Alfred Dunhill Links Championship Saturday, September 29, 2019 – Victor Perez Press Conference
NEIL AHERN: Victor, many, many congratulations. How special does it feel to win your maiden European Tour victory at the Home of Golf?
VICTOR PEREZ: Obviously very pleased. I think it’s really hard to describe how there’s so many things that need to come together to win a golf tournament. I think there’s so many great players that are still striving for their first win, and obviously it happened for me in my first year.
I’m quite fortunate to be honest. I think, you know, waking up this morning, you go out and you try to play as good as you can, but you don’t know if somebody can go and shoot 8-under and then you lose by six and you felt like you did your job, and you might be miles away.
Obviously I felt like I had a solid day. I did my job and it was good enough, and next thing you know, you’re a winner on The European Tour. You have to take it how it comes and it’s a great win for me.
NEIL AHERN: Not quite a victory in France, but pretty close to a home victory for you, isn’t it.
VICTOR PEREZ: Yeah, I’m going to get asked that today quite a bit. I’m expecting it. But obviously living in Dundee 20 minutes from here makes it more special, sleeping at home and doing all the little things and make an away week feel like home is very special, and I think it’s a great advantage, being able to have all the little things that people don’t necessarily see but, for a professional golfer, sleeping in your own bed is a massive thing for resting and recovery.
When you’re away, you never really know what you’re going to get. I feel like having the details that make you more comfortable, may be the edge coming down 17 and hitting a great shot.
Q. Can I just ask you about the Dundee connection? How often would you maybe come around here or Carnoustie to go practise, seeing as you live nearby, and what pubs are going to be getting hit in Dundee in the next couple of days?
VICTOR PEREZ: This is a hard question. I’m going to start with the golf question. It’s really difficult to play here at the Old Course because they get so many green fees and so many people come and play and it’s such an exclusive place and you have to respect that, even though as a player, not everything is given. You can’t just show up at the Old Course at 8am on Tuesday and be like, I need to play. There’s people that are travelling across the world that are wanting this experience, and you’ve got to respect that.
But I feel like it’s more being around the area and just getting used to the ground, I think is very special, the way the greens roll, I think is special. It’s just always a bit slower than what we found on Tour because it’s links and there is a ton of wind and there’s so much slope on the green, and all of a sudden it’s unplayable and everybody has to go home.
Getting used to seeing the ball fly here, with the heavy air coming from the sea — today it was really close and I feel like that gave me an advantage to know that you can commit to some of the shots, having 150 yards and you have to hit a full 7, and you know it’s not going to go too far. I feel like these things, like I was saying earlier, you’re just going to gain a per cent here, a per cent here, a per cent here and next thing you know, you just end up on top. But again, it’s a combination of things.
Q. And the pubs?
VICTOR PEREZ: The pubs? Not going to comment on that.
Q. Could you tell us your partner’s name, what she does and how long you’ve been together?
VICTOR PEREZ: I’d like to keep that private if you don’t mind. I’m sorry. Thank you.
Q. You received some advice from Jimmy Johnson at the French Open. Could you please say a little bit what the advice you evaluated and you used to perform?
VICTOR PEREZ: I’d say the way he helped me was more in the fact that as a player, I think it’s very important to decide. I think it’s really difficult now because the teams are so big, everybody has five, six, seven, eight people working for them, and it’s really easy to feel like you can just listen to everyone. But at the end of the day, you are CEO of your company. You’re in charge and you have to take ownership of what you want to do.
I feel like speaking to him on that green at Le Golf National a year ago really helped me decide who I wanted to be as a golfer and what I wanted to do, and then build from there, rather than expect the base to come from the people around you. I feel like you have to do 70, 80 per cent of the work, whatever you want it to be, and then the people around you, help you piece it together and help structure the little things.
But the core value has to come from you and I think when he asked me, you know, what kind of ball flight do you like, do you like a fade, do you like a draw; it’s more to you to pick, rather than have your coach or your trainer or whatever it might be, be like, oh, I think you should do this, you should do that, and then it doesn’t necessarily come from you.
I think the course has to come from you and then the people that are necessary to help you perform at this level can help you with the little things.
Q. Before this, your biggest victory was in China last year. Was that a key moment of your professional career?
VICTOR PEREZ: For sure. I think China will always be remembered as the pivotal moment of the last year or two that I’ve had. I think if I don’t win there, you know, a lot of things could have gone different. I think if I don’t win, then I finish — let’s say I lose in the playoff, then I might not finish third on The Challenge Tour ranking, which then create a different schedule that I would have had to play this year, and then again, you might be in a complete different position.
Obviously the fact that winning is so difficult, that when you do it, it feels so good, just because it’s so difficult. You feel like so many things can go wrong. Like the last putt, I was speaking to JP on the green, and you are expecting Matthew Southgate to hole that putt on the last because he’s 21-under. He’s playing amazing golf. You expect him to make the putt, and he didn’t. I had two putts to win. I win, great. And these moments are key.
I feel to come back to the win in Foshan because it gave me the confidence that I won the year before, didn’t quite get it done, finished just outside the Top 15, and then finished second in the final, finish third and now you feel like you’ve established yourself. You’re in a little bit of a different category. Winning is what it’s all about at the end of the day.
