What They Said

Wed 27 Mar 2013

What They Said

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Ernie Els (Rsa)
Welcome back to Thailand. Must be nice to come back here after nearly 10 years?
I’m glad to be back. Haven’t been back for 10 years (2004 Johnnie Walker Classic). Got the call to come to Chiangmai and I’ve never been up north to Thailand. I’ve only been up to Bangkok and Phuket, new territory for me to see what Chiangmai is like and I’m happy to play in the inaugural Chiangmai Golf Classic. Happy to be here and hope to have a good week.You’ve just come out from the Pro-am. How did you find the golf course?
I think it’s a strong golf course. I think it’s a second shot course. You have to get the ball in play although the fairways narrow at a certain length about 300 yards. You have to play safe, get it on the fairway and take your chances from there. Some of the greens have big slopes and you have to be very careful. Scoring should be good.
Happy with 2013? How has the game felt?
It’s been slow. You know, I haven’t had good results but I’m practising quite a lot. Need some rounds under my belt and get some good scores going. I’ve played enough of mediocre golf so I’m looking forward to some good golf. It’ll be nice to start here. I’ve got a week off before the US Masters, so it’s a nice week to be here.
How’s the injury?
It’s better. Struggled quite a bit in Doral but don’t know what happened. I was totally stuck with my right hip. I couldn’t really turn onto my back swing. It was really bad in Miami, pulled out of Tampa. Played at Orlando which I obviously didn’t play well but it felt a lot better. I’m looking forward to swinging at full strength.
Any jetlag coming over here?
You’ve got a bit of jetlag but I’ve been doing this a long time. I’ve got a formulae that I follow. Hope that it works again this week. Sleep when you can, drink a lot of water and eat well. The Thai food is good, I like the Thai food which is good. Just be ready when I need to be ready.
Important to get in four good rounds to prepare for the Masters?
Exactly. I could have played in the US this week but I got the call from Chiangmai Classic people and I thought I would come here. I’ve always liked playing around the world. I feel Asia is a wonderful place where the game is still really growing a lot. I met the guy (Ye Jian-feng) today who was 11 years old when we opened our course at Mission Hills and now he’s 21 or 22 and he’s playing on the Asian Tour. This guy could be going places also. There are a lot of good players coming from out of here. There are a lot of good players here. The pressure is a little bit different, playing this tournament than the Shell tournament and I felt it would be opportunity to get my game in good shape to get ready for the Masters.
Key to this week?
Get the ball in play and go for the flags. Get into good position. If you hit your irons well here, you can score. Some of the greens are tricky. You have to watch out in getting the ball in the wrong side of the hole. I feel scoring can be good. You can reach some of the par fives in two shots and when guys do that you can put in a score.
Is the Masters going to be a big priority for you as you’ve come close a few times?
I think I used to put so much pressure on myself going into the Masters. And this year, I just want to enjoy it a bit more. My daughter (Samantha) will be 14 and the last time she carried for me in the par three, she was only five or six. She wants to caddy for me there. I’ll play the Par three on the Wednesday afternoon and enjoy the occasion a bit more. I used to really try to win the tournament. I want to enjoy it and hopefully have my game there which I will have. I’ll have next week to practice. I’m really looking forward to the Masters, especially missing it last year.

