U.S. AMATEUR
An Interview With David Chung August 27, 2010 By USGA

THE MODERATOR:  We'd like to welcome our second semifinalist, David Chung, from Fayetteville, North Carolina.  I guess you had a long match again, and you've been able to stay strong and focus.  But give us your impressions on what was the most important factor or factors that got you to the position you're in now as a finalist at the U.S. Amateur?

            DAVID CHUNG:  You know, I'd have to say today was by far my toughest match of the tournament, and the toughest Match Play opponent I've played in a while.  He lit it up in the first six holes.  He was 6‑under.  I had to look for birdie within 10, 15 feet or eagle on every hole.  So he set a tone there.

            Like Tiger says, yeah, I want to come out firing on all cylinders.  He did that.  I don't think anybody could have beaten him in the first six holes today.  But I knew I would have my chances and I'd have to take advantage of them going into the back nine.  Luckily I was able to do that.

            It was fun for me to watch him play in the first six holes.  It's not like I was, oh, man, I can't believe he's doing so well.  I'm going to lose.  It was actually more fun to see somebody playing so well.

 

            Q.  How did you manage to fight him off?  You've still got work to do?

            DAVID CHUNG:  Right.  You know, something that really helped me for today's match was the Porter Cup final round.  You know, I went 2 over in the first two holes.  It was me, Russell Henley, and Jonathan Katz in the final round.  We were all 8 under.  And I went 2 over in the first two holes, and Russell went 3‑under in the first like five holes.  So I was down five shots.

            You know, that was an experience that really helped me for today because I ended upcoming back and winning the tournament.  Just to know that being patient and taking advantage of my chances in the back nine would help and would probably pay off was a big key for today, I think.

 

            Q.  You had as good a year as anybody on what happened on 18.  Can you take me through the thought process from tee to green and everything you saw?

            DAVID CHUNG:  Right.  On 18 he probably had a little momentum if anything going into that hole.  I probably had the momentum, especially 13, 14, 15, I really gained it.  I earned it.  He got it back a little bit there.  I kind of was hitting myself on the head from making a stupid error on the approach shot, but I never played from that tee and I didn't really know.

            The thing about this course is a lot of times when by this time in the tournament when you've played four, five tournament rounds, you've studied the greens and the course enough to know that pretty much every part of it and to know what to expect.  Every time I come to this course, I'm surprised by something new about the greens, about the fairways, you know.  Something always new to learn about this course every single day, and I didn't really know what to expect with the right being on the up tee.  And I made a dumb error, basically.

            I'm still kind of hitting myself on the head stepping into 18.  But I had a moment there, and I've never played that hole as a par‑4 either.  So basically we both hit right side of the fairway, based on positions.

            But he had a little tougher shot than I did because he was on the downhill lie, hit it a little further in for both of us.  It would have been a perfect 5‑iron from where I was.  And I think he probably tried to hit a 5‑iron from ten yards back.  Probably stepped on it a little bit, and he came out there a little bit.  Got a funky line bunker.

            But you know, I still had to step up there and hit a shot to hit it to the green.  Once he got on the green he hit a good bunker shot from where he was, and we were in the same position, and I got to learn from his putt too.  So I probably did a little bit of learning from him on that hole.

 

            Q.  What do you expect from Peter as an opponent tomorrow?

            DAVID CHUNG:  Peter and I have played since we were 10 years old.  The first time I saw him was at Mid Pines and Pinehurst.  We were playing some Junior tournament.  It's the first time I ever saw him and we played in the Junior Worlds that year.  I've known him for a long time and we're really good friends.  I know he's a great putter.  He hits it far.  Really knows weaknesses and extremes and, so, you know, I expect him to play well today and get preparation from Ben today on seeing stellar golf.  So I think I'm pretty prepared for anything.

 

            Q.  Your sister's caddieing for you?

            DAVID CHUNG:  No.  I have a local caddie, Quinn Koplitz.

 

            Q.  The progress you've made in your game in the last 18 months is quite phenomenal really.  It can't be just as simple as the putter.  What else do you attribute it to?

            DAVID CHUNG:  Just being able to put work into my game early this summer.  During the school year it's really hard balancing academics, school life, travel.  We miss a third of the school year.  We miss a whole quarters worth out of three.  So it's hard to keep up with school.  I don't really get that much time to work on my game at school.

            So I think that working really hard I learned a lot from the college season.  College golf is absolutely beneficial.  It's necessary because it's a big learning step.  So I just kind of sat back and learned a lot from the year, how I played, where I could get better, and sat down and worked on that hard in the beginning of the summer, and I think that made a difference.

 

            Q.  You alluded to 13, 14, 15, it seemed like really the key stretch because you could have lost a couple holes there and really been behind the eight ball.  But you made a good putt at 13, great flop shot at 14, and won 15.  Could you just maybe talk about how important that was?

            DAVID CHUNG:  Yeah, so basically I think the match, you know, kind of started on 13 in a way.  That's, you know, it's game time, decision time the last six holes.  That's where the match is really decided if it's a close match.

