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February 18, 2001

Joe Durant


NELSON LUIS: We'd like to welcome Joe Durant into the interview room. Joe finished off a very special week today with an even more special performance. He has a couple PGA TOUR records today for a score of 324 as well as 36-under par, both established PGA TOUR records. Joe, congratulations on that

JOE DURANT: Thank you. I don't know what to say, really. Just a really magical week, especially on the greens. It just seemed like every time I needed to make a crucial putt, I did. And today I got into a good groove again, and just fed over the last couple of days and played solid most of the day today. I just didn't want to come back in here today and talk about how I blew a five-shot lead or whatever it was. That was definitely on my mind last night.

Q. Stankowski was just telling us how we spend too much time writing about Tiger and ignoring the Stankowskis and Durants of the world, and he also said, contradicting, Tiger has raised the bar. Has he done that for the Tour where other people are able to compete with him?

JOE DURANT: There's no question he has raised the level of play out here. I don't want to say everyone was complacent, because, obviously, that's never going to be the case out here. But he's taken the scoring to another level and just the excitement to another level. It made all of us kind of realize, hey, we have to step up a notch to try to compete with him. And not just him, too, Phil has played great golf, as well as several others. Every week is just amazing how the scores have run, and it's going to continue for a while.

Q. You're talking about a five-shot lead coming in and not blowing it, but a five-shot lead here is not like anywhere else, is it?

JOE DURANT: No, it's not. You've seen the kind of low rounds that can be shot. And Paul got it going today. If I had had a mediocre today, it could have easily been his tournament or Calcavecchia's tournament or anybody else's. I was just fortunate that I got in my mind that I had to shoot low today and I went out and I didn't -- I don't want to say I played conservatively, but I didn't take stupid chances. But when I had the opportunity I went after it. I felt like the key for me today was going to be the par 5's today. If I played them under -- I played 3- or 4-under, and I basically accomplished what I wanted to accomplish today.

Q. Was there a point out there where you started thinking about not winning the tournament and maybe thinking about getting to 35-under?

JOE DURANT: When I got on 16 green, there's a scoreboard right by 16 green, and I saw Paul . I guess he knocked it on 17, hit it on the green, but he missed his birdie putt. I guess at the time, I had a three-shot and I had a pretty good putt for birdie, and I said, "Well, let's give this one a chance and I can get to it," because I felt like I had a decent enough lead to get it to the house -- and fortunate enough to make that putt and made another good birdie on 17. I don't know what happened on 18. I think I just wanted to get it over with by the end.

Q. I know this is old ground, but can you elaborate on the nature of the conversation that you had with your wife back in '92, was it that that sort of gave you the boost to be back out here?

JOE DURANT: I'd say I could elaborate, but I did most of the listening in that conversation. We just talked about starting to play again. I was really miserable working at the time. I felt like I had not given it enough of a chance to play. So I said, "Well, maybe I'll play again." She goes, "Wait a minute. We're not going to go down that same way again. You're going to have that attitude. You're going to grind, you're going to play hard. If you play bad, I don't want to hear you whining." I said, "All right. I will." Of course, immediately two weeks after I was playing, I was crying, whining, and everything like that. But she quickly corrected me and from that point on -- no one is perfect and your attitude is going to sour some. But my attitude has been really upbeat, and I'm just thankful to be playing golf.

Q. Any follow-up lectures?

JOE DURANT: Constantly. We are down to about two a week, so that's pretty good. It's a constant battle. You're out here playing, and all of the guys play so well. It's just a tough life. You never know if you're going to have a job the next year or not a lot of times. It's a lot -- there's a lot of downtime. There's a lot of times when things are not going good, but you just try to do your best to keep a positive attitude, keep your head up and realize that the more you do that, the chances of success will be that much greater. And that's what I've tried to do.

Q. How do you relate to these scores and how do you think the public is relating to these scores? Every week there's a new unbelievable record-setting performance. How do you relate to that?

JOE DURANT: I don't know. What Calcavecchia shot at Phoenix was unbelievable. Rocco and he were playing together in the third round, and they both shot 7-under. And Rocco didn't make up a shot on him. It was cold and rainy and everything else. It was unbelievable. I guess the only thing that I can say is that you get to a point where you almost expect it to happen, so you get that mindset of, "All right, I've got to go out and play good, not just to be in contention but just to make the cut." We've seen some of the lowest 36-hole cuts that we've had. Perfect example was last week in San Diego. I felt like that was a pretty low cut last week. What was it? Was it 4-under last week? It's just really competitive.

