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July 13, 2011

Nick Watney


MARTIN PARK: Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. Nick, welcome to Royal St. George's. You've been out on the course a bit today. Give us your thoughts on how you found it.
NICK WATNEY: Well, I found it very difficult today. I think if the wind blew like this and they kept the tees back, you could see some extremely high scores. I think the course is very challenging, and I'm looking forward to trying to tame it a little bit hopefully.
MARTIN PARK: It's been a pretty stellar year for you by anybody's standards, six Top 10s and a couple of wins and ready for your first step onto the big stage.
NICK WATNEY: Yeah, I set some goals at the beginning of the year, and so far, so good. The one problem with it, I think, is that I haven't performed very well in the majors. Hopefully I can change that this week.

Q. You have a fair record in the Open the times you've played in this championship. Do you have a liking for links golf, or do you think it suits your game in particular?
NICK WATNEY: I'd like to think that it does suit my game. I think if anything I'd be a lower hitter, lower ball hitter, so that always helps here. I really enjoy the different style that we see in the States, and I love the fact that you have so many options on different shots, and one of the challenges is to pick the correct one and not just get a yardage and hit it that far. There's a lot that goes into each shot, and I think that's really fun.

Q. You know that the American press is harping about what's wrong with the U.S. players, why can't they win majors. I was wondering, as a young player or one of the guys for the potential in the next generation, et cetera, does that bother the guys on Tour or do you say, hey, who cares, because it's an international game, or would you like to get America up there again?
NICK WATNEY: Well, you know, obviously I can only speak for myself, but I would like to win major championships. It's definitely not for -- it's not that we're not trying. I think golf globally and specifically in Europe is extremely strong. It's definitely not an accident that they're ranked the top four in the world. But at the same time, I would love to put my name in the mix for majors and hopefully end the drought.
But I don't perform very well if I go into a week thinking about winning. Especially around here it's so challenging, I just need to kind of focus on what's right in front of me.

Q. Do you think it is reasonable to extrapolate from whether it's the rankings or Americans not being major holders, with all the talk about does the college system work, are people thinking themselves into problems that aren't there?
NICK WATNEY: I feel like that's a good way to put it. I mean, I think it's cyclical. Tiger and Phil were winning multiple majors there for a long time. I wouldn't say the college system doesn't work because Graeme McDowell went to school in the States. I think Rory McIlroy is a very special player that -- I mean, you can't grow players like that. I mean, they come around once in a great while.
I think things are cyclical. Luke Donald went to college in the States, as well. Maybe the college system is working very well. The Europeans are coming over.
No, I think it's cyclical, and I feel like if I were to win a major, it wouldn't be to get America back on top; it would be because that's what I -- I want to win a major.
I think you put it very well; it's kind of creating something that may not really be there.

Q. Did you say in Philly that you were maybe rethinking how you were approaching majors, that you put too much into the Masters and the U.S. Open? And how does that change your approach this week?
NICK WATNEY: I feel like the golf course here lends itself to that because it's very difficult, and there could be some times where you hit a shot that you think is pretty good and it hits the wrong side of a mound or something. And if you take it a little too serious you get frustrated, and that's no way to play around here.
Yeah, I feel like the Masters and the U.S. Open I was very keyed up and didn't really give myself the best opportunity to kind of roll with the punches of a major. So hopefully I can learn from that and have a better approach this week.

Q. What did you do the last week? And is there any way to prepare in Vegas for the wind such that you can see here other than just trying to hit the ball three feet off the ground?
NICK WATNEY: Well, actually I didn't go to Vegas. I was in Philadelphia Sunday night and then my wife and I went to New York until Wednesday and came to London to see the sights. So I didn't hit a lot of balls last week.
I think you could play this course for a year and not be prepared for some of the stuff that we could see, just with the wind and the bounces and whatnot. I'm just trying to get my game in shape. I hit a lot of putts and chips around the greens and then just kind of try to play the shot that's in front of me.

Q. The general reward in the States for hitting the ball in the fairway is a nice lie, ball sitting up, you can attack a flag usually, and over here you can park one right down the middle, and by the time you get there it's sitting in what looks like where they dropped a bomb in World War II in the middle of a bunker. Does it take a while to get over the mindset of, I didn't deserve that and how do you get around it? Is it a completely different idea of reward over here, and sometimes the end result is not what you probably think you deserved?
NICK WATNEY: Well, I think the sooner the better as far as what you deserve. I hit some shots in the practice round that I thought were good that ended up in a bunker or in the rough, like you said. And I hit some shots that I thought would be really bad, and they turned out to be -- the lie was fine and I was able to get the ball up near the green.
I think it'll even out this week. The winner obviously will probably get more good breaks than he does bad, but that happens every tournament. I think it's just the way that golf is as a game. It may be a little more clear at a golf course like this that sometimes good things happen to bad shots and bad things happen to good shots, but at the same time, I think it'll be a great test, and I'm really looking forward to the challenge of Royal St. George's.

Q. Is "quirky" a fair word for a course like this do you think?
NICK WATNEY: Well, I think you guys are the word experts. I would say -- I mean, I think it's going to be -- I'll probably try to watch as much as I can when I'm not playing just because there will be some shots and bounces that we won't see normally, like you wouldn't see at Aronimink.
Now, does that mean that it's quirky? Well, I think it's a good golf course. I think it's going to identify the best player this week, and that's what a major is all about.

Q. Compared to what you've played over here before, how does this one compare to the other courses that you've been on?
NICK WATNEY: Well, I've had -- they host this tournament at some great courses. Last year at St. Andrews I thought was really, really fun, and I think links golf is very fun. You know, I guess when you play well, it's even better. But like I said, I'm really looking forward to the golf course. I think the better the attitude you can have going out there of -- it's going to be difficult, it's going to be challenging, sometimes you're going to hit what you think is a good shot and might not end up very good. The better attitude you can have is, I'm just going to accept the challenge and try to get that ball up and down or whatever it may be.

Q. Can you just expand on what you did in London last week, London Eye, Buckingham Palace, take in a show?
NICK WATNEY: Yeah, we saw the Palace, and my wife really wanted to go to Westminster Abbey. She's a big fan of Will and Kate, so we saw that. That place was really neat, all the history in there. She also wanted to go to Harrod's, so we did that, as well. Ian Poulter kind of gave us a few things to look at and some sights to see, some restaurants to go to, so we did that. We didn't do as much as we thought because of the jet lag, but it was still a lot of fun.

Q. Do you think the Americans are feeling any pressure to break this streak of five majors in a row without winning?
NICK WATNEY: I think -- sure. I mean, you never want to hear that you're inferior or something like that. But at the same time, again, all due respect to America, I don't think anybody here is trying to win one for America. Golf is an individual game. We're trying to win every tournament, and if it happens to be an American that wins, then who knows, I guess we're be on the comeback trail or whatever.
But I think the person that wins, whoever it may be, will be doing it for themselves first and foremost.

Q. I assume you watched The Open when you were growing up in Northern California. Did you have an idea what it was like to play links golf from watching it on TV?
NICK WATNEY: Well, yeah, I kind of feel like as a kid, whichever major it was, if I watched it in the morning, I would go out in the afternoon and I would try to play like that style. I had an idea. But there's nothing like -- especially last year, it was really special to play in the home of golf. I really enjoy it. Like I said, I like trying to pick the correct shot, and sometimes you're going to have to putt it from way off the green. That's just the correct shot. I think that's fun.
MARTIN PARK: Nick, thanks for coming in.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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