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July 26, 2006

Niclas Fasth


NICOLAI LAUDE: Welcome back, Niclas.

NICLAS FASTH: Thank you.

NICOLAI LAUDE: We just talked to Bernhard Langer, and he said it's always good to come back to a place where you've won before, and you did it last year, so I think the feelings coming back here to Gut Kaden couldn't be any better.

NICLAS FASTH: No, it's fantastic, of course. I had a fantastic win here last year, and the previous time I was here I finished 3rd, and I've always liked the place. I've come here since '94 or '95 was the first time for me.

It has a lot of special memories, and especially those from last year. The weather is different this year; the course is playing harder and drier, but it's the same place, and it's special to come back. I was standing on the 18th green for a little while yesterday just seeing the things from last year and taking it all in. It's a lovely feeling.

NICOLAI LAUDE: And I think you didn't change the winning team from last year because your caddie already won twice here, so perhaps you will be able to follow in his footsteps?

NICLAS FASTH: Oh, yeah, he's done his thing, so I'll just try to repeat from last year then. He knows his business around here anyway.

NICOLAI LAUDE: You already said the course is completely different. The weather compared from last year to this year is complete opposite of what we had almost 12 months ago. Does this change your game plan at all getting into this tournament?

NICLAS FASTH: Not much, no. It's not going to play extremely different. It's a little harder and faster and probably the rough is a little lighter. It's not as thick. So that could make for more aggressive golf, if anything, but it's not going to be very much different, no.

Q. Last year when you won here, afterwards you spoke about your dream of getting in the Ryder Cup. Once again, as it stands now, it didn't work out quite as you wished it to. What's your explanation for that?

NICLAS FASTH: I don't have one. I'm obviously rather disappointed with this year's performance. I won once, which is always good, so one shouldn't complain too much. But it has been a bit average.

I have obviously a fair idea what's going on. Some things in my focus haven't been ideal from my way of playing, and I'm making adjustments accordingly. But still, I'm only lately really coming to terms with that I will have to change a little bit the way I practice.

I said last year coming into this tournament on the Monday, my coach told me, "Let's just forget about all the practice for a little while now and just go out and play and have fun," and that's what I did, and I won the first week, which was a spectacular result. It's essentially the same thing I need to do now, and it's kind of strange that I haven't managed to make it easy for myself in the meantime since then.

I'm not the only guy to make this a little bit more difficult than it has to be. There's a lot of room for improvement there, and I think I'm on a right track.

Strangely, in spite of the rather average performance, I feel rather good about coming into this week. It's not only because I did well last year.

Q. Do you have an explanation why there are so many good Swedish players on the Tour compared to, for example, the Germans? Meanwhile, Sweden in terms of population is much smaller than Germany, for example.

NICLAS FASTH: Well, we're much bigger and stronger no, I'm just joking (laughter). There's been a very conscious effort, which started mid '80s in Sweden, to push the sport of golf. As a matter of fact, like we pushed every other sport. There's a good system in place to take care of young talents.

I got the full support of this through my growing up in the golf sport. Obviously when you do turn pro and go on Tour, you have to find your own way of doing things, and to get to the top it's not easy for any system to bring out players who will actually become the best. You can only give a lot of players a really good chance, and that's what the Swedish system has done.

So for a lot of years we were really missing that top player. The girls came through and did rather well, extremely well, I mean, 10, 15 years ago, and they've kept staying on top of the world. It's not only Annika. While we guys have not really managed to break through all the way to the top. We've had one guy into the Top 10. As late as this year we've had Henrik Stenson who was up at 12th in the World Ranking, I think.

But there are a lot of good players who are winning tournaments now, so it's showing a lot, like you were saying. I think we're starting to find our way. We always have the chance. We were given the chance to give this a go, and some of us will make something of it, but if we can push to the top or not, that is really only for a few players. I'm sure we're going to have a Swede in the Top 5 in the world, maybe me, maybe somebody else, but we've come to the point where a lot of Swedes are doing well and winning, but most of us who are getting to that point have been on the Tour for 10, 15 years, which is interesting now. That is worth noting since the system alone can help you get past the first stage, but then you have to find your own way.

Q. I have maybe a very unusual question. You won here last year and earned 550,000�. What did you make with this money? Did you make one of your dreams come true? Did you buy a car or an apartment near this area?

NICLAS FASTH: I didn't do anything in particular with the money. The win is if you're lucky enough to support yourself and your family well, you don't really the money is to build for the future, for whenever you don't play anymore. It's your pension fund or whatever, or your children's education. You obviously don't get 500,000� into your pocket. We pay tax like anybody else. But I'm lucky enough to stash some away for the future. I don't know if I'll play another five, ten or 20 years, but after that I don't have a job.

So yeah, if you feel lucky you'll buy your dream car. I have got a nice car and I'm very lucky (laughter). A German one (laughter). But I didn't buy one particularly after this win, no.

Q. Just to follow up once again on the Ryder Cup issue, do you still consider it as your priority to get into the team, maybe with another win here and two other good results?

NICLAS FASTH: Oh, definitely. There's no getting around the fact that it would still be a fantastic achievement and there is nothing I'd rather do, achieve this year. But I've left it very late. I will need a win here and I will need some other good results.

But fair enough, I would try for that anyway, and perhaps that extra bit of inspiration, it will be a whole lot easier to get playing well and have a bit longer. But sure, if I win here I will be close. You know, I'll be giving it a go.

NICOLAI LAUDE: Niclas, thank you very much and we wish you all the best, and hopefully we see you on Sunday again.

End of FastScripts.

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