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April 14, 2005

Peter Lonard


PHIL STAMBAUGH: Okay, Peter Lonard shoots 31-31 for a 62, 9-under par, your career low round on the PGA TOUR, and you also equaled the first round low score in TOUR history. Congratulations.

PETER LONARD: Thank you.

PHIL STAMBAUGH: We saw you had 11 birdies and had a bogey at the 1st hole and a bogey at the last hole.

PETER LONARD: That's true.

PHIL STAMBAUGH: Tell us how the course played in the afternoon.

PETER LONARD: Well, I thought the course was just perfect (laughter). It was good. This is a great course. It's hard to judge the wind out on the course on some of the holes, but the last three you have no doubt about where it's going.

You know, the answer here is just to hit a lot of fairways and hit them on the right sides of the fairways and you can have decent opportunities to get the ball close with some shorter irons, so it was good.

PHIL STAMBAUGH: Will you take us through the card.

PETER LONARD: Sure. The 1st hole, I hit a driver down the left and it was just off the edge of the fairway and it was behind a tree, so I hit it in the bunker around the tree, got it to about four, five feet, missed it.

The par 5 second, I hit a 4-iron over the back of the green, chipped it to about two feet for a birdie.

Next hole, holed about a 30-footer, hit a 7-iron into that green from the fairway.

Next hole, hit it to about 20 feet, holed that. Hit a 6-iron into that.

The par 5, the 5th, which I can't remember -- well, I birdied that anyway (laughter).

7th hole --

PHIL STAMBAUGH: 5th hole I think you were short and you pitched up there to about two feet for birdie.

PETER LONARD: Yeah, sounds good (laughter).

7th hole, hit it to about ten feet, holed it. I hit a 5-iron into that.

The 8th hole, I hit a 3-iron into there to about 15 feet and holed that, little downhill left-to-righter.

Had a good chance on 10, missed it from about ten feet.

And then 11, I hit it to about -- hit a 7-iron to about two and a half feet.

12, I hit a 9-iron to about four feet.

13, I hit a 9-iron to about two feet.

Then we get to 15, and I hit a 9-iron to about six feet, eight feet maybe.

16, I holed about a 20-footer.

Then 18, I hit the wrong club for my second shot over the back of the green and chipped it to about 20 feet and two-putted for bogey.

Q. Had you just hit a wedge out of the bunker?

PETER LONARD: Yeah, sand wedge.

Q. Can you ever remember having 11 birdies in a round before in your career?

PETER LONARD: I think I did in Brazil a long time ago, but it has been in my mind throughout lots of other disgraceful performances (laughter). It's very vague.

It's definitely the first 9-under I've shot with a short putter since about 14 years I reckon.

PHIL STAMBAUGH: Can you talk about your putting a little bit? You used to putt with a claw; am I correct.

PETER LONARD: Well, I broomsticked it for the last five years, and last week I putted so bad, I had a discussion with my caddie, and he said, well, you can't putt any worse with a short putter so you might as well give it a go. I turned up here on Tuesday night, brought my short putter, went home to Atlanta, got a short putter and brought it out and putted for about four hours on the putting green yesterday, and today they went in from yesterday. I don't know how long the short one is going to last, but it's feeling pretty good at the moment.

PHIL STAMBAUGH: This is your second appearance here at this event. You missed the cut last year. Your thoughts on Harbour Town.

PETER LONARD: Oh, it's wonderful (laughter). Can't really say anything else, can you? It's a fantastic place. You know, I had the pleasure of missing the cut last year and having a weekend with the hospitality around here and got up to all sorts of mischief. Hopefully this year I won't have the weekend off and will get to see it from inside the ropes rather than outside the ropes. It's a great golf course, you've got to hit a lot of great shots. It's similar to Australia, I think. It gets a little windy. Just in the brochures they said it was going to be a lot warmer, that's all.

