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February 25, 2016

William McGirt

Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

AMANDA HERRINGTON: Thank you for joining us in the interview room here, impressive round on a tough course and really tough conditions. You said this might be the best round of your year, except for the final round in Vegas this year.

So talk a little about what was working right for you today.

WILLIAM McGIRT: Yeah, I drove it in the fairway. Really had a lot of good numbers for second shots and was hitting my irons pretty solid. Wish I could have played every hole in the crosswind instead of straight in and straight down. Seemed like my distance control was pretty good at crosswinds, which is usually pretty tough.

Yeah, I gave myself a lot of looks today and most of the greens I missed, I was still putting, so it wasn't like I was scrambling really hard. I 3-putted 1. Left it ten feet short from 35 feet straight up the hill. But came back, made four birdies on the front and then I count the five I made on 10 as a par. Any time you're hitting driver, 3-wood into a hole, should be a par 5, my opinion.

12, the wind kind of laid down, I didn't catch all the driver, hit the lip, rolled back into a hole in the bunker. Leave in the bunker and actually made a great five there.

But to birdie the last three was just a great way to finish, and hit a quality -- a bunch of quality shots today and a bunch of really good putts, so all in all, it's a solid day.

Q. Could you talk us through 16, 17, 18?
WILLIAM McGIRT: Yeah, 16, just hit 3-wood off the tee. I kind of wanted to hit driver and Brandon said, "No, we don't need to hit driver. It brings the left bunker into play." I flushed that 3-wood, I looked at him and I said, "I don't think the best bunker was in play anyway."

I had, I want to say, 201 hole, and couldn't have hit a 4-iron another foot. Ends up about five feet.

Then 17, you're not really trying to hit anything back to that pin. I was trying to hit something to get it middle of the green, but if I tug it, IT doesn't get in that left bunker. Made about a 20-, 25-footer there.

And then 18, I thought the 3-wood was going to ride some more and catch the green. Just trickled over into the rough, kind of past that collection area. Chipped it up to about five feet and knocked that in.

Q. How do you quantify a round like this, given the conditions, the wind?
WILLIAM McGIRT: In what way?

Q. How good is that score?
WILLIAM McGIRT: Anything in the red is good around this place. You know, at 4-under, I would say it was bordering great.

I would say, if this was not my best round of the year, it was definitely second best. Maybe only second to the fourth round at Vegas.

This place is never easy, even when it's calm. You can't fall asleep on any shot out here. You can make double or worse on any hole. 1,4, the short holes, can still jump up and bite you. That's what makes this place so tough. You can't fall asleep on a shot, then you throw the conditions in, and it can kick your butt if you're not careful, and it has kicked mine in the past.

Q. What about the switch from West Coast poa, etc., to this?
WILLIAM McGIRT: I've never been so happy to see grainy bermuda.

It was kind of funny, Sunday I had about an 8-footer on 10 starting out. It jumped straight in the air as soon as I made contact. And I looked at Brandon after I walked off the green and I said, "Well, there's good news in this," I said, "17 more holes and we get to go to grainy bermuda, I can't wait."

These greens of rolling great right now. They were a touch slow today but with the wind, they had to be. If they were rolling normal speeds, we'd have probably stopped in the middle of the day.

I'm just glad to be back in some warm weather and some humidity and on bermudagrass.

Q. It rained pretty heavy last night, was that an issue at all for you today?
WILLIAM McGIRT: No, not really. I was surprised at how dry the fairways were. I had a mud ball on 10, which is not good when the mud is on the left and the wind is coming off the right, you kind of flip the coin and don't know which one to play more.

Yeah, I actually missed it far enough right, it's fine, and hit a pretty good shot up to about ten feet. I still swear that ball rolled over the hole, not catching the edge. It rolled right directly over the hole. But yeah, like I said, it's a par 5 to me. And there's two more tee boxes back there. I don't know why we can't play those. We play it as a par 5.

I had I think 236 or 238 hole after killing a tee shot. I'm sure somebody probably hit a 5-iron in there today. So you know, we can't play it as a par 5, but it's not my favorite hole, at 6:45 in the morning.

