Joe Durant - Winners News Conference Transcript
Thank you. I don't know what to say, really. Just a really magical week, especially on the greens. It just seemed like every time I needed to make a crucial putt, I did. And today I got into a good groove again, and just fed over the last couple of days and played solid most of the day today. I just didn't want to come back in here today and talk about how I blew a five-shot lead or whatever it was. That was definitely on my mind last night.
Q. Stankowski was just telling us how we spend too much time writing about Tiger and ignoring the Stankowskis and Durants of the world, and he also said, contradicting, Tiger has raised the bar. Has he done that for the Tour where other people are able to compete with him?
There's no question he has raised the level of play out here. I don't want to say everyone was complacent, because, obviously, that's never going to be the case out here. But he's taken the scoring to another level and just the excitement to another level. It made all of us kind of realize, hey, we have to step up a notch to try to compete with him. And not just him, too, Phil has played great golf, as well as several others. Every week is just amazing how the scores have run, and it's going to continue for a while.
Q. You're talking about a five-shot lead coming in and not blowing it, but a five-shot lead here is not like anywhere else, is it?
No, it's not. You've seen the kind of low rounds that can be shot. And Paul got it going today. If I had had a mediocre today, it could have easily been his tournament or Calcavecchia's tournament or anybody else's. I was just fortunate that I got in my mind that I had to shoot low today and I went out and I didn't -- I don't want to say I played conservatively, but I didn't take stupid chances. But when I had the opportunity I went after it. I felt like the key for me today was going to be the par 5's today. If I played them under -- I played 3- or 4-under, and I basically accomplished what I wanted to accomplish today.
Q. Was there a point out there where you started thinking about not winning the tournament and maybe thinking about getting to 35-under?
When I got on 16 green, there's a scoreboard right by 16 green, and I saw Paul . I guess he knocked it on 17, hit it on the green, but he missed his birdie putt. I guess at the time, I had a three-shot and I had a pretty good putt for birdie, and I said, 'Well, let's give this one a chance and I can get to it,' because I felt like I had a decent enough lead to get it to the house -- and fortunate enough to make that putt and made another good birdie on 17. I don't know what happened on 18. I think I just wanted to get it over with by the end.
Q. I know this is old ground, but can you elaborate on the nature of the conversation that you had with your wife back in '92, was it that that sort of gave you the boost to be back out here?
I'd say I could elaborate, but I did most of the listening in that conversation. We just talked about starting to play again. I was really miserable working at the time. I felt like I had not given it enough of a chance to play. So I said, 'Well, maybe I'll play again.' She goes, 'Wait a minute. We're not going to go down that same way again. You're going to have that attitude. You're going to grind, you're going to play hard. If you play bad, I don't want to hear you whining.' I said, 'All right. I will.' Of course, immediately two weeks after I was playing, I was crying, whining, and everything like that. But she quickly corrected me and from that point on -- no one is perfect and your attitude is going to sour some. But my attitude has been really upbeat, and I'm just thankful to be playing golf.
Q. Any follow-up lectures?
Constantly. We are down to about two a week, so that's pretty good. It's a constant battle. You're out here playing, and all of the guys play so well. It's just a tough life. You never know if you're going to have a job the next year or not a lot of times. It's a lot -- there's a lot of downtime. There's a lot of times when things are not going good, but you just try to do your best to keep a positive attitude, keep your head up and realize that the more you do that, the chances of success will be that much greater. And that's what I've tried to do.
Q. How do you relate to these scores and how do you think the public is relating to these scores? Every week there's a new unbelievable record-setting performance. How do you relate to that?
I don't know. What Calcavecchia shot at Phoenix was unbelievable. Rocco and he were playing together in the third round, and they both shot 7-under. And Rocco didn't make up a shot on him. It was cold and rainy and everything else. It was unbelievable. I guess the only thing that I can say is that you get to a point where you almost expect it to happen, so you get that mindset of, 'All right, I've got to go out and play good, not just to be in contention but just to make the cut.' We've seen some of the lowest 36-hole cuts that we've had. Perfect example was last week in San Diego. I felt like that was a pretty low cut last week. What was it? Was it 4-under last week? It's just really competitive.