Q. Were you aware of how well you were playing and were you aware of the score card?

PETER LONARD: Not really until about the -- well, I knew I was going all right because the boards were everywhere and you could see the boards. When I birdied the 15th, the little kid holding the scoreboard when we were walking to the 16th tee, he says, "Mr. Lonard, if that leaderboard is correct, you are leading the tournament." (Laughter). I said, "Shh, I don't want to know." From then on I definitely knew where I was.

Q. Sort of a follow-up to that, did you think anything at all about 59?

PETER LONARD: When I got on the 17th tee I did. Well, I thought I've got to birdie the last two holes basically. I thought 17 I hit a pretty good shot in there. Looking at it I probably should have hit 8-iron and kept it under the hole, but I was trying to be aggressive. It landed a foot from the hole and bounced ten feet past and had a little downhill slider left to right. It looked a lot quicker than it actually was.

Up until 17 I didn't really think about it at all.

Q. Last year and this year have your struggles -- you're playing under what you would normally expect to. Is it mostly putting, all putting, or have all parts of your game --

PETER LONARD: Last year it was everything. I think I pretty much covered every base. I was pretty ordinary in everything I did. Last year was pretty much broken up, but I had broken a rib at the start of the year so it was the first eight weeks off. I tore a medial ligament being a bonehead on a jet-ski with my mates, so it took about seven weeks before I could walk a course properly. I played anyway but my swing wasn't very good.

It must have been October or November when I saw Leadbetter and spent some time with him. My ball-striking has been better since, but my putting has let me down the last couple of months.

Q. Can you describe what you used to -- did you have a long putter before or how have the changes occurred in your putting I guess over your career? You went to a long putter?

PETER LONARD: I've always been recognized as a dodgy putter, which is something that's not enjoyable to be, but years ago -- it's a long story, but my eyes went funny so I couldn't read greens so I used a short putter and couldn't putt like what I -- everything I looked at was right to left basically, so if I looked from this side of the hole to the hole, I'd say to my caddie, "That looks right to left," and he'd go, "It's left to right." Then I'd walk around the other side of the green, and I'd go, "You're right." You do that for two years you're absolutely psycho in the head and you don't know which end of the putter to hold basically. That's when I stopped playing and got a job and started using the broomstick.

Then I had like an eye surgeon that came up to the golf club one day who said "I think I can help you with your eyes," and I went to an expert and next thing I was back in it. I stuck with the broomstick pretty much from then on.

When I'm good, I'm good, and when I'm bad, I'm bad. But the broomstick I'm more consistent. My bad isn't that bad and my great isn't that good, whereas with a short putter when I'm good I'm fantastic and when I'm bad I'm disgraceful.

Q. Does it have anything to do with right or left eye dominance?

PETER LONARD: I don't know. No idea.

Q. Was this a putter you had with you that you putted with today, or did you have to go out and buy one?

PETER LONARD: No, I went home after I finished at Augusta on Saturday. I got on a plane and went home, and I've got this little old favorite that I've had for about a year and a half now that I've been fiddling with, and I thought I'm going to give that a go. I brought it up and took a bit of pushing from my caddie and I brought it out.

Q. Home being England?

PETER LONARD: I'm Australian; not English. Home is Orlando.

Q. For those of us who don't know what it's like to roll in a 30-footer and a 20-footer and a 10-footer, when you start making putts like that, does your rhythm pick up? I mean, do you just get into a better frame of mind that every putt you're going to hit is going to go in?

PETER LONARD: Yeah, I think you do when you hole a few putts in a row. You definitely start to think, "I can hole them from all over the joint." You know, a lot of it has to do with whether you're reading the greens well or not. I think the last month I haven't putted great but I haven't read the greens very well. Today I read the greens well, I holed a couple and then all of a sudden I started reading the lines all the time and in they went.

I sort of got to the 3- or 4-under mark and then I hit two or three inside three feet, and then all of a sudden you're 6 or 7-under. That's often the way it works.

