April 17, 2003
Describe the whole Masters experience:
"It was just amazing-the whole week, the Masters and everything that goes along with it. It's an experience that you dream about your whole life and once you get there and see it before your eyes, it's just incredible-going out there and playing in front of crowds 5, 6 or 10 deep when you're playing with Tiger (Woods) and just appreciating the holes out there that you usually see on TV every year in the second week of April."
Was it as good as you thought it would be?
"And more. You appreciate everything on TV and you picture the voices calling the shots on TV but when you get out there and compete and play on the golf course and putt on the greens and just look at the holes when you're behind them, it was a great time. Fortunately, we were able to stay on the top of the clubhouse in the Crow's Nest, which makes the accommodations that much easier for us. But as an amateur, you get treated no better anywhere than you do at the Masters. Everybody appreciates you there. Fortunately, I was able to get some of the fans behind me going into the weekend and it just made it that much better of an experience"
With it being your first appearance, did your lack of course knowledge hurt you at all?
"No, I don't think so. I played it pretty well the whole week, there were maybe a few misreads. It's kind of self-explanatory out there. You watched it for so many years that you know where not to hit it or where to miss it. You just expect it, you go out there and play your own game. But as a whole, course knowledge, I don't think it affected me at all. I was able to get four or five practice rounds in, which you need on that course. You think one putt is going to break this way and it ends up breaking the other way. You're able to roll balls (in the practice round), all your practice is done in the practice round anyway. If I would have gone out there and not played a practice round, I would have probably had my head backwards. But all the greens out there break one way and you learn about that in the practice round. I think we (his caddie, brother Andy) did a pretty good job throughout the whole week."
Did you know where you stood when you made the turn at 2-under par on Saturday?
"There's a leaderboard out there, on the front nine there's a couple you can see. I wasn't going through the leaderboard and picking apart, 'OK, he's in first and I'm in second' or that kind of thing. It was just kind of like, 'Oh, there I am. I'm still on the leaderboard.' They have your name up there and they have about 11 or 12 guys up there and they just keep on showing what you're doing with a hole-by-hole thing. That's just really cool. After the first round, you go 1-under or 2-under and they hear about it so then they'll throw your name up there. You see your scores and you're like, 'Oh, I made the leaderboard!' Through the first three rounds, my name was up there every time with every hole. And people are able to see what you're doing every hole. After every hole, they know what you're doing. I think that was kind of cool. I wasn't really worried about where I was placed; I was just enjoying myself and seeing my name up there."
Your initial goal was to make the cut. What you were thinking when you made the turn at 2-under par Saturday and in contention for the lead?
"That's when I got disappointed-after that. I hit a bad tee shot on No. 11 and it caught the tree, not the best of breaks. I had to play for par at best, which is not very good. The only downside to this whole week was probably my play on the back nine on Saturday and Sunday. That was the main disappointment in my game throughout the whole week. I still didn't let too much get to me out there. I was pleased with the way I handled myself. I didn't really get too upset. I think that was pretty much the whole experience of being at the Masters and knowing where I was and appreciating the fans. They were still so supportive of me and that just gets you going and the adrenaline pumping. It makes it a lot easier on yourself to play out there."
Did you hit it any longer because of the adrenaline?
"No, I think I'm always around that distance. But it's just mainly enjoying yourself out there, keeping the smile on your face. After making a bogey, you usually get a little heated. But when you still got people saying 'Come on Ricky!' or something, you can laugh a little."
Tell us about your practice rounds.
"I played with Vijay Singh and Arnold Palmer. It was a great time. Vijay is a pretty soft-spoken guy. He's a Masters champ so you have to appreciate that. Then I was able to play with Charles Howell and Phil Mickelson on another day. That was a fun and laid back experience. Phil is still kind of a young kid, at heart, and Charles is really young. He was just playing with us in college a couple years ago. They're both really long off the tee. All my practice rounds I played with some pretty long guys. Phil is not short, Charles is not short and Vijay is not short. Then I went into the first round and Angel Cabrera is one of the longest guys out there along with Tiger. It wasn't like I was blowing it by anybody out there. I was definitely with them, but it wasn't like you went out there and started blowing it by guys."
Describe the experience and camaraderie of playing with Tiger Woods.
"He's a nice guy and a great playing partner. I appreciated it. I had been looking forward to it with all the build up. We talked a bunch. We waited quite often because we had to play so many holes in one day (Friday). There was a lot of waiting going on because of threesomes. We had a lot of quick conversations, sitting on the tee boxes and coming off the greens. He's a Pac-10 boy and so am I. He's from California. We just had little chit-chat. We had a fun time out there-definitely I did."
How was it playing with Arnold Palmer?
"He was good. Arnie's Arnie. He's still got it, he's the biggest crowd-pleaser they've ever seen and he seems to do it year in and year out, a tournament here and a tournament there. I appreciated playing with him and watching him go to work and pleasing the crowd. I was fortunate actually to have lunch with him as well."
How was playing the par-3 contest?
"Awesome. It's something you've got to play. There's not a whole lot that you hit more than nine-iron. It was cold, so it was playing as long as it's ever going to play. You step up and the first hole is 120 yards. The next hole is 70 yards. All the crowd is out there. You go from the golf course and the practice round at about 1:30, everybody starts walking over there. You've got everybody every there. I played with a pretty young group of Tim Clark and Sergio Garcia. Timmy Clark had known my brother and his caddie, Gary Matthews, went here (1993-97). And I had known Sergio because of (his sister and current UA golfer) Mar. I was even-par and made two birdies. I bogeyed the first hole and the last hole."
Describe the awards ceremony in Butler Cabin.
"It was cool being in there with the previous champion and then Mike Weir as well. I was pretty fortunate as well."
What did you learn from this that will help you later on in your career?
"It's just the experience of playing with those big guys. Some people said, 'What's next?' It's just that the next time, hopefully, I play with Tiger, I won't get caught up and so anxious to play with him. I've played with him before and competed with him and my game was good the last time I played with him. I think it'll make me a lot more relaxed when I go out to compete with these guys in the future. I've played two tournaments this year and my worst finish is 21st-in a major. There are a lot of guys out there who are top-20 in the nation who shot worse than I did. It was reassuring, definitely, that I can play with those guys and that I can get a lot of good rounds out there with the No. 1 player in the world and everyone else."
What is next?
"Get back to college. I'm looking forward to getting back with my teammates and getting back out there. I've got three tournaments left in my college career and there's nothing more I'd want than a Pac-10 championship and, most of all, a national championship. Nothing would top this year better than winning a national championship. That's definitely the focus now."