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August 6, 2010

Justin Leonard


CHRIS REIMER: We have Justin Leonard here in the media center. Justin, a good round today. I think the terms you used outside were you're pleased but not surprised. I guess you felt like this round was coming.
JUSTIN LEONARD: Yeah, I played last week at the Greenbrier and played very solid, didn't get great scores out of it, but I felt very comfortable with my game and had a good couple of days here Tuesday and Wednesday. Played very solid yesterday and played well again this morning, so it's nice. Like I said, I'm very pleased but not overly surprised because I've felt like the last couple months I put in a lot of work, and the last couple weeks it started to pay off.
CHRIS REIMER: You said you made a few changes after the U.S. Open. Any changes to describe or talk about.
JUSTIN LEONARD: Sure. Well, it was after Memphis, missed the cut and crept into some bad habits and getting the club away shut and up, and spent a lot of time early in the week at Pebble Beach working on that. It paid kind of instant dividends. I played well at the U.S. Open. Really didn't carry that into scoring well the next couple tournaments that I played, but last week I felt very comfortable, and for the first time really didn't have to think a whole lot about my swing.
That's, I think, what we're all aiming for is just to go out and try and hit golf shots. I've been able to do that the last couple weeks, and this week I've made a few putts on top of it.

Q. Could you talk a little bit about the confidence that you're building up leading into the next week, especially that you were able to shoot low scores because of what the golf course is giving?
JUSTIN LEONARD: Yeah, the golf course was soft yesterday afternoon and even softer this morning with some overnight rains. You know, you're able to make some birdies out there. The golf course is long, but with the greens being soft, you can be fairly aggressive. You know, I hit a lot of 3- and 4-irons out there the last couple days, but fortunately hitting the ball well enough to be able to get it in there and get some reasonable putts at it.

Q. You said recently you had been working really hard. What specifically other than the position of the club and having the face shut did you work on?
JUSTIN LEONARD: That's really it. And it's a habit that I creep into from time to time. I had been battling it kind of all year, and finally after as bad as I hit the ball in Memphis flew out to Carmel on Friday night, and I don't know, I think I was on the range seven or eight hours on Saturday just trying to get to where I could get a little bit of a feel for it and was pretty surprised with how well I played at the U.S. Open.
But it was one of those things where it was time to do it. Band-Aids weren't going to last much longer. I made the changes there, and with the help of Randy Smith and my caddie, Brian Smith, it's coming along. Probably not as quickly as I would like; we all want instant results. But I've always kind of approached this game as being more of a marathon than a sprint. Willing to take a step back in order to take two steps forward. Hopefully these last couple weeks are those two steps forward.

Q. And that particular bad habit, does that cause the ball to go left or what does that do?
JUSTIN LEONARD: It throws everything out of whack. It can go left, it can go right. And there's times when I've managed it okay, but it's just not very consistent. So now getting the club back on plane going back, I'm able to control the ball a lot better and the ball starts where I want it to, and it's easier to shape it the way I want to. It's been good. It's been hard, but it's been good.

Q. Could you recollect, you obviously had a chance to win the last time the PGA Championship was played at Whistling Straits. Could you just recollect what that was like and just how much you look forward to going back and taking another crack at it?
JUSTIN LEONARD: It was a fun week. You know, similar this year. I wasn't playing that well going in, knew that I probably needed to win to make the Ryder Cup team and almost did that. But it was a fun week, and being able to go -- well, I can't go head-to-head with Vijay because he's a foot taller than me, but toe-to-toe with Vijay that last day, it was fun.
It was obviously disappointing to bogey the 72nd hole, but it was a fun week and I have a lot of great memories from that week, and I look forward to reliving those on-site next week.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about your round today, a couple of key shots or sequences out there today?
JUSTIN LEONARD: Yeah, really the keys were a couple of par saves. 9 I drove it in the fairway bunker and had to just blast it down there. I hit a 9-iron to about ten feet and made that for par.
And then on 16 I hit it in the fairway bunker and just had to chip it out, lay it up with a 5-iron and hit a wedge for my fourth shot about 12 feet and made a really nice putt there. It was breaking maybe over a foot from right to left. Those are the kind of -- being able to save par like that, keep a round like this going, you know, and then make the par at 16 and then 17 I hit an 8-iron in there two feet.
Those are the things you can keep the momentum going by making a good up-and-down, or like that, getting it up-and-down with a full shot, those are the keys to playing well at a golf course like this, where if you miss the fairway you can be pretty severely penalized.
CHRIS REIMER: Maybe take us through your birdies and bogeys.
JUSTIN LEONARD: Sure. Birdied 1, hit a 9-iron about eight feet.
2, hit a 60-yard wedge to five feet.
Bogeyed 4, hit it in the fairway just short of the green and didn't get it up-and-down.
8, I hit a 6-iron to about 15 feet.
14, I hit a 3-iron to about 15 feet.
And then 17, hit an 8-iron to two feet.
CHRIS REIMER: Thank you and good luck.

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