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March 9, 2006

Mathias Gronberg


DAVE SENKO: Congratulations, good start, 67.


DAVE SENKO: Could you just share just some general thoughts on your day and we'll get some questions.

MATHIAS GRÖNBERG: It was very windy and very breezy out there. It was hard. The greens are hard, as usual. Some very quick putts and some very slow putts, depending on the grain. I started with the first hole and hit a sand wedge in to probably seven or eight feet and made the putt, so I had a great start. It feels always nice to make a birdie on the first hole.

I hit over the green on 2 and made a good up and down from the back of the green there which really was a confidence builder.

And then I birdied the par 5. I hit a 4 iron just short of the green and chipped it up and made another eight foot putt probably for birdie.

Next, the par 5, I hit a 5 iron over the green and didn't make a great chip. So I had to make probably another 7 footer and made that. So I have had a really good start even with making the 7 , 8 footers on these greens.

I hit a good 7 iron in on hole No. 8, downwind. I was fortunate to catch the slope a little bit, so I made the putt from about four feet.

So I've had a great start. I'm at 4 under after eight, nine holes. That's a great start on this golf course. Kind of set me up playing the back nine. I didn't really play that well the back nine tee to green, but I hit a 5 iron in the bunker short on the par 5 and I hit a really good bunker shot. I almost holed it and tapped it in for a birdie on that hole to go 5 under.

And then I 3 putted 16 from just off the green. I hit a 5 iron from about 180 yards and it came up too short and I hit the first putt too hard, probably about six, seven feet by and I missed the putt.

I tried to play a little conservative on the drive on 17, so I hit it very short. But I had a 5 iron in and I hit it up to probably 14 feet or so and I 2 putted that for birdie.

Had a good, very good shot on 18, 4 iron in, and just missed a birdie there. That was a long birdie putt, 15, 20 feet maybe. But it felt good to finish with a good, solid shot on 18 because I didn't really play that well 13 to 17. I didn't really play that good, I didn't think.

DAVE SENKO: Conditions, how much did they change from the start of your round to the end, any significant changes?

MATHIAS GRÖNBERG: They were pretty much the same. Maybe a little bit more windier the back nine than the front. It was about ten yards of wind on the first few holes we played into the wind in the morning. I started on 1. And in the end, we started thinking it was about 25 yards of wind.

So I'm very pleased, very happy with a good start. Just hoping to keep it going.

Q. When exactly did you find out that you were in?

MATHIAS GRÖNBERG: I found out sort of unofficially that Nick Faldo was pulling out Tuesday afternoon. I thought I was already in, but he officially withdrew Wednesday morning.

I'm just happy to be playing. We spend a lot of time here in Palm Beach, and it's just nice to play when you're so close to home.

Q. Does that make it a little looser for you, knowing you have something to lose, you came in on a whim, not realizing you were going to be here in the first place and you shoot like you did?

MATHIAS GRÖNBERG: You always have the pressure of playing good wherever you are. But I did play 5 under par the Friday at Doral, and that kind of got the confidence going with my putting a little bit and things like that. So it kind of carried over. I've been playing quite good the last two rounds.

Q. How much experience do you have on this course, living here locally?

MATHIAS GRÖNBERG: I played two years ago and I don't really come up here and play. It's more like I've been fortunate, I have an honorary membership at Ritz Carlton, so I go to Donald Ross and play there most of my time.

Q. When we talked at Q School you were pretty happy with the state of your game at that point, has that continued through the beginning of this year?

MATHIAS GRÖNBERG: No, I haven't really played as good as I did in Q School. I thought I played a lot better in Q School. The last two rounds I played very, very good and basically I've been making the putts and that's the key thing. I kind of changed my putting stance back to an old stance that I used to have. It seems to be making the putts at least.

Q. Did you get a practice round this week at all?

MATHIAS GRÖNBERG: I did, yeah. I actually played the Monday qualifier for the four spots at Iron Horse. Tuesday I played here, because I was at that time about fourth alternate, so I thought I had still a good chance to get in.

Q. How difficult is it waiting around and wondering like that?

MATHIAS GRÖNBERG: It is very frustrating when you're so close sometimes. You just want to play, and especially here. If I would have been anywhere else, I wouldn't have been so frustrating not to be in the tournament. But this one, I thought I was into the field when I made the cut at Tucson, and so I felt kind of good and I had family coming in and everything. So it's nice to be able to play the tournament, first of all.

And it's a bonus to play so good, too.

Q. You have an economics degree; is that right?

MATHIAS GRÖNBERG: Yeah, it's kind of. I stopped school when I was 18. In Sweden, I think that's the same as high school economics, and golf. It's kind of specialized. But I didn't do the university. I chose to stay amateur for one year to really go after when we won the Eisenhower Trophy in 1990 and I turned pro.

Q. There are a lot of Swedes in this area?

MATHIAS GRÖNBERG: A lot of them.

