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July 5, 2011

Martin Laird


SCOTT CROCKETT: Thanks, as always, for joining us Martin. Welcome to The Barclays Scottish Open. Give us your thoughts opponent the course, you played nine this morning and you played nine yesterday. Just give us your overall thoughts on what you saw out there.
MARTIN LAIRD: Yeah, you know it's fun to come back. It's definitely playing like a true links course in terms of the ball is very fiery, the ball is buzzing around. But I really like it. You know, it's almost like two courses, the holes down at the bottom of the hill are a little different than the ones up top. Both of them are good sets of holes. I probably won't hit driver until I get up at the top of the hill around here and then there's a bit of room off the tee, but as wide as the fairways are, the entrances to the greens are really narrow so a golf course that definitely approach shots are a premium down here. Your approach shots and iron shots, with a wind like today, a lot of crosswinds, tough to hit some greens with 9- and 8-irons.
So it's a good test and I learned a lot before I came over here. The scores are going to be really low and it's probably playing easy but if it blows like it has today and then yesterday afternoon when I was finishing, I don't think that will be the case. It's definitely got some tricky holes. Some of the hardest holes out here are the short ones, the par 4s around 400 yards, you have to think about what you are doing, depending where the flag is, which is the sign of a good design. You can't just stand up on a 360-yard par 4 and just smash it down there. It's good.
SCOTT CROCKETT: You took part in a Media Day a month or so ago and you talked about your season. Just reflect on that for a moment, obviously the highs of Bay Hill and playing in the Masters, just review your year so far.
MARTIN LAIRD: Obviously Bay Hill was the high, and obviously I played really well the start of the season, too. I had I think six Top-10s in my first ten 1, 1 events.
Turn up not really playing as well. Definitely went a little dip in form for a few weeks. But saw my coach, would have been two weeks ago now, the week after the U.S. Open, saw him, worked with him hard that week, and really got some things sorted out, my usual bad tendencies I got into, and actually hit the ball really well there at the Travelers Championship. And then had a good week practising last week and feel my game is coming back around like the start of the year.
SCOTT CROCKETT: A big three weeks for you, this week and The Open and here, and then the small matter of your wedding coming up.
MARTIN LAIRD: The biggest week of the year is as you say a couple of weeks after the Open, so looking forward to that.
SCOTT CROCKETT: That's back home in the States.
MARTIN LAIRD: Back in Colorado where my fiancée (Meagan) is from, and then obviously that's the biggest weekend of the year. We are really looking forward to that. But it's kind of nice to be over here and play a couple of really good tournaments and get away from all the wedding details for a couple of weeks maybe and then get back for what will be a great week?

Q. Are you going to wear a kilt?
MARTIN LAIRD: Yeah, definitely. (Campbell tartan)

Q. Is it strange to see a course where, as you say, some of the harder holes are under 400 yards, when you are used to the States where their rationale is just to make things longer and longer to make courses harder?
MARTIN LAIRD: You know, if you take -- I don't know how many par 4s there are 400 yards but in the States typically a 360-yard par 4, if you can you'll try to hit driver as hard as you can because you'll be able to spin it and stop it, maybe even if you're 40 yards short.
I can't remember quite all the hole numbers, but the hole on the back nine, I'm trying to think which hole it is, maybe 14 or 15, short par 4 down the hill, you have to hit driver down there and it was only 40 yards short of the green. So it was actually a tough shot to hit the green from 40 yards because it's just downwind and couldn't stop it, and especially that back flag, you had no play really.
So that's a perfect example of a hole where even if you can hit driver down there, if it's downwind, get it ten, 20 yards short, it's not a very good play. So you have to lay back and then leave yourself a sand wedge or wedge. So like you said, some of the hardest holes out here are the short ones which is not what they do in America. If the scores are low, they tend to stretch them out.
As you saw, obviously the U.S. Open, Rory played fantastic, but that course was a monster and he still shot 16-under around there. If you get soft greens now, doesn't matter how long the golf course is, but around here you can't even stop a sand wedge on some of the holes?

Q. The first shortish par four is the third, will you take driver there?
MARTIN LAIRD: Definitely not driver, I hit 2-iron today and I hit it to almost the back of the green. You know, there's a bunker, I think it was like 225 yards down the left, if you fly that, and if you hit a club0, like I hit 2-iron today at 7, and I hit past, I don't know how far, but just bombed there. It's not stopping. It was a yard from going over the green and on to the beach. That is a hole that I really don't know what I'm going to do on that hole yet. Definitely have a closer look tomorrow when I'm playing the Pro-Am.
But that's one that on paper looks like, oh, just hit it down there, but if you miss the green left, where you're going to miss it, and it's the back pin, you can't even keep it on the green; pitch it up there. Still that's one I might play maybe 7- or 8-iron off the tee just to give myself a close shot?

Q. What do you think the winning score will be?
MARTIN LAIRD: If it blows like this it, it all depends where they put the flags obviously. But if it blows like this, I feel the thing that will keep the scores down is that the par 5s are reachable. There is a couple of par 4s that you can drive it down there.
But you know, if I was out there playing today in that wind, if you shoot 2-, 3-, 4-under par, you would be very happy. It's not the type of course where you feel like you have to shoot 5-, 6-, 7-under par to keep pace.
I was telling my caddie, guys will shoot 5-under, but I don't think guys are going to shoot 5-under every day and shoot 20-under like I was reading in some of the reports before I came. Some of the flags on these greens, it could be very tricky.

