What they said: Spencer LevinMarch 26, 2011
PGA TOUR staff
MORE INTERVIEWS: Arnold Palmer Invitational transcript archive
JOHN BUSH: Spencer Levin joins us here at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, currently 9-under par, a 1-under par 71 today, just get your comments on the day.
SPENCER LEVIN: Yeah, I had it going there. Martin was playing good, too. He got off to a really good start, and I looked at the board and kind of knew that it was -- obviously if I could kind of keep it close to him, because he was leading the tournament, I would have a chance tomorrow, and I was able to do that somewhat.
So, yeah, I was pleased with my round. I had a putt I think to take the lead on 15 and missed it.
And then a two-shot swing on 16. That stretch there wasn't great but I was still in the game for tomorrow.
Q. Tiger was sort of semi-semi-semi in the mix at the beginning of the day, anyway, and there's Fowler Mania going on out there. Even though two guys have the best chance to win the golf tournament, do you feel like you were somewhat forgotten about??
SPENCER LEVIN: Not really. But you kind of -- I've been out here, it's only my third year but I've been out here long enough to know that that's what's going to happen. They attract the fans, and that's great. That's great for everybody else. When they are playing well, you know, it was kind of interesting. I saw there's a huge crowd around the putting green, and then all of the sudden there wasn't. I saw Tiger walking to 1, and I realized, well, there you go.
Yeah, it comes to be expected. But coming down the stretch everybody is still waiting for you. So at the end of the round, -but the beginning, yeah, it's understandable.
Q. And how much have you been thinking about Augusta, if it at all, if you win, I think you get to go there for the first time.
SPENCER LEVIN: Yeah, I mean, that's on the back of my mind, in the back of my mind for sure. I'm sure it is for everybody who is in my position and needs a win to get there.
But that's cool. That's nice. That's a nice problem -- that's a nice thing to be thinking about. Hopefully try not to think about it, though. You have to think about what you're doing here. But yeah it's in the back of my mind for sure.
Q. Martin was just in here talking about pulling from different situations in his career, Disney a few years ago, Vegas; what are you going to pull from tomorrow??
SPENCER LEVIN: That's a good question. You know, probably -- where was I -- México, I had a great last round. Got off to a good start. Played great that last round. Hopefully I can get in that mind-set.
My last rounds have actually been pretty good this year and if I can hopefully get off to a good start, we'll see what happens. I'll try and think back on México and just kind of go back on what I was thinking there to get me in the position.
Q. What about Disney last year??
SPENCER LEVIN: Disney, yeah, I played well there. Robert ended up running away with that, but yeah, that was good, too.
Vegas, as well, was good last year, as well. Thanks, man. This might help me tomorrow if I think about that. Maybe I should. (Laughter).
Q. You said yesterday that you weren't swinging it very well and were going to go to the range and work with your dad. Did you figure out what was going on??
SPENCER LEVIN: Yeah, I did. I still missed some shots. I didn't hit it great but I think I hit it a little better than I did yesterday. Just had a couple, you know, a couple costly shots there on 16.
But all in all I hit it a little better today. I'm going to have to hit it better tomorrow, though, if I want to have a chance, though, for sure.
Q. How high was the frustration level after 15, 16 and how did you pull that back??
SPENCER LEVIN: I was pretty frustrated but I actually, I ended up one-putting 16 for a six which was nice. I think I made about a 6-footer there for bogey. Any time you one putt a hole, it's always good, right.
I was a little frustrated but I still knew I had two holes left and they were downwind. Just I hit good shots there on the last two holes, so I was pleased with that. I was frustrated but I wasn't frustrated enough to let it cost me on 17. I was able to hit a decent shot there.
Q. Did you handle that sort of better than would you have in the past??
SPENCER LEVIN: Yeah, I think so. I think it allowed me to actually get that ball up-and-down on 16 for bogey. In the past I probably would have been really frustrated in thinking back on the shots I hit.
So just making that bogey was good. That was a good sign for me. I tried to stay composed and make sure I stayed focused for the last couple holes.
Q. Do you feel for a minute maybe after six holes, that Martin was kind of running away with the deal, and do you feel like a lot of guys are kind of in the mix probably going into tomorrow now??
SPENCER LEVIN: Yeah, absolutely. I didn't really look at the board too close, but I saw there were a few guys at, I don't know, probably 6 and 7. 7 is third, is that right? Yeah, you never know. Some guys might go out early and shoot real low depending on the weather.
First part of the question, yeah, he was playing -- I don't know what he was, he birdied three holes in a row, and then hit a good shot in there on 7.
Yeah, I did; he was playing great. I knew I was going to have to make some birdies to catch him. So I did; yeah, I did for a little bit at the beginning of the round for sure.
Q. Had you played with him before??
SPENCER LEVIN: No, I've never played with Martin before.
Q. What did you think of his game, his composure? He had a couple hiccups there but still pretty strong.
SPENCER LEVIN: He's won out here and you can tell why. He's long. I think he birdied every par 5. He played the par 5s great. I think I played the par 5s even and he played them 4-under today.
Yeah, you could tell. He drives it long and straight, and he chips the ball really well, I noticed that. He chips the ball really well and he's got a good touch with his putter for sure.
Q. You've been close a couple of times now, do you feel like you're zeroing in more on what it's going to take down the stretch, and do you feel like you're able to score better even when you're not playing your best game??
SPENCER LEVIN: Yeah, I think yes to both. Yeah, I mean, like I was saying earlier this week, even if you feel like you're playing well, there's a good chance somebody else is, too.
It's just you've got to make as few mistakes as possible. Like if you do make a mistake, just try to limit that to one on that hole.
