A top 20 then a top 10, the debut of the Frenchwoman on the LPGA Tour is clearly encouraging. Determined, the pupil of Alain Alberti, caddyed by Sébastien Clément, will play as many tournaments as possible in the coming weeks, including the first Major of the season at Rancho Mirage at the end of the month. Interview.
Interview by Lionel VELLA
Turned professional last August, already victorious on the Ladies European Tour (LET), still a student for a few weeks in psychology at the University of South Carolina, Pauline Roussin-Bouchard decided to set up his base camp in this state, in Columbia, rather than in Florida, and to give his all to his profession. On the toughest of the women’s world circuits.
What did you do between the LPGA Drive on Championship in early February on the LPGA Tour and Florida’s Natural Charity Classic on the Epson Tour (formerly Symetra Tour) March 6?
I did a lot of sport. I also returned home to France to enjoy my parents and my older brother. I went to the mountains, but not skiing since it was school holidays… This little break lasted just five days. I arrived on Monday and returned to the United States on Sunday to resume training.
Will we see you again on the Epson Tour in 2022?
It’s not planned, no. But if there’s a hole in the schedule, you never know. I would say why not but for the moment, it is not on the agenda.
A foray into the Ladies European Tour (LET) is it possible?
Yes… I haven’t got it all figured out yet. I’m going to play the Aramcos (Editor’s note, six tournaments of 1 million dollars each scheduled between the end of March and the beginning of November 2022). I’m just waiting to find out which ones. For now, it’s still a bit uncertain.
And the French Open in mid-September (15-17) in Deauville?
To be honest, it’s not on the agenda. The LPGA calendar is really busy. I really focused my season in the United States!
Now those are the details to work out. And somewhere, it’s even harder when you’re in the detail.
So precisely, how do you judge your debut on American soil in the most difficult of the world circuits?
It’s a good start to the season. We set up what we wanted with Alain (Alberti). It was also a gathering of information on the first tournaments, recording what needs to be refined for the future. The machine is now launched. So I can’t wait to get back to California in a few days now. (Editor’s note, in Carlsbad, at the JTBC Classic from March 24 to 27).
Did this 9th place in the LPGA Drive on Championship on your second start surprise you?
No not necessarily. I’m not primarily attracted to results but rather to personal satisfaction… And then, it doesn’t just depend on me. Top 20 (18th at the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio at the end of January) allowed to see where an average game could place me. I adjusted all that for the second week and it opened the doors to the top 10 for me. In short, I learned even more to put other objectives in place for the rest of the events. It’s great.
Have you identified areas of play that you need to work on a little more?
No. For a while, with Alain, we clearly identified the things that needed to be worked on. I continue on my way. I have good stats but there is still room for improvement. In the first two LPGA tournaments, putting gained momentum. This is a big plus point. I went back to work with Brad (Faxon) Monday right after the tournament on the Epson Tour. Now those are the details to work out. And somewhere, it’s even harder when you’re in the detail (laughs).
You mention Alain Alberti, your coach. Will he soon join you in the United States?
Absolutely ! I will play the ex-ANA Inspiration now Chevron Championship (March 31-April 3). He will be with me. My parents will be there too!
For me, already with the US Open (in 2020) and Evian last year, I was in the dynamics of a professional player.
This will be your first Major as a professional player…
Exact. But to be honest, it doesn’t change much for me. Professional status is just a title on a paper. For me, already with the US Open (in 2020) and Evian last year, I was in the dynamics of a professional player.
What can you tell us about this legendary tournament that will be played for the last time at Rancho Mirage (California) before moving, apparently to Houston (Texas) ?
I’m so sad ! Patricia (Meunier-Lebouc) won this tournament in 2003 (then Kraft Nabisco Championship). This is a tournament that has always been close to my heart. I did the ANA Juniors Inspiration when I was younger. I hadn’t been far from qualifying… I’ve always loved the place, its atmosphere, the course, which is magnificent… I’ve always said to myself that one day I’ll play this Major… And the fact that a Française has won it, the motivation is even stronger. In addition, this year, it is the 50th anniversary of the tournament…
Speaking of Grand Slam tournaments, will you be able to play them all this season?
For the US Open (June 2-5), I would have to be in the top 75 in the world. I signed up for qualifying. For Evian (July 21-24), I don’t know. It will also be based on ranking… The only one that was “insured” is the Chevron since we are basing ourselves on the Money List at the start of the year.
What will be your program in the next weeks, the next months?
So I do all the tournaments in California. Then I’ll go to Hawaii (LOTTE Championship, April 13-16). In fact, I’m going to play everything in April. I am leaving for six weeks and for five tournaments. Afterwards, I’ll start again in May… My schedule will also depend on whether or not I take part in the US Open. Everything will also depend on the rankings, if I qualify or not. Same with the KPMG PGA Championship (June 23-26). There, I’m not sure I’m going into the field. So it will be either by invitation or on my ranking of the year…
With Seb, we get along very well. There is a beautiful osmosis both on the course. At the end of the US Cards, I immediately asked him if the adventure for 2022 interested him because I wanted us to continue together.
Sébastien Clément is your designated caddy on the LPGA this season. What were your arguments to convince him to follow you to the United States rather than staying on Julien Guerrier’s bag on the DP World Tour?
I just asked him to know if the adventure in the United States tempted him. Then it was up to him to choose. It’s true that we started to build something really top last year, with great tournaments, great performances… With Seb, we get along very well. There is a beautiful osmosis both on the course. At the end of the US Cards, I immediately asked him if the adventure for 2022 interested him because I wanted us to continue together.
What are its main qualities?
His professionalism… He reads the lines very well on the greens… His ability to adapt… His jokes… (laughs) ! We only tell jokes between us (laughs). He is really funny. But we also know how to distinguish between fun and work. We can be natural and get along well on the course. I think that’s what makes a good relationship between a player and a caddy. We are always open to discussion. And if we have things to say to each other, we say them to each other. It’s that simple !
Where are you at with your university course? Isn’t it too hard to reconcile the two?
It was not obvious at one time. But here it is better. Everything falls into place.
If all goes well, when will you graduate?
I won’t graduate! If I wanted to, I would have to study until December 2023. And that’s not the point at all. I continued because I wanted the transition to professionalism not to be too difficult. I didn’t want to just have golf all the time. But there, that’s it, I’m ready to have only golf in front of me. Consequently, my courses end the last week of April… I would have had three years of psychology studies. And if one day I want to finish, I will only have a few classes left to take to get my diploma. This is what is good in the United States. Everything I’ve done is not lost. All credits, all classes are validated. The university allows me to have this scholarship for life, and this as long as I have not validated my diploma…