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March 19, 2003

Nick Dougherty


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Nick, for joining us for a few minutes here in the Bay Hill Invitational media center.

This is your first event here in the United States as a professional. You've played over here for the Walker Cup and did very well, and you have had a very successful season last year on the European Tour as Rookie of the Year. Why don't you make a couple of comments on playing over here for the first time as a professional, and then we'll into some questions.

NICK DOUGHERTY: As you can obviously guess, it's a fantastic opportunity for me to be playing on the U.S. PGA TOUR. I think when you're growing up, it's something you always dream of, playing out here and especially in a tournament like this. The Bay Hill Invitational to me is one of the premiere events of your tour. It's a great one for me to play for my first one because I've played this golf course a lot. My folks spend a lot of time out here, and it's a treat.

For some reason, my amateur record seems to be a lot better in the States than the U.K. maybe the golf suits me more the way courses are set up. Hopefully I can keep some good form I've had here in the past and take it into this week and keep memories from the Walker Cup.

Q. How often have you played this year and what's the state of your game at the moment?

NICK DOUGHERTY: I've played eight tournaments so far. Obviously the European Tour, we play a lot all over the world, so we've been to Australia, South Africa, Middle East.

So I've played consistently, made all eight cuts. Unfortunately that's not one of my goals, just to make cuts. I've lacked consistency for all four rounds. I keep throwing in the 72, 73 which has blown me out of opportunities to win golf tournaments. But at the same time my game is a lot more consistent than it was last year. You know, the ability to turn what was going to be sort of a 76 into a 73, that's helped me to play a little bit more consistently. If you look at the best players in the world, the likes of Tiger Woods, when Tiger plays poorly, for him, he still imagines to shoot under par.

I'm going the right way. Still have to work hard to turn a 73 into a 70. When I can do that, that will be hopefully when I can start to win tournaments.

Q. Talk about the success you have had in the U.S.? NICK DOUGHERTY: Yeah I won a couple of Junior things. I won the AJGA Polo Junior Golf Classic. Obviously Walker Cup was the last one. Only played three times out here but won each time I've played.

I don't, I just love playing out here. I love the golf courses. The thing I love it's influenced by how much time I've spent here. I've spent half my life growing up in America. My folks have been coming here since I was ten years old. I've been here since then and sort of four or five months a year. I think that's a significant period of time, so I'm pretty used to Florida golf and American golf.

We've got some good roots here. My brother now lives in New York, works in New York, so it's almost like  -- feels like coming home this week because my folks have been here since November. I'm staying at home, as well. It's kind of a weird sensation but it's very comfortable.

Q. Where is that?

NICK DOUGHERTY: It's down by Splendor (ph) which is a really nice area, has a pool. Westwood is back there, too. Wouldn't be much use back home but it's great here.

Q. You're only playing one tournament here?

NICK DOUGHERTY: I am, yeah. I've got some  -- well, not if I win, I'm not. Yeah, I'm just here for this week. Obviously the opportunity to play just one tournament, I jumped at the chance. I'm just going to be here now, go back home. After that I've got some stuff to do. I haven't been home since November, so it will be nice to get back there and sort some things out and then hopefully look at some more opportunities to play out here for the rest of the year and try to learn about what playing on the U.S. PGA TOUR feels like.

Q. Inaudible?

NICK DOUGHERTY: Yeah, obviously, it helps the fact that Arnold Palmer is IMG. He's done everything that IMG is. IMG worked for me for this invite. This is the premiere tour in the world and when you have Tiger Woods here it's hard to gets an invite because everyone wants to play. IMG have worked real hard to get they many invites for a long time. If I could pick a tournament to play as a first one, this would be it.

Q. (Inaudible.)

NICK DOUGHERTY: Yeah, I've spent a lot of time here. I love it. I got to meet Mr.  Palmer then and he's a great man. He's probably one of the most charismatic people I've ever met in my life. He obviously does a great job here with this tournament.

Q. Would you like to play on both tours  --

NICK DOUGHERTY: Absolutely. It would make it more difficult to plan. Obviously, it depends because obviously the really good events in Europe I'm going to want to try and play but at the same time it's hard to give up an opportunity to come here and play because the tournaments are great, and I grew up watching golf on the TV and American golf.

You know, in the end, my goal is to be able to play all over the world, and I'd like to spend most of my time here in America. But obviously I think that's what makes Tiger and Ernie the best players in the world, the fact that they play all over and win. You know, Tiger doesn't just play in the States and do well; he plays all over, although he spends most of his time here, he's the best because he does it everywhere in the world.

