March 4, 2001
LEE PATTERSON: Congratulations. Wonderful victory. Two in the last three weeks, really. But maybe just a couple thoughts about that, then we will open it up for questions.
JOE DURANT: Today was really just a carryover from yesterday. I played really solid yesterday, and got out there today in the first hole, hit a good drive, 6-iron, 15 feet, made eagle and just from that point on I just, you know, just trying to hit as many solid shots as I could. Scoring was pretty difficult out there today with the wind swirling around. I don't know, just felt really good today.
LEE PATTERSON: Questions.
Q. Is this sort of like a dream, like the Florida lottery?
JOE DURANT: It is a dream come true for me. I have always wanted to play the Tour since I was seven years old. To have played this well this year is beyond anything I would have imagined, to be quite honest. I felt like I was good enough to win out here, but until you do it, you never know. But the last couple of weeks have just been unbelievable for me.
Q. How about The Masters and then compared with your last time there?
JOE DURANT: Hopefully this time when I get there I will feel a little better. It wasn't exactly the best of conditions when I went there last time. I got so juiced up about playing there because that was my, always my childhood dream, to play Augusta National. Now that I have done it, next time around hopefully it won't be such an overwhelming experience which I thought it was for me the first time.
Q. After winning in Palm Springs and everyone talking about perfect conditions, dome-like conditions, do you feel more validated as a player to shoot what you did on the weekend in these kind of conditions?
JOE DURANT: Honestly, no. I felt like the way I played in Palm Springs was validation enough for me. I played great there. And here, too, on the weekend, I had one bogey, that was my 3-putt on the last hole. I just played solid the whole week again. Obviously, the conditions were totally different, I mean, tougher golf course, longer golf course, obviously a lot more wind too, so they are all kind of building blocks, but for me The Hope was -- to answer your question, it was validation enough.
Q. Maybe validation is the wrong word. Maybe it shows that you are certainly more than a one-dimensional player?
JOE DURANT: Actually I think more -- after days like yesterday and today, are better for me than conditions like at the Hope. My -- with my ball flight, I keep it down a little bit. I usually hit it pretty straight, so usually the tougher the conditions the better I have a chance of doing.
Q. What is the big difference for you the last three weeks as opposed to --?
JOE DURANT: Putting. My stats probably aren't much different these weeks from other weeks, but the putts have gone in versus rimming out or 3-putting or not getting up-and-down. Seems like the last two tournaments the times I needed to get up-and-down to keep a round going I have been able to do that. I have made a lot of 8 to 20-foot putts, whereas that is usually the distance I struggle with. I usually am a good short putter, but that range of putt I don't tend to make that many of. I have just made a bunch of them the last two weeks.
Q. Since your wife has been such a motivational factor for you, what did she say today?
JOE DURANT: She just, you know -- she told me, just go out and play as hard as I could. She told me that I could win. She said, you are playing well. I guess I was 3 back starting today.
JOE DURANT: Go out, she said. See if you can get it going early and see what happens.
Q. Is she here?
JOE DURANT: No, she is home.
Q. Have you talked to her?
JOE DURANT: Not yet, no. Not yet.
Q. Could you envision a 65 today when you started off from anybody?
JOE DURANT: In all honesty, I felt like somebody could. The way the scores have been this year, you can't ever discount anybody shooting anything. But with the wind, when it came up again today, I knew it was going to take a really good round for somebody to get it going like that; fortunately it was me.
Q. Was The Masters even on your radar screen two weeks ago?
JOE DURANT: No, absolutely not. Absolutely not. I was trying to get in Bay Hill. I am serious, I was. I knew I had to finish top 70 after this week to get into Bay Hill. That is what I was shooting for on the West Coast. Just strange how things happen.
Q. How about this morning, was that a consideration knowing that second place would probably get you in?
JOE DURANT: I really didn't know, to be honest with you. I felt like, for one thing, I didn't know what the deadline was, but I knew that in the Florida events, if I played well, I had a chance of getting in. But, I didn't know that it was today. So...
Q. It is today.
JOE DURANT: Okay. (Laughs).
