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AMERICAN CENTURY CHAMPIONSHIP

July 19, 2014

Trent Dilfer Jack Wagner

STATELINE, NEVADA

THE MODERATOR:  Nice to have you in after the second round:  42 points, 41 points.  We've got a dogfight out there.  There's about eight or nine people within about four points of the entire thing.
Jack, take us a little bit through your round.  We understand that about a third of the way through you switched hands and went cross‑handed on the putter.
JACK WAGNER:  Trent and I were just talking about that.  I'm generally known as a pretty good putter‑‑
TRENT DILFER:  The best putter.
JACK WAGNER:  Thank you.  ‑‑ but I felt it coming on a few years ago, just a little apprehension over some short putts.  And I practiced a little bit on the putting green.  I'm old‑fashioned and stubborn.  I don't know if you know anything about that.  But I can't stand change.
And I hit the green in two on No. 4 and barely 2‑putted from 20feet.  Then on No. 5 I hit a great wedge in there, about 15feet, and 3‑putted from 15feet and missed a three‑footer.  And I said I'm done.
On 7, I hit it about eight feet and went cross‑hand, knocked it right in the jar.  So I'm kind of going back and forth between conventional and cross‑handed.  So I'll need probably a straitjacket tomorrow night.  But anyway, I knocked a couple in.
TRENT DILFER:  Or Scotch.
JACK WAGNER:  Exactly.  So I made a birdie on 7.  I hit the ball probably as well as I've ever hit it yesterday and today.  I'm hitting my irons crisp.  I'm driving the ball pretty consistently and pretty solidly.  I just had a couple of giddy‑ups on the green.  Otherwise, for me to shoot around par or 1‑ or 2‑under is a really good score for me.  I'll take it.

Q.  We've heard from the guys in the room the last two days.  Everybody's hitting the ball pretty good for the most part.  The putting is the tricky part.  Trent, you had a couple putts today that you're shaking your head at and cursing yourself with.  But what's going on with the short putts, do you think?
TRENT DILFER:  I went in.  My goals for this week, I played more golf this year than I've ever played in my life because I never played in the fall.  But I haven't played a lot coming into this.
And my goals were to hit 54 putts I was proud of.  Or 54 holes where I was proud of ‑‑ not 54 putts.  Yesterday I could say that until 18.  Today I maintained that mentality early on.  And they just wouldn't go in.
I hit a couple, they were going dead center.  For whatever reason, they don't go in.  Then I got a little frustrated, lost focus.  And then I regained it.
Honestly, most the putts I missed were really good putts.  The one on 18 was yippy.  I don't know what happened.  Just didn't release the putter.
It's really hard to hit good putt after good putt and sometimes they're not even close.  Sometimes, if you read it wrong and it gets the wrong balance, it can get really away from you.
So Brad does a great job at this golf course.  It's in phenomenal shape.  It's inevitable with this much traffic on it and the moisture really hurts this golf course, the greens especially.
The best they've ever been in my recollection, I haven't played 25 like you, but I've played 17, I think, was where it was really hot and dry and they bake out a little bit, then they're a little more consistent.
When they're wet like this, it's just you get in the afternoon, and we were talking about it, you can see where some running back or offensive lineman or NBA center put his heel and it's right between you and the hole and you've got to somehow go, okay, I'm going to roll this through.
JACK WAGNER:  Do you think you're a ballet dancer?  (Laughter).
TRENT DILFER:  I walk way around the holes.  I reach deep in.  I try not to keep my feet around the hole.
JACK WAGNER:  That's a good point, because I think Trent and guys that know etiquette of golf, especially the size of Trent, who is 6'4", probably 230‑‑
TRENT DILFER:  240.
JACK WAGNER:  You've got to walk around areas.  And I think other athletes that maybe don't know golf etiquette get their foot right by the hole.  So you can't avoid it.  Everybody has to play through it.
But we talk about, we go, oh no, Jerome Bettis just made a putt; he's jumping up and down by the hole.  (Laughter) oh, God.  It's funny.  We all deal with it.
TRENT DILFER:  I depend on making putts.  I'd say Jack's the best putter I've ever seen out here.  And I would consider myself the second best.  On a day in, day out basis I make a lot of putts.  I pride myself on it.  I win tournaments because of how I putt.  I win club championships because of how I putt.
I depend on it.  I don't hit it that far.  I have limitations.  I have an arthritic knee and not very flexible.  These guys are bombing it past me.  I have to make 12‑, 14‑foot putts to compete.
When you hit them good and they don't go in, you've just got to keep rolling them through.

