Tampa Bay Championship interview: Shawn StefaniMarch 15, 2013
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DAVE SENKO: Thanks for joining us. 65 today, which you had a 65 a week ago, maybe just a quick synopsis of your round, and then we'll get some questions.
SHAWN STEFANI: Okay. Yeah, you know, I started the day off, you know, ball‑striking was pretty good. Hit some really good shots, and tried to build on that. You know, the greens are quick this week, so if you can hit some good shots into these greens and give yourself some good looks, you'll definitely be able to make a few putts.
Today I was able to do that, and you know, stayed patient all day. And kind of fought through a couple of bad shots, I guess, coming in, or not‑so‑great shots. Managed to get balls up‑and‑down and make a few putts.
So all in all, today was a great day and looking forward to getting out there tomorrow.
Q. Unless I mis‑read something, I think the longest putt you had for par was probably the last hole, about four feet?
SHAWN STEFANI: That's probably about right.
Q. That's a good day on this course, wouldn't you say?
SHAWN STEFANI: Yeah, very much so. The greens were really quick; and the wind today, which was blowing out of the north, and the humidity is low, it's drying these greens out pretty good.
I didn't really have a lot of putts uphills today, so any time I was above the hole, I was cautious. They were very quick. It actually felt good to have a putt on the last hole uphill for birdie.
Q. Is this your first competitive round on this course?
SHAWN STEFANI: Yes, it is.
Q. You're not supposed to shoot 65 the first time.
SHAWN STEFANI: No, probably not. But I love the golf course. Fits my eye a little bit. It's tree‑lined, it's long, it's difficult, and I like golf courses like that. And just it was a good day for me, you know and I hit some really good shots.
Like you said, you know, if you hit it good out here‑‑ this is a ball‑striker's golf course. Drive it well first and give yourself some shots into the greens, you'll give yourself some opportunities.
Q. It helped to go birdie, birdie on 10 and 11 to start the day.
SHAWN STEFANI: Yeah, never hurts. Those are good holes. Today, they were both downwind, predominately those holes played probably a little tougher with the prevailing wind.
So we had those holes downwind today and I was able to hit a wedge into 10. And then I was able to kind of go for No. 11. I didn't hit the green in two but, I hit it kind of pin‑high left and got it up‑and‑down. Not saying those holes are easy by any means, but with the wind today, that made them a lot shorter holes.
Q. Wedge on 10?
SHAWN STEFANI: Yeah, wedge on 10.
Q. You survived the Snake Pit by parring those holes, getting through that on the turn maybe helped push you through on the back nine?
SHAWN STEFANI: Yeah, I wasn't really thinking of the 'Snake Pit' as a real pit. I was just trying to hit each shot the best I could.
16 is a good hole, because you've got that hole, usually into the wind, and today, it was kind of down left‑to‑right. I was able to hit a 3‑wood in the fairway, which is a great setup, only had like 165 in. Wasn't trying to be real aggressive with it because if you miss that green long left, you're in trouble. Made par there.
Hit a great shot into 17, and you know, that's not really a hole you're trying to birdie at all. So I hit a really good shot there and made par. 18, hit just in the first cut on the right side and actually hit a really good shot in there and didn't hit a very good putt, but I made par there, also.
Q. Took care of all the 5s?
SHAWN STEFANI: Yeah, I did. I was able to pretty much‑‑ I tried going for all of them, and never hit any of them but got it up around the green pretty close and had short shots in there, which some of these pins on some of those holes, I think number‑‑ I guess it was 14, the par5, I had like 280 front and I was like, you know, if I can actually get it up there, it's better than hitting a poor shot in there, because you'll run go back off the green. I saw people do that in the practice rounds, so thought, I'm going to try to jam it up there as far as I can.
Q. Where did your second shot go?
SHAWN STEFANI: About 35 yards short of the green, kind of in between the neck and the bunker there, the fairway.
Q. When did you get here from Puerto Rico?
SHAWN STEFANI: Sunday night.
Q. What did you do on Monday?
SHAWN STEFANI: I played the Pro‑Am, I did 12:30, I guess we teed off.
SHAWN STEFANI: I did not play Tuesday. I spent a lot of time on the range working on a bunch of stuff.
Really here lately, my short game has been letting me down and I've spent a lot of time working on my short game, a lot of time on my golf swing and a lot of time on the greens, trying to get a feel for the speed. I normally don't work that hard here during tournament weeks, but I felt it was kind of necessary to do that this week. Things felt good today.
Q. One look at the course, basically, before you teed off today, because you didn't play Wednesday.
SHAWN STEFANI: I actually played real early yesterday morning. I played nine. I played the back nine yesterday.
Q. Trying to figure something out. You're 31, right?
SHAWN STEFANI: Yes, that's correct.
Q. Turned pro in 2005. When did you get out of Lamar?
SHAWN STEFANI: '05.
Q. When did you get out of high school?
SHAWN STEFANI: 2000.
Q. So it was just a five‑year plan?
SHAWN STEFANI: Yeah, just five‑year. Red‑shirted my first year.
