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March 6, 2009

Will MacKenzie


DAVE SENKO: Will, maybe just get us started, if you could talk a little about your day. You're in at 6-under after two days.
WILL MacKENZIE: I feel very blessed to be 6-under. I'm hitting it good enough to be 6-under, but you know how this golf course is: You can make a big one real quick, and I'm just trying to steer clear from that one. You've got some certain holes out there that towards the end of your round that are dicey, and trying to make 3s on them, and 4s.
DAVE SENKO: Looks like you bogeyed 14 and 16, and from then on, finished 3-under on your front side.
WILL MacKENZIE: I sort of whiffed one in No. 10, but made birdie. That was nice. I mean, birdieing 10, I don't know how I made birdie on that hole, the first hole of the day, at 7:45 a.m.
Coming towards the front side, which is my back -- do you want me to go through this, or do you want me to just tell you I was hitting it good and making some putts?
I've got my golf coach, I worked with on Wednesday, for the first time in a while, Kevin Smeltz from David Leadbetter Golf Academy. I have not worked with him in a long time and we started working on some old things because I was Stacking-and-Tilting for a long time. I worked with Kevin again, it was real nice. He gave me good visualization and I started flushing it.
They were talking about it yesterday, I missed four cuts in a row, but I didn't really play that bad on the West Coast. I just was really struggling out there on the greens. I looked at my greens in regulation on the West Coast. It wasn't that bad at all, I was Top 20. I was just 3-putting like crazy and you are not going to beat anybody out here if you don't putt well.
So I'm putting well. Working with Gio Valiente, my sports psychologist. I've been working with him lately. He got me releasing the putter and trying to keep my head still. I mean, Golf 101, keeping my head still. I move it all over the place. I love to see that ball rolling.
You know, great putters just keep their heads still. Tiger Woods at the U.S. Open, when he hit that last putt, to get in the playoff, I guess, the thing was bouncing down there, and you could just see he was hitting his stroke and letting it go. I hit and look a lot, and I've been doing that a lot lately. So Gio helped me with that.
I'm fighting it out there. I've got some things in my mind that I'm working on in the full swing and in the putter, so it's not -- I've got things that are little keys that are helping me. That's what I'm doing. I'm thinking a lot. I'm tired; mental.
Any questions?

Q. When you say you whiffed one on 10 --
WILL MacKENZIE: I sort of didn't hit it very well. But I got away with it. Like I pulled it a little bit left and it bounced right to about 12 feet and made it.

Q. You said that you played pretty well, you thought, out on the West Coast, just was a matter of putts. Is confidence ever -- does that ever get a little bit shaky after something like that, or do you just know that eventually putts are going to start falling, so you don't worry about it too much?
WILL MacKENZIE: My confidence ebbs and flows, I'm sure, like most golfers. I know that sooner or later, it's going to come around. I'm going to start clicking, or at least I pray that I'm going to.
But yeah, I was down on myself. I was frustrated. You can ask my wife; I was pretty bummed out on the West Coast. I missed four cuts in a row. That's not the way to start the year.
Went out to Maui. Almost played really well in Maui. And then I shot like 74 in that bad wind one day (at Sony Open on Oahu). I think I shot 74-68 and didn't really play bad. Then I shot like 11-in, but I just could not make it from anywhere at the Bob Hope. Then I just had one bad day at Pebble and one bad day at Riviera.
Yeah, I was pretty down on myself. I've been searching, this past week. I had a week off and I was searching pretty good. And it was really nice to see Gio. And it was really nice to see Kevin, that's what I'm saying. I haven't worked with a coach in a long time, over a year, and it was just nice to see those guys and come up with a little bit of structure and something to work on, because I can get out on the putting green and just be hitting putts, and just aimlessly be hitting putts and not be learning much.
Right now I feel like I have a couple of keys I'm working on to get back to square one.

