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September 23, 2009

Robert Karlsson


GORDON SIMPSON: Welcome, Robert. It's lovely to see you back on The European Tour. It's been a long time since May when we last saw you. Just tell us a little bit about what's happened since you had to stop playing.
ROBERT KARLSSON: Well, up to the week of Switzerland, I played two rounds of golf from The European Open, 18 plus nine plus nine, under three months. So that wasn't very much. I hit balls twice I think, and the rest of the time I spent with family and friends and enjoyed a life that I didn't know I have (chuckling).
GORDON SIMPSON: Did you enjoy it too much, did you?
ROBERT KARLSSON: No. It was a little bit frustrating the first couple of weeks, when I was first hoping to come back: Let's come back to the French Open; let's come back to the British Open. The week after the British Open, it was like, well, probably not before September. And then you get into sort of a different mode, and I just enjoyed it.
GORDON SIMPSON: And in simple terms, what exactly was wrong?
ROBERT KARLSSON: Well, I had fluid behind the retina in my left eye. So it was pretty much like if you had to dive in a pool and sticking up your head, straight after, everything was a little blurry in my left eye and straight lines go very crooked and things like that. And if one eye is out of sync, you lose depth of vision.
So when I played the Pro_Am in [] I got a chip on the 17th hole, the ball was sort of sitting up in the grass and I had to step back ten feet to see if the ball was sitting up or not because I didn't have a clue; I could gripped down a little bit. Will this be enough; no chance to play golf.

Q. How worrying a period has it been?
ROBERT KARLSSON: Difficult question to ask, because actually I didn't really realise that I was that worried until the doctor said, "Well, you're free, you can go in a couple of weeks."
And then I was like, yes, it actually is okay and then it was more than I actually realised, so I had actually been quite uncertain. I didn't really think about it then because I was supposed to do other things and I didn't really think that much about it, because I knew I had time until September. But when he said it was good, I got so happy.

Q. But you never felt your career was in jeopardy or anything like that?
ROBERT KARLSSON: I was trusting the doctor and he said no. But at the same time, you never really know. And it took such a long time and I really didn't see an improvement with my vision; then it was quite worrying.

Q. Was it treatable, or did you just have to leave it and it goes away?
ROBERT KARLSSON: Eye drops, and I will do that for another three months I think. I mean, there is a couple of cures. You can do laser, but with mine, the water bubble, I would lose 25 percent of my vision if we did laser. And the other option is to take a cortisone shot straight into the eye, and that's not an option for me, anyway. He said, "If you wouldn't have been an athlete and as young as you are, I may be would have considered that," the doctor said, "but you're too young for that, I don't want to do it."

Q. How did it happen?
ROBERT KARLSSON: They say it's stress related and they say it very often in doctors, pilots, athletes. But it's a bit of a funny thing because I didn't really feel stressed out, but I guess I was.

Q. Is it okay now?
ROBERT KARLSSON: It's okay. When I look __ when I use both of my eyes, it's fine. If I sort of close my right eye, I will see a slight difference on the left but it's probably going to be like that for a little while.

Q. Could you have played with an eye patch?
ROBERT KARLSSON: Well, if you lose one eye, you lose depth of vision. So then I had to look on the ball on the side all the time. I never even tried it. It didn't feel like it was an option, because if it was stress related, I'm trying to do it half and half, it's probably going to take longer to heal.
So it wasn't really an option. And I tried to make the most of my time off and spend more time with the family, things I haven't been able to do before.

Q. Do you have any trepidation this week about just how rusty you might be?
ROBERT KARLSSON: I keep that on the team. (Laughing).
No, I've played and practised quite a bit in two weeks except for a couple of days where it rained. But I guess Henrik could be a bit worried; I'm not really. (Laughter) It better_ball the first couple of days, so I can rest it on Saturday, so it's all right.

Q. Did you take an interest what was happening in the game when you were away, or did you manage to cut yourself off from it?
ROBERT KARLSSON: I watched the results, but I probably watched two hours of golf during my month off. I watched quite a bit of the U.S. Open on Monday. That was exciting, watching Lucas Glover, and about ten minutes of the Solheim Cup and PGA on the same night, probably a few minutes here and there, but not much. I tried to stay away from it. But obviously you have to follow who is doing what and things like that.

