MORE INTERVIEWS: FedEx St. Jude Classic transcripts
KELLY BARNES: Please welcome Shawn Stefani to the interview room. Shawn, you finished strong with 3 consecutive birdies and you're one shot ahead of Harris English. Can you walk us through your round today?
SHAWN STEFANI: It was a great round and a lot of things happened pretty well and even had a small road bump in the middle of the round, but, you know, I managed to keep it going, stay patient, and things worked out great coming in.
Q. Shawn, if you can follow up. I mean, you were putting together a good round. You had those two birdies right around making the turn. What happened there on 11 and how -- how did you put it behind you? You managed to just refocus pretty quickly and how much did the chip, the chip-in after you had gone in the water, how much did that maybe help propel you down the stretch?
SHAWN STEFANI: I made two errors today and one was obviously on 11. My first mistake was the wind. The wind should have been coming off the left. And then for some reason there was a gust that kind of came up from behind me to the right. So I was thinking that I could actually get a wedge to the front of the green or just in that front middle part. And I thought 9 would be too much if I was downwind.
So, chose a wedge. Actually hit the shot very well. Middle flight kind of a gust came up and knocked it in the water, you know, and then kind of went on from there to make a 7.
But, you know, just told myself to be patient. And then I hit some good shots on 12. Hit a good tee shot on 12, and the drive on 12 is not the easiest drive on the course. So, hit a good one there and then made a good par there.
And then on 13 and 14 hit a great shot on 14 and made birdie that. Kind of -- the birdie on 14 was really where I got more calm, because, you know, after making a 7 on a par 3, it's hard to bounce back from that and to do that was nice.
And then on 15 another one where I misjudged the wind, thought it was coming off the right. It was coming more in and just hit the wrong club and didn't really hit it good, either, but found the water. So I just had a good feeling about the chip, too. I got over it and kind of dropped it in a good spot and I kind of thought I may have chipped it in or may chip it in, and fortunately enough for me I did.
Q. How does this compare to the week I guess in Tampa and how you're playing?
SHAWN STEFANI: I'm actually playing a lot better now than I was in Tampa, you know. I think Tampa was a new experience. I mean, obviously having the lead was great and playing well. But I think I'm much more prepared with my game than I was then. And I'm feeling a lot a lot more comfortable with it.
It's been a tough year for me. I've stayed patient with it and tried to keep going and focusing on all the things that I usually do. It's tough, you know.
I think qualifying for the U.S. Open on Monday really helped me with some confidence because shooting those two rounds here against the field, which obviously is just another PGA TOUR event, but I feel a lot better about my game now than I did in Tampa.
Q. You said "stay patient" a bunch of times now. In a way it fits your broader career. You had to be patient to get where you are. What was that like and were there dark moments when you would think back, "I didn't. I've been scuffling around trying to make the Tour for all those years"? And does it help you at moments of crisis like this to say, "You know what, all good things in time"?
SHAWN STEFANI: Yeah, it does, because we tend to be whiners. We're humans. Human nature is we want things. I worked my tail off growing up to become a professional golfer and play on the PGA TOUR and, you know, it didn't kind of happen when I wanted it to, but I just kept working and working and working.
I was probably a little bit impatient the beginning of this year wanting to play too well, try to force things, and I really have stayed patient throughout the year and just know things will turn. They always do. Every player has ups and downs. And if you do stay patient, things will turn and you will start playing at your capabilities.
Q. When you have a -- like you did on 11, is there a moment where you have to calm yourself down? Are you cursing yourself? What's that feel like when you know what you've done?
SHAWN STEFANI: I feel like I hit one bad shot on 11. That was the putt I missed for triple (laughter). I know that sounds crazy, but, you know, I hit the club that I wanted to hit. Unfortunately, was the wrong club at the wrong time.
The second one I plug in the bunker, you know, just hit it too good and carried it too far, which obviously the next bunker shot wasn't the greatest, but you could have hit that thing anywhere.
You just -- you deal with it, you know? Things happen and you just have to deal with them and move on. You can't fret about it. You can't let it bother you. Because if it bothers you out here, you're toast and then these guys will run all over you.
