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November 10, 2005

Nick Dougherty


GORDON SIMPSON: Wonderful playing today, a round of 64, just what you really needed to start the new season.

NICK DOUGHERTY: Yeah, I'm very, very pleased with that. I played some good golf at Valderrama, a week and a half, two weeks ago and extremely happy with my golf game. I feel the progress I made last year is continuing now, and it's a fantastic start to the new season. It's a massive year for me, to be on this stage, and 64 I think is my best on Tour, ties my best on Tour, 64 ties my best score I think. I'm very pleased to be here and to do so when you have all of the best players playing.

Q. What's different

NICK DOUGHERTY: On the golf course, nothing. Obviously the food is different. I'm very fortunate; I love Asian food. I've had success in Asia before. I enjoy it. I'm really good at adapting to the time change and that as well. I'm pretty good with my body clock, the way I do things.

I feel very comfortable. This golf course, it could be in L.A. or anywhere, really. It's an American style golf course. I think it's the perfect climate. It's not like with the either conditions or anything are abnormal. It's not a whole lot different, really, and I think you treat it pretty much as a normal event. Obviously quite a different field and different type of tournament, but all in all it's very, very similar.

Q. Can you tell us about the conditions today and just go through your birdies, please?

NICK DOUGHERTY: Yeah, I mean, the course, it's very scoreable, as you can see. I looked on the computer there and there's a lot of birdies out there. I think it is a testament to how good of a job they have done with the golf course. It's only a year old. I think it's in fantastic condition, really. I think the pin locations are difficult, for a lot of them not as difficult as they were in the Pro Am mind you, but they are quite difficult.

But at the same time because the greens are soft and we're playing preferred lies, if you're driving the ball well, you've got relatively short clubs in your hand. So I think all in all, if you're on with your long game and you're putting half decent you're going to shoot a good score today.

My round, I had a great start, birdie on the first three. I hit it to about 12 foot on the first and made it.

Hit it on in two on the second and 2 putt.

Third, I hit it to ten foot and made it.

Missed on the fourth.

Then 5, I hit it to about eight foot, made it.

And then the eighth, I laid up in two and then knocked it to six foot and made that.

Then birdied 10, as well. Hit it to about four foot there and birdied that. So at that stage it looked like it could have been anything. The ones that I didn't birdie, I had good chances for.

I was a little bit scrappy in the middle there after that. I had a couple of not bad shots by any means, but it wasn't spectacular like it was on the front side. And my confidence was knocked a hair in that I wasn't quite as committed a couple of time. The tee shots can be quite different. If you hit a good tee shot, I think you can pretty much open up the golf course.

After that, there were a lot of pars in a row. I missed a couple of chances again but and obviously on 18, fantastic way to finish. Hit 4 iron in there, held up on the slope to about six feet and made it, a great finish. It puts me in great shape going into the second round.

You know, it's always great I love to play well when Tiger is playing. I haven't done very often, mainly because I don't get to play in tournaments where Tiger features that often. It would be a dream scenario for me to have a crack at him on Sunday. I mean, that would be fantastic. I'd love to do that. I have to play some good golf because it seems like I'd like him to be sort of seven behind me at the moment to give him two rounds to kind of match me. But the fact that he's up there with me now means I'm going to have to play really well the next two days just so I have a chance at that.

Q. Have you ever played with him?

NICK DOUGHERTY: No, never. I would rather play with him in the final round of a big tournament than a practice round. I've love to. I think as a young player, especially now, I mean, I idolize Tiger Woods. He does everything that I want to do. He is everything that I'd like to be. And certainly, you know, when I try and improve myself, I judge it by that standard. If my dreams come true one day, I might be that good, and that would be special.

Certainly to use that as a mark of where I need to improve, you don't get a better look at it than playing in the final round of a golf tournament that he's really trying to win.

Q. Valderrama, was the goal there achieved in terms of getting the U.S. Open spot?

NICK DOUGHERTY: Valderrama was significant for me because it typified my lack of professionalism in years gone by, where I went wrong it kind of came to a head there. You know, my work ethic, treating it as like being on Tour is a bit of a holiday instead of what I was really there to do.

This year, obviously I've worked very hard throughout. But I was determined I put a lot of pressure on myself that week because I was determined for that to be a good week. You know, I only have 21 over to beat as my best score around there before, so obviously to do what I did, it was fitting.

It seems like so many things last year seemed to be really fitting in how they finished. For that to be the deciding tournament that got me in the top 15, that got me into the final round there to be the round that got me in the U.S. Open and my first Open Championship this year, it was very, very fitting.

I think it's a sign of the times; I've come a long way. Obviously I've improved in my golf game but I think the largest thing I've improved is just myself.

Q. When you stopped treating it like a holiday you talked about treating life on Tour as a holiday, when did that stop?

NICK DOUGHERTY: Well, that stopped after last year. I mean, 2004, I worked hard that year on my golf swing but I struggled a lot. But still my work ethic had not really changed. I knew I had to change but wasn't really doing anything about it. I went away in the winter, I broke up with my girlfriend. I lost all of the things around me that were really, really good; she being one of the massive ones. And I lost, you know, everything that was really important to me.

And I had a period of time of time in the States with my family to decide what I wanted to do. There's nothing more miserable than a guy that's got so much potential, so much opportunity that squanders it and that's what I was doing. I just think, you know, I had enough time to really decide what I wanted. And I was very fortunate I could come out and almost immediately see an improvement, but maybe that's a sign of how much I was costing myself.

Q. Did you break up with your girlfriend because you wanted to be free to concentrate on your golf?

NICK DOUGHERTY: No, no, no. She broke up with me because I was an idiot. You know, I could use a different word but you'd probably write it. She broke up with me because of everything bad about me. She's a really good girl. She's so mature for her age. She gave me everything I could ever ask for, and in return, I gave her nothing. She broke up with me and she's given me a chance she gave me another chance, which is more than I deserve. You know, I feel very fortunate. I think she's very proud of the fact, as well, that she's helped me make a lot of these changes.

GORDON SIMPSON: Well done, good start and see if you get Tiger on Sunday. Thanks very much.

End of FastScripts.

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