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January 5, 2006

Olin Browne


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Olin, thanks for joining us. Good round today, 4-under, 69. Players still on the golf course. You're in great position after Round 1. Maybe some opening comments.

OLIN BROWNE: Well, it's obviously great to get off to a good start early in the year. I hid from my golf clubs in the off-season because the end of the year was kind of hysterical, I guess. Came out here a couple weeks ago, have kind of eased into the whole Hawaiian thing and I'm feeling pretty good right now.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: You had a great season last year. Won a TOUR event to get back here obviously. I don't know if you reevaluated your goals heading into this season.

OLIN BROWNE: No, not really. Probably only have one goal, and that's to continue to work on my game and improve wherever I feel I need to. Probably I guess another goal, kind of macro goals instead of micro goals, would be to play more consistently.

But overall, I think last year was a big step in the right direction. I'd hopefully like to continue doing it.


Q. What was so hysterical about the end of the season?

OLIN BROWNE: Well, I played the last events, eight events on TOUR, then I played the Franklin Templeton Shootout, then I played the Callaway tournament out at Pebble Beach, so I played 10 weeks in a row. I was hustling for the fall finish, top 20, top 30, all that stuff, so I was busy.

Frankly, before Deutsche Bank, I wasn't going to be playing all those events. Just ended up working out that way. Just a lot going on.

Q. 10 weeks in a row. Is that a career high?

OLIN BROWNE: No. I played 13 weeks in a row once. But, you know, I'm getting older now, I've got to gear back (smiling).

Q. Actually, you've gotten older, and have put yourself in a position to gear up. Would you have imagined this entering your 40s?

OLIN BROWNE: No. And truthfully, when I kind of put myself in this direction coming out of college, I had no idea what I was getting myself into at all because I never played any junior golf, hadn't played any big-time golf in college. This is actually all kind of new. It keeps it fresh, keeps it fun. I was complaining a little bit to my wife the other day about having to go back to work.

But once you get in the first tee shot, you get back into the flow. I had three putts on the first three holes today that were not easy, they were all for par, and they were all five to eight feet. That narrowed my focus in a hurry. I was able to make them. It got me off to a good start.

Q. Here you are at the Mercedes Championship. Arriving here as a player who till this season had not performed wonderful over the last few years.

OLIN BROWNE: Nice way to put it (smiling).

Q. What happened between, say, five years ago and last year that got you to the Mercedes now?

OLIN BROWNE: It was really the last two years before this year that weren't that great. Maybe the last three. My original teacher passed away in 1997. So from about 1997 till about February of two years ago, I was trying to do it basically on my own. I had a lot of friends who had been in the golf business, people that I have, let's say, grown up playing with, known for a long time, have kept an eye on me and so forth, but I found myself basically directionless with my philosophy. It took me a while to come around to who I wanted to go see and how I wanted to go about doing it. But I ended up making a commitment to redoing some things.

I went and saw Jim Hardy, put it together. He has been an integral force in this resurgence. It's been a nice couple years. It's kept me enthusiastic and upbeat because I've had something to look forward to as opposed to fighting myself the whole time. The couple years before I went and saw him, I was really struggling.

Q. Who was your teacher that died?

OLIN BROWNE: His name was Tom Walsh.

Q. Did he work with anyone else?


Q. How many times have you been over here in the ProAm since 2000?

OLIN BROWNE: Just playing the ProAm?

Q. Yes.

OLIN BROWNE: Just played last year or two years ago. But I played the Lincoln Mercury a few years. I don't know, this is my sixth or eighth event here. Maybe sixth.

Q. What were your impressions of the redone greens and the changes to the course today?

OLIN BROWNE: Well, I thought that the course, you know, played soft. Obviously we've had quite a bit of rain here in the last few days. Balls, although they weren't getting any mud, we weren't picking up any mud, the ball was not going like it can out here.

But the greens were in great condition. They rolled beautifully. They are wonderful surfaces. They did a terrific job getting them ready.

I think everybody's taking a day or two to adjust to the way the ball breaks now as opposed to the way it used to, the way the ball comes into the green with pitch shots and so forth. The shot I hit on 18, I really expected that ball to release quite a bit more. It just landed perfectly, kind of dead, just kind of eked its way down the hill instead of having a little bit more momentum. Otherwise, it would have been much closer.

I think those are the things you'll find players trying to figure out, what the greens are going to be like, how receptive or not receptive they may be. It's just going to take a few days for guys to sort through it, especially the guys who played here every year for the last few.

Q. You got fooled a bit on 7, too, didn't you?

OLIN BROWNE: Oh, you mean with my putt? Yeah, I did. I thought I missed it. I started it farther left than I thought. I thought the grain would hold the ball in the wind. The wind quit completely and the ball bent to the right, went in on the last roll. Yeah, I did get fooled.

Q. When your teacher died, did it take you a few years to understand that you actually did need somebody?

OLIN BROWNE: Well, I suppose, you know, you learn what you learn in this game, you get into a rhythm. When things are going well, you're out there thinking it will never leave you. When things are going poorly, it's the same, you figure you'll never get it back.

But feels can be misleading. Something that works one day won't necessarily work the next day. It's important to have somebody who can keep you on the straight and narrow, if you will. It's not to say that I didn't have guys like that, but I found myself consulting enough different guys who had enough different perspectives, and sometimes that can be good, other times it can be to your detriment.

I mean, I won Hartford in '98, and then I won Colonial in '99 when Tom wasn't around. But I guess at some point, you know, when you start to struggle, it's easy to fix it if you fix it early. It becomes more difficult to fix it if you let it get entrenched.

