Featured Golf News
Stephen Ames Interview
Editor’s Note: Following his win in the Cialis Western Open, Stephen Ames sat down with the media and conducted the following interview. The victory was a long time coming, as Ames earned his first PGA Tour victory in his 166th career start.
MODERATOR: Talk a little bit about the first win on Tour. How exciting is that for you?
STEPHEN AMES: Exciting. Coming down to the last four holes after watching the leaderboard with both Steve and Mark double bogeying the 13th I think it was, I saw the spread kind of go up there, and I went, whoa, these guys are just throwing it away in a sense. I mean, it was difficult. I had to try and hold my emotions back a little bit. I'm thankful that Robert was on the bag, too.
MODERATOR: Certainly the wind switched out to the west so you hadn't seen that before, and until that point it was a close race between any one of maybe four or five players.
STEPHEN AMES: Definitely. The first nine holes I was behind going into the 10th hole, and as the day went on, it got tougher and tougher with the wind there, and the good thing about it is my golf swing held up very well. The funny thing is in the past I've talked about with my coach about how you shouldn't get slower and slower, you should get faster and faster, and the good thing about it is I got faster and faster, which is perfect for what I needed in my golf swing. It needs to be quicker and quicker for it to work properly, and it did coming down the stretch for me.
MODERATOR: You had to feel like this was coming, eight Top 10s in your last ten starts. You've been knocking on the door for a while.
STEPHEN AMES: Well, my belief had changed. It's a matter of time. I just had to wait for it to happen, and this week it happened.
MODERATOR: Calgary didn't get its championship but now they have a PGA TOUR champion. The people of Canada must be very happy.
STEPHEN AMES: When I get home they're going to be partying in Calgary, and I'm sure they're partying in Trinidad.
Q. Speaking of that, the first Trinidad and Tobago to win on Tour.
STEPHEN AMES: Yes, it is. First after Chi-Chi.
Q. I'm wondering your thoughts, after you make the birdie on 12, how quickly you find out about Lowery making the double and then of course Hensby makes his double. Your emotions at that point and how you keep it together?
STEPHEN AMES: At 13 I kind of lost focus a bit because of what was happening with Mark because of his drop and getting onto the green, so I hit my first putt like five, six feet past and then I had to make that par putt and get on with it. From there it was a matter of picking the right clubs, the shots, making sure I got the wind right and got on with it.
15, I played the hole well, considering the way the wind was blowing. I had a nice hole, held a 3-wood there to the middle of the green. 16 was a great up-and-down there. And then 17, played it smart, 3-wood, then 9-iron to the middle of the green. Same thing for 18, driver and 6-iron to the right. The last three holes I was watching the leaderboard and it was tough. I kept asking where my wife was because I wanted to make sure my boys were there to enjoy this with me, as well.
Q. You talked about patience and it being a matter of timing before you got your first win. Did you apply that same sort of mentality to your round today? No birdies through the first 11 holes, sort of a matter of time before it happened?
STEPHEN AMES: I think the good thing about it, I'm glad that the wind came up the way it did. That's what made it tough. It was definitely a patience day. Birdies are going to be hard to come by, and with me, I mean, it was just a matter of time of making a couple birdies, which I did on 12 there, hitting a 5-iron a couple feet and then getting up on 15 in two and two-putting. It was just a matter of time before it happened.
Q. You talked about believing that you can do it. At what point did that belief kick in? Was it this year, earlier than that?
STEPHEN AMES: I would say it was this year after the amount of Top 10s that I had. It was my belief in winning a golf tournament was always that I had to have the perfect golf swing, and it's not the perfect golf swing. Guys have won out here not hitting perfect shots or hitting the way they wanted to when they play day in and day out, and that was the belief that I had to change. I had to believe that my golf swing was good enough to win out here and just go out and see the shot and hit the shot that I wanted to hit, and that's basically the belief that I had to change, that my golf swing was good enough to be able to win out here.
Q. You kind of looked overwhelmed when you saw the crowd as you came up to 18, and then what did you say to your boys after you holed out?
STEPHEN AMES: Well, it's funny because this week I promised them I was going to win the trophy, beginning the week. When Justin had found that I had won, he was like, "You did?" I guess it was something that obviously I dreamt about before the week started, winning, so that was something for me, for us, basically.
Q. Had you ever done that, promised them?
STEPHEN AMES: I've promised them a lot of things, yes, but the trophy, yes, that was definitely promised this year.
Q. When and where did you promise your boys? Do you remember the setting and the circumstances?
STEPHEN AMES: Beginning of the week when I told them -- this is their first week out on Tour with me since Phoenix, and I told them, guys, I'm going to win this week for you guys. I both sat them down and told them about it, and our dream came true.
