Round 3 reaction: The Players Series Victoria - PGA of Australia

Round 3 reaction: The Players Series Victoria

Brad Kennedy’s rare albatross and thirst for victory, Nathan Barbieri’s impressive bounce-back and how young stars Elvis Smylie and Su Oh plan to attack Sunday at The Players Series.

Brad Kennedy (62, 14-under)

On his first career albatross at par-5 15th

“I felt like it was going to fly and it actually just came out absolutely perfect, landed about 10 feet short of the flag. I could only just see the flag itself and when I saw it rolling and disappear I actually thought it had snuck over the back but a couple of people around the green started cheering. It was pretty cool.”

On how he had played over the opening two rounds

“To be honest it’s been very rusty. I’ve been driving the ball quite well and playing in the breeze I’ve been giving myself lots of opportunities to score but my wedge game, which is normally a strength, hasn’t been where it’s needed to be. I felt like I’ve been treading water a little bit and this sort of course gives you that opportunity where if you do drive it well you do have a lot of chances. Fortunately today I started to get myself in a bit more discipline through what I was doing. I wasn’t pressing as hard as I was and just trying to get back to my strong processes and started to hit some really nice shots. My distance control started to come back too so that was a positive in the wind today.”

On a confidence booster early in his third round

“The second hole of the day I had a little half 54-degree wedge and because the greens are quite soft and been spinning quite a lot I knew I had to take the spin off and hit a 54-degree from 73 metres off a downslope and hit the perfect shot. That kick-started a bit of belief in terms of the contact and control that I’ve always kept working on.”

On what he has learnt about winning later in his career

“For me it’s not the winning that gives you the biggest elation, it’s the process that you’ve gone through to get to that position. I’m just starting to really understand the process of what it takes to practice under pressure enough that I can start to hit more shots under pressure better. The process of being prepared is more of a satisfaction than winning. As strange as that might sound.”

On his preparation for this week

“I haven’t actually played a full 18 holes of golf since last October. I haven’t played socially but hadn’t actually played 18 holes until Thursday this week. Everything is still raw, the brain is still raw, the process is getting better and better and it’s nice to start to feel that competition, desire and hunger and matching that with absolute discipline.”

On drawing on the memories of the NZ Open win last March

“It’s up to me really. If I don’t do what I need to do tomorrow then there’s an opportunity that I’m not going to be able to get what I want to get done. In a sense I’m going to have to relive some good habits that I understood at the New Zealand Open last March and try and understand those again and get back to what it felt like. Use those keys and the discipline that I’m going to need tomorrow to continue to try and play as good as I can. If I don’t then there’s the chance that I won’t perform as I need to. My game’s definitely not there yet but it’s exciting to see where it is now without the workload under the belt yet.”

On the different names behind him on the leaderboard

“Leaderboards are pretty much there for the spectators. I only look at leaderboards if I need motivation if I’m not performing how I need to, to reassert myself and get back into the right frame of mind. Generally it’s all about my approach to the game and what I need to do to get the best out of it. It is great to see the young kids and girls playing but for me it’s purely all about what I’ve got to do to get the best out of myself.”

Nathan Barbieri (66, 12-under)

On recovering from a tough start on Friday

“Obviously yesterday didn’t really go to plan for most of the day so to finish with three (birdies) in the last four definitely gave me some momentum coming into today.”

On importance of making birdie at the first hole

“That was the one thing I wanted to do, I definitely wanted to get off to a really hot start again. It wasn’t as windy when we teed off so I knew the people in front of us would have already made a few early so to get that one on the first was really good.”

On finishing bogey free

“I was just playing really solid golf, keeping it in play like I did on Thursday and taking my chances when I got them. I knew that I had a couple of birdies coming up on the back nine so I told myself to try and get one before those holes and I ended up getting two, which was a bonus. I had a really good chance to make eagle at 15 from 100 metres but took four there and then hit it in the bunker off the tee on the next.”

On being in the last group of a professional event so early in career

“Even when I was an amateur I shot some really good scores in NSW Open so I’ve got some experience of keeping it going when starting well. Hopefully that comes in handy tomorrow. I’m just going to go out there and stick to what I have to do and learn off what’s doing out there. Enjoy the moment. It’s the last group of a tournament, you can’t want anything more than that. I’m just going to go out there and enjoy it.”

On how he’ll relax on Saturday night

“I’m in the middle of watching Prison Break again on Netflix. I’ve watched it three times and can’t get enough of it, I’m all over it. You can’t get enough of it, it’s too good. I watched a few episodes and got addicted. I can’t stop now.”