Q. And did you?

OLIN BROWNE: No, obviously not. I mean, I let it get entrenched and it took me a while to figure out. I always knew -- look, you see a lot of guys working with a lot of different instructors out here. Instructors can be helpful and they can be not so helpful. It depends I think a lot in terms of personalities, communication skills, whether one person hears what the other is saying, vice versa.

I think obviously David Leadbetter has taught an incredible number of great players, and Hank Haney has taught an incredible number of great players. Brian Mogg (ph) has taught an incredible number of great players. People form bonds and associations, and they build relationships. They build foundations to their golf games.

I think that's the beauty of this game, is that there's so many different ways to approach a problem. I just wasn't quite comfortable with how I was going to do it. It took me a little while to figure that out.

Q. May be an obvious question. Do you appreciate being here more than most, having gone without for six years?

OLIN BROWNE: Well, I don't know. You know, I know that I'm thrilled to be here, and I came over here the 22nd of December and dragged my family over at Christmas. We've had a wonderful couple weeks over here. I hate to say I appreciate it more. I certainly appreciate it tremendously. I would like to play well enough to be invited back. There's only one way to get back.

But I think that everybody who comes here understands what a great tournament this is, what a great place this is, and they enjoy coming here. It's hard to compare. But I certainly am very appreciative.

Q. Does it kick in, what you did last year, when you got here?


Q. Somewhat of a reminder?

OLIN BROWNE: No. The thing that's funny about this game is that what this game is all about is all about the process. They show the trophy presentation at the end of the week, somebody is holding up the trophy, everybody is patting him on the back, shaking his hand, but that is gone in an instant. What it took to get there wasn't just the four -- that last round or the four rounds of that week or the weeks leading up to it. It's a process of an entire, you know, career that gets you to where you are.

That's why it's so admirable what guys like Tiger, Ernie, Vijay and Phil do, because they are in contention all the time, they're working on their game all the time, they're shaving off the rough edges all the time. But it's so difficult to hoist the trophy for half an hour on Sunday. There's a whole lot more to it. It's all part of the process.

What happened to me in September last year, hey, you know, it was over the minute that last putt went in and we had our conversation. I was on my way home. It was over. All there is is the next week.

It's less about the moment and more about all the stuff that leads up to it, for me at least, than people might expect.

Q. What are you going to do for a caddie next week when your regular one is going back to school?

OLIN BROWNE: Well, I've got Brad Whittle (ph) going to caddie for me next week. He's been out for a number of years. I've got a guy, Buck, as you know, had a little surgery, he's doing great and is going to be back in time for Doral. I'll have a couple guys filling in for me for the next month or two.

Q. Are you at all surprised that your 69 is the only score in the 60s so far?

OLIN BROWNE: I don't know. You know, it's not an easy day to play. There's plenty of trouble out there. This is a beautiful course. It's playing long because it's so wet. I'd be surprised if it held up during the day, frankly. You know, I teed off early in the group.

Q. When you get to 5-under relatively early, did you feel like it got away from you at the end?

OLIN BROWNE: I snuck a few in there early, too, you know. That ball is round and that hole is too. You get some that go and some that don't.

I stole one on 13, Doug was talking about that putt I made on 7. I wish I hadn't bogeyed 15. I wish I birdied 18. Other than that, it's hard to get the ball close all the time. The wind is gusting, it's moving around. You play for quadrants of the greens, to be putting uphill or across grain, whatever it is, depending on where the flags are.

I'm not displeased with that. I wish I'd shot a couple shots better, but I'll take it.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: If we could touch a little more on your round. You birdied No. 5, the par 5. Maybe a nice putt on 7. Par 3, No. 8.

OLIN BROWNE: Yeah, I hit actually -- hit a good iron shot into 8. I hit a 6-iron. I aimed it at the right edge of the green. Started it maybe 10 or 15 feet left of my intended line. It ended up being on the left side of the green. That was great because I was putting into the grain and into the wind, which was not a hard putt from about 15 feet. I made it.


OLIN BROWNE: I birdied 10? I hit just a little knock-down shot into 10 about eight feet and made a nice putt.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Made a birdie from off the green on 13.

OLIN BROWNE: Yeah, 13 surprised both Brad and me with how much the wind affected our shots coming in there. I remember during the practice rounds, we were hitting wedges in there. Today I had 6-iron. I hit a pretty solid shot. I was trying to turn it a little bit. Aimed it at the middle of the green, tried to turn it a little bit, kind of hung and fluttered a little bit. Stayed short, came back. I was, I don't know, about 40 or 45 feet probably, I don't know. The wind was right to left. The grain was right to left. It was not an easy shot. I got pretty lucky, I think, there. I hit a decent shot, but I got very fortunate in that it went in.

Q. Did you putt it?

OLIN BROWNE: No, I chipped it.

Q. Did you birdie 5?

OLIN BROWNE: Yeah, hit it on the back edge and 2-putted.


OLIN BROWNE: 15, I kind of -- the wind was at its peak. I guess we're at the highest point on the golf course. I let my layup shot get to the right. Went down in the rough. I drew kind of a gnarly little lie. Was playing for a little bit of a jumper. It didn't. Hit short of the green, came back down. I chipped it up there about eight feet. Hit a pretty good putt, but caught a gust of wind that holed it out. That was maybe one of the paybacks for dropping a chip or making one that shouldn't have gone in.


OLIN BROWNE: Thank you.

End of FastScripts.

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