PETE KOWALSKI: All right. We'd like to welcome the first of our 2012 U.S. Amateur finalists, Michael Weaver from Fresno, California a 3 & 2 winner over Justin Thomas. And to say that you started strongly is probably an understatement because there were so many birdies early, and that had to be a great start for you. Tell us about that.
MICHAEL WEAVER: Yeah, the start was incredible. It was awesome. First three birdies to start were great, get the momentum going in my favor. And I just kept hitting good shots and kept giving myself chances. I had chances on 4 and 5. Made a long putt on 8 and then a birdie on 10 and to get to 5 up through 10, that really helped me out a lot because I needed it. Justin came around a little bit and I slipped a little bit from 12 to 15 or so.
But yeah, to have that happen, to start like that in such a ‑‑ I mean it's the biggest match I've ever played in, that was an awesome feeling.
PETE KOWALSKI: Okay. Let's wait for a microphone. Raise your hand. We'll get questions.
Q. When you got to 5 up on 10, did you change your strategy or dial down your aggressiveness at all at that point?
MICHAEL WEAVER: No, not at all. I mean I didn't want to just cruise, you know. I knew Justin, he's not going to pack it in kind of thing. I got to 11 and I was thinking, you know, get it in the fairways and give yourself chances to go 3, 3 and 2. I was thinking, let's make a birdie, maybe make an eagle.
I mean I'd prefer 6‑up to 5‑up for sure. I didn't think, okay, now I can just coast. It looks pretty good. I think that's not really a good mindset to have, just trying to get by. I want to hit good shots and play well the whole way in. It gives you a lot of confidence if you can really play well the entire match.
Q. Have you ever had a better start to a round?
MICHAEL WEAVER: No. Probably not. I mean I probably started off better than that in relation to par, but I mean no, I've never played anything this big. No, that was ideal, to say the least. I mean it was awesome.
Q. Did you feel in a zone, or some people talk about the zone.
MICHAEL WEAVER: Not really. I felt like I was just hitting ‑‑ I was hitting the shots. I saw the shots before I hit it and I was just hitting them. I made a couple of putts, which I was kind of waiting for that to happen. I putted well all week; I just hadn't really made a whole lot.
My speed had been good on these greens, and I was talking to my coach, he said, at some point you're going to start making some putts. And fortunately it happened today. That was key.
I mean I hit it good all week, and then to combine the good ball striking and putting was a great feeling, especially under that kind of pressure.
Q. You talked yesterday about how you missed the cut in your previous tournament and that lit a fire under you. What did you need to change? What exactly did you do?
MICHAEL WEAVER: I mean part of it was I was not happy with how I putted at the last tournament, the Western Amateur. My putting the whole summer hasn't been poor, but if everything's kind of been up here, it's been just a notch lower.
I haven't putted poorly, but I haven't had like a good putting tournament, or a tournament I putted well every day kind of thing.
And you know, I just wanted to go home, kind of assess my game, what I needed to work on and just get to work. I mean I wanted to ‑‑ my hope coming into this tournament wasn't let's go out and play well and finish the summer strong.
I didn't quite expect this. I hoped that I would be here, but I by no means expected that I would be playing on Sunday.
But I just worked really hard at home, worked on my putting, worked on everything. I just wanted to make sure that I did everything I could to be ready for this event.
Q. Michael, you looked really comfortable with your dad on your bag. It must go back. When was the earliest time when you decided, hey, this is what I want to do, and was your dad the big influence for that?
MICHAEL WEAVER: As far as playing golf?
MICHAEL WEAVER: I kind of decided to play golf on my own. My dad said one day, you know, you can go out to the golf course and play. During the summer I'd go to this camp and I didn't really like it very much. And he said, well, go to the golf course.
And he never really ‑‑ my dad's not a real big golfer. I mean I wouldn't say he's like an avid golfer. He played recreationally here and there. But he never really pushed and said come try golf. He just suggested it one day; I tried it, I liked it and I started working really hard at it when I was about 10.
So I guess I was sort of self‑motivated. He kind of showed me that direction and I just kind of ran with it.
Q. Club and yardage on the 16th that sealed it for you?
MICHAEL WEAVER: I hit 9‑iron. I was 179 to the pin. I was trying to fly it about 10 yards short of the hole or something and let it hop, just kind of like every hole. Just hit it not quite full and tried to play a little left of the hole, kind of cut it and it went pretty straight, and fell right a little bit. And it was perfect.
I think I probably hurt my dad's hand fist pumping him afterwards. He wasn't really paying attention; I kind of whacked him, I was so pumped up. I mean just to turn it around like that, hit a good shot after Justin started to make a run really got me back on track and got my mind in the right place to go ahead and knock that putt in.
Q. How long was the putt?
MICHAEL WEAVER: I'd say six feet or so. Maybe seven. I don't know. I don't even remember seeing it go in. I was celebrating already.
