U.S. WOMEN'S AMATEUR
Interview With Women's Amateur Champ Hannah O'Sullivan August 16, 2015 | Portland, Ore. By USGA

Five years after playing in her first U.S. Women's Amateur at the age of 12, Hannah O'Sullivan claimed the championship. (USGA/Steven Gibbons)

Q. You're the Women's Amateur champ. Congratulations.

HANNAH O'SULLIVAN: Thank you.

Q. How does it feel?

HANNAH O'SULLIVAN: Incredible. I can't really describe how good it feels. It definitely hasn't sunk in yet. It was just such a tough match today, and to be able to come out on top, it's just incredible. I just feel so blessed.

Q. Your first 18 holes, a real seesaw battle, but I think we all know that the match doesn't really begin until the 19th hole. What were your thoughts going into the afternoon and trying to make a comeback?

HANNAH O'SULLIVAN: Definitely. I mean, I didn't play -- I felt like I wasn't playing very well at all the first 18, but I fought back and I still shot like 1-under, so I knew the game was definitely there, and I had the opportunities. I hit a little more consistent and cleaner the second 18, and I rolled in some really good putts. Actually before we went out to the second 18, I just -- it went through my mind, the next time we're done -- when we're done, one of us is going to be the Women's Amateur champion, and the fact that it's me is just incredible.

Q. You've had a lot of success in this state even though you don't live here. What is it about Oregon that brings out the best in your game?

HANNAH O'SULLIVAN: I don't know. I just love it here. I think I love the courses, and the weather is perfect and it's just beautiful. I guess every time I show up here, my game is pretty solid. I might be coming back.

Q. I want to ask you about your bracelet. Your dad told me about the family friend that passed away. You actually took the bracelet when he brought it back from the funeral?

HANNAH O'SULLIVAN: He actually told me he wanted me to wear it. It was at the Girls' Junior last year, and I saw it on his wrist, and I just -- the message, fear nothing, attack everything, I think is definitely some very good words to live by and I think a good memory to have.

Q. The first time you wore it was the Women's Am, correct?

HANNAH O'SULLIVAN: I believe so, yes, last year.

Q. Do you remember that first time you showed up at the Women's Amateur in 2010? Do you remember spotting it and thinking to yourself, I want that, what would it take to get that? Tell me about the first memory of the Women's Am.

HANNAH O'SULLIVAN: I was only 12 years old. I walked into player registration. It was my first USGA event, first Women's Am, and I saw the trophy, and I'd definitely say it's the prettiest trophy in golf. Yeah, I was kind of in awe, I guess, didn't really think I would -- I mean, of course I would always dream of having my name on the trophy, but I dreamt of it, but I didn't know it was going to happen five years later.

Q. You stayed and watched the final match that week?

HANNAH O'SULLIVAN: I did, yes. That was exciting and definitely very inspiring for me, and to be here five years later and to get the win means so much.

Q. How weird is that progression for you, to see [Jessica] Korda and [Danielle] Kang are now on the LPGA?

HANNAH O'SULLIVAN: Exactly. It's strange, but that's my ultimate goal, to be the best player in the world, so hopefully it means I'm on the right track.

Q. Your name is going to be on there with one of your idols, Juli Inkster.

HANNAH O'SULLIVAN: Her name is on there three times.

Q. How special is that to have your name alongside of hers, and Lydia Ko has been No. 1, and a lot of other special players on that trophy.

HANNAH O'SULLIVAN: It's so special. Basically so many of my role models, their names are on that trophy, and the best women's golfers who have ever played the sport, so to be alongside that, it just means so much, and it's an incredible feeling.

Q. You said you felt you weren't necessarily playing that well but that you were still 1-under par. So many of these holes, it's not that they were lost with bogeys but they were won with birdies. Tell me about some of your birdies there. You had some really long putts out there. Your hand got hot with the putter, or what happened there?

HANNAH O'SULLIVAN: I mean, I knew Sierra was playing super solid. No matter where she hit it, I knew she was going to get a par, so I knew I had to make some putts, get some birdies out there. I just tried to stay patient, and I visualized the ball dropping, and luckily it happened -- it actually happened a few times.

Q. They mentioned on the telecast a few times you use a thing called AimPoint. Tell us about that.

HANNAH O'SULLIVAN: I actually learned it from the creator of AimPoint, Mark Sweeney, and I think it's helped me so much, just reading the break. I think it's extremely accurate, and not only that, but I think it kind of helps clear my mind a little bit. I know where I'm going to aim so I can just commit to that and stand over the putt and just put a good stroke on it. I think it's helped me a lot.

Q. How do you know Mark Sweeney?

HANNAH O'SULLIVAN: So, okay, he's a very nice like approachable guy, and when we were at Polo last year, we had a few extra days, so we just tried to contact him, so I worked with him there, and I guess he liked working with me. I'd say I'm a pretty good putter, and when he was out in Phoenix for the Waste Management, I saw him again and worked with him at the U.S. Open, as well. I think he's a great coach for putting, and he's helped a lot.

