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Interview: Andrea Lee, 68th U.S. Girls' Junior Runner-up


| Jul 23, 2016 | Paramus, N.J.
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Q. Just tell us a little bit about the fact that you had a big lead and then she caught up to you and then got it to 2-up with the hole-out on the par-5. What was going through your mind when all of that was happening?

ANDREA LEE: Yeah, you know, I had a pretty big lead the first 18. The first nine even I was 4-up through nine, I think, but I still knew that I had a lot of golf left, obviously. 36 holes in this heat, you've just got to pace yourself.

We came in bogey-bogey on the first 18 to get down to 3-up, but I still had a lead. I was still feeling good about my game, and played really well in the morning. I think I shot like 3-under or something like that. I had six birdies in the morning. I was feeling really good about my game.

Going into the second 18, I was just thinking, you know, just start all over. It's a whole different game in the afternoon. The wind picks up and the greens get firmer. It's pretty much a whole different course out there, so I knew anything could happen. I was just trying to stay patient throughout the whole round, and yeah, she dumped that one on me on the par-5, No. 12, really unexpected, but I guess that was kind of the momentum shifter there.

Next hole I tried to get back at her, made my birdie, but she matched mine, and just kind of went down for me from then on. Missed a short par putt on No. 14, and she knocked a really big birdie putt to win it on 16.

It was really nothing much I could do. She played really well in the afternoon, and I played well in the morning, but obviously I just had to end it well, and I wasn't able to do that. Obviously it's a little disappointing, but overall very happy with the way I played.

Q. You were talking yesterday about just what an accomplishment it was to get into your first USGA championship final. Match play is so tough that way. You lost in the quarters two years running. It is match play, and it is a difficult game. What is it that kept you pushing? You had the 5-up lead but you knew you couldn't let down, right?

ANDREA LEE: Yeah, for sure. I have a lot of experience with match play. As you said, I came in the quarterfinals the last two years in a row. Just came in today thinking that I can win the tournament. I wasn't having too much high expectations for myself. It was my first finals in a USGA championship, so it's a new experience for me, and obviously Eun Jeong won this event last year, and she was the player to beat. But she just played better than me in the afternoon. I wasn't able to get the putts to drop.

It's difficult, you know, coming in runner-up. It's hard after winning all the matches the past few days. But yeah, definitely take this experience with me and playing in the Women's Amateur in a couple weeks, so looking forward to that.

Q. How did you feel about playing against one of your good friends? Did it help you or --

ANDREA LEE: I mean, it was fun. In the morning we were both like super relaxed. We were talking a lot in between shots, and I mean, we focused once we got up there. But we were laughing out there just enjoying each other's company. It's always hard playing against a good friend knowing that only one will eventually be the winner. But she played really great. There was nothing that I could do really in the afternoon.

I guess just see what happens in a couple weeks. We're both playing at the Women's Am, so it will be really fun.

Q. Does it make it easier to deal with in a way when she went on such a spectacular run on the start of the back nine, or is it frustrating that there's nothing you can do? How does that work in your mind?

ANDREA LEE: I think it's both ways. I definitely was frustrated because I wasn't playing as well as I was in the morning. I had a few bogeys just starting off on the front nine in the afternoon, and she was making the putts that she needed to. She made a lot of birdies out there.

But yeah, it was -- it's really difficult. But you know, she got on a hot streak there on the back nine, and there was nothing really I could do.

Q. You lose to a birdie; that's tough to do.

ANDREA LEE: Yeah, I thought, maybe she'll have like a testy par putt. No.

Q. Is it more of a case where you felt like you didn't lose but she was the winner? Is that more what you felt?

ANDREA LEE: I think it's kind of both. I mean, I had a really big lead in the morning, obviously 5-up. It was huge, and got it down to three, but still had a good lead going into the second 18. It is very frustrating for me, but I think she also deserved it, the way she played in the afternoon. It was tough conditions. I think the wind was blowing the hardest it's been all week towards the back nine, and she played really well. She hit a really good shot on 14, and again, dumped that one on the par-5, No. 12, and you know, made a clutch putt on 16 for the win. She played really well.

I am frustrated and a little disappointed, but at the same time, she deserved it, and I'm happy for her.

Q. One last question on the end of the first 18. I know 17 and 18 you hit maybe what you might think were a couple of loose shots. I know you were tired and needed that break between the two rounds. Were you feeling a little bit of fatigue? It's such a long week mentally and physically, especially with the heat.

ANDREA LEE: Yeah, definitely. It's tiring playing so many matches in a row. Two rounds of stroke play, and then you go straight to match play with a couple of 36-holes-a-day. It's really tiring.

But on 17 and 18, I wasn't really that tired. I just hit a couple bad shots on 17. I tried to get too cute with it. The pin was tucked in on the front left, and I was trying to get it close because I knew she was up there and had a short chip. We ended up both bogeying that hole, so I knew I needed to just get it on the green on that one and two-putt, get out of there with a par.

But I was still 4-up, and then going into 18, hooked my driver and had a decent angle going into the green for my second shot, but me and my caddie thought that we had the right number, but it just came up short. I wasn't able to get up-and-down, so that's another mistake that I had. So that's 3-up going into the afternoon.

I mean, it is tiring, obviously. It's been a long week. But yeah.

Q. So you graduated from high school, you got to your first USGA final, you're starting at Stanford in the fall. It's been a big summer for you, right?

ANDREA LEE: Yeah, definitely.

Q. This is another one of the big accomplishments for you. What do you take out of getting to where you did? I know it's a little hard to look past it, but you've had a lot of great things going on the past month or so, right?

ANDREA LEE: Yeah, definitely. I just played in the Curtis Cup about a month ago, and that was a really great experience. Had a really fun time with my team in Ireland, and just took those match play experiences with me here, along with my past match play events. This is my fifth U.S. Girls', and I think this is going to be my fourth or fifth US Women's Amateur coming up. Definitely had a lot of great experiences coming into this tournament, felt confident. It's a little disappointing, but I mean, I'm definitely going to take this with me. It's definitely a confidence booster for sure, keep the momentum going. I'm playing in the Canadian Women's Amateur next week. We're flying out tonight, so hopefully I'll be able to play well there, and then straight to Pennsylvania to the Women's Amateur after that, so it's three straight weeks in a row, but hopefully I'll have the energy to do that and definitely take this match play experience and try to go as far as I can in the Women's Amateur. We'll see what happens.