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March 15, 2003

Woody Austin


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Woody, thanks for joining us. 9-under par 63 today puts you in great position. There's still some players on the course, but you'll definitely be in the hunt tomorrow.

If we could get some comments from you on how the week is going, which is obviously very well.

WOODY AUSTIN: Obviously, it turned around here today. The golf course really hasn't playing too tough, and it's really just a matter of whether or not you're making a lot of birdies or not.

I started off kind of slow and didn't play the first three or four holes all that well and after that I just started knocking the flags over the last 12 holes. It was easy, but it was fun.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Some of the players we've had in the last couple days have said that if you shot 70 yesterday, or like Davis said, if you don't make a birdie in three or four holes, you start to panic a little bit, but it obviously didn't affect you today.

WOODY AUSTIN: Yesterday was basically like shooting 76 -- 75, 76. The first day, all I did was playing a real good nine holes. Then today, like I said, I got off to a slow start but as long as you don't press, I guess, the hardest part about playing a golf course that is giving up a lot of birdies is not to press. Especially someone like myself, who I'm not comfortable on these kind of golf courses normally because I don't make a whole bunch of birdies. I like the tough test where par is a good score.

So I get myself into pressing too hard, so fortunately for me today, I held off and then I birdied three holes in a row on the back which really made it a lot easier.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Just talk about how it feels to be back in contention coming into Sunday.

WOODY AUSTIN: I don't know, it's been so long. I don't remember the last time I was in contention.

It's just nice to actually see the old part of my game come back, the consistency. I've played very consistent so far this year. I have not shot any low scores till today, but I've been real close. I've played very well, I just haven't made the putts I've needed to make to shoot a low score, to keep a round going. I'm hitting over 80 percent of the greens so far this year and I'm hitting the ball real solid.

If I can just get the putts to go in, and today, like I said, that ten-hole stretch, I hit it so close, it was just a lot of fun.

Q. You say you don't remember the last time you were in contention, can I press you on that, the last time on a Sunday you had a chance to win?

WOODY AUSTIN: It might have been 1996. I was partially in contention, I guess you could say, at the Buick maybe three years ago. But the last time I seriously had a shot at really contending or whatever was probably my second year out in '96. It's been a long time.

Q. Can you talk about what it's like to have gone that long and how do you think you're going to react tomorrow?

WOODY AUSTIN: Probably pretty skittish. I've been there before, so hopefully some of that will pop back.

The part that I like is the fact that my old game is creeping back. It's not like this round just came out of the blue and I shot 63. I've been close to playing good every round this year. I've only shot two rounds that were even remotely bad. So I've been real consistent.

When I first came out, that was my claim to fame is to be consistent. I'm not going to shoot 63 very often, but I'm not going to shoot 75 very often, either. I just like the fact that the consistency of my game is coming back, to I know that if I go out and play I'm not going to shoot myself in the foot.

Q. Did you have some kind of comfort level on the greens today or were you doing something different?

WOODY AUSTIN: I've been putting with a belly putter this year, first time. This is my ninth year on TOUR. I cracked the top 150 once in eight years. So anything, I'm just trying anything.

Everybody that I've played with this year says that it looks really good, my setup looks good, I look comfortable. I haven't really made anything yet this year, but I felt like I was doing a lot of good things with it and everybody said, you've just got to stick with it. I talked to Paul Azinger and those guys that have been doing it for a while. They said you've just going to hang in there and stick with it and eventually you'll start making a 20-footer you don't normally make.

Like I said, I've been playing real well. I shot 9-under at Phoenix with 128 putts for the week. I shot 9-under last week at Doral with 122. So it's not like I'm blazing it, but I'm hitting the ball really solid.

The putts were pretty good today, but I didn't -- I made one putt maybe over ten feet. It's not like I had to make a lot of bombs or anything. I just kept knocking the flag over for, like I said, about ten holes.

Q. Are you the kind of guy that will feed off of this tomorrow or is tomorrow just another day and today was today?

WOODY AUSTIN: Yeah, I pretty much go for that. I'm a bit of a loose cannon as far as mentally. That's the weakest part of my game.

Like I said, it's not like this came out of the blue. This didn't come out of the blue as far as the way I've been hitting the ball. It came out of the blue as far as the way I've been scoring because I've been scoring terrible, but I've been hitting it this good for a while. Now the keep is just to keep hitting it this good and if I putt really well tomorrow, then I've got a great chance to win.

Q. You were talking about mentally is not your strength, have you just been too tough on yourself?

WOODY AUSTIN: I don't think so. My biggest thing is that the part that I get out of it is, there's so many guys out here -- now I didn't grow up in a country club. I didn't grow up with playing golf or whatever. And these guys, nowadays, have been ingrained in teachings and this, that and the other. It seems like everybody is told not to blame themselves for anything; it's bad to blame yourself. Well, I'm sorry, I grew up where I'm the only male in my family. I've been the only male sense my parents were divorced when I was 12, to so me, the only person that you can blame or the other person that you can push, so to speak is yourself. Well, that's my way.

I don't get upset when I make a bad swing. When I get upset it's when I've let myself hit a bad shot because I was afraid of it. That's when I really get angry. It's not a question -- I know everybody makes bad swings. But if you stand up on a tee and go don't hit it in that water and because of that you hit it in those trees, that makes me angry and that's when I get really mad.