Q. And what have you been told to try and reduce stress?
ROBERT KARLSSON: Have I been told to?

Q. Have you been told things?
ROBERT KARLSSON: No. He said stay out of golf. I said, yeah, I will do for a while. But no, he just said, "It's quite difficult with your lifestyle."
So I think if I'm going to have my own reason why this happened, it's probably because last year, if I looked on how I have done my golf the last few years, I've had a day __ every week I've taken one day where I play nine holes, I have a couple of hours and practise and I felt like I have four concentrated hours of practise and I feel really good about what I've done and good quality.
But this year when I tried to do it, I probably took seven hours and probably had half as much of quality because there was journalists everywhere and TV commentators and I never really was able to get the same quality. And probably that influenced a little bit more than I thought.
So that's the biggest change that I've seen in my life this year compared to other years. I guess it was probably __ if I'm going to have my own little reason, that's probably it.

Q. So you feel it's in a sense a legacy of making yourself Europe's No. 1 last year?
ROBERT KARLSSON: Most likely I would think. So a lot of things changed and a lot of things changed a lot more than I was prepared for, but it's only a guess.

Q. Anybody else reasonably famous you know of who has had the same condition?
ROBERT KARLSSON: Per_Ulrik Johansson has had it twice but he didn't have it as much and also a different place on the retina. He said when he looked at the ball it looked like the ball was lying in a hole. That was the only thing he noticed that he had a couple of times; and he came up and told me that, because I wasn't aware of anyone.
And I know one of the doctor's friends actually had it. I talked to him, he played a lot of tennis and he noticed it when he started to miss the ball and he was actually a good tennis player and he said, all of a sudden I completely missed the ball. That's the feeling I had when I stopped playing; that if I would be a tennis player, I would miss the ball. At least in golf, the ball is lying still.

Q. So can you actually remember the moment, was there a tournament that you were playing in that suddenly when you came off it was not right?

Q. At Wentworth?
ROBERT KARLSSON: Yeah. I'd been to America and during the spring, I went to an optician for the first time in my life in January because I noticed I had a hard time picking up the rope, and then I just __ then the optician said, it's just with age. And it wasn't bad then, and I had the same on both eyes, but it was the first time I noticed something.
But when I had the test in June, when I went to the Doctor, he said I had plus 1.75 on the left and plus .05 on the other, so that was how big of a difference it was.

Q. What else have you entered for at the moment?
ROBERT KARLSSON: Next week. And then Portugal and Valencia and I don't really know, it's a bit tricky from Valencia to Singapore and don't really know. But obviously I'm going to try to __ if Henrik still wants me, World Cup, and then Nedbank and then the other ones are a little bit ifs and buts.

Q. How in your business do you stay out of stress situation?
ROBERT KARLSSON: I don't know the answer to that question. Can't, really. But one of the commentators I talk to on the golf course said, "Well, you'd better keep an eye on it." (Laughing) So that's what I've got to do.
I'll see the doctor again in November and the most important thing is to see that it doesn't start coming back again. So I have to be a bit __ every time I see him, if I play four events and it starts coming back, then I have to reassess how I play. But right now, I'm really happy to be here and we'll see how it goes.

Q. And it feels perfect; you don't have just a slight problem, as opposed to a big problem?
ROBERT KARLSSON: Not playing_wise, no. But if I really look from one eye to another, I can see a slight difference, but playing_wise, the things how I saw it before, when I looked at the ball in the bunker before, the sand was almost moving, everything becomes very shady and the same on the greens, I couldn't pick up one blade of grass. It just became a colour that was really difficult. But there's absolutely nothing of that. So for playing golf, I cannot see any difference whatsoever at the moment.

Q. During your time with the family, did you do any sight_seeing, trips that you had always wanted to do or anything like that?
ROBERT KARLSSON: Don't you think I've travelled enough?
No, the kids had time off from school so we were in Sweden a lot and I went down to the Scandinavian Masters, and down to see the doctor, that was the only time that I left the house we have in northern Sweden from when I went there on the 5th of July when the kids finished.
GORDON SIMPSON: Robert, good to see you back, enjoy the weekend.

End of FastScripts

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