Q. Can you explain an exceptional week like this? Did you do anything different or anything that you had not been doing?
My tee-to-green game was really solid this week, but the thing I did very well was from 100 yards in, and my conversion rate was excellent. My conversion rate was really good, especially from the bunkers, around the greens. I got up-and-down the majority of the time, and that's an area where I have struggled last couple years. In a nutshell my short game was really good this week.
Q. Do you know why?
I've been working with a new teacher from home, and I feel like I have some direction with my short game. I feel like I'm committed to the type of shot I'm trying to hit versus guessing, which is what I had been doing in the past, and it's made a big difference for me.
Q. There are a lot of guys who have won one tournament, and this is your second, how does it compare, that feeling and how does it feel to put another one up there?
Well, you know, I was so thrilled to win the Western Open. It was always a dream of mine to -- not only to play the Tour, but to win a tournament. To win again is just -- especially this tournament, which is a tournament I never, ever would have expected to win. Obviously, my track record was terrible. You know, I just never felt like I could shoot low enough day-in and day-out to win here. It has not really sunk in yet, but it means -- this almost means more to me than my first tournament, because I feel like after I won, I had an opportunity to take advantage of it, and injured and didn't -- things did not work out like I wanted, and I feel like I've kind of gone full circle now and I'm back where my game -- like I feel it should be.
Q. In Pebble Beach, Mark Johnson was in contention and he made waves by saying that he was a beer salesman. You've made waves about your insurance career. Did you hear anything from the gallery this week about that, funny or memorable?
No, I really didn't. I guess as poor a salesman as I was, people figured they would just let it go.
Q. How much better a player are you now than Chicago?
I feel like -- I feel like the week I won in Chicago, that was -- that was about as good as I can play. It really was. I feel like Cog Hill is a very difficult golf course, and I think for the week I hey have missed four or five greens. I really played just solid golf. But this week, I was a better scorer this week, if that makes any sense. I just took advantage of almost every opportunity I had to make birdie. And there were certain times when I was struggling to make par; I converted almost every one of those. I think this was the best scoring week I've ever had, not only from a score standpoint, but from getting the most out of my game for a week. They were two kind of different weeks. But I'm very pleased this week, obviously.
Q. With your win today, your performance this week, does this make you the most famous guy who went to Huntington College in Alabama? Will you be getting a call tomorrow to make a donation to the school?
I hope so. I hope so. I would have to say my college roommate was probably the most famous person who went to Huntington College, just because of the stories I could tell you about our college days. So, I'll leave it at that. (Laughs).
Q. Why don't we go over your card, starting off with your birdie on No. 2.
2, I hit a driver and a 4-iron in the front bunker. Hit the bunker shot about five feet and made that. 6, the par 5, I hit driver in the rough. I laid up with a 6-iron, I believe, and hit a sand wedge about a foot. 8, I hit a 3-wood and a sand wedge about ten feet -- 15 feet behind the hole and made that. 10, I hit driver, pitching wedge about 10 feet. Made that. 11 I hit driver, 4-iron into the right bunker. Hit my bunker shot about four feet and made that. 16, I hit 2-iron, sand wedge about 15 feet and made that. 17, I hit pitching wedge about 12 feet and made that.
Q. You said Tom Kite's record was unbelievable, now that you've done it
I just can't even -- I can't even comprehend it right now. I really can't. The only thing I can say is I just felt like I got -- I had to get in the mode of scoring the entire week, and I just did. Every day it seemed like I got out of the blocks and made a birdie or two early and that kind of set the tone for the day every day. Today was no exception. I birdied the second hole. I had two or three other good chances and then birdied 6 and 8. So every day, it seemed like I was turning 2-, or 3-under, and the back nine I was able to put two or three more, sometimes four on there. It was just kind of a flow the whole week. With the exception of Indian Wells, I never really had any big burst of birdies, just kind of one or two here, and that's how it went.
Q. Did you expect to play better after winning in Chicago?
Yes, I was. Actually I played decent at Kapalua and the next week in Hawaii I played good, and then I played Pebble and I got hurt at Pebble. And that was just the beginning of a nightmare for about six months. I just never felt good. I tried to play when I probably should not have played. You know, just -- it was just a very frustrating time. It was my free year to just let it rip, and there I was hurt after half the year. It was frustrating. And I came out last year on the West Coast and didn't make a cut. I was 0-for-5. Fortunately, the second half the year, I played real solid and kept my card. I wanted to get off to a good start this year. This is unbelievable. I just wanted to come out to the West Coast and get off to a good start.
