October 10, 2013
An Interview With:
THE MODERATOR: Julia, congratulations, you're a U.S. Women's Mid Amateur champion. How does it feel?
JULIA POTTER: It feels incredible. Like I had mentioned before, I think it's anybody who plays competitive golf's goal to win a USGA championship, and to be able to do it and to do it here at Biltmore Forest, it means the world to me.
THE MODERATOR: We'll talk about getting through the earlier parts of the match, but tell me about 19. I know you said you never want to win that way, but tell me what was going through your mind there at the end.
JULIA POTTER: Actually when I was hitting my shot, I kind of kept in mind what had happened to the Stasi Shirley match yesterday, and then the other Stasi match, thinking it is very easy for you to hit it in that creek. It's on that downhill lie. So I was kind of telling myself, I put a good couple practice swings where I felt really comfortable, and I was telling myself, hit it thin. Hitting it thin is going to work a lot better than chunking it. And I did, I hit it a little thin and it hit that hill and rolled down a little bit. But I was just glad to be safe.
And then I actually wasn't watching. I wasn't watching a lot of Margaret's shots at the end, just kind of basing it off the reaction. I heard the shot and then I heard the players' reaction, and I knew it happened, and I felt awful for her. That's really not how you want to win, and we had played such an incredible match up until that point.
But I still had to go up there and put a good solid putt. These greens are not easy. She could have made her putt and I could have three putted and we're walking to 2. I had to stay focused and realize that it's not over yet. I still need to put a good solid putt on there, and I did.
THE MODERATOR: Kind of back and forth over the majority of the match, but looking at the front nine you were 1 down at the turn.
JULIA POTTER: Correct. I was 1 up after 3 and then I proceeded to make four bogeys in a row, and she had played really solid, and the only hole we halved actually was I believe 6, and then when we came to 8, I put a really good solid putt from off the green to about five or six feet, and I made it for par and she missed her putt for par. We came to 9, we both put a really good look on it but both settled for tap in pars. Like I said, when I made that turn at the back nine I felt pretty confident that I could still give myself a chance.
THE MODERATOR: You hit a beautiful approach there at 11.
JULIA POTTER: Yeah, I thought I had hit it over, actually. I go, whoo, because it came out hot. But I think the wind was more in my face than I thought it would be, and it stayed, which I was really lucky. Yeah, it was probably one of the best shots I had all day.
THE MODERATOR: And talk about 16, 17, 18 coming in.
JULIA POTTER: Well, I had just come off of 15 not very happy. I was in between club selection. I had gone for the longer club, and I think I definitely made a mistake with that. So I was not very happy with that choice.
16, what I was really focused on was putting a good drive in that fairway. I feel like whatever if I did that then I had a great shot at the pin. Margaret hit a great shot in there and I hit a pretty decent shot, and my putt almost went in and her putt almost went in. It was pretty interesting.
Coming to 17 I actually had not hit that fairway all tournament. I had been in the right rough most of the time and in the water one time, so my focus there was just to swing really easy, don't try to get on top of it, and I should be able to put a good solid drive. Smoked it, actually, one of the few times I outdrove Margaret. We both hit great drives. She hit a great shot onto the green and I left mine out a little bit to the left, but still, in a good place to chip. I had a lot of green to work with.
Funny thing is I don't really like chipping with my pitching wedge or my 9 iron, but I sat there and I was like, no, I really need to take a 9 iron and bump and run it back there. So that's what I did, hit a great bump and run to about three feet, made the putt for par. Margaret unfortunately three putted from where she was at. It was a tough pin placement back there from her angle.
And then coming to 18, again, same thought, just put it in the fairway, give yourself a chance. Margaret hit a great drive, great shot into that hole. I thought it was a lot closer than what we got up there because it just landed perfectly on that edge.
I was planning on playing a cut, and I did play a cut, but it just got caught up in the wind a little bit and landed in that front left bunker, really short sided myself. I think anyone would say that. But the nice part about it is I had a good lie in that bunker, both with the ball and with my feet, and I was actually hitting uphill and into the wind, so I knew that would help stop the ball. All I needed to do was land it on the fringe or just on the green and let it trickle down, and that's what it did.
I'd probably declare that as the shot of the tournament for me because I needed to answer, and I did, because I definitely wanted to put the pressure. She had still a great chance to make birdie, left the putt short, and then of course we get to 19, everything that happened there, as well.
