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August 26, 2005

Chris Smith


TODD BUDNICK: We welcome Chris Smith after a 67 in the second round of the 2005 Buick Championship. 7 under, one back of the clubhouse leader for two rounds.

Chris, you got off to that bogey start on 10, but turned it around with four birdies.

CHRIS SMITH: Yeah, actually if you make bogey on 10 at 8:00 in the morning, it's not that bad of a score. I really had one kind of marginal shot and another shot that I didn't hit that bad. I missed kind of a short putt and made bogey but didn't feel real bad about it. It's a tough place to start.

After that, I kind of got going the way I did yesterday and hit the ball real well and it was pretty easy.

TODD BUDNICK: It's been kind of a struggle for you this year.

CHRIS SMITH: You might say that.

TODD BUDNICK: But you seem to have turned it around a little bit with a T 13 at the B.C. Open and T 5 Milwaukee. Talk about where you are.

CHRIS SMITH: How much time do we have?

Well, it has been you might as well go back to last year and the year before that. It's been a trying three years, really. I went through at the end of 2003, I went through some swing changes and they didn't work out.

And so after the U.S. Open last year, I went back to my old teacher and we started trying to get my swing that I had in 2002. So it's been a long process, and I think it took me about four months to completely mess up my swing. It's taken me about 15 months to get back.

So I feel like I'm I feel like I've made progress in the right direction, and I had a couple of good tournaments at the end of last year. It was kind of band aid stuff. I was just doing enough to get by and try to keep my job and I was able to do that.

This year, I really feel like I've been making steps in the right direction, and I think things are finally starting to come back together and I'm starting to feel a bit more like I did in 2001 and 2002. I'm starting to get a little bit more confident. As anybody knows, when you fight the confidence thing out here, it will beat you up, and that's kind of what happened for two and a half to three years. I worked my way out of that and I feel pretty good.

So it would be nice if it were still only March or April, but it's been a long time and it's taken a long time to get back and I feel like I'm getting better.

TODD BUDNICK: What has the difference been with the putting?

CHRIS SMITH: Last year, I don't think golfers learn anything, because at the end of last year when I was playing well, I was using a belly putter and came out at the start of this year and said, I don't need that belly putter and putted the way I had throughout my career, which is pretty bad up to this point. And then this week I put the belly putter back in, and sure enough, I'm starting to make a few more putts.

Maybe next year I won't wait until late August to wait realize that I need the belly putter.

Q. Why did you switch back with the old one?

CHRIS SMITH: Really the reason is because I felt like last year, at the end of the year I putted good, but I never felt like with the belly putter I could get one of those rounds going where I would have 22 putts; where I would stand over it and feel like I was going to make it. I didn't have very many rounds where I had 35 or 36 putts like I had with my short putter, but I just never felt like could I get streaky with it.

So I kind of out thought myself a little bit; if I could go back and putted all year the way I putted these few days, I would probably be a lot happier fella right now.

I went back to the short because I felt like I could be a streaky good putter with the short putter and I could get on rolls where I make a lot of putts. I waited until August 25th to realize that I wasn't a streaky, hot putter.

I've been carrying this thing around with me for about a month, and last week after I I hit the ball okay last week, and my caddie made the comment that he thinks I rolled the ball better with the belly putter. So that's really all I needed, as soon as he tells me that, I changed to the belly putter. I had been carrying it around with me for quite a while and I just got it out here and put it back in the bag. I was a little shaky with it at the start yesterday, but then the last 13 or 14 holes, I really drove the ball well. I missed a short one on the first one that I played today and after that, I stood over all of my putts and felt where I was going to hit them and had a chance to make them.

Q. The last year and a half, going thorough a stretch like that, do you tend to beat yourself up, you seem to have a pretty good

CHRIS SMITH: Well, my wife has helped me a lot with that actually. When I first turned pro, it used to kill me. I enjoyed being out here. I enjoyed I've been out here long enough and I felt like I have a lot of friends out here and on the TOUR, so I enjoy being out here and it doesn't get me down like that. But it does get frustrating to work at it as hard as you do and not see the results.

My wife has been unbelievably good with trying to keep me positive and making me realize, you know, this is a process and just keep getting better and keep going, and she treats me the same whether I shoot 76 or 66 and that helps a lot. I think I'm a lot better now than I was five or six years ago.

TODD BUDNICK: Birdies and bogeys, you had the bogey on your first hole.

CHRIS SMITH: I hit my drive down in the left rough and I knocked it up on the front right of the green. I hit a nice pitch shot up there to five feet and I missed the putt.

Then the par 5, my first birdie, I hit driver just in the left rough and hit a 6 iron up just short of the green and pitched it up to about 3 1/2 feet.

15, I hit 3 wood off the tee just short of the green, right online with the pin. I was only 30 feet and hit a putter up the hill and hit it a foot.

Next I hit 8 iron to the middle of the green, hit a nice putt there, made a long one there. That one was probably 30 feet.

And 4, I hit driver on 4 and had a good tee ball down the left side and hit 8 iron to about four feet.

You know, the back nine here, there's a lot of disasters lurking all over the place, and so you get out at 8:00 in the morning and you get through the back nine good, and you get to the front nine and you're thinking, all right, let's get it going.

I hit a great shot at 1 that just trickled over the green. I hit a good shot at 2 that came back into the bunker and made par there. I hit good shots, but I just couldn't get I had a 4 iron into the par 5 and it didn't clear the bunker; all of a sudden I had a 50 yard bunker shot. It's hard to explain, but I felt like I was maybe a little bit, you know, on the front nine, I was a little bit more tentative, but I gave myself a lot of opportunities. Then you get on the front nine and I'm feeling good about it and I'm trying to make birdies and I just couldn't get it going.

TODD BUDNICK: Thanks, Chris.

End of FastScripts.

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