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June 19, 2003

Briny Baird


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: We'd like to welcome Briny Baird, first round leader to the interview room. Congratulations, first round 63, your career best, and just one off the course record here at Westchester. If we could start with some opening comments.

BRINY BAIRD: Yeah, obviously it was a great day. When you see the number, it was a little unexpected. Obviously I was expecting to play well or I probably wouldn't be playing.

This well, no, I probably didn't expect that. I got off to a great start. I holed a wedge from 77 yards, which obviously is a great start. I think it was 77 or 78 yards I had, and the greens were spinning so much that from 77 yards, normally I would hit a little lob-wedge and as it turns out my caddie and I decided to hit a little sand wedge which is really a tough shot because you are not used to playing shots that soft and having to take that much spin off the ball. Finally, I holed out. I don't think I've holed out in over a year from any distance, so it was a good start.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: As far as your expectations today, the weather forecast was iffy, but the sun popped out and you were still able to play lift, clean and place. Talk about the conditions of the golf course.

BRINY BAIRD: Just because the sun popped out didn't change the conditions. Obviously the conditions would have deteriorated even more had it rained. The golf course was definitely wet enough to play lift, clean and place, even though we did not pick up any additional rain. We needed lift, clean and place because I cleaned off my ball several times with good chunks of mud. It's obviously better to play in sun than rain and stuff like that. The wind was almost a non-factor the entire day which will lead to lower scoring. The greens are still going to have some wiggle on them, which is just poa annua, and sometimes they are tough to putt. Obviously, my ball wiggled the right way today.

Q. Could you talk about the psychology of the first day; you have the lead by a couple of shots?

BRINY BAIRD: No, I don't talk about psychology. No, I'm kidding.

Having the lead, yeah, it's new. I've been tied for the lead, I think after 36; I don't think ever after 54. So right now to have the lead after one round, I don't know if there's anybody on the golf course that's going to shoot lower than that or tie that. It's a good feeling. I get to play early tomorrow, which is probably another advantage. So I'm going to go out there tomorrow and play and try to shoot another low round.

Q. Were the conditions better than you expected? I don't know if you looked at the scoreboard but the scores this morning, only one or two guys were not really very good. Were you wondering?

BRINY BAIRD: No, because I know how the golf course played, even on Tuesday, so I know what happens when the rough gets as wet as it is.

I was talking to a caddie last night and he said that he saw a lot of the amateurs hitting in the rough yesterday and he said the ball would fly into the rough and you would not see it again. It wouldn't bounce, it wouldn't roll, it just got swallowed up. The rough is really thick now. So you just miss a couple fairways, on a day like today, you can miss some short putts out here because the ball can do a little bit of wiggling on you because of the poa annua. I can see why the scores were not real low. I think I was just fortunate today.

Q. In the afternoon you scored a lot better.

BRINY BAIRD: I don't think it was ever cold. Probably just a coincidence.

Q. Do you feel you got a break with the afternoon time today?

BRINY BAIRD: No. I think the conditions were probably good. Unless it rained this morning, I don't know. Unless it actually rains, no. I think the conditions were pretty much the same. Overcast or sunny, I don't think it really matters, as long as the wind doesn't pick up.

We never admit we get a break. We just complain when we're on the wrong side.

Q. It just seemed odd that some of the scores were so much lower in the afternoon when the weather seemed to be about the same all day.

BRINY BAIRD: If it's that big a difference, obviously there's something to it. You're probably right.

Q. Could you talk about your season, you got a couple top -- I think maybe three or four Top-10s, you've played pretty consistently with a couple hiccups along the way but basically pretty consistent. Could you talk about this season and why this is how it is for you this year?

BRINY BAIRD: If you're getting at why the season is better than last year and the year before, I think it's just experience. I don't think physically I'm not any better. Mentally, I'm probably better just in the sense that I've been out here, it's another year. They always talk about putting another year, another notch on the belt. I think that's really all it is, is feeling more comfortable, maybe knowing the golf course more, knowing where the hotels are, knowing where the course is, things like, knowing where you want to play. I'm not scared to take a week off if I don't feel like playing and I'm not scared to play a week if I know that things are rolling. So I think it's just more experience than anything else.

Q. To clarify, you have never led by yourself, even after a first rounds?

BRINY BAIRD: I don't believe so; I don't know. That's your guys job, to check. As far as I know, we don't. Possibly tied.

Q. How do you like these old-style golf courses like this, and does it fit into your style of play?

BRINY BAIRD: I think my style of play is when I'm playing well, and playing well, I don't think it matters whether if it's a short course. I've shot 20-under for four rounds before and I've also shot 6-under for four rounds which has also been a great score. So I think when I'm playing well, I'm playing well. It doesn't really matter. I hit it far enough to where it doesn't matter. I'm not going to get overpowered by a golf course but I don't hit it crooked enough to where I can't play a short golf course, either. I think it's just if I'm playing well, I'm playing well.

