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June 15, 2019

Gary Woodland

Pebble Beach, California

MIKE TROSTEL: It's my pleasure to welcome Gary Woodland into the Media Center. 68, 65, and today a 2-under par 69 for a 54-hole total of 11-under, 202. Gary, excellent playing today. Let's go through the scorecard before questions. Started with three pars and then a birdie on the par 4, 4th. Tees are up a little bit, but you decided to lay back.

GARY WOODLAND: Yeah, just left was no good there. It was kind of an in-between number for me, too. Driver was a little too much, I didn't think I could get 3-wood there. We hit, 5-iron is perfect position, walk up there, it's in a divot. Fortunately Pete Cowen and I have worked on that shot a little the bit. I'll give him the credit on that one. Hit a great shot out of there, nice to get it up close and get off to a birdie.

MIKE TROSTEL: Nice par save on 5. No. 6, another up-and-down from the greenside bunker.

GARY WOODLAND: The wind switched a little bit. It had been into the wind, and we got downwind. I actually hit iron, iron got it up close, missed left, it was a good spot. Nice to make birdie on par 5.

MIKE TROSTEL: So you turned in 34, 1-under after a bogey on 8, another birdie on 11 with a wedge in.

GARY WOODLAND: We've been hitting driver all week. Sets up good for the driver. And I've had almost this identical numbers for three straight days. It was nice to finally execute and pull one off.

MIKE TROSTEL: The birdies were great, the par saves were even better, the 12th hole.

GARY WOODLAND: I was telling it to be right, just maybe caught a little gust, thought it was in the bunker, and it ended up in as bad a spot as it could have been from that shot. I was trying to chip it out on the green, ended up shanking it from there. I was trying to chip it down close, take 4 and move on, and the ball came out perfectly executed, chip, and nice to go in.

MIKE TROSTEL: 14, as well, the par 5.

GARY WOODLAND: Really the first time I got out of position off the tee. And it was in a horrible spot there, had a horrible lie, was trying to chunk a wedge out to get it going down the fairway, and got it in a worst spot. Hit it right where I wanted to, probably was the worst shot, chunked a chip shot. And fortunately it stayed up on the green. I was trying to knock it up there close, and it was nice to go in, though.

MIKE TROSTEL: Very good round.

Q. If someone had told you at the beginning of the week that you would have no bogeys on the back nine through the first three rounds and only two overall, would you have thought that was possible? And how do you explain that?
GARY WOODLAND: I would have liked to not have the other two bogeys on the front I guess is how I'd say that.

I feel very comfortable on this golf course. I've played well on Pebble during the AT&T the last couple of times I've been here. It's one of those, too, where my game is coming to -- I have a lot more shots. I've been a cutter of the golf ball a long time. Pete Cowen has got me comfortable working the ball both ways if I need to. And that just frees me up a little bit.

I have a short game now I can rely on. I don't have to focus on the ball-striking. This is a golf course I don't have to pound a lot of drivers, I can play a little more conservatively, stick to my game plan. And like I said, it's nice to be where I'm at right now. But looking forward to going out and doing it one more day.

Q. Starting on 12 you went rough, rough, rough, rough, rough. Did you do anything to maintain or slow down? Was there a chance that you might be slightly losing it there?
GARY WOODLAND: Like 12, like I said, was one of the best shots I made all day. We caught a little gust. 13, that's a really big fairway. I missed it, I think -- I missed it by a yard. 14 was the same way. That ball could easily have been in the fairway or the bunker, just came up in a bad spot.

Obviously it's not good to be out of position, but I wasn't by much. I stayed within myself. My foot slipped on 14 on the tee shot, which was probably the good thing for me because it told me my weight got a little bit off. I grounded myself and made beautiful swings coming in. That tee shot told me what was going on, and I was able to fix it on the fly.

Q. You talked yesterday about your comfort level in majors and how you play better in majors, particularly on Sunday, playing with Tiger at the PGA. What do you expect tomorrow to be like? There's several guys who have won majors on the leaderboard. And particularly Brooks, given his recent success, what kind of presence does he cast, only a few shots back?
GARY WOODLAND: Yeah, I mean, Brooks has obviously played phenomenal. I don't know if anybody has done what he's been doing since Tiger did it. I know if I play my game and play like the way I've been playing, the guys from behind me are going to have to do something really, really special. So I'm going to go out, stay within myself, stick to my game plan and try to extend that lead more than anything.

