May 20, 2021
Kiawah Island, South Carolina, USA
The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island
THE MODERATOR: Good morning. Welcome back to the 2021 PGA Championship here at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. We're really happy to be joined by Team of 20 member, Patrick Rada.
Patrick, well done today. Opening with a 4-over par 76. You hit the first shot of our Championship. I wonder what that meant to you and how much you were thinking about it and when you were made aware of that honor.
PATRICK RADA: Well, it was amazing. As soon as I qualified, I had heard a rumor that they might want me to lead off the tournament, being from South Carolina, spending so much time in the state. Obviously, officially, it came out Tuesday with the pairings. Really just honored to start this Championship.
It was nice just to get up early and get after it at the 7:00 tee time, and I had a great pairing. It was just amazing.
Q. Your play early struggled maybe a little bit out of the chute, but then you played some good golf the last 12, 13 holes. Talk a little bit about how you got over that hump and came in strong.
Q. The 1st tee, I was so happy to obviously hit the fairway. I hit a great drive, and that kind of got me into the round. I hit some good shots. No. 2, the par 5, I wedged it. It landed right by the cup and spins right off down the swale and unfortunately made a 6. So I wasn't playing poorly, just I got off with three bogeys those first three holes.
So I just kind of told myself stick to what you've been doing, and I was able to make a few birdies there in the middle stretch of the golf course and kind of right the ship. Obviously, those last, I guess, five holes are back into the wind. It's such a good test out there.
Q. Two things. Number one, the 9th. I think you holed out a chip. Just go through that hole.
PATRICK RADA: Sure, the 9th hole with that back left pin, it was so important to be in the fairway. I was able to do that, hit a good iron shot there at the flag. It's just a tough hole location, so it kind of rolled off the back into the first cut but felt like I could still put a putter on it.
The ball just rolled out of the fringe so well, and it was just taking the exact line that I'd hoped, and it went in. It was just a really nice way to end the front nine.
Q. You putted that ball?
PATRICK RADA: I did, yeah.
Q. You touched on it, 2 over in the back, on the final five, as the wind got stronger too, what are the challenges of those holes, all of them?
PATRICK RADA: Well, it's just such a test. Two par-3s, and I'm hitting a strong 3-iron in. The par 4 -- really every hole, I have a 3-iron or a 3-wood with the exception of the par 5 No. 16. They're long holes. They're challenging for everybody.
It's definitely picking up here as we get into the middle of the day. So it's going to be very challenging for the rest of the field today.
Q. What time did you wake up?
PATRICK RADA: The alarm went off at 4:00, turned on the coffee maker, made a cup for myself and my wife, and I was actually kind of ready to get up because the anticipation of the first tee shot. But it was nice to go to bed early, get a good night's sleep, get up, get here in the dark, and be the first person on the range. That was really a surreal moment for me, as the sun's coming up there on the range by myself and Daniel, my caddie. That's a moment I'll never forget.
Q. When's the last time you woke up at 4:00 in the morning to play a round of golf?
PATRICK RADA: Maybe never. Yeah, maybe never.
Q. Do you still have family in the state? Any special members here with you that got to take this in with you?
PATRICK RADA: Yeah, I had a great kind of cheering section out there, my wife and two daughters. Unfortunately, my daughters are young, so they're at the house. My wife and father, brother, aunt and uncle. I had about a crew of probably 12 to 15 people. So it was really just special to be able to share that together with them. I couldn't be more blessed to have those individuals here.
Q. A couple questions. One, you said it's a good test. What makes this, in your mind, a good test?
PATRICK RADA: Well, driving it certainly at a premium. You have to hit the fairway. The rough is manageable, but it's almost a half stroke penalty if you put it in the rough, at least I felt like. Sometimes you can advance it to the green, but it's just -- so, one, fairways are at a premium. Length -- I don't know if it's true, but someone told me this is the longest yardage ever played in a Major Championship. So I guess I picked a good one to qualify for.
It's just long. It's tough. They had some, I thought, pretty challenging hole locations on some corners. Throw in the wind, and that makes for a very, very tough golf course.
Q. The other thing is the back nine played at 3,931, which is obviously 69 yards short of 4,000 yards. Could you have ever thought in your career in golf that you would be playing nine holes at 4,000 yards?
PATRICK RADA: No. When I was coming up, 7,200 was a pretty long golf course, and then it kind of has morphed into 75, 76, and now we're talking about in the 78s, so no.
I guess from 2012 they built a few more tees. I can't imagine, when they host another Major here down the road, how long it will play because I feel certain it's not going to play any shorter.
Q. I understand Nick Price is connected to your club, to McArthur. Did you have a chance to talk to him and work on some things before you came here?
PATRICK RADA: Yeah, I played with Nick last week at McArthur and tried to pick his brain as much as I could. He played here in the '07 Senior PGA, I believe it was, so he was pretty familiar with the Ocean Course. Certainly took his advice to heart.
He's a good friend and a great mentor to me, and whatever advice he has for me, I'm certainly always lending an open ear. Yeah, he's a great human being, and I've enjoyed getting to know him pretty well.
Q. Patrick, how did you get away from Clemson, being so close?
PATRICK RADA: That's an interesting question. Both my parents went to Clemson, and my brother went to Clemson. Growing up and going to high school in Anderson, just kind of when it came time to it, I wanted to experience something a little bit different, and Columbia provided that opportunity, a couple hours down the road at South Carolina. Bill McDonald and Puggy Blackmon, the coaches there at the time -- Bill's still there -- recruited me to play.
I had a really good friend, a couple of friends that were already there, so it was a great four years at University of South Carolina.
Q. Where have you been since South Carolina to now?
PATRICK RADA: Well, when I graduated school, basically, I went straight in the PGA and got my first job at a golf club in Wilmington, North Carolina. Pretty much started coming down to South Florida in the winter at the Jupiter area at McArthur. So I've been at MacArthur since June of 2012, first seasonally and then full-time in 2016.
Still all of my family is in South Carolina, my wife's family. We're tearing up I-95 a good bit coming up to see family.
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