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October 15, 2008

George McNeill


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: At this time we'd like to welcome the defending champion this week, George McNeil. Welcome back to Las Vegas. Maybe some opening comments about your season. You've earned almost $1 million on tour this year following up your successful rookie season. Maybe coming back to Las Vegas obviously some great feelings here at TPC Summerlin for you.
GEORGE McNEILL: Yeah, absolutely. Played a practice round yesterday and I can remember it like it was yesterday walking around every round almost last year. Remembering where I hit it and where most of them were good and some of them were not so good. Definitely some good feelings.

Q. What does it feel like to be a defending champion? What kind of pressure is on your shoulders?
GEORGE McNEILL: Honestly, I haven't felt really any pressure. I don't feel any different than any other event that I've been to, other than more than one or two people know who I am. So that's the difference. And seeing my picture and name in a few more spots.
But I don't necessarily feel any added pressure that I supposedly have to play well or -- every week you're trying to play well and do what you can to advance up the leaderboard and the Money List and everything else. So I don't necessarily feel any different.

Q. Could you talk about what the ailment was and how close you were to maybe not coming back?
GEORGE McNEILL: It was just a brief health scare. It was something that had to be assessed at the time. It has been assessed and everything is taken care of, and I'm all better.

Q. What was it specifically?
GEORGE McNEILL: It was -- well, at first, the first initial thought was that I had lymphoma. It turned out obviously not to be. It was a bronchial cyst in my neck. It was about the size of a golf ball that had somehow flared up and June, and come May -- excuse me, come August, the doctor said, We need to do this right now.
They didn't know exactly what it was, and the first thoughts of the doctors were cancer. It was something that it turned out not to be anything. It was just something that happened to flare when it did.
Like I said, everything is better now and I'm out playing golf.

Q. How long did that keep you off?
GEORGE McNEILL: I was out -- actually, I played the first two events of the FedEx Playoffs, the Barclays and the Deutsche Bank. I didn't qualify for the third one, so I was out that week, whatever -- I forget when it was, September, I guess, and I was out for five weeks.
But it only put me up for about two and a half or three weeks where I couldn't swing a club, and then once I started doing that -- actually, I played Turning Stone a few weeks ago.
I wasn't sure I was going to be able to play there. I thought at first this was going to be my first week back. But I felt fine and I felt good enough and healthy enough to go play Turning Stone, so I did. It's really boring sitting at home.

Q. Do you think maybe the time off was beneficial in a way to give you chance to kind of reenergize for the structure of the Fall Series?
GEORGE McNEILL: Yes and no. Yes because I never really had any time off in the middle of the season. It's nice to take some time off and relax and spend some time at home, do whatever I miss that I usually don't -- or do whatever I do when I usually miss stuff during the year.
I would like to have played in some of those events that I did miss obviously. I think that goes without saying. So there's good and bad.

Q. Sure.
GEORGE McNEILL: To have the health scare wasn't necessarily good, but to have time off, yeah, I enjoyed it.

Q. Can you talk about the difference of this event with Timberlake being involved this year and it just being more high profile?
GEORGE McNEILL: It's a big difference. I was just making a comment driving in here. There's a lot more people here for a Wednesday Pro-Am than what we're used to seeing. There's a lot of people on the range watching.
Obviously with the stars, not only Justin, but some of the other people, actors and athletes that showed up to support the event, I think it's wonderful.
And a lot players that normally wouldn't come here and play are playing. I don't know who does or does not play usually, but there's definitely some players, Zach Johnson is one of them. I actually played a practice round with him yesterday. He was making the comment that his wife made him come here because she wants to go see Justin Timberlake.
But he couldn't say anything -- he had so many good comments to say about the golf course as well. He hadn't played here in a while, and he was raving about the shape of the golf course is phenomenal, which I agree.
It's if better -- -if not as good, but better than last year, which it was great. It was perfect last year. A lot of players are raving about the golf course saying how good it is and what kind of shape it is. And not to only come out and have fun, but to enjoy Vegas.

Q. What's the one thing you're most insecure about?
GEORGE McNEILL: I really don't have any worries about anything. I've got a pretty good job. I have a pretty good life.
I don't know, I don't really think about a whole a lot. Maybe other than losing my hair right now.

Q. That's a good one. If I were to talk to your best friend or someone that knows you very well -- our show is about women like to get to know the athlete, and that's one of the reasons that women watch sports. So if I were to talk to one of your best friends or your mother or someone that really knows you well, what would they tell me is the absolute best thing that they love most about you?
GEORGE McNEILL: Wow, great question. I don't know. That I'm not an only child. Lots of my friends sometimes think that, but do I have siblings.

Q. Your qualities as a person.
GEORGE McNEILL: I don't know. I'm just pretty normal, I guess. Everybody asks me how winning last year changed my life, and I said, Didn't really change me at all. I still do a lot of the same things. I'm able to afford some nicer things that I wanted, a boat and stuff like that.
My life really hasn't changed. I have the same friends. I treat them the same way. They treat me the same way, which is that they don't let down when they can get a good rib in.
I really honestly don't think I've changed. Maybe some people would say so, but I feel no different than any time other than my bank account has changed a little bit.

Q. How does winning Q-School change you? How did you survive such a test like that?
GEORGE McNEILL: Qualifying School was obviously very difficult, and it has been for a lot of players, not only myself. I've been there nine times. If I never have to go back again, it'll be perfect. That would be -- I would enjoying that a lot. So it's nice having a fall off.
Giving it the time and practice and everything and just giving it one more shot was something that I wanted to do. When I started working, and then went back to playing competitively again and gave it one more shot at the Qualifying School, I don't think -- even if I didn't make it through that year I was probably going to still keep playing.
It's just something. I don't know. It's -- to be able to go out and win and prove to myself that I can win on a level such as this, at the time, it was a lot of gratification. And then to win in my rookie year obviously here last year I was going, Wow, I actually am pretty good at this game sometimes.
That self-gratification, that all the work that I put in has paid off, to come out and almost kind of feel like I belong.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Anything else? Okay. George, good luck this week.
GEORGE McNEILL: Thank you.

End of FastScripts

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