People always talk about how intimidating Pete Dye golf courses but other people say that if you learn how to read them, you can score really well. What are the strategies that he likes to employ and how did you put together a game plan to shoot 68?
That’s a serious question for me. I’ve not given it that much thought to be honest. (Chuckling).
Pete’s courses are very intimidating because it’s mostly forced carries and that doesn’t leave you much option, other than the strategy of hitting the ball really well. I think that’s how you get the ball around his golf course is you’ve got to play well. That was certainly the case here at Kiawah this week. You’re going to have to play well.
Going from Bridgestone to here, was that good preparation?
Yeah, I think it was really good, looking at it now, it was a frustrating week for me last week. I wanted to go and play like I did at the British in that kind of really good form. But I kind of lost my rhythm as the week progressed, and that’s a hard course to scramble around, you’re not going to do very well. That was frustrating.
It was good to get out there and start switching the mind back on and concentrating, and I did that a bit here and there last week. But good preparation for this week to have to shoot some numbers again and then be sharp here.
68, how good is that in the afternoon?
I think it was a pretty good round of golf. You know, I wasn’t feeling 100 percent with it all out there, but I controlled my game nicely, managed it well. My short game was sharp when it needed to be, which is going to be important, because it’s just a hard golf course and you’re not going to hit every green.
Can you talk about the way the bunkers are playing, did you have any odd moments where it dawned on you to ground your club?
Yeah, the first couple bunkers I got in, I just played it like a normal bunker. But then about the fourth one, I thought, just have a practice swing just to see what it feels like (laughing). I think that’s the most odd thing I’ve ever experienced; playing this course, that there’s actually not a bunker on it.
I took a practice swing and it looks kind of funny and I think the guys in the group were snickering at it, as well.
Is there a way to attack this golf course?
You certainly have to pick your moments to attack. There are only about three par 4s that you would call short and get a wedge in your hand; if you drive it well, you can hit a wedge into the green, and if you’re getting a wedge in your hand, you’re attacking. So the par 5s and those few par 4s where you could get a wedge is a chance to attack.
The rest of the time is‑‑ you know, you never want to play defensive, especially on tough golf courses, but you just have to play smart and you have to pick your moments wisely and that’s what majors are all about.
You mentioned in some of your other interviews the importance of getting back on the horse at a major after the British. How good does it feel now?
Well, yeah, so far, so good. It would be great to put two more rounds together and be coming here Sunday with a good look at the championship.
Otherwise, you know, if I don’t, then I’ll really feel like I’ve let it all slip this year for me. So I’d love to use this opportunity while I’m playing well to get in there and have a sniff on Sunday.
You talked about how important it is to change your routine over the last two years getting ready for a major and the focus to play well; considering what happened at Lytham, were you able to do the same thing?
I did the same thing. Although this one’s slightly different than the others because we always end up playing the week before at Bridgestone. So the practice is a little different. You don’t have quite as much time to prepare, or I don’t play the golf course as many times. But, I did come down last Monday, Tuesday before Bridgestone to play here and felt that was really worthwhile.
Again, you know, that’s part of my thing is coming in before and getting a really good understanding of the course before I get here tournament week.
Was that the first time you had been on The Ocean Course?
And did you come into this course with preconceived notions about how fierce it might be if the wind were blowing, and what did you find once you were there?
Yeah, it was different than I imagined and I don’t really know why. I still can’t put a finger on that. I think it is, it’s quite intimidating on your first look, and I didn’t really know where I was going and it looked very difficult.
Again, I think you can learn the golf course a little bit and that’s the point of coming down here, and certainly, the scoring is better I than imagined when I was here last Monday, Tuesday. But that may have something to do with slightly softer conditions after the rain.
Do you prefer late/early or late/early?
Late/early is good if you play good in the afternoon. Get right back out there and do it again. I don’t think it matters. It all kind of evens out in the end.
Is the course drying up at all?
Yeah, it’s not wet; it’s just not firm, if that makes any sense. It’s held the water really well. It’s not soggy or anything like that. It’s just slightly slower than, you know, a firm, running course would be.
Did you hear things going around, encouragement that you might not have heard in previous majors, that perhaps people are really rooting for you now?
Yeah, the support has been tremendous from the fans who have come out to watch. You know, obviously I think all the golfers would have been watching The Open, and it’s nice to hear that support. It’s nice that they want to see me play well and I want to play well for them coming out and watching me.