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September 15, 2011

Mark Wilson


MARK STEVENS: We'd like to welcome Mark Wilson. You got to 6-under today on your home course here. Do you want to kind of talk about your round and then we'll have a few questions.
MARK WILSON: Yeah, I got off to a good start, hit every fairway and every green, I think, on the very first nine. On the back nine just didn't make any putts to start but then hit a nice 3-wood into 15, made an eagle there and made about a 12-footer. That kind of got me going. Just did some good scrambling on the second nine to make some pars and then birdied 7 and made a bonus putt on 9 to finish the day off.

Q. How about the advantage to playing Cog Hill? I'm assuming -- I don't know how many rounds you might have had out here. I know you practice here a lot. Did it play into today?
MARK WILSON: You know, I didn't play a whole lot this year because of my schedule and then the heat we had this summer and the rain. Just the course wasn't playing like I knew it would. So I didn't play it a whole lot this summer. But all the work I did in 2008 and 2009 after the redo certainly helped. I always would definitely bet on the guy that's in good form versus course knowledge, and I guess I got both of them this week; I feel like I'm in good form and I've got some extra knowledge, so that's a good combination.

Q. When you say bonus putt, what do you mean?
MARK WILSON: It was a 40-footer up the ridge going away from me and certainly one I wasn't expecting to make. I'm always trying to make every putt, but at the same time that was one that I was really relieved to go in and not have a knee-knocker or something coming back. It's a hard putt to get close, especially late in the day like that when there's a few more spike marks out and there's more shadows and stuff like that. So I hit a poor wedge shot up there and left myself in a tough spot, but in the end it worked out.

Q. Do you consider this your home course?
MARK WILSON: I do, yeah. Frank Jemsek let me start practicing out here in '04 when I moved to Chicago, and it was just an easy commute, I guess, from downtown to here, down I-55. So Frank was very nice to let me practice on the back the range and play quite a bit. Since then we've moved to Elmhurst so the guys at Butler National are really nice to let me play there. That's really close to my house. I kind of look at both courses as my home tracks.

Q. I was wondering, I forgot to look at your actual standing in the FedExCup now, but I happen to think at the start of this thing, you had played so beautifully at the start of the year, and I wonder if there was a part of you that was wanting to kick yourself in the seat saying this is the time I need to be playing well, too?
MARK WILSON: I think it's more this tournament -- certainly the last one at Cog Hill for two years and maybe even indefinitely, so I'm looking at more that, but I'm excited to be the hometown boy here and not going to get another chance like that unless I can make the Ryder Cup team next year. So it's really more that, and I'm happy with my start. That's the reason I am secure to get in the TOUR Championship; those two wins early kind of secured me to do that. And I played okay in New Jersey and made the cut at least in Boston, so I feel like I am playing well, it's just a fine line between what say Webb Simpson is doing and what I've been doing.

Q. Eagle on 15, that was a pretty sweet approach there?
MARK WILSON: Yeah, I hit a great 3-wood from I think it was 250 -- it was 245 but played about -- we called it about ten yards uphill, so just flushed it over that right pin. The greens are soft enough so it's going to hold a 3-wood. That was a big bonus. The ball mark was just enormous, landed about ten feet short of the hole and rolled about 12 feet past it.

Q. Speaking of that, the greens are pretty soft, the guys are saying the conditions are good. What is your overall take on the conditioning?
MARK WILSON: Yeah, it is good. It's starting to firm up just a little bit, but the fairways and stuff you're getting some roll but the greens are definitely holding, so that's why I believe the scores are pretty good. We did have some weather, though. The wind and cooler conditions made some holes play a little tougher to start, and that's why maybe there were some higher scores, as well.

Q. How much does it help when you finish a round making the putt that you did, and also, could you comment on local support, because we heard the roar in here long before the TV had it.
MARK WILSON: Yeah, it's good to finish on some good momentum, actually made a nice par putt on 8 that I kind of had to maneuver a couple spike marks, so I was really happy about that. Yeah, and then you kind of carry the momentum, and my goal is always just to focus on the positives and think of three or four of my best shots during the day, and the 3-wood I hit on 15 and that putt on the last hole are going to be a couple that I try to soak in tonight and carry over to tomorrow, whereas like you said if you three-putt the last hole then you try not to think of it, but it kind of creeps in as you're over your dinner.

Q. Could you comment on, did you have a lot of friends --
MARK WILSON: Yeah, I sure did, lots of family and friends out there following. It'll just get bigger as the week goes on, too.

Q. Speaking of Cog, there's been a lot of discussion about the redesign and things like that this week. Have you found that troubling at all to hear so much chatter about it, or do you understand?
MARK WILSON: No, I mean, I've always been the type of player that just -- each tournament we go to, there's a golf course, and we're supposed to play on it, and I'm just going to -- I have to figure out how to play it no matter if it suits my game or not, and I've always tried to be positive no matter what.
This course I'd say in the practice round and pro-ams, I was hitting my fair share of hybrids into greens and I could walk away discouraged, going, I'm not going to be able to compete, but that's not my mentality. I'm going to hit those hybrids closer than those guys are hitting their 7-irons and go with that. I'm going to compete, I'm going to get it done. I've never really thought too much about that.
The course when it was redone, when it first came out, the greens were so firm before the tournament in '09, I was like, oh, boy, this is just so difficult. They obviously softened up a little bit, and if guys are having a hard time with the bunkering -- they're meant to be a hazard and they're supposed to be difficult to get up-and-down. Us pros have gotten really good out of bunkers and we get really spoiled on TOUR, perfect surfaces to hit out of the bunkers, and if it's too deep, then you've hit a poor shot, and it shouldn't be an easy up-and-down, and I think that's what Rees was trying to do with the bunkering, and he accomplished that.

Q. Just given your relationship with this place, does it hurt to hear so many --
MARK WILSON: It hurts because -- a little bit that Frank Jemsek is such a nice man. The Jemsek family has done so much for public golf here in Chicago, and all my neighbors come out and play here, all these courses, and Cog Hill is one that everybody knows around here in Chicago. To have the pros maybe not like it, it doesn't hurt my feelings really, it's just that there's more to Cog Hill than just a one-week golf tournament for the pros.

Q. How do you maneuver around the spike marks?
MARK WILSON: Each one is a little different, so the one I had on 8 was -- I had decided I could play a little more break and hit it softer, and so I took that route. Sometimes you don't have a choice, you've got to just -- hopefully you hit it over it and it doesn't kick it left or right. On the one on 8 I had an opportunity to hit it high out to the left and let it come in. So that was pretty satisfying.
MARK STEVENS: Thanks a lot, Mark. Good luck tomorrow.

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