July 26, 2016
JOHN DEVER: Welcome to the 98th PGA Championship at Baltusrol. I'd like to welcome Danny Willett to his fifth PGA Championship, of course won the Masters earlier this year. Curious about your initial impressions of Baltusrol here.
DANNY WILLETT: I think it's a real good, solid golf course. A lot of good shots required, a lot of par 4s, a lot of long par 3s. Obviously gives you a little bit of breathing room I guess, 17 and 18, but they will come pretty later in the round.
Yeah, I think the key this week is going to be on ball striking and staying patient because you know, it's a pretty tough start, and then just kind of hanging on. Obviously look at the score Phil won here last time, 4-under is not a particularly low score for a U.S. PGA.
Yeah, I think the rain yesterday maybe helped the golf course kind of soften up a little bit and play a bit easier but your forecast is pretty good for the rest of the week so should see it firm up again towards the back end, so set for a great week.
JOHN DEVER: It's been over 40 years since one player won the Masters and the PGA Championship in the same year. I'm sure your intent is to end that drought to make that happen. What's got to go well with your game.
DANNY WILLETT: Like I said, ball-striking is probably key around here, putting it in the fairways and putting it in the middle of the greens. Pretty generous-sized greens, got a couple of little undulations to them, so give yourself as many birdie chances as possible.
If scoring last time is anything to go by, like I said, you'll be right up there if you hit a lot of greens, a lot of fairways.
Q. Curious if you had any adventures with the green jacket yet, where have you taken it, and what has been the reaction to it, people back home?
DANNY WILLETT: I haven't worn it too much to be honest. I wore it to Wimbledon a few weeks ago. The reaction has been great, as it probably would, obviously, first Englishman an since Nick, which is 20 years ago. Yeah, you always get a few people wanting to have a look at it and stuff.
Hopefully try and move on from that now and knuckle down and try and get another couple of trophies under the belt.
Q. What do you think makes the PGA Championship distinct or unique from the other majors, from a player's perspective?
DANNY WILLETT: I think every single major has its own little separate thing that makes it stand out. Augusta is obviously a very small field at the beginning of the year. The Open, you often get some fantastic fairy tale stories, because you obviously have the qualifying into it, same with the U.S. Open.
And then obviously PGA, you have got all the PGA professionals that have obviously got a chance to qualify, and you get probably the strongest field in any of the majors because it's top hundred in the world obviously qualify through rankings, and usually you get 99 or so of them playing.
So I think statistically, it's one of the strongest fields that we'll play all year, especially in the majors. And it's obviously quite unique in the sway that they never go for a certain type of golf course. It can be very varied on what type of golf course that they play on, and they never really shoot for a number to win.
You saw Jason last year winning on, I think it was 17 or 18 in the end. And then you take it back to Phil when he won here, it was 4-under. So they are not really that bothered about trying to get greens up to 15 on the Stimpmeter or trying to have the rough at 12 inches long. They say, you know what, we'll set the golf course up as it's meant to be played, and if you play well, you can shoot a good score.
Q. How does that change what it takes to win, when they set the course up that way?
DANNY WILLETT: It's a tricky one because you never quite know what the score is going to be like obviously for the week. So you try to go out there and get a good game plan to what you think is pretty good, and any guy that comes here is a good player knows what a good score is around that kind of golf course, from what we saw yesterday is a strong golf course.
I think if you finish anywhere near, I don't know, 6-, 7-, 8-under par, personally I think that would be a very good golf score for four rounds around this golf course. I could be massively wrong, but from what we saw yesterday, that's how it kind of sits.
Q. Do you think the Masters madness is finally over now and you can focus again?
DANNY WILLETT: Yeah, I would have thought so. It's a long time ago. There's been two majors since, two other Major winners, obviously Henrik and Dustin and this is now the last major of the year and with a lot of guys trying to play well and have that final one, the guys who haven't had one this year. And the guys that have one, maybe obviously trying to get two under the belt for the year.
I think it's settled down a bit now and you know, we are trying to get back down to work and knuckle down because we have got a very important second half of the season coming up.
Yeah, like I said before, it's time to move on a little bit from what we did in April. It was fantastic and yeah, it's changed my life, but we need to get back to the kind of form that we took into that week and hopefully then move forward.
Q. Can you talk about the status of your own game? I think two weeks ago, you missed the cut in The Open. What went wrong?
DANNY WILLETT: Missed the cut in The Open?
Q. British Open.
DANNY WILLETT: I thought I played Saturday, Sunday. I could be wrong. If my memory serves me right, I'm pretty sure I played Saturday morning and Sunday morning.
Another one? You can carry on from that one if you want.
JOHN DEVER: Just the status of your game.
DANNY WILLETT: The game's okay. Troon, we got the rough side of the draw. You look at the weather conditions were pretty brutal over there. Rory was the tee time behind us and I think he finished the best from our side at 4-under I think. To shoot the scores at the boys shot would have been virtually impossible from the times that we played.
