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Interview With 2017 U.S. Junior Am Champ Noah Goodwin

THE MODERATOR: Congratulations to Noah Goodwin; he's now our 2017 U.S. Junior Amateur Champion. Noah, congratulations.

NOAH GOODWIN: Thank you, I really appreciate it.

Q. Noah, let's start off with the obvious. Last year you were the runner up, and now you're the champion. What does that feel like?
NOAH GOODWIN: It's a feeling that I'm still kind of trying to grasp. A lot of emotions are going through me right now, and I'm guessing it's all going to come out in the car ride back. More than anything, I'm just extremely blessed and grateful to be given the opportunity to be back in the final again and to be able to have a little bit different out loud come.

Q. What was your preparation like for this year, knowing that you were trying to take the next step to become a champion? What kind of preparation did you put into this one?
NOAH GOODWIN: There was a lot of grinding. Like I said a lot this week, my game hasn't been that great coming into this week. Played decent a couple of tournaments, but just it wasn't really all there like I wanted it to be. So I really put in a lot of work with my coach to get it in the shape that it needed to be.

Just the entire week I kept working on those things and it just kept improving the entire week. The best part about it to me is my game, with the stuff I'm working on and with everything, it's still not to its peak yet. It's not to its best point, and that just means a lot to what I feel like I can do in the future.

Q. You're in rarefied air in that you're only the third champion to be runner-up the previous year and then come back and win it. What does that mean to you in an historical perspective?
NOAH GOODWIN: It means the world to put my name with all those great players. It's a huge honor. And further than that, just to have my name on the same trophy as Jordan Spieth and people like Tiger Woods, and just to go down in history as USGA Champion.

Q. The way you did it was you took the tough road by coming back from 4-down with eight to play. What was in your mind when you left the 10th green and he had just birdied the hole to go 4-up?
NOAH GOODWIN: I was a little bit frustrated. I felt like I had been playing good the entire day, but just got some bad breaks in there, and I just wasn't able to really go off at all. There were just little things just keeping me from it. So I was a little frustrated with that. I took it out on my tee ball. Didn't hit a very good tee ball, missing left in the rough, and then I hit the second shot into the fairway, and hit kind of a pretty poor wedge shot from there.

But I finally got the good break I had been waiting for the entire round, whenever it kicked down the slope, whether it was 35 feet or however long it was, I just wanted to take that and run with it. I rolled that putt in, and I knew at that moment I can come back. I have this.

The momentum really shifted there, and I could feel that, and I just knew I was just going to do everything in my possible power to just grind it out from there and just play the golf I needed to to be able to win.

Q. What was it like to finally make a putt? Because you had missed in every way conceivable before that, left, right.
NOAH GOODWIN: It felt really good. It more just felt like finally one rolled in. I had been hitting great putts all day. Couple bad putts in there, but not really. It was just getting a little frustrating on the greens, and to finally see one go in, especially one of that length at such a time that I really needed it, that was pretty much a must-make putt for me.

Matthew had been rolling in putts from everywhere, especially for par. I had to figure he was going to make that, and not even give him the chance to make it, that really helped.

Q. Then you finally got All Square on 15. There had to be a sense of relief that all of a sudden in just a few holes you were back to All Square in the match?
NOAH GOODWIN: Yes, it was definitely an interesting feeling because at the same time it's like at that point for those holes I had to pretty much play as aggressive as I possibly could, knowing, if I don't, I just have to try to scramble out a par, but I'm running out of holes. At this point in time, I'm like, Wow, I'm All Square with three holes to go. Just your mentality shifts just a little bit. Even if it doesn't mean to.

So I had to try to keep the pedal down, and I pulled out the driver. I only hit the fairway once, I think, on hole 16 then tire week. So that's just a really weird hole for me, and I felt like I had a really good drive that the wind kind of took off to the right. It kind of knuckled, and I had a lie in the rough where I had to worry about a tree with an awkward yardage for the given shot, pushed into the right bunker, and then to hit out of there. Then to roll in another putt when I needed one even more, that was just huge from the momentum.

It would have been really hard to come back. I had just gotten all the way back, and to immediately go back to one down right after that. So to keep the momentum and not lose any more ground and just kind of put my foot down, that really helped.

