An Interview With: Karen Stupples
KAREN STUPPLES: I feel really excited. I have put myself in a great position and coming into this championship I really didn't know what to expect. I have played okay in my other U.S. Opens but never anything spectacular. So I really enjoyed the course, and I was just looking forward to playing. The whole week it seems like, as I said on the TV, now you play golf on a knife edge all the way around this golf. I am looking forward to it. It's another day to go and try to play the best golf that I can so I am excited.
KAREN STUPPLES: No. I played a good round of golf. I had some nice bounces, made some nice putts and by the time it was all said and done with the rain delay and everything, I was just pleased to have a nice dinner. And I had Japanese last night and they made me these -- they came they said "happy birthday" with a little cake thing, with the candles. But other than that that's all I have done.
KAREN STUPPLES: Absolutely. The bogey I guess can come very quickly out here and I had to try and maintain my patience because I was 3 over par, but I knew I hadn't made any birdies yet, and I know that I am capable of at least somewhere between two and five birdies a round. And, you know, I knew that if nothing else went wrong, I made at the very worse two birdies, I was only going to be one under.
Around this golf course I still didn't think that was going to be too bad. I stayed patient early. I got a good swing thought in my head, started hitting some good quality golf shots out there. Amazing when you start hitting good golf shots how everything else seems to fall into place.
Q. You mentioned in the flash area that you really don't have that much U.S. Open experience than Wie and Morgan Pressel. Don't all those years, double the years as they have, don't those count for something?
KAREN STUPPLES: I think it does. All fairness, I have played on Tour now for six years and I have had some good amateur competitions as well. I played in two Curtis Cups, so I generally feel like I like the big tournaments and the big day. It's part of why I play golf. I enjoy that moment and the feeling, the not being in control almost. It's quite a wild ride.
I like that and yes, I do have that experience, but a lot of these girls, I mean they are so young they are fearless, whether that compensates for age, I don't know. I think it will be a very, very interesting day tomorrow, though.
KAREN STUPPLES: I have been saying for the last probably four weeks that I am really close to playing good golf but for some reason something would happen, nothing would really quite go my way. It was kind of a bit -- was giving myself a sob story, really, and you know, once I did -- got my head up and started thinking more positively about it, started to make some good positive moves around the golf course and certainly these last couple of weeks I felt really close to playing well.
The LPGA Championship I felt really close. Last week in Rochester I hit some great golf shots, some really good putts. I could just feel it all slowly coming together. So I mean, it couldn't happen at a better moment really. Unlike last year with the British Open, I knew that I was playing well regardless, I mean, I was hitting the ball great, playing fantastic, and I felt like I was going to have a good week anyway.
KAREN STUPPLES: Absolutely. I think with what I proved to myself today was that I managed to turn a bad start into a good round and with a good swing thought and I am fully confident that that swing thought will help me tomorrow as well. So I feel fairly happy. As long as some putts drop, I will be very pleased.
Q. A lot of the players seemed real tentative on the greens most of the week. Were your birdie putts in your stretch today were they just bleeding into the hole or were you giving them a good serious pull?
KAREN STUPPLES: Most of my birdie putts today had at least four inches worth of swing on them and so really you can't really give those a wrap, but you can -- it's just a question of pace and line, pace and line, and as long as they drop in the hole, you know, I will take it. I don't think you could ever play these greens too aggressively. I made that mistake early on. I had a three-putt on the third hole, and I got impatient, went for it and before you know it you have had a bogey.
KAREN STUPPLES: Well, my first ever round of golf on a golf course was when I was 13 and I shot 144 when I was 13. When I got to about 15, well, I suppose we'll say 16, when I got to 16 I was pretty close to having a scratch handicap and I was starting to represent England ladies' junior team, but in no way shape or form was I in any state to try and play in a professional golf event. In fact, I only played in one professional event before I turned pro at age 25. I played in one British Open as an amateur, other than that I had no experience at all.
KAREN STUPPLES: At 16 on this golf course, I probably wouldn't have been able to keep it in the fairway. I really couldn't tell you. I suppose my handicap at the time was roughly about scratch, but around here, I mean, I think I'd have been happy with 10 over.
KAREN STUPPLES: I think it will help. I don't have -- certainly won't try and put any pressure on myself, feeling like I must win, I have got to win. My main goal for tomorrow will be to try and do the best that I can and accept whatever the consequences of that will be. And that was the same attitude that I took into the British Open. I won't have to get off to a fast start tomorrow, so that would be nice but impossible around here, I think.
KAREN STUPPLES: It was absolutely amazing. My family was all there, aunts and uncles and my sister, my parents, my grandmother, everybody was there and to do that in front of them when they really don't get a chance to see me play. They don't come out here very much and just to be around them and have them there and supporting me really felt a whole wave of support from the fans and everybody and although it was very surreal because, I mean, I was playing golf, I mean, like I'd never played golf before, I thought. It was just an amazing experience. I still get goose bumps. I still get goose bumps thinking about it. I still have to pinch myself to make sure that it's still real because it still seems, did it really happen? Because I didn't expect anything like that to happen to me. I just was amazing.
