BMW CHAMPIONSHIP MEDIA DAY
July 9, 2018
THE MODERATOR: Good morning. On behalf of the membership of Aronimink Golf Club, I'd like to welcome you all here today for what we all hope will be very much an informative and fun day of golf. You take time out of your schedule. We really appreciate it. I think it's going to be a lot of fun.
I'd like to start off by introducing Vince Pellegrino, who's the senior vice president of tournaments for the Western Golf Association. Thank you.
VINCE PELLEGRINO: Thanks, Joe. Appreciate that. Welcome, everyone, to Aronimink. Sorry about the weather this morning, but you're going to enjoy some great information about this year's BMW Championship and ultimately enjoy an incredible golf course afterwards.
But we'll provide you additional details and information about the golf course and a lot more, but first we have a special guest, and I'd like to welcome the 2017 BMW Championship winner, Marc Leishman, who joins us via Skype. Welcome, Marc. Thank you for joining us this morning. Tell us about your victory last year and really what it meant to you to win the BMW Championship at Conway Farms.
MARC LEISHMAN: Yeah, thank you. Obviously it was a big win for me. You know, to win such a big event at such an important time was very pleasing, and to have my family there, as well, was huge.
You know, it was the first PGA TOUR event that I could -- walking up the last, really, really enjoy, knowing that I had probably won it, playing the last -- at least the last hole. Yeah, that was nice. It's one of my best memories in golf, to be honest. You know, it was a huge honor to lift up such an important trophy and such a historic one. I've seen so many great players win the BMW Championship and the Western Open, and to be one of those is a massive honor.
VINCE PELLEGRINO: We know obviously the championship being a playoff event, the penultimate event in the FedExCup Playoffs, what does that mean to TOUR players nowadays and obviously you winning a playoff event, how does that factor into how the guys come into the competition, knowing it's a playoff event?
MARC LEISHMAN: Yeah, with the points being so elevated and the stature of the event so big with what we've got to play for in the FedExCup Playoffs, it makes the tournament feel so much bigger. It's almost like winning three or four events with the amount of points you get. I guess you celebrate according to that, and it's just -- you know, it can really boost you. I obviously won it last year, but 2009 in my rookie year I finished second there and went from 67th to I think it was 16th in the FedExCup. It's a very, very important event, and the players treat it that way.
I think with where you have the tournament now, at Aronimink, and the rotation you've had the last few years, Conway Farms and other places around the place, I think it's really -- Aronimink is going to be a huge addition to the BMW Championship. It's definitely a major championship venue, and the field will reflect that, and hopefully all the players at the top of the leaderboard will also reflect that this year.
VINCE PELLEGRINO: Well, obviously we're two short months away from the championship here at Aronimink. Where is your game right now leading into the final stretch, and obviously with the Open Championship coming up, do you prepare a little bit differently for that, coming into that championship, as you would for different events? Where do you see your game at right now?
MARC LEISHMAN: Yeah, well, my game is in a good spot. I played well last week in Washington, D.C. At the end of a three-week stretch, or a long stretch, especially when there's a major in there, you tend to get a bit flat and worn out, I guess, especially in the heat of summer. But yeah, game is in a really good spot.
As far as preparations for the Open next week, I do prepare a little bit differently. You know, you start preparing a few weeks in advance, just hitting some -- I used a 2-iron last week in Washington, D.C., where you would generally use a 5-wood because you know that's going to be such an important club over there. If it's windy it's going to be important, but even if it's not, you can get that 2-iron on the ground and running down the fairway. If I do that -- little short game shots that you work on, a lot of imagination. So you're trying to practice on courses where the greens are very firm and a lot of undulation around them.
And then you've got to get ready for the travel, prepare in a way where -- I don't like planes, to say I would get off a plane, off a long trip like that, so I'm heading over there on Saturday night to get in Sunday morning so I can have Sunday off and give my body a day to prepare and be fit for not only next week but for the rest of the season because one bad decision can derail a season as far as an injury goes, so you've got to be smart that way, as well.
VINCE PELLEGRINO: Ultimately you had two victories last year. Obviously one was the BMW Championship. You've come close this year, a couple second-place finishes. What does it take to get you on top each week on the PGA TOUR to get to that championship position? What does it take?
MARC LEISHMAN: Yeah, I mean, it is hard to win. Obviously you have to play well on the right week. There's certain weeks where you can feel like you played very well and finished 30th, and there is a few events like that for me throughout the year, but then there's events where you feel like you can kind of scratch it round a little bit and have a chance to win. But you have to play well on those events where you feel like you can read the greens really well and don't have to play at your very, very best to contend, I guess. And then you have to play well in those weeks, and like you said, I've had a couple of second-place finishes this year, but this year the Byron Nelson Championship in Dallas, I played very well, put four good rounds together, and someone just played better than you. Aaron Wise played better than me, and he deserved it. Sometimes that happens.
