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April 24, 2018
THE MODERATOR: Go ahead and get started here with William McGirt and Sam Burns at the 2018 Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
We'll start with William. What made you want to play with a player like Sam in this team event?
WILLIAM McGIRT: I mean, he's one of those young far hitters. Needed somebody for that alternate shot, so that I can get out there and actually have some irons into some of these greens.
It was kind of funny today. He literally hit it 60, 70 yards by me sometimes. It was kind of nice, although I did walk past my tee shot one time and he goes, It's a long way between my ball and yours. I said, Yep. Good luck, kid. (Laughter.)
THE MODERATOR: Sam, regarding your walk-up music, I saw the Twitter poll, and Callin Baton Rouge won; is that the result you were expecting from that poll?
SAM BURNS: Yeah. I kind of figured that was going to be the result just because, I mean, all my I guess Twitter followers are basically from Louisiana, most of them, so I figured they would probably go that route.
THE MODERATOR: And you're coming into this week needing 80-nonmember FedEx Cup points to secure a special temporary membership the PGA TOUR.
What can you say about your performance to date to even put you in a position like that, where if you finish fourth or better here this week you've secured that status?
SAM BURNS: Yeah, I think for the starts I've had, I feel like I've played pretty well so far. All this is kind of new to me, so I'm just kind of trying to figure out what professional golf is like and how to travel and do all that stuff.
Somebody like Will who has been great to take me under their wing and tell me some thing and give my some advice has been really helpful. I'm excited to get the week started. I'm looking forward to it like very week out here. We're just going to try to go out there and play the best golf we can.
THE MODERATOR: Great. We'll go ahead and get started with questions. Please raise your hand.
Q. I know you were here last year as spectator. How many times have you seen this tournament, and how many times have you played this course before?
SAM BURNS: I probably came and watched two, three, four times, something in there. I came with David Toms probably four, five years ago.
But today was the second time I played the golf course; first was yesterday. I haven't spent a whole lot of time down here playing obviously, but I'm enjoying the golf course so far.
Starting to figure it all out.
Q. Sam, you've been juggling all year playing both tours. Obviously the ultimate goal is to get the PGA TOUR card for the rest of the season. But next season, has it changed a little bit since you won on the Web.com Tour bumped you way up the Money List? Have you said, Well, I can play a few more PGA TOUR events or however you tried to complete that mix making sure you get your ultimate goal?
SAM BURNS: Right. I think that's obviously nice to have that win and have me up at the top of the Money List. But I think at the same time, you have to be careful you don't -- make sure you play out there enough to where you're secure for sure.
You don't want to get to the end of the year and then you have two or three events left and you have to make a certain amount of money to get your card through the Web.com.
Just going step by step, tournament by tournament, and trying to figure out what's the best route.
Q. William, they changed the format this year so that alternate shot is on Sunday. How do you think that might affect how things play out coming down the stretch?
WILLIAM McGIRT: I think the better ball on Sunday is just kind of go for everything. Now there is going to be a little bit more strategy involved. You really have to think it through as to who is going to tee off on what holes.
You know, if you're within five or six of the lead on Sunday, you really have a chance, because nobody is going to go crazy deep in alternate shot.
You can really hit a stretch where you don't hit a putt for five or six holes depending on how you're playing. I think there will be a lot more strategy involved and make for some interesting TV.
Just got to go ahead and tell Sam I'm sorry right now, because I'm not going to tell him that on the golf course. He knows I'm trying; I know he's trying.
It's kind of one of those things. You get your apology out of the way on Tuesday in the parking lot and don't worry about it.
SAM BURNS: Yeah. There will be no sorrys on the golf course.
WILLIAM McGIRT: No.
Q. It would make for a very interesting playoff if there was one, wouldn't it?
WILLIAM McGIRT: It would make for a very interesting playoff. Especially like if I was teeing off on 18 and we were playing with a couple bombers, if I'm hitting the tee shot, he's going to have a pretty long second shot in there.
So we definitely think about that. If you couldn't -- let's say once you establish who's teeing off first in the playoff, if you can't go back and change with each hole, then you really have to think about your strategy knowing what the order is going to be.
There is so much that you really have to think through in the whole format, in the process of it. I think it'll be interesting to see.
With better ball on Sunday, somebody can come from four or five back, but they've got to play a heck of a round.
Alternate shot, if you play a heck of a round, you could be pretty far back and make a big push up the leaderboard.
I think it'll make for some good TV on Sunday, because you're not necessarily going to have a group that's in the last two or three groups of the day with a good chance to win.
I think you'll see somebody who is 5, 6, 7 back, and goes out and shoots 8- or 9-under alternate shot. I think it's very doable. Could make a big push to win the tournament.
Q. William, you touched on this a little bit, but I'm curious how much you value something like chemistry between the teammates, or trying to play to each other's strengths. Are those really any kind of major factors, or do you just go out and play the best golf you can and don't matter what happens?
WILLIAM McGIRT: I think it's a pretty significant part of equation. If you're two guys that are pretty quiet and reserved, how is your partner ever going to know you what your favorite yardage is? He's starting the day, you know, Hey, if I'm teeing off here, what yardage do you want into this hole?
