MORE INTERVIEWS: Puerto Rico Open transcript archive
NELSON SILVERIO: All right. We welcome Stephen Ames to the media center here at the Puerto Rico Open presented by seepuertorico.com. You just got done with your Pro Am, and I believe it's your first trip to this golf course, but not your first trip golfing here in Puerto Rico. So can you just talk a little bit about the golf course and then maybe talk about your experience playing golf on the island?
STEPHEN AMES: Golf course I would say is in very good shape, very green. There's maybe too much water on there. I'd like to see it running a bit more. But overall the golf course is very fair, very much out in front of you there.
And growing up playing, obviously my golf experience playing in Puerto Rico was obviously Dorado Beach playing the west and the east coast. I think I played one Herman Cup back there at Dorado Beach. I think we ended up winning, as you just pointed out.
But I do have a lot of ties here. I have a lot of good friends that come here, and I think everybody knows the name Cesar Rivera, who's been the golf guru, should I say, in some respects for getting golf off the ground where it is in Puerto Rico, and I've known him for years. So it was nice to see him again on the first tee.
Of course, I'm still very good friends with my number one nemesis growing up was Shane, so it's been a lot of fun for me coming back here.
NELSON SILVERIO: Talk a little bit about that. The players who were in here yesterday, we just talked about globalization of the game and how we're now playing -- you know, you're crossing boundaries. It really doesn't matter what tour you're on, you're usually playing on an international field or in an international place. Can you just talk about maybe the game here in Latin America and having grown up in Trinidad? Can you just talk a little bit about that?
STEPHEN AMES: Well, actually, surprising that you brought that question up because I thought we'd have more people from the Caribbean on the TOUR. But you consider that we've only had two, P.T. and myself. I thought we'd have more.
But I think a lot of it gets down to the fact that the Caribbean lifestyle is a bit laid back, and the hard work isn't actually put in to get yourself there, even though we, as we've seen through all sports throughout the Caribbean how much talent there is in the Caribbean islands, or on the Caribbean islands, through either soccer, cricket, tennis. Obviously we've had a few of those come through. It's a bit surprising we haven't had more in golf, considering how many, especially here, how many golf courses we have here in Puerto Rico.
Turns out we've fallen back a bit golf course wise, but I'm seeing the changes with the abundance of talent coming through there as well, but I'm surprised that we haven't had a lot more Caribbean players, players from the Caribbean actually on the PGA TOUR right now.
Q. How do you feel? Did you have some kind of B-12?
STEPHEN AMES: No. Tournament starts tomorrow, and I am off in the afternoon. I guess at this stage right now I'm happy with a lot of aspects of my game, how is that coming about.
I'm just coming off of three weeks, living in Calgary, Canada now where it's still very cold. I haven't had much practice. I played last week. I was very rusty there and still a bit rusty coming here, but overall I'm quite happy with the state of my game.
And the golf course suits me. It's a driver's golf course. It's very windy, which I enjoy. I enjoy playing in the wind, and I think the conditions are very fair, and they're very receptive to lower scoring if you hit the ball well.
STEPHEN AMES: There's only one competition. That's me and the golf course. I don't see anybody else. The competition is always fighting yourself. It's never trying to beat the other guy, because you only have control of yourself.
Q. Do you feel like you're playing in your homeland??
STEPHEN AMES: Yeah. I do feel like coming home. It's nice. As much as the wind's blowing, you don't realize just walking out there that your skin's definitely going to still get burnt, and I'm getting used to it a little bit right now, which is nice. I haven't felt this heat in a long time. So it's nice to be back to it.
Q. Are you comfortable with the weather conditions??
STEPHEN AMES: I am. Yes. For me it's like being back home again in some respects. The conditions are nice. It's always comfortable playing in the sunlight and the heat. It's a little uncomfortable for me playing in the cold. I'm not big on that.
STEPHEN AMES: Oh, yeah. Much warmer. It's warmer than Calgary. I don't play there at all, to be honest. It's more like the West Coast of the U.S. I don't play very much on the West Coast. I've only played three, and even those three were freezing, especially Phoenix. Yeah, it was. It was below freezing actually.
Q. You mentioned about the development of the game, a lot has been done here, and I know the islands we have right now a national coach of pro golf.
STEPHEN AMES: Yeah.
Q. Are these helping the development of coaching??
STEPHEN AMES: Right.
Q. So we're looking forward to --
STEPHEN AMES: I think all the Caribbean islands are doing that very well. I'm close friends obviously with the Caribbean Golf Association, the president, which is John McInnis from Trinidad, and I've known the previous one before, Asraph Ali, and also -- what's his name? I forgot his last name. From Trinidad also.
And I think we're all trying to help get things developed a little bit better so that we have more Caribbean players coming out. I mean we have the facilities there, especially here, facilities all over the Caribbean. So there's no reason for why we can't produce more players to play on the PGA TOUR, or any other tour for that matter.
Q. You played in Doral; right??
STEPHEN AMES: Honda. Yeah.
Q. How do you see this in comparison? Have you played Dorado?
STEPHEN AMES: This is a little bit more open to the wind and everything else to some extent, while Dorado Beach, the east was a little bit more open but the west was a lot tighter, with more trees and everything else. That was a tougher course altogether. Each one has its own characteristics, in some respect.
Overall, this is a little bit more what we call resorty kind of golf course. The bunkers are a little further from the trap. The lips are not as high so it's not as penal. It's basically built for the average golfer to come and have some fun and play, but at the same time when you move the tees back, you narrow up the fairways, make the greens a little firmer, the fairways a little firmer and the greens a little faster, it's a good test for the professional golfer, which is a tribute to the good design or the good designs that come out today. Not all golf courses are capable of doing that, but some are.
STEPHEN AMES: And the course, yeah.
STEPHEN AMES: Just from pace of play we will not play all the tees all the way back because then the pace of play will be over five hours, which it usually is anyhow, but a lot of it is due to the fact of the setup of the golf course. It's tough enough as it is with the wind. Having par-3s that far back, they won't have it. Some days but not all.
The greatest holes in golf are only 110 yards long. I mean 110 holes long. These holes that are 230, 240 yards long today, they're not holes. Comes down to the guy who hits straightest with a 5-wood or in this case 2-iron. They're no fun to play.
Q. What do you expect from your playing in this competition??
STEPHEN AMES: What do I expect? Oh, I have no expectations. Usually at the beginning of each week before the event starts I will sit down and give myself a number, as in a score, what I'd like to shoot for four days, and if I reach that number, I'm happy with that number kind of thing. That is my expectation, what I think I'm capable of shooting for four days.
But overall I'm happy with the state of my game as I said before, but going into it, anything added on that, as far as expectations for the week I think is just icing on the cake.
NELSON SILVERIO: Okay. Stephen Ames. Thank you.