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January 14, 2017

Woody Austin

Orlando, Florida

THE MODERATOR: Thank you for joining us today, Woody. Another solid round. You stayed at the top of the leaderboard with 30 points today. Obviously, it's difficult to follow a round like you had yesterday. How do you feel you did in trying to follow up a 59?
WOODY AUSTIN: Pretty much what I figured. Like I said, I knew today was going to be more normal than yesterday. I made plenty of birdies today. I made a couple of mistakes that I didn't make yesterday. So it pretty much worked out exactly what I figured.
Very happy with the two days because I've only been back for a week practicing or playing. So I kind of figured more of today is what I was going to be looking at this week, and yesterday just kind of popped up out of the blue.
THE MODERATOR: Next week you're playing in Hawaii to open the regular season. Is this week kind of a fun way to roll over into the new year, get you ready for the new season?
WOODY AUSTIN: Absolutely. Like I said, this is‑‑ the reason‑‑ one of the big reasons I'm playing this week is to give myself some of‑‑ it's not like what you'd say is a major tournament experience or whatever because it is a fun event, but it is still a tournament. So you are still grinding to a point over shots, and you still have to pull off some shots.
So it's good when you're getting back in the flow, after taking the winter off, to hit shots that you have to hit that are going to be a little bit more under the gun next week. So it's a great test. It's a perfect prelude to next week.
THE MODERATOR: And with a stable for scoring, it rewards the birdies. Does it help you get into that more aggressive mindset to face a very tough field next week?
WOODY AUSTIN: I think, if you're somebody who's already aggressive, I think it's a perfect format. If you're somebody like myself who's more of a‑‑ I guess in the old days you'd call it a plodder or whatever, somebody who works his way around the golf course. I'm more of ball goes here, ball goes there. I need‑‑ you know, I work shots into flags. So I don't really think that the format really changes for me, but for somebody who's a long ball hitter, a guy who's aggressive on all the par 5s and does things, I think it's a perfect format for them.
For me, I think it's just the fact that I know that, if I make a bogey, I'm not like dying, I guess, so to speak.

Q. Just your thoughts on Joe cutting your lead from nine points to five.
WOODY AUSTIN: Well, Joe's one of the best players around as far as our Tour goes. I've considered Joe to be one of the best ball strikers I've ever played with in my entire career. So I expect Joe to always be there. It doesn't surprise me in the slightest.

Q. I know you talked a lot about your 59. When you see two guys in two days do that, is the number losing any mystique at all?
WOODY AUSTIN: Well, obviously, since it's been done, what, five times in the last two years or so‑‑ a couple Nationwides, Furyk, me and Justin. Like I said, the difference is what you have to understand is the technology in the golf ball have made this game so different. It is now legitimately a putting contest, and if you get anybody that has some talent and they get hot with as far as this golf ball‑‑ as far as these guys hit the golf ball nowadays and as easy as it is to control the golf ball compared to back in the day, you're going to have more guys with opportunities. So when you have more guys with opportunities, then they're going to knock the door down as opposed to, you know‑‑
There was probably plenty of people who had shots at it, but it only takes one fly or lie or one crazy bounce to take that away from you whereas now you give more guys that chance, and guys now putt so well, you're going to see it more often, unfortunately.

Q. What do you mean by unfortunately?
WOODY AUSTIN: Because I think it's sad. I think the game has gotten out of hand, but that's just from an old guy. I'd like to see the game go back to where golf meant‑‑ even par means something. They don't grow rough on the PGA TOUR anymore. It's all about how many birdies the guys can make. Look how far this guy hit his driver. Look how far he hits his 2 iron. It's not about the shots that they're hitting. It's about look how far he does this and how far he does that.
Being a traditionalist, I guess you'd say, I'd just like to see even par mean something.

Q. To that point I was going, a couple guys, your generation guys obviously, were saying the greens now are just absurd because the agronomy, plus no one wears spikes anymore.
WOODY AUSTIN: Everything. You can just throw it all in there. Everything you can imagine‑‑ you know, we've taken our sport, and we've improved it exponentially in every aspect that you can. So you look at that, and then you look at, let's say, look at baseball or look at basketball. Everything's still the same.
Now, when you get a guy that comes up like Bryce Harper, there's somebody who is really special because he has gotten it at a really young age, but the bats are still wooden, ball's still the same, the bases are still the same distance. Everything's still the same, but he actually has that extra added niche.
Well, you look at our game, and our game has completely changed. Golf ball is entirely different. The clubs are easier to hit. The drivers are bigger. We don't grow rough anymore. The golf courses are manicured perfect. Everything is geared now for the guy to play great.
So when you think in terms of how it is from era to era, it's hard for our era to even compete or be taken the same whereas in the others, you hear the knock in basketball all the time. Is LeBron as good as Michael? Well, it's two different eras, but it is still almost the same game. It is a different era, but you can almost make that comparison to a point because it is‑‑ they've changed the rules, so to speak, but the game is still the same whereas ours, it's not even close. Not even close to the same.

