NORMAN, Oklahoma (July 18, 2009) -- Following is a transcript of the post round interview with 2009 USGA Public Links Champion Brad Benjamin, courtesy the USGA.
DAVID NORMOYLE: Brad Benjamin, champion of the 2009 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship. You have a big smile on your face. What was the thought you had on your mind when you walked up to the 12th green.
BRAD BENJAMIN: I don't know. I'm just glad I didn't have to putt.
DAVID NORMOYLE: How close was the ball?
BRAD BENJAMIN: Six inches.
DAVID NORMOYLE: Weren't sure you could make that?
BRAD BENJAMIN: I knew I could make it, but I was hoping that, you know - you never know in match play.
Q. You made a major statement when you came out in the afternoon four up, did a great job on the 1st. And on the hardest hole all week hit it to the range basically. How did that make you feel and what kind of tone did that set for the afternoon?
BRAD BENJAMIN: That was the start I needed. That was the thing I was most concerned about was going back out, obviously the momentum could go his way. If I can beat him basically 4 up on the front compared to the first 18, sorry anything could happen. Obviously he's twice the player I am, at least, if not more than that. If I can do that to him, he can do the same.
Q. Seems like all morning and afternoon you were getting perfect choice on your clubs.
BRAD BENJAMIN: Yeah.
Q. Seems like that gave you a lot of confidence.
BRAD BENJAMIN: Yeah. That definitely was nice. I felt a little indecisive the last day or two, but today, I definitely had a few yardages to what I needed.
Q. How big was that? Was it 5 wood you hit into 18?
BRAD BENJAMIN: 3 wood.
Q. How big was that? Did that seem like maybe he was trying to just make bogey the hole?
BRAD BENJAMIN: Yeah.
Q. And you flushed it.
BRAD BENJAMIN: I was sitting there thinking, you never want to give holes away in match play. That's the biggest thing. You want to make your opponent. But I felt in that circumstance, worst case scenario, I mean I knew I could make the shot there, but I figured worst case scenario, I miss the shot, he makes par or bogey, he wins the hole. If it would have been a 19th hole after that, I probably would have laid up. Might be about an hour between rounds, and the momentum is going to it's almost irrelevant what happened on 18, other than going into the hole, so I would have held him up for that. You knew you needed that one hole.
Q. You said he was a lot better than you were. Why did you win?
BRAD BENJAMIN: I don't know. Everyone has to build a resume. So I might as well start today.
Q. How did you do it today?
BRAD BENJAMIN: Patience. Just tried to take it one shot at a time. I'd say my mindset the whole day was stay in my routine, do the same thing every shot, and it's hard to do those last three or four holes, but that's tough. That definitely helped me on the first 25, no question.
Q. When you chipped in for par, did you just kind of get the feeling, okay, this is it?
BRAD BENJAMIN: Yeah. That was nice. I was about ready to give him the hole, but I figured, at least I'll get a feel for chipping. I hadn't hardly missed a green the whole day. I made a bunker or two here and there, but I didn't have to do much chipping. I knew he had the hole won, even if I chipped in. I figured, he's a three hole player, but in Match Play, I guess it's not over till it's over, so you might as well make him work for it.
Q. I took a look at what you did during the spring at Memphis. What's the preamble to this performance? I was looking for it. Something has happened to you, to your game. Something. Can you speak to it?
BRAD BENJAMIN: College golf was never my thing, to be honest with you. I'm one of those guys I'll sit out on the range with a practice iron, beat balls, hit putts and school gets in the way.
Q. Is that a big factor, because I saw you're also a very good student. You're just kind of an academic all American.
BRAD BENJAMIN: Yeah. I'm not really worried where my ability is.
Q. Brad, you went over your profile yesterday and said you were turning pro . Has that kind of changed now?
BRAD BENJAMIN: Yeah.
Q. You looked a little shaky. Did it surprise you at all that winning is this emotional for you?
BRAD BENJAMIN: No, not really. I kind of expected it.
Q. Have you ever been to Augusta?
BRAD BENJAMIN: Yeah. Once in 2006.
Q. Play it?
BRAD BENJAMIN: No. Watched practice round on Monday.
Q. The Monday practice round?
BRAD BENJAMIN: Yeah. Figured I’d go before it got messed up.
Q. Have you talked to your parents yet?
BRAD BENJAMIN: No, not yet. Haven't had a chance.
