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March 26, 2005

Joe Durant


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Joe Durant, co-leader, thank you for joining us. Great first two days for you, two rounds in the 60s and you're co-leader with Lee Westwood. Maybe start with some opening comments. Good two days for you.

JOE DURANT: Thanks. I'm pleased with how I played today. I played solid -- was it yesterday that I played? It was a while ago, I guess. I'm very pleased. I hit a lot of fairways today, which certainly makes it easier with ball in hand. You still have to hit good golf shots, and I hit some good shots today.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: You're regarded as one of the best ball strikers on Tour, and when you're putting well you will certainly be in the mix. You had ten one-putts and had the putter working. Maybe comment on that.

JOE DURANT: I can't say I did anything different. I've been putting pretty well. My hitting has been pretty poor for me compared to previous years' statistics, but I didn't play Bay Hill last week and had a good week of working with my coach, got some good instruction and got the club in better position coming down, which I wasn't doing earlier in the year. I've got to keep working on it, it's not an overnight thing, but it's getting better so that's encouraging. My putting has been pretty good but I'm closer to the hole than I have been the last few years.

Q. It's usually good to have a late tee time on Sunday, which is what you're going to have.

JOE DURANT: Always. It's always good to have a late tee time, as long as you're on the right tee. If you're on 10 with a late tee time you're not doing so hot. I'm just glad to be playing better. It's exciting.

Q. Is it strange at all? It's not like this is anything new this year, but given the fact that it's hard to keep track of what day it is.

JOE DURANT: It's just been unbelievable, the weather this year. We're almost numb to it because every week we show up and we think it's going to happen so we don't get too flustered. After six or seven times it gets kind of tiresome. You're looking forward to some decent weather for a change.

Q. You know what happened, how some guys went out and played, they just wiped out what happened yesterday. If you polled all you guys, there's a million different things, complaints, they should have done this, shouldn't have done this. How do you keep all these players happy?

JOE DURANT: It's very difficult because if you have 144 guys in the field you have 144 different agendas, so it's -- to make one guy happy is probably going to make another guy mad, so it's very difficult.

There's no answer to that really, other than -- everyone is trying to do their best. Everybody wants to have a great championship and they want it to be completed in a reasonable amount of time. The conditions would not have warranted going around today not playing the ball up. It was just too wet. It would have been very difficult to find relief from casual water on several holes.

My hats off to Fred and the greens crew. They've done a great job of keeping the grounds playable because they've had their share of rain here in the last few weeks.

Q. What's your agenda?

JOE DURANT: My agenda?

Q. As a purist of the game, do you think they should ever erase scores?

JOE DURANT: It doesn't happen very often. We were actually talking about that in the locker room. I know Skip Kendall is a good friend of mine. He said he had his scores wiped out in Atlanta, but that might have been three or four years ago, so it doesn't happen very often. For the most part it's always been a shot played was a shot counted, but in the regs it says if the course changes condition significantly from beginning to after a delay that it is -- it is available to do that.

It's just been a very trying few days so far.

Q. Which fairways had too much casual water?

JOE DURANT: No. 9 was pretty wet. No. 5 was quite wet, as well. You know, certain sections of fairways, half of -- one side of a fairway might be totally casual so you'd have to go 40 yards to find relief. You'd almost have to drop it in the rough on the other side.

Q. I guess that's never happened to you, where you've had shots wiped out for one reason or another?

JOE DURANT: I can't think of on Tour it's ever happened to me. I'm sure in mini-Tour events it's happened, but never on the regular Tour I don't think it's happened.

Q. Zach Johnson was in before and he said wacky stuff happens on those mini-tours. Can you remember the most unusual accommodate they made to weather on the mini-Tour?

JOE DURANT: I know they changed the par on a few holes where they put the tees in the middle of a fairway and made it a par 3 because where you would typically land the ball would be in a lake. They've done things like that. They actually had to do that at Tour school last fall at one of the events because they've had tons of rain and had to change the par of the golf course just to get everyone in.

Q. Were there times today when you just said I'm going to stay in the casual water because I like where I am or are you always one that wants to take relief?

JOE DURANT: There were four or five times where had I taken the proper relief I would have had to drop the ball in the rough, so I just hit it out of casual water, just tried to get the best lie I could. If you drive it four or five steps in the fairway on one side or the other you're going to be in the rough if there's casual water where your ball is.