Q. How old were you when you left high school; 18?
SHAWN STEFANI: Yes, 18.
Q. I know it's not pronounced the same. But do you listen to any Gwen Stefani?
SHAWN STEFANI: I have in the past. More of a country guy. She doesn't make any music‑‑ or doesn't make as much music as she used to. It's hard to listen to anything she's got going on, but I've got a few wedges that have a few stamps on them from the band, 'No Doubt' and got a another one that says 'Hollaback,' the song.
So there's a few people out here that call me Stefani and some people call me Gwen. Never been a big issue with it. But it's kind of fun.
Q. What did you do from last year on the Web.com? Was that your first full year on the Web.com?
SHAWN STEFANI: Yes, it was.
Q. What did you do from Lamar before you got to a full Web.com season?
SHAWN STEFANI: I played, started out on the Adams Tour, the Adams Pro Golf Tour for one year, and then switched over to the Hooters Tour in 2007. In 2007 I went to the Hooters Tour and then bounced around, did a lot of Mondays, trying to get out here. Qualified for the U.S. Open 2009 but, you know, just spent my time doing the Monday qualifying. Was very close at Q‑School a few times but never got to finals.
Q. What was the closest you had in the finals?
SHAWN STEFANI: No, I had never gone to finals. I missed by a shot. My first year out, actually, 2006.
Q. Any heartbreaking tales or just one shot short?
SHAWN STEFANI: No, just one shot, just one shot short.
Q. So 2011 would have been the year I got to the final stage to get to Web.com?
SHAWN STEFANI: That's correct.
Q. When you four‑spotted, were you doing Nationwide‑‑
SHAWN STEFANI: Mostly Nationwide.
Q. What was the breakthrough? What was keeping you back, do you think?
SHAWN STEFANI: You know, just not playing good at the right time. I don't think it had anything to do with a lack of work. I've always been a hard worker. You know, just like I said, I think it was just wrong timing for me.
Q. And how much have you paid attention to what some of the other rookies are doing this year, Russell, Scott Langley in the last group, Luke Guthrie at Honda?
SHAWN STEFANI: Yeah, it's great to see those guys play well, because I competed with those guys all last year and they all won, except Scott, they all won on the Web.com last year a few times and they are all super nice guys, good players. It's just a matter of time before ‑‑ everybody kind of goes and hits their strides differently. I'm more of kind of a patient kind of guy, and just kind of wait for things to happen. You know, I know eventually things will start clicking, and I've really been close to playing good all year. The cuts I've missed I've missed by a shot, two shots, and really all that's been has just been bad putting really. I know once the putts starts going, I know I'll start playing better and start competing against all the guys out here on this tour.
Q. Would you consider yourself a late bloomer?
SHAWN STEFANI: Yeah, I mean, I didn't start learning the real important parts of the game until later in life, and I'm not talking about techniques or swings or whatever. I'm talking about the mental side of it. Spent a lot of time here in the last year, really, on the mental part and just trying to get better in that area.
Everybody out here has the physical ability and at this level, it's mostly mental and the guys who are the best mentally are really the guys who are the best players. Tiger Woods, obviously, is known for his strong mind and stuff, and that's what we all work to is to get to stronger minds and be better players in that regard.
Q. Do you teach yourself?
SHAWN STEFANI: No. I actually do not. I work with a guy out of North Carolina.
Q. Are we talking about mental side?
SHAWN STEFANI: Yes.
Q. Who is that?
SHAWN STEFANI: Dr.Dick Coop.
Q. How long have you been working with him?
SHAWN STEFANI: Since July last year.
Q. Who is the most famous athlete to ever come out of Baytown?
SHAWN STEFANI: Maybe Quentin Coryatt? I don't know. Do you know the answer to that?
Q. Do you like getting drilled by me? These are good. No, that's why I asked you.
SHAWN STEFANI: I think it is Quentin Coryatt. Or you've got Drew Tate. (Laughter).
Q. Best shot you hit today?
SHAWN STEFANI: Probably the 6‑iron I hit on 13, the par3. I didn't make birdie but the shot came off exactly the way I wanted it to.
Q. You said at the start, you had something bad‑‑ you changed to not‑so‑great. There wasn't much bad today, was there?
SHAWN STEFANI: No, mis‑hit‑few but luckily hit the miss‑hits online. I drove the ball extremely well.
And this is really‑‑ if you can drive the ball well out here, you can give yourself enough opportunities. But it's a tough driving course, and I was able to hit a lot of fairways, which there for put me in good position to make birdies.
Q. Most interesting thing that's happened to you so far this year?
SHAWN STEFANI: Nothing really interesting‑‑
Q. Did you have a good partner at Pebble?
SHAWN STEFANI: I did. John Stafford was his name from Ronin Capital in Chicago. I consider myself a big guy for golf but this guy made me look like I was about three‑foot tall and he just pounded the ball.
But Pebble was great‑‑ people's fine. People's a great golf course, great event. You've got Spyglass, Pebble and you've got Monterey Peninsula, so three good golf courses.
DAVE SENKO: Thank you.