Q. How long have you been in Scotland, and is this going to be a long-term base for yourself?
VICTOR PEREZ: I’ve been in Dundee for over a year. It would be a year and a half. It was quite hard. I felt like I came here on and off before I completely based myself here. I think there was a number of reasons why I came here. I think that the culture of golf in Scotland should make almost every golfer want to come here, if you’re in Continental Europe. I think if you start being in the States, it’s a different story.
But I feel like in Europe, in the U.K., it happened to be Scotland, and it’s great just because the people here live golf. It’s all about golf. It’s just the passion for the game. You see people going to gas stations with a golf bag. You never see that in France.
I felt like for me, I’ve always been — I love golf. Golf is my life. I felt like I needed to be around a culture that would cherish that, rather than, you know, being in France and not to say that the French culture is bad. I think it has a lot of really good values, but I feel like to perform in golf, I personally believe that it was better for me to come.
Q. What will this win do for your career now? You’re now inside the Top-50 and looks like you’re going to be going to Dubai in November. Where do you see your long-term career aspirations?
VICTOR PEREZ: I mean, it’s obviously great. You win, you get a two-year exemption. It’s a number of things that are changing. I feel like now the way you’re perceived; schedules are going to be different. I think expectations are going to be different because now you’re like, oh, I won, so you should do it every week, but that’s not the case.
Good golf is always going to put you right where you should be, I believe, in the long run, and I think it was a great opportunity, it was a great win for me, but I think it’s showed me that I can do it.
Now the question is: How much can I replicate that moving forward. Obviously the schedule is going to be different. Knowing that I’m going to be playing the last three tournaments of the year might change how I’m going to play after Italy.
But then again, you never know. When you win, you want to ride the wave a little bit. At the same time, I think it would be great to be rested at the end of the year, but how often are you shooting 22-under at St. Andrews, Kingsbarns and Carnoustie and win the Dunhill Links? You definitely have to take advantage of the fact that things are going your way and you never know for how long, so you want to just keep on going.
Q. How important was it to keep your nerve today, because it was really close out there?
VICTOR PEREZ: Yeah, obviously I felt like the nerves were — I felt surprisingly good for, I’d say 12 holes. It was a great — I made a great birdie on 8 that just after Matt made three birdies, he birdied 4, 5, 6, or 5, 6, 7, and I was able to answer a little bit on 8, birdied 8, which was good.
Then I felt like I could have birdied 9. I could have birdied 10. I three-putted 11, I three-putt 12, and you feel like it’s slipping a little bit through your hands; that you felt like I had — I was right there with him battling and then all of a sudden I felt like I got a bit in my own way, lost a couple shots, was two back going into 14.
Obviously all you can do is you can only control yourself. If Matt goes in after 14 and birdies three of the last five, there it is. You’re not going to — unless you start holing out from everywhere, but that’s really unlikely.
So I mean, at the end of the day, you have to do what you can do, and I felt like when he missed his chip on 14, I knew that was my chance and I told myself, like this is the opening. He’s opening the door for you right there, and if you don’t birdie this hole to get back into the tournament, you know, he’s going to feel it.
These guys are so good, you can’t — if you open the door, they are going to open it once, maybe, if you’re lucky. You saw it last week at Wentworth with Danny Willett and Jon Rahm. Danny Willett didn’t open the door at all for Jon Rahm. He birdied the holes he needed to birdie. He parred the holes he needed to par, and he was just like, this is what I’m going to do. If Jon Rahm wanted to win, he had to do something exceptional coming down the stretch. I felt like Matt opened the door on 14. For me, I was able to sneak right in.
I think the drive on 17 was great because I felt like I was in the middle of the fairway and I had an angle for the pin. It’s so easy with the wind coming off the left to bail a bit to the left. Now you’re in the rough and we all know how this is going. You go left on 17. Now the green is sideways. You have the bunker in front of you, you have the wall long. You hit an amazing shot right. That’s as good as he could have done on that second shot.
And he had 50 feet going down, breaking maybe five feet. It was a brutal putt that he had and he hit about the best second shot he could have hit and I felt like me stepping up on 17, hitting that drive over the hotel, which is what JP asked me, was proof that I can do it and that I can execute.
Q. It’s been too long since a Scot has won a tournament. Can we claim you as an honorary Scot?
VICTOR PEREZ: Sure. Sure. If you sell more papers, that’s good for you.
Q. When you’re over here, where do you practise?
VICTOR PEREZ: I get to practice at Ladybank through Gordon Simpson, who was nice to allow me to come out and practice. It’s a great course. It’s always in great, great shape. I think it allows me to come out and practice. Generally I can play in the afternoon and do my work in the morning.
I work at Panmure quite a bit. Andrew Crerar over there, the head pro, has been fantastic with me, allowing me to practice.
And then I go to Drumoig, play a few rounds at Drumoig because it’s right across the bridge from me from Dundee. I can get a round if in quite quickly. You can go out and play; generous; you can get your confidence up and feel like you can make a birdie on every hole which is nice every once in a while.
Yeah, and I come here to the Academy at St. Andrews because I think they have done a fantastic job redoing the whole chipping area. It used to be this big, flat, long green and now there’s three elevated greens with bunker and I think we’re able to really work. I think it’s maintained really well.
It kind of depends on what I want to do. If I’m going to do short game, I generally come to the Academy. If I’m going to do some long game I’m going to go Ladybank, and if I want to play — it kind of depends what’s required.