Charley Hull: Strawberry mousse and celebrating in my garden shed
First things first Charley Hull is still only 20. She has already played on two Solheim Cup teams, brilliantly on both occasions, and has won on the Ladies European Tour in Morocco when she shot a final-round 62 to get into a play-off. She then made birdie at the first extra hole to beat Gwladys Nocera.
Her LET career got going with five straight second places at the age of just 17. This was her first full year on the LPGA Tour. In the first Major she only missed out on another play-off when Lydia Ko made a birdie at the 72nd hole. Then she very nearly picked up a medal as golf returned to the Olympics in Brazil.
You might think she had made a promising enough start but still the same question came up every week – when are you going to win again?
One or two whispered that she wasn’t a closer, that there was always one poor round to go alongside the three sub-70 ones. One or two whispered that she threw in too many big numbers to win a tournament.
And then you remind yourself that she is still only 20 and these things happen to every golfer whatever the age. And then last weekend happened and Charley cleaned up at the season-ending Tour Championship beating all the best players in the world and, in the process, collecting $500,000. She did it without dropping a shot from the 13th hole onwards on Friday and shooting back-to-back 66s over the weekend.
You did it..
Yeah, I felt like it was coming, I played really well in Asia but then I barely touched the clubs the week before. And now I’ve done it and it feels really good.
How much did you think about not winning?
You do think about it sometimes but I’ve been playing well and consistently well and feel like I have been up there a lot. I’ve always said I’m sure it will happened but it is nice to get it out the way.
What was so good about the week?
Obviously I hit it really well and putted well but I felt really good mentally. There was a moment in the third round when I had to back off a putt because I was thinking of something my friends at home had done and I just started giggling. I was just having fun and that tends to work.
And not looking at any leaderboards?
I didn’t in the last round and that is definitely something that I‘m going to do in the future. I saw something recently about Shanshan Feng not looking at any scores and she won so I thought I would give it a go.
I can get too engrossed in my score. Now when I’m on the course I don’t know even know what I shot. I didn’t even know I had shot a 66 on Sunday, I thought I had shot three under.
I wasn’t bothered about the scores, I was trying to make birdies.
Did you know the situation at the last?
I did see one leaderboard at the last, I just caught the edge of it and I wasn’t sure if I was tied, once clear or two clear and saw that I was leading by two so that felt good.
You talk a lot about tempo, and you have a slightly different way to keep this on track?
Yeah, with my driver I’ll say ‘strawberry mousse’, strawberry on the backswing and mousse on the way down. It goes back to something my dad would say to me when I was two and I started it again at the Olympics.
— Gary Player (@garyplayer) November 21, 2016
How much of a positive influence has your caddy, Adam Woodward, been on you?
He helps to keep me calm and really knows his stuff, he’s been on the Tour something like 25 years. We started working together just over a year ago and he’s great for me, in between shots we talk about normal stuff and not about golf.
How have the last couple of days been?
There are a lot of interviews after the round and I was also rushing to get my flight from Miami to Heathrow.
Sky Sports met me at the airport, I was on Radio 2 in the evening and then Monday night I went to the pub with friends. We’ve got a shed in my back garden so we all had a few drinks in there after.
Any plans to treat yourself with the winnings?
No, just a few nights out and I’ll keep on practising for Dubai. At some point I’ll try and get my driving licence but I’ll think about that after Dubai.
At the start of the season did you set out any goals?
No, I don’t think about goals, as boring as it sounds it’s just one shot at a time, go with the flow.
How much you improved in 2016?
I’ve improved every area of my game. I’m not very patient as a person but I’ve improved on the course in the past year.
Have you ever worked with a sports psychologist?
No, at the end of the day I’m just hitting a golf ball around so I don’t think I’ll need a psychologist to do that.
You’re very casual about everything, do you know you are now 18th in the world?
No, I never look to be honest.
Where do you think you finished on the LPGA money list?
Oh, that’s good.
What has been the highlight of your 2016 away from golf?
Going to Ibiza.