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June 26, 2007
SOUTHERN PINES, NORTH CAROLINA
RHONDA GLENN: Ladies and gentlemen, we'd like to welcome the 2007 McDonald's -- no, Nabisco, excuse me, we used to call it the Nabisco Dinah Shore Championship, winner of a Major this year, Morgan Pressel. It seems like a long time ago, six years ago that Morgan was our guest in the media center for one of your first national interviews, when she was the youngest qualifier at the Women's Open.
A lot has happened to you. Now you've won a Major championship. I know that was one of your big goals. Do you feel that prepares you a little better to compete in the Women's Open, Morgan?
MORGAN PRESSEL: I think it gives me more confidence. I hope my game has improved a bit in six years, since I was last here. It's pretty cool. I came here with no expectations in 2001 and I can come back playing for the title this year. A lot has changed. And I come in definitely more confident after winning a Major already this year.
Q. Have you met Lexie yet?
MORGAN PRESSEL: I haven't seen her yet this week, but I met her a couple of years ago. I've seen her a couple of times.
RHONDA GLENN: About an hour and a half ago she was sitting in that very chair and she said the most exciting thing that happened this week to her was signing autographs. I remember you saying something along the same lines.
MORGAN PRESSEL: I remember I practiced my autograph in the car, so I had all these different variations of it. Which one am I going to use? And it's totally changed since then. But, yeah, it's cute, I'm sure.
It's an overwhelming experience. All the people that are out here in practice rounds, it never happens to us out on the LPGA Tour, for sure. She's already been overwhelmed, I'm sure.
RHONDA GLENN: Have you played the course yet today?
MORGAN PRESSEL: Yes.
RHONDA GLENN: What do you think about the changes? It's been quite a while since you played here. Do you recall what it was like before and how would you compare it to today?
MORGAN PRESSEL: I don't remember so much about the golf course. I just remember it was -- it was 15, it was a brutal par-4. It's going to play easier as a par-5.
I remember the golf course, but I don't necessarily remember all the subtleties of the greens and the things they changed. But it looks great this year.
Q. Do you remember the distances that you hit your irons back when you were first here and how much that's changed now, what kind of different clubs you're hitting into the par-4s?
MORGAN PRESSEL: I don't remember exactly. I remember like the fourth hole I remember hitting like a 5-iron or 9-wood in. I remember it was really wet, too. This year I'm hitting like 8-iron, 9-iron, so that's a little bit better.
Otherwise, I don't remember exactly so much. I remember I hit 7-iron into 12 and now they've lengthened it like a hundred yards. Not quite, but it's a long hole now.
RHONDA GLENN: Do you recall what you used to hit for 150 yards back in those days.
MORGAN PRESSEL: I don't remember. Hopefully not my 6-iron.
Q. I'm curious, I happened to run across some video of you six years ago, and I'm curious if you had ever seen clips of when you played six years ago and do you ask yourself, who was that?
MORGAN PRESSEL: I asked myself who dressed me, that's what I ask myself (laughter). How did anybody let me dress like that.
RHONDA GLENN: Oh, no, you looked nice. You always look nice.
MORGAN PRESSEL: Well, fashion's changed a bit in six years, put it that way. I look back and it's funny to look back and look at how little I was. I didn't think that I was that little, but I really was.
But it's cute. They're cute pictures. It's always nice to look back.
RHONDA GLENN: How have you changed in those six years? I know you're basically the same person.
MORGAN PRESSEL: I hope I've grown up a bit. I've learned a lot. I've had a lot of experiences through golf and life. A lot has gone on.
I've played a lot of golf since then and worked hard and hopefully my game has improved quite a bit. Just through experiences in life you learn so much.
RHONDA GLENN: What?
MORGAN PRESSEL: You learn how to handle different types of situations better and you learn how to deal and to cope with disappointment and to hopefully enjoy success.
Q. And how to handle the media?
MORGAN PRESSEL: Well, that, yeah.
