MORE INTERVIEWS: Well Fargo Championship transcript archive
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Scott Gardiner, thank you for joining us today after opening up with rounds of 70 and 67 here at the Wells Fargo Championship. You can maybe start with some opening comments about a good start to the week for you.
SCOTT GARDINER: Yeah, probably nobody's more surprised than I am. But it's really a treat to play on such a great golf course. I've watched this tournament for many years, and I'm just it's great to be out here on the PGA TOUR and to play some good golf is nice too.
Q. You said nobody's more surprised than you. How come? Why are you so surprised?
SCOTT GARDINER: Have you seen my resume this year (laughing)? But, yeah, no, I just haven't been putting it together. I've putted poorly all year, haven't really saved any shots around the greens. I don't know. My hitting and everything I don't know. It seems like it's been getting better for a while, but the results have been similar. But it's just nice to get a few birdies and save a few pars because when I've been giving myself opportunities, I haven't been taking them. My short game has been poor, so it's nice to see some improvement in those areas.
Q. The last cut you made was probably February?
SCOTT GARDINER: It could be. I don't know. I can't remember. I remember it was probably I made the two cuts in California. I made Pebble, yeah.
Q. You finally get your card in the last group at Sony?
SCOTT GARDINER: Yeah, yeah, I played well at Sony. I was in the second to last group and finished 15th. That was my first tournament as a PGA TOUR player. I got a false impression (laughing). These guys are good. I'm not going to lie.
Q. I guess in Australia you're really known as a trailblazer. Can you talk about that and that role?
SCOTT GARDINER: I've been very fortunate. My heritage is Aboriginal from my mom's side, and I guess coming into turning professional I was afforded some scholarships through The National Aboriginal Sports Corporation of Australia, which sort of helped take me from a good amateur to starting a professional career.
It was a program it was called The Hunt For the Australian Tiger, because I guess it was around 2000 and Tiger had just won The Masters and native Australians, Aboriginals it had sort of become appealing because they saw Tiger. And they gave a lot of kids scholarships to work in the golf industry, not just to try to play great golf, but in offices to be an assistant pro or try to become a pro. It was a great leg up for me to chase my dream.
Q. You lost me on this one a little bit here. This program was called Hunt for the Native Tiger?
SCOTT GARDINER: Hunt for the Australian Tiger.
Q. How old were you?
SCOTT GARDINER: I was probably 22. I turned pro when I was 24, so I had a little bit of assistance through the last couple years as an amateur which enabled me to travel to some tournaments that I may not have been able to travel to. If you're traveling to tournaments it costs money, and if you're going to have that money, you're probably going to have to work. I didn't have to do too much of that which enabled me to practice and get better. If you're working, it cuts into your time for practice.
We don't really have in Australia, we don't have sport as a part of college. I was also part of the Australian Institute of Sport which was designed as an alternative to coming to college, which I probably should have gotten an education, but it's worked out all right to now. I'm here and doing what I want to do.
Q. What was it like for you to see Adam win The Masters?
SCOTT GARDINER: Oh, it was incredible. He's such a great guy. I don't think you could have had a more popular winner. He's so well liked by everybody and such a humble guy. My son picked it on about the third hole. He saw a putt go in. He's like 4 or 5, and we were on the couch, and he said that's the guy who is going to win the trophy. So as soon as that happened, I put it on my Facebook profile. I know who is going to win. Adam's going to win. But it made me relax a little bit watching him.
Because as Australians, not having had a winner there, it's such a big deal. We all get up 5 a.m. in Australia to watch The Masters, and seeing Greg get so close and for Adam to win being the closest player to Greg probably takes a little bit of the bite out of him not winning and probably gives him a great sense of pride because he's helped Adam probably more than he's helped anybody.
Q. You live in Arkansas now though; is that right?
SCOTT GARDINER: I do.
Q. Been there a while?
SCOTT GARDINER: Yeah, I've lived there since 2007. My wife was working there when I met her. I practiced out of the Blessings Golf Club. Mr. John Tyson, he owns the course and lets me play out there. That's where the Razorbacks golf program practices. John Tyson, owner of Tyson chicken, he's been very generous to me.
Q. How'd you meet your wife?
SCOTT GARDINER: At a concert during a tournament week. It was rare. I don't really go out very often. But the Fort Smith tournament, they put on a pretty good show that had good bands, and whoever I was rooming with, I think it was James McLean, he took us out and we had a good time. Yeah, it was funny. She didn't remember me the first night I met her. The next night, hey, how you doing? And then we just stayed in contact.
Q. Who was playing that night?
SCOTT GARDINER: I think it was a band called The Clocks. They did great covers. Everything from UB40 to country and western, they covered it all.
Q. What did you expect coming into this week realistically, and what would it mean if you pulled off the miracle and won this whole tournament?
