December 9 – 15, 2024
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Interview

Read a transcript of the post-Round 3 interview with Lydia Ko and Jason Day.

Lydia Ko & Jason Day

Sunday, December 10, 2023

THE MODERATOR: Good evening, everyone. We would like to welcome Grant Thornton Invitational winners Lydia Ko and Jason Day to the media center. Just want to start off with some opening comments from both of you what it was like to get this win.

JASON DAY: I mean, it was a fantastic week. I think trying to learn Lydia’s game, it was hard. There wasn’t much to learn because she flushes it so straight and she hits a lot of greens and she has a good short game and she putts well.

I think the second day we really needed to kind of nail the format down because obviously alternate shot is the hardest format, I believe. But walking away from this week, I think it’s been a huge success. I think a lot of the guys have had a lot of fun playing with the women this week, and I think it’s been a great partnership between the LPGA and the PGA TOUR.

I feel like the fans and the players have been wanting something like this for a long time. It was just fun.

It was just kind of weird, coming down the finishing few holes, once we were on 25-under, I felt like one of us was going to birdie 17, and then it was kind of going to — someone was going to par 18.

It was almost like some stress there, but it wasn’t as stressful because you have a partner, and when you have a partner like Lydia, when she hits a mint 3-wood into 17 and hits it to five yards, that’s when you kind of can relax a little bit.

Overall it’s been a tremendous week to play this week with Lydia. Just lifelong friends from now on, you know.

LYDIA KO: There’s normally an Australian and New Zealand rivalry, but that was not there this week. Playing the practice round on Tuesday I think was really helpful for me. In ways I think I’m a little introverted, so when I meet someone new and that person happens to be Jason, it’s not like the most comfortable situation to be in.

But he kept asking me questions and was so nice that I think it made me feel like five, six days ago wasn’t the first time I had met him and his caddie Luke.

This week I think every player that’s here, whether it’s the PGA TOUR player or LPGA player, I think we’re here for more than just the prize money and winning. It’s about the growth of the game.

It’s great that we got to win on top of that, but I think with the help of Grant Thornton, this is, I think, a start for so many more exciting things to come, and I’m excited to be a part of this partnership.

It’s been an unreal experience to play alongside Jason. I was nervous, but I kind of wanted to make him proud, as well, and to be able to hit a good shot on 17 kind of took the weight off my shoulders a little bit.

It’s just been so much fun.

Q. Lydia, can you take us through that shot on 17 and what you think that might do for you going forward in terms of confidence for next year?

LYDIA KO: You know, it was pretty windy today, and it was a completely different wind direction to the first day. Yesterday it started switching more, coming more from the south. The holes like 2, 3, 4 where it’s normally tougher because those are long holes, it was playing the exact opposite.

Last year at CME I hit an 8-iron into the green for my second shot on 17, and today I was like, okay, I need to hit it perfectly out of the middle of the club face with my 3-wood. It was just very different.

I felt like if I did miss, it was going to go in the bunker. The lips here aren’t the most friendly ones. It was kind of like an ultimatum to myself, you have to hit a good one

As soon as it came off the club face, I was like, I think it’s good, please be good, and it was heading right towards the pin. I don’t think I could have hit that shot 100 times and it would turn out better.

I’m glad that I was able to kind of commit to my swing, and I think that kind of shows all the time and effort I’ve been working on my ball-striking. I was able to pull it off in the moment where it really was needed.

At the same time, I’ve seen Jason chip all around the green, and it’s always close to going in or it’s just right there. I felt like there was less pressure because I almost felt like I was going to birdie it anyway.

Q. Karen Stupples and Morgan were both commenting on how good your swing looks, that it looks as good as it’s looked all year. Can you talk about what you worked on with your instructor coming into this week, what you found?

LYDIA KO: Yeah, it’s been not the greatest year. Obviously this is the best way to cap off a year like I had.

I won my first event of the season and then won the last one. I would like to cut everything in between.

But in saying that, I think all those moments make you the player you are now, and I’ve learned a lot, and my ball-striking has definitely not been my friend for the past few months.

We’ve just been — not been too technical and making sure that I can be really committed. I would just stick to my game plan, whether it was driving it — teeing it up really low so at least I could get the chase, and it’s super dry here, so I don’t really need to carry it a long way, especially because sometimes I’m hitting Jason’s ball and I’m not exactly sure how far my driver is going to carry.

But yeah, just making sure I have a lot of width and just being aggressive, and I think being aggressive is sometimes easier said than done when things aren’t going your way, to tell yourself to swing harder and like be aggressive like in the down swing, your mind doesn’t really go back to that. So I’m just trying to keep it really simple, and the less manipulation I can do, the better, and I think I have a better understanding of my swing and my tendencies.

I was able to get a tip from Jason this week, as well, so that’s something I’m going to continue to work on and hopefully flush the bad out little by little and just kind of gain the confidence in my ball-striking.

Q. Could you both speak to what you felt like this tournament meant to golf this week and what it’ll mean to golf going forward.

JASON DAY: Yeah, I think Lydia kind of nailed it on the head before in regards to growing the game. I don’t think I’ve seen so many female junior golfers out at an event, especially a PGA TOUR event, as I did see them this week.

This is something that I think we have to keep striving towards. To have the partnership between the two tours and to have the tournament going on, and the way that Grant Thornton put the show on, I think they really, really nailed it this week.