Q. That shot on 18, it's pretty hard when you're in that type of pressure situation? Is that the most pressure you've felt in your career maybe?
JULIA POTTER: Yes and no. I'd actually it wasn't even pressure, it was just more I need to get it done. I either needed to get it done or not get it done, and that was my mentality the whole time this tournament. I need to answer, I can't think about the pressure, I can't think about if I got up and down, if I didn't get up and down, I still would have thought it was a great match, but I wanted to put the pressure on Margaret to have to make a birdie to beat me.
Was there pressure, yeah, but at that moment I was just thinking about the shot and how I needed to execute it.
Q. You looked really comfortable with your swing pretty much all week. Did you come in here feeling that way before the week began?
JULIA POTTER: Yeah, I play about once a week, nine holes, and I've had the same swing and same swing coach since I was 11. Right before at this point coming in I was looking to maintain and make sure everything was good to go. Actually where I felt the most comfortable, even when it comes down to the stretch, was actually my putting stroke. Usually that wavers one way or the other because you do feel that pressure, you do feel that intensity. But I felt very confident on every putt I hit today and throughout the entire week.
Q. It looked like you got out there and you were not hesitating. Did you feel like you had a good
JULIA POTTER: Yeah, I felt really comfortable. I really like the putter I have. I like the look I have on it. I've been putting with it for two years, and I just felt really comfortable on these greens. They're bent; that's what I grew up on. So just knowing that usually they break true to what it looks like helped out a lot.
Q. Did you feel like you had a little advantage over some of the obviously a lot of the players struggled with the greens this week, and they're difficult greens.
JULIA POTTER: Yeah, I feel like that's one of the huge reasons why I actually was medalist was right off the bat I got a good grasp of the greens, and I think it took other players days to get it going.
I think Margaret read the greens great, as well. She looked very confident over her putts. I realized that we really weren't going this match wasn't really going to be won or lost on bad putting, it was going to be like more shot making and just clutch shots. But I think that's one of the reasons why I was medalist. I just caught onto these greens earlier than the other ladies.
Q. Speaking of medalist, you're only the third medalist to come back and win the championship, and the other two are Carol Semple Thompson and Ellen Port. That's quite a list you've joined.
JULIA POTTER: Yeah, it's incredible just to be mentioned with those ladies. It's funny, being medalist was great for me. I loved it. But when it came to match play I really realized it was still anybody's game. For me it was a completely different course I played from match play to stroke play. Stroke play, I was kind of pushing it more. There were a couple times I bogeyed out here because that's all I needed to do, or I didn't want to give away the hole.
I almost wanted to say that my mentality was different during the stroke play round than it was during the match play round, as it should be for the most part.
Q. You became more strategic?
JULIA POTTER: Yeah, it definitely became more strategic, more knowing where to put the ball, or sometimes I'm looking at a birdie putt and something that I would go for because I feel really comfortable hitting a five footer back for par. Wasn't so much the case if I'm 1 up or 2 up or 2 down. I don't want to lose a hole because I made, so I would lie it a bit closer and made sure I made the par. My goal was to make my opponent make birdie to beat me. That was my goal.
Q. This golf course, too, the length of it, some of those longer par 4s almost played as par 5s for most of the field, so that puts a lot more pressure on people's short games. Like you say, it didn't matter on the long par 4s if you made a 4 or a 5, it was just playing against your opponent. Did that play a lot into the match play mentality?
JULIA POTTER: Yeah, definitely. I think 4 is a prime example of just knowing how much yesterday especially, because, I mean, from where the tee box was I could have potentially tried to get on that green in two, but my opponent had already put it in the hazard. So in my head, in my mind we're playing for bogey at this point. I don't want to walk away with us having this hole a double. So that definitely came into play.
The length was an interesting issue, but for the most part, which is ironic, I think only one time was I the longest hitter in my group, in my match. It was interesting to see, while length was an issue, and I know it's spoken about, everybody I played was a little bit either equal with me or a little bit longer, so it was interesting to see.
Q. So the length of the golf course was a factor for some players, but when you're in match play you're just worried about what your opponent is doing and what you're doing, whether it's par or
JULIA POTTER: Yeah, at that point if I think that's even on the shorter holes, it still needed to be kept in mind that I just need to do one better. If it's a hole that I can usually birdie but someone puts themselves in trouble, then par is what I'm looking at at that point. It's interesting, some people play it's all about the match, really. You'd be amazed what you can pull out of somebody, someone who's shot 81 86, for example, ends up shooting 3 or 4 over in the match that I played when I won 1 up. Maybe it wouldn't be the case if we were playing stroke play, but with match play it's amazing to see what kind of shots and what kind of play come out of people.
