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November 5, 2004

Stephen Ames


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Stephen Ames, thank you for joining us. Followed up a 69 yesterday in the first round with a 4-under 66 today. You're right in the mix heading into the weekend. Start with some opening comments about your day today at the TOUR Championship.

STEPHEN AMES: I think my first goal today was to get the last tee time so it would be a little warmer when I teed off, seriously. The tee times have moved up two hours, so it was a goal to try to get out later.

For me it's been a good year. Coming in here has been a bonus to get into the TOUR Championship. I'm thankful that I'm here, thankful that I'm playing well at this stage right now, and I'm enjoying the golf course very much.

Q. Given your tropical background are you not much of a cold weather player?

STEPHEN AMES: I'm not a fan of it, no. I don't think anybody is actually.

Q. That's why you moved to Calgary (laughter)?

STEPHEN AMES: Yeah, but I don't play golf in it. There's a difference.

Q. Are you surprised at all that you find yourself in this position here at the first TOUR Championship?

STEPHEN AMES: No, not really.

Q. Are you surprised it took you so long to get to this?


Q. Briefly, just seems like you've had a lot of years where you were in contention to win. I think LA one year and you had to pull out, Palm Springs. You had a lot of different issues going on in relation to how satisfying it is this year.

STEPHEN AMES: I think all the issues have kind of capitalized on it in the sense of the reasons why I had to pull out of certain events, the reasons why I didn't play well coming down to the end.

One was physical. I've started working out. Mental was another one. The psychologist was another one I had to change, which I did this year. That's made the biggest difference, and I've been working with Dennis Sheehy for six, seven years now.

The golf swing is something that's always been an issue. It's always going to be an issue with everybody. I have a lot of old habits that I keep trying to get rid of to make me the consistent player that I am now.

Q. What did you have to fix about your head?

STEPHEN AMES: Believing that I was good enough to be there, in this position that I am now. That was the hardest thing.

Q. Did you ever hear yourself in the last three or four years, hear yourself referred to as maybe the most talented player to have not won out here yet?

STEPHEN AMES: I've heard that for about six years.

Q. How did that make you feel, good or bad?

STEPHEN AMES: Trying to figure out why in the sense of how could everybody see that I'm a talented player but I couldn't see it, in other words. That was the hardest part. Back to the belief again, which is what I've had to change.

Q. Was part of that trouble and belief coming from an unlikely golfing background?

STEPHEN AMES: Probably. More than anything else, it probably would be that, or the fact of non-golfing background, coming from the Caribbean islands. I don't know what it was, all those scenarios. I'm not 100 percent sure now.

Q. You're totally convinced now?

STEPHEN AMES: Completely (laughter).

Q. What was the key to getting going today?

STEPHEN AMES: The putter. Ball-striking was -- for the last couple weeks has been pretty good, above average. Bit iffy with the driver at times, but overall happy with the way it felt. But after yesterday's round with the putter I felt like I left a lot out there. I called Dennis, we talked about it last night over the phone, and he had seen a few things on television and told me what to work on, and I came out this morning, and right off the bat it was cured. I felt very comfortable with the putter today, which is good, which is the reason I had only 24 putts.

Q. That's another reason to get the last tee time. You get more television time.

STEPHEN AMES: That helps, too, it does.

Q. What's your year like after this?

STEPHEN AMES: I have one event, Tiger's Challenge event.

Q. What was your thinking on the World Cup? Is your brother having a baby?

STEPHEN AMES: Correct. That's why he's not here with me these last couple of weeks. He's actually at home waiting for his first to come out. It's a little girl.

Q. That used to be easy money for him, didn't it, World Cup?

STEPHEN AMES: It was until he started working for me. Friends kid him about it, "this is a gift you've got here."

Q. When do you get to go home to warmth, too?

STEPHEN AMES: I actually leave Monday to go to Trinidad for ten days.

Q. So you've got your -- your swimsuit packed and everything?

STEPHEN AMES: I've got my three swimsuits packed, yes, and all my shorts.

Q. What's been the most difficult thing to get you to where you are now, just getting your game in order or just getting the other facets of your life in order as far as your visa and your citizenship and just getting all that stuff squared away?

STEPHEN AMES: I had a lot of issues getting there. Those issues were like catalysts for me, in other words, maybe grind harder, especially my first two years on TOUR where I was limited to playing. It was almost like every week I had to come out and perform right off the bat, never seeing the golf course, and I did.

From there it was swing issues, and again, the belief of what was it to make -- what does is it take to make a good player. Tiger has been brought up thinking that he's the best player in the world and every time he stands on the tee he's going to win. I wasn't brought up that way. I don't think anybody was to be truthful. There are players like Vijay who stand up on the range every day and hit 1,000 golf balls before his round and after.

