Brendon Todd: Pre-Championship Press Conference
BETH MAJOR: Good afternoon, welcome again to the 2014 U.S. Open Championship at Pinehurst Resort and Country Club. We are very happy to have with us this afternoon Brendon Todd, who is playing in his first U.S. Open. He grew up in Cary, North Carolina. A 3-time junior high school champion. He won the H-P Byron Nelson championship. Congratulations on being here, very happy to have you. Tell us a little bit about playing in your first Open and particularly playing in your home state in your first Open.
BRENDON TODD: Thanks. Yeah, I'm honored and really excited to be here this week. Not only in my first U.S. Open, but my first Major and first USGA event since the 2003 U.S. Amateur. So I've got to get re-familiar with how the USGA does things here. I'm happy to be back in Pinehurst. I was telling Beth I played about a hundred junior events here, played the Donald Ross Championship three or four times. Played States down here on No. 4, No. 6, No. 8. Just a great area with a lot of history and obviously No. 2 has always been the diamond or the gem down here, the one that Donald Ross put all of his time and energy into, and I think we're really in for a treat this week.
BETH MAJOR: You said you've seen a little bit of the golf course in practice. Do you have any initial impressions of No. 2 and just being here?
BRENDON TODD: Well, you know, just always knowing that the greens always set this golf course apart from every other golf course is something I'm excited about, because I'm a good putter and chipper. But I really like what they've sort of done to the redesign. Seems like they were able to restore it to the way Donald Ross liked it back in the '30s when he designed it. I think it has a really unique look for a U.S. Open, to have some of the native grasses and sandy areas off the fairway. I think it's going to be fun to play a USGA event with not so much rough.
Q. How many times in high school and juniors did you and Webb cross paths competing against each other?
BRENDON TODD: Every year, since we were 12, probably five to ten times a year, I would say. I remember playing at Hedingham Golf Club for first time with him called the Tri-State Junior. And he beat me in the last round. It was cool to get to play with those guys. We developed good friendships with them from there on. Obviously we played the North Carolina junior stuff against each other and high school state stuff and AJGA stuff and USGA stuff. We have a long competitive history.
Q. I was curious, you've got you and Webb and Justin, all guys who have won on Tour, all at roughly the same age range, all from within 10, 15 minutes of each other, really. Is there anything that you guys have in common that's enabled you to have the success at the young age being from the same place. Is there a rivalry of these Triangle guys on Tour?
BRENDON TODD: No, I think we have a much more community among the three of us. We all come from great families. We grew up competing against each other, really have a respect for each other. And I think we really -- we have a good bond. And it's been kind of exciting to see everybody do well.
Q. When Webb won his U.S. Open, do you remember watching it and when you play against a guy growing up and had success, does his victory have any impact on you, seeing him have that success?
BRENDON TODD: Yeah, I was watching with my wife, I don't remember -- we were probably at home. But, yeah, I was thrilled for him. He played awesome. It was cool to see him and his dad on TV accept the trophy. I think it was a motivator. It was -- it was one of those things that you watch your friend do and accomplish something so great and you realize, man, that's so awesome. I'm glad he pulled it off. I think that means I probably will have a good opportunity to do it myself in my career.
BETH MAJOR: Do you have any memories from watching either the '99 or 2005 U.S. Open in Pinehurst on TV.
BRENDON TODD: Definitely '99. I loved Payne Stewart, admired him a lot. Who didn't? That was such a special week for him. Him and his wife cutting the sleeves of his jacket and his wife telling him to practice his putting with his eyes closed. And him sinking that putt on the last hole. It was a memorable event. I remember being crushed when he died. I remember coming home from school, walking in, my mom and brother were watching TV, it went across the bottom line and I couldn't believe it, I was stunned. In 2005, I remember watching a little bit of that one, too. Because I was pretty impressed Jason Gore came out and played so well that week, and had a chance at the end in the last group on Sunday. That was a pretty fun event to watch, too.
Q. I was just wondering, how many times did you try to qualify for the U.S. Open and also what are your expectations this week? You say you're expecting to have some fun out here, but you don't hear that word used in the U.S. Open.
BRENDON TODD: I think it's going to be fun to play a different style of golf at a USGA event. That will be the enjoyable part. It will be fun for me to play in my home State of North Carolina. It will be fun to play in Pinehurst, where I've played all the other golf courses, a place I've wanted to play for so long. I expect it to be really difficult from the standpoint, it's unlike other PGA TOUR events, where we're used to getting under par every round if we're playing well. In the U.S. Open, you can go 10, 20, 30 holes without making a birdie and still maybe have a chance to win, because you hang in there with a lot of pars, and you're right there around par. We have to adjust our mindset to play that sort of grueling, patient, safe par kind of golf.
Q. How many years have you tried to qualify?
BRENDON TODD: I've probably tried to qualify every year since 2005. And I actually thought it was really going to be the year. I signed up to play at Settindown Creek in Atlanta, where I've played the last couple of years. Tough golf course, only 4-under medalled. And I thought I would have had a good chance there if I would have had to qualify. But I've missed it by two or three shots, four or five times up at that Woodmont course in Maryland.
Q. How chaotic has it been for you, being a local guy, and so many people want to watch you compete in this field down at Pinehurst, have you just had to tell some people no?
BRENDON TODD: I usually tell my dad, pretty much, we have tickets for our family, and everybody else is sort of on their own. Not too chaotic yet. It will be fun. I'll have some friends from high school out there cheering. That's going to be energizing. And nobody can stay around here, because the hotels are all booked. My wife and I get to hang out at the Carolina Hotel after the rounds, have dinner by ourselves. It's probably going to be a really enjoyable week for us.
Q. From the 2009 result in Memphis, and some struggles after that, can you go through where you went from there and how you've come back a little bit?
BRENDON TODD: Yeah, I got on Tour in 2009 and didn't get off to a bad start, but didn't get off to a killer start. Was trying to become a better ball-striker, that's what I felt I needed to do to be competitive on this Tour. Which was correct, that's what I've become the last four years. But I sort of went on the search for the right teacher at that point and kind of got lost in that search for a couple of years. I wasn't able to hit the ball on the golf course for about a year and a half after that Memphis event and that made it difficult to make cuts. Clawed my way back and went through a few more teachers and a few more struggles there, 2011, 2012. I have a good team around me now with Bill and Scott Hamilton, and they've really helped me mature as a player, as a person. Scott's really helped me with a golf swing. I'm a much more efficient ball-striker now. And that's allowed my short game to shine and helped me shoot under par on the PGA TOUR, which is what you have to do to play out there and win. I think the last year and a half it's really paid off and helped me be very consistent and competitive.
Q. You talked a little bit about Webb Simpson earlier and you played as kids and stuff like that. Just two questions. Was there one event or one anecdote when you guys were playing together when you were younger -- you talked about that final. Is there some event that stands out in your mind. And what kind of guy do you think he is?
BRENDON TODD: Webb is a class act. We're both believers. I think he's a quality, humble, positive person, that really does pull for everybody, which is a rare quality in professional sports. I think sometimes -- we have so many memories competing against each other, from the first one I mentioned to playing the final match in the North Carolina Junior at Carmel Country Club, it was a really competitive match; to high school golf playing some state championships against each other. I wouldn't say that there's one that stands out too much in my mind, but we've had a lot of fun competing against each other over the years, and hopefully we'll get paired in the final group together on Tour.
BETH MAJOR: Thank you very much. Brendon, thank you very much for joining us. We wish you well this week.
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