What they said: Charlie Wi

February 11, 2012
PGA TOUR staff

MORE INTERVIEWS: AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am transcript archive

Q. Is it a curse or a blessing to have the lead??

CHARLIE WI: I'll let you know tomorrow. I haven't really thought about that. But I enjoy being in the lead. It's a lot more fun than trying to come back from behind. I know that tonight is going to be very exciting, and I'm sure I won't sleep as well as if I'm in 50th place. But that's what we play for and I'm really excited.

Q. Why are you better prepared for this, do you think, than you were at Colonial last year??

CHARLIE WI: I feel like my self-belief is higher than before and I really -- I don't know why. Something turned over the last couple of months where I really feel comfortable with myself out there on the course. I definitely caught myself getting ahead today but I was able to get back to what I was doing and I was really happy about that.

Q. I don't know if you had a chance to look at the leaderboard yet, obviously Tiger is not far behind you, you played a lot of junior golf against him. How much did that help being removed from the hysteria that goes on when he's playing, and just your thoughts on him being right there and in contention.

CHARLIE WI: Well, as a PGA TOUR player, we definitely need Tiger out here. He drives the TOUR. I don't know if you guys want to hear that, but you know, he is a very important part of the PGA TOUR and it's very important for him to be competing and being near the lead all the time, because that drives viewers and that's what helps us with our retirement fund, and (laughing), so I like to say Tiger.

But I've known Tiger for a long time. Saw him last night. You know, we're friendly. I really hope that gets back to the form that he had in 2000.

Q. The way you played with the lead today, just hanging in there, does that give you confidence going into tomorrow that it's going to be the same kind of approach for you??

CHARLIE WI: Yeah, you know, golf is very cliché. But I'm sure I'll be fighting my demons all day tomorrow and it's how I handle myself tomorrow; it's not what other players are doing. It's how I handle myself tomorrow is going to be the outcome of the tournament.

Q. Can you put your finger on, you said you had been feeling more comfortable kind of in your own skin out there. Can you put more words on how that's come about??

CHARLIE WI: I'm not really sure, because it's been something that I've been working on, trying to be more confident with myself, have more self-belief.

But, I don't know why. I just -- I don't know what clicked. I can't really explain it. I just feel a lot more comfortable with myself and I'm happy being Charlie Wi, so I think that's more important.

Q. How peaceful was it over at Spyglass today? How big was your gallery and do you expect you'll have to make a mental adjustment with probably a much bigger gallery tomorrow going into the final round?

CHARLIE WI: Gallery-wise? I don't think so. I was just at Phoenix last week. (Laughter) they had 120,000 people Saturday. I don't think I have to make an adjustment. I had a lot of Cal friends out there and my parents drove up today. It was nice to see them. It will be a lot of fun out there. My partner, he made the cut, and so it's going to be exciting for me and him tomorrow and we should have a good time.

Q. You talked about feeling better out there. How much of that is your ball� striking responsible for, the fact that you're obviously hitting the ball very nicely. How much does that play into you feeling good out there??

CHARLIE WI: For some reason, what's happening is when I'm at home, when I play with my buddies or when I'm practicing with my coaches, you know, I would say I'm like one of those guys like, oh, I can't be beat when I'm practicing.

But when I get out here, try to do maybe a little bit too much, try to be too precise, too perfect, and I come to the realization that I can't be as precise as I want, and I just have to play with what I have. You know, I feel like I'm bringing the game that I have at home more out to the tournaments.

Q. You beat Tiger in college; right??

CHARLIE WI: Yeah. That was a long time ago. Irrelevant.

Q. Do you remember the circumstances at all, how many -- did you beat him by a lot??

CHARLIE WI: I won by four, that's all I know.

Q. And how much does it matter if he's in the same group tomorrow? Obviously it's unique him on Sunday in contention; would you prefer he not be in the group ahead or what's your thoughts?

CHARLIE WI: I would love to play with him head-to-head. That's why we practice so hard. If it does happen, I think it would be exciting.

Q. When you're growing up and you obviously heard a lot of the legend of Tiger and you got to know him as, and you're not that far apart in age. What are the things as a golfer that you marvelled at, even at a young age, the things that he was doing, and how much of that still lingers in your mind that you remember that he did this and he did that??

CHARLIE WI: I told the story yesterday, I was 13 and he was 9, and we got paired together at a golf course called El Dorado Country Club in Long Beach. And I don't know I didn't remember this -- well, I do know why I remember this. It's been a long par 3, it's like 250 yards long. For some reason, he was 70 yards short of the green. And I remember, he almost hit that 70-yard wedge, and I mean, literally, almost went into the hole and he got so upset. I said, "Tiger, that's a great shot. What's wrong?"

"I was trying to make that."

That always stuck in my mind, how competitive he was, and he's a fierce competitor.

Q. Do you feel that over the last two years, that it has not happened -- from ten years ago --

CHARLIE WI: Wow, that's a tough question. I'm in a position where I haven't won a PGA TOUR event for me to comment on that. If I was somebody that had won out here multiple times, maybe I could comment on that.

But that is a question that is really hard for me to comment on, because he's done so much out here and so much for the TOUR, and you know, he can't always be going up. You have to plateau out sometimes, or maybe go down to get back up.

I know he's making the right swing changes and I believe that he's going to be better in time.

Q. To the point that you were just talking about, in a way, are you both trying to do the same thing when on TOUR for the first time in a long time in Tiger's case, and for you personally? And secondly, you mentioned that you might be fighting demons tomorrow. What exactly are those demons?

CHARLIE WI: Demons, probably tend to get ahead of myself a lot. And I'm sure I'm not the only person. But demon, meaning like self-doubt, can I really hit that shot; or I'm sure I'm going to be nervous. It's just how I handle myself tomorrow emotionally that's going to make the difference.

And what was the other question?

Q. Do you feel like you're both going for the same thing??

CHARLIE WI: No. Because he's won 70-some times and I'm trying to get my first, and I have a lot more pressure on me than he does.

Q. Your senior year at Cal when you were the equal of the likes of Tiger and Stewart Cink, how high was your self-belief then??

CHARLIE WI: I get that question a lot. The question I get asked is, did you know you were going to turn pro when you were growing up. I said, no. I was a good junior golfer, good enough to get a collegiate, college scholarship, and I was just a better-than-average collegiate golfer until my senior year when I made first team All-American. Not until then I thought about turning pro. I really was not sure what I wanted to do with my life, but being a professional golfer wasn't the goal when I was in college.

So the job that I have now, I feel very blessed and I really enjoy doing it. I love it passionately. I feel very lucky.

Q. More on the demon topic, you've been talking a lot about it. Do you think that you're very open about it now where maybe you were in denial about it and being more open about it helps you deal with it at this point??

CHARLIE WI: I don't know. I'm sorry, I can't answer. I don't know. Is it going to help me tomorrow because I'm more open about it? I can't answer that. And yeah, am I a realist? Yes. But you know, I don't know how to answer that. I'm sorry.

Q. Previous times when you've been around the lead on Sunday, do you feel like you've played too aggressively or too defensively, and how will you apply that knowledge tomorrow, especially given the first seven holes where you do a lot of damage??

CHARLIE WI: Yeah, that's a very good question. Because, you know, the first seven holes, you do have to score out here, and if you don't, you're going to feel like you're falling behind.

But it depends on the conditions. That's what's going to dictate what the scores are going to be tomorrow. I can't really worry about it and I'll certainly try my best to score on the holes that you need to make birdie on. We'll see how it plays out tomorrow.

Q. Did you watch a couple of weeks ago in Abu Dhabi, and did it give you some sort of confidence that a guy like Robert Rock, who had only won once in his career, held on and through all of the pressure and found a way to win; does that give you confidence, obviously playing with Tiger.

CHARLIE WI: I don't know if you guys have seen Robert Rock swing a golf club. He swings it pretty darned good. It wasn't a fluke. I think he got into golf late, and he swings at it so beautifully, he definitely controlled the ball better than Tiger did.

I know that he's only won once, but the way he swings it, he's going to win a lot more times.

Sorry, what was the question? I was just thinking about Robert Rock's golf swing. (Laughter).

Q. Does it give you some confidence that for a guy who has only won once held on??

CHARLIE WI: I've won all over the world, even in Europe, so I have -- I know how to win when I'm in contention. So we'll see how it plays out tomorrow.

Q. You said you talked to Tiger last night??

CHARLIE WI: He's back there (laughter, as Tiger enters the room).

Tiger, I was telling them a story about when I played with you when I was 13 at El Dorado No.9, remember that's the long par 3? And I told them that -- when he was nine, he wasn't hitting it very far and he hit a 70-yard wedge shot and got all pissed off, and I said what's wrong and he said, I was trying to make that. I just told that story. (Laughter).

Q. That was actually going to be my question. But I wanted to ask you also, you were born a little bit -- can you just talk about your background, you were born in Seoul?

CHARLIE WI: I was born in Korea and lived there until I was ten and then moved to Westlake Village. My dad, he was in business, import/export.

Q. Winning against the European you're in until Asia, what you can take from that and Colonial that will help you tomorrow, do you think??

CHARLIE WI: You know, I just know that I know how to compete and that I could shoot low when I need to and hang in there under pressure.

JOHN BUSH: Charlie, we appreciate your time. Play well tomorrow.