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May 2, 2016

Brian Stuard

Avondale, Louisiana

MARK WILLIAMS: We'd like to welcome Brian Stuard, the 2016 Zurich Classic of New Orleans champion. With this win you get a number of exemptions. You get obviously a two-year exemption. You're fully exempt on the PGA TOUR through 2018, which is I think a pretty huge deal, given that you're playing out of the 150 category. You get a start in THE PLAYERS in a couple weeks. Of course you get a start in the Masters. This is an official event, all those things. I'm asking you if you're relieved or excited or a bit of both or not really sure how you feel. Just give us your thoughts.

BRIAN STUARD: Yeah, definitely a little bit of both. Kind of overwhelming right now to think of all those great things that comes with winning, but I don't know, I just feel very fortunate, very happy, and I don't know, very pleased.

MARK WILLIAMS: You played some stellar golf this week in some pretty tough conditions. You went bogey free for the 54 holes, and you got it up-and-down almost every time when you missed the green. You birdied the last hole of regulation to get into the playoff, and then the second playoff hole, that stellar shot you hit, just talk us through the 7-iron you hit in there.

BRIAN STUARD: Yeah, I hit my drive a little left and kind of was stymied in the bunker, and just hit a good shot to advance it down the fairway, and then I think it was 171 hole, and it was just kind of a nice smooth 7-iron, and I thought if I hit it with a little bit of a lower trajectory that it would land and bounce up, which it of course did. It came off great, just kind of how you draw it up.

MARK WILLIAMS: You are playing next week at Wells Fargo and you're in THE PLAYERS, so you've got a busy stretch coming up still.

BRIAN STUARD: Yeah, it's nice to have some tournaments to play in.

Q. We talked all week about the Fang putter. Obviously it served you well with no bogeys all week. And then to get into the playoff, just tell us about the putter.
BRIAN STUARD: Yeah, it's just one of those things. I picked it up off the putting green last week, and it felt good in my hands. I putted well, pretty well with it last week, and then this week it was just kind of -- just I felt like I was really seeing the lines well, and they were going in. I don't know. I wish I knew what the difference was. But it was a nice feeling.

Q. Are you going to come up with a name for that putter?
BRIAN STUARD: I might have to. I don't know. I'm going to have to think of something. I think it'll be in the bag for a while.

Q. Tell us about what it's like to play conditionally and not know when you're going to get to play or where you can set up a schedule for several weeks, and now you've got the next two weeks at least you don't have to worry about it.
BRIAN STUARD: Yeah, it's definitely tough to play out of that category because sometimes you don't know until the Monday or Tuesday of the tournament week if you're going to get in. It's just one of those things that I didn't play good enough last year, and that's the price you pay, I guess.

But fortunately, I don't know, this means a lot, just for that reason alone. It's nice to be able to pick and choose some tournaments to go play instead of just having to play whenever you get in.

Q. On 18 in regulation, you were one behind, and Jamie gets on in two. What's going through your mind right there?
BRIAN STUARD: Yeah, it was just one of those, I knew he had a long two-putt for birdie. I fortunately hit a good shot in there. I don't know, it was six, seven feet maybe, something like that, and I was just kind of -- I mean, it was kind of out of my hands at that point. I just kind of had to wait and see what happened.

Then luckily for me, that putt meant something, and I was able to make it, so it was nice.

Q. With your conditional status, if you look at your results page for the last year or so, it hasn't been all that great. Where did this week come from?
BRIAN STUARD: I think last year I kind of fiddled with a few things in my swing, trying to make some tweaks, and it didn't really work. I just struggled all year finding any sort of, I don't know, control of where the golf ball was going, and that's not very fun to play that way.

