What they said: Scott Stallings

May 31, 2012
PGA TOUR staff

MORE INTERVIEWS: the Memorial Tournament transcript archive

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Scott Stallings, thank you for joining us. Currently our leader in the clubhouse after a first round 66 on certainly a day when scoring was at a premium. Let's get a few opening comments on a great start to your week.

SCOTT STALLINGS: Yeah, it was a great start. You know, I definitely haven't played very good up to this point. It's been a very -- lackluster would be an understatement, to the season. I stayed positive all throughout being injured and stuff like that. I kept telling myself that it was only a matter of time before a round like this was coming around.

It's a golf course that I like. My caddie and I came in on Sunday, they gave us a golf cart, and played 27 holes and just kind of ran around the golf course. So I became more and more comfortable with it as the week went on.

That's about it.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: If you could discuss the nature of your injury. You had a rib injury earlier. That affects the golf swing quite a bit.

SCOTT STALLINGS: Yeah. The Tuesday morning of Humana, which was, I think, January 18th, I tore cartilage in five of my ribs and didn't know it was torn at the time, thought we just strained some muscles or intercostals or something like that. I played a few more events and was miserable, it was hurting every swing, and we kind of found my doctor in Tennessee called and said, You need to come home, we need to do an MRI, and found out the cartilage was torn. Ended up spending six weeks kind of dealing with that.

Then to try to grind through the Masters and get through on painkillers and stuff like that. Somehow I played halfway decent, so it's been kind of a struggle getting through that.

I wasn't able to work out, wasn't able to do the things you need to do to play against the best players in the world. Now I'm cleared and happy to be able to play injury free.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Let's go over your round real quick. You started on the front side and started a little bit slow, bogey on No.2.

SCOTT STALLINGS: Yeah, I hit a great drive on No.2 and had 125 yards and hit a gap wedge in there, hit it behind the hole and kind of spun down the right in the rough and I was about 15 feet from the hole, but I had a terrible lie and didn't get it up-and-down.

Hit a couple great shots into 3 and didn't make it, had about a six-footer and missed there.

4, I made about a 25-footer right behind the hole left to right, 8-iron off the tee.

5, hit 3-wood, 4-iron just short of the green and chipped it up five, six feet and made it.

7, I had driver hybrid just short of the green. It wasn't in the bunker, it was just short in the rough, and I chipped it in for eagle.

Made a great up-and-down for par out of the fairway bunker, had to lay-up. Couldn't get to the green on 10, got up-and-down from about 50 yards for par.

11, hit driver, 5-iron, probably 15, 20 feet from the hole, two-putted for birdie.

Was kind of in between clubs on 12, hit it in the back rough and didn't get it up-and-down. I ended up making a six-footer for bogey there on 12.

Had a good look on 13, missed it.

Had a great up-and-down for par out of the bunker on 14.

And I hit driver, 8-iron on 15 into the green, and I hit it out of the bunker and about a six-footer for birdie there.

16, hit 7-iron to about 12 feet right to left, birdie there.

And 18, hit 3-wood, 8-iron. Happened to hit it to about a foot, so felt pretty good about that one.

Q. 5-under on the par-5s today. Just talk about how the par-5s are playing for you today.

SCOTT STALLINGS: My coach kind of always busts my chops a little bit about the par-5s. I don't struggle for distance, and I seem to -- that seems to be an area of my game I can always improve on. We definitely keyed on the par-5s as far as being aggressive, especially holes like 11 and 15 where some guys hit 3-wood or less off the tee. It's just an opportunity to where those are kind of some big swing holes, and today I hit 5-iron and 8-iron into both of those. That's an opportunity to definitely make a 4 but another opportunity to make a 3, as well.

That's something we talked about the last couple days that he was here. But obviously any time you make an eagle, that's a bonus. But good opportunities to make birdies here because there's a couple holes where you're just trying to make par and get out of there.

Q. When did you finally feel healthy -- or are you 100 percent even now? And how discouraging did it get missing six cuts in a row coming in here?

SCOTT STALLINGS: Yeah, it's discouraging, but at the end of the day if the worst thing in my life I have to complain about is a couple bad rounds of golf, I'll be all right.

I remember when I finally took the time off to go and get healthy, I was pretty miserable. I kind of started to feel sorry for myself and this and that, and I remember sitting at home, and I got a phone call from Zach Johnson, and he said, You're going to look back on it and it's going to be one of the best times of your life. My wife and I were home for 35 days straight. It's not very often a PGA TOUR player is at home in the middle of the season for 35 days. We just hung out and tried to get healthy. I was pretty limited on what I could doing physically.