            I had a really tough lie behind the 13 green.  Didn't really know what to do there.  I didn't know whether to play it up the hill or let it come back or just kind of nudge it out on to the green.  That's what I ended up doing, and I knew I would have had to make a putt to tie the hole because he hit it up there pretty close.

            Just kind of I think I willed it in more than anything.  It was probably one of the crucial putts in the match.

            If he goes 2 up with five holes to go, that is pretty tough to come back from.  So that was really key, I think, in the match.  Probably the turning point.  Then 14, you know, I was there for a short ride, and he's 12, 15 feet from the hole.  If I don't tie that hole I go 2 down with four to play.  Well, that's even harder to come back especially against a player playing with the confidence that Ben had today.

            A flop shot is something that I absolutely love hitting.  I'm always messing around on the practice facility, throwing it up as high as I can, and you know, I kind of smiled when I had that shot because I said I don't have any other option here.  I do this all the time, and I love doing it.  So why not give it a shot, and it turned out great.  I don't think I could have hit that shot again in 20 shots.  So that was essential, basically.  He got unfortunate on 15 hitting it over the green.  You know, made a nice 2‑putt and game on from there.

 

            Q.  What did you hit?

            DAVID CHUNG:  I had 4‑iron.

 

            Q.  As far as a lot of big titles such as U.S. Juniors and that, why are you such a good match play player, do you think?

            DAVID CHUNG:  I tried to figure that out myself.  But if anything it gets your blood going, it's more intense.  It makes me focus a bit more, I guess, than stroke play.  There's much more riding on every shot you hit.  It just kind of gets me more in the moment, gets me more focused.  I think that's what makes the difference between stroke play and match play for me.

 

            Q.  You mentioned Tiger, do you have any relationship with him?  There is obviously some connection there if you can pull it off tomorrow.  With you being home schooled, did you ever consider the IMG and the academy route?

            DAVID CHUNG:  Yeah, Tiger, I've met him three times.  He's had our team over for dinner at Isleworth.  It was UCF's tournament and Texas Tech's tournament.  Every year we go down there.  The last two years we've gone to eat dinner at his house, and he came to Stanford to practice with our team just before the President's Cup in San Francisco.

            So just being around him I've learned a lot, just about how he carries himself and the way he thinks.  He was really open and really kind to share a lot of information with our team.  I think that coaches having played with him on the team enables us to do that, which is a huge benefit.  So I think he remembers me maybe by name but we don't have a relationship or anything.

            To answer your second question, I thought about IMG a little bit.  I went down to Florida basically to have more access to golf year round, especially in the winter time and also to be closer to my coach down there at the time.  So making the sacrifice moving from my house in North Carolina with my mom, leaving my dad and sister back, there were a couple options.  I could have gone to Orlando.  I could have gone to IMG.  I could have gone a couple of different places.  But, yeah, it was definitely on my mind a little bit since.  Especially when I was a junior golfer, they had amazing success.  Peter, Bank, the Wendell girls.  Like, they had a lot of really good players come in at times, so it was a thought.  But I think I did better off by myself.  Being able to manage my own schedule.

 

            Q.  Did thoughts at all creep into your mind during the round about what happens if you win with the little treats that you get with this with the Masters and US Open?

            DAVID CHUNG:  Yeah, like I said, I couldn't keep it off my mind yesterday.  I was just thinking Masters invitation possibly, US Open, British Open.  How great would that be?  Crow's Nest, playing Augusta.  I went out there in '08 for the first time ever, and I felt like I was in heaven, like in paradise.  It's the ultimate dream for a golfer, especially a competitive golfer to play in the Masters.

            Obviously, I couldn't keep that off my mind yesterday.  I was able to stay in the moment a little bit today, but it was definitely on my mind throughout the round.

 

            Q.  How did you figure out 13, was that a conversation with your caddie?

            DAVID CHUNG:  Yeah, I was going to play a runner shot no matter what.  Just try to close the club face down and try to chop it.  It was just a matter of whether I was going to hit into the bank and let it roll back or the layout on the green.  Even over the shot, I didn't know how it was going to come out because it was sitting down in the Fescue in a pretty dicey lie.  I just tried to hit the toe and just kind of stab it and trick it on to the green.

 

            Q.  You say each day you kind of find something different with the course.  Have you ever been in a situation where you were getting ready to putt and a train went by?

            DAVID CHUNG:  Yeah, that was definitely a surprise.  He gave me a few honks too.  It's a long train too.  It didn't stop for a while.  I just decided to hit it.  Definitely surprised.

 

            Q.  What are you going to do for tomorrow?

            DAVID CHUNG:  Just take it easy today.  We have a really early start tomorrow.  So try to get to bed, take my mind off golf.  I've had enough of it the whole summer really, but especially the last week.

            So basically just relax and tomorrow when I wake up I'll think about what I have to do to prepare for the round.  But until then I'm probably just going to eat dinner with my family and just talk to people and just relax.

            THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, congratulations.