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September 19, 2012

Nick Watney


JOHN BUSH:  We'd like to welcome Nick Watney into the interview room for the TOUR Championship by Coca‑Cola.  He enters the week number three in the FedExCup standings.  Nick, that's a great spot to be in.  You win this week, and you win the FedExCup.  Get your thoughts on the week ahead.
NICK WATNEY:  Yes, it's very exciting to be here.  Starting in the top 30, so I'm excited to have a chance, and very pleased with the play in Barclays in Boston.  Ran out of gas a bit in, but controlled my own destiny here and looking forward to the week.
JOHN BUSH:  Feel refreshed after a week off and ready to go.
NICK WATNEY:  Very nice.  I played six in a row.  So I'm running on fumes here a little bit.  But, yeah, definitely got some nice rest and practice, so I'm looking forward to the tournament.

Q.  Before the Barclays, how concerned were you that you were kind of in the midst of I wouldn't say a lot of year, but I win that you wouldn't be at the top?
NICK WATNEY:  I don't know if concerned was it.  It was more so, since the US Open I've been playing much better.  I hadn't really gotten the results in terms of wins or being in contention, but I felt like I was on a good path.  The year, not being what I wanted, but I still knew there was some time that if I could have a down year and still qualify, I felt like it would be a good thing.
I kind of rearranged my goals a little bit as far as maybe multiple wins had been the goal, any win would have been good.  So to accomplish that and make it here, you know, I'm pleased with the last few months, and I got a shot this week, so that's all I could ask for coming into the playoffs.

Q.  You said you control your own destiny.  But is there any advantage of flying under the radar with Tiger and Rory ahead of you, and them getting a lot of the attention?
NICK WATNEY:  Well, I think first off they definitely deserve it, the top two in our game and superstars to be sure.  I don't know if there's any advantage because Saturday night will be, if I'm in that position, I'm sure there will be questions and all the scenarios will be brought up.
So I guess it's nice.  Starting the event, I'm flying under the radar, and everything is focused on Tiger and Rory, as it should be, so I'll just go about my business and hopefully have a chance come Sunday.

Q.  For those that didn't talk to you before you met with Darrell, what were some of the things he imparted to you that really sank in quickly and you saw immediate results?
NICK WATNEY:  Mostly it was just in my set‑up.  My set‑up‑‑ Darrell's theory is that set‑up dictates a lot of things in the stroke.  So my set‑up was dictating I was taking the putter well inside and in to out, which the face was rotating through the impact zone.
So changing my set‑up has made it‑‑ my stroke much more consistent, and the putter face isn't rotating so much.  So I really like what he had to say.  It was very simple, but at the same time, very effective.

Q.  There had been some questions in here earlier today based on the word intimidation after what Norman said that McIlroy was actually intimidating Tiger Woods.  Given a sport like golf, is intimidation a factor at all among players?
NICK WATNEY:  I think it can be.  Obviously there is no bodily harm or anything like football.  But I think just much smaller aspect of it can get you off your game a little bit.  It can get you thinking about what the other guy is doing or as opposed to thinking about the shot at hand or thinking about how big it would be to beat the other player or something like that.
I think it's different in terms of like a football game or something, but I think there is some‑‑ I don't know if intimidation is the right word.
But I think guys can get rattled just because someone is playing well or someone is ranked higher or whatever the case may be.

Q.  Has there been a moment where you've been intimidated?  I look at your career.  You're in contention, and then you won, you won a World Golf event, but early on when you first came out here, was there a moment where you were paired with Phil at Doral or paired with Tiger where you felt intimidated?  Anything you specifically remember?
NICK WATNEY:  There was a moment my rookie year I played with Vijay.  So that would have been '05, and he was in really good form.  Sometimes he's not the most talkative guy if you don't know him.  So, yeah, I think I was intimidated a little bit.  Not as much scared of him.  Just that I had known the scope of his career and what he was doing at the time was much larger than I think I had won on the Nationwide Tour, but that was it.  So that was a little bit intimidating for me.
But I think as I played out here more and more, and the confidence grew and got to know some of the guys and also I think when you do play with the top guys and you see that they make mistakes too.  Not a lot of them, but occasionally there are mistakes and I think slowly that wears off to a point where you're really excited to play with all the top guys because you get to test yourself against the best.

