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August 13, 2004

Briny Baird


JULIUS MASON: Briny Baird, ladies and gentlemen, in at 8-under at the 86th PGA Championship.

Briny, if you would not mind, some thoughts on your round today, we'll go over your card and we'll go to Q&A, please.

BRINY BAIRD: It was a solid round, obviously. I made enough birdies to offset, I think I made two or three bogeys today. I think there was two or three bogeys -- two bogeys. So, I got fortunate today. Definitely I was lucky in spots. I missed a few fairways that you can't miss, and it was in the middle of the bunker as opposed to the lip of a bunker or in waist- to knee-high grass, so you've got to get breaks like those, and I felt like I definitely got those breaks today.

My swing was a little loose on the backside today, and it was getting worse as we were going along. I was glad to see the clubhouse when I did. I went to the range and got some stuff figured out, so I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

JULIUS MASON: Let's just go over your card, your birdies and your bogeys.

BRINY BAIRD: Started on the second hole. I'm tired, so bear with me. Second hole, par 5, I hit a driver and 3-wood, good drive and good 3-wood to the middle of the green to, putt from 30 feet.

Another birdie at 4. I hit a real good drive, hit an 8-iron to about 15 feet.

Another par 5, I don't know what hole that is, made birdie (laughter).

No. 7, all of these holes look the same, you see high grass, and you're just like, "Oh, God."

Do you guys have any questions? It's hard for me to go back and remember all of these holes because I'm done with the round and I'm tired.

JULIUS MASON: We'll go to Q&A right now.

Q. If you don't remember some of the holes, this might not be a fair question. You mentioned a couple of breaks where you missed tee shots and they ended in up in good spots.

BRINY BAIRD: On the back nine, I think it was 14, if I'm -- 13. 13, you can't miss it right. I hit it down the right side in a terrible spot and ended up hitting 7-iron out of a bunker out of a great lie and actually had a really, really good chance at birdie, and that was one of one of the signs I was really fortunate.

I did it also on No. 8; I missed it right for the second day in a row. 8 played long today; the tee was back, unlike yesterday. I actually hit 5-wood from down there way left and got a big bounce off the embankment and ended up making par there, too.

So you're talking, walking away with a total of eight shots on those holes when you could have easily walked away with a minimum two bogeys, possibly a double. It saves two, possibly three shots, just those two right there.

I took advantage of the good breaks, so I'm not going to sell myself short, but I still got a good break.

Q. Your putting stance, can you describe what it is and how you developed that?

BRINY BAIRD: I've used it for probably four years now. Mike Adams is my golf instructor down in Palm Beach, and I was hitting putts one day in front of him wondering why I was hitting the putts so poorly. He said, "You're moving all over it," meaning I was actually moving backwards away from the ball. I was like, "really?" I didn't know. He said, "Yeah, stand on one foot and hit a putt," and if you stand on one foot and your balance isn't perfect, you're obviously going to fall over, and I darned near fell over.

He said, "Hit some putts on one foot for a while," and that drill actually became reality after a while. I did the drill a lot, and it was hard to get out of it. I fought getting out of it, and finally just said, the heck with it, let's just putt that way.

Q. You said earlier that everybody is talking about winning a major, and you're just trying to win a tournament here. What is going to be your mental game plan going into tomorrow?

BRINY BAIRD: Tomorrow is the third round, so I don't think that there's a mental game plan that can honestly change unless you're coming down the last couple of holes and maybe you don't know where you stand or you need to know where you stand or you're playing with a guy who you're two back from. That might be about the only time that you can change your game plan.

Tomorrow I'm going to go out and hopefully do the same thing that I've been trying to do the last couple of days is just keep the ball out of the fluffy bunkers and the knee- to waist-high grass. It sounds simple and it is; if you can give yourself opportunities from the fairway, you can actually get to some of these pins. If the greens don't get any faster, you can actually make putts. I've got a feeling they are going to make them a little bit quicker, but the golf course is there if you can keep it out of that grass.

Q. You mentioned that you were glad to see the clubhouse. Were you getting fatigued?

BRINY BAIRD: No, I was losing a feel with my swing. I'm somewhat of a feel player. If I have a feel, I'll use it until it's pretty much gone, and I could feel it slipping away. I was hitting shots to the right. If you ask the guys that I played with today, they will tell you, all of the shots I described, the two holes, 14 and 8, those are all shots to the right. And so, as the day went on, I was missing more and more shots to the right and I was probably overdoing what I shouldn't have been doing.

Q. As the round went on, did you notice how were the conditions changing, and what do you think might be -- this afternoon, what might have to happen?

BRINY BAIRD: I don't know if the conditions were so much changing from the time, from when we were out there. It was cold when we were out there, and it's still somewhat cool out there right now. They might be getting just a little bit of a mist, which is not going to play too much of a factor. The wind was blowing this morning, the wind is blowing now, so I don't think the conditions have changed from today. They changed from yesterday. The greens were firmer and faster today.

