MORE INTERVIEWS: Children's Miracle Network Classic transcript archive
PHIL STAMBAUGH: Okay. We welcome Troy Merritt into the interview room. Troy, obviously a very big week for you for a couple of reasons, but start off by talking about the Kodak Challenge and your position, and just general comments about coming back to the Children's Miracle Network Classic.
TROY MERRITT: I think the Kodak Challenge is an awesome event. I thought it was pretty cool last year when I was watching from the Nationwide Tour and how much fun guys had, and I really didn't know how much fun it actually was and how much the guys enjoyed it till I got out on TOUR this year and kind of got to be a part of it, and especially the last couple months, guys I don't even know or talk to very much are coming up asking me, did you birdie this week or do you know which hole it was?
I'm well aware of what's going on, and making eagle last week or a couple weeks ago on Sunday in Vegas was absolutely awesome. It was the only thing I asked for for my birthday, which was the following day, and I got my birthday wish. And walking off the green I had the shakes so bad. Now I know what the shakes are.
I realized exactly where I was sitting and knew I was in a good spot coming here with a one shot lead and played a difficult hole here at No. 17 at the Magnolia and knowing that Aaron and Rickie both had to hit three great shots to make birdie here to tie me. So I'm sitting pretty well, and I'm looking forward to a great week here in Disney and looking to have a lot of fun.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: Have you played a practice round yet?
TROY MERRITT: Yeah. I played them both.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: How do you think that hole will play for the tournament? What are you going to hit in there do you think?
TROY MERRITT: Well, if it's playing as soft as it was yesterday morning, I hit a hard 5 iron from the fairway and had to hook it around the tee just to get it to the green. So if it dries out a little bit, hopefully I'll have about a 6 iron in.
But it's a good hole. It's a tough tee shot. It looks like a narrow area from the tee box, and you have to get it far enough right to make sure you don't get blocked out by the trees on the left. It's a good hole. I mean a 3 there is playing some good golf.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: Okay. And you're 121 on the Money List, so you'd like to do really well in the tournament to move up a little bit, too.
TROY MERRITT: Yeah. That's my first goal, actually, this week. It's not to win the Kodak Challenge. It's to maintain my card for next year. That was my one main goal at the beginning of the year, and I'm very close to achieving that. And I know making the cut and playing well on the weekend, a nice solid finish will secure that, and that'll make me probably happiest. It wouldn't be winning the Kodak. It would be keeping the card.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: Okay. Steve, lead us off on questions.
Q. Which tee did you play in your practice round? Was it the one all the way back across the little lake thing there?
TROY MERRITT: Yeah. Back all the way 485. I rarely hit two balls or two shots on any given hole, and even the Kodak hole, even though it's a very important one for me this week, I just played it all the way back one tee shot and then played the hole as I think it was meant to be played.
Q. There's been some discussion about moving the tee up there, which I'm sure has filtered down to you at this point. Do you have a preference? Is all the way back better if you're going to play defense?
TROY MERRITT: Yeah, there's been rumors now for a few weeks about maybe making it a drivable par 4. I don't think they're going to do that.
Like I said, that would take away the integrity of the golf hole. If it were up to me, we would be playing from the middle of the 16th fairway at about 550 yards, par 4, but 485 is a good little middle.
Q. How did you make eagle in Vegas? I heard it was a 30 odd footer, and you said you were shaking. Why were you shaking? Because you were just excited or obviously it was good shakes.
TROY MERRITT: Yeah. There are a couple of different reports on that. I hit a great drive down the left side and had a good yardage in for a nice solid hybrid. And it was actually about 15, 16 feet, and I read somewhere it was 30 feet and I read somewhere else it was three feet. But it was right in the middle about 16 feet.
It was the only putt I had the right speed on all day. I was hitting putts five feet short and five feet long, and it was the only one that went in with perfect speed, and I didn't get the shakes until afterward.
My heart was definitely pounding while I was over the putt, but not till after it went in and I realized where I was sitting then I got the shakes pretty bad.
Q. How do you control those feelings this week with playing golf and knowing where you might be there on the cut line??
TROY MERRITT: It's just like every other week. I'm out here just because I love the game. I love to have fun with it, and knowing that I'm in great position to keep my card and great position to win the Kodak Challenge, you really can't ask for much more.
I think the only other way the week would be even greater is if I won the tournament. So we'll take baby steps, and if we achieve all three, we achieve all three, but just the first two would be nice.
Q. Do you think about it when you're out there??
TROY MERRITT: I think about it on the Kodak hole. Knowing that if I need to focus well enough or hard enough to hit good golf shots. First and foremost you're not thinking about birdieing when you step up to the tee; you're thinking about hitting the fairway. Once you get in the fairway, you're thinking about putting it on the green; and then once you get there, then the heart starts racing a little bit more because you never know what's going to happen on the green. You could make a 30 footer for birdie or you could three putt from 18 for bogey. So the focus level will be there on the Kodak hole, but as far as keeping my card goes, if I play solid, I should be just fine.
Q. You won't be checking like every night where you are??
TROY MERRITT: No. I look at the leaderboard. I see where the guys are going up. I know that the odds are with me.
I know the five guys behind me, all the way down to 126, all of them have to finish in pretty much the Top 10 or so, and I would have to miss the cut or make a small check. So it's definitely possible for that to happen, but like I said, the odds are with me.
Q. And what's the overall feeling you're getting from the clubhouse and out there with guys who are out of the bubble right now??
TROY MERRITT: I haven't heard too much. I've been out here early morning the last two days and haven't really spoken with anybody.
I can imagine that they just want to get out there and get things rolling right away and get it over with so they don't have to think about it for another 12 months.
Q. There's been a little bit of banter on your Twitter page with Rickie, and for those of us that bother reading that stuff, about the million bucks and all that stuff. It seems like you guys have all been aware of where you stood now for probably at least the last month, maybe six weeks, as there's been the jockeying going on. And I guess, gees, it must have been a three way tie before your eagle on Sunday. So it was really a photo finish, no pun intended.
TROY MERRITT: Yeah. Actually I've been in his ear since about the middle of July. "I'm making a move. Here I come." He said, "all right, bring it on."
We've been having fun with it for several months now, and we're actually going to go out and have some fun tomorrow night over at that Fantasia putt putt. We're going to have a little fun with that, and hopefully we don't come to blows then because then we won't even be able to make it to the first tee box.
We're having a lot of fun with it. He's a great kid, and he wants to win obviously just as much as I do. So it'll be probably a pretty good finish. There will be some fireworks, I'm sure.
TROY MERRITT: Yeah, but he's 21, so that shouldn't affect him too much.