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February 7, 2020

Chris Baker

Pebble Beach, California

JACK RYAN: We would like to welcome Chris Baker to the interview room here at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. You mentioned this is your first tournament round at Pebble Beach and you shoot a 64. Hard to beat that.

CHRIS BAKER: Yeah, first tournament round at Pebble Beach, 64. It's going to be tough to improve on that, but, hey, set your sites high and, yeah, it was just an incredible day. Pebble Beach was my new favorite golf course. It's beautiful. The weather was incredible all day and what a week. It's going to be awesome.

JACK RYAN: Here in your rookie season on the PGA TOUR, did you feel like a round like this was coming for you or did this come as a bit of a surprise.

CHRIS BAKER: No, my year hasn't been great, but I've done a lot of good things all year long, just haven't been able to finish a tournament off. But been doing, been playing great, hitting it well. Today was just a buildup of kind of what I've been working on.

JACK RYAN: We'll take some questions.

Q. A couple of things. Matt Cullen, your agent, is on the bag?
CHRIS BAKER: Matt's on the bag, yeah.

Q. Can you talk about how that came about and why?
CHRIS BAKER: Gosh, I've had some interesting situations happen. My caddie that was working for me after Sony and Palm Springs, he blew out his knee, which was unfortunate. I feel awful for him and speedy recovery, hopefully. Last week, I had a friend on my bag. He's caddieing this week for an amateur and I just basically said, Hey, like, it's a great relationship, and keep that going. So Matt was meant to caddie for another guy that ended up not playing this week and he's here.

Q. Do you draw on anything from that third round at Torrey Pines with Tiger?
CHRIS BAKER: Yeah, that was a dream day. Playing with Tiger Woods and Tyler McCumber, a good friend of mine back home. But just the massive crowds, just the, just everything that was happening was, it was a great learning experience, didn't play my best golf that day, but at the same time like invaluable experience going forward to play with Tiger Woods, to see his crowds, Torrey Pines South Course, that's his stomping grounds. So learned a lot and he was amazing to play with and it was a great day.

Q. Are there things that you can talk about what you did learn?
CHRIS BAKER: I think just watching how he works. He's the best of all time. He just goes about everything so methodically and thinks everything through and hits the perfect shot on every single shot he has. So that was cool to see firsthand, just how incredible of a golfer he is. We all know that, but just to see it and play with him and see how he works his game, I learned a lot from that.

Q. Does that mean that you've now tried to approach golf more methodically just watching?
CHRIS BAKER: I think one day -- everybody's stubborn, golfers are stubborn, right? But, no, I'm doing a lot of good things. I think I'm still playing the way I've always played. When I'm swinging it well, I hit the ball very well and playing good golf right now. So, yeah, I mean, methodically, yeah, we always, good golfers don't get to PGA TOUR without playing properly. But that was just cool to see how he worked and it was definitely a learning experience.

Q. I think this is your, maybe your 12th PGA TOUR event overall --
CHRIS BAKER: Sounds about right. 11 or 12, yeah.

Q. Does it feel like just playing Korn Ferry but for a little bit more money? Does it feel comfortable to you and just sort of like you're in a groove, so to speak?
CHRIS BAKER: Yeah, definitely a step up, right? It's the PGA TOUR, it's the best place to play golf in the world. But at the same time, it is golf and amazing golf courses and it's like, it's incredible. So yeah, it's definitely a step up, but at the same time we're still playing golf, learning a lot, just how to play with the best in the game. And back to Torrey Pines, that was big for me.

Q. Who was your caddie that got hurt? What was his name?
CHRIS BAKER: His name is Shane Joel.

Q. Shane Joel?

Q. And then who was your agent supposed to caddie for that he didn't caddie for and you got him?
CHRIS BAKER: Ryan Blaum. He's a buddy back home. And, just injured and he's playing this week in Korn Ferry, I believe.

Q. Is Matt just carrying the bag or is he really helping?
CHRIS BAKER: Oh, he helps, yeah. I mean, he's moral support and checks my numbers, and, but he was a player as well. He's played golf, so, yeah, it's been helpful.

Q. So how many times have you played Pebble Beach?
CHRIS BAKER: This is No. 2. Wednesday was the practice round and today was No. 2.

Q. Wow.
CHRIS BAKER: Yeah. No, pretty nice, right?

Q. And then if you could just tell us, your career, your journey has taken you to a lot of different tours and a lot of different places, probably some exotic and some not so exotic. A hard question to answer shortly, but just tell us a little about what your journey has been like?
CHRIS BAKER: Where I've been? Graduated school in 2008 from Iowa State. Played some mini-tour golf, 2009, 2010, 2011. 2010 I was in Europe for probably 12, 13 events. Played Korn Ferry ever since then. So Korn Ferry's taken me to the United States, South America. Been to a lot of places, seen a lot, and it's been, golf's been incredible to me. There's places I never would ever go without golf. So extremely thankful for that.

Q. So golf can be hard, but it sounds like you've enjoyed the journey.
CHRIS BAKER: Yeah, I mean, obviously, there's times where it's tough, but there's also times like today where you play Pebble Beach and you shoot 64. So that's pretty hard to not just smile about and be really happy.

Q. Was the toughest time, could you take us back to 2013, you were in Iowa and then next week happened.
CHRIS BAKER: Yeah, 2013, so Waterloo Open. That was pretty much rock bottom. I mean, it was, missed the cut. It was one-day cut, missed the cut that day. And yeah, it wasn't good. I was in tough spot, mentally, financially, just golf was being tough on me. And signed up for Cedar Rapids the next week and I happened to win. So I mean, how crazy is that? You're struggling, you're at the end, and then the next week you win. So that's golf. You never know when the next opportunity is and just kind of keep plodding along and try and stay upbeat. I mean, I've beat myself up enough, so just try to stay up and keep moving forward.

Q. What TOUR was that?
CHRIS BAKER: What TOUR? It was the Cedar Rapids Open, so it was, yeah, Iowa Dakotas -- not Dakotas Tour, just a stand alone, Waterloo, Cedar Rapids, they're kind of back-to-back weeks.

Q. Have you played Spyglass?
CHRIS BAKER: Yeah, I have, I played Spyglass on Monday. Great place, great golf course. I mean, all three of them are, right? I mean, this is the prettiest place.

JACK RYAN: All right, thank you, Chris and best of luck on the weekend.

CHRIS BAKER: Thank you, all.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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