Q. Did you learn anything from last year in the final round at Oak Hill, and secondly, knowing that this tournament tends to produce first-time major winners, do you come in here thinking, maybe, does it pique your interest more?

BRINY BAIRD: No, only because I haven't won any golf tournaments. I can't come in thinking I've got a great shot at winning, because the fact of the matter is, Ernie has a better chance of winning this golf tournament than I do, or Tiger or Vijay, those guys, just because they have done it, and I'm still sitting here hoping to talk to you guys on Sunday. Until I do it, it's hard for me to say that.

Yeah, 81 sucks on Sunday. Yeah, I don't think I really learned much last year. I knew that if you get flustered and you don't stay focused, I knew that before you I shot 81 that you can't just start hitting shots for the sake of hitting shots. I know better than that.

Sometimes it just happens. Sometimes it's easy. I'm not saying you throw in the towel but sometimes it's just really, really hard to concentrate when things are not going your way. []

Q. Your results have not been all that good in the last month or so, did something fall into place this week? Had you just been hitting it well and now you're scoring on this course?

BRINY BAIRD: I think I'm just scoring a little bit better. I feel like I've been playing well. I had a talk with my caddie and he says, in his words, he says, "You're being somewhat negative". I wasn't getting the results that I've been wanting for probably with the last three months, actually. He said: You know, you're being a little negative last couple of weeks.

I missed the cut by one at Flint. I missed the cut by a point last week at Castle Rock. It felt like I was actually playing pretty good and just not getting anything to go in, good putts are lipping out, bad putts are just bad. I started thinking about what he was saying. You know, I was being a little negative and I was. I think when you're not getting the results, sometimes it's easy to be that way.

It's nice to see some results, albeit it's two rounds, but it's still nice[].

Q. Handicap the closing holes on Sunday, if the conditions are the same, where are the holes, and do you have a better than average chance to make up ground and what are the holes that you are just hanging on for dear life?

BRINY BAIRD: It starts from the tee. If you don't keep it in play, every hole is a potential nightmare out there. It's that simple. If you miss a fairway, there's so many -- I think you guys know, there's over 1,400 bunkers on this golf course. You could be in a bunker that is the size of this microphone here and you're not getting out. It starts with the tee ball. If you put the ball in play, it's really not that hard to get the ball to some of these pins.

So answer that question, some of these holes are short, if you miss the fairway off the tee, it doesn't matter that it's short. Your lob-wedge that you're going to have to hit 30 yards out of the pot bunker is not going to make much difference whether it's a short or a long hole. So if you can keep it in play, you've got a par 5 that you can get to coming in, 16 is reachable. It's going to be fun to watch guys play 17, I'm sure, with Lake Michigan on the left. The prevailing wind this week seems to be blowing way in and helping you a little bit. So they are all good holes.

Q. Kind of a broader question, it seems like since you came on TOUR, there's been somewhat of a steady progression of improvement capped off with the TOUR Championship last year. Are you about where you wanted to be, thought you would be when you first got on TOUR, behind, ahead, how would you characterize that?

BRINY BAIRD: At first, I thought I was way behind, I thought I would absolutely come out here and talk to you guys every week. I honestly thought -- I was not even thinking, I thought if I could play a bunch of four-day events in succession, I thought it would be unbelievable. And then I just made $114,000 my first year and barely finished, might not have finished top 200 on the Money List. That was probably good for me.

Now having been out here for as many years as I have, expectations are a touchy thing. It's hard to -- when you start having expectations like I obviously have expectations, then it's easy to fall back into like I have been the last couple of weeks, being negative, not getting the results.

If you set some goals, sometimes it's tough. Everybody sets goals, like it's your goal this year to win a golf tournament. Last year, obviously I wanted to win a golf tournament. I didn't, but I finished Top-30 and that was nice. So was the year a loss because I didn't win a golf tournament?

So I think sometimes it starts getting tricky when you start setting goals. And it's tough, if you don't make your goals you start looking at things in a negative aspects. I tend to just play, and if I'm here talking to you guys, things are going well and I'm accomplishing goals by talking to you guys.

Q. Curious, with all of the cautionary warnings that we had heard about Whistling Straits going into the week, what were your thoughts when you first laid eyes on it?

BRINY BAIRD: Before I laid eyes on it, like everybody else, I thought the golf course was almost unplayable, it's going to be a nightmare, it's going to take six, seven hours to play. All of the rumors went around just because a couple of guys played it. I heard that it was -- it can be ridiculous if you play the back tees every single day, no matter what the weather conditions are.

I think the golf course, the guys, the PGA of America is doing an unbelievable job. [] Like I said before, another organization may not have been so lenient, and I thought that was extremely smart what the PGA did to a new golf course. I think Pete Dye would have been probably ridiculed had we played the back tees yesterday, and he might have gotten the brunt of it and I thought this might have been unfair.

I thought they did a great job yesterday. They allowed some low scores, and a few low scores today. But they are learning, I think the PGA of America is learning how to set up Whistling Straits, which is not an easy thing.

JULIUS MASON: Questions? Briny Baird, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you very much.

End of FastScripts.

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