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April 19, 2009

Brian Gay


MARK STEVENS: We'd like to welcome Brian Gay the 2009 Verizon Heritage champion. Brian, if you'll just start off with some general comments about your round and then we'll take questions.
BRIAN GAY: Thank you. Yeah, another unbelievable day. Got off to a great start with a birdie, eagle, kind of propelled me forward. I just told myself to keep my head down, keep plugging along. I didn't watch any boards. I didn't look at anything, just kept playing, trying to make birdies.

Q. How does that jacket match your pants?
BRIAN GAY: Not as bad as I thought, actually (laughter). But I wasn't worried about it. It was my last clean outfit I had for the week, I was planning on wearing the pants, I wasn't going to worry about the jacket.

Q. Brian, was it at all difficult to maintain that focus because after the eagle drops on 2, you've got a six-shot victory there? And you've got to know you're kind of increasing the lead you came in with?
BRIAN GAY: No, I wasn't. I was still nervous. It calmed me down a little bit, but it didn't change anything. There were so many holes left I knew I had to stay focused and keep hitting good, solid shots.

Q. You mentioned yesterday that when you went in the final round in Mexico with a pretty big lead you kind of played conservatively and didn't feel real comfortable in that. Was that part of why you went out today and decided you're going to keep trying to make birdies no matter what?
BRIAN GAY: Yeah. I learned a lot from that. And the course is a little bit different because there are more hazards and more water on that golf course. The greens here are so small that you've got to step up and hit great shots to hit it on the green. If you hit it on the green, you're going to have a pretty good chance of birdie. Mayakoba was a little more defense as far as playing away from hazards and further from the hole, because the fringe is bigger.
I knew I was playing good enough, if I kept hitting good shots I could make birdies.

Q. Your second win, you've been playing for a long time. And such a great -- 20 strokes. How do you feel right now? What's your feeling?
BRIAN GAY: A little bit of relief, pretty happy. Glad it's over. It's never as easy as it looks. Just a little bit of validation, coming back this year and winning again.

Q. Do you think you read No. 2 right?
BRIAN GAY: No. 2? Yeah. That was pretty lucky. Long putt, but it's nice to see it go in.

Q. You touched on it a little bit, but how much did that start maybe calm you down after the first and second hole there?
BRIAN GAY: Honestly it didn't calm me down as much as I thought it would. And in a little bit of a way it made me a little more nervous when I got on the next tee. I thought, I've got to be up by six or seven now.
But it always helps. The further ahead you can get the better.

Q. Did you have a feeling after the Pro Am Wednesday or after a rain section this week, did you tell somebody, I may win this week or I'm hitting it so good it's unbelievable?
BRIAN GAY: No, I never do that. That's the kiss of death. If you're playing good, it's a battle between confident or overconfident. Surprisingly, I'm usually not the greatest player on Wednesdays, and I played really well on Wednesday for some reason. Even on Wednesday I had a better focus about me. In the Pro Am I'm usually not that great. And I played beautifully Wednesday, and just carried it through the whole week.

Q. So how did you get that focus and if you know? And how are you going to keep it from here on out?
BRIAN GAY: Well, I think a lot has to do with the golf course. I like coming here, it's just picturing the shots on the tee boxes and everything is framed so well out there with the trees. The golf course makes a big difference, where you're playing, just what your eye sees.

Q. Brian, you mentioned yesterday you grew up in Louisville or spent time in Louisville, can you tell us more about how much time you spent there and being so close to there, here?
BRIAN GAY: Louisville, Georgia is my mother's hometown. I lived there as a youngster before I was in Germany and ended up in Alabama from 5th grade to high school. I was around The Masters as a kid. And I went there, I was probably eight or nine years old the first time I went there. So it's always been my favorite tournament.
A great place. I've been there a bunch and everybody at the golf course said I'd never go play it until I got in the tournament. So I figured I'd wait and play my way in.

Q. Did you start playing golf in Louisville or did that come later?
BRIAN GAY: Yeah. Let me think for a second. Well, I really started playing once I moved to Alabama. I hit it around a little bit in Georgia, but I moved to Alabama when I was nine or ten. When I was ten was the first summer I really started playing.

