An Interview With Alison Whitaker
RHONDA GLENN: That was a very brave shot you hit to the green on the 18th hole, standing back there in that situation and there's all that water; what was your thought process?
ALISON WHITAKER: It's one of those holes that you can really birdie if you hit a good putt. I had a feeling she was going to roll hers in. So I thought, oh, instead of waiting for her to do it, I'll go and do it myself and put some pressure on.
RHONDA GLENN: How about the second shot? That shot took a lot of nerve to go for that flagstick with the water so close. What were you thinking about?
ALISON WHITAKER: Just still being aggressive. I've been aggressive on a lot of the holes with the water there, and it's paid off so far. I was really, yeah, just again trying to make something happen and seeing if I could kind of force the play rather than sitting and taking a back seat and let someone else go and do their thing.
Q. Your match was a lot of pars and not a lot of birdies, has that been fairly typical or have you played matches that have had a lot of birdies and things this week?
ALISON WHITAKER: It's generally been a lot of pars. I don't really feel like I've been playing my best golf out there on the course. And I think it's just been a matter of I've been birdieing the holes where my opponents have been parring and I've been parring the ones they have been bogeying. And it's just linked up quite nicely in that happen respect. It's not a course where birdies come easy.
Yeah, a lot of the time you've got to hole a lot of good putts to actually kind of even look like making pars and things like that. So, yeah, hitting greens and fairways, I think pars kind of come along with that usually.
Q. Match play is kind of a crap-shoot because some of the matches on the other side of the draw, you've had people 4- , 5- , 6-under par and people shooting 67 and losing. Other matches, you shoot around par and you're okay.
ALISON WHITAKER: Yeah, it's been one of those things. I'm a big believer in match play, do you what you have to do to win, and you don't really worry about how many under you are.
I think if you work out what you have to do to win the hole, then, you know, you generally are looking quite steady for the match.
Yeah, it certainly has not been an extremely low week for me, but, you know, I'm sitting here going into the semis, so I can't really complain at all.
RHONDA GLENN: In 1995, another Australian had success and was runner-up to Kelli Kuehne, Anne-Marie Knight; do you know her?
ALISON WHITAKER: Know of her, but don't know her personally. She kind of left when I started getting into it because I was still too young to play in the big tournaments really.
RHONDA GLENN: Very good player, tall like you and blonde, hit's it a long way.
ALISON WHITAKER: It's a good mix.
RHONDA GLENN: What are you studying in school?
ALISON WHITAKER: I'm doing a Bachelor of Applied Sciences, majoring in exercise and sports science. So that kind of keeps me busy when I'm back home which is good. Just a fallback thing, really, if golf doesn't work out. But golf is my passion so, I prefer it to go that way.
RHONDA GLENN: Is that a real tattoo?
ALISON WHITAKER: No, my mom would kill me. (Laughter). I've got another one on my leg.
RHONDA GLENN: Do you have more?
ALISON WHITAKER: Yeah I've been syphoning them off each day, making sure my teammate, Kristie, didn't put too many on her cheeks and things like that. It's made for some interesting tan marks, that's for sure. I think I'll have to move it tomorrow or I'll look like a patchwork quilt.
Q. When Nick Flanagan won a few years ago, he got a lot of messages from some big players, I think Greg Norman wrote him a letter or text-messaged him. Have you heard from anybody well-known back in Australian?
ALISON WHITAKER: Depends if you call my mom well known. (Laughter).
I've had a surprising amount of support from back home. I had to turn my phone off this morning because I was just, you know, getting inundated with messages, which is a great thing to have. I've had a lot of support from teammates and also coaching staff at the VIS, which is the Institute I'm in back home. Yeah, it's really supportive and they are so happy for me.
Q. Stuart Appleby, Robert Allenby, Adam Scott, anybody who has won on Tour, any players have given you a call?
ALISON WHITAKER: I don't know. I'm still waiting for Adam Scott to call me. I gave him my number. (Laughter).
Q. Have you met him?
ALISON WHITAKER: No, I haven't. But I couldn't complain if I did. (Laughing).
Q. How close are you now to becoming professional? Do you still have more school left?
ALISON WHITAKER: I've still got a fair way to go. I'm not really looking at turning pro even in the next year or two years. I really want to get my degree out of the way first and have that secured, and then I'll kind of make the decision after that. Probably two or three years of still being an amateur. Yeah.
Q. Have you come to the U.S. before and played in the summer at all, or is this the first time?
ALISON WHITAKER: I came over for five weeks two weeks ago, so I went home for two weeks prior to this tournament. I came over for five weeks and played a few tournaments around the States, and, yeah, it was pretty good fun.
