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July 7, 2005

Nick Dougherty


GORDON SIMPSON: You finished off in style on Sunday, a few players that would settle for your 67 at The K Club, and today you're at 66 and still 5 under. Clearly the game seems to be in a nice bit of shape at the moment.

NICK DOUGHERTY: Yeah, that was a big confidence booster for me, shooting 67 at The K Club. I don't particularly like the golf course and I've never played well before. This year is the first year I've ever made the cut there, and 79 is probably what my average score was years before. It was a great result and to come back the next day and just see the hard work and my consistency and what I'm trying to do in my golf game and carry my confidence and form into this week.

I love this place. I've never really played particularly well here before, and I need to finish in the top spot, because the top guys are exempt to get in the Open, so I think it's what I want to do. I really want to play in this Open Championship. I'm not going to play just for the top spot just because the position I'm in now, it would be upsetting if I didn't qualify for it.

I don't think I've ever had the privilege of playing in a tournament that Jack's played, and I think that, you know, being at St. Andrews, I'd really, really love to play. I played in the Open at Pinehurst which is an unusual golf course for an Open venue, and the Old Course is an unusual venue, and I think to play two courses that unusual for your first two majors, and two that have a relationship would be a great thing, as well.

I'm going to try and win this week. I think looking for the top spot that's not exempt is a slightly negative way to look at it if you win it. I'm playing good enough. This is a great field here this week, but I feel like I'm on top of my game and if I can shave another few shots off what I shot today, make another couple of putts, I felt like I hit some great putts that didn't go in, I may have a chance.

Q. What was working for you today?

NICK DOUGHERTY: Obviously I hit the ball solid. My iron play was good, a couple flat ones. I hit an average, poor shot on 8 and a shocking lob wedge to 9. My ball striking is good, distance control is good and overall I gave myself plenty of opportunities.

The thing with this course is that the greens are poor, you know, the way they are playing, unfortunately. You know, I think that the rest of the course is as good as it's ever been. The greens, I don't know if they had any problems, but this afternoon they are going to be hellish because even the back nine for us, you've got four foot putts and you're hoping for dear life they don't jump off line. I think the key is going to be course management, not being too aggressive and make sure you're not putting yourself astray with those putts. I think I did that today. No bogeys on my card was purely because I managed my game really, really well.

Q. What's your previous best finish here?

NICK DOUGHERTY: I don't know, I don't think it's much better than 69 or 68.

Q. Inaudible

NICK DOUGHERTY: I don't know, we played in practice in spikes and some of the greens, every step you take, it's just tearing it up, and not just from making the usual strides or moving your feet in an awkward way. Literally, just walking normally.

It's unfortunate. The greens in the past have always been really, really good here. The front nine played good, but the greens always get a bit of a beating playing when it's a wet area. And albeit, it is firmer than usual, it's still soft enough that it's going to leave footprints and the grass is going to get pulled up. I'm sure there's people that will play well this week but it's just you have to be maybe a little cautious. A putt three foot downhill left to right is a bit smelly today.

Q. What about a 16 year old making the Walker Cup team?

NICK DOUGHERTY: I think 23 is still younger, isn't it? No, it's a sign of the times. I think golf has changed so much that this young generation are coming through and at 16, guys, they get into fitness aspect really young now as well. They have got the strength, the maturity. The coaching systems are so good now, they have really got everything they need if they are mature enough to use it by the time they are our age. You can see it, professional golf, it's getting younger and younger. I think people's primes are getting knocked down all the time. They used to say 35 is what they used to say. I wouldn't say that's correct anymore. I think most guys are peaking sort of between 27 and 32. So I think it's a good sign. It's not that much younger than me, only seven years.

Q. Were you disappointed to not qualify for the Open at Sunningdale?

NICK DOUGHERTY: I was disappointed. Looking at the schedule, I tried to pick, really, really great tournaments, all tournaments you would love to win and I loved playing all of them, and then playing in the U.S. Open. It's been a long, long slog.

From the French Open, I took a private jet home just to make it; you thought being at home, I have to get back for it. I was not equipped. I was tired, I was agitated at the course, and I missed a golden opportunity as well. But that's all stuff you learn from, isn't it really, maybe better planning for the if future.

Q. Have you tried to qualify a lot of times?

NICK DOUGHERTY: Last year was the first time I tried no. I tried the last two years. I always screw up at the Old Course. For some reason I find it quite difficult. And the year before that, again I drove down from Loch Lomond to final stage qualifying when it was at Royal St. Georges. So I probably didn't give myself the best opportunity to qualify, but this would be a great way. I think after qualifying at Walton Heath, there's a technique I think to qualifying, playing 36 hole qualifiers, and I did it well at Walton Heath but not quite so good at Sunningdale.

Q. St Andrews could be special?

NICK DOUGHERTY: The same tournament, yeah, that would be great to play with Jack, but I'm not sure that would happen. Yeah, he's a golfing great, arguably more than Tiger is currently. And I think this is my last shot, St. Andrews, the home of golf, Jack's last round, it's too good of one to miss really. I'd love to make it. If I don't, I certainly will be watching on the telly.

Q. Do you think players should be banned from wearing spikes during tournaments?

NICK DOUGHERTY: In my opinion soft spikes are better than spikes, anyway, but you can't really do that because some guys prefer them. In the future I think we'll definitely have that rule because without a doubt it's going to cost people shots because it just tears them up. It was laughable in practice yesterday. It was laughable on the greens, and it is a unfortunate and most unfathomable rule in golf that you cannot tap down a spike mark. It would be the same for everyone if you could. To me it's not really fair that you could have a three foot putt and it not go in because of someone's spike.

Q. The person that was wearing the spikes yesterday, was he aware of what he was doing?

NICK DOUGHERTY: Well, no, he was aware of what's happening, but what can you do? It's not the player's fault. It's not the golf course's fault. It just happens that spikes are accepted on this tour, but they are not good for these greens. There's nothing you can do about it. Also in the end, the guy with the spikes is not going to get punished; it's the guy that comes up behind him. It almost makes you feel like wearing spikes so it's fair, you know what I mean. You get a guy that you do everything you can to make sure the course is fair, is in good conditions for everyone and you always repair your pitchmarks. I'm a player that always repairs his pitchmarks and always when he leaves the greens and it's never the guys that are chomping around; the guy that's courteous is the guy whose going to get punished. It does seem slightly unfair, and whether or not in the future they will think about banning spikes, because I think it's arguably whether they are wetter than soft spikes. I find soft spikes better than regular spikes.

Q. Inaudible

NICK DOUGHERTY: I don't think so. I don't think so. I think people notice it more today because we certainly had the best part of the greens this morning. It will be interesting to see what they are like this afternoon. Usually if you play in the morning, the back nine after the morning field has been on them and they are still great but they are pretty spiked up. They really are pretty messed up there. So I think the last few groups today, it's going to be pretty ugly.

Q. Is there anybody wearing spikes

NICK DOUGHERTY: No. I don't think on this tour. I think most guys wear soft spikes now. I think more and more guys are starting to do it. The only reason I can really think spikes would be better is because from the car park to walk in, it sounds better. I can't think why, because the design that goes into the soft spikes, there's more grip certainly with them. Maybe one day it will help because it certainly makes a difference, certainly makes a difference.


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