Q. Can you explain an exceptional week like this? Did you do anything different or anything that you had not been doing?

JOE DURANT: My tee-to-green game was really solid this week, but the thing I did very well was from 100 yards in, and my conversion rate was excellent. My conversion rate was really good, especially from the bunkers, around the greens. I got up-and-down the majority of the time, and that's an area where I have struggled last couple years. In a nutshell my short game was really good this week.

Q. Do you know why?

JOE DURANT: I've been working with a new teacher from home, and I feel like I have some direction with my short game. I feel like I'm committed to the type of shot I'm trying to hit versus guessing, which is what I had been doing in the past, and it's made a big difference for me.

Q. There are a lot of guys who have won one tournament, and this is your second, how does it compare, that feeling and how does it feel to put another one up there?

JOE DURANT: Well, you know, I was so thrilled to win the Western Open. It was always a dream of mine to -- not only to play the Tour, but to win a tournament. To win again is just -- especially this tournament, which is a tournament I never, ever would have expected to win. Obviously, my track record was terrible. You know, I just never felt like I could shoot low enough day-in and day-out to win here. It has not really sunk in yet, but it means -- this almost means more to me than my first tournament, because I feel like after I won, I had an opportunity to take advantage of it, and injured and didn't -- things did not work out like I wanted, and I feel like I've kind of gone full circle now and I'm back where my game -- like I feel it should be.

Q. In Pebble Beach, Mark Johnson was in contention and he made waves by saying that he was a beer salesman. You've made waves about your insurance career. Did you hear anything from the gallery this week about that, funny or memorable?

JOE DURANT: No, I really didn't. I guess as poor a salesman as I was, people figured they would just let it go.

Q. How much better a player are you now than Chicago?

JOE DURANT: I feel like -- I feel like the week I won in Chicago, that was -- that was about as good as I can play. It really was. I feel like Cog Hill is a very difficult golf course, and I think for the week I hey have missed four or five greens. I really played just solid golf. But this week, I was a better scorer this week, if that makes any sense. I just took advantage of almost every opportunity I had to make birdie. And there were certain times when I was struggling to make par; I converted almost every one of those. I think this was the best scoring week I've ever had, not only from a score standpoint, but from getting the most out of my game for a week. They were two kind of different weeks. But I'm very pleased this week, obviously.

Q. With your win today, your performance this week, does this make you the most famous guy who went to Huntington College in Alabama? Will you be getting a call tomorrow to make a donation to the school?

JOE DURANT: I hope so. I hope so. I would have to say my college roommate was probably the most famous person who went to Huntington College, just because of the stories I could tell you about our college days. So, I'll leave it at that. (Laughs).

NELSON LUIS: Why don't we go over your card, starting off with your birdie on No. 2.

JOE DURANT: 2, I hit a driver and a 4-iron in the front bunker. Hit the bunker shot about five feet and made that. 6, the par 5, I hit driver in the rough. I laid up with a 6-iron, I believe, and hit a sand wedge about a foot. 8, I hit a 3-wood and a sand wedge about ten feet -- 15 feet behind the hole and made that. 10, I hit driver, pitching wedge about 10 feet. Made that. 11 I hit driver, 4-iron into the right bunker. Hit my bunker shot about four feet and made that. 16, I hit 2-iron, sand wedge about 15 feet and made that. 17, I hit pitching wedge about 12 feet and made that.

Q. You said Tom Kite's record was unbelievable, now that you've done it (inaudible) --

JOE DURANT: I just can't even -- I can't even comprehend it right now. I really can't. The only thing I can say is I just felt like I got -- I had to get in the mode of scoring the entire week, and I just did. Every day it seemed like I got out of the blocks and made a birdie or two early and that kind of set the tone for the day every day. Today was no exception. I birdied the second hole. I had two or three other good chances and then birdied 6 and 8. So every day, it seemed like I was turning 2-, or 3-under, and the back nine I was able to put two or three more, sometimes four on there. It was just kind of a flow the whole week. With the exception of Indian Wells, I never really had any big burst of birdies, just kind of one or two here, and that's how it went.

Q. Did you expect to play better after winning in Chicago?

JOE DURANT: Yes, I was. Actually I played decent at Kapalua and the next week in Hawaii I played good, and then I played Pebble and I got hurt at Pebble. And that was just the beginning of a nightmare for about six months. I just never felt good. I tried to play when I probably should not have played. You know, just -- it was just a very frustrating time. It was my free year to just let it rip, and there I was hurt after half the year. It was frustrating. And I came out last year on the West Coast and didn't make a cut. I was 0-for-5. Fortunately, the second half the year, I played real solid and kept my card. I wanted to get off to a good start this year. This is unbelievable. I just wanted to come out to the West Coast and get off to a good start.

Q. How was your attitude during that period?

JOE DURANT: Not bad. I tried to stay positive. It's not going to be great. (Laughs).

End of FastScripts....

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