Q. Have you thought about next April, now that it's for real?
BRAD BENJAMIN: It's so surreal. I don't know. The thought crossed my mind probably, I think somewhere around No. 8 or so, once I won that hole. I knew I was in really good shape, and even more so on 10.
Q. This morning or afternoon?
BRAD BENJAMIN: This afternoon. Well, like I said, it's so hard to get rid of those thoughts. Match Play is just not over till it's over.
Q. You just said, despite what might have been not as distinguished collegiate career as others have had, you knew your game. You knew you had the game. Can you just go deeper on that? How did you know? I believe you. You just won this event, but take me inside.
BRAD BENJAMIN: I don't know. I just spent countless hours… (long pause).
Q. You were about to tell us how much you worked on your game, and I guess it all hit you that it has paid off. While you were I mean during those countless hours, did you feel the game coming, you know, the consistency that's required to compete at this level?
BRAD BENJAMIN: Yeah. I mean I knew it would come eventually, but I don't know. It's just hard to explain when you put so much effort in, I mean I've seen the results. I know I'm capable. It's just being patient, waiting for your time.
Q. When you say, "I know it would come eventually," is the emotion of winning the tournament or is it the emotion of arriving as a golfer, that you figured you had and now you know? Is that the emotion more so than the trophy behind you?
BRAD BENJAMIN: A little bit of both, but to be honest, I'll take winning every day of the week, obviously. But that was half of it. I don't need a trophy to know that I'm good.
Q. Seems like every player that wins a tournament has at least one bad day and it's a matter of can they survive it. When was your bad day in this tournament?
BRAD BENJAMIN: I don't know. I played more solid Monday, and I hung in there on Tuesday, but to be honest, I didn't feel real strong with my game Wednesday or Thursday. It was a little bit of a struggle. I mean that's the thing about Match Play. Getting on the green is a good shot. You're never going to lose with pars. Eventually if you're the only guy that catches the putt, but luckily I had a lot of things going my way. That's the kind of player I am anyways. I'm not one of those guys that shoots 65, goes out, aims at every flag and one day shoots 65 and the next 85. I've always been the guy who plays on the safe side, and I think that's really what pulled me through this week.
Q. Nick came in here and said you took his game plan, in other words, you were the guy who hit fairways.
BRAD BENJAMIN: Yeah. I mean you can always look back on it, what if this, what if that, but that putt he missed on 2 at the very start of the morning was huge because not only did it give me the feeling of, hey, he's not invincible, but also it switched and I had the honor, and I kept it for most of the day, and like you said, when you're putting it on the fairway and on the greens, it putts a lot of pressure on him.
Q. Did you watch him play when you were coming up? Just kind of saw his name on the top of the leaderboard?
BRAD BENJAMIN: Yeah. I didn't even know of his accomplishments until somebody told me.
Q. What did they tell you?
BRAD BENJAMIN: I think I heard it maybe Tuesday or early Wednesday. It wasn't too soon.
Q. You also told us you were planning on flying home yesterday.
BRAD BENJAMIN: I didn't doubt myself. It was just I had a tournament at home, if I wasn't playing here, worst case scenario, I'd pay the fee for the plane cancellation or whatever, and I'd stay in a heartbeat.
Q. What was the tournament at home?
BRAD BENJAMIN: It's my home course, it's called Aldeen Cup.
Q. What's your home course?
BRAD BENJAMIN: That's it. Aldeen Golf Club. It's a 36 hole club.
Q. What dates was it? Saturday and Sunday?
BRAD BENJAMIN: Today and tomorrow, yeah.
Q. When are you supposed to get home?
BRAD BENJAMIN: I don't know. My friend lives in Tulsa, that was caddying for me, so I'm going up with him and I'll probably reschedule my flight for maybe Monday or Tuesday.
Q. When we were walking up earlier, you said you couldn't have done this without John. Tell us a little bit about your relationship with him as your caddie.
BRAD BENJAMIN: Yeah. I met him my freshman year of Memphis. We were roommates in the dorm. He knows my game. I know his.
Q. What's his last name?
BRAD BENJAMIN: John Hall, H A L L.
Q. You just told us there's no way you won't be an amateur through next April. You'll go pro before next April. What will you do? You were going to support yourself as a professional golfer or attempt to.
BRAD BENJAMIN: Yeah.
