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May 25, 2012

James Morrison


PAUL SYMES:  James, you've been on Tour a few years now and obviously got one win under your belt, but as days go that has to be one of the best of your career so far.
JAMES MORRISON:  No doubt.  This is my third year on Tour.  I won, but this is different level.  But I'm very happy with how I played today.  Definitely one of the best rounds I've ever had, yeah, for sure, and probably one of the easiest funny enough, or it felt easy.  Wish golf was like that every day but it's not.
PAUL SYMES:  And you were saying that's the main difference was the putting was really on song.
JAMES MORRISON:  Yeah, I've been playing fantastic for two months now.  My coach and I have been working really hard and my game has turned full circle, short off the tee, a bit crooked, but great short game.  But now 15 yards longer than I ever have been, maybe 20, and it's helping around this golf course.  It's a pretty long golf course.  The last few months, putter has been cold but playing great.
Matter of time, really, and it's happened to be this week which I'm very grateful for.
PAUL SYMES:  And the 18th hole has been pretty good so far, slightly unorthodox, three yesterday and more straightforward today.
JAMES MORRISON:  Yesterday hit the VIP tent left, dropped it, chipped it in for three.
Today my caddie told me to lay up on last and I said, "Don't be stupid."¬† I hit 3‑wood on the green and made eagle.
PAUL SYMES:  Has he got a job tomorrow?
JAMES MORRISON:  Maybe.  I've got to talk to him.

Q.  Can we just go through the cricket thing to start with? 
JAMES MORRISON:  Just get it out of the way.

Q.  You were a batter?
JAMES MORRISON:  Both, batter and baller.

Q.  Can you talk about how far your career went, who you played with?
JAMES MORRISON:  I played cricket up until I was 18.  Played county cricket for Surrey up until I was Under 17s, and I was England Youth when I was 13, 14.  Same thing with Alastair Cook and Tim Bresnan.  Played county cricket from when I was seven till 17, so that was my life, like golf is now.
So yeah, I was playing cricket and golf at same time.  Started playing golf when I was 16, went from 18 to scratch in ten months.  And then went from there really.  Haven't really looked back.  I mean, playing golf is better than standing in a field all day, I can tell you that.  It's been a good decision.  Haven't played for a while.

Q.  Why the decision, and how closely do you follow careers of your contemporaries?  And you're also from just down the road; how often would you have played this course?
JAMES MORRISON:¬† I follow the people I played with quite a bit just to sort of‑‑ well, I love watching sport, so I'm always watching people on the Internet and seeing how guys are getting on.¬† I'm still in contact with a lot of my Surrey friends.¬† So I do follow it quite a bit.
The main thing was enjoyment really.¬† My last game at Surrey was about 114 and not out and called it a day after that.¬† So I didn't really want to‑‑ I wasn't enjoying it, put it that way.
So I was playing‑‑ I wanted to play golf and that was it.¬† But I was on scholarship, had to play until I was 18, stuck it out until I was 18 and played cricket and golf.¬† So up until 18, I was playing golf four months a rear really.¬† Five months a year I was playing school sport, cricket.

Q.  Which school?
JAMES MORRISON:  I went to Reed's in Cobham.

Q.¬† There's a place in the U.S. Open on offer here but you've got a baby coming, haven't you, so is that a no‑no?
JAMES MORRISON:  Divorce comes to mind.  (Laughter).
We've got a baby due in two weeks, two weeks Monday, our first child.¬† I'm not doing qualifying for the U.S. Open.¬† I qualified before but I think if I went‑‑ I don't want to think what would happen if I went.¬† But it wouldn't‑‑ I wouldn't go, unfortunately.¬† As hard as it would be to turn it down, no.
What is that spot, top three or top four or win?  It's the win?  Okay.

Q.  That 100 you made in your last cricket match, was that actually in County Championship?
JAMES MORRISON:  It was at Guildford against Middlesex I think it was.

Q.  In the County Championship?
JAMES MORRISON:  Under 17s, so whatever that is.

Q.  Apart from the golf and the cricket, were you talented at other sports, as well?
JAMES MORRISON:  I played county hockey, too.  At one point I was playing all three sports at one time.  But I wasn't quite as good as hockey as I was at other ones, but yeah.

