In 2007, Morgan Pressel became the youngest woman in history to win a major championship, when she claimed the Kraft Nabisco Championship at age 20. The 2005 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion will be playing in her eighth U.S. Women’s Open when it commences July 8 at Oakmont Country Club in Pennsylvania. She spoke to Lynn DeBruin about the uniqueness of playing in a Women’s Open, one of her big passions and whether, at 22, she’s burned out on golf.
What is special to you about playing in the U.S. Women’s Open?
Pressel: It’s our national championship, for one. But there are so many reasons. It’s always on one of the toughest golf courses. It’s always a true test of golf, of patience, of mental skills, endurance. It’s unlike any other tournament.
What are your thoughts on playing at Oakmont?
Pressel: Oakmont is fabulous. I appreciate the opportunity to play there. It’s great for women’s golf to be playing on the same golf course that the men played on. It’s a tough golf course and it’s going to beat some girls up. It’s going to pretty much beat everyone up. Whoever can stay patient the longest [will win]. It’s all about hitting fairways, hitting greens – even more so at Oakmont.
How many times have you played the course?
Pressel: I just played three a few weeks ago, so three times, not a lot.
Did you end up re-naming the Church Pew Bunkers while you were there?
Pressel: I didn’t hit in them. But it is tough. Even more so than the Church Pews, it’s the bunkers on every hole. When you hit in them, you have to hit out sideways. It’s almost an automatic bogey. That’s before you even get on the greens. There will be a lot of course-management decisions.
Is that what scares you the most about Oakmont?
Pressel: There’s nothing that scares me. The greens and the bunkers will be the most difficult. You can’t be scared or you won’t be able to play.
What are your fondest memories of playing in a U.S. Women’s Open?
Pressel: My fondest are probably at Pine Needles in 2001 when I played as a 13 year old (qualified at 12). Those are the greatest memories. It was my first experience in golf. Then you’ve got Cherry Hills where I finished second, and when I played in the final group when Cristie Kerr won [in 2007 at Pine Needles]. That was definitely very exciting, even though I didn’t play very well.
Do you have to gear up differently for an Open?
Pressel: You just have to really be patient. That’s hard to do. It’s always hard to be patient. You get the biggest crowds. It’s the most excitement. A lot goes into it. There are a lot of people who I know personally who come out to watch and want to see me play well. You always try to peak coming into a major. And you want to peak for an Open. It may change the way you play leading up to the Open.
How are you different than when you first burst onto the scene as a 13 year old?
Pressel: I’ve got a lot more experience. I’ve been on tour now for five full years. It’s a wealth of knowledge you learn just from playing. You also learn how to travel, how to pack for five weeks, how to try not to pack three suitcases. I can go with one but other than that I need two.
How did winning a major change life for you?
Pressel: In a lot of ways. It was my first win. For it being a major championship, it’s really unbelievable. It gave me a lot of confidence that I can compete and can play. There are so many intangibles being a major winner. When you have that title, that’s something nobody can take away.
You are just 22. Are you feeling like the grizzled vet out there?
Pressel: Sometimes I do feel like I’m the old lady.
How does a player like you get away from it all and just relax?
Pressel: I recently moved (to a new home in Boca Raton, Fla.), so I’ve been decorating and settling into the house. And I love photography. I’m printing a bunch of photos now to put up all over the house. I also like hanging out with my [younger] sister [Madison], going to the gym. But I do practice a lot when I’m at home. Like every girl, I like getting the nails done.
What type of photography are you passionate about?
Pressel: Whenever I can get a really good shot outdoors, some beautiful landscape. I love landscapes. But I also get frustrated when I can’t capture what you see in the photos. So I try to stay away from it as much as I can. I like people. I photograph a lot of people – family, friends. Whenever anybody has an event and I’m coming, they say, ‘Oh, can you bring your camera?’ I’m the go-to girl.
You started so young in the game. Do you still love golf?
Pressel: I love it. It’s something I’m hoping to be doing for a long time. It’s something I really enjoy doing. It started with my grandfather as a way for us to connect, a way to spend time together.
You used to be a big fan of House and American Idol. Do you still watch those programs?
Pressel: I haven’t watched House or Idol in a while. As time goes on I guess it becomes less important. I love Gossip Girl. I think it’s the greatest thing ever.
Lynn DeBruin is a Colorado-based freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on USGA websites.