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August 12, 2011

D.A. Points


KELLY ELBIN: With a 67, his personal best round at the PGA Championship, D.A. Points joining us in the second round of the 93rd PGA Championship, 3-under par 67 puts you at 4-under par for the championship through two rounds. Well played. Comments on not only the play today but on your first two days here at Atlanta Athletic Club, please.
D.A. POINTS: Yes, just driving it straight, hitting it on the green and not wasting too many shots. The only, I guess, really wasted shot I feel like I've had was today on whatever hole, 13, I hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker. It was the first fairway I missed today, and of course it was with a 3-iron. But I made an okay bogey there. I didn't have a very good lie in the bunker, so wasn't too disappointed. And then I came right back with a birdie, and then 18, obviously one of the hardest holes we'll ever play, I drove it in a fairway bunker and laid it up and just made sure I didn't do anything too silly.
KELLY ELBIN: For the record, D.A. has hit 24 of 28 fairways and 30 of 36 greens in regulation over the first two rounds. If you would, please, just a quick review of the birdies and bogeys.
D.A. POINTS: Sure. I actually started out on the range this morning panicking because I wasn't hitting it very well, and fortunately, I kind of figured it out right at the end of my warm-up, and I got out and hit an okay driver off the first hole that kind of hung in the fairway, and then I hit a great 6-iron from about 190 yards to about six feet and made that. So that was gave me a little boost of confidence knowing that I think I kind of figured out my golf swing.
And then I got to No. 4, and shoot, I don't even hardly remember. What did I hit? That's how much in the moment I am, right? I can't even remember what I hit.
KELLY ELBIN: The par-3 there?
D.A. POINTS: Yeah, I'm trying to think of the hole. I don't know, I hit it on the green, I made the putt.
And then 6, I remember 6. I hit a really nice drive, and that's a tough driving hole. 6 is like a shortish hole, but the way the fairway angles, and I hit a really nice cut drive right down the middle of the fairway, and I hit a perfect gap wedge, 52-degree wedge number, and I hit it to about two and a half, three feet for a near gimme birdie.
And then 12, I hit a really good tee shot. About as good as I can hit it on 12 from the very top tee, and I had 230 front, 234 hole, and I elected to lay up, which I certainly can get it to the green and get it to the hole and really have a chance to make a three. But there's really not a whole lot of room up there. If you hang it barely right it goes in the water and almost for sure 6, and if you hit it in the left bunker, the bunkers are very difficult this week, and it's not a for sure up-and-down. So I laid it up, had 80 yards and hit a really nice lob wedge to about five and a half feet right behind the hole and made it.
And then 13 as I alluded to, I hit a hybrid into the bunker and had a really bad lie, just kind of hacked it out into the fairway, and then didn't quite get it up-and-down. I hit a good pitch as an okay putt.
And then the very next hole, I hit my first real driver kind of off line into the right fairway bunker, but fortunately I had a better lie and I hit a good 9-iron to about 18 feet straight uphill, straight into the grain, and hit a good putt there and made that.
And then 18, I hit 3-wood off the tee, trying to keep it in the fairway, and hit it in the right fairway bunker and hit a good lay-up and a below-average lay-up to 25 or 30 feet and two-putted and got out of there.

Q. A little two-part question. Could you explain how the bunkers are playing difficult, and then the second one is because of these grasses they're using here, how do the fairways and the greens qualitatively play differently than the usual courses you play on the PGA TOUR?
D.A. POINTS: Okay. From a bunker standpoint, I'm going to try to do this very carefully. The sand is very heavy. The sand is very powdery, so your ball rolls into it, it does not sit on the top of the sand. It sits a sixth of the golf ball down or it just nestles into the -- it's almost better if you can somehow hit a shot into a place where somebody has already raked, it's a lot better. But if it's where the machine that rakes the bunkers or however they rake the bunkers the night before, it's real clumpy and it sits up and the ball nestles into it. And if it's a fairway bunker shot, it's no fun, and if it's a greenside bunker shot, it's hard to get much spin on it and the ball just comes out real heavy, and it's a hard sand to judge.
Then the grasses, the fairways are great, the greens are good, everything is in great condition. The oddity a little bit about the greens, I would say is, for as fast as they are, they're not that firm. Like you can hold shots and spin a few shots, and generally when we play, when the greens are really fast, they're also really hard, so they're almost softish but really fast. And that makes it for a little bit of an odd combination. It makes it relatively fair because if they were really hard and this fast, it would be brutal. Maybe nobody would be under par.
But it's in great condition, and the fairways, the zoysia, the ball sits really nice. The only thing that I struggle with on occasion is if you go to hit a shot kind of down and through, like if you're going to try to trap a shot or hit a knock-down shot, it's hard to get the club to go through the grass very well because it's a very thick-rooted grass. So your club tends to kind of kick up in the air, whereas if it was like on a bent, you could take a divot this long but at least it kind of gives way and it goes right through.
But still, in great condition, and if you can pick the shot off the grass, it definitely feels great.

