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February 4, 2006

Justin Leonard


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Justin Leonard, thank you for joining us. Looks like you'll be a couple shots off the lead, but you put yourself in pretty good position heading into the final round. Make some opening comments about your day.

JUSTIN LEONARD: It was a good day today. Great start, birdies at 1, 3 and 4 and chip in at 6. I didn't hit as close to the hole the last few holes, but I still gave myself a few chances, made a couple nice par saves and got myself back in the golf tournament.

Q. You finished 2nd here twice, a couple near misses. What would it mean to win the FBR Open?

JUSTIN LEONARD: It would be a lot of fun because I have had those near misses. Although they seem like quite a while ago, it would be special to win here and in front of this many fans. It would be a lot of fun.

Q. Is this the kind of shootout tournament that maybe you expect to come in if the conditions are this good?

JUSTIN LEONARD: When the weather is this good here, you've got to make some birdies to keep the pace out there. I don't think it's a surprise at the scores and how low they are.

Q. It seemed like there was a lot of love out there for you from the fans. What was your reaction to that?

JUSTIN LEONARD: Yeah, I've really enjoyed it here, and I think I do have a lot of support. I enjoy that. The crowds are so big here and they're so energetic. I've really, over the last few years, tried to have fun with it. I've been able to do that, and I think because of that I've gained a lot of support here.

Q. In contrast to that, it was exactly ten years ago that you and Mickelson were coming down battling for the lead. It was obviously quite different then. Can you compare those two a little bit?

JUSTIN LEONARD: Yeah, it was very different. You know, for the most part, the galleries were very good, it's just those two or three people that say something when everybody is quiet, and unfortunately that's kind of what you remember.

You know, hey, I understand rooting for the hometown guy. I've got no problem with that. I learned a lot in '96. It was a great week. It was a fun playoff and all that, and in that kind of atmosphere you don't get to see very much in the game of golf. I certainly tried to embrace it. The day didn't turn out the way I would have liked, but maybe I can make up for that tomorrow.

Q. I saw you couldn't help but take a peek when Phil was teeing off behind you on 16 when you were waiting on 17. Was that just to get a feel for him again?

JUSTIN LEONARD: No, I just wanted to see what the crowd reaction was going to be when he hit, and if he missed the green if they would boo him, because they booed everybody else (laughter).

Q. Three shot difference right now is not that much at all on a final day, is it, especially here?

JUSTIN LEONARD: I don't think so, and especially when there's not really anybody in between. I know I'm at 13. There may be a couple guys at 14, but it's not like there's eight guys in between. You know, if you get off to a good start, then no, it doesn't mean anything now. If you continue that three shots behind until the last hole, then obviously it was enough. On this golf course with as many birdies as you can make, three shots isn't much.

Q. Does the course tomorrow, do you think it will accommodate a 61 or 62, or do you think the pins will be too tough?

JUSTIN LEONARD: It's hard to say. There were some tough pins out there today, but I'd like to think that they have a good mixture of difficult ones you have to play away from but yet your share of pins that you can go at because this golf course is set up to make birdies on, to promote aggressive play, and I hope that they keep that in mind when they're setting up the course tomorrow.

Q. The point being that you don't have to worry so much about people in between, but do you have to worry about anybody behind you?

JUSTIN LEONARD: Oh, absolutely. I think with the weather the way it is and as many great players as we have out here, I think a 61 or 62 or 63 is definitely in the realm of possibilities.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Justin Leonard, thanks.

End of FastScripts.

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