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February 16, 2008

Jeff Quinney


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thanks for joining us here in the media center at the Northern Trust Open. Jeff, an interesting day out there, hole-in-one on No. 6, and then a long putt there on 18 for birdie to get to 10-under for the tournament, one stroke back of Phil. Just talk about the day and what you did well.
JEFF QUINNEY: I felt really comfortable. I actually drove it really well. That's kind of been the part of my game I've been struggling with a little bit and hit my driver very confidently today.
I've obviously birdied that first hole. It was important just to grab one when you could because that's such an easy hole.
You know, I was in control all day. I was a little nervous getting off, getting started, but the birdie on 5, and then the hole-in-one on 6 actually settled me down quite a bit. Almost put me down a level and put me in the zone and I was really at ease the rest of the day.

Q. Could you even see the ball go in, or did you have to listen?
JEFF QUINNEY: It was kind of foggy. I hit the shot and I was kind of walking away and I think Phil was walking in behind me. I knew it was trickling back to the hole, but I don't think I actually saw it fall in the cup. It was more the crowd reaction by the green.

Q. Were you shocked? It looked like the noise shook you for a second.
JEFF QUINNEY: Yeah, I'm overdo on the hole-in-one celebrations. Yeah, basically had one last year at the Bob Hope and this year with the caddie -- I've got a different caddie this time but you don't know whether to hug or high-five or just in between and probably just looks sloppy. Adrenaline goes through your system. It's an amazing feeling. It was almost like a touchdown end zone dance or something but basically, we need to get that organized with my caddie and plan it a little bit better.

Q. Obviously people look at the hole-in-one, but you picked up two shots right there and went ahead. Is that what you were thinking, boy, now you're in the lead or just picked up two more shots.
JEFF QUINNEY: Well, Phil made, two, so I only picked up one. Obviously when those things happen, you take it for granted and -- or not take it for granted. It's amazing that it happens.
That stretch of holes, if you can get by that corner and the wind is going to switch, I knew I could take advantage and 11 where I hit a bad second shot and to short-side it and skulled a wedge, I was very disappointed to make six there. Other than that, played pretty solid.

Q. How about that putt on 18; and the celebration in itself, the crowd went crazy.
JEFF QUINNEY: Yeah, it was a tough putt. I had 9-iron into the green and was disappointed I left it where I did. I wanted to leave it below the hole, and it was amazing how far it carried downwind. You know, we had a good read. Basically had a good chart in my book where I knew it was going to go. It's actually right side of the hole; when you think everything falls to the front, everything goes right-to-left. I was just trying to snuggle it down there so I wouldn't have to worry about the second putt, and luckily went, perfect speed, right in the center.

Q. How does great is it that take you something home with to sleep on tonight?
JEFF QUINNEY: Definitely always nice to sleep on a birdie, especially after giving away on 16, hitting a great putt on 17 and lipping one out and getting one back and one shot closer to Phil is great.

Q. You come obviously with a very athletic family, and your dad played football, I believe it was.
JEFF QUINNEY: Basketball.

Q. Basketball, I'm sorry. And a big game, 30-something points, I remember reading that. How did you end up in golf? Did everybody go in a different direction with the kids?
JEFF QUINNEY: I grew up, I'm the youngest of four boys. All of them played Division I sports of one kind. Maybe a little bit of experience. My dad is 6'5, but three of us were about 6'1 so we knew we wouldn't make it in hoops. Couldn't jump, couldn't run; we could shoot, but we're well-rounded in all sports.
Basically by sophomore, junior in high school, I knew I wanted to play college golf and could probably get a scholarship. But I played basketball all through high school. Growing up in Oregon, we only could play six months of the year with the weather.
I was kind of a raw product going into college, pretty good junior player, nothing fantastic. But going to Arizona State and practicing every day in the good weather, it really honed my skills quickly.

Q. And that's where you won the U.S. Amateur and really developed into a great amateur player.
JEFF QUINNEY: Yeah, my whole career is just building like a house or building bricks. Basically I've gotten better every year, even on the professional level from the Canadian Tour my first year out to Nationwide last year, I feel like I'm the best player I've ever been and more confident and complete player right now.

Q. The birdie on 1 kind of settled you down a bit; were the nerves any more today because you were playing with Phil for the first time?
JEFF QUINNEY: Yeah, it was the first time I played with Phil. I've played with Tiger before and Vijay and some of the top players. But you know everyone is going to be watching our group. Everyone's rooting for Phil. And he's a great player and it's hard not to watch him at times and concentrate on what you're doing because he hits some amazing shots.
You know, I settled in quickly. I think once you get in the course and inside the ropes, you're more calm than you are maybe sleeping on it or waking up. Hopefully tomorrow I can do the same.

Q. Is that a Coyotes' logo on your shirt?
JEFF QUINNEY: Yeah, I just started this year, Phoenix Coyotes hockey. And basically my management group is the brother of Wayne Gretzky's manager, and just developed a relationship and it just started. So we're excited about that.

Q. Were you a hockey fan before this?
JEFF QUINNEY: I am. I'm still learning a lot about the sport. I definitely go to the hockey games when I'm back in town. I'm actually going to drop the puck I think next week, and they are going to make me my own jersey, which is kind of fun to do.

