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July 9, 2009

Matt Bettencourt


DOUG MILNE: Matt Bettencourt, thanks for joining us for a few minutes after a rather successful first round of the John Deere Classic. You're having a very good year. You finished tied for 5th at Jack's tournament at the Memorial, your best finish of the year, and then last week at Tiger's tournament you finished T11. Obviously some of that momentum from last week is sticking around and carrying over into this week. Just a few comments on your round today and how you're feeling overall about your game.
MATT BETTENCOURT: Yeah, I feel great. Confidence is a great thing. I'm carrying a lot of confidence right now. I'm picking smart lines off the tees and shots into the greens and I'm actually hitting the ball where I want to. It all breeds confidence, which like I said is a great thing.
It was great to play at Jack's tournament, finish 5th, carry it into the U.S. Open, finish 10th. Then played okay in Hartford, just didn't make many putts. Last week finishing 11th was great for not putting too well. I hit the ball great there.
You know, it's just a matter of making some putts, and I feel like the putting is coming around. I saw the lines real well today on the greens.

Q. How were the conditions out there? Was the wind starting to pick up a little bit?
MATT BETTENCOURT: The last three holes the wind started swirling pretty good. The whole back side, which is the front nine of the golf course but our back side, it blew 10 to 12 miles per hour. And the course is drying out. It can't take any more water. It rained pretty good yesterday.
I didn't have too many mud balls, just maybe one that was kind of an issue. But other than that, the course is in great condition.

Q. Was there anything -- you finished 11th last week. Is there anything you did from Sunday until today that could be a reason why you played so well today?
MATT BETTENCOURT: No, I've actually played quite a bit. I think I'm leading the TOUR in most tournaments played. Actually Sunday night I flew home and didn't get in here until Tuesday afternoon and played four holes on the front nine Tuesday and was tired, so I really didn't play at all. Then played five holes yesterday, and we got asked to leave the golf course early in the morning because of the storms.
So I really didn't see the golf course. I had seen half the holes. My caddie Brandon is real experienced out here, so I just kind of relied on him today.

Q. Is that a good thing sometimes, not playing the whole course?
MATT BETTENCOURT: Yeah, I trust Brandon, he knows my game real well. So if he tells me where to hit it, he's not going to be wrong. It is, yeah. Obviously sometimes you hit a shot and you kind of -- you hit a great shot and you really don't realize how tough the shot was. It can work to an advantage, it also can work to a disadvantage. It didn't matter. It didn't make much difference today.

Q. Who did Brandon caddie for out here before?
MATT BETTENCOURT: He's caddied for Rocco for about five years and then Rocco went through a spell a couple years ago when he was injured, and he caddied for Frank Lickliter the last couple years. He's been here a couple times to this golf course with Frank.

Q. What's his last name?
MATT BETTENCOURT: Brandon Antus. Yeah, he's won in the past with Rocco. So he knows what he's doing. And Roc set me up with Brandon. The week of the Memorial is the first tournament we worked together.

Q. Have you always been a streaky player?
MATT BETTENCOURT: I have, yeah. I was streaky last year. I play on confidence, and the last five Nationwide events I had two victories, a second, a fifth, so yeah, I play on confidence and like to feed off of that.

Q. Did you kind of find yourself feeling the same way as you felt during that Nationwide streak?
MATT BETTENCOURT: Absolutely. I'm in the middle of it right now, so I'm going to keep playing as many weeks as I can and ride this out. So I really feel comfortable. And I'm just enjoying myself. Each week is a new city, a new golf course, and I love it. We're so spoiled and we're taken care of so well, I love every minute of this. I'm eating it up.

Q. What in particular about your game was working well for you today?
MATT BETTENCOURT: My distance control was really good. You know, if I missed the ball a little left or a little right of the hole, I was still within 15, 20 feet quite a bit. My distance control was really good, and I drove it well off the tee.

Q. Do you feel like you kind of flew under the radar at the Memorial?
MATT BETTENCOURT: Absolutely, and I should have. Frankly I had a terrible year. I wasn't anything special. I had made maybe half my cuts going into Memorial, but I didn't do anything special at all. Kicking that off, it's a really strong field at Jack's event. To finish 5th was huge for me and kind of parlay that into the U.S. Open and finishing 10th at the Open was another big thing.
I tend to play on some of these harder courses better, and I like that. I like the challenge of it. Yeah, I'm having a great time.

Q. Do you think you know what you need to do to finish it off? You've been on the boards the last few weeks --
MATT BETTENCOURT: Yeah, it's so early in the week. I'm just going to go out, honestly, have a great time, enjoy it, I'm going to hit as many good quality shots as I can and try to make some putts. Wherever I stand on Sunday evening is where I stand, but I've got a good feeling.

Q. You talked about confidence. Is that what's enabled you to have some success recently?
MATT BETTENCOURT: Yeah, sure. It's just confidence, knowing where the ball is going and having a lot of trust in my golf swing.

Q. What were your expectations coming out here?
MATT BETTENCOURT: Out here, this week?

Q. This year.
MATT BETTENCOURT: To not be intimidated. You know, everybody plays the same game other than maybe one fellow, and we all know who that is. We're all trying to compete and play to our best ability. It's just a growing period, that's all.

