An Interview With: Birdie Kim
RHONDA GLENN: Ladies and gentlemen, we have with us Birdie Kim and her translator Jin Sung Moon.
Birdie, first of all, congratulations, what a wonderful victory for you. Did you have any idea when the week began that you would be the champion?
BIRDIE KIM: I never think about to win. I just try to do my best.
RHONDA GLENN: How do you feel now that this belongs to you? The second person from Korea to ever win the Women's U.S. Open.
BIRDIE KIM: Really happy and I am just like -- I am really proud I am following Se Ri Pak's, what she achieved. I am stepping up to her, I really look up to her. We're like sisters and I am really happy to win.
RHONDA GLENN: Are you friends with Se Ri Pak?
BIRDIE KIM: Yeah.
RHONDA GLENN: How are you friends? Do you see each other play golf together?
BIRDIE KIM: I met her like eight years ago when I was young, like middle school student and at that time she was very big player in Korea, so me, just follow her always, watching her, always try to keep close, play like her.
Q. Can you just first of all, go over why you changed your name last year?
BIRDIE KIM: Now LPGA has a lot of last name is Kim. Everybody cannot remember their first name. Also I want to make special with a name for golf, that's why I make Birdie.
Q. Why not Eagle?
BIRDIE KIM: Eagle sounds like boy.
Q. I think you talked about how you won on the Futures Tour. What is the largest paycheck you have ever taken home?
BIRDIE KIM: You mean at the Futures?
Q. Anywhere. Any paycheck.
BIRDIE KIM: It was in Chick-fil-A this year I finished top 7. That was my best finish before today.
RHONDA GLENN: How much money did you make?
BIRDIE KIM: 36,000.
RHONDA GLENN: Are you aware of how much money you won today?
BIRDIE KIM: I don't know.
RHONDA GLENN: It over a half million dollars.
BIRDIE KIM: Woo.
RHONDA GLENN: What do you think about that?
BIRDIE KIM: Well, I don't know. I am not really follow the money, so I just really happy for to win the tournament. I don't think about the money.
Q. Can you just describe the bunker shot on 18, what was going through your mind before you hit it, and as the ball came out and was kind of headed toward the hole?
BIRDIE KIM: Before I hit I thought Michelle Wie, I saw her landing and her roll, so I catch -- green is not that fast, not that hard and more I have confidence to make close to the pin and after hit really I didn't see the roll. Maybe get close, but it's very big -- maybe really close, I just run up, was go in (laughs).
Q. Secondly, do you know much about golf history? Have you ever heard of Bob Tway?
BIRDIE KIM: I heard about the name. He's old guy, right? (Laughter).
Q. Do you know what he's famous for, Bob Tway?
BIRDIE KIM: No, I just hear about the name. Really I don't remember his face.
Q. He made a bunker shot on the last hole to win PGA?
BIRDIE KIM: He's not that tall, right?
Q. Do you have family here with you today?
BIRDIE KIM: Actually my younger sister follow me and my parents live in Korea.
Q. Have you called them to tell --
BIRDIE KIM: I didn't talk yet. I didn't have time to talk.
Q. How do you plan to celebrate your win?
BIRDIE KIM: Tonight? I don't know. Maybe I go dinner with my good friends, that's all.
Q. What was going through your mind those last few holes, about trying to balance between being aggressive, but not making a mistake, so that you can hang on and win?
BIRDIE KIM: Really I didn't try to attack the ball. I just want to save because this course is very hard. If I miss the fairway, it's going to be not easy to make par.
I missed a driver, hole No. 14 was -- hole No. 14 I make bogey, that's why I can't make birdie last hole.
RHONDA GLENN: Was that the turning point?
BIRDIE KIM: Actually it was out-of-bounds and I hit the fence and it coming in.
Q. How have you improved so much this year from last?
BIRDIE KIM: Actually I change teacher start of year and that was make me confused and everything going down, I cannot play, also I can't hit it and I just go back to my old teacher and was, time to practice, that's why, that time was maybe strong and to play.
