What they said: Martin Laird

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March 25, 2011
PGA TOUR staff

MORE INTERVIEWS: Arnold Palmer Invitational transcript archive

DOUG MILNE: We welcome Martin Laird heading into the weekend, one-shot lead, 9-under after a very successful second round 7-under 65 today, highlighted by your eagle at 16. Just a few comments on the round, and how you're feeling heading into the weekend.

MARTIN LAIRD: Yeah, as you mentioned, 16 was kind of a nice break for me. If that putt didn't hit the hole, it probably would have went about ten feet by. I had a couple of putts yesterday that looked really good and didn't go in and today any putt that looked good went in pretty much, with the exception of 8.

Most of it was all on the greens, and obviously I'm driving the ball really well and putting really well. Ask any pro; that's a pretty good combination to have, especially on a golf course this long where you have to drive the ball in the fairway.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about the fact that you guys played the morning yesterday, it was a little bit calm, obviously very gusty and windy yesterday afternoon, and then this afternoon, you didn't have the same sort of winds. How much did that help??

MARTIN LAIRD: Obviously yesterday morning it was windy but not anything like that -- I didn't watch any of it on TV but I saw the scores and saw a few of the quotes. Just going outside our hotel, you could see how windy it was. We obviously got a good break yesterday playing on the right side of the draw.

And as you said, today it never really picked up at all this afternoon. It was just a little breeze. You know, the greens got a little firmer and a little crustier around the hole there at the end but apart from that, definitely we are on the good side of the draw.

Q. We hear so much about guys working on their games, tweaking things, this and that between tournaments, are you at a point where you are just showing up and playing and trying to carry the momentum from the previous week to the next??

MARTIN LAIRD: Yeah, you know, the end of last year I finished real strong, and it was kind of funny, I finished with three top 5s last year and I literally didn't practice for one day between each of those tournaments. It was the end of the season, and I went back to Scotland for the Dunhill, played well, didn't practice really; went to Vegas, played well there and really didn't practice; and went to Malaysia and played well there.

So it was kind of like -- it showed me that I've always been more of a grinder than someone that doesn't do that. It was funny to me that when I really I just turned up at tournaments and let it happen, I played better.

My coach and I decided this off-season to see a lot less of each other. It's a testament to him that I feel like my swing is at the stage where I don't need to see him that often and I know how to fix it now, and really that's what he with talk about.

He's taught me over the last couple of years how to fix things when I start hitting certain shots. And you know, so we kind of decided just to take it a little easier this year and maybe see each other every five or six tournaments, as opposed to every second tournament last year, and it's paying off.

Q. Just talk about the par 5s, which you played well, especially that stretch on the back there,4 and 6??

MARTIN LAIRD: You know, my par 5 play has not been -- it's normally the strength of my game; it's not been great this year. I just happened to look at my stats earlier this week and saw I was way down in par 5 scoring, which, was a bit of a shock because normally I'm pretty high up on that.

This week as I said I'm driving the ball really well, which for me, these par 5s are good for me in the sense of, if I can hit a good one off the tee, I can get there in two. Especially 4 into the wind, there's not that many guys that can do it.

You know, today I hit good shots into 4 and I got up-and-down.

And then 6, that was probably the best swing I made all day was on 6 because I hit 4-iron and I had to get absolutely all of it to get it there. It was between 3- and 4-iron, and decided to go with 4-iron and just killed it right where I was trying to hit it. That was probably the best shot I hit all day.

Q. Curious, too, about No. 5, a lot of guys trying to drive that green yesterday with a little breeze at the back, but not as much today, was that a typical play for you??

MARTIN LAIRD: Yeah, I don't play very well when I -- if I have a chance to hit driver, I like to hit it and for me today, I felt like I can knock it on that green. I can cover that bunker down the left and then it's like all downslope.

As I said I've been driving the ball great all week and even if you hit it left like I did it's a pretty easy pitch. My caddie and I said at start of the week, that back left pin, where it was today, I'm going to hit driver if I can fly that bunker. That's kind of how I like to play it; if I have a chance to go for something or a chance to hit driver, I'll do it. I tend to play my best golf when I do that, as opposed to laying it back.

Q. Did you practice this week??

MARTIN LAIRD: I actually did practice a little bit at the start of this week. Last week at Transitions, I really struggled on the weekend with my long game. I chipped and putted my way to a Top-10 last week. My short game was really good and saved me last week.

So my coach and I, we had a little work on Tuesday before I went and played nine holes. It was just one simple fix, really. One simple swing thought for me. And I went out -- and I told him I didn't want more than one. I said, "Just give me one and let me go with it."

It took me probably about nine holes into Wednesday's Pro-Am to start feeling good and I hit the ball really well on the back nine in Wednesday's Pro-Am and that gave me a little confidence coming into this week.

Q. Essentially since you came over here to play in college and you stay here and live here, I know you go back several times; has the thought of being on the European Ryder Cup Team ever crossed your mind? Is that something on the bucket list?

MARTIN LAIRD: It's on my mind constantly, yeah. You know, for me, it would be one of the, if not the biggest, one of the biggest goals and achievements for me in any career. Just because I've been over here, started college here in 2000, doesn't mean I don't think of myself as Scottish and European.

To make that team would mean everything to me. Knowing next year I'm going to do everything I can to get on that team. Especially the way my game's improved the last four or five, six months, it's gone from being kind of an outside thought to definitely now it's definitely on the radar.

Hopefully I can play well enough where it happens.

Q. Even if that means having to travel to Europe maybe to play in some events you wouldn't normally play??

MARTIN LAIRD: Yeah, you know, the way they changed the qualification system helps me a little bit with the way they flipped the World Ranking and The European Tour Money List ranking. But I definitely have always said, if I have to go back to Europe and play however many events to try to make that team, that will be definitely something I'll be up for next year, and as I said, I'll do everything I can to get on it.

Q. How much of a difference did going to college here make in your game? People talk about Casey who came to America, Graeme McDowell obviously most recently. A big difference in your development as a golfer or not so much?

MARTIN LAIRD: Yeah, I was 17 years old when I came over and wasn't really very good. By the time I graduated, I definitely had improved a lot, just playing competitive golf almost all year round, and really good practice facilities and a good coach is that helped me get a lot better over my four years.

You know, learning how to play -- I used to hit the ball really low and now I probably have one of the higher ball flights on TOUR. That's something that definitely benefits you when you play over here, or pretty much when you play anywhere, it's beneficial if you can hit the ball way up in the air, and that's definitely something that if I had probably stayed in Europe, that wouldn't be the case.

Q. Was the low ball flight because of the links??

MARTIN LAIRD: Growing up in Scotland, even if it's not links golf, it's generally pretty windy. I used to hit a low draw so I've gone from that to hitting a high cut, so I've made a complete turnaround.

Q. Where did you play as a kid??

MARTIN LAIRD: It was a golf course called Hilton Park just outside Bearsden, just a suburb of Glasgow.

Q. Is it true that you learned to play golf left-handed??

MARTIN LAIRD: I won't say learned. My first-ever club when I was a tiny little kid was a little left-handed thing. Any photos when my parents had of me as a little kid, before I really knew what golf was, I'm standing to the ball left-handed. But when it got time for me to actually play a little golf, my dad couldn't get any left-handed clubs, so got me some right-handed ones and that was it.

I joke with him: Wonder how good I could have been if I was left-handed.

Q. Are you left-footed in football??

MARTIN LAIRD: No, right-footed in football. So I'm all turned around.

Q. Did you play a full European schedule last year??

MARTIN LAIRD: Last year I played The Scottish Open, Barclays Scottish Open, and then The Open the week after and then the Dunhill links. That was it in Europe.

Q. Were you trying to make The Ryder Cup Team, minimum for 12 for membership on your mind??

MARTIN LAIRD: I was an affiliate member last year, so all of my points that I earned on the World Points list would have counted or did count. I just didn't play well enough up until the end of the year to really be a consideration.

I made enough money in my five events that count as European Tour events last year to keep my full card. So I actually had to give up my European Tour Membership this year because if I kept my European Tour Membership this year, I would have had to play the 12 and if you don't play the 12 you're suspended etc., so I had to actually give it up this year and I intend next year to become an affiliate member again. And that means starting, you know, at the start of The European Tour schedule next year, all of my points will go towards Ryder Cup.

Q. Do you have to play the minimum 13??

MARTIN LAIRD: I don't believe so.

DOUG MILNE: Thank you.

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