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February 16, 2011

Robert Karlsson


LAURA HILL: We'd like to welcome Robert Karlsson. It's not often I get to introduce a 41-year-old rookie, but welcome to your first official season as a PGA TOUR member. Maybe just talk about kicking things off here.
ROBERT KARLSSON: Thanks very much. It was a long time since I've felt like a rookie, I must say. But it's exciting to be here. At the end of the day for me, I played I think 12 events the last few seasons on the PGA TOUR, so the biggest difference is I'm going to play another three or I have to play another three, and I'm looking forward to all the new stuff that will happen when you are a member here.
I'm sort of still trying to understand the things I can do and can't do and all the things that are different on the U.S. Tour. But I'm looking forward to it.

Q. How did you wind up in Charlotte?
ROBERT KARLSSON: We lived in Monaco for a number of years, and when the kids were growing up obviously we had a small apartment in Monaco, and the kids couldn't go out on the road. We looked at sort of what is the next step for our family, what can we do, and obviously moving back to Sweden was one idea but didn't really feel right. I've been involved here in America with a little bit of charity work and felt natural for me to keep working on those sort of things. Then I played well in Memphis, and all of a sudden one thing led to another.
Actually another quite funny thing, as well; I was here playing Augusta and went to Hilton Head and the kids were over for Hilton Head and were going to fly back for school and then the Icelandic volcano had the eruption and they couldn't fly back, so we got stuck here. During that time sort of the week off Hilton Head, we drove from Hilton Head up to Charlotte, and we found a house and everything, and it went pretty quickly. There we go.
But I've been in Charlotte, and it's quite a nice town for a European. It's got a little bit of winter, a little bit of seasons, and the airport works very, very well if you're going to play both tours. There's a lot of good things.

Q. Where do you play out of?
ROBERT KARLSSON: Longview is my home club. We've got a house at Longview Golf Club.

Q. What is the attraction for this golf course?
ROBERT KARLSSON: This golf course? I've played it a couple times before, and I think at least once I played here before there was more rough. This year there's not much rough, but this year it's very, very firm --

Q. You mean the greens?
ROBERT KARLSSON: Yeah, the greens. We don't know what the weather is going to do the next couple days, but it's in great condition. It's one of my favorite courses on the U.S. Tour.

Q. How do you go about juggling a schedule on two tours?
ROBERT KARLSSON: This year it's quite easy. I'm top 50 in the world. I'm in all the World Golf events, I'm in all the majors, so by playing seven events I've got sort of seven on both sides, so to speak. So it's not very difficult this year. And the way that the tours are set up, I played a couple obviously in the Middle East, then I'm going to be here up until the TPC so I'm going to fulfill the majority of my events up to TPC. Then I go back to Europe for a couple, then I come back here for U.S. Open and Memphis, so I try to put it in blocks.
There's only once this year back-to-back I'm playing -- back-to-week weeks I'm playing on different sides of the Atlantic and there's one time I can't avoid it, and it's from TPC to the World Match Play in Spain. But I wanted to play both of those. But I'm just trying to avoid those kind of trips. At the end of the day I think it looks very, very good for my travel schedule this year.

Q. When I asked about you Charlotte, most people move to Florida or Scottsdale.
ROBERT KARLSSON: Yeah, Scottsdale is a little bit too far away from Europe, so that sort of for me wasn't really an option. But Charlotte is a little bit further north. It's got a little bit of seasons. That felt quite important. And also I met a couple of people through the Quail Hollow event that I have a little bit of a connection with, so a lot of small things that ended up that way. Yeah, I mean, why not?

Q. It's a great city, just most of them head to West Palm or --
ROBERT KARLSSON: Yeah, but I'm not a big alligator and snake fan. And I'm not talking about their sports teams. Also the nature, it's a little bit more European, it's a little bit more type of leafy trees and nature is a little bit more European and things like that, and the seasons are quite important actually.

Q. On the European Tour you really see the world. Are you going to miss parts of that?
ROBERT KARLSSON: Well, I mean, it's not like I'm going to -- I still do have my passport, so don't worry about that. I'm going to play a number of events in Asia. The way I'm going to play and the way the tours at the moment are set up, the Asian events are -- they're sort of at the end of the season and at the beginning, and I've already been through the Middle East, and through November, December, especially this year with the way the European Tour looks like it's going to be a lot of that anyway. I've been around the world for 20 years, so if I'm a little bit more still, I don't think it makes much of a difference.

Q. Prior to this year, what would be the most time you've spent in the States?
ROBERT KARLSSON: I don't know. Well, I mean, I played -- I played about 12 events a couple of times. I'd say 12 events plus probably three or four weeks of practice probably. That's about it, 16, 17 weeks probably per year.

Q. So you're pretty acclimated to the food and the driving and things?
ROBERT KARLSSON: Yeah, it's not -- I think America is a very, very easy country to live in. Everything sort of is put there right in front of you. It's an easy country to live in, that's for sure.