But they played some phenomenal golf. It was good to watch and we're trying to obviously get now to the stage now where we're back up there and competing.
But the game is pretty good. We've had a couple of good weeks' work. Coming in here feeling pretty good. Got the family and stuff with it us. Hopefully we are all set to try to compete again in the last major.
Q. Judging from the video that I saw, your first pitch at the Yankees game was quite impressive. Can you just talk us through the process and whether you have any plans to switch sports at any time?
DANNY WILLETT: No, I'm not going to do a Jordan on you. No, it was a great day. It was an honor to be asked to go from the Yankees, and I mean, it's an awesome place. Yankees baseball is steeped in history. The ground was awesome, and the way they treated us, and to be able to go out there in front of quite a few thousand people and not mess up too bad, was pretty good.
Like I say, we didn't throw it five yards in front of us. We didn't hit somebody in the first row, so I think we did all right.
Q. Wondered if you could speak to the competitive nature on Tour, now that there's been a few players like yourself that have won majors and it's not necessarily a big two or a big three out there anymore.
DANNY WILLETT: No, I mean, I think the guys, they like talking about the big two or the big three and trying to compare it to Arnie, Jack and Player and stuff. But even back then, there wasn't really a big three. You had Watson, you had other people chucked in there where when they played good golf, they could win golf tournaments.
I think the winners that you've got this year just go to show that you it's been so varied. Obviously Henrik being 40 and finally capturing a major, which surprising it's his first because of how good of a player he is.
And obviously Dustin has come so close over the last five or six years, to finally polish one off. Obviously we went into Augusta 12th of the world but kind of not really looked upon as being much of a threat and obviously being able to come through there.
I think it just goes to show the strength and depth throughout golf at the moment. Yeah, there is two, three, four, of the best players in the world that are playing some particularly good golf right now but it just goes to show on a week-to-week basis that if anyone who is really there pitches up with their A Game, they have got a good chance of winning.
Q. We've seen some record scores in majors over the past couple years, 20-under here, 20-under at The Open, Jordan setting records in the Masters. Is it a particularly exciting time to be part of the way the bar has risen, and does it give you a bit more pride that you've joined that group at this time?
DANNY WILLETT: Yeah, it is. Like I say, everyone keeps getting better. We are all training harder. We are all practicing harder. We are all working a bit more clever.
I think it's kind of showing that with scores. Like I said, everyone now that's in the top 30, 40, 50 in the world, they are all phenomenal golfers. Like I say, if they pitch up, they have done their work and not many of them back down these days. I think you used to see it, especially when Tiger was at his best, he almost scared people away a little bit from competing with him.
Now I think he's helped everyone over the last ten or 15 years try to get to a level that he was at, and I don't necessarily think anyone did get to that level. But in pushing people that little bit harder, I think that's how you've seen some of the great golf that you've seen over the last two, three, four years within different people since Tiger has kind of fallen away a little bit.
I think that golf's in fantastic hands. I think you're going to see the next ten or 15 years, I think you'll see more records broke and more scoring records broken, and I think you'll see a lot more different champions.
Like I said, I think after Augusta, I think winning a Grand Slam these days is virtually impossible, and I think it's definitely proved that this year with the three different winners that you've had at the first three majors.
Q. What do you plan to do after this week and before the Olympics, and then what's your schedule leading up to The Ryder Cup?
DANNY WILLETT: We're going to take a week off next week and just chill out a little bit over here with the family. Then I'm going to travel down to Rio, and, yeah, compete in the Olympics down there. Hopefully everything goes well. I haven't heard anything too bad recently. I think everything is settling down over there which will be great because I'm looking forward to that quite a lot.
Then yeah, I'm actually not going to play too much, only kind of two or three times before The Ryder Cup. Try and stay fresh. Like I said, we're in a fortunate position where we're guaranteed in, so we can kind of use it now and prepare for that and make sure that when we pitch up there, we've got a lot of good work under our belt so we can go there and try to perform and help Clarkey keep The Ryder Cup.
Q. What do you know about the course in Rio and what will your approach be to it? And also, what other events are you planning on attending when you're at the Olympics?
DANNY WILLETT: I saw a few little clips, they held a tournament, must have been two or three months ago now with some local pros and stuff. I've read up a little bit. I haven't done a great deal of research. Just like we don't really research normal golf tournaments when we come on tour. You wait till you get here on Monday and you kind of start your research then.
To be honest, I'll go and be down in the gym, in the British gym, and seeing how the guys train and what they do and see if there's anything I can take from that. And then I'll go watch most things, I'd have thought. We just miss track and field. I think that's the second week after we leave. I'm not going to stay down there for all three weeks. I think swimming is on and you've got cycling a little bit on and stuff like that, so I think I'll go and have a little look and see some of the guys, how they do.
JOHN DEVER: Danny, thank you so much for your time. Please enjoy your week at the PGA Championship.
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