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April 5, 2012

Paul Lawrie


CLAUDE NIELSEN:  Ladies and gentlemen, it's a real pleasure to welcome Paul Lawrie back to Augusta National.  Paul is a winner of the 1999 British Open, seven international victories, best Masters appearance was tied for 15th in 2003.  This is his sixth Masters appearance, and today after the first round of competition, 3‑under par.  Congratulations on a great day.
PAUL LAWRIE:  Thank you.
CLAUDE NIELSEN:  And we'll open it up for a few comments.
PAUL LAWRIE:  Played well.  Played solid all day.  Even the front nine, I was out in 1‑over but hit some really nice shots and struggled a bit with the putter, the speed of the greens, left a lot short.  The 8th hole, I was only 12 feet there and 3‑putted which was disappointing.  The only one I had had a lag down was the 8th and I gave it a bit of a hit.
Overall, the back nine, not many times you have two eagles in nine holes.  So that was nice.  But disappointing at 18.  I hit a beautiful shot in there and got a little bit unlucky, and then it bobbled coming through the rough from the back of the green, so that can happen when you're putting through a fringe.
Overall, 3‑under, it's a very good start.

Q.  Do you think you're a better player now than you've ever been?
PAUL LAWRIE:  I'm certainly a better‑ball striker than I've ever been.  I think I drive the ball night and day better than I used to drive the ball.  Driving the ball was never something I looked forward to.  But now I think I hit a lot more fairways and a bit longer, too.  So it's the driving, all around driving game has improved immensely, so that's nice.
But I'm a better player now than I was ten years ago, no question.

Q.  I know it's your first two eagles in the Masters; have you ever taken any crystal from here for anything?
PAUL LAWRIE:  Yeah, I think I've had‑‑ I got crystal at the Par 3 early 2000s, and I think I've made a couple of eagles in the Tournament‑‑ have I not?

Q.  No.
PAUL LAWRIE:  The Par 3?  Yeah, I've got crystal at home, so I must have got that from the Par 3.

Q.  Might of nicked it?
PAUL LAWRIE:  I might have nicked it, yeah.  You said it, not me.  I'm sure I've got crystal at home.

Q.  So to the inner eye, says your swing looks a lot like Ernie's, but do you see that, as well?
PAUL LAWRIE:  I think we have similar rhythms to our swing.  I think I've had that kind of said a few times over the years.
But I think that's‑‑ which is nice, because Ernie, whenever he's on the range, I kind of quite like to watch him.  He's got a fantastic rhythm and never seems to hit it very hard, and he gets the speed at the bottom of the swing, which is what I try to work on.  I try to work it slow to fast, so it's nice to be thought of like him.

Q.  Do you and he ever talk swing and your similarities?
PAUL LAWRIE:  Not really, no.  But over the years now and again, a few people sort of say we have a similar rhythm.

Q.  When was the last time you had two eagles in a round, and could you describe the eagles today?
PAUL LAWRIE:  I don't know.  The last time I had two eagles in a round‑‑ I don't know if I ever have.  I don't know.  Sorry.
And 13, like I said earlier, I hit rescue from the right‑hand rough about three feet and hit a nice shot in there to the back right pin.
Then 15, I was kind of a wee bit blocked out with the trees and tried to hit a big, high draw with a rescue and came out a bit right of the bunker and chipped it.  So that was how that happened.

Q.  How much has Adam been on your mind these last couple of weeks leading into this?
PAUL LAWRIE:  I don't think it's just been the last couple of weeks.  He's on my mind every day, to be fair.  I think of him all the time, as you can imagine.  It's just a pity he's not here.

Q.  Was it at all in your thoughts today, how much he would enjoy a day like this, especially from you?
PAUL LAWRIE:  Well, yeah, because obviously he would have been walking around and he would have been taking notes.  We would have obviously gone through it in the house at night.  But obviously we can't do that anymore.  But I think of him every day.

