Jordan Russell Interview August 25, 2011 By USGA

MODERATOR:  Okay.  We'd like to welcome the first of our semifinalists to the media center, Jordan Russell of College Station, Texas, a 2 & 1 winner over the 2010 U.S. Amateur champion, Peter Uihlein.  And just so you know, folks, for the record, this is going to be transcribed and you'll get the record, but if you have a question, please wait for Christina, and she will hand you the wireless microphone and we'll have the questions and the answers transcribed for you.  Jordan, when you won 2 and 1, we talked a little bit ‑‑ first of all, congratulations. 

            JORDAN RUSSELL:  Thank you.  Thanks. 

            THE MODERATOR:  And secondly, we talked to Peter after the match, and he said you're the most underrated player in college golf.  So obviously you probably expected to win, so folks who don't watch amateur golf a lot always think of the people that they know, and you're a good college player and you managed to defeat the defending champion.  So if you could quickly tell us a little bit about why that happened, why you won, and maybe if there was something along the way in the match that was the key and critical part of the match for you.  

            JORDAN RUSSELL:  All right.  I mean we started out, we both got off to a good start with a birdie on 1 and I kind of stuffed it on 2 and missed it.  And then after that started making a few birdies and won the hole with par.  So I kind of got the momentum early.  

            He kind of swung it right around the turn, which has happened a couple times in my matches, but I think I made probably a 60‑footer on 13, so that kind of flipped it right there and then I made birdie on the next hole.  So I'd say those were pretty big. 

            THE MODERATOR:  React to Peter's comment about you being the most underrated player in college golf. 

            JORDAN RUSSELL:  Oh.  Yeah.  That's pretty cool, I guess, that he thinks that.  I feel like I am, I mean, maybe a little underrated, but I mean I kind of like it that way sometimes.  You know, haven't won a lot, but I've finished in the Top 5 a whole lot the last two years, so I guess that probably puts me at a little underrated. 

            THE MODERATOR:  Does that help you manage to accomplish things by kind of flying under the radar?  

            JORDAN RUSSELL:  I don't worry about it too much.  It just kind of happens, I guess.  But no, I don't think it helps me.  Doesn't hurt, but I have my own motivation that kind of keeps me going.  So it's fine either way.  

            THE MODERATOR:  Okay.  Questions?  


            Q.  Can you just talk about your mindset a little bit coming off after Peter birdied ‑‑ or you lost 12, and you came back with two straight birdies.  Just talk about your mindset there.  The defending champion kind of squares things up, and you came back.  

            JORDAN RUSSELL:  Yeah.  I mean I knew it was going to be tough going in, especially when I was two up.  You know, you're just expecting Peter to hit great shots.  And so when he got it back to all square, I wasn't surprised at all.  

            Obviously he's really good, and I just kept trying to keep fighting.  Obviously I kind of stole one on 13, and then 14 is one you really expect to birdie, so a little fortunate that he hit a great shot in there and missed.  But other than that, I stuffed it on 16 and missed it.  So I knew I didn't want to give him another opportunity.  And lucky enough to par close it out on 17. 


            Q.  Talk about the success you and your fellow Texans are having.  You got three in the quarters and you're through.  Kelly Kraft is five up.  Talk about the success your Texas guys are having.  

            JORDAN RUSSELL:  Yeah.  I don't know.  I guess the two SMU guys are playing pretty well.  I would say it's the wind, but we all play in the same type of conditions all the time it seems like in college.  We play in a lot of wind and bad weather, which we've had across the week, but I don't know, maybe it's just the hard, firm, fast style of golf that we're playing.  


            Q.  Jordan, you were a walk on at Texas A & M.  Last season you're Second Team All American.  You're sitting here now and going to be playing in the semifinals of the U.S. Amateur.  How did that all come about?  What did you do to get to this point when in a sense you couldn't even get on to the Texas A & M team other than as a walk on? 

            JORDAN RUSSELL:  Yeah.  My freshman year when I red shirted I wasn't even close, but I got to practice with a lot of good guys.  A lot of them are playing pro golf now and having a great deal of success.  So I would say I was pretty lucky that Coach Higgins gave me a spot on the team and I took the most of it. 