Have you been guilty in putting too much pressure on yourself in past Masters?
Especially there. My record in the Majors is quite good. But at the Masters, it hasn’t been good in the last 10 years. I finished second in ‘04 and 2000. After ‘04, something mentally happened. I haven’t played well since ‘04 when Phil Mickelson made that putt. A bit of mixed emotions since then but after missing it last year and going back this year, it feels like a new beginning this year. I could play the next four or five of them and I want to try to enjoy it a bit more.
With Tiger Woods back at world number one, will the Masters be more competitive?
Tiger’s done unbelievable. I’m really happy for him, to come back from where he was and do what he has done. It gives a lot of us hope. It shows you what hardwork and dedication can do. I’m pleased for him as he’s come through a tough time. He will be by far the number one contender at the Masters, the favourite. It’s good for the game to see Tiger back. A lot of youngsters have a chance to win there but I think Tiger will be the favourite.
What putter will you be using this week?
I’ll be using the short putter for the first time in a long time. Even if won here this week, I will use the belly putter at the Masters simply because the greens are so quick over there. But after the Masters, I’ll try to use the short putter more regularly from now onwards.
Angelo Que (Phi)
It’s been not bad. I’ve played three events this year and made three cuts. Finished fourth in the first one. So far so good. Still trying to find four good rounds for the whole week where I will be in contention again.
Every time you have new equipment, you always have to make it match your golf swing and your style especially me with the low lofts and stiff shafts and flat lies. So it’s pretty hard for me. I’ve found some that I can work with on the golf course but I’m still looking for one which I don’t to think about and just set up and hit the ball.
My irons and putting have been really saving me a lot. So that has been good. Last week in Malaysia was good. I made the cut but didn’t shoot over par for the week. Still, under par at the weekend would have been nice. It was better than not playing at all in the weekend. You always expect the weather to be bad in Malaysia and Singapore. But I got lucky as I teed off at the 10th hole once, first hole once and the other one on the third hole. I just suffered once and the rest was just like walking to the tee box in the morning or afternoon.
It’s nice to have a new event this week. It’s a nice place. Golf course is nice although it’s a bit far from what we’re used to. It’s nice to always get a new event on the Asian Tour. The golf course is a good test, long holes and short holes, it’ll be a good test for us. The greens will be tough for everyone. Tee to green, I think everyone will be pretty much even.
Good to have YE Yang, Thongchai Jaidee and Ernie Els with us this week. Their names will give a better name for the event. Good to see how we fare against them and we’ll also get our world ranking points up this week. It’ll be good to have a chance to test ourselves against them.
Hopefully I can finish in the top-five. It’ll be nice to get in a good result before I go home for our home event in the Philippines.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha)
Q. Thoughts on the week?
I’m very happy to have a new Asian Tour event in Chiangmai. It is a big Asian Tour event and I’m very proud to be playing here.
Q. Has the win settled down yet?
This win has settled down a bit for me. This is a new week for me. Everything is the same for me. I’m still practising and doing my routine.
Q. What do you think about the golf course?
The golf course is very nice. This course suits long hitters. It will be very important to putt well this week. The green looks smooth but there are many breaks.
Q. What was the best congratulatory message you received?
After I made the winning putt on 18th (Maybank Malaysian Open) and Prom Meesawat came over to give me a hug. I think that’s one of the best memories from last week.
Q. Do you think the young Thai golfers will benefit from this week?
We have a very strong field this week and it will give the chance to the younger generation of Thai golfers to learn something from them. It is not easy to play with Major champions like Ernie Els and Y.E. Yang. This will let them see how these top guys play and think.
Q. Happy with your form?
I’m still enjoying a very good form since the start of the year. This golf course suits my game as well. I was struggling for two years. I’ve kept my Asian Tour card but I didn’t win. I think I’ve been thinking too much in the last two years and that made me struggle. I always think there’s something wrong with my swing but now everything is good for me.
Q. Can you talk a bit about your thyroid condition?
My thyroid disease has improved by 70% but I can’t say when it will fully recover. I have to consult with a doctor. I still have medication so it is not bad. I’ll wait about four months to see if I need to go for operation. I get tired very easy. I have to maintain my energy.
Q. Do you still practice as much now?
After my round I need to rest as much as I can. I practice, but not as much as before anymore. When it gets too hot, sometimes I can feel my hands and legs shaking.
Q. What would be a good result for you?
I’ll try to finish high. Maybe I can win two weeks in a row as well.

Arnond Vongvanij (Tha)
Q. Thoughts on the week?
I’m very excited with this event because it is in my home country. This golf course is in impeccable shape and the greens are rolling true. This is a nice very. I think everything is coming together very nicely.
Q. You like the course?
The course has really good greens which I like. It might be playing a little bit soft on the fairways so it might play a little bit longer. Everything else on the course is perfect.
Q. How’s the game shaping up?
My game is getting to where I want it. I’ve been fighting with my wrist injury for a little bit. It has been stiff and bothering me now and then. This week I went to see the physiotherapist and they did some treatment on it. It feels great today.
Q. How has your year been?
I wish I could have gotten off to a better start. I had a top-10 finish in Myanmar and missed the cut at the Avantha Masters in India. I didn’t play well at the Maybank Malaysian Open. I’ve been putting a little bit of pressure on myself to do well after winning last year. Good thing I figured that out early. I’m going to relax and try to have fun now. I think my game should get better.
Q. How’s the course?
The golf course is in good shape but there are a lot of undulations on the greens. You need to putt really well. It is a little bit tricky on the greens. It will all come down on the putting.
Q. Happy to see Kiradech win?
Kiradech and I know each other for a long time. I’m happy to see him win and battle it out with the world superstars is amazing. It shows all of us that if he can do it so can we. It is nice to see someone lead the way. We will try and follow him.
Q. How’s the back?
My back is fully healed now. I went back to the United States for a month to treat it, rest and practice. My back is completely healed now. I’ve been practising a lot during the break. In Thailand, you hit it off the mats so maybe that’s what caused my injury to my wrist.
Q. Why do you think you are playing badly?
I think I’m putting too much pressure on myself to do well. Last year I was a rookie so I just wanted to have fun and enjoy life on Tour. I think I’m going to try and do that. I want to play golf and have fun with it.
Q. Did someone tell you that you were feeling too tense?
My caddy actually told me after my round that I was more tense than usual. Then I took a moment to think about it and I look back at how I played and I noticed that I didn’t really enjoy as much as I would normally do. When you are too tensed, you don’t really perform.
Q. Does this course suit your game?
The length of this golf course is not to my advantage but the greens are. It is fast and it is warm here. There’s an advantage and a bit of a disadvantage for me this week.