Q. The other question I had is how your game is. What do you need to work on?
ROBERT KARLSSON: Yeah, I've played two events. Obviously with the winter being quite harsh in North Carolina, not for a Swede but for golf, so I was hoping to get a bit of practice in early in January and it didn't really work out that way. So I went down to Florida and practiced a bit before I went to the Middle East. But I only had probably five days of golf and I was hoping to have about 14 before I played in Bahrain and Qatar. But my expectations were quite low when I got there, and I finished 5th and 6th so had two good weeks. I've had a good start, but now -- it was a little bit friendly, put it that way, because it's tournaments where I've played -- not Bahrain but Qatar was quite a friendly course to play. So the pressure on the game is going to be more coming here now.
Yeah, I'm excited to see how things are going to go, but I feel very happy and very content where I am.

Q. You talked about still having your passport and everything. How many countries do you think you played in last year versus how many you'll play in this year?
ROBERT KARLSSON: Two difficult questions. I don't know. Well, I played about 26 events it must have been, so 16, 17 different countries probably. I played a few here, a couple in Britain, but most of them is one country or one tournament, so yeah, probably 15 countries. I don't think it's going to -- for 13 events in Europe, if I'm going to do that which I'm most likely going to do, it's going to be ten different countries. It's not a big difference. I'm going to do my fair share of traveling, especially at the end of November, December when the TOUR here is finished. It's going to be a period in November, December, especially when the European Tour is finishing very late this year playing in Dubai, the Dubai World Championship I think is ending on the 11th or something of December, and if I get into the World Cup it's going to be in China and most likely going back to the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan. So that time of year is going to be a lot of events worldwide.
It's going to be good to be here for a bit more of a focused period of time and not have too much travel, but I will definitely do my traveling anyway.

Q. There seems to be different starting points to a season, whether it's Hawai'i for the U.S. or the Desert Swing. Could you look at this as being another one given the fact that we're starting to get a lot of international players in LA heading onto the first couple of World Golf Championships? Do you get a sense that everyone is starting to come together a little bit?
ROBERT KARLSSON: What do you mean, that this event becomes sort of the new starting point? The Europeans start in the Middle East and the Americans start in Hawai'i --

Q. Yeah, these next two, three, four more weeks is where everyone starts to get together more often.
ROBERT KARLSSON: Yeah, it will be because this period on the European Tour is not very strong events, and you will have the -- the bulk of the top players will play here or for the two World Tour events and then obviously events just before, in between and just after, and obviously with Augusta coming up, just after that.
So this is a period of time in the U.S. that is going to have very, very strong fields, all the way from probably from this week up to the TPC because the tournaments in Europe are not that strong and you have the majors and the World Tour events here, so it becomes a very natural part to play here.

Q. You may have already answered this and I just wasn't paying attention, but the difference between playing 12 as a non-member and 15, why was it important to take up membership?
ROBERT KARLSSON: Because playing 12, you're not allowed to play the FedExCup, for example. If you live here, obviously it would be good if I have a few -- I'm in quite a late stage in my career. Even though I have quite a few more years, it's still a little bit late in my career, and why not use the benefits or take part in the benefits of the U.S. Tour and also have the freedom to enter tournaments I want to and to not have to sit and wait for potential invites and things like that.
And I've always sort of through my career, I've wanted to play on the U.S. Tour at some stage, and now I have the possibility and I will live here with the family. It felt like quite a natural step.

Q. Adam Scott, his argument a couple years ago is that one of the difficulties of playing both tours is trying to win the money title on either side. You're giving up so many starts to a player like Phil Mickelson over here, like Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer over there. Can you see that challenge?
ROBERT KARLSSON: Yeah, obviously it's difficult that way. But my goal is -- I never go out on the golf course to try to win a title. I'm going out to the golf course to absolutely do my best over every shot and then at the end of the week we sum it up. Over the season it's the same thing. If I set myself goals to win money titles here and there and I start thinking about that in February, it usually leads to very, very bad temper. It's not good. So for me I'm just trying to go out and play my best golf at every tournament and we end up at the last tournament of the year.
When I won the money title in Europe in 2008, I had a great season, but I mean, I had a spell of tournaments right at the end of the year. If you're going to win the money title -- and I did it even when Padraig won two majors -- you've got to have a bit of luck, you've got to win the right events, and I think if I set my goal to win the money title early on in the season, it's not going to be very good.
But Adam has definitely got a point that it is difficult to win. You're playing against the best players on both sides of the world, and you're playing half of the events.

Q. Did you ever come close to doing it earlier in your career?
ROBERT KARLSSON: I actually qualified twice. I qualified in 1991, I think, at the end of the year, my first year on Tour, and 1995, as well. But both of those times I wasn't really prepared for it. I got to the finals once, and back then I thought the step was bigger, so I didn't really handle it that well. But I'm looking forward to it now, and I've showed myself that I'm good enough to play here, and I've done well in both majors and individual events. Now it doesn't feel like such a big step.
LAURA HILL: Robert, thanks for joining us. Good luck this week.

End of FastScripts

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