Q. A lot of people will look at people who have been in a sport a long time -- you've qualified at age 12, actually. You started playing, how old were you when you first started playing?
MORGAN PRESSEL: I was about eight.
Q. And asking -- you worry about burnout. So how have you avoided burnout or have you come close to being tired of the game?
MORGAN PRESSEL: No, I don't think so. I think that I've always just wanted to get better. I think that is something that helped me with that was not going to an academy as a school. I went to a tough private school at home, St. Andrews School. I went to a full day of school.
Sometimes I was only able to practice an hour and a half, two hours after school or maybe not even at all if I had homework. It was helpful, but in another sense I didn't really get to practice my game a ton and it was tough to focus on. But that helped.
Just success. I just want to be out here and I want to play well. It's a grind out here every week, but when you do play well it doesn't feel -- it feels better than when you play bad, obviously.
Q. Secondly, why do you think you've done so well in this tournament?
MORGAN PRESSEL: Why do I think I've done so well? Well, I've really only done so well once. I love the way Open golf courses set up. They're real thinker's golf courses, where you really have to think your way around the course.
You have to be creative, especially this golf course around the greens. It doesn't put such a premium all the time on length and distance. You really -- you just need to know how to control your golf ball. Usually the rough is pretty thick, and I hit the ball straight most of the time, hopefully.
RHONDA GLENN: Talking about length. This is pretty long, though, over 6,400 yards, par 71.
MORGAN PRESSEL: It's a long golf course, there's a couple of holes where I've been hitting 3-woods into par-4s. It looks like it's drying out a little bit. But I think we're expecting more rain. So we'll see.
The golf course drains great. I remember even from last time I was here when it just poured for three days and the golf course still drained well.
Q. Do you have any regrets about not going to Duke?
MORGAN PRESSEL: I do not, no. Simple answer. I would have loved to go to Duke and I would have had a great experience, but where I was and what I want to be out here competing against the best players in the world every week, and in order to do that and really be on top of my game, the best option for me was to focus on my game and not worry about final exams and term papers that are due.
Q. I guess to that end, though, you were a very accomplished and motivated student in high school. How do you sort of continue intellectual/academic growth? This is your full-time job now. But what do you do to sort of continue growing in academic areas you're interested in and do you ever see yourself going to college after you're finished on the Tour?
MORGAN PRESSEL: I don't know. That's a good question. As far as going to college, I don't know. That's something that -- right now I'm totally overwhelmed with everything we have to do out here. It's a busy week. When I get home I'm looking for time to go to the gym, not time to take Internet courses, because we do have a pretty busy schedule. I know Emilee Klein who went back to school and she said she really didn't enjoy it when she was there, when she was 18, 19, but she loves it now and she really enjoys -- she appreciates it a lot more now that she went back than she did when she was there.
Q. Are you a big reader?
MORGAN PRESSEL: No. I'm a very slow reader, actually. I read occasionally. I've read a few golf books and things like that. But in terms of reading things that -- I don't really read. I'd rather listen to my music and just relax. Reading for me is -- not that I don't enjoy it, but I'm just slow.
Q. What golf books have you read?
MORGAN PRESSEL: I've red a couple of Bob Rotella's books.
Q. Have they helped?
MORGAN PRESSEL: They've helped a little bit. And my coach actually has given me a few books for my head, that have helped me a lot, Martin, so he's been helpful with that because he reads everything. He's like, here, this would be a great book for you to read.
Q. If you could offer Alexis some advice this week, what would it be?
MORGAN PRESSEL: It would be to have fun. That was my main goal, because I didn't expect to play well. I'm sure she expects to play better than I did. She's probably a better player than I was. Because that little girl can play. But just go out and have fun. It's a great experience. It was a great experience for me. It's one I'll never forget. I'm sure if we come back here in another six years or so, she'll hopefully have the same experience, to look back and say, wow -- she might not realize it until then, until she comes back, or another five years down the road to just say, wow, I actually played in this championship when I was 12. It's pretty cool.