Q. Where in Alabama?
BRIAN GAY: My dad was stationed at Fort Rucker.

Q. You say that you weren't watching the leaderboard at all, was anybody kind of looking and would let you know if someone was making a charge? Was anyone kind of keeping tabs on the rest of the field?
BRIAN GAY: Normally my caddie is; we didn't even talk about it. I assume being a few under par with the late start and I was pretty far ahead, but didn't really know. I didn't even ask him until 18. I said, "Who's in second?" He said, "I don't know." I said, "How far ahead am I?" And he said, "I don't know."

Q. When you're playing real well like that, do you get some type of feeling that you might just relax a little bit or something, you might let it go?
BRIAN GAY: I didn't really relax until the last three holes, really. I figured I could get it in from there. But I was -- like I said, I kept telling myself I had a lot of people, friends and family show up and I kept the blinders on, I just kept looking ahead of me and I wasn't paying any attention to who was out there and what was going on.

Q. When did you think about, I'm going to get in The Masters if I win this, yesterday and today?
BRIAN GAY: I thought about it last night. I saw some of the coverage and some on The Golf Channel. We talked about it a little bit, but it is what it is. I've had a lot of heartache not getting in that tournament, winning, not getting in, and missing by one spot on the money list two times. I just figured, who cares? What's going to happen, is going to happen, just go play golf.

Q. When you won Mayakoba did you realize that didn't get you in?
BRIAN GAY: You know, there was some confusion about it. I wasn't sure if it did or not. It was a FedExCup tournament. Some people -- I thought it didn't, and then I had people telling me, oh, that gets you in. But I was pretty sure that it didn't.

Q. Was there conversation between you and Wilkinson at 18? Did he say anything to you like, man, you're just going crazy?
BRIAN GAY: No, I was pretty focused. We didn't -- just complimentary, we didn't really chat it up today.

Q. You know Davis has won five times here and Boo won last year and the year before that. Is there anything about this course and the setting that would lend itself to a Southerner playing well here and being comfortable here?
BRIAN GAY: I guess just the atmosphere and the weather and the grass, just a fun place to come to, it's a relaxing place, just a tremendous golf course.

Q. How so the grass? You said the grass --
BRIAN GAY: Bermudagrass on the fairways, and of course the greens have some over seed in them. But it's the same grass as anywhere in the South.

Q. It would remind you of grasses you played in Alabama as a kid?
BRIAN GAY: Yeah, sure, Florida or Alabama or wherever.

Q. This is a hometown event that really embraces its champions. You seem like a reserved guy. They expect a lot with their champions. Are you going -- Boo set it pretty high.
BRIAN GAY: Yeah, he did now. I'll be happy to do whatever they need me to do. I went down to Mexico in November and had Media Day for them in their off-season, and that was fun. I look forward to coming back here.

Q. Are you playing this upcoming week? Are you almost afraid to stop playing right now, you're playing so good?
BRIAN GAY: No, I already planned to take next week off. I'm going to have a week off, and play Wachovia in Charlotte and The Players.

Q. Are you going to try to play every day leading up to next weekend and that tournament, not letting this cool off at all?
BRIAN GAY: No, I won't play every day. I'm sure I'll have a couple of days off and then get home and settle in and practice a little bit. I'll probably play a couple of times before I go to Charlotte.

Q. How was it during the week and as you're getting closer? How was it with your daughters every night? Were you playing with them? And they probably don't have a clue what you're doing, of course, but what was it like with them?
BRIAN GAY: Last night we went for a little bike ride when we got back around the harbor and hung out and got some pizza. It was a low-key week. Didn't go out at night and just kind of hung around and relaxed.

Q. When you think back to that first trip to Augusta and maybe tell us what you most liked about that place and what you're most looking forward to next April?
BRIAN GAY: It's just a beautiful place. Just good memories going there as a kid. I went there a few times in high school and in college. I hadn't been there in about eight or ten years. You just don't realize until you go there how beautiful it is and how hilly. It's just an awesome place.

