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February 16, 2001

Joe Durant


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: We'd like to thank Joe Durant for joining us in the interview. Great round again today, and three rounds, 23-under, heading into the weekend great position. Why don't you just talk about your round and the weekend ahead.

JOE DURANT: Today was a little tough to follow yesterday. I didn't have quite the same rhythm that I had yesterday, but still, I came out of the blocks good enough. I hit a good drive and 9-iron about six feet and made birdie but it just -- today seemed like it was a little tougher to get it going. Any time you shoot a low round, the next day is always really difficult. Today was no exception. I hung in there the front side and turned under par and I don't think I missed a green on the back side. I shot 4-under on the back. I didn't hit as close today as I did yesterday. All in all, I played solid, but not quite like I did yesterday.

Q. It seemed like everybody had trouble getting it going today. There were not any 62s or 61s out there. Was it just -- I know you can't speak for anybody else, but in your case, is it hard to follow that up? Were you playing a little bit safer today?

JOE DURANT: I was trying not to, starting out. But the thing about it is, you know it is a long tournament, a five-day tournament, and to sustain that kind of pace for five days is difficult, and today it caught up with me a little bit. I played good at La Quinta Wednesday. Yesterday, I hardly missed a shot. But today, starting out, I was not as sharp, and as a result, I wasn't hitting it five feet every other hole; I was hitting 20 feet, and you're not going to make a lot of 20-footers. It's hard to explain, but looking at it from a whole tournament perspective, you're going to have a day when you are not going to be on and have to grind it out to shoot 3- or 4- or 5-under. The conditions were great. It was breezy here. I don't know how it was at the other courses. Maybe the greens are drying out that may have something to do with it. I don't know.

Q. Whatever you do, it's not going to quite match yesterday?

JOE DURANT: You know you're going to shoot 61. It's just a question of what hole it's on. In format, you know you are going to make a ton of birdies. You are constantly trying to fire at the flags. You miss a couple of the greens, short side, you're going to make a bogey, and that's the absolute wrong direction you want to go. You play mind games out there.

Q. Is it taxing knowing that you have to make birdies? Is it any more grueling than just trying to come out and make pars?

JOE DURANT: Here, par is not a good score; whereas at some events, par is a good score. It is just a different mind set. In the past for me, it has been difficult, because I get impatient. I'll go out three or four holes, and it will be even par, and I'll be like, "I'm getting lapped today. What am I going to do ?" I think last year in Vegas, I played five good rounds and shot mid-20-under for five days and realized that you don't necessarily have to be 1-under after three. You can real off birdies at any point. Just allow yourself the opportunity to do it, stay patient, and that's the real key in these tournament is to stay patient. Even though the world may be making a million birdies, you've just got to try and stay patient.

Q. You finished yesterday with the lead and you finished today with the lead, by Stankowski and Sutherland. They are not going to look at a leaderboard until tomorrow. Is that the way you look at it as well?

JOE DURANT: You really have to. The different courses, it's hard to really get a fix of where you stand until everyone has played each of the courses one time. You would kind of like to know where you are, but by the same token, you don't really know where you are. It's a unique format and you just -- like I said you just keep trying to shoot as low as you can and make as many birdies as you can.

Q. Not to belabor this, you were not here yesterday, but I think we were discussing the fact that you were second in greens in regulation and second in fairways hit. Most guys would say that's great. But you were way down, 130th or 139th or something in putting, and you mentioned it's your total short game. Have you ever been a good short-game player? And did you realize when you got on TOUR how good short games were; and the fact that you see and you hear that the guys with the great short games usually do very well, and I know you've tried to correct it. Were you ever a guy who putted well?

JOE DURANT: No. (Laughs). To answer simply, no. I've never had what I consider to be a top, say, 70 short game on TOUR. My long game has always carried me. I've always hit the ball straight, hit a lot of greens. I feel like to get to the level I want to get to, I need to be a Top-70 short game. It's a goal that I can achieve, but it's going to take work, and I'm working on it. I'm just trying to be patient on it, too, knowing that it is not going to happen overnight. I'm seeing progress, and just keep working on it. But no, I've never had a great short game.

Q. To win a tournament and just to play well, your long game must be unbelievable?

JOE DURANT: Really, I don't hit it in really bad trouble. My misses usually work out really good, and I do hit my share of greens. I'm never going to shoot real high, although, we all have. I don't want to set any examples, but I'm the kind of guy that I'm just kind of steady. If I get a hot putter, I get the chance to contend. But I get to the point where I don't have to have a hot putter to contend. That's what the great players do. They may not be on week-in, week-out, ball-striking, but they figure out a way to score. That's the difference between the guys that are great players and the guys that are very good players. That's what I'm shooting for. Not to say I'm ever going to be a great player, but I would like to be respected as a very good player.

