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March 9, 2003

Robert-Jan Derksen


GORDON SIMPSON: Okay, everyone. Welcome a new champion Robert-Jan Derksen. I think we can tell you're a first-time winner with your expression. You've had quite an incredible journey, starting from Johannesburg, where you couldn't play.

ROBERT-JAN DERKSEN: That's right. The first tournament was the Cape Town one; I tried to qualify for that and didn't qualify. Then I went to Johannesburg then Thursday; didn't get to play and so I went back home for one day. And I went out to Singapore, waited all Thursday and couldn't play.

Then I got an invite for the Heineken Classic in Melbourne. Played reasonable but the greens were so fast there and so hard there that it was difficult for me as a first tournament to perform well; so I missed the cut.

Then I couldn't play more internationally, definitely not. And then I played Malaysia last week, actually and I made the cut. I played okay there. Played pretty good, but didn't hole any putts.

I think, yeah, this week was different. I just made the putts. I had a goal on Monday morning -- at the start I didn't think I was getting in, and then because a lot of people pulled out at the last minute, before I flew out on the plane they said I was in. I thought that was a great bonus because I thought Qatar was okay to play, but Dubai wasn't; but then it's a bonus to play here and see what can happen.

Q. Were you here when you heard you were playing?

ROBERT-JAN DERKSEN: No, I was at home. It was the weekend between Malaysia and Dubai, and I went home and flied out Monday. I was going down anyway because my coach was here and I thought if I don't get to play, I could at least practice and come here and then Qatar.

Q. What position were you in before then?

ROBERT-JAN DERKSEN: Yeah, I think 27 reserves in the beginning in Malaysia. So I had no chance but I wanted to come down to see my coach.

GORDON SIMPSON: It must have cost you a lot of money for no golf.

ROBERT-JAN DERKSEN: Yeah, it did. But the other thing was had I only played Melbourne and Malaysia, I felt like I traveled to all of the tournaments that I was there, I practiced and I hit the ball. So I felt like the middle of the season. That's why I played well this season, I felt like I played last tournament already and it's only my third this year, so it's helped.

Q. Who is your coach?

ROBERT-JAN DERKSEN: Scott Cranfield (phonetic). I've actually got a few coaches. I have my putting coach, Harold Swash and Tom O¹Mahoney back in Holland has coached me from for last 14 years. And I thought this year was good to get somebody at the tournaments now which is Scott. I've only seen him for the second week this year, in Johannesburg where I didn't play, and Cape Town I didn't play and I saw him this week. So it's working, I think.

Q. Your reaction to winning?

ROBERT-JAN DERKSEN: Before this year, I had never thought I could win. But as I talked with Scott a lot and I had my good -- I know I can hit the ball but I just couldn't score. I think I started believing in myself a bit more and actually yesterday when I played really good, I thought, and then Ernie was so kind to make a bogey on the last yesterday.

So I thought three shots behind, I have a chance if I play well. And I know I could play well. But, I mean, you need a bit of luck, as well and I think that's when I had today, so, yeah.

Q. Lucky at the 13th?

ROBERT-JAN DERKSEN: I think so. I've been playing well, but you know you're going to have some key shots and I think that's important. On 13, that's a good putt you needed luck to go in and it went in. And then Ernie made the double on the 12th or something and that turned it around. It has to be on your side -- on the 18th, most of the times he probably would make a putt but today he didn't. So that helped me.

Q. (How long was the putt?)

ROBERT-JAN DERKSEN: On 13, I think about 20, 25 yards. So it was quite a long one.

Q. Have you phoned anyone yet?

ROBERT-JAN DERKSEN: I just spoke to my parents. They thought it was unbelievable. I was crying ask they were crying, of course. It's a funny thing, they had SKY for the last two years to watch it because they don't get too much to see on television, so they were able to see the complete round and were as happy as me. It was a relief. It's nice to win the money but on the other hand it's just the relief. I was struggling after Tour School and the re-ranking which is coming up in five or six weeks and you need your money up for your re-rankings and it's all gone. Now you are exempt and you can play in all of the tournaments you want, and that's the feeling -- I have tried to do that the last five years and if the money comes in, it's nice.

GORDON SIMPSON: What was your World Ranking before this week?

ROBERT-JAN DERKSEN: I think it's about 600 or 800 or something. It's improved. (Laughter.)

Q. Have the last five years been a struggle?

ROBERT-JAN DERKSEN: I would have to say in Holland, golf has improved a lot in popularity the last couple of years. I think that's very good. I have always had decent sponsors. At least I had a start every year to get things going and he signed a deal a couple of weeks ago with my main -- so I could at least work with Scott this year.

It's not been bad but it's not been great. That's the story. There are a lot of guys who have it worse but there are a lost guys who have it better than me. I pretty much do whatever it best for me. You have to invest not only money but also time, and in a few years, it might come up.