Q. Did you predict a score? How far did you go with that?
STEPHEN AMES: No, I just went to the dream, just a dream.
Q. When you got here this morning and you knew what the leaderboard looked like and you saw the wind, what was your goal, just to kind of take the birdie opportunities when they came, let everybody else make the mistakes?
STEPHEN AMES: Yeah.
Q. That seems to be the best –
STEPHEN AMES: You pretty much hit the nail on the head there. I made a bad bogey there because there was a marshal who shouted in my downswing, so I lost my concentration there and made a bogey, but I was like, the day is long, there are a lot of holes to play, and I knew it was going to be tough to make birdies. Guys had to be playing exceptionally well to make birdies, and even for me, anybody can make birdies out there.
It was definitely a big day for patience. Par was going to be a good score. As it turned out, if I shot par today, it would have been good enough to win anyhow, so I knew that was a big factor and I was happy the wind came up. It made it tougher for everybody else, for me, too.
Q. You said your swing was getting quicker and quicker, but the book says you go slower.
STEPHEN AMES: Yeah, I know.
Q. How do you explain that?
STEPHEN AMES: That's something my coach and I have been looking on the last couple months, just to get shorter and quicker, similar to Nicky Price.
Q. You've been out here for quite a while. Was there ever a time when you thought this day might never arrive and that you might go back to being a club pro or something like that?
STEPHEN AMES: No, I never thought of that at all. I enjoy the game too much for that to happen.
Q. Robert was saying outside, and you alluded to it today, about par being a good score and how it really played like a major championship today. Your next tournament is a major championship. Do you feel like you're now ready with this under your belt to contend at majors?
STEPHEN AMES: I have to say, I have to think, yeah, definitely I am now, especially with Royal Troon. The last time I played there I finished 5th in '97 when Justin won. I don't think I was half the ball striker that I am now, and definitely half the man. I think I was a lot younger, and I'm a lot more mature now in the ways of life and the ways of golf, and I'm going to enjoy the British Open no matter what happens.
Q. What kind of reaction do you think this victory is going to have in Trinidad? Do people follow your career there?
STEPHEN AMES: There are people that follow my career, but I'm not given the recognition of my career, on what I've done, because the sports in Trinidad are cricket and also soccer. We're very big in soccer. Me achieving what I've achieved here, maybe I would get the recognition, but I think I'm probably 15 -- or maybe a few thousand people know what I've achieved.
Q. You spoke to this a bit yesterday having your brother on your bag. How important is it? Is it more an extension of yourself than a caddie might be?
STEPHEN AMES: Without a doubt. For four years I had my wife caddie for me, so with Robert on the bag, the family is on the bag, it's a big fulfillment. It's going to be a big fulfillment for him, also, because his dream is also to be out here, and I think he's come to realize that maybe he's not good enough or he still has a little shine on his back that he might like to try again. If he never does get out there, at least he's going to have the fulfillment that he caddied for me when I won my first Tour event, and who knows, maybe a few more before the year is up.
Q. Are you going back to Calgary before the Open, and what will the celebration be like?
STEPHEN AMES: Well, I'm sure it's going to be big. I'm going to make sure of that, let's put it that way. I own a restaurant at home, one of the restaurants at home in Calgary. The restaurant is going to be closed down and there's going to be a few people drinking a few bottles of champagne in there.
Q. Are you going home tonight?
STEPHEN AMES: I go home tomorrow afternoon.
Q. Is that on the Red Mile there?
STEPHEN AMES: No, it's actually downtown, not far from the Red Mile.
Q. When the lead became three shots, if nerves played a role at all, were they more so then because it was essentially your tournament to win or lose?
STEPHEN AMES: I don't think it was nerves, I think it was more emotions. I was trying to hold myself back from thinking forward, what I was going to say in the speech, what I was going to say to you guys when I was talking to you, my boys and my wife running out there to give me a hug and kiss and stuff like that. Those things were coming in my mind, and I had to completely throw them out and focus on what I was doing.
Q. I saw Pat Bates out there and you kind of waved at him. Talk about your relationship with him and what that was like seeing him waiting for you.
STEPHEN AMES: That was nice that Pat and Christine stayed around. We've hung out all week together and our kids are close, so we've had a lot of dinners and a lot of drinks and stuff like that at night this week, so it was nice that he stayed behind to wish me -- congratulate me.