Su Oh (67, 8-under)

On the momentum from a second round 65

“I had no momentum today to be honest. It was a bit of a grind to get some birdies. If you drive it well on some of the par 5s – I had a 7-iron in on 15 because I cut the corner – but I stayed patient. I had a few lip-outs here and there, brushing the hole and not going in but I stayed in there and just hit one bad drive on 17 and had to chip out. Other than that it was OK.”

On the highlights of her round

“Eleven was a good one. I was really in between clubs and I chose the right one (8-iron) and it was nice to hole a 15-footer. Then I horseshoed at 12 from four feet so that just killed my momentum and then lipped out on 13 for another birdie. It was a good birdie at 15. I just need a couple more putts to drop tomorrow.”

On the changing wind conditions

“The wind has been different every day so you can’t just expect anything. You have to go in and figure out where the wind’s at.”

On expectations of her game on Thursday morning

“I felt OK about my long game but with short game, I’ve had almost two months off and my chipping and putting… I had no idea how to chip. I hope I hit a lot of greens tomorrow. I definitely felt more comfortable the second day than the first day for sure.”

On helping to promote the tournament early in the week

“It wasn’t too much really, a bit of fun. It’s always nice to get asked to do stuff but when you get asked too many times you don’t want to do it. It wasn’t too bad. I’d played the golf course the week before when I came down to do another shoot so I didn’t have to figure out the golf course at least. It was nice to be able to help a little bit.”

On the course set-up for the women against the men

“It just gets a little tricky for us when it’s windy. I don’t think you can ever make it completely fair just because the guys hit it so long and with their ball flight it’s just a different game. I think they did a really good job. We’ve hit a few long irons, a lot of wedges but I think they’ve done a really good job. The guys are way longer on some holes but overall it’s really good.”

On what she needs tomorrow to win

“I’m so bad with these kinds of things. I don’t even know what the forecast is like tomorrow. I’m just going to have to go out there and make as many birdies as I can. It’s always good to play in contention and play for something. You get to learn from the nerves, it should be really good. I just really enjoy competing so it’s nice to be able to come here and play decent.”

On her approach during final round of 2015 Ladies Masters

“I don’t remember much from the first 12 holes, I just remember coming in I was really focused. And obviously nervous but I was really sharp and focused. Let’s hope I have the nerves in the right place tomorrow.”

Elvis Smylie (63, 8-under)

On the back-nine birdie blitz Friday to make the cut

“I knew I had to make four birdies on the back nine or I was going home. I just clicked into gear. I didn’t really change anything. The pin was back on 11 yesterday and I hit a 6-iron to about 10 feet left of it. It was an aggressive play and as bad as it sounds, I really didn’t even know it was going to get that close to the pin. I was just thinking about par and getting out of there. To be able to make birdie there and birdie nine through 12 for four in a row was really good. It was good to be able to just make the weekend and then to come out today and have the score I did was good.”

On the hole that kick-started his third round

“Six was pretty good. I hit a 54-degree wedge past the pin and razzed it back to two foot and then I hit a really good shot into seven. I hit a 6-iron to about 8-10 feet and then made that. I actually birdied six and seven the first day as well so I don’t mind those two holes. Personally, I reckon I could have been 3-under through four. I missed putts on three and four from 10 feet that pretty much horseshoed. They just went around the hole so I could have got off to a faster start. I three-putted the last which was a bit unfortunate but other than that it was a near-perfect round. I only missed one green, the ninth, which is kind of hard to believe, it’s pretty easy to hit in regulation.”

On the ability to go low when playing well

“I’ve been in these kinds of situations before. Whether it’s an amateur tournament or a professional tournament I still treat it the exact same, nothing changes. I need to just keep focusing on what I’m doing and keep playing the golf I’m playing. Keep it simple, stick to basics. I’ve got Clayts on the bag and we work really well together and I love playing Rosebud. It’s a really good course and I’m familiar with it but nothing changes. Whether it’s an amateur or professional tournament, still have the mindset of telling myself, Just one more. Just one more. That’s all I said to myself today. I didn’t really take my foot off the gas which is what you need to do in order for you to go low. You can’t back off so just kept applying pressure and the putts were dropping.”

On sense when a low round is on the cards

“I don’t really think of it as a day being one of those rounds. I know I hit really great putts on three and four when they lipped out, it’s not like I was hitting bad putts. I still had a lot of confidence in my putting and I actually made a really good two-putt on five. The first two days I made bogey on five, one of them from three-putting and another from not getting up and down. I made an eight-foot par putt on five today which kept me at 1-under and I felt like that was really, really big, to make that. The last thing you want is to be looking at 5s for that hole for the last three days. I still had a lot of confidence in my stroke and picked my line and just hit it. The greens are rolling pretty good at the moment. They might make it a bit quicker tomorrow but I’ll be able to adapt to that pretty quickly early tomorrow.”

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