Transcript Of Interview With Women's Amateur Champion Amanda Blumenherst
BETH MURRISON: Amanda Blumenherst, congratulations on winning the U.S. Women's Amateur Championship.
Can you tell us about your emotions and how you're feeling right now?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: I'm so excited. Last year was really tough, not winning. And having to kind of not deal with it all year, but getting reminded of it. And so I feel this kind of erases that. And now when people talk to me about the U.S. Am, instead of my condolences, it will be congratulations, you played great. So I'm just thrilled.
It was such a long week of golf, it's kind of like a golf marathon. And you're required to play well every single day. I'm very proud of myself for how I've played and to be able to keep up, not just physically, but also mentally, that kind of endurance and also kind of hold up under the pressure.
Q. Last year you played so well, you just came up short. Obviously Maria played fabulous, too. Did you feel you played better this year?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: I putted better this year. Last year I think I might have even hit the ball better, but I by no means hit it poorly today, but I think I struck the ball a little better last year, but really just the putter wasn't working the last day, especially.
But this year I started off a little slow, but I kind of came back and my confidence in myself and I just started putting a little bit more solid strokes on it and taking little deeper breaths and able to get it done.
Q. The first couple of holes, from what I heard, it was a couple of lip outs. Was there one point early in the round where there was a putt that you made that got your confidence going again?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: I'm trying to think. Probably it was the 4th hole. I had, I mean it wasn't a very long putt, it was probably only four feet. But it started getting kind of the wheels turning, I guess.
Q. Because you putted really well in the afternoon. Did you just start to get a good sense of the greens?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: That's how I had been putting all week. And really the first, definitely the first 18 holes I really didn't have that feel where I was confident. I think I wasn't as relaxed where I just kind of calmed down a little bit and just put a little more solid strokes on it.
Q. Yesterday you talked a lot about patience. How did that play in today when you fell down early?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: It was huge. My golf coach, Dan Brooks, he was saying after yesterday's match, he said that I showed great patience against Erynne [Lee] and that was going to be the key for today, that I just needed to be patient, because I just need to have confidence in my game, and not really try to push anything or try to make things happen, but just keep playing solid, keep making pars and rolling them in to give myself chances for birdies.
Q. Is that an instance where having played the 36 hole match last year helped you, because you knew I started out poorly here, but there's tons of golf left?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: I learned a lot last year in the fact that I might have if I hadn't had last year's experience I might have given up a little bit or tried to force something to happen, where when I made the turn and also it really helped that my first match against Lizette I was 3 down after like five holes and then I was 2 down at the turn, and I was only 1 down at the turn. So I thought, all right, this is not a big deal, I can get it back. And I made a birdie on 10 and it was all square.
BETH MURRISON: Can you talk about the 13th hole this afternoon, which was the 31st hole of the match? You took the lead for the first time after hitting your second shot in, we were standing pretty close and heard you say, "Oh, no." And then you went on to win the hole. Can you talk about that hole a little bit?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: I hit my driver pretty well today. I hit it kind of... I had a few kind of askew. But besides that I hit it solid. That was the only one that had gone right. And I kind of had a funny lie. And I needed to keep it down low enough under the branches and so I hit it and I think the club just kind of shut it. It was a 4-iron, so it was a pretty long club. But I had been over under that tree before. So I knew what to do. And I just knew I had to punch it and that rough was really going to grab it. You could almost hit it as hard as you wanted because the rough was going to grab it. So I punched a 5-iron underneath it and had an opportunity to get up and down.
Q. Erynne had the same shot yesterday, did you learn anything from what she did?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: That was where I was in one of my matches, maybe it was in stroke play, I don't remember. I was definitely under that tree. And definitely Erynne's kind of shot confirmed what I needed to do.
Q. Were you surprised that she went for it in 2 when you were kind of in trouble?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: Huh-uh. Not at all, that's exactly what I would have done. No. I would have been surprised if she would have laid up.
Q. Were you surprised at the bunker shot? Because, obviously, it looked like maybe you were in a little bit of trouble and whatnot. All of a sudden like match play happens sometimes it turned around and you had the lead. Were you surprised at the way the momentum turned at that point?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: Well, Azahara really hadn't made any mistakes, I guess, the entire day. And we both were playing pretty well. And those long bunker shots are tricky. But definitely I could feel the momentum turning.