KAREN STUPPLES: I think as much as anything, what I talked about it earlier, only playing in one professional golf tournament before, I was thrown in the deep end with the LPGA. That's what I felt almost happened there you get stuck here. I was having breakfast and Annika Sorenstam, Nancy Lopez and Laura Davies were there. It took me a long time to get used to the fact that I was out here with them.
Then I started to look at what I needed to do with my game to see how good I could be out here. Every year I have made little improvements in my game to tried and see where I am at and try and, you know, to try and get better. So every year I am always looking to improve. Last year it just happened in a big flash. (Laughs).
KAREN STUPPLES: I think that's a good question because I think I have been dealing with that all year so far. Knowing how well I can play and how disappointed I had been with how I had been performing. So you know, I think yes, a lot of it was expectations because I know what my potential is and to underachieve so far this year was very disappointing. I think a lot of that came down to wanting to play well so badly again.
Q. Coming into this week all the talk was on Annika and her going for the Grand Slam. Looks like she's going to be about 6 shots back tomorrow. Do other players still consider her a threat at that point?
KAREN STUPPLES: I think, I mean, I think absolutely. As I have proven today with that string of six birdies, absolutely, anything can happen out there. Under the pressure and the nerves and if anybody can do it, it would be her. I mean, however I am going to be looking at my own game and trying to make sure that I do what I need to do.
KAREN STUPPLES: Actually I have some good friends here with me, my sponsor, from my golf course in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. The owner of the course and his wife and family are here and my good friends from there are here, too. I have a good little base. I have some other friends who live out here that I have developed playing in Pro-Ams, they have come to watch me. I have a little core group of friends out here, so it feels pretty good, although you can't beat your family.
Q. I know winning the British Open was very, very important to you because it was your national championship. That tournament hasn't carried the major designation that long. This one has carried it for 60 years. Is that are all majors created equal or is this a big deal?
KAREN STUPPLES: This is a big deal. I mean, there's no ifs, ands, or buts, the one tournament though that I grew up watching was the British Open because when I was never exposed to American golf until I came to university out here. So the British Open was always very special to me.
But having said that, since I have been living out here for the last six years and this is my fourth one, the nerves, I think, are more here than they are anywhere else. I think a lot of it has to do with how the course is, how it's played, you know, knowing that any moment anything can happen. As I said you are playing golf on a knife edge. Anything, you know, either way if you can keep straight on the edge, life is good but, whew, fall off and you are in a lot of trouble.
I love this championship. USGA does a fantastic job here, every year so many people come out to watch. It's phenomenal to me how many people are here, even my first one was is Kansas, in Hutchinson, Prairie Dunes. The amount of people that were there stunned me, from such a rural area. They were coming from miles away. Just is a huge, huge golf tournament, and as I said the USGA have done a fantastic job this week in how they have set the course up.
KAREN STUPPLES: It was bigger than that. I actually went to Arkansas State my freshman year and it was different because all I knew was that I wanted to come to university out here. It was a chance for me to get away from what I saw as a bit of a rat race playing amateur golf in the U.K., trying to get into this team, trying to make that team; it was too much. I just wanted to get away, play my golf and get a bit of an education. I ended up playing more golf than education, but you know, that's how it goes.
Yeah, my parents put me on the plane and Gatwick Airport, I flew through Atlanta the biggest airport in the world. I'd had to change planes, having not done it before. I went to Memphis, met up with my golf coach who was a guy. My parents and I had never met him. They knew they were sending me off to meet a strange guy in Memphis. It was a quite a leap of faith.
KAREN STUPPLES: It was different. We had the biggest thunderstorm I had ever seen in my life my first day there. My roommate we went to McDonald's. She ordered biscuits and jelly. That to me is like cookies and jam. I am like, biscuits and jelly? Now biscuits and jelly, I would have that in a flash. At the time it just seemed very strange.
Q. Do you feel like the British Open win resonated with fans over here? Do you feel like you are well-known among golf fans over here? Do you think that this championship could really do more for your career?
KAREN STUPPLES: I think so. I think that the British Open obviously has been huge for me and in terms of, you know, everybody's awareness of who I am, but I think this one would definitely add to that as well and even just playing well, I am sure. I mean, I have just been interviewed on NBC on national television over here, so that all goes a long way to making Karen Stupples more of a name, although I am happy with Karen Stupples the way she is anyway.
KAREN STUPPLES: It's kind of going back to some old things, nothing technical, thank goodness. It is about trying to find the rhythm and timing when the pressure is on and when finding rhythm is a tough thing to do. In my practice swing it's something I worked on with my psychologist as well, my coach, is that, if I pause at the top of my back swing in my practice swing, and come through hard and fast how I want to, that's easier for me to translate and my timing is better because I have had a good practice swing. It's almost like exaggerating something in your practice swing. Famous one would be Corey Pavin, the way he does his practice swing. Mine is nothing as extreme as that. But for me to give myself more time at the top of my back swing allows me to return my club head squarer at the point of impact.