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February 2, 2006

Jerry Smith


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Jerry, thanks for joining us. Great round today, 5 under par 66 with six birdies on the back side. Maybe talk about your day.

JERRY SMITH: I mean, I started out the first four or five holes hitting the ball very solidly, then had some great opportunities for birdies, but just wasn't making them. Our group, all of us, just weren't making them, Jeff Brehaut and Brian Davis.

The greens felt just a little sticky this morning and we all struggled with our speed. But as the day wore on the greens dried out. I made my first birdie on No. 6, I guess, and I don't know that we made any more on the front side, but the back side everybody seemed to get going.

I hit it very close on 10, more or less a tap in there to about three feet. I hit really good approaches on 11 and 12. I hit 13 in two and made birdie there.

Then I hit a couple bad drives on 14 and 15, made bogeys, and made a very good birdie on 15 because I had 4 wood in for my fourth shot. I didn't carry the water and had to drop behind. It's just a difficult hole.

Then I birdied 17 and 18 to finish. It was just a great played very well all day. You know, the bad shots, it would have been nice to I didn't make par on any of them. I made bogey on all three, but I had opportunities. I had four feet, eight feet and 12 feet or something for par and just didn't make them.

Overall I'm very happy with the day.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: How important is it to get off to a good start with the weather? It may be getting better this weekend and the condition of the course is so nice the players are going to go low.

JERRY SMITH: Yeah, it you want to compete this week and be there on Sunday, yeah, it's very important to get off to a good start. Phil had 60 last year, and there's been other 60s out here, and 61s. So I think it's very possible that somebody will do that again this week, just the way the conditions are.

Living out here, as it warms up, the ball just starts going farther and farther. You get kind of a threshold there in the temperature. When it gets to about 70 or 75, the ball seems to carry further. The course is drying out, so it's going to run that much farther and leave a lot of guys with short irons into these greens, and the par 5s are reachable.

I feel very good that I was able to kind of get it going there on the back side and keep it going.

Q. When did you learn that you had made the field? Just last night?

JERRY SMITH: No, I found out yeah, I felt like it was in on Friday, but I figured there might be a couple Top 10s at Buick so I was out by one on Monday. Then David Berganio called early Tuesday morning, I believe, because they called me a little bit before 8:00, and he lives in Los Angeles, which I believe is an hour difference this time of year.

I don't know what spurred him to call as early as he did, but I was thankful. It was nice to not wait around until Wednesday or whatever and hear you're in the field. I was just able to go along with my regular routine for the week.

Q. Being first alternate, is there an easiness there's an expectation that you're going to get in, but do you still hate that process of sitting around waiting?

JERRY SMITH: I haven't been out here all that often. When I was in, in 2000, my number out of school was 13 and this year was 9. You always think when you have a good number that you always feel like there is maybe one or two that you might not get in on the West Coast, and I kind of took a chance. I took Buick off last week, really with the anticipation of playing this week, and it would have been very unfortunate had I not gotten in.

You know, I've got plans to play the next six or seven, so I just needed to take something off on the West Coast. It's not a place you really like to be. I didn't enter the Monday qualifier and I probably would have thought about doing it when I found out Sunday night that I was going to be first alternate, but by then it was just

Q. Would you have gotten into Buick?

JERRY SMITH: I would have, yes.

Q. I apologize for not knowing this, but how many events have you played on the West Coast?

JERRY SMITH: I played Hawaii and I did get into the Bob Hope. You've always got the Hope, here and LA that are kind of the question marks.

For guys out of school.

Q. After you lost your card, did you ever think about that it might not happen for you, that you might not get back here?

JERRY SMITH: Well, you always think that way. I mean, when I was first trying to get out here, I was playing in Asia and I really was under the mindset that I might just play my career over in Asia. But it just got to a point where I was going to find a place over here or I was going to go out and do something different.

I was able to get my I don't even remember, it wasn't Nationwide, it was Buy.com, whatever it was before Buy.com. I got my card there and was able to come over here and commit and see if I could get better to get out here on the PGA TOUR. I did, I got through the school, which I think is the most difficult way to do it, honestly. It's just like hell week, it really is.

You know, being that I've been out here before and I did lose my card, I felt like, yeah, I could. I felt like I would. I think you've got to start believing that at some point to make it happen, and I had a great year last year on the Nationwide Tour and was very pleased with the way I played out there and to get it that way, not having to go through the school.

I just put my mindset that I felt like I would, and I was healthy. It wasn't like I had lost my card because of health reasons or injuries or anything. I think mentally I had kind of lost the edge or whatever, and I don't blame I don't put any blame on personal issues, but we had children coming into our lives and so forth, and I think it just distracted me enough where I felt like I just kind of lost a little bit of desire there for a while.

