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October 12, 2007

Garrett Willis


JOAN ALEXANDER: Garrett, thanks for joining us for a few minutes at the Frys.com Open. What a start. You got an early start this morning and not a lot of wind. What were you doing well out there?
GARRETT WILLIS: You know, I really didn't have any expectations. I kind of got off to a slow start. Actually got a slow start out of the hotel this morning.
It was so early this morning and I had only warmed up for about 20, 25 minutes prior to the round. And I got off, hit the first fairway and was pretty pleased. Made a bogey on the second hole, and my first thought was, Great you put yourself in a position where you'll have to grind it out for the cut.
I made about 30-footer on the third hole to kind of right the ship. I really didn't get anything going until I guess the next hole. I don't even know. The next hole is the Par 5. I had a close birdie putt in there about eight feet and missed. Just reeling off a couple birdies and just really tried to stay focused out there.
JOAN ALEXANDER: Were you putting well, strike the 8 ball well.
GARRETT WILLIS: Yeah, you know, it's well -- I can't really pinpoint anything. Other than the putt that I made on No. 3, most of my putts were pretty close. So I didn't put that much pressure on my putter. I think the toughest par putt I had was -- other than the -- I didn't even putt for par where I made bogey on 2.
But on 17 I had about a three-footer for par, and that was probably the most stress I had other than the bogey on the 2nd hole.
JOAN ALEXANDER: Questions, please.

Q. You mentioned the slow start getting out of the hotel. Could you could you give a bit more detail on that?
GARRETT WILLIS: Well, when you have a 7:10 tee time and you're staying in Vegas it's tough to get to bed at a decent hour. We just got a little late start leaving the hotel.
As a matter of fact, Jesper Parnevik asked me if I wanted a ride. Was wondering why I was standing there so long. And I normally go through a little stretching routine and a little work out routine prior to the round, and to me that's actually more important than hitting balls. Just waking my body up and get some blood pumping and flowing.

Q. You say it's second best round or best round. Can you go through your journey a little for us. Does Tucson in '01 seem like forever ago? Lots of guys go through ups and down. Go through what's happening in terms of the journey.
GARRETT WILLIS: With winning my first tournament in 2001, I was actually on the verge of not even going to Q-School. I ended up going to Q-School, winning the tournament, was exempt for three years, and ended up missing my last five cuts the third year.
I guess it would have been end of 2003 I missed the last five cuts to missing my card by $25,000 and ended up playing in the 126 to 150 category the next year, and played a limited schedule.
Basically the last two, three years I've been bouncing back and forth between the Nationwide and the PGA Tour, and for the most part playing in every PGA event that I have the opportunity to get into.

Q. Talk about bouncing back and fourth and how difficult it is week to week.
GARRETT WILLIS: The only difficult thing I've noticed the last few years is it's really tough to play the Nationwide Tour and try to pay your bills. The purses are definitely growing out there, but a lot people recognize it as the second best tour in the world. Jay Williamson said it the best. It's the reality tour. This is the fantasy tour up here. Courtesy cars, big spreads, big purses, galleries.
A lot people have asked me why haven't you stuck it out in the Nationwide and played the whole year. I've become accustomed to putting a roof over my head, paying my electric bill, and eating. It's really tough to do playing the Nationwide Tour full time.
Being a past champion on the Tour, I have accessed anywhere between 10 to 12 tournaments, and that's a lot of opportunity to make money to be able to support my family. Like I said, before, if I could do anything else I probably would, but golf is the only thing I know how to do.

Q. (No microphone.)
GARRETT WILLIS: You know, I wouldn't mind being a college golf coach. Who knows. That might make too much work, too.

Q. If you look at that board, there's a lot opportunity for guys you don't see on the board every year. Guys like yourself, you have two more days like this and you're going to win the tournament.
GARRETT WILLIS: Yeah. There's a lot of golf to be played, but you're right. I've been a huge fan of the FedExCup from the get-go. Looking it my schedule it really gives me the opportunity to focus on the Nationwide early in the year, and if I don't play as well as I like I can defer to the PGA Tour, which sounds funny.
But I'm a big proponent of the FedExCup where quote/unquote schmoes like myself and opportunity to play, where if this was a regular season where it's ending at Disney I wouldn't be playing this week.
I would be playing in Midland, Texas for a $500,000 purse and trying to finish in the top 120 just to break EVEN for a week. This is a great opportunity, and I love Tiger and Finchem for giving us this opportunity.