Q. Last year about maybe mid-year,weren't you battling for your card; and, when did you turn it around?
JOE DURANT: Well I got off to a horrible start last year; I was 0 for 5 on the West Coast, then didn't play Doral last year. And then, flying down to the Honda, I lost my clubs; so , the beginning of last year was pretty ugly. But then I think losing my clubs was almost a blessing in disguise because at that point I was like, what else can possibly happen? Then I just kind of settled down and I started playing a lot more solid golf. That is typically kind of how I play here week-in and week-out, just kind of click along. And I played real solid the second half of the year. New Orleans had a good tournament; that kind of gave me some momentum going forward from there. I just kept plugging. I don't usually start the year very well anyway, but last year was horrible. I was just trying to, just get anything going. And, fortunately, I played good the last half, had a couple of good tournaments at the very end. Vegas and Tampa, I played good.
Q. Did you ever find the clubs?
JOE DURANT: Never.
Q. How did they lose them; in checking?
JOE DURANT: I had to go from Pensacola to Atlanta to Ft. Lauderdale. They never made them from Atlanta. I had a driver that I used for about six years that I was panicking over. The others, I didn't care where they were, but I wondered where that driver was.
Q. What kind?
JOE DURANT: Same one I am using now,
War Bird, Callaway 9 degree.
Q. That is like a dinosaur now?
JOE DURANT: It is.
Q. Are you playing next week?
JOE DURANT: Yes.
Q. Do you regret at all not playing last week?
JOE DURANT: No. No.
Q. When you get going like this you just want to keep playing?
JOE DURANT: You do. But you can't play them all. I wanted to play well in Florida and I knew it would be difficult to play L.A. and come down here. So, you know, I just took my chances and didn't play L.A. and took -- had a good week off, had a birthday party for my little boy and came down here with a good attitude.
Q. You are probably the oldest, even older than what Tom Lehman was when he made such a splash. Has this come over you yet?
JOE DURANT: No, probably not. It will be a while, I am sure. For me to be mentioned in the same breath as Tom Lehman is something. He is somebody that I admire. It means a lot to me. I have always looked up to him. I remember the year, '91 was the year I was on the Hogan Tour. He was the Leading-Money Winner and I have known him for a long time. He is certainly a class act. He is a good person to emulate, that is for sure.
Q. Have you been gaining any fame recognition, when you just go out in public, have you noticed any?
JOE DURANT: I don't know. Living in Pensacola, it's kind of a close knit community, everybody kind of knows who everybody is, anyway. So, not anymore than usual just, you know, the only thing, people have been just so nice and congratulatory, that has been the biggest thing, calling up and saying, "way to go."
Q. Yesterday you were talking about your wife and she got you to change your attitude. When exactly was that?
JOE DURANT: When I decided I was going to play golf again, which was probably around this time of 1992 she just said, hey, if you are going to play again -- we had talked about -- she said, if you are going to play again you are going to have to improve your attitude. So it was, you know -- she just basically put the hammer down and said, hey this is how it is going to be; which was a good thing. I welcomed it, trust me, after the way I played before I needed it. I needed it bad.
Q. Would you mind rehashing what the problem was at The Masters the first time and, also, can you talk about what your approach will be this year?
JOE DURANT: Well, going into The Masters I -- actually, I had broken a rib at Pebble Beach in February and I didn't play any tournaments until we got to -- TPC was my first tournament back and when I was playing there I was wearing a rib brace because it still really hadn't healed, but I didn't want to miss TPC, sure didn't want to miss playing the Masters so I just did the best I could, you know, but I really couldn't swing -- was kind of flinching at it especially any time I hit the ground with an iron shot impact would cause me to buckle. I was just trying to kind of flip it around with my hands and that is no way to play, especially Augusta National, which requires a lot of precision around a lot of those holes. So I played horrible and it was embarrassing, but by the same token it was the greatest week of my life. Something I had dreamed about nothing and I was able to could it. Because I never knew if I would be back there again so I certainly would not miss it the one chance I had.
