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August 14, 2009

Grant Sturgeon


Q. What expectations? Everyone can dream big, but dreams don't always materialize.
GRANT STURGEON: You know, expectations, coming up here, you never know because I never played a golf course setup that's this tough, that's this challenging, and never played in front of this many people. Never played against the best in the world.
But that being said, I felt if I played up to my potential and my ability that making the cut was a reasonable goal. So I tried to, as much as I thought that, stay away from thinking that way as much as possible, because if that is all that I was worried about, I had no chance of doing it.
So I just tried to commit to each shot out there. I've got one of my best friends in the world caddying for me this week, Brett Jones. We played college golf together.
And it's a huge asset to have him out there with me. I mean, we talk about a golf shot for about 15 seconds before I hit it and that's it. I stay relaxed and had an absolute blast so far.

Q. You say you've never played a setup like this. What about Oakmont?
GRANT STURGEON: Oakmont is its own beast in and of itself. And there are certain ways that Oakmont's definitely more challenging. But I've never played Oakmont anywhere close to this situation or this atmosphere.
People everywhere and playing with Woody and John, two guys that are good players out here. So I mean, the circumstances are just so different. But Oakmont definitely at least is this tough.

Q. You had a good start to your tournament yesterday. What are your thoughts coming out today?
GRANT STURGEON: Trying to do the same things. Yesterday I think I hit 13 green. I made 17 pars. So the short game's my weakness. So for me to play and compete out here, I need to hit a lot of fairways and greens. I want to do it more today and kind of take the pressure off my wedges and my pitching on the greens.

Q. You told us in Mexico you're a slow starter. Can you explain a little bit more about that?
GRANT STURGEON: Well, this week it applied because I was so nervous I couldn't hold the putter and I missed about a 3-footer to bogey the first out here. But other than that, you know, playing against guys this good, I have to play my absolute best to be able to compete with them, to make the cut, to shoot rounds like 73, 71.
So it actually takes a little bit of the nerves out of it in one way because there's no opportunity to mess up. I mean, I've got to be at my best on every shot. So I was able to kind of avoid the slow start other than bogeying No. 1 and after -- I mean, the biggest shot for me of the tournament was I hit a 3-wood on the green from about 254 on No. 3, my third hole of the tournament.
And I was already 1-over after 2. I hit it in the fairway bunker and hit the lip and had 254 left. And I was like, "Oh, boy, here we go." Somehow I hit a 3-wood up on the green and 2-putted and pretty much since then I've hit the ball pretty well.

Q. When was your last birdie?
GRANT STURGEON: Geez, what was that? Did I birdie 11 maybe? I think so. So finally I got a birdie in there.

Q. What did you do on 11?
GRANT STURGEON: Hit a driver and hybrid and laid up and I had about 110, 112 yards and hit a little pitching wedge in there that stopped about 4 feet left of the hole. So that was a good one. That was close enough to get me going.

Q. Any other birdies today?
GRANT STURGEON: 16, made a really good birdie there. It was about a 10-footer. 3-wood way up there. About 117. Hit a little good pitching wedge in there. I birdied 1. That was a big birdie there. I hit a 4 hybrid in there for about 210. Hit it about 4 or 5 feet short of the hole. Made that one and hit one in there close on 7. I hit it in the right rough, laid up with an 8-iron there and I think we had 70, 73 yards there. And I hit a good little 60 degree in there to about 4 feet left of the hole.
No. 9, I had a really straightforward pitch shot, hit it past the hole. And I had a downhill putt and I was afraid I was going to putt it 8 feet by the hole and I almost didn't get it there. It was about 4 feet.

Q. Do you have a reverse claw?

Q. Did you make that up yourself?
GRANT STURGEON: No, I'm pretty sure it's an original. But, no, what happened, Bob Ford helped me with my putting last year. We do a drill where I do a lot of putting with my belly putter right-handed only. And it got to where I couldn't get the putter to release any way I put both hands on there. And finally just the reverse claw just happened to be the way the putter releases just like my drill.
So I was able to kind of turn a drill into a grip that I use out on the course.

Q. He's a staple here for many years. Did he give you any advice?
GRANT STURGEON: I called him for some last-minute wisdom before I teed off yesterday. He said, "Swing hard and hope you hit." (Laughter) So that was about as deep as we got into strategy other than just enjoying the moment and having fun.

Q. You went to college where?

Q. Did you have aspirations when you were in college?

Q. Where did it go from there? Oakmont and --
GRANT STURGEON: Played at Louisville. Finished there in '02 and turned pro, and had a lot of success right when I turned pro. Won our state open. Won my first pro event, an event down in Paducah and finished third in the Hooters event and I thought, "This is fun and I'm well on my way." And went to Q School. I hurt my back at Q School fall of '02. And then I struggled through the next spring trying to get healthy and playing on the Hooters tour. Only made four cuts.
I went home to get healthy and never came back. So I guess there was in the back of my mind maybe some fear there, lack of confidence. But I had a little bit of success when I did try to play, but from there I stayed home and I started working at Louisville Country Club in January of '04, worked there until I started working at Oakmont in April of '08.

Q. Your plans change depending on how the weekend ends?
GRANT STURGEON: I'm not sure about that. I absolutely love what I do. I get to -- teaching is something that I'm passionate about. Being a golf professional as opposed to playing professional lets me do that. Helping young kids. And I mean, just everybody is just a treat. To see them get as happy about their shots as I do over mine is pretty cool. And I just enjoy the friendships and the atmosphere of that. So I can't say never. But this is absolutely just an amazing week and I'm enjoying every second of it. But also I love what I do every day.

Q. Have you tried an Open qualifier?
GRANT STURGEON: I have. With not much success. I've probably played in four or five Open qualifiers. I've made it to sectionals once and didn't do any good there. Got like mid-70s. It was in 2003, maybe.

Q. '07 in Oakmont?
GRANT STURGEON: Yes, actually I did. I was an alternate. I missed by one. I think I shot 71. I was in the Kentucky section. The Open was over by the time I got there.

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