Q. How was your attitude during that period?
Not bad. I tried to stay positive. It's not going to be great. (Laughs).
Go back to the Bob Hope Final Round article
Confident Lincicome lurking after 54 holes at Founders
PHOENIX – Brittany Lincicome is farther back than she wanted to be going into Sunday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she’s in a good place.
She’s keeping the momentum of her season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic victory going this year.
Her confidence is high.
“Last year, I won in the Bahamas, but then I didn't do anything after that,” Lincicome said. “I don't even know if I had a top 10 after my win in the Bahamas. Obviously, this year, I want to be more consistent.”
Lincicome followed up her victory in the Bahamas this year with a tie for seventh in her next start at the Honda LPGA Thailand. And now she’s right back on another leaderboard with the year’s first major championship just two weeks away. She is, by the way, a two-time winner at the ANA Inspiration.
Missy Pederson, Lincicome’s caddie, is helping her player keep that momentum going with more focus on honing in the scoring clubs.
“One of our major goals is being more consistent,” Pederson said. “She’s so talented, a once in a generation talent. I’m just trying to help out in how to best approach every golf course.”
Pederson has helped Lincicome identify the clubs they’re likely to attack most with on the particular course they are playing that week, to spend more time working with those clubs in practice. It’s building confidence.
“I know the more greens we hit, and the more chances we give ourselves, the more our chances are to be in contention,” Pederson said. “Britt is not big into stats or details, so I have to figure out how to best consolidate that information, to get us exactly where we need to be.”
Lincicome’s growing comfort with clubs she can attack with is helping her confidence through a round.
“I’ve most noticed consistency in her mental game, being able to handle some of the hiccups that happen over the course of a round,” Pederson said. “Whereas before, something might get under her skin, where she might say, `That’s what always happens,’ now, it’s, `All right, I know I’m good enough to get this back.’ I try to get her in positions to hit the clubs we are really hitting well right now.”
That’s leading to a lot more birdies, fewer bogeys and more appearances on leaderboards in the start to this year.
Returning Park grabs 54-hole Founders lead
PHOENIX – In the long shadows falling across Wildfire Golf Club late Saturday afternoon, Inbee Park conceded she was tempted to walk away from the game last year.
While healing a bad back, she was tempted to put her clubs away for good and look for a second chapter for her life.
But then . . .
“Looking at the girls playing on TV, you think you want to be out there” Park said. “Really, I couldn't make my mind up when I was taking that break, but as soon as I'm back here, I just feel like this is where I belong.”
In just her second start after seven months away from the LPGA, Park is playing like she never left.
She’s atop a leaderboard at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, looking like that’s exactly where she belongs.
With a 9-under-par 63 Saturday, Park seized the lead going into the final round.
At 14 under overall, she’s one shot ahead of Mariajo Uribe (67), two ahead of Ariya Jutanugarn (68) and three ahead of 54-year-old World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies (63) and Chella Choi (66).
Park’s back with a hot putter.
That’s not good news for the rest of the tour. Nobody can demoralize a field with a flat stick like Park. She’s one of the best putters the women’s game has ever seen, and on the front nine Saturday she looked as good as she ever has.
“The front nine was scary,” said her caddie, Brad Beecher, who was on Park’s bag for her long run at world No. 1, her run of three consecutive major championship victories in 2013 and her gold medal victory at the Olympics two years ago.
“The front nine was great . . . like 2013,” Park said.
Park started her round on fire, going birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie. She was 6 under through five holes. She holed a wedge from 98 yards at the third hole, making the turn having taken just 10 putts. Yeah, she said, she was thinking about shooting 59.
“But I'm still really happy with my round today,” she said.
Park isn’t getting ahead of herself, even with this lead. She said her game isn’t quite where she wants it with the ANA Inspiration, the year’s first major championship, just two weeks away, but a victory Sunday should go a long way toward getting her there.
