CIMB Classic: Preview What They Said

Wed 23 Oct 2013

CIMB Classic: Preview What They Said

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Phil Mickelson (USA)
CHRIS REIMER:  We want to welcome Phil Mickelson here to the interview room at the CIMB Classic.  I know you're excited, your first visit to this tournament, I believe your first visit to Malaysia, as well.  Maybe some opening comments on your experience so far here in Kuala Lumpur.
PHIL MICKELSON:  I've had a great few days here.  I had a wonderful bus tour of the city of Kuala Lumpur.  It's a beautiful area.  Had an up close look at some of the milestones in the city.  It was spectacular, and I'm enjoying my time here.
The golf course is a great test of golf.  It's difficult, it's challenging, and I think it will be a wonderful host for this event.
CHRIS REIMER:  It's great for you to be here, but it's also an official PGA TOUR event for the first time, enabling you to get a start and get some FedExCup points early in the season.  Talk about that opportunity.
PHIL MICKELSON:  I think having this tournament be part of the FedExCup gives it a lot of credibility and world class golf here in Malaysia.  I think it is a great statement, and we're all appreciative of CIMB bringing world class golf here to Malaysia.
Q.  You've done everything that needs to be done now, you've touched the Claret Jug, you've traveled a lot.  What's the motive that you have now, Ryder Cup victory?  Where do you see your future?
PHIL MICKELSON:  I love what I do.  I love competing.  I've always been a competitive person by nature, and I love the opportunity to compete in golf at the highest level.
I have over the last 20 years of playing the TOUR, I have learned more and more each year, and this past year I've had some wonderful things happen to me that have helped me play some of my best golf.  And whether it's driving the ball off the tee, getting the ball in play so I can compete well in the U.S. and British Opens, whether it's putting and certain keys on putting, I've had a phenomenal putting here.  I'm starting to drive the ball better than I ever have, and I'm excited about upcoming years because I'm starting to play some really good golf again.  I love to compete.  It's just that I love what I do.
Q.  I just looked at the FedExCup points that just started.  There are two Asian players in the top 10.  Now, superstars like you coming to Malaysia, there must be a rub off on this.  Can you expand about what you feel about the future of golf in this region?
PHIL MICKELSON:  I don't know why there would be, as you quote, a rub off.  I don't understand that.  I think it's great to see good world class golf taking place in Asia, and we've had some great young players, Matsuyama san who played in the Presidents Cup is a very talented golfer, very young and has a great game, and we have players from Korea there with K.J. Choi.  I've seen some good young players from China coming through the ranks, although they haven't quite hit the Tour yet, and we have a great player Aphibarnrat who I'm playing with tomorrow.  It's great to see good players coming out all over Asia and competing against the best players in the world and giving the game of golf a lot of credibility in these countries.
Q.  You talked about your schedule somewhat this year.  Are we going to be seeing you more in Asia?
PHIL MICKELSON:  I'm not sure exactly how the schedule is going to play out this next year.  I just feel as I look back on my career there are certain tournaments that change the way I view my career, and winning the British Open did that for me this year.  I want to give myself opportunities to play and compete in the big tournaments, mainly saying the majors, and I'm putting less importance on other events.  So my whole purpose and focus will be gearing up, participating in certain tournaments that will help me play well in those majors.
So a tournament that is taking place two months prior or after a major championship that has no impact on my ability to perform well in a major, those are tournaments that I won't put as much importance on.
Q.  So one of those tournaments would be    the primary goal this season would be the U.S. Open, wouldn't it?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Of course it would be.  There's no hiding the fact that winning the U.S. Open would be my career goal of completing the career Grand Slam, and that's the final leg that I have.  I'll be putting most of my focus into winning the U.S. Open, but I'm not going to skip the Masters and the importance that that event has because every green jacket is meaningful to me, as much as I love that tournament.
Q.  But we'll still get to see you in Asia at some point?
PHIL MICKELSON:  I would envision yes.  I just don't know how it's going to play out right now.  I know that I'm going to start cutting a certain percentage of events next year, and I'm not sure which ones those will be.