Q.  What's been the difference in your game over the past year or so?  Has it been confidence?  Is that from the driving maybe?
PAUL LAWRIE:  Yeah, I think‑‑ I tried to explain before, but there's four or five things that I'm doing a little better, which you've kind of got to do.  I certainly drive the ball now‑‑ mind you, I'm saying that now, but I can go out tomorrow and snag it on the first bit.  Normally I drive the ball a little better now than I used to.  I'm holing my fair share of putts the last 15 months, which I have not been doing.  I've always been a good putter, but when you struggle with the putter, you don't realize how hard a game this is.  When you hole a few putts, it comes a little easier.
Obviously winning twice in the last sort of 15 months, the confidence kind of comes back and I've had a few good finishes, as well.  The Race to Dubai was huge, obviously.  Struggled in the summer, didn't play very well, and putted poorly, and to come out and have a chance to win that tournament was just huge for me.  And I just kicked on at the start of the year, so it's been a steady progress.

Q.  When I talked to you at Doral, you were not sure you were going to make it in the Top‑50.  Did you really have to sweat it out the last couple of weeks?  You were injured for the tournament you were defending champ.
PAUL LAWRIE:  Yeah, I had bronchitis for a couple of weeks which was not pleasant.  There was just no way I could play Miguel's tournament.  You don't want to miss that, especially when there's a player promoting it.  I was gutted I couldn't play there.  And I didn't go down the rankings any that week.  I stayed the same number, and so then we were pretty sure we were going to get in, but obviously you still check the rankings first thing in the morning to make sure that you get a game.  Because obviously I've not played here for eight years, so it's really nice to be back.

Q.  What were the yardages on the two eagles that you had coming in?
PAUL LAWRIE:  13, I think I had 240 to the pin, I think I had at 13.  I normally hit rescue about 240, max, I normally hit that club.  So we knew I could stand there and hit it as good as I wanted and it wasn't going to go long and it came out really nice, just behind the pin.
And 15, I had a little less than that, but it was into the wind, so again, it was a perfect little draw with a rescue but just didn't quite draw enough.

Q.  And what did you hit on 17?
PAUL LAWRIE:  17, I had 140 to the pin, downwind a little off the left and hit just a nice wedge in there about maybe ten feet, eight feet maybe.

Q.  How far was the chip‑in?
PAUL LAWRIE:  Chip‑in I was a yard right of the bunker, right‑hand bunker.  I don't know, maybe 50 feet, 40 feet, 45 feet, something like that.

Q.  You mentioned it's nice to be back.  Could you perhaps go into a little detail of what you've been doing in the build up, the things that you have enjoyed?
PAUL LAWRIE:  Well, obviously we got here Sunday night.  I played nine holes Monday morning.  The plan was always to just play nine holes every day this week.  I've obviously been ill a little bit, and still a little bit weak and not quite a hundred percent.  So I thought playing 18 holes at any time in practice would be a bit of a mistake.
So we played nine every day.  And I've made sure I've not hit too many balls on the range.  I've only hit one basket a day, and I've been doing lots with my short game and lots of putting.  I've spent a lot of time on the greens the last couple of days trying to get the speed.
I think at tournaments, I've always been pretty good at, rest is the most important thing.  I've never really been a ball whacker at tournaments.  I do a lot at home.  That's what home time is for.  It's been good.  I think we have got it just about right.  I feel rested and ready to go.

Q.  Are your sons here?
PAUL LAWRIE:  My youngest one is here.  Craig is not, because he's playing Scottish Boys' first thing Monday morning, so we would not have been home in time for him to play.  And he was in Spain last week playing for his club in a tournament; so he was not able to come.

Q.  What were your aspirations coming into the Tournament and have they changed?
PAUL LAWRIE:  I don't really have any aspirations of any tournament that I play, to be honest.  I try and play one shot at a time.  Try not get too far ahead of myself.  I found that's kind of cost me in the past when you kind of‑‑ as soon as you think you're playing well and your confidence is high, then this game tends to get you a wee bit.  So I've been trying to keep it low key, and just been doing what I've been doing.
The job today was to pick my target off the first and hit a good shot.  That was all I was thinking about.  If you can manage one shot at a time, then the goals take care of themselves.

