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February 27, 2002

Joe Durant


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Welcome Joe Durant, the defending champion to the GENUITY CHAMPIONSHIP. Thank you for coming in, appreciate it. Got 11:40 pro-am time this morning. Really appreciate you taking the time to come in. Obviously coming back as defending champion you will have to do well here again. Talk about playing here last year and winning here last year.

JOE DURANT: I was in such a great state mind coming in here last year having won my previous event so I was still on a high from the Bob Hope. I got here and back in my home state and feeling really good about my golf game and the weather was good, it is hard not to come in and play well. It was just a momentum thing. I was playing well at the time. I was putting very well. I just kind of hung around after three rounds and was in good shape even though Mike Weir was playing really well. I just felt like if he went out Sunday and made some birdies early, start putting a little heat on I had a chance to win, and I was fortunate to do that.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Looking back over the last five years or so that two weeks was probably one of the best stretches of golf by anybody on the Tour. Have you thought about that at all?

JOE DURANT: I try to think about it some just to try to rekindle some of those feelings so I can maybe do it again. I don't like to think about it too much because I still have to go out and play golf now still. I am very proud to accomplish those things and just makes you want to do it again like you said.

Q. You said you were feeling obviously great about your game coming here last year. What is your state of mind about your game now?

JOE DURANT: I think I got back to old tricks this West Coast Swing. I have never been a great West Coast player. We had some things going on at home, we were working a new house, working on it for about a year. I was a little distracted; didn't put any time into my golf game at all. Over the last two, three weeks working hard and feel like my game is starting to make an up-tick again. I feel pretty good about things actually. I am looking forward to playing here this week.

Q. Was it a shoulder injury or something that was late last year that sort of put you in the shelf even all the way after the PGA, I don't know that you hardly played.

JOE DURANT: Yeah, I was -- I played so much golf beginning the year. I wanted to make the Ryder Cup team so bad, and I don't know if it was just fatigue that set in but I started having some problems with my neck. And it just kind of gradually got worst the more I played. I still played well enough -- especially I drove the ball well enough to make the team. I really can't say that was the reason why I didn't play well. It was a factor but everybody has little things that they have to deal with out here. I just didn't get the job done. That's just as simple as I can put it, just didn't play the kind of golf I was capable of playing at the time. Just didn't work out. I was disappointed. I wanted to make the team. But I learned a lot from it. Hopefully if I get myself in position again and I will handle it better.

Q. I think it was three years between wins for you. I think you won --

JOE DURANT: I won the Western in '98.

Q. When you win your first one, it's obviously a great feeling on the Tour, is it harder to get the first one or harder to get the next one?

JOE DURANT: I think the first one can almost catch you by surprise really; it did me. I was playing pretty good golf at the time and I just got hot on the weekend at the Western; was able to play a really good final round and win. So then once you have established that you can win out here, then it's like your expectation level changes. Then you almost expect to win or not - I don't want to say expect to win, but expect to have opportunities to win. And then when those don't materialize then you start getting frustrated and start putting too much pressure on yourself. That probably was part it.

Unfortunately the year after I won the Western I did get hurt that did really hurt me and set me back. I had a fractured rib. It took me really about six months to get back my game back to the point where I thought it should be. So it's almost been like I get to a pretty good point then something crazy happens; then I have to work my way back up. That's just life and that's golf. Just fun going out there and playing.

Q. You hit as many fairways and greens pretty much as anybody out here and you know Skip Kendall pretty well. Did you ever mess with the claw? Seems like right now that thing is a forest fire that will not be doused.

JOE DURANT: I have probably jokingly on the putting green done it a couple of times but I have never really said, all right, I am going to go to the claw now, but a lot of guys are using it using it very well. Obviously some merit to it. Might be something I need to think about it, I don't know. My putting has been not been very good this year so who knows.

Q. Following up, if you are struggling with your putting, are you a guy who will switch putters immediately or do you kind of ride a particular putter out?

JOE DURANT: Up until L.A. I'd use same basic putter, almost exclusively for the last four years, so I am not big a changer of any equipment. I did go to Scotty Cameron's facility in California; got a couple of putters made. I am using a Cameron model now. I am working on some things. It helps me to do the things that I am working on.

Q. You mention the comfort factor coming back to your home state. How much different is it in conditions in particular the greens, for guys who are from Florida or California when they go from one to another?

JOE DURANT: I think the greens are probably the No. 1 thing. It's just putting on poa annua it's a different type of putting. Always been very difficult for me. I have never putted well at all on poa annua. Some guys handle it very well. I guess coming back to Bermuda I am just more comfortable because I grew up on it. Two, I just -- a lot of the events on the West Coast, it is very cold and I just really hate cold weather as do most of the guys out here. I just don't handle it very well. My body kind of shuts down whenever I get in cold weather. I prefer you know, the warmer events.

