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August 1, 2008

Peter Lonard


JUDE COEN: Thank you for joining us, 66 today. You must be happy with that.
PETER LONARD: Yes, better than the 74 that I averaged around here the last ten years. Yes, pretty good. Hit a few fairways, hit a few greens, holed a few putts.
JUDE COEN: Talk about the birdie on 16. Everyone was very impressed with how you tackled that today.
PETER LONARD: It was a three-shotter for me, probably a three-shotter for everyone. Hit a driver to the top of the hill, smash a 2-iron as far as you can and work out whatever you've got to hit when you get to the bottom there, it's usually a lob wedge or a sand wedge, and today I hit it to about four feet and holed the putt.
JUDE COEN: What was the difference in your thoughts from today to yesterday? Obviously it's a big turnaround.
PETER LONARD: Well, yesterday I hit it all over the ballpark. I hit off the back nine, got off to a good start, holed a few putts and got to 3-under and tried not to kill myself on the next nine when I was hacking out of trees and tried not to kill any spectators and managed to miss most people. I think I only hit a couple. But I made a couple of bogeys and got up-and-down a hell of a lot and managed to scrape out a 1-under, which left me in a pretty good position for today. Today I played pretty good.

Q. What is it about this place that has led to these 74s?
PETER LONARD: (Laughing) thick trees, thick rough, hard greens to putt on, being a bad chipper. You name it, I've got it all.

Q. Anything else?
PETER LONARD: I don't know. I played all right here last year actually, I think. This is a course you've just got to hit a lot of fairways. If you hit a lot of fairways it gives you a good opportunity to hit some greens. It's a totally different course from last year. Last year the fairways were firm, the rough was a lot thicker, and the greens were -- had a lot more bounce in them. This year my caddie said to me like on the 8th and 9th, like on the 8th hole last year I hit a sand wedge in for my second. Today I hit a 4-iron. 9th hole, I hit a 9-iron in for my second shot and today I hit a 4-iron in again.

Q. That's how much it was running last year?
PETER LONARD: Yeah, the course was hard and fast. Probably more Australian-like last year.

Q. You're an American now, so it's better suited for you.
PETER LONARD: That's right, that's why I've lost my accent (laughter).
JUDE COEN: Australians aren't hard and tough, the courses are hard and tough.
PETER LONARD: Well, the chicks are hard and tough, from what I've seen anyway, from the ones that will talk to me (laughter).

Q. Assess your season. How have you played?
PETER LONARD: Well, the start of the year was horrendous, I think. I did a lot of work and started to get it together about -- around about New Orleans. New Orleans was good. You know, I kept working at the game. I lost my chipping last year and just really struggled. I'd make a few birdies, but if you don't get up-and-down in this game, particularly out here, you're really just treading water trying to survive.
I've done a lot of short game work. After New Orleans I was really looking forward to this five-week stretch, like most guys make their money in certain tournaments, and my tournaments are usually Wachovia, TPC, Fort Worth, Atlanta. I hurt my back at Wachovia in the practice round and didn't play any of them. I had five weeks off, and I've been practicing -- looked like I started to play pretty good around Congressional again, and then I've had two pretty ordinary weeks. So who knows.
JUDE COEN: How is the back now?
PETER LONARD: It's good. It's good. I don't know what I did. No one knew what it was, but it doesn't seem to hurt anymore, which is all that matters.

Q. What was the thrust of it, the injury, the five weeks off?

Q. Did I miss something there? You had five weeks off?
PETER LONARD: Well, I played the first two because I just wanted to play them, but I couldn't bust a hard boiled egg really, and then I took three weeks off, four weeks off after that.

Q. You don't know where it came from, the back issue?
PETER LONARD: Just age probably, I don't know. No, I just woke up at Wachovia, went to the range -- actually past the range, went straight to the first tee, wanted to hit off in front of Nathan Green because he's a really slow player, and my first swing, I thought, "Shit, that hurt." And I was still hurting five weeks later. But it's all right now.

Q. I'm drawing a blank now, but you're eligible for this how?
PETER LONARD: I don't know, someone just phoned up and said "You're in." I won the Australian PGA.

Q. Where was that?
PETER LONARD: At Coolum, very important event, fifth major.

Q. Ogilvy doesn't think so. Which haven't won in Australia, Geoff or Adam?
JUDE COEN: Peter is like higher ranked in Australia than even Adam.

Q. What were the exact symptoms of your back injury, and what sort of treatment did you have, and when did you start feeling better?
PETER LONARD: I did it on the Tuesday at Wachovia. Wednesday I just did usual physio stuff. The Stryker guys helped us out. Thursday I was okay, I played. Friday early morning tee time I couldn't hit it. So I pulled out of that. Then I did physio until last minute at the TPC Sawgrass. They did an MRI and said there was nothing they could find, so they said it was a muscle thing.
Still no good. Then I took -- I went and saw physios in Orlando. They thought it was more of a possibly ligament thing at the base of my spine, and they said that wouldn't show up in an MRI. So they worked on it for two weeks to the point where it was all right, so I wasn't playing that much. Then I had a week where I just did nothing, didn't get any treatment. At the end of the week I started hitting a few balls and started to loosen up and it was all right.

