Monday, January 09, 2012


Interview with Martin Laird after a third-round 67 leaves him joint second, five behind leader Steve Stricker, with one round to go in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at Kapalua, Hawaii:

CHRIS REIMER: Tied for second heading into the final round, a good round, you have to like where you stand. Would have been a little closer if Stricker had not poured it on at the end but still a good place to be. Talk about the day.
MARTIN LAIRD: Yeah, happy with my round, got close to the lead before Strick went and birdied the last four holes but after playing with him yesterday, that's no surprise.
Played well today and the same as the first two days, hit the ball great. I really played the same all three days. Yesterday just made one bad swing and cost me a double bogey on 17.
Apart from that, I finally putted better today. I didn't putt very good yesterday to be honest. I missed three or four pretty straightforward 5 or 6-footers yesterday and worked on that after I finished and found something in my putting stroke and I putted a lot better today.
Q. Five strokes back in the next to last group, will you be watching the leaderboard? And how tough is Stricker with a five-shot lead going into the final round?
MARTIN LAIRD: I'll definitely be watching the leaderboard. But you know, everyone is pretty tough with a five?shot lead but someone like Stricker who has won a bunch and obviously very experienced and just the way he plays, very steady, solid golf, it's going to be tough to catch him.
I fully expect him to go out tomorrow and post another good number. So for us sitting there at second, we know we are going to go really low. I don't know what it will take but I'm guessing a minimum of 8?under probably. I can't imagine him shooting much higher than 70. So it's going to be an interesting day.
But this is a golf course that you can do it. I think we've had a 9-under and a 10-under this week already, so you know that there's no reason why someone can't go out and do that.
Q. Just talk about the adjustment you made with your putting stroke, was it something technical in your grip or stance or set up or the pace of the stroke?
MARTIN LAIRD: Yesterday (Saturday) I missed three just simple 4 or 5-footers straight uphill, straight into the grain putts. Probably easiest putts I had all day and I missed three of them.
One of the things I was doing was I was pushing them a little bit, and you know, kind of have a habit sometimes of when I'm into the grain moving the ball too far up in my stance to try to get them to roll a little better.
I think I went to the putting green and when I was doing it, when I had the ball up I was pushing it and when I moved back in my stance to where it normally be on faster, non?grainy greens and the ball started coming out straighter.
The ball had just got a little too far up in my stance and as a result of, as I said, when you are into the grain up the hill you want to get it rolling as good as you can and I probably moved the ball up too far forward on my stance.
Q. What is it about this course that invites such low scores and such long streaks of birdies?
MARTIN LAIRD: You know, the large fairways help. There's not many times where you're kind of hitting out of trees or fairway bunkers. But even with the size of the greens, a lot of them feed to the holes.
For example, hole No. 10. That green is huge but you can hit it right at the flag and you can hit it 15 yards right of the flag with a sand wedge or a pitching wedge and you might end up with the same spot. You can use the slopes a lot out here so even when it's blowing, you have a ten-yard kind of area you're trying to hit it, as opposed to if the greens of flat, to hit it close, you have to go right at the flag.
Here, we are talking about No. 10, for example, me and my caddie were talking, there was ten yards I could land the ball and probably would have made a double by the same spot. The wind that definitely helps and I think that's the reason why you'll see runs of birdies because guys start using the slopes properly and you can start hitting them close.
Q. You made known your Ryder Cup aspirations; with the depth of talent in Europe nowadays, can you put into perspective how tough it is for anyone to make that team?
MARTIN LAIRD: We were talking about that the other day with someone. When I say to people that I'm hoping to make The Ryder Cup Team, they kind of say to me, oh, yeah, you'll make it. I don't think a lot of people realise just how hard it will be (to make the European team).
I could have a great year this year and still not make the team. There's probably 20 players in Europe right now that if any of them were on the team, you wouldn't look at it and think what is this guy doing here. There's so many good players right now, from young players, too, coming through.
So it's definitely going to be tough. I know that. I know I've got to play exceptionally well all year to make the team, and you know, hopefully that's something I can do.
Q. Given the five?shot deficit, is the game plan pretty simple tomorrow, you just have to keep the throttle on?
MARTIN LAIRD: The game plan is the same as teeing it up on Friday this week. You know it's going to take 20 something under to win, so you can't go around here trying to play for pars. You have to fire away right from the start and it's going to be the same tomorrow. I hit driver every hole pretty much, anyways, so I can't play any more aggressively. I think No.1 and 17 were the only two holes I didn't hit driver today. So I play pretty much as aggressively as I can around here, and it will be the same tomorrow.
CHRIS REIMER: Thank you.




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