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April 9, 2009

Ross Fisher


LARRY PUGH: My pleasure to introduce Ross Fisher. As you know, Ross had a very good day today, and having just spent a few minutes with him, I know he's thrilled to be here at Augusta.
As you are probably aware, in 2008, he had a total of nine Top-10 finishes on The European Tour, placing him sixth in the Order of Merit. He won the 2008 European Open and the 2007 KLM Open. It's great having you here. Would you like to open with a few remarks?
ROSS FISHER: Yeah, obviously delighted to be here. Obviously it's a pretty special place. You dream of playing in the Masters, and like I've said before, I've been dreaming about this for a very long time. I've watched a lot of the Masters Tournaments unfold, and to finally get the invitation, and to feel like you belong and be coming here, is a wonderful achievement for myself.
It's just a great thrill and it's absolutely a pleasure to be out there playing that golf course.

Q. Tim Clark was in here earlier, and he was talking about sitting up until two o'clock in the morning in South Africa and watching it on TV. Wondering if you had experiences like that back home in Europe, or not?
ROSS FISHER: Yeah, I've watched the BBC coverage. I've watched it, crickey, I would have been probably single figures, I would say, maybe seven or eight, since I was watching it.
Fortunately for me, it's not as early as that for me. I think the BBC coverage started at maybe five or six in the evening, and then cuts off to the news and then comes back. So used to staying up until the coverage finished, which sometimes was midnight. So I probably was a bit naughty at that tender age, but it was just great to sit back and watch, and watch the great championships unfold. And to finally be here, I'm absolutely delighted.

Q. Can you talk about what's going through your mind at 16 when you get to 5-under, you have to be thinking, wow, at that point, and then talk about the next couple of holes after that.
ROSS FISHER: Yeah, like you say, obviously hit a very nice tee shot and holed a good putt there and saw I got it to 5. I saw Tim was playing nicely; he was 4.
So just wanted to try and finish strong. Hit a good drive up 17. I felt like I hit a decent shot into 17, because I knew that green is normally pretty firm, so I just tried to hit like a high, soft cut in there to get it coming in high and soft, and, you know, maybe a yard or two right, and it rolls all the way down to the pin and I'm tapping in for a six. That's golf, and it's fine margins.
I hit a good bunker shot and thought I hit a good putt, just missed, and thinking, right, come on, just hit a solid drive up 18, which I did, and unfortunately I was trying to hit it straight with a little fade and I probably hit maybe a three-yard draw and unfortunately just didn't fade enough and went into the bunker. I thought it would be fine and I had a chance and it was up near the face and I could only wedge it out. I gave myself probably an 8-footer for par and just unfortunately slid by.
So, you know, to get it to five was great, but to finish three is disappointing, but like I said before; if you can walk off Augusta National disappointed with a 69, you're obviously doing something right.

Q. Having visualized it so many times, how did the real thing compare to the way you dreamed about it, and was there anything that surprised you out there, the real thing?
ROSS FISHER: It was amazing. Watching it all unfold on TV and to finally be here, it's truly a special place. You just get that extra buzz about the place, seeing the crowds on that first tee at a ridiculous time in the morning, even on the range here, and a legend like Mr. Palmer to start off the Tournament, to hear those cheers, you know you're at a special tournament.
But ever since I've turned up this week, I mean, practice rounds, I just can't get over how many people there are here, even on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. It was ridiculous seeing that standing on the hill on 16, after you hit your tee shot and eagle off, got to walk 20 yards and skip it on the lake; I'm probably not the best at it. I hit a good one there on Tuesday, but it's just an amazing experience. Obviously for my first one, I'm obviously going to cherish every moment.
But at the same time, I'm here to do a job. I've come here wanting to and hoping and feeling like I've got a chance of winning. You know, it's going to be difficult. It's my first time, but if I keep playing the way I'm playing and hole a few putts, make sure we make that cut come Friday night, and pick it up Saturday and Sunday, give myself a chance, and who knows? You know, strange things have happened around here.

