MORE INTERVIEWS: RBC Canadian Open interviews
DOUG MILNE: We'd like to welcome John Merrick after a very successful 10 under 62 in round 2 of the RBC Canadian Open. Only once before has a player posted a 62 as a par 72, and that was Greg Norman in '86, I believe, so congratulations on a great round. With that said, just a couple comments on it.
JOHN MERRICK: Yeah, it was a great day. I got off to a good start, hit it over the green on 2 and chipped in for eagle, and that kind of calmed me down, and made a long putt I think on 8 for birdie, and then birdied the par 3, sorry, 7, and long putt on 8. Yeah, it was a good day. I hit it well and made a lot of putts.
Q. Yesterday there was obviously a difference between the morning rounds and the afternoon rounds as far as scoring goes. Correct me if I am wrong, it seemed today that this morning seemed to pick up a little earlier than it did yesterday. Would you agree with that?
JOHN MERRICK: The wind? Yeah, I wasn't out here yesterday morning, so I'm not sure how much it was blowing. But yeah, it was when we kind of got off the, I think, 7th hole, I felt like it was into the wind on 8. It was up pretty early today. It wasn't blowing too hard, but there was probably a good club breeze out there.
Q. Would you compare it to what you faced yesterday afternoon?
JOHN MERRICK: Right, yeah. It got pretty it got going pretty good at the end there yesterday, but it was nice to get some soft greens early. Whenever the greens are soft, no matter how much it's blowing, you're going to be able to hold the ball.
Q. There's supposed to be some rain coming in, probably scattered showers, nothing serious. What do you think that's going to do to the course?
JOHN MERRICK: Yeah, whenever the course is soft, it's going to lend to easier scores just because the balls are stopping faster on the greens. But yeah, that'll it'll probably play a little bit longer. But I would assume the scores are going to be probably a little bit better if it softens up.
Q. What was your strategy on the 2nd hole when you eagled?
JOHN MERRICK: Yeah, that's a tough tee shot, especially it's almost a harder tee shot when it's downwind because it kind of runs out down the left side. You try to hit a cut off the tee, and I took a good line but I kind of hit it too straight and it rolled through to the left side and it was in the intermediate cut kind of sitting down. I think I had 250 or so, maybe it was like 240 to a back right flag. I was just trying to hit something that's not over the green because the flag is in the back. I actually cut it, I hit it perfect. The ball was kind of sitting down and it was a low kind of driving shot and it rolled through the green, just over the green, it wasn't too bad. It was just a couple feet off. I tried to dunk something out on the fringe and it rolled down and luckily it went in the hole. Definitely you want to get away, get through that hole with a birdie. I would assume that's probably playing one of the easier holes on the course. It's a downwind par 5.
Q. What club did you chip in?
JOHN MERRICK: 60 degree lob wedge.
Q. You obviously had a career highlight early in the year, winning at Riviera in your hometown. Outside of that there hasn't been a lot of top finishes. How would you assess your season so far?
JOHN MERRICK: I've had stretches of good play. You know, it's tough out here. It's competitive. You've got to be on for four days, and I've had some good rounds here and there a couple days, and you just need to put four rounds together out here. My game has been feeling pretty good. Everything kind of clicked today. I think I played a couple rounds in the past few weeks where I didn't make a birdie, and that doesn't happen a lot. I think I did it at D.C. where I got done and I didn't make a birdie. Maybe that all kind of came back together. Everything came in a rush.
But I've been feeling pretty good, and everything kind of clicked today, I guess.
Q. How would you say your life changed after you won this year?
JOHN MERRICK: You know, not much. Golf wise you get that exemption and you get into the bigger tournaments, which is nice. But personally not much. It's just nice to know that you have that exemption and you're going to get into the Masters and the Tournament of Champions and everything. But I'm still changing diapers at home. There's nothing that's really changed there.
Q. This is Nicklaus' first ever design by himself. Just curious, how have you done on Nicklaus courses in the past, and do they set up well for your game?
JOHN MERRICK: Gosh, you know, I'm not really sure exactly what courses I've played that are Nicklaus. I feel like the ones that he designs, there's always cuts off the tee. He likes to work it left to right. I forgot how good of a driving course this is. It kind of looks open off the tee but it's kind of deceiving. You really need to drive your ball straight. In some of the areas where the ball lands, there's only 20, 30 yards wide there. But it's a great course. It's demanding off the tee, and there's a lot of slope on the greens, too.
Q. Is the driver more important here, or is the approach shot more important here relative to the small greens?
JOHN MERRICK: Yeah, I think they're both very important. Yeah, the rough is high enough this week to where if you're hitting it in there you're not going to play well just because you can't really get close to the pin placements. I think driving is a premium this week, definitely.
Q. At what point did you think you might be able to go this low? Was there a turning point in the round? And where does this rank for you in the best rounds of your career?
JOHN MERRICK: Yeah, it's weird. I actually kind of had a really kind of bad warm up this morning. It was strange. I wasn't hitting it that great and I didn't feel that good. Maybe that makes you focus a little bit more, try to figure out what's going on, and I was able to kind of work a couple things out and got off to a good start and eagled the second hole, which kind of calmed me down. Whenever you try to force things in golf you never get what you want to do. You've just got to do the best you can, try hard without trying too hard, and everything kind of clicked. You can't force it out here. I'm just blessed to have a good day today.
Q. Did it cross your mind that you might be packing the trunk while you were warming up?
JOHN MERRICK: Well, it wasn't that bad. It didn't feel like 62 at all. It felt like you never know. But a couple things clicked and I got off to a good start, and yeah, made that putt on the last hole and told my caddie, I was like, was that 10 under? He was like, I think so. I was just trying to keep making birdies and not quite think about what I was doing.
Q. Where does this rank?
JOHN MERRICK: Yeah, I think that's a career low. I shot 10 under at my home course back in Long Beach. It's a muni course, though, so it's not the most difficult course. It's a great course, don't get me wrong, recreation park, but it's not as difficult as a Tour course.
Q. How many times have you played here?
JOHN MERRICK: I played in back in '09.
Q. And that was your only time?
JOHN MERRICK: I believe so.
Q. Just going on the fact that you won at Riviera this year and possibly here, that would be quite a contrast in golf courses, wouldn't it?
JOHN MERRICK: Yeah, yeah. We've got a long way to go. There's two rounds left to play. But I'm just going to enjoy this day and do the best I can tomorrow. But yeah, if it happens, it would be great.
Q. Talk a little bit about the differences between a place like Riviera and Glen Abbey.
JOHN MERRICK: Yeah, I think they're gosh, they're different golf courses, different grass. You've got kikuyu grass out there at Riviera. But I think they both demand great driving, great iron play, and they're both pretty tricky greens. I think they're a little similar in that sense.
Q. Obviously you've played the Canadian Open before. How significant is it in your annual calendar when you're on TOUR?
JOHN MERRICK: Yeah, whenever you get to play a national open it's definitely up there. It's a very prestigious event. Yeah, it's a great honor to be here and playing the tournament, and it's definitely one that you look at to play well at, definitely.
Q. After the victory, how much has your recognition changed? Do people know who you are a little better than they did in the past?
JOHN MERRICK: A little bit, yeah, not a ton, but a little bit I would say. A few people that you don't think would recognize you recognize you, but not too much, though.
DOUG MILNE: John, great playing, and we look forward to seeing you in the rest of the weekend.