Q. Is the eye problem related to the Ross River thing?


Q. Could you give us some background on how you got the Ross River thing and how it led to the problem with your eyes?

PETER LONARD: The Ross River is like a mosquito-borne virus. It's like your Lyme disease maybe. It gives you arthritis and all that sort of stuff. I got that a long time ago. That was like '92. It went away, came back, went away, came back and then knocked me out. Then I pretty much stopped playing -- it was a long time ago, probably '94, I suppose, '93, '94, where I had like a year, year and a half where I didn't play, didn't do anything. I didn't go outside, went to doctors, tried every witch doctor on earth, all this stuff, and then I just started to feel better.

I played for a year or so, didn't do any good, couldn't putt to save my life, and then took a club job and that's when the eye surgeon guy came up and said, "You know, any arthritic virus can affect your eyes and stuff, and if you want I'll have a look at you."

So I went down, spent two or three hours with him, and he sent me to all these binocular vision people and who knows, whatnot, and I ended up with glasses and then contact lenses and then I was fine. I still have the remnants of disbelieving things I saw on the putting greens and it's taken a long time to actually get over it, but that was the turning point.

Q. Was that "witch doctor," W-H-I-C-H or W-I-T-C-H?


Q. After your bogey on 1, you obviously started hitting a pretty good string of birdies. Was there a point in that front nine that you felt like that short putter was starting to click for you? Was there a particular shot?

PETER LONARD: Funny enough, on the 1st hole I hit it in the bunker and chipped it to probably five feet. I sort of got over it and was thinking, "Geez, I haven't had one of these par putts with a short putter since I can remember." I hit the putt, felt great. I missed but it felt great. When I walked off the green, I said to my caddie, "That felt all right, not too bad." The next one I hit it to a foot or a couple of feet, so that was good. Then I holed a couple decent putts, 3 and 4, and my caddie is going, "What's going on," and da, da, da, and off we go.

Q. How much did conditions change from the time you started until the time you finished and how much did that impact your play?

PETER LONARD: I think it was pretty similar all the way through. The sun came out a few times, which was nice. It felt a little warmer. But outside of that, you know, you're so confined in between the trees, you don't really feel the wind that much out there, not until the ball gets above the trees do you notice the ball moving a lot, and of course then you come out on 16, 17 and 18 and it's blowing 100 miles an hour. That's a bit of a shock, but other than that I think conditions were pretty similar all the way. Morning players probably had it a little tougher because it was probably a little cooler.

Q. I was just wondering, you said you hit the wrong club on 18, but what was the club you hit?

PETER LONARD: I hit 4-iron. I actually had a 3-iron in my hand, so I suppose looking back it was the right club. I would have killed someone with a 3-iron.

Q. What was your distance on 18?

PETER LONARD: I had 186 yards to the flag.

Q. So it's like a three-club wind or four?

PETER LONARD: Well, it was howling pretty good and it was cold. Initially I thought it was a 3-iron, and then I felt like the wind might have died, and I hit a 4-iron. You're not going to -- you're going to hit it pretty hard with the wind, and it just didn't really affect it.

Q. On your drive on 18, it looks like you choked down on the driver, or is that where you normally grip it?

PETER LONARD: That's where I grip it where I don't want it to go too far. It was like 274 running on the left according to my expert caddie, so I gripped it down and hit a little shooter and I thought it couldn't run out if I did that. When I want to hit it either straight or take a bit off it, I'll grip down.

Q. How does today's round change the expectations you had coming into this week?

PETER LONARD: I don't really have any expectations as far as what I've got to do or whatever. I've been playing on and off for 20 years now, so it's just work as usual, I suppose. Obviously I put myself in a great position. I feel like if I drive the ball and hit my irons as well as I have probably the last month and putt half decent, I'm going to have a chance. That's pretty much all I'm thinking about.

PHIL STAMBAUGH: Peter, thank you very much. Congratulations.

End of FastScripts.

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