Q.  How do you compare with Alastsair Cook at the same time you were on the team, were you as good as him, do you think?
JAMES MORRISON:  Not really, no.  You could see him now, if I played, I probably wouldn't have made it, I don't know.  I was 16, 17 at the time.  But you could always see they were far better than anyone else.

Q.  Any other players that you're still in touch at all?
JAMES MORRISON:  I haven't spoken to any of them for years.  Haven't played against them for years.  Haven't been in touch, no.

Q.  And just being a local lad, have you played here often before?
JAMES MORRISON:  I actually haven't played here that much really.  I played the last two years and that's, before, that, handful of times.  Not a lot, really.  Not as easy to get on here, to play.  I think the green fees are 350 pounds plus caddie.  So I haven't really played here that much.  Play at my home club, St. George's.

Q.  So if Cook was the No. 1 at that time, what would you have been, just ranking?
JAMES MORRISON:¬† Not a clue.¬† Don't know.¬† Because it's so young, you don't really have‑‑ at that age, you don't really have, kind of where you played, southern county, but so young at that age when I played with him.

Q.  What position in the team?  Were you like No. 7?
JAMES MORRISON:  Batted No. 1.

Q.  If you were to take up football, maybe you could make it for the European Championships, which is next month.
JAMES MORRISON:  (Laughing).

Q.  You'd retire before then probably.
JAMES MORRISON:  I could dive.  That's good.

Q.  You're in the team.
JAMES MORRISON:  I'm not very good at contact sport.

Q.  Doesn't seem that far away, so seems legitimate to ask you:  What do you remember about your first round of golf and how did it go?
JAMES MORRISON:  First proper round of golf, where did we play?  Richmond Park I think it was.

Q.  Just the two of us then?
JAMES MORRISON:  The public one.

Q.  What was the score; can you remember?
JAMES MORRISON:  Oh, I can't remember. 

Q.  Break a hundred?
JAMES MORRISON:  My first medal at St. George's as a junior, I only played a few months, so handicap sort of 18 or something; 49 points, didn't go down too well, and kind of went from there really.  I think my first handicap was about 14.

Q.  Was it immediately apparent that you started to swing?
JAMES MORRISON:¬† I could hit it.¬† A racquet and ball I could hit it, but you give me rugby ball, scared stiff of someone running at me.¬† But I could always hit the ball‑‑ my first lesson I had when I was 19 I think, 20, something like that.

Q.  How did you decide as a very young sportsman that you were going to be a professional sportsman come what may, and then it was a case of changing direction?
JAMES MORRISON:  I guess, so yeah, just always played sport.  Even from when I could walk, I mean, four years old playing with Under 8s and that sort of stuff, always played above my age and just always loved competing and I've always wanted to play sport.  At that age, you're not really thinking about careers and stuff and mortgages and that sort of thing.  But I always wanted to play baseball.

Q.  So when you actually took up golf at 17, at that stage, were you saying to yourself, I shall now make this my career?
JAMES MORRISON:¬† Definitely.¬† Definitely.¬† I was average in school.¬† Didn't really work very hard at my schoolwork.¬† If it wasn't for sport, I probably would have been¬† ‑‑¬† kicked out is probably the wrong word but I've always been‑‑ when I get my head down, I always want to do something with it.¬† Really determined sort of person, and as soon as I started playing it, fell in love with it, loved playing the game and went from there really.

Q.¬† Obviously I guess Tim Henman would have been the previous sporting star from Reed's.¬† Maybe they will be putting you and him up there‑‑
JAMES MORRISON:  Maybe.  I think I've got a long way to go to get Tim.

Q.  And obviously this being close to home, it must be nice to be able to go out there and know that there will be some friends and family waiting for you?
JAMES MORRISON:  Yeah, definitely.  Got my parents here, my wife, mom, sister, everyone is here.  As you know, we travel around the world playing golf.  So from watching on TV and watching on the Internet, it's nice for them to actually watch me play, and it's good for me to have them watching me, too.  It's not easy to go week to week to week without seeing your family.  That's the part of the job isn't it, I'm afraid.
So it's nice to have friends and family here watching, because the Internet, never normally‑‑ doesn't paint pictures.¬† So people think, oh, I'm missing the cut, making the cut.¬† It's nice to see how the game of golf flows and how the round of golf goes.

