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June 7, 2012

John Merrick


COLIN MURRAY:  All right, John.  Thanks for joining us here in the interview room at the FedEx St. Jude Classic.  Not the finish I know were you talk for, bogey down 18.  4-under 66 in the opening round.  Talk a little bit about the nice solid start you got off to today.
JOHN MERRICK:  Yeah, it was a nice day.  Off to a good start.  Birdied the first hole, and I birdied the third and fourth hole.  So it was nice to get off to a decent start.
Had a loose shot there on 18, but, you know, you're going -- can't hit every shot perfect out there.  So I was really happy with today.
COLIN MURRAY:  You were talking earlier down at 18, you've been in town since Monday for the U.S. Open qualifying.
JOHN MERRICK:  Saturday, actually.
COLIN MURRAY:  Didn't have a chance to play a practice round, but you had success here before in the past.  Talk about that and that comfort level coming back here?
JOHN MERRICK:  Yeah, I think I played every year since '07.  Love the golf course.  It's -- it's not a birdie-fest.  You don't have to birdie every hole.  You really have to think your way around it, and, you know, you just try to get your birdies where you can get them, and if you par a hole, it's not the end of the world.  It's a tough test.
COLIN MURRAY:  Thanks.  Go ahead to questions.

Q.  John, you talked a little bit about the front-9, the birdies there.  Talk about I guess the ones on the back-9, 12, 13, 16.
JOHN MERRICK:  Yeah.  12 is a great hole.  Usually the -- the wind was totally different today than in years past.  I don't know if it's going to change for tomorrow, but it was playing downwind.  It's usually into the wind.  I think I've always hit driver, 3-wood there, and I actually hit a hybrid club up the left-hand side.  It was probably the most difficult flag, that front kind of middle right flag, where if you're -- you've got to be right on on the distance.  If you're short or long, you're in the hazard.
Just kind of control the nice 9-iron in there.  I think I had 150 to the stick.  I actually thought I was a little bit further than I was and was able to kind of roll in, about 10, 12 feet, just kind of downhill, left to right.
What did I birdie after that?  The next hole.  That was playing tough into the wind.  Hit a good drive down the left side and 5-iron up there pin high.  Gosh, it was probably 20, 25 feet.  I was able to -- trying to get good speed and kind of stuck in the right corner.
Then the par-5 was again playing downwind.  Usually it's tough to get it on in 2 there.  Hit 3-iron on the green and 2-putt from about 50, 60 feet.

Q.  John, what was particularly working for you today?  It sounds like your putter was working.  Anything else in your game?
JOHN MERRICK:  My ball striking was very solid.  I hit a couple loose drives, I think on 7 and then on 18.  Other than that I, kind of kept it in play, kept it in the fairways.  That's kind of the only way you're going to score out here with the greens being so firm and how windy it is.  If you hit it in the rough, you can't control your spin coming into the green.
I was able to hit a decent amount of fairways and kind of control my ball to the greens, and when I did miss fairways, I was able to, you know, hit a decent shot.  My iron game was pretty solid today.

Q.  John, Memphis seems to be good for your game.  I know last year you had a good start here.

Q.  Kind of started some good things.
JOHN MERRICK:  Yeah.  I had a decent tournament last year.  Kind of was trying to think about that last year, that decent finish coming into this week, and kind of telling myself, you know, I played good here, I can do it again.
It was a little strange not playing a practice round this week, because I had to play Tuesday for the U.S. Open qualifier.  It was a little nervy on the first tee, kind of just -- I didn't, you know, didn't know what to expect totally, but there weren't any changes on the course.
But I've had some decent success last year.  I can't really put my finger on why, but just trying to replicate that, I think.

Q.  You like your position after this round.  You get to tee off in the morning, maybe the winds are a little easier, but you like your set-up after 18?
JOHN MERRICK:  Absolutely.  No.  You don't start thinking about leading or winning the tournament until back-9 on Sunday.  You're just trying to do the best you can, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and get yourself as high as you can.
And on the back-9 Sunday, that's when you really start -- I guess you don't want to think about winning until the last hole or last shot.  You try to do the best you can and you're not really -- I am looking at the leaderboard, but, you know, you're a long ways from thinking about winning the tournament.  I'm really happy with where I am today, though.
COLIN MURRAY:  All right.  Anything else?  John, thanks for your time.
JOHN MERRICK:  Thanks guys.

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