Q. Are you going to live in somebody's basement, work on your game or what's going to happen?
BRAD BENJAMIN: I'm not sure. I really don't know. I'll figure it out between now and then.
Q. Are you going to slip by Southern Hills between today and Tuesday?
BRAD BENJAMIN: I don't know.
Q. Maybe you can play.
BRAD BENJAMIN: My friend and I talked about it, so I guess that's a good option. I haven't had time to think. I just feel like I just walked off the 12th green.
Q. Somebody told me you set a course record in the qualifying to get here. You shot 74 in the first round, 65 in the second. Well, you've gotta be standing on the 1st or the 10th tee for your second round of that, and either you're saying, I can still do it or you're saying, well, hell, let's see what happens. Where were you before you shot that 65?
BRAD BENJAMIN: I had a good feeling about that round. The day before I played really, really, really average. I didn't make any putts, and shot 2 over. The course wasn't overly difficult. I was driving the ball well, somewhat harder than the last few days of the tournament. I knew the score was out there. I knew that's what I had to shoot. I figured I had to get at least to 140 to have a chance, and that 65 put me at 139. But I knew in my mind the way I played the course and the practice round I knew the score was out there.
Q. What would have made it? Were you right that you had to go 140?
BRAD BENJAMIN: Yeah. 141 would have been a playoff. That was third place. 140 was the number. But the other good thing about it was it wasn't one of those ones that's 36 holes in one day, it was 18 one day, re pairing, 18 another day. So that helped me out a lot because I knew a lot of the guys that have probably shot 71s, 2s, 3s, whatever it was in there. I figured some of them don't even have the experience I do, they'll probably go out there and feel a little shaky. I figured re pairing, after those guys, the leaders have to play with each other, they knew their game, they'd get caught up in each other's scores, or their games. But it worked out.
Q. Looks like a couple holes kept him from getting back in the match today. Hit it in the left rough over the trees.
BRAD BENJAMIN: Yeah. By Wednesday I knew I'm here the entire week. There's no question about that. That's the thing if I'd have gotten knocked out the second round, it was a really, really close match. I knew that was the first thing that was holding me back for this tournament. But I finally got a good yardage there. I knew that was and the bad thing about it was Nick hit a great shot in there, but it swung back off the front. And I knew when I went in the rough it wouldn't swing back. I knew he'd make that putt. He was long overdue. I couldn't believe he was missing the putts he did. I knew eventually he was going to start making them. And he made that one. It really didn't surprise me, I knew I had to make mine anyways, but that was a huge putt, though. And then followed up on the next, I don't know what it was, 30 feet or so. That was definitely one of the turning points in the match for sure.
Q. What club did you hit on 12?
BRAD BENJAMIN: Just a little 8 iron. I figured 9 could get me there, but the last thing I wanted to do was leave it in that bunker.
Q. (Indiscernible question).
BRAD BENJAMIN: Yeah. At that point I was just looking for anything on the green, probably 20 feet.
Q. Where have you played this summer?
BRAD BENJAMIN: State Public Links. That was earlier. That was right when I came back from school.
We had our CDGA amateur. I was in the Sectionals for the U.S. Open. I was in good shape. I shot 73 the first round and thought I had a lot better score than I did. I ended up playing a terrible round the second one and missed it. And we had our CDGA Amateur, which is Chicago District Golf Association. Same format, 36 holes and then it goes to 16 for Match Play and I was 19th there and lost first round.
Q. What does it mean to you to be a national champion?
BRAD BENJAMIN: I haven't had time to think about it. I mean I know it's going to mean a lot.
Q. From not having any doubts about your golf game to having, you know, every answer answered, I suppose, how does that I mean are you a transformed golfer or is that too crazy to talk about?
BRAD BENJAMIN: I don't really know. I'm just saying the hard work finally paid off.
Q. Did you learn anything about yourself? I mean this is tough stuff.
BRAD BENJAMIN: I did what I knew I was capable of. It's that simple.
Q. Played much golf in this part of the country before?
BRAD BENJAMIN: No. We played college tournaments maybe in Texas or one in California, but other than Iowa, I really haven't been west much. That was the other good thing was, not that - the weather is real similar. It's hot. I guess it was humid here, but obviously 105 makes up for the humidity, but I think that prepared me for it, too.
DAVID NORMOYLE: Brad, congratulations. See you in Tulsa.
BRAD BENJAMIN: Thanks.