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April 22, 2006

Mathias Gronberg


TODD BUDNICK: We welcome Mathias Gronberg at 12 under 204 through three rounds and right now three strokes behind the leader. Mathias, let's talk about today, bogey free up until the 17th hole.

MATHIAS GRONBERG: Yeah, on 17 I drove it a little bit too much left and then I just thought I would get a little bit of a jumper from the rough and tried to not really hit it too hard with a 7 iron, and I needed to carry it about 171 yards just short of the ridge, and I completely missed it didn't come out at all, definitely not a jumper at least.

TODD BUDNICK: Talk about your position heading into the weekend looking for your first PGA TOUR victory still.

MATHIAS GRONBERG: Yeah, I'm obviously very pleased with the way I played today. I had a very slow round going, parred the first seven holes and didn't make a few opportunities where I could have birdied, I didn't do that. Then I hit a great bunker shot on 8 that got my round going. I hit a bad second shot in and left myself a tough bunker shot, and I hit it out to maybe three, four feet, and that really got the round going today.

Q. When you're making those pars early on, you see where Stuart is, do you feel like you're pushing a little or have to push a little, or is it too early for that?

MATHIAS GRONBERG: It's so funny, I never saw the top of the leaderboard. I looked a little bit, I didn't look too much, but I never saw his score for the whole 18 holes.

I kept on seeing the second group and the third group and the fourth group, and I never saw the first group. So I knew that I was kind of losing maybe one or two or three shots on most of the players in the beginning, but there's nothing you can do. I really tried to play my best and I tried to play aggressive, and I wasn't really pulling off the shots the way I wanted or making the putts.

Then things were definitely going my way on 9 and 10, making two very long putts, and that kind of got the round going really good.

Q. Will this be the first time you've been in the final group?

MATHIAS GRONBERG: Final group on the PGA TOUR, yes, for sure. I think, or maybe Honda. No, Honda I was falling apart.

Q. Is that like just another step for you? Is it something that you're going to be thinking about a little bit?

MATHIAS GRONBERG: This is actually my 13th season as a touring pro on a major tour, the European Tour and the PGA TOUR. So I've been in many last groups, and I've won four events over in Europe, so it's pretty much the same. It's a little bit bigger over here, but it's pretty much the same. It's the same kind of players you've got to beat, but it would be fantastic to come out and play great tomorrow.

I've got to play the golf course first.

Q. I'm just wondering if it was different over here, the first time over here.

MATHIAS GRONBERG: No. It's a little bit bigger. Everything is a little bit bigger, like most things over here, but it's the same adrenaline in your body and the same kind of things when you're playing. You've got to make the birdies to stay in contact with the leaders.

Q. How important is it to make a couple birdies early tomorrow to kind of grab his attention? Is that crucial, or can you wait and make a move on the back nine do you think?

MATHIAS GRONBERG: Depends on what he's doing. I'm just trying to play the golf course and play myself, to be kind of everybody says that you're supposed to do that, but I've been good at doing it this week, and I want to stick to that tomorrow, no matter what I'm doing tomorrow in the beginning. If I start with seven pars again, I know I can shoot 5 under from there, so that's a good confidence booster for me, even if I get a slow start tomorrow. I can shoot a low number tomorrow.

I would love to have a little better start, maybe 2 or 3 under after 5, but I don't really need to.

Q. So the last thing you want to do is get wrapped up in what he's doing?

MATHIAS GRONBERG: I'm probably not going to look too much at all what he's doing. I'm going to admire good shots, and if he's hitting good putts and good shots, then that's about it. But I'm not going to be too worried about him. I've got to worry about myself and handling myself under the pressure good and playing the golf course. It's toughening up, the golf course. It's getting hard to play.

Q. Do you want us to time the leaderboards so they show the second group tomorrow because that's an extra five bucks if you do?

MATHIAS GRONBERG: No, I feel very comfortable looking at the leaderboard and seeing where I stand because I've done it before. My first victory in Europe, in Cran sur Sierre, the Swiss European Masters in '95, I got the advice from someone, one of the older pros, to not really look at the leaderboard, and that was great then. But it's really nice to kind of look at the leaderboard and see how you want to play the golf course.

