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January 1, 2007

Joe Durant


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Joe Durant, thanks for joining us here. Got back in the winner's circle last year at the Funai Classic and enjoyed a great fall and played well at THE TOUR Championship. So I'm sure you're hoping to start the season at the Mercedes-Benz Championships like you finished last year.
JOE DURANT: I hope so. Golly it was a great finish for me and for my family. Halfway through the year, I wanted the year to be over and by the end of the year, I didn't want it to stop. It was a strange year for me. I was very thankful to finish the way I did, and I'm very excited about what's going to take place this year.

Q. That's it?
JOE DURANT: That's it. Thanks. (Laughing)

Q. I could not help notice as I was speaking with Bob, and the ball he was marking for you, it had a different logo than I'm used to seeing. Any other changes? Can you talk about that first of all and any other changes?
JOE DURANT: I have all new Cleveland equipment. I changed to the new HiBORE(tm) driver, we're excited about that. I switched from old technology irons to the CG4(tm) Tour irons, and so far I've been very pleased with what I've done. Switched ball companies, went to Callaway from Titleist, and at the end of the year, Titleist changed their ball a little bit and I was struggling a little bit. I felt maybe it was time to make a switch, so I'm very excited about my relationship coming up with Callaway. I've been very pleased with what I've seen so far with the golf ball.

Q. Is that HQ Tour?
JOE DURANT: 56 HQ Tour. That's what I'm going to start the year with. Golf ball, shoe, glove, Callaway.

Q. The irons?
JOE DURANT: CG4(tm) Tour.

Q. How are they different than what you have?
JOE DURANT: They are probably a touch smaller than my old TA7 irons. But they feel great. They have a nice, soft feel to them. Very easy to lineup and they are easy to work. Not that I work the ball a lot, but I feel like I can hit a lot of different shots with them.
So it's been an easy transition with those. I struggled last year trying to make a transition to irons and the guys at Cleveland were noise enough to give me the year to really work on it. This year I knew I needed to make a switch and here I am. I'm very happy with what I've got in my bag.

Q. How long did you have those TA7s?
JOE DURANT: Since basically that version of golf club since '98 pretty much. They made some changes cosmetically but it's kind of the same look.

Q. I would think it would be hard to switch in that it's given you, some people say you hit the ball pretty good -- I don't, but some people do.
JOE DURANT: But you're tough, though. (Laughing).

Q. You're one of the great ball-strikers, that must be hard to play with something for, what are we saying here, eight, nine years?
JOE DURANT: A long time but it was time. It was time to make a switch. That's why it took me that long of a time to find something that I really wanted to play with. With where the purses are now and just the chances we have week after week, you don't want to go out with equipment you're not comfortable with, so it took me that length of time to find something I could play with.

Q. Just made an interesting comment without knowing it, you said with all of the money that's out here now, and Will MacKenzie was in here earlier and he was talking to trying to move up in Top-70s and earnings and so forth. But this year is more about points than earnings. Can you talk about that a little bit?
JOE DURANT: Yeah, that's a good point. That's something we are all going to have to get used to talking about a little more is the fact that it's a year-long race and we are all going to try to accumulate points. There's going to be some weeks where you're probably not playing as well as you would hope, but you're still going to be grinding because you know at the end of the year it could make a huge difference.
You know, we've kind of had that mind-set with the Money List, too. We've seen years where guys miss the Top-30 by less than a hundred dollars or Top 125 by a small margin. So we are taking that to another level with the points race, too. It interjects a neat dynamic into the TOUR, so they are going to have all this going on and raise interest.

Q. But still, you're out here making a living, too. So it's kind of hard to just say it's all about the points because at the end of the day, you can't spend points.
JOE DURANT: Yeah, you know, we know that.

Q. That's your Marriott points.
JOE DURANT: The Money List is always going to be involved, obviously. But once again, it creates a neat twist to it I think.

Q. As a policy board member, you were probably more along with every step of what they were talking about and so forth. I'm wondering, now that it's done and we're getting started, your perspective from both a policy board member and now a player going out and trying to play to this system?
JOE DURANT: Yeah, well, you know, it's new territory for every one of us. Being more involved in the process, I maybe have a little bit more knowledge than the average TOUR player, but nonetheless, we are all going to have 20 figure it out as we go along this first year to see how things play out.
But I think it will be exciting. Especially once we get toward the middle of the year and getting toward the middle of the majors, closing the end of year around the PGA, it will be very interesting.