To answer your question, coming back out on the road, I'm starting to feel stronger and stronger every day. I was allowed to work out. I started working out again the Tuesday of Byron Nelson, which was almost exactly five months. So those first few events coming back basically I was limited in the amount of practice I could do, just basically show up and try to play my way into some form.

The unfortunate thing about the PGA TOUR is you don't really get any kind of rehab, you get thrown back into the fire, so you find out where you stand really fast.

But I knew I was doing the right things. I had some really good people around me that kept me positive and kept me doing the things I need to do. Every day it's a blessing to be out here, and that's kind of the attitude I took towards it.

Q. How would you say the injuries have kind of affected your game recently??

SCOTT STALLINGS: Oh, man, a lot. A lot of doubt, a lot of, is this going to hurt, is it not going to hurt. Any time you're dealing with an injury that involves any type of ribs or any type of side like that, especially when you're in a sport where there's a lot of torque put on your torso or anything like that, that's one of the injuries that you never know. And there's no real thing -- there's no real therapy, there's no surgery, there's not really anything you can do. It's just a matter of time.

It's frustrating because you go day in and day out, because some days it feels good, some days it doesn't. But it's feeling as good as it's felt in a long time.

Q. You mentioned the 27 holes on Sunday. Was that the first time you'd seen the course, and with as dry as it's been here, what was your -- as fast as it's playing, what was your reaction to the place??

SCOTT STALLINGS: You know, my caddie and I kind of were talking about it on Sunday because we started on the back nine and were kind of playing around, and we didn't really pay attention to really how fast the course was playing until we got to 17. It was a little bit downwind off the right, and I hit a pretty good drive, and we got up there and I had like 95 yards. We looked at the yardage book from last year, and the closest we had to that was like 140. Obviously the golf course was much softer last year, which you saw, which you had more opportunities to hit it close and this and that. You kind of had to play away from some of the flags today.

But that was definitely the firmest I've ever seen it. It's been firm every single day from there on.

Q. You talked about the self-doubt you had during this ordeal. This is your first round in the 60s since January. What's a round like this do for the psyche??

SCOTT STALLINGS: I mean, it's big. Any time your round -- everybody talks about leading a golf tournament, this and that. I mean, that's secondary. You're trying to play your way in and hopefully have an opportunity on Sunday. That's all these guys are out here doing.

It's nice to play a round like this and be winning a golf tournament, but it goes a lot more than winning a golf tournament for me. I mean, I was out there, I competed for 18 holes, I stayed in my shots. My pre-shot routine was great the whole entire day. And kind of getting back into being competitive and not really having any kind of external things affecting you, whether it's injury, whether it's the amount of time off or the amount of time you're practicing, it's something that's pretty nice to feel out there.

Q. Was there a moment today where it just felt like the first time in maybe I don't know how long, this is the way it's supposed to feel, it's been a long time??

SCOTT STALLINGS: I remember when I chipped in for eagle on 7, that was kind of the moment that my caddie is like, all right, here we go. I was kind of starting to build some momentum. I started hitting some really good shots and wasn't -- obviously any time you have a little chip that goes in like that, it's a bonus. But it was kind of the moment -- I think that was the most under par I'd been since Kapalua. And that's a long time ago.

To be 3 under through 7 and kind of be able to build upon that was something that was pretty big instead of just kind of being there and hanging around. So hopefully we can build on it for the rest of the week.

Q. Because of how fast the greens are, and you said there's some holes where you just have to take par, did that make it even more important to try to score on the par 5s today than maybe at a normal time??

SCOTT STALLINGS: Uh huh. I remember I hit it in the rough on 14 and kind of had to play away from the hole and hit it just left of the green, and probably the only spot you have a chance to get it up-and-down is in the rough or in the bunker, with a lot of green to work with. Hit a really good drive on 15 and my caddie said, let's get a chance here, because we know we're getting ready to make a turn, 16, 17, 18, every hole is into the wind.

We got up there and made birdie there, and it was kind of a perfect situation for me on 16 with the pin in the front left, and I watched Jonathan Byrd hit a great shot in there, and we've played together quite a bit, so clubbing off him is pretty easy. He hit 6-iron, so I knew it was a perfect 7, and kind of flighted it in there and made a good 15-footer from there. To play the last three holes 2 under was definitely a bonus.

Q. Not sure if you've seen the forecast for tomorrow, but wind, rain, cold, all that stuff is kind of going to be a factor tomorrow. How tough is that going to be to get some consistency to carry over from today to tomorrow with that??

SCOTT STALLINGS: I mean, it's day-to-day. At the end, today is over. You build some confidence, you go on and you do the things you need to do, and tomorrow is a whole new set of challenges, and there's everything that kind of comes along with it.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Scott Stallings, thank you.