Here you can play it a little bit different the last few holes if you know where you stand.

Q. What's your strongest memory of that first win besides the mountains?

MATHIAS GRONBERG: Probably the enormous happiness of winning a tournament. It was very important for me to get my career going to win a tournament, and I was standing at the prize ceremony and kind of shaking the big champagne bottle. That was very, very nice.

Then of course the advice that I got from two older from one of the older players, Mats Lander, he gave me a very good couple of advices to play in the leader group, and that was nice.

Q. Did any of that champagne get drunk or was it just sprayed?

MATHIAS GRONBERG: It was sprayed.

Q. Between being medalist at the qualifying school and now, was there an adjustment period before coming to the realization that it's just golf, that golf a golf tournament there is the same as a golf tournament here?

MATHIAS GRONBERG: Yeah, maybe. The biggest change was to play brand new golf courses. I didn't feel comfortable on the golf courses. I normally just flew in Tuesday morning, played nine holes and then played 18 hole Pro Am. Over here I don't play the Pro Am Wednesday, so it's kind of a disadvantage. I have to go up very early and play nine holes before the Pro Am most of the times, and just getting to know the golf courses. That was a big change.

Then at the same time I started playing bad golf, and that's like disaster. I kept on hitting the ball to the wrong spot where you can't get the ball up and down, and over in Europe most of the time, even if you're playing bad, I could get myself up and down because I kind of knew exactly where I couldn't miss the ball. And over here I kept on making the mistakes.

The first year, last year I played a lot better but I didn't have full status, and then this year I feel a lot more comfortable on a lot of the golf courses. It was hard to putt over on the West Coast, but except for that, now it's getting better and better.

Q. Was it an easy decision or a hard one to decide to play on this Tour, and what swayed you on that decision?

MATHIAS GRONBERG: I tried for a long time. I made it on my seventh or eighth try. I always wanted to play over here, even before I met my wife Tara. Tara is an American and we have two children, Van and Eva, and I sort of have had my base in New Jersey or Florida and Monte Carlo, where I lived from '95. But it was always in my mind, maybe more so when Van was born in 2002. I was more pushing myself to get over here quicker. Before I kind of played very good in the final events like the Volvo Masters, the final event, and then flew over here second stage and I missed the second stage.

When Van was born in 2002, I kind of rededicated myself to really get on the PGA TOUR and made it in 2003.

Q. So how much daydreaming will you allow yourself to do tonight and just kind of thinking about what it could all mean?

MATHIAS GRONBERG: Meaning for winning a tournament?

Q. Having the chance to win?

TODD BUDNICK: Exemptions and such.

THE WITNESS: My life wouldn't change too much. I have a very good life with pretty much everything I want in life, so my life wouldn't change too much. I'm just kind of playing golf.

It would mean a lot to kind of prove to yourself that you can win on the PGA TOUR, of course, but more so maybe getting myself in gear for next year so I have my card back. I don't want to go back to Q school. I'm starting to play very good golf and putting myself in good positions in tournaments, so hopefully I don't have to worry about that soon.

Q. Who's got the best golf course tax situation, Florida, Monte Carlo or New Jersey?

MATHIAS GRONBERG: Income tax? Probably Monte Carlo.

Q. It's definitely not New Jersey.

MATHIAS GRONBERG: No, New Jersey is a little bit higher (laughter). But I'm actually a Florida resident. It's a little bit hard to be based in Monte Carlo if you play on the PGA TOUR. But I did quite a bit of flying out of New York and Florida to Europe before, so I'm very happy that my travel is not too hard over here.

TODD BUDNICK: Before we go through the card, Mathias, three birdies over 28 feet today it looked like from the computer.


TODD BUDNICK: Just make a comment on that first before we run through those.

MATHIAS GRONBERG: I made up and down on 8. It was kind of a on 8, my second shot was a little bit downhill and I kind of forgot to look what my line was, so I pulled the second shot with a 3 wood into the bunker, and I was just aiming for the middle of the green but pulled it.