I started this winter really trying to get back to, I guess, being me and playing how I grew up playing, how I learned to play and what feels comfortable for me. And it took a while to kind of get that feeling back. I went -- I guess it would be three weeks ago now, I went up to Michigan and worked with my coach, Gary Robinson, and we just kind of tried to get back to those same thoughts and ideas that I was playing with two and three years ago, and I saw some signs last week that it was getting there, and then for whatever reason, it seemed to click a little better this week, and I think the biggest difference I noticed was off the tee. For a while there, it seemed like I was really struggling off the tee, and that's not my game. I'm usually pretty straight. Then it kind of seemed to come together this week.

Q. Today with the conditions and everything and you've got to play quickly to get in ahead of the rain, it looked like kind a shootout thing, but you hung around. Did you tell yourself to be patient? Did you try to have a game plan not to get too overly aggressive or anything like that?
BRIAN STUARD: Yes and no. I think I wasn't playing great. I was just kind of, I don't know, like you said, hanging around. I kept it in play, and then I hit the middle of the greens a lot and was just -- wasn't able to make the birdies. But luckily I made -- I hit a good shot into No. 11, kind of gave me a little momentum, and then I played pretty good from there on out, and I just wasn't able to make any of the putts until 18. It was just one of those -- like you said, one of those days where there was some -- you could shoot some low scores if you got it going, but it was just kind of hanging around and plodding around, and luckily it was -- I was able to get to 15-under, which was enough.

Q. Go back to your second shot on 18 to set up the shot that got you within a couple of feet. Did you kind of play it from left to right and is that what you like to do?
BRIAN STUARD: On the last playoff hole?

Q. Yeah.
BRIAN STUARD: I had to stand in the bunker, so it was well above my feet, and I was just trying to get something down there where I would have a third shot really, and luckily it came off pretty well and I hit it pretty nice, I just had to play a big hook. I don't know, it just came off pretty well.

Q. Did you know what Jamie had done on his second shot, up against the --
BRIAN STUARD: Yeah, I saw him --

Q. How much did that affect what you were going to do?
BRIAN STUARD: Yeah, sure, I saw him hit it over there and I knew it was going to be a tough up-and-down, so I just kind of sit to myself, hit a good shot here and you can put some pressure on him, and luckily it came off well. It didn't really change my game plan too much. With the greens as soft as they were, you could be fairly aggressive. It was just kind of -- I don't know, maybe -- I don't say it changed my thoughts, but maybe it just kind of gave me a little shot of confidence of, hey, here you go, here's your chance, that kind of a thing.

Q. Was there one key thing on the back nine that kind of gave you the boost to take it in and tie it?
BRIAN STUARD: Yeah, I think the biggest -- I guess hitting the shot into No. 11, it was a wedge and I hit it to a couple feet. It was nice to kind of get the first birdie of the day going, I guess. Then, like I said, I played pretty solid from there on out, had a few couple other chances but just wasn't able to make them until 18.

MARK WILLIAMS: You also received 500 FedExCup points and obviously it took 458 to qualify last year for the FedExCup Playoffs, so that'll set up your schedule for the rest of the season. You'll get to play in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at the beginning of the year in Hawai'i next year. You came from the Web.com TOUR and now you're a tournament winner on the PGA TOUR. Do you think you'll be perceived a little bit differently by your peers or when you turn up at Wells Fargo next week?

BRIAN STUARD: I don't know, maybe a little bit. I think I've always been, I guess, a journeyman kind of player, just always grinded it out. I feel like I was close to getting a couple wins in México a couple years ago, I guess, I was close. Just one of those things where you just had to be -- have the confidence to say one day it's going to be your time. Fortunately today was that day.

Q. Do you feel any different one way or another about the fact that this was a three-round tournament, which of course went to Monday? It's kind of unusual that it was a shorter tournament, but with even an extra day, does that mean anything to you one way or another?
BRIAN STUARD: Not really. I think it just maybe kind of goes back to the fact where I kind of hung in there all week. I just didn't get too ahead of myself and just stayed real patient, and it paid off.

MARK WILLIAMS: We appreciate your time, and enjoy the victory and savor it, and all the best for the rest of the season.

BRIAN STUARD: Thanks. Thank you, guys.

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