            Q.  Was there anything specific that you really worked on, Jordan, to get your success going? 

            JORDAN RUSSELL:  Kind of.  I mean I made it a goal.  I kind of talked with coach and I made it a goal to practice with a different guy on the team kind of every day.  So I really tried to do that and just learn a little bit from everybody and see what I like about their games and try to develop it into my own.  


            Q.  Is it easier having to play the defending champion as someone who knows him, has played against him? 

            JORDAN RUSSELL:  Yeah.  I would say so.  I would say we're pretty good friends.  We've played a lot together the past year, and it definitely made it a lot easier.  He's a great guy, so you know, we were talking, chitchatting, having fun with it.  You know, big crowds.  It was great.  So it was a lot of fun.  


            Q.  You talk about stuffing it a couple times and missing some putts you probably thought you should have made.  How tough is it knowing that you're playing one of the best players in the world and you can't give away opportunities like that? 

            JORDAN RUSSELL:  It was pretty tough.  You know, I stuffed it in on 2, and he missed the green and then he had a great up‑and‑down; and I missed about a 5‑footer, same as the putt on 16.  And yeah, you can't give him holes like that.  I mean if you have an opportunity, you gotta take advantage of it.  So I was kicking myself a little bit, but in the end, good up‑and‑down on 17 kind of saved it.  


            Q.  You're an American college player, Jordan, so Match Play is kind of like another world for you.  How much Match Play experience do you have? 

            JORDAN RUSSELL:  Not good, I'll tell you that.  We play in the Callaway Match Play, and I think I have like one win in that, but I think that a tough golf course helps me out.  You know, it kind of evens the playing field a little bit.  You gotta work a lot of shots into these greens with the tucked pins, and it's not just a birdie fest out there.  


            Q.  You talk about what you've learned from your teammates and former teammates.  What did you learn as far as the mental side that has really helped you, especially in Match Play? 

            JORDAN RUSSELL:  I guess I just learned that I can kind of tough it out in hard times.  I mean I've been down a few times this week and managed to come back and pull them out both times.  So I guess just from, you know, qualifying in tough times in college, and you know, you're busy and the weather is bad or whatever, so you just fight through it.  It just kind of gave me a fighting mentality, I guess.  


            Q.  Well, you've won some matches and you kind of teased the course how it suits you.  Can you talk about that in detail what you think of the course and the setup here? 

            JORDAN RUSSELL:  Yeah.  Absolutely.  You know, I would say the yardage is long.  The course doesn't play to its full yardage, I wouldn't think.  Which I don't hit it that far, so that helps me out a little bit.  And you just gotta chart where to miss it around the greens, and I feel like I did a pretty good job preparing in the practice round for stroke play, and then each day you get to see a little more and more about where to miss a certain pin, where you can get up‑and‑down, because it's up the hill, or even if you're short sided but back into the wind it helps out, too.  So just be smart.  I've been taking notes every day just trying to figure out the course, but overall I think the course is great, Blue Mound and Erin Hills.  It's a great place to host a Match Play event, that's for sure.  


            Q.  You were a walk on.  Can you talk about your high school golf and how good you were then and why you didn't quite get a lot of looks maybe from some big schools? 

            JORDAN RUSSELL:  I mean I was okay.  I would consider myself pretty decent, but I didn't win a whole lot, kind of like in college.  I wasn't as consistent, but I got to play against guys like Kelly Kraft who's made it, John Peterson, those guys in high school, and you just kind of get to measure your game against those guys, and obviously I had a lot of catching up to do, but just getting to play against them every day helped me out.  


            Q.  Are you from college station?  Did you grow up there? 

            JORDAN RUSSELL:  Yes.  My dad's a professor at A & M, so I've been there my whole life.  He's been there for about 33 years or so. 


            Q.  What subject does he teach? 

            JORDAN RUSSELL:  Chemistry.  

            THE MODERATOR:  Any more questions for Jordan?  Jordan, congratulations.  Good luck tomorrow.  Thanks for your time.  

            JORDAN RUSSELL:  Thanks a lot.