Then I hit a good bunker shot up it was a long bunker shot, but I hit it up to about three or four feet and made the putt.

The next hole, I hit maybe the wrong club. I hit a 6 iron but it was quite a bit short and right, middle of the green, kind of safe, and I don't know how long the putt was, but it must have been over 60 feet or something.

TODD BUDNICK: They had it at 48.

MATHIAS GRONBERG: 48. Well, it felt like 60 (laughter).

So I made that putt, and it was a little bit right to left. It was really nice to have the momentum going. I kind of wanted to get the momentum going in my favor and kind of get the round going a little bit. I knew that 1 under wouldn't make the round good, so I needed a little bit more birdies, and suddenly on 10 I drove my 3 wood into the right hand side of the in the rough. I hit a good club, but it came up quite short, and I was short of the ridge and it was up and a little bit left to right, and I hit that putt in, as well. It's like, okay, the round is really going.

I hit just a rescue club out on the tee on 12 and hit a pitching wedge in. It was probably 112 yards into the wind a little bit, so we figured it was going to play 116, 117, and I hit it up to about four or five feet and made the putt. It was a good putt to make because that putt could have changed my momentum a little bit in the round. If I would have missed it I didn't hit a great putt, but it kind of fell in and it was nice momentum going.

13, I hit I didn't hit a great drive. I hit a very good second shot with a 3 wood up to just short of the green, and I was maybe four feet or three feet off the green and I opted to putt, and I left it probably eight feet short, a little bit left. But I had a great straight uphill putt a little bit into the grain, and I hit a great putt and then it fell in.

Everything was going my way there. The only thing was I made a great up and down on the next hole, 14. I thought I was going to carry the bunker, but it fell short into the bunker, and I hit it up to probably 12 feet or so, but I made that putt, and that really kept the round going a little bit. I probably should have made birdie on the next hole, 15, the par 5. I drove second shot was in the green side bunker, and I hit a bunker shot a little bit too far and two putted.

18, I was really focusing on hitting a good drive. I knew that the hole would be playing very hard into the wind, and I hit a great drive. I just hit a 7 iron in. Some of the pins are so tucked in that you don't really want to attack them, and that was one of the pins I just tried to hit a straight shot at the pin, a little bit left maybe, and a little bit too much left for my liking, for a good shot, and then made a for some reason, I saw the line very good and I had a good line to hit the ball on and managed to roll it in.

Q. When you're making bombs like you made today, do you start to think maybe start to get the thoughts that maybe this is my week, or do you start thinking, boy, I'm making so many putts, where would I be if the putts weren't falling? How does your mind work?

MATHIAS GRONBERG: I'm just very thankful that the ball drops in the hole, and that's about it. You try and hit them in, and when they don't, they don't, but it's nice to make long putts because that kind of takes off pressure on your long game, and that's what happened today. If I don't make them, I shoot maybe 1 or 2 under instead, so it was nice to make the long putts.

Basically you've got to make some long putts to play on the PGA TOUR. You can't just make short putts.

Q. The putt on 10 looked a little dangerous over the ridge. Was it as dangerous as it looked with the big break, and were you realistically trying to make that one?

MATHIAS GRONBERG: That's a point. You're supposed to think you're supposed to try and make every putt on every green. I was probably trying to make it, but at the same time it wasn't a hard putt to two putt. It wasn't like I was standing over it and thinking, "Oh, this is going to be hard to two putt," like on 13, the par 5, where I was off the green and I had 108 feet to the pin. That's where you're thinking, "Okay, this is going to be a hard putt to just two putt."

I was standing over it, quite confident on the green on 10, and I was really just trying to keep the momentum going my way, with making such a long putt on 9, I thought, "Hey, if I made it on 9 I could make it again on 10."

I'm just trying to I said yesterday, with the books that I've been reading lately, I'm just trying to be in a good positive mental shape kind of and thinking the right way. It's hard to do that, but it's easier when you play good golf shots and make some putts, too.

TODD BUDNICK: Good luck this weekend.

End of FastScripts.

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