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April 21, 2011

Garrett Willis


MARK STEVENS: Garrett Willis, you got to 7-under, 6 birdies in a row on the front nine, if you want to talk about that. And then your thoughts going into tomorrow.
GARRETT WILLIS: Yeah, I mentioned earlier at the start of this week I haven't been really confident with my putter. I actually showed up this week with about four of them, had two made and then had my dad FedEx me three more from back home. And putted with the belly putter for -- yesterday we played Chechessee Creek over in Beaufort, a great golf course. Played with a belly putter there. Played with a belly putter on the practice round on Tuesday. Actually got to the golf course 30 minutes before I would normally get here to work on my putting. Putted with the belly putter before breakfast and then after breakfast, and then as I was walking to the range, I said, you know what, go back to my car and get Old Faithful. I can't pull the trigger.
So I carried my own bag to the range while my caddie went to get the putter. Hit balls on the range, and hit like three or four putts with my Old Faithful putter, and hit a pretty good shot in there for about ten feet and missed it and kind of had the negative thoughts of, here we go again, not making any putts.
But hit a great shot on No. 2, ran my first putt about eight feet past the hole and made it coming back. And I said, wow, maybe I can make a putt.
And then from there that momentum, it just carried over to No. 3, made a good 10, 12-footer, No. 3.
No. 4, I got a little cute and pulled my shot. And hit it to a couple of feet, pretty easy birdie.
5, chipped it up to a foot, pretty easy birdie.
6, made another good solid 10, 12-footer.
And then 7, I hit a 5-iron to probably about eight feet and actually misread it a little bit but it hung in there and fell in.
Then on 8, I really wanted to go for the pin on 8 but it's such a tough hole anyway, I really didn't want to shoot to the pin with the water on left. So I hit my target and bailed out to the right and gave myself about a 25-footer. And stopped my birdie streak. But was very happy with a par.
And then obviously going to 9, drove it perfect. The winds was gusting a little bit and tried to get too cute, forcing a 9-iron back there from 127. The wind died down, I pulled it a little bit, airmailed the green. Made a pretty good bogey, about a 4-footer bogey.
On the back nine, pulled to the trees on No. 11. Actually had a great recovery shot to the front of the green. Chipped it by -- terrible chip, chipped it by about six, seven feet, missed the putt. But was able to come back with a solid 10-footer on the next hole.
And then 13 made a good save out of the bunker, pulled my tee shot on 13.
14 had a great look at it. About a 12-footer on 14.
15, had about a 3-footer.
16, made another great 12-footer. And then actually gave myself looks on 17 and 18 for a birdie and didn't convert either one of them. Obviously very excited about putting this well, and having a chance to making the cut for a change.

Q. I lost track there, how many putters did you audition this week? And when was the last time you played with Old Faithful?
GARRETT WILLIS: I haven't missed a tournament in five years with it. So like I said, I've been having 31, 32, 33 putts a round, which is leading to a lot of missed cuts. And this week is the week I'm going to break away, I'm going to do it, I'm going to switch. I say that almost every week, but I don't have the guts enough to do it, luckily it paid off.
I showed up with four. Had three of them made, and then had my dad FedEx me three. So roughly ten putters.

Q. It sounds like you came in here on the edge of deciding what you were going to do with your putters. Are you confident now throughout the rest of this week? Are you sticking with Old Faithful or if you take 30 putts tomorrow, are you back on the fence again?
GARRETT WILLIS: No, I mean, I made putts today that I normally don't make. I made some 10- and 12-footers. For me typically to make one or two putts outside ten feet I'm ecstatic. I played great earlier this year in Tampa. I think I made it through the first 36 holes and made three putts outside of ten feet and was leading the golf tournament. It's something I've struggled with my entire career. When I putt well I play well.
Last year in Memphis I lost by one and I averaged 28 putts that week. I'm confident with this putter. It didn't let me down. I had a tough putt for bogey on nine. 5-footer, made it. And even my putts coming down the stretch with a little bit of nerves going was able to hit good putts.
So I feel confident. And like I said, it's been around a long time. We can't make them all. I'm fully aware of it. But for some reason some of these guys do week in and week out.

Q. You won your first start on the Tour; been ten years now. What did that do for your mindset? And then has it been kind of deflating to wait so long for the second one?
GARRETT WILLIS: You know what, I mean, obviously winning is great. I just want to play good golf. If I never win again, I'll be 100 percent fine with that. I just want to be able to play the golf that I know I'm capable of playing. And a lot of times my problem is I get too aggressive on the golf course and that's a factor based on my putting. If I feel like I can make some 15-footers, I wouldn't feel like I had to aim at so many pins and short-side myself and then the frustration builds because you short-side yourself, you chipped up to five feet and it just kinds of snowballs.
Obviously winning a golf tournament has given me the opportunity to play here. I might not have never had the Nationwide Tour status two years ago to get back on the PGA TOUR as a past champion. A lot of people said the best thing that happened to me is the worst thing, but I disagree.

Q. A place like this it sounds like the way your game is and the putting being the key, seems like that would suit you. If you're not pretty dialed in, you'll miss the green and then you'll chip it close, you'll never have too many long putts here?
GARRETT WILLIS: Yes, there's only about four or five golf courses on Tour that I can compete on, this being one of them, Tampa being one of them, and Memphis, and probably Mexico is another one, that puts a premium on controlling your golf ball, which I'm able to do. And if I can continue to hit the driver and control my golf ball the way I have and make some putts, I'm going to finish pretty decent.

Q. What model is Old Faithful?
GARRETT WILLIS: It's a Scotty Cameron prototype, I don't even know what it's called.
MARK STEVENS: Thanks a lot. Good luck tomorrow.

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