Q.  You played with Matsuyama san yesterday; is that correct?
PHIL MICKELSON:  We played one hole, yes.  We caught up on the last hole.
Q.  Could you say how important it is for young players to practice with experienced players like you?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Well, I had a chance to play with Matsuyama san at the British Open the first two rounds.  He's a wonderful player.  Having him be on the Presidents Cup team and being able to spend all week with some of the best players throughout the world is a great experience that will help guide him into directions where he needs to spend time practicing to get better as well as showing off how good he is already.
Q.  What about the heat?  How are conditions like?  And what are your expectations where you want to finish?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Well, I don't mind the heat at all.  I actually enjoy it.  I feel that it's much easier on your body when it's warm like this.  The muscles become looser and perform better, and I think that the golf ball performs better in warm conditions, and I think that the heat is helpful to the golfers to play well.
The golf course is difficult, though.  The greens are not holding very well, and that's making it difficult for guys to get the ball close to the hole.  I don't think the scores will be that low.  I think this is a very difficult test.  The rough is extremely thick and difficult around the greens, and I think it's a hard test.
I'm optimistic that I'll play well.
CHRIS REIMER:  Phil, good luck this week.
Rickie Fowler (USA)  
JOEL SCHUCHMANN:  We'd like to welcome Rickie Fowler to the interview room at the CIMB Classic.  Just some opening comments about coming to Malaysia and playing this golf course here.
RICKIE FOWLER:  It's a long flight.  No, I'm happy to be here.  I've been here once to Malaysia, obviously a different course this year, but I really like the city and the surrounding area.  It's a fun place to come hang out, and it's a little warm and a long flight, but happy to be here and a nice way to start off the 2014 season.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN:  With the new structure of the season, these are official events.  This is the first ever FedExCup event in Asia.  Maybe kind of talk about your season goals and obviously be nice to get off to a good start as you head into 2014.
Rickie Fowler of the United States Rickie Fowler of the United States
RICKIE FOWLER:  Yeah, it's a little different starting the year now in October for 2014.  But I guess the way to look at it is just we're all out here trying to play well whenever we tee it up.  Not really looking at it as the start of the year or anything like that, just over here trying to play some good golf in Asia, on a three week trip playing here at CIMB, then HSBC and then going down to Australia for the Aussie PGA.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN:  Any particular goals you have for the upcoming season?
RICKIE FOWLER:  Well, always the goal is to make it to the TOUR Championship through the FedExCup Playoffs.  I've only made it once, and I've played well, had one win two years ago now.  I would have said last year.  It wasn't, it was 2012.  And then Ryder Cup, as well.  There's a lot of things to set goals on, but I think those are probably two of my primary goals, and I would also like to get my second win out of the way.
Q.  You've just played the course.  What would you say is the hardest hole do you reckon on the course, if you can remember?
RICKIE FOWLER:  I don't know if I can remember.  Let's see.  Yeah, I'm not sure.  It's a tough driving golf course because it's fairly narrow.  Putting the ball in the fairway is going to be key here this week.  It doesn't matter if it's an easy hole or a tough hole.  If you're in the rough it's going to make it a tough hole, even if you have a wedge in your hand.  You can get some pretty thick lies in the rough.  Yeah, any hole is going to be tough if you're not in the fairway.
Q.  Just wondered if you'd been watching Rory McIlroy's season and his ups and downs, and do you think he's on the way back, and what do you think about his decision to change clubs?
RICKIE FOWLER:  I think he'll be fine.  He's a great player and he's very talented.  I know he had a good finish last week.  Golf is a game of confidence.  When you get on a good roll and get things going, if he gets a few good finishes and gets momentum and confidence back on his side, he'll be fine.  I don't have any worries or doubts about him.  He had a tough year last year, and golf is a tough game.  There's a lot of unanswered questions.  You never know what's going to happen the next day, and it was unfortunate to see him struggle a bit, but probably I'm sure he learned quite a bit from the year, and he's going to be stronger moving forward.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN:  Rickie Fowler, thank you.