Q.¬† And your wife is here, even though she's‑‑
JAMES MORRISON:  Yeah, she's at the back.  She's done fantastically well, she's walked 14 holes every day.  She's got two more days to hang on.

Q.  I understand Gary Boyd is staying with you this week?

Q.  And he's done a lot of the cooking.  Just wondered, seems to be quite nice coming in with a relaxed approach with one of your pals.
JAMES MORRISON:  Gary is one of my closest mates on Tour, Gary and John Parry.  They are always at my house when they are down.  It's nice to be relaxed.  Put my dartboard up the night before last and put my hose reel up, which I thought was clipping the hose in the wall.  Bought a new house three months ago, so I'm still doing stuff.  He's doing the barbecuing and cooking.  He's good at that sort of thing, but it's nice to have friends with you and pulling each other along.  It's nice.

Q.  Couple of things.  In the year you came down from 18 handicap to scratch, can you remember how many tournaments you won?
JAMES MORRISON:  Medals and stuff?

Q.  Do you remember how many?
JAMES MORRISON:  I can't remember.  But trying to think, my first year I started playing the local medals and on the Cobham Junior Open and stuff, `Burhill Junior Open, and it was kind of quick really, because my first big event was the British Boys at Carnoustie.  Only playing golf about 12 months maximum and dad goes, just go up for the experience and see what it's all about.
So as you know, it's match play from start to finish, and I went up there, stayed on the golf course, dad's like, we'll only be a couple of nights, won't be too expensive.¬† Won the first round and the second round, beat Cabrera‑Bello in the third round, won the fourth round.¬† And dad's going, what's going on, should have been home by now.¬† And we are now in the sort of fifth or sixth round and lost to Rhys Davies in the fifth or sixth round. That was my first big event, and went from there.

Q.  You said at the start that this was a different level this week.  So what do you expect of yourself this week?
JAMES MORRISON:  It's one of those, try not to expect anything, but you have to expect something at the same time.  It's a bit of a motivator.  I mean, I was in the final group in Singapore last year, final group in the weekend at The French Only, still finished quite decent but didn't quite finish it off.
I learned a lot from those tournaments, big events, top three big events on Tour, and I'm leading those events comfortably, and a chance to win both events coming to the back nine.
So those are experiences that you kind of look back on and try and learn from.  I mean, they were hard.  The French Open is a tough golf course, and golf will test your ability and patience and stuff, and that was one of them.
So I expect a lot but at the same time when you've got the likes of Donald and Rose and company behind you, and the golf course is easier this year, there is more birdie chances than the last couple of years.
But if I shoot 80 tomorrow or 65, I'll take what I can from it and obviously I'm desperately, desperately, desperately want to keep going forward, and that's my problem sometimes.  I'm too eager, I'm too keen; I'm too determined I guess, which start of the year, I've been playing great and been trying so hard to play well but been getting in the way of myself.
If I can have fun and be me, then if I finish Top‑10, or if I win, second, third, I'm going to do my best and that's all I can do.¬† But I'm going to be trying my hardest to win.

Q.  You said you excelled at sport rather than academically; were you from a sporting background?  And the other thing, were you planning a few weeks off after this?
JAMES MORRISON:¬† Dad was a good sportsman, played a lot of squash at county level, 10 handicap.¬† Could always hit it, and I think that's where I got my hand‑eye coordination from, him I guess.
Playing Wales next week.  Not playing Sweden.  Then hopefully the little man arrives on time, because after that is a good run.  There's four in a row there that are good events.  So, yeah, we'll see.

Q.  Sorry, James, to wing this on; was your grandfather a Scot?
JAMES MORRISON:  Yeah (laughter).

Q.  That's all we needed.  (Laughter).
JAMES MORRISON:¬† My grand dad was from Scotland.¬† Pure, full‑on Scotsman.

Q.  Kind of golfing background on that side?
JAMES MORRISON:  Not really, no.  He was a pilot actually in the Air Force.

Q.  Flew over some golf courses.
JAMES MORRISON:  Yeah (laughter) He's from Hamilton I think.
PAUL SYMES:  I think we're done now.  Thank you, James.

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