Q. Any body checking planned for tomorrow?
JEFF QUINNEY: Well, maybe me and my caddie. (Laughter).

Q. I know you had a tough finish at Phoenix last year; right?

Q. How much do you think that helps you going into a situation like tomorrow?
JEFF QUINNEY: I think it helps, definitely just being in contention and sleeping on the lead or somewhat close to the lead. I wouldn't say I had a tough finish. Obviously bogeyed last couple holes but I had a great tournament and just was -- gained so much confidence from that and proved to myself that I can be in the lead or near the lead and not necessarily finish it off and definitely contend through to the end.

Q. You mentioned at the Hope last year when you were a contender, when you won the U.S. Amateur a lot was expected of you but it took you time; why were you able to do so well, I believe 2000, 2001, and why did it take so long?
JEFF QUINNEY: I don't think my swing was as consistent. I've definitely made some swing changes. I was very timing-oriented and hands player, and now I'm kind of working with Mike LaBauve, my teacher, in trying to make it simple and just a swing that will hold up week-to-week in the pressure.
Match play is a whole different game than stroke play. If I have to beat the guy across from me, it's different than a four-day stroke event. It's just honing my skills. I don't think I was quite at the level of some guys my age at that time. It's just taken me a gradual time to improve.

Q. Do you ever get down on yourself because you were a U.S. Amateur Champion and then expected a lot of yourself?
JEFF QUINNEY: I wouldn't say down. I think, you know, maybe I expected to be a little bit more successful than I was, and it took me a little bit longer maybe.
But the thing about it is I got better every year. I never got to the point where I was bottomed out or thought about giving up the game and I was always getting better and improving and moving forward.

Q. Two things. The first one is the shot on 6, when you saw where it landed, did you like where it landed, because obviously it funnels back there. But in your mind when it first landed, was it a good shot?
JEFF QUINNEY: Not really. It was a right-to-left wind, and I'm trying to start it right of the flag just barely. Basically pulled it and I'm thinking it had a chance to go in that little pot bunker. It landed dead-level with it, and, you know, if you hit it there, it's automatic bogey. So I definitely got away with one.
I didn't really see that. I don't think I played that pin last year, so I didn't really know to use that slope as much. It definitely wasn't the purest shot feeling it off the face, but it's a 1 on the card.

Q. The other question, you had such a fantastic run on the West Coast Swing last year. You were in contention it seems like every week. Do you feel like you're a little bit due now, as well as you've played out here?
JEFF QUINNEY: I don't know if I'm due. You know, I just definitely want to have a chance coming in tomorrow. Obviously playing against -- I don't know what Phil is ranked, top-five player in the world. He's going to bring a lot to the player and I've got to bring my best to the table tomorrow. He's definitely not going to hand it to me. I've got to go out and earn it.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Can we go over your birdies and bogeys real quick? You birdied No. 1.
JEFF QUINNEY: Birdie on 1.
I used a 5-iron on 2. That's a tough driving hole. Hit it in the right rough, and had to slice it around the tree and hit a great shot. To walk away with 4, was definitely satisfied there.
Birdie on 5. I hit 3-wood, 8-iron and made a good left-to-right breaker about 15, 20 feet.
Then on 6, obviously the hole-in-one with a 7-iron.
10, I've laid up all week. I thought about hitting driver today but I hit a great lob-wedge to pretty much tap-in range.
Bogey on 11. Hit a great drive. I definitely could reach the green. I kind of had a thin lie. Hit it short right of that bunker and tried to hit a mega-flop and bladed it and made six, which was losing a shot and a half there.
Bogey on 16. Kind of in-between clubs, 6 and 7. Into the wind at that time and was trying to hit a conservative shot and hit the 6-iron. Probably should have hit 7. Just quit on it and hit it to a place where I could not get up-and-down from there.
Then 18, hit driver, 9-iron, probably 35 feet and a downhill one.

Q. We were watching on TV; was it a decent lie on 11? Surprising it all of a sudden shot out.
JEFF QUINNEY: Yeah, I was worried about -- it was a decent lie. I was worried more about flubbing it I guess than short-siding myself in the bunker. One of those things, you look up a split second too early, just like everybody out there, and very shocking to me because I felt confident over the shot. I feel my short game is my strength. I thought a hit a good chip on the next one. It was six inches from going down the hill. Making six was disappointing.

Q. Curious your impressions about Phil's round, this typical Mickelson round of, some of it wasn't really very pretty but really got up-and-down in a few spots. What did you think?
JEFF QUINNEY: Yeah, he made some great saves on 13 and 15. He was short-sided and he has that 64-degree wedge and he's just hitting some amazing shots out of lies where he's about the only one that can do that.
He's definitely in control. He's putting well. I think he's firing on all cylinders, so I have to go out and do my best.

Q. What's your relationship with Phil, both being ASU guys, I know you said this is the first time you've played with him in a tournament, but what's your relationship with him?
JEFF QUINNEY: Obviously he's in Rancho Santa Fe in San Diego now, and I'm in the Scottsdale area and we don't cross paths much anymore. Out of college we played some practice rounds in the majors at the U.S. Open. You know, go out and say hi.
We definitely talked a lot of sports today. We were talking about the Phoenix Suns and how Shaq's coming in. We both might be at that Laker game on Wednesday, and we are talking about other things other than golf.

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