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Stanley Out to Erase Painful Memory this Week in Scottsdale
Kyle Stanley is moving on after the nightmarish experience he endured Sunday in the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open. Standing on the 18th tee with a three-shot lead over Brandt Snedeker, the 24-year-old from Gig Harbor, Wash., was seemingly in the driver's seat en route to his first win on the PGA Tour.
But it was not to be as Stanley did the unthinkable: triple-bogeying the par-5 to force a sudden-death playoff with Snedeker. After both players birdied the first playoff hole, ironically the 18th, Snedeker stole away the title with a great up-and-down from behind the green on the par-3 16th, the second playoff hole, while Stanley three-putted for bogey.
Stanley handled the surprising loss with class and dignity, a reaction that didn't go unnoticed by golf fans, fellow players, friends, family and distant observers, many of whom contacted him and lent their encouragement. "I'm just overwhelmed by how much support I've gotten from people," he remarked Tuesday from the site of this week's tournament, the Waste Management Phoenix Open, which starts Thursday at TPC Scottsdale in Arizona.
"It's been great," he added. "You know, I'm a huge Gonzaga fan. Their basketball coach (Mark Few) texted me Sunday night. That was pretty cool. Zach (Johnson), (Steve Stricker), just a lot of players have had a lot of nice things to say. It's been good. It's been good. The support has been great, and I'm certainly very grateful for that."
If a professional golfer is to succeed, he or she must have a short memory. Stanley, a former All-American at Clemson, seems to be blessed with that trait in spades. Here's what the second-year PGA Tour player had to tell reporters during a Q&A in Scottsdale.
MODERATOR: Kyle Stanley, thanks for joining us. Obviously a long few days, but overall a lot of great golf out of you last week. Certainly not what you've been thinking about for the past few days, but just kind of bring us up to speed on the past few days from the Farmers Insurance Open and just how you're feeling. The one thing I noticed just on the way down here was the unbelievable amount of support that you've been getting from people to keep your head up and get right back into it. Certainly that's got to make you feel good as you're kind of readying for this week here at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
KYLE STANLEY: Yeah, absolutely. Sunday was obviously a very tough day, but you know, I'm just trying to focus on the positive things I did last week. I mean, I played some really good golf. It's tough to have four really good ball striking days in a row. Sunday I didn't quite have it, but my short game kind of kept me in it, and that was nice to see. I've been working on that area of my game with James Sieckmann and Mike Taylor, so it was nice to see those results. Like I said, I did a lot of good things, and that's what I'm focusing on.
Q. What have the last couple days been like?
KYLE STANLEY: Sunday night was tough. It was nice, I had one of my best friends in town. My agent was with me, and my family was there, too. That was nice. You know, like you said, I'm just overwhelmed by how much support I've gotten from people. It's been great. You know, I'm a huge Gonzaga fan. Their basketball coach (Mark Few) texted me Sunday night. That was pretty cool. Zach (Johnson), (Steve Stricker), just a lot of players have had a lot of nice things to say. It's been good. It's been good. The support has been great, and I'm certainly very grateful for that.
Q. What did the Gonzaga text say?
KYLE STANLEY: He just told me to keep my head up and that I played tough, and that down the road I'm going to be stronger for it.
Q. Watching it on TV you looked really composed through everything, but it was your first time in that position. Were you shaking inside? What were your emotions throughout the whole round and going into 18?
KYLE STANLEY: You know, I think the emotions were more afterward. While we were playing, I mean, (caddie) Brett (Waldman) and I, we'd been making really good decisions all week, been working well together all week, and that was really no different. Most of the emotions I think you guys saw pour out a little bit in that Sunday press conference. But you know, as far as everything on the golf course, I thought I stayed pretty composed. You know, that stretch on the back nine, it could have gotten away from me pretty quick. 14, 15, 16, I made three really, really gutsy par putts, and it's tough like that, and I'm remembering right now. I'm happy with how I stayed in it coming down the stretch there on Sunday.