Q. Do you personally like these old-style golf courses when you walked in the first time, did you love it?

BRINY BAIRD: I don't critique golf courses that much. Probably boring answers from some of the other guys you get.

Right now, I think this is the greatest golf course I've ever played. We should play like this every week and greens like this, too. (Laughter.) Slow and with a lot of poa.

No, I don't critique golf courses all that well. If I play well, I love them and if I don't play well, I'll usually complain about the golf course.

Q. This tournament has had some first-time winners, last year and going back to Dennis Paulson. Have you taken notice of that at all? Do you have any theories as to why that would be the case here in particular?

BRINY BAIRD: No, because I've never really thought about winning, to tell you the truth. You play and you hope you put yourself in a position to win. I haven't analyzed why someone would win this tournament. I think this tournament, maybe -- I don't know why. It's probably just a coincidence. I don't know if the percentage of first-time winners here is greater -- is it greater than other events? Yeah, I don't know.

Q. You've never thought about winning?

BRINY BAIRD: No, I've thought about winning, but I haven't thought about why guys have won maybe more times the Buick class, in this case Westchester, than any other tournament and thought, "Oh, I've got a great chance of winning this week."

Q. To date what has been your greatest chance?

BRINY BAIRD: 2001 was definitely my best chance. I got beat by David Gossett by a shot. We battled pretty much the entire day.

Q. Where was that at?

BRINY BAIRD: John Deere Classic.

Q. At least the books indicate that this is your lowest career round; where have you shot anything lower, if you are not on the PGA TOUR?

BRINY BAIRD: I haven't shot anything lower. I played a practice round -- the only time I shot lower was I played a practice round at where they used play the first BUY.COM in Lakeland at the Grasslands and I made ten birdies and an eagle at that golf course in a practice round and shot 75-75 the first two days of the tournament and missed the cut by about six. But that's the lowest I've ever shot.

Q. Is that a par-72?


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Let's go over the rest of your card. You started out on No. 10, you said you holed out for an eagle from 77 yards.

Then you came back with a bogey on No. 11, your only bogey of the day.

BRINY BAIRD: The bogey on 11, I hit a weak 3-wood to the right, got a good drop and into the fairway and hit 4-iron short of the green, putted up the slope to 15 feet short and just barely got on top, kind of a tough putt and ran it over the edge. From there, it was about all it took to make 5.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: You came back with birdies on 13, 17 and 18.

BRINY BAIRD: 13 was a good break. I missed the break with a 3-wood and asked George for a drop and George said no. I didn't think I would get a drop anyway. I had a big chunk of mud on my ball and in grass. It was really matted down from the rain we had had here. George said no and I totally agreed with him; I was just begging. I hit a 6-iron with mud all over the ball and I was trying -- I probably -- 5 would not have upset me very much but I got real fortunate. The ball knuckled and landed on the front of the green and rolled up to a pin that you would have a hard time of getting close to, to about five feet and I took advantage and made the putt.

17, I made probably about a 30-footer. I didn't hit a real good pitching wedge. Hit a perfect 3-wood. Did not hit a real good pitching wedge, spun it back down the slope. Was very, very angered about doing that because it was a real easy pitching wedge and made about a 30-foot putt, which at that time was a good time to make one.

Par 18, hit a really good drive down the left side. I hit 3-wood about 40 feet from the pin and 2-putted.

1, I hit a good 5-iron to about six feet. Which was again another tough pin. A lot of the pins out here today were just on top of ridges, which is going to happen most days out here because there are some good spots to put pins and I think that is one reason it led to some low rounds. You have to be fortunate at times that your ball lands just barely on top of a hill and stops right there. Another yard or two short, it comes down the slope and you have a difficult 2-putt. I hit 5-iron there to about six feet and made the putt.

No. 4, I hit a pretty good drive. Hit a 7-iron right below the hole and made probably about a 20-foot putt straight up the hill. Another putt that I kind of just hit it, you hope you hit it on the right line and it was a good speed. My feel today was great and the ball just happened to start on the right line along with the good feel.

No. 7, decided not to go for the green, although I saw a couple guys going for it, I just didn't think it was the play today. The pin was just on top of another ridge there, tough to get it close. Hit a pitching wedge from probably -- it was 101 yards to the pin, which is a little bit off of a sand wedge normally, but with the amount of spin out here, I hit another baby, baby pitching wedge, shots that I'm not accustomed to hitting and I hit it up to about four feet and made the putt.

9, hit a poor drive into the left bunker, real good bunker shot and laid up to a good number. Hit a little sand wedge from 77 yards, or 87 yards maybe. Made a good putt.

