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May 21, 2008

Laura Diaz


ASHLEY CUSHMAN: Laura, thanks for coming in and joining us. Welcome back to Corning, the site of your last victory in 2002. Can you just talk about coming back to Corning and some of your memories over the years of this tournament?
LAURA DIAZ: I've said a number of times that I just think Corning is such a cozy little town that welcomes us with open arms. It's the only town really that I think that advertises all over the place. Everybody knows we're here. And when we walk down the street, you can just tell people are looking at you saying, Oh, there's a player from the tournament. I just think it's so warm and welcoming even despite bitter cold temperatures. (Laughing). And I love coming here.
Of course, there's tons of memories from winning, but I live -- I lived relatively close, so lots of family and friends have come out in years' past, and it's always good to see everybody.
I'd say the biggest memory, other than the actual victory, was chipping in on 9 on the final round in 2002 when I won.
ASHLEY CUSHMAN: Guys, we'll have questions for Laura here.

Q. Laura, I saw your brother Monday; he said he thought you were hitting the ball pretty well. I looked at your scores the last couple tournaments. Do you feel like things are coming around a little bit with your game?
LAURA DIAZ: I think golf is one of those things where it's just a day-by-day thing. I'm trying to stay more in the moment instead of getting too far ahead of myself.
It's been hard, the last couple years, not having won in awhile, and you tend to focus a lot on that. And I've done a lot of work trying to really stay in the present and have a good mental approach to golf and to life. And I think things are moving in the right direction. But it's just something you are constantly battling, in my opinion.
You know, most of us golfers try and be perfect. And golf's just not a game of perfect. So you have to just let the bad ones go and try and focus as much as you can on the good ones. And I think I'm headed in the right direction there.

Q. Is it much harder to win out here now than maybe five or six years ago? Is the depth of the field and the talent of the field that much better?
LAURA DIAZ: I think so. I think that now every week, you know, there's 15, 20, 25 people who could potentially go out there and really post low, low numbers. And I think -- it goes much deeper than that, but I think. You know, five years ago you had a lot of people who could post low numbers, but they weren't doing it as often as players are doing it now. It just seems like every day you're getting somebody who is shooting, you know, 6-, 7-under. And I don't remember that being the case five years ago. You'd have an occasional 8-under, then you wouldn't see that again until maybe the next tournament; whereas, now you are seeing it on a real regular basis.

Q. When you won here in 2002, of course it was your second win that season. Looking back, are you surprised it hasn't maybe gotten as easy as far as just getting back to that point as it was?
LAURA DIAZ: I don't know -- I mean, I was surprised to win twice in a season. But -- and I don't know that 'easy' was the word, but it was definitely a different-- I was definitely in a different place mentally then. And I am, you know, very disappointed that I haven't been able to get there again over the last couple of years.
But, it's way more difficult now, it seems like, because, you know, 3-under, 3-under, 3-under is not going to cut it, you know, unless conditions are really bad or, you know, we've had a significant change. 3-under every day usually isn't going to do it in your tournaments any more.
So it's just-- you know, the caliber of golf is so much higher that you are really out there; you know, you got to work really hard to get a victory now. And although Lorena doesn't make it seem that way.

Q. Since that time, how often have you been in a position, say after going to the final round, where you have been in the lead or at least close?
LAURA DIAZ: Well I've been close. I don't know that I've ever -- that I've led going into a final round since -- I mean was I leading here going into the final round, or was I one shot back? I don't know, I may have been leading going into the final round here. But I don't think I have. But I'm not a stat person so I wouldn't really know.
In the last couple years, I've had some seconds and, you know, I had a second in Sweden last year, a third in Toledo. Then I finished second the first tournament of the year this year, and fourth at HSBC this year. So there's been times where I've been right up there. But I don't know that -- totally in contention.
I've come from behind an posted some good scores and finished high up, but I don't know that I was leading or, you know, in the hunt.

