Austin Ernst: Friday Interview 2015

Q. After the morning wave or the middle of the morning wave, how does it feel?

AUSTIN ERNST: Good. That's what  I mean, I've been playing well, it's really just a matter of getting some putts to fall. And then I hit it really well today. I had a few holes that were kind of  I kind of hit some loose shots, but kind of just took my bogey and kind of went on with it. And then I had probably three wedge shots that I hit up within a foot and I just went up and tapped them in. I think I hit two more where I had about three feet.

So I'm hitting the ball well, getting a lot of good looks, finally got some putts to fall today. I didn't really make anything yesterday and I shot 2under. Kind of kept myself in it. And then every time I made a mistake today, it seemed like the next hole or two holes later I hit a good shot and made the putt for birdie.

Q. What's the difference do you think between the beginning of the season and the last few weeks when you're playing pretty well out here?

AUSTIN ERNST: I think I've just gotten a little bit better every week. My wedge game is really good right now. So out here I get a lot of wedges, so I know that I can pretty much take dead aim. My ball striking's been good. Probably starting to drive it a little bit better. Today I had a few loose drives where I kind of figured it out towards the end. But I think I've just kind of gotten a little bit better every week in some aspect, and then hopefully I can get every aspect kind of firing at the same time.

Q. What is it about your game that it seems like you take it really deep if you're playing well, more so than most players?

AUSTIN ERNST: Normally I hit my irons really well, so I'm really aggressive. Especially when I'm hitting it well, I go at a lot of pins. Out here I've gone at just about every one that I've  for sure that I've had an 8iron or less in my hand. So I give myself a lot of good looks at birdie, and then when I get a few to fall, it seems like I get a little bit of confidence with the putter and I can get a lot of them to fall.

Q. Win in Portland last year, obviously showed you could play out here and you're a great young player out here, but I would think this track is totally different than Portland. Is that a good sign to you that you're able to contend on different tracks like that?

AUSTIN ERNST: Yeah, that's why it's nice to kind of be able  you know, Portland's tree lined, pretty tight off the tee. Out here it's wide open, you can pretty much hit it wherever you take it, cut off some corners, that kind of thing. But yeah, you've got to go low out here to win. It's probably going to take right around 20under, so it's nice to kind of see my game kind of transition week to week. It's done that a lot better this year than it has in the past.

Q. Did you and Lexi feed off each other out there?

AUSTIN ERNST: Yeah, she made  we both had a string of birdies there on the front nine. She was hitting it well. Yesterday we actually said  I said something to her after we finished, I don't think either one of us missed a green yesterday, so we're like let's just putt better tomorrow and we'll shoot a low number. She shot like five or six and I shot I think seven. So definitely when you see putts going in with other people, too, I think it just kind of gives you a little bit more confidence that you can just take it deep.

Q. You're young and a lot of Solheim Cups in front of you potentially, but were you bummed not to make that team, just to miss out on the edge?

AUSTIN ERNST: Yeah, I was disappointed not to be on that team. Obviously that was one of my big goals going into the year. But I've kind of used that as motivation for the future. This week starts I guess 2017's campaign it for it, so I'll just use it as motivation to want to get better and I want to try to finish number one on that list so I don't have to worry about being a captain's pick next time. But yeah I was definitely a little bit disappointed.

Q. And hoping to prove a point this week?

AUSTIN ERNST: It would be nice to. Obviously I think that's what anybody  you know, like Billy Horschel did last year where he won two of the next three right after the pick. We all want to be on that team. Obviously Juli did what she thought is best for the team. I respect Juli, respect the decision she made. But obviously I want to play as well as I can and kind of maybe give her a little doubt in her mind. (Laughs.)

Q. Still pulling for them, though, right?

AUSTIN ERNST: Oh, yeah, sure. Hope they get it back. That cup's been over in Europe for too long.

Q. Being the competitive mindset that you have headed into the weekend, what's the game plan? There's a lot of Americans and Lexi being up there with you.