Q. Do you play a lot competitively down in the Dallas area?
JULIA POTTER: I'm really limited on vacation time to be able to do so, so I like to play there. I play the Texas Women's Open because it's right in Dallas, and then the qualifier and this tournament. I'd like to play in more. I love competitive golf, but I just haven't been able to find that work balance of being able to do so yet.
Q. Anthony Travel that you work with, they're based in South Bend?
JULIA POTTER: They're based in Dallas, but there's an office in South Bend, a pretty good office size in South Bend, as well.
Q. You said several times today you've tried to win a lot of USGA championships. What do you say to someone who keeps trying?
JULIA POTTER: Keep going. You'll get there. It's a step at a time. That's exactly how I took this as I felt like I had the game to compete in the Mid Am, but you've got to get there first, so that was something I kept in mind getting ready for my qualifier is just play smart and make sure I got there. And then the same thing came up with the two qualifying rounds here. I feel like I can win this tournament, but I need to get there first. I think it speaks to anybody, you just have to keep trying, you just never know when you're going to find that course or that week that everything is just kind of working for you like I did this week.
Q. Was it an exaggeration when you said you've attempted to qualify probably 20 times?
JULIA POTTER: I might be off one or two.
JULIA POTTER: Yeah.
Q. So junior, Women's Am, Mid Am?
JULIA POTTER: Junior, Women's Am, U.S. Open. I actually missed by one stroke one year. I was like second alternate.
JULIA POTTER: U.S. Women's Open. I did two years back to back where I had to go into a playoff to get first or second alternate, and I was like one stroke actually one year I was playing to qualify and lost in that playoff. You can have your ups and downs in the game of golf, and missing those qualifiers was a down, and this is my ultimate up.
Q. Now you have to save vacation for the next year?
JULIA POTTER: I'm really excited that I'm in for next year, as it's in Indiana, and it's going to be great to go back to my home state and be able to play. I live in Dallas, Texas, and it's always funny trying to explain, oh, you're from Indiana. Well, I really live in Dallas, Texas, and the reason I put Granger, Indiana, is that's where all my golf has come from, so that is my hometown and that is who I like to represent.
Women's Texas Golf Association are amazing. They're so nice. But when I came here I knew exactly what I wanted to represent, and it was Granger, Indiana.
JULIA POTTER: Yeah, it was interesting, like the first two ladies I played right off the bat live in Texas, and they're like, oh, Indiana? Actually I'm in Dallas, Texas, in the SMU area, and I had to go through that whole explanation. But no, Indiana is my home when it comes to golf. I grew up there. I learned a lot there. I learned all my match play there, so I wanted to represent that.
Q. Dad told me that you first began playing tagging along on the golf cart at age 5 and would chip and putt while he was playing?
JULIA POTTER: Yeah, my sister is about five and a half years older than me and my dad decided to get my sister and I into the sport, but at my age he didn't want me out there swinging so I'd be in the golf cart with my sister and my dad and we'd get up to the green and he'd have his putter and wedge and drop a ball, all right, hurry up. I think that's the strongest part of my game has always been my short game, and I think it really comes from that moment where I learned that part of the game way before swinging, way before anything else.
But it's always a nice moment to think about, as well.
Q. We haven't had a lot of 20 somethings in the final. If you look at the years, the first 10 or so years, there were a lot, but then it really trickled off. We're having a little resurgence. What do you think it is with all the younger players coming into the championship?
JULIA POTTER: Well, you know, I really think a lot of it has to be based on – my high school class and a couple of classes beforehand, there was a huge resurgence of golfers in general, women golfers. I think anyone would say junior golf 10 years ago is not the same as it is now and so on and so forth. So I think there's just a lot of ladies who had great college careers or great professional careers before reinstating as an amateur, and they still have that competitive drive, and this is a great tournament to be able to fulfill that need and that want.
You know, it's great that Margaret, she played at Auburn, she had a great career as an assistant coach, now she's out playing, and I love to see people I've played with on the golf course, out there, because their game was amazing in college and I think they should continue to compete and to flourish that.
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