March 23, 2001
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA
PAUL AZINGER: It's a rarity to hit it the way I hit it yesterday. Was probably not going to be the norm. I'd like it to be.
Q. Is the course with the greens firming up, is it getting tough to control?
PAUL AZINGER: Starting to get tougher. Clearly the rough is growing. If you go in there, you're going to hit a wedge or a 9-iron out most of the time. I don't want to be there. I missed a few more fairways today; therefore, missed a few more greens. Didn't make a bogey till the 28th hole. Only made one bogey. But I was in position to where I could have made a couple bogeys today. And yesterday I didn't really threaten a bogey until the 18th hole.
Q. These kind of conditions, this is where your course management has to be strong?
PAUL AZINGER: Yeah, you have to have a positive state of mind pretty much too. I think you really got to think your way around a course. There's situations you can't put yourself in like I did on 8 today. You know, I knew I didn't need to be there. It's really the only mental mistake I made. Even though I had a few physical blunders today, it wasn't because of the way I was thinking. I was really trying to get it in there close, and I brought that bunker into play, which was stupid. The ball, I could have put it on a tee in there and not gotten it inside 15 feet, so... But you got to think around here. It's a hard course. It's like Augusta in some ways.
Q. You said "thinking." I think you knocked it a foot there on the last hole. Looked like you went through the three or four different club options, or was it the same two going back and forth?
PAUL AZINGER: It was back and forth. The wind was gusting, and then it would stop. I only had 114 to the hole. Clearly I can get a pitching wedge there. I could have got it there when the wind was blowing its hardest. But the way I had to get it there would have been up in the air; I didn't feel like doing that. I wasn't sure it was blowing hard enough for the 9-iron, and I went back and forth a couple times. Chose the 9 to keep it down; turned out to be the right shot. Then apologized to my playing partners for being so slow.
Q. Is there any point on this course where you can relax?
PAUL AZINGER: I don't think so. You know, even the par 5s, you know, No. 2 and 16 today were downwind and could get both of those holes today, pretty easily. If you let your guard down on the tee, you won't be able to get there. There's holes that are a lot more stressful, a lot more potential for disaster, you know. It's a hard course. I've been in the last group here before a few years back, And I could remember what it's like. It was a stressful week. You know that. I don't know if I'll be in the last group today -- or tomorrow or not. You know, it's -- there's all kinds of trouble out there.
PAUL AZINGER: Well, you know, can't get past them till you're past them. They're always there; they're always in your mind.
PAUL AZINGER: Wouldn't matter if you're trying to make the cut or -- doesn't matter, you know they're there. 17, I've had good fortune on 17 and bad fortune, just like everybody else.
Q. Jerry Kelly said he started thinking about 17 on 4.
PAUL AZINGER: I remembered I played Tour School here in 1983 to play the '84 season, and the 5th round of Tour School I hit two balls in the water and made 7. And when I woke up for the 6th rounds, I was thinking about 17. By the time I got there, the pin was on the front and I had to hit one less club. I hit it short in the water with the 8-iron the day before. I remember I hit the 9-iron and just trapped it and killed it, and it went on the back edge of the green. It was like this far from going in the water. My right foot was on the wood, the pin was all the way down the front, and I made it for a 2. But I never stopped thinking about it.
Q. 18, the tee shot isn't easier, is it?
PAUL AZINGER: The right rough's an automatic lay-up, so -- but in the water is worse. You got to hit a good drive. I hit 2 good tee shots so far. But it's a hard hole. It's a hard course.
Q. You still have to feel good no matter what group you're in, where you're at right now.
PAUL AZINGER: Yeah, I played pretty consistent last year, only missed the cut one time. I did miss the cut this year at the Hawaiian Open, a little disappointing. But generally I've played a lot better for a pretty long stretch, quite a bit more consistent, I haven't got myself as close to the lead, you know, as I wanted to. It's nice to be a little closer to the lead.
Q. Talked about a commitment. A commitment to winning more tournaments than in the past?
PAUL AZINGER: Well, just a commitment to going to each tournament. Committed, I mean really prepared and ready to go. Was kind of a three- or four-year stretch was, I would say, almost going where it was an obligation, than with a purpose. Hoping I would play well. So I tried to change that attitude a little bit, and so far it's been a lot better.
Q. Why was that, do you think? Obviously, that's a long answer.
PAUL AZINGER: I was playing so bad -- why was I playing bad? There's three reasons I was playing bad: It could have been my equipment, it could have been my state of mind, or I could have just lost my game. And in the end, I did change equipment. But my game didn't really get that much better until I changed my state of mind. Even when I played my best, I was missing 7 cuts a year, you know. So I'd say I'm doing a little better.
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