Q. Your connection with Trinidad now, do you have a lot of family there? How often do you go back?
STEPHEN AMES: My mom and dad still live there. I have one sister that lives there with her family, and a million and one friends. Going back home, I try to go home the end of every year. There are a lot of good junior players that are coming out of Trinidad right now, and I've put a few hours of my time in there trying to help them as much as I can, and Nike has helped me in that respect, also, giving them clubs, balls, and like I said, after the Tour Championship this year, I'm going home for about ten days to help them out and do clinics and stuff like that, as well.
Q. Do you know how many people play golf in Trinidad?
STEPHEN AMES: I think the number has got to be close to 3,000 now, 3,000 or 4,000 people.
Q. How many when you started?
STEPHEN AMES: Probably less than 1,000.
Q. And the number of golf courses now and then? There's two now?
STEPHEN AMES: There are less now than there were when I grew up. There are more nine-hole golf courses and less 18-hole golf courses. Now we have two 18-hole golf courses in Tobago and two 18-hole golf courses in Trinidad.
MODERATOR: If we could just go through the card. Talk a little bit about that bogey on 3. What club did you have with the downswing?
STEPHEN AMES: It was 3-wood off the tee. Like I said, the marshal just yelled out, "stand quiet, please," and it caught me on my down swing. Then I hit my second shot behind the tree, so I ended up putting it into the trap and didn't get it up-and-down from there. Then 12, I think it was 220, 221 to the hole down off the left, and I hit a beautiful 5-iron. It was a solid shot, one of the solid shots for the day to about four, five feet I think it was.
15, I hit a perfect drive up the right side, then I cut the 3-wood back into the middle -- middle left of the green and two-putted. My eagle putt was in the middle of the hole about a foot and a half short.
Q. Just talk about par saving putts in both 2 and also at 16 and at different points of the round how big those were.
STEPHEN AMES: I don't know about 2. 2 didn't really get to me or phase me at that stage because it was so early into the round. It was just a matter of getting on with it. 16 was a battle because I didn't want to have one or two shots going in there noticing that I'd have -- playing the 17th hole was a big factor and also the fact that I wanted to break par. That was my goal today was to try and break par, and I wanted to get to double figures and also beat the guys by as many shots as I could. That was also a goal.
Q. When the marshal yelled that, was that during your first shot or your second shot?
STEPHEN AMES: My first shot, my drive.
Q. The second shot –
STEPHEN AMES: The tree was right in my way, yes, so I did the best I could with the second shot. I put it in the trap there.
Q. The second shot on 16, Stephen, that's one place you don't want to miss, right?
STEPHEN AMES: Yeah, 16, instead of on the second shot there, we thought the wind was just off the left and it should have been into off the left, and when I hit the shot, I hit the shot thinking the wind was just off the left and it actually came back and switched into us. That's the reason why I came up so short. I hit a solid shot, it's just the wind came back into us. It was a tough chip because it was actually going up right to left and then left to right at the end there, so I had to get the pitch perfectly where I wanted it so I could get it close or on top of the hill there perfectly, and I hit it like seven, eight feet. It was a good par putt.
Q. What's your schedule for the rest of the year, at least the rest of the summer?
STEPHEN AMES: I've got the British Open, and then I'm going to have to look at my schedule now, change it. But it's going to be British Open, the PGA, those I know for sure, the two World Championship golf events, and then Maui at the beginning of the year. Wow. I get to go back there, I just thought about it. That's basically it right now. The rest of the other events on Tour I'm going to look at and see, see how much this is going to take out of me and stuff like that. I've never been in this position before, so we'll have to see.
Q. Castle Pines is up in the air?
STEPHEN AMES: That one I'm probably going to play, yes, but I'm not 100 percent sure. Q. Since Troon in '97, you mentioned you're a more mature guy, different guy. In what ways?
STEPHEN AMES: The ways of myself, how I react to certain situations. In the past I've been very frustrated, impatient, those kind of things. Now I realize that I had opportunities in the past where I've played well and didn't -- I never knew how to eat properly on the golf course, how to prepare myself before I went through a round. My trainer has done that well for me, Chris Noss. There's a regimen that we go through when he's out here with me, and I'm out here without him, and I still do a lot of the stuff when he's not here. It's just a form of commitment that I've made myself get into to get me in this position where I am today, winning my first event, and I'm going to continue doing it because it's been a big help. That's why Tiger Woods is where he is today, isn't it?
Q. Your team has a personal trainer, swing coach, psychologist. Anybody else?
STEPHEN AMES: No, that's it, right there. Basically similar to everybody else.
Q. Do you have Canadian citizenship now?
STEPHEN AMES: I am Canadian since December the 12th.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.