Q. The display of emotion afterward, do you get a sense that that endeared you to people, or do you think that's what people really - prompted them to reach out to you, that they could see how openly you were suffering that loss?
KYLE STANLEY: Yeah, I guess maybe a little bit. You know, that's me. I tend to wear my emotions on my sleeve a little bit. You know, it just kind of came out. It was very tough to swallow. But that's one of the things I learned is I think you need to really be prepared for whatever this game can throw at you.
Q. Do you see that ball backing off the green as a fluke, stuff that just happens in golf?
KYLE STANLEY: Yeah, I mean, it's - you know, yeah. It's a crazy game. It can love you, it can hate you.
Q. I mean, it was a good shot. Brett said it was 80 yards with a sand wedge, which you wouldn't expect to back up.
KYLE STANLEY: Yeah, we didn't hit lob wedge, and that's the reason we hit sand wedge was to keep spin off. He didn't expect that, I didn't expect that, but it happened. We're dealing with it, and you know, we're just going to continue to do what I can do each day to get better. That's what I was doing going into last week, and that's not going to change. I'm still the same guy. You know, unfortunate circumstances there, but we'll get back in the saddle, and I think I'll be better for it.
Q. It was of course all the rage out there on the internet, second guessing the decision to lay up and you went for it in a playoff and you should have done this, should have done that. Are you at peace with the decision you made to lay up?
KYLE STANLEY: Absolutely. Right now I'm pretty much at peace with everything. You have a couple ways you can take that. You can either let it get you down, I think, or you can focus on the positive. I did way too many good things last week to dwell on one shot or one hole or one putt.
Q. Nice to get back right at it this week?
KYLE STANLEY: Yeah, that's the beauty of it, you know. I think we've got to remember that's the - the year has just started, so I have probably 27 or 28 events ahead of me, and the process doesn't change, the mindset doesn't change. I'm playing great golf right now. I have a great team of people around me. Like I said, we're just going to continue to work hard and keep trying to put ourselves in position with golf tournaments.
Q. Was there a minute or moment on Sunday where you just thought, I need to take next week off and regroup, or was it -
KYLE STANLEY: No. If anything probably the opposite. I was going to play here this week whether I won or not. It's been on the schedule for a while. Like I said, I'm playing well. I'm playing well, so I'm going to - nothing has changed and nothing is changing. I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing.
Q. One thing I was struck with almost immediately after everything finished Sunday, your peers were going on Twitter and stuff like that. Were you aware of that later, and is there anything - Garrigus posted several things. Was there anything in particular that struck you?
KYLE STANLEY: You know, I'm kind of new to Twitter. I just started about, I don't know, maybe a month or two ago. I think I went from like - I think I picked up probably like 6,000 followers or something in the past 48 hours (laughter), and almost every single one of them has sent me a message or done this or that. It's just like I was saying earlier; I'm surprised by it. I'm overwhelmed by it, by the support I've gotten, and it's certainly been nice to feel like I had people behind me.
Q. Run us through Sunday night. Did you eat? Were you able to sleep? Did you cry? What did you replay in your head off of Sunday afternoon?
KYLE STANLEY: Yeah, I mean, I did all those things. I had Brad, my buddy, and my family with me. I mean, yeah, there were tears, there was disappointment. You know, but it's - I think there was a little bit of shock, too. I don't think you can really prepare somebody to maybe digest or handle what happened. It was just nice to have my family and some people around close to me, close to me there. Yeah, I did eat dinner. I did eat dinner and got a couple hours of sleep.
Q. What about replaying? If there was anything replayed, what kept - what did your needle get stuck on?
KYLE STANLEY: You know, probably the third shot on 18. But like I said, it happened. I can't go back and second guess. I can't second guess our decision. Brett and I had been making good decisions all week, and I don't think that one was any different.
Q. Garrigus went through something similar not too long ago. Did he reach out to you personally in the last 48 hours or have you talked to him?
KYLE STANLEY: You know, I haven't talked to him. He sent me a couple messages on Twitter, which was very nice. You know, I know there have been guys that have maybe been in similar situations. You can compare this to that or you can't; I'm not. But he bounced back nicely, and I plan on doing the same.
