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March 26, 2009

Mark Wilson


DOUG MILNE: Mark Wilson, thanks for joining us for a few minutes after a very well played round 1 of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, 3-under par 67, just one of two bogey-free rounds. Some pretty good company you were traveling with today. Just a few comments on the round and the fact that you played best of the three.
MARK WILSON: Scored best of the three, I guess. I had a good time out there. I love playing with Tiger. I actually got paired with him for the first time out on the PGA TOUR last year here for Thursday and Friday.
But the electricity and the energy on that first tee is something else with him, all the people cheering. I definitely was a little nervous. I managed to get that one on the fairway, and by the time I got to the third hole I felt kind of normal.
And he's a great guy to play with. He makes you feel at ease, and he was joking around out there and it was fun to see him get some birdies there and get the crowd into it.

Q. Did you hear the guy on the first tee mention that there were 17 majors among you guys?
MARK WILSON: No, I didn't hear that. I just know I have two TOUR wins. I know they have a lot more than me.

Q. You've won since they have.
MARK WILSON: That's true, that's true, good point.

Q. Looked like you and Padraig were sharing a few laughs early in the round.
MARK WILSON: We were talking about our families, and he's got two little ones. I have a little one, so we were just kind of swapping stories about that. He said he saw a funny thing yesterday in the pro-am where a guy was trying to videotape his swing, and there was an elderly -- he was with his mother who looked like she was about 90 years old who was sitting in the cart next to him, and he's videotaping his swing, and all of a sudden the cart started to move with the woman in it and the man is not in it, he's focused on videotaping, and she rolled right down the hill about 50 yards away and he had no idea it happened, so that was the story he was tell me.

Q. Turned around and she was gone?
MARK WILSON: She was gone, but she was safe.

Q. Did you find it any different this year than it was last year? You talked about the energy and electricity.
MARK WILSON: Yeah, I think the difference was that last year we played in the morning, and I don't know, it's just when you tee off at 8:00 o'clock it's a little different to when you tee off at 1:00 o'clock like today. It's the same feeling last year on Friday when we played late in the afternoon when more people were there and everyone is excited and maybe a few more beverages in them as the day goes on. I think maybe a little more electricity in the afternoon like that.

Q. Does it get you more pumped up to just be -- you just won recently, but a lot of people probably still don't know who you are when you're paired with Tiger, and Harrington. So does it get you more eager to play well?
MARK WILSON: I think the only thing it does really is get me excited about playing well again. I mean, that's the thing, I've already won, and that's the one thing I admire about the top players in the world, the guys I played with today. They might win one week but come next Thursday they're ready to play again and win again. I didn't really do that at the Honda after playing well in Mexico. I came out flat.
I think it was great to see the pairing because I knew I wasn't going to be able to come out flat. It's like, this is going to be energizing and there's going to be a lot of energy, and it was great to see that pairing.

Q. Were you a little impressed with the Seve act that those guys were pulling off in the middle of the round, 8 and 9 those guys were getting up-and-down -- you were striping it down the fairway pretty much every time and these guys are making friends on the other side of the ropes.
MARK WILSON: Yeah, I only hit two greens though on the front side. I added it up. But I putted well and I felt like I was hitting quality shots, and then I think seven greens think I on the back nine, so it paid off in the end. No, I the shot that stands out today was Tiger on the first hole. The wind is whipping pretty good and he's got that 35-yard pitch shot out of the first cut, and I'm looking at it going, he could start out with a double here. It's an easy shot to hit short, leave in the rough and not get that one up-and-down. Then he hits a beautiful shot that leaves a ball mark and then rolls like a putt right into the middle of the hole. That was an impressive start to the day.

Q. Any good stories from the U.S. Junior?
MARK WILSON: I think just -- you know, he's a great competitor, but he also admires good play and clutch performances. The thing that stands out for me from that tournament is on 17 we both had I think six-foot par putts. I was a few inches outside of him and I made mine, and he rolled his in on top of mine and we walk to the 18th tee, and we really hadn't said anything all day, and this was a very new experience to me, 2,000 people walking along and we hadn't really had a chance to talk. Walk on the 18th tee, he just kind of said, "Nice putt there." We were even in the match, one hole left for the U.S. Junior, and here's this kid that I've been reading about all the time, I've got maybe a chance to win, and he kind of broke the ice there with saying, "nice putt." That stands out in my mind.
That's the way he is out here, too, when you play with him. He's very complimentary when you hit a good shot, and you like to return the favor when he hits good ones, too.

Q. When was the first time you guys ran into each other since that junior?
MARK WILSON: I mean, in college a little bit, but we never played together. You know, I played on the Hooters Tour. Obviously I didn't see him up there (laughter), but I did Monday qualify for the Western one year in Chicago and was playing good. I think I was in the Top 10 or something after two rounds, and so they asked him about me and if he remembered that tournament, and he did. So that was neat, that it's still in his memory, too.

