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May 31, 2001

A.J. Eathorne


RHONDA GLENN: Ladies and gentlemen, A.J. Eathorne finished with a 3-under par 67. The leader thus far. She had only 25 putts on the day. A.J., would you please tell us how you felt the course played today.

A.J. EATHORNE: The course was actually quite nice, being the first group out things were holding a little bit better than some -- than some thought they were going to. It played still pretty long. Didn't really hit the fairways very often, they looked nice. The rough is nice and thick. The greens are putting very true.

RHONDA GLENN: In general, how did you feel about your round.

A.J. EATHORNE: My round was, I guess, a good struggle. I enjoyed it a lot. I scrambled around. But when those putts fall in, you feel good about your round.

RHONDA GLENN: And you holed a very long putt on the very first hole for a birdie.

A.J. EATHORNE: I did. I kind of, I guess, went down the left side of the fairway for the first few shots and played in the rough and got on the green. And it was about a 45 footer. And just kind of looked at it like, just hit it close, just get this day started. I don't think I was quite awake yet. Something like that going right in the middle of the hole really wakes you up.

Q. A.J., this is a heck of a course to be able to scramble to a 3-under par, and you classified this as a scrambling round. I wonder what your thoughts there were?

A.J. EATHORNE: Looking at my stats for myself. I have three fairways and four greens on the front side and 12 putts. So that's pretty scrambly for me. But I'm usually -- I like myself down the middle of the fairway. I put a 9-wood in my bag. I didn't actually hit it yesterday, I sort of thought where am I losing myself out there on the course. And I thought a 9-wood is a great replacement of a 4-iron, gets you out of that rough. And I used that numerous times today just getting myself out of the rough, 150 yards, just pop it out and let it roll itself on the green. And I don't know, it was a scrambled round, but I had fun out there with it.

Q. As I recall, you're Canadian, correct?

A.J. EATHORNE: Yes, proud Canadian.

Q. Could you describe for us what a player -- a foreign player thinks and how she might rate this golf tournament, the U.S. championship. Because foreign players seem to play very well here. And the past champion is a foreign player. So could you discuss that a little bit from your perspective?

A.J. EATHORNE: I guess growing up I never -- I always heard of the U.S. Open, and we watched -- being from Canada, we're pretty close to the U.S., almost feeling close to being an American. And there's great pride to play in this event. Sort of the end all tournament you want to play in growing up. And I guess getting the opportunity just to play in it is one thing. Playing good in it is unbelievable. And you feel very proud for your country, for the Tour that I'm on, the LPGA Tour, you feel like you represent yourself very well for it. Because anybody is able to play in it. And it's a great tournament. The USGA does a wonderful job of presenting it to us, and they make it tough on us.

Q. If I could have another, A.J. Going back to your putting, do you think maybe you took advantage of the greens that might have been just a little slower being the first group out there, and that was a help or do you think you might have left a few out there?

A.J. EATHORNE: I don't think I left any out there. 24 putts, according to my stats, anyway. But even 25 putts, I didn't leave anything -- perhaps maybe a couple left or right, but the ones that I wanted to make, I think I made. I made a couple of real good 20-footers for par, including the last one. That was close to that. And making those is hard enough. And making those 5-footers is even harder. But the greens were a little slower, I guess, than they probably will be this afternoon. But they're very makable, as far as they're very true greens, you don't see anything that's not -- when you putt it, you know where it's going to roll, as long as you stroke it the way you want to. Being at 7:30, there was no spike marks either, maybe that was a slight advantage for me. But I guess I took advantage of it.

Q. Generally speaking, do you consider chipping and putting to be a strong point of your game? It looks like this course will set up that way. And number two, have you sort of reached the point in your career now where you think in majors that you're kind of expecting more of yourself and that you should be a factor more often?

A.J. EATHORNE: Yeah, I would love to think of myself as more of a factor more often. Chipping and putting, I've been working on it more in the last couple of months. I'm getting pretty focused on my game, working on my putting, getting to the point where I feel very comfortable over the ball and not thinking about how I'm going to hit it. I'm feeling it more. I'm a good feel player. And that's how it was out there today. I didn't really think anything else but pace and dropping it in the edge of the cup. And hopefully more -- along the way down the road I can be in contention more often through that and just keep being a good player.

Q. Did you expect coming into this week that your name would be at the top of the leaderboard at the U.S. Open for day 1?

A.J. EATHORNE: No, I don't think I ever expected it to be up there. But very pleased and very happy that it's there. And I'll do everything I can to keep it there.

Q. The forecast is for rain tomorrow and possibly Saturday. What would a lot of moisture on this golf course do? Are there any positives that would derive from that?

A.J. EATHORNE: Definitely. If it gets hot and it's going to get drier out here, which is going to make the course pretty tough. The fairways themselves are pretty moist anyways leading up to the front of the green anyway. You know, your balls are going to stop if you hit it there. But the greens could use a little water. They're going to be very slick by the end of the weekend.

RHONDA GLENN: Let's go over your birdies. 40 to 45 feet on the first hole.

A.J. EATHORNE: Yeah, that was about it.

RHONDA GLENN: You played that down the left rough.

A.J. EATHORNE: Down the left rough. Just hit a shot -- it was just close to the first cut, and hit a little 7-wood up to the left-hand rough again and hit -- just sort of punched an 8-iron out to the left side of the green and rolled in a nice left-to-righter.

RHONDA GLENN: No. 12, you birdied.

A.J. EATHORNE: No. 12, I have a hard time remembering that hole.

RHONDA GLENN: You hit the green, you made the putt. You hit the fairway, imagine that.

A.J. EATHORNE: Imagine that, I hit the fairway. That was one of the one holes I did that on. I'm having a hard time remembering that for some reason.

RHONDA GLENN: We'll go back to that. No. 17.

A.J. EATHORNE: No. 17 was a great hole, just drove it right over the bunker. It's a long par-4, and sitting pretty good in the fairway and used that good 9-wood again that I've been sort of depending on today, and hit it to probably about 20 feet. And it was pretty straight, actually, just went straight in.

RHONDA GLENN: You made a long putt on 18, a 20-footer.

A.J. EATHORNE: Yeah, I was down the right-hand rough and tried to hit that 9-wood out and probably left myself about 20 yards short of the green, and hit a pretty good chip that stopped about 15, 20 feet and it went in, too, thank goodness. I was a little nervous on that putt, my hands were a little sweaty.

RHONDA GLENN: If at the end of this you'll get with Tanya Gray and tell her the length of all 1-putts you had. I think it would take an hour if we sat up here and discussed it. Congratulations, A.J., great start to the championship and we wish you well.

End of FastScripts....

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