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November 18, 2004

Laura Diaz


THE MODERATOR: Thank you for coming in, Laura. Good opening round, 3 under par. You had five birdies. It's a tough course, so it's a good start to the week.

LAURA DIAZ: Thanks, Dana.

Yeah, overall a pretty good day. I think the ball striking was very good, and the putter wasn't working as well as I would have liked. I had a lot of chances and hit a lot of edges. But overall, pretty good day taking me into tomorrow.

THE MODERATOR: Let's go ahead and do your card, starting with 3.

LAURA DIAZ: I had 212 yards on my second shot into the green, and I hit a rescue. I had about a 30 footer for eagle, up to about a foot.

On 6, I had 97 yards to the pin, and I hit a little 50 to about two feet.

On 12, I hit hmm a choked, gripped, punched 8 iron from 135 yards. It was a little into the wind. I hit it about nine feet. I was getting a little frustrated at that point because I had had a few nine footers and they weren't falling. It felt good to really get that one to go in. It was probably my first really good 9 footer of the day.

And then on 14, I had 140 yards to the pin, a little uphill, a little downwind. I ended up hitting a 9 iron because the green is a little above you, so I was thinking it was going to release a little bit. I didn't hit it that good, so I left myself about a 25 footer, down grain, downhill, left to right. I made it. It was the highlight probably of my putting day.

Then on 18, I had 173 yards to the pin. Only really needed to get it to 166. I was trying to hit a little 6. Yeah, I hit it little all right, went about 50 yards into the water. I then dropped and hit 9 iron to about four feet, made it for my 5.

I'm sorry. I'm sorry. On 8 I left it short of the green, and I didn't get it up and down. I hit what I thought was a good 9 iron into the green, but it caught the slope, and then I chipped it nine feet by.

Then on 9, I went for the green on my second shot. I was 234 to the front. I got it about 20 short of the front. I chipped it up to about six feet and made it.

Q. (Inaudible)?

LAURA DIAZ: About 50 yards maybe. Hit it right into the water.

Q. Was it really super fast?

LAURA DIAZ: I was trying to hit it little, and instead of executing the shot, I deceled, I guess. I hit it past. But I made a great 5.

Q. Good recovery.

LAURA DIAZ: Thanks, Doug!

Q. When you get into a tournament the way you did, birdie ing the last two holes to end a frustrating season, do you feel your Mo Jo is going to change this week, come in here and maybe win this thing?

LAURA DIAZ: I didn't get into this tournament by birdie ing the last two holes last week. I got into this tournament because starting 13 weeks ago I played my heart out. I finished outside of the Top 20 I think one time in those 13 weeks. I went over to Korea, I went over to Japan. I played my heart out there.

Two holes didn't get me into this event. You can do the math. It's all of those.

Q. (Inaudible)?

LAURA DIAZ: Well, I'll get to my point.

Hard work I think pays off. It just so happened that last week was the cutoff for this tournament. That doesn't mean that that's how I got in. I don't look at it that way. I would like it if others didn't look at it that way either.

I feel like I've been playing the best golf of my career the last 13 weeks. Coming back from surgery was really difficult for me. I started the season really slow. 13 weeks ago I got back with my caddie from two years ago, and we're working great together. I feel good about my golf game.

I came in second last week, but I don't think that that was necessarily the best golf that I've played. I think I've had other weeks that I've played good golf, but I didn't necessarily finish as high as last week.

You know, I had a good day today. Whether I'm going to have three more good days, I don't know, but I know that I feel pretty good about my golf game. I feel tremendous about being here because it was a goal that I set 13 weeks ago when I had a lot of work to do.

But I don't think that birdie ing 17 and 18 is what got me here.

Q. Are you saying it was maybe the last two steps of the 13 week journey?

LAURA DIAZ: The last two holes, that's for sure.

You know, it was just another tournament along the way. And I know that I had a lot of people cheering for me last week and encouraging me. That's a great feeling. But I've also had that. I feel like my family has been there encouraging me from day one.

I'm thrilled to be here. I'm thrilled that I have the opportunity to play with the 30 best players in the world. I'm going to do my best to play the best that I can the next three days.

Q. Could you just give us some perspective on how the injury and the surgery has challenged you, how difficult it all has been?

LAURA DIAZ: Yeah, well, I think it was last year I sat up here and my ankle was killing me. I was about to make probably the hardest decision I've made in my golf career, that I could go and have surgery and never be able to play again. And I think just that thought was mentally challenging for me.

And then when the doctor said, "Okay, you can hit balls again," I was relieved, but I also thought, "Oh, everything is just going to be like it was." And I've never in my professional career taken three and a half months off, so I don't think I was ready for the challenge that I had in front of me. Because I think that I really just thought everything was just kind of going to go back to how it was. So it was definitely an eye opener when I teed it up at Nabisco and for a while.

But the thing I definitely learned is when you're in pain, you've just got to go get it fixed, you can't just keep playing on it.

Q. What did they actually do?

LAURA DIAZ: I had four tears in my tendon and a torn ligament, so they stitched all that back up.

Q. I would guess, I mean, you said you came back maybe earlier than you should have, so physically it took you until when would you say it was before you felt like you were physically good? What month would you say? June ish?

LAURA DIAZ: Yeah, probably around June.

Q. Playing along from late March through this year, at what point did you feel like your confidence started to erode?

LAURA DIAZ: I don't think that I got my confidence back until about five weeks ago. Played really well in Giant Eagle, and I think that kind of started my confidence back. But about four weeks ago I started hitting it better and I started putting it better. I just started feeling better about my overall golf game.

