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March 9, 2019

Matthew Fitzpatrick

Orlando, Florida

AMANDA HERRINGTON: We would like to welcome Matthew Fitzpatrick into the interview room here at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard. After the third round, bogey-free, 5-under for you today. One shot out in front. What's the take away from today's play.

MATTHEW FITZPATRICK: Yeah, just played really solid. I really like the golf course a lot, so I do feel comfortable out there. But, yeah, the plan was to hit a lot of fairways, a lot of greens and do as best you can in that and yeah it sort of paid off today and then holed a few more putts, which is great.

AMANDA HERRINGTON: Five wins worldwide, but none on the PGA TOUR in 45 starts. What's your mindset going into tomorrow here on the PGA TOUR?

MATTHEW FITZPATRICK: Not too much different from normal. It's just an obviously it's a little bit of a stronger field than normal, but it's just another golf tournament, really. That's the attitude you got to try to go into it with. Stick to the plan that you've been doing, hit the same shots that you've been doing all week and just see what happens at the end of the day.

AMANDA HERRINGTON: All right, great. Open it up for questions.

Q. At what point today did you realize it was going to be a fiery test, and secondly, did you ever find yourself with, that pars would be just as good as birdies, or not dropping shots would be as valuable as birdies?
MATTHEW FITZPATRICK: I mean I probably haven't realized how valuable pars were until I've actually come in and seen what's going on and seeing the big picture. Looking back, there's so many holes where they're playing really tough and obviously the wind's a bit stronger today, a little bit of a different direction, so it makes those holes difficult, really. And then sort of going for in terms of how tough it was out there, going down No. 1 I couldn't find the pitch mark from my sand wedge from 115 yards. So when you see that, you know it's going to be in for a tough fiery greens. So, but the conditions of the greens is fantastic and they have been all week, so I think that that's what make it's so great. You can still hit to 30 feet, 40 feet and just have a perfectly great putt, just because they're so good.

Q. Did you fix a pitch mark today?
MATTHEW FITZPATRICK: I did, yeah. I tried to. Just someone else's, maybe.

Q. How do you handle the kind of balance of playing with Rory tomorrow, the excitement and the attention that will generate, versus not getting too caught up in it or overawed by it or any of that kind of stuff?
MATTHEW FITZPATRICK: I think I'm a bit lucky, I've sort of rented a place in Jupiter now for a little bit and become probably a little bit close with Rory, just hitting balls alongside him and just become a bit for friendly. I think that having that I know what it's like, I've played with him before, I played with him last year in Abu Dhabi and we were sort of both in the later groups. I just think it's, well as best as I can -- I know how the fans feel about Rory over here and as best as I can just try and take it as a sort of friendly game of golf, if you can.

Q. I think you just said it was Abu Dhabi where you were paired with him. What was that experience like and was there any moment in there that you felt like you felt maybe more comfortable than maybe you would have otherwise?
MATTHEW FITZPATRICK: I think it's a little bit different being in Abu Dhabi the crowds are nowhere near as big as this tournament, obviously. So it was probably a little quieter, maybe. But I've been lucky enough to be playing with Rory since just before I turned pro, I had nine holes with him at Augusta when I was an amateur, so I've played with him quite a bit, got to know him pretty well and I think it's just like you say, just got comfortable in that space, really.

Q. Speaking of that practice round with him at the Masters way back when, is there anything that stands out from that day about maybe he said to you or something that you took away from that?
MATTHEW FITZPATRICK: Not that I can remember, no. It makes me feel old, it was quite a long time ago now. But the big thing for me, I played with a lot of these guys now that hit it 30, 40 past me and even as an amateur it was the same thing, but I just got to play my own game and stick to that. There's no point in trying to hit it past him or trying to do anything like Rory, we both got strengths and both got weaknesses and that's why we practice to try and get better. I think the big thing for me is just sticking to my own game tomorrow and not getting caught up in everyone else's scores, if someone's coming from behind or Rory's hitting it 45, 50, probably more, past me tomorrow and just playing the shots that I can play, really.

Q. For a guy who wanted to hit fairways and greens today, the stats are showing six fairways and 12 greens. With as that the plan and were you ever out of position or was your short game just really on today?
MATTHEW FITZPATRICK: I think the six fairways is a little harsh. I think I hit about three or four semi roughs, so, but, no, I just felt like I missed it in the right spots, particularly on the green. I don't think I had a chip, I think every missed green was a bunker. And the bunkers around here are fantastic, I really like them here and feel comfortable. So that was a big help in making the up-and-downs a little bit easier, I guess.

Q. Do you like statistics?
MATTHEW FITZPATRICK: I love statistics.

Q. You said that you like this golf course, is that correct?

Q. Could you talk about what you do like about the course and is there anything you feel like you might have an advantage at on this golf course?
MATTHEW FITZPATRICK: There's loads of things. This golf course is great. I just think it's very demanding off the tee, the rough is thick, and if you hit it in it I found out today I hit it in the rough on 3 and I was wedging out with a sand wedge. So I think that's one big thing that is great. The second is how firm it is. You really got to be strategic when it comes to approach play, you can't just fire at flags, one bounce, stop it, you really got to be smart. And we hit wedges today aiming five, six yards left and just trying to hit it pin high, giving ourself a chance inside 30 feet, really. So that was a big thing. And then the greens are just, every year the greens are fantastic and I just, it's so great to play on pure greens. The greens that I've played on a little bit early in the season I struggled a little bit, but I just feel so comfortable on these ones and they're just really pure.

Q. Your caddie has been in this once or twice before. What's the value of him especially in an a scenario like this?
MATTHEW FITZPATRICK: Yeah, definitely, he's experienced this a lot. It's a big help to have Billy on the bag. He's done it, he knows all the different scenarios that could possibly happen, and he probably has learned all about all of them and is good to advise on all of them. So however it is going tomorrow after three, six, nine, whatever, I'm sure he'll have an input and I'm sure that will be valuable.

Q. How many people are in this tournament, do you think?
MATTHEW FITZPATRICK: Who can still win? I'm not that sure, I've not looked at the leaderboard, so.

Q. It's right there. Just given the conditions.
MATTHEW FITZPATRICK: Probably everyone on that page, to be honest. There's water around here, the greens are firm, the rough's thick. Today someone was saying it's a bit like a U.S. Open, which I could totally see. It only takes a couple of water balls from the top-5 guys, a few dropped shots early and it's, all of a sudden you sort of are not looking like you're in a great position.

Q. Two things. One with when did Billy first get on your bag, and then, secondly, how long did it take you as a professional to get comfortable, as comfortable as you can get in this role of being in the final group on a Sunday?
MATTHEW FITZPATRICK: Billy's been on the bag since the start of the year. So Billy's full-time since January, basically. And then being comfortable in the last group, I mean, personally I think I've been pretty comfortable whenever I've been in it. The first few times I had a few sleepless nights and not sleeping great, just excited, ready to go. If I could go tee off now, I probably would. But like I think the more you're in it the more it's just another chance that you give yourself. And yeah, I think it's exciting more than frightening. I just think that's the way I tend to look at it, it's a great opportunity for me to do well, really.

AMANDA HERRINGTON: All right, thank you, Mathew, and good luck.


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