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April 23, 2009

Charlie Wi


MARK WILLIAMS: 6 under 66 today at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans in the first round. Just talk about your round and what the conditions were like out there?
CHARLIE WI: You know, I played in the Pro-Am yesterday in the afternoon, and the greens were really firm and fast. This morning teeing off, the greens were a lot more receptive to shots. Luckily, I was able to hit some shots close in the beginning of the round and make some birdies, and just hung in there. Made a couple birdies on the back nine, and shot 66.
MARK WILLIAMS: You had a great year last year, and a pretty good start this year - couple of Top 10s in Florida, and a chance to win at Transitions Championship, too. So anything in your game that's led to this good form?
CHARLIE WI: You know, just it's my fourth year out here. Knowing the golf courses and being on top of the leaderboard several times, just I don't get that excited anymore like I used to. I'm just able to just play my game and not really look at the leaderboard. And I think that's really helped.

Q. Talk about the putts on what would have been your 17th and 18th holes, 8 and 9?
CHARLIE WI: Oh, yeah, the greens are so tricky out here. They're both probably 10, 12-footers. Yeah, I'm a little disappointed that I didn't convert those, but the grain and the slope, it's really difficult to read. So I can't get -- I'm not going to beat myself up for missing those.

Q. You still hit everything pretty close today?
CHARLIE WI: Yeah, I gave myself a lot of chances. And any time you show low score, you hit the ball quite close and made some putts.

Q. So it sounds like they smartly put a little water on the greens last night. You think they were a little more playable today?
CHARLIE WI: I don't think they watered the greens. I think it was the dew, and the overnight dew and the fog this morning.

Q. The humidity?
CHARLIE WI: Yeah, the humidity. And of course, this afternoon it's going to get firm again like it did yesterday.
But any time in the morning it's always softer than when you play in the afternoon.

Q. Anything you picked up or learned from the transitions experience this year? You said you don't get that excited anymore. But as far as dealing with being in contention, what kind of progress do you feel like you're making?
CHARLIE WI: I know there is a lot more to be in contention than playing for 60th place. No, you know, I was disappointed because I was leading the tournament on the back nine.
But I guess it's a learning curve. But at the same time you've got to learn how to close the deal, too. I've won before, it's not like I haven't won, so, you know, I'm more disappointed than I can say well, I learned something.
Of course, you know, knowing that I can win out here. Knowing that you can win and doing it is two different things. So it's really important to make sure that you close the deal when you get a chance.

Q. Is there a point on the front nine where you really felt you had things going?
CHARLIE WI: Well, not really, because 15, 16, 17, you can make a bogey in the blink of an eye. So you can't get too excited. I know when you're 4 under par you feel like, whoa, let's try to make another birdie, another birdie. When you do that, the course will come and bite you. So pars are really good scores on those holes.
I really had a good chance on 18. I hit my second shot right to the front of the green, and I didn't get that up-and-down. Other than that I played a flawless round on the back nine.
MARK WILLIAMS: You birdied one of the hardest holes on the course, too.
CHARLIE WI: What's that?
CHARLIE WI: Oh, yeah. Well, when we played it yesterday it was driver, 3-iron, because they had the tees all the way back. But luckily the rules officials moved the tees up 30 yards, so it was quite playable.
MARK WILLIAMS: Given you're in the first group and 6 under par with the winds coming this afternoon a little bit stronger, do you expect to be leading at the end of the day?
CHARLIE WI: If it does, it does. That's not something I'm really worried about.

Q. What was your second shot on 6?
CHARLIE WI: I had 175 yards to the pin, and hit it to about 10 feet. It was back into the wind, so I had a really good 6 manufacture iron.

Q. I'm sure you've been asked this many times so I apologize for repeating the question. But what exactly is your status for events like Presidents Cup?
CHARLIE WI: Well, I'm a Korean citizen, I'm a green card holder of the U.S., so I couldn't play the Ryder Cup. I would play the Presidents Cup.

Q. For the International Team?

Q. Is that any torn loyalty? If you had your pick, which side you'd like to play for?
CHARLIE WI: Oh, you know, I live here. I've been living here for 20-something years. I was born in Korea. And I still feel like I'm Korean. And I'm sure everybody recognizes me as a Korean American, so I think playing international would be awesome.

Q. I know in world rankings they have you down as Korean. So I assumed you were on the International Team?
CHARLIE WI: They don't allow you to have dual citizenship, so you either give that up. But I don't really want to give it up.

