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July 26, 2002

Briny Baird


TODD BUDNICK: We have Briny Baird, a 64 today has him 11-under par for the tournament. Of course, Briny Baird finished runner-up in last year's tournament which was his best PGA TOUR finish. Last 10 rounds, par and better. You have found something that's clicking for you now?

BRINY BAIRD: So far so good. Just been so solid ball-striking, timely putting. Putting hasn't been, you know, tremendous by any means, just been good to very good and so is the iron play and the driving has been really solid. All and all, just it feels really simple when you are playing well and when everything is going well, and obviously it feels impossible when you can't find the fairway because then you can't find the greens. Right now it's feeling relatively simple, fairways and greens, and you make a third of the putts that you have. Just -- it's simple like I said.

TODD BUDNICK: Is it warm weather that gets you going?

BRINY BAIRD: I think it is because I have played any time -- last year I went on a stretch, not just this tournament, but for me a stretch of probably made 7, 8, 9 cuts in a row, all of them -- I finished leading into this event last year. I had several either three or four tournaments which I finished between 25th and 35th. You have got to play pretty good golf to finish 25th to 35th. You don't have to play great, just nice and solid. I went through a stretch doing that. I definitely think the warm weather has definitely something to do with it. I don't think it's because I handle the warm weather than everybody else. I might be a little bit used to the warm weather, makes me feel a little bit more like I am at home.

Q. What did you take from last year, the second place finish, playing in that final group, what have you learned?

BRINY BAIRD: The ability to know that I definitely can win out here. I played well for 72 holes of golf. I remember sitting here last year saying that -- I walked off the 72nd hole and I got beat. Definitely could have gone the other way around. I could have been the other one standing up here saying -- giving an acceptance speech. It didn't work out but it wasn't because of lack of effort or lack -- it was more for --- you have got to get a break when winning. Whether or not David got a break, I don't know, he played the last couple of holes, you know, where it looked like he could have made a bogey and he sucked it up and didn't. It was very, very possible and I played the last two holes making a birdie and a par. I walked away from the golf course that last year's tournament, I held my head up and said I definitely could have won this week. It didn't happen. It was meant to be David Gossett's tournament. That was more impressive and probably more fun for the tournament having David Gossett win, so maybe I had someone else rooting against me last year. (Looks up in the Sky) I know I can win out here. It's just a matter of timing. You keep putting yourself in the position, keep coming here Friday and Saturdays, working on your speeches and sooner or later your speeches are good enough and so is your game.

TODD BUDNICK: Looks like nothing is short today, so you weren't sticking it in there.

BRINY BAIRD: (Laughs).

TODD BUDNICK: Some long putts.

BRINY BAIRD: Yeah, the speed was good. Like I said, a couple of those putts barely crawled in the front edge of the cup. They could have easily stayed hanging right on the edge. Sometimes you need those couple of extra putts to fall forward instead of lip out.

TODD BUDNICK: All of your birdie putts are eight feet or more; any of your par putts or any other birdie putts, short ones you had a chance at?

BRINY BAIRD: Yeah, I had I think -- I missed one or two. Missed one, I know, I can remember what hole. If you are hitting fairways and greens, you are giving yourself plenty of opportunities. There were other opportunities that didn't go in, so it wasn't like I made everything I looked at. It sounds like a lot of putts and it is. You don't make that many putts every round or your name is Tiger Woods, but there were other putts. If you keep making it as simple as possible fairways and greens you give yourself plenty of putts, make a third of your putts, and let's go.

Q. The course obviously was out there for the taking today?

BRINY BAIRD: Yeah, no breeze out there. The fairways -- it's really starting to firm up so the ball is really starting to roll; which is good and bad. Sometimes your ball can get a kick and roll into the rough but with the fairways rolling the way they are, every fairway is like -- feels like a runway - the ball can really take off so the golf course is playing real short. Greens are never going to be real firm because it's so hot outside and they can't afford -- the superintendent can't afford to roll them and double cut them and not throw any water on them so they are going to be nice and soft. You throw darts all day long and hitting a lot of short irons. There's a handful of holes out there that you have got to be careful. A couple of par 3s played long. That's about it. Other than that you are going to be hitting a lot of short irons.

Q. With the focus out here, this tournament was kind of advertised, come see the young guns --

BRINY BAIRD: I am not that old. I am 30.

Q. You don't fit in that category. Fred does and Peter does.

BRINY BAIRD: The old as dirt category; is that the one?

Q. Is it kind of a kick to look up at a leaderboard and see some of those old guys?

BRINY BAIRD: No doubt, I love it when those guys are up there. I have given -- Peter is a great guy. And Jay Haas, I don't think Jay Haas is playing this week. I gave Jay Haas a lot of smack with my mouth about his age and most of it comes from the fact that he's 48 or almost 49 years old and he beats me every week, that's where a lots it comes from. Just because they are old for this Tour, they are going to be rookies here in a few years. It doesn't mean those guys can't play. Those guys -- their knowledge is, you know, if they can put their head on my body, you know, it would be incredible. That's when you get the experience to go with it. Like a guy like Peter, he is in great shape. He's 6', 4", 220 pounds, the guy is huge. So I don't look at it like oh, he's old, he will fall back. So no, I look at it has oh, he's older and wiley and watch out.

Q. Did you get a sense that maybe you were the underdog; maybe there were some people that --

BRINY BAIRD: For sure.

Q. Is that a natural thing?

BRINY BAIRD: For me to be an underdog?

Q. No, just on the Tour is that a natural thing for fans or whoever?

BRINY BAIRD: The fans -- it's hard to say. Every week is different, depends on who it is. Last year it was going to be a better story had David Gossett won than had Briny Baird won. Not that it wouldn't be a great story any other week to have Briny win -- this kid gets a sponsor exemption and maybe he shouldn't even be in the field. I think there was somehow Charles Howell got in the tournament and didn't need and exemption, so it turns out David gets one. Maybe David shouldn't have even played last year and the fans pick up on that and here's this kid who maybe shouldn't even be in the field and he's got a chance to win and suddenly he has got a putt on the last hole to win and suddenly he wins the tournament. You can't draw it up any better other than bringing in some bigger names maybe an Ernie Els into that events. You get a guy like Gossett win it, it was tremendous for the tournament. I definitely think they were pulling more for him than they were for me, but it wasn't for anything that I did or anything David did. It was just the circumstances.

Q. Upset you at all?

BRINY BAIRD: Not at all. I thought it was fun. I have always been the one to pull for an underdog. It's almost the, you know, you get someone to say something bad about you are going to come back even a little harder. It might even work that way.

End of FastScripts....

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