I knew that would come back.

Q. Was that the big hurdle, the mental thing, or is there a part of your game you can point to and say that part I'm better in now and that's why I'm playing like I'm capable of?

JERRY SMITH: I would say it's probably more mental because I feel like my golf game really isn't that much different than when I got out here in 2000, to be honest. I think mentally I'm a little stronger than I was then, but I look at the areas of my game, and I'm basically playing all the same stuff in my bag I was back then. I'm sure I'm a better player, but I think mentally it's probably the biggest improvement.

Q. You mentioned the hell week in school. And for people who haven't participated, what is the toughest part of that?

JERRY SMITH: Well, I think it's just one of those situations where it's six days you play the Nationwide Tour, or even out here, you've got a whole year, and you can sort of play in spurts maybe. I think the good players don't get frazzled or whatever when they do kind of lose it for a little while. They just go out and work on the right things and get back.

Q school, it's one of those situations where you've got three different stages and a lot of guys are at the final. You've got one week, and you hope that you're playing well at that time. It's hard to time that kind of situation, but it's one week, it's six days, which we don't ever play. We play four days, and it's just a long week. You're there playing a couple of practice rounds maybe, so it's a longer week than normal.

I think you think about what you're playing for, and it's hard to keep that off your mind. When you're out here just playing throughout the year, you're just trying to play events and going through the process and so forth. You can have a couple of good weeks kind of carry you over that threshold and then maybe after you get comfortable, you just go out and kind of play for gravy, so to speak.

Q school is just a great thing. I hope they never take it away. They always fiddle around with what they're going to do, how many numbers of guys are going to get through Q school, and they've talked about maybe qualifiers going straight to the Nationwide Tour and you have to qualify for the PGA TOUR that way. I hope they don't. I think the way the process is is very good. It's very legit.

You see both Q school players and Nationwide players play very well out here. When you look at that field, Q school, 80 or 90 percent of those guys have played out here or won out here or won on the Nationwide, so it's a very strong field. Granted, now it's all media and television, and that makes it even that much harder, I think.

Q. It sounds as mentally taxing as it is physically.


Q. Did you overcome the mental aspect by yourself or did you have help or how did you do that, get stronger mentally?

JERRY SMITH: I can't say that I did it all on my own, but I feel like I've done a lot of it on my own. I've stuck with my teachers that I've had for probably six years now, Pam Barnett, who's at Moon Valley here in town, and Manuel de la Torre, who's at Milwaukee Country Club, a fabulous person, great teacher, so I didn't change really in that aspect. My equipment hasn't really changed.

I talk with people, I read books that are positive, positive thoughts, so forth, whether it's golf or whether it's other sports. I do those type of things. I've had help. I talk to my instructors. I talk to other friends and family and other players, and all of that obviously helps, I think.

Q. Who's the one person that gave you advice that really helped you?

JERRY SMITH: I can't say that. I just think when I lost my card, my wife and I talked about it, what I was going to do in '03, the Gateway Tour that's been doing very the Grey Goose Gateway Tour, based here in Phoenix, and I said I'm going to make a commitment out there. I wasn't going to do any Monday qualifiers. I did a couple, but I primarily played out there, and that's what I was going to do, and I wanted to see signs that your game is going the right direction or that you just belong playing the game.

I went out there, won three times and I led the Money List that year, and I almost got through the Q school that fall. I played really well, but just a few shots here and there. So all of that just kind of got me going the right direction and made me think that I was doing the right things. But I think I did a lot of that internally with myself, I really do.

Q. You were talking about alternatives. Had you not if this had not worked out, what were some of the alternatives you were looking at?

JERRY SMITH: I'm from a small town in Iowa, and I talk to the Des Moines Register there quite a bit. Rick Brown is a great writer, I think, for the newspaper. He really wrote a good article and asked me kind of those same similar questions. I tried not to think about what ifs, but I really don't know. I had put my mind and my goals down, the things that I wanted to do and I did them. But had I not done those, it's really hard to say.

I've been in the club pro business before. I'm a class A. I mean, it's definitely something I would have looked at. But not being in the business for as long as I've been playing golf since 1993 the second time, basically been playing ever since I got out of college, so I'm glad I didn't have to face that question.

But who knows, I would have probably come up again in my career, strived to play the Senior Tour. Longevity is a great thing, but you just never know what might come along, injury or so forth. I'm just fortunate that things worked out the way they have.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Jerry, thanks.

End of FastScripts.

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