Aug. 28, 2002
What are your thoughts on Returning to Tucson as the 2002 U.S. Amateur Champion?
It's been great since I've been back. Everybody has treated me very well. I came back to a student-athlete welcoming barbecue two hours after I got home and Jim Livengood, our athletic director, embarrassed me a little bit when I got here. He introduced me in front of all of the athletes and they gave me a good round of applause. That was nice.
Things are still settling in. I'm just trying to get back in school. It hasn't been the same since (I won). I was just here a week ago and it seems like everything has broken out beyond my belief. I'm trying to get re-acquainted with school and everybody has been really good to me here in Tucson so far.
Of all the perks that go along with winning the Amateur, which are you looking forward to most?
I'm sure it's the Masters. There is nothing like it. The second week of April we always sit in front of the TV and look forward to watching the Masters. I probably watch that from right when it comes on the air until it goes off the air. This year, my roommates are telling me, "you're not going to be here to watch it with us." What better place to be than playing in it?
I'm going to be playing in my first Masters and it just so happens that I am going to be playing with Tiger (Woods). (laughing) I guess that's going to be kind of fun.
Will you be wearing the Arizona gear throughout the Masters?
I'm sure I'll wear a couple of the same outfits. The visor. I've always worn the Arizona visor and it was definitely good luck on Sunday at Oakland Hills. It's my gear and I have to support my college...that's why I'm here.
How tough is it to win the U.S. Amateur?
It's the longest tournament you can play. I told a lot of people that you could play two good rounds and be six shots out of the lead and not even make the cut. Only 64 players make the cut. Once you make the cut, then you're just playing another guy. You could play a great round and be two under, like I was in 2000, and I lost to Hunter Mahan. As long as you are better than that guy on that day, than you move on to the next round. Fortunately, I was able to be better than my opponent for six straight matches.
Did you feel like you were playing your best golf?
I don't think that I had my best game all-around, but my short game was there when I needed it. My long game was really good at some points of the tournament, but when I got in trouble, my short game got me out. I hit two of the best chips that I'll ever hit in my life. I know I'll never forget them. My game was good enough this week and that's what you need it to be.
Having the title of U.S. Amateur champion next to your name finally sunk in?
When we finally got settled in at Oakland Hills after all was said and done, I started to spin the trophy a little bit and look at the names. To know that my name will go up there for 2002 and they can't take it off is unbelievable. It's just unbelievable to see Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods and now it's going to have may name, which you always dream about, but you never think it will happen until they put it up there.
Did it help you a lot to have your brother Andy on the bag?
Definitely. He kept me really calm and relaxed out there. Not only being my brother, he was my only family member there, but having someone on the bag that I may not have known so well might have been a bit different. Having my brother there was extra special...to celebrate with someone like my brother, who I'm very close to, made it very special.
Will you keep him on the bag when you to the big ones like Augusta?
I don't think he'll let me get anyone else for Augusta. He'll definitely be on the bag for the Masters and I'll ask him for every tournament, the U.S. Open and the British Open, if he wants it. It's his loop if he wants it.
UA Head Coach Rick LaRose
What's it like to have a U.S. Amateur champion back for his senior year?
It's great. But Ricky will be Ricky regardless of whether he's the Amateur champion or not. He is a unique person and a special kind of player. I actually picked him to win. He was my pick to win the Amateur and I didn't want to tell him that until it was over. I actually thought he might end up playing (UA junior) Chris Nallen in the finals. That's how good these guys were this year.
We're looking forward to this season. There will be a big target on them right now. Everyone will be looking for the U.S. Amateur champion. I think Ricky will handle it (the attention) better than most people.