What they said: Nick WatneyAugust 23, 2012
PGA TOUR staff
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LAURA HILL: We'd like to welcome Nick Watney to the interview room. Nick, pretty good start. Padraig was just talking about it's hard to imagine Bethpage and not think of it as a U.S. Open, but the scoring is completely different out there. If you could just walk us through how you found the course today, getting the event kicked off today.
NICK WATNEY: Yeah, I thought the combination of soft greens but the fairways were rolling out a little bit made the course play miles shorter than the U.S. Open in '09. The greens are rolling really nice, so I think that combination sort of made it a bit easier than those conditions.
But I think the golf course will only get tougher from here.
Q. Did you have trouble not thinking of this course as a U.S. Open course when you first got out there, or did it take a couple holes to kind of get settled into that even par or 1-over is not going to cut it this week, you've got to really get after it??
NICK WATNEY: Well, I think starting on the back, there's just a line of tough holes to start. I saw some scores early and guys were making birdies, but I agree with Padraig, it is tough not to think of it as just a grind-it-out type of day.
I don't expect these conditions to continue. I think a few tees were moved up, and I think 7 being a par-5 makes the par seem easier than a par-70, which it was in the Open.
But I think the course once they move some tees back and it gets a little bit firmer, I think the toughness will come back.
Q. A lot of the players yesterday thought that a 1-under or 2-under would be a good score out there. What are you going to do to increase your lead instead of falling back??
NICK WATNEY: Well, all you can do is go out there and first and foremost try and hit the ball in the fairway because the rough is up pretty good. It's not quite U.S. Open level, but the rough up makes it much more difficult to play from there. Driving the ball in the fairway is a huge key.
And then just -- it's just up to the conditioning as far as how firm the greens get because the firmer the greens get, the higher the scores will go. I think as far as preparation, you're not going to shoot 6- or 7-under every day, so it's just a matter of knowing the course will be tougher and preparing to grind a little bit.
Q. Can you talk about your mindset going into the Playoffs this year versus last year, obviously much different position going into the Playoffs? Are you feeling a little freer? Are you feeling less pressure, less of a target?
NICK WATNEY: Well, I mean, I'd rather be in that position, I'll tell you that. But I think the way the format is now, it allows for a lot of movement. So I haven't had the season I would like, but if I can play well here in these next couple weeks, then I can make it to Atlanta, and that's always a goal at the beginning of the season, to play in the TOUR Championship.
It's a bit of, I guess, a new beginning. I haven't had the season I would like for sure, but if I can play well coming down the stretch, then Bill proved it last year, he ended up winning the whole thing, and he started whatever he started, 24th or whatever it was. I guess the way this format is there's always hope.
Q. Do you feel like you had a target on your back being No.1 last year??
NICK WATNEY: Not really, just because it's a four-week stretch. At the end they reset the points, so in theory you could be No.1 coming into the Playoffs, win the first three events, and then finish 10th in Atlanta and not win the FedExCup.
I didn't feel like I was a target. I did take a lot of pride, though, in finishing No.1 for the whole season. But unfortunately it didn't do too much.
LAURA HILL: Thanks for your time. Good luck the rest of the week.