What they said: George McNeilltext sizeMarch 14, 2012
PGA TOUR staff
COLIN MURRAY: George, thanks for joining us here in the interview room here at the Transitions Championship, fresh off your second PGA TOUR victory last week at the Puerto Rico Open. Can you just look back to last week, a little bit about your win, and then we'll go from there??
GEORGE McNEILL: Okay. Well, first of all, thanks. It was obviously not expected, but I started to play a little bit better probably three or four weeks ago, L.A., I saw some signs of it, and even at the Honda, I missed the cut by a shot but I walked away from there going, wow, I actually hit it pretty well. Just didn't make enough putts during the week, Thursday, Friday.
But I felt good about what I was doing with my game and everything else, so going back to Puerto Rico and having a good finish there last year, obviously I had good thoughts and a good remembrance of how I played a year ago. So that was a positive way to begin the week.
COLIN MURRAY: You've played well here in the past, I believe a runner-up finish in 2008. Just talk about this golf course and how it suits your game, and looking forward to this week, expectations maybe.
GEORGE McNEILL: Well, this week, the golf course here is incredible. I think every player in the field will say that. Everyone who comes back here enjoys this place. It's not your typical Florida golf course. It has elevation. It's an older� style golf course. You have to hit different shots off the tee and different shots into the greens, and it's a nice, old design, which I really like. I'm not a big fan of the new modern bomb and gouge and everything like that.
I like designs where you have to think a little bit off the tee, not only just for your second shot but off the tee and make sure you're in position for your second shots.
Q. Speaking of that, George, which tournament will you never miss just because of the course??
GEORGE McNEILL: I would say here. I would say this golf course; as long as we keep playing here, I'll keep coming back.
Q. Is it your favorite??
GEORGE McNEILL: I would say so, yeah. It's my favorite in Florida by far.
Q. What's second? Because now I'm curious.
GEORGE McNEILL: Hawai'i. Hawai'i, even though it's flat, you still have to hit different shots off the tees. You've got these little doglegs and stuff. You've got to make sure you're in position. I think that's probably -- between here and there, these are two, some of the most underrated golf courses that we play.
Q. Do a lot of your peers on the TOUR share that kind of affection for Copperhead??
GEORGE McNEILL: I think so. Yeah, everybody that I've talked to, they have always said good things and they really enjoy coming here.
Q. What's the deal with everybody on the Gulf coast winning in Puerto Rico? Did you see that; if there was a Puerto Rican in the field, would they be the favorite this week?
GEORGE McNEILL: That's funny. I don't know what it is, and I guess Sidney Wolf, the tournament director down there, he called Michael Bradley, because Michael said something to me. And he called Derek Langley, and they both said something to me about Sidney calling them saying, what's the deal with the southwest Florida/Tampa to Fort Myers area winning our golf tournament every year.
I can't explain it. I don't think anybody can. It just so happened that that's the way it worked out.
Q. Did you think your game was in good enough shape to win a tournament when you got to Puerto Rico last week??
GEORGE McNEILL: I don't know about winning, but to play well; like I said before, the year before I had good vibes leaving there finishing tied fifth. I knew my way around the golf course. But it's not like I expected to win.
But for some reason, I felt just kind of a calmness all week. So it didn't matter what I shot every day. I just kind of went with it and kind of kept playing.
Q. You traditionally play better in the fall; right??
GEORGE McNEILL: Right.
Q. You kind of peak in the fall. What was it like playing with the crowd favorite, Ryo??
GEORGE McNEILL: I didn't play with him.
Q. I guess not with him, where he was ahead of you a few groups, right, did you sense that people were rooting for him or there were a lot of people following your group? What was the atmosphere like I guess.
GEORGE McNEILL: Actually on Saturday I played with Matt Jones and we played the final group, and Ryo was right in front of us. Well, there were maybe ten people following us and there were maybe 110 or so following his group. But I think I talked a little about this last week; I don't know who wouldn't want to follow him.
He's an up-and-coming star. He's I think 20 years old. He's played in I think two Presidents Cups. People know him and people know who he is and like I said, he's the next guy; to say up� and� coming, obviously a big market in Japan and stuff like that.
So it didn't surprise me that a lot of people were following his group, because they have all heard of him. And, well, who has heard of myself and Matt Jones, other than basically anybody out here. We all obviously know each other, but we are not a household name, and so it didn't surprise me.
Q. Did you get to play with Ryo at all??
GEORGE McNEILL: I did not, no. On Sunday, I think he was two or three groups ahead of us. Again, he had the big crowd, and we had very limited, but it started to grow towards the back nine.
Q. Did it feel like you guys were just kind of flying under the radar a little bit? Did it sort of ease a little bit of pressure?
GEORGE McNEILL: A little bit, but you still know where you are standing in the tournament. It doesn't really matter who is following or how many people you're following, because you try and block that out anyway.
Q. Yeah, but just like feeling more relaxed or just because� � when the attention is not on you, you can sort of just focus on that.
GEORGE McNEILL: You can do what you want to do; yeah, kind of. But you're still out there trying to win a golf tournament.
Q. I'd be curious your thoughts, since your two wins, one in the Fall Series and this one opposite, what does that feel like when the Masters only hands out invitations to the full FedExCup? Do you feel slighted at all by that?
GEORGE McNEILL: It's their rules. That's the way� � that's the way they have always been, the Masters and Augusta National. They allow entrance into their event based on their criteria. It has nothing to do with necessarily PGA TOUR rules or anything like that.
And until they change it, we have to abide by it. So that's the way they are. I mean, it's just like the U.S. Open is not the easiest tournament to get in; and the British, the same thing. Each tournament has its own entry to get in, and if that's part of the rules, that's the way it is. And until they change it, I'll just kind of sit back and wait.
Q. What do you think will happen when they go to the fall start, and they are all full FedExCup points; I know you have a green jacket at home, not like the ones they wear, but what do you think they might do in terms of the invites, and what they should do, as a TOUR player.
GEORGE McNEILL: What do I think that Augusta might do?
Q. In trying to keep the field limited.
GEORGE McNEILL: They might include entries from that Fall Series. I can only -- that's what I would expect. Again, it's their rules and they kind of run their tournament how they want to. It's fine. It's their event, like I said.
Q. Not trying to put words in your mouth or put you up for membership at Augusta; at the same time, do you think there should be more put on wins of all of the tournaments, again with the re� start, fall, all the way through, or the Money List, Top-30??
GEORGE McNEILL: Well, you can go into the argument with World Rankings, as well. There's World Ranking points; there's FedExCup points; there's Money List. There's all these different ways to qualify for different events, and it seems that no, they are starting to come together where they are having one way to get in.
But right now, there's so many different ways to get in an event; and then special invitations and everything else. So maybe eventually with Augusta, with the U.S. Open, with basically the majors, those are the ones that I think the players consider the most important, or more important. But every tournament's important. But those are the ones that you're trying to play well and play, well, basically just play in and play well when you do get into them.
Q. This does put you in the PGA, does it not??
GEORGE McNEILL: This does put me in the PGA. So that's a guarantee with the win. Again, PGA has their own criteria, which is a points list which is based directly on Money List from PGA to PGA; or a win in a co� sponsored event, which Puerto Rico was, and then other World Rankings and then they have special exemptions for European players and foreign players. So this does get me in the PGA.
Q. And Kapalua.
GEORGE McNEILL: And Kapalua; and a two� year exemption.
So I'm happy as can be, and like I said, when hopefully I'm a recipient of an invitation, when; when and if Augusta decides to change their criteria, or, I can change it all and just go ahead and win this week or next week and, hey, it would fix everything. Like we always say. If you don't like the way it is, play better and you can do it yourself.
Q. Do you realize that you know more about regs than half the players you play with? No one knows that stuff.
GEORGE McNEILL: I pay attention. But I mean, it's just -- if I'm trying to get into a tournament, I'm going to find out, how do I get into that event.
Q. You're a policy board member, too.
GEORGE McNEILL: I was.
Q. You still follow Florida State??
GEORGE McNEILL: Absolutely.
Q. So when did you find out they won the ACC Tournament??
GEORGE McNEILL: After I finished. Nobody updated me when I was out there. They tipped off about the same time I teed off and I knew they would finish before I did. Yeah, once I got finished, everybody -- especially some of my buddies, FSU alum and some of my old teammates, they said, great; it was a great weekend for FSU.
Q. Any prediction tournament-wise??
GEORGE McNEILL: No. I obviously hope they win it all. That goes without saying I think. But I could see definitely a realistic chance at Sweet 16 and even Elite 8. But we'll see beyond that.
COLIN MURRAY: Thanks for your time. Best of luck.