SCOTT GARDINER: Gee, what did I expect? Agony (laughing). But if I won, that would be incredible. I just want to play two more good rounds. It's going to be a thrill. I'm sure I'll play with some great players in the next couple days. I don't know. I'm doing what I love doing, and to do it with some of the best players in the world, generally you have a great atmosphere when that happens. It gets your adrenaline going.
For me, playing in the last few groups, it's kind of like when you watch football in the finals, the adrenaline is pumping and you do things that you're not normally capable of doing. For me, most of the time, that's been positive. I would like to do it more.
Q. How many years on the Nationwide?
SCOTT GARDINER: Eight.
Q. Eight years.
SCOTT GARDINER: Yeah.
Q. What kind of grind was that, and was there ever a point where you thought about giving up?
SCOTT GARDINER: No, I enjoyed every minute of it. I had a few close calls. I think I was in the top 30 three out of four years. But I took that as me playing well. 26th one year. The year I finished 26th I won a tournament, and I thought that was a step forward as opposed to I'd been deprived of something because that was all I knew. I didn't know what was out here. Had it been somebody who had been out here, they might have felt they lost something. But I don't know. I had won a tournament and 26th, that was the best year I had.
Q. What happened in the TOUR Championship that year?
SCOTT GARDINER: I played good. Finished about 20th, but I went from 22nd to 26th. I finished 20th out of the top 60 players on the TOUR. I felt that was pretty good. I hit one poor shot on the back nine. I hit a cart path, went out of bounds and made a triple, but probably ended up missing by a shot.
Q. How much better do you think it felt having put in so much time when you finally got out here?
SCOTT GARDINER: I didn't really give it much thought. I sort of achieved it kind of early in the piece, probably eight or ten weeks to go, so then it was all I always thought it would hit me in Hawaii, and that was pretty cool there.
I actually did a bit of a documentary with a TV station in Australia that was filming like five different people. Patty Mills from San Antonio, they did something on Jesse from Alabama. They did a story on him from the Alabama Championship team, a BMX rider at the Olympics, and a guy playing rugby. But I probably could have gotten a bit anxious because it was such a big deal to get my card, that I did interviews in the morning of my PGA TOUR debut. I went up and played well because I didn't have all morning to think about what I was up against, I guess.
Q. What was the first courtesy car you got?
SCOTT GARDINER: Where were we? I'm trying to think. I've had a few good ones this year. This week is nice, Mercedes. Thanks to them. We've also had some BMW, Lexus, but I'm apparently focused on Mercedes this week because they're a great sponsor.
Q. Aside from national pride, when Adam wins The Masters, are you personally inspired by that? Does it give you any kind of a lift in your own play?
SCOTT GARDINER: I don't know. I know how good Adam Scott is. I don't know. The things that he does don't apply to me. I played with Adam when he's won tournaments over in Europe, and I think he shot a 63 the day he played with me. Started with a 5 shot lead and won by 10, and it looked like he was shooting par, because it looked like that's what he should do because he's so good.
Q. You actually haven't talked about your round here. You had four straight birdies?
SCOTT GARDINER: Yeah, I did.
Q. Just talk about why did you shoot 67?
SCOTT GARDINER: Well, I made a nice putt on the first hole. It was about a 15 footer. I actually missed I made a nice up and down on 3, nice up and down on 4, and I guess we can get to the birdies. I made about a 25 footer on 6. 7 was a two putt from about 15 feet. 8 was about a 5 footer, and 9 was about maybe a 7 footer with a lot of break. Can't really lie because you guys know ShotLink, don't you?
Q. What did you hit for your second on 7?
SCOTT GARDINER: A hybrid, it was like a 70 degree.
Q. What about 9?
SCOTT GARDINER: 9 was a 4 iron. And the back nine, I had a good look on 10. Made a nice save on 12, up and down from underneath the hole and chipped it to a couple inches. Nice shot into the next. Hit a poor wedge, made a nice save from just right of and just beyond pin high, made about a 6 footer. 15 about 15 feet, and I think I hit it about 12, missed it. But a nice up and down on 16. 17, had a good look. 18, just over the bunker. I was surprised I hit it that far. It seemed like the wind switched on say 15.
Yeah, it was great to keep a bogey off the card out there, because we all know how good a golf course it is.
Q. What would you be doing if you weren't playing golf?
SCOTT GARDINER: In my bio I think it says stacking shelves, but my wife probably wouldn't let me do that. I don't know. I'd like to do something involved in golf. I've had a lot of instructors, and it's probably the thing that I have the most knowledge of.
Q. How did you get started?
SCOTT GARDINER: My dad was an avid sports fan. He had me play soccer, cricket, athletics, one season of basketball. He played golf once a month I'd say. He saw clinics at the golf course where he played, and after about three weeks I was the only one turning up, so he took me out.