Q. Your statistics as far as your sand saves are not very impressive. You are ranked fairly low. How do you describe yourself as a sand player in general?
BIRDIE KIM: Actually I am not a real good bunker player. Also I change my sand wedge about two weeks ago. That club is not used yet to me. So I have a lot of miss this week with bunker shot. Finally I make it (laughs).
Q. Birdie, did it help you to play with Michelle Wie in that you guys could speak to each other in Korean? Did it make you more comfortable?
BIRDIE KIM: Actually we didn't talk that much. When we started to talk was hole No. 17 after tee shot.
RHONDA GLENN: Did it help as you were coming down the stretch? Did it help you relax to have someone to talk to?
BIRDIE KIM: Sometimes, but usually when I play I am not that much talk because busy to play.
Q. Birdie, you said that you weren't thinking in terms of making that bunker shot, that you just wanted to get it close. How many balls do you think you'd have to drop in that bunker before you can make that shot again?
BIRDIE KIM: I don't know. Because every time is not the same conditions, so I don't know, but maybe it was same condition, I think more than 50, but I try to do less than 50.
Q. Can you tell us a little bit about your background, when you came over to the United States and what you were doing in Korea before that?
BIRDIE KIM: I was three year already Korean national career, win the junior tournament when I was in Korea. I just came here 2000, I turned pro 2001 and played already three years already, Futures Tour. I get exemption from Futures Tour. That was 2003.
I played 2004 LPGA. I lose the money. My card, I go back to Q-School last year. I make again this year.
Q. Birdie, this was a great win for you. It's the U.S. Women's Open. It's a half a million dollars plus. You know what else it means for you as far as exemptions are concerned and what else it will do for you?
RHONDA GLENN: You will get endorsements and exemptions.
BIRDIE KIM: Actually I get more famous (laughs). I have to play more better than before I can play more good tournaments. Actually next week we have match play. I cannot play, I missed the cut last week, I can't play (laughs).
Q. Birdie, your bunker shot on 18, you seemed to land it short and rolled the ball to the hole. Was that the way you were trying to play it?
BIRDIE KIM: Yes. I have almost putt shot with bunker shot before practice round. I knew that ball is going to be really good roll.
Q. How far was the shot?
BIRDIE KIM: I don't know. I just remember I just need a landing distance was 12 yards from my ball to my landing spot was 12 yards.
Q. Birdie, you only made about 9,000 dollars last year. Was somebody supporting you financially as you were trying to play on the LPGA Tour?
BIRDIE KIM: Actually I have good sponsor KTF, they help me a lot also. That's why I can play still.
Q. What is that?
BIRDIE KIM: Korean -- kind of telephone company, cell phone company in Korea.
Q. Birdie, you were playing with Michelle Wie out there today. She's obviously a fan favorite. Could you sense how many people were pulling for her as she was playing?
BIRDIE KIM: I can understand she's very famous in here and also very great player. But only thing always I try to my play, I didn't think about what she did. It was not bad (laughs).
Q. Before the tournament started did you think you could win?
BIRDIE KIM: Never. Maybe after yesterday after round I can make the Top-10. I never think about winning this tournament?
RHONDA GLENN: When did you realize that you could win? What holes were you on?
BIRDIE KIM: Hole No. 15.
RHONDA GLENN: What did you think?
BIRDIE KIM: I thought I was -- I was 3-over then behind me one of the amateurs she was 3-over, too. And when I go -- I just think about if I go to 4-over should be okay, make the win. And then I make the bogey hole No. 16, and I really worry about 18 is really difficult, but --
Q. Your caddie said when he met you that you wanted to be one of the top three players in the world. Where did you get your confidence from? Why did you think you can do this?
BIRDIE KIM: I don't know. I didn't try to make top player now. I just try to kind of practice, when I play I don't want to be nervous player, so always sometimes I get nervous but also I erase my mind, don't be nervous, it is like practice, going to be a top player (laughs).
