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June 3, 2016

Brendan Steele

Dublin, Ohio

THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started. Brendan Steele, thanks for joining us for a few minutes. 5 under 67 gets you to 12 under through 36 holes. 14 birdies, an eagle 2 at 18 yesterday. A lot going right for you. With that said, just a few comments on your first two rounds here at Muirfield.

BRENDAN STEELE: Yeah, a lot of things are going right. Obviously, conditions are really good. So kind of a lot of good scores out there. Greens are rolling perfect. They're pretty soft. If you're in good position off the tee, you can really get after it.

Yeah, hitting a lot of good shots and holing a few more putts than normal, which is kind of how you end up being high. Yeah, that's really all that's going on.

THE MODERATOR: You had a couple weeks off before coming here. Did you do anything specific? Have you been working on anything that's kind of tweaked in the right direction?

BRENDAN STEELE: It was actually a couple of interesting weeks off. I had a wedding in Santa Barbara. My wife and I, our college friends got married. So we went up there for a few days. And then went on a fishing trip with my dad in the eastern Sierras for a few days. So there wasn't a whole lot of golf.

And then I played a couple of matches at the end of the week against Phil, and he just drummed me around for a couple days. So I knew that I needed to really work hard on my game when I got here. So I worked really hard on Tuesday and Wednesday to try to get ready.

Q. What's your numerical definition of drum?
BRENDAN STEELE: I think he beat me 5 and 4 the second day. And the first day, beat me 2 and 1. But the second day, he shot 10 under, and I just felt like my game was very inferior to his. I felt like I needed to work really hard.

Q. Where was it?
BRENDAN STEELE: We played down in San Diego both days, the Bridges and Rancho Santa Fe.

Q. Is this a day where you know you have to go low? I mean, given the conditions, I know you guys always come in with some kind of game plan, but maybe that can change given what's happening on the board. You're first out, so it doesn't matter, but conditions and -- is that a mindset?
BRENDAN STEELE: Yeah, definitely. Conditions are perfect. I mean, I don't think we're ever going to see better conditions than this. The right amount of heat, the right amount of soft greens, the right amount of pace of the greens is really nice now too. So everything is set up that, if you hit good shots, you can really go low.

But this course still has a lot of teeth if you hit bad shots. You get out of position, and you can really struggle. But that being said, if you're hitting good shots right now, you're going to get a lot of good opportunities.

Q. When did you start playing with those -- with Phil during those kinds of like friendly, or maybe nonfriendly, matches, and what have you learned from him during those?
BRENDAN STEELE: Tons of stuff. Keegan and I played with him for the first time at PLAYERS in 2011. So it's been the last six seasons, I guess, five years now. I've learned a ton. I mean, he's helped me a bunch with my chipping. He's helped me with mindset.

It's really good to pick his brain about different ways to play courses, different ways to set up your bag, different ways to -- you know, he's got ideas for everything. So you can ask him any kind of question, and he's always really helpful, which is awesome. So as much as he wants to drum you, he will help you with anything you need help with.

I've really learned more from Phil even off the course than on the course. He always treats everyone so well, and I think he's really a good role model to kind of emulate.

Q. Brendan, I was able to eavesdrop, obviously, the other day with you and Rick Smith and working on a few things. Just wondering if you could maybe elaborate on exactly what he was telling you and maybe a couple little things, tweaks that you made that seemed to really get you dialed in hitting the ball.
BRENDAN STEELE: Yeah. I felt like I was swinging my long clubs pretty well when I got here, but my short irons for some reason, my divots were going left. I was pulling them. I was really steep. And he fixed me in like five seconds. I mean, he went, Oh, yeah, you need a little bit more width on the way back and on the way through. I said, Oh, is that it? He goes, Yeah, that's it.

All of a sudden, they were starting out down my line, the divots were shallower. It was just a lot better. What's so great about Rick too is we can then just start to dig into specific shots that I've been struggling with. So we would go around the green, there were a couple of shots that I just don't like that shot, and then we'd work on that. And we'd go into the fairway bunker. And I've been hitting either good fairway shots or I've been chunking them. So we worked on that.

So we can just add little pieces here and there. He's such a great coach from that perspective. He always makes it really simple, and you always get a lot out of it. And we can always just add these layers whenever I see him. So it helps me tremendously.

Q. Does it also help when it's fresh in your mind, you've just corrected it, so you go out on the golf course and you feel comfortable. Is that accurate?
BRENDAN STEELE: Yeah, definitely. Normally, what happens with this game, for me at least, is you get a good feel, you get a good key, and it lasts for a few days, hopefully a couple weeks, and then it kind of goes away. You either overdo it or you think you're still doing it and you're not or you made some mistake with your alignment, or whatever the case may be, and you have to work on something else.

But when you get something on a Tuesday or Wednesday before a tournament and it starts to feel really good, that usually ends up being a good week.