Q. Would you talk about 5 and 6 in the afternoon? She chips in that 50-footer. And then on 6 you get up-and-down for the birdie and she's got like three or four feet left and she misses it. It seems like that was a real key point in the match?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: I have to agree, because if it had switched, I think she would have been 3‑up instead of 1‑up. So that was a big hole.
I hit a great drive and a great approach shot, so I was kind of not expecting to make birdie, but just how things happen that I was rewarded for going for it, being a little more aggressive. But that was important.
Q. With the tee markers up today, was that a green light for you to say I've got to go for the big drive?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: I always get excited when they move it up, because I knew exactly where I could hit it. I could cut off a huge amount of the corner and only have a 4-iron into it. So I was excited when I saw they were up today.
Q. Your final putt was how long?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: I don't know, maybe like a little over five feet.
Q. And when you're laying it up, are you able to just treat it as a regular putt, or are you thinking this is the winning putt?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: I definitely knew it was the winning putt (laughter). I always kind of roll my eyes when I'm practicing. My dad says, "This is to win the U.S. Am." Kind of practice with a purpose, I guess. When we would be at McCormick Ranch or Greyhawk out in Arizona, my dad would have me have an up-and-down contest with myself. And he'd give me a scenario for each one. Like this is two, go extra holes or this is to win at 2 and 1. So I actually had that going through my mind. I was pretending I'm at McCormick Ranch or Greyhawk and I'm just going to make the putt and then kind of look at him and roll my eyes and be like, "All right, next hole." So when I was over it definitely helped me relax and not put as much pressure on myself and was able to put a good stroke on it.
BETH MURRISON: Did your uncle say anything to you before you struck that putt, other than lining you up, did he say anything to you.
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: Nothing was different than what he said every single hole. What do you think, left center? Inside left edge, kind of thing. I said, "Left center?" He said, "Left center, it's going in." And that was it.
Q. In a golf match each shot is maybe two seconds and then the round is four hours. And there's all thoughts of your next shot and your last shot. Did you ever today have kind of like a Joe Montana moment where on the drive to win the Super Bowl to get the guys in the huddle relaxed he goes, "Hey, look, there's John Candy." Did you ever have a non-golf moment out there today or was it business the whole time?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: It was definitely business most of the time. One of the holes when I asked people to stop walking, I looked over and the only person I saw walking was my brother (laughter). So that kind of made me smile. That was on 11. So that was like. it was the second [time around on] 11. But, yeah.
Q. You mentioned your match with Lizette. Was that your most, I guess, the most worried you were throughout the week, just because you were down 3 down for four holes?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: I was more, I should never be frustrated, because that's kind of negative. But I was getting a little frustrated after the par 3 when I had hit my 7-wood, it fell off the green and I was in the back bunker and the pin was all in the back. And I said, "What am I doing?" And he said, "That's okay. We've got plenty of golf left. Let's get it down." And I had a great up and down out of the trap there.
And thing after that when I made [par] and I was still 3 down, that kind of turned from being worried to kind of taking more proactive approach.
Q. Now that you've closed the deal and won the big one can you maybe let us into how important this really was to you, now that it's over with, how much you really wanted this?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: I wanted this so much. And I mean I think, I would have been crushed if I hadn't won it, especially going to the finals again. This match was huge. Definitely was going to make the trip home a lot easier on my parents. Going into this tournament, I knew this was my last really amateur event and I wanted to play well. I wanted to kind of prove to everyone that I wasn't overrated or that those awards that I had gotten in college weren't kind of a coincidence or something that was given to me. I wanted to show everybody that this is the place I earned. The Nancy Lopez Award, that I earned it, to win that two years in a row. And I felt like this tournament was a way to really show that.