Q. Brian, you've had so many top 10's in your career, this being your first win where the full field of anyone was able to enter the play. Do you feel like this might open the flood gates, taking the lead by ten shots today?
BRIAN GAY: I hope so, yeah. Definitely winning last year propelled me to have my best year ever. And I got off to a great start this year. And now the last four to six weeks have been a little bit of a struggle, played a lot better than my results, and I just came here and blew it out. So it was nice.

Q. What do you think is the difference between the guy who was out there for so long and didn't win and now the guy in a year that won twice and maybe could win a third time?
BRIAN GAY: You know, a lot of it's trust, believing in yourself, confidence, it's a lot of mental, it's a lot of experience, learning golf courses. I think I'm a different player than way back. I've been moving, kind of going up, up, up the last three years. Made some swing changes, since that point it's gotten better. I haven't been making changes since then, I stuck with the same thing. And I've just been real consistent.
MARK STEVENS: Brian, if you would go through your birdies and eagle and one bogey.
BRIAN GAY: No. 1, driver and 8-iron, probably 12 feet or so.
No. 2, driver, 3-wood and I don't know, somebody said it was 80 feet or something, I don't know, 70 feet, eagle.
No. 5, par-5 hit a driver and 3-iron pin high just on the left fringe about 25, 30 feet from the hole, ran it by about five or six feet and made it coming back.
No. 8 a driver and 6-iron pin-high just off the edge, 30 feet or so.
12, drive down the left, 6-iron, it was my one snafu of the day. I had the wind was out of the left, and I was going to draw a 6-iron, and it turned left of the green, pretty much dead. I got it up there about 10-footer for par to make it.
13, I hit a 4-wood and pitching wedge to about ten feet, birdie.
15, I hit a driver, layup with a 6-iron and sand wedge to six feet.
16, I hit a 3-wood, in a divot behind the tree and did an unbelievable high slice pitching wedge out of the divot, pin-high to the right, perfect, 16, 18 feet, made the putt:

Q. I was curious, I know you grew up in a military background and I think in your early days on Tour you dressed in a conservative fashion, how did it come about that you're wearing these more colorful outfits?
BRIAN GAY: I don't know, last year I just decided -- last few years just got a little more -- I've always been kind of picky about my clothes, but just got a little more fashion forward, if you will. I just have gotten into it the last year, found some great guys up in Canada, and I started wearing that last year, and I'm having fun with the colors and belt buckles and that sort of stuff.

Q. Is this course really conducive to your game, because it rewards your good shot, penalizes bad ones? It's really not a putting contest.
BRIAN GAY: Yeah, this course you have to do everything. You have to hit everything. You've got to be accurate. You have to hit unbelievable iron shots behind the trees and swirling winds and small targets. No matter how good you hit it, you're not going to hit all the greens, so you have to have short shots around the green. You've pretty much got to do it all.

Q. Speaking of the swirling winds, was the 66 in Friday and the swirling winds, was that the round of the week for you, maybe more so than so much focus will be on what you did today, but that was really strong.
BRIAN GAY: Yeah, it was really tough Friday. Gosh, I'd say today was the round of the week.

Q. I'm sorry, what?
BRIAN GAY: I'd say today was the round of the week. They're all pretty good, though.

Q. I know you didn't show it, but looking at the leaderboard, you've got one career victory and you're looking at Major champions down the leaderboard going down today, was that in the back of your mind at all, thinking, I've got to close this deal?
BRIAN GAY: Yeah, for sure. I couldn't help but notice Davis's name there, he could come out hot and shoot a low one in front of me, and put pressure. But like I say, I knew I just had to go out and continue to play good golf and keep focused on what I was doing.

Q. When you play with Sergio or Phil Mickelson, guys who are really long, can you club off of them or --
BRIAN GAY: No, I usually don't -- I occasionally play with a guy who may be similar upon a par-3 -- Phil hits his irons long, probably longer than anybody. It's not somebody that I would pay any attention to what he hit.
MARK STEVENS: Thank you very much, Brian, for taking the time, and good luck to you down the road.

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