Q. What's the state of your game today? Did you feel pretty good? You said you came out flat at Honda. At what point today did you realize, yeah, I'm going to be fine?
MARK WILSON: Yeah, I guess early in the round there just rolled in some good putts on the first hole, second hole, third hole, fourth hole, some par saves and a birdie putt in there, and that just kind of eased me.
It's one of those things where the swing doesn't feel perfect, but I think I'll get it in the fairway every once in a while and hit it close to the hole every once in a while and hopefully get it up-and-down when I don't. That's kind of what I did today. I think I only hit about half the greens, but I had a lot of one-putts and no silly three-putts or anything like that, and all of a sudden there's a good score.

Q. I couldn't see from where I was standing but it looked like you had about a 15-, 18-foot birdie putt on 1 that you left LPGA short.
MARK WILSON: Yeah, I did (laughing). I did. I was still a little nervous at that point, and with what happened, and Padraig almost chipped in, and I was like, boy, this is weird. I almost made like two birdies and now I have my 20-footer. Let's not do something silly. There's something about the first hole in any tournament, I usually get a little nervous. Right when I hit the putt there was also a wind gust that came up into me and then I looked really silly leaving it probably three and a half feet short on a 20-footer.

Q. I was actually more curious on just the greens themselves and how they compared to last year when I think they were not so great.
MARK WILSON: Yeah, they had some burned-out spots if I remember right. I can't totally remember last year exactly what the speed was and all that, but they are as good as I've seen them. I mean, they're rolling very true.

Q. Slower?
MARK WILSON: I think they're a very medium speed. Yeah, they're a speed that you can be somewhat aggressive with. You're not scared of just banging it by, like last week at Innisbrook where you had to be very cautious, so they're a good speed to make putts on.

Q. I know it's just one round and you're going to say it's just one round, but do you get to pump your chest out a little more, you just beat the two guys that won five of the last six majors?
MARK WILSON: That's what all my friends will tell me when they leave messages for me. I've played on TOUR now for so long, I know that -- it is four days. I've had good tournaments where I've just barely made the cut, and I've had some 30th places or whenever where I'm near the lead after two rounds. You've just got to keep going.
I'm thrilled with my start, though, so I can go out there tomorrow and hopefully continue what I did today. I know that is a basic answer you hear from us guys, but that's the truth.

Q. If you factor in the different starting times last year and this year, kind of throw that out, did it feel any different this year because of Tiger's return from knee surgery? I don't want to call it Tiger-mania, but --
MARK WILSON: There was more of the "Tiger is back" stuff. You hear comments like that.

Q. Did you sense that?
MARK WILSON: Yeah, sure I did. The "Tiger is back" comment was probably the most popular comment I heard out there today. That beat "you da man" out today, which was good. So yeah, I felt that.
On the first hole of course when he hit that shot and then when he made those four birdies in a row, on 14 you heard people going crazy around the par-3 green that "he's back" and all that. I'm sure Tiger is just laughing to himself going, yeah, whatever. He's just going to keep plugging just like I'm going to keep trying.
DOUG MILNE: If you wouldn't mind real quick taking us through your three birdies, giving us some clubs.
MARK WILSON: I hit it in the first cut close to the water on the third hole and hit a 52-degree wedge in there to like ten feet, made a nice right-to-lefter.
Then 12, I hit a good drive and then a 3-wood from 280 to the hole and just hit a beauty that went just over the green and had only like 15 feet for eagle, a little chip shot that I chipped to like two feet and knocked it in.
And then 15, just played 3-wood over to the left and that left me a 6-iron that I to the middle of the green and it trickled back to about eight feet or whatever, and it was a right center putt and rolled it right in. Those were the three.

Q. You described Tiger's shot today on 1. Was one of those your shot of the day or did you have something else that felt your shot of the day?
MARK WILSON: The one on 12, that was fun. I had kind of a right-to-left lie and if you miss that green right on the par-5 you're kicking yourself because it's going to be a near-impossible up-and-down. I hit a nice little draw in there that landed probably 10 yards on the green and just kind of trickled to the back, so that one stands out. I will remember that one and dream about it tonight and try and do it again tomorrow.

Q. What was your best par save?
MARK WILSON: Definitely 16. I hit a lousy drive over to the right and I got up-and-down from 70 yards. I had a shot where maybe I could try to hit a low cut 3-wood up there from the rough, but I'm glad I chose not to. I just hit a 4-iron short of the creek. That was probably my best one. The 4th hole was probably the best putt I made. I hit a bad bunker shot there. It released on me a little bit and I had a tickler left-to-righter.

Q. Do you think Mickelson was watching your club selection on 16?
MARK WILSON: Yeah, he was over there one year, wasn't he, and decided to go for it. I watch a lot of golf on TV, at least I used to. Yeah, he's won a lot of golf tournaments playing that way, so you can't fault him, at least I don't.
DOUG MILNE: Thanks for coming in.

End of FastScripts

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