MORE INTERVIEWS: Children's Miracle Network Classic transcript archive
DOUG MILNE: Okay. Roland, it was a very exciting day, I know as all sort of final PGA TOUR events of the year are. But in your case you made a clutch putt there at the last hole to secure your card. Maybe if you could just start us off with a few general comments about the day and then take us through the stretch, if you could.
ROLAND THATCHER: Yeah. The day started off okay for me, honestly. I didn't strike it as cleanly as I would like to out of the gate, but I was able to save par and keep a little momentum going, and parred the first seven holes, and I was able to pick up birdies on three of the next four.
And at that point I had gotten to 21 under par after the 11th hole and was really sitting in great shape, not only for finishing Top 2, but I was sitting in great shape to win the tournament.
And it just kind of fell apart on me. I hit a quality shot into 12, and even though I'd seen a couple putts in front of me, the speed just really blew me away. I didn't feel like I hit a poor putt, but I ran it by, ended up three putting that.
And then from that point on, I just played tight. I just didn't I wasn't able to get out of my own way. And started looking more towards making sure I finished Top 2 and less towards making sure I won the golf tournament, and that's just a really poor place to be playing from. And that's where I was, and I just played tight from that point on.
Three putted an extremely easy putt on 16 and made a bogey from the dead smack middle of the fairway on 17, and all those things leading up to 18 where Spencer Levin and I were tied going into the last hole, and I needed to finish solo second to have a job next year.
Of course, he doesn't know that. He's trying to beat me as I'm trying to beat him. But whenever he wasn't able to get up and down from right off the edge, I had a chance. And I don't know exactly how far the putt was, but I'm guessing somewhere in that five or six feet range.
And I couldn't imagine having a more stressful moment in my life, up to this point. So to be able to come out on the other side of that, on the good side of it is just amazing for me.
DOUG MILNE: Before we open it up for questions, if you could, just go through your round, your birdies, your three bogeys, and any good saves you may have had along the way.
ROLAND THATCHER: Started with a good save. I parred 7 from the middle of the fairway, which shouldn't have been as difficult.
But I pulled the wedge into the left bunker, didn't hit a very quality bunker shot, and I probably made a putt from a good 25 feet to save par, but that was the thing that really kind of got me back into the round. And made a putt from about 10 feet on 8 for birdie, and maybe 8 feet on 10 for birdie and then hit it real close on 11, two feetish, somewhere in there.
So I was in a real good rhythm there, but then unfortunately the three putts on 12 and 16 from both, about 25 feet compiled with a bad bogey on 17 from the middle of the fairway. That obviously took every bit of advantage I had right out of the way to where I needed that putt on 18 to get it done.
DOUG MILNE: At 10 or 11 what did you hit in? How long were your birdie putts?
ROLAND THATCHER: 10 was a reachable par 5. I caught a little mudder in the fairway, so I had a 40, 50 yard pitch from short right of the green.
11, I hit a sand wedge from 111 to about two feet.
DOUG MILNE: Okay. And just take us through everything at 18, if you could.
ROLAND THATCHER: Oh, everything at 18. I was obviously pretty devastated. Spencer made just an amazing putt on 17. He was probably a good 30 feet past the hole, really difficult putt. And I knew the second he hit it, it was just such a good stroke, poured it right in the hole. And I needed to finish ahead of him.
So he and I came into that final hole both at 18 under par for the week. I needed to be solo second in order to keep my job for next year. I hit a quality tee shot down the first cut of the left side of the rough. He also hit a quality shot. His second shot leapt a little bit right and left him a fairly difficult up and down. I hit a 6 iron from about 200. I was hoping it was going to jump a little bit, but it didn't.
Left myself probably about 35, 40 feet up the hill from short left, really a pretty reasonable putt, all up grain, all hill, not a whole lot of break into it. I was looking at that putt as something I felt like I needed to make in order to get the job done, but when Spencer's approach from right ended up a good 12 feet short, I realized there was still a chance that a two putt was going to get it done.
