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March 17, 2011

Garrett Willis


COLIN MURRAY: Thanks for joining us, 5-under 66 here in the first round, great playing. If you can just start off, you had four in a row right off the bat; if you can just talk a little bit about your round this afternoon and then we'll open it up to questions.
GARRETT WILLIS: You want me to start with hole No. 2? I started on the back.
Playing out here a lot and being good buddies with John Huston, I try to get out here as much as possible and know how devilish this course can be. It can sneak up and grab you at any the point in time. So I went with the game plan of making a lot of pars, and if I made a couple of birdies, that would be great.
Hit the fairway and the green on No. 10, routine 25-footer, no sweat.
Hit a good drive on 11. And I really don't ever trying it for the green in two on 11, but the pin was back of the green; so I knew if I was chipping from the rough it would not be that difficult of a chip. Hit it in the bunker, bunkered it out probably 15, 17 feet and made that.
And then really, 12, very boring, hit the fairway, green, 2-putted from about 18, 20 feet.
13, I did the same thing. I hit the green, 2-putted.
14, hit the green, 2-putted.
15, I was on the fringe, 2-putted.
16, tough hole out here, hit a great drive. Hit 8-iron into 16. I would love to be able to do that for next three rounds, hitting 8-iron into that green. Hit it to like 15, 18 feet, 2-putted.
17, hit it to about 25 feet, 2-putted.
18, hit it about 25 feet, 2-putted. So I mean, all fairways, all greens, fringe, pretty much ho-hum.
No. 1, obviously it's a hole you feel like you've got to get out there. Making the turn, felt pretty comfortable with my game. Hit a good drive and just short of the green in two. Had a pretty relatively easy chip, didn't hit that great of a chip to eight feet, pushed it a little bit.
My first adversity of the day was on hole No. 2. I tried to hit a 3-wood up the left side and tried to keep the water out of play and cheated up and barely got it up over the trees; hit 8-iron, barely over the trees and made about a 20-footer for birdie which kind of got everything going. No. 2 and No. 3 are in my opinion the toughest two holes on the golf course.
No. 3, hit 5-wood off the tee. Try to normally cheat that on the fairway with 3-wood to give myself a shorter distance. I said, you know what, I'm 2-under, par is a good score and let's keep trying to making pars. I hit a 5-iron to 2 1/2, three feet and made it very easy for me to make that birdie putt.
4, another 5-iron, 200-yard 5-iron. Hit it to four feet and made a relatively easy birdie.
No. 5, I actually cheated it down the fairway. It's funny because I out-drove my playing partners. I heard one of the caddies discuss what they should do and he said, "Well, it doesn't hurt to be further down the fairway than you think." And I'm always trying to lay back, keep that tree out of play but lay back. I kind of heard him say that, and I was like, you know what, I'm going to hit a 5-wood. I normally hit a rescue. I'll hit 5-wood; chased down there, hit a great little L-wedge to about eight, nine feet and made that putt.
Really, the only blemish of the day was on No. 6. Tough tee shot, hit it right in the first cut, had 8-iron to the front right pin. Just came off four birdies in a row and was feeling pretty good and went for the pin. The other holes I really wasn't going for the pin. I was trying to play safe shots but they turned out well; went for the pin, abandoned my game plan. Just missed it short right of the green, really easy chip, kind of non-committal chip and blasted it, chipped to like ten feet and kind of the same thing with my putt. Wimped out on my putt also.
7, it's always either drive or 3-wood. I said you know what, we are playing good, 4-under; hit the fairway, take the driver out of play. Hit a good 3-wood and then crushed an 8-iron from 170 and hit it to like three feet. Made it really easy and then just ho-hum pars on 8 and 9. Very little stress.

Q. Does it seem like a little bit of déjà vu from last year?
GARRETT WILLIS: Absolutely. It sure does. I kind of went through the same processes I did last year coming into this tournament. I didn't play the week before at Puerto Rico; came here Sunday; played the golf course while no one was here; in cars with John Huston, my caddie, and obviously he knows the golf course very well.
He's from here. He's played out here for 30 years. Always good to pick his brain out here and at the time he didn't know whether he was going to get in the tournament, him being a late entrant. He's more apt to help me out.
Played on Sunday, and came out and played a good practice round, me and Ryuji Imada, played with Vijay Singh and Chris Couch and had a great practice session on Tuesday and then went home and just rested on Wednesday, kind of like I did last year and came out firing.

Q. You didn't play with any of those guys last year; the similarity part was you didn't play Puerto Rico?
GARRETT WILLIS: I did the same thing with John last year. Didn't play Puerto Rico; played with John on Sunday, and then had my normal gambling match on Tuesday which would have been -- not gambling, actually. We play for pride, excuse me. (Laughter).

Q. How is your approach going to change the last three rounds from a year ago?
GARRETT WILLIS: Well, my approach is always the same. But when you get out there in the heat of the moment, you have a tendency to kind of change things up. And that's what happened with me last year. I shot even par on the front after being in the lead after the first round, and played aggressive on the back nine, because I did shoot even par.
I felt like I left a couple shots out there my first nine holes, and I ended up hitting a tree on No. 1, my 10th hole and causing me to make a bogey. And I forced the issue after that. I kind of panicked a little bit. And if I would have just shot even par the last three rounds last year, I would have finished Top-10 which would have been a very successful tournament, any time you finish Top-10.
So I just have to remember to go out there and use last year as a learning experience and just go out there try to par the first hole, try to par the second hole, try to par the third hole, and if I make a putt, great. But this is a tough golf course, who knows. 5-under at the end of this week could be Top-10 again. You never know. This golf course plays very difficult.

Q. Ended up being a made cut, didn't finish last year, three rounds?
GARRETT WILLIS: Correct. I kind of -- it was kind of a hangover effect after Friday's round, playing poorly on Friday, and I went out Saturday and tried to force the issue, trying to get back in the tournament. And that's kind of where I faltered in my professional career is not sticking to a game plan. I have a great game plan every week but sticking to is a totally different story.

Q. Was the course kind of benign today?
GARRETT WILLIS: Absolutely. For playing in an afternoon round, it's probably the easiest this course will ever play. The wind was just enough to get your attention to try to basically help you concentrate a little bit better. The greens are probably softer than I've seen them in the past.
But scoring conditions were great out there today, but it's still a tough golf course and I was fortunate enough to keep the ball on the fairway and hit a lot of greens. Other than putting off one fringe, I only chipped once. So it makes it pretty easy to play golf that way.

Q. You sound like you're among the many that are having allergy issues?
GARRETT WILLIS: Yeah, I've had major headaches; I've been Neti Potting twice a day; can't sleep. It's brutal. And I remember last year, same thing. It's this time of year, even though I live 50 minutes down the road at Lake Jovita, it's still been affecting me and I'm not immune to it by any means.
COLIN MURRAY: Thank you.

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