I just said, you know, keep doing what you're doing, keep swinging the club well, because I've swung the club well all week and I just remain, you know, at that level of it and just -- things worked out great.
Q. Is there a point of pride to get all the way back to know that you had that crisis and here are you sitting there? Is it satisfying to --
SHAWN STEFANI: Yeah, very satisfying. I mean, if anybody does that; you know, it does bother you a little bit, but it's who gets over it fastest and who moves on the fastest. And to finish the way I did with three birdies on the last three was great.
But I was just out there just playing the game and having fun. That's what I'm here for is to play the best I can and have fun with it, and I did that today.
Q. Does that personality come about as part of being 31 years old and a rookie and having been through a lot of life?
SHAWN STEFANI: Well, I've had plenty of hard times on the mini tours, Q-School, which who hadn't had tough times in Q-school? You know, I feel like I'm pretty mature for a golfer. I don't have the experience on the PGA TOUR that a lot of these guys do, but I know how to play the game and I make I feel like right decisions to better my game. And, you know, I've always believed that I could play golf against the best players in the world.
Now, putting yourself in position is one thing and continuing to do it is another. This is what I've worked for my whole life is to be in this position, and tomorrow will be great. I mean I'm looking forward to what I will gain out of tomorrow, you know. Everything will be a gain out of tomorrow no matter what happens.
So, all I can do is go out there and focus on what I do and see what happens. Because like I said, it's going to be a great time. And, you know, I've got Harris again tomorrow, too. So I think it's a great pairing. He's a lot of fun to play with. You know, we talked a lot today and we're just kind of a calm, relaxing group, and I'm looking forward to that.
Q. You're a baseball guy, too. Were there ever moments on the mini tours you thought of yourself a little bit of a Crash Davis character, that you wondering if you were destined to live your life in the minors? Or did you ever -- did you always think you were going to get to the show?
SHAWN STEFANI: You always believe. You never stop believing. Luckily I had the support from all of my family and my friends to keep going, which without the support from your family and friends it's tough, you know.
Even Tiger Woods has all the support from everyone closest to him. And not one person in my corner ever told me to give up. And that was -- it was very helpful. You know, you believe in yourself and you keep doing a lot of right things, and when things don't go your way it's tough.
But, you know, I never gave up hope and kept working and working and working and, you know, now I'm sitting here talking to you guys tonight.
Q. Is it fun seeing Phil Mickelson there behind you or is it threatening seeing Phil there? It's a nice leaderboard.
SHAWN STEFANI: I mean, I can't worry about what Phil is doing out there. Phil is Phil. He does what he does and the crowds love him. You know, I even like watching him when I'm not playing.
I'm just going to go worry about what I'm doing tomorrow. I can't worry about what he's doing, what the rest of the field is doing. Just going to go out and focus on what's Shawn doing.
Q. What did you think of Auto Zone Park? Did you go to Auto Zone Park last night? What did you think?
SHAWN STEFANI: I loved it. Me and John Rollins and my caddy and his caddy, DJ Gregory, we all went out there last night and actually had a little Rendezvous barbeque before that. Kind of a good treat.
It was a great looking park. The team looked good. I was actually excited about that. We left kind of in the 7th inning just because you got to put your job first.
But, no, I enjoyed the park. I love baseball. I actually like watching baseball more at the games than I do on television, just more exciting. But, you know, they were a good team, got some good prospects coming up for the cards.
Q. You mentioned you've been swinging the club pretty well, but you also had your putter working a little bit. Anything that -- anything that's working particularly well right now or just the fact that you've got a lot of holes lately?
SHAWN STEFANI: You know, I've just been -- I'm doing the same thing over and over again. And so when you're doing the same things over and over again and you feel good about them, I just focus on that. You're not focusing on everything else around or other things that can kind of get in your way.
So, my mind is very simple right now. I'm not trying to do too much. I'm not thinking too much. I'm committing to what I'm doing and then doing it. And it's working out well right now. I'm just going to ride the wave.
KELLY BARNES: Thank you, Shawn.