Q. Earlier you said that you had not led after the first round to your knowledge. Have you led after any round before?

BRINY BAIRD: I know I was tied for the lead at Doral last year and played with Ernie Els and Rich Beem on Saturday. So I do know that.

Q. And that's when Ernie --

BRINY BAIRD: Went nutso in 30-mile-an-hour wind. It was incredible. It was a helluva shot.

Q. What was your approach that Friday night and what do you think your approach will be today?

BRINY BAIRD: That Friday night I went out and had drinks. I was getting married and went to a rehearsal dinner. Tonight, I don't do that.

The approach isn't going to change. It's one round, and I do take it, it's that simple. It's one round, there's three more rounds to go. Obviously I'll probably be in a better position than anybody else in the field right now. That can change really quick. I'm going to play everything -- it sounds boring, again, it's one shot at a time. Just try to stay in the moment, try to stay patient. I've been playing well this year and just let the game play and don't try to play the game. Just hit the shots, because I have all the shots. It's just a matter of actually getting out of my own way maybe.

Q. Could you talk about the photo on your golf bag, how that came to be?

BRINY BAIRD: It's the Canon for Kids program. It's an outstanding program. I've been with Canon since 1999 on my shirt. Canon had already been donating money to the center for missing and exploited children. It's probably about this big, right below my name and shows a picture of a missing child each week from the local area. It says, you know, "missing" and this week the girl's name Elina (ph) Medinah. She's missing from this area and she's been missing for over a year. Each week since Hilton Head we have been -- I get it FedExed here on Monday, put it in the sleeve, just fits in as a sleeve, shows the picture of the person, says "missing," it's called the Canon for Kids program, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children sends it. They are the one who decides who is going to be on it. The biggest thing on it is the phone number as far as what you can see the most. The picture right below it in bold writing is called 1-800-THE-LOST. If anybody has seen that girl this week, that would be amazing. That would be incredible, but the phone number, if you ever see anything that goes on, that looks a little suspicious with children,1-800-THE-LOST can answer any question about anything.

Q. Have you given any thought of you playing relative to the kids being found?

BRINY BAIRD: Not really. Obviously that makes sense. Obviously the better I play, the more times I'll be in here, the more times I'll get my picture taken and be in more newspapers and be on national TV if I keep playing well. So, yeah that would make sense. But I haven't really given that much thought.

Q. And Canon came out or you came to them?

BRINY BAIRD: Well, I've been with Canon since '99 and this program just started this year. So Canon came to me, I'm not sure really if Canon -- I know the guy that came up with the idea, he proposed the idea to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. He said, what do you think about this, he came to me, kind of, in January and said what do you think about this program we have put together.

What I said at first was let me make a few phone calls. I called a couple friends of mine that are well-off businessmen and asked them, are there any negatives to this, is it possible I could get -- people might look at it and be like this guy has National Center for Missing and Exploited Children on his bag, he's probably getting paid for this.

I don't get paid for it. I was worried that people might think I'm exploiting children to make money myself. That's definitely not the case. I was worried that maybe some parents might be like, why is my kid not on that bag and all of these questions were answered by my friend saying, no, I think it's a great idea. The negatives -- the negatives probably will not happen. If they do, they are going to be so outweighed by the positives, so don't even worry about it. I decided to do it and it was a pretty easy decision.

Q. Have any children been found yet?

BRINY BAIRD: The girl that I had -- this girl named Kimberly Dudley was missing during the week of the Byron Nelson. I had her on the bag -- she had been missing for almost a year and a half from the Dallas area. I carried her on the bag the week of the Byron Nelson. Last week they got a tip in Mexico and she was actually recovered in Atlanta. It was totally unrelated to my golf bag, but a girl that was on the golf bag actually was found. Again I emphasize it had nothing to do with my golf bag.

But it was pretty neat, the father called my agent and expressed his deepest thanks anyway even though he knew it had nothing to do with the bag and stuff. He told my agent that he didn't want to talk to me because he felt like I had already done enough. Wish I could have talked to him but it's a great story.

Q. I heard you talk about the somewhat unusual grip you use on your clubs, could you expand on that, how you started doing that?

BRINY BAIRD: It's really not that unusual. A lot of people do choke up on their clubs. All it is is I choke up on my clubs and for some reason I choke up on every club except my driver, no matter how far the distance. I don't choke up -- I choke up a lot on my 5-wood. For some reason it feels better that way. You get accustomed doing things, you hit one good shot with it, you're not going to change. So I did it again, did it again, just -- I don't know, maybe the club feeling shorter adds maybe a little more accuracy to it. That's about the only thing that I can think of. I've gone back and forth. At times I feel like I'm done with that, I can't do it anymore. If I take it all the way to the end like everybody else holds it, it frees up the club and the club swings itself instead of me swinging the club. Right now I'm not going to mess around with it too much.

End of FastScripts....

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