Q.  We had a bit of fun with the Boo Weekley story at The Scottish Open that one year, and the immigration story a couple of weeks ago.  But do you ever feel like maybe you have not gotten your due for the 1999 Open win, and what does this kind of resurgence do for that reputation?
PAUL LAWRIE:  Mr. Huggan is laughing in the back.  We have just been speaking about this for my book.
I tried to be fair, for a wee while, to change the way that people saw it, and I failed miserably to be honest.  It doesn't bother me anymore.  I just sort of do what I do and get on with it.  If people want to give me respect for what happened, then they can.  And if they don't, then it doesn't bother me anymore.
I used to‑‑ and Adam, he used to get so frustrated with me.  He used to pull his hair out with the way I used to sort of see it and when people would say something negative about me, it used to just cause me so much grief.
I kind of lost that a long time ago, so it doesn't bother me anymore.  It doesn't alter my life if someone doesn't think I should have won and Jean should have anymore.  It used to annoy me but not anymore.  We just get on with it.

Q.  Were you introduced as Paul Lawrie on the tee?
PAUL LAWRIE:  No.  He said, "Four, please, Paul Lawrie, now driving."  (Speaking in American southern accent. )
I had forgotten about that.
CLAUDE NIELSEN:  That was pretty good.  (Laughter).
PAUL LAWRIE:  I had a wee chuckle to be fair, because I remembered it from years ago and that's how they do it here.  It's pretty cool.

Q.  Have you seen the Trump golf course?
PAUL LAWRIE:  I have.  I've been around it.  I was around one afternoon for about three or four hours.  We went around in a couple of buggies.  That was about maybe August last year I think I was there.  The course was just about finished.
And it's going to be very good.  It's very nice.  Course is a good layout.  Obviously they had a big budget to build a course, and I think there's some great holes out there.  So we are all excited about it coming to Aberdeen.

Q.  Just to follow on your explanation on the difference in your whole outlook about how people react to you, how did you change that?  How did you change your mind‑set about that?
PAUL LAWRIE:  I just‑‑ I think I just‑‑ one day, I just thought, man, what are you battling against this for.  There's just no point.  Just get on with it.  Just play your golf.  People will respect you if you win tournaments.  If you don't win tournaments, then people are not going to be bothered really.  I've just been trying to do what I do and go home and not get too upset about it.  There was awhile where I kind of let it annoy me quite a lot.  But not much you can do.

Q.  Was there any particular incident that said, that's it?
PAUL LAWRIE:  Well, I think eventually I listened to Adam Hunter, my coach.  He used to get more frustrated than me.  He could not understand how I got myself upset about what people kind of said.  You've just kind of got to get on with it.

Q.  Outside someone asked you about competing in majors again, and you said, "I've put more into it now than I ever did."    Curious what you meant by that, and was it a change of philosophy and things that you do?
PAUL LAWRIE:  I think certainly there was a spell where I was playing tee‑to‑green as good as I can hit it, and you know, having 34, 35 putts a day.  So I put an awful lot of effort when I'm home working on my putting and the lines of it and the stroke of it and the aiming up of the putter quite a lot.
So I put more into it now than I ever did; meaning that I work on the right things.  I do a lot of short game at home.  We have got a green at the back of the house that me and the boys spend hours up there.
I certainly practice and do the right things more now than I ever used to.  I used to kind of hit a lot of balls.  I would hit sort of 500,600,700 balls a day.  That's not the way you're going to be a better player.  The way to be a better player is to spend three hours a day chipping and putting, and working on the mental side at night.  I've been doing a lot of that, so it's been much better.

Q.  Where is your confidence level about winning this tournament?
PAUL LAWRIE:  Not thinking about winning at all at the moment.  Obviously I've had a good day today but three behind already, because young Henrik has got it to 6‑under after 11.
I know there's a long way to go.  I've had a good day today.  I'm going to hit a few balls, go home and I'm going to play again tomorrow.  Not thinking about Sunday, at all.  That's a long way off.
CLAUDE NIELSEN:  Thank you very much, Paul.

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