Park is only 29. LPGA pros haven’t forgotten what it was like when she was dominating, when she won 14 times between 2013 and ’15.
They haven’t forgotten how she can come back from long layoffs with an uncanny ability to pick up right where she left off.
Park won the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year in just her second start. She left the tour again in the summer with an aching back.
“I feel like Inbee could take off a whole year or two years and come back and win every week,” said Brittany Lincicome, who is four shots behind Park. “Her game is just so consistent. She doesn't do anything flashy, but her putting is flashy.
“She literally walks them in. It's incredible, like you know it's going in when she hits it. It's not the most orthodox looking stroke, but she can repeat it.”
Park may not play as full a schedule as she has in the past, Beecher said, but he believes she can thrive with limited starts.
“I think it helps her get that fight back, to get that hunger back,” Beecher said. “She knows she can play 15 events a year and still compete. There aren’t a lot of players who can do that.”
Park enjoyed her time away last year, and how it re-energized her.
“When I was taking the long break, I was just thinking, `I can do this life as well,’” Park said. “But I'm glad I came back out here. Obviously, days like today, that's the reason I'm playing golf.”
Joh on St. Patrick's ace: Go broke buying green beers
PHOENIX – Tiffany Joh was thrilled making a run into contention to win her first LPGA title Saturday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she comically cracked that her hole-in-one might have been ill-timed.
It came on St. Patrick’s Day.
“This is like the worst holiday to be making a hole-in-one on,” Joh said. “You'll go broke buying everyone green beers.”
Joh aced the fifth hole with a 5-iron from 166 yards on her way to an 8-under-par 64. It left her four shots behind the leader, Inbee Park (63).
One of the more colorful players on tour, Joh said she made the most of her hole-in-one celebration with playing partner Jane Park.
“First I ran and tackled Jane, then I high-fived like every single person walking to the green,” Joh said.
Joh may be the LPGA’s resident comedian, but she faced a serious challenge on tour last year. Fourteen months ago, she had surgery to remove a malignant melanoma. She won the LPGA’s Heather Farr Perseverance Award for the way she handled her comeback.
Davies, 54, still thinks she can win, dreams of HOF
PHOENIX – Laura Davies limped around Wildfire Golf Club Saturday with an ache radiating from her left Achilles up into her calf muscle at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.
“Every step is just misery,” Davies said after. “It’s just getting older. Don’t get old.”
She’s 54, but she played the third round as if she were 32 again.
That’s how old she was when she was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year and won two major championships.
With every sweet swing Saturday, Davies peeled back the years, turning back the clock.
Rolling in a 6-foot birdie at the 17th, Davies moved into a tie for the lead with Inbee Park, a lead that wouldn’t last long with so many players still on the course when she finished. Still, with a 9-under-par 63, Davies moved into contention to try to become the oldest winner in LPGA history.
Davies has won 20 LPGA titles, 45 Ladies European Tour titles, but she hasn’t won an LPGA event in 17 years, since taking the Wegmans Rochester International.
Can she can surpass the mark Beth Daniel set winning at 46?
“I still think I can win,” Davies said. “This just backs that up for me. Other people, I don’t know, they’re always asking me now when I’m going to retire. I always say I’m still playing good golf, and now here’s the proof of it.”
Davies knows it will take a special day with the kind of final-round pressure building that she hasn’t experienced in awhile.
“The pressure will be a lot more tomorrow,” she said. “We'll see, won’t sleep that well tonight. The good news is that I’ll probably be four or five behind by the end of the day, so the pressure won’t be there as much.”
Davies acknowledged confidence is harder to garner, as disappointments and missed cuts pile up, but she’s holding on to her belief she can still win.
“I said to my caddie, `Jeez, I haven't been on top of the leaderboard for a long time,’” Davies said. “That's nice, obviously, but you’ve got to stay there. That's the biggest challenge.”
About that aching left leg, Davies was asked if it could prevent her from challenging on Sunday.
“I’ll crawl around if I have to,” she said.
Saturday’s 63 was Davies’ lowest round in an LPGA event since she shot 63 at the Wendy’s Championship a dozen years ago.
While Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in ’01. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.
Davies said she still dreams about qualifying.
“You never know,” she said.