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August 12, 2009

Ross Fisher


KELLY ELBIN: Ross Fisher, ladies and gentlemen, joining us at the 91st PGA Championship. Ross, you've been playing quite well in the major championships this year. Talk a little bit about why you have played so well in major championships, and then thoughts coming in this week to Hazeltine.
ROSS FISHER: Crickey, if I knew what it was, that would be great. I mean, I guess I'm just getting more and more used to being in the major championships.
You know, like you said, this is only my second PGA. I experienced a couple of U.S. Opens, a few British Opens and my first Masters this year. So it's still a learning experience for me, but I just love to compete and I love the big stage, and what better way to showcase yourself at the major championships.
KELLY ELBIN: How do you size up from what you've seen so far here at Hazeltine National and the PGA Championship?
ROSS FISHER: Yeah, I think it's kind of similar to Bethpage. It's very, very long, so in that sense, I think it will suit me. You know, I've just finished playing the front nine, played the back nine yesterday. It's just a brutally long golf course.
You know, hopefully the PGA will move some tees forward on the par 5s to kind of make it a bit more exciting for us and exciting for the fans, because off the back tees, you know, you can't get anywhere near the par 5s, and some of the par 4s are very, very long. So you know, it all depends how they set the course up. I'd say if we play off the back tees, struggle to see double figures winning under par around here.
I mean, it's playing very, very long. It's still reasonably soft at the moment, but hopefully it will firm up. You know, the greens are obviously perfect in the morning; whereas in the afternoon, they will probably get a little bit spiked up. So you know, if you get a good, early tee time, you've got to take advantage of it, and hopefully play decent on your late tee time.

Q. I know you said at the Open that you were able to put pending fatherhood out of your mind when you are playing, but do you think you are coming in here with a more relaxed or different state of mind?
ROSS FISHER: No, exactly the same. You know, I was ready for the Open. I was ready to do what was necessary. Unfortunately/fortunately I got to play all four rounds. So no, I think preparation, probably coming into this, is probably a little bit worse than previous ones, because obviously Jo having the baby and a week at home, so not being able to do much practice; so I was a little bit rusty last week but felt like I played really, really well. Tee-to-green I was right up there with some of the best of them. Just unfortunately couldn't get the flat stick going.
So hopefully can continue the long game this week and hopefully hole a few putts.

Q. You've contended at last two majors. Are you at the stage now where you come into every major thinking, yes, I'm going in there with a real chance?
ROSS FISHER: Definitely. Obviously the U.S. Open was a great experience. I walked away from there disappointed finishing fifth. Just shows I had a real good chance of winning that. The Open, but for one loose tee shot, you know, I could have had a real serious chance of winning the Open. But you know, like you say, I feel like I come into every major championship now feeling and believing I can win and feeling like my game is good enough to win.
This week is no different. I feel comfortable on the golf course. It's, like I say, similar to Bethpage; it's very, very long, so that should suit me quite well. You know, like I say, if I can just get the putter working, I feel like I've got a real good chance of contending.

Q. Given what you've said before, and how well you've played in majors this year, firstly, would it be a disappointment now if you don't win a major before you're 30? And, secondly, do you sort of get hideous flashbacks to the 5th hole when you're in the supermarket or something like that? Does that come back into your head at all?
ROSS FISHER: I don't know, what happened on the 5th? (Laughing).
That's totally gone, history, one shot. It's gone. But you know, even after that shot, I still had a good chance of winning the Open. I hit two good tee shots up 7 and 8 and the wind just didn't move my ball back into the fairway, so it cost me a couple of bogeys.
But for the last ten holes, I had eight birdie putts, and seven of them just missed the edge. So I still managed to block that out of my head, and you know, played some solid golf.
Sorry, I forget the first question.