Q. When you look back -- for you in '01 and to come back in '07, if you said, in '07, I've won a Major, I'm going to be on the Tour full-time, I'm going to play on the Solheim Cup, is that far beyond what you would have thought back then?
MORGAN PRESSEL: That was my dream, when I teed it up in this championship. I realized that I want to be out here. I want to win. I want to compete and I want to be the best. So to think that I would have accomplished that by the time I came back, I would have won a tournament, a Major, I would have said you're crazy. But I wouldn't necessarily have thought it was impossible.
Q. Can you talk about the importance of playing AJGA in high school tournaments until right before your 18th birthday?
MORGAN PRESSEL: Well, I'm a big fan of the AJGA, as most people know. I give a lot of credit to the AJGA for their organization and what they do for junior golf and how they help a lot of juniors get scholarships as well as to prepare them for play on the biggest stage in golf. That's why I think there's a lot more girls now that can come out here and really play well at younger ages because the AJGA prepares them so well for that. And it was really a great experience for me.
I made a lot of friends and I played well and I competed against -- against the toughest fields in junior golf for four years.
Q. Never got bored with it?
MORGAN PRESSEL: No, it was great. AJGA was really fun.
Q. You talked about liking to think your way around a U.S. Open course. What kind of thought process about playing golf did you have when you came here at age 13 and at what age did the pro mindset, the way you approach thinking your way around the golf course, when did that start to kick in for you?
MORGAN PRESSEL: I was going to say I had no mindset when I came here. I didn't really care. I was here. That was all I really wanted. I wanted to play well. I wanted to hopefully play well, but I didn't expect much. I was just out playing golf and having fun.
And as I recall I think I got up-and-down from like everywhere. I obviously didn't play the mounds too well.
But this year, looking at the golf course, that's another thing that you learn over time is just how to prepare. How to see a golf course and how to say, don't miss the first green on the right because you're dead. Or you can't go over 18. Things like that, where there are just ways that you look at the golf course and you really play away from the danger, especially playing in Opens.
You play for pars. And par is always a good score. Especially out here where you can make bogeys quickly where you're a little off. You have to play more for the fat side of the green, don't go for the sucker pins and stuff like that.
Q. What point in your career did that sort of thinking kick in?
MORGAN PRESSEL: I don't really know. I think it was just a transition over time where you just learn more and more. You play more practice rounds. In the middle of my junior career, where you really start to see a golf course and see how it's supposed to be played and you adapt your game to that.
Q. You were the first really youngster to play in this or qualify for this thing. Karrie was talking about how amazed she was meeting you in hospitality. Two years later there was a couple of 13 years old, and now it seems like every Open there's someone in that age range. Did it surprise you or shock you at all when you heard Lexie qualified? Secondly --
MORGAN PRESSEL: No.
Q. It didn't surprise you. If you could explain that. And as a follow-up why you think that's happening so much?
MORGAN PRESSEL: Lexie is a good player. We've known that for a long time. My grandfather said for a few years now that if anybody was going to break my record it was going to be Alexis Thompson.
And she's grown up right around the corner from where we are. My sister plays with her a lot. My cousin plays with her. We've seen her play. We know she's a great player and she's a great competitor.
I think that when I qualified it wasn't something that a lot of people did, that a lot of young girls tried. And I remember asking my grandfather, why am I even bothering? What am I doing? I'm trying to qualify for the Women's Open? What is this? He said, "Well, it's for good experience." And I certainly got a good experience out of it.
I think a lot of girls saw that and a lot of parents saw that and said, "I'm going to sign my kid up for this, too, and we'll see." And they just realized that there's an abundance of young talent out there.
Q. Do you see any downside to playing at age 12 if you don't approach it the right way? Can it harm you?
MORGAN PRESSEL: I don't know. I don't see why any 12 year old would not come out here and just have fun. That's what it's all about. It's the national championship and you're playing when you're 12, it's pretty cool, just enjoy it.