Q. Until then, it's business as usual, isn't it?
JOE DURANT: I think initially, yes. The early events, unless someone goes out and wins five or six in a row. Until we get two or three months into the season to see how things are going to play out, it kind of remains to be seen a little bit.

Q. You've been on the board for --
JOE DURANT: This is my last year.

Q. When Tim announced this in Atlanta a year ago, I mean, '05, and unveiled the FedExCup, they referred to the last section, the Boston/Chicago/New York, as the Championship Series. Why did they go to Playoffs? I mean, "Playoffs" gives you an idea of ten, 15 teams; Championship Series seems like a showcase, which is what this is. Do you think Playoffs has caused any confusion?
JOE DURANT: I think maybe a little bit. I think it morphed from "Championship Series" into Playoffs. I think once we started getting to the nitty-gritty of how it was going to go about having these events, it kind of became a playoff mentality, you know, and then we had discussions at the end of the year about, do we play 144 throughout the first three events and they cut to 30, or do we taper it down?
That was a very difficult thing we decided to do at the end of the year because I felt like we were getting conflicting ideas from different sectors of the Tour. Some of the membership wanted it to be 144. Other guys felt like to make it a true -- once it had been kind of called playoff, to cut the fields. I think a good number of the tournament directors wanted the fields to taper down, and I think FedEx probably wanted it to taper down, too. I think it had the element of a playoff where guys were eliminated, just like if football or baseball, teams are eliminated.

Q. Can't suit up.

Q. Because they were eliminated mathematically.
JOE DURANT: And my thinking was, I was kind of trying to look at this from a different perspective. Say you were No. 144, and they left it the original way where everybody played three events. If you're No. 145, I mean, you are at such a disadvantage to those guys that were just a little bit ahead of you on the Money List, I felt like in equity, that if a guy went in at No. 144 and played well and got in the next week, more power to him. But I didn't necessarily believe that No. 144 deserved a three-tournament jump on No. 145, because we are not taking alternates.
So I kind of look at it from that standpoint that I felt like in all fairness, if a guy got in by the skin of his teeth and he played well and he advanced, great. But if he got in the first week and didn't play well, you know, that's just where the chips fall.

Q. That pretty much just, you know, if he's 144 and doesn't play well, he's pretty much played to the level he played two months of the year anyway and he should be --
JOE DURANT: But if he can step up in that first event and play well and get himself under the 120 number, then, hey, he deserves to be in the next week, like a wild-card team.

Q. Well, that gives another element to not only is there a winner, but there are these guys that might be at the end of that tournament, at the Barclays, just kind of -- are they in or are they out; Ocean's 11.
JOE DURANT: If they earned it they're in.

Q. You played so well at the end of the year, if the year was to repeat itself, sort of, it you had the finish you did and won the FedExCup, would you have felt you accomplished more than Ogilvy, Furyk, and Tiger? That's what I'm trying to get my hands around. Is it a season-long accomplishment or is it a very good year with a banner finish?
JOE DURANT: I would better be able to answer that question after one year of playing it. I think to win the FedExCup, you're going to have to do more than I did in the fall. I think you're going to have to win major championships.
It's going to be the culmination of a tremendous year personally. I don't know how the points will play out, but I just believe that if you win more than one major or a major or like the players or the premiere World Golf Championships events, then you are going to set yourself up to win the FedExCup. I think it's going to be the culmination of a great year, not just a steady year.
Now, I could be totally wrong. I have not seen any of the numbers run post-last year to see how things would have played out. I think that would have been interesting to look at. I'm sure you guys have probably done that.

Q. You had a pretty good fall, so what you're saying is that by itself really won't move the needle all that much. You have to bring it now.
JOE DURANT: I mean, ask me again so I can kind of think about what I'm -- I had a good fall, obviously.