I think Ernie and Tiger do it the best way. Probably even more so Ernie, but of course he's not an American, so it would probably be easier for him to do that. He plays all over. He plays the premiere events in Europe, Australia, Middle East, and he also plays obviously the big tournaments here. He doesn't play a maximum amount of tournaments. He plans his time so well, and I think that's what makes him so good and that's why he's the second best player in the world is because of where he plays, how much he plays and he's playing in the big tournaments with the big players all the time.

Q. What was that like playing in Dubai and Qatar right now?

NICK DOUGHERTY: As you can imagine there was a bit of worry because we played Australia before that. We didn't know what to expect and we thought maybe the tournaments would be called off. So we went there a bit anxious, to be fair.

But when we were there, to be fair, there were no problems at all. Even in Qatar, which obviously is a U.S. military base, we saw jets flying over now and then but that was it. You know, at the same time, obviously when you were there, you know what's going on in the world at the moment. It's an uncomfortable thought. We were so well looked after. Security was very high and we felt very safe while we were there. We got out of there and what's going to happen is going to happen.

It was good timing by the looks of it when we left. But I feel sorry for the people there because those countries are beautiful countries we went to and there's obviously a lot of Americans and Brits as well in Dubai and Qatar. So it's an uncomfortable situation but the golf tournaments went ahead as planned with no hiccups at all.

Q. Inaudible?

NICK DOUGHERTY: Yeah, I did. I came to watch Nick play, I watched Faldo play  -- and second time I saw Tiger play as well live. It was great to come and watch. I had never been to a tournament at that stage, apart from the Open Championship with crowds quite as big as they have at Bay Hill because they do have big crowds. I think it's just tremendous. That's the thing about America, you do get enormous crowds here. Playing Walker Cup, the crowds there were tremendous as well. That adds to it and that's one of my thrills and the reason I love doing what I do is playing in front of all those people.

Q. Inaudible?

NICK DOUGHERTY: That would have been 2001, I think. I haven't been in a few years  -- I think it was '98 when I saw Tiger play that. Those tournaments are great, when you're growing up as a junior, it's a great feeling to watch those guys play the best in the world. The atmosphere is tremendous. It's a good learning experience.

Q. (Inaudible.)

NICK DOUGHERTY: I don't know. I got tremendous buzz actually just from walking around. I walked a practice round with Faldo at Lytham in an Open Championship, and I knew Nick, as well. It was a practice round and the support was just tremendous. Just imagine how he felt playing in front of all those people, it was amazing and the only person I've ever seen with quite that amount of support was Tiger Woods.

Obviously, Nick is chatty. You know as well as I do he has taken a lot of stick over the years for how determined he is. It's very easy to confuse arrogance with determination and Nick, he's very single-minded to be the best at anything, you've got to be unique and that's what Nick has always been.

And Tiger is exactly the same, exactly the same. But he's been coached in a way that  -- it's exactly the right thing, it's so hard to pick fault with Tiger, isn't it, because he take does everything so perfectly. Nick has taken a slot of stick over the years for out single-minded concentrated he's been. Now the great thing is, you see he's a lot more relaxed about his golf as well and he's got the attitude now, he goes out and enjoys it, and the personality and the humor you see on him that's the real Nick Faldo. I think it's great for everyone to see that.

Q. Inaudible?

NICK DOUGHERTY: Not there yet, no. I'm 20 years old, so I like to enjoy myself still. Maybe a get a bit too chatty on the golf course at times. That's something I've got to keep working on. If I did all of this perfectly right now I would be disappointed  -- the idea that I can still improve a lot of things makes me hopeful that I can get a long way in the sport.

Q. Inaudible?

NICK DOUGHERTY: Yeah, it's great. I know all of those guys well and it's great for the sport, the standard of golf. A lot of those players you just named, how they are doing it right now, Charles Howell, Justin Rose, those guys are out there winning tournaments and at that age it's just tremendous. It just shows that now the top players, that you used to peak around 30 years, guys like Sergio are doing it now when they are 21, 22. That's great. It's bringing the age down all the time. Children are starting younger and younger. I was four when I started. That's late now.

Yeah, it's a great plus to be playing in that field and all of the guys as much as we are great mates we are all very competitive. It's the nature of the sport. It will be good fun out there this week.

You know, it's great, the likes of Ty, I grew up playing amateur golf with Ty. We are about the same age group. The other guys are a little bit ahead of me age-wise and didn't play much amateur golf with them. It's great you pull each other along. Each there's nothing worse than getting beaten by your mates so it's something that  -- it's great and it's nice to have those friendly faces there, as well. So yes, to beat them, but it's nice to have them there as friends, as well.