Q. Would you call him like a putting coach or more just somebody you see every once in a while?

HANNAH O'SULLIVAN: Yeah, I don't see him that often, but I think for AimPoint and overall putting, I think it's pretty good.

Q. Word on the junior golf street is that nobody practices their putting like you do. Is there like a little circle drill where you go around the hole and that's why you're so good at these five-footers?

HANNAH O'SULLIVAN: Oh, gosh. I guess when I get to tournaments I practice a lot because during the school year I'm so busy with school, and I feel like when I get to a tournament, finally I can practice. They maybe misconceive it a little bit (laughing), but yeah, I have some drills that I think help.

Q. The other thing that seems to stick out about your game is you seem to make good decisions on the course and aren't tempted maybe to go for something crazy. Is that something that a coach or your dad or someone along the line has talked to you about making good decisions, or is that just something that you have picked up?

HANNAH O'SULLIVAN: I think it's mostly through experience. I've been playing junior golf and competitive golf for a long time, so I've experienced like both sides, disappointment or a bad decision, and also good decisions. So just through tournament experience, I think I've been able to get a pretty good idea of what I should and shouldn't do.

Q. So you must be like a pretty patient kind of person out there.

HANNAH O'SULLIVAN: I try to be, yeah. I'd say I'm pretty patient. I mean, I'll get a little frustrated every once and now and then, but I just try and -- before I start walking to the next shot, I'm over it and focus on the next one.

Q. Winning the Women's Am gets you into all the majors.

HANNAH O'SULLIVAN: Yeah.

Q. Traditionally it's gotten you a spot on the Curtis Cup, so your life stands to change quite a bit next summer. Does it make you rethink what the next few years -- does it make you rethink college at all? Where do you stand?

HANNAH O'SULLIVAN: I don't know. One tournament isn't going to change my decision or my life plans. So I'm definitely going to go to college, try and get my degree before I try and turn pro and play professionally. But I just -- you know, this comes with so many incredible opportunities, and I'm just really thankful. But yeah, my plan is still the same. And plus my coach is right over there (laughter).

Q. There were two moments late in the round I wanted to chat with you about. One is the 30th hole where she had the long birdie putt and then you went 1-up and you had a long birdie putt on top of her, looked to be about a 30-, 35-footer?

HANNAH O'SULLIVAN: Was it 12, the par-3?

Q. About how long was that putt?

HANNAH O'SULLIVAN: It was 30 feet, but yeah, I saw her putt. It was a really good putt. I thought it could be going in, so I just stood over my putt, told myself trust the line, just put good speed, try and get it close, and it went in.

Q. And then the putt a couple holes later where you went 3-up dormie, her putt just kissed the left edge and then you dumped it in on top of her. Were you thinking this is to go dormie?

HANNAH O'SULLIVAN: Before I set up, definitely, but I just tried to do some deep breathing, and I knew if I was standing over that putt thinking about that, probably the result wouldn't be what I would have liked, so I just tried to push that aside and just stand over the putt, commit to it and put a good stroke on it, and to see it go in was awesome.

Q. About how far do you think was that one?

HANNAH O'SULLIVAN: That was six or seven feet.

Q. I don't know if you saw, but on the first tee this morning, Mike Whan was standing there, commissioner of the LPGA. What are your thoughts about going pro some day?

HANNAH O'SULLIVAN: My ultimate goal is to be the best player in the world and play on the LPGA Tour, but education is very important to me, so I do want to go to college and get my degree before I think about turning professional.

Q. I think I've asked you about this before, but I'm going to ask you good because I'm unclear. When your mom stands behind you, is she lining you up, or is that a comfort thing?

HANNAH O'SULLIVAN: So she does line me up, but more -- I guess, yeah, she never says it's wrong, but it's more of like she wants to check my alignment so maybe if it's off she can tell me after the shot or for future reference.

Q. So she's checking like your shoulders and your feet?

HANNAH O'SULLIVAN: Yeah, basically, yeah, and the club.

Q. Does she say something before she steps off?

HANNAH O'SULLIVAN: Very good, yeah.

Q. She says that every time?

HANNAH O'SULLIVAN: Every time.

Q. So that's got to be like a good comfort thing, you hear very good, and then –

HANNAH O'SULLIVAN: I almost don't hear it, I think, but yeah, it's definitely good to have her there.

Q. Was there ever a point when she had to really cheer you up at some point or pump you up, or when you think about this week spent with your mom on the bag, what was the best thing she did for you out there?

HANNAH O'SULLIVAN: She's helped me a lot, just to remind me to stay patient, especially my last three matches. I was two or three down in points, and she just reminds me that there's a lot of golf left. I mean, I always tell myself, like for example, I was 3-down through 8 yesterday. I told myself, if she can go 3-up in 8, I can do the exact same thing or even better. But yeah, she definitely helps me stay positive, and if I'm getting a little frustrated, she tells me -- she makes me tell her one positive thing before I move on to the next shot, and I think it can be a little frustrating at times, but it helped me a lot overall.

Q. What's an example of like a positive thing you would say if you were really upset?

HANNAH O'SULLIVAN: I chose the right club or something. But no, usually I hit it solid or something like that.