Q. Now that you've seen the course once, what's your perspective of it, and are there things that you will do differently tomorrow now that you've got the course kind of mapped out?
MATT BETTENCOURT: You know, I love this golf course. It's a great course. I love the rolling hills on the front nine. I like how the back nine sets up for me. It's not overly long, but you've got to hit the fairways, and you've got some trees that are overhanging everywhere, so your angles are important. I'm just going to keep trying to hit fairways. I think I missed one fairway today, maybe two.
DOUG MILNE: And you were 16 of 18 greens.
MATT BETTENCOURT: Yeah, and I hit 16 greens. With that being said, that's my goal. I'm just going to keep hitting fairways and greens, and whatever happens, happens. I think that's how you've got to approach this golf course.

Q. Was this one of your more consistent rounds of the season?
MATT BETTENCOURT: Yeah, it's my third bogey-free round of the year. I had one last week, as well; the third round at Congressional was probably my most solid round of the year. It's a pretty difficult course, and I shot 66 on Saturday.

Q. Was the Open a particular eye opener for you, when you stood up to that test?
MATT BETTENCOURT: Yeah. As far as golf course, it's probably the most intimidating golf course in the world. I've played quite a few other courses that they use for the Open rotation. If there's one out there more intimidating than Bethpage, I'd like to see it.
With that being said, it's a fair golf course, and the setup this year that Mike Davis had with the U.S. Open was spectacular.

Q. When you said that you're a streaky player, is this the best streak that you have ever been on?
MATT BETTENCOURT: It's hard to say. I played so well last year, last five events on the Nationwide Tour. What you guys fail to realize is to play out there is spectacular. It's absolutely incredible. Other than your top 15 or 20 players in the world, it's not missing anything. It's really a solid place. That was probably as hot as I've been.
But I feel that coming on now. This might be a little longer streak since I'm going to play eight weeks in a row or so this time.

Q. Are you pretty hard to intimidate?
MATT BETTENCOURT: Yeah, I think I am. I really don't -- you know, I just have one approach basically. Everybody is the same. Everybody fights nerves at times, and we're out there to entertain and have a good time and hit some golf shots. That's all we do. I don't really get intimidated so much.

Q. What's been your most intimidating pairing?
MATT BETTENCOURT: Saturday of Hawai'i, and it was also one of the greatest pairings. I was with Ernie Els, and I was a little nervous, and he came over, and he could tell. We joked around on the putting green before. He had basically said, "Hey, just relax and have fun. We all do this. It's going to be a long year, just have a great time." It was great hearing Ernie say that before the round started.
The first hole there is a really difficult par-4. It was funny because he had hit a drive in the left rough, I hit one down the middle, hit 4-iron to about two feet and made birdie and he made bogey, and we're talk walking to 2, and he said, "Well, don't get that comfortable." It was cool. It was very rewarding, too.

Q. Are you comfortable?
MATT BETTENCOURT: Yeah, absolutely. I'm making a lot of friends. It's just like a fraternity. It's pretty cool out here. I'm enjoying it.

Q. Have you had a "wow" moment?
MATT BETTENCOURT: No, I mean, I've played with a lot of top players now. Rocco has become one of my really good friends, so he's helped me out a lot, too, kind of telling me areas of towns to stay in, where to go. So he's helped me a bunch.

Q. Do you get a word in edgewise?
MATT BETTENCOURT: Not much. It's tough with Roc.
DOUG MILNE: Real quick if you wouldn't mind running us through your birdies and giving us some clubs and yardages the best you remember.
MATT BETTENCOURT: Yeah. No. 2 I hit driver actually in the right rough there, and I hit a hybrid into the front bunker and hit it out about four feet and made birdie there.
On No. 8, I hit driver and pitching wedge to about 35 feet and made the putt for birdie.
10, I hit sand wedge from about 106 yards to about two feet for birdie.
On 11 I hit 9-iron to probably ten feet, made birdie. Maybe 12-footer.
15, I'm trying to remember. You'll have to excuse me. I hit a great 7-iron to probably about 15 feet from the hole, maybe 12 feet, and from the right first cut hit it over the corner of the trees. Probably my best shot of the day. Made birdie there.
And then 17, I hit hybrid just short left and hit a pitch up to about six feet and made the putt.

Q. Ball-striking the strength of your game?
MATT BETTENCOURT: Yeah, I think it's the most consistent part when I'm playing well for sure.

Q. Did you come out of the AJGA?
MATT BETTENCOURT: No, I never played AJGA, not once.

Q. What's your background?
MATT BETTENCOURT: I just never played much golf growing up. I played a lot of junior tournaments and made a U.S. Junior Amateur but never really took it too seriously.

Q. Did you play hoops or --
MATT BETTENCOURT: Played baseball, yeah. I'm too short to play hoops and too slow.

Q. When did you make the switch then?
MATT BETTENCOURT: I always played golf and I was a scratch golfer from age 15 but just never really pursued it seriously. I started taking it seriously when I was about 21. That's why I turned professional late at age 26. I thought it would be much easier for me to get to the PGA TOUR, and here I am seven years later my first year. It's tough, but now I'm enjoying it probably as much as anybody.

Q. Overnight sensation at 33?
MATT BETTENCOURT: There you go. Whatever you want to call it, but yeah, I'm having fun.
DOUG MILNE: Matt, thanks for your time. Best of luck.

End of FastScripts

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