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May 11, 2017

William McGirt

Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

ALEX URBAN: Like to welcome William McGirt to the interview room here at THE PLAYERS. 5-under 67 in your first round today currently sitting in the lead here after this morning wave or during near the end of the morning wave. Take us through your round and where you sit after your opening 67.

WILLIAM McGIRT: Well, it was just a good solid day all around. Couple hiccups there, 10 and 18, but played pretty solid on the front. I think I missed one green and that was No. 5. Chipped it up there pretty close. Kind of almost feel like you steal two when you birdie both the par-3s on the front. I had a good birdie on 7 there, but 11 I had 250 front I think 279 hole, so I didn't think I could really hit 3-wood over the green. Landed on the front, rolled to the middle, and buried a 50-foot windmill putt. And then 16 had 205 front, 236 hole, and just kind of smoothed a 5-iron up in the air and went in on the last roll. Then kind of 18 is what it is. Not a fan of that green. Never will be.

Q. Nobody's birdied 11 and 16 in the first round.

Q. Or eagled, eagled. Nobody eagled 11 and 16 in the first round, and only three guys did it before you, so combine that with making birdie on the two toughest par-3s, historically is there any rhyme or reason to being able to pull that off in one round?
WILLIAM McGIRT: Good numbers at a good time, made a good swing at a good time. There's no answer, honestly; you just kind of see the shot and hit the shot and see the putt and hit the putt. I think that's probably the third or fourth time, maybe even fifth time that I've eagled 11. I eagled 16 last year for the first time and never eagled either par-5 on the front, I don't think.

Q. When you look at your record around this golf course, it's been a little mixed. Is it a matter --

Q. I'm being polite. Is it a matter of learning the golf course or feeling more comfortable out here, or are you just playing well right now?
WILLIAM McGIRT: No, it was a matter of having a good day. I don't know that you can really learn this golf course, because the thing with this place is you hit one that lands four, five feet off the putting surface, there's no telling what's going to happen to it. Especially like you go to No. 2, let's say you hit a good shot into 2, and it lands four, five feet off the right side of the green, off the putting surface, not the slope, but it hits that slope and it shoots it over there right and you got nothing. You can't finish from over there. So it's a matter of getting away with somehow getting lucky when you do miss a shot.

Today for the most part I was okay. Couple days last year, Saturday especially, seemed like if I hit a shot it ended up in the worst possible place where you couldn't finish if you gave me a bucket and six hours to do it. It's just one of those things. That's the way this golf course is.

Q. Two days ago you're at Muirfield; any connection between today positive thoughts and what happened today and being up there?
WILLIAM McGIRT: I went with the less-is-more attitude this week for here. When Dan Sullivan called me about going to media day up there, he said, I know it's a big week, I know it it's the PLAYERS, yada, yada, yada. I said, Dan, I waited 38 years; I'm not missing, okay. And honestly, I don't need to play a practice round out here, I know what's going to happen around this place. I feel like this is one of those places that every time I play it, it only frustrates me more, so if I played nine holes Sunday, nine holes Monday, and nine holes yesterday, that was plenty. Sunday and Monday I wouldn't say did me a whole lot of good because the greens were half the speed they were today.

Q. Win at Memorial, in contention at the Match Play, obviously in contention at the Masters; what are you learning in these bigger events that help you do what you're doing again today?
WILLIAM McGIRT: Biggest thing is the fact that I can play. It's amazing what a little bit of confidence will do. The win last year was huge for my confidence, and then playing well at the PGA last fall, kind of proved to myself that, hey, I can play golf at the Major Championship level. And then obviously playing well for the first two and a half days at Augusta. So more than anything, it's more of a confidence thing that you take away from it. A lot of it, too, is playing well at the right time. I've played well at other weeks of the year and nobody seems to notice, which is fine, but it just playing well at the right time is what makes everybody notice and big events and stuff like that and taking advantage of it.

Q. Have you noticed the difference from fans, spectators et cetera, media and whatnot, in your everyday life?
WILLIAM McGIRT: I can't hide anymore. I've gone through the airport a few times and tried to dress down as much as I could and hide, it doesn't work. Yeah, it is nice to be noticed. I mean, obviously if you're walking around and you're able to go unnoticed, that means people either have never heard of you or don't care. So I would like to think that people actually do care and they have noticed. I don't mind. From time to time when you're with your family it can be a little bit of a -- I won't say annoyance, but when you're trying to chase around two kids when you're in the airport and you got people coming up left and right and it's like, hey, I just need to get a hold of them real quick, can you give me a few minutes, I'll be glad to come back, but you got to let me go for a second.

Q. Have them grab one of those kids for you?
WILLIAM McGIRT: Hey, we can talk, can you come chase with me.

Q. How long was your family in Lumberton before you moved? How long did you live in Lumberton or in that area?
WILLIAM McGIRT: I grew up in Fairmont. My mom lived there in the' 70s. My dad was born and raised there. I lived there until fall of '97 when I went to college. I basically stayed in Spartanburg after that.

Q. That's kind of Raymond Floyd's neck of the woods. I wonder if you ever had gotten a chance to meet him or ever heard about Raymond Floyd growing up.
WILLIAM McGIRT: I only met him a couple times at other charity events like at Ernie's pro-am down in West Palm Beach. I did know his dad a little bit. This year I'll be -- they lived 35, 40 miles up Interstate 95 from me. Up in the Hope Mills. And so I did know him a little bit, I met him a few times, but not much about Raymond. I knew Leonard Thompson a whole lot better. Leonard was from Laurinburg and times that I've come down here I usually call LT and he'll come over here and hang out. But I know his daughter just passed away last week, so I think they're probably with the rest of the family.

Q. You played a lot of golf on a lot of tours, a lot of places, what's the farthest removed from this that you played a tournament that -- I mean a strange setting.
WILLIAM McGIRT: Golly, I played in several mini-tour events that are one-day events or something where you honestly didn't know if you were playing a golf tournament. You just kind of show up and they would hand you a scorecard and you would have to walk inside and get a cart key and, you know, I mean you really felt like you were just showing up and playing in the gangsome. It was fun times. I wouldn't trade any of those experiences.

Q. I know there's one not far from where I live beside a turkey farm. Have you played around odd places like that?
WILLIAM McGIRT: Oh, yeah. You've played Charlotte National. So it was nothing to go out and play a practice round before a Tarheel TOUR event and have some guys that had just gotten off work playing in front of you or behind you and they would be in work boots, a wife beater, and keys dangling from the hip. My kind of people, honestly. But, yeah, I mean I've seen herds of cows right beside the golf course, sheep, you name it. A few goats. I'm not so sure that they didn't roam the fairways too. But, yeah, I wouldn't trade any of those experiences for getting here.

ALEX URBAN: Thank you for your time and good luck the rest of the way.

WILLIAM McGIRT: Appreciate it. Thanks for being here.

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