And then following what I'd been doing for the better part of the last hour at that point I hit a terrible first putt six feet by the hole and looked like I was going to give myself maybe take the opportunity right out of my hands, but fortunately for me, unfortunately for Spencer, his putt didn't go in and I left myself that opportunity.
I had probably inside right, six feet is a right hander's dream as far as the putt goes. And you know, somehow I got my hands to stop shaking enough to make a stroke and get it to go in.
DOUG MILNE: Okay. We'll go to questions.
Q. What were you thinking when Spencer was over his putt? I mean it's kind of out of your hands at that point. You really needed him to miss.
ROLAND THATCHER: Yeah, and that's just the truly awful thing about the situation that we're in from time to time is your I mean Spencer and I are good friends. We have a nice little ... I'm a Giants/Dodgers fan, and he's a Giants fan. So we have a nice little friendly rivalry going all year, and we're very friendly, but at that point in time obviously I was hoping he was going to miss it. If he makes that putt, it doesn't matter whether I make it or not, I'm going to q-school.
So it's really horrible to say you're rooting against your friend in that situation, but I was rooting for him to miss it, and he did. I could at least give myself an opportunity. You know, fortunately for me I had that opportunity; and again, luckily enough, I took advantage of it.
Q. Spencer kind of cracked out there and you owe him now.
ROLAND THATCHER: Yeah. I don't think everybody's only concerned with their own scenarios, but I don't think he had any clue that I needed a solo second or anything like that.
But after the round when he found out, I think it took a little sting out of him not making that putt because he knows it was good for somebody else. We're friends like that.
Q. I was going to ask how that knowledge came to be. Did you tell him? Did he just find out on the scoreboard? And I guess what do you say to a guy when you're thrilled to have reached what you needed to do, but it came because a friend of yours bogeyed.
ROLAND THATCHER: Yeah. One of the media officials from the tournament told him as he walked off the green what that putt meant for me, and so I wasn't going to break it to him at all. I wasn't going to mention it.
But we had a nice little moment inside the scoring trailer, that I'm sorry for him not reaching where he wanted to reach, but he was happy enough for me to do what we did. So it was great.
Q. Can you run us through what the last hole, what you're thinking as you're lining it up and standing over the ball and then after it went in??
ROLAND THATCHER: You know, this will sound very much like what you're supposed to be doing, but I really, really tried to do to really focus on just the routine that I ordinarily did. I really tried to focus on that, because the second you start thinking what the putt means, you're going to have some pretty tough times.
And it was obvious with my nerves the way they were, if I started thinking about what that putt meant, there was pretty much no chance I was going to shake one in the hole.
So I managed to keep focused on the routine. I got the lines down right and then just let the stroke happen. And to see that ball take off on the right line knowing I made a good stroke and to see the ball take off on the line I wanted to and knowing that there was nothing between there and the hole to stop it from going in was a great feeling.
Q. Spencer has the World Series title, so he's got that going for him.
ROLAND THATCHER: Yeah. Yeah. He's definitely going to hold that over my head. We'll have a nice little friendly bet on it next year, too.
Q. Can you talk about trying to play for second as opposed to trying to win the tournament? At what point do you think you slipped into that mindset, and at what point do you think you corrected yourself?
ROLAND THATCHER: Unfortunately after the three putt on 12, I became more aware of it, that there were certain situations where someone was getting closer to being tied for second. It wasn't actually Spencer. It was Johnson Wagner who had gotten to 19 under at that time. When I three putted, I had dropped down to 20, so all of a sudden I only had a one shot cushion on tied for second essentially.
And maybe a more seasoned player or maybe a guy that's been playing better to this point during the year would have made a better decision, but I certainly let that get to me, and I played tight from that point on.
DOUG MILNE: Thanks, Roland. Good luck next year.
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