 
Nick Watney (USA)
JOEL SCHUCHMANN:  We welcome defending champion Nick Watney here at the CIMB Classic.  Nick, thanks for joining us.  You made your first start of the 2013 14 season last week in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, and here you defend you title.  Different golf course, but I'm sure you have some good memories, maybe some opening comments about returning to defend your title.
NICK WATNEY:  Yeah, I'm definitely very excited to be back.  I have a lot of good memories from last time I was here.  The golf course is in great shape out there.  It's very challenging.  I'm looking forward to getting the week started.
Q.  Can you do a comparison between the two courses?  How did it play today compared to last time?
NICK WATNEY:  Well, I think the main difference, you're right, it's very hilly out there, but I think the main difference would be how narrow the fairways are.  The Mines are pretty generous driving the ball, but here we hit into a lot of 15 yard gaps or maybe even less than that.  It's definitely important to get the ball in the fairway.  The rough is up pretty good, and I think the winner will be a good driver, controlling the ball off the tee in order to give himself the best shot into the green because also the greens are a bit firmer than The Mines.  It's a pretty good test.
Q.  When did you arrive in Malaysia, and is jet lag a problem at the moment?
NICK WATNEY:  We arrived yesterday, landed about noon, I think, noon local time.  I was asleep by 7:00 p.m. and awake at 3:00.  So yeah, I think    yeah, I don't know when I'll get fully adjusted to the time, but it looks like the tee times are slated to be pretty early, so it'll be fine to be waking up early.  You know, it's Wednesday here.  I'm pretty sure it's Tuesday evening back in the States.  It's definitely different, but it's almost so much of a time change that it works out.  So no problem.
Q.  Do you have Chad here this week and have you taken any precautions?
NICK WATNEY:  Yes, he is here, thank you.  Chad is here, and he is well aware of what could happen.  He's taking precautions.  He's drinking tons of water.  I think he said last time what he thought maybe his mistake was not drinking enough when he got off the plane.  He's been drinking a lot of water, feeling good so far, but I'll probably stay on him to stay hydrated and not have another IV session.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN:  Nick Watney, thank you.
Sergio Garcia (Esp)   
JOEL SCHUCHMANN:  We'd like to welcome Sergio Garcia to the interview room here at the CIMB Classic, playing in your first event for the year.  Maybe just some opening comments about the golf course and looking forward to the new season.
SERGIO GARCIA:  Sure.  Yeah, first time playing this event, first time playing this golf course.  We do have a tournament here on the European Tour, but I've never had the pleasure of playing it.  But yeah, the course looks great.  It's in very, very good shape.  The greens, even though it rained quite a bit yesterday, they're still fairly firm today.  The golf course is very nice, the kind of golf course that you can score if you play well, but off the tee it's quite tight, so you're going to have to really hit the ball well to score well.  We'll see how it goes.
Q.  You're the defending champion of Iskandar.  Will you be back next year, and how does the old course compare to the one they're currently playing?
SERGIO GARCIA:  Well, I mean, I think this one is new and the other one has been developing.  I think that they've got similar looks, but it feels like this one is a little bit more up and down.  They're both nice courses to play.  It would be nice to see how they play and perform.  It's unfortunate we didn't get a lot of chances to do it with the storms in the afternoon, but they're both nice courses.
Q.  Will you be back to defend?
SERGIO GARCIA:  Hopefully.  I don't know exactly when the dates are.  I haven't looked at it.  But I always like to defend my titles, and hopefully I'll be able to do it if the schedule permits.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN:  On the PGA TOUR side of things, you just finished the 2013 season, but this week you're kind of starting your 2013 '14 season.  What kind of adjustments do you have to deal with in terms of starting a new season so early and then maybe talk about some goals you have for this coming here, obviously a Ryder Cup year.
SERGIO GARCIA:  Yeah, that's obviously one of the goals this year, making the Ryder Cup team again.  It would be great to defend our Cup.  I don't think there's really many changes you do.  We've had this kind of start at the end of the year on the European Tour before, before we had the Race to Dubai, so we're kind of used to it.  It doesn't really change that much.  You still have to play, play well like you've done throughout the year, and I was fortunate enough to get a little bit of a rest coming into here, coming into this week, so hopefully I'm nice and fresh out there.
