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Levin Hopes to Pull a Stanley


Spencer Levin is now in the same boat as the one Kyle Stanley found himself adrift in two Sundays ago. The 27-year-old from Sacramento entered the final round of last week's Phoenix Open with a six-shot lead, but failed - just like Stanley did with a big 54-hole lead in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines a week prior - to win the tournament.

Ironically, Stanley came from eight shots off the pace, closing with a 6-under 65 at TPC Scottsdale to wrest the title from Levin, who finished with a disappointing 4-over 75 to end up two shots back in third place behind Stanley and Ben Crane.

On the eve of this week's AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro Am, Levin admitted he was feeling anxious Saturday night before the final round. "Well, it was weird, I went to bed all right, like when I first went to bed I felt good," he said. "I was like, okay, looking forward to tomorrow. Then I woke up at 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning and just couldn't really go back to sleep.

"I don't know, it was just - basically I wanted the day to be over with at 2:00 in the morning. You know, it was weird. It was a really weird deal. I didn't even eat anything - I tried to eat, couldn't eat, in the morning. I don't know, just my mind was going way too fast."

So that leaves Levin still searching for his first victory on the PGA Tour. He has another chance this week in the $6.4 million event on California's glorious Monterey Peninsula.

Levin has had several days to think about the what-could-have-been scenario in the Phoenix Open's final round. But he said he's recharged and excited to play in the tournament, which takes place on Pebble Beach Golf Links, the South course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club and Spyglass Hill.

"I was really bummed out Sunday night, pretty bummed out Monday," he said. "Got here yesterday, drove from home, and I've been thinking about it a lot. But I got here, and then I was like, man, I get to play Pebble Beach today, man, so that's pretty cool.

"It's not like you're going home and playing the muni in your backyard. Wow, I'm at Pebble, so I didn't think about it much playing out here."

Here's what else Levin had to tell reporters during his Wednesday Q&A.

MODERATOR: Let's welcome Spencer Levin to the media center here at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro Am. Top 10 last year, just some thoughts on coming back and what you expect out of your game this week.

SPENCER LEVIN: Yeah, it's always nice to be here. It's a beautiful place, one of my favorites on Tour for sure. Yeah, I'm excited to play. I went out and played Pebble yesterday, and the greens were firm. It'll be a little different. The weather is I guess going to be perfect all week. I still think you'll see good scores, and yeah, I'm looking forward to it. These golf courses are great, and it's a lot of fun around here.

Q. With your dad being your coach and what happened last week, how has that helped you versus another player whose coach maybe doesn't really know the competitive aspect of it?

SPENCER LEVIN: Yeah, I think it helps. Like you said, he's always helped me with my golf. He got me into the game. He taught me how to play. But yeah, he's a dad, too, so he obviously felt sympathetic and was bummed out for me, which is natural. But I mean, overall he's still happy. He's a good dad. He's always proud of me. I wish obviously I could have done a little better. But no, it's cool. I am close with him. We talk a lot about golf and everything. Yeah, he was just telling me, you've got another chance this week. It's not like you've got to wait a whole 'nother year. Every week is a new opportunity out here, and that's the only way I can look at it now.

Q. Playing with a big lead last week, was it easier to play coming from behind or play from the lead?

SPENCER LEVIN: Well, I've - come from behind, you don't really have so many weird thoughts, so to speak. At least I had a lot of different thoughts going on with the big lead. I'm not sure - you see Tiger when he's got a big lead, and he always just keeps going. Yeah, I didn't really know how hard it was until I was actually in that situation. You've got to have a little different mindset. It feels weird because at least for me I just wanted to get the holes over with, just run out real quick. It was a really strange feeling. Didn't sleep great Saturday night last week. But I think - well, it's easier in an aspect because nobody is expecting anything from you, I guess. It's not like, okay, you've got a six shot lead, all you can do now is blow it.

It if you win, it's no big deal because you should have won, but I guess when you come from behind you're thinking there's nothing on you, so to speak, pressure wise. You're just trying to make your own move. So it's easier that way. But don't get me wrong: I'd like a six shot lead again. I think that would be great. But I think it's easier from the aspect that you aren't expected to win. You know what I'm trying to say? It's not a given or you can't just blow it, you've got to come back. So I think it's a little easier on your mind that way for sure.