Q. Given the current firmness of the green, tomorrow, how dangerous are forward hole locations, and can you talk about hole locations in general as how they'll play in the strategy of the round?
GARY WOODLAND: The greens are definitely firming up. As far as front pins, short for the most part out here is really a good spot. Being just short is not a bad thing. But you get above some of these holes, you're putting defensively. I hit a beautiful shot into 16 today, but I had 10, 12 feet down the hill, and I've got to play four foot of break. One of those you've got to find a way to stay below the hole. Even if you're just short of the green, you're still going to have a better chance that putting defensively from above.

Q. It's one thing leading after two rounds, but when you lead after three, what does that tell you about your resolve and how you're dealing with the pressure here? Obviously the comfort level with this course has to have something to do with it. How does that carry into tomorrow?
GARY WOODLAND: It's nice to be at Pebble Beach. There's a lot of scenic views out there where you can take a step back and put things in perspective real quick. But I'm getting more and more comfortable from the situation just because I've been in the situation a lot. I've had a lot of close calls even this year in tournaments. Obviously put myself in position in the PGA last year, at the end of the year. It's one of those where the game is becoming more complete, and with that comes a lot of confidence and adds up to playing well.

Q. You talked last night about Pete Cowen getting you to self-analyze and work things out for yourself. What else does he do? What is the thing about Pete Cowen's ability to teach people?
GARY WOODLAND: I've been very fortunate to work with a lot of good guys. And Pete -- I've been with Butch Harmon for the last six years, and being with Pete, it's very similar. Very old school. Very down to the point. He gives me the work, and I've got to go out and do it. And for a better word, there's no bull crap with Pete. It's this way and go out and do it.

But what makes those guys so good, what makes Butch so good, what makes Pete so good is he knows what to say and when to say it. He's not giving me too much information out there. He's very calm on the range beforehand. So it's nice to have him out there. We've made some changes this week with the short game, hitting certain shots we haven't worked on: This is where you're more comfortable, let's do that this week. It's nice to have him here under the gun.

Q. (No microphone.)
GARY WOODLAND: I'll talk to him tonight. He's leaving tomorrow, but I'll talk to him tonight before I get out of here.

Q. Given that you grew up playing high-energy sports, did it take you longer in your career to develop the disposition, slower, calmer, to compete in situations like this, without maybe getting ahead of yourself?
GARY WOODLAND: It took me a lot to learn to control adrenaline; and other sports you use adrenaline to your advantage. Out here, when I get a little excited, I need to find a way to calm myself back down. When I chipped that in on 12, that's as much emotion I'm ever going to show out here. I was able to control myself and get back in the moment.

When I first got out here, if I got excited, I couldn't control it. I didn't know how far the ball was going, got ahead of myself. I've learned to take an extra deep breath and really start controlling everything, and not just the game, controlling the mental side, too.

Q. Kind of based on Bellerive last year, do you think for you and how you deal with the next 18 hours that it's maybe a matter of changing something, or is it just a matter of kind of knowing more what you're going to be dealing with tomorrow?
GARY WOODLAND: I don't need to change anything. It's more of enjoying the moment. I mean, this is what we play for. This is what I've worked so hard for. And I think playing with Tiger last year on Sunday, I don't know if I enjoyed it to start the round, I think there was a lot of moving pieces going on, and I think I kind of got caught up in it a little bit.

Once I settled in, after I made a birdie putt on 8, I settled in and then I was back to being myself. And that's what I've learned from that situation, is I can't control everybody else. I can control my attitude, and I can control my game. And that's what I'm out here to do.

Q. What gives you confidence?
GARY WOODLAND: Everything that I've been doing. I worked for this my whole life. I've trained since I started walking, I started -- I've played sports, I've competed. I've learned how to win, even if I haven't done it as much as I'd like. I know what it takes to win. And my game is in a great spot. I'm at a beautiful golf course. I came here to win, and that's what we're going out to do tomorrow.

Q. Are you one of those kids that sat around putting greens trying to make putts to win U.S. Opens?
GARY WOODLAND: Thanks for calling me a kid. No. I didn't. I don't know if I spent any time on a putting green when I was a kid, I was too busy hitting driver. But I've put myself in that moment practicing in the last -- since I've been on Tour the last 11 years, when I'm practicing, it's practicing with a purpose, putting yourself in position to make a putt on the last to win.