Q. But you didn't really do much before that.
JOE DURANT: No, I played horrible, basically.

Q. So nobody can really do what you did to win the FedExCup?
JOE DURANT: I don't think so. I think I would have been way too far behind to have a chance.
I mean, actually the way it played out with the schedule being so much earlier as far as the way the Cup plays out, I don't know if I would have been in the Top-70 to make the next to last event. So I probably would have had no chance.
So obviously it's going to reward consistency early on but you have to play at a very high level of consistency.

Q. You're going to think I'm nuts for asking this stuff again, and I'll ask you for the reader's digest version, but you went to Edwin Watts, I know you've told this story a million times, after how many years of pro golf, or Tour golf, excuse me.
JOE DURANT: I had not even been on TOUR yet. I had been on the Hogan Tour for a couple years.

Q. Was that Edwin Watts or insurance or bother?
JOE DURANT: Both. I started in the insurance business but I was miserable after doing that.

Q. How many years?

Q. Five years, insurance, Edwin Watts?
JOE DURANT: And I decided to play again.

Q. What was the progression from Edwin Watts?
JOE DURANT: Actually Edwin helped me get an exception into the Pensacola Nike event that year, and I played a Top-25, and I had not played any golf. So I was amazed that I played well enough to do that. And I got into the next week and I said, you know what, I've got to give this another shot.

Q. Went back to Q-School?
JOE DURANT: Made it, got my card the first year.

Q. I was going to say, did you ever think of quitting, but you did.
JOE DURANT: I did quit and at the time I thought I was done for good.

Q. I think what I'm getting at, I see names in small Carolina tour events that I've recognized, guys who have Top-10'ed it out here one week or had a great week. Is it hard to quit this game? Did you find it that way?
JOE DURANT: Yeah, I think it's very difficult. I think it's easy to quit for a short period of time. But I think it's in your blood, unless you are just so miserable. I think it always stays with you a little bit.
And you know, I have friends of mine, I played in college with and junior golf, great players. I don't know, I just felt like personally that if I gave it up, I was giving up on myself more than anything. I felt like I had the talent to be out here. Maybe I didn't give myself the benefit of the doubt that I did, and I was too hard on myself at an early age.
Once when I came back out on the mini-tours after I quit, I promised my wife I would not beat myself up anymore. I was going to go out and do the best I could every day and I would not bring it home with me. And 90 percent of me has kept that promise. There's a few times when I haven't.

Q. I was trying to get my hands around the idea that there are guys that maybe in the Nicklaus Golden Bear Tour or whatever it is, who won't give up because of Joe Durant.
JOE DURANT: Yeah, I hope that's the case in some respects. I don't want to be the ruin of somebody's home life or something like that. (Laughter).

Q. "If Joe did it, I can do it. " There's that area, and you're a great example, I can't think of it off the top of my head but there's probably 20s or 25 other examples of somebody who has stuck through and finally won, and yet you don't want to give up that dream and yet on the other hand you could spend the next 30 years spinning your wheels.
JOE DURANT: You could very easily. That's a question each person has to answer for themselves. I don't know.

Q. Who was the guy that made it out of Q-School?
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: George McNeill. He was the Medalist.
JOE DURANT: At some point, I think I finally answered that question for myself. You have to embrace the fact that this is what I do for a living, as goofy as it may be. I've had people ask me, I've been out here for 11, 12 years and they still ask me, can you make a living. I'm like, well, if you're good enough, yeah.
It's just amazing, you know, it's not the mainstream way to make a living obviously.

Q. People ask us the same thing and we say of course we can, but you guys get to add a couple more zeros.
JOE DURANT: Yeah, you know, it's funny. (Laughter) I don't know. Sometimes you've just got to want it more than the next guy more than anything.

Q. Have you ever gotten advice from someone in a situation that you had been in, wanting to quit, I'm going nowhere, I need to find a real job?
JOE DURANT: You know, we've heard different things. More than anything, I remember one guy, I don't even remember who it was to be honest with you. He just said, if you want it bad enough and you work hard enough, in some form or fashion it will come to you eventually. It may not be playing; it may be teaching; it may be not exactly what you want to do with it, but in some form related to it, it will come to you. And I've always kind of kept that with me I suppose, motivation to keep plugging.

