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November 22, 2007

Mikko Ilonen

Pasi Purhonen


GORDON SIMPSON: We are delighted to welcome the Finnish team. They are currently leaders in the clubhouse, 9-under par 63, a great score. Many of us know what Mikko has done this year, but Pasi, we don't know much about you. What have you been up to?
PASI PURHONEN: Well, I haven't really played too much tournaments the last couple years, just a few tournaments each year. I've been coaching for the Finnish National Team, and that's what I've been up to now. It's a great honour, Mikko asking me to be his partner.
GORDON SIMPSON: Mikko, you obviously invited Pasi to be your partner this week, what were the qualities you saw in him?
MIKKO ILONEN: Well, I've known Pasi for about, what would I say, 12, 13 years. When I was a junior, he was one of the top amateurs what we had. And I knew if I give him a chance, he'll do everything he can to be in shape for this tournament, and that's what it's turned out to be.

Q. Pasi, I understand you last played on The European Tour in 2004; is that right?
PASI PURHONEN: That's right.

Q. Can you tell us why you decided to effectively retire from that level of golf? Was it a personal decision, and can you talk a little about your round today?
PASI PURHONEN: 2004, I was like in between Challenge Tour and the main tour. I played a few main tour events, and I felt like I had been improving fairly constantly every year a little bit, and sort of reached a point where I felt like I could do something for the younger players in Finland.
So I really didn't have -- I didn't have to stop playing and started to do teaching. That's what I chose to do. So I think that's like the main reason why I also considered to be able to just sort of come back and start to play without a problem.
As far as today's round, Mikko stiffed it on the first hole. He hit a really good wedge shot there. And I had a good putt on the second, so we started off birdie, birdie. And then I managed to eagle No. 3. So off we went from there.
So I think that good, early start for us was the key point can and it just sort of tried to carry the momentum.

Q. Pasi, can you give us details on the eagle? And then tell us what you did to prepare for the tournament. And what is the Finnish National Golf Team? Explain what that is.
PASI PURHONEN: As far as the third hole, I had a good distance to get down there. I think it was 227 to the pavement and so I that's good for my 3-wood. And then hit it straight at it. Pretty much I felt like my job today was to sort of hit first, and then hopefully have a good chance for me to be aggressive. But like that shot, I pulled it off, and it finished like five metres past the pin and the putt just went in and that's about it.
Then what was your question, about how to prepare for the event? Obviously first of all, it's hard to be off and you have to switch back to what it's like to be a player. And even though I had been relatively closely related to competitive golf, but I was on the amateur level, so obviously it's a big level. But just to first prepare myself a little bit physically; sweat, and do something that I feel like I have done.
And then I went to Spain to practise for a few weeks just prior to the event. Practised for a week with Mikko and a couple other Finnish players playing preparing for Qualifying School, and that was good practise for me and showed me a little bit where I was at at that time and then I still had some time to try to get it done.

Q. And the Finnish National Team?
PASI PURHONEN: Yeah, that's both Men and Boys Finnish National Amateur Team. I'm the coach.

Q. You are the coach?

Q. Would you regard that as your best-ever competitive round?
PASI PURHONEN: No, I don't think so.
MIKKO ILONEN: In the World Cup.
PASI PURHONEN: In the World Cup, yes, so far. (Laughter).
No, it wasn't my best. It's kind of hard to say, because some holes, you don't even finish it.

Q. Big stage --
PASI PURHONEN: The stage is what it is. It's a round of golf.

Q. What's your impression to the fans on the golf course, the Chinese audience, and the golf fans, what do you think about that?
MIKKO ILONEN: Well, I was very delighted today to see some people around there and I'm sure we're going to see some more in the next few days. We were very surprised after the eagle on the third when we were walking off the green, there was a lot of people waiting for us on the next tee which was nice. And as I said, I'm looking forward to seeing some more people over here, and it's nice that the local people are turning up.
GORDON SIMPSON: Very well played again, guys. Good luck tomorrow. Thanks again for coming in.

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