What They Said

Tue 26 Mar 2013

What They Said

Y.E. Yang (Kor)
Welcome to the inaugural Chiangmai Golf Classic presented by PTT. Give us your initial thoughts about being back on the Asian Tour?
It’s the middle of the season for me and I had initial doubts about coming over right before the Masters but Alpine was kind enough to invite me over for the inaugural event and IMG has a role in this. It’s my first time in Chiangmai although I’ve been to Thailand a few times before but it’s my first time coming up north. My initial impression is that the government, sponsors and everyone have been very nice. It’s feels like the end of the season right now because I’m in Asia right now. It’s very rare I’m here in Asia at this time of the year. I’m a bit excited right now about this tournament.
How has your form been this year?
It’s definitely better than last year. Last year was terrible. It’s only so much that can get worse after last year. It can only go up and it’s a gradual improvement for me. It’s not great but at the same time, it’s not too terrible but I’m going in the right direction. It’s really good to be here in Chiangmai as just because I’m Asian, the whole culture, people, heritage and food, it just makes you feel comfortable. I’m in a familiar environment. It’s an added sense of security and I hope that with that kind of comfortable feel, hopefully after playing a good week, I would have built some confidence and momentum going into the Masters in two weeks’ time.
What were the problems last season with the game and what have you done to rectify those issues?
Last year was more psychological than physical. Technique wise, swing wise and form wise, it wasn’t that bad. I just put too much pressure on myself. The winless run added a lot pressure on me on every tournament I participated and as the year went by, the pressure mounted more and more. I think that was the biggest issue. This year, I’m more relaxed mentally and physically. It’s translated to a better start than last year. I actually on going in the right direction. My form and psychology is improving tournament by tournament. Hopefully I can get back to the state where I can get my confidence high.
What make Koreans different from other Asian players as you’ve had a lot of success on the PGA Tour and LPGA Tour?
There are multiple reasons why Koreans are flourishing in the US. You can’t pinpoint one definite reasons. I think one of the reasons is that you’ve had trailblazers setting a certain standard that the younger players have a benchmark to pursues, a certain bar to achieve. That makes the target of your practising and hardship that you go through tangible. With that, you want to be as good or better than KJ Choi or Se-ri Pak. Players have something to look forward to. It’s not just I wanted to get better but have a goal of getting on to the US Tour, get into the top-10, top-3 and win. There’s a road map for players. Because of that, it’s easier for players to set goals. There’s a lot more competition amongst the players and everyone is bettering themselves to overcome each other. This translates into more confidence, posture and readiness in the game.
Did you get any help to cope with the pressure?
I didn’t seek any professional help with regards to the mental game. Same thing with the swing as I don’t really need someone to come up and tell me what to do. I think I am my best teacher both physically and mentally. But I had help from friends and family. I’m a devout Buddhist and I believe in the circle of how life fluctuates. People have told me to wait for my fortune to come back. It comes naturally to you just as it did in 2009. I did have to go back into my memory and sort of remember the hardship that I went through between 2006 when I won the HSBC Champions and 2008 when I first got onto the PGA Tour. Between that period, I was in Europe and I was in a major slump and didn’t play well. I looked into that period to try to find some courage and some inspiration on how I overcame that, how I overcame the 2008 PGA Tour season and had to return to Qschool that year and had a great year in 2009. Sometimes you have to go back into your past experience. Sometimes you have some time to figure out what happened in the past. You look at the low point of your career and I now look back at 2012 and it was a low point in my career. I tried too hard to make my own destiny. Sometimes it comes naturally. Right now, that’s what I’m doing. I’m practising and training as hard as I can. The rest of it, the winning, the good fortune, the money, that all comes afterwards. I’m just waiting for my chance and opportunity.
With the Masters around the corner, is Augusta National a course which you feel you can win out there and is there a need for you to win a second Major?
It is certainly winnable. Apart from the other three majors, Augusta National does not have tough rough and not as long as other Majors. I’ve had a good run at the US Open where I have finished third (in 2011). I have not done well in the British Open because of the weather and the length of the course which is not up to my form. I’ve won the PGA Championship. I have come up on the leaderboard at the Masters a few times. I have confidence going into the Majors but with Augusta National, it’s different. You play the same course every year and you have a feel of the whole layout and tournament. If you can get used to the green speed which is horrendous for the players, I feel it’s the better Major for the Asians to excel. It’s not too long but overall, it’s fairly straight forward. If you can get used to the green speed, it’s really anybody’s game. I don’t know how many more Masters I’ll play in, but within my strength and ability, I’m going to try to go for another win and hopefully it will be the Masters will be my second Major. I do think that with repetitive practice and competition, I think it does make the odds in my favour. I think Augusta National is winnable. I won’t say I can win it but it is winnable.

