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November 9, 2020
THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen good, afternoon. We are pleased to welcome to the interview room, Patrick Cantlay. Thanks for being with us here today.
PATRICK CANTLAY: Yeah, thank you.
THE MODERATOR: You've been really playing well of late. Your third PGA career victory at the ZoZo Championship, and another Topâ€‘10 finish at the Shriners Open. What aspect of your game are you most confident in right now, and why?
PATRICK CANTLAY: I'd say my distance control with my irons has been really good lately, something I work on at home all the time, and playing that threeâ€‘week stretch in a row and playing all that tournament golf, I noticed that is what really gets sharpened up is feeling the difference between 138 or 140, and that's just really good to be dialed in with that coming in here just because the greens are soâ€‘â€‘ the hole locations, often the margin is so tight, and the difference would be 20 feet or so.
THE MODERATOR: Reflecting on last year's appearance at the Masters, and this is, I believe, your fourth appearance, one as an amateur and your third as a professional. Looking back at last year, you had the low round on Saturday of 64, and 68 on Sunday with a beautiful eagle on 15.
So when you think about that and reflect on that, how do you plan to achieve the same results this year?
PATRICK CANTLAY: Well, hopefully I'm in a better spot come Saturday, so 64, 68 gets the job done.
But I would say this is a place we get to come back to every year, so having a lot of momentum or feeling like you have a lot of good vibes around this place is of the ultimate importance. I'm going to take hopefully that momentum from Saturday, Sunday, into this year, and really try and feed off those good vibes and all the birdies I made on the weekend because it's just going to be the sameâ€‘â€‘ the same weekend over and over here.
So getting those good feelings going I think is really beneficial going forward.
Q. I would think you're a pretty confident person and a very consistent player. When you're like that, can you take a boost from a recent win into the next tournament, or do you feel like you're going to win every week, anyway? Do you know what I mean by that?
PATRICK CANTLAY: Yeah, I do. I would say for a while now I feel like one of my biggest strengths is being really consistent. So if I canâ€‘â€‘ I don't want to say up my game, but if I can just start playing maybe just a little better and keep that same level of consistency, I'll be having even more chances to win all the time, and that's really the secret, I think, to winning a lot out here, is putting yourself in position a bunch.
So I don't know if that answers your question, but I do feel like consistency has been a strength, and if I can just get even just a little more comfortable around the lead just by being there more and more, I think I'll be able to win more, and I think that consistency will really be an asset for me.
Q. Do you feel like you were capable of winning this week, whether you won at Sherwood or finished 20th?
PATRICK CANTLAY: Yeah, definitely. I think my last two wins have been against really good fields, and especially at Memorial, that's almost as close to a major championship venue as you can get.
So I feel like when I'm playing well, I can beat anybody. Taking that mindâ€‘set into majors I think is really important and not treating it different than any other week.
Q. The Masters is special in part because of all the many traditions surrounding it. What's going to be the biggest difference between an April and November Masters?
PATRICK CANTLAY: Well, this year, the Patrons, for sure, I think will be the most striking difference. And then I think it was already most likely going to be a softer test than April, and I think with the scheduled forecast, it will definitely be softer. That will be the biggest difference. The grass might be just a little higher and the course may play just a little slower than normal.
I think a lot of that is also just weather dependent, and the fact that it's November this year, it may be more of a talkedâ€‘about thing, as opposed to if it was just a rainy week in April.
Q. Following up on his question about the Patrons, you've certainly played in a number of tournaments without spectators so far this season, but will this placeâ€‘â€‘ having been through it now a few times without Patrons, how would you try to explain what you think the atmosphere might be like come Thursday?
PATRICK CANTLAY: We have played a few majors now with no fans. It's quite different. But I would say you're on to something with the guys are kind of used to it now. No one is going to say, "Oh, it really threw me without having fans."
But this place more than any other place, I think it will feel so much different because the atmosphere of this tournament is so much different than all the other weeks of the year.
