Friday, May 11, 2012


CHRIS REIMER: Martin, good round, fourth appearance here at THE PLAYERS Championship, first-round lead. You're the only player today that's going to go or has gone bogey-free. So just talk about your day today and what was different from the other rounds that you've played here.

MARTIN LAIRD: Obviously very happy with my round today. You know, going bogey-free anywhere is good, but around this golf course it feels extremely satisfying.
Really the key to my round today was the putter. I putted really well. I had a few par saves that I made, but chipped the ball really well, too, which is really important around here because the greens are so small; if the wind picks up a little bit you're going to miss some greens. Real solid day, and any time I hit a good shot, I feel like I made the putt for birdie, which is always nice when you have one of those days.

CHRIS REIMER: You had 12 putts on each side. Was there one or two putts in particular that stood out?

MARTIN LAIRD: You know, I think -- I birdied 16, 17 to get to 4-under, and then I had a perfect drive down 18, which is the hard part, and then I hit a terrible second shot right of the green in the rough short right, and it was kind of a tough up-and-down off a side slope, hit a great chip up there to, I don't know what it was, six, eight feet, and I made that one. That was probably the biggest putt of the day because if I had made bogey from the middle of the fairway with an 8-iron in my hands on 18, I wouldn't have been very happy, so that was probably the biggest one for me.

Q. What's been your level of success around here in your past trips, if any?

MARTIN LAIRD: I think in the past three years I've made the cut twice, missed the cut once, but both times I made the cut, I finished well down, I don't know what.
CHRIS REIMER: Right around T70 were the two cuts made.

MARTIN LAIRD: I've always struggled on these greens for some reason. This is one of those courses you can have a 25- , 30-footer and the green can be going three different ways on your putt. I've always struggled with that, and I've always struggled last week at Quail Hollow, too, but last week at Quail Hollow I putted really, really well for some reason. I don't know what it was.
So I was kind of joking with my caddie going into today, I've never putted really well at Quail Hollow and I putted good there, so let's see if I can putt good this week. I ended up, I went out and made a couple of nice putts early on, which always helps, and then really didn't have too many bad misreads all day. Only one that I can think of was pretty bad, but felt like I read the greens well.

Q. You had that big breakthrough win at Bay Hill last year. Has your progress since then been what you've been expecting, what you were looking for in terms of the consistency and so on?

MARTIN LAIRD: No. You know, last year was a good year. Played well at Bay Hill and had a couple good tournaments, middle, end of the year. But you know, obviously after winning a tournament like Bay Hill you want to try and get your game to go further on, but it's kind of hard to keep that happening sometimes.
But this year is started out really well, finishing second in Maui and then getting to the quarterfinals of the Match Play in Tucson. I was kind of setting myself up for a nice start, and I've just not had it, really. After that I've played bad for a couple months. I don't feel like I'm playing bad, I've been scoring really badly, Bay Hill this year and same with Augusta. Augusta, the practice rounds, I probably played as good a practice rounds as I've ever played. I was just striping the ball, and then I went out in the tournament and couldn't make a putt and didn't play very good.
So I feel like my game has been better than my results, and as I said, I putted well last week and putted well this week, so that's probably what it's come down to; I've really not been putting well this year.

Q. A couple of the other guys who shot low talked about having changed little things in their attitude, loosening up, feeling better about having their house built, that kind of thing. Do you think your decision to putt well at a place you hadn't, was that kind of a mind change that might have really turned things around for you?

MARTIN LAIRD: You know, definitely -- that's one thing I did here last week, I had a new caddie starting last week. I'd had the same guy for four and a half years, and I had a new caddie starting last week, and this goes back to what you were saying, kind of relaxed me. We've been friends for years, and I have him now on the bag, and it was kind of nice to be out on the course and be able to chat away to someone that's my age and is like a friend as opposed to a caddie. Not saying my old caddie and I weren't friends, it's just a little different when it's someone you've been friends with anyway. And he think that's definitely helped keep me a little more relaxed on the golf course, and it feeds through all parts of your game down to your putting.
I worked with Dave Stockton, Jr., and that's the whole thing they work with is trying not to care on your putts. I consciously have been doing that the last couple weeks, not trying to try too hard because I know I haven't putted well here before, just have a quick look, see what you think the line is and let it go. Don't study it too much and don't think about it too much.

Q. What's his name?
MARTIN LAIRD: Shay Knight.

Q. Where do you know him from?
MARTIN LAIRD: He's an Australian guy, and he came over, he caddied for Matt Jones for years and I was friends with Matt Jones, and he lives in Arizona, Matt does, and now Shay is married and lives in Charlotte, and I've now moved to Charlotte. As I said, I've known him for years, and made that change a couple weeks ago. It just kind of helps keep me a little looser.
Q. Could you go through some of your birdies?
MARTIN LAIRD: No.11, hit a great drive down there and hit a perfect -- back right pin set up perfect where I hit a big cut 4-iron, went back edge and two-putted from about 20 feet.
No.12, I kind of -- didn't hit a great second shot, barely got on the front of the green which ended up being perfect for that pin. It was about the only way you can have an uphill to that pin, which I was a little lucky there. Hit a nice putt there.
16, hit a 3-wood off the tee and then a 4-iron just in the left fringe about middle of the green, chipped it up there, made that.
And then 17 was a hole you also have a good number, and I had a perfect number for just a nice full wedge today to throw it four, five yards behind the pin and let the slope bring it back, and did that and made the putt.
No.2, hit a good drive and then hit a 5-iron just short right of the green. Actually that was probably the one I got kind of lucky with. I didn't hit a very good chip there and had about 15-footer, and if it didn't hit the hole it was probably about eight feet by, so it's always nice to get kind of a bonus putt like that.
And then No.5, I didn't hit a very good drive in the right fairway bunker and then hit a really good 6-iron from there to about 12 feet and then made that.
And then No.9, hit driver off the tee to try and get it down there. It's a hole I always like to try and go for, and then hit 5- wood up just short of the green in the rough and chipped it up there about four, five feet and made the putt.
CHRIS REIMER: Bogey-free on a course like this where you mentioned it's a little bit more of an accomplishment than being bogey-free somewhere else. Is it something that gets you going and you stay on a roll or is it something you start to think about you don't want to jinx yourself?
MARTIN LAIRD: I mean, I was aware I was bogey-free but I wasn't out there thinking about that. I did tee off on 9, and I knew I hadn't made a 5 all day, and that was kind of a little goal I had going down 9. Nothing to do with getting to 7-under, it was I don't want to make a 5 all day.
On No. 7 I kind of tried to guide my tee shot out of there and didn't hit a very good one, so I gave myself a little talking to on 9 and said trust this one and get after the driver, and I hit a good drive down there and got far enough down where I could hit a 5-wood up there just next to the green.

MORE INTERVIEWS: THE PLAYERS Championship transcript archive



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