Q.  Brief off season, but anything you worked on, or did you just take some time off and put the clubs away and kind of go from there?
SERGIO GARCIA:  Yeah, pretty much put the clubs away was my biggest practice I would say.  I played a lot in the summer.  But yeah, just kind of practiced a little bit, nothing extremely hard, just trying to get ready for the next couple weeks, and hopefully we can get in good rhythm and have two weeks to kind of get caught up.
Q.  With the schedule as it is now, when do you get a chance to have a holiday?  Will you give us an idea how many weeks a year you are playing and working and when do you get a chance to take some time off?
SERGIO GARCIA:  Well, in my particular case, playing both Tours, you don't really    you have three, four weeks off here and there.  I just had four weeks off.  I'm probably going to have another four weeks off after Dubai    sorry, after China.  But unfortunately we don't get like a bigger break than that.
You know, I think that at least it's good enough to kind of disconnect a little bit, but now the seasons are getting longer and longer, and you're kind of on and off all year.
Q.  With them overlapping as well so much, how do you choose between this event and the BMW Masters?
SERGIO GARCIA:  Well, you know, I wanted to get a couple of starts on the PGA TOUR schedule for next season.  You know, it kind of fit in nicely to come here and then obviously play HSBC.  So that was pretty much the reason.  They're both good tournaments, but I felt like I could get a couple nice starts to start playing for the PGA TOUR next year.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN:  Sergio, thanks very much.  Good luck this week.
Nicholas Fung (Mas)
THE MODERATOR:  Nicholas, this is your first time playing the CIMB Classic.  Talk about your thoughts playing in this event.
NICHOLAS FUNG:  Yeah, I'm happy to play with all the PGA pros here, and of course I'm looking forward to playing well here, and of course you want to win, but I don't want to put so much pressure on myself, just want to have fun and hopefully I will finish as low as I can.
THE MODERATOR:  Can you talk a bit about this golf course?  Does it suit your game?
Nicholas Fung of Malaysia Nicholas Fung of Malaysia
NICHOLAS FUNG:  Well, I've played here many times, so I missed like three times here.  I mean, it's a bit hard for me because all the bunker traps every time is trapping me.  But I think this time I will definitely play better than previously here.
Q.  (No microphone.)
NICHOLAS FUNG:  Well, actually I just go out and play and try to finish as low as I can, yeah.
Q.  A lot of top ranked players are here.  Talk about that.
NICHOLAS FUNG:  Of course hopefully I can win this one, and I get two year exemption to play PGA TOUR.  Also if I can win, also first Malaysian to play on PGA TOUR, yeah.  So that's my target.
Q.  You know playing with a few PGA TOUR champions, former No. 1s.  What does it mean to you as a player to be playing in this event?
NICHOLAS FUNG:  It means a lot to me so I can see how the players so I can learn from them.  Of course I wish to play with Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler.  I want to see how he bombs more, how long can pass me, yeah.
Q.  It's been a very good season for you this year.  You've won a couple of local events, you won on the ADT Tour, as well.  What been the key for you so far this year?
NICHOLAS FUNG:  My key for this year, just keep practicing.  I tried to practice more on my short game because my putting was not so good at the moment, yeah, so I tried to change putters, tried to find the best putter for me, but now I think I've got the best putter for me here.
Q.  How many putters have you changed so far?
NICHOLAS FUNG:  Too many.
Q.  Do you have a rough number in mind how many putters you've changed this season?
NICHOLAS FUNG:  Six, seven, around that.  Maybe more than that.
Q.  (No microphone.)
NICHOLAS FUNG:  My motivation?  Just like my father, all of my friends coming down from Sabah come and support me, and I mean, this means a lot to me, you know, because they come all the way from Sabah to come and support me, and of course they want me to play in front of the majors winner in the final round.
