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May 20, 2021

Aaron Wise

Kiawah Island, South Carolina, USA

The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island

Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: We are very happy to be joined by Aaron Wise, who opened with a 69. He is 3-under par and currently tied for the lead here in the early afternoon on Thursday. Terrific round. I have to think you're elated with your play. Maybe just what are your emotions or thought process as you walk off the golf course here.

AARON WISE: Yeah, it was a solid round. Happy with the way I played. It's a tough golf course we're facing this week, and I thought I did an amazing job of staying patient, birdieing the holes when I hit good shots and was able to capitalize on that, and then was able to scramble really well and save pars, which is huge around here.

Q. You started young and strong, you got to the majors very early, and then it looked like there was a time when things didn't work out really well and now you're clearly back. Can you tell us a little bit about the whole process?

AARON WISE: Yeah, I had a lot of success young. I did great coming up through Canada, Web, PGA, did amazing my rookie year, and sometimes you just worked on things, tried to get as good as I could, and almost took a step backwards. It was one of those deals where I had to realize what went off and fix it, and for me in that time when I first came out, I wasn't the best ball striker but I was incredible around the greens, incredible on the greens.

I figured in order to play these tough golf courses, the majors, WGCs, I had to become a better ball striker, and I worked hard on that, and in that process I kind of lost my putting and lost my chipping a little bit. That's been a big focus for me this last year or so, to get that back on track, and now I feel like I'm kind of in the sweet spot where I'm hitting the ball good, I'm chipping great, and my putting is kind of coming back into form and I'm seeing some good numbers around some really tough golf courses.

Q. And then the mental part through that process, what have you changed for the majors --

AARON WISE: Yeah, if anything I've just gotten tougher, going through bad stuff, bad tournaments, whatever it is. It makes you stronger. It makes you tougher, and I feel like I've learned from all those bad breaks.

One of the main things I've learned is to enjoy the good times. You kind of take it for granted when you're doing good over and over and over again, but after I did bad for a while, finally seeing my game come together, seeing some good scores, just enjoying it a little bit more, enjoying the crowds and the little things that come with playing well.

Q. Can you tell me a little bit about your work with your caddie? He's a veteran, been in majors and now you're working with him. What's different and what works?

AARON WISE: You know, we clicked right away. He was a guy that I wanted to work with on my bag, and we're still new to things, we're still learning each other, but he's incredibly knowledgeable about the game of golf, and as far as reading the wind or reading lies and stuff like that, he helps me out a ton. He's also just a super calm, steady guy. Any time I need to relax or refocus or whatever it may be, he knows kind of just what to say and how to get me to do it. It's been a great pairing so far. We've had a few great tournaments, and looks like it's going to keep going.

Q. For the rest of the week do you think a good reference will be to play the back better?

AARON WISE: You know, the back nine is tough, especially starting there today, you always expect a little bit of nerves starting out your round. I feel like the first four holes or so are the gettable ones on the back side, and then you turn back into the wind and it plays really hard. I played the first four holes, I think, in 1-over, so for me to finish that nine at 1-over I thought was amazing, and then I got through, what was it, hole 4 or so and then turned back downwind and was able to make a couple birdies coming in.

This course is really about where the wind is at. Especially this week, you're either kind of straight in or straight down, and you've just got to take advantage of the downwind holes and try and hang on for pars into the into the wind holes.

Q. What facet of your game were you most pleased with today?

AARON WISE: Probably my iron play. I hit a ton of good iron shots. I felt like I didn't drive it my best, but the holes that I needed to hit the fairway on I hit the fairway on. Some of them that you could get away with a miss, I kind of missed on.

But from there I hit some incredible hybrids out of the rough on like 15 and 18 maybe, and hit a bunch of good iron shots close, gave myself looks all day, and that's kind of going to be the key around here because some of these pins are really hard to get at. You've kind of got to land it in a two-, three-, four-yard window if you want to stop the ball by the hole, and I felt like controlling my ball, I did a great job of that today.

Q. A lot of guys have mentioned that they're hitting shots and clubs that they aren't usually hitting out on Tour. Are you finding that to be true for yourself, that you're pulling clubs and distances that you're not terribly used to or frequenting too often?

AARON WISE: A hundred percent, just because of the severity of the wind. I've hit 6-iron from 130 in practice rounds out here, and I've hit 9-iron from 190. It's just one of those things where you've really got to trust it. You've really got to know the ball is going to bounce, but they did an incredible job of setting up the course receptive enough to where we could still get at certain pins. It would have been easy for them to not do that, but yes, there's definitely situations where you're hitting clubs that are going either really short or really far.

THE MODERATOR: Aaron, thanks so much. Enjoy your afternoon and best of luck into tomorrow and the weekend.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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