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June 28, 2018

Kevin Sutherland

Colorado Springs, Colorado

THE MODERATOR: Okay, we would like to welcome our co-leader, Kevin Sutherland with a 2-under par 68 today. Kevin, you had a pretty good run of success with being your run at El Paso in 2015 and you started out at 1-over through nine holes and then made three birdies coming home. Tell us about your play and what was your reaction to what the golf course was like today.

KEVIN SUTHERLAND: I played really well today. I think I hit 17 greens. I'm not sure. I hit a lot of fairways. I played really solidly. I wouldn't say I had a ton of birdie putts, but I was leaving myself a lot of easier putts and so I wasn't really working very hard for par. A lot of that is because I drove the ball in the fairway. But for the most part I hit the ball really well and I made a few putts here and there.

I 3-putted number 11, which was my second hole, and it was really a bad 3-putt. I was in a good spot, it wasn't very far from the hole, and just bad putting.

But then I birdied 14, made about a 10-footer, actually hit it in the rough and hit a wedge out to about 10 or 12 feet and made that.

Then I hit a bad iron shot on 18, it was the only green I missed. I hit it left of the green and didn't get up-and-down, so I made bogey. But then I turned around and birdied 2. Made about a 3-footer there.

Hit number 3 in two with a 4-iron and 2-putted from 35, 40 feet.

Then I just ran a bunch of pars together again, hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens and wasn't really doing a whole lot.

And then I birdied 8. I hit an 8-iron to about 10 feet and made that.

And unfortunately on 9 I hit a really great drive, I thought I hit a great drive on 9, I hit it really well and it just went too far, it rolled through the fairway in the rough and I had to lay up and made par. But I probably wouldn't have had more than maybe a 5-iron into the green, but that's just the way it goes.

THE MODERATOR: With the success that you had today, a lot of the pre-competition talk was about how you had to be really stick to your knitting on the greens. Were you more intent on making sure you got it in the right places or were you more intent on driving it right or what was the real key to the success today.

KEVIN SUTHERLAND: Well I think that you have to get the ball in the fairway. Because the rough is penalizing. Even if you can reach the green, which some of the holes on the front side you're only hitting maybe wedges and maybe a 9-iron, you can reach the green out of the rough, but you're going to start losing control of where the ball goes. So all of a sudden you're going to start leaving yourself these crazy putts. I, for the most part, I was hitting the ball in the fairway, so for the most part I was trying to be fairly aggressive, trying to be smart about it though. I was trying to give myself putts that I thought I could be, I won't say aggressive is the wrong word, but I felt like I could be comfortable with. Somewhat uphill, maybe breaking, might have some break left-to-right, but just something I felt like it wasn't going to run away from me. I thought they did a great job of setting up the course today. A lot of the pins on the back nine were on the high side of the green, the mountain side of the green I guess I should say, and so I thought they did a great job and they actually, I thought there was a number of holes where they were finding like little counter slopes, little slopes maybe breaking into the mountain to kind of make it level, if not anything a couple putts actually had break toward the mountains. So I thought they did a great job setting up the course. It was really, really hard, but it was playable and there was nothing out there that I was like thinking that it was amiss. I thought the course was great.


Q. Curious what the wind was like? I heard from players it was blowing all different directions. What you did find?
KEVIN SUTHERLAND: It was crazy. It would blow incredibly hard one direction and then all of a sudden it was like you were in a dome, like there was no wind at all. And then it would blow really, really hard like completely different direction. Some of that is being in the mountains. I'm from California, Sacramento, so I actually played my share of mountain golf at elevation. You get a little bit of that, just kind of the gusty wind. But it was hard. It was hard to judge. We had some, on 7, which was my third to last hole it was straight into the wind off the tee, blowing pretty hard, and then we hit our second shots downwind. It was just, you know, but you just had to be aware of what was going on. We kind of threw away the book on just what was it supposed to be and just kind of what was it at the time we were playing and we did a really good job of that today. I felt most of the guys in our group did too.

Q. I hear about the wind and then obviously the course setup, but I see a lot of red numbers already coming in. Is this about what it should be at a U.S. Open?
KEVIN SUTHERLAND: Yeah, I think it's the first day. The greens are soft, you can -- if you're hitting the ball in the fairway, you're going to have a lot of good chances for birdie. There's an -- and number 3 is very reachable. I hit a 4-iron into 3 today. No. 9, I know the guys we were playing with were hitting iron, I was only 179 yards to the hole on a par-5. Unfortunately I was about a yard into the rough. So I had to just chip it down the fairway. But so if you're driving the ball in the fairway you're going to have a lot of good chances and in some cases some shorter clubs. Now I do think that there were some of the pins they used today were probably some of the, I don't know if easier is the right word, but more accessible pins. I'm guessing come this weekend, probably see a lot of those pins go away and it will just play a little more difficult. Like the pin on 9 today was in the little bowl, but you put it on top of that bowl, that hole place completely different. So I'm not surprised there's good scores, you drive it in the fairway you're going to have a good chance.

Q. What was your strategy in regards to calculating the altitude and what yardages you were going to play?
KEVIN SUTHERLAND: I was just using 10 percent. And I know some guys were doing it differently, some guys were using less in the morning, using less on an uphill shot. I just kind of was going more -- I just know that in the morning it doesn't fly as far, so I got my number, took the 10 percent. I'm going to be honest to you, it's easier math. 10 percent of 150 is 15, I got that wired. Eight percent, I'm like, oh, God, let me think about this a second. So it was a little bit of that. And so in the morning it plays less than that and in the afternoon it might play a little bit more than 10 percent, but I just went with that and I just added in the elevation change and I tried to keep it as simple as possible. I didn't want to get too many numbers, I'm not really even listening to what a front number is, I'm just, what's the number to the pin, subtracting my 10 percent, whatever the elevation is, go with that and just sticking with that.

Q. I don't know if anybody's asked you this yet, but is the course playing a lot differently today than earlier in the week?
KEVIN SUTHERLAND: I thought not. I think it was playing very similar to what it played yesterday. The fairways are soft, and part of that is because they need to put water on these fairways or it's so dry here that they will, they won't survive very long. And the greens are soft. So it was like that yesterday and it was -- I thought the course was very, very similar to what it was yesterday. I thought they did a great job of setting up this golf course. If you drive it in the fairway you can play, drive it in the rough you're going to struggle.

THE MODERATOR: Great, thank you. Well played.


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