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February 18, 2016

Charlie Danielson

Pacific Palisades, California

ALEX URBAN: We'd like to welcome Charlie Danielson into the interview room.

Charlie, you won our Northern Trust Open Collegiate Showcase presented by Sands Cares on Monday, and then you made the most of your first round here shooting 4-under par in the first round. Did you learn some stuff on Monday? You obviously played incredibly. Talk about your day.

CHARLIE DANIELSON: I've had a great week. I got a lot of work in prior to Monday with Coach and the two supporters that came out to play in the Collegiate Showcase.

And then when I played on Monday, Coach and I kind of went through every hole and I played really solid. I missed it in all the right spots. My short game was pretty sharp, and the course was a little different than today, but I knew enough about the course and how to play it that I was able to play pretty well.

Q. Has there been a pinch-me kind of moment yet, whether it's warming up on the range next to Rory, or seeing certain guys out here that you're like, man, I can't believe I'm doing this?
CHARLIE DANIELSON: Yeah, I was a little intimidated at first, but everyone has been so kind to me. They have always thought enough to come up and say congratulations and a couple guys saying that, you know, you earned it, so act like it. That's been great.

I saw Jordan Spieth yesterday at the hotel. I was in an elevator with Adam Scott. Talked to Patrick Rodgers. It's been pretty special, and then I was able to play golf with Steve Stricker and Scott Langley and Paul Casey.

Q. What's the best advice you've received from one of the other players so far?
CHARLIE DANIELSON: You know, just not make this too much of a big deal, enjoy it. It's definitely my first event out here, so I'm just going to try to take it all in. I came out with no expectations, and just taking it one shot at a time and trying to have as much fun as possible.

Q. Is there a temptation, when he is your first event check economic and it's a cool thing, when you're out here Tuesday and Wednesday, to stay on the golf course, I don't want to say dawn to dusk, but close to it?
CHARLIE DANIELSON: Yeah, that's exactly right. I probably wore myself out a little bit Monday night and Tuesday, but I had a couple people like Jordan Niebrugge, he's one of my best friends. He's had a couple TOUR events, and he told me: You know what, don't fall for all the hype; go do your thing, get away from the golf course when you need to.

So I definitely took that advice. Kind of laid low yesterday afternoon. Going out to eat with my dad and a couple buddies, so it's been great.

Q. You see your name on leaderboards before, but when you look at this leaderboard and you see the names that you're next to, what goes through your mind?
CHARLIE DANIELSON: It's pretty humbling. I'm honored. These are the best players in the world, and to compete with them on such a great golf course, and championship-style golf course, is pretty thrilling.

Q. When you went into the showcase on Monday, how much were you thinking about, oh, this is a cool event I get to be in versus how badly do I want to win this? What was that like?
CHARLIE DANIELSON: Yeah, there's a fine line for that for me. I don't want to get too excited and too result-oriented. So that's why it was great to have Coach Small on the bag.

One of the goals that I made to start the year was while I was in college, to earn a PGA TOUR exemption, and so I'm glad to have done that, so I have experience for after school, and so yeah.

Q. What were your emotions once you knew you made it?
CHARLIE DANIELSON: Coach told me coming up 9, my 18th hole, that I needed to make birdie. I was maybe a little nervous. I thought that there was probably a couple guys at 1- or 2-under and I was 2-under at the time and I fortunately made birdie. When I finished, I saw that I had I think a two or maybe even three-shot lead so I felt pretty comfortable sitting in the clubhouse and it was just a great day.

Q. Did you give him any crap about telling you you need to make birdie?
CHARLIE DANIELSON: I did, but he knows me well enough to know I would maybe start getting on the defensive side if I knew I had a two-shot lead. So he just kept me in the moment and kept me on the offensive side.

Q. What was the key to your round today, do you think?
CHARLIE DANIELSON: I got off to a good start. I made two birdies, and I still wasn't settled in. I was nervous. My mind was going everywhere. But that was normal and I knew that was normal, and I made two sloppy bogeys after that. And kind of just settled down.

I made a good putt on my sixth hole, a good par putt. After that, I just realized that, you know, I'm here to have fun. I started settling down. I hit some good quality shots, made a couple adjustments on my swing, and was fortunate enough to make some birdies coming in.