Thongchai Jaidee (Thai)

Talk about the importance of having a new Asian Tour tournament in Chiangmai.
I think it is very good to be here. Chiangmai is one of the most favourite places in my country. There are a lot of tourists here. If you come here between November to January, the best is the weather. They have a lot of festivals, the flower festival and a lot of campers come out here to the temples. This is the first Asian Tour tournament in Chiangmai and I’m very proud of it. I want to thank all the sponsors for bringing a tournament here. A lot of Thai people are very excited to see a new tournament here. Golf will get the people excited here. There will be strong players here like Ernie Els and it will be good for the tournament in Chiangmai. I played here in 1995 SEA Games. The course is totally different, it has been renovated. New grass, new greens, everything is new now. A lot of people are very excited about this. The course is fantastic and the condition is very good.
How is your game feeling?
Except for putting in the last few weeks, which I didn’t putt too well in India. Last week, it was hard because of the weather. You start and stop, hang around the clubhouse and you can’t get any momentum going. If you play well, the stops will make it difficult for you in your mind. With the tournament being reduced to three days, it makes it harder.
How happy were you to see Kiradech winning?
He’s my favourite amongst the new generation of Thai players. I have played with him quite often, played the World Cup with him. He’s got everything except for experience. He needs more experience for the future. Winning last week will help him a lot. I think he will be a star player in the future.
How good can he become?
He’s very young. I said last week in an interview that he will be very good. I’m not surprised he won it. Winning for my country, I’m very proud to see a young player win a co-sanctioned tournament. I think Kiradech will be the future. He needs to plan his career and know what he wants to do. Looks like it will be easy for him to win the Order of Merit now. I think he will have a good chance to win if he keeps playing like this. This week will also be a very good chance for him. It’s good to see the new generation coming through on the Asian Tour. Golf has improved because of the new technology, coaching.
This is the final week for qualifying for the Masters and only a win will get you into the top-50 in the world to qualify for it. Is it at the back of your mind?
It’s my dream and if I win, then I will qualify. Will try my best. I want to play well this week, there’s a good chance. If not, then no problem. I hit some balls at the range today and yesterday, the feeling is there. Last week was tough as the course was not easy. If you hit good shots, sometimes, the fairway is not flat and you have a tough angle.
Good to have Ernie, YE and Michael playing this week?
It’s very good for our country. I want to thank all sponsors for bringing this big tournament to Thailand. There are strong star players which is good for my country to see the top players. This event will also be live on tv which goes out to over 200 countries which is good for Thailand. I’m very proud of this tournament.

Anirban Lahiri (Ind)
[caption id="attachment_2595" align="alignleft" width="260"]Anirban Lahiri Anirban Lahiri
It is a fantastic golf course. I didn’t know what to expect but this is probably one of the best courses that we play all year. It is hot but it is nice hot here! I’m really enjoying myself here. It is always nice to come back to Thailand. I’ve always enjoyed a little bit of success here. I’m really excited being here. It is a great golf course.
The golf course is in great shape and I’ve been talking to some of the Thai boys and they said that they haven’t even played here before. It is surprising because it is such a good track. I think we should make this an annual stop. I think everyone is excited to be playing here. It is in fantastic condition and the design is really good as well.
It is a great field and it is nice to have some of these top guys playing with us. We had a few strong weeks. We are all up for it and looking forward to rubbing shoulders and beating these guys.
My game has been a little bit on and off. Last week I hit it great but I couldn’t score very well. I was disappointed not to play on Sunday but that’s golf. Coming into this week, I played a few holes and I’m hitting it good. These greens are a little bit more to my liking compared to last week. I’m excited and comfortable with my game.

Michael Campbell (Nzl)
Q. Your thoughts playing this week?
Yeah, I think it is pretty exciting for everyone this week including sponsors, players and the fans. I think we have a good field this week.
Q. Can you talk about the challenge this week?
We have a lot of top ranked players this week. Ernie Els is here and he will be the hot favourite this week. He won his fourth Major last year so he is in good form. I think there are a bunch of good and young Asian guys. You can’t forget Thongchai (Jaidee), who is obviously a local favourite as well. It is going to be tough.
Q. How’s the form shaping up?
My form has been up-and-down again. I had the chance to win the Portugal Masters and Hong Kong Open last year. I had solid weeks in Qatar and Abu Dhabi. I missed a couple of cuts after that but it is no big deal. That’s the way that I play and the way golf is. Hopefully this week will turn things around for me.
Q. What’s your goal this week?
My goal is to enjoy myself. I love the food in Thailand, it is one of my favourite cuisines. I want to enjoy the week and don’t want to expect too much. The weather will be pretty warm so it is going to be pretty tough.
[caption id="attachment_2596" align="alignright" width="260"]Michael Campbell Michael Campbell
Q. What do you think about the weather?
The heat will make it a lot harder for the players. You got to be fit and strong and most of these guys are pretty fit and strong. Obviously you need to rest a lot.
Q. What do you think about the Asian Tour?
I’ve always enjoy playing in Asia. I try coming here for about two or three times a year. I like the Asian feel. I think it is a good grinding place for all these guys coming through. I think the Asian Tour has grown from strength to strength over the last five or 10 years. I’ve been playing in Asia since I was an amateur so it has been a long time. I’m very familiar with the culture. It is nice to be back and playing again.
Q. What’s been holding your game back?
The last six months has been unusual. I had chances to win tournaments. I don’t know really. That’s the way I’m. The way I’m wired. I’m used to it (inconsistency). I think the more I try to fix it, the worst I get. I just want to think about the next day and hopefully things will go my way.
Q. Have you had days where you just don’t want to practice?
Sometimes you do get all sort of things in your mind. So there are days where I do not want to practice. I have nothing to prove and nothing to lose. My career in the last 23 years has been pretty good. I can’t complain. I’m fortunate to be playing the game and I can still compete. I’m not looking at it in a negative way. It is all positive for me.