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November 5, 2011

Jay Don Blake


THE MODERATOR: Jay Don, thanks for joining us. 66 today, 8-under for the tournament. Some thoughts on your day. Looks like five birdies, no bogeys.
JAY DON BLAKE: Yeah, just kind of what you really want to do around here is try to eliminate the big mistakes. I did that pretty well by not making any bogeys at all. Just tried to keep it in the fairways as much as I could. If I did not hit a fairway, I was pretty much going for the center of the green, rely on myself to make a putt.
THE MODERATOR: Birdies. Start at No. 2.
JAY DON BLAKE: No. 2, I actually pushed it to the right. Hopped a couple times off the path, a tree, I don't know what else. Ended up with a pretty good lie. Hit 7-iron in there to about 12 feet, made that putt.
No. 8 I wasn't trying to be as aggressive, but I tried to hit a pretty aggressive, hard, high 6-iron because the green was so firm downwind, hoping to get it to stop on the green. I hit it right at the flag. Ended up eight feet to the right of the flag. Made that for birdie.
9, I hit a good drive. But the wind held it out to the right, caught the bunker. Had to hit a wedge out. Then I hit 6-iron from there about, oh, 10 or 11 feet pin-high. Hit a pretty good shot in there and rolled that in for birdie. Didn't expect making a birdie on a par 5 with my third shot.
THE MODERATOR: 16 and 17.
JAY DON BLAKE: 16, I hit 3-wood off the tee. Had like 95 yards. Hit a 60-degree sand wedge a little downwind. Hit it about eight, nine feet just left of the hole pin-high. Read it straight in, rolled it right in there. Made a good birdie on that hole.
17, I've been struggling with that hole. Haven't hit the green yet. I ended up hitting 7-iron about 170 yards, hit it right at it. It landed just past the pin, rolled to the back fringe. Ended up probably 30 feet from the back off the green. When I hit it, I thought it was going to come about three feet short. I think all the spectators in the bleachers cheered it in, Roll, roll, roll. Trickled over the front lip for another birdie.
THE MODERATOR: No. 8, what did you hit?
JAY DON BLAKE: I hit 6-iron.
JAY DON BLAKE: I made a good save on 12. I tried to hit a little draw around the corner. Turned it too much. Got over in the left rough. Ended up hitting a hybrid trying to scoot it up on the green. Kind of had to hook it also. Hooked it too much left of the green and short. Probably had 30 yards. Chipped it about two feet. Made that for a good par on 12.
Then 13 I hit a good tee shot, but I was on the left side. Overhanging trees. Tried to hit a 5-iron, a little low hook. Kind of came out of it, hit it short of the green. Probably had 60 feet from there, about five feet off the green. I putted from there and putted close enough I could go in and tap it in from a foot away.
Those two holes were pretty crucial to get through with pars.

Q. You've been through a couple playoffs this year. You lost one, then won the one, four players in five holes. What did that do for you in terms of believing you belonged out here?
JAY DON BLAKE: I've played well. I felt like I belonged. Wasn't sure when the win was ever going to happen, if it ever would or not. Being in the position with the four guys, you know, it was something I wanted to have happen. To pull through a win with the playoff is what I've been working for, striving for. Meant a lot to finally get the win.

Q. Did the win give you some confidence? Seems like it would.
JAY DON BLAKE: Yeah, it's given me quite a bit of confidence, knowing that, like the question before, I feel like I belong and I can win out here. I mean, we come out here every week trying to win, not for sure if it's going to happen, what week it will. We just keep plugging along, try to keep getting in contention and having a chance to win.
I feel like I got to work hard to do that. It's nice to have that win and then see if you can add to that.

Q. Can you articulate at all what it sort of takes to get over that? You talked about trying to get that win. Michael Allen has played, didn't win on the PGA TOUR, won one time on the SENIOR TOUR.
JAY DON BLAKE: If I knew, I could probably win every week. That's a tough one to answer.
I just think a lot of us want it so bad, try so hard, probably getting in our own way sometimes trying to make things happen instead of just being patient and let your golf game take over and play your game. I think if that was to be easy to do, I think a lot of guys would win.
That's what I've tried to do, is just be patient with myself, play my game, not try to stress out and get in my own way.

Q. You talked yesterday about you went through a lot of Monday qualifiers. Leading up to 50, you had some serious back issues. How close did you come to maybe not playing SENIOR TOUR? Was there a moment where you said, I don't know if this is worth it?
JAY DON BLAKE: I kind of quit the regular TOUR a little earlier than I wanted to quit because of my back. I couldn't practice like I wanted to or perform I felt like I should be able to. Hit 20 balls, that's about all I could really do, my back would start bothering me. If I sat down for five minutes, stood up, I couldn't stand up that well.
I thought, I've got to back away, try to analyze my life, see what I've got going on. Probably should have had my back done earlier, had it looked at. I was probably stubborn, kept playing, thought I could fight through it. I just kept going and made it worse and worse.
I finally decided to just get some help and get it taken care of. That was because I wanted to be prepared and ready to play out here for the Champions Tour if at all possible. It's worked out.

Q. You said 'get it taken care of.' Did you have surgery?
JAY DON BLAKE: I didn't have any surgery. I had three discs that were pretty damaged. My pelvic area was a little bit out of alignment. A couple guys I talked to wanted to do surgery. We'll make an appointment tomorrow and take care of it. I didn't want to rush it.
I talked to Peter Jacobsen's guy. He felt that wouldn't be a wise thing to do. I needed to get my pelvic and spine more in alignment, then have an analysis of what needed to be done.
I spent two and a half years, almost three years, trying to stretch and manipulate my pelvic area to get in the shape that it needed to be. Once that did, the disc started to rejuvenate a little bit and not have the pressure that I had. I was able to be more mobile. I was able to get away from not having any surgery.

Q. You never had any sort of procedure?
JAY DON BLAKE: No. Just a lot of manipulation, strengthening and stretching.

Q. When Jay Haas hurt it back earlier this week, fighting through it, you have some understanding?
JAY DON BLAKE: We were laughing out on the range. Freddy said, What did you take for it? I took some ibuprofen. Freddie said, That's like drinking water, get something stronger.
I know what the pain feels like, what he's going through. It's no fun.

Q. What about this course? You're leading at 8-under. Last year was 17-under. What is making this course hard? Is it the weather? The wind? The rough?
JAY DON BLAKE: All of the above. I thought the course was playing pretty long. The balls aren't really rolling very far. Even today with the little moisture we had, I had a few balls that had mud on it. Really hard to shoot at some pins with the mud.
Luckily they moved some of the par 3 tees up. 8, first they were hitting 3-wood, couldn't get to the green. The weather was pretty brutal that day, too.
All the conditions out here, it's a great test. Good golf course, great layout. It's a lot of fun to play. But it's hard.

Q. You mentioned yesterday that you'd never seen this course before this week. Where were you last year at this time when this tournament was going on? Did you watch it at all?
JAY DON BLAKE: I was sitting on the couch watching, having a Diet Coke and probably a doughnut or something.

Q. You were talking about your back. Do you still have to do maintenance for that? Do you have a particular routine?
JAY DON BLAKE: I have to continue to stretch. I don't do as much fitness out here as when I was at home in the off-season. I'll hit it pretty aggressive again, try to get it a little stronger, a little bit better as the season winds down through the holidays. I'll work on it pretty hard again.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Jay Don.
JAY DON BLAKE: Thank you.

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