April 21, 2000
GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: We'd like to thank Hal Sutton for coming into the interview room. 8-under, 64, which included 11 birdies. Your lowest round of the year. Let's talk about that round.
HAL SUTTON: All you want to (laughter.) It was a good day. Didn't start out like it. I made bogey the first hole; I missed the green, and then missed a 4-footer. But I got it rolling right on the very next hole there. And it was just a good day, I don't know how to say that, other than that. I did hit a couple of bad drives; I blocked a couple out to the right. But my putter was working.
Q. 11 birdies. Hal, when's the last time you've done that?
HAL SUTTON: It's been a while since I made 11 birdies in one round. I can't remember when. I tell you what I did today, too, that I haven't done -- if I've done it, I don't remember -- I birdied all the par-5s and all the par-3s. And I don't remember having done that. But it's amazing what can happen when that putter is working.
Q. Hal, you've been playing defensive, conservative, one shot at a time. Are you suddenly more aggressive when you see that you've got the opportunity and you feel it there?
HAL SUTTON: I think that's the art to playing golf well. I think you have to know when to hit the accelerator and when to hit the brake. And that's got to change, not from round to round, but from shot to shot. And that's something I've really been working hard on for the last year is being able to identify that prior to the shot, rather than after the shot. I was kind of tired of saying, "I wish I'd been more conservative there," or, "I wish I'd been a little bit more aggressive." So I worked hard on that the last year.
Q. What was different with putting today, Hal? Just felt better, or did you do anything different?
HAL SUTTON: No, I didn't do anything any different. The putter felt great to me yesterday. I didn't really make any long putts yesterday, just made everything I had to make. And the first hole this morning I had a 4-footer, and it hit a spike mark and kept it on the left side. And just like the last hole, the spike mark, and it kept it from breaking both times. I felt real good with the putter, felt like I had speed. When you have speed like that, a lot of times they go in.
Q. Did you feel this round like when you were warming up or something like that, or maybe something happened early in the round to really get you cranked?
HAL SUTTON: I didn't feel it on the practice tee, no. The practice tee has got a lot of sand on it down there, and it's hard to hit the ball solid on the practice tee. If anything, you leave the practice tee feeling a little bit agitated and aggravated with yourself. Once you get on the golf course, if something good happens to you, you move on.
Q. Tomorrow is supposed to be windy, a lot more than today. What are your plans going into tomorrow as far as dealing with the wind?
HAL SUTTON: Just play one shot at a time, try to pick the right club, and play it with confidence. That's all you can do, and accept the result.
Q. Do you have a different mindset, if you have a big lead going in, like tomorrow where you have a different kind of feeling?
HAL SUTTON: Well, I said earlier on TV that I think playing with a big lead is an altogether different challenge. I think to go out there and try to play aggressive, start out that way, and not wait on people to come to you, is the way you've got to try to play. And I just go out and hope I can meet the challenge.
Q. This course obviously suits your game. Could you describe how that's so?
HAL SUTTON: I like the tree-lined golf courses. I think they're framed really nicely. When you look out there, it's like looking at a picture. You know right where you want to hit the ball. I really like that kind of golf. And this course is really framed well.
Q. You mentioned yesterday when you get out to a good lead that it's no time to letup, and evidently you've got that commanding position.
HAL SUTTON: Well, I mean these guys are awful good out here, and everybody is hungry and wants to win the golf tournament. If you lose sight of what you're trying to do out there and start resting on your laurels, somebody will pass you up. So I think the key for me this weekend will be to go out and try to keep making some birdies. I've had two real good days. Even though I made three bogeys today, I've limited the bogeys. And you're going to make some bogeys on this golf course. You're going to hit a few in the rough and get there and not have a good lie, or miss a green and have a ball setting down in this heavy rough around the greens, and you're not going to be able to get it up-and-down. That's to be expected. But it's how you bounce back after those.
Q. What kind of read did you get on Brian's putt on 8, same line?
HAL SUTTON: I got a pretty good read on it. I knew it was going to go to the right. His ball was going a lot faster than mine was, so that's kind of hard to tell when it's going too hard.