Q. Just as a follow-up, had you not looked at any of the leaderboards until the 15th hole?
BIRDIE KIM: I saw hole No. 12, par 3, but I didn't look not really, just look at the score and the number but I didn't see the name.
Q. Birdie, when you got here, did you think Annika was going to win?
BIRDIE KIM: Yeah, more than 50%.
Q. How does it feel to be the player that kept her from the Grand Slam?
BIRDIE KIM: Really, I don't know, but -- I don't know. I didn't make try to show, cannot win this tournament so that's not my business.
RHONDA GLENN: There were a lot of others between her and the Grand Slam, too.
Q. You said you are sister are here, do you have any other brothers and sisters, and did you learn to play golf from your parents or do your parents play?
BIRDIE KIM: No, actually my father only played golf in my family and I have two more younger sister and one younger brother. And my parents. We have six in the family, me, my father, me and I have three younger sisters and one younger brother.
Q. Was your family okay with you changing your name to Birdie?
BIRDIE KIM: Yeah, everybody like this name and everybody says very good name for the golf. Everybody remember my name and my face, so I like this name.
Q. Were you surprised at how Michelle Wie played today?
BIRDIE KIM: Yeah, she missed actually start the first hole, she had a lot of miss, I am really surprised, but I just always try to my play.
Q. Where do you live when you are here based in the United States?
BIRDIE KIM: Miami.
Q. Why are there so many Korean women golfers?
BIRDIE KIM: Really, I don't know, but always Korean players they try very hard, even practice, we have really good player like Se Ri Pak, everybody follow her, that's why we can make more easier.
Q. Birdie, what do you like most about living in America besides the golf?
BIRDIE KIM: Not much. Maybe better golf course. Better practice range.
RHONDA GLENN: What do you miss most about Korea?
BIRDIE KIM: Like food. And my family and my friends.
Q. How old were you when you started playing golf?
BIRDIE KIM: 11 years old.
BIRDIE KIM: Actually my father's friend, he had golf shop and he want to try me to play golf. That's why I was starting the golf.
Q. Were you always a good player from start?
BIRDIE KIM: Actually when I start about two years I didn't play really well. I was a very bad player. But when I played really -- when I make really good score one time, after that I played really better, really good.
RHONDA GLENN: Who helped you become a great golfer?
BIRDIE KIM: It's Bob Toski he's my teacher.
Q. Where do you play in Miami?
BIRDIE KIM: I used to play in Grand Oak, now I try to find new course.
Q. This should help.
BIRDIE KIM: Yes (laughs).
Q. How often do you get to go home to Korea and visit your family and friends?
BIRDIE KIM: Actually every year one time I go back to Korea, but I didn't go back to Korea more than a year yet because I have to go to Q-School last year, so I didn't go back to Korea last year.
Q. When was the last time you were home?
BIRDIE KIM: Last year it was April.
RHONDA GLENN: Will this make it easier for you to go home soon and see your family?
BIRDIE KIM: It's nothing difference. Still I need finish this year with all the event and then I can go.
Q. Birdie, describe your friendship with Se Ri. Are you close friends? Do you talk a lot?
BIRDIE KIM: She seems like my sister, like big sister. She help me a lot and she give me a really good advice.
Q. What was the best advice she gave you?
BIRDIE KIM: Just try to do my best and if you do best always everything comes to you.
Q. Bob told me he kept telling you all weekend, did you not believe him?
BIRDIE KIM: I was okay. Bob I tried but I really I didn't think about winning the tournament. I didn't make the tournament. He keep telling me just every time.
Q. Birdie, you said you were going to celebrate with dinner tonight. Have you found any good place that serves good Korean food?
BIRDIE KIM: Not yet. I have to find after this interview.
Q. How long have you been working with Bob Toski?
BIRDIE KIM: Actually I went to -- first time was 2000 and then I just have -- didn't go to him like last two years and I go back to him last year, August.