Q. How would you like to be tied for the lead and your co-leader just got to 15 tee on Sunday?
D.A. POINTS: Oh, I'd be super happy. Any time you're tied for the lead, I don't care what hole we're on, I'm going to be happy. The thing is the 15th hole, I think, sets up pretty good for me. I like to move the ball a little left to right, so regardless of where the pin is, I'm pretty much trying to hit it at the same spot. Because it's such a long hole, if they move the tee way up and kind of gave us a reason to want to shoot at the flag, then it would be, oh, maybe I'll try to fit one in.
But again, back there from 230 or 260 or whatever we are, I mean, I'm just trying to hit it on the fat part of the green, try to find a two-putt and get out of there.

Q. So let me rephrase that. What do you think the odds are of somebody parring or came in under par on the last four holes on Sunday?
D.A. POINTS: Well, coming in under par, I don't feel like it's very good. Coming in par, I think it's very doable, but you've got to just hit really good-quality shots, and again, I think a lot of it will be, also, to not -- they're going to put some pins that are going to entice you to want to try to go for them, and it's going to be being patient enough and having good enough control to hit it into the fat parts of the greens and get it in the fairway and try to make your pars.
KELLY ELBIN: Thus far D.A. has played those final four holes 2-over par.

Q. Obviously you were playing pretty well at the beginning of the season. How have things gone since then to get to this point?
D.A. POINTS: They have just been very okay. I haven't played poorly, I haven't played well. I've just kind of been putting along, finishing in the 30s and 40s it seems like, making cuts, which I'm not going to ever discount making cuts, but just kind of been waiting to get back on that upturn and having a good stretch.
Last week I felt like at the Akron event I played pretty solid, just didn't putt -- didn't make any putts the middle two rounds, and this week, this is where I want to be. I want to try to be peaking right now.

Q. How does it feel right now to be sitting up here at the podium knowing that you are in contention at the year's last major?
D.A. POINTS: It feels great, but it's only Friday. It's going to feel a lot better when it's Sunday and I'm talking to you guys -- or even Saturday afternoon when I'm hopefully in here talking to you guys about playing well again. So there's so much golf left, so I'm certainly glad to be here, but I hope to be here the next two days.

Q. Could you explain why so many Midwesterners are off to such good starts? Did you see that coming?
D.A. POINTS: No. Considering we all grew up putting on bentgrass and not pitching out of Bermuda and not playing off of zoysia, it's not real notice -- I can't figure it out, but I will say that Steve and Jerry and myself, we generally drive the ball pretty straight and hit a fair amount of greens. So I think, again, that's kind of the -- when we're swinging halfway decent at it, those are our strong points, and I think that's why we're playing well.

Q. You sort of answered it, but yesterday I think it was Jerry Kelly who said that he felt like he and Steve had played smart golf, and it sounded from the description of your round like when you got in a situation that was questionable, you weren't trying to be a hero, you were just trying to get out and move along?
D.A. POINTS: Very accurate, trying to keep it low stress. Even on 12, if I go up there and I hit a hybrid and maybe I flush it right at the flag and it lands right there and rolls to the back of the green, I still have a very hard 4, not maybe a hard 5 but a hard 4 for sure, and then if I maybe hit -- they made that pond to the right of that green a yellow hazard, so you could hit a great shot and have it just trickle down and if it catches that slope, it goes in the water, now I'm back dropping from 80 yards anyway.
And even the next hole, 13, it's kind of a cool hole because you can hit anything you want off the tee. You can hit driver over the bunkers and get it down there 50, 60 yards, I played with Thomas Aiken the last two days and he had 50 yards both days, but I'm hitting hybrid and having 140, and I'm okay with that because I feel like that's a little lower stress for me.