Q. Are you glad you didn't pick up that burgeoning insurance career you were thinking of when you were going to quit the Tour?

JOE DURANT: Talking about the world's worst salesman, you're looking at him here. In the Durant house, pickings would be slim if I was counting on that insurance career. My wife was instrumental in getting me playing again, and I thank her for kicking me in the butt and getting me out there playing again. It was her that gave me the second life in golf.

Q. Can you give us the sequence of that?

JOE DURANT: What happened to me was I turned pro the fall of '87 and went to Tour school, and obviously I didn't make it. I played the mini tours for a couple of years that was before the Nike Tour, the BUY.COM TOUR. I did make it to the finals at Tour school my third time and was exempt for the Nike Tour that year -- BUY.COM TOUR, I guess I should say now. I played pretty consistently that year but it seemed like I would play myself into contention and shoot a bad third day or bad fourth day, what-have-you. I just got frustrated and felt like I had given it a pretty good shot, but it was just time to move on. I quit golf and attempted the insurance business, let's put it that way, for a couple of months. I didn't like it at all. I went to work for Edwin Watts, the golf retailer. I worked for him for about three months and kind of got the itch again to play. But I had to promise my wife that I would try to have a good attitude instead of a lousy one when I went back out. It's made a big difference.

Q. Did you play at all?

JOE DURANT: I really didn't. I took about four months where I did not touch a club. But when I was working for Edwin, when I was around all those clubs, the wheels started turning. He was responsible for getting me a sponsor's exemption into the Pensacola at the time. I finished in the top 20 after not picking up a club for five months. I said, "Well, maybe I should give it one more shot," and I did. At that time I didn't have a place to play and so I played mini-tours and I got my card through the school and kind of played from then on.

Q. You went to insurance school --

JOE DURANT: I got my license.

Q. Did you actually even try to sell anybody a policy?

JOE DURANT: You know, they give the old spiel about "call your friends; call your relatives." I was too embarrassed to do any of that. They gave me a phone directory and said, "Just start calling people." I was immediately uncomfortable with that. I said, this wasn't for me. I thought about getting my liability -- the license -- that's how bad I was. There was another license I could have gotten and I just said, no, I'm going to go in the golf business for a while and see how that goes.

Q. Did you ever sell any?

JOE DURANT: Not a thing. Not one policy. Zero for -- probably zero for about ten. I think I called about ten people.

Q. How about clubs?

JOE DURANT: I did sell a few clubs. Working for Edwin was interesting because he was basically showing me the entire business. I worked in the warehouse, but I would also work in the mail -- in the distribution center where people would call on the 800-number and we would ship orders from the distribution center. I worked in one of the stores, also. So it was a little bit of everything, but my heart wasn't in that, either. I wanted to be playing.

Q. You talked about your attitude and the positive attitude. When you are out there helping these guys read putts and telling them "Nice 4" after you've made a 2 -- one of the guys' wives says that you're the nicest guys he's ever played with in five years. Are you comfortable in that kind of situation?

JOE DURANT: These guys are nervous as it is playing in this thing, and you want to try to make them as comfortable as you can. You want them to have fun. This is a unique event. And John Cook, he had a comment in the paper the other day, talking about how he finally understood what this tournament was about. And it's taken me a couple of times before I realized that, hey, you keep those guys comfortable, chances are you're going to probably be pretty comfortable yourself, too. You know, sometimes you don't fly around. It takes a while to play. But you just know that going into it and realize that it's going to be a 5 1/2 hour round of golf. But that's okay. We're going to have a good time. Maybe help these guys out. Give them a point or two. Help them with their games makes you feel better about yourself; at the end of the day, knowing that you helped somebody, I think that's part of tournament.

Q. Did the time away from the game make you appreciate this so much more because you were away?

JOE DURANT: Absolutely. No question. I feel like one of the luckiest guys in the world to do something that I love to do. There was a time when I did not love playing, but I do love playing now. I'm just fortunate to be on the Tour now and I hope that I can stay out here for a little while longer.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Let's go over your round. You did the first hole. Let's start with No. 5, the bogey on 5.

JOE DURANT: Actually, 5, I hit what I thought was my best shot of the day. I hit a 3-iron in and it hit just about 10 feet short, but just rolled through the green. I hit my chip long coming back about eight feet and missed it. So I made bogey there. 6, I hit a driver, 3-wood just short of the green and chipped it up about three feet and made that. 10, I hit driver, 9-iron about five feet. Made that. 11, I hit driver, 6-iron about 30 feet and 2-putted. 14, the par 5, I hit driver, laid up with a 5-iron. I hit a sand wedge about 10 feet. 16, I hit a 3-wood off the tee. Hit a terrible wedge. I must have had a 40-footer, and I don't know how I made that. That was the hardest putt I had this week and it went right in the middle. That was the best putt I've hit in a long time and that was pretty much it.

End of FastScripts....

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