I think it took the whole year, definitely, to get that confidence back. But it probably started at Giant Eagle. I don't think it's really come back until the last four or five weeks.

Q. Is it interesting at all for you to look back at your year? Even though you were not physically in good shape at Nabisco, did you still kind of have the head that, "I can still do this"?

LAURA DIAZ: Well, I was in actually physically the best shape of my life at Nabisco. I mean, I had been able to like start swimming, which I think is a phenomenal exercise. So because I felt like I was in such good physical shape, I didn't think that my golf game wouldn't be in good shape.

But the way I've always had to work hard at my golf game, I'm not the type of person who can just, you know, play two days and off a week, come back the next week and play great golf. I need to constantly practice.

I didn't even think that that part would have escaped me, you know, that I would lose that. When I got to Nabisco, I don't think that I teed it up thinking that I was going to win, which I think that when you go to a tournament, that is the attitude you should have. I don't think you should be playing if you don't feel that way about yourself.

So I went against my rules. I went out there, I wasn't prepared, and I tried to battle through it. I did battle through it, but I probably shouldn't have done it like I did it.

Q. What was the first tournament you played this year that you thought you could win?

LAURA DIAZ: Oh, gosh (laughter). I probably started feeling better about my golf game

Q. (No microphone.)

LAURA DIAZ: No, but that's when I would think I could win, is when my golf game is feeling good. I really don't have any idea. I would have to look at the schedule.

The US Open I felt pretty good actually. I think my confidence was pretty good at the US Open. Probably not as high as it could have been. I would have to say in the last four or five weeks is when I really when I think everything really started to come back together and I really felt like I could start to challenge again.

Q. Through it all, did you learn anything new or gain a different perspective going through all this?

LAURA DIAZ: When you hurt, get it taken care of, don't keep playing through the pain. That's what I learned. Does that mean that I'll listen to myself? Not necessarily (laughter). Just because I have such a passion for the game, and I love to play, and it's very hard for me to say, "No, I'm not going to play this week."

Even later in the year when I was feeling really good, I played six in a row against the guidance of my father and my husband. "Laura, that's probably not a good idea. You need a mental break, not to mention you need a physical break." The doctor is telling me I shouldn't do that at the beginning of the year. I can say that I learned that, but that I will actually be able to say "no," I don't know.

Q. (No microphone.)

LAURA DIAZ: When it comes, yes. All the way around, I'd say.

Q. You mentioned earlier that you went into the last off season facing the surgery, and you might not be able to play golf again. Is that something that the doctors had told you or was that a concern based on the way that your ankle was feeling at the time?

LAURA DIAZ: Well, the doctor didn't know what was going to happen. I mean, he can't I mean, heck, when you sign a form, when you go in the hospital, you could never wake up again as pessimistic as that sounds.

I knew the risk. To me, that was the greatest risk, that when I got out of surgery, he was going to say, "We've got to go do another surgery. This is way worse than we thought." He did say that. He didn't say the first part, but when he got done, he said to my husband, "I don't know how she was walking," because four tears and another torn ligament is not at all what he expected. He just expected there to be one tear in the tendon.

You know, he never said I don't think he wanted to scare me. But in the back of my mind, that's what it was: I could never play golf again.

Q. Can you relate to Curt Schilling's problems?

LAURA DIAZ: It's kind of funny, because when that happened, we have an instructor at our school, he came up to me and said, "Did you hear last night, they were talking about the Laura Diaz surgery?"

I said, "What?"

He said, "The injury that Curt Schilling has is really similar to the injury that you have."

As more information has come out, it's not as bad. I never bled. He was bleeding one night through a sock. I never had that problem. I didn't get to watch it. I was in Korea. But they were saying that his was more external I think than mine was, because mine never broke through, like ruptured. Mine was just torn.

But I can definitely relate. He obviously was willing to play through a lot of pain.

Q. Are you surprised that Kellogg's had to go away?

LAURA DIAZ: I'm disappointed that it went away. Unfortunately, Kellogg's is located in Battle Creek, Michigan, it's not located in Chicago. Keebler was located in Chicago. It became financially challenging for them to do an event where they're not based.

There's still a chance that they would return to our schedule at a later date, maybe in the Battle Creek area. I think it's always disappointing for us to lose a sponsor. They were great to us for three years. I've got a lot of girls asking me to try and get them back as hard as I can. I'll see what I can do.

Q. Just a comment on how the course was playing.

LAURA DIAZ: The course is playing great. It's in the best shape that I've seen it in the four years that I've played. The greens are beautiful, they're fast. The fairways are in fantastic shape. I think it's playing great, and I think the scores probably reflect that.

Q. Just curious, there's a pretty high turnout rate usually in Korea and Japan, I think anyway, toward the end of the year. Your schedule now has Mexico on it. You've always had Evian and whatnot. On the men's side, we see the times that they go to Ireland or Spain or whatnot, there's usually a pretty high rate of absenteeism. Why do you think that is more on the LPGA than it is on the PGA TOUR? Do you think it's just a matter of pure money or do you not see, as a player, Korea, Japan as being outside the scope of your tour? Does that make sense?

LAURA DIAZ: I think that we go over to Korea and Japan because they put on two fantastic events, and it's near the end of our season. Unlike the men, we actually do have an off season. They don't have an off season. They have to play year long. We're lucky enough to have an opportunity to enjoy the holidays with our family, to rest our bodies, to rest our mental game. They don't have that.

And I just think that our players want to keep playing and then rest. I just think we're just still raring to go at that time.



End of FastScripts.

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