Kelly Kraft Interview August 25, 2011 By USGA


            THE MODERATOR:  We welcome another semifinalist, Kelly Kraft, from Denton, Texas, our fourth semifinalist, 6 and 4 winner over Patrick Rodgers.  That's pretty good playing.  

            KELLY KRAFT:  Thank you. 

            THE MODERATOR:  Congratulations.  What was the reason for the large margin of victory?  And then it probably wasn't easy, but tell us what you did well to earn that victory.  

            KELLY KRAFT:  I just putted great.  You know, I hit good shots, and then, you know, made putts when I needed to.  I didn't miss very many putts out there, especially makeable ones, and a lot of the birdie putts that he had, he had a couple ‑‑ you know, he hit it inside me a couple times, and I made it before him.  And so I just ‑‑ I got it in the hole quicker. 

            THE MODERATOR:  You decided you were going to finish the match early because the first match today was so long?  Was that the ‑‑ 

            KELLY KRAFT:  Basically.  (Laughs).  No.  You know, I felt fine out there.  I wasn't that tired, so it was all right. 

            THE MODERATOR:  Questions for Kelly.  


            Q.  What's with the Chicago Bulls shirt? 

            KELLY KRAFT:  Oh, I don't know.  I mean I know a guy that works for the Bulls, and so he's ‑‑ you know, he gave me a shirt, and I figured I'd wear it because I'm kind of close to Chicago.  I told him I would. 


            Q.  Do you wear it often? 

            KELLY KRAFT:  No.  It's the first time I've worn it. 


            Q.  Are you kind of trying to endear yourself to the locals kind of, Midwest? 

            KELLY KRAFT:  Yeah.  I guess so.  You could say that. 


            Q.  It must have been exhausting, the first round match, and you know, it took you 23 holes.  Weren't you tired at all or were you just, you know ‑‑ no problem with fatigue? 

            KELLY KRAFT:  No.  I mean I went ‑‑ right after I got done I went and ate a pulled pork sandwich, and I had a couple of bars during the first round, so I was feeling all right.  

            And then I had another couple energy bars coming down the stretch, and just hydrated.  I wasn't that tired, though.  I feel like I kept the same pace the whole day.  I'm a little tired now, though. 


            Q.  Did you know things were going your way when you birdied 9?  There haven't been many 2s at 9 this week.  

            KELLY KRAFT:  Yeah.  Yeah.  That was a nice putt there to fall right before ‑‑ he hit it inside of me there, and I just ‑‑ I thought if I could make that one, then, you know, it would be tough for him to make his right on top.  So it was probably 30 feet.  Yeah, probably 30 feet.  


            Q.  How far was his putt? 

            KELLY KRAFT:  15.  


            Q.  Kelly, is there something specific this week that's been going right that really has been helping you get through these matches? 

            KELLY KRAFT:  Yeah.  My putting, definitely.  I've putted good the whole week.  I haven't missed any short putts at all.  Just really ‑‑ just feel really good over my putts.  My speed's been really good.  You know, when I hit it real far away from the hole, I lag it up there pretty good.  So I mean a lot of my putts are good after a bad approach shot.  


            Q.  Is that characteristic for your game?  

            KELLY KRAFT:  Yeah.  Usually putting is my strength. 


            Q.  Just getting back to the long match you had, was it in some way maybe a bit of an advantage just to be able to go back out again?  You know, you're sort of warmed up; you don't have a lot of time to think about what you have to do.  Patrick had been sitting around for a while.  Maybe keep some momentum per se? 

            KELLY KRAFT:  Yeah.  I didn't have to warm up again.  That's for sure.  I was already quite loose.  So we ‑‑ you know, I just ‑‑ I basically just kept playing.  I didn't have to worry about going through a practice routine or anything before I played.  It was just, you know, just ready to hit my next shot. 


            Q.  Just general thoughts about getting this far in the U.S. Amateur now? 

            KELLY KRAFT:  This is great.  I mean this is ‑‑ I've only played in one other U. S. Am.  I've been playing good all summer, and I was coming here to win.  So I feel like I'm right where I'm supposed to be. 


            Q.  Can you talk about the success you and your fellow Texans are having?  Max goes to SMU.  You have three Texas natives in the quarters, two in the semifinals.  Is there something about you Texans that are allowing you to succeed at this course or anything like that? 

            KELLY KRAFT:  We play in the wind quite a bit, and the wind hasn't been horrible here.  And right now the courses back in Texas are really hard, so we're used to playing hard courses, real firm courses.  I don't know.  I think it's great that there's some Texans in the matches tomorrow. 


            Q.  Can you compare how the course has played for Match Play than stroke play?  It's been firmer, especially the greens, and what that kind of brings out in the course? 

            KELLY KRAFT:  What's that?  Sorry.  


            Q.  Can you compare how the course is playing for Match Play compared to stroke play?  The greens especially are a lot firmer and what that kind of brings out on the course? 

            KELLY KRAFT:  Yeah, you definitely have to play for that first bounce.  In stroke play they were ‑‑ you could spin some shots back, but now with ‑‑ you know, but you didn't really have to play for any extra distance with your longer clubs whenever they landed on the greens.  But now I think that you gotta play it 20 or 30 feet short of the flag if you have a 5‑iron.  You can't land it right on the hole because it's not going to stop.  You're going to be 30 or 40 feet past the hole.  So you definitely gotta play for that. 


            Q.  Like even with like a wedge from the fairway, 9‑iron, how far are those releasing into that wind? 

            KELLY KRAFT:  They'll bounce probably 10 ‑‑ they'll probably bounce 15 feet before they check.  They'll check hard at the end.  You know, they're not spinning back at all.  But I mean I hit a couple like gap wedges that I kind of bounced in there, landed them 30 feet short and they spun right close to the hole, so.  


            Q.  Your opponent tomorrow, Jack Senior, hasn't played in America much, so you probably don't know much about him.  Does that change your preparation or anything or do you go into these matches kind of blind when you have an opponent that you know? 

            KELLY KRAFT:  I just go in, I don't think much about the opponent.  I just go in and try to play the best I can, try to make putts.  


            Q.  You mentioned that you've always been a pretty strong putter.  What has really improved for you this summer?  What part of your game has really kind of lifted you up? 

            KELLY KRAFT:  I think my misses have gotten better.  I've been working with my swing coach a lot, Pat O'Brien out of Dallas and we've really just kind of freed up my game to where I can go out and just play and hit it hard.  

            And my misses are a lot better than they have been in the past.  And when you get a few other ‑‑ you know, you start making a lot of putts, then you start shooting good scores. 


Q.  How about your Match Play experience, Kelly?  How much Match Play have you played in? 

KELLY KRAFT:  I've played in a little bit.  I played North South last summer.  I lost in the finals there.  But I mean so I mean I've had some Match Play experience.  Not a whole lot, but I played in that North South a couple times, but that's really about it.  

THE MODERATOR:  Anybody else for Kelly?  Okay, Kelly.  Congratulations.  Thanks for joining us.  Good luck tomorrow.