Q. They put a three‑point circle was their big change to kind of open the floor a bit.
WOODY AUSTIN: But the basket's still 10 feet tall. Ball's still the same. Court's still the same. Those athletes have gotten‑‑ you literally, basketball has evolved based on size and ability. The average point guard in Bob Cousy day was 5'10". Now your guard is 6'4", 6'5". So, yeah, they have evolved, but the game is still the same whereas ours, our game‑‑ our players haven't evolved. The game has evolved, and the players have come along with it.
It's not that‑‑ let's say a prime example. It's not that‑‑ you guys seem to fight to find the next Tiger Woods. There's not going to be another one because you can't separate yourself from the next player anymore because of the technology and the way the game has changed. You're going to have some really good players, and you're going to have a lot of really good players, but you're never going to have that unbelievable player ever again in golf because you can't do it because everybody‑‑ you've made the equipment and the golf ball and the talent level so much the same that that guy, even though he may be that much better, he can't legitimately every week prove it to you because you have allowed 144 other guys to be just as good.

Q. So it's an equalizer, the equipment?
WOODY AUSTIN: Absolutely.

Q. So if you guys played Hickory, there would be more separation?
WOODY AUSTIN: Well, yeah. I mean, look at it this way. I look at it this way. When you think of how great Tiger was‑‑ this is my ultimate whatever. What made Tiger so great? He did everything that other people couldn't quite do. He was the first guy who could hit 3 iron from 230 and bring it in to a par 5 and land it soft. He was the first guy who could carry it 293 but had to hit it straight. Now they all do it.
So now you used to talk about how great he was with his Stinger 3 wood, all the different shots he could hit that other people couldn't, that made him great. Now, it doesn't matter how good he plays, it doesn't matter how good Rory plays, it doesn't matter how good Dustin plays, it doesn't matter how good Jason Day plays, if they do not putt their butt off, they will not win. So you're not going to have that guy up there anymore because you've allowed all 144 guys every week to be in the same boat.

Q. Changing subjects to your round today, 66, seven birdies, that seems to qualify, as returns to reality from a 59 go, that's a pretty good return to reality, isn't it?
WOODY AUSTIN: Yeah. Well, I made two bogeys. So I was 67. But, yeah, like I said‑‑ I bogeyed the last hole.

Q. 66.
WOODY AUSTIN: I made seven birdies, two bogeys. Oh, see that is. I'm still on the 72. That's what I said. Yesterday I thought I shot 60, I didn't shoot 59. I'm lost on the number.

Q. So a good return to reality?
WOODY AUSTIN: Yeah. Like I said, I knew‑‑ again, we're playing a golf course a tee box, a tee box and a half up. Yeah, I'm about to be 53 years old, but I can still play, and I don't need to be playing a tee box‑‑ so the golf course isn't playing hard. So you're allowing me to get to all four par 5s. You're giving me a drivable par 4. And you're giving me six or seven 9 irons or wedges on other holes. I'd like to think I could play halfway decent.
Like I said, it's not‑‑ now, if you put me on the 18th tee and I have to do that all day with a 4 iron, I'll probably do exactly what I did today and kind of just miss the green off to the right. But I sure hope I can hit a sand wedge and a wedge.

Q. What was the highlight of your round today?
WOODY AUSTIN: I'd say for me the turning point‑‑ or the crucial point for me was 7. I hit a good drive, but it was down the right side, and I was blocked out by the trees. I thought I could get my second shot into the greenside bunker and it wouldn't be too bad, and I thought I hit a good shot. But the ball just really wasn't traveling with all the rain clouds and the whatever. So I was basically short‑sided. I was short of the green and to the right, and I only had 40 yards or whatever to that tuck front left, and I hit a perfect flop to about 2 1/2 feet.

So instead of wasting a par 5 that I need, I was able to make birdie there. But those are the kind of ones that kind of keep you going.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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