June 18, 1998
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
LES UNGER: We are glad to have Joe Durant here today, who, we are just kidding, after 13 holes would have been nice to walk off and just let that go, but I don't. Terrific first 9; nothing to be ashamed about with a 68. How about giving us an overview.
JOE DURANT: It is kind of "Tale of Two Cities". Played the front 9 really solid. Made some really good putts, got off to a quick start and then somewhat became aware of where I stood, and, consequently, I made some not-so-good swings on the backside. But all-and-all, I was really pleased with the way I played. This is my first U.S. Open, just glad to shoot what I did today.
LES UNGER: It was your first U.S. Open. One would say you weren't nervous starting out?
JOE DURANT: You know, I really wasn't starting the day today. Only about the time that I made the turn and was 4-under at the turn, started getting a little nervous. The crowd started getting a little bigger and a lot more cameras were out there following us so, at that point, I started feeling it a little bit. But all and all my swing didn't feel particularly great today. I just putted really good and that was really more the result of -- I mean, that was really more the reason why I shot 68, and it wasn't so much the ball striking as it was the putting today.
LES UNGER: Questions, please.
Q. Your expectations coming in, your thoughts, your mental state, what were you thinking? This is pretty exciting.
JOE DURANT: It is exciting. Out of the last five Tour events, I made four cuts. I started to play better. I have gotten off to a slow start this year. Hitting the ball relatively well. Putter had been hot and cold. So I just tried to come in with a fresh attitude and just have a good time with it. I don't know how many entrants there were this year, 7 or 8,000 guys that wanted to be here. I am fortunate to be in the field; just try and come out and play as well as I can.
Q. I heard somebody say that you told them on 15: I am starting to get nervous more and more; cameras showed up. 16 and 17, you gave away some strokes. How did you get it back?
JOE DURANT: All day long I was struggling with my driver. Usually, that is my bread-and-butter, usually, draw the ball very well. I am having a tough time getting rhythm out there with the driver. 16, 17, two holes you needed to hit good tee shots and I didn't hit good shots on either one. You just realize that you keep making pars, and pars aren't going to hurt you, and sometimes you have to get up-and-down from 100 yards, that kind of thing. And hopefully, tomorrow, I am going out and put a little better rhythm on the driver and hit a little more solid off the tee, and some shorter clubs in these holes, especially 17, you have got to hit a good tee shot because that green is not receptive to a 3-wood.
Q. We need to you go through the holes that are not routine pars for us, if you would.
JOE DURANT: Started on No. 1, hit a good drive, 3-wood over the back of the green, chipped, three feet, made birdie. 2, I hit 3-wood, 8-iron, about ten feet, made -- for birdie. 2-putt par on 3. 4, 3-wood, off the tee, 6-iron about 20 feet, made that. 5, again 3-wood off the tee, 6-iron about twelve feet, made that. 6, hit good tee shot, second shot, just went through the green. I 3-putted for bogey. 7, was just actually, 7 was an up-and-down par from over the green. 8, I hit a 9-iron about 10 or 12 feet, made that. 9, was one of those up-and-downs from about 100 yards. Hit my tee shot way right of the fairway. That is one of the hardest things about this course is if you hit it off-line, to hit your next shot, just get it back in play, sometimes it is hard to keep it in the fairway, hit a good second shot there to kept it in the fairway. 100 yards, hit it about three feet. Made that one for par. 10, 2-putt for par. 11 was 2-putt for par. 12 was a 3-wood, pitching wedge about a foot. Made that for birdie. 13, up-and-down par from over the left-side of the green. 14, I hit a 3-wood off the tee just in the first cut of rough. Second shot, just short of green, had an easy chip, left it short of the green, 3-putted from the fringe so that was a sloppy double. 15, hit 8-iron about, gosh, 40 feet; made that putt for birdie. And 16, missed the fairway and missed the green with my third shot. Didn't get up-and-down. 17, I hit the fairway, missed the green with my second, didn't get up-and-down. 18 was 2-putt par.
Q. I notice in your bio, you house got hit by a hurricane twice? What is the story?
JOE DURANT: 1995 we had two hurricanes in Pensacola within 60 days. First one basically the eye went right over my house. We had some damage from the first one. Second one really didn't have that much damage, but the beaches sure took a hit. That was a unique experience because we hadn't had a hurricane directly hit Pensacola in I don't know how many years. Within 60 days we had 2. Hope we don't have any time soon.
Q. When the eye passed over, were you in the house?
JOE DURANT: We had some video. I was at a Nike event in South Dakota. My wife was there and my family was there. I was trying to get updates, and we couldn't get through. The lines were down and everything else, so, they never forgave me being way for that one.
Q. A little bit easier tonight for you coming back at 2-under as opposed to if you were in the lead, do you think in terms of preparation, sleeping, those types of things?
JOE DURANT: Not really. Because for me there is three big days of golf to go and anything can happen. I am just trying to go out and play some solid golf and, you know, to think about trying to win a golf tournament or anything like that, especially a U.S. Open, for me, is not really in the realm of my thinking right now. But to go out and play four solid days of golf is more what I am trying to do right now. Whether I was 5-under or 2-under, I know I have got to hit the ball better tomorrow. That is all I am going to really try and do.
Q. Can you put into perspective first what it means to you to shoot a 68, your first ever round in U.S. Open?
JOE DURANT: I am very happy. I mean, I was 5-under after 13 holes and would have been great to the shoot 5-under, but anything under par is a great score on this golf course. No let-up in hit, nothing tricky, right there in front of you. You have to hit quality shots. If you don't, you are going to make bogeys like I did coming down the stretch today. That is the whole key out here, just hit good golf shots.
Q. Give us a little overview of your career for those who don't know much about you.
JOE DURANT: Well, this is about my 10th year I guess as a pro. Turned pro in the fall of 1987; played the mini-tours for a couple of years before the Hogan Tour which, now, the Nike Tour got started. Played that in 1991 and actually quit the game for a little while. Beginning of 1992 I was just fed up with the travel and the fact that I wasn't playing very well, and went and worked in the golf business for a little while and didn't like that either, so I figured I would give golf one more shot. I promised my wife when I went back out again, I would go in with a better attitude. I was going to stick to a positive-type attitude. And, actually got through the Tour school in 1992. I played the Tour in 1993; played terrible in 1993. I went back to the Nike Tour for three years; played a little better every year. I finished third in '96 on the Nike Tour money list. I got on the Tour and played the Tour all last year; finish 100th last year, and then playing again this year. That is about it.
Q. I was just wondering why you played so well today? I mean, was it something like on your first birdie kind of gave you more confidence or what was it throughout the round that kind of kept you going to shoot so well today?
JOE DURANT: No question. It was the putter today because I didn't hit it particularly well, but I made some good putts early; made a couple of good saving putts and, you know, for me, I guess, 12 putts on the front - I usually have 12 putts after six holes - it was definitely the putter today.
Q. The bogeys in the back 9, was it just a realization that: My, God, I am leading the U.S. Open? Is that what hit you?
JOE DURANT: I am sure that is probably a little part of it. But, it was more the fact that I didn't feel comfortable with my swing today. My driver swing was way out of sync. My timing was not very good at all. And I knew that I was struggling with it and, you know, during the middle of a round, you are trying to find some kind of key to get the ball in the fairway. I just wasn't able to do it today. That is something I am going to have to work on between now and 7:10 tomorrow morning.
Q. When you left the Tour briefly in 1992, what was your job?
JOE DURANT: Let's see. I went in the insurance business for a little while. I don't think I sold a policy. Then I went to work for Edwin Watts Golf Shops Distribution Center in Fort Walton. I worked with them for couple of months. During that time I really was getting the itch to get back to playing again.
Q. Did you top your driver on 17 or what happened there? Obviously I think you were disappointed with your --
JOE DURANT: It was a half-top. I would say I am -- usually my ball flight is low-trajectory anyway, but that was lower than normal. That is the thing I was struggling with. I felt like I was getting out ahead of the ball with my swing. When I do that, I typically hit it lower and, you know, that was kind of the result of it.
Q. You played with Mark Carnevale who also put up a good number. Both of you guys are - for lack of a better word - you are not the big names around here. I was wondering if you guys discussed that at all during the round; maybe you fed off of each other in some way both coming back with scores that are right up on the leaderboard and if you bonded in any way?
JOE DURANT: Mark is a good guy and Doug is too. We had a good group out there today. I would say Mark definitely played a much more solid round of golf. I didn't realize he didn't have a bogey today. That is a heck of an accomplishment out there. And I got off to a good start and jockeyed up-and-down a little bit. He played a much more solid round. He just, towards the end, really turned on the gas a little bit, and we just had a good time out there today. And, you know, just being comfortable playing with the guys you are playing with always helps.
Q. Many of us are not familiar with your game. Could you describe sort of your style, your game and how that fits this golf course?
JOE DURANT: I typically strike the ball fairly well. I usually drive the ball very well. I hit my share of greens. And, I usually struggle from 100 yards and in. I am not the greatest short-game player. I am far from it. I mean, that is one area that my game is really, at a Tour level, is very poor. But, today it really saved me because I didn't hit it particularly well. But I made a lot of good putts and hit some good wedges too. So typically for me this kind of a setup usually is better - the harder the better because I hit a lot of fairways and hit greens. Par is a good score, whereas tournaments where you have to go out and shoot 64, 65 a lot, I don't tend to fair as well. So, it is just a hard setup. You have to hit good shots.
Q. Did your wife caddie for you for a while?
JOE DURANT: Yes.
Q. Was that a financial thing? How did it work out?
JOE DURANT: It worked out pretty well. My wife was a good player in college and she definitely knows what is going on out there. I think I just flat wore her out, though. She had to put up with me all the time. But, she really helped me out a lot. And, she helps me to this day. You know, anything I do in golf is a direct result of what she has done for me - no question about it.
Q. You said when you came back out that you told her that you would come out with a better attitude. What was your attitude like before? What did you do to adjust it?
JOE DURANT: You had to ask, didn't you? In 1991, my first year on the Hogan Tour I was in a position to, you know, win a couple of times and go out the last day and shoot three or four over par, whatever, I just totally got disenchanted with it, and my attitude usually was pretty positive attitude. But it just went 180 degrees dead negative. I was like: This course is terrible. My game is terrible, you know, typical golf attitude. So just got to the point where I didn't want to play anymore. I got tired of it. And, she got tired of listening to me. So when I decided I was going to play again, she said: Hey, look, I am not going to put up with this garbage again. You are going to have to go out and have a good attitude but don't bring it home. If you have a bad round, I don't want to hear you whining and complaining. Go out and play. I think when you do that, the bad times aren't so bad and the good ones don't get you so juiced that you just can't even function; just try and take it one day at a time and do the best I can do.
Q. What is your wife's name?
JOE DURANT: Tracey. She played college golf for Troy State. She made All-American for Troy State. She was probably a two or three handicap at one time. So, she is a really good player.
Q. With your background, talk about what it would mean if you can pull this off this week?
JOE DURANT: I can't even think that far ahead. There is no telling. I mean, everyone dreams of winning the U.S. Open, so, I can't even I couldn't even begin to describe it.
Q. Is Tracey going to have some advice for you? Is she going to watch this and will you go over the holes?
JOE DURANT: She is going tell me to slow my transition down at the top of my swing is what she is going to tell me to do. She knows my game very well. She's hiding over there. She knows my game very well. She tells me to slow it down.
LES UNGER: Is she available for an interview after this?
JOE DURANT: Probably not.
LES UNGER: You better leave now because you are going to be besieged. Anymore?
Q. How long were the par putts on 16 and 17?
JOE DURANT: 16 I bogeyed. Actually I hit it short of the green. Then my chip didn't come out of the rough. I had another chip; got up-and-down for bogey. My par-putt on 17 was probably -- it was a 20-footer at least.
LES UNGER: Everybody happy? Continued good luck.
JOE DURANT: Thank you.
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