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May 20, 2021

Martin Laird

Kiawah Island, South Carolina, USA

The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island

Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon. Welcome back to the 2021 PGA Championship here at the Ocean Course, Kiawah Island, South Carolina. We are joined by Martin Laird. Martin opened with a 70 today. He is 2-under par.

Martin, what did you see out there today? Talk about the wind and how your game fit into it today.

MARTIN LAIRD: The first three or four holes were pretty nice. Wasn't too gusty. As expected, the wind picked up. I played really nicely today. I made some nice mid-range putts, which you've got to do on a lot of these holes because good putts are 15, 20 feet.

I got on a little heater stretch there on the back nine, turned into the wind and birdied 14, 15, 16, which was not expected. You're just trying to make pars on those holes, and I hit some really nice 4-irons into -- I felt like I hit 4-iron on every shot coming in. Hit some nice shots in there to 20 feet and made the putts, which obviously is a bonus. Those holes are bonuses when you hit birdies. Very happy with the round, even though I bogeyed the last two. You don't often finish bogey-bogey and feel pretty good, but I do.

Q. Well done and congratulations on a great start to the championship. You had four birdies in a row. Can you pick out one of the best birdies of the day? I know they're all good, but any one that stands out?

MARTIN LAIRD: Probably, honestly, the 15, I hit a really nice tee shot there. I can't remember the exact number, maybe 198 or something for my second shot. I hit as good a 4-iron as I good hit, nice flighted 4-iron, pitched a yard from the hole and went about 15 feet and made the putt.

Like I said, those holes you're just trying to make 4s on. If you hit a shot like that and manage to make the putt that's a bonus. I would say that was pretty good.

Q. As a follow-up, aside from the last two holes, how does that round in a major championship rate in terms of your career? I guess in terms of mental toughness and also the physical toughness of playing Kiawah?

MARTIN LAIRD: Yeah, it's definitely up there. I played really nice. I think I made seven birdies. Any time you make seven birdies around here, you're playing good. I kind of went out with the mindset this week, even though it's hard, don't give the course too much respect. You still have to take on shots when you have the chance. I felt like I did a good job of that. I felt like I didn't bail out. When I had a spot where I could go at the flag, I was making sure I kept doing it and hit a lot of really nice shots and managed to make some birdies.

You're going to hit bogeys on this golf course. It's just too hard not to go in and make a handful of bogeys. It's nice when you can throw in a bunch of birdies too.

Q. What's your mindset on the 17th tee on a day like today, wind in the face?

MARTIN LAIRD: I was trying to hit it in the bunker, the second bunker on the left. I was playing with Kevin Kisner. He hit it in there and hit a lovely bunker shot and tapped in. We talked about it in the practice round. Any of those back pins, especially as windy as it was today, the club I had 4-iron, if I go out the middle of the green and it kind of rises on me, it's not going to cover that right edge.

So I was trying to just kind of hit a low burning cut into that back left bunker. If it snuck just right of it, it's a great shot, but I just -- I was making sure that thing didn't go right, and then I hit it -- I didn't cut it, so it went even further left.

I knew it was still fine. It was still on the path and lipped in a 6-footer. You're just really thinking left. There's not many guys that are aiming at that flag today and trying to just fire right in there. A lot of them will be aiming that left side.

Q. Do you also have a different mindset for the into-the-wind holes versus the downwind holes here?

MARTIN LAIRD: I don't know if I'd say different mindset, but there's obviously going to be -- some of the pins downwind are harder to get to than the ones into the wind. There's some pin positions on the front where you're just almost trying to like leave it just short or just bounce it up and if it stays short, it's fine. To get them really close, you can hit a great shot downwind in the front -- on that stretch downwind and maybe be 25 feet into the wind. If you hit a really good shot, you can at least stop it.

The 17 was the only one I would say the mindset was really pretty conservative. Just hit it somewhere left and try to get it up-and-down. Apart from that, I was still trying to take on some flags as much as you can within reason.

Q. Well played today. How helpful was it being here in 2012 and playing the course before?

MARTIN LAIRD: To be honest, I didn't really remember much about the golf course. I didn't even remember how to play it, and then I had to look it up. I know there's a few little things I remember, but I didn't remember too much about it.

It's changed a little bit too, and I guess it's a little firmer this week than we had it back then. I wouldn't say too much. I know I liked it, but I don't remember too much about it.

Q. Is it one of the most difficult courses you guys play when the wind gets up here?

MARTIN LAIRD: Yeah, for sure. One thing I do remember in 2012, I think it was the Friday, it blew really, really hard. I shot 2-over and was really happy with my round. I think the scoring average that day was 6- or 7-over par. I do remember that. It's definitely, when the wind gets blowing, especially if you get cross-winds on these raised greens, some of the holes -- like I said, there's some holes you really trying to not -- you're almost just trying to hit it at the front of the green or bounce it up. If it gets on, great. Some of the holes downwind, if you fly them on the green, you can't stop it almost.

It's definitely a course you have to think your way around, which I generally like and seem to play better.

Q. How much do you enjoy these windy conditions, and how does it suit your game?

MARTIN LAIRD: I'm one of the highest ball flights on Tour, I would say. Generally speaking, it's great for the downwind holes because I can stop it when maybe some guys can't. But I've got to alter my game quite a bit coming into the wind. My coach and I worked on that earlier this week.

Last week when I played the Byron Nelson, it was windy too, so we got some practice in there. My punches weren't very good last week, so we worked on it earlier this week, and they were a lot better. I hit some really nice -- like I said, I hit 4-iron all but one hole coming in once we turned into the wind, and I was keeping those down really nicely.

I knew I was swinging it well and keeping my ball flight down a little bit better than normal, so I was pretty excited to come out. Generally speaking, my ball flight high cut is not really ideal for the wind.

Q. Martin, it's kind of interesting because, obviously, coming from overseas, you would think that you would have this low-ball, creative atmosphere in your head. You don't have that anymore, do you?

MARTIN LAIRD: With driver. Driver, I do. I've always been able to keep my driver head height if I want to. With my irons, when I came over, I've lived in Colorado for five years, and you play in altitude and not much wind. I started hitting it high. Most weeks, high ball flights are preferable to low. You can stop it when you get on firm greens.

Like I said, I had to work hard earlier this week on punches and keeping it down and really feel like I was doing it nicely. Today proved that. I hit some really good ones coming back into the wind.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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