Q. When you talked earlier about wanting to come out here and compete against the best, who is the best out here?
MORGAN PRESSEL: Who is the best? Right now I'd say it's Lorena Ochoa, she's playing the best of anybody out on our Tour. But I think that's one of the best story lines on our Tour this year, is that there's a number of players that can play well on any good week. There's a lot of young Americans who have played well this year. Suzann Pettersen has played great. Annika is back and healthy. There's a lot of international players that can win, and that's what's so great.
Q. Where do you put Annika right now? For so many years she was kind of the target and in the last year or so, partly I would suspect, because of her health and the emergence of Lorena and Suzann and yourself, where is she right now in your eyes?
MORGAN PRESSEL: I think you can never count Annika out. She's an amazing competitor. She practices really hard and she wants to be out here and she wants to be playing well.
I'm not exactly sure the status of her injury and how she's feeling, but I'm sure she'll come out and have a good showing this week.
Q. Between '01 and the last few weeks have you had a chance to come out to Pine Needles in between?
MORGAN PRESSEL: I've played the North and South a couple of times, so I've been to Pinehurst, but I haven't been out here on the property.
Q. I'm curious, when you came back to play a practice round did the memories of '01 start coming back?
MORGAN PRESSEL: Absolutely.
Q. What were some of the more prominent ones you had as you were walking around the course?
MORGAN PRESSEL: Absolutely. It was pretty cool to walk out on the first tee Monday afternoon after the LPGA Championship and just stand there and kind of look around and see my surroundings and remember all the people that were just lined down the fairway and how nervous I was hitting that first tee shot.
And I remember everything. From the two holes that I made birdie on. I made birdie on I think 12 and 18. And some of the bad shots that I hit, I remember those. I remember a bunker shot I had on 5. I remember just walking the golf course and seeing where I was and trying to remember just how exciting it was to be out here and have everybody watching me. Who am I for all these people to come out and watch? It was pretty cool.
Q. You said you'd advise Lexie to just have fun. But I wonder if that's really possible, at least in the moment. When you played here in '01, when you walked off that final green and I think it was on Saturday morning, because of the rain delay --
MORGAN PRESSEL: I wasn't happy.
Q. I didn't get the sense that your first thought was, wow, that was fun.
MORGAN PRESSEL: No. True. And as a competitor I'm sure Lexie will feel the same way. Whenever -- maybe she'll make the cut, who knows how well she'll play out here. But I'm sure she'll be playing for that, just as I was. Not that I really expected to, but I was just out here having fun. It was a great experience.
As a competitor I wanted to play the best that I could and I wanted to make the cut. So just as always, I'm disappointed when I hope to do something and I don't do it. But I had fun most of the week.
Q. It didn't take long for you to put the experience in perspective and to think, okay, that was a great experience?
MORGAN PRESSEL: Oh, absolutely. I wasn't that tortured by it.
RHONDA GLENN: Earlier, Morgan, you were talking about how little time there is out here, you said. I notice all professionals say, "out here". Give me a typical day for you. Monday is a travel day. Tuesday, Wednesday, what are those days like for you? What do you do?
MORGAN PRESSEL: They're full practice days. I'm usually out here, especially Tuesday, I start practicing pretty early in the morning. Teeing off early, playing a full 18, practicing pretty hard afterwards, a few hours range, putting green, because Tuesday is the day to really work on our game.
Wednesday is Pro Am days which usually take up six hours, which are always fun. So that takes up a lot of the day, between practice afterwards, before occasionally. My grandfather will get mad at me for saying this, I try to go to the gym, but he'll say I don't go as often as I should.
After those long days you're kind of drained. The first thing that I want to do on Wednesday is not, when I'm finished, is not going to the gym. It's just relax a little bit and prepare for Thursday.
RHONDA GLENN: You really don't have much time to be a teenager. You're working. You're working. You have a job.
