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November 4, 2007

Stephen Ames


STEWART MOORE: We would like to welcome the 2007 Children's Miracle Network Classic Champion, Stephen Ames. Congratulations on your third PGA TOUR victory. I'm sure you would have liked to have had it easier on 18, but a world-class bunker shot. Maybe some opening comments?
STEPHEN AMES: Yeah, thank you. Obviously it's nice to be back in the victory circle. It was tough. It wasn't quite as easy as the TPC win, but it's a win. It was a grind coming down to the end there, and it was nice to be in that situation, because I wanted to see how my golf swing held up.
Parts of it held up and parts didn't, so at this stage you always look for things to work on, and I know I have a few things to work on for next year.
STEWART MOORE: How tough was the Magnolia course. If you look at the leaderboard, Justin Leonard, Scott Verplank, Tim Clark, yourself, talk about the golf course.
STEPHEN AMES: If you stood up on the first hole, and somebody told you you had to make three pars in the last day to win the event, you would go, "Yeah, that's going to be a tough feat just in itself," and it was.
I had three perfect drives; I hit two good second shots, made a good trip on 16, and two-putted on 17, and 18 was a good up and down there for par, but the golf course itself, Magnolia with the new tee lengths and everything else, it was a good test of golf finishing there.

Q. I think people would be surprised to say that this was tougher to win than THE PLAYERS Championship.

Q. Could you explain that?
STEPHEN AMES: Yeah, I will. Six-shot lead in the 18th hole instead of one.

Q. Of course --
STEPHEN AMES: The 18th hole here is 490 yards. There is no run off the ball. I hit a perfect drive up the middle, 285 off the tee, and I've got 214 to the hole, I go, "Yeah." I hit a 3-wood.
Now it's different with the new length, but there's more pressure on you when you know you have to hit two good golf shots coming down to the end there to make par. You make it easier on yourself not having to have a bunker shot like I did at the end to do it, and that's what made it tough.

Q. Which part of your swing held up and which didn't?
STEPHEN AMES: The driver held up nicely. Actually, funny enough, I got longer and longer as the day went on, which is nice. My iron play didn't hold up the way I wanted, struggling with the left to right shots. I only hit one that I particularly liked.

Q. You made three birdies in a row, 13, 14, 15 and took the lead and held them off. Walk us through that.
STEPHEN AMES: The bogey on 12 put a little fire up my rear end, and I didn't want to let it get to me. I went on with the situation, and then I made a great up and down there on 13. Good birdie on 13 there.
And then of course 14 was a good third shot in there. And the one that I really enjoyed the most was that form that I held up there on 15 that finished about 6 feet behind the hole.
It was a clutch shot there that I enjoyed the most for the day, and I knew what I had to do coming down to the end. The only person that was still in it was Tim Clark, and I know he 2-putted from 80 feet for par on 18.
So it was just myself to beat there, to an extent. I thought Scott would add pressure by sinking the birdie on 17, but he missed it, so it was just me and myself.

Q. You put yourself in a position like this about five times or so, if I recall, last group, last day, but I think your average is a few over par. What was different this week?
STEPHEN AMES: This is a different golf course than the ones I've played in the PGA Championship and U.S. Open Championship. Two completely different situations. That stage there, my golf swing only being 40% complete with the changes, where I felt comfortable. Coming here this week it's probably closer to 10, 15% complete, where I feel more comfortable, knowing which way it's going to go and not going to go, and certainly the work that Sean, and I have done over the extent of the full year has made such a difference.
End of November it will be a full year, and it's starting to get more and more comfortable, where I can set up and hit particular shots that I want to hit. Over all it's been a nice development, it's been pain-free, which is the biggest thing for me. My back hasn't hurt whatsoever this whole year, so those are the things I've got to look at and progressively getting better and better at a ripe old age of 43.

Q. At what point did you seek out Sean, with your back, your health, what have you?
STEPHEN AMES: The week before the Skins game last year.

Q. (Away from microphone.)
STEPHEN AMES: Yeah, that's where we started our changes.

Q. (Away from microphone.)
STEPHEN AMES: No, it was more the fact that -- I wasn't frustrated. It was the fact that why was my back going out? Why did it go out end of last year after having a good victory at THE PLAYERS Championship? I was done after the PGA, back couldn't hold up anymore.
I think at that stage he understood the biomechanics of how the body is supposed to work, and we had to change the swing. And at the top of the swing, I was in the wrong position, and we're slowly getting into that position now where I'm feeling more comfortable, and it's showing, because I'm hitting my driver longer than ever before, higher shots, and left to right better, and those are great for playing in the PGA and the U.S. Open, those tournaments.

Q. You've mentioned Sean a few times. What are your plans with Sean over the winter?
STEPHEN AMES: I won't do anything until probably Kapalua, literally. I have to sit down and talk to him about it, probably do it tonight over 19 beers or something! (Chuckles.) At this stage it's nice to cap off the year with a victory.
Always looking forward to next year, and we're glad to go to Kapalua for Christmas anyway, and now we're going for another reason, to play golf. Which golf gets in the way, unfortunately, but it's nice to be in that position. For next year we have to sit down and talk about it. We haven't planned anything out.

Q. You might be the second oldest winner, here, Floyd was 44. Do you feel old? You've won three times in your 40s.
STEPHEN AMES: No, I don't feel old whatsoever.