I never really played a whole heap until I was 13 when I moved from Penrith to the Gold Coast or Sydney to the Gold Coast. We had a good junior program there. We got time slots at Coolangatta & Tweed Heads and they always gave us help. There were always junior clinics there, and they had lots of good competition in the Queensland border.
Q. What are your mom and dad's names?
SCOTT GARDINER: Tom and Gloria. They're both elementary teachers. My dad's about to retire. He wants to come over here and watch me play golf all the time.
Q. Did I hear that I don't know the Australian colleges but you did not go to college. What did you do once you finished high school?
SCOTT GARDINER: I had a scholarship with the Australian Institute of Sport. It was a government funded program and it was mainly aimed at Olympic sports. I think in 1980 we had a really poor Olympics, and sport being such a big export for Australia, if somebody sees an Australian doing well, it's makes them think, oh, I want to go to Australia. So if they can get their athletes at an elite level it's going to make people want to come down and that helps our economy.
So I was there from '95 and '96, and that was a great opportunity. We had trainers; we had a coach; we had dietitians; and we also got the opportunity to play with some of the best players. I got better draws than I might have if I was doing it on my own. It was a great opportunity.
Q. You would have come maybe a year or two after Appleby?
SCOTT GARDINER: A few years after him.
Q. More like five?
SCOTT GARDINER: Actually, I've known Stuart a long time. I've known Stuey probably over 20 years. He's a good fellow. He used to come up to the Gold Coast and practice a lot.
Q. Do you watch leaderboards and do names like Westwood and McIlroy do anything to you up there?
SCOTT GARDINER: It's nice to be in the same tournament as they are. That's my first thought. If I'm playing well, I'm happy to look at them because, yeah, it's much better to look at your name when it's 7 under as opposed to 7 over. Yeah, that's my thought.
Q. How long did you say you've been in Arkansas?
SCOTT GARDINER: Since 2007.
Q. Is that where you met your wife?
SCOTT GARDINER: Yes, yeah. I met her playing the Nationwide, now Web.com Tour.
Q. And are you then marinaded in Arkansas?
SCOTT GARDINER: Yeah, I'm a Razorback fan, yeah. When I first got there we had Darren McFadden and Felix Jones, so they were pretty easy to support. The team has been pretty good over the years. Hopefully we'll get back on track this year.
Q. Have you learned how to call the pigs yet?
SCOTT GARDINER: I've been shown it, but I'm not
Q. You're not going to do it for us, you're saying?
SCOTT GARDINER: No, no. I kind of pretend I'm paying attention. I'll support them in my own way.
Q. What do you credit this turnaround from missed cuts to leading?
SCOTT GARDINER: As I said, I just saved some shots. I did some time with Dave Stockton Sr. I haven't putted well or chipped well all year, and that's really, that was a big turnaround. I saved a lot of shots.
Q. Was there a swing thought or anything?
SCOTT GARDINER: I've gone back to some swing thoughts from a couple years ago. I sort of analyzed my game, looked at swings from the past. I've got like three cameras that I looked at, and I saw where I thought I was actually functioning the best. Not necessarily my best results, but where I felt like I was swinging freely, yeah, so it was a major overhaul.
Q. When did you see Dave Stockton?
SCOTT GARDINER: I saw him on Tuesday. It's kind of funny. I was in the locker room, and I actually met Dave in Houston. I didn't really know who he was. When he turned up I was talking to Steve Bowditch, and he turned up, and I was talking to him about Australia and New Zealand. I saw him in the locker room I think it was maybe Monday. I said, Hey, Dave. How you doing? I met you in Houston. He said, How's your game been? And I said, No good. He said, We can have a look if you like.
So he was nice enough to have a look at me on Monday for a little bit and then Tuesday. I think I called him Monday night and said, yeah, I need some more time, and it's turned out well so far. It's given me some structure, which I didn't have.
When you're lacking in confidence, structure is something that helps you, because you sort of think about the process as opposed to all the bad shots you've hit.
Q. You've played golf all over the world. Where on the spectrum do these greens rank among those you've seen?
SCOTT GARDINER: I didn't really hit any I might have hit one putt that didn't do what it should have in 36 holes. If I had shot 7 or 8 over, I might have a different opinion, but for me they've been fine.
Q. What do you make of the conversation about them?
SCOTT GARDINER: It's just unfortunate. Quail Hollow is a fantastic tournament. I think you all heard Phil talk about it yesterday and how well we're looked after here. Every week we get looked after well, but this one has a I don't know it has a great history and great respect from the players. It's a great venue, and it's getting better every day. That's all we can hope for.
They're doing the best that they can. They didn't want it to be the way it is, but they're dealing with it in a positive light and making it better for us.