Q. Yesterday when you were asked if you needed to win this tournament to validate your amateur career you said that you were quite confident that this would be the cherry on the sundae and not the sundae. And was that a little bravery or do you think that that approach was what you needed mentally to be able to win today?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: I definitely wasn't going to make this like the cornerstone of my entire amateur career and saying if I hadn't deserved those awards or not. And definitely going into today I knew it wasn't going to be the end of the world if I didn't win it and that it wasn't going to erase everything that I had done. It was just something very nice to have accomplished.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about your play out of the sand on the second 18? You got up and down every time, especially like the one on 4, where I think there was a triple fist pump involved in that one. Would you consider that one of the keys to today's round, the way you played out of the sand getting up and down like that?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: It definitely, I'm trying to actually visualize 4.
Q. When you're back in the back bunker on 4.
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: Yeah. I have always thought of myself as a good sand, bunker player. And especially with this type of rough, it was so thick that I was hoping that they would trickle into the bunkers. And this is exactly the kind of consistency of sand that I like, it wasn't too fluffy or it wasn't really hard, either. And I've always... it's probably one of my favorite parts of practice is just being in the bunker. I'll plug a few shots. For me it's fun. And I actually have quite a bit of practice with par-5s. Usually I'll always try to go for it in two, unless it's crazy. And usually I'm in a bunker.
Q. Winning this as a four-year college player is fairly unusual these days. People might sort of say you're carrying the banner for the college kids. Do you feel that way?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: I definitely think it's an honor, if that's what people say. I really wish that more girls stayed for four years or went to school at all. It's such a wonderful experience to go to college. And some people think that college hurts your golf game. But for me it was exactly the opposite. I got so much better when I went to college and I matured as a person and as a player. I've had a blast doing it, too.
Q. Do you think competing as a student athlete at Duke University where everybody is 4.0 and you're competing against very, very solid students, that that is a key part of your golf game?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: Just like the competition I can see that it definitely helps me focus. And it's nice with group projects, because I know everybody is going to pull their weight. But I really don't try to compete with the kids in class, just because not everyone there are athletes. But it is fun being in class where everybody looks like they enjoy being there.
Q. What did you do last night? Obviously with all that's going on today you knew what was at stake today. How did you stay calm? Did you watch Olympics?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: I actually watched some of the gymnastics. And I got so nervous watching men's gymnastics, I said I have to watch something else. I'm always thinking are they going to hurt themselves or do something? So I kind of had that on mute while I had a book. And my mom and I played cards a little. I've gone to Olive Garden now for the fifth time in a row. Because my dad thinks it good luck health food. So we went to Olive Garden last night. And I just talked on the phone a little bit and just kind of took it easy.
Q. Any calls from [2003 Women's Amateur champioin] Virada [Nirapathpongporn]?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: No, I just talked to my boyfriend for a while, which is nice.
Q. I asked Ms. Munoz about her views on whether the International Olympic Committee should consider having women's golf be made an Olympic sport, and you now being the Amateur Champion, what is your opinion?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: I think it's crazy it's not an Olympic sport. They have so many kind of obscure sports in the Olympics, and I'm sure hurlers are yelling at me right now. I think golf should be in it.
Q. Speaking of reading, your dad says you're a book worm. He said he bought two for you this week?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: I've gotten through like 50 pages of one. But it helps relax me, and it kind of puts my mind somewhere else, I guess. And it's something to think about on the course besides golf. And it's nice having to read something other than school books.
Q. What are you reading?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: I got through the 7th Harry Potter book the second time. And that was such a weight to carry around. So I was glad I was done hauling it. But my sister is actually reading, she has a summer reading program that's pretty intense for the seventh grade, The Secret Life of Bees and On the Beach. And so my mom says I need to help her with that.
Q. Getting back to the match just real quick, you talked about your patience playing a part. How big of a part did that play today given you were not leading for the match as long as you did?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: It was huge. If I had just kind of given up or gotten frustrated, I know it would have been a lot different. Even on the turn, I guess it was 13, when I finally went ahead, did you say it was my 31st hole? So that's a lot of golf to not have ever been ahead. And just I think that's just a testament on how much patience it required.
