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May 17, 2018

Sam Saunders

Irving, Texas

Q. Sam, that's the way to start this tournament, right? Your impressions of this golf course. I would imagine they would be pretty positive after 6-under in the 1st Round.
SAM SAUNDERS: Yeah. You know, obviously everybody likes a course you play well on but I came here a year ago and played the Wednesday of the Byron Nelson last year because I wasn't in the Pro-Am and I fell in love with this golf course.

I think it's really good. I think it's a very fair test of golf. As you can see by the names on the leaderboard, it suits all types of players. You just have to hit good shots and make putts and it was a great test out there today.

Q. What was it about your game today in particular that allowed you to go low in the 1st Round of this championship?
SAM SAUNDERS: You know, there were some pretty getable pins out there. I think the very 1st Round on a new course they kind of wanted to soften us into it a little bit. There were some pins you could be aggressive to. The greens were going great. I made a few nice putts and took advantage of the par-5s.

The ball is going a long way right now. The ground is starting to firm up. You hit good tee shots, you can get some wedges and get after these par-5s.

Q. 6-under. You had the opportunity to play the course once a year ago, little bit yesterday and the day before.
What are your thoughts on today the way it played?

SAM SAUNDERS: I thought it was fantastic, a very fair test of golf. I think the Tour has done a nice job of coming in and making sure that they eased us into it a little bit. It's fairly soft out there.

I'm sure Mr. Crenshaw and Mr. Coore would probably be a little disappointed to see some of the balls stopping so quickly out there but it will firm up nicely throughout the week.

But, you know, getable pins and some softer fairways, you can be fairly aggressive. You got to hit good shots. You can't just get away with scraping it around out there.

Q. You talk about being aggressive. Where specifically can you be aggressive on this course to get good scores?
SAM SAUNDERS: The par-5s are very getable. You got to hit good drives. You got to hit them in the fairway and then you have to -- you know, you still have to hit solid second shots. You can't chase them up there. You got to control the golf ball with some spin around these greens.

Some par-4s on the back-9 are also playing pretty short. The wind was helpful and also, you know, firmer fairways. So a long hole turns into a short hole really quickly and get to hit some full sand wedges in and take advantage of that.

Q. Some high temps all week, about 10 degrees higher than normal. How do you take care of yourself, make sure you're doing okay?
SAM SAUNDERS: It's easier on the 7:00 a.m. round. Tomorrow will be a little bit more of a challenge playing late. It's a longer day and the biggest challenge is making sure I eat enough. You got to eat more than you want to really because even though you're not hungry you're running out of juice out eat a lot and try to drink as much water as possible.

Q. Sam, I just want to start for the whole group, specifically your 6-under. Talk a little bit about that round, please.
SAM SAUNDERS: It was nice to get off to a solid start. Hit a lot of good drives and iron shots. Had a few putts go in. Kind of the standard deal on what it was to shoot a good round. We had a good group, obviously. We all shot 6-under and kind of fed off each other and nice momentum going out there.

Q. How would you characterize the course, first competitive round? What do you think about it?
SAM SAUNDERS: I think it's great. I love this golf course. It's I think it's a very fair test of golf. There was a lot of thought put into all the slopes out there and despite looking a lot different than what we see on a week-in, week-out basis, everything is there for a reason and you can use the ground here a lot to help hit good shots and you got to think your way through it a little bit more than some of the courses we play.

It was a very fair test. It will get more difficult throughout the week and look forward to the challenge ahead.

Q. Do you have an example of a hole where that thought process really became important for you?
SAM SAUNDERS: The 17th hole is a great example. Look at it it seems impossible almost to get a ball close there but sometimes you don't -- there are holes you don't try to hit it to a foot. You accept it as a 20, 25-footer is the appropriate shot and, you know, you're not trying to fly it all the way back to the pin, trying to use the slope and the green to get the ball back into the right section there so that you can then have a putt at it without risk going over that green.

It's a hole that you really have to think about the club that you're hitting and almost throw the number out the window and think more about where you're trying to land it.

Q. How did it compare to your expectations before the tournament?
SAM SAUNDERS: Little softer. I think they put a good bit of water on it. It's quite green out there and I think that's more just to be a little bit careful because it is a new course and want to ease us into it a bit.

But I think it's going to firm up throughout the week and balls are going to be bouncing, going to start landing balls short of the green versus flying them on like we were able to do out there today.

Q. Did guys make any comments, y'all at the top of the leaderboard, playing together? Is there anything, any conversation about that or you just --
SAM SAUNDERS: I was just proud I could hang with those kids. I was the old man in that group. That doesn't happen that often. It's happening a lot more out here nowadays.

Aaron is a really nice guy and Keith, really enjoyed playing with him. So, you know, we fed off of each other and they both been playing some good golf. I got a little bit of momentum myself. Nice to keep that going in the group.

Q. What's the motivation behind the scouting trip last year?
SAM SAUNDERS: I knew the tournament was going to be here. I become good friends with Craig Kessler, who lives here, and Tom "Dundin" who was an integral part of building this whole place.

Got to come out and play with them and kind of see what their vision is for the place and I really enjoyed it and I was -- I've been marking this one down on the schedule looking forward to it for a year because I knew I liked the way this golf course played.

Q. How much does it equalize in terms of the field playing a new course?
SAM SAUNDERS: Everybody -- these guys are all so good. We can figure out a golf course pretty quickly. It's amazing how well a lot of times you play a golf course blind the first time you see it. You're only focusing on where you're supposed to hit it rather than worry about the trouble that's out there. Guys are figuring it out quite quickly and it's -- like I said, it's a very fair test of golf and it's going to hold up really well throughout the week.

Q. That said, how do you think players are going to translate for the next three rounds because now they've had a chance to see it and play it?
SAM SAUNDERS: Like I said, I think that's going to be -- a lot of that determined by the condition. We'll have more wind tomorrow. It's going to get firmer. So, guys are able to be really aggressive.

This is as good a weather as you can get and with it being hot the golf ball goes a long way. You get a lot of short shots into holes.

You're going to have to think your way out there. There will be some holes where you have to play away from it and try to make par. It will be interesting to see how it goes. I'm excited and certainly pleased with the solid start.

Q. Sam, a lot of questions about your grandfather. Do you have any memories as a child of Byron Nelson or your respect for him as one of the greats of the game?
SAM SAUNDERS: Absolutely. Obviously his record most PGA Tour your events won in a row, I think 12. Just an incredible record. I remember watching some of the Golf Channel highlights back in the day and just how beautiful his golf swing was and obviously what a gentleman he was. I think that reputation is well-known and someone that I look up to and really respect the history and what he did for the game of golf.

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