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March 15, 2003

Justin Leonard


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Thank for joining us. Current leader in the clubhouse at 19-under. You birdied the last six holes, maybe talk about how you got on a roll right before the rain delay and obviously went well after that, as well.

JUSTIN LEONARD: Yeah, it didn't do too much out there the first 12 holes. I was a couple under by kind of losing ground. Made about a 40-foot putt at 13 and then made a nice 18-footer or so at 14.

Then heading into the last four holes feeling like I should get two birdies out of those last four, possibly three, and to sit through the weather delay and then go back out and birdie the last four feels pretty good.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Playing with Chris Riley, he's at 18-under, it's got to be a nice feeling, too, to play with somebody who is playing well to keep your momentum going.

JUSTIN LEONARD: Yeah, we had a great group. Chris is fun to play with. And Neal always keeps it entertaining and interesting. So he had us laughing out there pretty much most of the day.

So it's a good group and we all played pretty well.

Q. Have you ever birdied six holes in a row on TOUR before?

JUSTIN LEONARD: I think I have at maybe Spyglass or Pebble Beach or somewhere like that.

Q. What's it like to be in a zone like that?

JUSTIN LEONARD: It's just fun. Especially to do it with a weather delay in between, having to go back out and warm up again. Just to be able to do it like that, to get back in contention, because I felt like I was falling out of contention, feels pretty good.

Q. Chris said he was trying to keep up with you; did you look at that as "Hey, he's making them, I've got to, too"?

JUSTIN LEONARD: I think we've got to make as many birdies as we could.

Q. (Inaudible.)

JUSTIN LEONARD: No, I didn't even look at the Standard today.

I knew what I was shooting. But I didn't look at the Standard today.

Q. Was there any one single shot that you felt like turned it around for you?

JUSTIN LEONARD: Probably either the putt at 13 --

Q. The 40-footer?

JUSTIN LEONARD: -- or I hit a really good 3-iron on 14. The wind was still kind of blowing and we had 220-something to the hole and I hit it to the middle of the green and made that. So those two shots.

Q. You seem relaxed, is it the weather delay, being in the lead; you seem so cool and calm.

JUSTIN LEONARD: Well, it's Saturday, there's not too much reason to get excited. I was fortunate to Play well the last six holes and get myself back in shape. But again, it's Saturday. Tomorrow is the day when -- tomorrow is the most important day of the week.

Q. Any idea how low of a score it's going to take to win this thing?

JUSTIN LEONARD: No, I wouldn't have thought 19-under would be -- I don't think it will be leading by the end of the day. No, I'm not even going to predict a score so don't even try.

Q. There's a good chance you'll be playing with Davis in the final group tomorrow, just talk about that.

JUSTIN LEONARD: It will be fun. I haven't played with Davis in a while. I think tournament-wise, it's been a little bit. We play some practice rounds together when we can, but it will be fun. He's gotten off to a good start this year, winning Pebble Beach, and he's obviously playing well and playing well this week.

So coming up to a really good, important time of year, so it's a great time to be playing well. And Davis is obviously doing that.

Q. What did you do during the rain delay?


Q. Obviously, it didn't affect your rhythm. Were you worried about that at all?

JUSTIN LEONARD: I wasn't worried about it because there's nothing I can do about it. I figured out a couple years ago to only worry about things that I can actually control.

So, disappointed, sure. After making a couple birdies and having 15 downwind, I want to keep playing. So obviously it all worked out in the end.

Q. On the third hole, your ball was in the water there, what did you have to do to get out of there? You obviously didn't feel like it was going to be a great day at that point.

JUSTIN LEONARD: Yeah, well, an ugly par on 1 and then nothing at 2 and then to hit that kind of tee shot right, it was funny. I think it was yesterday -- I think it was yesterday, I hit a drive down there and I saw a ball over there in the water like mine, and I thought -- you know, I said, "You've got to go try and hit that." You could see maybe a third of the ball. And my caddie, Brent was like, "Yeah, you've got to go give that a whack."

So sure enough, I hit it in there. And I looked at it and I said, well, I put it on myself now. Put a jacket on, went in there and hacked it out.

Q. How much of the ball was showing?

JUSTIN LEONARD: About a third of it. Same as the one we saw yesterday.

Q. And you almost saved par?

JUSTIN LEONARD: Yeah, with a better wedge shot, I could have saved par there.

Q. After you were 9-under after the first round and you finished with six birdies -- you play a 24-hole stretch in 3-under, what's the difference between when you get really hot before and after and you go through a little lull there?

JUSTIN LEONARD: It gets a little boring out there when the scores are so low and you're making a bunch of pars. You feel like you're treading water and it can get a little frustrating. But I think being able to go out and make six birdies in a row, and knowing that that's possible, somehow keeps me in it. I'm sure it keeps the other guys motivated to keep trying to hit the ball close.

Q. When you make six in a row, are you wishing there was a 19th hole and 20th and you could keep going?

JUSTIN LEONARD: No, I'm very happy to be done.

Q. The finish at Winged Foot obviously is a very memorable one. Can you talk about your relationship with Davis before that and how that experience affected you guys?

JUSTIN LEONARD: I wouldn't say that that experience really changed our relationship. We were already very good friends. Proud of the way Davis played and wish I could have played better. But I would not say that Winged Foot made us better friends or worse. I think we were already great friends and just that was a day when we had to do battle against each other.

Q. A lot of guys have not seen this course at all before this week, how much or how little have you seen of this layout before you got here this week?

JUSTIN LEONARD: I played one round before Tuesday.

Q. What is your driver change, please. Can you explain?

JUSTIN LEONARD: I changed to a Cleveland Classic. I think it says Launcher on the bottom of it. I tried about 12 different drivers last week at home and this one ended up in the bag.

Q. And the ball is?

JUSTIN LEONARD: The ball, Precept, U Tri-Eve Spin (ph) or something like that is the name of it, I don't know, I've got to get you one because it's spelled funny.

Q. Will there be more conversation made with Davis if it is the two of you together in the final group than maybe if you were with someone else tomorrow?

JUSTIN LEONARD: Yeah, probably so. I mean we're not going to be yucking it up too much. (Laughter.) Yeah, there will be conversation and more so than with other players, yeah.

Q. Do you try and carry each other along perhaps?

JUSTIN LEONARD: I wouldn't say that.

Again, we're not rooting against each other. We are just trying to beat each other. You know, it's not a Me versus Davis. There's still, with the scoring the way it is, I haven't seen the leaderboard but there's probably, I would say, at least 10 to 15 guys. You go out and shoot a 61 or 62, it's been done this week already.

So, it's not going to turn into some kind of match-play situation.

Q. When you got to 13 tee, were you thinking almost that your chance to win this week was beginning to fade or were you thinking you could get on one of those runs?

JUSTIN LEONARD: A little bit. I felt like I needed to make at least three and probably four birdies in the last six holes to really have much of a chance. In fact, Amanda, they said, you know, "Four birdies, you'll be okay." And I'm like, yeah, you know, sure, four birdies and everything is fine.

Q. She told you this going to 13?

JUSTIN LEONARD: It was either going to 12 or 13.

Q. How many short putts did you give up yesterday or miss?

JUSTIN LEONARD: I think two.

Q. 15?

JUSTIN LEONARD: 14 and 15, yeah.

End of FastScripts....

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