A Champion's Interview August 28, 2010 By USGA

THE MODERATOR:  It's our pleasure to welcome the 2010 U.S. Amateur Champion, Peter Uihlein.  Does that sound pretty good to you?

PETER UIHLEIN:  It's pretty sweet.  Definitely add my name to that list of trophies.  That list right there is pretty special.

THE MODERATOR:  And coincidentally on the day that you turn 21, how special is that?

PETER UIHLEIN:  Yeah, it's definitely the best birthday present I've ever had in my life.  I'm looking forward to going back home tonight and seeing the boys and hopefully having a good time.

THE MODERATOR:  I don't know if you knew this, for you media folks out there, today happens to also be the birthday of Dave Weineke who is the superintendent here at Chambers Bay who was born 1952, so that's a pretty good meeting of the moons.

PETER UIHLEIN:  That's pretty good.

THE MODERATOR:  You took the advantage early and stayed with it.  Tell us your impressions of the match and how you stayed with it and kept the lead, et cetera?

PETER UIHLEIN:  Yeah, I obviously got off to a good start.  I was a couple up after the first 18.  But I knew even when I was a couple up early, I knew there was a lot of golf left, and I knew he was going to make a run eventually.

When we were 4 up with that back nine left, I knew David was going to do something, and he did.  He kind of messed up on 10, and then he earned that one.  Then on 11, he made a great birdie, made a great birdie in the morning as well.  Honestly, I didn't think he would miss that putt on 12, and I feel like I stole one there.

13, we tied, and then I had an identical putt on 14 that I had in the morning and in the afternoon, and I was able to hit a pretty good stroke on it and it went in.  I hit some good shots coming in.

Q.  David talked about how much better your driving is and that is one of the keys of you becoming a better player.  Compare your game maybe 18 months ago, and was that the main thing that you decided to fix after what you went through? 

PETER UIHLEIN:  Yeah, I mean, I needed to fix it because I was kind of driving it kind of all over the place.  I was still scoring.  I was getting out of trouble pretty well, and the short game was settling.  But in order to play better and score better, I needed to drive the ball a lot better.

I didn't drive it necessarily well in the morning, but I went on the range right before my afternoon match and found something that worked and I felt great.  I really drove the ball well in the afternoon matches.  I just had that one battle on 14, but other than that it was pretty good.

Q.  What did you find?

PETER UIHLEIN:  One of the things I always kind of do is when I get off I kind of rock back to my heels at the start, and I just wanted to stay tall and stay on the balls of my feet the whole swing.  I was just kind of hitting some 8‑irons.  I finally heard that sound when I was doing it, and it was like all right, I've got it.  I went out in the afternoon and just hit it great, so...

Q.  You and David both were pretty imaginative.  How much does this course inspire creativity and shot making, and taking a different route to the flag than you customarily might?

PETER UIHLEIN:  Yeah, you can't really get close to the flags by hitting them at the flag.  You've got to use the slopes and be creative.  You've got to hit every shot with a certain spin and height.  You've really got to control your ball.

David's, obviously, a very creative player with a great short game, and he's got a lot of talent.  So I knew he was going to have a tough test today.  I thought that hole-ou on 8 was pretty cool.  That was pretty sweet.  That's the way you want to win the hole.  You want to earn it, and he made me earn it, so that was sweet.  But, yes, the golf course is fabulous, and it's difficult.

Q.  You've been an exceptional player for a long time.  Any part of you feel like this was long overdue?  Any part of you feel like or ever wonder if this moment was ever going to come?

PETER UIHLEIN:  No, it's just one of those things you've got to keep trying to get better, keep trying to work hard.  Hopefully, it will just all click.  Chambers I felt set up great for my game, and I got lucky in a couple of my matches.

But that's match play.  You've got to get lucky.  You've got to try to catch somebody on a down day when you have a down day.  You've just got to keep working at it and keep trying to get better, and this just happened to be my week.

Q.  Lot of guys a little older than you kind of came up in the not‑work‑it kind of era what made you decide when you were growing up to have a wider array of shots?

PETER UIHLEIN:  I've never really been somebody who likes to hit it straight.  That's just never been my forte, I guess.  Last year in Stillwater, if there was a straight hole everybody kind of gave me crap saying you're going to struggle on this hole if it went straight.  If it was left to right or right to left I like to work it in.  It looks good for some reason to me.

I think you have to be creative and hit certain shots, I think it's fun.  I think it's the way the game, you know, that's the way I enjoy playing the game.

Q.  How much times do you plan on fitting trips to Augusta into your schedule between now and April?

PETER UIHLEIN:  I have no idea.  I haven't even thought about it.  We'll see.

Q.  How big of a hole is 18?  You had some momentum winning the 17th, and having the 2‑up lead going into the break, was that a big deal?

PETER UIHLEIN:  Yeah, it was a pretty perfect chip.  I hit it absolutely perfect.  I clipped it nice, hit the spot.  After he hit such a good shot on 17, I didn't think that pin was accessible and he stuffed it in there. 

To take one on 18, get the momentum going back into that second afternoon was definitely big.

Q.  He makes the birdie on 10 and 11, cuts your lead down to 2 up, he's been doing that this week coming back, he's been doing that this summer.  Internally, what were you thinking, and did you have to do anything different?  Did you expect it?  I'm just curious how you mentally kind of went through that and tried to handle that?

PETER UIHLEIN:  Grounding into the 10th hole in the afternoon, I just wanted to kind of keep telling myself that he was three down after nine against Benny [An in the semifinals] and came back and won.