Q. Does the mentality change here in the lead. Again, you said you can't really remember if you are were in the lead, in the lead as oppose to maybe being the chaser in that final round?
LAURA DIAZ: I don't know. I think that maybe your expectation isn't as high when you are not in the lead. I think -- because Tucson I know I wasn't in the lead when I won there. Juli was leading by two or three. And I think you go out and you just say, Let's go the best I can, make as many birdies as I can and see what happens at the end of the day.
I think you probably tend to put a little more pressure on yourself when you are the leader. But, again that's a per-round type of feeling. I don't know that you can make a general statement there, but that's my feeling.
I think when you are a couple back, you know, you're just like, There's no pressure here; I'm not leading the tournament.
But I think the mental work that I've done would be to go into every round trying to make as many birdies as you can, and that's definitely where I was at when I was winning.

Q. Where has the balancing act between being a mother and being a professional golfer-- has that gotten a little easier as the tour's gotten older?
LAURA DIAZ: For sure. The first two years that we traveled with him, you know, starting at eight weeks old we had two five- to seven-day hospital stays. This being our third year, knock on wood, we have had none this season. That in itself makes life much easier and much happier. Not having to worry about his health is a huge stress relief for myself and my husband and my mother who helps us take care of him. So that makes it a lot easier for me to leave him, go out and play, come home and, you know, enjoy my time with him because I know that he's happy and healthy and growing like a weed.

Q. When you have a week off like last week, do you try to spend most of your time with him and stay away from golf?
LAURA DIAZ: I do. I really try to focus on a lot of quality time with him. Because the days out here are so long and so much time away from him that when I have a week off or even a day off -- you know, when Monday is a day off when we're traveling during, say, a four-week stretch of playing, I really spend a lot of time with him on Monday. For instance, I even try to do my workout with him. You know, like I'll take him for a run, do exercises in between, so that I can see him, I can talk to him, he can talk back to me, we can interact.
I really love being a mom, and the I love seeing him grow. And he's just started really talking a lot, and it's really exciting for myself and my husband. And I miss him when I'm away from him, when I'm working so quality time has been a big, big thing for Kevin and I.

Q. You talked about just the field getting stronger in the last five years or so. When you look at the field this year, you have a handful of the big names Ochoa, Sorenstam who aren't here. Do players look at this as an opportunity when you have, you know, a number of the players who are successful this year that aren't here? Do you look at it as an opportunity that it's good chance to get a win?
LAURA DIAZ: Well I would say yes, you're always looking at every week as an opportunity to go out and showcase your best golf performance. However, like we said when I started the talking here, every field is still so deep. So despite the fact that Annika's not here and Lorena's not here, you still have Paula who is here. She's won twice this year. You still have a ton of players could win a golf tournament. So even though maybe the people who have won many multiple events in their career are not here, it doesn't take away at all from the talent that is here.
So I think that every week is a great opportunity to go out and play your best golf. And it's just that some weeks you don't have as many people who are going to -- who have had so many wins and the experience might not be there. Whereas most weeks we have people who have won multiple times.
I mean Lorena's not in the Hall-of-Fame yet, but she is right on her way.
So the number of people we have competing every week who are Hall-of-Fame winners, which means multiple, multiple winner, the experience level there is so high that that's more what I think you are competing against instead of just low scores. Because we know all of us can go out and shoot low scores, but having been in that moment gives you a lot more comfort when you are out there trying to win a golf tournament.

Q. Course in pretty good shape?
LAURA DIAZ: The course is in great shape. It's really green. There's lots of grass. I didn't go to a place that I was like, What's going on. I mean, there's just so much grass. There's like no brown area, you know. You can tell that it's been a very good spring here for rain and growth. The greens are rolling really nice. It's in great shape.
I think if we can get through some weather that I see that's coming our way, I think we'll have a great week.

Q. I notice the tournament roster still has you listed as Scotia. I know you have been in Florida for awhile but do you still feel like a New York person?
LAURA DIAZ: Yeah, I lived in New York longer than I've lived in Florida, and this is where I'm from. And I changed where I -- from Florida to New York last, middle of last season I think. I just feel like this is what I associate with, this is what I grew up in.
New York state is something I'm proud to be associated with, and that's really my home. I have a lot of ties up here. And my parents still come up here in the summertime. They go to Cooperstown, New York. My dad teaches out of Leatherstocking.
And it's a different feeling being in New York than being from Florida. I don't really -- I'm not from Florida so that's why we're -- I went back to being from New York.