Q. What would be your first memory of the Masters, and did you visualize yourself doing the same sort of things when you played your first practice round?
ROSS FISHER: Probably would say the earliest memories would I guess be when Faldo won in a playoff, and watching him battle with Norman. Obviously remember when Tiger won in '97. I mean, that was just remarkable.
And the more recent ones, I remember sort of Zach Johnson winning when it was like freezing cold, and you'll probably never forget when Mickelson leapt about six feet in the air when he won his first one.
It's been amazing to watch, but at the same time, especially the last three years, being a professional and watching a major thinking, you know, I should be there; I want to be there. So it just drove me to work really hard and try and achieve great things, and that's been the case. My career's progressed forwards, and it's getting better and better each year.
You know, hopefully I can continue that trend this year, and you know, who knows, I feel ready to compete in the Majors. The Open last year was a great experience. If it wasn't for the tee shot on 18, walking off there with an eight, I would have been probably playing in The Ryder Cup. But that's golf. It's fine lines, fine margins.
But I'm here this week, and I'm here trying to do my best and do my damnedest to try to win.

Q. The Match Play, you say you've come here believing you've got a chance of winning; was the Match Play sort of a turning point in that, knowing that you can compete in the best in the world and getting as far as you did?
ROSS FISHER: I think so. I would say I probably believed in myself before that. My first win, obviously, in Holland was huge, and then obviously they say the first one is hard and they say the second one is even harder. It kind of, funny enough, came quite easy for me. At The European Open, it was just a strange week. It just seemed like it was my week and everything I did turned to gold basically.
It's the start of a long week. I've got off to a great start, but you know, I'm here to win and I'm here to compete and this is what I love doing. I just love playing golf and just want to be in contention come Sunday.

Q. How nervous were you, and what were you telling yourself to control that?
ROSS FISHER: Just trying to stay calm. Trying to stay focused on what I was trying to do. Trying to take deep breaths, control my breathing and trying to get the heart rate down to as low as possible and just try and stay relaxed; and also, at the same time, enjoy it. It's been hard work getting here, but to get here is one thing, but hey, for me, I've got to go out there and enjoy myself. That's what it's all about. It's a major and at the end of the day, it's just another round, and that's why I'm trying to treat it like, yes, it is the Masters, but I'm not putting any added pressure on myself. I'm just trying to treat it like a normal tournament. Just go out there, pick my targets, there is the ball, there's the green, stands there and hit it and knock a few putts in and hopefully go on from there.

Q. But the nerves were about?
ROSS FISHER: They weren't too bad. Just about managed to pick it up on the first. Didn't have to replace the ball. So I managed to pick it up first time. But yeah, just to get off to a good start was key, and to see obviously my drive go so far and so straight, obviously it was a great thrill; and to 2-putt from probably 45 feet on the first, you always want to get off to a good start and fortunately I started par, birdie, birdie. So you could not ask for a better start.

Q. Who is your caddie, please?
ROSS FISHER: His name is Adam Morrow.

Q. And he is your regular caddie?
ROSS FISHER: Yes, he's worked for me for just over three years now.

Q. How much time did he get to spend here before you went out to play?
ROSS FISHER: We came and saw it the week after Doral. We took a local guy, Steve, his name was. He was great. He showed us where all of the grains were going. Showed us which putts were quick and which were slow and which spots to hit it and where potential pin positions would be.
We saw it Monday afternoon after Doral pretty late, and it was typical English weather, drizzling and cold. So probably didn't learn an awful lot from that day, but we played early Tuesday and it was probably about ten degrees cooler than today, but it was absolutely glorious. Just to walk around a place like this on your own with your caddie and the guy, Steve, that was carrying my bag, with no one in front of us, it was just amazing, absolutely amazing. Just couldn't wait for this week to come and this week to start.