So I just wanted to be like, all right, just don't get ahead of yourself.  He's going to make a run.  You know he's going to, just be ready for it.  Obviously with 10, and he made a great birdie on 11.

I felt like when he messed up on 12, that was big because I felt like 13, 14 kind of played more into my hands.  I was able to win 14, and 15's a pretty good par‑3.  16 was a good drive for a par‑4.

I felt like when he messed up on 12, I felt like I was just playing my game the rest of the way up.

Q.  You clearly enjoyed the distance advantage.  Do you think that was a very significant advantage on this course?

PETER UIHLEIN:  Absolutely.  I think there were four holes that were 500‑plus, I think, or something like that.  7700 yards is not a walk in the park by any means.  It's long.  You've got to hit it long.  It's wide.  It's definitely generous off the tee.  Definitely the length held.

Coming in with shorter irons and stepping the balls on the green was a big advantage.

Q.  As you're kind of nearing the end it's getting close, but he's coming back, what are you telling yourself on 14, 15, 16?

PETER UIHLEIN:  Just kind of stick to my game plan.  Just try to execute the shots.  Coach Brown was great.  He tried to settle me down and make sure I was ready to hit the shot, not jump ahead or anything.

When we were on 16 green he helped distract me from what was going on.  I stayed in the moment, because he holed one out on me already, so I figured he was going to do it again.

Q.  Any specific words of wisdom from Alan [Bratton]?

PETER UIHLEIN:  No, he was just talking about how he came up with his kids names, so that was kind of nice.  It was definitely kept my mind off of things and kept everything loose.

Q.  Talk for a second overall about your impressions of David's game and how much his game as come along?

PETER UIHLEIN:  David's a great player.  I mean, he proved that winning the Porter Cup, winning the Western.  He's always had such a great match play record.  I think he was runner‑up in the Junior and then followed up by semifinalist in the Junior.  Now he's runner up here.

I mean, the kid's an unbelievable match play player, and winning the Western which is a match play event.  He's got such a good game.  He's not weak in any aspect.  He hits it pretty far for his size, too.  He's quite the player and he's got a bright future.

Q.  Was this an intense match, a fun match?  Were there times when it got serious that there were enough light‑hearted moments around the golf course like the third coming at you on the green and you tripping over his bag and seeing the hole out.  Did it keep it fun, loose?

PETER UIHLEIN:  Yeah.  Me and David go a long, long way back.  So it definitely was fun.  We had a good time out there.  It never really got intense or edgy or uptight or anything.  We were both pretty relaxed and pretty loose.

You know, he's a friend.  We're going to Argentina together [for the World Amateur Team Championship] so that will be fun.  Definitely it was a good match.  The good get on 12 was pretty sweet.  You don't really see that too much in the finals of the U.S. Amateur.

Q.  First drink of choice on your 21st birthday?

PETER UIHLEIN:  I've never had any alcohol before, so I don't know what you're talking about.

Q.  Sometimes it's a surprise some guys can come through a bracket and get hot and win.  Should it be any surprise that two of the top amateurs in the entire world were in the final here?

PETER UIHLEIN:  I think just the way Chambers was set up and how difficult it was, I think it exposed a lot of players weaknesses.  You know, it's just one of those courses that is just so difficult that you really need every shot.  You need every shot around the green off the tee.

So I think it's just, you know, one of those surviving courses, and you know, it just so happens that I happened to be asked, too.  I was pretty fortunate to get through some of my matches.  It was a good finals.

Q.  What are the names of Alan's kids?

PETER UIHLEIN:  Mason and Gunnar.  And Mason I liked because that was where his parents were originally from, I believe, Mason.  Mason, Texas.  So I liked that, that was pretty cool.

Q.  When was that?

PETER UIHLEIN:  16th green.  Second 16.  I was watching Sean.  He was telling me about it.

Q.  You shared a pretty special moment there with your father and your mom on 16 green.  Do you mind just describing what that moment was like and what was said?

PETER UIHLEIN:  Yeah, obviously it's pretty special having them there.  They're so supportive.  I would have liked to have my brother.  My brother's in school, so he wasn't able to make it.

But having those two guys there.  I know how much they've sacrificed for me to get where I am, and having them there is pretty special.  They were crying, so I just kind of said this is pretty cool.  They just hugged and said happy birthday.  It was pretty special.

Q.  How are you going to juggle your schedule for 2011 now to fit in all the things that you're going to be invited to play?

PETER UIHLEIN:  Yeah, I'm going to have to sit down and take a look at it.  Obviously, OSU and the team is top priority.  So we'll have to take a look at it.

Q.  Your reaction to being able to play in the US Open and the British Open?

PETER UIHLEIN:  I've never been to any of them, so it would be pretty cool just to see the guys that you see on TV.  It would be pretty surreal.

I've never been to Augusta, and I wanted to earn my trip, and I did.  So that will be pretty special.  Yeah, I don't know.  It will be pretty awesome.

Q.  How about the place where you're going to keep the trophy?  Have you decided yet?

PETER UIHLEIN:  Yeah, I think I'd like to keep it at Karsten Creek (OSU's home course).  Without those boys out there and the team, and the coaches and the coaching staff, they helped me through a lot.  When I struggled, they were there for me.  All the guys out there helped me earn this, so I definitely want to keep it out there with them.

Q.  You've been installed as the early favorite for the 2015 U.S. Open.  Pretty determined to be back here for that?

PETER UIHLEIN:  I hope so.  Yeah, that would be the plan.  Hopefully I'll be back.

THE MODERATOR:  Happy birthday.  Congratulations, well done.

            PETER UIHLEIN:  Thank you, appreciate it.