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July 7, 2009

Martin Laird


SCOTT CROCKETT: Martin, thanks for coming in and joining us, and very warm welcome to the Barclays Scottish Open. Just give us your thoughts before we take some questions on being here and playing here this week, and indeed next week in The Open at Turnberry.
MARTIN LAIRD: Yeah, I can't wait to get started. It's obviously brilliant to be back in Scotland and a little bit different feeling than normal. I've never come back and played golf before. I'm excited to be back here. A great opportunity for me the next two weeks. It's great that Barclays has given me a spot this week that I can come and play and hopefully have a good week and obviously play my first Open Championship next week, I can't wait to get into that.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Speaking on the way down about your memories of Loch Lomond, take us through that.
MARTIN LAIRD: Yeah, I played here maybe when I was 15, and maybe even 14; 14, is a, in a Faldo Junior Series event, and I remember it was wet and I shot in the 80s and that's about all I remember. (Laughter).
SCOTT CROCKETT: Hoping to do a little bit better in the next couple of days?
SCOTT CROCKETT: How did you do today?
MARTIN LAIRD: It was good. I had fun out there today. It was about as much fun as I've had in a practise round in a long time. It was great to be out there and remembering the golf course and it was in fantastic shape, and I'm looking forward to playing.

Q. Is it a case when you do come back here, you chill out rather than playing golf?
MARTIN LAIRD: Yeah, I normally come back and see my family and friends. I try to get back twice a year but the last few years I've only came back once for three or four weeks. I try to get become at least three weeks over Christmas in December when the season is shut down and I see the family then, but I have not been back the last few years throughout the year.

Q. How has your game been, have you tried to change your swing or coach or something?
MARTIN LAIRD: Yeah, me and my previous coach, we were trying to make some changes with a view to maybe obviously getting better and maybe bringing a few more shots, maybe have a few more shots, and just trying to become more of a complete player, and for some reason, it just worked out not to be great for me, and I really struggled the first four months this year.
I mean, my ball-striking was terrible. I had pretty much no idea where the ball was going and I finally made the decision at New Orleans, which was probably two months ago now maybe, six weeks ago, to go and try another coach and kind of go back to the way it was -- a little more like it was before, and since then, it's been a lot better.
My game's come back. I'm starting -- the last few weeks I'm starting to hit it really good. My short game has been rough the last few weeks because I've been working on my ball-striking so much. But I'm going to work on that the next few days and hopefully I'll be ready to go Thursday.

Q. Is your coach here with you?
MARTIN LAIRD: No, he's not.

Q. Can you give us an idea of what life is like on the PGA TOUR in terms of the travel and tour events?
MARTIN LAIRD: I live in Arizona. Seeing as I'm based out of there and travelling out of there, it's probably pretty similar to what it would be like over here playing The European Tour, just don't need my passport when I fly, that's kind of the difference. I like it over there. I've settled there, and I wish I could come back and play more over here, but I've not quite had the success yet on the PGA TOUR where I can afford to take many weeks off and come back and play in Europe.
Hopefully in the next few years I can get to that level where I can come back and play some moreover here.

Q. When did it lodge inside your head that you were not going to be a European Tour player, but you were going to be a PGA TOUR player? Was that an ambition since you were a kid, or was it purely because you went to college in America and liked the life over there? How did you come to make that decision, in other words?
MARTIN LAIRD: It wasn't something that as a kid that I said I wanted to play the PGA TOUR, that's where I want to be.
When I first went to college over there, I had ambitions of turning pro, but I wasn't good enough when I went in, so it was a case of see how I go over the next four years in college over there.
You know, when I left, I had had a good college career and I turned pro, and you know, there's one thing that is maybe a bit better over there, mini-tours. You can make some money over there playing mini tours when you first turn pro and have no stats anywhere. I played good when I first turn pro and won a couple mini-tours events, and went to Q-School the first year over there just because I was playing the events and my game is probably more suited to play in America.
I think two knows where I would be right now if I didn't make it through Q-School that first year, but that first year I got through Q-School and got my Nationwide Tour card and I know it's one of those things that has had me settle professional-wise, that first year playing the Nationwide.
I always wanted to come back to The European Tour Q-School, but it's tough to do both. It might barely be doable but it's a lot of travelling and you're probably just better focusing on one.
It kind of worked out the way it's all been. That first year I couldn't come back to European Tour school because I was concentrating on trying to keep my Nationwide Tour card. That first year, I went back to the U.S. Tour school and got my card back again, and from then fortunately I've not had to go back to Q-School.

Q. Do you think The Open will be a distraction this week, or will you be able to concentrate fully on this tournament?
MARTIN LAIRD: You know, no, I don't think it was. I learned in whatever week we were before the U.S. Open, before I played the U.S. Open, the week before, wherever we were, all I was thinking about was the U.S. Open. That was Memphis and I missed the cut by one and I didn't play very good, and I kind of learned from that.
I'm here this week. Take care of what I've got to do next week when we get there. And I'm obviously excited to play The Open next week, but I'm just excited to play here this week. It not like I'm treating this as a warm-up. I want to come here and play well.