Q. You talked about various mental things that you do. Does this mean you have given yourself or have been given a lot of mental training in your preparation for your career?
ROSS FISHER: No, not really. I don't use a psychologist. I did have one when I was an amateur, when I was part of the English Golf Union, there was an assigned psychologist there.
He was just really for me, just a guy to talk to about things on and off the golf course, and he actually said, "You know, you seem really mentally strong. It seems like nothing fazes you."
I took a lot from that, hearing a psychologist say that. I thought, well, it's working at the moment, why change things? Why complicate things? So I've just added new things at various stages, trying to get better and better, and having introduced to my team another coach; I've got my coach that works with me, but I've introduced a short game coach, Mark Roe, who played on Tour for years and he's helped my short game a lot. And I've just started seeing this year a physio named Dale Richardson, and that's been a massive part. It's just sitting back each year and thinking, how can I improve and how can I get better. These were areas I felt like I needed addressing.
So far, I don't feel like I need a psychologist, but that's not to say I'll rule one out for the coming years.

Q. Can you talk about birdie on 11, how you managed that, and how close did you get on 16?
ROSS FISHER: Yeah, I hit a really good drive and I think it was about 171 I think I had to the flag, we had about ten downhill it. Was like 161 front, playing 151. So Adam just said to me, "Just stand there and hit a nice, solid 8-iron."
If I'm honest, I slightly pulled it and went just right of the flag, but it started literally on the flag and went dead straight and was a really pure shot and went to I would guess maybe four feet.
And then 16, I think that was playing just over 170, and the guys were hitting -- I think Kevin went first and hit a soft 7. Adam said to me, "I think if you hit 7, you have to take a bit off it, and if you hit it past, it could potentially come off the green. So just stand there and hit a solid 8-iron and if it comes up short, you have a nice putt up the hill."
I just thought, right, I'll stand closer to it and hit a slightly lower trajectory and hit it to, must have been, six feet, six or seven feet, sort of down hill right-to-left.

Q. Is it correct, Ross, that you are expecting your first child this summer?
ROSS FISHER: That is correct, yes.

Q. And will that affect your play?
ROSS FISHER: I'm scheduled to play. It's due on the Tuesday, so a lot of people have been giving me advice and telling me that normally first-timers are late. So fingers crossed, that is the case, but got two weeks off after that. Like I said to my wife, Jo, I'm down to play and I will play and I will play but if something happens, then nothing is more important than being there for Jo and seeing your first kid.
I'm sure all of you guys would not miss it for the world, and I'm no different. It's just so happens I've got a tough obviously decision being a golfer, but you know, I'm still young and I'm going to be playing in plenty more Open Championships. If she does come on time or around the tournament, I'll try and be on the first plane and try to get down to see the birth.

Q. The field here this week is an example of how global the game has gotten, more international players than Americans in the field. Can you talk about how players such as yourself and others feel, like you are totally on even footing now with Americans and how that may have changed through the years?
ROSS FISHER: Yeah, I mean, I just think it's great for the game. You know, like you say, it's becoming a more global game. There's a lot more international players. I think from a personal European standpoint, it's great to see some of the Americans coming over and playing in Europe.
You know, they welcome us when the Europeans and the other guys come over to play the PGA TOUR, and it's exactly the same, and I would love to see more Americans travel and come over and play our Tour, because one day, like you say, maybe it will be one tour, maybe a truly global stage where everyone plays on the same tour. Whether that happens or not, I don't know, but for me, it's great for myself. Obviously I've been playing in Europe for a few years and to get that Top-50 and allow myself to come over and play some PGA TOUR events and obviously play in the majors and the WGCs, it's a tremendous thrill for me.
Obviously I think I'm no different from all of the other guys in that this is where everyone wants to be playing. We want to be playing in the biggest and the best tournaments, and like you say, playing against the best players in the world. You've got the best field in the world here. So what better stage to test yourself and test your game.
LARRY PUGH: Ross, thank you very much and good luck.

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