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October 5, 2012

Joel Sjoholm


Q.  Like the Scottish weather?
JOEL SJ√ĖHOLM:¬† This is nice, isn't it.

Q.  Your thoughts, if you wouldn't mind, on two good rounds over two lovely courses?
JOEL SJ√ĖHOLM:¬† It's a pleasure. ¬†First I'm allowed to play 18 holes on St. Andrews.¬† So it's been an absolute fantastic adventure for me.¬† Last year I was here and I was first to serve on site, and I treated my father to play the practice rounds three weeks ahead of that, because I was so cocky enough that I could get into the tournament.¬† And I didn't.
But the problem was the R&A, they had a big match play going on here so we could not play St. Andrews.¬† So I was not allowed to play the practice rounds.¬† So this week was my first practice round on St. Andrews, but of course, Thorbj√łrn Olesen and stuff never showed up, I was waiting for him, so we only played 14 holes on St. Andrews.
So it has been a really good day.  Now I honestly understand why everybody's talking so much about it, and I don't know the history, so you cannot quiz me on that, but I guess that on a course like this, a lot of things must happen, because I can see myself that today I've been a little bit lucky, I'm hitting drives, they might be in the bunker or all these bushes everywhere and we find them and some guys might just stripe it in the fairway.  This course is absolutely amazing.
And Kingsbarns is one of the most beautiful courses I've ever seen as a links golf course.  I'm just hoping that Carnoustie is going to be as nice to me as these two courses have been the first two days.
I don't watch golf too much.¬† Now I'm starting watching golf because I have a lot of friends out that plays on Tour, so when they are in contention, I want to see them play because I'm saying the same courses as them because it's always fun to see how my friends are playing.¬† I've never been a big, how do you say, like golfer that is watching golf.¬† I'm more the kind of guy that lives on the golf course and practice a lot and talk a lot of‑‑ yeah.¬† We will leave it at that.

Q.  Living up to expectations, is it?
JOEL SJ√ĖHOLM:¬† Fantastic.¬† Now of course Scotland is inviting us with such wonderful weather.¬† Now everybody thinks this is the place on earth‑‑ but it would have been raining this morning, I don't think there would have been that many happy faces in the practice range.¬† It was really cold this morning.
And yesterday I heard that they were hitting quite short irons into hole No.2, and I smashed a driver down there and hit a full 5‑iron on hole No.2 today.¬† I guess it shows you how quick it can change out there.¬† And that's the beauty of it.

Q.  I guess the winds were that little bit stronger today, weren't they?
JOEL SJ√ĖHOLM:¬† Yeah, at least compared to Kingsbarns. ¬†I don't know how it was yesterday.¬† Kingsbarns was playing maybe a half‑club into and today was at least two‑ or three‑clubs.
So still, I never thought I would play good on links, because I can't hit it straight from the tee box.¬† But somehow I'm having a hook in the bag and on St. Andrews, you do find if you're playing on the left side‑‑ so I guess that's why I'm minus five on this course today.

Q.  And there are some nice wide open spaces like the 18th, as well?
JOEL SJ√ĖHOLM:¬† Yeah, I can't agree more.

Q.  What are your thoughts on Carnoustie then?
JOEL SJ√ĖHOLM:¬† What a golf course.¬† What I have said, St. Andrews is one of the finest golf course because of the history.¬† Kingsbarns is one of the most beautiful courses and Carnoustie is the toughest golf course.¬† So you get three different adventures, I would say.
I played it twice now and I've not been close to break even on Carnoustie in nice conditions.  So I'm just hoping that I can play decent tomorrow and just be in red figures for tomorrow.

Q.¬† Well, you've but yourself in a nice position at 12‑under par, you've got a bit of a cushion?
JOEL SJ√ĖHOLM:¬† But then again, 12‑under, I came in yesterday, thought I played good and I got beat by five.¬† I shot 7‑under and I mean, that's what my second lowest round on The European Tour, and I still got beat by five.¬† That shows you how good those guys are when they are on.¬† And Thorbj√łrn had beat my with two on St. Andrews and I played Kingsbarns, which people keep telling me is the easy one.
Yeah, 12‑under is good, but it looks like if the wind doesn't blow, everybody is going to try to catch me.