Q.  Jack, you've won this event twice over the years.  Trent, you've been in the hunt a few times going into the final round.  You've got a big group bunched up at the top here.  Besides the best score tomorrow, obviously what's it going to take for you guys to win this thing?
TRENT DILFER:  I think I know the mentality I'm going to have.  I'll be transparent.  I'm willing to finish 12th to win it.  I'm not going to go try to finish fourth or fifth.  I've done that.  Second, third.  I've never won this thing.
I've always been too conservative, settled for pars.  Okay.  Keep it close, keep it close, go on a run.  I can‑‑ I went on a run today, three out of four, should have been four.
But I've lost this tournament twice on the back nine to Al Del Greco, who shot 31 and Chris Chandler, who shot 31.  I had the lead going into the last nine both times.  And I saw‑‑
I learned from both of them that you have to take some chances.  You have to be aggressive.  You've got to be willing‑‑ you've got to be willing to make some bogeys in order to make some birdies or some eagles.  I'm going to be hyper‑aggressive tomorrow.

Q.  Jack.
JACK WAGNER:  To top Trent, I think he's got the kind of game that really‑‑ because we're so bunched up and the scoring, to be honest, is decent.
TRENT DILFER:  It's not good.
JACK WAGNER:  It's not great.  Probably around there.
And one year I got over 80 points and Billy Joe has gotten over 80 points.  There are guys, we can all probably shoot, when we're not nervous under this pressure, maybe 6, 7, 8‑under par in three days on this golf course.
So I think Trent has a game that's perfect for tomorrow when there's going to be about ten guys within probably six, seven points.  And Annika, not to exclude her.  But any ten players.
TRENT DILFER:  She'll shoot 62 tomorrow.
JACK WAGNER:  By the way, the reason she's not walking away is because she's not making putts.  I haven't seen her‑‑ I haven't played with her.  But I'm sure that's it.
So I think it's really about managing your game tomorrow and managing your nerve and you've really got to knock in a few 10‑, 12‑footers, make a bomb or two.
TRENT DILFER:  Chip in, hit a bunker shot.
JACK WAGNER:  17, today, I knocked in a 20‑footer.  You'll have to knock in a couple of those and show some grind over your three‑footers, that has to happen.  That's who will win.

Q.  Advantage, Wagner, since you've won it a couple times?
JACK WAGNER:  I would say there's no advantage.  I don't give myself an advantage at all.  I'm just going to try to go out and take the confidence that I had, Trent even said today, man, you hit the ball great.
I'm not really a great ball striker, and I've been really striking the ball well.  I'm just going to focus on that and try to rip it at the hole.  That's what Trent's talking about when he says not being conservative.  Rip it at the hole.  That's what we're going to do.
TRENT DILFER:  You were smart.  I left myself some downhill putts, not being smart with my irons.  I actually had pretty good control of them at one point but kept leaving it above the hole.
I heard Jack and his caddie, they were really smart, he gave himself some good looks where you could be aggressive.
That's the other thing, too, you've got to position yourself on the greens where you can get after it a little bit and let it release and know that if you miss it, it's only going to go a foot, two feet by because it's uphill.
Some of the downhill ones you can't be aggressive.  If you let it get away from you, you might have nine feet coming back up.

Q.  Commented about Annika, what do you think about Chad Pfeifer?  Have you had a chance to see his game?  This is a great story.
JACK WAGNER:  I've seen him hit a ball or two on the range.  I can't believe he's playing so well.  Seriously, I'm competing against him but I'm rooting for the guy.
TRENT DILFER:  I am too.
JACK WAGNER:  What a great story.  Annika is a certain story.  We all are a certain story because we've played here against each other for years.  But this is really the highlight of the tournament.
Somebody who has laid it on the line, truly.  Trent's laid it on the line as an athlete.  I laid it on the line, being foolish as an actor.
TRENT DILFER:  Looking like an idiot on stage.
JACK WAGNER:  This guy has really laid it on the line.  I think all the athletes that have put their body on the line can look at someone like this and go this is really putting yourself on the line.  And I think it's an amazing story.  I hope he plays great tomorrow.
TRENT DILFER:  I'm in awe.  We did the conference call with him what six weeks ago and you could hear it in his voice.  He's got a lot of confidence in his game.  Because of his limitations, he can't do more than what he can do.  And he's really, really comfortable.
I hit balls next to him this morning warming up.  And his divot pattern, you can tell a good player.  We've all played with TOUR guys, mini TOUR guys and mid‑Am guys.  There's a difference.
Jack and I are not great ball strikers.  When you're next to great ball strikers, their divot patterns are just pure.  He has that divot pattern.  His hands are so good.
Marty played with him yesterday.  And Marty said at the bottom, I always look at guys at the bottom of their swing.  And at the bottom of his swing, it is‑‑ it's mini TOUR quality at the bottom.  So he's going to hit a lot of quality shots.