Q. Your back, is it creaky?
STEPHEN AMES: Nothing in my body hurts at this stage. My head might hurt tomorrow.

Q. Yesterday you went to the putting green when you walked off 18. Did you find something there? Your putting was better today.
STEPHEN AMES: I have a habit when looking at my target when putting, I get too far underneath it, and then my shoulder line gets too steep, and that's what we figured out yesterday. And yesterday after we finished the round we spent half an hour and figured it out there. We came out this morning, and -- I was hitting good putts, but I could tell it was a little off. And today almost every putt I hit felt perfect. What I saw, I hit, and it came out the way I saw it.
Besides two putts that came up short, I thought I putted well, considering the greens that were fast this afternoon. Over all, everything was clicking today, which was nice.

Q. You said a few days ago that the year was a success, given what you had done with your swing.

Q. You could have walked away without winning and still have felt fine. How much more does winning help or make you feel?
STEPHEN AMES: The same. The same. The way I'm looking at it, it's a step in the right direction, more than anything else. I came into this week not having any expectations. I was hitting the ball great, putting better, all the things that we needed to work on to elevate my game to another level was there. My mental coach was here with me this week, too, until Saturday.
All the things we were getting back, to an extent it felt like I was in the same zone, the same mental attitude that I had when I played the TPC, which is a good thing. I felt that situation a few times this year, but I was never able to capitalize on it, and this week we figured out where I needed to go to play the golf I'm capable of playing, and it was nice.

Q. If you were going to get out of the cold of Calgary for a week, I'm curious why this week and not Gray Hawk or the one last week or what have you?
STEPHEN AMES: I've always enjoyed playing down here, plus Sean lives here, so I'll stay with him this week. He works out of Orange County National. He has a school from Canada, brings down kids and he teaches kids over the wintertime.

Q. You talked about the early part of next year. What about next year as a whole? How do you feel about what's being discussed in terms of schedule, and what would you like to see if you had a chance to map it out?
STEPHEN AMES: Schedulewise?

Q. Late in the year, FedExCup?
STEPHEN AMES: Well, it's a Ryder Cup year, so I don't care! (Chuckles.) I do know that they are looking at that to an extent, where it's possibly going to go probably three FedExCups in a row, have a week off, play Ryder Cup, and then play The TOUR Championship, not all 5 events in a row, one atop another. I think they're going to go three weeks, have a week off -- Joe probably knows better than me -- have a week off, then Ryder Cup.
I think everybody complained about how much golf it was in a row, especially when you consider the fact that there's so much on the line, $10 million, and all those other Championships to win on top of it, too. That's the direction that I think they're going, and I hope they do.

Q. Born and raised in the Caribbean, went to college in south Florida, won two events in Florida now. How cold does it get in Calgary for those of us who have never been there in January? How do you not get cabin fever?
STEPHEN AMES: 30 below.

Q. (Away from microphone.)
STEPHEN AMES: It's a dry cold. It doesn't go through you; it hits you and bounces off. (Chuckles.) Celsius, it's the same, 35 below is the same.

Q. How long have you been there?
STEPHEN AMES: 13 years.

Q. One extreme to the other, really?
STEPHEN AMES: Yeah, it's an extreme. It's nice. I'm going to go home and reflect on my win, and I have three months to do it. This is awesome before I start back, so I can relax. For me it's good, because I'm done with the year, I can go home, relax. I'm going to have a big party at the restaurant when I go home, and then I look at it and I go, okay -- I'm going to be in the gym hard for the next two, two and a half months.
I start -- Tuesday morning my trainer is coming at 9 a.m., and we're going to start training at home, getting ready for next year. Those are the things we try to do, and it's good, because when you get away from golf, those are the things you can do. You can't do any heavy lifting when playing golf, so I have an opportunity to do it that time of the year.

Q. You do an immense amount of work in Canada for Junior Golf, for charities, most of which flies under the radar, but this has got to be a nice added bonus, $25,000 to the Alberta Children's Hospital?
STEPHEN AMES: Yeah, it's a great bonus. I'm sure I'll get a call from them. Most of my stuff at the Foundation we try to give back to golf, and we went to the Juvenile Diabetes seminar the other day and raised money there. I donated a day of playing golf there, and that was $15,000 just for the day. Those are the things we do, and of course being a dad and having two kids -- knock wood my kids aren't in that situation, but I do know parents that have kids in that situation. So as much as I can help or try to give back to it, we both -- both Jodi and myself do. We like to give back.

Q. A lot of guys came in here with a goal. Did you have any outside goal that you were shooting at this weekend, top-25, top-70, top-30? Did you have any other goal? Maybe not playing in the cold --
STEPHEN AMES: Why was it cold?

Q. In Calgary.
STEPHEN AMES: Oh, Calgary, yeah. It's not cold, cold, but it's getting there. I wanted to play well, hit the shots that I saw. I guess over all we wanted to work on the changes to get myself ready for next year. I came down here to work on my golf swing, and here I am winning an event, which is awesome.
Now we're capable of knowing how to do the changes, and at the same time take it on the golf course and make it work for you. Not every day it feels great, and not every day you're going to hit the ball great, but you have to figure out why you hit it left or right under certain circumstances, and this was the perfect one.

Q. (Away from microphone.)
STEPHEN AMES: Probably. I planned it that way, where I wanted to continue playing, because I didn't want to have 3 and a half months after -- actually it was four, and I wanted to play golf. I felt like after playing the year, I'd spaced it out so well, where I had enough weeks off and enough weeks playing that I wasn't tired, you know?
So I felt I was still hungry, I want to go play golf and play well, and here I am sitting in front of you guys.

Q. Nobody from Singapore called you?
STEPHEN AMES: No, no. I didn't want to go all the way there, sorry.
STEWART MOORE: Stephen, thank you.

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