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June 14, 2019

Gary Woodland

Pebble Beach, California

MIKE TROSTEL: Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to welcome Gary Woodland into the Media Center. Gary round of 68 yesterday, today a 6-under 65, for a 36-hole total of 9-under, 133. Gary played his last 27 holes without a bogey. And today's 65 tied the lowest round at a U.S. Open here in the Pebble Beach.

Let's go through your scorecard. Started at the 10th hole with a couple of pars. And then a birdie on the 12th. What club did you hit there?

GARY WOODLAND: I hit a 6-iron on 12. Really got me going today. I made a nice par-putt on 10 from about eight feet and that really was nice to see the putt go in early in the round. I hit a great shot there on 12, 6-iron in there close, made it. And really started -- my ball-striking round. My ball striking was beautiful.

MIKE TROSTEL: Your second birdied on 16, the par 4.

GARY WOODLAND: Yeah, I missed a couple -- hit a couple of putts the last couple of holes that I thought I had a good chance to make. 16 was -- I hit one in there close yesterday so it was nice to see one, it was up the hill, it's one I could be aggressive with, and just gave it enough speed and it was nice to see one go in under 10 feet.

MIKE TROSTEL: You birdied the first hole.

GARY WOODLAND: Gave myself a good opportunity there again. Some of these putts you get above the holes, you're putting defensively. And fortunately I got the speed right. I got the high line and knocked it on the edge.

MIKE TROSTEL: The par-3, 5th, second birdied on the par-3.

GARY WOODLAND: Yeah, it was a good number for me. I hit a nice 8-iron, held it up there, got pin-high, and Shane putted right before me on a very similar line and saw it go in, it was nice to see a putt go in. I had the line from him. And it was nice to knock it in.

MIKE TROSTEL: Another birdie on the par 5, the 6th.

GARY WOODLAND: I actually put a new 3-iron in play today. I had a little driving iron in play yesterday and wasn't very comfortable with, made a couple of bad swings. Pete Cowen asked me to switch it out. I put a 3-iron in play and it was a perfect number for the second shot on 6. Gave myself a good chance for eagle. And hit a good putt, just stayed a little low.

MIKE TROSTEL: A par save on 8.

GARY WOODLAND: That was huge. I played beautifully all day. I didn't want to give a shot back. I made a bad swing, probably the worst all day. Came out with a 7-iron, was fortunate where it stayed and tried to hit a chip to catch the backstop and it got hung up. So that was a nice putt to go in to kind of keep the momentum going.

The one on the last, that was just a bonus. Hit a beautiful drive. I was in the divot, a pretty deep divot. We were a little indecisive what we were going to do. We tried to take a little less club and hit it hard and play out to the safe to the right and was nice to knock it in.

Q. Most people know you for your length. But today or earlier this week your putting has been the difference. Your numbers are off the charts in regards to strokes gained and the other stats. Can you explain why that is and why you feel so comfortable where others don't on these greens this week?
GARY WOODLAND: Yeah, I've played well at Pebble the last couple of times I've been here during the AT&T. I've struggled at the other two courses, but this golf course I feel comfortable at. With the stroke itself I put a lot of work in with Phil Kenyon, at the PGA was one of the worst weeks I'd had putting but he told me it was the best he's ever seen my stroke. We had a long talk the week after the PGA about learning how to practice, changing some things with the practice and routine, because the stroke itself was really good. That gave me a lot of confidence knowing that it was something I could work on, not stroke-wise, but learning how to practice, learning how to read greens, making some adjustments in that aspect. I've hit a lot of putts reading greens the last couple of weeks at home and this week before I got here. I got here on Saturday, a lot of work with Phil picking high lines and learning where I'm looking, that's the big deal for me. Starting the ball on line hasn't been the issue, it's looking in the right spot. And we got very comfortable with it on Tuesday and it's just progressed since then. Nice to hear him tell me my stroke is really good. And it's not that -- that's not the issue. It's learning how to practice and get prepared for a golf tournament.

Q. In your first 27 majors you didn't have a top-10. In the last four you've had two top-10s and you're leading here after 36. Anything happen?
GARY WOODLAND: Well, short game has come around. I've always been a pretty good ball-striker, I've relied on my ball-striking on my whole career, athletic ability. But the short game and putting has kind of held me back. PGA last year I made a lot of putts, especially early in the week. Obviously it was nice to finish the top-10 and get that monkey off the back. Bethpage was a really good golf course for me, I can hit driver, drove the ball beautifully. Like I said, I didn't make any putts that week, but the golf course set up so well for me, it's one I should contend on week in and week out. Short game and putting has been the big deal for me since then.

Q. Were you angry at that 0-27?
GARY WOODLAND: Yeah, it's not something that you're proud of. From all those experiences, too, you learn. I've been in this position before. Last year in August at Bellerive and didn't come out where I wanted to but I learned a lot from that. I don't have to be perfect with my ball striking, because I have other things that can pick me up, that's been a big confidence boost for me, knowing I don't have to be perfect I can still contend and have a chance to win.

Q. Couple of things real quick, how big was the putt on 8 for you just from a mental standpoint?
GARY WOODLAND: It was huge, because like I said I played beautifully all day. And just didn't want to give a shot back. I made a bad swing from the middle of the fairway and didn't have -- wasn't in a good spot. I was trying to use the backstop there, I got hung up, left it in a horrible spot. I tried to pick the highest point where I knew it could go in. That's one you're hoping to get close, but it's nice when it goes in. It was a huge confidence going into the last. And that was probably the biggest shot of the day.

