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July 31, 2009

Phil Tataurangi


JOE CHEMYCZ: We welcome Phil Tataurangi into the interview room, Phil with a 1-under par round of 70 today, 5-under par total. Just a little bit about your first two days here and the fine play on this golf course.
PHIL TATAURANGI: Yeah, I really enjoy this golf course first and foremost. It's unfortunate we've had the weather the last couple days that we've had because this course played a little bit firmer last year and was extremely difficult.
We don't play too many golf courses on the Nationwide Tour as difficult as this, and so I happen to really enjoy playing really difficult golf courses, so it's no surprise that I've played well.
JOE CHEMYCZ: Is it a testament to the golf course and its difficult nature to have the ball in your hand and scores still not be extremely low?
PHIL TATAURANGI: Yeah, it is a testament to the course because I know we've only got about a 10-mile-an-hour breeze out there today, and it was less than that for us yesterday. And the course can't play much softer than what it has the first two days. It certainly is a testament. There's some strong par-4s and par-3s out here, there really is.

Q. I noticed when I was going through the records yesterday on the computer for you that you're struggling to make cuts a lot, and I was going back through the years. Are you still affected by the back problems you had a few years ago or not?
PHIL TATAURANGI: No, I'm very healthy. Very healthy. Nice of you to think there's an excuse, but no.

Q. What's the reason then that you're --
PHIL TATAURANGI: It's been a long process. I mean, the period that I was out with injury was lengthy, and I made a lot of changes in my game and in my body. I've just battled the last few years to kind of turn that into the scoring, really. Just the last month or so, I've felt like I've done things a lot better and starting to get a bit of a handle on where I'm going and what I'm doing, and hopefully we can turn that into some good scores here the last half of the year.

Q. Is there one or two things in particular that had to come around for you to start scoring better?
PHIL TATAURANGI: No, just a bit of everything, really. I mean, I started off the year okay, and then really started struggling with my driver. I was driving the ball poorly, and the last month or so I've started driving the ball a bit -- I don't know what the stats say, but I've been driving the ball better. When you're playing golf courses predominantly where the scoring goes low, if you're not on the fairway you can't make birdies.
So that's come around. My putting is starting to come around. Every aspect of my game is just starting to come around.

Q. Did you have to make the changes to your game because of your back?
PHIL TATAURANGI: Yeah, pretty much, pretty much. Having two surgeries on the same disk, it's a sign. So I had to make some changes to my body and in turn make some changes to my golf swing. So it's been a lengthy process.
As golfers you're always searching to make things a little bit better, whether it be physically, technically. You're always looking to try to get a little bit better, and I think I've done the bulk of the work. Now it's just a matter of playing golf.

Q. How far apart were the two surgeries?
PHIL TATAURANGI: About 18, 19 months, maybe about 20 months.

Q. Which disk was it?

Q. Were there any points during this process of coming back where you thought about just walking away?
PHIL TATAURANGI: Oh, sure, absolutely. I mean, it's been very challenging, very testing. At times I've wondered where -- not so much walking away, but I've wondered whether I had the ability to make the adjustments in my body. I mean, I couldn't keep on going the way I was going. Having back surgery is not a prerequisite for having good success.
I had to make some changes. I had to have an option with those things. It's been a challenging process, and at times I guess I wasn't too sure whether I was up to making all the changes that I needed to make and making them work, given that I'd done things the same way for 30 years, in golf circles 25 years.
When you've got a whole new set of feels to go by with your body and with your golf swing and then you've got to try to compete against very good players, it's a challenge.

Q. What's been really good the first two days for you, the driver?
PHIL TATAURANGI: Just a bit of everything. I mean, you've got to put the ball in the fairway here. I don't know what the stats are, but I don't feel like I've been right in the middle of the fairway on every hole, but I don't think I've put myself out of play, either. I think I've only made two bogeys. So that's handy. I've just been smart, I guess. I've just managed my game well. My game hasn't been super fantastic, it's just been solid. I've managed to put the ball in the middle of the green on the holes where it rewards that and not make too many mistakes, I guess.

Q. What did the course play like today compared to yesterday? Was it getting any quicker this afternoon?
PHIL TATAURANGI: No, absolutely not. It's quite a lot softer today. There's several fairways where bang in the middle of the fairway you need to take casual water relief. We got a lot of rain, I guess, overnight, and the greens are soft, and this afternoon they're going to be really spiked up with the traffic and the ball marks. It's playing about as soft as it can play.
It would be really nice if somehow whatever -- if the wind picked up and dried the golf course out for the weekend, it would be nice to play it a little bit firmer.

Q. Joe mentioned the fact that even though it's so soft that the scores really aren't -- nobody is taking it really low. Michael Sim said he missed a lot of putts the first two days just because the greens were getting -- in the afternoon the greens were getting spiked up and stuff. Do you think that plays into the fact that --
PHIL TATAURANGI: Yeah, it does. At the end of the day, if you've got the ball going in the hole, you're not seeing spike marks. Having said that, you can hit some really great putts, and there's a lot of things that are out of your control with spike marks and ball marks. The greens are certainly not very quick at the moment.
I think there's a lot of factors when you have weather that can conspire to change the scoring. On a golf course like this, obviously the ball is not going anywhere once it hits the ground, so it plays quite a bit longer. When it dries out, it plays shorter; however, the fairways start narrowing up and the greens and pin positions become more challenging.
I don't think it's going to get to the stage where it's firm over the next couple days, so it will be target golf. I would expect the scores to be pretty good on the weekend.
JOE CHEMYCZ: Phil, thank you.

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