Q. Have you done that prior?
ALISON WHITAKER: No. This is the first kind of stint I've had over here.
Q. What made you decide to go ahead and do that this year?
ALISON WHITAKER: A lot of support, again, from back home at the Institute. They are very, very encouraging of people going and playing against the best, even if you're not at that level at the time. Just going and seeing what you can learn, really. Learn like course strategies and practice strategies that we might not yet have heard of back home, so it's really just -- I'm a sponge this week, just trying to soak up all the information.
Q. You said you played for five weeks went back home and then came back over?
ALISON WHITAKER: Yeah.
Q. Is there a particular reason why you went back and came back?
ALISON WHITAKER: I had two tournaments to play back home. And also, we have something in Australia that you don't have over here, and that's -- we have an Interstate Series which is where all of the States play off against each other. Our State Team was actually selected when I was back, and that's something that I really enjoy doing because golf, being an individual sport and me being a social person, it's not often that I get to play with friends, and I want them to win as well as yourself.
I was lucky enough to captain the side last year and, yeah, we just a really great group of girls. That's why I wanted to go home.
Q. Victoria plays New South Wales?
ALISON WHITAKER: Queensland, Western Australia. It's an awesome experience.
RHONDA GLENN: What do you like best about this country.
ALISON WHITAKER: This country? Probably the people, actually. Everyone's like -- in Australia, you get a lot of kind of sarcastic people a lot of the time. But over here, if anything, it tends to be too nice rather than too mean.
So it runs kinds of -- I've been so surprised how much support I've had this week from people that that I don't even know, and I'm not from this country and being away from home, it's just been an excellent experience. It's really nice to have that support there.
Q. Got to be the accent; right?
ALISON WHITAKER: I'm surprised you guys can understand me.
RHONDA GLENN: What do you not like about this country?
ALISON WHITAKER: I would say the food, actually. Hopefully I won't hurt too many peoples' feelings. I just find it's harder to eat well over here, because there's a lot of kind of, what we call like junk food on hand. So I've found it, unless I'm staying with a family, it's really hard to eat healthy.
We have a nutritionist back at the Institute and she gives us a meal plan, and I've been finding it hard to stick to that over here. When we Australians come over here, they generally kind of gain a bit of weight because of that. But luckily I haven't, so I still fit into my clothes which it great.
Q. What's your diet?
ALISON WHITAKER: Just carbohydrates really and protein. I don't eat a lot of sugary foods. Yeah, it's really just kind of all about sustenance.
Q. No McDonald's and all that kind of stuff?
ALISON WHITAKER: In moderation.
RHONDA GLENN: What year of school are you?
ALISON WHITAKER: I'm doing second year.
RHONDA GLENN: And you're going to stay for four years?
ALISON WHITAKER: Yeah, for another two at least.
Q. Did you feel like you were playing well enough to get as far as you've gotten coming into the week?
ALISON WHITAKER: Prior to this tournament, no. But when I got here and saw the course and kind of ‑‑ I took a real liking to it because we don't have a lot of courses like in this Australia.
So I think the fact that I kind of enjoyed playing it, I was able to shoot better scores because I wasn't looking at the holes and kind of having negative thoughts about them. So I was looking forward to each shot into the green.
Q. What kind of results have you had in the tournaments you've played in the States so far?
ALISON WHITAKER: Pretty mediocre, actually. I played well in the qualifying tournament.
RHONDA GLENN: She was fourth sectional qualifier.
ALISON WHITAKER: Yeah, generally it's really been more of a learning curve rather than anything else. I wasn't expecting a lot of results from the trip.
Yeah, again with this week it was one of those things where we play a lot of match play back in Australia, so, you know, I've had a lot of practice in it and I was just trying to get through there and I know as well as anything, as well as anyone, that the 64th qualifier, it's just as likely as, you know, half the field to win this tournament.
Q. What have you played in this summer?
ALISON WHITAKER: I played in the Colorado State Open, which is a pro event, and then I played in the Western Amateur in West Lafayette, and then went to Chicago to qualify for this tournament and then went to the Colorado stroke play back in Denver.
Q. What was your tie to Colorado? Why Colorado?
ALISON WHITAKER: Just fitted in with the schedule. It was one of those, it's so hard to organize trips when you can't really speak to people over here and get an accurate idea of what you can play in. Because a lot of people, you have to be a citizen in the state or something like that. But we found a way around that because we actually joined a club in Colorado, so we were able to play in those tournaments, which was a great idea. We couldn't have done it without the help of the USGA ladies.