MORGAN PRESSEL: I'm a working girl. I'll go home and I'll sit on my computer a little bit and I'll talk to my friends and things like that. But it's a pretty busy day. Pretty busy week.
And even when I go home it seems like I'm more busy when I go home for three days, because I have to unpack, repack, go see all my friends. I walk around and I go out to practice and everybody comes up and says hi. And it's great to see everybody. It seems like I'm more overwhelmed when I go home. And it's the time, well, let's schedule this interview then, but I don't have time. I have times I just want to go to the mall. Those times are hard to find, too, but I manage.
Q. Morgan, could you talk a little bit about how your grandfather's role has evolved, as you get older you're taking more control, but yet what his guidance has meant?
MORGAN PRESSEL: Well, my grandfather is my biggest supporter. He's been instrumental in my career for 10 years, 11 years, however long I've been playing golf. From starting me in the game to signing me up for the Open qualifier when I was 12, just showing me where I should go and what I should do, giving me a little push when I need it and picking out little things here and there. Your putting is a little off, hold the grip lower or change golf balls or whatever.
Q. When Karrie was in here we were talking to her about the young players coming up and making an impact very early in their careers. Usually at a Major you expect it to be a lot about experience and knowing how to play a Major championship. It seems like the younger players like yourself are kind of getting ahead of that curve, how is that?
MORGAN PRESSEL: I don't really know. I think that just a lot of young players are coming out with great coaching at a younger age. I don't know, it wasn't Karrie's -- granted the British I don't think was a Major at that point. That was her first win when she was young.
They come out and they're more mentally prepared to play than in the past.
Q. When you get a lot of questions about Lexie and being at Pine Needles and her being a 12 year old player, and your history here, does that at all make you feel old?
MORGAN PRESSEL: It makes me feel really old.
Q. What's that like?
MORGAN PRESSEL: Well, I just turned 19. I'm getting up there. I'm almost in the 20s, geez, another year.
Q. What's that like in terms of looking back on your career, I even hate using that work. But looking back on how long it's been, does it feel like it's been six years? Does it seem like a short amount of time?
MORGAN PRESSEL: It seems like time flies. A lot can happen in six years. But time goes by quickly. It's cool because we're here and where I first played my first Open, where Lexie qualified.
Like I said, when she looks back on it she'll have the same feelings. Like, wow, look how time passes by.
Q. I wonder if you ever feel like a 29 year old, 19 year old.
MORGAN PRESSEL: Not quite.
Q. Based on the fact that you're a professional, you make money, just the things you do that are different, maybe, than some 19 year old who is maybe headed off to college.
MORGAN PRESSEL: Well, it's different. It's different, for sure, to know that -- I talk to my friends they're worried about the paper that's due next week or studying for their finals. And they're excited for spring break and summer vacation. And we don't really get much of that.
But it's different. I really enjoy it. This is what I've always wanted to do.
Q. Was that the coolest golf moment you'd had to that point was playing in the Women's Open?
MORGAN PRESSEL: Yeah.
Q. What did it take to replace that as your best golf moment?
MORGAN PRESSEL: What did it take to replace that? That's a good question. I have to say maybe winning the Am was pretty special. Because that was not my first really big win, but that was big and that was important. And winning the Kraft this year, for sure.
Q. Michelle Wie is going to be 18 by the time Q-School rolls around this year. When she was in here earlier she would not commit to whether she was going to join the LPGA Tour for next year. You, in the past, have been quite candid about you felt like some exemptions into tournaments were going to her when there were other juniors that were equally deserving based on their playing record. I wonder if your position on the value of Michelle being a member of the LPGA or playing in LPGA tournaments has changed since you're a member of the LPGA?
MORGAN PRESSEL: No, not at all. We love it when she comes out here, even when she comes out and doesn't play well, she's still the lead story. She brings a lot of publicity to all the tournaments and she's going to do what she wants and what her parents want. She's probably not going to tell too many people ahead of time. We'll see.
Q. She said she'll let us know.
RHONDA GLENN: Thank you so much and good luck this week.