What they said: Martin LairdMarch 26, 2011
PGA TOUR staff
MORE INTERVIEWS: Arnold Palmer Invitational transcript archive
JOHN BUSH: We are joined by Martin Laird, our 54-hole leader at the Arnold Palmer Invitational after a 2-under par 70, Martin, just get your comments, you got off to a really nice start, three straight birdies there on the front nine and then you held on the rest of the way. Just talk about your round.
MARTIN LAIRD: Yeah, that was a nice little stretch there in the front. That's three holes that I feel like I can get, the two par 5s and the short par 4, and I felt like I played well the rest of the way, apart from just a couple of -- one bad swing on 17, I managed to scrape a par out of that.
There's just some tough holes coming in. It wasn't really a case of me feeling like I wasn't playing well. It's just a little stretch, 14, 15, today with the way the wind was are two of the tougher holes on the golf course.
Q. More than one guy has mentioned that, especially today, there was a little bit of a major championship feel out there, given the course is tough, the quality of the field, and I'm wondering, does it have that kind of feeling for you??
MARTIN LAIRD: Yes, definitely, the way the course is set up, and it's a good, long, hard golf course, kind of like you get at major championships.
Obviously it's a special event here, being Mr. Palmer's event. I think everyone in the field knows that, and you know it definitely gives it that little extra edge out there.
Q. Being pretty young and having won before, can you talk about the psychology of figuring out whether you're ready to win, we had a few guys on the board who have not won -- Rickie is young and is right there; and as you're getting closer and playing well, just talk about that psychology of knowing if you're ready to break the threshold here??
MARTIN LAIRD: Yeah, you know, I said after I won, I believed that I was good enough to win, but I actually really didn't know it. I mean, you really don't know it until you do it. Obviously I got a lot of confidence out of winning in Vegas. Especially the way I did it, holing a nice putt on the last hole just to get in a playoff and then winning on I think the third playoff hole.
But yeah, it's it tough. Even after I won, I've had three or four chances where I've had really good chances to win and not done it. You know, it's tough. You ask anyone; it's very, very tough to win a golf tournament. Doesn't matter where it is. And you know, I know that going into tomorrow.
Q. As a follow, over at Ridgewood, at Barclays, you came so close there, as well. What did you learn out of that when you came out of that? Obviously you got beaten by a pretty good shot.
MARTIN LAIRD: You know what I took out of that is my game is where I want it to be and I definitely know I can compete. I mean, that was one of the strongest fields of the year and one of the toughest golf courses we'll play all year.
After my triple-bogey on the third hole, I was really, really proud of the way I hung on that day, and to be honest, I really didn't have my best game that day. I just holed a lot of big putts and kind of scrambled my way around.
That showed a lot. It kind of showed me you don't have to play perfect to win. I came so close, not having my first perfect game, and that I definitely that's what I took out of that. It's not a case of, you don't have to have every aspect of your game firing on all cylinders to win tournaments. There's just something -- you need a couple of breaks here or there and really make some putts.
Q. You mentioned 17 and looked like you gave a little fist-pump when that putt rolled in. Can you take us through that??
MARTIN LAIRD: That was a big one. That was really the only really bad shot I hit all day. I was just trying to kill a 6-iron and that's my miss, when I try to hit it hard is I get ahead of it and get stuck and just hit a big, blocked cut like I did.
I was lucky. I wasn't sure if it was going to make it over the water to be honest when it was in the air, and I was lucky to make it over and then that was a big up-and-down for me.
Q. How often do you get back to the home country, and after you won two years ago, how are you received and recognized back home? It's a country obviously that's passionate about its golf?
MARTIN LAIRD: Yeah, you know, I try to get back there as much as I can. I'd say I get back two or three times a year.
And after I won, I wouldn't say I was recognized any more. Maybe my parents got a little more coverage in the press and things like that, because before I was completely under the radar and obviously a little more interest from the media over there now. But it gave me a lot of confidence in knowing that I can play out here.
Q. The number of Europeans at the top of the World Ranking, especially from England and the British Isles, The Ryder Cup performance last year, has watching that from the outside caused you in any way to kind of re-double your efforts or motivate you to get to that level and kind of join the fellows, so to speak??
MARTIN LAIRD: Definitely. It's not just the fact that they are Europeans; it's the fact that there are young guys up there. I think Martin Kaymer is around my age, and there are a bunch of younger guys in their 20s that are the Top-10 in the world or just outside.
For so long, it was Tiger and Phil were 1 and 2 and people probably really didn't -- 26-, 27-year-olds probably didn't really believe they could get to No. 1 in the world; whereas Martin Kaymer has shown that he can do it now.
But definitely to see the Europeans are up there playing, guys -- well, it's funny, they are Europeans but I don't really know them very well because I've played every here, all my golf, but it definitely gives you a little confidence.