Q. Do your family and friends take the chance to go over and see you on the PGA TOUR often, and will they be out there supporting you this week?
MARTIN LAIRD: Yeah, my parents, they try to get over at least once a year and watch. So they come over maybe once, maybe twice. They came to The PLAYERS Championship early in the year in Florida, and one of my sisters saw me play once. I've not had any friends come over, so this is going to be the first time a lot of my aunts and uncles and cousins will ever see me play, which is going to be good.
There's going to be a lot out here Friday for sure, friends. I'm asking everyone I know if they can get spare tickets. One of my friends, they are starting a stag weekend here on Friday, so about 10, 11 friends out in there, so I'm sure they will be noisy.
No, it will be fun. It will be kind of strange. I'm normally used to having maybe two or three people I know following me when I'm playing in America. It will be different and it will be good to have a big crowd.

Q. Apart from your friends and families, there will be a lot of the Scottish public who don't know you from the television or newspaper of course, but have never seen you play before. If you were telling them what kind of a golfer you are, how would you sum yourself up? Are you a high ball flight? What kind of a player are you?
MARTIN LAIRD: I'm definitely high ball flight. I like to see the ball go left-to-right, especially driving the ball. I like to -- my shot when I'm playing my best, I'm normally hitting cuts. I'm going to have to probably work on keeping the ball down a little lower the next couple of weeks. But yeah, I definitely would say I'm more the stereotypical American-style play, high ball flight, hit my long irons way up in the air.
But yeah, as I said, that's something I'll have to try and work on the next couple of weeks probably.

Q. You're regarded as one of the longest hitters on the PGA TOUR; is that right, and how would you compare with the likes of Daly?
MARTIN LAIRD: I've never played with Daly, so I can't comment on that one. You know, I think I'm top 20 in driving distance on the PGA TOUR. There are a few guys I've played with, the J.B. Holmes, Bubba Watson, those guys there. They are significantly longer than I am, but they are significantly longer than nearly everyone.
Yeah, apart from that, I'm probably, I would say I'm up there with pretty much anyone else.

Q. It's often said that it the further away from Scotland you get, the more Scottish you become; is there anything you do to remind yourself?
MARTIN LAIRD: Yeah, you know, I wear a bell with a saltire on it all the time. I have a saltire on my golf bag, I have tees that have the saltire on them. I'm sure if I was living here, I probably wouldn't have all that. Yeah, I definitely try to keep the flag as visible as possible, and I think it's right what you said. When you've been away for as long as I have and you're that far away, I try to do everything I can to make people aware of where I'm from and to keep it right there.

Q. Do people recognise your accent?
MARTIN LAIRD: I get Australia, England, Ireland. Yeah, I've definitely lost my accent over the nine years I've been over there.

Q. How is Scottish golf viewed from America, and for any Scottish golfers who are looking to sort of break into the major tours, would you advise the path that you have taken?
MARTIN LAIRD: First of all, when you say how is Scottish golf viewed -- everyone over there knows Sandy Lyle played well and did well, Colin Montgomerie and those guys.
I do get the question a lot, who are the top Scottish golfers right now, so I guess for me getting asked that question, there's probably not that much awareness about the Scottish golfers that are out here on The European Tour and up-and-coming. But yes, I guess, from getting asked that, that's kind of the view.
I'm happy the way it worked out for me. I decided to go out on a golf scholarship to America, I felt if I could play golf year round in good conditions; my goal was to go over there and get better and see where it took me. It worked out for me. I can understand why a lot of people might not like to do that, move that far away from home.
For me, I picked a great place to go to college over there, and I just kind of got fortunate when I turned pro, there was guys that I knew and had met from the time I went to college and they gave me money and sponsored me to turn pro. That was very beneficial about that. I probably would have come back here and you know, tried to go through The European Tour this week.
But you know, it worked out well for me so I would never tell anyone not to do it, but I also understand why guys don't want to do it and stay here and go to European Tour Q-School and try to do it that way.

Q. There's another Scottish guy out there in Arizona, Jimmy Gunn, have you seen him?
MARTIN LAIRD: I actually know him, I met him through a guy I met when I moved out there as friends, he's become friends with him and played golf with him a few times. I don't really know him. Just played golf with him two or three times. He's over there playing the Gateway Tour in Arizona.

Q. What advice do you have for him?
MARTIN LAIRD: For someone like that, I would say he's just got to kind of stick after it and try to get to the stage on mini-tours over there, if he's playing well every week, kind of beating his -- again, it's up to the own individual what is the best way to go. When I talked to him over there, he loves it. He says he wants to stay over there and try to make it. If that's the way he wants to go, I'll give him all the support he needs.

Q. Have you had a chance to go to Turnberry yet?
MARTIN LAIRD: I've not. I played last week this Washington at AT&T, so I didn't get here until Monday late morning. I'm just going to head down there as soon as I'm done here.

Q. And when would be the last time you would have played a true links golf course and how much are you looking forward to it?
MARTIN LAIRD: My dad is a member at London Links, when I come back at Christmas, we always get a few games in there. In the winter it's not really firm and fast like a true links course. Last time I played was last summer I was back, was probably -- I came back for a week before I played Oakmont in 2007 I think. So probably then, two, three years, since I've really last played a links course firm and fast.

Q. Have you ever played Turnberry before?
MARTIN LAIRD: I've never played Turnberry.

Q. How would you compare Loch Lomond to the kind of course you play on the PGA TOUR and how do you fancy your chances of doing well this week?
MARTIN LAIRD: It's very similar to a lot of the courses we play. Visually it's very similar. The ball is played in reasonably soft -- the ball spins on the greens. I like it. That's what I'm used to playing last few years. I loved it out there today. I feel like it's the type of golf course that if I'm really playing well this week, I can do well. Hopefully like I said, if I can just sharpen up my short game, I don't see why Sunday I can't be in contention going into the last round.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Thanks very much and good luck this week.

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