For me I believed growing up and playing my early professional years that I had to have the perfect golf swing to be here, and the truth of the fact is you don't. You just have to believe in what you have. For me this year that's the different mindset that I've had. Even though I didn't hit a couple drives the way I liked it or hit it left or right and had to chip out and from there just get it on the green and then make par, I had to believe that I was capable of still doing that. Before in the past I'd be beating up myself that I hit that bad drive that it may be tougher for me to perform. That has been the difference.

Even though I shot 66 there's still a couple things I didn't like about today, but it was a good scoring round, which is what it takes to win golf tournaments, good scoring round.

Q. How did you do in Europe, Stephen?

STEPHEN AMES: I won twice in Europe. My best year was 13th on the Money List, '96.

Q. And you won where?

STEPHEN AMES: I won the Benson & Hedges and then I won an Open V33, as well.

Q. Did that not do anything for your confidence?

STEPHEN AMES: No, not when you stand up at Wentworth and the first two days you're paired with Ian Woosnam and Nick Faldo, the two purest ball strikers in Europe at the time. That was the big kind of thought in my head, "Holy shit, I need to work on my golf swing." Yeah, it was pure.

That was my turning point for me there to look for a coach that was capable of teaching me that.

Q. Faldo is doing ABC this week.

STEPHEN AMES: Yeah, I know. I've heard the comments already that have come out on television.

Q. What's he said?

STEPHEN AMES: Good things.

Q. "I remember this guy from Wentworth"?

STEPHEN AMES: Good things because he knows I'm working with one of his old teachers, Dennis Sheehy. Dennis was with Lead for 13 years, so when Lead was over here in the States making his $2 million a day, whatever it was he was making, Dennis was running the show for him in Europe.

Q. Was there ever a time when you would get into contention here, maybe going into the last round, that because of where you were in your confidence that you were afraid to win?

STEPHEN AMES: Yeah, I'm sure, definitely. Western Open was a classic example. Playing the first nine holes I was 1-over par, and it was like I started falling back into my old rut, and I realized I'm beating myself up here. I've got nine holes that are tough, the wind was blowing that day. I knew the back nine was going to be exceptionally tough for anybody to shoot par or even better than par. I think I was the only one that shot under par that back nine in five or six groups. I had to be patient. Those things that I've been working on for this year, getting into that situation, it helped me definitely. I had to turn myself around psychologically to play the way I did the last nine holes of the Western.

Q. That must have been a thrill for more than just the reasons of winning, just to do that.

STEPHEN AMES: Yeah, the satisfaction was definitely there when I made that last putt, more the fact of -- not so much the fact of winning that I was able to do that, turn it around, which was nice.

Q. Are there any celebrations planned for when you go home for the year you've had?

STEPHEN AMES: Every day is a celebration at home in Calgary (laughter). I'm planning something, I'm not sure when, because my time has pulled a few strings left and right, but I am planning something when I get home.

Q. Do you have much of a following?

STEPHEN AMES: I do, both Trinidad and Tobago and Calgary.

Q. So you get the best from both ends?

STEPHEN AMES: Yes, it's very nice.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: If we could touch on your round. You started out with birdies on 3, 4 and 5.

STEPHEN AMES: 3, I hit a driver up the middle there, wedge to about 20 feet, uphill putt, made that.

4 was driver, 9-iron about 15 feet uphill again, made that.

The next hole was driver, 8-iron to about four feet. Pin was in the front left there, so that was nice.

Birdie 9, I hit the driver in the first cut, just in the rough on the left-hand side, laid up with a 4-iron and I hit a lob wedge to about 15 feet, made that birdie there.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: What happened on 7?

STEPHEN AMES: Yeah, flier lie over the first cut of rough there unfortunately, through the green. It's tough with this Bermuda grass, very hard to control the golf ball coming out of the rough.

11, par 3, I hit a pull hook 5-iron on 11, made bogey. Couldn't get it up-and-down. The lie was too bad.

13, I hit driver, 5-iron up the hill to about probably 35 feet, made a nice bomb there.

Par 5, 15, I hit driver, 4-iron probably two feet short of the green. The pin was only four on -- actually three on. Lipped out for the eagle and then made birdie.

Q. How far did you hit it? How far was the eagle putt?

STEPHEN AMES: It was only about a foot and a half.

Q. The eagle putt was?

STEPHEN AMES: No, the chip was, sorry. It was just off the edge.

Q. You lipped it out on 18?

STEPHEN AMES: 18, I hit 2-iron to about six feet above the hole. It was a great shot. Then it lipped out, yeah. That was a tough putt, down the hill, left to right.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Stephen Ames, thank you.

End of FastScripts.

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