But unfortunately I didn't do that today on 16. But I think I've learned a little bit. And yeah, I'm putting better, so that helps you if you're not playing great is to score well; and the key to that is making the putts you need to, and I've been doing that last few days and so it's been helping me stay in the tournament.
Q. When you talked the other day about having to teach yourself not to let your temper or frustration carry on for the next hole, whatnot, how did you work that out? How did you train yourself to improve?
SPENCER LEVIN: I don't know if there was ever one specific moment. I did a lot when I was younger, like probably 19, 20, 21, 22, when I first turned pro.
But I think it comes maybe with age and just learning, maturing a little bit and then watching -- you watch all of the best players in the world; actually being out here, seeing -- as a kid you think they never miss a shot, they never miss a putt or anything like that. And even the best players in the world are going to miss a shot from time to time.
And it seems like they don't let it bother them and get down on themselves. When you see the best doing it, you know there's a reason why. And I've learned that if you want to compete with the best, you have to act like a pro.
Q. You ever watch Tiger much (laughter).
SPENCER LEVIN: I think he seems to get frustrated at the moment, but it never seems like it bothers him on his next shot. It always seems like he's just as focused, if not more, after a bad shot on the next hole.
Q. That's what I'm getting at. Is it okay to be angry out there??
SPENCER LEVIN: I think so. I can't help it. I don't know if some guys can't, either. But obviously in my mind I'll be frustrated on a bad shot.
I mean, I've never in any tournament really like messed up and then just kind of not really cared about it. I get upset in my mind but I'm learning to control that and just try and get refocused.
Q. And I also wanted to ask you how much you watched this tournament on TV or if you're one of those guys that doesn't watch golf on TV??
SPENCER LEVIN: Yeah, I've watched this tournament a million times on TV. All I remember about it is Tiger making a 100-footer on 18 to win every year. That's what I always remember. That's my memory of this tournament. (Laughter).
Q. Considering how well you played on Thursday in the wind how hard do you want to see the wind blow tomorrow??
SPENCER LEVIN: Yeah, I wouldn't mind if it blew; if it blew, that would be great. Yeah, I would -- as hard as it wants tomorrow, I would be happy if it blew 30; that would be great.
Q. (No mic).
SPENCER LEVIN: I think that -- I remember looking at that last year, I wasn't first in birdies. I know Brendon de Jonge was first in birdies. But they have that best/worst stat the end of the year. My buddy was going through it and he said I was first in the round in 60s and I know that was true.
Q. (No mic -- difference between last year and this year is Sundays are better, can you elaborate on that)?(No mic -- difference between last year and this year is Sundays are better, can you elaborate on that)?
SPENCER LEVIN: My Sundays have been better this year. I hit a good one -- I haven't had really a bad one yet, so that's been nice.
Last year, I was playing well a lot of the year like through the first three rounds, and I would mess up on Sundays and I think a lot of that had to do with I was kind of thinking about the Money List and you know you have to finish here to finish Top 125 and worried about getting my card. I think I was putting a lot of added stress on myself about that.
But this year now, I mean, I don't have to worry about it. I've got my card locked. So it will be -- I don't know, all I really have to think about now is play a good round. I don't have to think about don't do this or don't do that. Easier said than done, obviously, but not having to worry about that in the back of my mind will be nice the rest of the year.
Q. Did you go to the long putter at Disney last year; is that right??
SPENCER LEVIN: Yes, I did.
Q. Why did you do that??
SPENCER LEVIN: I was fooling around with it at Vegas just practicing with it, and I was putting great. I wasn't quite ready to change that week. I didn't have my card locked up until after Vegas when I played good. So I think I switched because I had my card locked up and it was kind of a free-wheeling deal there at Disney for me. But I putted well that week, and then worked on it this winter and I've been sticking with it since.
Q. After the great amateur career, was there a time when you felt like this would come sooner or did you realize or did your dad tell you that it takes time to make that jump??
SPENCER LEVIN: Yes, obviously I think at that time, you know, when I was younger, obviously, you know you want it to come sooner and you think it will. I played well at the Open before I turned pro. Played well in college. And you think, okay, I'll just keep doing that out here.
And it didn't happen for me. I missed q-school my first year, and I wasn't really working that hard. I remember playing the mini-tours, it was almost, not that I didn't enjoy playing golf for a living but it was almost like I wasn't grinding hard.
But I've realized that it's at a higher level, I was practicing harder in amateur and college golf than I was as a pro and I realized well being at a pro is even a higher level; so I'll probably have to practice just as hard if not harder. I got back to my work ethic I used to do in college and got through q-school and made it through the Nationwide, which was good.
But yeah, you see all of these top players, and a lot of them, like Ryan Moore, who I play with all the time, in college, he made it out here without even having to go to q-school. So seeing that shows you that it can be done, and then I thought maybe I'm not -- don't belong, this and that, but I worked hard and got out here, which I'm fortunate. I'm happy.
Q. When would you say you upped the work ethic??
SPENCER LEVIN: I'd say when I missed q-school the first time, I missed the first stage and my second year I missed the second stage and then I went and played in Canada for a full year on the Canadian Tour, and I worked pretty hard out there and was able to go straight to second stage that year. So that was '07 I think when I started actually realizing okay, this is my job, and whether you like it or not or what tour you're on, I just treat it like a job.
Q. It would be easy to get caught up in Martin, since you are in the last group, but how many guys do you think are still in this tomorrow??
SPENCER LEVIN: I would say probably anybody, if the wind blows, shoot, I don't know, I would say anybody, probably 5- or 6-under has a chance. Even lower than that. You never know. Who knows?
But if the wind blows, it could be anybody's day. But obviously Martin is in the best position with a two-shot lead but I would say anywhere from four or five back has got a chance, especially the harder the wind, I would say even goes further down the list.
JOHN BUSH: Spencer thank you, play well tomorrow.