Q. Break ribs?
JOE DURANT: Throwing a duffle back over my shoulder. I had given my wife hard time about having too many bags. She met me at Pebble Beach with about this bag about yay long yay wide, and I said all right I think I can get it in the car it was not too far away. I threw it over my shoulder, I felt something pop, you know, in the cold. Weather rest of that week it just got worse and worse. I thought I just pulled a muscle really bad but got home they did a bunch of scans and things and sure enough I had broken a rib.
Q. What did you have in there?
JOE DURANT: Bricks, I think.
Q. How will you approach this year, the Masters?
JOE DURANT: Have a good time, enjoy it a lot more. I was pretty miserable when I was there last time because I didn't feel good. I knew I was wasn't going to play very well, and you know, I just got tense. This is going to sound strange but the week I am playing well, I am very calm usually. The weeks when I am not playing well is usually when I am a nervous wreck. I knew that I wasn't going to play well there, so was overly nervous because A, it was The Masters and B, I wasn't prepared at all. I had no practice whatsoever. So you know...
Q. Did it make it even worse that you had won the par 3 contest and then you know you are hurt and why you didn't play well, but golf --?
JOE DURANT: Yeah, I mean that was totally a fluke. I was just fortunate, the course was short hitting wedges, half the hole, so you are kind of chipping it around. I was playing with Stewart Cink who I played with today and he is like, man, you need to knock one in the water here pretty soon. I said this is the only crystal I am going to get this week, so... (Laughter).
Q. I was going to ask you if it hurt you during the par 3?
JOE DURANT: It wasn't like it was just a dagger going into me but it just-- I knew it was there and any time I would take any type of divot at all it would just really hurt. So after that I didn't play until Houston, I think which was like four weeks later.
Q. You know about the par 3 curse there and all that?
JOE DURANT: Oh, yeah. I think I told one of the writers there that I was going to be the sacrificial lamb for the field that week so.....
Q. I wonder if you go back to your putting, you said that made your difference especially the short putts why are they going in now and not before? Did you actually do some work on it? Why are you a better putter now than you had been?
JOE DURANT: I guess it is really just a streak. I think I am not doing too many things differently. There is two things that I am doing differently. One is I have had a tendency in the past to when I set the putt down to de-loft the putter I get my hands too far forward, consequently I drive the ball into the turf so it would kind of skid and then pop up and roll. Well, in Vancouver last year I was working with one of the reps who has a Seymour putter, I don't use a Seymour. He said practice with it, get used to looking at the putter with more loft because you are driving all your putts into the ground. Sure enough I took my putter tried to get the same type look. From that point on actually I putted pretty well last year. That is one thing that I have worked on this year to make sure I have enough loft on the putter to get the balling rolling on top. Two, I am just trying to be real committed to the first thing I see, try not to overread my putts and just, you know, stick to that and just give it the best stroke I can. Those two things all I have really done.
Q. You mentioned that last year you were down here and this year now you are up here. Mindset be beyond The Masters when you got the rest of the majors, will your mind set be you have done it, two for two, will you be thinking hey now I can step up and win a major?
JOE DURANT: I am going to try. You can't predict those kind of things. I am just going to go out and try to play solid golf hopefully get in the picture. I want to get in some of those tournaments and get in the hunt a little bit and see how I do. Just to be in those tournaments is one thing and then to go out and be able to compete and play well is another. I just try to go to every tournament the same, just try to play as solid as I can, hit a lot of fairways and greens, and sneak a few putts in. I don't have unrealistic expectations. I just try to take it one day at a time.
Q. A lot of players have breakthrough years, but you are like what a month short of 37 now. Is it a little surprising that it comes along for you now?
JOE DURANT: I don't know. I have not always been the quickest product when it came to things. I am just happy to be playing well. Who knows what the rest of the year is going to hold. I don't know. I could go out and go 0 for the rest of the year. I am just going to try to keep playing the best that I can but it is nice to be playing well. It has been a long time coming.
Q. You know you have two more victories than Tiger Woods this year?
JOE DURANT: Well I don't know how long that will last (laughs).
Q. When you are 54 under or whatever it is for the last two tournaments, at some point this weekend did you realize what you were doing, did you realize how ridiculous the numbers were --?
