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April 4, 2019

Ally McDonald

Rancho Mirage, California

Q. When conditions are tough and it's a very difficult championship golf course you have to be gritty sometimes. You were gritty throughout the day. Really coming in, that par save at 17 and 18, how much momentum does that give you going into tomorrow?
ALLY McDONALD: You know, it was good. I played the par 5s really well today, which is exciting. On a major championship golf course you have to take advantage of par-5s.

I was a little disappointed with kind of how I handled all the emotion throughout the back nine, because I had a lot of control on the front. Overall I'm really excited. Feel like my game is coming around like I want it to.

Yeah, just looking forward to tomorrow.

Q. I don't know how you could be disappointed handling the emotions. You've never been in this position before. This is a course you learn over the years. Your only experience here last year when you missed the cut. You're one of the players we watch. Fantastic ball striker. I stop on the range every time I see you. Today was a little bit different. You took the ball striking up another level. What was the difference for you today?
ALLY McDONALD: I think No. 1 the key is hitting fairways here. Fairways are narrow. I was able to take advantage of some really good shots, especially on those closing, 7, 8, 9. Made a really good putt on No. 8.

So over all I think No. 1 the key here is just to drop the ball in the fairway.

Q. How does this sound: You're leading after round one at the ANA?
ALLY McDONALD: Sounds great. I think in this position that I've never been in it's so easy to get ahead of yourself. For me, I'm just going to take it easy. I know that on the very first day a great round is awesome, but there is so much more golf left to play.

I'm just excited to put a good round together in a major, and look forward to teeing it up again tomorrow.

Q. What worked for you today?
ALLY McDONALD: I think No. 1 par-5 scoring was really key. I birdied every par-5. On a major championship golf course you have to start out playing the par-5s really well. The par 4s play really tough, very long. I know we moved so few tee boxes back on some par-4s.

Then overall I just drove the ball really well. Gave myself a lot of opportunities to make good approach shots into the green. I think that is key is to be consistent. Sometimes you hit the ball above the hole and you have to take a two-putt.

I'm just excited after today. A lot of golf left to play, but I'm really excited.

Q. You opened up with two birdies and had two bogeys shortly thereafter. What did you tell ourself to steady yourself then polish off a 4-under round?
ALLY McDONALD: You know, we got over to the par-3 and I was playing a little crosswind and I hit a great shot, but it rolled over the back of the green. Failed to get it up and down. At that point I just said, On a golf course like this you can't make those kind of mistakes. Have to keep the hole in front of us, especially on shots like that that being past the hole is just not very good.

After that we adjusted and were able to capitalize on the par-5s, like I said. Overall, I would say just driving the ball in the fairway, a lot of shots into the greens and the fairway.

Q. And shortly after those two bogeys the wind picked up on you. How did you adjust to that during the round?
ALLY McDONALD: It did. I don't know if we necessarily expected it to blow like that, but once it came around you just kind of tighten up everything. Maybe look a little bit further away from the flag and settle for the 30-footer, and then take advantage of the shots where you might have a wedge in.

Overall, when the wind picked up, like I said. You tighten up, but you also have to give yourself a little bit of just handling it and knowing that a 30-footer is good on some shots.

Q. Still found a way to birdie holes 7 through 9. What worked for you over that three-hole stretch?
ALLY McDONALD: On 7 I hit a great shot. I had about a 10- to 12-footer left of the pin.

Rolled it in on No. 8. That was a really tough pin with the wind blowing off the left. I hit a great shot and was looking at about a 30-footer, which it was up and over a ridge, but read to really well and made it.

Then on No. 9 I just had a good wedge shot in and tap-in for birdie. I like the low-stress birdies where it's just a tap-in, but I know those aren't going to come easy out here.

Q. What are you hoping to take from your round today into tomorrow with the lead?
ALLY McDONALD: Yeah, think I just got to continue to drive it well. On these types of golf courses you're going to miss a few fairways, and just kind of taking that into play and knowing that you're -- when you do miss, you just kind of have to step back and say, Okay, we have to settle for the middle of the green here.

So with that, driving the ball in the fairway tomorrow is going to being No. 1 priority and then we'll go from there. Always one shot at a time.

Q. And the greens are kind of crusty.

Q. When you hit it in there, you can actually hear it. You got to make sure you're hitting it from a spot you can stop it.
ALLY McDONALD: Yeah, I think that was a key on a few holes, too. I had a shorter iron in, which still with my shorter irons like the firmness of the greens are still releasing ten yards, maybe even a few more.

Big thing out here is just to figure out if you're going to miss or where exactly you want the ball to end up. If you're planning on it rolling ten yards, stick to that. Like I said, sometimes you're going to have to deal with having a 30-footer, 40-footer just to know you got the hole in front of you.

Q. Too many events in my estimation on this tour are bomb it and putt it.

Q. This isn't that way. That is a ball-strikers... how do you think that suits you?
ALLY McDONALD: I think it suits me well when everything is going as it should. I haven't necessarily been hitting it great recently, but I've been working really hard the past few weeks, in the off-season and everything, just trying to get everything coordinated, at least the ball starting where I want to.

Out here makes it even more important. Not only do you have to hit it straight, it's all about positioning. That's looking three, four paces left of the flag or right of the flag just to kind of keep everything where you want it to be.

That's looking away from the pin a lot of the time out here.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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