Q. Did you work any harder this off-season or any less hard or is it the same kind of off-season gearing up for the FedExCup?
JOE DURANT: It was abbreviated. It was a lot shorter than I thought about August or so. I was thinking I'm going to have a lot of off time. But it was short. I worked pretty hard up until about a week ago and then Christmas Eve, we had a family tragedy.
My brother and his wife were at our house and we had a party for a bunch of us and they went back to the condo at the beach and they were there about 30 minutes and they passed away unexpectedly Christmas Eve. They still don't have a cause of death determined right now.
So I went from kind of getting ready to play, we were going to come over here early to getting in Saturday. We pushed it back because obviously the whole situation and everything.

Q. How old was she?
JOE DURANT: 58, and very close to my mother. They come to a lot of tournaments with us, it was just absolute shock to our whole family.

Q. Had they planned on coming out?
JOE DURANT: They were not coming here but they come to three or four tournaments a year at least. My brother and I play a lot of golf together when we can. It was just unbelievable. My wife and I still lay in bed at night talking about it, just can't believe that she's gone. I literally walked her out to the car. It was raining in Pensacola that night and put her in the car and said, "See you tomorrow."
We shed a ton of tears over this, because she was a special person.

Q. That's a reality check.
JOE DURANT: I'm telling you. Fortunately we have a great family and great friends. My oldest brother was coming to Virginia to spend a week with them.

Q. Sorry to hear that.

Q. Your brother's name?
JOE DURANT: Flip. Phillip, but he goes by Flip.

Q. And what was her name?
JOE DURANT: Francis.

Q. How old were the kids?
JOE DURANT: They have one daughter, 31, Tonya. She is absolutely amazing through the whole thing. We were all together. Just, you know, one of those things where the only -- not that it's ever a consolation but we were all together as a family when it happened. She travels a lot with my brother on business and they could have been at a hotel someplace or she could have been home by herself when she was on the road. At least we were all together, the people that love each other were to go. It was tough. Tough holiday.

Q. You don't know where to go from there, sorry.
JOE DURANT: We didn't know where to go. Literally you're stunned by it.

Q. All of a sudden talking about golf doesn't seem all that interesting.
JOE DURANT: You know, trust me, coming over here, it was a hard trip to make. As excited as you are about going someplace, when that happens to someone that you love so much -- you want to get excited because you know your family is excited.

Q. You haven't been here?
JOE DURANT: It's been 2002 since I was here.

Q. So excited about getting back.
JOE DURANT: Trust me, we're ecstatic to be here, don't get me wrong.

Q. But enthusiasm on the way out is tempered.

Q. When did you get here?
JOE DURANT: We got here Saturday, Saturday evening. We were going to come over Wednesday, but we had a memorial service for my sister-in-law Thursday evening.

Q. Anything change on the golf course? Is everything the same as it was in 2002?
JOE DURANT: They have redone the greens. They are great and they have an unbelievable stand of grass on them. We were talking about that, it would be interesting to see what the pin positions will be like if they change the setup a bit, because of green speeds or whatever. I know the scores are pretty high last year, and I really didn't understand from what, other than the fact that it can blow like crazy over here.

Q. There was a pretty strong Kona wind, so it was playing opposite of what it normally does, and the greens were hard because they were new. Everything was bouncing over. No one broke 70 the first day.
JOE DURANT: Yeah, here and Waialae both, the Kona wind played very difficult.

Q. Totally changes the dynamics of what you're trying to think about doing.
JOE DURANT: Standing up at No. 1 on Waialae trying to play that tee shot into the wind, I'm like, 'oh, can I have another week of practice.'

Q. Did you go to the Sony the last several years?
JOE DURANT: I play there every year.

Q. So you go anyway.
JOE DURANT: Yeah, I love playing over here. We look forward to coming here every year. I mean, any island, we don't care.

Q. How do you see this year shaking out, for THE TOUR Championship? Give us some predictions for the year.
JOE DURANT: Hopefully, I believe it will be a very exciting year. I think moving The Players to May, you're going to have a great continuity of major events going from April all the way through to the PGA and then into the end of the FedExCup, so I think it will be very exciting. You're going to have a lot of plots and subplots and I think it will be fun. I'm excited to be where I am right now having a chance to play in all of those events, the majors and the world golf events.

