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October 8, 2005

John Daly


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: John Daly, thanks for joining us. You fought back after being 3 over par after three holes and ended up with a 67 today. A one shot lead heading into the final round of the American Express Championships. Start with some opening comments on another good day for you.

JOHN DALY: Yeah, it was a rough start. Really the only bad shot I hit was the drive on 1, made bogey. Then hit a great putt on 2. And then 3, sitting there watching Fred Funk and Calc and everybody hitting 5 and 6 irons coming up short, and I saw Colin rip a 6 iron on 3, and he hit it about six feet behind the hole and I hit a normal 7 iron and it flew to the back of the green. We didn't know if the wind switched down instead of being straight out of the right. I wasn't too upset because it was a good shot and made double.

The birdie on 4 helped a lot, had 92 yards to the hole and hit a good third shot in there and made the putt and got my momentum going again.

Q. You mentioned the birdie on 4. It looked like you were way right off the tee. Were you near a scoreboard or can you describe that second shot, the trouble that you were in?

JOHN DALY: Yeah, I had to take a drop. I could go either way because it was right in the middle of the scoreboard so I could get relief either way. The second shot either way where I dropped it wasn't going to be an easy shot, so we and Peter took a 5 iron and hit it down there as far as we could. I was very fortunate to get a good lie on my third.

Q. Since I believe Korea and that Callaway tournament about two years ago, you have played well. You won in San Diego, you nearly won was that sort of the turning point where everything came back after you won in Korea and then came down here to the Callaway and won?

JOHN DALY: I actually think 2001 when I won the BMW. I didn't have a great year in '02, but the win at BMW made me realize, hey, I can still win, because it had been so long.

Then Korea was a great win for me because it wasn't all that great of a year going into there. To win the Callaway was a pretty good field. I just build confidence on it like Tiger does when he wins ten tournaments a year. He's confident, confident, even when he's not playing good. I've been one that's lost a lot of confidence. This year, if I had been putting decent, I think I would have had a really great year. I've hit the ball better than I have in my life, and I haven't putted the way I know I can putt.

Q. Do you find that confidence comes from playing well or playing well comes from confidence?

JOHN DALY: I think you play well, get confidence, and you feed off of it. Like today was not a great start, and I feel confident in my ball striking, which kept me in it. My putting didn't, my ball striking did. You feed off of that. And if the putter ever gets going, it could be a lot more fun.

Q. Colin talked about how noisy it was and now supportive the crowd was for you in particular. How much of a help is that?

JOHN DALY: Well, it's a great help. You know, the crowd was very supportive for Colin today. There were a lot of people rooting for Colin. The fans here are great. They root for everybody. They want to see good shots, and they will let you know when you hit a bad one, that's for sure. That's what's great about this game, especially this city, it's so hungry for golf. I didn't really see it that much I saw a little bit of it at Olympic Club in the Open, but this has been unbelievable how many people are out here for this tournament. They just want to see good shots. It's great to feed off the crowd. Even when things are going bad they pick me up; and when it's going good, they really get crazy and I love it.

Q. Seems like 16, 17 and 18, there's some difference, 16 being a short par 4, the tricky wind and 18. I don't know how that characterizes the finish and the momentum there and how you strategized those holes.

JOHN DALY: Well, like today, I really felt like maybe I should hit an iron off the tee, but you're hitting 6 on and you're not going to hold your second shot. It's either going to spin back off the green like Davis did today. I've had four perfect drives all week through the practice rounds, and it's a hole that I feel good hitting driver on. Tomorrow I'll probably the pin is going to be just about five over to the right unless it's downwind.

17 has got to be one of the hardest shortest par 3s I've ever seen. It's difficult all three rounds to get the right club in your hand. I Guinea pigged today and I wasn't too happy. I was happy to make birdie on 16, but obviously I hit a soft 6 iron and it went right through the wind just on the back fringe.

18 is just totally out of character from the first 17 holes. It's just totally different. It's great for me if there's no wind or downwind and I can fly over the trees, but it is a very, very different hole compared to 17.

Q. The wind on 17 is just impossible to read up at the green?

JOHN DALY: You know what it's doing, it's just very difficult to the trajectory of the ball hitting into the hole. If you hit it too high, it's not getting there; if you hit it too low, it's going over. You have to hit a perfect golf shot. I saw what Tiger did. I'm guessing he killed a 7 iron and birdied 17. We thought about that, but I didn't think it would get there.

Q. You did have wind today on 18. How did you play it?

JOHN DALY: I just didn't really hit that great of a drive and I thought it would still be in the fairway. Yesterday I killed a drive and it was still in the fairway. But today I was left of where I hit it today I was left of where I hit it yesterday and thought it would be right in the middle and it went through, so it was pretty downwind, blowing pretty hard.

Q. What's it like to play with Colin? And do you and he chat during a round?

JOHN DALY: Like he said, we really didn't today. I mean, it was the first few holes we did, but it was just, like I said, he said, we were getting a little serious and trying to play the best we can. Every shot we were waiting and waiting today. We really didn't talk all that much, but yeah, we really just didn't talk that much.