Q. Do you find yourself almost playing defense? You're running away with the golf tournament by playing gas pedal and green lights, and then all of a sudden kind of a yellow light?

SPENCER LEVIN: Yeah, a little bit, yeah. It was kind of weird, I started off the round fine; I was 1 under through 3, I got a great break on No.1, ball didn't go into a cactus or a bush, and it was sitting there right in the desert and I could knock it on the green. I birdied 3, everything was fine, I felt good, and then on No.4, just a little short iron shot, and I hadn't even sniffed missing a short iron all week, and I hit it left in the trap, and that was kind of a shock to my system because I honestly hadn't seen one of those shots in three days, not even close to that. So that was kind of weird. But I parred the next hole and then went on. But I think that shot on No.4 -

Q. A little doubt?

SPENCER LEVIN: Yeah, a little doubt, but just more of a shock in terms of I didn't expect to hit that shot, I don't know why I hit that shot. After that just nothing went good after that really. Everything was fine through three holes and then that 8 iron in the trap, it was like a shock to my system. I was thinking about hitting it close and making birdie and all of a sudden you make a 4 and it's a shock.

Q. Is it geez, just don't blow this, or -

SPENCER LEVIN: Yeah, kind of, I guess. Well, yeah, pretty much that. Well, not when I'm over a shot, just kind of in general when you're walking and thinking throughout the day. It's just those type of things going on in my head. I don't know. I just I think I put too much pressure on myself, which is kind of easy to do, I guess, because I feel like that's something I need to work on because I'm it means a lot to me. I want to play well for myself, for my friends, my family and everybody, so I just think that next time my family is still going to love me and my friends are still going to be my friends, so I just need to just look at it in the bigger picture, I guess, so to speak, and just try to go out there and have fun.

Like I was saying last week, I didn't have any fun on Sunday. I was stressed out. I was just kind of rushing everything, my tempo was fast, everything. The first three days I was just having a great time, BS'ing with my caddie, laughing, joking, having a good time, and I don't think I said a word to him on Sunday. I was all tense and stuff. I don't know, next time I'll definitely change my attitude. Hopefully the outcome will be better, but I know my attitude, I'll definitely change that because I think that'll help.

Q. What's the hardest part when that slide starts? Is it something you're conscious of when it starts to slip away?

SPENCER LEVIN: I don't know. That's a good question. You don't really feel it coming. I don't know, it's almost like a snowball effect, so to speak, I guess. Like I said, I hit that one bad shot on 4, and then after that I didn't play terrible, it's just no putts were going in, hit a couple bad shots, and you could kind of feel the momentum going a certain way. But the toughest part about it, I guess, is just obviously trying to get it back on track, right; I didn't do that. And I think you see guys who have won a lot of tournaments, a guy like Tiger, whenever he had a big lead or has a big lead, it seems like - even watching him on TV as a kid, you'd see him play and if he did make a bogey early on or something, it wasn't the end of the world. He'd come back and make birdies and he'd just continue to keep going.

That's obviously probably the greatest player of all time and that's a special type of player, but I'd just say the hard part is - like you say, once you feel kind of weird or you hit a bad shot here or there or make a bogey, then it's hard to just get back to where you were. That was what was hard for me. I was trying to do the same stuff, but it was just a little different. And I think when something bad happens early, if you can bounce back quick, that seems like that'll get your mind back, and then I ended up bogeying a hole later and it kind of went that way. I didn't make any birdies to just get it back.

Q. What do you do to get over it?

SPENCER LEVIN: You know, I was bummed out. I was really bummed out Sunday night, pretty bummed out Monday. Got here yesterday, drove from home, and I've been thinking about it a lot. But I got here, and then I was like, man, I get to play Pebble Beach today, man, so that's pretty cool. It's not like you're going home and playing the muni in your backyard. Wow, I'm at Pebble, so I didn't think about it much playing out here. But yeah, so anyway.

Q. You made a comment earlier about wanting the holes to run out real fast. You don't usually have that?

SPENCER LEVIN: Yeah, I don't ever feel like that because I've never had a lead through 54 holes. I've been close, played in final groups and stuff. But yeah, coming from behind, you're thinking obviously I still have this many holes to try and come back, as opposed to hopefully we can get all these holes done because I'm already ahead, so I've never really had that feeling. I had it once in an amateur tournament, the Azalea Amateur back when I was about 18 or 19. I had a big lead through three rounds, and the first few holes it was weird and I didn't play great, but I ended up winning that tournament. Obviously that's a different level than here. But yeah, just - yeah, it's the opposite feeling, or it was, at least on this last Sunday. But hopefully next time if I have a lead like that, I'll just try to I'll try and go real slow because I go fast anyways.

