't even describe it. I didn't hit any fairways and when you're not hitting fairways it's even hard to make par for that matter, much less birdie. And he was playing solid golf and hitting the fairway and it was tough to deal with. The good thing about Oakmont is it's so difficult there is no let-up anywhere. So it gives you a chance to come back and I came into form after I birdied number 5 and bogeyed number 6 and parred number 7, and from 7 on I played 1-under. And 1-under par out here is a good score from then on. So I came into form a little late.

CRAIG SMITH: You're a pretty confident golfer. So you must have given yourself a little talking to after about hole 4; what did you tell yourself?

CASEY WITTENBERG: It's tough. When you get going the wrong way out there it's really tough to recover. But I felt like if I could continue to play well and get back into what I knew, what kind of golf I would play the rest of the week. I feel like I would do okay.

Q. Match play, what do you like about it? Did you change clubs, do you change strategy at all for it?

CASEY WITTENBERG: I really don't. I think match play is just, you just need to play the golf course. You can take care of your own competitor and obviously if he does something, like it might waiver what you decide to do. But most of all I just try to get out there and play the golf course and shoot the best score I can.

CRAIG SMITH: The Walker Cuppers fared pretty well, six of the eight of you; do you think you kind have something to show to the folks why you were picked?

CASEY WITTENBERG: Yes, I do. My dad said yesterday you kind of have something to prove. You need to prove why you were picked for the team and you need to play well and prove that it wasn't just a poor decision upon the USGA's part and I feel like we all felt we had something to prove, that we all need to play well in the matches and this week is going to be a great week to test us.

Q. Do you have enough experience in match play to know when you were three down that you still had time to recover on a difficult course like this.

CASEY WITTENBERG: I played in four juniors. I played in the North/South earlier this year. I played in the Polo AJGA, I played a fair amount of match play. Match play's a funny game. When you get going one way, you can get sliding real fast. The good thing about Oakmont is that pars are good and everybody's going to make bogeys and very few birdies. Nobody is going to come out here and run the table with you on birdies. So you just got to hang in there and gut it out.

Q. Did you figure out what was wrong the first couple holes, why you were out of rhythm?

CASEY WITTENBERG: I was just out of rhythm really. I don't know how to describe it. It was kind of one of those things when you're out there you kind of got to figure it out. I can't -- I finally hit a good iron shot on 9 and then I was -- I hit a good iron shot on 10. I hit a good iron shot on 11. I played 12. I really hit a pretty good iron shot on 13 even though it came up short. We got fooled with the yardage and wind there.

So I started hitting the ball more solid towards the end. It's just one of those things. You get out there, you just got to kind of figure it out.

Q. Does it take one shot maybe to get you going, one shot, can that do it for anybody's round?

CASEY WITTENBERG: I think it can. He was kind of reeling there for a little bit and then he hit it close on 11 and then for me to hit it inside him to make birdie, I think that kind of hurt his confidence level a little bit and got me going a little bit more.

So he didn't win a hole after that. It's just a good shot at the right time.

CRAIG SMITH: How about if we go into the vibes that Memphis might be feeling about now for the good week last week, with Shaun Micheel; the vibes might be in the air.

CASEY WITTENBERG: I hope they are. Shaun played great last week it's awesome to see that. He's a great friend and a great player. And I'm really excited for him and his family. He's a great influence on everybody in Memphis and a great influence on me in Memphis as far as being able to practice and work with him.

CRAIG SMITH: You have gotten a chance to be around some good role models in terms of golf. Tell us about some of your friendships you have with Shaun and David Toms.

CASEY WITTENBERG: Right. David Toms has been a good friend of ours for a long time. Shaun Micheel, Doug Barron, Vance Veasey, all those guys that play out of Memphis are a great influence on me and they do whatever they can to help me out. And it's just incredible for me to even be able to be around those people.

CRAIG SMITH: What would they pass along that helps?

CASEY WITTENBERG: Maturity. When you play with them you learn things and you learn why their game is at their level and you're at your level and you see what you need to work on to get better and they try and help me out.

Q. What is that? What do you need to work on?

CASEY WITTENBERG: There's a lot of things. Little bit of everything.

Q. Can you afford to get off to slow start tomorrow in your next match?

CASEY WITTENBERG: I don't think. So if Camilo ends up winning, which I think he's going to, I can't afford that. That's going to be a really tough match. He's a really good player. And I'm going to have to play a little bit better than I did today.

CRAIG SMITH: You know a little bit about each other don't you.


CRAIG SMITH: Go a little bit more into that.

CASEY WITTENBERG: He's just a great player at the University of Florida. We played a lot of amateur golf together. I never actually got the privilege to play with him in a group, but I've seen his record and seen what he's been able to accomplish and I know he's got high credentials here.

CRAIG SMITH: What would you call the highlight so far this year? You've had a wonderful summer. What would be the high points, Walker Cup, Porter Cup, all the things you got going.

CASEY WITTENBERG: I definitely think getting selected to the Walker Cup team was definitely the high point of the summer. If you're an amateur golfer it's something you want to do so bad. But the USGA committee kept it pretty quiet all the way to the end. Which was extremely tough that last week waiting to see whether I was on the team or not. And to get on the team it's just almost a sigh of relief and happiness.

CRAIG SMITH: Got a couple of things behind you. You have that plus you have a school chosen. A couple things now you can just concentrate on being sort of normal instead of having all those big decisions in front of you.

CASEY WITTENBERG: Right. Being able to pick a school last fall took a lot of pressure off because the recruiting as far as coming out of high school was pretty hectic for me. I had a lot of schools and a lot of people to talk to and a lot of decisions that had to be made. But I made a good decision to go to Oklahoma State and I'm excited to be up there and it's a great place and I can't wait to get there.

Q. When do you start at OSU?

CASEY WITTENBERG: School started Monday. So I'm missing days right now.

CRAIG SMITH: That gives us a neat thing to write. What are you missing this week? What kind of classes?

CASEY WITTENBERG: I'm missing all my classes.

CRAIG SMITH: What are they?

CASEY WITTENBERG: I'm missing my math, my English, just world studies, history, this, that and the other. I'm missing them all.

CRAIG SMITH: Let's say you play mid-morning tomorrow against Camilo, where are you supposed to be?

CASEY WITTENBERG: I think my first class is American History. So I'll be missing that.

Q. What did you miss today?

CASEY WITTENBERG: I only had two classes today. I missed Western Civilization and math.

Q. So would you rather be there or here?

CASEY WITTENBERG: Much rather be here.

Q. Are you doing any studying here?


Q. Just let that wait?


Q. When does golf start there? Is it a spring sport?

CASEY WITTENBERG: College golf? It's in the fall and the spring. We play four tournaments in the fall and most of our tournaments are in the spring.

CRAIG SMITH: So the hope here is you miss a few more classes.



End of FastScripts....

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