Q. How did that happen?

MATHIAS GRÖNBERG: It's close to Sweden. (Laughter). It's kind of close to Sweden. My wife and family are from New Jersey and close to New York. That's where we have spent a lot of time before, and now we're kind of moving further down here, spending more time in Florida.

Great weather, and it's just a nice place to live as a Swedish person. In one way, maybe Orlando would have been better if you think of maybe a quicker flight to England. But you can always fly to New York and then straight back to Sweden.

I think the biggest reason was probably that Jesper Parnevik had his headquarters here in the beginning and all of the Swedes that used to come over just said, okay, let's live here.

Q. Do you guys get together a lot?

MATHIAS GRÖNBERG: I think most of the Swedes get together quite a bit. I have an American wife, so I kind of we're spending a lot of time with the members from Ritz Carlton and everything like that.

Q. Were you also an alternate into Doral last week?

MATHIAS GRÖNBERG: No, I actually got a wild card. I received an invitation to play Doral as kind of a home player, I live only an hour north of Doral.

Q. Most of the Swedes down here live in Jupiter or Jupiter Island, but you're actually on Palm Beach, on the island, as we say. Are you in that whole social circle, are you on Donald Trump's speed dial, that whole thing?

MATHIAS GRÖNBERG: No, no. It would be probably nice. My wife's family, they moved down about eight or nine years ago. They bought an apartment there and then we've kind of just kept on living there.

Q. You've been playing since a very young age?

MATHIAS GRÖNBERG: I started when I was ten. I found my mother's golf club in the basement when I was about ten. I played mainly soccer at the time and then I asked my mother, what is that, something with a ball in it, a sport with a ball. She said yes. I went out to the driving range and the first too many I was at the driving range I was asked to join the golf club. So I called my mother and said can I join and she said yes. So I started playing golf, I was ten.

For the first year or two years, I played a lot of golf, and then the soccer, I played mainly soccer when I was young. That's kind of what you do when you're in Sweden. You play a lot of sports. I tried tennis and basketball and handball and every sport that there was, ping pong.

Q. You've had a handful of Top 10s along the way over here.

MATHIAS GRÖNBERG: Not too many. I've got more in Europe.

Q. And there's still obviously a long way to go. What would it mean if this turned out to be a breakthrough week for you in some regard?

MATHIAS GRÖNBERG: You always want to play good. It's a long, long way to go. I don't see a reason why I shouldn't keep on playing good. I kind of found a groove the last few rounds. It always means a lot for you to play well and keep the confidence, especially when you play golf. It's a confidence game and I wouldn't mind getting a couple more good scores in during this week, but also I've got to wait until BellSouth for the next tournament. So try to make the most out of it this week.

Q. Coming in, did you have any expectations on your round today?

MATHIAS GRÖNBERG: I wanted to come I knew that the back nine would be hard to play, or harder, so I really wanted to make a good start, and I got it with the birdie on 1.

Expectations of where to finish in the tournament, no, none whatsoever. Kind of just I wanted to keep on playing good golf the way I did on Friday afternoon. I shot 5 under and I could have probably even shot 6 , 7 , 8 under at Doral. So I wanted to play the same kind of game and I did today.

Q. As you were finishing, how strong, how bad was the wind on 16 and 17 while you were out there?

MATHIAS GRÖNBERG: I would say it's fairly maybe another club or two, and it's unplayable. We're hitting I should have hit a 4 iron from 180 yards and normally that's almost 7. So it's a two and a half club wind out there. And normally if it gets up to four, I think it's unplayable.

Q. 4 iron on 18?

MATHIAS GRÖNBERG: I hit 4 iron from 186 on 18, and I kind of knew that I wouldn't hit it long, so it was perfect for me.

Q. What did you hit on 17?

MATHIAS GRÖNBERG: On 17, I didn't hit a good drive. I hit a 5 iron in. I had 235 to the pin. I carried it 223 or so with a 5 iron. But my driver was very hesitant.

Q. Assuming this wind keeps up and the scores tend to be higher in the afternoon, when was the last time that you were co leader after the first round of a tournament over here?

MATHIAS GRÖNBERG: Here, never, except I held the lead at the B.C. Open, was it last year or two last year at the B.C. Open, a smaller event up in New York. After ten holes or 11, 12 holes, I was still in the lead, but the leaders were about four or five holes behind me playing the same kind of holes, so they caught up. But not here before.

Q. Do you think that will have any impact mentally tonight going to bed if you're in the lead or sharing the lead?

MATHIAS GRÖNBERG: It always has an impact on you, but if you're used to it I've led a lot of tournaments in Europe, or at least it feels like I know how to handle it. You never know until you do it, but I've done it several times over in Europe. I've held the lead and won tournaments or things like that.

But you never know until you've done it. I'm just pleased to play good golf again. That's the key thing. I've only done it two rounds so far, and a couple of other rounds sporadic this year. But hopefully keep it going.

DAVE SENKO: Thank you.

End of FastScripts.

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