Q. What were your thoughts about Kyle the week before?

SPENCER LEVIN: Yeah, I played with Kyle actually the week before San Diego, we were paired together at the Bob Hope, or Humana now is what it's called. He's a nice guy. I like him. I get along with him. He's obviously a hell of a player. I felt bad for him because I saw the highlight and it looked like he hit a pretty good shot, so that was kind of weird. I felt bad for him but I didn't feel too bad for him because I know he's good player. Like I said, you've got another week this week, another week next week. So I knew he'd be fine because he has the game. Obviously, you know, to come back and win the next week is unbelievable. But I felt bad for him but not really, because I knew he'd be back. I know he's a good player, and I figured he'd do well obviously sooner or later, and it was the next week.

Q. (Inaudible.)

SPENCER LEVIN: Yeah, I mean, I think if you've got the game, then there's no reason not to. It's a long season, and it all shakes out in the end. If you've got the talent and you've got the game, like I've seen a lot of guys in college and everything, the guys I knew that were going to make it in college did, and maybe not right off the bat, but you know, if somebody has got the talent and got the game, it's going to shake out, so I knew he'd probably be all right.

Q. Did you hear from Kyle afterwards at all?

SPENCER LEVIN: No, I haven't talked to Kyle since. No, I have not.

Q. You mentioned having had trouble sleeping the night before. What was going through your head? You hadn't been in that situation but you were playing so well. What were the emotions like during the night?

SPENCER LEVIN: Well, it was weird, I went to bed all right, like when I first went to bed I felt good. I was like, okay, looking forward to tomorrow. When I woke up at 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning and just couldn't really go back to sleep. I don't know, it was just - basically I wanted the day to be over with at 2:00 in the morning. You know, it was weird. It was a really weird deal. I didn't even eat anything - I tried to eat, couldn't eat, in the morning. I don't know, just my mind was going way too fast.

Q. Every year it seems like you've gotten better, the money list or whatever. Do you feel like in some ways this is just the next step in the process, to get the lead, even if you didn't finish the way you wanted to?

SPENCER LEVIN: Yeah, I think so. There's been other tournaments, last year and my rookie year and my second year on Tour, but there's been a lot of tournaments where I went through the second round or third round and I'm close or I'm tied for the lead or one back or something, and I'd look at the board and think, okay, now I'm okay. I'm still going to play good this week. But last week I think it was positive because I didn't just kind of put the brakes on, so to speak, the first few rounds. I saw where I was, I knew I was playing well and I was able to increase it and I've never done that before. Even though I blew it on Sunday I still feel like I've never increased it like that, so that has to be some type of a positive. I've never done that before, so that shows that I can do it in the middle of the tournament. I've just got to make sure I can do it for four rounds, but I've never increased it like that, so that was cool.

Q. To follow on that, have you talked to yourself about how well you played to get there? You were talking about Sunday, but what about Thursday, Friday, Saturday?

SPENCER LEVIN: Well, thanks. Maybe I should have just looked back on that more. Yeah. I just didn't feel the same on Sunday. It's as simple as that. I didn't I mean, my swing still felt the same and all that, it's just I didn't feel the same with my thoughts and everything I was doing, it was like a rush to get it over with. It was kind of weird. But next time obviously I'll definitely change my whole outlook on it for sure.

Q. When you're stressed, what's your tendency in your swing?

SPENCER LEVIN: Well, depends on the week, I guess, but I don't know. I missed a couple iron shots left last week, which is usually my tendency. I usually hit my irons pretty good, though. That was what was kind of weird. I'll miss with my driver, though. Usually my driver I'll miss left when I feel like I'm off. But I usually can get my irons up on the green at least, especially the short irons, so I missed a couple I think I missed three greens with short irons, and that's really weird, because usually the short irons if I don't hit it close I'm not happy, let alone miss the green and make a bogey, so that was kind of a shock. But yeah, usually left with my driver. My irons, even if I feel like I'm not hitting it good, I still hit them pretty good. But yeah, usually left with my driver if I'm not swinging well.