Q. You've talked about sort of the confidence, seeing the ball go in the hole gives you. What's it like for you or what was it like, I guess, when it wasn't going in the hole?
GARY WOODLAND: Yeah, it's frustrating. You feel like you're out there searching. And that's a big deal for me now. I know we have my stroke where I want it. I'm not searching anymore. Now it's more about learning the speed, learning the greens. I'm not focused on my stroke. And that's a big deal with confidence. It's nice to see a putt go in on the first hole. The par save there to kind of keep the momentum going from playing yesterday. Believing in yourself. Knowing that my stroke is good. I can rely on other things and it's been working.

Q. I know you said that you've come to come to like Pebble over the last couple of AT&T's. But Bethpage is one beast that's far different than this. Coming into the week with the way it was set up did you think it was setup okay for you, because it does kind of take driver of your hand and how many drivers did you use today?
GARY WOODLAND: I hit driver on 10, 13, 14, 18, 2 and 9. You know, obviously I rely on my driving. But I haven't always been the straightest driver, either. I relied, I would say more on my ball-striking than anything.

My first win was in Tampa, I didn't hit hardly any drivers that week when I won. I made putts, which was nice. When I can rely on my ball-striking I think the golf course suits me. My caddie always begged me to play Colonial and Hilton Head because I can work irons there the whole place. It definitely got firmer this afternoon. I can start -- I was hitting 4 and 5-irons off all these tees. That allows me when I'm in the fairway I can be aggressive, I can be confident with the way I'm working the golf ball right now. I'm starting to work both ways, which has been an adjustment for me. I think the golf course sets up beautifully for me.

Q. Did you, earlier in your career, did you resent at all the fact that you were maybe viewed as a one-dimensional guy?
GARY WOODLAND: Yeah, I mean it was nice because I got a lot of attention from it. But that's -- it's funny, probably people talk the last year more about me hitting stingers more than about me hitting driver. It's nice to be putting the results up so people can change the narrative a little bit. Like I said it was 0-27 top-10's in majors. The narrative is going to be a long hitter. It's nice to come out well and change that.

Q. How easy is it to get comfortable in the scenario you're going to be in tomorrow?
GARY WOODLAND: I mean, when you rely on how I've been practicing, how I've prepared for this week, like I said, I've been in the situation recently, which has been a huge help. I was leading after 36 holes, played with Koepka there on Saturday. Playing with Tiger on Sunday at Bellerive was a huge daily shot, whatever he shot, 64, or whatever he did. Being in that atmosphere. I kind of got away a little bit early but held in and ended up shooting under par I believe there, which was nice.

The comfortable is within myself. I know what I'm capable of doing. And that's Pete Cowen and I have talked a lot about that, how we're practicing and how we're understanding my golf swing.

I don't have to search when I'm off. I knew when I missed the shot on 8, I had the exact same shot on 9. I understood what I did. And that's a big difference. When things do go awry, I can fix them on my own. I don't have to wait. I don't have to make a phone call. I'm able to understand what I'm doing on my own. And that gives you confidence going forward.

Q. How long have you been in that situation where you felt like you can make those adjustments on your own, you haven't needed to make the phone call?
GARY WOODLAND: About a month. Pete Cowen, I called Pete after Augusta and I'm like -- Pete and I started working together in December. I'd only seen him at golf tournaments. And I just called him and said, We need to make some changes, because at golf tournaments we're not making many changes, it's all about the golf course.

He flew over the week before. The PGA was the first time we spent time together. We spent two days. He said, Here's the deal. You and Butch have done great work. Your golf swing is great, but you need to learn what you're doing, you need to understand your golf swing.

It was almost like going to school. We spent two days, teaching me why I do things, what to do when things get awry. And that's been a huge confidence boost. I was able to fix some things when I was on the golf course at Bethpage. And it's continued to get better and better.

I'm practicing, working on certain things to stay within myself and understand my golf swing so I don't have to call. It's more difficult when Pete's across the pond than getting on the plane or seeing Butch. It's difficult to do that. He told me he doesn't want to text him all the time. So I have to learn so I don't have to make that phone call.

Q. Did you say what club you hit on 9? And if not, could you tell me?
GARY WOODLAND: I hit 7-iron, 207 yards, 7-iron.

Q. You talked about this a little bit, but I was wondering if you could touch a little more on how your experience in 2018 at Bellerive playing with Brooks and Tiger is going to help you out. You've been in this position before. I was wondering if you could touch on that a little bit more?
GARY WOODLAND: Playing -- being in that position, you learn you have to stay within yourself. You can't get caught up in what's going on around you. Obviously there's a lot more noise going on. Playing with Tiger on Sunday, I'd never seen anything like that. I'd never been in that atmosphere. I played in a basketball arena with 16,300 people right on top of you when I played against KU. There was nothing like that.

He made that putt on 9. I had about 8 feet for birdie. I can he made about a 15-footer. I backed off three times because the ground was shaking. But you get used to it. You stay within yourself. You slow down little bit. Playing with Tiger, it's not the people, really, it's everybody inside the ropes. It's everybody moving around, there's so much excitement.

But you learn to slowly -- slow your breathing. Adrenaline is a huge deal. All of a sudden you start hitting the golf ball a little bit farther. You learn to stay within yourself and what you have to do to calm yourself down and stay within your game plan.

MIKE TROSTEL: 36-hole leader at the U.S. Open, best of luck this weekend.

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