RHONDA GLENN: Have you talked to him since you won?
BIRDIE KIM: I haven't had time to call him.
Q. Has he taught any of your trick shots or told you any of his funny stories?
BIRDIE KIM: He always try to, when we go out to play, he always plays same tee, and he doesn't want to lose score to me. Just always he very happy for when I play good at the practice time and also he teach me a lot of time to, okay, let's hit that small tree. He always give me a good way to practice. Okay, hit that rock.
Q. You play many rounds with him?
BIRDIE KIM: Yes, when I go back to Miami, always.
Q. Birdie, I keep asking the altitude question. How did the altitude affect your game?
BIRDIE KIM: Really I don't think so. Just minus 5% every time, but I think it's nothing difference.
Q. No problem?
BIRDIE KIM: No problem.
RHONDA GLENN: How did you play the 18th hole? What clubs did you hit on the last hole and just describe each shot.
BIRDIE KIM: I hit driver, tee shot and I hit 7-wood, I was uphill lie, I tried to make draw, but ball doesn't draw between the bunker. I had sand wedge, 56. And no putt.
RHONDA GLENN: Very good, Birdie, very good.
No. 1 you bogeyed. What club did you hit to the green and how did you get the bogey?
BIRDIE KIM: I hit 7-wood on the tee shot. I hit it little heavy and it goes left. I hit 7-iron. It was about 153 to the flag.
I hit a 7-iron pretty good but I hit the fence and big -- ball goes over the green. I missed the chip again and easy two-putt.
RHONDA GLENN: No. 5, you made birdie. What club did you hit to the green?
BIRDIE KIM: I hit -- I tried 285 shot.
RHONDA GLENN: How long was your putt?
BIRDIE KIM: One and a half feet, two feet.
RHONDA GLENN: Bogey on No. 6.
BIRDIE KIM: I was trying -- hole No. 6, I just -- I used 6-iron was way over the green, but those clubs cannot over the green, but it was over. And then a little difficult to chip, also made bogey.
RHONDA GLENN: How long was your first putt?
BIRDIE KIM: Like 15 feet.
RHONDA GLENN: Then you birdied No. 7.
BIRDIE KIM: I hit 3-wood and then easy 8-iron.
RHONDA GLENN: How long was your putt.
BIRDIE KIM: Twelve feet.
RHONDA GLENN: 10, bogey.
BIRDIE KIM: Driver I missed on the right. Kick-in bunker and then went out in the rough. It was pretty good lie, but I missed the green in the bunker, I made really good bunker, about like one foot but I missed the putt.
RHONDA GLENN: How long?
BIRDIE KIM: Three feet. One yard.
RHONDA GLENN: 11 birdied.
BIRDIE KIM: 11 was -- I hit driver in the rough. I hit 7-iron to lay-up and I have 200 to the flag. I use 7-wood. It was pretty close, like 18 feet.
RHONDA GLENN: No. 14, bogey.
BIRDIE KIM: That was really a turning point, I hit way far right with my tee shot. I hit the fence then came back, almost out-of-bounds. I made really good bogey over there.
RHONDA GLENN: You pitched back to the fairway then what club did you hit to the green?
BIRDIE KIM: I hit pitching wedge, 130 yards.
RHONDA GLENN: How long was your first putt?
BIRDIE KIM: Pretty long. More than 30 feet.
Q. What was your club on your second shot when you were against the fence there on 14?
BIRDIE KIM: 8-iron.
Q. You had to take a different swing, didn't you?
BIRDIE KIM: Yes. I did. It was -- I was trying to around the backswing because if I go right swing, I am going to hit the fence. Then I tried 8-iron, tried like 30-yard I have to hit 30 yards.
Q. But you did it about as well as you could do it?
BIRDIE KIM: Yeah, it was really perfect shot.
RHONDA GLENN: Ladies and gentlemen, our 2005 United States Women's Open Champion Birdie Kim.
BIRDIE KIM: Thank you.
End of FastScripts.