Q. Did your dad come down, leave in the middle of the night Saturday night to get there, and did he say anything in particular?
KYLE STANLEY: Yeah, he still works, so he and my mom don't get out to too many events. Maybe a handful a year. But yeah, it was certainly nice to have my family there and my sister there. The biggest thing I heard from my family is they were proud of me, proud of the way I handled it, and most importantly proud of how I played.
Q. Do you feel the golfing gods owe you one?
KYLE STANLEY: We'll see. We'll see.
Q. What did you learn from that 77 yard part sand wedge shot, and if you had to play it over, what would you do? Obviously hindsight being what it was you would have been better off firing a 3 wood into the grandstand, but how would you have played it differently if you had a mulligan?
KYLE STANLEY: I guess knowing what I know now, hit a 52 instead of 56 maybe. You know, just maybe do whatever I could to take that water out of play. You know, I think obviously when you go through something like that and you look back on it, there's - there are going to be some things you could obviously do a little bit differently, but in the moment I felt like Brett and I made a pretty good decision, you know, and that doesn't change.
Q. You made some incredible putts coming down at the end. You have that very truncated putting routine where it just goes. How do you come to that, and what's that like keeping it going with that kind of pressure?
KYLE STANLEY: Yeah, it's on the greens that I try not to think a whole lot. Once I get my read, I just want to go. I'm not a guy who takes practice strokes. I get my read and I go.
Q. Have you always done that?
KYLE STANLEY: No, no. You know, I did some work with Dave Stockton a couple years ago, and that's probably when I stopped doing the practice strokes, and then I've been working really hard with James Sieckmann and Mike Taylor, and so we've kind of continued to implement that part of it. But just for me and the type of player I am, the less I think about, the better, especially on the greens. Once I get it, I just see my line and go.
Q. I know you didn't win, but given how well you played for four days, did that tournament convince you at any other time you have the stuff to win out here?
KYLE STANLEY: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. I think I tied Tiger's scoring record there for 54 holes, and that was great. I mean, I played a lot of really good golf last week. There's no doubt about that. You know, I'm happy with it. Like I said, nothing changes, and I'm still very confident in my game right now, how I'm hitting it, how I'm putting it, chipping it. You know, it's a pretty good combination. But like I said, I'm just going to continue to work hard and do what I can do each day to get better, and as long as I continue to do that, I'll be back.
Q. Thoughts on this course and the kind of fun atmosphere; will that kind of help?
KYLE STANLEY: I mean, yeah, I didn't play here last year, so I certainly know what it's like with the fans and 16 and all that, so this was - this is actually one of the events that I've been looking forward to playing this year, so it should be fun.
Q. Other than the text from the Gonzaga coach, what was the most interesting or meaningful or heart felt thing that anyone said to you?
KYLE STANLEY: You know, it's - I'm not sure what you can say. I mean, nothing - it was tough. But I talked to Zach Johnson personally Sunday night. Steve Stricker sent me a really nice text yesterday. But yeah, I think it's just all across the board, just words of encouragement, keep your head up, don't forget how well you played. I know I may not have believed it on Sunday night or even Monday morning, but everybody just kept telling me I'll be a lot stronger for it, and I agree with that, that I will.
Q. Do you know Mark Few personally or does he just know that you're a Gonzaga fan?
KYLE STANLEY: You know, I don't. That's why I thought that was so cool. I've been watching Gonzaga play basketball since I was three feet tall. I live and die with every game they play. I try not to miss any of them. So that was real special to hear from him.
Q. If Gonzaga and Clemson met in the NCAA finals, who would you root for?
KYLE STANLEY: Come on, man. You know, that's tough. I love them both; how's that?
Q. Will that be the toughest question you hear all week?
KYLE STANLEY: I hope.
MODERATOR: Kyle, we really appreciate you coming in. I know it's been a long week or so for you, but best of luck this week, and we look forward to getting you back here this week.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.