Q. How close were you to the water on 15? I know it looked like it just got on the green a little bit?
WILLIAM McGIRT: A little too close for comfort. I had enough to get my fat behind between the ball and the water and could read it. Not exactly that close. I would say five or six feet. I was probably three feet on the green.

WILLIAM McGIRT: My heart stopped. I was kind of -- yeah, it was, because I didn't catch it. I hit 7-iron. I was just trying to -- it's another one I was just trying to keep it short of that left bunker and kind of gave it the foul tip and just praying for it to get dry.

Q. I don't know if you watch scoreboards but kind of the way it went today, guys were birdies, then two, three bogeys, up, down. Were you aware of that? And then with your finish, what a great --
WILLIAM McGIRT: Yeah, I watched it a little bit in the morning sitting in the room and saw what guys are doing. The holes on the back side that were playing into the wind were playing very difficult. 10 and 11 are always tough. Even if you had no wind. But those being into the wind off the right made them even tougher.

And then 14, as well, especially with the back right pin there. This is not the kind of golf course that you're going to see ten or 12 guys go out and play a bogey-free round every day. I'd say we might have one a day, if we're lucky, around this place. It's just not a place that lends itself to going out there and having a good, clean scorecard.

You'll see guys have a bunch of birdies, but they are going to have a bogey or two. That's just the way this place is. The front nine, real little truly, the front nine, the only hole that played directly into the wind was 7, the par 3. Everything else was pretty much crosswind.

Because even we played 2, it was still more off the left. The wind kind of shifted as we got to like 4 and 5. But the back nine, you get a lot more of them into the wind.

Q. What happened on the second shot on 1?
WILLIAM McGIRT: I had 135 front, 140-something hole, and I mean, flushed a 7-iron, kept it down. Was trying to sling it, led it ride in the wind. Came up on the front edge of the green. Like I said, that putt was just extremely slow.

Shot came down dead on-line. I hit the shot I was trying to hit. Just didn't hit enough club I guess. There were times out there today where you could hit any one of three or four clubs, depending on your trajectory. And the same thing with catching the gust. There were times you could stand there and hit 5-iron from 180 or you could hit 3-iron from 180, depending on which gust you caught.

Q. Which hole intimidated you the most today?
WILLIAM McGIRT: 1 through 18. (Laughter). God, I don't know, but there's so many of them out here that are intimidating, is the thing. When you sit down and really look at it,1,3,4,9 to an extent, 13 to an extent, 18, those are the only holes that you feel like you have a birdie chance most every day. There's just not a lot of birdie holes out here.

You know, for me, making 4 on 10, that's a birdie. 6 is kind of the same way. When you catch a north, northeast wind,6 is playing straight back into the wind and it's all you want to a green that's not designed to hold a 3-iron. So you just kind of have to pick and choose where you're going to attack, and where you can miss it and leave yourself a chance to get it up-and-down. That's the big thing.

There's certain holes where you're better off short-siding yourself out here, but there are very few times. This is a golf course that just has no let-up from the first hole on. I kept watching this morning and I kept seeing so many 5s and 6s on 1, I thought, okay, maybe the wind is not blowing the same out there as it is over here at my hotel room. But a lot of it has to do with wind direction out here. It's just a hard golf course. It's a great golf course but it's a hard golf course and I think that's why you see so many guys come and play this event.

I've never heard guys complain about this golf course. Everybody talks about how much they love it and how tough it is, and I think that's why you see the field here that it has.

Kind of the same thing with Tampa. I'm not trying to knock anything about it, but there's not a whole lot to do around Innisbrook, and people say, oh, well, purses, guys will come for money. That's one of the smaller purses that we have, but look at the field. Every year, it's one of the top five or ten fields that we have, and it's because of the golf course. I don't think guys will look at the money and say, that's why I'm going. They want to go to a golf course that they enjoy playing, and that's the big thing for most guys.

AMANDA HERRINGTON: Thank you for joining us in here.

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