Q. You mentioned the greens being receptive, conducive to scoring. Is 16 the outlier? It seems like it is in a lot of years. Is it still the case?
BRENDAN STEELE: Yeah, 16's definitely the firmest green, and it doesn't have a whole lot of pitch from back to front, so it wants to get through there pretty quick.

I hit a horrible shot there today and was struggling just to make bogey. So 16's definitely still a really tough hole and definitely much firmer than the rest of the course.

Q. Looks like another day potentially of record low scoring. Yesterday was. Is that good or bad for golf? And where are you on the side of how much of it is you guys and how much of it is the course being, quote, easy?
BRENDAN STEELE: Yeah, I think it's great because you've got perfect conditions right now. So you should see low scores. If it was -- if everybody was going crazy and the greens were firm and the rough was high and the wind was blowing, then that would be a different story. But I think right now this is ideal conditions, so the scores should be really good.

If you see the conditions change a little bit, the scores are definitely going to go up.

Q. So not a proponent of making things sort of artificially hard just to keep scoring down?
BRENDAN STEELE: No, I don't think so. That's not something I believe in. The fans, I think, come out to here to watch us hit great shots. This is a fun course because, if you hit bad shots, you get penalized, and you get into some crazy spots. Some guys can get out of them better. Guys like Phil can get out of these places, and other guys can't. So that makes it exciting as well.

But I think the fans come to see us make birdies, make eagles, hit great shots, and shoot low scores.

Q. Did it mean any more because you did it on National Doughnut Day today?
BRENDAN STEELE: Yeah, definitely. A big doughnut guy.

Q. You can tell that I am. Seriously, can you pick out one shot that you maybe executed the best or you're most proud of or a shot that stood out today to you personally for any reason?
BRENDAN STEELE: Let's see. Yeah, I don't know. There was just -- there was a lot of good stuff today. There's not anything really specific.

I mean, yesterday I got into trouble on 14, and so the drive on 15, I was really proud of because normally that's where I struggle is after making a double and then kind of getting to the next tee and carrying it with me and hitting one into the trees or something when you've got a reachable par 5 there. So that was definitely a turning point yesterday, and that really paid off.

Today I made that bad swing on 16 and then hit a couple good shots after that. So maybe the tee shot on 17 and the second shot on 17. Hit a couple good shots there and a couple good shots into 18. It can get away from you quick on those last three holes on the back nine for sure.

Q. When you do have those tougher days, whether it's a U.S. Open, whether it's a Saturday at THE PLAYERS, anything like that, do you take any enjoyment out of that?
BRENDAN STEELE: You know, I really haven't been, and that's something I'm trying to get better at. But I haven't been enjoying it enough when it's been easy either, because I expect a lot out of myself. I feel like, when I first got out here, my game wasn't that good, and I just kind of like threw everything against the wall and hoped that it stuck. And then now I feel like my game's really good, so I expect a lot, and I'm a little too hard on myself. I just expect to hit great shots all the time, and then when I don't, I get really upset at myself rather than kind of patting myself on the back for the good shots and then just letting the bad shots go, as the best players in the world do. So that's what I'm really trying hard to do this week.

Q. As you get into a course condition that's brutal, is that fun? It seems to be fun for people watching every now and then. They seem to like to see you guys struggle.
BRENDAN STEELE: Yeah, I think people like to see us struggle because they can relate to it. Because whether you just go out at your local club or you come play a really tough course like this -- I'm sure in the Pro-Am, some of the guys were walking off shaking their heads at this course because it's so hard for the average guy. The rough's high. The targets are small. It's long.

So I think people like that. They like the U.S. Open, stuff like that, PLAYERS on Saturday because it gets out of hand and gets crazy. I can tell you people were not very pleased with THE PLAYERS on Saturday in general. There was a lot of yelling at officials going on after the round. So I would say in general we don't like that as much as just kind of a good fair test.

Q. Did you yell?
BRENDAN STEELE: I didn't yell. I let the other guys yell for me. There was one point when I was in there, in one room there was a guy yelling at one of the officials. And then as he took a breath, I could hear somebody else yelling at another official in the other room. I'm went, Okay, I don't even need to say anything.

Q. You mentioned the great playing conditions today. There's a chance of rain or inclement weather this weekend. As a player, how do you kind of mentally adjust or prepare yourself to the chance of adverse weather conditions tomorrow or Sunday?
BRENDAN STEELE: Yeah, you've just got to be ready for anything out here. You don't ever really know what you're going to get. It can be really difficult because you -- obviously, when you're playing well, you want everything to kind of stay the same. You don't want it to be windy one day and calm the next, and firm one day and soft the next, and rainy one day and cold or whatever the case may be.

So it's going to be a challenge for sure, and I traditionally don't like playing in the rain very much. I'm a California guy. If it rains, we stay inside. So that's not normally my favorite condition. I do fine in wind and heat. Cold's not my favorite either, but I don't think we'll see too much of that this week.

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