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March 19, 2016

Troy Merritt

Orlando, Florida

AMANDA HERRINGTON: Troy Merritt. Thanks for joining us in the Interview Room. 5-under today in a very rainy day. Now that you've dried off, how do you assess today's play?

TROY MERRITT: I'm very happy with the results today especially with the weather that we had for a good half of the round. Hit the ball very well, gave myself a lot of good looks and putted very well the last three days.

I'm not a long hitter. I can't be as aggressive into the greens so I have to give myself 20, 25 footers and try to make a couple and so far so good the first three days and today was a nice day to take advantage of the par-5s.

I think we birdied all of them today and that's a rarity for us especially when we have wedges into most of them. Usually don't make birdies. Very good day. Nice to be in the tent, nice and dry now and we'll wait for tomorrow.

Q. Just talk about how difficult the course played and how much difference on the shots.
TROY MERRITT: Got a little bit greasy. Started raining, the umbrella came out on 8 for us. Got a little greasy, 8, 9 and 11. You had to adjust definitely and we were lucky to make a couple of nice par saves on 8 and 9 and really didn't soften up until the hard rain we had standing in the middle of 15 fairway.

17 and 18 played softer than they probably did a little bit earlier in the day and could take advantage with a little more aggressive line and give yourself some good birdie looks.

Q. You don't even look wet.
TROY MERRITT: Had the umbrella out. The pants got wet but that's all right.

Q. If my math is correct, I think it's 7 of the last 10 starts you've missed the cut including five of the last six. How do you explain, I guess, being in this position?
TROY MERRITT: It's pretty much my MO. All my good finishes the last few years have come off of 5, 6, 7 missed cuts in a row. I really haven't been playing that poorly.

I had a couple odd holes on Friday at Valspar, played in 5-over for a 5 hole stretch and missed the cut by 2. I think same thing happened at Spyglass on Saturday. I think I shot 6-over and missed the cut by 1. Phoenix I had some tough holes on Thursday, played a five hole stretch in 5, 6 over, missed cut by two there.

I've actually played fairly solid. I just had some weird stretches where I just can't get off the bogey train and obviously that's not very good out here. Not good anywhere.

The game didn't feel great earlier in the week. I did work on taking the club back a lot straighter, got a little inside last week and so far so good, and the putter showed up and that's always a good thing for me.

Q. You won last year at Quicken, I think it was, and is it harder to get that first one or is it harder to try to win the second one?
TROY MERRITT: As I haven't won the second one yet, I'll save that one. It did take me about 96 tries to get the first one. I think I've added maybe another 15, 18 events since then. I'm not sure of the number.

You know, I like to get one here in the near future. It feels -- there's a comfort level out there now, really good crowds here, play in the second to last group with three of the Top 8 players in the world on your heels right behind you and I think we handled it just fine.

There weren't any nerves coming down the stretch. Just kind of tried to get through the weather, hit good solid shots and have some stress-free pars and made a few birdies coming down the stretch.

It was nice.

Q. Your last two rounds have been very solid. Yesterday your finish wasn't what you wanted, a bogey and a really tough par save. Today your finish was birdie, par. How much more confidence does a finish like that give you as you go into the final round?
TROY MERRITT: Makes dinner taste a lot better that night, for sure. I felt real really good. Even though I finished bogey, par yesterday, it could have been bogey, bogey or worse with the two tee shots I hit yesterday.

Today was much better. We always want to finish on a high note. Jack Nicklaus always said, "Make sure you birdie last hole." Kind of took that to heart years ago. Still feels really good to birdie the last hole.

Q. Troy, looks like that last birdie on 18 is going to get you a spot in the final pairing tomorrow.
Does that change your approach at all and how do you look at the opportunity to play along side Jason Day?

TROY MERRITT: Better be ready for me to blow it by them by 25 yards. Jason is a good guy, Henrik, very good guy as well. I believe Henrik will be in the final group tomorrow. I haven't looked. Two of the best players in the world and I'll learn a lot tomorrow.

I'll have to make sure I stay focused on my game. I kind of brought with me -- the last couple of weeks I had some long hitters. When I was a kid I was a very short hitter. I learned at a young age not to try to play a game that isn't yours, try to swing really hard to keep up.