Q. I was thinking if you had a really good year maybe we could make some kind of a trade?
CHARLIE WI: (Laughing) yeah.

Q. I guess that won't happen?

Q. Have you gotten to meet Danny Lee?
CHARLIE WI: I met him last year at the Singapore Open. You know, he seems like a solid player. We almost played a practice round together, and I was kind of looking forward to it, but they already had a foursome.
I hope he has a great career. And I know he's a great player. But at the same time being an amateur in professional ranks it's so different. I know he's won Johnny Walker this year, but now he's actually has to make money. When you don't have to worry about money it's a lot easier than when you start worrying about money.
I hope he plays well and not put too much pressure on himself. I'm sure there are going to be a lot of expectations from you guys as well.
MARK WILLIAMS: Is that something you experienced when you first turned pro?
CHARLIE WI: Definitely. Coming out I was third best in the country, first team All American. And I missed my tour card by a stroke out of Q-school. And he this thought I was going to do really well, but it takes time, you know.
I don't regret the road that I took. I almost quit golf several times. My manager he really said, you know, give it a little more time, and I'm really glad that I stuck it out.

Q. What made the difference? What kept you going?
CHARLIE WI: You know, every time, not every time -- there are a couple of incidents when I was on the Nike Tour there was a guy named Don Walsworth, he doesn't play anymore. And this was my first or second year out of college. He went to Stanford.
And I had these emotions where when I'm playing well everything's great, but when I'm playing terrible it was like oh, I want to quit the game. So my emotions were like totally up-and-down, and I told him about that. He said you know what, I went through the same thing. Either you do it 100% or you quit, there is no in between. That was a really good lesson learned.
He was right. Either you're going to do it even on your downtime or you just quit.
The next time, this was in '99, and I played overseas for a couple of years and I missed my tour card and played Buy.com Tour, I think, and I didn't play well at all. I missed the second stage of Q-school. And I called my manager, and I said I think I'm done. I think I'm going to go teach or something. He goes you've got three more tournaments in Asia. Why don't you go play and see what happens. Maybe you can make some money.
And sure enough I finish 4th, 3rd and 2nd on back-to-back to back tournaments. Ever since then I've never looked back. The next year I won three times over there and got my European Tour card to make enough money when I played over there. And played in Japan, and, you know, those are really good memories that I have.

Q. What would be your number one golf highlight, golf moment that meant the most to you in your career so far?
CHARLIE WI: Probably getting my Tour Card in '04. I mean, that's what you always work for. You know, I had a ten-footer on the last hole to make it, and I still remember that putt. I know winning is great. But I think the ultimate goal growing up is to play on the PGA TOUR and making that putt was very exciting.

Q. Did it go in the middle or did it kind of crawl in?
CHARLIE WI: No, it went in the middle (laughing). I don't know if you watched Q-school last year, this guy Wil Collins. I watched it because it was so exciting. He made like a 30-footer on the last hole to make it on the number. I was so excited for him. I haven't run into him yet. And I wanted to congratulate him if I saw him.

Q. Where was your putt at? Were you in Florida?
CHARLIE WI: No, I was at the PGA West. It was the same hole, the 9th hole. It's the same spot.

Q. In years past players talk about how this tournament gets tougher as the weekend usually goes on, the winds pick up, and the greens dry out. Talk about getting off to a good start and how that really will help you?
CHARLIE WI: Yeah, it's not just this tournament. It's pretty much all the tournaments unless you get some weather, the golf course always drys up and plays really fast and firm and difficult.
To get off to a good start, definitely puts you in a better position than coming from behind. Because on the weekends, the golf course gets so difficult. I mean, par is really a premium.
So to shoot a good number on Thursday and Friday, I think it really helps for you to have a high finish.
I'm not saying that you can't play well on the weekends, but it definitely helps you to get off to a good start.

Q. Is there a key to the start you had today?
CHARLIE WI: No, I didn't have any expectations playing today. I didn't say I was going to go out there and shoot a low number. I just know that, you know, you just have to be patient.
It's so cliche when we answer these questions, but, God, I hate saying it, but par is a really good score, and whenever the birdies come, you know that's good.
So, yeah, it's a very cliche game, it's boring as hell (smiling).
MARK WILLIAMS: Well, if you shoot four 66's, it won't be too boring. Thank you for coming in. We appreciate your time, and good luck the rest of the week.
CHARLIE WI: Thank you very much.

End of FastScripts

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