His decisive bunker exit, on the 72nd hole
“I’ll be honest. I had a hard time this year playing in the fairway bunkers. I had a good session at the US PGA and my coach helped me a bit. I’m still not at 100% of my abilities. The lie of the ball (ball lower than the feet) forced me not to play directly towards the pin. He forced me to aim well to the left. If I had to hit a straight trajectory, I would have struggled to keep the ball on the green.
I’m quick to play and everything happened so fast. It’s like my natural abilities have taken over, like I’m a junior trying to hit the ball as close to the flag as possible. And I didn’t want to do that, but I just went into the shot that we had planned and managed to do a tight fade.
I just felt like I had to hit the green. If I got there and made the par, it would put pressure on Will (Zalatoris). I knew he was going to put the ball close to the hole. He is one of the best approach players on the circuit. That’s good when you know the statistics. We know who we are going to play against. »
His putt from the 72nd hole
“I knew he was going to give himself a chance. When I hit that first putt, I thought to myself that at least I had a chance (of winning the tournament, without waiting for Zalatoris’ putt). I was a little worried about having to give him the line of putt. I told Billy that I had the same putt in the US Amateur (2013), in the morning session in the final, and that I really wanted to make it. I thought he would turn more than he did, especially since I had spotted this slope well in training. »
His recent power gain
“I did my doping test, and it was negative, so everything is fine (laughs). Since 2020 I have spent a lot of time working with Mike Walker and my biomechanist Sasho Mackenzie. (Sasha) gave me this speed stick called The Stack. I did it religiously week after week. It’s like going to the gym. I’ll be honest, it worked wonders. I feel like three/four years ago, if I had been in this position with Will in the final group, I would have been worried about being 15 yards behind him. And I felt comfortable all day knowing I was going to pass him, which gives me confidence for the next shot. There’s a kind of mentality that when you hit further than the others, it’s quite nice. »