Q. When you won last fall, the year did not end probably the way you wanted it to. You made some cuts and that was really about it. Was it more of the same, towards the end of last year, you got the win and the natural instinct, just relax a little bit after something like that?
WILL MacKENZIE: I probably wasn't very prepared for the events. I was raising my son, too. I wasn't really into golf too much. I was out there working, but probably a little haphazard work.

Q. Same as you were talking on the greens.
WILL MacKENZIE: Yeah, you get out there, you start hitting balls and if it's not coming off, you're just -- if it's coming off, whenever you're hitting it well and you've got the feel, it doesn't really matter, you've just got it. But when you don't, you've got to have some kind of structure there, and I typically don't.
We were just really blessed that I somehow willed out that victory over there at Viking to salvage the year, and yeah, I should have gone to another level. I should have played pretty solid for the rest of the year, and didn't.
But you know, I did the same thing, like you said at the beginning of this year. I don't know what it is with me. I can play good golf but I'm just not very consistent (chuckling).

Q. You talked about there are holes you can make a big number in a hurry and everybody talks about the Bear Trap holes. The 6th hole, would you put that in that category, also?
WILL MacKENZIE: What's No. 6? Yes, you've got to put 6 in there. It's one of those ones, and even No. 5, even, if you get cute -- if you try to get cute at all, because the way that green runs, you're looking at your front yardage really being a lot more on the left. Every foot you go, is another foot of a front yardage. So where that pin creeps, you've got to be really careful to take your medicine and hit it 20 feet right of the pin.
Yeah, 6 is a tee shot that you have to come up with a game plan. You've got to either know that you're going to try to hit it hard down the dead center; or you are just sort of going to poof one to the right and let the wind sort of work on it and try to move it off the bunker just a little bit.
But anything 10, 15 yards right of the hazard line has potential of kicking left and moving that way. I mean, everything sort of starts falling that way. Obviously the second shot is not very easy, either, but Johnson Wagner and I hit shots in there today, I mean, I made birdie there I think. I sort of didn't hit -- I hit a great drive, I think we both did. I think we both hit 6-iron in there, or he might have hit 5. You can definitely have a disaster there.
I've played this golf course a lot, and I've had some troubles on certain holes. I don't know what you do. You just go up there and try to get sort of fearless and do one or the other, sort of baby it out to the right and go ahead and just, I'm going to hit this thing and hope.

Q. Does it mean much that after the halfway point a couple of years ago, you were in the mix on this course? Is there any sense of a carry over when you know you've played well somewhere before, does that matter a lot to you?
WILL MacKENZIE: Well, I've always liked this golf course. I was on the mini-tours on the Golden Bear Tour in 2003 and we played the golf course several times. It's a ball-striker's golf course, and when I'm hitting it well, I hit it really decent. I can handle the wind.
And you know, the key is to get to 6-under and hang in there, because I faded, and it's easy to fade on this golf course. You've got to somehow have confidence and take your medicine when you have to, like on 5 or 6. There's some times that you need to make the 5, or the 4, and swallow your pride and make bogey, because a bogey is not going to kill you.
I almost made a humongous number today on 14, hit it in the hazard right. It flew the green and it was a beeline and got it up-and-down and got a free drop. I don't even know if it was legitimate. The new rules official came over there, I've never seen him before. He gave me a drop from a movable obstruction that was out-of-bounds. My ball was in-bounds, we determined, but there was a little fence out-of-bounds, and I was up against it.

Q. So as long as you were in-bounds, then you were okay?
WILL MacKENZIE: Right. I've got to thank that guy. (Laughter).

Q. The guy at the Leadbetter Academy, is he based here now that they are here?
WILL MacKENZIE: No, sir. But he set up a school. He's still in Orlando.