So you've got to play well but also get a break and hope that no one plays better because there's a lot of good players out there.
VINCE PELLEGRINO: We will have a tremendous field again this year, as you know, but you are going to be the defending champion. Obviously it's not at the golf course that you won at last year, so does it change your approach? Being a defending champion, different golf course, do you approach this championship in a different way knowing that you are the defending champion?
MARC LEISHMAN: I don't think so. Especially it's going to be the first time I've ever defended an event that wasn't on the course that I won it on, so that's going to be a new experience for me. But that probably takes a little bit of pressure off me, which is nice. We're all going there to try and learn a new golf course. Luckily I played there a few years ago when they had, I think, the AT&T it was. Yeah, it was the AT&T. It's a great golf course. I believe Justin Rose won that week. It's probably going to be 20 or 30 guys that have played the course. But having been so long since we have played it, it's going to be almost like learning a new golf course again.
I remember probably half of the holes. Half of them I'll be trying to learn again.
Yeah, I mean, I don't prepare any differently. There's a little bit more to do early in the week, so you've got to manage your time a bit better, but apart from that, it's just another golf tournament that we're trying to prepare as well as possible and hopefully put ourselves into a position to give ourselves a chance to win that FedExCup two weeks later.
VINCE PELLEGRINO: It has undergone several restorations since you played it last. You finished tied for 7th in 2010, and you were right, Justin Rose and Nick Watney won in '10 and '11, -10 and -13, but there's been several renovations by Gil Hanse, who we'll hear from later on to talk about those renovations. If you want to hang on and listen, you can. Ultimately I think everybody is going to be playing a new golf course. But you have an idea about winning score. What do you remember from Aronimink? It's obviously a Donald Ross designed golf course. What are some of your memories from Aronimink?
MARC LEISHMAN: I remember it was quite tough. I remember having to be reasonably conservative because the rough was really long. The greens were quite undulating, and it was very important to be coming into those greens out of the fairway. I remember that. I remember as far as conditioning, it was perfect. I remember the fairways were perfect, the greens were very firm and very fast, which is great. It just really puts an emphasis on ball-striking. That's what I remember about it.
I remember there being some very tough holes but some gettable ones, and it was just in a cool area. I remember the big trees and just -- it's how I would picture a PGA TOUR event to be or how I did picture it to be before I came over here to America. I remember it being a really beautiful place, a place I hope I'll be able to come back to, and to go back there to defend a title is going to be a lot of fun.
VINCE PELLEGRINO: Tell us about the rest of your season here. What do you have coming up? Obviously the Open Championship, but after that, obviously it's a long season and there's a pretty big buildup to the FedExCup Playoffs. How do you manage your time and the events that you play, and what are your plans for the rest of the year?
MARC LEISHMAN: Yeah, I'm trying to -- you want to be somewhat fresh going into the Playoffs, so this is my second week in a row off now, so I'll play the Open next week, then I've got a week off after that. Then I'll play the Bridgestone and the PGA, then another week off, and then into the Playoffs. I think the first three playoff events are all back-to-back, so we'll do three in a row. So there's only three events -- well, five events until the BMW Championship now, so the season is coming to a close pretty quickly, but there's still a lot of golf, a lot of golf to go. Hopefully I can rack up a few more points, and it would be nice to seal up the TOUR Championship before we get to the BMW. That's probably the goal at the moment.
You know, I'm looking forward to the rest of the season.
VINCE PELLEGRINO: So being from Australia, we know you're a big fan of cricket. Philly is known for as many cricket clubs in the area. Any chance you're going to be taking in a match while you're here?
MARC LEISHMAN: Well, I certainly won't be playing a match, especially if I want to try and defend this title. But it would be cool to go and see a game. It might be coming towards the end of summer, I guess, so getting towards the business end of the season. It would be pretty cool. I didn't really think about that. Yeah, we don't get to see a whole lot of it over here. I try and get as much of it as I can when I'm home in Australia at Christmas. You make a good point there, Vince; I'll have to try and get into that.
VINCE PELLEGRINO: We really appreciate your time and look forward to seeing you in just a couple months here and appreciate you being with us here today.
MARC LEISHMAN: Thank you. Hope everyone has a good day out there today.
VINCE PELLEGRINO: So it's always great to hear from the players, and I'm glad Marc could join us today.
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