Q. It is going to be 40 tomorrow.

JOE DURANT: Yeah, I tee off at 7:40 something in the morning so that will be a nice little chipper out of the north.

Q. Always something, right?

JOE DURANT: I have got to go find a turtle neck tonight.

Q. Anything about this course specifically that you like as opposed to another course?

JOE DURANT: In some respect it reminds me of a course I grew up on in Pensacola, similar type layout, big bunkers, good size greens I don't know, it just kind of reminds me of home a lot especially the greens are very similar to what I grew up on.

Q. Five first-time winners already. Thoughts on that, same old depth charge thing?

JOE DURANT: I believe so. I think it is just the depth of the Tour is greater than ever and there's guys -- it's going to be a lot more this year, a lot of the young guys are going to step up and win tournaments and a lot of guys have -- Jerry Kelly has been due to win a tournament Kevin Sutherland played a lot of good golf. It was his time. I believe it is just the nature of the sport.

Q. Do you think the field maybe coming like this to maybe like this, with the top guys catching up or guys coming back, combination of the two maybe?

JOE DURANT: It's hard to say. It is the beginning of the year. Some guys are working on things, you know, top guys are still the top guys, I believe, but guys that were down here, you know, are not so far down here anymore. The level of play is so tough on Tour now. Look at the cut figures every week and what it's taken to finish Top-10s and win tournaments it is just - I mean guys are lighting it up every week even in tough weather conditions.

Q. When you come back to a place where you have won it's going to seem like a goofy question but do you get treated any different when you have won? Is the locker room guy nicer? Do you get better courtesy; any of that change?

JOE DURANT: Yeah, I mean obviously they do remember you versus just being another guy showing up for that particular tournament. It's been nicer. People do remember the fact that I played well here last year and it rekindles a lot of good memories, makes you feel good to come back to a place -- I have been made to feel at home very much this week and that's a nice feeling.

Q. Like a presidential suite here, front row parking spot?

JOE DURANT: I am still staying in the same place as last year, Courtyard right across the street.

Q. Right down 41st street?

JOE DURANT: I am low profile.

Q. You and me both.

JOE DURANT: (Laughs).

Q. What does your schedule look like leading into The Masters?

JOE DURANT: I am playing here, playing next week; not playing Bay Hill, then I will play TPC, Houston, no Atlanta; then Augusta, two on, one off from here 'til The Masters.

Q. Why are you skipping Bay Hill? You played there last year.

JOE DURANT: The course -- it's a great tournament don't get me wrong, the course just doesn't set up that great for me. I have played there twice. I think I have made the cut twice but never played particularly well there.

Q. Got to rest some time?

JOE DURANT: Yeah and I have children at home that like to see their dad occasionally too. Just can't play them all.

Q. Doral always had an elite field, the course change, purse slipped, it didn't get as many world ranked players; this year 8 of the top 10. Talk about is Doral back as an elite Tour stop?

JOE DURANT: I really believe it is. I think there's a couple of factors, No. 1 the golf course is fantastic. GENUITY, their sponsorship of this tournament really raised it to where it was ten years ago. They have really made an effort to make this a premier event, really gone out of their way to make all of us realize that they are in this thing for real. And you know, everybody is trying to get prepared for The Masters and TPC and things so it's a great place in the schedule too. You put those factors together and you know, it makes for a great event.

Q. How much did bringing the course back to where it used to be impact that?

JOE DURANT: I think it was just -- I think it was important. I think guys are getting a little frustrated with the fact that every week we go to a golf course and they are always doing something to it. That's not always the answer - making it longer, or changing the greens or having 300 bunkers, that's not always the answer. I think if you get it playing firm and fast and narrow the fairways a little bit, that you know, I think that makes it just as difficult as making 7,600 yards. There's varying opinions but that's my opinion.

Q. Course playing tougher this year, is the rough up a little more?

JOE DURANT: There's a lot more rough than last year. I have to say I didn't see much of the rough because I drove it really well here last year but there's quite a bit of rough, around the greens there's a ton of rough. It is going to be difficult especially if the wind blows pretty hard, it's going to be a different direction for a couple of days anyways, so...

Q. Coolest guy-thing you bought for the new house? DiMarco is building one, he has got a separate refrigerator for his keg?

JOE DURANT: I guess my stereo system in my house. I let my wife do everything but the entertainment center, so I just went crazy on that, so that was the one spoil I gave myself when we decided to do it, I went pretty crazy.

Q. You got multiple speakers, 60 zillion watts?

JOE DURANT: Oh, yeah. I have got speakers in just about every room in the house and all integrated and stuff, it's got like these little panels that you can just touch a button to flip it on.

Q. In the wall?

JOE DURANT: Yeah, so..

Q. Can you program a VCR?

JOE DURANT: I can't do the clock, no. (Laughs) it's very user-friendly.

End of FastScripts....

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