It doesn't work for me. If I can just keep it nice and smooth tomorrow, find the fairway, get it on the right side of the fairway and hit some good approach shots in there and make a few putts, we'll tally them up and see what happens.

Q. Troy, given the percentage of 54 hole leaders who go on to win the tournament, would you prefer to be where you are right now than be in Jason's shoes?
TROY MERRITT: It's always nice to have the lead, you know, at any point in the golf tournament. There's a certain fear factor that I've always played with the lead and that's the fear of being caught. I enjoy being out front. I've won tournaments coming from behind, not on the PGA TOUR, I think I had the co-lead at Quicken last year but, yeah, I like where I am.

If I was five down coming into today -- I don't know how Jason finished but we were two down walking off the 18th green. Made up some ground today. Make up three more strokes again tomorrow, that would be a good thing for us.

Q. So fear as the motivating force for you. You like that fear.
TROY MERRITT: Yeah. You don't want to get caught.

Q. Troy, in the heavier rains that were coming down, what became the biggest challenge out there and, secondly, your form on the back end of stretches that weren't so great, is that kind of a good thing with you, does it keep you optimistic that something good can come at any point?
TROY MERRITT: You know, I think the most important thing today especially when it starts raining hard is to embrace it. If you don't want to play in the rain, if you don't want to be out there you're not going to put good swings on it and make some big numbers and shoot yourself out of it.

When it starts raining like that you just have to enjoy it, enjoy the challenge, focus on one shot at a time and give yourself as many stress-free pars as you can.

For the most part we were able to do that with the exception of 11 and 13, and, I'm sorry, what was your second part of the question?

Q. You found big weeks on the back end of stretches that weren't so great. Does it keep you optimistic showing up at a tournament where the form is so great?
TROY MERRITT: I've been on both ends of the spectrum. I think when I won at Q-School in '09 I hadn't touched a golf club in two weeks and showed up and played really well. It doesn't work every week.

It's one of those things, I don't work on a lot of my golf swing. As long as the posture and alignment are correct, the takeaway is fine. All I think about are tempo. No mechanics or technicalities in the golf swing I think about.

If I can find that early in the week it's usually going to mean good things for me and just because you haven't played well, you know, a few weeks in a row or finished well, missed cuts, doesn't mean you're actually playing poorly. You're not getting the job done, not scoring well. There might be one, two things you need to tweak. We got those taken care of earlier this week.

Q. Do you ever have a point in the round a shot, swing, anything that indicates it's going to be a good day or do you wait until the end and if the first part is true, was there a moment like that today?
TROY MERRITT: Today was just one of those days where you really had to stay in the moment. Every putt you made was important. Getting off on the first hole making about a 9, 10-footer down the hill left to right slider is a very, very good way to start your day, especially when it's for par.

If I can get the putter rolling early I have a pretty good feel for the greens. It usually means I'm going to make some putts today.

Typically if I would go bogey the first hole kind of gets me motivated to get going a little bit. That hasn't been the case this week.

Yeah, if I can just make a putt in the first, two, three holes and get a good feel for the greens, I feel like if I can just get it on there inside 20, 25 feet I've got a good chance to make some putts.

Q. Ever thought about bogeying 1 tomorrow to get motivated?
TROY MERRITT: No. You don't want to give those guys anything.

Q. Troy, those things that -- I don't know if you said this earlier but those things you found that you got taken care of earlier in the week, what were they?
TROY MERRITT: Justing takeaway. Got a little bit inside last week. It's easy to do when you're playing in the wind, bit windy at Valspar. As a result I sent it right and flipping it over and hitting it left.

Not very many good shots on Friday and we just got to square it up earlier this week. It's a simple fix. Maybe a two, three ball fix is all it takes and then it's just going out and developing the confidence again on the golf course and hitting good golf shots. We did that kind of middle of the week, Pro-Am hit it pretty well and just carried over since.

Q. Is that you and Scotty?
TROY MERRITT: My coach, Steve Baldy.

AMANDA HERRINGTON: Thank you for your time, Troy. We appreciate coming on in.

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