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January 19, 2019

John Smoltz

Lake Buena Vista, Florida

Q. Two birdies, two bogeys, one eagle, 39 points today. You're in the lead by four right now with Mardy coming into 18 at 110. One of the questions somebody had was how are you putting so well today?
JOHN SMOLTZ: Well, you know what, today actually I didn't make any putts comparatively to yesterday. Yesterday I had way more freedom in the putting because no wind. Today it was super windy, and I missed a lot of putts by like literally a hair. So I got defensive, and I learned from that. I got defensive, and I held a round together, probably got loose on a couple shots.

But my putting has been the best it's ever been. So I can't say that's been a strong point until these last couple -- really until these last three days.

Q. When did you start getting defensive with the putter out there?
JOHN SMOLTZ: You know, it's funny because I know they were trying to slow the greens down a little bit because of the wind that's coming, and actually the greens were getting faster. So when you're above the hole, you don't want to lose it above the hole. So you get very tentative in your strokes. All I wanted to do today actually was try to manage a 36, get 36 points, and then see what happens. I exceeded it. I made two bad swings today that cost me two bogeys. Yesterday I made three bad swings, and I hit three bogeys.

Q. We're watching Mulder with seven birdies, one eagle, two bogeys, two doubles. A little psychotic when it's compared to yours, but he had 40 points and you had 39.
JOHN SMOLTZ: He played unbelievable. Literally, his round today was way better than my round yesterday. I mean, there was no wind yesterday. So his round -- and I knew he was going to come in and get aggressive, and he's got that kind of power. So I wanted to keep a lead because I've seen what he does and know what he does. He played phenomenal.

It's unfortunate here on 18 that he wasn't able to get the point, you know, once he missed his par putt. But that's what this tournament will do. The new format causes you to realize don't lose your par, whereas in the older format, get your birdies. It don't matter if you don't get your par because the birdie used to be three times the value.

So now with the lead, if you just par out, they've got to birdie out. They have to make birdies or eagles. So he had three legit opportunities for eagles, and he made one. That was one of the most impressive rounds I've watched in a while.

Q. Three rounds are over. You're in the lead, but if this was one of the other tournaments past, we'd be giving you a trophy.
JOHN SMOLTZ: This is a four-day tournament? I thought we were talking about my victory. No, I get it. This is going to be a great test for me. Physically, I haven't been able to do this in a long time. I've been strengthening my shoulder and really trying to get ready for these kinds of events in the future, and to be able to continue to hit balls without pain has been an absolute godsend.

Q. How much help do you think qualifying for the U.S. Senior Open is going to be for you tonight and tomorrow out there? Especially the fact that you had to go extra holes to qualify.
JOHN SMOLTZ: The biggest thing is learning not to panic. I learned so much from that -- it was an out-of-body experience. I wasn't ready. You don't know what you don't know. So I was able to learn from that. I still have moments out on the course where I don't quite trust, and it's probably only happened three times, and when it happens, I immediately get back on my next shot and fire at it.

So that's what I'm learning, and that's what these LPGA and Senior Tour and Champions Tour players, they don't -- they have very few moments where they don't understand how to manage their game. I love -- I mean, I don't like failing, but through failing I learn a lot. It's taught me what I need to work on under the gun. Can't steer a golf ball around the golf course. And tomorrow -- good luck tomorrow posting a number because it's supposed to be 20 to 30 mile an hour winds. So you're going to have to have serious golf game.

Q. Question about the stand-up putter. We've been watching it on TV. There's been a lot of new rules changes this year. Is it going through your mind that that might be considered next year?
JOHN SMOLTZ: Obviously, with the caddie change I'm sure some people might say that I think everyone should buy one. How about that? That solves that. It's a really good putter. It's changed my whole view of putting. And today I couldn't stand it up much. Tomorrow I won't be able to stand it up at all. So that's the difference. When it's windy, can't stand it up. It's going to blow over.

Q. So it helps get you aligned? That's the big difference that putter's had?
JOHN SMOLTZ: And all the weight's in the head of the putter, and when you feel you've got the right line, you just focus on speed. If you've got to worry about speed and line, it's a little bit more than you want to manage. For me, it just -- I don't line up well at all. So when I can actually put it down, and I can turn around and go behind it, it really helps. So everyone's going to have to get one.

Q. You mentioned some personal demons on 10. Hole by hole, how did that go today?
JOHN SMOLTZ: I hit the ball in the middle of the driver, and I threw my driver up in the air as if I hit a grand slam, but then unfortunately, I didn't make birdie. I missed it by 1/2 of an inch. I made a 7, a 6, a 5. Tomorrow might be the 4. But I literally came in here today -- I know it sounds like you shouldn't do this -- but I wanted to play 8, 10, and 15 in under par because I've played those five holes at 7 over par. Today I birdied 8, I parred 10, and I parred 15.

That, to me, are little things that I'm trying -- in baseball, you give up a double to a guy, you've got a chance to get them out the next time. In golf, that may be your bugaboo hole for a four-day tournament, and you've got to find a way to get through it.

Q. You mentioned a score yesterday. You mentioned wanting to overcome 10. You mentioned wanting the birdies. Setting these little mini goals is something you've learned from baseball?
JOHN SMOLTZ: Yes, absolutely. Today I managed the round. This could have been a 78. This could have been easily 30 points. The old me, honestly, this would have been 30 points. I couldn't have -- I would have fought myself, and now I'm staying more patient. I'm not -- I really am not focusing on the shot before. There's some putts that should have went today, but that's golf. Yesterday they went.

So at least I'm in this position. I've never been in this position before. So it will be fun to go through it, and like you said, I've learned from a lot of things in the past that will help me -- you know, if I had a goal for tomorrow, if I could make 16 pars tomorrow, I think I'm going to win because I don't know how, in those conditions, 32 points, someone would have to get maybe 37. That's 1 under par.

So it gives me a little bit of an advantage knowing that pars are huge and you only lose one point if the guy makes birdie. Today I almost made my first two on a par 5, and that tap-in eagle was a big boost for me, got my round up.

Q. And last one. They've been showing the picture. You talked about the picture. You've got Greg on your bag. Are we going to see a recreation? Is your shoulder up to it?
JOHN SMOLTZ: That's a great question. He's put on weight. I may have to talk to him about that. I doubt it. I'll see what my reaction is on 18 if I'm in that spot or not because I would like to have a chance coming into 18 trying to do something.

Q. You might need a chair to get that high up.
JOHN SMOLTZ: He's still got his flexibility, but I don't know if my shoulder is going to be able to handle it.

Q. You've got more tournaments to play in. You might want to duck out of the way if he starts coming at you.
JOHN SMOLTZ: A better option would be, even though it's going to be miserable conditions, a better option would be talking him into jumping in the lake.

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