AUSTIN ERNST: I played with Lexi these last two days. Lexi hits wedge into I think every hole out here. The line she takes off the tees are just unbelievable, like it's just stupid. She'll hit it 50 by me on some holes just because she can carry it 20 past where I can. I've got to keep making birdies, I've just got to stay aggressive. You can't go shoot 2under the next two days, you'll get lapped. I'm just going to stay aggressive, keep going at pins and hopefully the putts fall.

Q. What do you think is going to be harder to get, the first win or the second?

AUSTIN ERNST: I think the first was probably the hardest one because now I know I can do it. I've been in that situation, I know kind of feeling, the nerves that you get coming down the stretch. I know I can get it done. I think just having that confidence to lean on that first win will help me get the second one.

Q. Was that a good one, too, because not only  I mean, it wasn't like you lapped the field where you had an easy Sunday. I mean, you were tight down the stretch and then had to go into a playoff to win it.

AUSTIN ERNST: Yeah, I think kind of coming from behind a little bit and posting a low number and then going into that playoff, you know, obviously that gives you even more confidence just because you know you can get it done when the pressure's on.

Q. Do you think 20under, you said, wins this thing?

AUSTIN ERNST: About 20, yeah.

Q. Will you think about that tomorrow? Are you thinking 6666?

AUSTIN ERNST: No. I was thinking of getting (inaudible) today, like  I didn't even know  at one point I didn't know how many birdies I made, I was just kind of going to the next hole just trying to keep making birdies. I'm going to try to shoot as many under as I could. My proam group asked me what I was going to shoot earlier in the week and I said 70under. I don't think I'm on pace for that.

Q. What do you attribute to the way you've played the last few weeks, last month or so? A lot of people play worse as they get on the Solheim Cup bubble, it seems like the pressure kind of gets to them. Seems like you thrive more than ever.

AUSTIN ERNST: Yeah, that's always in the back of my mind really all year. There's no way around it, there's got to be. But I knew I was playing well, I knew I was hitting the ball well, which I've hit the ball really well this year and I've putted terribly for most of the year and I'm still 33rd on the money list and I took that as a positive sign. If I can just get the putter rolling, if I can get one shot around, that's the difference in maybe winning and finishing fifth like I have a few times.

Q. How frustrating is it, what's easier to get back, the ball striking or the putting? I would think the ball striking, you can go look at video and kind of figure it out pretty quickly.

AUSTIN ERNST: I think putting is one of those things, especially for me, if I see a few roll in, I get confident with it and then I normally make a lot of putts. That's why, like you said earlier, I have some really low rounds sometimes. And how well I'm hitting it, I'm getting a lot of looks at birdie. I just have to remind myself if I whip out a 10footer for birdie that I've had 15 looks inside 10 feet or 15 feet. Every now and then one of those is going to hop or something is going to happen where it just doesn't go in. But yeah, I like how these greens are rolling this week, too. They're firm  or they're fast, they're not firm, but they're rolling fast. If you get it started on line, it's going in.

Q. Being from the south, you're used to this kind of grass on the greens, right?

AUSTIN ERNST: Yeah, you know, this is actually the closest I get to home. I grew up on bent greens.

Q. Oh, did you? That's unusual in South Carolina?

AUSTIN ERNST: Yeah, we're in upstate so it still gets a little cool. But I like fast bermuda greens because they roll just like bent did. They hold their line really well. These don't kicked up too much, they stay pretty smooth.

Q. Does anything distinguish this course from others you golf regularly?

AUSTIN ERNST: It's a different (inaudible) just because you can be so aggressive. If you can carry it a certain distance, you can take very aggressive lines. But it can still bite you because if you try to cut off too much, then you're in a bunker, you're going to be in the rough. You're not behind any trees, I don't think there's a tree on the golf course, but the rough and the mounds, you get a lot of uneven lies if you're not hitting in the fairway.

Q. Was it 61 you shot a couple years ago?

AUSTIN ERNST: 62. See if we can get a 61.

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