Q. Was it just a sharp pain when you swung?
PETER LONARD: Yeah, it was only twisting, so if you wanted me to pick the rubbish up and take it out front I could do it, but actually swing it around my head, couldn't do it. Could be my next vacation actually.

Q. What's the hardest hole out here?
PETER LONARD: The fourth I reckon.

Q. Because?
PETER LONARD: Because the fairway slopes like that, and they put a bunker on the right, which is where you sort of really want to hit it, but then they've grown a big clump of rough out around the trap, so that's pretty much your landing zone with a driver. So You hit a 3-wood off the tee, you're pretty much going in with 3-wood, so you've got to hit your driver and your landing zone is like that. It's a little easier to hit this year because it's softer, but in past years where it's hard and fast, that left rough gets worn out.

Q. What about 16?
PETER LONARD: Well, 16 is all right. It's a par-5, just hit it on the fairway, smash it down there somewhere. I think 16 would be a harder hole if they gave you a bit of a sniff in getting there for two. Then you've got to make a decision. No decisions for most of us, but I don't think anyone would have hit it on for two the last couple days. Even if you smoke one, you're still going to have 270.

Q. With it playing longer this week what are some of the approach clubs you're using on the longer holes? Are you back hitting 4-iron in some places?

Q. Zach was saying yesterday it was --
PETER LONARD: You know, 4th, good drive is a 4-iron. 6 is usually 8-iron to 9-iron, that's playing 5, 6-irons. 8 is a 4-iron. 9 is a 4-iron. 13 is a 3- or 4-iron.

Q. So you'd rather hit a 4-iron into a soft green than a wedge into a hard green?
PETER LONARD: No, I'd rather hit a wedge.

Q. Last year the fairways were running but the greens were rock hard, right?
PETER LONARD: Yeah, I prefer to hit shorter irons into hard, bouncy courses, but that's what Australia is like. Australian courses are much firmer usually.

Q. Where's your home course in Australia?
PETER LONARD: I play at a course called The Lake, which is in Sydney, which is sort of a linksey sort of track. Not on the beach, but linksey.

Q. Where do you play in Orlando?
PETER LONARD: Keene's Pointe.

Q. You play at the Nicklaus course there?
PETER LONARD: Yeah, I live in Keene's Pointe. I joined there. I'm an official member.

Q. Are they nice to you?
PETER LONARD: Sometimes. No, they're all lovely, great people.

Q. Last year the rough was like eight inches. Do you think somebody got the message that that was a bad idea?
PETER LONARD: Well, I think I finished about fourth or fifth last year. I thought it was all right (laughter). But if it was like that yesterday, I would have shot 100. I got lucky.
You know, with the length of the course, you know, the shortness of the rough is pretty -- I think it's not that bad. At least when you hit it in there, you can still try and hit shots out of it. Whereas last year if you hit it thick into the grass, you just hacked it out sideways and took your medicine. Where at the moment I think probably eight out of ten times if you hit it in the trees you can actually try and see a shot, and at least you've got a shot to hit. It's not quite so one-dimensional, and you can get in just as much trouble trying to wave it through trees out of longer grass than you can just hacking it out. You're never going to get in trouble just hacking it out.

Q. Last year you said you had a Top-5 finisher here and then you had to go home and watch the PGA on TV. Are you excited this year you'll be able to play with your good form into next week?
PETER LONARD: Yeah, I think so. I felt like this year is probably -- although my results probably haven't shown it, I've probably done more work this year and I'm happier playing. I'm really enjoying playing, and I'm enjoying the practicing, and I think I'm on the right track again, so I'm looking forward to playing the next five, six weeks, seven weeks if I can hang on that long for the FedExCup, and I'll even play a few through the Fall Series.

Q. What are your thoughts about Oakland Hills? How much have you played there?
PETER LONARD: I played there last year for the British Open qualifier. I didn't have a real good mental picture in my brain going when I got there, so I thought it was the hardest golf course on earth. But I've matured since then, I think it'll be very good. I'm looking forward to it. Tough track. It's going to be similar to here last year probably if it's firm. I'm sure the rough is going to be thick, the course is really long, a lot of undulations, cantered fairways. It's going to be a hard track.

Q. Why was your mind the way it was when you went to the qualifier last year?
PETER LONARD: Last year? I don't know, I've just been playing a hell of a lot of golf and never really had a break. You know, after the FedExCup last year I took ten weeks off. I didn't pick up a stick. I took every golf club I had, chucked them in the garage, didn't pick one up.

Q. When you talk about your mind going into that qualifier at Oakland Hills, you were just fried?
PETER LONARD: Yeah, I was just fried.