Q. You're going back there, I guess, next month for a charity event. Are you looking forward to that?
LAURA DIAZ: I am. We've got a lot of people who called who saw it in the paper who are coming who we haven't seen in a long time, and it should be a really fun day for myself and then it sounds like the fans are going to get really into it. So it should be good.
Morgan Pressel and I will be showcasing the LPGA so it should be a good thing.
ASHLEY CUSHMAN: What are some details of your event? The name of it and who it's benefitting.
LAURA DIAZ: It's the skins game. It benefits the local hospital there in Schenectady, Ellis hospital, and it goes to women's health. And it's on, I'm not sure the date right now off the top of my head, it's the Monday of Wegmans. And they do a skins charity game. They do a Pro-Am on the Sunday previous that my dad's going to play in. And we go out and try and -- Blair McAllister is the male pro. I don't know if they have another --

Q. They have a local pro. Your dad is playing and the local pro is playing, whoever wins that is the fourth player. You don't play in many of those type things right, charity events?
LAURA DIAZ: I try and play in a couple a year. I have that one that I'm doing up in New York. I do one for Val Skinner. She actually has two this year. She just had one this past week that I didn't play in but she is having one in Hilton Head later in the season that I'm going to play in.
There's not much room in the schedule to do much charity. It's hard. To get in quality time with Cooper, it's hard to give up my days off.

Q. Will he be on the course next month with you?
LAURA DIAZ: Yeah, I think my mom will probably bring him out and let him scream. It's okay if he screams in that type of format. (Laughing).

Q. Yesterday Sherri Turner and Cindy Rarick were in here and they mentioned they think they see an end to this tournament in the next couple of years when the contract runs out. Have you heard anything of that sort, and what's your reaction to hearing that?
LAURA DIAZ: Yeah, I had a local guy yesterday ask me about that, and I went right to Jack Benjamin and asked him. And I was at a dinner last night. That, in my opinion, that's not the case. They love us here. Corning has really stepped up and helped with the purse and have, you know -- Corning, Inc.'s become very involved. And they have every intention of continue. The contract is through 2010. And, I mean, they want to continue. So I guess basically everyone's just going to the have to wait and see. But according to the information that I've been given when asked about it, they are confident that they will stay on our schedule.

Q. I think Sherri was talking about how a lot of the older players really appreciate this course. Do you see a difference in sort of mentality of some of the older players and younger players, how they see this tournament?
LAURA DIAZ: Well I think that the players who have been out here 20-plus years have a different outlook on LPGA Tour life. They've seen the Tour go through multiple changes.
I've been through where, you know, this event started with a $225,000 purse total, and now we're at a $1.5 million purse. So they've seen the Tour grow and they've been part of the growth.
The younger players are out, boom, they're competing every week for, you know, a million-plus. I mean our minimum purse I think is $1.3 right now. So I think it's hard to really grasp what was going on 20, 25 years ago when you've never had that. I mean, you never had to recognize that. You know, the minimum amount that they're making in a first-place check wasn't even the total purse back when, you know, some of the older players started.
So I think they just really appreciate what Corning has done, how they've stuck with us through 30 years of many changes, and always been willing to grow with us.
And, you know, I've only been out here, this is my tenth year, and I appreciate it. Because I know, you know, when I -- my first tournament win it was an $800,000 purse so I can see the change in only ten years.
And it's also a very different sponsor in that it's a hometown feel. They really get into the event. You can tell that they really enjoy us coming here. There's more of a player relationship with the actual sponsors than some of our other events that are new. Because they're companies who come in and help support us might not necessarily be totally into like live in that town or, you know, whereas everybody here lives in this town. So they play in the Pro-Am, they get to know the players, and they play with the same, you know, people year after year and everyone's meeting constantly. That's not necessarily the case with each of our events.

Q. Safe to assume as long as this event's here you'll be in the field?
LAURA DIAZ: Well I'm on ten. I'm ten for ten right now. Yes. Unfortunately, I have not competed in Sybase in a couple years so I'm hoping that the schedule works out next year where I'm not put in a hard place to have to make a decision between here or Sybase. But it's been good to me for nine years so far. I'm looking forward to a tenth. And I really enjoy coming here. So I can't see it never -- I can't see never coming here. I can't see it not being part of my schedule.

Q. You're playing Wegmans right?
LAURA DIAZ: I am playing Wegmans, yes.
ASHLEY CUSHMAN: Any other questions for Laura? Thanks for your time.

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