Q. You had that adventurous escape from golf; have you conformed to life on the PGA TOUR, or do you still yearn for the adventurous life, or how is that going?
WILL MacKENZIE: Of course I yearn for it. But I'm 34. I got beat up a little bit. Just had knee surgery last year. I miss being in the mountains, being in the water and stuff. But I love playing golf. I love what I'm doing now. It's really fun.
There's a time for everything. Everybody can't be a heliboarder forever, really, or a Class V kayaker forever. You can, but you can't be a professional golfer at the same time. It's tough.

Q. Where do you find your adventure now?
WILL MacKENZIE: I'm definitely finding it just -- really not been that adventure some lately. Pretty much just being on the water. I've got a place on the water. I've got a boat. I love to fish. I love to fly fish. I tie my own flies. I could live in the Bahamas forever and just try to bonefish and catch tarpin and stuff. I like that. It's really gratifying. It's competitive, sort of, against myself, and you don't really hurt yourself. You take a hook in the finger a lot, but other than that, you're good.

Q. Do you live on one of the golf courses that's on the water here now?
WILL MacKENZIE: No. I'm living up in Tequesta.

Q. Curious, when you say you had not seen Gio for a year or you had not seen Kevin or a year, what prevented you from giving them a call over the off-season just for a checkup?
WILL MacKENZIE: I saw Kevin right before Viking where I won. I wasn't really doing what he was telling me to do, though.
I've seen Gio. I saw Gio once during the off-season. He came. I just keep a little separate. I don't like to be the guy that gets coached to death. I might need it a little bit more, but I like to get the info and then run with it and try to make it mine.
You know, Gio said he's left me alone because I haven't been calling him, and Kevin, I've sort of been doing it myself. And I had left Kevin to go with the Stack and Tilt guys. Then I was sort of out of the Stack and Tilt and sort of in-between last year of what I really wanted to do. I think I'll probably sort going to see Kevin periodically.

Q. What is next for you? What's the next thing or next level you're working for? Where do you want to get to?
WILL MacKENZIE: I could come in Top-30 on the Money List if I put my mind to it; I possibly could. That's a big deal.
Yeah, I think I could win a major championship one day, but can ya? It's really difficult out here. Everybody is gunning and everybody is really good. I would like to try to come in Top-30 on the Money List before I quit this game, and play in THE TOUR championship, play in some big events. I've only played in one major championship. I'm obviously going to play in the PGA this year because I won Viking last year.
But I would love to mix it up and play with -- I don't feel that -- those guys are better than me, obviously, those guys. But I feel like I can play with them. It's just that they play like that a lot. I was hitting balls beside Sergio today and the other day, and the guy is just good. He's just great. And he works hard at it; you know, now that he's got his putting on order.
I think I can play with those guys, but until you really do, you never know. But I would love to play in some bigger tournaments. I've been saying that for a while now, but haven't quite made it there. I'm playing in the regular PGA TOUR events, and I would like to play in some majors.

Q. What do you see holding yourself back?
WILL MacKENZIE: I'm not sure. I mess around a lot, with my golf swing and my game, and I go through lulls where, like I said, I don't have a great structure of like: This is what makes my swing work, two or three little keys and I always fall back on that.
I watch Tiger swing and I go, 'I'm going to start trying to swing like Tiger.' You can't swing like Tiger. He's Tiger.
Sometimes I watch Ted Purdy or somebody swing and I'm like, I like Purdy's swing. I used to have a swing called the Willie-Mac; or I tried to swing just like Steve Elkington and I felt good over it.
I'm sort of blown by the wind a little bit. I change. I Claw it; I putt regular; I putt cross-handed. You've got to get dialed in to be great. You've got to sort of have your little thing and I tend to change a lot. Maybe that could be holding me back a little bit.

