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August 18, 2006

Billy Andrade


KELLY ELBIN: Billy Andrade, ladies and gentlemen, in with a 3 under par 69 today, tied for the midway lead in the 88th PGA Championship at 8 under par.

Billy, good start.


KELLY ELBIN: Good finish and nice position.

BILLY ANDRADE: I've got to tell you a funny story. I was walking out to the putting green to go tee off, and Henrik Stenson was coming in to see you guys, and I was like, wow, this kid, he could be my son (laughter). He looked so young.

And then as I was walking to the first tee, some guy said, Hey, Billy, why don't you do it for the old guys (laughter). So I got this whack of, "oh, my gosh, I am getting pretty damn old here." I didn't really think I was. But the "do it for the old guys" I thought was funny as I went to the first tee.

I had a great day. I played with Rich Beem and David Toms. They both played great rounds of golf. You know, you kind of feed off each other and that's what we did today. I got off to a nice start birdieing the first hole. I hit a beautiful shot down the left side and it kicked in the bunker which was unfortunate, but I hit an 8 iron to about 12 feet and made that.

I had a slip up on 2 and made bogey, hit it in the right bunker and hit it over the green almost in the water and got up and down for bogey, and then I came back and birdied the 3rd hole, hit a 9 iron to about five feet. So that got me back on track.

From there it was very solid, very much reminiscent of yesterday's first round, a lot of good shots, and like I said, our whole group kind of fed off each other and it was fun.

Q. What was the length of the putt on 18?

BILLY ANDRADE: 18 was about I'd say 20 feet maybe. David made a nice putt and it was nice to knock it on top of him.

Q. Are you surprised the scores are so low this week, and do you like it like this?

BILLY ANDRADE: You know, to be honest with you, the greens are soft, and when the greens are soft and you get the best players in the world, it's going to yield low scores. And with the greens being soft, a little rain today, the greens aren't that the quote in Rye Island is "wicked fast." They're not wicked fast, so you can take advantage and be aggressive on some putts. It's in absolutely perfect shape. When the golf course is like this, you're going to see scores that are this good.

Sometimes you have like a phenomenal week where a bunch of guys are playing great. I remember the year I beat Sluman in a playoff at the Kemper Open. Everybody played well that week. It was just a record low score. Sometimes you get that when you go to certain tournaments.

You know, there's still two days left. There's still a lot of tucked pins they can put and maybe they can get the greens up a little bit and scare the pants off of all of us.

Q. You seemed to be having a blast out there. What comes first, good play and then fun, or a positive attitude and then good play?

BILLY ANDRADE: Well, I think if you're playing well, it's a lot easier to have a great time. You know, I've played well all year. My first half of the year was dismal as far as getting the ball in the hole. But tee to green, I was very solid. And then since the Barclays I've putted better and results have shown.

I'm 42 years old, I've been doing this for 19 years. It's the PGA Championship. Why not me, why not have fun with this and enjoy it. You know, it's not like guys like me get in this position every single major, and oh, God, it's another Top 10 in a major. You know, this is our biggest there's only four majors, and if you have an opportunity to play well and you're playing well in one of them like this, it means a little more. And I'm just going to have fun.

I think we have a hell of a leaderboard. We've got a lot of great players up there, and I'm looking forward to continuing to have a great time this weekend.

KELLY ELBIN: Billy's best finish in the PGA Championship was 6th in 2001.

Q. Was 14 today an example of having a good time and being in a groove the way you scrambled for a par there?

BILLY ANDRADE: It was unfortunate. If you hit it down the right side of that hole on the fairway, the trees overhang and the second shot is very difficult because you have to cut it and you have to keep it low and you have an upslope. I hit it left and it didn't cut and I was in the rough and didn't have a very good lie. But it was one that you had to try to go for it with a pitching wedge, and I hit the tree and it went left, and I got very lucky to have a shot out. I hit a great shot from there and made a great putt. The last bit went in. That was only my real hiccup as far as getting myself in a lot of trouble, and I escaped.

I've been escaping this game for 19 years. No one would ever question that I was Nick Faldo in his prime as far as fairways and greens. You know, I've been known to hit it all over the lot and somehow score. That was a good indication of how my career has been up to this year where I've started to hit it a little better.

Q. You talked about how well you've been hitting the ball this year. What was your game plan going into the season and how big a year did you consider this for yourself?

BILLY ANDRADE: Well, I've played well the last few years, and going into this year when you've played as long as I've played, 19th starting the year, you've got to have some motivation. In the back of my mind the Ryder Cup is important, and winning again. I haven't won since 2000. I want to get back to Kapalua real bad, and this time I want to go not on vacation, I want to actually play in the tournament (laughter).

Those are the kind of things that I thought about at the beginning of the year. You know, unfortunately I got off to a typical slow start as I have in the past, and it was great to see things turn around in June.

Q. You said you've been putting well. When did you go to the claw, and is there anything in particular that you've been working on with putting or anything in particular, part of your game?

BILLY ANDRADE: My routine in putting was pitiful. I was changing back and forth from the claw to regular, and I was very inconsistent. My routine now seems to be working simpler, and it's flowing better. I think that's the only way you can describe it is that you take your stroke and it flows like Shaquille O'Neal on the free throw line, it doesn't flow. In golf if you don't have that kind of stroke, you're going to suck (laughter).

