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June 18, 2004

Shigeki Maruyama


MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, joining us now on the podium, co-leader, Shigeki Maruyama, 6-under for the championship, 2-under today.

Q. Yesterday you said that in your practice rounds you were surprised that you would even be at par, and now you're looking at co-leader going into the weekend.

SHIGEKI MARUYAMA: I'm really surprising myself. My game is very steady, solid now. And I could keep hitting the ball as well as yesterday. Hopefully I'll play as well the next few days as I did.

Q. How did it feel with the crowd out there?

SHIGEKI MARUYAMA: Big galleries, we have big galleries in the PGA regular Tour. Especially playing with Tiger, I can expect a lot of people following Tiger, so it doesn't bother my golf. I'm really calm on the golf course during the play. It's very usual in a major tournament. Hopefully I'll be calm the next few days, also.

Q. How do you feel being in the lead going into the weekend at the U.S. Open?

SHIGEKI MARUYAMA: There's not many chances to be a leader at the U.S. Open. I'm very excited. I'm looking forward to playing with Phil Mickelson tomorrow. He must be very confident after winning The Masters, so I'll try to catch him all the time.

Q. You missed the cut last week. Where did this play come from?

SHIGEKI MARUYAMA: I was struggling with the distance the last few weeks. From tee box, I wasn't very good last few weeks. I brought my swing coach from Japan, fixing my swing, and now I'm steady, good, solid.

Q. I hear you like to sing; is this true? If you win this thing, would you promise to sing for us?

SHIGEKI MARUYAMA: If I win the tournament, I could sing on the stage here.

Q. Is that a promise?


Q. (Inaudible).

SHIGEKI MARUYAMA: Probably four times before the Majors, bring him, and he comes to the Majors, also.

Q. How do you feel about the fact that Phil Mickelson is America's darling and you will not be the favorite tomorrow?

SHIGEKI MARUYAMA: I can expect everybody's rooting for Phil tomorrow. I played the first two days at The Masters with Phil. Everybody is saying Phil, Phil, Phil, Phil. I'll get earplugs tomorrow.

Q. What did you ask Tiger on the 18th hole at the end?

SHIGEKI MARUYAMA: I just moved a little bit on the green, so I asked Tiger, it was just before that, I just -- so I just keep playing.

Q. How long did it take you to get comfortable being over here full-time and playing over here full-time?

SHIGEKI MARUYAMA: It takes about three years to be comfortable, to pick up language, get used to some foods. After like nine months, strict security, I start having Toyota, and picking up knowledge, I like it.

Q. You told us you hated the rain. How do you feel about the wind?

SHIGEKI MARUYAMA: I think everybody hates the strong wind, but in the PGA TOUR, every week we get a strong wind on the Tour, so I'm getting used to it and probably we'll have the big wind the next two days, probably.

Q. Ernie Els thinks over par could still win the tournament, do you believe that?

SHIGEKI MARUYAMA: Of course I'm expecting big wind. If big winds, big numbers disappear, so I'll try to catch the winner all the time.

Q. (Inaudible) Vijay said he'd like to see the wind.

SHIGEKI MARUYAMA: I'd prefer no winds, like the first two days.

Q. Conditions aside, how is this tournament different from a PGA TOUR event for you?

SHIGEKI MARUYAMA: Greens are very hard here, very firm. Some PGA TOUR golf courses have very firm greens, also.

Also the cuts on the greens are not on the flat area, they're on the sloping area, so everybody is missing the putts, not making the very good putts here. That's one of the hard things.

Q. What is the strength of your game that you need to score low like you did today?

SHIGEKI MARUYAMA: I try to put the balls in the safe areas. Also, the greens are getting bumpy in the afternoon, so I try not to miss those three-foot putts.

Q. Who is more popular in Japan, you or Tiger Woods?

SHIGEKI MARUYAMA: Of course me. Only in Japan (laughter).

Q. How about you or Ichiro?

SHIGEKI MARUYAMA: Ichiro, of course.

End of FastScripts.

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