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February 17, 2001

Joe Durant


NELSON LUIS: We'd like to welcome Joe Durant into the interview room. Joe is having quite a special week so far. For the third day in a row, he established a new PGA TOUR record for low 72 score in relation to par. That breaks the record that John Huston and Mark Calcavecchia set earlier this year. Obviously a great week for you. Why don't you talk about your round today and your week so far.

JOE DURANT: Today was a lot better than yesterday from a ball-striking standpoint. I hit the ball more solidly, with the exception of one or two swings that I felt tight with my swing today. Hit a lot of greens, had a lot of opportunities, was able to cash in some of them. I left a couple out there, but you can say that about just about any round. I played real solid. I was real pleased with my play today.

Q. Not quite on the subject but since Arnold was in here, how old were you when you first remembered Arnold Palmer?

JOE DURANT: I used to watch golf on television a lot, but one of my first memories of Mr. Palmer was playing the Pensacola Open back in the late 70s, one of the first times I entered a PGA Tour event. The first time I went was what, the Monsanto Open, got him into the Masters, you all know that story. And it may have been a couple years after that that I saw Mr. Palmer play there. It was probably a little -- his glory days were before I really started following golf. But my brother quickly enlightened me as to what he meant to the game of golf, and I don't have to explain any of that. We would not be sitting here today if it were not for people like them him.

Q. The way things are going, what do you have to shoot tomorrow to be able to hold on?

JOE DURANT: It's going to take another good round. You know, it's hard to put a number on it. You know, obviously I feel like I need to be in the 60s again tomorrow. Calcavecchia is playing very well. You saw what he did in Phoenix, and Duval shot 59 here. This course can give up some low rounds. So I've just got to stay on my game, stay focused, go out and play like I have the last four days.

Q. Is that any particular type of pressure knowing that you have to be in the 60s? I guess everyone feels the same way?

JOE DURANT: It's not really a pressure. I don't try to put a number in my head per se, but I feel like the way the scores are running all week, it's going to take something like that. But I'm playing well, so I feel like if I can just go out and do what I've been doing, I should play fine.

Q. Are you aware of records at all before you start a round, and are you going to shoot for 35, maybe a goal to shoot for?

JOE DURANT: That's the only record I really knew about was that Tom Kite had shot that here in '93. I remember '93 because that was my rookie year, and I saw 35-under and I thought, I don't know if I can put my cumulative professional scores together to shoot 35-under. Not really. I'm going to try to shoot as best I can, and hopefully get somewhere near it, but who knows what will happen tomorrow.

Q. Looking like you will play with Calcavecchia tomorrow. We all saw Phoenix. Is there any thought or feeling going against a guy who has done that already this year and is charging hard now in an environment he plays well in?

JOE DURANT: You just know he has the experience to play well, but I'm trying to play the golf course. That's what I've done all week. If I start worrying about what he is doing or anybody else, I'm going to be in trouble. If I just stay focused on my game and what I do best, then that's all I can do. I can't control what he does. If he runs off nine or ten birdies in a row, well, it's been done, and I just can't worry about that.

Q. Did you arrive here this week with any different feeling or special feeling?

JOE DURANT: I guess the only different feeling was I felt like I was playing well. Every other year that I've been out here, I've been getting the cobwebs off my clubs. I had rarely played coming out here. So I was very rusty and never really expected to play well. Had a little bit more momentum coming out. I played decent in San Diego last week. I shot 9-under which was okay. But I felt like I was on the verge of playing well, and it's just kind of carried over this week.

Q. Everybody gets to play the same golf course tomorrow. Is this a golf course, compared to the other ones, you like, you dislike or certain things out there that you think you can attack or not?

JOE DURANT: I like this golf course. I think it's a fair golf course. If you're driving it well and hitting good iron shots, you can shoot a low number. By the same token, if you're hitting off-line a little bit, there's plenty of sand and water to grab the ball, too. I think for me it sets up pretty good. Off the tee, it's a little more open than Bermuda Dunes or La Quinta or Indian Wells. I think it is a good golf course.

Q. Offhand, would you know your best four-day total previous to this, and will it be hard to fight complacency if you get too big of a lead tomorrow?

JOE DURANT: No, because my caddy, Bob, will be there to kick me in the butt. So I don't have to worry about getting complacent. I don't know my previous low. It may have been Vegas for five days last year. I was 24- or 25-under last year there, but I don't know what my low four -- on TOUR, I would assume it was probably the Western in '98.

Q. Have you ever been the last day leader- in a tournament?

JOE DURANT: No, not in a TOUR event. I think the Western, I was -- I think I was in third going into the last day of the Western. So, no.

Q. It seem likes every week we are talking about records and now we are talking about another record. We have heard many different theories on why. What is your take on why records have fallen so much?

JOE DURANT: I think it is a combination of about three or four things. One, I believe that club technology has given guys a tremendous amount of distance versus, say, five years ago. The ball technology has come a long ways, too. I switched balls at the end of last year to the new Titleist ball, and that has made a world of difference. Agronomy, the greens this week, it's like putting on carpet every hole. And guys are just hitting good golf shots. You put those four factors together, and guys are going to shoot low numbers.

Q. Can you talk specifically the ball technology? Phil Mickelson was talking a lot about it last week after he won. What does it do for you what have you noticed about it?

JOE DURANT: I switched from the Tour Prestige, which was the wound ball, to the Pro V Titleist ball. And for me, A, I launch it higher, so I'm carrying it farther. When it hits the ground, it seems to roll out a little more, rather than just hit and stop. So I feel like I've picked up 15 yards on average off the tee. Also I launch it higher. So my trajectory coming into greens, with my longer irons, I'm able to stop the ball closer to the pin. So I'm getting shorter irons into most of the holes, the ball is stopping quicker and it reacts better in the wind, too. It's so much better in the wind than the ball I played before. For me, that's a lot.

Q. Are you okay with the possibility of picking up tomorrow's paper and seeing Arnold Palmer's name and headline in picture and not yours?

JOE DURANT: That's where it should be. You know, I have no problem with that whatsoever. God bless him. That's great for him to go out and play like he did today. And for him to come here year after year and play, it's just a testimony to the kind of person he is. I don't really know him, but I've sure followed him for a long time and have a great deal of respect.

Q. Ever played with him?

JOE DURANT: Never have. Never have.

Q. Have you met him?

JOE DURANT: I shook his hand at Augusta a couple years ago. That's about as close as I've been. Hopefully I can get in Bay Hill.

NELSON LUIS: Why don't we quickly go over your card here and you can walk us through your birdies. You started on 10. First birdie was at 14?

JOE DURANT: 14, I hit driver and a pitching wedge about 10 feet. Made that one. 11 I hit driver, 9-iron about six feet. 18, I hit driver, 4-iron to the -- it was about pin-high, about 30 feet and 2-putted. 3, I hit driver, pitching wedge about 12 feet and made that one. 7, I hit a 7-iron about 15 feet. 9, I hit driver in the fairway bunker. I hit a pitching wedge about eight feet and made that.

End of FastScripts....

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