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April 17, 2014

William McGirt


JOE CHEMYCZ:   We welcome William McGirt to our interview room.  A 5‑under par 66 today.  Putts you in a tie for the lead with playing partner Scott and Mr. Kuchar.
WILLIAM McGIRT:  More importantly I get to sit beside you.
JOE CHEMYCZ:   If you don't mind talk a little bit about the round and the day, and we'll get to some questions.
WILLIAM McGIRT:  I don't even know how to describe it.  It was good for a while.  It was kind of shaky at times.  I really scrambled well coming in.  But the front nine, Scott and I were both making birdies left and right.  It was really easy to feed off each other.  I birdied 3, 4, 5.  He birdied 4, 5, 6, 7.  We both birdied 9.  It was really easy to feed off of each other throughout the front nine.  The back nine was a little bit shaky but was able to scramble.  Just the one hiccup on 16.  But all in all a pretty solid day.
JOE CHEMYCZ:   24 putts.  Only 11 greens in regulation.
WILLIAM McGIRT:  I'll take it around here.  24 putts I'll take every day.

Q.  What happened on the back nine?
WILLIAM McGIRT:  It's so hard to figure out the wind out here.  As soon as you think you figured out where it's coming from it changes.  And we had a few times today where you're looking at flag, trees, grass, clouds, whatever, all of them in different ways.  So you flip a coin andthe coin is standing straight up, so you're still clueless.  It's pretty much guesswork out there at times.
I hit what I thought were a couple of good shots.  17 I actually just flagged it.  I was thinking I had to get down and the wind was not down the bunker.  Fortunately I holed it.  But it's all over the place out there.  And I think tomorrow they're going to get the same amount of wind and get some rain, who knows.  Keep scrambling and making a lot of pars.

Q.  When you talk about winning a golf tournament, obviously the general public looks at the birdies, but how important is the scrambling, especially out here where the greens are so small, the wind is swirling?  Seems like those final four or five holes can be as big as any stretch you have this week?
WILLIAM McGIRT:  Absolutely, because that's what keeps your round going.  You can make birdies, but if you're not scrambling when you're missing greens you're kind of spinning your wheels.  Those were key to me.  Especially the one on 16 and 18.  I had such a bad number on that bunker on 16 and missed it maybe a half a groove skinny, and hit what I thought was a pretty good pitch shot and the wind gets a hold of it and next thing I've got 15 feet.
I felt like I putted really well today, which is surprising because after San Antonio I took 10 days and did not touch a club.  I wheeled them in from the airport, went to Charleston, threw the whole travel bag in my car.  So it was nice to get away for ten days or so and do very little.

Q.  Why did you do that?
WILLIAM McGIRT:  I was sick and tired of golf (laughter).
Let's see, we played, what‑‑ I played five times on the West Coast and then five in a row in Florida.  Yeah, I was past my limit.

Q.  Speaking of the West Coast trip, what do you take out of that week?
WILLIAM McGIRT:  The biggest thing was that I actually hit the ball pretty well on Sunday.  The biggest difference between Saturday and Sunday‑‑ I had closer putts on Sunday.  But they were all breaking three or four feet straight downhill towards the ocean.  You kind of find yourselftrying to leave yourself a par putt.  Whereas Saturday everything was dead straight, up the hill, 30 feet, bang on the left side of the hole, bang on the right side of the hole.  I hit enough good shots to win the golf tournament.  A guy shoots 64, 64, doesn't make a bogey, tip your hat to him.
But the biggest thing wasafter Canada the last two years I felt like I could win out here.  Walking away from Riv just confirmed it.  We were doing everything we can right now to improve some of my weaknesses and put ourselves in this position as many times as possible.

Q.  Speaking of winning, do you feel like there's something tangible you can look at and say this is the thing I need to do to get there, or is it a matter of catching the right round on the right week?
WILLIAM McGIRT:  The biggest thing for me now is I have to put four solid rounds together.  I've been able to put three together a bunch.  It's a matter of taking that so‑so round and turn it into a better round.
It depends on what you want to work on.  I've had weeks where I've hit it really well, tee‑to‑green, didn't make a putt.  I've had weeks where I've hit it all over the place and my putter is what carried me.  And it was the first time I finished 2nd in Canada in 2012.  I made everything that week.  I hit it pretty good, but I made everything.  Last year I hit it great and I could have putted it in the water out there off 18.
It's just a matter of getting everything to come together at the right time.

Q.  Is Harbour Town a course you would expect to play well on given the way you play and the setup of the course?
WILLIAM McGIRT:  Harbour Town and I have a love‑hate relationship.  My first two years here was a lot of hate on my part, but I'm starting to like it.
It's a place that really fits my game.  You don't have to bomb it.  It's more about accuracy and placement.  The thing I've learned about this place is you really have to pick and choose where you're going to be aggressive.  Because you could still be in the fairway out here but not really have a shot.  So it's all about placement.  You're better off sometimes missing it in the rough, even in the trees, in the pine straw, to get the right angle.  Like standing up on No. 2, you're better off in the left trees than you are on the right side of that fairway.
I've kind of learned this stuff over the years, and I'm starting to figure out kind of where to look to figure out the wind.  It's always impossible for me on 14.  I always try to look at the water now when I'm on 13 to figure out where the wind is coming from.