And so that atmosphere will be lacking this year, simply because of not having the fans. I think the fans here are some of the most educated fans, and some of the most respectful fans, and so they really add to the tournament in a way that every week they don't. It's hard to explain.
Hearing the roars on the golf course from far away when you could be on the front nine and someone out goes ahead of you, and you go, well, someone must have eagled 13 or someone must have eagled 15 or stuff like that. It will be strange to be playing the golf course and not hear any of that. Especially if you were to play Sunday and have Tiger or Phil in front of you a couple groups or Tiger and Phil behind you a couple groups, usually you could â€‘â€‘ the buzz around that group would be palpable, and this year, you could be like, well, where is Tiger, you know.
So that will feel very strange.
Q. It's missing its unique soundtrack in golf, really, won't it?
PATRICK CANTLAY: Yeah, that's a very good way of saying it.
Q. Going back to last year, Sunday, you had it going very well on the back. You're in the mix. You're tied for the lead at one point. When it was over, was there any sense that you felt, man, I coulda, shoulda won that thing, or did youâ€‘â€‘ did the Tiger moment kind of just morph everything?
PATRICK CANTLAY: At that time, I didn't care who the winner was (laughs). I knew when I got to the 16th hole that I most likely had to make a birdie or two to win or be in a playoff.
So I knew that I had played really well, but I still had work to do, and so it was very disappointing to make a couple bogeys coming in, and I was obviously upset that night that I did finish the way I did. But pretty soon after, I realized that I could really take a lot from that weekend, shooting 132â€‘â€‘ yeah, 132 on the weekend here, you know, if I can do that again, I like my chances.
So trying to turn that whole experience into a positive memory, and I feel like by now I definitely I have; that it gives me a lot of confidence going forward knowing that I can play this place. And I think any time you have a chance to win here, because we're going to be back here year after year, if you look at it in the right frame of mind, it can help you.
Q. How are you finding the conditions of the golf course in November compared to the spring?
PATRICK CANTLAY: I would say the course is just a little softer right now, and the grass is just a little longer. And I think the biggest difference will just be once the rain starts to come this week, it looks like it's just going to rain every day, and I was surprised to see actually how warm it is this week for a November week. I was expecting cooler weather.
So warm and rain showers this week, so I'm sure the golf course will play soft.
Q. Getting back to your discussion about how the Masters will play differently without the roars, will the scoreboards take on greater significance, not only will you not know where Tiger or Phil or whoever is leading the tournament will be on the golf course; I imagine you also won't know where they stand in relation to par or your score. So will you be watching the scoreboards more than usual?
PATRICK CANTLAY: I wouldn't say more than usual. I would say we'll still have the same semblance of where we are relative to everyone else to par in the golf tournament. That won't change. It's just a feeling that won't be there. It will be that energy that you can feel around the golf course; you won't be able to feel it this year, but I don't think it will make any difference for knowing where you stand in the tournament.
Q. You were talking about the lack of Patrons. Obviously it's going to sound different, but you also said that you kind of feed off of your own momentum and your own good vibe. Xander has said that part of his great round was the crowd, was the Patrons. Is that something that plays into your game, or are you just kind of zoned out as far as what you're doing?
PATRICK CANTLAY: I think it does for sure. When you're playing well and you're riding that wave of good feelings and feeling in tune with what your game is doing and you're in the zone, there is a sense of being fueled on by everybody, and it's part of theâ€‘â€‘ it's one of the really cool things about what we do, is feeling like everyone's pushing you towards hitting a good shot or making a putt. And when you are doing that, and you're hitting lots of great shots and making putts, it does feel like aâ€‘â€‘ it's a bad example, but maybe like a rock concert where you're having an exchange with theâ€‘â€‘ I can only imagine what the band would have, an exchange with the fans.
Here I would say we have a little bit of that with the Patrons if we are hitting good shots and making putts.
Q. I know you've spent some time talking with Jack Nicklaus how to play with the course. Have you done any leadup to the Masters this year with him or anyone else to get any more advice?