Q. Who joined the club?
ALISON WHITAKER: Christie and Karen who is another girl that came over and myself all joined a golf club over there, I think just out of Denver. It was just like a conditional membership, but it allowed us to play in those other events which was really good fun.
Q. What club was it?
ALISON WHITAKER: I joined Mira Vista.
Q. Public golf course?
ALISON WHITAKER: I think so.
Q. Karen played in the Public Links; right?
ALISON WHITAKER: She did.
Q. So the one match you had of interest was the one where you were 4 down early the back nine, and I think you won the last six holes and she kind of gave you some -- with that kind of match play, you consider yourself fortunate to be here given what could have happened to you in that match?
ALISON WHITAKER: Yes and no. Because it's quite -- it's really hard to shoot good scores when your opponent is kind of falling around, falling down around you.
So I was fortunate that I guess that Ryann (O'Toole) started, you know, she hit some shots that she not hit all day. She was so soul slid on the first 11 holes and I got a lot of luck in those last few holes. It wasn't all good playing. Yeah, a few good putts dropped and that kind of thing. Sometimes it's the difference between winning and losing is her putt. And in my case on the 12th hole, I hit it into the trees and it bounced out on to the green and I won into hole, and then the next five. So it was really just a case of, yeah, I think I just kind of soaked up all her luck as well.
Q. Is that for good luck on the hat there, Royal Melbourne?
ALISON WHITAKER: I actually live on the back of Royal Melbourne and I was coached by Bruce Green, the coach there for four years before I got in the Institute. He coached me for four years. Yeah, it's just a bit of home away from home.
Q. How long have you been at the Institute?
ALISON WHITAKER: This is the end of my second year.
Q. And are you aware of the big names in amateur golf over here or did you just come over here totally blind?
ALISON WHITAKER: I knew a few. I knew a few, but that was because I went and researched what was going on just to have an idea really. But I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing, knowing the person you're playing against was on a national team this year or something like that. So, yeah, either way you have to play well enough to win.
So, I've kind of got a grasp of the high hierarchy over here as I have been playing. So, yeah, it's been a bit of a surprise to finding out who was on the national team, the Solheim Cup team and things like that. It's fine just as long as they tell me after I've played them. That's all right.
RHONDA GLENN: Allison, thank you so much for being with us and we wish you luck tomorrow.
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U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship
TICKETS – Admission and parking for all seven days of the championship are free of charge.
WHO CAN PLAY? – The U.S. Women’s Amateur is open to female amateurs who have USGA Handicap Indexes not exceeding 5.4. Entries closed June 15.
DEFENDING CHAMPION – Jane Park, 18, or Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., will defend the title she won in 2004.
THE FIELD – The 2005 field will include seven Georgia players. They are Laura Coble of Augusta, Jackie Beers of Bonaire, Alina Lee of Evans, Kyu Ri Ban of Duluth, Dori Carter of Valdosta, Diana Ramage of Fayetteville and Margaret Shirley of Roswell.
TELEVISION COVERAGE – Match-play rounds will be telecast on The Golf Channel Aug. 3-7 from 4-6 p.m., EDT.
OTHER PROMINENT PAST CHAMPIONS – Patty Berg, 1938; Betty Jameson, 1939, 1940; Babe Didrickson Zaharias, 1946; Louise Suggs, 1947; Beth Daniel, 1975, 1977; Juli Simpson (Inkster), 1980, 1981, 1982; Pat Hurst, 1990; Kelli Kuehne, 1995, 1996; Grace Park, 1998; Dorothy Delasin, 1999.
CHAMPIONSHIP COURSE CONDITIONS – The following mowing heights will be used for the championship: fairways 1/2"; tees 7/16"; collars 1/4". Putting greens will be prepared so that they are firm and fast; to measure approximately 11 feet on the USGA Stimpmeter. Intermediate rough: 1", width approximately 72" along fairways, width approximately 30" wide around putting greens. Primary rough: 2 1/4".
FUTURE WOMEN’S AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIP SITES – The 2006 U. S. Women’s Amateur will be conducted at Pumpkin Ridge G.C., North Plains, Ore., Aug. 7 – 13.
MEDIA CONTACT – The Media Center for the U.S. Women’s Amateur will be located in the main clubhouse at Ansley Golf Club. Rhonda Glenn and Beth Murrison will be the USGA staff members on site. The Media Center phone numbers are (678)639-7488 and (678)639-7494.