What each one had to say after his round in the Media Center.
Q: Seems to be an Australia theme going on at the top the leaderboard today. Looking at that round, how do you assess today’s play?
JD: Yeah, it was nice. I mean I drove it pretty good starting out my round, and then I was playing pretty nicely actually. I had a birdie on 8, and on the 9th hole, I hooked one out of bounds. That wasn’t too good. Little bit of a surprise there. Fortunately, today I got to 10 and started playing good again. But, very, very pleased with how the round went.
Once again, we’re in the first round of a tournament, and I’ve got to make sure that I’m patient. It’s easy to be very aggressive out there on the lines that you take on the tees and on the lines you take in the greens. The greens are bouncing pretty solid, but, you know, you just try and give yourself the putts and, hopefully, they fall.
Q. Jason, when you walked to the 15th tee, you were two back. Did you know where you stood at that time?
JD: I really didn’t. I look at the leaderboards, but you don’t really pay attention to them too much until Sundays and late Saturdays. Sunday rounds because, I mean, everyone knows whether you have to be patient or aggressive. Right now in the first three rounds, I’m just thinking I got to get myself into contention. Then if I can get myself into contention, I can, hopefully, be either patient or aggressive enough to go out there and shoot the score. I felt like my focus was really good compared to the first four tournaments that I played. My pre-shot routine was a lot quicker in the first four tournaments. This round I felt like it was a lot more deliberate in what kind of shot I actually wanted to hit. There weren’t so many misses left and right, and, for the most part, I hit it really solidly for the whole day.
Q. Your thoughts on your 5-under 67 today.
AS: It’s a good score. We’ve got beautiful conditions out there. The course is perfect. So, I mean I need to take advantage of the good conditions. I didn’t play my best golf tee to green, but I chipped and putted really well today.
Q. I counted up the numbers: you made three five-six footers, a 10-footer, and a 12-footer, all for par.
AS: There was some scrambling going on. I wasn’t really sharp today, but I got away with it, probably because the wind was down, and I couldn’t get into too much trouble. I managed myself well. Made some good putts to keep whatever momentum I had going, and it added up to a good score. I didn’t hit it great today. A couple off line off the tee and a couple off line into the greens. My chipping and putting were there, and the greens were pure. I think some of it is just my natural temperament. I don’t get too flustered. I certainly don’t get as flustered as I’ve gone on and played more tournament golf. Also, I’ve had some experience of being in the hunt in these big events, and I understand how difficult a golf course is some days. You can make a mistake, but, if you’re playing well, you’ve got to hit a good shot. I think that was kind of the key to the last two weeks, me bouncing back. I’m going to have to sharpen up, I think, to contend this week
Q. How satisfying is it to have the putter, which was a liability for you a little bit last year, really be what saved you for today’s round?
AS: It’s always good to rely on your putter. Everyone has ups and downs. At the moment I’m putting with confidence. I wish that would last forever but, you know, the reality is it won’t. There are going to be moments where I just am out of rhythm with it or whatever, but while you’re hot, you got to run with it. I’m trying to do that.
Q. Excellent playing, and you saved your par at the 18th. Great first round, right?
ML: Yes, good day. A little further for par on 18 than I like. Normally you struggle to keep the putt from rolling four feet past. I hit it four feet short. Nice to play that way and roll some putts in. I played well. Drove the ball well, hit my irons well, and rolled a few putts in. It’s nice to have a stress-free round like that on a golf course that’s as good as this one.
Q. When is the last time you had a stress-free round?
ML: When I was about 14.
Q. We caught you at the par-3 17th. One of the better shots of the day that you converted for birdie.
ML: I was happy with that one—6-iron, probably pretty much where I was aiming, just a little bit left of that pin, and rolled the putt in. Yeah, it’s nice when you can play like that and get off to a good start. I felt comfortable today. Obviously, you know, golf is a funny game and can change very quickly. If I keep doing what I’m doing, hopefully, I can have three more of these rounds and see where we end up.
Q. How special is it to be a part of Mr. Palmer’s tournament?
ML: It’s awesome. I mean Arnold has done a lot for golf. It’s one of the best places, best tournaments of the year in a lot of different respects: the way they look after the players, the families, the kids, the daycare. We get spoiled here. The golf course is awesome, the food in the clubhouse, everything about it, and then you’ve got Mr. Palmer to go along with it. So, he’s obviously an awesome personality. Great for the game and an honor to play.
Q. Great playing. Best of luck.
ML: No worries. Thank you.