Q. A lot of the younger guys on Tour describe the intense training guys do out here, trying to build up core and upper body. Is that something you subscribe to?

SPENCER LEVIN: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I mean, you think, you look at all the top guys in the world, everybody is doing it. You know, obviously you play golf, as a pro golfer you need two things, you need your body and your mind, and the better you can keep your body obviously it can't hurt. I worked out a little bit this winter, then I kind of stopped as the Tour started, just because I don't do it much and I don't want to feel sore. But I've got to - I'm going to try to find a way to just get little stuff throughout the week. But absolutely, you look at all the top players, and they don't even look like golfers so to speak anymore, they look like athletes. They look like they could play any sport. It's definitely going to help. The courses are getting longer. Length is big now, especially on more than half the courses out here you've got to hit it pretty far. Absolutely, if a kid is coming up trying to get better, he's got to work on the fundamentals of his swing are probably most important and then from there getting strong and hitting it hard for sure.

Q. When Kyle lost there was an outpouring of support. What have the last couple days been like for you?

SPENCER LEVIN: Yeah, well, just amongst my peers out here, everybody has been really cool. They've all been, don't worry about it, your time is coming. It's really cool, just to see that other guys out here actually - I don't know, I don't want to say necessarily felt for me, but they gave me some support, and that made me feel good. I get along with pretty much everybody out here. I've got a lot of friends out here. I respect everybody out here. And it was cool that they showed me that. I mean, obviously my friends and family obviously were bummed out, but to see it amongst your peers was really cool. I thought that was great.

Q. Kyle mentioned another huge outpouring was on Twitter.

SPENCER LEVIN: I don't do - I've got an email, but I haven't checked it in about eight years.

Q. Are people still trying to reach you or do they get you on the range or -

SPENCER LEVIN: You mean other players and stuff? Yeah, they just talked to me once I saw them this week, like yesterday a bunch of guys came up to me, which was pretty cool. So that was nice. My agent does my Facebook. I haven't even ever been on there. I don't even know what it says. Hopefully it's nothing too funky.

Q. Do you get the concept with regards to technology?

SPENCER LEVIN: I don't know, I just - I think I dropped my cell phone in the water or whatever somewhere, and then I just haven't bothered to get a new one. So I have no desire to. This was - when was this? This winter sometime. I think this winter, about a couple weeks before I left for Hawaii. My girlfriend has got all my buddies' numbers, so I'll just - I can talk to my friends through her phone. That's how I do it.

Q. You obviously have a lot of history on these courses. Why do you feel comfortable here? What matches up with your game?

SPENCER LEVIN: You know, I don't know. I just - I think it's just because as a kid I've always been told and I didn't play here until I was, I think, 17 or 18 at least at Pebble. But no, just hearing about it, Pebble Beach and the mystique and everything about it, I'm just I don't know, I just enjoy being here, I guess. I think it's cool. My mind is pretty clear around here, just because you look around and it's hard to think about anything else when you're playing Pebble. I don't know, it's just a lot of fun. I enjoy it. I'm excited to play every time I'm here. I don't know necessarily if the holes fit or whatever, but I just - I don't know, I just seem to hit it well here for some reason. I don't know, hopefully I can do that again this week.

Q. Any specific stories or memories of your first time playing Pebble?

SPENCER LEVIN: Not really. I just remember in the state am, it was match play, I just remember trying to win so you can play Pebble again the next day. I was like, if I win, I can play Pebble again for free tomorrow. That was kind of my motivation.

Q. You call it a home game for you. Obviously you don't have a cell phone, so how hard is it to have people - SPENCER LEVIN: Yeah, that's tough. I've been asking some other players, and they've been nice, they've been helping me out with that, but a lot of my buddies are going to come, so it'll be like the Phoenix Open all over again with the crowd. They'll be yelling and screaming. It'll be cool.

Q. What do you think of adding Monterey Peninsula to the rotation here?

SPENCER LEVIN: Oh, I think it's great. I had never played it until it was part of this tournament. I think it's great. I think it's just as good if not better than Poppy. I think a lot of the other players agree, too, because a lot of guys didn't like the greens at Poppy and sometimes they got a little mushy. So, it's beautiful, the views are beautiful, and it's a good course. I think it's a great addition to it for sure, absolutely.

MODERATOR: Spencer, thank you.

The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.