Q.  You haven't played much links golf, have you?
JOEL SJ√ĖHOLM:¬† I played quite a lot with amateurs when I was on the Swedish national team 12 years ago, but since then, I've been living in the States for four years and living in Sweden in Gothenburg in Sweden, you don't have too much links.¬† We have one course that's a little bit linksy, but you can't compare them.

Q.  So what do you actually think of the Old Course in terms of a test?
JOEL SJ√ĖHOLM:¬† I think today, it was really tough today because when we were going out, we were playing into off the left a lot of holes.¬† Even the first hole, I hit a really good 3‑wood I thought and I hit 8‑iron, and sometimes if you get that one down wind, you can hit like a 4‑iron and wedge, so the course itself with no wind, is not that real of a test.¬† But the test is not the courses out there; it is the conditions.
And with Carnoustie on the other hand, it looks and seems like you have to play good golf even if there's wind or not.  You can't just walk around and wait for something to happen, and you can drive some greens.  Because on both these two courses at Kingsbarns and St. Andrews, if you get the right wind, you can drive it later on.  I can't remember if you can drive it into the greens on the par fours on Carnoustie.  I don't think you can.  Maybe one but you would be stupid to go for it, like hole No. 3, downwind, but you don't do that because then you might as well pack your stuff and go home.

Q.  Do you enjoy this type of golf?
JOEL SJ√ĖHOLM:¬† Oh, fantastic.¬† I like it because you have to think a little bit.¬† Normally I'm useless when it comes to you have to have one green wide open, you have no slopes to work with; I can hit anywhere.¬† But today, some pins that we are close around the green, you have to think.

Q.  Forces your mind?
JOEL SJ√ĖHOLM:¬† And for me, like the more I'm thinking about what I need to do, the better I am.¬† The more relaxed I am, the further away from the pin I am for some kind of reason.¬† But for some players, they don't think, they just play and I've been like that until I've started college and my coach in college, he helped me out a lot just trying to get more involved with the golf instead of just walking around smiling nonstop.
This is the first time I've played 18 holes.

Q.  Did you have any previous memory or experiences from afar, TV or anything?
JOEL SJ√ĖHOLM:¬† No, I can tell you like this, I'm like a goldfish, what happened yesterday, I could not tell you.

Q.  You knew it was the home of golf and that was it?
JOEL SJ√ĖHOLM:¬† The only good part with my life when it comes to golf is that I've got so many good friends at home that are watching golf, and my coach and everybody, they love golf more than I do.¬† I love to play it.¬† I'm not that big of a fan of the sport itself; I just love to be able to walk around, meeting people, try my best, and now suddenly I've got into this year, last year, I get into contention which is a brand new feeling for me.

Q.  Do you follow any other sports more keenly?
JOEL SJ√ĖHOLM:¬† Ice hockey I follow quite a lot because I have a lot of friends in Sweden in Gothenburg, it's such a small little town.¬† But there we had one little university, high school, that took on all of the athletes from Gothenburg.¬† So I got to know all these runners, all the football players, all the ice hockey players and now at 27, they should be at their peak so now all of my friends that are playing ice hockey, they are starting to come up and some of them are in the NHL today.
Now I'm watching European Tour, I don't ‑‑ watch the PGA TOUR, I'm only watching The European Tour because that's where my friends are, and this has turned out to be‑‑ I'm living the dream I wanted.¬† I wanted to turn pro, but 2008 when I turned pro, I come home, I just turned pro, you've got this little license, and I asked my parents, like have I made it now; is this it.
But then it took a few months for me to understand that there's so much more to just turning pro; it is to be able to come out here, play against the best, because suddenly The European Tour has turned around‑‑ you just look at The Ryder Cup and see how strong these guys are.¬† Unfortunately we don't have all of the guys here this week but we have got some of them, and we have got some of the vice captains.¬† Those guys, they are bringing such good energy into the tournament I think.
So it's a big hat off for them to actually show up for this week.  Because if I would have been on that team, I don't think I would have come out; I would have been inside a bottle for seven days and just want to hug everybody.  Those are the guys that make our living so special, because without the big players, without the big names, we can't get as much sponsorships, we can't get this money that we are playing for.
So without Tiger Woods and all these guys, Tiger himself, I think he has raised a lot of money for me to be able to pay for my family.  I'm always going to be in debt and I think a lot of pros, we are missing out than that; that we have to try to entertain a little bit; we have to show off a little bit sometimes.  If you just give back a little bit, you get so much back to yourself, and that's always been my honest feeling about playing golf.

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