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August 30, 2008

John Merrick


STEWART MOORE: We'd like to welcome John Merrick to the interview room here at the Deutsche Bank Championship as the PGA TOUR continues its Playoffs for the FedExCup. Second round 68 out there, 10-under par, right now trailing Mike Weir by three, but certainly playing some good golf, and obviously yesterday a lot of low scores. You knew you had to come out this morning and kind of keep it going, and you certainly did that.
JOHN MERRICK: Yeah, I mean, I feel like every tournament this year has been so windy, like 15, 20 miles an hour, and this week there hasn't been any wind, so it feels like you can make some birdies out there. It feels good.
STEWART MOORE: Earlier this year you were in contention at Mayakoba. I believe you had the 18- and 36-hole lead down in Mexico, and then in New Orleans you held the 54-hole lead, but it was kind of a situation where everyone kept playing; it wasn't like a final pairing Sunday with the drama; we just kept playing through the rain. Do you take anything from those two experiences of being in the limelight?
JOHN MERRICK: Absolutely. Yeah, I've learned a lot playing in those last groups and playing -- this is my second year on TOUR. Yeah, just kind of learned to take in the moment and slow down because you naturally kind of want to speed up. It's just another day on the golf course and just do the best you can.

Q. What was your week like at the Open?
JOHN MERRICK: At San Diego? Yeah, it was probably the highlight of my career so far. I mean, there was a bunch of family and friends that came down, and I remember playing Junior Worlds out at that golf course, at Torrey Pines, and just had a lot of nice memories there. To play well in front of a home crowd was awesome. Yeah, it was great.

Q. You know, you kind of -- as good a finish as you had, you kind of flew under the radar because of everything that was happening. Did you ever get to the point where you were close that week, close to the lead?
JOHN MERRICK: I'm trying to think. I think I was four back from -- I think they were 1-under, I think I was 3-over. I don't think I ever got closer than that. I'm not sure.
STEWART MOORE: Just looking at your stats through two rounds, a lot has been made of the conditioning out there being absolutely perfect. You've hit 30 of 36 greens. You're hitting it well, your irons are on point, you get your putter going and there's another 64 out there waiting tomorrow do you believe?
JOHN MERRICK: The golf course, I believe it suits my game pretty well because I tend to hit it a little farther than average but not as straight, but there's definitely some room out there to hit it. You still have to drive it well. You can kind of bomb it out there on a couple holes, and I think that plays to my advantage.
Yeah, the greens are receptive for now. Yeah, I think there was some rain last night, and yeah, you can be aggressive and shoot at some flags. I think, yeah, the scoring is going to be great all week, I think, if the greens say soft and the wind stays down.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about the way the playoffs are going for you?
JOHN MERRICK: They're great for me right now (laughing). I think the way it's set up, it's like, geez, if you're outside the top 50 or if you're 100th or something, you're excited because a couple good weeks and you're moving way up the leaderboard. If you're 10th going into the playoffs and you miss a couple of cuts, you hate this new system.
Yeah, I think I finished 38th last week and moved up 20-something spots. So you can just make a crazy run in these things.

Q. What were your expectations coming into the playoffs?
JOHN MERRICK: I tried not to think too much about the points and what a finish would mean here or there or whatever. You know, every day there's enough to think about on the golf course, you know, hitting your ball straight, getting it into the hole. That's what I'm mostly focusing on. But I think there's a lot to play for, obviously. But you kind of need to put that in the back of your mind when you go out and play.

Q. So even with the huge amount of cash that's on the line, you haven't allowed yourself to think about that?
JOHN MERRICK: Well, I mean, yeah, I've thought about it, but you're not on the golf course thinking about it. If you're doing that, there's something wrong. Yeah, everybody knows what the stakes are. The scoring is good, and that's probably a factor of everyone is really on their game right now, I think, trying to play for this title.

Q. Can we go through your birdies?
JOHN MERRICK: 10th hole, I hit it in the right rough and hit an 8-iron out to about ten feet right of the hole, made that one.
15, right rough again, and I wanted to hit a 9-iron but my caddie told me to hit a wedge. I hit a wedge, I listened to him. He was right for once (laughter). I hit it just behind the hole about six feet and made it.
Hit it on the green in two on 18 and two-putted.
Did the same on No. 2; I hit a hybrid club and had a good chance for eagle, about ten feet, and missed it.
No. 5, that was probably my best birdie. That's a really tough hole. Hit a drive down the right side and a 6-iron out to about 20 feet right of the hole and made kind of a downhill right-to-left putt.

Q. Does it seem like you're going to have to keep going low?
JOHN MERRICK: I think so, yeah. On this course the way it's set up right now, yeah, I think you've got to keep keeping your foot on the accelerator and keep making birdies.

Q. What were the conditions like out there today compared to yesterday?
JOHN MERRICK: They were about the -- the greens were a little softer, but the course is just a little softer just because it's in the morning and there's been some rain, I think, last night. The course was running out more yesterday because I played in the afternoon. But it's just a little softer. The ball is not going as far off the tee, but you can be more aggressive coming into the greens.
STEWART MOORE: John, thanks so much. Good luck the rest of the week.

End of FastScripts

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