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July 11, 2008

Will MacKenzie


STEWART MOORE: We'd like to welcome a finally-healthy Will MacKenzie here to the interview room at the John Deere Classic after a great second round 64 out there. You've pretty much were on fire the last 24 holes; I think you've got 13 birdies and 11 pars. What seems to be clicking this week that maybe wasn't earlier this year?
WILL MACKENZIE: Well, I don't know, man. I mean, I worked with Gio Valiante, sports psychologist. He sort of screwed my head on right. I've been injured, I was out for eight weeks. I just played so bad in my first ten events, I was totally lost with my golf swing. I got married February 23rd. I've got a baby coming August 12th. I was lost in my golf swing. I didn't know what I wanted to do with it.
I was working with Andy Plummer and Mike Bennett, but I was sort of doing it halfway and not really doing it right and not really committed to it. So I just sort of talked to Gio and told him all that stuff, and I stopped playing golf swing, and I'm just sort to trying to be a little more natural out there and be real committed to staying focused and getting really focused on a good target. And that's what I've been doing for the last two weeks.
My first week back I shot even, which felt like about 10-over, at the Buick. Then I shot hockey sticks the first day at Congressional, which is terrible, but could be done. And then I shot 69 the second day.
I mean, I know I'm on the right track, I've just got to get committed to the process of hitting shots and not worrying about -- putting the past in the past. That's what I'm trying to do, put the past in the past and believe in my own ability. I've been working hard. I've actually been working hard, too. That helps (laughter).

Q. You go to a psychologist, that's got to be overload for them, doesn't it, given your story?
WILL MACKENZIE: No, you know, a lot of those guys try to draw parallels with my former years living in a van down by the river (laughter). But mainly, you know, we're there to talk about golf. This is my career. This is what I do know. I've shown I can play great on this stage. I've been playing since 2000, and I've been grinding and trying to get to where I am.
You know, it's all about golf now. We're trying to just get me being more athletic, being more of an athlete, being more of a guy that looks and reacts. You get bogged down out here and start playing golf swing, you can start chopping.
I mean, even my first three years on TOUR, I mean, I played some bad golf, there's no doubt. But I usually was in this room every now and then. I'd usually shoot a good score. My low score probably for the first part of the season was about 70 or something. I mean, I was chopping big-time. You know, that's not me. I believe in my ability more than that.
I don't know what I'm talking about right now. What question were you asking?

Q. Technically what was clicking for you today and how was your round? What was working for you today?
WILL MACKENZIE: I'm trying to be as free as possible with the putter. You know, my putting goes really up and down, and I'm really trying to just get really free with it and just be freer on the second putt than I was on the first and the third and the second and so on. It's real basic. I'm seeing a lot. I've got a cool new putter. I've got a putter I like --

Q. By being free, you mean not thinking?
WILL MACKENZIE: Yeah, I'm thinking, but I'm thinking of just holing it, you know, or thinking about where I want to hit the golf shot. I'm trying to get really into my target like the best players in the world do. They're really good at that.
When Tiger won the U.S. Open, they were like, "What were you thinking?" He's like, "two balls out on the right." I mean, if I was in that position, I'd be thinking about winning the U.S. Open, and that's the wrong thing to think about because you've got to get committed, and it's just another stroke.
So I'm just trying to stay committed and hit it at my target and have great rhythm. I mean, there's good stuff going on in my golf swing, in my golf game. But you know, it's such a long way to go, and I'm trying to just get past the past. I've got a lot of bad shots memorized that I'm trying to erase right now. I'm just trying to stay in the moment.

Q. Did you get work with Leadbetter?
WILL MACKENZIE: Yeah, I did for a long time, and who knows -- I worked with some guy named Ben -- I'm just kidding. I'm not working with anybody right now.