JOE DURANT: Not really. I guess after the Hope after I played there and played well, I kind of look back and say God, how in the world did I shoot that. But then to come out here this week and I played great the last two days, that is about as good as I can play for two rounds. Again, I wasn't thinking so much relation to par as I was just trying to shoot as low as I could and give myself a chance. You start thinking about where you are in relation to par and who is doing what and this and that. You are kind of losing sight of what you are out there trying to do, and that is hit this shot right now.
Q. Do you think anybody is surprised anymore if someone like you who hasn't made a mark in the game does what you have done for two weeks kind of -- do you think anybody is surprised anymore when someone turns in this kind of performance whether it is Tiger Woods or whoever?
JOE DURANT: I don't know. Obviously the depth of the Tour is tremendous and there is a lot of guys out here that haven't won yet that will this year that are great players. I don't know. It is just you never know what is going to happen, but it is just every week it seems like we are all pushing each other to shoot lower and lower every week. I think it is good for the game. Good for the Tour.
Q. Just getting back to today's round you shot a lot of birdies but the 3rd hole you holed a really good one for par. Was that something when you holed that one made you think, well, hang on a minute, this has got to be my day?
JOE DURANT: It was -- that was a very big putt today. That is one of the things I alluded to earlier was that it seems like when I needed to get up-and-down or make a good putt to keep a round going, I have been able to do that. That was the perfect example right there. It would have been very easy to miss that putt and just kind of say, oh, well, stroll through the rest of the day, but that kept it going and then to birdie the hole right after that was really -- for me that was almost the key today, those two holes.
Q. How long was the par-putt?
JOE DURANT: Ten feet or so.
Q. There was no live TV. Are you sure your wife knows you have won?
JOE DURANT: I am sure she was on line on the web site. She keeps up with it pretty well.
Q. I know it must be tiresome for you to keep hearing about all the tough times you had when you started, but back there when you were stacking boxes in that golf equipment store, did you ever think -- dare think of anything like this happening to you?
JOE DURANT: Certainly not at this level. I just dreamed about getting back and playing golf and you know, when I started playing again I was just so happy to be out on the golf course it didn't even matter what Tour I was on really didn't. I was playing the what is now the Hooters Tour that year, I was so thankful just to be playing golf. I was you know, from working at a warehouse which was a good job but wasn't what I was happy doing. I was back playing golf doing what I love to do what I have done my whole life.
Q. Where was the warehouse?
JOE DURANT: Edwin Watts golf Ft. Walton (Phonetic) Beach.
Q. Ever go back there?
JOE DURANT: Haven't been back there since -- no.
Q. -- And reminisce?
JOE DURANT: Yeah, lift a box or two (laughs).
Q. They probably bronze those boxes there.
JOE DURANT: I am sure I would have to practice to learn how to do it again.
Q. Would you play or were you away from it completely?
JOE DURANT: I think from November until March I think I played three rounds of golf with buddies of mine. What made me even sicker was I think the three rounds I played at that time I think I was 20-under for three rounds just like, what are you doing?
JOE DURANT: Probably spring of 1992. January, February area.
Q. Any other good par saves today?
JOE DURANT: Not really. Everything else was pretty solid for the most part. I hit a lot of greens today. I think I only missed 18 and No. 3, so --.
Q. How good was this bunker shot on 14?
JOE DURANT: That was one of the best shots I hit this week, it was. I was fortunate that I caught it, I was able to hit kind of in between the gust a little bit. We timed it pretty good, got it out of there. I drilled a 7-iron. I had like 166 there, caught it just really solid.
Q. Edwin Watts was after the insurance?
JOE DURANT: Yes. I had to get a steady paying job after the insurance deal.
Q. What did it pay?
JOE DURANT: Well, you know what, I don't know Edwin he had made me a special offer to come work for him. He could offer me anything because I wasn't making money in the insurance business. I might have been making $24,000 a year maybe. He was trying to keep me in the warehouse until space came available in one of the stores and I was going to move to one of the stores.
Q. How long were you in the warehouse?
JOE DURANT: I guess from January until probably the end of March beginning of April. He was actually instrumental in getting me an exemption in a Hogan event in Pensacola. Got a sponsor's spot, finished about 25, then decided I was going to keep playing.
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