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Notable and Quotable: Pre-Championship Interviews

September 16, 2020 - 5:14 PM
Justin Thomas (left) and Tiger Woods know Winged Foot is going to be a major challenge this week. (Simon Bruty/USGA)

It's been a busy few days of practice at Winged Foot Golf Club as players do all they can to learn the nuances of the West Course. Here are some of the most interesting comments and observations from the pre-championship news conferences at Winged Foot:

Webb Simpson, 2012 U.S. Open champion, on his chances this week:

“I have always loved this tournament. I grew up watching Payne Stewart make the putt in '99 at No. 2; I was a standard bearer that week as a 13-year-old. I've always loved the challenge and the thought behind a U.S. Open. I love the idea that patience matters here. Some weeks you can get impatient and that's OK, but this week you have to stay patient. It’s the marathon mentality of who can hang on and play the 72 holes as well as they can. I like my chances.”

“This is the epitome of a golf course where it's just hard, kind of in your face all day, especially that finish, where the best golfer will win this week.”

Bryson DeChambeau, on his strategy of favoring distance over accuracy:

“I could be in the rough and get bad lies and not be able to execute out of the rough, or I could hit it in the fairways all day and not hit great iron shots and then not make anything. That's the beauty of golf, and that's why we're all trying to get better, to make more putts and play better golf each and every day. You just never know.”

Rory McIlroy, 2011 U.S. Open champion, on Winged Foot:

“I said to someone yesterday when I played Oakmont for the first time, my initial reaction was, this place is impossible. This course gives you a little more chance if you miss it, I guess. You can run the ball up onto the greens and maybe a touch more playable, but it's a tough track.”

“I think this place tests every single aspect of your game, so I don't think I could single out the toughest thing that you need to do or the hardest thing you're going to have to do this week. It's all pretty tough.”

Tiger Woods, three-time U.S. Open champion, on the absence of fans

“I think that this area has some of the best golf courses on the planet, but also what makes coming up here and being a part of these events are the fans and the energy that this entire area brings. They love sports. It's a shame that we're not going to have that atmosphere out here this particular week, but obviously everyone will be watching and be supporting at home or wherever is the safest.”

Justin Thomas, No. 3 player in the world, on the U.S. Open and Winged Foot:

“You just have to embrace it, otherwise it's going to eat you alive. I mean, especially a place like this, you're going to make a lot of bogeys. You're going to be put in some uncomfortable places, and you as a person are going to feel uncomfortable. It's really just how can you manage that.”

“It is probably the hardest golf course I've ever played. But that being said, I'm not going into it scared. I can't play tentative. I can't only try to make pars. If I have a scoring club, I need to try to make a birdie. But then if I get in trouble, I just need to get out. I think the most important thing is try to take each hole for what it is and not make this place any bigger than it is because it's already big.”