Q. Was it too mechanical for a while with the Leadbetter style?
WILL MACKENZIE: No, I used to work with a guy named Kevin Smeltz at Leadbetter's, and then I went and started doing stack-and-tilt. I won Reno doing stack-and-tilt, and I just haven't worked with him enough, and I had a tough off-season because I was a little injured with a little back injury that I just sort of didn't work on it. You know, this off-season was just so bad I didn't work on it, and I started playing golf swing. I was trying to do Leadbetter with a little bit of Butch and a little bit of Andy and Mike.

Q. That don't work.
WILL MACKENZIE: That don't work. It'll get you about a 74 (laughter). It'll shoot you about a little 74, and that doesn't work, either, on this TOUR.

Q. Talk about the contrast before going to a psychologist and now where you are here today. It seems like it's such a different contrast. You seem very vibrant and energetic. In your mind what's been the contrast between before and after?
WILL MACKENZIE: Just try and do the basic, one step at a time, one shot at a time, get over the results. I mean, I have to really do that right now because if I look at the Money List, I'm in last, you know? I had a real tough season. If I start keeping worrying about all that stuff, I'll struggle.
So like he got me to really think big picture. You know, let's slow down and think about hitting golf shots. Just go out there and have fun and try to hit some golf shots. You know, and don't be just so angry in between shots.
You know, if you haven't trained hard and then you hit a bad golf shot, you don't have any reason to get mad because you're not dialed in; you haven't worked hard. So I'm just trying to work hard on the course and then free it up on the course.

Q. Have you worked with Gio before?

Q. Have you had a psychologist at all before?
WILL MACKENZIE: Yeah, I've worked with about -- I like everybody. I've talked to every psychologist out here. They're good. They're nice guys. I know Dr. Parent, Dr. Coop. I've never talked to Dr. Rotella. But I've talked to them all, but it's one of those things that it comes right in here (breezy sound), sort of spins right around and goes out that way. Comes in one ear and goes right out the other. It's tough to implement that basic stuff.
I mean, everybody knows you play one shot at a time. You know, you can't think about the future or think about the past or you're not in the moment.

Q. I've been meaning to ask, is a boring person going to have a better mindset for golf? By that I mean is someone who's not imaginative who walks along looking at the ground, looking at the grass, or is the guy whose mind wanders and has imagination, is he less likely to be able to produce 72 holes of solid golf?
WILL MACKENZIE: That's a pretty good question. I don't know, man. I'd rather have Tiger Woods' imagination and all that than just be uuuuhhhh (droning sound). Both of them work in their own little world. It's nice to be even keel, it really is.
But that's just -- I've got no chance. I've got no chance on that one. I've got to own my window of time, which is my routine. That's what I've got to own. I need to think about -- you can think about anything in between, someone like me.
But if you are like that, you've really got to own that little window of time, that 30 seconds. That's got to be my time to be focused and be a scientist.

Q. Are certain type of people just more mentally --
WILL MACKENZIE: Yeah, everybody is different. A lot of guys are really just -- they're just stoic.

Q. Is there a golf personality, a successful golf personality compared to other personalities is what I'm going for?
WILL MACKENZIE: You know, I don't think so. I think there's a few different ways to skin the cat there. I mean, I think you can have both. I don't know, I'm a Libra. I look at both sides. I weigh them both, and both can work.

Q. As you talk about looking at both of those personalities, at both of those sides, what's the journey been like for you to find your own personality, to find your own ability, to find your own strengths and to play to those strengths?
WILL MACKENZIE: I'm the one that needs to let it just -- I don't need to sit there and put the head down and go for 72 holes or five hours at a time. You know, I need to be able to talk to somebody, interact with my caddie a little bit, talk about golf or just something else. You know, I need to laugh a little bit.
But then I have to be very disciplined and then get back focused. I have the ability to focus like anybody does. But I have the ability to space out out there and not focus when you're trying to hit a 205-yard 5-iron. You need to be focused and be ready to hit that golf shot.
I think for me it's just finding that balance of letting my mind go and then owning 30 seconds around when I'm going to hit. When I get into that, I need to just be focused and everything -- guys have little triggers, like he takes the club out of the bag, and geez, and then he's not thinking about his child at home who's got strep throat or whatever. He's thinking about golf. But as soon as he hits that shot -- you know, I can get to the point where I start dwelling on bad shots. So the best thing for me to do is just have this little area, moment in time that I can just leave it and then go and just -- it happened, whatever. That is real hard. Y'all know what I'm talking about.