Q. Does that show you how much you've matured as a player? I know you're like 15 or 16 playing, and you're in a 36 hole match, you might have lost that focus. But being a four-year college player, being what you've been through, does that make a difference?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: I totally think that playing three years of college golf has really helped, especially because I think the U of A tournament last year, we had almost a 7-hour round. And that just requires patience to not lose it. And then also when I finished, Coach came up to me and he said, "You've grown so much as a player it's unbelievable." And he's been able to see it firsthand.
Q. Does it mean more that she played so well and that you beat her and that she didn't give it to you?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: It really did. I feel like I really earned it because she played great. I don't know what we would have shot, I'm sure they have like a score card, but I know we had to have been under par.
Q. 4-under through 35.
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: We definitely weren't giving anything up.
Q. Who was watching the computer, wearing the same clothes?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: It was my uncle's wife. So my Aunt Pam and then her two kids, Brianna and Brandon. And they were definitely part of the Bloomy crew last year. And then also all of my Aunt Beth and Aunt Mamie and all my other cousins, who were doing the same thing.
Q. They were.
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: They were wearing lime and black. But my aunt made sure to say tell your uncle that Bubba, Brandon, Bubba is not wearing a lime green skirt. He'll be happy to know.
Q. I guess you probably could put yourselves in the shoes of Azahara because last year you played so well. You could probably put yourself in the shoes of what Azahara is doing today, she played well and came up short?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: For sure. I know exactly how she's feeling. And it's tough. It is so tough because I know she'll get the, great playing at the a.m., but I'm sorry about the last day. The good thing, though, she never gave up. No one can say, oh, it's too bad about one of the holes, because she played great. She won't have to think about one shot, really. She played good golf.
Q. One bogey?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: Exactly.
Q. I saw you play a lot this week and you were very successful in avoiding the water. When I first interviewed I think it was the round of 16 and I asked for a local angle on Fort Wayne, Indiana, and I don't think it's going to get anywhere else, but do you mind sharing with the national press, here, the hamster.
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: Oh, yeah, when I was little, Sycamore Hills is the golf course I grew up on. To kind of get me really into golf, my parents gave me really fun goals, like hit it past the park bench, you can go pick out a movie tonight. One of them was if you can hit over the lake on 7, which we lived on 7, if you hit it over the lake, you can go get a hamster. So I was out every night, pounding golf balls to get this hamster.
Q. So you credit the hamster for possibly becoming the U.S. Amateur Champion?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: It's a start.
Q. What was the name of the hamster?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: Sandy. I've had five hamsters.
Q. Would you say the past few years have been the most par in your development as a golfer?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: For sure. I was a good junior golfer. I played in the Canon Cups and the Junior Solheim Cups. But I never really felt like I was always in contention, but I never felt like I was really the dominant player.
When I got to college that changed. I just got thought my ball-striking was always good, but I had some development in my short game and putt willing and also just being a little bit more patient.
Q. And what specifically was the result of that? Was it maybe your Coach helping you or is it putting in the time?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: I think it was just putting in the time. I practiced quite a bit when I was younger, but I also went to a very hard high school and then we lived in Indiana for quite a bit of the time, which had the winter season. So I didn't really have the practice kind of schedule that I had at Duke. So being able to play three days a week, which I never did when I was younger, and also practicing with the team and having kind of different drills to do really helped.
Q. Obviously the Women's Am Champion most likely gets picked to the World Team. Have you ever been Australia?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: I've never been to Australia. I'm very excited. One of my college teammates was from Australia. So she was saying, Alison [Whitaker]. She's saying I have to go, it's great. And so, yeah, Australia would be awesome.
Q. You said you were going to turn pro right after Nationals next year, and your plan is to go begging for sponsorships?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: Pretty much, yeah.
Q. That trophy helps a little bit?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: Yes, I'm sure. That definitely will help. But, yeah, no, I'm just going to definitely finish college and go to Nationals and then turn pro.
BETH MURRISON: Do you feel like this win takes a little pressure off you as you head into your senior season, you don't really have anything to prove at this point, do you feel like you can just go and enjoy?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: Definitely. And it's also nice when people, when you get back to school, say you had a great summer, or good job. And I can say, yeah, I did have a good summer (laughter). So it will be fun. It will be a little bit more relaxing, I guess you could say.
BETH MURRISON: Congratulations again.