MORE: John Deere Classic transcript archive THE MODERATOR: Gary Christian, thanks for joining us for a few minutes after a successful second round, 5-under 66. Add that to your 6-under yesterday, that takes you to 11 heading into the weekend. Just some comments on how you're feeling. Obviously very well heading into the weekend.
GARY CHRISTIAN: Yeah. Just when you play the way you envision playing, that's all I did. Nothing more, nothing less.
You read all the golf psychology books, and I played the way those chapters are set out. So that's the secret for me. I'm not going to overpower a golf course. I'm going to do it by staying even keel, calm, and in control, hitting fairways, hitting greens, and making putts.
That's what I did. So it's been nice not to throw any shots away and gain a few with the putter.
MODERATOR: Great. I'm sure that's begging for some questions.
Q. How often do you play the way you envision playing??
GARY CHRISTIAN: Very rarely. This would be the nearest thing to approach in the mythical zone without -- almost there. Not quite there.
I've shot a lot of low rounds in the past, and you approach it every now and again, and I just haven't done a very good job of it this year. I've been very disappointed with my play. Not that I had great expectations. I find they're detrimental rather than anything else.
I really thought I was going to be in control a lot better mentally, and that's what I didn't do for the sort of middle part of the season.
I've turned a corner I think in Memphis and played well in Hartford. Even though I missed the cut last week, there was some good stuff.
This week everything just sort of culminated into two good rounds. Now we've just got to go ahead and play two more good rounds.
Q. Talk about how well you're driving it.
GARY CHRISTIAN: Yeah, I mean, all that work with my coach, Wayne Flynn, is tempo, rhythm, timing. Just the basics. I was flailing at it a bit early in the season, and we just got back to the good timing, tempo.
I had the feel today that the swing was the way it felt in Pittsburgh on the Web.com Tour when I won and wrapped up my TOUR card. That's a good sign, to know you've been there before and played well under pressure before.
Obviously this is the next level up. You got to test yourself at this level. So I've always enjoy the Midwest from playing on the mini tours up here. Spent a lot of time up here. I like the grass, I like the weather, and I like the people. Who knows? No reason we shouldn't play good at the weekend.
Q. What do you think it's going to be like on the weekend being in contention out here??
GARY CHRISTIAN: Well, it's what you play the game for: to put yourself in that position to test where you are. There is no lack of ability. If you can control your emotions and control the mental expects then you'll play great; if you don't, you won't.
It was great to see Troy and Ted going down the stretch and handling it better than a U.S. Open champion. But that's the thing. You got 156 spots here and you got 400 or 500 people who cold fill them. I'm one the fortunate ones to be in those spot. If you're good enough to be to the TOUR you're good enough to win.
Q. (Question regarding yellow ball.)
GARY CHRISTIAN: Since the start of the season. I used the same ball last year. Yeah, it's been a nice mix for me. It's firm enough where it goes out there fairly good, but got enough pop around the greens to get the job done.
Q. How is it different??
GARY CHRISTIAN: It's a different color. That's all it is. It's the same ball. Actually pretty good for amateurs. Every time I give a ball to a kid I've got to check whether it's a new ball or not because it doesn't scuff up very good. That's a good plug.
Q. How many do you carry??
GARY CHRISTIAN: How many do I carry? I always start with nine balls.
Q. It was Illini Day today. Did you think about wearing blue and orange??
GARY CHRISTIAN: I thought it was an Auburn Day today. Illini, what do they do?
Q. About your career path, obviously ...
GARY CHRISTIAN: Have you got enough room in your pad there. Been a very long career path. I would love to say I'm a 25-year-old multi-millionaire and been a star since I was 10 years old, but I'm not. Yeah, it's been a long road to get to the TOUR.
You just got to try and take advantage of it. You get your chance and everything is lined up to do well, so then you just got to play your game. I didn't turn pro until I was 27 and toiled on the mini tours for six years, toiled on the Web.com Tour for six years. I would like at least six years on the PGA TOUR. That would be nice round out way and then get in the commentary booth.
Q. Why didn't you turn pro until you were 27??
GARY CHRISTIAN: I wasn't any good. I went from No. 1 and All-FCC player on the Auburn team in my junior year to a No. 5 struggling to make the team. Just one of those years. That's not the time to do it, when you're thinking of turning pro at the end of it.
I've always been a realist. I think English people are fairly good at that. So the chance of me losing $50,000 a year playing on the mini tour or me developing my game and getting somewhat of a career going, whether it be going with being a membership director at a golf club, was probably the best career path for me.
I think if I had turned pro I wouldn't be playing golf now.
Q. When during that time did you realize going on the TOUR would be a reality??
GARY CHRISTIAN: I left school at I suppose 24. Started a little late. As I said, the last year was horrendous. Fortunately I started to see a little bit of improvement every year.
I was fortunate enough to move in with a family in Birmingham, Alabama who took care of all the financial aspects, so that was great. I had what felt like a guardian angel on my shoulder a few times. Had a very good friend of mine, Denton Scott (phonetic) who used to be the club manager at the Inverness Golf Club.
He used to play on the tour, one of the rabbits, in the '70s, and then saw a little something in me -- might have been that drive and passion that he had -- and helped me attain my immigration status through being the membership director at his golf club. That was very fortunate.
Again, I would be back at home probably pushing pens and papers and doing not a very good job. So it's been very fortunate. Fortunately I was a very good mini tour player. Always won and always made money.
Then finally I have finally got through to third stage of qualifying school, got my Web.com Tour card, and made, let's say, little by little progress. Not spectacular.
Maybe it's better having six years of perfecting your craft rather than getting lucky at qualifying school or a lucky win at the right time and being thrown to the wolves and find out you're no good enough.
I think that helped a lot to feel like I was developing my game year by year on the Web.com Tour. Now I've got the chance.
Q. Do you feel like you appreciate it more??
GARY CHRISTIAN: Oh, I 100% say that. I think when you're 40 and you've had as many downs as I have you appreciate things a lot more. You've got to make sure you don't make it too much about being happy to be here.
My eyes are set on the prize of doing something special. So I'm enjoying every minute of it, don't get me wrong. But you just got to get focused on what you need to be doing.
Q. At the points along the way where you could have said, This isn't going to work out, what kept you rolling??
GARY CHRISTIAN: I think just constant improvement. I really do. As I said, I would look in the mirror at the end of the year. You just missed out on the second stage of qualifying school again and you're back to the mini tours. You look at yourself in the mirror and you ask yourself, Did you become better last year?
Every year I did. Fortunately I didn't get married until I was 30, so there wasn't too much pressure with financial responsibilities, and didn't have children until eight years ago.
Just gave me a little bit of leeway to be able to still devote the time to be practicing and get yourself ready.