Q. Did you ever reach a point in your career where you thought you didn¹t want to struggle any more?

ROBERT-JAN DERKSEN: Not really. The only thing I thought was that I wanted to be at the top of Europe, and if I couldn't achieve that then I would probably look for other things to be as nice as playing golf. I don't know what it is, but -- then I would have said after a couple of years like, okay, if I don't improve anymore. But I never got to that stage because I thought I always could improve and I always -- as Scott says, it's in you, you just have to get it out.

I think that's what happened this week. Because I know could I hit the ball and lots of people always tell me -- sometimes you need the proof of just getting a good score and I couldn't always do that. But this week it happened.

Q. You seem very assured in the closing holes.

ROBERT-JAN DERKSEN: Did I? Actually, when we were on the range this morning, I said to my caddy, "I'm a bit tense, I'm a bit nervous but if I have a good round, I can win." What is the worst that can happen. Last night, I just made a bad last hole. It wasn't -- I think I made really well the first 13 or 14 holes, so the last stretch, just tried to do my normal thing, tried to hit the shots I want, didn't try to go particularly for the flags. Pars were okay. I didn't know my position anyway. I was really happy with the drive I had on 18, helped to make the decision not to go for it, and I was happy with that, actually, and you don't want to make a mistake.

I played well. I was tense, nervous maybe, because I didn't know what I was doing, but just keep yourself in there and go on with it. Then when I made my putt for birdie on 18 -- I could see where I was.

Q. Why the shirt?

ROBERT-JAN DERKSEN: Are you're asking about my shirt? Yesterday I had an orange-striped shirt and today I had an orange shirt. Am I superstitious? I thought I would wear this one with orange, as well. My clothing has a lot of orange in it this year, so that's why. It worked. I might be wearing this shirt a little more now -- on the last day, yeah.

Q. What is the best thing about winning --

ROBERT-JAN DERKSEN: You mean money-wise? I think the best performance I had was at qualifying school because that's very important to me as well. I think you're under pressure and you have to perform well even though you don't win any money or for that matter, no trophy. I think that's what I like to do, just play under pressure. I don't really like it, of course, because you're happier when you finished. But I think when you have a goal that you work for -- that's what I told myself on the 18th today. I felt like okay, I know I have to make it because if you don't make it, you've lost a shot and I said to myself, "that's what you've been practicing for your whole last ten years."

I think it's always good to say to yourself, "Okay, I'm under pressure, but now get on with the putt." I think that's the same as at the qualifying school. Like to be in a sort of way where there's pressure and it doesn't always have to do with money, I think.

Q. Are you surprised you cried so quickly?

ROBERT-JAN DERKSEN: No. It isn't. I know I was doing well the last couple of holes. I had it once before at qualifying school -- I had to go back to the Tour School, so I knew it wasn't -- right on the Tour, and then I got my card again and I tapped in for birdie on last, as well, and so the same thing happened.

Yeah, it's weird, you're not thinking about anything when it happens because you're happy. Yeah, it's just concentration that's going from like major concentration to nothing and it's just -- it didn't surprise me, but yeah. If I missed it, I would have cried but I'm happy. (Laughter.) It could be the same thing because then I would still have had a good tournament.

Q. Do you set higher goals now?

ROBERT-JAN DERKSEN: My goal before was to win a tournament. I've done that now. I think the next goal I think in short term is to compete at this level, keep competing. I think if I can do it once, I should be able to do it more often.

So I wouldn't say like I'm going to be up with the guys from now on because I had a good week. I'm going to work on a lot of things, but I think I can do it. I think I can hold up under pressure. If you play with these guys and they had a good round and I would like to play with them. So if you are playing with better players, you get better, anyway. But I won't change my goals. My goals are my own and now I have to set new ones now. Just keep improving, I think, and that's what you want to do.

Q. Are you playing in Qatar?

ROBERT-JAN DERKSEN: I don't know. A couple of years ago I said if I win a tournament, I'll take a week off. I was planning to go there, but actually I want to go home and see the family and celebrate a bit. And on the other hand, if I see myself on Thursday in Qatar, I don't know if I could concentrate on the game.

So I haven't made the decision yet. I just have to check. I was planning to go, but now I think it might be good. You don't win that many tournaments, so you'd better enjoy it. So maybe if you go to Qatar and you don't make the cut or you're not satisfied with your performance, you're feeling down and negative, but you should be happy because you just won a tournament. It's a very difficult decision but I'll think about it the next couple of hours.

Q. What form with the celebrations take?

ROBERT-JAN DERKSEN: I think it's good to enjoy what you want. Yeah, if you're playing the next tournament and you're having good feelings about the last week.

Q. How much have your parents supported you?

ROBERT-JAN DERKSEN: I think that they have to support you very much because if they don't support you, you don't really think that you're doing the right things. They let me be free in what to do or what to decide, but when I started playing golf, they brought me to the golf course a lot of times. I think if they had said, "Okay, Robert, whatever you want to do, just do it but we are not bringing you to the golf course," they are not supporting you.

I know they are keep looking on the Internet or SKY interviews that I'm doing. I think it's good for them to support me and stand behind whatever choice I make and I think they do that. I think that makes me more certain that I want to be out here.

End of FastScripts....

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