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March 13, 2003

Justin Leonard


JOHN BUSH: We would like to welcome Justin Leonard into the interview room after a 9-under par 63.

Could you talk about your round, and obviously you had a great finish there with birdies on 8 and 9 to top it off.

JUSTIN LEONARD: Yeah, I got off to a great start today and hit it close at 10 and 1,1. And then birdied both the par 5s and I think made one other at 13. And then kind of pulled an iron shot into 18 a little bit, but it ended up 15 feet and I made that.

Then cooled off a little bit on the front nine but able to make a nice putt on 8 from about 25 feet, and then 2-putt from just off the back edge at 9. So a great way to start the day and great way to end it.

JOHN BUSH: Could you take us through your other birdies.

JUSTIN LEONARD: 10, hit a pitching wedge to three feet.

11, hit a sand wedge to five feet.

13, hit an 8-iron to eight feet.

15, hit a 4-wood just left of the green and chipped up to about four feet.

17, hit a 3-iron about 35 feet for my second shot and 2-putted.

18, hit a 4-iron probably 18 feet just off the green and made that.

Birdied 3. Hit a pitching wedge to about ten feet.

8, hit a 9-iron to about 25 feet.

9, hit a 3-iron second shot just over the green and 2-putted from about 20 feet.

Q. I guess you weren't affected too much by the heat out there today.

JUSTIN LEONARD: No. Heat's never really bothered me too much, growing up in Texas, but, yeah, there's certainly not much wind. There certainly was not any more about ten for 12 holes. There's just a little now but just enough to cool it off a little bit but doesn't really affect the ball too much.

Q. I guess it's a good feeling if you're in early, not a lot of wind and all of the other players suddenly have 15-mile-per-hour winds, you can just sit back and smile maybe at that?

JUSTIN LEONARD: Sure, it's a great way to start the week. Didn't play great the last couple of weeks that I had played on the West Coast. Worked really hard last week and it's nice to see all of that kind of payoff today.

Q. How has the course played, it's the first time it's had any event at all, how does it feel to you?

JUSTIN LEONARD: You know, the course is pretty short by TOUR standards and not many drivers. A lot of 3-woods and 4-woods off tees, those kind of things.

You know, the wind is really the only defense this place has. If it's not going to blow, the scores are going to be pretty low. The rough is thick in some spots, but you can certainly find some lies. So unless the wind really picks up you're going to have to make a lot of birdies.

Q. When you shoot 30 on the front, do you start thinking about that magical number or you just don't think of it?

JUSTIN LEONARD: I thought about it one time as I was walking to 1 tee and I said, "Don't even go there." Then I hit a bad tee shot. So I didn't think about it from there on out.

Q. Is this a week where par is almost a disappointment? Do you adjust your mind set on a week like this?

JUSTIN LEONARD: A day like today the morning that we had, that's true. I think if the wind picks up a little bit, I don't think that's necessarily going to be the case. But there are some holes that you know you need to score well on and others that if you hit a great shot, you know you are going to have a chance.

Q. What did you work on over the last week or so from the West Coast to here?

JUSTIN LEONARD: Mainly my setup. I had got tilting too much back to the right at address, and also had gotten too far from the ball. So tried to move the ball in a little bit and correct my posture.

It took a lot of balls to kind of get used to where I was seeing everything from, but I kind of felt better about it each day.

Q. Did you feel yourself reverting at any time today to the old thing and trying to get yourself back to where you're supposed to be?

JUSTIN LEONARD: I shot 9-under. I was pretty much where I needed to be most of the day. (Laughter.)

Q. You said you had a bad tee shot at 9, I know sometimes --

JUSTIN LEONARD: Yeah, it wasn't so much a bad swing; it was more a bad thought process there. I did a good job with what I've worked on and didn't make too many bad swings today.

Q. With Amanda being from here, is this at all like playing in the Nelson for you, from a home standpoint?

JUSTIN LEONARD: I wouldn't say -- I would not say yes. I would say because it's a lot of family and friends, it's special.

Growing up in Dallas and going to the Byron Nelson when I was a kid, no offense, but I had not really heard of the Honda Classic when I was six years old and begging my dad to take me out there, because obviously it's a couple thousand miles away.

It's not the same from that standpoint. It is the same from getting to see Amanda's family and friends and just going out to dinner with her aunts, uncles and cousins. She's got a huge family. Fortunately, the tournament committee took care of us on the tickets, and so I knew no matter how I played this week, I was going to have my own little gallery.

Q. Can you estimate how many tickets you needed or how many family are out here?

JUSTIN LEONARD: Probably through the week we'll get quite a few. I don't want to mention numbers, but quite a few. Couldn't fit them all in one car. (Laughter.)

Q. If it end up a tournament where the wind is not blowing and you have to shoot 25 -, maybe 30-under to win, is that okay with you? How do you feel about an event like that?

JUSTIN LEONARD: You know, I'd rather -- I enjoy tournaments more often when par is kind of at a premium.

I don't want to have to go out and have to shoot 63 every day to keep pace. That, to me is not -- that's not a whole lot of fun. It's fun to go out and make birdies, but it's very hard to do that over four days.

So, you know, I'd like to see -- hopefully the wind will pick up a little bit and the place will toughen up some.

Q. Do you think anyone else can get that magic number this week with conditions if they stay like this, would it surprise you?

JUSTIN LEONARD: I don't know. It would be hard to find four shots out there that I could have picked up.

Sure, it might be possible. But on a par-72 golf course, I don't even think about it. I'm not sure many of the other guys do, either.

Q. Was there any one hole, I know it sounds like they were pretty easy, all of them but maybe one hole that was tougher?

JUSTIN LEONARD: 18 was playing longer today because the wind, the last couple days has been out of out of east today it was more out of the south and just starting to pick up.

I hit 7-iron in there the last couple of days and today I hit a really good 4-iron.

So 18 was playing quite a bit different.

Q. By the time you went out to 1, I don't know if you checked the leaderboard before you went out, had you noticed the trend of scores going very low very quickly?

JUSTIN LEONARD: I was like the fourth or fifth group off, so I had not -- no, I didn't notice anything in particular. At that point, I had a couple short holes to start with and had a couple good shots. At the time I got around 14 or 15, I saw a couple of guys that were under 4- or 5-under par.

Q. Were you one of the guys that went over to see the Fazio course this week?


JOHN BUSH: Thanks for coming by and good luck the rest of the week.

End of FastScripts....

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