That's what you dream of. Hopefully I get myself in position where I don't have to make a putt on the last hole. But if I do it, I've put myself in that position practicing before.

Q. You said yesterday when you were working with Pete he would tell you that you needed to be able to figure things out for yourself. That situation you talked about on 14, is that exactly it?
GARY WOODLAND: A hundred percent. And that's the position where I hit a shot like that, I probably would have made it for a bad swing. But when I was walking up there, I realized what I did. I realized my footwork got off. That's what got off earlier in the week. I focused on that the last five holes, and I executed shots coming down the stretch perfectly.

Q. As a son and now as a father, what does tomorrow mean to you?
GARY WOODLAND: It's special. Obviously my dad's here, which is awesome. Unfortunately my son's at home. He turns two next week, which is amazing. But being a father is as good as it gets. I've got two more on the way, which will really make life really real. But it's exciting. He's a ball of fire, and I look forward to getting home with him next week.

Q. You talked outside about having a good relationship with Justin Rose. You said you were good friends. How did that relationship develop, and what's it like kind of being side by side with him in this sort of pressure?
GARY WOODLAND: I met Justin Rose in 2008. I had just joined -- I had no status, I was going through Q-School. It was the week before final stage. I just joined Lake Nona where he was a member. I was practicing. He came up and introduced himself to me, asked what I was doing. I told him I was going to Q-School final stage next week.

And he said -- he gave me some advice. He told me to go out -- and that was a six-round tournament at the time -- to try to shoot under par every nine holes, kind of broke it down for me a little bit. He's like, There's going to be some big names, but realize you played your way to get there; they played their way back to get there.

He gave me some advice. That was in 2008. I went out and played beautifully, got through Q-School. And I lived down there close to him, so we've traveled together a little bit. We're both with the same agent, with Steinberg. Rosie has been a good buddy for a long time. We had a lot of fun today, and we'll have a lot of fun tomorrow.

Q. Your high school basketball coach said you took a charge one time that landed you in the emergency room. And I wonder if you remember that. Can you talk about that, what basketball taught you in terms of toughness, reacting under pressure, et cetera?
GARY WOODLAND: Yeah, I remember that one. Took a knee, collapsed my trachea, left on a stretcher. That was on a Tuesday and scored 20-some points on Friday, was Player of the Week. So I remember that. That guy was trying to dunk on me.

But it taught me a lot. Basketball, you're not always going to have your best, but you find ways -- if I'm not shooting well, I can pass, I can play defense. There's other things I can do.

I can take that to golf. If I'm not driving the golf ball, now I can rely on something else to really get me through. It took me a while to get my game to that position, but I feel like I'm comfortable doing that now.

Q. (Off microphone.)
GARY WOODLAND: Identical twin girls coming the first week of August. I need to go out and make a lot more birdies and take care of a lot of stuff.

Q. Just curious, Gary, did you feel -- you talked about slowing down today. Did you feel any differently on the front nine than you did, say, over the final hour of today, which leads into tomorrow?
GARY WOODLAND: No, I felt really good all day. I felt great really from the start. I had a good warmup. I felt comfortable going to the first tee. And that was the big deal, even though I didn't hit that fairway, which is a fairway you need to hit with an iron. I kept myself in position. It was nice to make par on that first hole being out of the fairway and going from there.

It got cold. The last three holes Rosie and I were talking it was freezing out there. The ball wasn't going as far. I've hit driver every day on 18. We laid back today. Rosie thought it was a three-shot hole, and he ended up getting there. That was really the big difference, was the temperature change the last couple of holes.

Q. Did you find yourself at all on 11 or 14 thinking about the potential of a two-shot swing, three-shot swing, were you contemplating scores, leads at that point, or were you just playing golf?
GARY WOODLAND: Not at all. Rosie is playing beautifully. When I chipped in on 12 and made the long putt on 14 for par, he executed putts right after that on top of that. He's been putting well all week. I'm just trying to stay within myself. I'm trying to extend the lead. I'm trying to execute everything to the best of my ability, and I've done that really well.

MIKE TROSTEL: Gary Woodland, 54-hole leader, best of luck tomorrow.

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