PATRICK CANTLAY: I haven't talked to him this year about this golf course. I saw him at The Bear's Club a couple weeks ago. He was watching his son, Gary, hit balls, and talked to him just a little bit, but not about Augusta.
I wouldn't say I've talked to anybody this year about advice about the golf course. In a weird way, this golf course just changes every year it seems like a little bit. I know they tweaked the 18th green, not this year, but last year, and they obviouslyâ€‘â€‘ sounds a little brash, but maybe in a weird way, I know a lot more about the fifth hole than Jack Nicklaus knows about the fifth hole.
This golf course changes so much that I think you can get some general strategies from guys, but the course is changing, the game is changing, and so I think by now, I've been around the place enough to know it pretty well.
Q. How have you fineâ€‘tuned your game plan based on what happened last year?
PATRICK CANTLAY: I don't know if I have worked on anything as a response to last year. More my takeaway would be that I can play this place really well, and you know, if I'm in a betterâ€‘â€‘ better spot going to the weekend, it's a totally different story.
So I think just taking that confidence into this year, starting on Thursday, is the biggest thing. Really the more times you can play out here and the more comfortable you can get, and the betterâ€‘â€‘ I feel like more than any place, the more confident you are about this golf course when you come here, the better you're going to do.
And I see that from guys that play consistently yearâ€‘in and yearâ€‘out here really well. They always talk about how it doesn't matter how their game is; they are going to get here and know the place so much better than everybody else and they know how to play the golf course that they will be able to play well. I see why that's the case. So I feel like I'm starting to become one of those guys.
Q. What do you remember most about your eagle on 15 on Sunday last year, and the atmosphere around 15 and 16 at that time?
PATRICK CANTLAY: I remember being particularly upset on Friday night at how poorly I played Thursday/Friday. So I came out a little on fire on Saturday, like I'm going to make a bunch of birdies. And I did.
Then we turned around and played real early on Sunday, which I guess had never been done before. I kind of kept that same fire on the first tee and made a birdie on the first hole and then birdied the second hole, and then it was just: I'm going to keep going.
So I really just tried to keep that same mentality the whole time. You know, I was still in that mode coming to 14, 15, and I was very much more concerned with what I was doing than with all the stuff going on, and I think that was part of the reason for the success, that 33 holes or whatever where I played really well.
You know, unfortunately made a bogey on 16, but it's weird, I expected to hit a good shot on 16 and it just didn't go.
Q. You're in top form coming in, and another guy in that boat is DeChambeau. As a top player, what do you make of his fullâ€‘throated embrace of the distance quest and what he's done doing that?
PATRICK CANTLAY: I think it's been impressive for sure, there's no doubt. I think we'll see, but I think this place probably fits it about as good as any place.
I think definitely throughout history of golf, the guys that have hit it the farthest at that period of time have had an advantage and have been able to play really well. So it doesn't surprise me that as he's hitting it very far, much farther than other guys, that he's having success. So more power to him and I think more people will try and do that.
Q. A couple things in closing. Somewhat related to Sergio. When did you arrive here? When did you take your test, and how nervous were you in the 15 minutes it took to get the result back?
PATRICK CANTLAY: I took it on Sunday night, so last night. To be honest, I wasn't that nervous. I feel like the chances are just low, given how I've been behaving and everything. Chances are just low that I'd have it.
You know, it would be more shock if I did come back positive than anything else.
Q. And secondly, completely unrelated, but is it weird, even though it doesn't really affect you shot by shot, is it weird not to see any ropes up?
PATRICK CANTLAY: Actually I'm surprised that more tournaments haven't had no ropes considering the lack of people out there. So no, I don't think it'sâ€‘â€‘ I don't think it's weird. Shouldn't be a problem.
Q. Notice it?
PATRICK CANTLAY: Yeah, they have got little green lines out there, and I'm sure everyone will behave just fine and it will be great.
Q. What were you doing over by the green line?
PATRICK CANTLAY: They are right on the tee box.
THE MODERATOR: Good luck this week and thanks for your time.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports