Northern Trust Open interview: Sang-Moon Bae

February 15, 2013

MORE INTERVIEWS: Northern Trust Open transcripts 

MARK STEVENS: Sang‑moon Bae you got to 9‑under today. If you can give us some comments on your round.

SANG MOON‑BAE: I can't speak English very well. Please understand. I feel like I played very well today. I hit a bunch of good shots. I made many good putts, but I missed a couple short putts on hole No. 5 and 7. But it was not a big problem.

So I think I did my best today.

Q. Your English is very good. Can you talk about how you get through a round, the birdies and bogeys, when you stay calm through that?

SANG MOON‑BAE: You know, these greens are a little tricky and soft and a little bumpy. So playing is not easy. So every player, some happens for that, can't miss a short putt. So I don't know pairing for tomorrow, but you know, many good players on the PGA TOUR so it's very competitive. It's good experience. Just I will play just my game.

Q. Riviera is known as being one of the classic courses in the United States. Does it suit your game, do you think?

SANG MOON‑BAE: Yeah, you know, these greens are very narrow and small so I just try in the centre of the green and keep it on the fairway and hit the greens. But I didn't hit to the flag on the center of the green. Actually my putter is feeling my best level so I can make a ten or 15 feet put. Yeah, I have confidence in my game, yeah.

Q. Do you like the course?

SANG MOON‑BAE: Yeah, actually this grass is very difficult, green‑side rough is kikuyu, it's very hard. But I like the grass on the fairway, like in Japanese course or Korea, very similar, so I like this grass.

Q. When contemplation this course for the first time and seeing your name up on the lead of the leaderboard, what does that mean to you, a course that you haven't gotten to know that well yet?

SANG MOON‑BAE: I'm leading now, it really means a lot. I'm only playing two years on the PGA TOUR. But I think afternoon group, the players more get the high score over 10,11, I think. But, well, I will do my best tomorrow and Sunday.

Q. Next week is the match play championship, and last year you had a great run, eventually losing to Rory McIlroy. How much did that do for your confidence on the PGA TOUR, your performance in Tucson?

SANG MOON‑BAE: I played it really well last year, the Match Play. I won three times but I lost to McIlroy. He played really well, but he's No. 1 in the world.

Yeah, actually I had confidence, very much, yeah.

Q. Did that give you more confidence to know you can really compete on this TOUR?

SANG MOON‑BAE: Yes, actually. Last year I start very well, the first of the season to April, but actually I didn't play well after May. Keeping better, better and better. My game is very nice right now.

Q. You have, like all Korean men, the mandatory national service?

SANG MOON‑BAE: Military service?

Q. Yeah, obligation in front of you. Where does that stand? What age do you have to have that satisfied by?

SANG MOON‑BAE: That's a good question (laughing). I have to go but I'm 26 years old now right now. The maximum, 29 or 30, but you know, my goal is 2016 Olympic medal. If I get any medal, any color, bronze, silver, gold, I can't ‑‑ without military service. So my goal is Olympics, 2016.

Q. And if not, then you would have to ‑‑ after the Olympics?

SANG MOON‑BAE: I would have to go.

Q. Two years?

SANG MOON‑BAE: Two, three or four years later I think.

Q. Could you describe the strengths of your game as you see them, what the best parts are and maybe what you need to work on?

SANG MOON‑BAE: I think I'm doing pitting very well. But PGA TOUR is every week, different course, different grass, green‑side rough and fairway. I think rough, last year was really good experience for me. It's a little more comfortable for me just for this year, so I have to more practice for the short game around the green.

Q. Korean fans are very active on social media channels. Do you have a Twitter account and do you engage with your fans at all?

SANG MOON‑BAE: Korean fans?

Q. Korean fans are active in social media. Do you have a Twitter account or do you engage with your fans in social media at all?

SANG MOON‑BAE: Actually many Koreans staying in California. I think tomorrow will be more Koreans here. So they are very strong. You know, very different, Americans, so they supporting me. That's very ‑‑ my energy gets higher.

MARK STEVENS: Do you have a Twitter account?

SANG MOON‑BAE: Yeah, I'm doing the Twitter but not much.

Q. Can you talk about the state of Korean golf? There's six Korean golfers playing in this tournament, some young guys, yourself, John Huh, what do you think the state of Korean golfers is and should we expect more young Korean golfers to make it to the TOUR?

SANG MOON‑BAE: Well, many Koreans playing PGA TOUR. So it really means a lot. K.J. Choi and Y.E. Yang play very well. So K.J. has eight times win on the PGA TOUR. I respect him, and at the same time, I learned a lot from him about bunker shot and short game and course managing, everything. I'm learning from him, yeah.

Q. Have you taken advice from him?

SANG MOON‑BAE: Yeah, the bunker, short game, he says PGA TOUR, every time, every week, different course, so you have to practice more for the chipping and short game, putting. So yeah, he's really good player.

Q. You had one runner‑up finish in your rookie season last year, what targets have you set for yourself this year on the PGA TOUR?

SANG MOON‑BAE: My goal is win, but you know, that's not easy. But keep improving my game. So I think I can do it.