I know that Lydia has talked about growing the game, and you can just see how many young kids are out there watching the game, which is fantastic.

Obviously people at home, as well. This has been exciting for us to get together and play, and I know that I’m definitely going to be back next year. I’m hoping that Lydia has me as a partner, as well.

This is something that we can look forward to each and every year, and I hope we keep this going for as long as we can.

LYDIA KO: He said everything needed.

Q. You guys have both said that hopefully this opens the doors to more opportunities like this tournament. Do you have any specific ideas or proposals for what that could look like potentially?

LYDIA KO: I mean, there’s probably other people that have better ideas than something I can come up with. But I think at the end of the day, sometimes there’s a separation between the PGA TOUR, the LPGA Tour and other tours. But we’re all playing the game of golf. We all play it because we love it. It has given us so many great opportunities and experiences.

I think this is just a great example that we’re all just golfers at the end of the day and trying to play the best golf we can and perform at our highest. I think this is just the start of that.

Whether it’s another event or something like — I don’t know, there’s a lot more people that’s smarter than me that can come up with great ideas like this, but I think this is just a gateway and a reminder that we’re all here for the game of golf, and I believe that a lot of people are going to take inspiration and get motivated by watching this week.

Q. Jason, what was the tip that you gave Lydia?

JASON DAY: She asked me about width because last week I hit it terribly on Sunday of the Hero World Challenge, and I was hitting it sideways, and then I just was talking to my coach. Something deep down inside, I’m like, I feel like I need more width coming down. If you look at old school Tiger Woods, he had a lot of width coming down.

Sometimes although there’s two ways of — like for me, I typically sometimes drag the club, so you can either drag the handle and have the butt of the club pointing kind of beyond the ball, or you can have it kind of coming underneath. I don’t want to get too technical with it, but essentially both of those, underneath and/or dragging, are essentially the same thing.

So I was just trying to get a little bit more width, kind of get the club out more, get the club face pointing at the back of the ball, and she was just asking me about it.

I don’t need to give her advice. I think she’s an absolute gun. I know she said she has had an off year, and we go through that in golf. That’s just a long career will be like that. But she’s going to have many more good years than the off years just because of the way she carries herself on the golf course, the way she plays, and her mind.

She actually has a very strong champion mentality. When you’re out there talking to her and you’re sitting there and you’re thinking, oh, you got a bad bounce or this and that, it’s never like, you’re right, I got a bad bounce or it went up against the lip. It was more about, she’s always looking forward.

When you have a mentality like that, you’re always going to pursue greatness, and I think she’s going to be great for a long time, as long as she wants to play. That’s the biggest thing.

But it’s been absolutely a treat to be able to play with her, pick her brain, see how she is under pressure because I can learn as a golfer, especially from the PGA TOUR, I can learn from many different places, and this is a perfect scenario where I can learn from Lydia who’s been a great golfer for a long time.

I feel like I’ve improved coming out of this week personally, and I’m going to take what I asked her about her wedges moving forward, and I know that’s going to help me a lot in my game, too.

Fingers crossed I have a good wedge game next year.

LYDIA KO: It’s very weird sitting here and getting all these compliments.

JASON DAY: Well, it’s true. It honestly is.

Q. After securing the win on 18, how nice was it to have family, Lydia, your sister on the green, and Jason, Ellie and kids there?

LYDIA KO: I mean, it’s great. My sister and my mom is here. They do so much for me, whether I’m playing in Malaysia or here. I think pretty much apart from me getting the golf ball from point A to point B, they do everything else, and I know that I wouldn’t be here today without my whole family, so I’m very grateful that they can be here.

Obviously we had such a special moment last year winning the last event of the ’22 season, and for them to be here and be with us for the ’23 season is really awesome.

For me, it was like really cool because I’ve seen Jason’s kids on Instagram, so I’m like, oh, wow, they’re here in person. I told Jason I’m a big fan of Dash. He’s taller than me now.

There’s those moments where you realize it’s much more than just golf. I think a few weeks ago when Erik van Rooyen won, he put it in the best way, because sometimes this is our job and we pretty much put a lot of our time and effort into it, golf feels like it’s the — it’s like our life. But there’s so much more to that.

Seeing Jason’s family and seeing my family, you realize that, no matter if you have a good or bad day on the golf course or at the office, that’s not what defines us. There’s a lot more exciting and grateful things in life that you’ve got outside of this.

To be able to do a good job at what we’re trying to be good at is just another great, I guess, steppingstone along the journey.

JASON DAY: I feel like every time I’ve won recently, I keep adding a child. It just keeps coming, and there’s more of them.

I’m very blessed to be able to have my family with me always on the road. Very blessed to have a loving wife, and the kids are all healthy. Like everything in my world is really, really great.

Don’t worry, I’m done now, hopefully. Me and Tony, we’re fighting for strokes gained kids on the TOUR.

Yeah, it’s been great, just to meet Lydia’s sister and to meet her whole team.

But when you win, and you’ll experience this one day when you have children yourself and you’re still playing, there’s nothing quite like having children run up to you after you win a tournament just because of all the emotions start to come out just because you can see how much your children love you and want to be there for you.

Every time I get to experience that, it fills me. I’m just very grateful for that.

LYDIA KO: I haven’t experienced that, but maybe like club championship.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you both for the time. Congratulations on the win, and we look forward to seeing you here next year.

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