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January 22, 2011

Chris Kirk


MARK STEVENS: Like to welcome Chris Kirk to the interview room. Chris, take us through the highlights of your round today and then we'll take a few questions.
CHRIS KIRK: Sure. Got off to a pretty good start today and just kind of cruising along, parred the first couple holes and then holed out from about 110 yards on No. 12, I guess, which is my third hole. So definitely got me kick-started a little bit.

Q. What club?
CHRIS KIRK: Sand wedge, 110 yards with a sand wedge. And then parred the next hole. Three birdies in a row after that, so I was off to a flying start.
Unfortunately bogeyed 17 and 18 to finish out my first nine, just didn't do anything too terribly wrong, but that's the way golf goes. It happens sometimes. Just made a couple bogeys.
But was able to stay patient and just kind of plodded along my last nine and made three pretty easy birdies, two par-5s, and made about a 10-footer on one of the other holes and that was for 3-under.
MARK STEVENS: Okay. Questions?

Q. Rookie out here, what's your first impression of the event out here?
CHRIS KIRK: I love it out here. I played about ten or so TOUR events, including a couple U.S. Opens before this year, before I had status out here, so I was -- I felt very prepared. I knew what it was like. But once you get inside the ropes, it's all the same.

Q. Are you a fan of this format? Have you enjoyed playing with the amateurs so far?
CHRIS KIRK: I like it lot, yeah. I've met some really great people and had a good time. I've had three really great groups of amateurs that have been very helpful, just sort of kept me loose and been real talkative, and a lot of really nice, good people.

Q. Back-to-back bogeys at 17 and 18. You said not a lot went wrong. What happened on those two holes?
CHRIS KIRK: Well, 17 was about 190 yards and I hit a 6-iron, just didn't quite flush it. Pin was on the front of the green and ended up just short. Hit what I thought was a pretty good chip, just trying to land it in the fringe and have it sort of trickle on to the green. And it took a -- instead of sort of the waxy ryegrass bounce, it took like a low forward bounce. Ended up about 12 feet by, and I just missed that putt on the edge.
Then on 18, I pulled my drive a little bit and ended up behind a tree in a position where I couldn't really be very aggressive. I had to hit a shot and start it about 20 or 30 yards out over the water and hooked it back. I ended up hitting it actually left of the green. But I was making sure that thing was hooking enough, that's for sure. But ended up in an almost impossible place to get up-and-down. That was basically one bad swing in two holes and made two bogeys, so...

Q. That could rattle a lot of people. You said it didn't. You stayed patient. Did you have to suppress the urge to get upset or did you just feel calm and collected out there and move on?
CHRIS KIRK: A little bit. Obviously that's going to upset you some. But my caddie's great with just sort of keeping me distracted. And I mean, thankfully, at that point, I realized that I didn't -- it's not like I hit one out of bounds or made some horrible swing. It was just sort of that kind of stuff that happens.
I'm still pretty young, but I've been playing golf long enough to know that.

Q. You played in pro tournaments and you played in two U.S. Opens, you've never, I assume, played in anything quite like this with the atmosphere and the courses. Is it a little un-nerving or just go out and play golf?
CHRIS KIRK: I will admit the first day, I did not feel like I was playing in a golf tournament. I felt like I was playing in a Wednesday pro-am. And I felt like I should just one-hand it from four feet, thankfully I didn't.
But as the week went on, I got more and more comfortable and more and more used to the format. But I played the Pebble Beach pro-am in 2009, I guess it was, so it wasn't a total shock. But it was -- the only strange thing was that I was playing with three amateurs instead of in Pebble Beach, you have two pros and to two amateurs, so you have another pro that you're playing with.
So it's just different. Like I said, it took a little while to get used to it, but once you do, it's great.

Q. I always look at this tournament as kind of a warm-up first of the season for the golfers. Do you feel that because you get to play all the different courses throughout the four days that this kind of gets you in the mood for the beginning of the tournament, as far as being able to do the eclectic courses and then move on to Pebble Beach or Phoenix?
CHRIS KIRK: Yeah, I guess so. If you haven't played the course before, it's definitely tough, which I hadn't. I came out here and spent four days here practicing and getting ready before I went to Hawaii, one just to get in some good weather, and two, to at least see all the courses once before I got here out here, which was nice.
But, yeah, it's a good start to the year and we had good weather in Hawaii for the most part last week, a few days of rain and perfect weather here, so it's an incredible way to start the year.
KELLY ELBIN: Thanks a lot, Chris, good luck tomorrow.
CHRIS KIRK: Thank you.

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