Q. Obviously your buddies on the golf team back at Illinois know how big this is and how big it is for you. Are there students that have no absolutely no idea and don't realize what this is?
CHARLIE DANIELSON: Yeah, that's exactly right. I would say the majority of the school has no idea. But for my golf teammates, they have been so supportive. They were supportive even before I made it. Told me to just go have fun and that I earned my way here for one of the 14 players, and I'm excited to talk to them after today.

Q. Are you going to get stuff from other students in class: Oh, you played in a golf tournament, that's nice, not really understanding what it is?
CHARLIE DANIELSON: We'll see. I probably need to have a good next three days for that to happen, for them to realize that, but I hope so.

Q. How have your expectations changed?
CHARLIE DANIELSON: I would say not at all. I am going to go in tomorrow and have fun and whether I have a bad round or a good round or mediocre round, nothing is going to change. I'm just here for the experience and I'm here to play well. Obviously I'm seeing as good of shots as I can in my mind and just trying to execute them.

Q. Describe when your name was announced on the opening tee and the tee shot, what you felt like.
CHARLIE DANIELSON: I was nervous. I would say I was just as nervous for the practice round when all those pros are up there watching you tee off on 1. But luckily I had an iron in my hand, so I knew that I had a pretty wide fairway. Got in the fairway, hit a good shot up there, somehow made the putt, and the rest was history.

Q. When did you find out you were going to be in the Showcase, how was the selection process, were your teammates a little jealous?
CHARLIE DANIELSON: I don't know about jealous. Maybe a little bit but they were definitely supportive. Coach told us, maybe after the first tournament that our team was invited. He told us, I think it was a combination of Golf Week and Golf Stat rankings at the end of the fall would be the difference, and fortunately we had a great fall.

A lot of guys played well. I was the highest-rated player. I actually missed one tournament at Olympia Fields, our home tournament, but made the most of the other three.

Q. When you talked about having earned it, that's -- you did; this wasn't a popularity contest.
CHARLIE DANIELSON: No, Coach didn't just pick who he thought deserved it. It was straight off the books.

Q. I know I could look this up, but where are you from, where do you play your golf outside of University of Illinois?
CHARLIE DANIELSON: I am from Osceola, Wisconsin, a town of 2,500 people, one stoplight in the town. My dad taught me growing up. We played at Crooked Creek. It's a 6,200-yard course. Nothing special.

Now I play a mixture of Troy Burne and New Richmond Golf Club, and so I live right on the Minnesota border near the Twin Cities, so any time I travel, I'm flying out of Minneapolis.

Q. Is there anything about that 6,200-yard course that would have prepared you for this?
CHARLIE DANIELSON: I would say you get pretty good at your wedges and you obviously -- if you're driving for greens, you know you narrow your focus in there, which will definitely help out here.

Q. What's your dad's name, and is he a golf pro, or did he just get you in it?
CHARLIE DANIELSON: He just got me into it. Both my sisters play, as well, and my dad's name is Craig Danielson.

Q. Do you beat your sisters?
CHARLIE DANIELSON: Most of the days I think so. If they are playing up a couple tee boxes, I'm sure if I don't have the best day that they will shoot a lower score.

Q. This little town you mentioned, the one-stoplight town, is that the one that's near the border?
CHARLIE DANIELSON: Yeah, near the Minnesota border.

Q. How did you wind up in Illinois? What were your other options?
CHARLIE DANIELSON: I was looking a lot at the Big Ten and then a couple southern schools, Auburn, UCF. Illinois was the perfect choice. I had Coach Small there. I had the indoor facilities. I was in a big town atmosphere. The biggest thing that my dad and I kind of talked about was, where can I get the best.

And watching Coach Small develop all these players, Thomas Pieters, Scott Langley, Luke Guthrie, everyone that goes through there, they love him and they trust him, and he has so much playing experience.

Q. Given the state of the football team, are you guys elevated in stature?
CHARLIE DANIELSON: I would say a little bit, but hoping to turn that around. We just got a new ad yesterday or two days ago, so I'm pretty excited about that.

Q. What are your plans after you graduate?
CHARLIE DANIELSON: As of now, I'll probably turn pro right after Nationals and just try to get into as many events as I can, whether I have to Monday qualify or hopefully get a couple exemptions.

ALEX URBAN: Great playing, Charlie, and good luck the next couple days.

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