Q. Coming to a links like this -- does it feel like home?
MARTIN LAIRD: It definitely feels like home, every time I get back in Scotland, I always say it feels like home, doesn't matter how long I've been away, always feels like home. Playing links golf, it definitely feels like I'm in Scotland, because it's the only place you'll come and play a golf course like this. The courses in America, they don't play like a links course like this. I love playing links golf. It's so different. Like I was saying, it's so different than what we are used to in America.
It's challenging for me to come back and it's not like I can come back and automatically know how to hit little bump-and-runs and how to play it. It definitely takes some getting used to. It's just one of those things that you definitely over the few days as the week goes on I'll probably get more comfortable.

Q. Are there more expectations and pressure on you now from the Scottish fans, and do you get recognised more after winning at Bay Hill, the galleries?
MARTIN LAIRD: As for the second part, I don't know if it will change what I'm getting back. I think more people will know about me after meaning there. But I love coming back and playing in front of a home crowd, only get to do it once or twice a year. I can kind of go to an American tournament and kind of go unnoticed for the whole week if I'm not playing great.
So I'm looking toward to getting out there, and I obviously want to come back here to play well and play well for people to come out. I don't know if it's putting more pressure on me. I put plenty of expectations and pressure on myself to come back. I want to do nothing more than play The Barclays Scottish Open, it's pretty much the week of the year I want to come out and play well. I'm looking forward to getting out there. I've heard there will be good crowds this week so that will be fun.

Q. Am I right in thinking that when you went to the States for the first time, you deliberately changed your ball flight to make it go higher?
MARTIN LAIRD: Yeah, when I went over there, obviously I had a low draw and it wasn't ideal for playing American-style golf. Over the years, definitely gradually started hitting the ball higher and higher, and I've definitely hitting it a lot higher than when I left.

Q. Is it a case of going back to basics when you come back then?
MARTIN LAIRD: I keep going back to my old swing, my swing has changed a lot when I left. I went over there 11 years ago but I feel like my swing is at a stage now -- and that's one of the reasons why I think I've really started to play better over the last year is I feel I can control my ball flight a lot better now. I'm a lot more comfortable hitting it both ways and keeping it down, which out here on these courses you've got to do. You've go to have the low shot but as much as the low shot you have to have the high shot, because some of these holes you've got to be able to hit it high to stop it, otherwise, you can't hold the greens.
Low balls, they help in links golf but obviously you've got to be able to hit it high and hold it up against the wind as much as just hit it low. So I definitely have more punches when I come home than I do in America and that's something I've been working on the last couple of days trying to get more comfortable with.

Q. Does that affect the way you prepare?
MARTIN LAIRD: Yeah, and that started that playing with my dad at Lundin Links. I started hitting a lot of punches and clubs off the tees, trying to hit low draws and stuff like, that because I knew I was going to have to do it. I hit bump-and-runs, and even maybe where it wasn't a chip that I would do, just trying to work on working it. And definitely out on the range, I'm definitely not going through my standard warm up of hitting full shots like I would in the States. I definitely work on hitting a lot of punches because you know when you go out there you're going to have them almost every hole.
Q. Were you asked at all, and are you surprised more haven't come over this week from America?
MARTIN LAIRD: I don't know the exact number, how many came over, but I got a lot of questions from guys the last few months about, how played there, what's it like. And obviously I told them I have not been here but heard it's great. I don't know if it's because it's the first year maybe they didn't come, but I thought there would be maybe a few more come over.
Like I said, links golf is so different than the typical American-style golf, if you have not played on it for a while, it does take you a little time to get used to it and get your feel back around the greens and stuff. Maybe I'm surprised there's not a few more came over to get acclimatised.

Q. With The Ryder Cup next year, have you thought about playing more in Europe?
MARTIN LAIRD: Yeah, it's definitely high on the list. I will be joining The European Tour next year and I plan to maybe play a few more. I want to make it clear, and not just making the team from staying in America. I want to come back and play a few more events and hopefully be in a situation where I can play myself on the team. You know, if not -- if it's a situation where I just miss out, at least I've made the point that I came back and want to make the team and I came over to try to make the team. I'll definitely be back and playing a few more events next year.
I don't know if I'll get 13, I'll be joining as an affiliate member, so I won't have to get to the 13, but there is a chance that I will get to that 13 anyway.

Q. At this time of the year will you think of playing a few more European Tour events?
MARTIN LAIRD: That's one of the luxuries that I have this year with winning is that I don't have to worry too much about the U.S. Tour next year, in terms of I know that I will -- it will be more in the middle of the year, more around the summer that I will try to get back and play a few more.
Next year is definitely kind of a top focus at the start of the year is to make The Ryder Cup Team, and I'll be -- I know I've already -- I think I'm going to play a light schedule end of this year just because I know I'm going to play a lot of golf next year leading up to that, and I've already kind of thought about that. I've not sat down and pencilled in which tournaments I'm going to maybe come back for because I'll definitely be trying to play in a few more and as I said play myself on to the team.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Martin, thanks, as always.

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