Q.  They always talk about golf courses where there's a learning curve, where you have to figure out where to miss and where not to miss and that sort of thing.  About when did you start getting past the hate and a little more love to this course in regards to how well you understood it?
WILLIAM McGIRT:  I came down here last year and I told myself the entire week of Augusta, I'm going to love Harbour Town.  I'm going to love Harbour Town.  Okay.  But I actually made the cut for a change here last year.  And I've been down here a few times.  Came down and did something for the tournament last fall, and played a little bit.  And really started to look at it.  And really truly there's not a better course on Tour for me than here.  Maybe Colonial, maybe Waialae.  And Waialae and Colonial are two of my favorites.  It's just that this place gets a little bit claustrophobic.  You hit a good shot, like the 10th hole.  I've hit that tree that hangs over the green a couple of times, and you're like, here we go again.
It's learning how to maneuver this place is the big thing.  And the more I come here, the more I figure it out.

Q.  You're kind of a semi‑adopted South Carolinian I guess.  A lot of guys who come here grew up here and played in the Junior Heritage.  Talk about how much it would mean to win this tournament because it's in South Carolina.  Does it have that meaning for you?
WILLIAM McGIRT:  Definitely.  I have several friends who are on the Board of Trustees for the tournament.  Steve and I have gotten to be good friends.  I have a lot of friends and family here.  Here, Charlotte, Greensboro, those are kind of my three Majors right now.
Now, that being said, the toughest thing to do is play kind of a hometown tournament.  You just have to learn to deal with it.  You have to learn to tell people no and you have a job to do at the end of the day.

Q.  Just take us through a little more in depth what happened on the approach on 16.  How hard is that to kind of focus when you have to take all that time getting a ruling, the dropping of the ball and boy, you have to get the big eight‑footer to save par?
WILLIAM McGIRT:  I hit it in the bunker, just kind of overcooked it with the right‑to‑left wind.  I had terrible yardage.  Straight downwind, terrible yardage for a bunker shot.  I'm trying to smooth one in the middle of the green.  Like I said, I hit it half a groove skinny.  Get back there and it's up against the grandstand.  Trying to figure out where to drop it.  I thought I had done it right but I just called an official to double check.  I mean, to walk away from that hole with four was stealing one for sure.  If the grandstand is not there, my ball may be in the hazard, so maybe stealing two.
You stand up there and you make a‑‑ the putt was probably at least 12 feet.  Maybe closer to 15.  But like I said, those are the ones that keep your rounds going.

Q.  How does was the lie on 17?  It looked awfully close to the lip.
WILLIAM McGIRT:  It was probably a foot and a half from the lip.  It wasn't terrible.  I was just thankful it didn't bury.  The only way it could end up short of the green was for the wind to knock it down or be back into my face.  I just watched the 9‑iron land past hole high.  And Scott hit wedge.  I'm smoothing 8, thinking this is taking the front out of play and knock it straight down.  But to make it was definitely a bonus ball there.
JOE CHEMYCZ:   Could you go over your birdies, 2, 3, 4, 5.
WILLIAM McGIRT:  Well, I started out I was picking up a lot of trash on the first couple of holes, I had a barkie on 1, off the trees, off the tee shot to make par.
2, I hit 3‑iron into the green and just kind of chickened out on it, left‑to‑right wind.  Hits the tree, comes backwards about 40 yards into the waste area.  I was able to scoot one past the tree up to 8 feet and make birdie.
Hit 7‑iron into 3 about 15 feet and made birdie.
6‑iron into 4, about 18 feet, made birdie.
5, didn't hit a very good wedge spot to about 20 feet and made birdie.
And then 9, hit one into about 15 feet and made birdie there.
And the bunker shot on 17.

Q.  A lot of people refer to this tournament as the Tour's spring break after Augusta.  And given your golf fatigue coming in here, is this a good place, not just a golf course, but a good place to be coming back to the game?
WILLIAM McGIRT:  Yes and no.  Yes, because it's nice to play in front of your hometown.  No, because this isn't the place you want to be coming off a layoff like that, not knowing what to expect and how you're playing.  Because I played Monday in the Pro Am and that's it this week.  That's the only 18 holes I've played since Sunday in San Antonio.  I think that's the only time I've stepped on the golf course.  Hit about 30 balls Tuesday before the rain in the morning and did some practicing yesterday.
So like I say it's nice to come here.  It's a relaxing week, but this isn't exactly the place you want to play, not knowing where it's going.

Q.  Did you watch the Masters at all?  Did you take anything away watching that?
WILLIAM McGIRT:  I literally saw about 30 shots hit last week.  I watched 17 and 18, were the only full holes I saw.  I just wanted to get away from golf.  Didn't want to watch it.  Didn't want to talk about it.  Didn't want to see a golf course.  Nothing golf related.
JOE CHEMYCZ:   You know Bubba won, right?
WILLIAM McGIRT:  Who?  What's the name again?  

Q.  We've seen a couple of tournaments recently where the best score on Thursday isn't too far off from the winning score on Sunday.  With the wind like it is here, do you feel like if you played three par rounds you might be close to contention at minus five?
WILLIAM McGIRT:  I still thinking the winning score even with the weather is probably going to get somewhere around 10 to 12.  Just depends on how bad it is tomorrow.  Who knows?  The thing is, down here on the coast, they could call for 25 and pouring down rain, and it could be 80 and sunny and not a breath of wind tomorrow.  Who knows.  And the way our meteorologist has been this year, they seem to whiff most of the forecasts every day.  I love walking in the locker room and seeing the forecast, five to ten miles an hour, you get out there and it's 25.  You walk up and say hey, you forgot the "2" there.
It just depends.  I think tomorrow is kind of the day it's going to be the worst.  So depending on how bad it is, I think that's going to have the most effect on the score.
JOE CHEMYCZ:   Thank you.
WILLIAM McGIRT:  Thank you.

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