I think in golf terms, I wasn't flowing, I was trying different things, and that's what happens when you're searching. Finally I just kind of went back to basics. I tried a different putter that Bob Bettinardi made for me. He made me a thousand of them up to that point, but I finally got one I like and it's nice to see the ball going in the hole. It's a demoralizing game if you're hitting it well and you walk away with 72, 73 against the best players in the world because you're going to go home after Friday and that's not a lot of fun, and I was doing that for a while.

Q. You talked about nerves yesterday playing in a major championship. When you get to the weekend I know nobody likes the term, but how much does the choke factor for everybody on the leaderboard contribute to scores tightening up and the event changing personality from the first two days?

BILLY ANDRADE: You don't want to talk about nerves, but it's all about nerves, and that's the difference between winning and losing. It doesn't matter what sport you're playing. In golf if you're nervous over shots and putts, you might get lucky every now and then and hit a couple good ones, but more or less you're going to probably hit a lot of bad ones, and you have to get to that mindset where you don't care and you're not going to get nervous.

I'm too old to get nervous. This is fun. This is what you've got to enjoy doing. I'm looking forward to it, and if I get I know when I get nervous, like anybody else, you screw up. You've got to slow things down and go out and enjoy it, and that's what I'm going to do. That's what our best players do so well. That's what Vijay did at Barclays. He looked like he was playing a leisurely round of golf in a group with me and Adam Scott, and he leisurely won the Barclays tournament, and it was like, wow, how easy did that look. He probably was nervous inside a little bit, but the way he showed himself was it opened my eyes.

Q. Do you think they all do it to a certain extent? Do they all choke to a certain extent?

BILLY ANDRADE: You can call it whatever you want to call it, screw up, choke. You know, whatever you want to say it is, you fail. You know what, the best hitter in baseball bats .300 and he's going to the Hall of Fame. He's failing 7 out of 10 times. When you play golf as long as I have and all the guys out here, you're going to fail quite a bit. You've got to accept failure. That's just part of it.

Q. First of all, you were kidding us yesterday about the start of your week. What would you be doing right now if you didn't get that call on Tuesday?

BILLY ANDRADE: Well, it's Friday, so the kids are out of school for the weekend. We've got probably a cookout at the house tonight. If Furman Bisher was in town he'd come over and I'd have to feed him.

Kids got stuff going on this weekend probably, maybe take my son golfing on the weekend a little bit.

My life is very well planned out by my wife. It's just like this, your scoring thing, it's like the whole week is planned out so you kind of know. It makes life so much easier because as men, as you know, with lists, we're very good (laughter).

Q. I just wanted to follow that because you were kidding around. It's almost like an upset that someone 42 is tied for the lead. But in some ways are you better than you were nine, ten, 15 years ago?

BILLY ANDRADE: I feel like I am. I think my ball striking is much better, and that's why I'm in the position I'm in now. I think my putting has statistically shown you it hasn't been as good, that I was a better putter early in my career. But you go through streaks, and I've always kind of like a streaky putter, and when I get streaks I can be streaky good. I think I'm a better player than I was back to back in '91. I understand my game a little better, I think.

Q. Isn't this course sort of strong and long for a little 145 pounder?

BILLY ANDRADE: I've gained some weight. I'm like 165 now. It doesn't seem to play as long as the yardage. You know, a couple of the long holes are downhill. You know, I'm longer now. I take some things that, as you can see (flexing muscles), that get me really strong. I have not worked with that guy Anderson in California along with Tom Brady. But I just think this golf course plays short, shorter than the yardage.

Q. You've mentioned a couple times you're 42 years old now. Is there anything about yourself or your game that you know now that you didn't know 15 years ago that you think would make it easier for you to close the deal Sunday if you're still in position?

BILLY ANDRADE: I think today that I'm a better I'm better at managing myself and the fact that I have I've understood what a pre shot routine is and I've stuck to my plan with it. I think 15 years ago I would get up and I would waggle ten times and hit it, waggle five times the next time and hit it. Never understood really just getting up and just hitting it.

I think now when you see these great players that you're playing with and you kind of pick their brains and you talk to folks and you find out that maybe it might be a better idea to just waggle a couple times and then let it go then you might be a better player.

I think my pre shot routine with my long game has gotten much better the last few years. I've been working with Dr. Dick Coop the last few years and he's really helped me with that. If you look, you see Tiger when he's on a roll and he's in a zone, everything is methodical, everything is perfect, it's scripted. The same way with Nicklaus when he was in his prime. That's what you have to do. You can't just fly by the seat of your pants and not have a solid routine, and that's what everybody talks about, and for years I really never had one, especially with my long game.

Q. You talked about it being a pretty good leaderboard, and obviously you've positioned yourself pretty well, but kind of talk about your thoughts being one, two, three shots clear of a lot of the big name guys?

BILLY ANDRADE: It's a horse race as we all know. You've got to go four days. You get yourself jockeyed in position, you know if you're leading and those guys are three back, I know for a fact Tiger and Phil aren't worried about me, and I don't think they should be.

I'm just going to go out and play my game, and if they're three back now, after tomorrow I'd like to see them six back. That would be nice. I've got to go out and handle myself the best I can and I can't worry about who's there and who's chasing and all that. I think it's a great leaderboard. I think you've got the best players in the world, and that's what we want. We want to entertain, and we're going to do that this weekend.

KELLY ELBIN: Billy Andrade at 8 under par after two days of the PGA Championship. Thank you.

End of FastScripts.

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