Q. Is the Presidents Cup on your mind at all?
JOE DURANT: Absolutely. Absolutely, yeah, I'm he very excited. I want to be on that team.

Q. Where did you finish?
JOE DURANT: 13th. I think I'm 12th in the standings. So I have a great opportunity there.

Q. Do you think you'll play in the fall at all, Southern Farm?
JOE DURANT: If I don't make Presidents Cup, I'll play Southern Farm.

Q. Viking Classic.
JOE DURANT: I thought with the changes in the golf course with the greens, I thought Jackson, it was 100% better.

Q. When Tim announced this, it was called the 'Chase For the Card,' and then it became the 'Fall Series.' Did you guys have a brand meeting or something, 'Chase for the Card' to the 'Fall Series.' Either one is fine.
JOE DURANT: I think they are both going to come into play probably. Chase for the Card Series.

Q. 'Chase for the Card Series Sponsored by FedEx.'
JOE DURANT: But I think it will be pretty cool. I think it's going to be fun.

Q. So you think you'll play at least two events in the fall to defend and go to Mississippi, as well?

Q. If you get all the way to the TOUR Championship, the very next week is a $6 million event, Turning Stone. Could you be persuaded to go there; do you think other guys could, besides Vijay?
JOE DURANT: Guys were raving about the resort and course and thought it was very good. Depends on how much I've played up to that point. If I've played all four of those events, that might be a great week to take a week off.

Q. It seems like they might have moved that date just back one week and stuck a $3 million event there, not that a $3 million event is not real money, but you can play six of seven, and you'd like to go play Turning Stone, but you're tired.
JOE DURANT: The way the format is now, you're going to have a lot of guys who are going to have a week off except for the Top-30 so the field there might be much better. Because 31 and beyond, they are still going to be playing for some title position going forward, and that's going to be the biggest purse of the fall. That gives that tournament a whole knew dynamic.

Q. Is the Masters better off leaving their qualifications the way it is, Top 40 on the Money List to put a little more emphasis on the fall?
JOE DURANT: In a perfect world, they would recognize both, and that may be what's in the works, I don't know exactly, but you make a good point. For all of the major championships, if the criteria stays, especially with Augusta for Top 40 on the Money List, you're freezing to 30 at the end of the FedEx series. So a guy could still play his way into the 40.

Q. Why freeze the 30?
JOE DURANT: I think that's just perfect, if they are in The TOUR Championship and they play well.

Q. Another perfect answer by Uncle Joe.
JOE DURANT: If they have earned it.

Q. What do you lose if you get bumped to 31st on the Money List?
JOE DURANT: Well, you do contractually. Guys have Money List finishes on their contracts it could change. U.S. Open. Most likely if you're Top-30 you've won so you're probably going to be in the PGA or World Rankings will be higher, but more than anything, it might just be personal relationships.

Q. I don't understand, it's done, you're already in the Masters, it would probably be almost mathematically impossible to drop from 30 to 41 and be out of The Masters. So what do you lose by dropping two spots on the Money List?
JOE DURANT: I think it's the other way. Say I finish 31st, but if I go out in the fall and play well, I could finish 15th. So it's got to be a perk the other way as well.

Q. Surprised Tiger is not here?
JOE DURANT: Maybe a little bit. But I know -- did he play last year? No. So the course, he's won here before obviously but maybe just the time of year for him maybe it's time to recharge and get ready to go.

Q. Do you think the streak is on his mind; he would rather go for seven in a row on the PGA Tour at Torrey Pines rather than throwing caution to the wind?
JOE DURANT: I wish I knew how he thought. I mean, he plays that course great.

Q. If you're going for seven, would you come here, where it's iffy or go to someplace where, man, you're the chalk, not that he's not the chalk everywhere.
JOE DURANT: He obviously doesn't show up at any tournament with but one thing in mind, and that's to win. So I don't know, I mean, obviously he knows he has a stroke going.

Q. He seems to suggest that it doesn't really matter, but if it doesn't matter -- that's just my thought. I don't know if you have an opinion on that.
JOE DURANT: I think we all try to do things to ourselves to forget about those things, the impact of this round or this shot or whatever.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Thank you, Joe.

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