It's more of a just -- I'm just trying to tell myself to quit being so afraid all the time and when I don't, then I get really mad at myself. I'm almost 40 years old and I shouldn't be afraid of every shot that I look at, and yet a lot of days I am, and that really drives me nuts.

Q. Has that happened this year?

WOODY AUSTIN: Oh, it happens every day. Every single day. (Smiling).

Q. What got you mad today?

WOODY AUSTIN: I made triple on 15 yesterday, just because I was afraid to hit a certain shot. No reason whatsoever. When you're hitting it as solid as I am.

Every shot I hit every single day as a fear factor in it for me that I have to overcome. Some days you overcome it better. Some days you don't.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Let's go over your score card quickly. You made nine birdies in a 12-hole stretch, starting on No. 15 on the back side with a birdie on the par 5.

WOODY AUSTIN: I hit a driver and a 3-wood short of the green to the left. I think I had 50 yards and I hit it about a foot and a half.

Then 16, I hit 9-iron right at the flag. I actually left it short of the hole there which is kind of neat, that's down the hill there, I guess that was about eight feet short there, maybe ten feet and made that.

17, I hit pin-high to the right with a 5-wood. Did not hit a good chip and made about another 8-footer coming back.

No. 1, I hit a lob-wedge to about maybe three feet.

No. 2, I hit an 8-iron to about six or seven feet.

No. 3, I hit it about four feet and missed.

No. 4, I hit it to about three feet, maybe 3 1/2 with a 9-iron.

No. 5, the par 5, I hit sand wedge to about ten feet.

And the long putt of the stretch was No. 6, I hit 5-iron to probably 12, 15 feet to the right and made that one.

9, I hit 5-wood right on the green, right in the middle of the green about, I guess, probably 25 feet short of the hole right on the top of the ridge and I rolled it up there about a foot and a half.

Q. Did you at any point think -- because obviously you've had, I don't want to say a roller coaster career, but it's been a difficult career. Did you ever think at some point, "This is it, I'm tired"?

WOODY AUSTIN: I've thought about it the last three years. The last six years have been so bad and having to go back to Q-School and having to hang on each year. But it has not been fun at all.

Everybody says, well, you're supposed to have fun because you're playing a game. Well, that's true it a point, but it is still my job. And if you go to your job every day and you feel like you're getting maybe 30 percent out of your job, are you happy?

It's one thing to say, okay, I love my job and I love playing golf for a living, but if you're getting 30 percent out of it, it's not fun. It's just not fun because it's a constant grind. It is a grind. I've got two little boys. I've got other things. I don't need to be coming off the golf course just like a beaten up old person that I've been for the last six years.

Q. So what's the driver behind this?

WOODY AUSTIN: I've pretty much got my -- I got some good advice from Peter Jacobsen last year in San Diego about my posture, about how bad I had gotten with my posture.

The biggest problem I've had was '97 when my eyes got messed up. That really set me back for a lot. I've just gotten in so many bad habits because of that. I finally had the LASIK done the end of December 2001. So I'm going on my second year with my eyes finally being fixed. So I'm able to see a lot of the bad habits I had gotten into when my eyes were all messed up.

And Peter was nice enough to be very frank and up front and tell me how bad it was. Because I asked him a simple question after we played at San Diego about his golf swing and he looked me right in the eye and he says, "You'll never get there. I don't mean to sound mean, but your setup on a scale of 1 to 10 is maybe a 1."

So I immediately started working on it on the range, and it's taken a while, because I had a lot of bad habits. But like I said, I'm seeing my old game come back. If you go back to '95 and '96 when I first came out, I was about as consistent as anybody who played, and that's what I'm looking for is the consistency to come back.

Q. Didn't you have to go real low on a back nine this year at the Q-School?

WOODY AUSTIN: I birdied the last three in a row.

Q. What would you be doing if you had not birdied that, and how much does that help you to know in that kind of situation?

WOODY AUSTIN: Obviously, it's great now that it's over. It was no fun while it was going on.

That's hard to say. Like I said, I've been so close to hanging it up for a while, but the fact that I do love the game kind of keeps pushing it to a point. But I honestly, probably would have tried to play this year the first half of the year whatever I could get in and then after that, my oldest son will start school in August this year, and I probably would have just said, okay, it's time to be dad.

Still might have played every once in awhile, because being a past champion, I'm still going to get into some events and what have you.

I'm almost 40 years old, too. So it's not like I'm one of these young guys that has plenty of time to turn it around.

Q. How did you occupy yourself during the weather delay and was concentration difficult?

WOODY AUSTIN: I actually watched the -- I had lunch with my wife and my mom and then I watched the end of the normal Carolina State/Maryland game. I am a big basketball fan, so that's my second love, is basketball.

Q. Did that help you?

WOODY AUSTIN: Yeah, I would say so. I wish I would have been able to play the last two holes before the delay. I was hitting really so good. That 17th tee shot was not as easy was it was when the horn went off. But I still did what I was hoping to do, and that was make a solid swing and then play the ninth hole. I played it perfect.

But I could watch basketball all day long. NBA has to be a real good match-up because those guys are a bunch of clowns. It's not basketball anymore in the NBA. (Laughter.)

End of FastScripts....

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