Q. The officials were telling us even though a lot of players think you could have gone out and played yesterday afternoon, the officials are saying you couldn't have because there was so much water out there. Do you think players really know that standing on the range, or do they just look up and say we should be playing?

JOE DURANT: Everybody wants to play, but until you get out there and see how wet it is, it's difficult. Until then the guys had been playing the ball down, so the decision had not been made to revert back and play ball in hand, so at that point we were stuck with playing the ball as it lay, so we were stuck. I mean, what do we do? We waited it out.

Q. Somebody complained today that the weather guys, the new weather guys really don't have a clue. Have you heard many complaints about that?

JOE DURANT: I've heard a lot of complaints about a lot of things this week. I think guys are just frustrated with the fact that we've been trying so hard to get tournaments in. Nothing directly related -- that was directed towards the weather guys. Everybody is frustrated. We want to play golf in the best conditions, and right now Mother Nature is not cooperating with us.

Q. This course can be kind of quirky at times, you can get some strange bounces. Given the softness of the conditions will we for sure see who's playing the best golf by the end of the week, who's playing the best?

JOE DURANT: I don't know, you're certainly not getting the wild bounces that you would typically get just because of the softness. If your drives aren't tending to run through the fairways like they can here, you don't have to shape the ball as much off the tee because you're not running through the doglegs.

On 18 I don't think I could hit it through the fairway unless I totally block it so it's easier driving at times, and the greens are -- the ball is sticking where you hit it and you're spinning the ball back with wedges, so it's playing difficult from a typical TPC setup.

Q. Usually there's a tournament on a real soft golf course, it's a bombers' delight, yet there's a lot of guys up there that wouldn't be classified as bombers. Does that speak to just how good a golf course this is?

JOE DURANT: I think this is one of the best overall tests we have because it doesn't really reward any one type of game. I think you have to drive the ball straight. If you start getting wild off the tee, you're going to pay the price because the rough is very brutal. It's so wet and dense that you just can't recover like you normally could on a typical Tour event. I think it just rewards a guy that's very patient, very steady and is hitting the ball well and playing smart. I think guys that have won here are very good course managers, as well, and I think that's a big part of playing well here.

Q. What were your expectations coming into this week, and are you surprised at all at the position you're in, or did you see it coming?

JOE DURANT: I'm very surprised actually. I've had some good runs of golf, some good stretches, but not anything that felt really solid because my technique has been kind of poor. I felt like I was moving in the right direction coming here this week, but you never know when you tee it up on Thursday who's going to show up, so it's better. I'm more excited, I feel like I'm moving in the right direction.

Q. Any kind of life-changing revelations, thoughts, something to improve on?

JOE DURANT: Really it was just more of a technique issue. I have had some problems with my neck the last three years and I think I have put some compensations in my swing, and now I feel physically as good as I've felt in a few years and I feel like I can swing properly, but those old compensations are still wanting to take over. I'm playing a little better, which I haven't been doing, so it's going to take a little time to work it out, but every day is a little better. It took me a long time to get me to this position, it's going to take a little while to get out of it.

Q. Did you do anything for the neck, take some therapy or correct some things in the off season?

JOE DURANT: I did it all, but I did change therapists. I started working with a different physical therapist in January, met him in San Diego, he's put me into a good stretching program and I'm more flexible, and physically I feel better, which is a big part of the reason why I feel like I can swing properly now.

Q. Does he travel on Tour?

JOE DURANT: No, he's been out a few weeks. Dennis Paulson and I are working with him, and he's been talking with some other guys.

Q. Was it a crick or was it actually something that you did maybe with your swing?

JOE DURANT: I really thought it might have been a disk problem, and I had three series of MRIs over the course of the last couple years and nothing really showed but then they figured out it was an inflamed muscle that pinches on the nerve, and when that would happen the three fingers in my hand would go numb and I couldn't really turn on the ball, I would just slap at it. I haven't had too many problems lately, knock on wood.

Q. What's your confidence level in your swing holding up two more days?

JOE DURANT: It's probably honestly about a seven. I've had it at a ten before. I would say it's not there yet, but it's better. I'm hitting the shots kind of where I'm looking for the most part, but we'll see. I'm not getting ahead of myself.