Q. Public courses, BC Open and St. Andrews, do you enjoy this sort of improvisational style of play as opposed to kind of more regimented golf? Do you find that at Harding, that it gives you freedom to hit a lot of different kind of shots?

JOHN DALY: Yeah, Torrey Pines is the same way. What's great about this golf course is you can hit draws and fades off the tee. There's no one shot that you have to hit off every tee. And that's what's great about old traditional golf courses like this, you get to hit your driver a lot, which you don't get to hit your driver in a lot of tournaments we play in. I'm hitting driver on 80 percent of holes we play here. For me to play well like at Torrey Pines, I get that opportunity to hit driver, and you get a rhythm. It's tough to go out and play a golf course where I can only hit driver twice in a round. One, it's no fun; and two, it's hard to get a good rhythm.

Q. You talked yesterday about how neat it was to be in contention again. What about sleeping on the lead on Saturday night? How different is that and what's that like?

JOHN DALY: Well, I probably won't because neither one of my boys are sleeping at night. No, I'll just go out and just come out tomorrow and hopefully just stay positive with the way I'm hitting the ball. I've just got to get a few more putts to go in.

Q. Everybody has been incredibly enthusiastic, you, Tiger, Sergio, Colin, about this golf course and the city. Did you guys have any idea of what you were getting into? Did anybody play this before? Did anybody talk about it and say, hey, it's good, or was this completely blind walking in?

JOHN DALY: This is a hidden secret. We were at Olympic Club at the Open and I had never heard of Harding Park, I really hadn't until I got here. It's just amazing. What I was telling some other guys, you know, there's so many great public golf courses that we need to find. The older, the better, because they just seem to be more friendly towards driving and anyway you want to play a shot. Torrey Pines is well noted one of the greatest golf courses in the world and it's public. St. Andrews. I mean, I think every player that's playing in this field this week loves this golf course.

Q. What would you say if they told you this course was a parking lot for the 1998 U.S. Open, which it was? They used it to park cars?

JOHN DALY: Well, they need to park cars at Olympic Club and play here (laughter).

Q. Given your start today, did you think there was anyway that you would be sitting where you are right now on the leaderboard?

JOHN DALY: No, I didn't. You know, but I wasn't that upset. I was a little frustrated because I was 3 over. But like I said, I really didn't miss a shot except the drive on 1. That's just an unfortunate bad break on 3. It was a good shot, just carried it too far. But like I said, birdieing 4 helped a lot, got me back in it a little bit.

Q. Do you think what happened today kind of shows your maturity in golf now? I mean, there would have been times when maybe had those first three holes happened it might have gone the wrong direction so quickly?

JOHN DALY: Yeah, it would have, but the World Ranking points are so important to me, and I'd like to break that top 20. If I happen to go out and play really well tomorrow I've never been in the top 20 in the World Rankings. It's very difficult to get in there. I mean, that helps. When you've got something else pushing me in the World Rankings, that's what gets us in these tournaments. That's been the backbone of the last four or five years of my career. There's more to play for now, not the money, just getting into these world events and all the majors and to give yourself an opportunity to play in the greatest tournaments we ever play in. The World Rankings are very important to me, so that keeps me going.

Q. You said you hit driver 80 percent of the time today. I'm sure the crowd was disappointed that other 20 percent.

JOHN DALY: Those were the par 3s.

Q. What's it like to scale back when the crowd wants you to overpower everything?

JOHN DALY: It's not too hard anymore. I used to hit it when I really shouldn't have. Now I feel like it's to my advantage to hit driver and I'm going to do it. If I'm not hitting it good, I won't hit it. That's the biggest change.

Q. Are you having fun?

JOHN DALY: Yeah, it's a lot of fun, but it's very stressful. I mean, it's great to be in this position, but it's not the easiest thing to do. I don't know how Tiger does it every week, and Vijay, but it would be a nice thing to be in this position a lot, and on a great golf course and at a great event, I am nervous, yeah, which is good. It's good to have the butterflies. If you don't, you shouldn't be out here.

Q. What did you hit on 10?

JOHN DALY: I hit 8 iron on 10.

Q. What did that eagle do for you? You're at 5 with a million others, and with one eagle you're in different money a little bit.

JOHN DALY: Yeah, it put me right back in the tournament, it really did. And Colin missed about a six footer for birdie, so it just put me right back in the golf tournament.

Q. Probably obvious, but what's so fun about hitting driver?

JOHN DALY: It's a lot of fun when it goes a long way and it goes straight, man. When it goes crooked and all over the place, it's not a lot of fun. But it's to an advantage this week. I think Tiger would probably say that, too.

Q. I don't think he had as much fun, though, as you did.

JOHN DALY: He didn't hit his driver good today? He's 7 under, he's doing something right.

Like I say, you get a golf course like this, you can hit driver on it and it's an advantage for the long hitters if they're hitting it straight, and so far it's been paying off this week.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: John Daly, thank you.

End of FastScripts.

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