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October 12, 2007

George McNeill


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Followed up a round of 66 yesterday here at TPC Summerlin with 64 today. Great start to the week. Comments about being a co-leader through 36 holes.
GEORGE McNEILL: I feel fine. I didn't know I was leading or tied for the lead when I finished. There aren't any score boards over The Canyons golf course. I knew I was getting close because everybody started showing up and taking pictures. That's usually a good thing, but I really didn't know my position but now I do.
I'm pleased with the way I'm playing and pleased with the way I've been playing the last few weeks. There's a lot of things I've been working on in my game, and it's starting to show.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: You head into the last few events with a great chance obviously to get your card for 2008, but right now you're in the driver's seat or you have a good opportunity to win your first event. Maybe some thoughts on the weekend.
GEORGE McNEILL: Oh, I mean, the whole cliche of keep doing what you're doing, and that's pretty much what I'm sticking to. Same thing back at Tour school. I'm reverting back to Qualifying School back last fall. I was leading after I don't know how many rounds. I think after the fifth round I was leading the tournament.
I knew I was in a pretty good position to keep my card, or to get my card, I just didn't want to back off. Just wanted to keep the pedal down and keep moving forward.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: And for the folks here that may not really know much about your story, you were the Q-School medalist last year, but last year you worked at a golf shop in Fort Myers taking a break from competitive golf.
Kind of a big chain of events and here you are a year later leading a golf tournament. Maybe talk a little bit about that to get people to know your story.
GEORGE McNEILL: Well, I mean, yeah, I played competitively since college. I finished college in '98 at Florida State and I played mini tours and what have you for a few years.
I got my Nationwide card in 2003 through the qualifying school. Didn't play very well that year and didn't get the card back and didn't make it through the school.
After 2005, after the Q-School, I didn't get through first stage and I said, You know what, I just got to take a break. I took a job in a golf shop as a pro just doing like every club pro does: Sitting behind, answering phones and dealing with the membership.
And after about six months of that I -- it drove me back to playing. I'm not an indoors person, and that's pretty much being a golf professional and being a professional golfer are totally separate, opposite ends of the spectrum, and I really respect what those guys do now more so than I did then because I realize what they have to deal with.
I got hint of it, and a lot of those guys deal with it for years and years. It's definitely a change being here now.

Q. George, you talked about the last couple of weeks really focusing if in on some things in your game. Can you be specific on what you've been working on?
GEORGE McNEILL: Yeah. My swing I've been working on my swing all year. To get real technical, my swing used to be very upright and I used to hit the ball very low because I was coming into it at a very steep angle.
I've been trying to shallow out my swing. Back in the middle summer I went -- and in the past I've worked with Dr. Jim Suttie who's down in Naples where I live during the wintertime, and then I also worked with a real good friend of mine, Kevin Kenney. He's in Tampa.
Through both of them I've kind of tried to shallow out my plane. Just way off, kind of just dramatic, just drastic change, and trying to play through that also while you're out here it's hard to do.
But I've got down to where it's gotten very manageable and it's starting to get real comfortable. The past few weeks I've seen hints of. It in Mississippi I saw hints of it. And then I took last week off just to rest for these final four events. I worked on it real hard during my off week during the San Antonio week.
Again, I show up here and I felt really good about what I'm doing.

Q. Is that the first time you started to sense that I think this is going to work?
GEORGE McNEILL: With my swing?

Q. Yeah.
GEORGE McNEILL: Oh, absolutely, yeah. And that was about three weeks after I just dramatically changed my swing from what I was doing the first half of the year. I started -- right around John Deere is when I -- that was the first week I played in a tournament doing that.
And then, you know, having my swing really shallow. Then the following week was Milwaukee. I had a good finish at John Deere, and for me I thought I played really well in Milwaukee. The finish wasn't the best, but I felt like I was playing good. The following week was Canadian Open.
It all kind of culminated right there. And to deal with it under pressure in the final two rounds actually and have it hold up it was very positive.

Q. You continued to grind it out. You always had that Canadian Open week to kind of fall back on.
GEORGE McNEILL: Sure. I can revert back to that and to the qualifying school, because that's the two best finishes I've had in the past year. I definitely think about it. Even today I was thinking about it. Just going, Just stay in the present.
I know that people are showing up and that they got the cameras and everything, but who knows what that means.

Q. It's a good thing.
GEORGE McNEILL: Absolutely. It's always a good thing. It's a good thing sitting here.

Q. I mean, it's been a marathon for you. This is your 28th event. That's a lot golf.
GEORGE McNEILL: It's quite a bit. If I can get through and play really well this week and, you know, solidify my card for next year -- if I win it solidifies my card for the next couple years, which would be even better.
But just mainly making sure I have a job for next year is the first priority. If I can continue with that I'll be pretty pleased.

Q. I have a feeling it would be tougher for you mentally than physically the next couple days to stay in the moment and not try and do too much out there and just try and take whatever the course gives you.
GEORGE McNEILL: Yes and no. I mean, I don't know, I've been accused of being kind of a laid back person, and that's kind of -- nothing really bothers me. I get more excited to go hunting and fishing than I do to play golf, but I make money doing this.
I don't really get too excited, and a lot times you don't know if I'm really mad or really happy. I just kind of go with the flow. A really good friend of mine is Nolan Henke who played out here for a long time and won three times, and he and I live close to each other at home and have the same personalities. Just go with it. If good things happen, then that's the way they go.

Q. (No microphone.)
GEORGE McNEILL: First time.

Q. (No microphone.)
GEORGE McNEILL: Yeah. So far. Well, the Palm Springs tournament for Qualifying School last year was in the desert, so in the past I've had success. I mean, this year at FBR I played decent, you know, in Phoenix. I don't know where there are any other desert golf courses, but I think this tournament and that one.
I don't mind it. It's nothing -- I don't know, I like golf courses where the greens -- I'm from Florida and I don't like grainy greens and Bermuda grass greens. I'm not real comfortable on them. If I see something I want to be able to hit it there and not have to worry about all the other influences.
One thing I don't like is the no humidity. I like humidity. I get nose bleeds with the dry air. It really kind of makes it different. But other than that I really enjoy it out here.

Q. Have you had nose bleeds the last couple days?
GEORGE McNEILL: Yeah, yeah. Just, I mean, I wake up in the morning and it's just not pretty. Out on the golf course I'll kind of try and flush it and, you know, it's not something that I'm advertising, you know. But, yeah, I'm not showing it to everybody. But, yeah, it's just, you know...

Q. (No microphone.)
GEORGE McNEILL: Right. If you live here all the time you're used to it and it's no big deal. Me being from Florida I'm used to humidity.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: I want to ask really quick about the stretch of the of six holes where you were 6-under starting at No. 9 with the eagle. Comments about No. 9.
GEORGE McNEILL: Yeah, I kind of started off about all boring and monotonous just like yesterday. Made a couple birdies on the Par 5s. Made a bogey. I hit a bad drive on 8 and hit it in the hazard left and had to punch it out.
And then I hit it, you know, No. 9 was playing into the wind, and in the practice round it was playing kind of a crosswind, so you had to think a little more. I hit a 3-wood off the tee and I had I think 85 yards to the pin. Into the wind it was just a good full lob wedge. I hit it and it landed right next to the hole and, jumped about two or three feet past and then spun back in the hole.
It kind of got me -- and after making a bogey and making that eagle, holing it out it got me in a more positive mindset and then that just carried me on for the next few holes. Just hit some good sold shots and made a few putts.

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