Q. Do you feel disappointment if you don't win a major by the time you're 30?
ROSS FISHER: I don't think so. As long as I keep putting myself into contention, that's good enough for me. You look at some of the other guys, Monty has not won a major; Sergio has been close, and he was not won a major yet. It took Phil a little while to win a major. You know, a guy like Stewart Cink won the Open.
I'm only 28, so I've got plenty of time on my side. It would be nice to say I won a major championship before I'm 30, but to be honest, I'm not really thinking about kicking myself if I don't win one before I turn 30.

Q. Just wanted to ask you about your belt, and the little back storey behind that with Poulter.
ROSS FISHER: The belt?

Q. Yeah, your belt buckle.
ROSS FISHER: Yeah, the belt, I was staying at Lake Nona the week of Bay Hill and went out to dinner with some of the guys and met Bobby the Bell and Rusty, and he was kind of designing belts at the time for G-Mac. So I said to him, you know, this is my signature, and I'm kind of known as the Fish. So what could you do?
And he literally designed it then and there in the restaurant. I thought it was pretty cool and decided to go for it and asked how soon can you get it ready. And he got it ready about 13, 14 days later for my first appearance at the Masters.

Q. Yeah, well maybe it will be a good luck charm for you this week. It looks pretty smart.
ROSS FISHER: Thank you.

Q. You talked about how long this course can play this week. Can the strength of your game play into that, or is it something that you have to overcome?
ROSS FISHER: I hope it can play into my game. I mean, fortunately I'm quite long off the tee, but also pretty straight, as well. So you can hit it long and straight around here, you can have a chance. But that's only sort of phase one of the course. You've still got to hit good quality iron shots, even woods into some of these holes.
And then with that said and done, you get on to the greens, which they are very subtle. The breaks are very, very difficult to see. And this morning, they were very, very quick.
So you know, emphasis will be on hitting fairways, hitting greens, but ultimately, you know, this week will come down to who holes putts. Hopefully, like I say, the long game can stay just as good as it has been, and the putter will start working.

Q. What differences do you see playing on The European Tour and playing on the US PGA?
ROSS FISHER: I think over here it's -- most weeks, it's a bomber's paradise. You just get driver out and you try and hit it as far as you can. You know, the greens are consistently -- they are better to putt on. They are a lot truer, but also they are very fast and very firm. So you know, over here, you need to hit it very, very high off the tee to hit it as far as you can, and come in with as short a club as possible.
It's very rare that you see wind over here and rain, whereas obviously in Europe, we play in obviously bad weather all the time. So we feel kind of fortunate and lucky when we get four days of sunshine, which is obviously what you guys get over here all year through.
So it's a different game, that's for sure. You know, you've got to control your ball week-in, week-out in Europe, whereas over here, you've still got to control the ball, but a lot more courses require higher, soft shots into greens because they are very, very firm and very fast.

Q. What about the atmosphere playing here and playing in Europe, any difference?
ROSS FISHER: Yeah, I'd say the atmosphere over here is a lot bigger. The crowd get -- they are very, very loud. They get into it. They are very enthusiastic, very supportive.
You know, we do play quite a number of big tournaments in Europe where we do get some huge, huge crowds, which is great. But unfortunately the smaller tournaments, you don't get quite the same atmosphere and the same buzz as you would at, let's say, at a major championship. I've been fortunate enough to play in the WGCs this year, and I played in Quail Hollow and Bay Hill this year, and absolutely loved Quail Hollow, really great place, great golf course, the fans were great.
It's just two totally different tours to play on.

Q. On a similar sort of theme, the lack of success by Europeans, apart from Padraig, recently has been mostly put down to putting. Is it just a case of players like yourself having to get more familiar with a different pace, a different type of surface?
ROSS FISHER: Yeah, I think so. I mean, it's what it comes down to week-in, week-out, whether it's on the PGA TOUR or The European Tour. You know, obviously it helps to hit the ball solid and hit fairways and hit greens, but to be honest, it doesn't matter too much. But if your short game is sharp and you're holing putts, you're going to contend no matter where you're playing.
So you know, I think it's like you say, a lot more Europeans are playing a little bit more in the States, trying to get used to the different types of grasses, and obviously the different greens.
You know, I'm still getting used to it. This is only really, I would say, my second kind of season playing tournaments in the States. Really, my first full one playing in all the majors, all of the WGC events. So it's still a learning curve for me. It's a different experience.
But obviously the more times I come over and play, hopefully the better I'll get and the more I'll get used to the greens.