Q. What do you think about between those 30-second windows?
WILL MACKENZIE: I can't tell you (laughter). I don't know what I think about. Sometimes I think about golf. I think about frigging bad things. You think about winning or you think about losing or you think about your -- I think about Stewart, what we're going to have for dinner tonight, just the normal deal.

Q. How does this course set up for you? How do you like the course?
WILL MACKENZIE: It sets up great for me, you know? I'd like to hit it about as far as J.B. Holmes. If I could do that, it would be really nice because he hits iron into like No. 10. You know, I had to lay up.
But it's right out there in front of you. It's a beautiful golf course. There's not one hole out there that I'm like, oh, no, this hole doesn't set up. There's a couple that I'm like, okay, I need to be really focused here and play a conservative route because it doesn't quite set up to my eye or something. But the greens are rolling great, the fairways are perfect, the rough is not too, too deep. You can get a decent lie or you can get sort of a nasty lie, too. But it's right there in front of you, just a good golf course.

Q. You talk about the mental side of your life and your game. How has the marriage, how has the impending birth of your child fit into that? Has it kind of made you grow up a little bit, take things a little more seriously, or not?
WILL MACKENZIE: Yeah, probably. But I don't want to grow up too much (laughter). Then I'll have a pot-belly or something (laughter). I'm just kidding.

Q. But is it good or bad for you?
WILL MACKENZIE: It's wonderful. I'm 33 years old. I mean, it's time for me to frigging have some kids. I'm ready to go. I'm ready to hit batting practice and throw grounders, just hit nasty little bounces to my kid and watch him take it in the chest (laughter) just like I did. That's what I'm praying for, that's what I'm hoping for. It's time to do that. I don't want to be too old.
I've lived my life. I've played hard. I've played real hard, and it's time to -- I mean, it's going to make me really -- just ask me that question in about a month, when I'm coming in here like this (dazed eyes).

Q. Do you know, is it a boy?
WILL MACKENZIE: Yes, sir, it's a boy.

Q. What did you do with your downtime, with those eight weeks off? Did you try and get away from the game? Other than the psychologist, what else was going on?
WILL MACKENZIE: That happened at the very end of the eight weeks, but yeah, I was away from the game. I was healing myself, trying to send some positive energy into my knee, and I was doing my rehab. There's a lot of hours in the day, so that was only about an hour, doing the rehab. Icing all day; you ice all day at first.
And then as I was sitting on the couch icing, then I started going fishing a little bit, which was probably not too smart because I was tweaking my knee a little bit, a late afternoon session on the water. I was trying to heal my knee. I started looking at YouTube and started looking at some golf swings, you know, doing my classic stuff, just hanging out, working on the crib room, the nursery, getting the nursery super dialed in so I could come back out here and have a few weeks and try to play well, start playing well. And then I'll have to go right home again because we're going to have a baby and I want to be there for that for at least a couple weeks.
You know, if I don't like start playing unbelievable I'm not in the FedExCup anyway, so I'll have a lot of time off. Hopefully I can just start playing great.

Q. Talk about your game today. When you saw the scores that were posted yesterday, any pressure on your game this morning to come out and put a big number up?
WILL MACKENZIE: Yeah, there's pressure, but you know what, I'm not going to get lured into trying to shoot a number. At this point in my evolution or my game, I'm trying to get committed to every golf shot I hit, and I don't care what happens. That's my goal. It's a little easier said than done. I mean, if I shoot 1-under or 8-under, as long as I'm committed to every shot, then (whistling sound), I'll feel like I've accomplished my little goals.
STEWART MOORE: Will, thanks so much.

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