Germany’s Caroline Masson arrived in Prague in sublime form after two straight second-place finishes in Slovakia and Switzerland. At last week’s Deutsche Bank Ladies Swiss Open, the 23-year-old from Gladbeck lost to Carly Booth at the fourth extra hole in a play-off, but moved up to third on the LET’s ISPS Handa Order of Merit and 73rd in the Rolex World Rankings.
She will now try to capture her maiden LET victory at the Raiffeisenbank Prague Golf Masters at Albatross Golf Resort in the Czech Republic, where she tied for ninth place last year.
Caroline, what are your memories of your last year´s Prague Golf Masters?
I have great memories. I think the course was in really great shape, one of the best courses we play all year so I definitely remember that. I was doing pretty well and had a really good chance to win last year but couldn’t quite finish it off so I’m very much looking forward to it.
What is your approach?
Well I think that it’s quite open but it’s pretty windy sometimes and you just have to judge it well; putt really well, because it’s so wide open and many players hit the fairways and the greens. You have to hit them close, putt well and then you can get up there.
Do you have a favourite golf hole, here?
I think nine is a pretty cool hole, because you can go for it if you have a good drive. It’s always difficult to judge with the wind as well and you have to be brave to go for it.
What do you think of the greens?
They are quite difficult, really slopey and quite firm this morning. I’m sure that they will get a little quicker during the week. I think putting is probably the most important part this week.
How do you reflect on your season?
I’m happy. I’m third in the money list right now and I had two second places. I was struggling at the beginning because I was injured for a few months. I didn’t touch a club for four months so it was difficult to get back and be as consistent as before but now I’m pretty much 100 per cent again. I’m quite happy about that and happy about my game now.
You have been second twice. What was the difference?
I think last week, you can’t really say. Just a little bit of luck. We played a play-off, four holes in a play-off and everyone made birdie three times. I was really close on the third try and I think my eagle putt was really, really close. If you just get lucky and make that you win the tournament, so I played well and that’s all I can do. I’m happy with that and it will happen soon, I’m sure.
You are the face of the tournament. How does it feel to see your face on the posters?
A little different! It’s quite nice, I like that photo as well and it’s just a real honour to represent that tournament. I’m quite proud of it.
Will you be more nervous on the first tee?
I don’t think so, no. it will be nice to get some more attention maybe, because of that, but I just concentrate on my game and play as I normally do.
After two second places, you have to be hoping for a win.
Yeah. It would be a good week to get that first win, especially after being the face for this week. I’ve played two great weeks and of course I’m happy with that but it would be great to win and I’ll try this week.
How does it feel to be second and third?
Well, I think it’s just one shot better. Last week it would have been one shot better. It’s really close, all the girls play really well and you probably just have to be a bit lucky to win. This is a new week so we all start over again and there was no bonus for second place last week so I’m just going to concentrate on all three days and hope that I’ll be one shot better than all the other girls this week.
What do you think of the course?
It’s great! It was great last year and it’s in great condition this year as well. I just played nine holes and I was looking forward to this week because I knew it’s one of the best courses we play all year. The greens are good, everything is in great shape. I’m really looking forward to this week.
Does it surprise you that you are the face of the tournament?
We talked about it and I thought it was quite surprising but quite nice. Of course, it’s nice to see your picture in the city and everything and I’m proud to represent the tournament on such a great golf course.
I read some articles that you lost a couple of tournaments because of your temper. Did you change and are you calmer now?
I think so; I’m doing better, especially in the last round. I didn’t start really well in Switzerland and I got a little mad on the course but then I thought, you still have so many holes left and if you can make birdies, I think I just believe in myself that I can still play a great round and that makes me a little calmer. I’m still quite emotional on the course and I will never change that, probably. It’s a good thing as well.
No throwing clubs?
No, I’m trying not to!
Where did you get this reputation?
I had a really bad temper in tennis. My dad’s a tennis coach and when I was a junior it was really, really bad. I couldn’t stand losing to someone. Golf is a lot better but if I know I can play much better I get a little mad at myself, but it got better in the last few years and it has some positive sides as well. I kind of get mad but on the other hand, I focus even more on the next hole and I don’t carry it. So I get mad, finish it and just play again, so if it’s not too bad I think it’s quite a good quality.
What made you choose golf over tennis?
I played both but golf was a little better and I guess I made the right decision there. It was difficult for me to play tennis, to lose to an opponent. In golf I’m responsible for my game and if I don’t play well, it’s me not playing well and not another one playing better. I think for me it’s a little easier to deal with that.
How will you schedule your week?
I took two days off, got here last night and just played nine holes. I don’t change anything, hit a few balls, practice what’s not working well, which I hope is not too much and a normal routine.
You share the same coach as Martin Kaymer, do you meet him sometimes?
Yes, sometimes. He’s not in Germany very often but I met him a few times this Spring and it’s quite nice to just talk to him. We’re not really talking about how to hit a shot but when he tells his stories about what he’s experienced in the last years, it’s really interesting. He’s a nice guy and even though I don’t meet him very often, can still learn a lot from him. The coach, Gunter Kessler, has a few stories as well and it’s interesting to see how he’s doing things and how focused he is. I think that’s what got him so far.
You say that you love this course, so what is the toughest part, for you?
The toughest part, I remember that it was really windy last year so it’s tough to judge and get them close but it’s quite open so you should hit many fairways and many greens, get them close and putt really well. I think the greens are in perfect condition so it’s really nice to know that if you read the green well, it’s going to go in. I’m just enjoying that and hope that I can get them close and make a few putts this week.
Compared to men’s golf, do you sometimes envy the guys and the money involved in men’s golf?
Of course it’s a big difference. It’s not really about the money. I would like to hit a ball this far, once! That would be nice! I think they deserve it and that’s fine. Women’s golf, especially in Europe, deserves a little more than we get right now but we are all working on that: the players and the tour as well, so I think that the LET presents itself really well with nice players and everyone is really professional. I’m pretty sure it will get a little closer to the guys in the future.
Which part of your game is strongest?
I think everything was quite good, consistent, especially in the last weeks, I didn’t make many mistakes. I hit many greens and that is usually the best part of my game. I hit good irons, hitting them close. Putting, I always said was a weakness but I think it’s not too bad, actually. If you put it in perspective, you see that other players don’t always make every putt either. You just have to believe in yourself and if my game is like last week and the putting works, I just make a few putts, you’re always up there. I think the ball striking in general is my strength.
What kind of weather do you like?
No rain! It’s a little hot now and that’s maybe too much but I’m easy actually, I’m just taking it as it comes. I’m not sure about the weekend but the forecast should be fine. I’m just looking forward to it and if it rains, it rains. You play your best and see what happens.