Q. (Inaudible.)

NICK DOUGHERTY: Absolutely. I was going to go to college when I was 16 years of age. I did well on and scored high on my SAT. I was going to come out to the States, but we didn't know how long I was going to stay amateur for, and the fact at that time I was playing international golf as well. So the amount of opportunity I wanted in college golf is I would be playing tournament golf all year round, which in Britain you can't do. I was playing international golf, I was doing that already, traveling all over the world it's a great experience. I come from quite an academic family; my brother is very successful and my mom is very much in charge of that side of the family. If I had gone, my mom would have wanted me to finish my course and I don't believe I would have wanted to stay amateur until I was 21. It's a chance, obviously, a chance because it's high-risk. If it didn't work out you have nothing to fall back on. The way I was brought up, my dad, the way he brought me up is, second best won't do and if you're going to do it, all or nothing. So it's the chance we took and it worked out.

Q. Inaudible?

NICK DOUGHERTY: No, not first. Obviously, I took a lot of advice off Nick Faldo in this respect. I think Europe is a great breeding ground and it's a great place to hone your game. Obviously we play in different conditions all the time. You could say it's more difficult golf in Europe because you are changing constantly, different grass, different weather obviously dramatic different weather and different countries all the time. There's a hell of a lot of travel involved.

So I think it's a great place to learn and develop every aspect of your golf game. No matter what I do in my career, how much I play over here in the States, I will dedicate a lot of my time to Europe still because the European Tour gave me a lot of opportunities. After I turned pro, they gave me the invites to play big tournaments which has allowed me to get where I am. So I owe a lot to them and no matter what happens, it will be a place where I like to play a lot of golf.

Q. (Inaudible.)

NICK DOUGHERTY: Yeah, absolutely. We spent a lot of time with Buddy Alexander, University of Florida. You know, we got to know him quite well obviously because we spend a lot of time here as well but he's a great guy. We looked at UNLV, that's where Adam went, I think that's a good college.

It's amazing. The first guy, I'm not going to quote the name of the school, the first guy we met came over to the U.K. scouting, and I was only 15 at the time, and said this college was "the best place on earth". He made it sound like it was just heaven on earth and we talked to another one and that was also best place on earth.

It was so hard because all of these colleges were so good. I mean, the coaches have got a great way of making them sound awesome as well. There were some great ones. I really liked the sounds of Florida, it was a good golf team. I liked the way they approached it. It's just, I think it's such a great way and so many Brits now come out from the U.K. and do their college and they come back such great players because of it. It's like playing the Tour already; you're traveling all over with a team and playing a lot of golf, very competitive, the standard is amazing in the NCAA.

Sometimes I regret a little bit I missed out on the college side of it, but I like the social side of golf, as well and I like my time off. Given how much I like to party in my time off it would not have been the best thing to go there. Would not have been at Bay Hill for sure. A lot of my friends on the European Tour who came through the college system have said they don't reckon they would have gotten here as quickly if they had not been through it.

Q. Anymore new nicknames?

NICK DOUGHERTY: No, I haven't actually. It's been very quiet this year. There's been a lot of room service this year.

It's nothing new. SKY Sports, the hair got a bit of a battering as you can imagine. It actually went down very well  -- it didn't go  -- it was actually quite a bit longer recently, very Ty Tryon-ish. It was fun to do something different. I had two weeks off in Australia and I was a bit bored and did something different with my hair. I think on SKY they said if you hit your ball in there you'll lose it.

Golf is not just a sport, it's a business, it's all about marketing, IMG, you know and it's about creating the right image. I'm a young guy, and golf is  -- well, because of a man called Tiger Woods, it's a hip sport now and so much is based on image, as well.

Q. Is it red?

NICK DOUGHERTY: It was red. It's gone pinky and a little bit orange in the back. It will be cut out soon, anyway.

Q. What's your schedule like now?

NICK DOUGHERTY: I've actually got some time off. I have got obviously this week, next week I've got a loads of catch up because I haven't been home, stuff with Callaway and my other sponsors. Then I've got two weeks off which will be quite pleasant and we hit Europe for the first time, Portugal. But I haven't decided what I'm going to do the week after that, and then a week off. And then it's the real one then, big tournaments in Europe and gets pretty hectic.

I played 36 tournaments last year as well as playing  -- tournaments off the European as well and in Australia. I made it my goal last year to try and see as much of golf as I could, first year, see what I can, no pressure, secured my card early in the year so this year I'm going to plan a little bit better so I don't burn myself out so early.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you for joining us.

End of FastScripts....

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