Q. Sort of heading forward in your career, do you see the emphasis of your schedule being more over here than in Europe, given the way that obviously you've been speaking about America and how it sort of suits your game?
ROSS FISHER: Yeah, I mean, it suits my game, I'd say a lot, but I'm still young. I'm in no hurry to come and play full time over here. I've learned my trade and played my golf in Europe.
But obviously it just so happens that playing good golf, you get rewarded and you get to play in the big events like the majors and the WGCs.
So it will be difficult to come and play, like a full schedule over here. Obviously myself and Jo just had a little baby, so that's my main priority now. Golf is second to that. So I'd like to think I would play more and more in the States throughout the coming years. Just need to sit down and assess with Conor and family and see where the schedule will put me.
I don't see myself neglecting Europe and playing full-time over here just yet. I'd like to play if I could, hopefully 12 to 15 over here in the next sort of four or five years and obviously play a similar amount, if not more, in Europe, because obviously Europe is where our tour is and that's where I want to play most of my golf. But at the same time, I need to broaden the horizons and play in the States and play in Asia. I want to be known as a global player and try and play here, there and everywhere if I can.

Q. On the same subject, on The European Tour, as you just alluded to, is no longer entirely in Europe, there's the Qatar Masters, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and more tournaments in Asia and especially in the economic downturn, the European PGA is really sort of hunting around for other places to hold tournaments. How do you see that; are the courses to your liking, do you like playing in sort of the far-flung places in the world?
ROSS FISHER: Yeah, I love it. Like you say, golf is no longer in one place. It's a global game. European Tour has branched out now and we are playing in Asia, the Middle East. Like you say, you go to places like Russia. They have been to Czechoslovakia. I think it's great to visit different places. I'm certainly all for it. I'd like to, as you say, play in Asia, play in the Middle East and go to countries that we haven't been to.
I think the Tour looks healthy. It looks good for the years to come, and hopefully I'll be a part of it for a very long time.

Q. The conditions of the courses, Russia, Qatar, are they in good shape?
ROSS FISHER: Yeah, they are very good. Obviously as soon as you get a Tour event going to a course, obviously the conditions are going to change. It's going to go to a tour standard. I'm not saying they are obviously impeccably prepared, but you know, you go to places like Russia I've been to a couple of times and it's a great golf course. It was in great condition. We were very well looked after.
And like you say, you go to places like Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Dubai, golf is very, very big over there now.
So it will be interesting to go to different places. I didn't unfortunately go to the Czech one but I heard some good reports about it. I think as soon as you get a Tour event there, they are looking to get it in tip-top shape because they want to put on a good show.
KELLY ELBIN: Ross, you're off at 7:35 tomorrow morning. Do you feel like that earlier start is perhaps to your advantage or to the field's advantage, as opposed to later in the day?
ROSS FISHER: I hope so. You know, it's one of those you sort of get what you're given. Personally I prefer to play late first day and early the second day so you get -- I feel like you can get more into a rhythm. You finish your round on Thursday maybe five, 6 o'clock, you go back, dinner, you go to bed, you get up and then you're playing straight again; whereas obviously for me, I'm going to have a lot of downtime between rounds, which can be a bad thing but also can be to your advantage.
You can chill out, relax, take your mind off golf. And then once the following day comes, you can get your mind to the job.
So you know, 7:35, it's an early one, but I'm sure we'll get the best of the greens and hopefully I can take advantage of it.
KELLY ELBIN: Ross Fisher, thank you very much.

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