Q. Too much golf?
PETER LONARD: Combine it with a lack of ability and poor technique, and I'm thinking, bloody hell, I'm 40 years old and I'm going to have to start again, figure it out. When you start here you sort of think by the time you're 40 you're going to have to practice less and have your finger on the pulse of it more, but I totally lost it. I suppose there was a time where you had to decide whether you're going to knuckle down and fix it or say see you later. I had ten weeks off.
I did try working once before and I didn't enjoy it much.

Q. You did the club job already?
PETER LONARD: Yeah, so I started practicing really hard rather about a year into a real job.

Q. What did you do during those ten weeks?
PETER LONARD: Nothing. I went to Egypt for a couple weeks. Just sitting in a bar with my mate, and he said, "You should go somewhere." I went, "I've been everywhere. I've played everywhere. There's no where I haven't been." He said, "There's got to be somewhere." I said, "Well, I've never been to Egypt." So I went to Egypt. Next time I go there I'm going to look more closely into where I should be going. But it was bloody good. It was really good.

Q. What are your favorite memories from Egypt besides the bar, or because of the bar there are no memories?
PETER LONARD: I didn't drink much. They frown on that sort of stuff over there. I think the first one was -- the most distinct memory is I'm thinking the pyramids are going to be right out in the middle of nowhere, but it's actually got a city of like 40 million people surrounding it, so that was a bit of a shock. And then the -- I go to the concierge and say, "Hey, mate, I want to get someone to take me around the pyramids." And he went, "Okay, meet me here in five minutes." Okay. So I go out to the pool, come back, next thing he's dragging me outside -- security is pretty thick, so you've got the big security guards and the sniffer dogs and the dudes with the things under the cars looking for bombs and all that sort of stuff. And the next thing I'm out in the middle of the street talking to some dude that's come out of nowhere, going, you give me this much and I'll take you there and I'll take you to a camel ride and all that stuff. I'm thinking, I don't feel very comfortable here. That's the first thing I thought. I could have got in a lot of trouble. But we sorted it all out. I was very unpopular with the bloke in the front when I drove off in another car the next morning, but that's the way it goes.

Q. Did you do the camel ride?
PETER LONARD: No, I brushed the camel ride. But I did all the other things. It was good. It was really interesting.

Q. What did you think of the pyramids?
PETER LONARD: Fantastic, awesome. The other thing he said was I need, not an interpreter, but someone to show me around, like a guide for the two days. He goes, oh, we only have a woman. And I went, "That's okay." He goes, "Are you sure?" I went, "Yeah," and that was it (laughter). I probably shouldn't have said that, but that's what I said.
She was fantastic, except she tested me the whole way around, the whole day.

Q. The guide?
PETER LONARD: My guide was a woman. So she comes out, and she goes, this pyramid here, pyramid there, I'm thinking I'm going to sit back and look at a few pyramids and take a few photos, and all of a sudden she's asking me, "This is the fourth dynasty of who?" And it was like hanging out with your headmaster for a day at the age of 40. It was brutal. By the end of every day I get back to my room, and I go -- I'd be asleep, and I'd be waking up and I'd be going third pyramid of the fourth dynasty was the -- three days of that, it was brutal. She was very good, very thorough in her job. I knew everything by the time I got on the plane, but I have no idea what it was now. Just like all my other schoolwork.

Q. Did you tell her what you do for a living?
PETER LONARD: I think she did in passing ask me what I did for a living, I said I played golf for a living. She just snickered and that was it, like, "Idiot."

Q. Do you think she knew you were rich and moderately famous?
PETER LONARD: No, I don't think I am, but I don't think she thought I had a pot to piss in (laughter). She wanted to give me a discount (laughter). But she was great, she was really good.
Any more questions about Egypt?

Q. Back to golf for just a quick second. There was some talk for a couple of tournaments about not having Tiger, but I'm curious about a week like this, which is similar to Buick, which those are the two tournaments where it's a shock if he's not either winning or right there at the end. Is it like that this week?
PETER LONARD: Well, I think there's probably a little less atmosphere maybe on the tournaments that he regularly plays. At the tournaments that he doesn't regularly play there's no big difference.

Q. But specific to here, as often as he's won here, to not have him here, I would think it's different than any of the Opens or Congressional or what have you.
PETER LONARD: Yeah, definitely, there's a definite difference. To me him not being here is usually on average probably the difference between 39th and 38th (laughter), so I don't miss him much (laughter). But I'm sure the boys up in the big money end, they definitely notice a difference (laughter).

Q. You were in Egypt for how many total days?
PETER LONARD: I went there for about eight or nine days. Stopped off in England for a couple days, went back to Egypt, came back to England for a couple days and went home.

Q. Where are you going this year?
PETER LONARD: I think on my week off I'm going to go see Nickelback play in Wembley, which is a rock band, and then I've got a mate who's a singer and he's playing in Germany, and I might go see him for a couple of days, and then I'll come back. But I've got to win this tournament to afford to go there.

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