Q. You mentioned your child. You have one child?
WILL MacKENZIE: Yes, sir.

Q. How does that change you, maybe even free up your mind to have that escape or that time with your child?
WILL MacKENZIE: I love being with him. So I mean, it's just a blast being around him. Watching him grow every day -- definitely, when I shoot a 74, when I come home and look at him and he's laughing, I sort of forget about it. I used to sort of beat my head up against the wall. I would bash it and be very frustrated.
Yeah, just pretty much that. Just knowing that, you know, this is my son, my wife and I's son. I'm looking forward to all of the things that I did with my father. But I want him to come up and I want to teach him right. I don't want him thinking, you know, my dad could have been good, you know. I would like to play well, not just for my son; obviously for myself. I want him to be proud of his father; I always was. I don't think I don't have my act together, but I could definitely tighten up. This is my one shot. You only have one shot at this life.
So I haven't quite found my -- but then again, you never know. I might be playing to my potential right now. You never know. Hope not.

Q. Have you ever played solely motivated by money?
WILL MacKENZIE: I don't think so, no. You know, there were times obviously that's on where you are your mind when you're coming up. I didn't go to college. I always had jobs. I knew money meant a lot to me because I had to eat. I wasn't like high school with my parents, college scholarship and then straight to an endorsement deal.
So on mini-tours, I was out there, like, I want to beat these dudes and make the most money. That could carry over a little bit and get in the way for the love of the game. I love playing and practicing. I love golf. I love the idea of it.
Yeah, I want to make money, but I don't believe that I play for the money.

Q. If you were still thinking about -- it's silly to say it out there, but if you were still worried about where the next check is coming from, could you be this way and enjoy the game as much as you do?
WILL MacKENZIE: Probably not. Then you're adding more weight over every little shot you hit. You're out here just thinking about, this is for this and this is for that; instead of going, this is going to be fun to make.

Q. So it stands to reason that you enjoy it, not just because you're a better striker or player than you were on the mini-tours; you just enjoy the totality of the game more now.
WILL MacKENZIE: I enjoy it, but I enjoy being here. I enjoy the success that I've had to get here, and I obviously want to go forward.

Q. What were a couple of those jobs that you had to get by, in those get-years?
WILL MacKENZIE: I was a dish dog in Montana for a long time. I also cooked. I was a kayak guide. I worked for Big Sky Pro Patrol. I was a wilderness emergency medical technician. I've roofed houses. I've done way more than that.
Let me think back in the days in high school. I worked at Taco Bell obviously. I was a security guard. And then my dad had like a temporary service, my brothers and my dad. He actually had a security service back in the days and we were always like random security guards. We were terrible. We were like this (slumped in chair, snoring).

Q. What were you guarding?
WILL MacKENZIE: Big Sky, I was a security guard right when I got there. I was a security guard for Big Sky, Montana. I was the security guy for like the dorms, because basically it's like college there, because the employment is all like the people who didn't go to college. I was looking over them, and they are not good. I mean, if anything, like the trash can would be on fire, I'm like, "That's okay. Keep doing what you're doing. At ease, man."
Finally, I obviously never shaved very often, and they finally fired me. He saw me when I was supposed to be on duty when I was in the cafeteria just crushing breakfast at 9:30. He was like, dude, you need to be on duty.
I'm like: I am, I need to get fed first, unshaven. I think they made a huge mistake on my check because I was getting paid like $15 an hour and you're supposed to get paid like $7. I felt like I was just making a fortune.
I worked at big sky and helped build the tram, which is the gondola, single-span, I tied Rebar and got flown to work on a helicopter every morning. That was a very cool job. I made a bunch of money doing that, working 60 hours a week over time making about 12 or 15 bucks tying Rebar. Almost died a lot. Because we were building walls obviously, huge walls, like 30- to 40-foot concrete walls, and I was up there tying the grid of Rebar, because I was a climber. They selected three guys as laborers, this company from Alaska, Matrix Construction Company. They selected me, which was nice. And that was a fun job.

Q. But you almost died.
WILL MacKENZIE: Well, it would be blowing about 20 up there, and you're up there harnessed in on Rebar going (swaying). That was sketchy. It was fun, though.
DAVE SENKO: Thanks, Will.

End of FastScripts

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