Then better ball, you know, What's our strategy here? Our strategy for better ball is I'm going to try to make as many pars as I can and let him make all the birdies. I told him, Fire at it. I don't care. If you're playing aggressively and you hit it into trouble, so what? I'll try to make par.
The shorter holes I can attack out here are the shorter holes, and the longer holes I'm just trying to make par to free him up. We kind of talked strategy for a couple weeks about this. Funny story. Two weeks ago, three weeks ago -- Masters week, wasn't it?
SAM BURNS: Yeah.
WILLIAM McGIRT: Yeah. He texted me Monday or Tuesday. I can't remember. Or he calls me. He says, Hey, we got a problem. I says, Whoa, whoa. First of all, there are no problems. There are only solutions.
I said, Now, what do you think is an issue? He said, What golf ball are we going to play? I said, Whatever ball you're playing. I'm not making you change anything. Then I tried his ball and I said, Buddy, you're going to have to put some more head coverage in your bag if I'm playing your ball. I said, Here, why don't you try mine? I think it's been a pretty easy switch for him.
Yeah, I think team chemistry is a big part of it. If you're not communicating out there -- I mean, I'm going to ask him to read putts for me. Brandon and I will read them, but I'm going to ask him for what he sees.
I think the more eyes you can get in it the better off you're going to be. You got some guys that will never consult with their partners, but that's just them.
I think it would be hard if you were our playing with somebody that you weren't super familiar with, super comfortable with, but pretty much every event he's played out here we've played a practice round together. Makes it pretty easy for us.
I'm looking forward to that alternate shot when I'm hitting 7-iron into some of these holes instead of 3-iron or 5-wood.
Q. Everyone has goals. Are you ahead of any kind of pace you could have imagined? Do you try not to think about it too much having played well in some PGA TOUR events and won on the Web.com already?
SAM BURNS: Yeah, I think, you know, for me coming in this year everything was new to me. I had just gotten out of school and I didn't really know what to expect out of myself or in professional golf.
Yeah, I had some goals, and I think I've gotten to them maybe a little bit quicker than what I maybe thought. That's the reason you work so hard and practice hard and you prepare for, is to be in situations like that, so when they happen you're ready for them.
Not to say that I haven't had a lot of situations that I've learned from and that I think made me better for now. Yeah, it's been really fun for me. I've gotten to do a lot of cool things. It's been really exciting.
Q. What do you think the level of acceptance would be among TOUR players between a mixed gender team event on the PGA TOUR?
WILLIAM McGIRT: Good question. I think a lot of guys would embrace it. A lot too would depend on the format, if it was straight best ball, alternate shot. I think a lot would depend on the format, but I think a lot of guys would embrace it -- especially if you got one the top players out there.
I think you would see a lot of guys that would have fun with it and try to make the event as good as they could.
Q. What's the format you would like to see?
WILLIAM McGIRT: I'm just waiting on a scramble. I don't care who I'm playing with, I want to play a scramble one time. I think an alternate shot and a better ball would be fine.
But if you really want to get creative with it, you could have a four-day tournament, three different formats, and play either foursomes or four ball twice. Maybe play foursomes and four ball the first two days, make the cut, have a scramble on Saturday to either tighten things up or spread it out.
Who is to say that one team wouldn't go out and shoot 19- or 20-under and kind of separate themselves. If you played alternate shot on Sunday, I think it would kind of bring everybody right back together. I think it would be a fun format if we played all three the first three days and then played alternate shot on Sunday.
Q. Sam, I know they are doing something different this year with the walk-up music. Any thoughts on that or any song you envision yourself walking up to?
SAM BURNS: Yeah, I think it will definitely be interesting to see. In golf, it's not really something you think about on a regular basis. I think it'll be cool to have a week that's a little bit different and get to experience something like what. Hopefully we'll have some people out there that will know the song, kind of get them going a little bit.
But, yeah, I think it's really cool to see them do it this week.
Q. William, you talked a lot about strategy, but I'm curious about strategy with a previous partner. You played with Robert Garrigues last year. How did you break up with him? Did he break up with you? How does that whole dynamic work when you're trying to coordinate with partners?
WILLIAM McGIRT: Honestly, we never talked about it after missing the cut here last year. We all thought it would be a great pairing because every time we play together one or both of us plays really well.
We just never -- neither one ever us played very well last year. We never got anything going in alternate shot. We were so far back going into the four ball that it kind of didn't matter.
But, you know, I think this year we'll be just fine. I got a good pair of spurs sharpened up last week while I was in San Antonio. I told him I was going to ride him hard this week. It'll be fun.
Like I said, you get all your apologies out in the parking lot and you go out there and play your best. Nobody is out here trying to miss a cut; nobody is trying to hit a bad shot. We're all human; we're all going to hit bad ones.
I'm going to stick him in some places he's never seen before. Now, some of them may be in the middle of the fairway just 80 yards behind where he is used to playing from...
But it was kind of funny on 6 today. He probably hit it 60 yards by me, but with the angle, he probably had 20 or 25 more yards on the green, and I think we hit the same club into the green.
You know, it's kind of fun. We had a little fun with it out there. He would walk up and go, Man, this is kind of far. I would look at him and go, Yeah, my ball is up here now. I enjoyed it.
THE MODERATOR: All right, thanks, guys.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports