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May 22, 2015

Esteban Toledo


JULIUS MASON: We would like to welcome Esteban Toledo to the interview room, the leader in the clubhouse at 2-under here at the 76th Senior PGA Championship Presented By KitchenAid. Let's start first with, did you see a 68 out there today when you came out here?

ESTEBAN TOLEDO: To be honest with you, heck no. No, not really. I knew if I could shoot 1-over or even par today I would be right in the hunt. My caddie kept telling me, just -- there are birdies out there, so he kind of gave me confidence, mentally. And after the birdie on 11, I believe, it just, I got loose all the way through the 18 holes. But hit a lot of fairways, my caddie kept telling me, hit a lot of fairways, you're going to putt well, you're putting well, you're ready for this week. And I tell you what, I wasn't expecting a 68. But when you hit a lot of fairways and greens, the putts are going to fall in. That's what happened today.

JULIUS MASON: Five birdies, one bogey. Could you go through your birdies real quick starting with number 11.

ESTEBAN TOLEDO: 11, I hit a driver and 52 wedge about five feet. Made the putt. Then I bogeyed?


ESTEBAN TOLEDO: 14. I hit it on the fairway. I hit it over the green with an 8-iron. Couldn't get up-and-down. Birdied the following hole. I was upset a little bit that I, from the middle of the fairway, making a bogey, and that got me a little bit upset. And I ended up making birdie. That was 15.

JULIUS MASON: You birdied 16, too.

ESTEBAN TOLEDO: Yeah, let's see, I left it from like five feet, six feet, made it. Par-5, 16, I left it about 10 feet, birdie. I hit it way to the right on the 17, way up on the boonies there and I ended up getting up-and-down from like a foot. Hit an amazing shot. I got in trouble on 18 also and I got up-and-down. I birdied, I guess 3. I hit a driver in the middle of the fairway. 8-iron within five or six feet. Birdie. Then, I went all the way until the last hole, I believe. I birdied, I hit a driver and a rescue into the bunker, which is a perfect place to leave it if you're going to miss the green. And I had an easy, I had a great lie in the bunker and then I got up-and-down. But I wasn't really thinking how many under I was, to be honest with you, until I saw the leaderboard on number 7. That's when I realized I was 3-under. I was like, oh, really? So I told my caddie, I don't know, I never look at the leaderboard, to be honest with you, but I don't know, it's amazing week so far. I think this golf course is top of the line. The PGA just picked the right golf course. It's tough, you got to deal with all the bunkers, all the fairways, the greens are tough, and so far they're doing a great job.

JULIUS MASON: As you sit here right now, are you exhausted more physically or more mentally?

ESTEBAN TOLEDO: No, no, no, I'm ready to go. I've been exercising. I'm ready to go. Whatever happens the next two days, I know it's going to be probably tougher than the first two days, but I'm not expecting anything. I won twice here on this tour, on the Champions Tour, yeah, I won twice, but this is a different week. This is a different tournament. This is different conditions. This is probably one of the toughest I ever seen.

JULIUS MASON: So far the only round in the 60s, only score in the 60s with this championship. Questions, please.

Q. You said you didn't expect anything, that seems to be a common theme now among people who are coming in here and talking, that they didn't expect anything, they were surprised, so is that better to come in here with no expectations at all than to put some pressure on yourself?
ESTEBAN TOLEDO: Well, I wasn't really -- I know how to do it. I played the British Open and conditions are tough, so it's not a surprise that I can shoot the number. But also I wasn't expecting anything because the more expectations I have out of me, if I can put a number like 69 or 68, it will never happen. So I wasn't expecting that. That I'm capable to do it, of course I can. Everybody here, they can do it. But it's one of those days. You hit the fairways -- and this is the strategy that I have the last two days -- hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens and hopefully make some putts. The pin placements were tough today. Right on the corners, three or four feet, and you are hitting 7 and 5 irons, it's not that easy. People think that it's easy to hit it from 80 yards, but really, it's not. But I dealt with it. Every single week I deal with it. So it's not the end of the world. I shot 68, but it's, but I played really well. That I left a few birdies out there? Yes, I did. But I got up-and-down a few times, too. So it's equal all the stuff. So, we'll see what happens.

Q. You always hit a lot of greens, but this week you've really hit a lot of fairways and greens. Do you consider this a ball-striker's course?
ESTEBAN TOLEDO: I don't know if I can describe it like that. You can't make birdies much from the rough. Those inclines, the fairways, they don't give you a lot of options. So, probably got to hit the fairways. You have better chances from the fairway than three or four feet or a yard or two yards off the fairway. It's better to be 10 yards off the fairway than three yards off the fairway. So, that's what I've been doing the last two days. So far, I hit a lot of fairways and I've been hitting a lot of greens. Sometimes my caddie tells me not to go at the flag. He wants me to stay back in the middle of the green, so I can get my 2-putts and move on. Because that's what you're going to get in this golf course. You play too aggressive you're going to go out there and shoot 80. If you play smart, like I did today, I shot what I shot.

Q. What would this mean for you? You've won a couple times on the Champions Tour, what would this week mean for you?
ESTEBAN TOLEDO: Well, it's the biggest accomplishment for me is win a Major. I talked to my wife the last two years, and I want to win a Major. Why not? It's out there for me. I just got to go out there and get it. Is it easy? Of course it's not. This is the top players in the world and this is the top conditions we played all year. For me winning this, the PGA, you know, it would be the greatest trophy in my career. Never won anything, really, but doesn't mean I can't do it. I'm capable. I practice. I dedicate my time. Physically, I'm ready to go. Tomorrow is going to be a different game and if I can play the way I've been playing the last two days, I should be fine.

Q. A lot of people here have been kind of really damning this course and angry at it. You seem to be not intimidated by it a little bit. Was that sort of the secret is just not getting overwhelmed by it and what it can do?
ESTEBAN TOLEDO: Great question. My caddie was telling me in the last two days to stay patient. To stay patient. Just because you make a bogey, doesn't mean you're going to blow it. You got to go out there and stay, get your rhythm. Just focus on that fairway, focus on that position of the flag and play safe. I don't really worry about it much. I know there's a lot of trouble out there. But I have a lot of confidence. I know I can put that ball in the fairway. As soon as I'm on the fairway, I'll be, I feel great, because the flag is right in front of me. So I just got to play safe and got to play aggressive.

Q. Which part of your round are you more pleased with on this course? The five birdies or just the one, having just the one bogey?
ESTEBAN TOLEDO: Oh, I don't know. Obviously, we love the birdies. But I feel like yesterday I hit it better than today, but yesterday it was very cold and windy. Very tough conditions. But I like to make more birdies, obviously. But I just got to go out there and play. That's all I got to do. Whatever happens the next two days, doesn't matter. I just got to go out there and play.

JULIUS MASON: It's almost 3 o'clock right now. What's the rest of your day and night hold? What are you going to do?

ESTEBAN TOLEDO: Well, I'm going to go eat. I'm hungry. And then I'm going to go practice. I'm going to practice the long issues, because I'm going to need them for tomorrow. I'm going to practice my routine two hours a day. And then I'm going to have a nice steak with my caddie tonight.

Q. Sounds like you need to buy him a steak.
ESTEBAN TOLEDO: Well, after -- well I promised the caddies -- they're having a great cookout tonight. I guess one of the players who won the tournament donated all the steaks. So I'm going to go down there and be with the caddies and hang out with them. Then next week I'm going to Los Cabos to vacation and so I can't wait to go out there and have a good time.

JULIUS MASON: Very good. Esteban, thanks for joining us today and have a good meal tonight.

ESTEBAN TOLEDO: Yeah, thank you, appreciate it.
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