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August 12, 2011

Mike Small


Q. Did you feel that you did a good job of recovering today, based on what you dealt with on this golf course?
MIKE SMALL: Yeah, I started off really well. I started off playing solid, 2-under after four holes, the par 5 ahead of me. I laid up in the rough and made bogey and short-sided myself and made bogey and then I recovered from that, made a couple more stupid lay-ups in the fairway bunker on another hole with an iron.
So I didn't play start but I competed hard and that was good. I'm just not sharp. It's hard for us to be sharp on these golf courses.

Q. I saw that stretch you had on 16, 17, 18 yesterday.
MIKE SMALL: I made a long putt on 18.

Q. Do you have expectations of making the cut?
MIKE SMALL: Oh, yeah, I've made the cut quite a few times in the thing before, and that's my goal is to make the cut.

Q. Is plus four --
MIKE SMALL: I have no idea. I'm in a tie for 79th right now. So it's going to be tight. If the wind blows, I should be all right.

Q. Can you keep it in perspective that you are not doing this the way Strick and guys are --
MIKE SMALL: I did it their way in the 90s and I was good enough to make it on Tour, but not good enough to stay on Tour. I could have got my card back I think, but then coming back to Illinois was a big deal to me. It's a good life, stay competitive, and I still get to play and it's something I like to do.
So personally it's satisfying to me -- that 5-footer on the last hole for par, I'm nervous as all get-up.
On 18, I love that feeling of knowing that I have to make par to make the cut. To be able to do that is fun and to be able to have that as part of my job and my future is pretty cool.

Q. And to have built what you've built with that Illinois program, you've got best of both worlds.
MIKE SMALL: I do, but it's taxing, though. Physically and mentally. It's two full-time jobs when you play as much as I have the last few years. Next year I'll play five tournaments all year, and this tournament 11 or 12.
So it will be easier next year but this has been taxing. The guys on my team follow it, and they know how cool it is to play in these events. So to come out and have this experience it helps me coach them.

Q. When you speak to them, I mean, kids like Langley, they know you've been there, and are there in many ways?
MIKE SMALL: Playing in these things carries credibility. This is my 10th major and it's kind of fun to do that and it's kind of fun to see how I do.

Q. Does that take the edge off the disappointment of maybe not playing as well as you would like?
MIKE SMALL: There's where I would get caught, because the competitor in me, I want to do well. I want to beat these guys. And I do stupid things that you do when you don't play a lot. My golf swing isn't very good right now. I'm piecing it together, and it's frustrating because I know what I used to do.
And weeks I have like this where I don't hit it very good, it's frustrating to me. But I keep it in perspective and I know I'm doing the right things for myself, and who knows what the future holds. But to come here and do that, it's nerve-wracking.
I have to keep my expectations in check, because if I get too far ahead of myself, it's really disappointing.

Q. Back to the 18th, people won't even see it and know how great of a par that was. Walk us through that one.
MIKE SMALL: Well, I hit a great shot on 17 so I was feeling good about my swing and 18, I just hit a solid drive, blocked it right, and I thought I was in the sand traps. But I cleared them and I was over there in those trees, had a good lie and the whole crowd was there and everything, and I had to move the crowd, and everybody's around there, talking.
I had a shot where I had to hit it -- hole is 215, to carry it, I had 198 to get it over the water; and I hit it hard and tried to hook it and it turned out great, and it stayed on the green, which was good.
About 40 feet away, not a hard putt and I limped up there six feet made that to make par. That was a shot I was feeling it was cool to have, because again, I'm in a position where my life doesn't depend on this. I want to play well, nervous as heck, but that was a shot at some glory there.

Q. Do you look, when you see your old buddy, Stricker, doing what he's doing, do you look back and say, what if?
MIKE SMALL: No, I'm past all that. I'm happy for Strick. Strick's always beaten me, anyway, except for those four or five years struggling, I was beating him -- I knew something wasn't right. I was playing Tour events and I was beating him. He's awesome and I want him to do well. I have no regrets.
Because I actually enjoy it -- my personality and myself, I'm not one that can play golf all the time. That's why -- I've learned that over time. When I was on Tour, I played 29 events or something, whatever it was and I was worn out and I couldn't figure out why I wasn't playing well. I've made more cuts since I've been coaching, because my life is more balanced.
So for me personally, I can't do that. I have so much respect for these guys. I played a practice round with Strick, Verplank and Jerry Kelly for two days and I have such respect for those guys. They love the game so much, they can play every day. It gets old for me when I do that too much. I get short in patience, my expectations get out of check and I get mad at myself. So I'm big on keeping my life in balance, and it's better for me this way.

Q. Stricker said in the practice round that he was nervous, he didn't really feel like he had it this week. What did you see then, and did you catch any on TV yesterday?
MIKE SMALL: He didn't hit it very good in the practice rounds. He'll tell you that. He hit in a lot of fairway bunkers. We were kidding him, if he could get the bunkers figured out.
But practice rounds don't mean anything. Actually it probably got him zoned in a little more because it puts a little fear in you a little bit; I need to ratchet it up a little bit if I'm going to play well this week.
Then he made a couple of birdies early saw and then he's back in his realm. But he didn't play well in practice; he actually lost some money to me and Jerry.

Q. Are you going to stay glued to the TV for the rest of the day?
MIKE SMALL: I'm taking my kids to the Cubs game tonight. I'm not even going to practice or get cleaned up. I'm going to go to the Cubs game.

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