Q. It was kind of a big deal earlier in the year when Lee and Rory decided not to play in the United States and stay over in Europe. Was it ever on your mind that you would rather go home and play closer to Scotland on The European Tour, or was this always where you wanted to play??
MARTIN LAIRD: You know, I think from when I came over here to go to college, growing up, it was more PGA TOUR golf I watched on TV than European Tour golf and there was something that really drew me to come over here and made me want to come over here.
My first year at college I went to Q-School and got through and got my Nationwide Tour card. Don't know what would have happened if I had not gotten my card, might have gone back and tried in Europe. After that I stayed back and played the Nationwide Tour in 2005 and kind of made this my moment for golf. I love playing the PGA TOUR. I think my game suits this tour, and it's kind of -- it's not too bad of a place to play golf.
Q. There's a couple of years ago in Orlando, you holed about a six-footer to keep your card, at Disney, what did that putt and making it in that situation do for you? Do you think about it or try to forget that moment?
MARTIN LAIRD: No, at the time that was huge; to play well on that Sunday, and as you said, make a 6- or 7-footer, whatever it was on the last hole to finish 125 and keep my card. That's the most pressure. Those three holes on Disney that year were the most nervous I've been on a golf course and to hole that obviously gave me a lot of confidence. I wouldn't say I think back to it now but definitely going into my next year it gave me a lot of confidence. And I went on to win Vegas and hole a big putt there and I definitely drew on that in Vegas.
Q. More nervous than you were trying to win Vegas??
MARTIN LAIRD: Oh, yeah.
Q. Speaking of Vegas, what are you going to take into tomorrow that you took into Vegas to win two years ago??
MARTIN LAIRD: That was a little different situation then. I was a couple shots back going into the last round. I'm taking the confidence from knowing that I can win out here. I had a couple of leads last year that I didn't manage to convert. But felt like I played well on both of those. Didn't really go out and play bad and give it up. Guys just played well and beat me. I lost to Kuchar, he hit a great shot out of the trees in Barclays and then a hole-in-one in Vegas.
People always think -- I get the question all the time, that sucks, you must hate that. But actually looking back, I'd rather lose to that than me hitting a bad tee shot and making bogey or something. I didn't feel I really made a mistake to lose those tournaments.
Q. Going into tomorrow with the lead instead of coming from behind, will you be doing much scoreboard watching? What mentality will you take into tomorrow?
MARTIN LAIRD: Yeah, you know, I'm not someone that looks at every scoreboard that's out there but I'll glance over and have a look.
Especially on a golf course like this, you kind of need to know where you're standing coming down the stretch. There's holes, there's a lot of risk/reward on the last few holes, but starting out, I won't really pay attention. I'll just stay aggressive like I have the last few days and stick to my game plan and then it probably won't be until the last few holes, maybe I'll start having a look.
Q. Are you frustrated at all that back in the U.K., some of your accomplishments seem to have drifted under the radar??
MARTIN LAIRD: Not really to be honest. I don't play this game for that. I play because I love it and I want to win tournaments like this. I don't even see it; even if I did, I wouldn't hear about it or see it. To me it doesn't make any difference.
Q. It just seems that with a player like Brian Davis, perhaps, someone who has been over here for a long time, it seems that if you have been over here for a long time, that you're almost perceived back in Europe as less of a European and maybe don't command quite the same prominence as you would if maybe you spent more time in Europe; do you sense that at all??
MARTIN LAIRD: You know, I don't know. I understand why a little. The reporters that are at European Tour events, a lot of the weeks, especially when they are in Europe, get to see the guys and get to know the guys. A lot of them will know my name and that's about it. I won't know them personally. I understand why. I wouldn't say -- it might be a little, but I wouldn't say I notice that.
JOHN BUSH: Let's go through the card real quick, a birdie on No. 4.
MARTIN LAIRD: No. 4, hit a very good drive. I don't know this golf course well enough to just rattle these holes off. The par 5s I played real well today, I think I birdied all four of them again. That was the key to them, hitting good drives, and I hit good tee shots down every one today.
JOHN BUSH: The par 512th hole?
MARTIN LAIRD: Yeah, 12, I hit a really good drive there. The wind was a good wind for me. It was down off the left off the tee, and it was a perfect just full 3-iron, and that shows how hard these greens are getting. I hit a 3-iron as high as I could. It was way up in the air and landed on the front edge and still went to the back of the green. Just shows how tough this golf course is getting to get close to any front pins.
JOHN BUSH: And then the birdie on 16?
MARTIN LAIRD: 16, I hit another good tee shot. The wind was in off the right there. I hit a good tee shot down there and hit a 5-iron and I thought I hit it in the bunker and I ended up going just over the bunker front right and hit a nice little chip that I thought I actually just made and lipped out and hit a pretty start forward putt from there.
JOHN BUSH: Thanks for your time and play well tomorrow.