Q. You really studied that five-foot putt really hard. Because you usually play fast and you took your time on that one. What were you looking at, what did you see there, because obviously that was a critical putt?
NOAH GOODWIN: I did. Normally I read greens pretty quickly. I tend to find a line that I really like and then I just kind of fine tune it from there, especially whenever I'm over the golf ball. So on that putt, in the morning, I had a putt from directly the opposite of that hole, and it did something that we did not see at all. I thought it was going to move left, and it did, and then it moved back right at the end even though I hit it very firmly.

So I kind of need to make sure, okay, is this putt going to do that exact same thing? Because everything in my mind, feeling the putt with my feet, everything was telling me I had to go right. But it was still that little bit of lingering doubt from the morning, so I just had to really -- I backed off of that and I just had to say, okay, Noah, you know it's going to do this. You just have to trust yourself and putt the roll on it, and I did, and it went in.

Q. You halve the 17th hole. You're All Square on the 18th tee, and you pipe one down the middle on 18?
NOAH GOODWIN: Yeah, I absolutely love that tee ball. For whatever reason I love that tee ball and I don't like 16. But I hit a really good drive the entire time. I kind of told myself before I was trying to slow down a little bit saying just appreciate the moment. I kind of told myself, you can really set the stage right here. You can set the tone for the rest of the match with whatever is remaining with this drive right here.

So I took a little more aggressive line than me and my caddie agreed. I moved a little left and hit a draw. That was my best shot of the entire week. I absolutely crushed it. The adrenalin helped. I think it went about 330 into the wind. Easily the best shot of the week. Whenever I needed it at that exact time, that was clutch.

Q. He hit the ball in the water, but because of the circumstance, you still had to play first even though he was on the tee.
NOAH GOODWIN: Yeah, that was a little bit awkward, but I would definitely say it worked to my advantage more than him because he probably heard he hit it on to the green. So he really knew he had to do something from there. If it had not happened that way, he could have hit a drive down there and put more pressure on me and hit a really good shot. So I would definitely say that worked out to my advantage.

Q. What yardage did you hit on that shot and what did you hit?
NOAH GOODWIN: I think I had 187, and I was just trying to hit an easy draw 6-iron. It was into the wind. I didn't want to have to hit a hard 7 and risk it spinning a lot. I knew I was just playing to the fat part of the green, the left side, and it would give me a similar putt to what I had in the morning.

Q. Did you think about laying up at all there considering he would have had to hit his fourth shot?
NOAH GOODWIN: No, never. I liked my lie. I liked everything about it. I just knew I had come this far playing my game, playing aggressive, and I just figured there is really no reason to switch that. I hadn't hit a lay-up shot the entire week, even in practice rounds. So to do that would have been more foreign to me than going for it, like my game plan.

Q. Going back to the morning, and I know it seems like a long time ago, but it seems to me partially another key point in the match was when he went 3-up through 16, and then you won the last two holes of the morning to really get back into the match. Did you feel that way?
NOAH GOODWIN: Yes, I did. Whenever he hit the ball into the water on 17, I was kind of struggling a little bit. I couldn't find a foothold in any part of my game. I was hitting good shots, and like I said, I was just kind of getting iffy breaks here and there.

So to hit the shot I wanted to and the wind almost took it, but it was able to stay up, are that really helped. Then I chipped up to about three and a half feet, I think. Then he rolled in a bogey putt, so I knew I have to make this, and I did.

That really set the tone for 18, which I had just hit a great shot, great drive, good shot in there. Ran my first putt by a little bit, and that kind of influenced my putt on the final hole. Left it way short because I thought it was way faster. But I was able to roll in a ten-footer, and that was really the first putt I made all day. So that got me in a really good mindset going into the second 18. Kind of replenished my confidence and gave me that little bit of extra I needed.

Q. Are you surprised you laid up with an iron on the tee there on the first 18?
NOAH GOODWIN: No, not at all. No, not at all. A lot of people, actually, have been taking that play. It's a pretty smart play. He knew where he was at in the match. He knew he could probably have a really good chance of making birdie from there. It's just an iron, iron wedge. He knew that I would be having a lot more risk going the route I was trying to go.