Q. With the neck, how have you continued to still be up there in greens in reg?

JOE DURANT: I think more than anything just playing with the compensation. It's one thing to do well in a statistic like that, but in your own heart you kind of know where you stand. For me it's been playing more conservatively around the golf course and not firing at pins, especially with the pin settings being so close to the edge now. That affects your putting because you're putting longer putts and consequently you probably won't make as many birdies, so it's kind of a chain reaction thing.

Q. Do you feel like your putting stats have been misleading because of that, because you haven't had as many good looks at birdie putts?

JOE DURANT: Absolutely. I mean, one of my friends at home says if you'd hit your wedge eight feet instead of 15 feet you'd make more eight footers. Well, obviously. I'm hitting good shots but not to the standard that you should if you want to make a lot of putts.

Q. In an odd way, do you think that would have helped more in the stats because you're aiming at the fat part of the green as opposed to going after pins and stuff?

JOE DURANT: No question.

Q. Are you doing anything different with the putter, though? ShotLink had you missing only one inside of 13 feet all day.

JOE DURANT: No, not really. I think I've just tried to tighten my stroke up a little bit but haven't really done any major mechanical changes. I think when I putt my best, it's more of a piston-like action as opposed to a long flowing Crenshaw-type stroke. I know when I played at the Hope a couple of years ago I looked at some video and it was a more tight stroke, and I'm trying not to get too much of a long stroke.

Q. Has Tracy been on you?

JOE DURANT: No, she's just telling me to have some fun, and I've been having more fun.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Joe, let's go through your round. Bogey the 1st hole.

JOE DURANT: I haven't hit that fairway yet. I hit it to the left side and thought I had a lie I could reach the green, but I hit a 9-iron in the front bunker and didn't get up-and-down.

3, hit a 7-iron, almost holed it, hit it about a foot and a half behind the hole.

4, I hit a driver and a wedge about 15 feet, made that.

5, bogey, hit a good tee shot, kind of flared a 6-iron out to the right. It was pin high but it was off the green down in the swale, and I tried to putt it from down there and left it five feet short and missed the five-footer.

6, I hit a 3-wood and a pitching wedge about ten feet, made that.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: On the backside you tied the back nine record today with a 30, starting with a birdie on No. 10.

JOE DURANT: 10, I hit a driver and a 9-iron about 15 feet, made that.

Eagle on 11, hit driver, 4-wood probably around 15 feet.

12, I hit driver and a sand wedge probably I'd say at least 20 feet there.

14, driver, 6-iron to about 18 feet.

16, I hit driver, 3-iron to the middle of the green, had about a 25-footer, two-putted.

Q. 18, were you trying to be that aggressive with your drive or was that a little left of where you were hoping to be?

JOE DURANT: That's a little left of where I was looking. The big scoreboard is where I was aiming, and I pulled it about five yards or so. The thing about it is visually the crest of that bulkhead almost catches your eye and you almost end up aiming it there, which is too far left to aim it. I pulled it, no question.

Q. When you hit that putt, did you think you had a 29?

JOE DURANT: I hit a good putt. I thought I had a chance. Yeah, I knew it was for 29, but that's probably why I missed it.

Q. How do you avoid the next couple of days, being where you are, how do you mentally make it good, not let the -- being right at the top change your focus or anything like that?

JOE DURANT: Well, number one, it's only halfway. We've got a long way to go, and who knows when we're going to finish. Like I said, I certainly didn't expect to be sitting here after two rounds so I'm enjoying the moment, so I'm going to try to play as good as I can the next two days and keep making good swings and keep moving in the right direction.

Q. Sounds like you're going to have a lot of time to enjoy the moment.

JOE DURANT: It doesn't look too good for tomorrow.

Q. Are you surprised how good your neck feels considering the conditions? I have a bad neck and it acts up when it rains.

JOE DURANT: I am. Normally it would kind of kink up in weather like this, but I've really tried to stretch a lot, just basically staying very consistent with the program that I'm on, and it's helped, helped a lot.

Q. What's your doctor's name?

JOE DURANT: He's a sports physician/therapist. Dee Tedwell is his name.

End of FastScripts.

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