Q. When did you feel like you were completely awake then? After the bogey and eagle then the back 9 was very, very strong.
GARRETT WILLIS: Yeah, when I turned at 3-under I was just more concerned with hitting good golf shots. And then I birdied No. 1, which was my 10th hole, and then I had a pretty easy putt -- well, four or five footer. Easy in comparison to a lot of putts out here.
After that I felt relaxed because I felt like if I could just play smart golf and hit a lot of good quality shots I would put myself in position for the weekend.

Q. (Indiscernible) Were you aware of course record at that point?
GARRETT WILLIS: No. I think Chip Beck shot 59 here, didn't he?

Q. (No microphone.)
GARRETT WILLIS: Oh, it wasn't here. I wasn't aware of how I stood in relation to par until I saw it on the board on No. 8, my 17th hole. I was trying to figure it out a couple times and then try to change my mind, just occupy it with other thoughts.

Q. Just curious, you're talking about bouncing back and forth between the Nationwide Tour and the PGA Tour. What's been the lowest point for you?
GARRETT WILLIS: I would say probably I went a stretch earlier this year where I missed three cuts on the Nationwide Tour. I was in the top 25 and I had made up my mind that I was going to dedicate myself to play the Nationwide Tour, to tough it out and try to get back out here on a more regular basis.
Missed three cuts and then pretty much threw in the towel on the whole Nationwide Tour objective and came out here and played. The very next tournament was Milwaukee, and I was one shot out of the lead through 36 holes there.
After I decided to play the PGA Tour when I got in.

Q. When you went in in 2001, I mean, everyone wins their first one and probably thinks, This is going to be cool to do this a lot. Were you one of those guys, and now you're sitting here in '07? Did you go through those times of, I won. Why isn't it happening again? Was there a realistic thing in your mind about how difficult it is to win?
GARRETT WILLIS: Yeah. I would I have to say at that time I did put lost of pressure on myself to try to win again. I have a hard time being -- playing the smart shot. I have a tendency of playing real aggressive. If you look back at my record, I have a lot of real high rounds and a lot of real low rounds. I don't have a real solid medium in my scoring.
So it put pressure on me to play well and to try to play probably not the more smart shots. Now even when I won a Nationwide Tour two years ago with my wife caddying, we didn't even realize what was happening.
We were in the last group and we were in contention the whole time, but never really thought about winning and ended up winning.

Q. (No microphone.)
GARRETT WILLIS: Unfortunately I have a hard time shooting away from the pin. I mean, it sometimes pains me to have to aim 20, 30 feet away from the pin. I don't know if I've got some kind of chemical imbalance or something, but I need to play a lot smarter shots at times.

Q. How do you approach tomorrow knowing that you're in the hunt, they're going to toughen this thing up a little bit for you guys without the amateurs. How do you keep the momentum going from today when you yourself say you're prone to being real up and down with your game?
GARRETT WILLIS: Well, I have to say I learned a pretty good lesson in Milwaukee. Being in the second to the last group on Saturday in a very similar position.
Went out and played a little too aggressive. I tried to not really put it away, but that was the mentality. I wanted to get off to a fast start, and I'm just going to try to go out and hit fairways and greens.
There's a lot of wedge opportunities out here, and I hope they don't make it too much more difficult. They got those pins pretty tucked now.

Q. Half serious question. Wondering if you're thinking of cutting back on your warming up in the fitness trailer in the morning now?
GARRETT WILLIS: No. Actually I cut back on the practice on the range. I went ahead and went through a full routine in the morning with my fitness, but that was more important for me than hitting a lot of shots on the range.
Full time in the fitness trailer that I normally have. Maybe cut it a little short. No, I'm losing my hair. I don't want to be fat and bald. I got to be sure I do my full fitness routine.

Q. So what time were you held up at the hotel then?
GARRETT WILLIS: Almost 6:00, an hour and ten minutes before my tee times. And normally I'm at the golf course hour and a half before my tee times.

Q. How much time did you spend in the fitness trailer?
GARRETT WILLIS: About twenty minutes in there this morning.

Q. What hotel are you staying at?
GARRETT WILLIS: At the Palms. And who would have thought there would be traffic at 5:45, but I guess the city never sleeps.

Q. When you're playing with the amateurs obviously there are extra delays. But when you're on a hot run as you were today, especially on the back 9, are you able to blank out what the amateurs are doing?
GARRETT WILLIS: You pretty much get into a mindset that you're playing with amateur and they're going to be hitting some stray shots and putting and chipping from all over the place.
You're ducking and you kind of get in the rhythm from the first hole. We've played in enough of these to kind of realize what happens. It's really a much more relaxed, slower atmosphere than I prefer, but you just kind of have to make due.

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