MORE INTERVIEWS: Tampa Bay Championship transcript archive
DAVE SENKO: 3‑under, maybe you alluded to it outside, maybe just talk about the conditions today and how difficult it made the club selection.
BRENDAN STEELE: Yeah, I mean, the club selection kind of changes from guy to guy, even if you watch a guy hit in front of you, it will be totally different by the time you get up to it.
So it's hard to even pull a club. You kind of have to wait to pull a club until it's really your turn to go, and even then. Mick backed me off four or five times today to make sure we had the right wind, and it seemed to work out pretty much every time.
Q. I looked up at one point and even par was like tied for 15th. What's that like playing in that type of scoring, even though it's just one session of one day?
BRENDAN STEELE: Yeah, we are not used to that for the most part. It felt more like a Major Championship kind of today. Usually the lead at the U.S. Open is a few under after the first round at least, even if the winning score ends up being over par. To see it only be 3‑under at this point is really a testament to how good the golf course is and how difficult the conditions are.
So you put that combo together and it's just not a course that you can fake it around and it's not a course that you can get away with any bad shots when the wind is blowing, especially.
Q. The Hooters girl serving wings at 17, that wasn't U.S. Open‑like, though.
BRENDAN STEELE: They probably won't have that at the U.S. Open, but they might think about it, you never know. (Laughter).
Q. You had to know getting up this morning going to the course that 3‑under was going to be a pretty good score?
BRENDAN STEELE: Yeah, I definitely would have taken it when I got out of bed and gone straight back to sleep. We are staying down in Clearwater Beach at the Hyatt down there, so we are staying a little ways from the course. But we came out and it was windy and cold and dark and I was like, oh, this is going to be a rough one today.
But glad to be in the house with a good score, and obviously it's just the first round but I feel good about my game and looking forward to the rest of the week.
Q. What changes do you see, if any, on 17 and 18 green?
BRENDAN STEELE: I see changes on 18, definitely. It's definitely a little bit more fair. It still kind of has the effect that they want, which is a very difficult green, falls off both sides, more severely on the right. But I do notice that being a little bit more friendly.
I'm not sure exactly where they made it more friendly, but I can tell that it's more friendly‑‑ I was surprised actually where my shot stayed today and I thought it was going to roll all the way down to the right edge of the green but I hit it 18 feet right of the hole and it stayed up there pin‑high and so that was kind of nice. Not really used to that on that hole.
Q. Is this one of those courses that you either generally play well or you like to play, that you enjoy? Is this one of the courses that you look forward to?
BRENDAN STEELE: It really is. You know, I've only played it once and I missed the cut. But I missed the cut by a couple shots my rookie year and then last year I didn't play because I played four in a row leading up to Augusta. And so I was excited to come back this year.
It's a little bit more of a West Coast‑style course, which is strange in Florida, a little bit more elevation change. The overseed makes it a little bit more comfortable, less grain.
So I think you'll see maybe a few more West Coast guys play well here, than you will at, say, like a Honda or a Bay Hill/ or at least the guys that are younger can pick it up a little faster than THE PLAYERS or something like that where there's a lot of grain and a lot of knowledge and guys have to spend a lot of time trying to figure it out, especially if you're not from Florida.
Q. So you have not played this course that much then?
BRENDAN STEELE: I've played a practice round and two rounds a couple years ago, and a practice round and one round. So, what's that?
Q. About six.
BRENDAN STEELE: Yeah. Five.
Q. That shot on 6, you had to go through the trees, down the next hole?
BRENDAN STEELE: Yeah, we didn't really have a shot out of the trees there to get back to our fairway, so played it down No. 7 fairway. Didn't hit a good tee shot there obviously but it also hit a tree I guess and kicked way right.
So it got in the middle of a lot of small little trees that couldn't really get it through. So chipped it out about 50 yards down there and Mick went up and paced the whole thing and we tried to get it figured out. Him pacing off the yardage and trying to figure out how much it's going to release and how much flight you needed into the wind, it was tough one to figure out but we got it right.
Q. Can you go over your birdies?
BRENDAN STEELE: 12, this was I guess maybe the way that the round‑‑ the turning point in the round came on 12, which was my third hole, I think. Because I hit a bad shot off the tee, I felt like I kind of had a lot of club and I kind of quit on it and hit a pull‑hook. Thought it was in the water.
Got up there, it was short of the water, in the rough with a pretty good lie, hit wedge on the green to like six feet and make a birdie. So all of a sudden you go from struggling and maybe making a five to making a three. It turned out pretty good.
So did that, and then we're able to go for No. 14, which is strange to me, I had never seen it under conditions where we could go for it, it's kind of into the wind. Hit it up short of the green in two and chipped it like six feet and made that one.
Hit a good 5‑iron on 15, maybe 14, 15 feet and rolled that one in. So all of a sudden, we were 3‑under, and through six holes. Off to a pretty good start. But that ball staying out of the water and being able to hit it close was kind of the turning point I think already.
Q. I kind of missed that. I was listening and it went in one ear and out the other.
BRENDAN STEELE: Off the tee, I hit kind of a pull hook and the water sneaks up on the left. So we are trying to lay up short of the front water, if you hit it straight down the fairway, but the short left water is up there close, and it got down there, it was only maybe ten feet short of the water. I thought it was in the water after I hit it off the tee. So kind of gave us a little momentum to get up there.
I think those are the kind of things that the guys that win and play well, those are the kind of things that happen. And guys that are going bad, you know, just when you're in kind of a rut, that one hits the cart path and goes in the water. It hit hard and goes in the water, and then maybe you drop and you didn't get a good lie, you miss the green and you make a six or something.
There's a big difference. That's a big part of the game that I think a lot of people don't understand is just how close a good round is to being a bad round and a bad round to being a good round.
Q. Is this one of your better rounds this season?
BRENDAN STEELE: Yeah, definitely. I've played really solid this year. Even the weeks that I have not finished very high, I've felt good about my game, and just been trying to put it all together. I shot 64 to make the cut on the number at Palm Desert this year, so I would say it's up there with that round. I played four good, solid rounds at Phoenix, but yeah, it's definitely as good as I've played this year for sure.
DAVE SENKO: Thank you.