So, no. I think his game plan was totally fine with that. I wasn't surprised at all. If anything, I felt like I had a little bit of an advantage because of how much I do like the 18th hole, especially with the driving. I know I can put myself in a really good position, which I did.

Q. What do you think this does for you going forward? You won the Junior. You're going to play another Amateur. I think this will be your third, your second U.S. Amateur coming up next month. You're highly ranked, 27th in the world.
NOAH GOODWIN: It does a lot. I just have to kind of keep pushing forward. I'm definitely going to start focusing a lot more on Amateur than this will actually -- probably, I don't want to say for sure -- be my last individual junior event. I'll play in the Junior Presidents Cup. But after that, I'm graduating early, trying to, to get into SMU. Still fingers crossed on that if I can get all my school work done.

Q. You'll go in January?
NOAH GOODWIN: Yeah, I'll be at SMU in January. So I'm trying to focus on amateur golf and prepare myself for what lies ahead.

Q. You'll be 18 next year for this event. Do you think you'll come back, give it a shot and be one of those rare --
NOAH GOODWIN: I haven't decided yet. It's definitely a possibility and something I'll really think about.

Q. In the immediate future, obviously you were going there before this, but now you're definitely going to L.A. to play in the U.S. Amateur. You've had success in the U.S. Amateur before. When you make comeback like this, what's that going to do for your confidence going into that?
NOAH GOODWIN: It does a lot. I just know I have my game and my game's finally in the spot it needs to be to be able to play great golf. That's just something I've lacked all summer, like I said. To just have that going to the U.S. Am on a fresh tournament, I have a little bit of time at home, which I really want and I really need it. I've only been home twice. So I miss my home. I miss my friends. I'll be able to kind of relax a little bit, but get back on the grind and just shape up my game. But.

It does a lot. I played two great matches both of the times. I went there in the round of 64 and got beaten by somebody who played better. So I hope to be able to take it a lot deeper this year and hopefully give it another run.

Q. How much does your caddie help you? I know you guys talk a lot during the round. How much does he help you, and what kind of things does he help you with?
NOAH GOODWIN: He's really the best possible caddie I could ever have for me. He understands me as a person. He understands what I need out there. A lot of the times that's just somebody to vent to. Whenever I've got a couple bad breaks or whatever, I hit a bad shot, I can just kind of let it all out.

A lot of people would try to push your buttons in a certain way, and Craig just really knows how I work. He knows that I can get on to myself and I don't need anybody to say, "Come on, Noah." He's just kind of there like, you've got this. It's going to be okay. He knows it's going to be okay.

He's an equalizer in that aspect and levels me out out there. He helps me on the greens also. He's an incredible green reader. I am also, but just to have somebody there who can just confirm everything with you, and you can just talk it out with. That just helps a lot, especially with me, because I can be a little uncertain at times. But just him there to solid identify everything, that really helps.

Q. Are you bringing him to L.A.?
NOAH GOODWIN: He would be coming to L.A., but, unfortunately, his son is moving into OSU on the 1st day of --

Q. Oklahoma State?
NOAH GOODWIN: Yes. His son's going there and he's moving in, so he won't be able to make it this year. But I have one of the assistant pros from my home course, Jeff Marshall. He's from the L.A. area, so he'll be caddying for me. It will be his first time caddying for me, but he's done a little bit of work with (indiscernible). I think she's on the LPGA Tour. So he knows what he's doing out there, and I'm looking forward to it with him.

Q. I know you've got a ton of messages on your phone already. But one was from your coach, Cameron, who also is Jordan Spieth's coach. Can you share with us what he said to you already?
NOAH GOODWIN: Yeah, he just said congrats to me, and that just means a lot. He's done so much for my game. I can't really express my gratitude for Cameron. I wouldn't be where I am without him.

I've put in the work. He's invested the work and the time in me, and we've just both grinded. It's just amazing to see how far we've come because of it. It just shows hopefully how far we can go in the future.

THE MODERATOR: Well, Cameron, Jordan's leading the British this week. So this could be a big week for Cameron.

NOAH GOODWIN: Yeah, Jordan's winning the British, Austin Connelly's playing well, Karl Vilips just won the Southern Am, I think. Yeah, Cameron's having a good week right now.

THE MODERATOR: Well, we thank you for your time.