Q.  What did you do during that round, if I could follow up, with Vijay.  Did you talk to your caddie more?  You made it through and out the other side.  What do you remember that you did to make it through and get the ball on the tee and get it in the air?
NICK WATNEY:  Well, I think at the time because as a competitor, it's really difficult to admit that people are better than you, especially when you're out there playing.  But I kind of had an honest talk with myself, and I said at this point he's better than me, so what can I learn from this situation?  As opposed to‑‑ I think that's one of the things that I think is so great about the way Rory has come up.  He's been so good that he's been able to realize from a very young age that he can compete with everyone.
So it took me a little while to learn that.  But I think that's, in order to get through the round with Vijay, I just said I'm going to try to beat him, but if I don't, I'm going to try to learn as much as I can from him.

Q.  Curious what your overall thoughts of this course are.  Do you have a favorite hole?  Least favorite hole?
NICK WATNEY:  Well, I really like this course.  I've been here ‑‑ I came in I guess it was 2000, the US Amateur, and I played pretty well then.  I shot a couple good rounds in 2010.  I really like it.  If you drive it well, I think you can score.  The greens are so nice that if you get putting well, you can really score.  But in order to be in position, you have to drive the ball on the fairway with the Bermuda rough, and they've got the SubAir, so the greens will be rather firm.
My favorite hole is probably number 9.  I just think there is so much going on there.  You can go for it, but if you miss it in the wrong spot, it's a really difficult up‑and‑down.  Least favorite hole, maybe 17.  You know, it's really hard.  Everything about it is pretty difficult.

Q.  Do you remember how you shot that day against Vijay?
NICK WATNEY:  I don't remember.  I think we were tied going to the last hole, and he drove it in the fairway trap, and I kind of thought I had him (laughing).  He hit it like a foot and beat me.

Q.  I'm curious about your approach to this event.  Guys with multiple majors may have a different view than guys that don't have them.  How are you ranking this event in your career hierarchy, I guess?
NICK WATNEY:  Well, it's a big event.  There are only 30 guys, but if you look down the list of the world ranking, it is a pretty big, pretty strong field.  Obviously we'd like to win every event.  I kind of look at it as the best way for me to succeed is to finish the tournament and then kind of look back on it and‑‑ like World Golf at Doral.  I finished the tournament and said, wow, that was pretty good because it's not a major, but almost everybody that would be playing in a major was there, or this year the Barclays was a really good field.  So for me, if I get too caught up on, wow, this is a huge tournament, Tiger, Rory, Westwood, all these guys are here, I don't perform my best.  I have to keep my head down and once the smoke clears, then kind of assess the severity of what happened.

Q.  Nick, could you talk about the par‑3s and the back nine.  First of all, the 11th hole, how do you tactically go about that hole?
NICK WATNEY:  Well, 11, I feel like it's a sneaky, hard hole.  It's probably a six or seven iron.  But the pins are usually front right, which is difficult right over the bunker, and back left, which is really difficult to get close to.  It's not on the scorecard, it's not that intimidating of a hole, but it's a tough hole to birdie.  I think four pars, you won't lose any shots to the field.
Then 18 is a beast.  It's a 3‑iron or maybe even a 5‑wood.  It's a really difficult hole.  The greens are not easy by any means, but it's a difficult shot, especially in order to win a tournament.  I think Bill and Hunter in the playoff, I think they played the hole three times and I don't know if anybody hit the green in six tries.
So it's a difficult hole to close a tournament out.  Pars on the par‑3s at this golf course are never a bad thing.

Q.  You had to beat 124 players at the Barclays and you've already beaten all of these guys once.  Does that make it easier going into this tournament that you only have to beat 29 of them this time?
NICK WATNEY:  Well, I wish I got like a couple shot lead or something for beating them once already.  The way this game is, it's difficult.  I think Rory won back‑to‑back, obviously, and I had heard the last time somebody had done that would have been four years ago or something.  So it's very difficult.  To win a golf tournament on the TOUR, it's a tough thing.  A lot of things need to go right.  You've got to putt great.
So the field size would suggest that this is a pretty easy tournament to win, but I think the quality of the players here, the guy that wins this tournament would probably win a full field event.  If this field had 156 guys, the guy that wins this week would probably win that tournament as well.
These are the best of the best, and it's exciting to be alongside with them.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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