Q. Speaking about putts, take us through the one on 8. You told me on the course you thought it was 40, 45 feet.
MICHAEL WEAVER: Yeah. It was probably about that, 45, 50 feet. That was nice. You know, whenever you make a putt like that, you know, it's a little bit of luck. And I hit a good putt. I think if it had missed, it would have been a tap‑in, probably a conceded. But you know, it was just kind of one of those days when it's your day, it's your day. It's just going to go in. That's how the whole front nine kind of was. I really felt like I couldn't do anything wrong. It was just all going my way, which was nice.
Q. We've had two finalists who came through the playoffs. What does that say about the strength of the field of the U.S. Amateur?
MICHAEL WEAVER: Obviously it's probably the top amateur event in the world as far as the strength of this field. And that's how Match Play is. Just because you're the No. 1 seed doesn't mean that you'll go all the way, because all it takes is someone to play well one day.
And that's how it was with me and Justin today. Justin is a great player, college Player of the Year, all that. There's always someone who gets hot, and today that was me fortunately.
Q. Michael, is there anything ‑‑ I mean when he got within 2, is there anything you did or say to yourself to kind of pull yourself back together on that last hole?
MICHAEL WEAVER: Not really. I just tried to just forget about that I lost three of the last four holes. And I just ‑‑ I knew that when I hit the fairway on 16, and he hit his shot to ‑‑ it was 15, 20 feet. He didn't stick it. So I wasn't thinking, okay, I have to birdie here; he's really making a run.
If it was inside 10 feet, I would have been thinking, okay, he's going to make that. Where he was 15 feet, I knew there was a good chance to make birdie, but I knew if I hit a good shot myself, that that would go a real long way. If I could even tie that hole, then I'm dormie. All I was hoping for at worst was at the least tie this hole, get to 17 because a lot can happen there with all the trouble around the green.
So I just really just focused like how I did all day, went through my routine the same way and hit a good shot. I didn't try to pump myself up or anything like that. That's not really kind of how I am, I guess.
Q. Does Match Play suit you? Do you like this format?
MICHAEL WEAVER: My coach is laughing back there. I always said I hated Match Play, actually. I'm starting to like it more, though. I had a good result at the northern California amateur last year, I got second, and started to like it a little more.
When I was younger, I hated Match Play, to be honest. I didn't like the idea that ‑‑ I had a couple of times where I shot lower and lost. So I was a little bitter about it. But I'm warming up to it more now, obviously.
Q. You get the luxury now of playing nine holes ‑‑ or nine rounds in seven days in the thin air. How are you holding up?
MICHAEL WEAVER: I don't feel really fatigued. I slept really well last night. The night before I did not. I didn't feel tired really when I woke up this morning.
It's helped that the last couple of days were 18 leading into the 36. I'm sure after tomorrow I'll be dead. Probably won't play golf for a few days.
But I feel like I'm in relatively good shape to where as long as I'm eating well and staying hydrated, then I feel like I'll be fine. I haven't felt drained on the course.
Q. Could you just talk about, I mean when you secured the win, you thrust your arms up and the hug from your dad and a few tears, too. Can you talk about the show of emotion?
MICHAEL WEAVER: Yeah. That was pretty special. I mean I'll remember that forever. I'm so excited. My dad caddies for me all the time. I'm so excited he could be here to be a part of this. I owe a lot to him. He's supported me all along, everything I needed along the way, and I wouldn't be here without him. And I'm just so happy that he could be here.
PETE KOWALSKI: We'll just take a minute here. I think you guys will all use the word emotional in your stories. Further questions here.
Q. You were telling a story in your interview with the Golf Channel. I wonder if you could add a little more color to it about your mom, and you said your sister is starting college up at San Diego State?
MICHAEL WEAVER: Yeah. My sister, she's 19. She's a sophomore at San Diego State. And she's moving in ‑‑ they start school a week from Monday. She's moving in. She had to move into her apartment a little early before school starts. It's part of her sorority. She had to do all the rush events and all the planning they have.
My mom left. She was here Monday and Tuesday. She flew in Sunday night. She watched me play in the stroke play, and she left Tuesday afternoon or Tuesday evening to fly back to drive from Fresno down to San Diego to help move my sister in.
But my dad told me last night when he talked to my mom, said everything was going well today, that she would be coming. And then after we finished, I talked to my mom, she said not only my mom, but my sister will also be coming, and that'll be cool. She hasn't usually watched me play very much, which I understand. She doesn't like golf.
Yeah, my sister doesn't really like golf. She has a little different temperament. But I think the last time she watched me was probably ‑‑ I might have been a senior in high school or a freshman in college. So I have surely enjoyed being here.
And then two of my dad's really good friends from Fresno and their wives are coming, and that'll be really fun. I play with them a lot back home. I've played with them since I was 11 or 12. So it'll be a lot of fun to have them here.
PETE KOWALSKI: Anybody else for Michael? Well played. Congratulations.
MICHAEL WEAVER: Thank you.
PETE KOWALSKI: We'll look for you tomorrow.
MICHAEL WEAVER: Thank you. Oh, and one more thing also. I'd like to just thank my parents for everything to get me here, and my coach for helping me out for the last ten years. I wouldn't be here without my parents or my coach. So thank you to them and thanks everybody.