Q.  You guys actually hit on this already a little bit.  But in addition to the score necessary to win tomorrow, there's a large group in the 40s and high 30s.  Does just the number of players near you, does that change anything for tomorrow?
JACK WAGNER:  I think it does.  I saw that Jeremy Roenick got to 47 and he has 18 to play and he usually birdies 18.  So let's say he gets to 50 or he makes a par or something, that changes it.  It really does.
But when you have a big grouping of players, absolutely.  I just think it's very hard given that we have kind of one tournament a year.  It's not like we play a lot of tournament golf.
So I'm speaking for myself.  You gotta be a little aggressive.  But you also have to know that, listen, everybody's going to feel the heat.  So you gotta grind in there.  And I think you gotta manage yourself.  So everybody knows that nobody will probably shoot 65 tomorrow.  It's out there.  But I just don't see it happening when there's so many people bunched together.
TRENT DILFER:  I think how you start, too.  Sometimes you put too much pressure on yourself when you say starting fast.  But the tournaments that I've won, when I've gone low, San Diego, 62, back in the old days‑‑ this is a long time ago‑‑ Tampa, I think I shot 65.
You start fast and you see the rest of the field kind of start trying to catch you.  Now, if Jeremy has nine points on us, eight points on you, now you're trying to catch him.  So you're trying to start fast to put pressure on him.  But if you can start fast‑‑ and this course is gettable early on.  It always has been.  I haven't taken advantage of it.
But years past I birdied the first four.  You can definitely get going on this golf course.  And I think the guy that wins it probably does tomorrow, or gal, excuse me, because Annika could.

Q.  Trent, with so many close finishes here throughout the year, why have you played so conservative, especially when Stableford really rewards aggressive play?
TRENT DILFER:  One I've never played the par 5s well.  I played them as bad as anybody in the field.  I don't know why.  I'm not long but I'm not short.  I can get to all of them but three.
I just haven't hit‑‑ I haven't put good shots together on par 5s here.  I don't know‑‑ I've tried to identify it.  I'm even on them after two days, which is disgusting.
At the end of the day that's what it is.  I haven't played the par 5s well enough.  I've got to play them well.  I've got to get an eagle, I gotta play them at least 4‑under tomorrow to have a chance.  And I haven't done that in years past.

Q.  Trent, the Denver Broncos are using Virgil Green a bit as a running back.  What are your thoughts on that?
TRENT DILFER:  I love hybrid players.  I'm not patting myself on the back, but about eight, nine years ago I said this league is going to turn into a hybrid position league.
As soon as you saw teams comfortable throwing at 60, 65percent of the time on first down, you knew the league was going to change.  And that was conservative guys.
That was guys that came from ground‑and‑pound backgrounds.  And the reason I'm getting to the running back, Virgil Green, when you take the field and you use all 53 and a third, if you have athletes that are hybrids, they're runners, catchers, twitchy guys, they can play inside and play outside, they have certain physical traits for matchups, I just kind of saw both defensively and offensively you're going to get the H‑back kind of becoming more of a true hybrid position.
And you watch Virgil, at Nevada he did a lot of hybrid things.  If you have any running instincts whatsoever, you get incredible looks in that offense.  Peyton will give you a great look.  If the personnel grouping's three tight ends and a back, you're going to get a certain front and coverage profile.  Virgil now is a runner, you're going to get really clean looks to run the ball.
So the more hybrid players you have on offense, the more versatile you can be.  Nobody understands that better than Peyton.  And I think it's brilliant.  Because he's a thick body guy, too.  He's not a traditional tight end.  He's more of an old, old school H‑back guy, with good running traits.

Q.  Jack, what do you think about the hybrid back?
JACK WAGNER:  I thought he was talking about a golf club.  (Laughter).

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