Q. After your win at Pebble, did you place any extra expectations for your performance in majors, or in other words, do you feel like it's time that you start contending regularly at majors?
D.A. POINTS: I felt like I should just start to contend regularly every week, not any extra pressure on majors. I feel pretty good that I've treated this week kind of like every other week besides maybe a little bit more cautious because I know I don't have to be -- potentially don't have to be 15 or 16-under to win this week.
But I definitely feel like after getting that win -- and as I feel it should -- raise my expectations a little bit and want more out of my game.

Q. Go back to the sand. Differentiate between the challenge playing from the greenside bunkers with this kind of sand as opposed to playing out of fairway bunkers? Which is the more difficult and what are the adjustments? And since the tournament has begun there's been very little comment about the rough. Talk a little bit about how much the rough is a factor in scoring.
D.A. POINTS: Well, as far as the sand goes, again, if you have plenty of green to work with and a greenside bunker, it's not too bad because you can kind of almost hit a chunk and run, if you will. But again, that sand is so heavy that we're used to being able to try to send the club head and have it splash really quickly through the sand, and it's just so heavy that your club just really doesn't want to do that, and at that makes it tough.
So sometimes guys might change clubs or you may have to swing a lot harder, but by this time, we should be getting adapted to this week's sand, and fairway bunkers, like I said, it's just -- I think fairway bunker shots are the most hard because of how soft the top layer is, that even though the sides of the bunkers might look fairly steep, the ball just doesn't roll down to the flat part. So then now only is the ball sitting kind of halfway down, it didn't make it all the way to the flat part, so now you're on a side hill. It's kind of a double whammy.
There's so many bunkers -- to add to your second part, it's almost kind of hard to hit it into just the rough. There's so much bunkering that if you miss the fairway, it almost seems like -- and the guys I played with, none of us really hit it out of the rough very often because it was either in the fairway or in a bunker.
Now, obviously there's some parts, but it just doesn't seem -- the rough looks good. The couple shots I hit in the practice round out of the rough, obviously it's going to jump a lot. It's fast Bermuda, so you just have to be kind of aware of that when you're in it to just play for a jumper, and if it doesn't jump, you're probably just short of the green and trying to get it up-and-down from there, probably in a bunker.
But you know, all things considered, the course is in good condition. It's just trying to manage how it's going to come out.

Q. Being a bentgrass guy, a lot has been made of the grass on these greens, it's called Champion Ultradwarf, a lot of courses in the south, mainly in the transition zone, are pulling out their bentgrass and putting this in. How do you compare this to bentgrass?
D.A. POINTS: I don't. I mean, they're just so different -- such different grasses. I think it's a great grass. I think everybody should have this grass if it gets hot. I love bentgrass, no doubt, but I mean, you've got to really have the weather for it. And I mean, a lot of times the summer, even though it's hot, that's when a lot of people play golf, and if you're playing it on dead bentgrass greens, it's just no fun. And to keep them alive, they've got them growing real long so now they're slow. This grass, it looks really tough, and it looks like in this type of weather, it's holding up very nicely. So I think it's a great grass, and I think they did the right thing by putting it in here.
It's a -- I will say it putts pretty true, and even though it's so fast, it's still grainy, not so much grainy in the fact that it'll move the ball left or right, but as much as uphill and downhill -- down grain and into the grain, there's a relatively noticeable different, and when you get a downhill, down-grain putt, you've just got to hold on. I mean, I left a couple short, but that was after yesterday hitting them six feet by and just go, man. And that was keeping my stress up.
So today I left a couple putts short and it kind of looked wimpy or weak and it kept my stress down. I knew I could tap in for the next one whether for birdie or par because you don't want to get too greedy, you don't want to run one by and then you're kicking yourself because you knew they were fast. They're good greens and it's good grass.

Q. Speaking of stress levels, what was causing the panic on the practice range today?
D.A. POINTS: I was hitting it crooked. I mean, I was making what I felt like were good swings and they were just big bananas to the right, and I was like, wait a minute, what the heck is going on. Two things I kind of figured out. I figured out at the top of my swing, my left wrist was a little too cuppy, which was causing the club to get underneath and be open and hit a big banana. And then on top of it, my shoulders have a tendency to open up a little too quickly which will cause the club to go under near on the right, so I had to slow my shoulders down and flatten my left wrist a little bit, and it just kind of clicked.

Q. How much before your tee time did you figure it out?
D.A. POINTS: About 18 minutes before my tee time. And actually, the left wrist thing, I didn't hit it that good on my last few swings, but I was like, oh, you know what, I bet you my wrist is getting a little this way because my swing was getting a little long and a little loose, and whenever that happens my wrist breaks down and the club gets a little long, and sure enough, it tightened up right away.

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