Shiv Kapur (Ind)
A little disappointed not to win last week (European Challenge Tour event in China) especially when you bogey the last hole. It kind of leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. But I played four good rounds, I put myself in contention. It was a pressure packed week as I knew I had to get myself up the rankings and I did (he’s 19th on the Challenge Tour. Top-15 get onto European Tour). Coming into this week with some form is always helpful although we have a very, very strong field.
I know the course, so hopefully that will be a slight advantage. It’s playing very different this week to what it does in the Malaysian Open. The greens are much firmer but the lines are always the same and I know what to hit off the tees. This is a course which is not one of those where you can hit driver on every hole. You have to think your way around, especially on the back nine where there are a lot three irons and fairway woods off the tees. Having played here before, you kind of know how to play the holes and that can be an advantage.
It’s good to be playing with the best players in the world. The depth of the field here is strong. Every one of the 78 players here has got a chance of winning. Most other weeks, you can pick a handful of guys who will contend. The whole atmosphere that surrounds the tournament where you have such an elite field is that you’re more up for the challenge, whether it’s for an Open Championship, WGC or an event like this. You’re more eager to perform, the juices and adrenaline are flowing a bit more and I think that’s a good thing.
The reason we play golf is to test yourself against the best players in the world. Although it was briefly, I proved something to myself that at the first day of the British Open, when I play my best, I can play against the best players in the world. Now, the challenge is to get that consistency and doing it over four rounds and on a regular basis. It definitely gave me the confidence that when I’m on top of my game, I can contend and that’s one of the positives that I took out of the week.
I don’t think we’re far behind. I think if we had a PGA Tour on the Asian Tour some seven or 10 years ago, the Asian players may have looked a bit out of their depth. Now, we have a strong bunch of guys that when we play well, we are looked upon as serious contenders and not just there to complete the numbers.
I go into every week trying to win and trying to contend. It’s a stronger field but it doesn’t change any of my goals. I’m going out to play my game and try to give myself a chance of winning.
Ernie Els (RSA)
I love coming and playing in Asia. I thought last week was a good opener. Obviously this week is a stronger field but it’s all about the score you shoot. You may play against whoever but you always need to put on a good score. I’m trying some new shafts in my irons and I’m trying some putters out. But I feel my game is good.
I think Scotty could be a factor. I don’t know how fresh he will be as he’s been playing quite a bit of golf. But he’s really on form. Obviously looking on getting himself maybe on the US Tour or something like that. He’s playing great golf. I’m glad to be playing with him again.
I think a lot of them are getting close. A lot of them are not mentally scared anymore. If I look at guys like Scotty, Thongchai who has been a round for a while, and Anirban Lahiri, he looks like he’s not scared. It takes a while for guys to play against bigger caliber golfers, mentally feel they can play against them. I think there’s a few of them coming through now. It’s wonderful to see a few of the Asians coming through now.
I want to get into contention here and do it next week again. I would really like to have a strong week. I’ve got only two weeks left of the year and then I’ll have a nice holiday. A lot of other work but it’s all good energy.
Siddikur (Ban)
I’m really happy to get into this event. I played well in Taiwan and I’m glad to be back here for the fourth year. It’s a good achievement for me. I’m really excited and looking forward to it.
I’m really happy. I couldn’t think about this. I never thought I would be paired with Bubba and Keegan. I’m looking forward to it. I’ll try to learn something from them, see what they do during play. I’ll try to learn something from them. I’ll certainly want to play well. They are long hitters and I’m a short hitter. So I’ll just keep to my own game and routine.
My game is good. My final day in Macau wasn’t good as I did not do anything on the last day. I’m trying to recall on some good memories and hope that I’ll get back my good form.
I like this course, it’s a placing course. It’s narrow with long rough. If I can play fairways, greens and make some putts, that would be good.
It was good to play with Ernie on Sunday in Macau. I’ve only watched him on TV before and he was exactly the same in real life. I talked a lot to him regarding the game. He’s my idol and he really inspired me.
If I can do something exceptional, it will be good for me. There’s nothing to be afraid of this week, nothing to be scared off. I’ll just go for it.