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March 7, 2003

Mikko Ilonen


GORDON SIMPSON: Joint leader at the moment with David Lynn. They were telling me the last game you played here you were taken away in an ambulance.

MIKKO ILONEN: Yeah, a few years ago on Thursday, I had food poisoning on the course and I was taken to the hospital after my round and spent the night over there. I came back the next morning and I wanted to come back because I came a long ways over here. Played as an amateur, shot 71-74.

GORDON SIMPSON: Were you able to finish your round the first day? You were very, very unwell on the course.

MIKKO ILONEN: Yeah, it happened on the course.

GORDON SIMPSON: Obviously you are enjoying this much more today. What are your thoughts going into the season?

MIKKO ILONEN: I've had a very slow start. Played five tournaments so far, made three cuts, nothing special.

In Australia, I played two tournaments in Australia before this. I felt like it was coming around a little bit and played one good round which gave me confidence, but I played a bad round the next day. But it didn't matter to me. I went back home from Australia for two and a half weeks and worked quite hard. Can't play golf this time of year -- I live an hour away in a town called Lahti. I came here a few days earlier. I came here Saturday morning and played three practice rounds and on Monday, already on Monday, I felt like normal, like summer. So it came around very quickly.

Q. What are conditions like at home at the moment?

MIKKO ILONEN: Just winter, you know. Snow, dry, cold. I would think about 30, 40 centimeters where I live. Not much but enough to keep the light.

It's nice. I like winter. I like when it's cold. And I like to go back home for a few weeks, one or two weeks at a time. I do snowboarding back home, stuff like that. You don't have to think golf too much when you are there. You go indoors a few times a week and that's it.

Q. How many months do you have snow?

MIKKO ILONEN: I don't want to lie, about five months, to be honest. About five.

Q. How long have you been snowboarding?

MIKKO ILONEN: I'm 23, so I would say 13.

GORDON SIMPSON: Are there U, because obviously it's a very short season, a very short playing season.

MIKKO ILONEN: Yeah, it is. We do have a few places where we have good greens in the summertime, but it's only two, three months.

So we have to practice -- you have to travel somewhere else. I've done my practicing in Florida over the years. I go there in the wintertime, as I did this week, as well. I spend a few weeks alone, nobody around. It's a good time to take off, that time of the year, like January, December/January, it's good for me to do that.

Q. Do you feel your career should have gone quicker than it has?

MIKKO ILONEN: No, not really, no. There's no rush. So I believe that I need to let things happen. That's the way they are going. I have not done badly, I would say. Played nine tournaments in my first season when I turned pro, 2001, was No. 119 on the Money List. Last year played about 17 tournaments and I made my card, so, that was the main goal for the year and I made it.

I played a few times in the majors. It's good. It's going well.

GORDON SIMPSON: You don't think being the one Finnish player -- travelling from Helsinki -- is a lonely business?

MIKKO ILONEN: Not really, because there's so many Scandinavians around and we do hang around together quite a bit, so it's nice.

Q. Have you met Kimi Raikkonen?

MIKKO ILONEN: Yeah, I met him. He was in the Army the same time as me.

Q. What did you practice when you were home?

MIKKO ILONEN: I did more for my body than with the clubs. I work quite a bit with my body, so just to make me feel good, you know, and that's the main thing when you are home. It's pretty dark sometimes, so you have to keep yourself fit m and improve yourself like that.

It makes you more confident to come into this tournament if you have done something. So that's how I feel.

GORDON SIMPSON: Thanks very much for coming in.

End of FastScripts....

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