Q. Would you describe the bogeys you had? You talked about the first hole, but the other two?
HAL SUTTON: 18, I drove in the right rough and hit a real good second shot, landed in the middle of the green; but it went over the green, and I had kind of -- the ball setting down in the short fringe. It looked pretty simple, but it really wasn't. It was kind of sitting down in a little hole. And I got the club under it nicely, but I hit it too hard; and it went about 12 feet by, and I missed it coming back. And No. 6, right out of the middle of the fairway, I misjudged the wind on that and came out of the shot and buried it in the bunker on the right, and I had no chance of getting it up-and-down. That's one of those places where you hit the brakes, and you say, "I'm going to accept my bogey," and move on to the next hole.
Q. Didn't you chip in on one hole?
HAL SUTTON: I putted it in from off the edge of the green. We'll start on -- you want to start on 10? I told you about the bogey on 10. 11, I hit an 8-iron in there from 145 about three feet. 12, I hit 6-iron about 20 feet to the right of the hole and made that. 13, I hit it over the green in two; hit a great chip to keep it within about 8 feet of the hole and made that. 15, I went for the green in two, and just barely missed it off the left-hand side, and chipped it about three feet and made that. 17, I hit 4-iron about ten feet and made that. 2, I hit the green in two, about 30 feet and 2-putted. 3, I hit 6-iron, about three feet off the left-hand side of the green, probably about no more than 13 or 14 feet from the hole and made that. And 4 -- no, wait a minute. I'm wrong. I hit a 5-iron on 3, about 35 feet behind the hole and made that. I jumped ahead of myself. One of those putts that literally you just are lagging. It was behind the hole, and I just lagged it down there, and it was just right on in. 4, is where I hit the 6-iron off the edge of the green there and made that. And then 5, hit a 9-iron, I was right in between clubs. The pin was on the back right. And hit a 9-iron and came up short about 50 feet. And literally was just trying to get it close. It went across the top of the hill with perfect speed and went in the hole. I was very shocked, myself (laughter.) Then 8, I hit a 5-iron about 15, 16 feet behind the hole and made that. 9, I hit a driver on the green about 10 feet from the hole and 2-putted.
Q. A little disappointed it didn't drop on that last hole?
HAL SUTTON: I had one spike mark on my line.
Q. Had it hit a bump?
HAL SUTTON: It hit the spike mark and got airborne. And if it stayed on the ground, I think it would have broken to the hole. But that's just golf. You just walk on. When it's bad, you're always griping about those spike marks. But there's times it will hit a spike mark and go in the hole, too.
Q. When you beat Tiger at THE PLAYERS Championship, obviously there were a lot of headlines about what you said about not being afraid of him, all that kind of stuff. After doing that and you got a 5-shot lead here, you look at the leaderboard and you have Barry Cheesman, is it hard to say, "These guys can't beat me," or do you have respect that any of those leaders on the board can come back and jump on you a little bit?
HAL SUTTON: I have a great deal of respect for the game itself and all the guys that play the game. There's many, many, many capable players on this Tour. And in no way would I ever, ever allow myself to have that feeling that I don't think I can be beat. Because that is possible, by many folks. A lot of people can beat me. We all aspire to have the lead. That's what we want. That's what we come here for. I just hope I'll be up for the challenge this weekend.
Q. Wind conditions, tough today?
HAL SUTTON: A little bit. When you're in the trees like this and there's some wind moving around, sometimes it's a little hard to figure. When they tuck the pins over bunkers and things like that, you can make some mistakes.
Q. You evidently adjusted well.
HAL SUTTON: Most of the time. There was a couple of times I didn't adjust very well.
Q. How do you think Jesper played? Obviously he shot well yesterday. Obviously he's the guy that you can look at to come up from the hunt.
HAL SUTTON: I thought Jesper played okay. But he's not as happy with his game. I can tell with the way he asked me yesterday a couple of times if I saw anything in his swing after we finished. And when a guy does that, you know he's looking for something, I know. That doesn't mean anything, though. It's right there. It's like tweaking it just a little bit, and all of a sudden he shoots 64.
Q. Do the guys look at you kind of differently, after beating Tiger? Do you sense there's more respect from you from other players at all?
HAL SUTTON: Well, I don't know. It hadn't been that long ago, so I hadn't paid that much attention. That's hard to say. I'm not real sure. I'm still the same guy.
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