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May 13, 2004

Peter Lonard


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Peter Lonard, first round leader in the clubhouse after a 64, best round of the year. Let's start with some opening comments. Great day for you.

PETER LONARD: Yeah, it was. I think this year has been pretty hard so far and I played pretty ordinary and probably practiced as hard as I ever have and gotten worse each week. So it was nice for something to actually come back and play well. I don't think I actually hit the ball that well, but I definitely putted well and I hit a few greens, so it was a good day.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Talk a little bit about starting the season off. You missed almost the first two months of the PGA TOUR season due to injury, and you had a Top 5 at the Bell South, but just talk about your season so far.

PETER LONARD: Well, this year was probably the first year of my life I thought I was going to knuckle down, and I came here over Christmas and I came back to Orlando and I broke my ribs training, so next year I'll stay in Australia and get drunk with my mates like I always do, so at least I've learned something from that (laughter). I've really sort of been off kilter ever since.

The year finished last year with the Australian Open, the last tournament. It was a good way to end the year, and I was looking forward to coming back and playing well, and I've come back and played terrible. My driving has been all right, my iron play has been ordinary, and I really haven't got it together except for that one week at Bell South. It's a funny game.

I don't know whether this game is better to be inconsistent and when you fire up you win or whether you're better off just making a lot of cuts like I have the last couple of years. At the moment I'll feeling like a lot of cuts is better. It makes you feel comfortable anyway.

Q. When you get your year off on such a bad note, trying to do the right thing, is it hard not to just kind of have a negative frame of mind when you're trying to get into it?

PETER LONARD: I don't know about negative. For eight weeks I sort of sat at home and couldn't pick up a stick. I still went to the gym and trained like I still was playing on the Tour sort of thing.

But it's definitely -- when you want to -- when you have your aims at the start of the year and your goals and I miss the first eight weeks and turn up and about $2 million behind the guy that's leading the Order of Merit, all of a sudden I think it makes you try harder, and this isn't a game where trying harder necessarily works. You're better off getting in there, doing all your own work and just going along.

I don't know about negativity, but you definitely feel like you've got to fire up straight away, where if you play the first tournament you've got 30 tournaments for the rest of the year to catch up. So it's definitely tougher.

Q. How did you hurt yourself? I mean, weren't you stretching or something? How did you break your rib?

PETER LONARD: It was probably the first day in January, I suppose, and we were training the same as we always trained, and he was stretching my hip, and as he was stretching my hip, he sort of put his hand on the bottom of my rib, and it just snapped, just went -- it was an unbelievable noise. He said, "What was that," and he said, "does it hurt," and I said, "a little bit." I went home, hit some balls, it was okay. Next day, took anti-inflammatories, went to the gym, it was okay. The next day, I thought, well, it doesn't affect my golf so I won't take anti-inflammatories, then I strolled down to the golf range and took my sand wedge out and made a swish, and I thought someone had shot me.

Q. In light of how you've played this year, just how surprising was this?

PETER LONARD: It wasn't overly -- like I said, I've put in a lot of time, and I think if you put in a lot of time practicing and doing the right stuff, sooner on later it'll come around. I thought last week I hit the ball pretty well and putted pretty ordinarily. Today I hit it reasonably well. I didn't hit it anywhere near as good as I did last week, but I holed a few putts.

It's been a while since I've actually shot a low score, but I didn't feel that uncomfortable about the whole thing, so I think it was a good day.

Q. If you feel this way, how much do you think of an advantage there was to playing Cottonwood Valley first?

PETER LONARD: Well, I think the only advantage to playing Cottonwood first is the fact that you get to play this course three days in a row without any break from it. I haven't actually looked at the scores, but I think historically when I first came here everyone told me that Cottonwood is the easy course and the other one is the hard course, so I don't think I'm going to be preparing my speech just yet.

Q. How were conditions out there today?

PETER LONARD: It was pretty good. There was a little bit of wind. When we hit off, I didn't think we were going to play four holes. It looked like it was going to storm. But it sort of went around us, saw a bit of lightning around the joint. It was pretty straightforward. The course is in good shape. The rough is reasonable. If you hit it in the rough, you can still get it to the green.

Q. You've got a bunch of international wins and you've obviously established yourself out here. Is winning out here on the PGA TOUR very important to you or does it --

PETER LONARD: Oh, it's everything, I think. You know, I haven't won here ever, but I don't come here to lose every week, either, so it would be -- a win here or anywhere in America would be a great steppingstone and would give me the confidence to do more, work harder. That's the sort of incentive you need to go to the next level.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Can we go through your round? You started off with a birdie on 3 and 4.

PETER LONARD: 3, I hit a wedge to about five, six feet, made that.

Next hole, got a little lucky, hit it up against the fence off the tee, had some casual water, took a drop, hit it on the side of the green, chipped it in, ran to the next tee cartwheeling (laughter).

Q. How far was your chip there?

PETER LONARD: It was, I don't know, about 12 feet. It was just on the edge -- pin high, just off the edge.

7, hit it just on the fringe again, probably 10 feet right of the hole, holed that.

10, hit a wedge to about two feet, got that, and then 11, hit a good drive, hit one of those Rescue clubs, the Taylor Made Rescue club, and that was sort of the middle of the green, ran just behind the flag probably 30, 40 feet, and I think it was going off the green and then it hit the middle of the hole and went in. I went over, picked that one up and ran to the next again.

Q. That was a Rescue you hit?


Q. How far out were you?

PETER LONARD: I had about 235 to the flag.

Q. Was it going pretty fast? Did you see it go in?

PETER LONARD: Oh, it was on the green. I putted it and it was murdering. There's no doubt about that.

The bogey, a dogleg to the left, and I hit it on the wrong line. In past years I've just smacked it over the corner, and for some reason I stood up there today and tried to smack it over the corner and found out I don't hit it long enough.

And then the par-5 I hit another Rescue into the middle of the green, two-putted it. That was it.

Q. Any idea why your third round scoring average is three shots better than the other three rounds this year?

PETER LONARD: Because I've only played three of them. I'm usually sitting on my couch in Orlando on Saturdays, but I'm sure I'll butcher that somewhere along the track.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Peter Lonard, thank you.

End of FastScripts.

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