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Curious about Quiros
To American golf fans, Alvaro Quiros came into the 2011 Masters known for his prodigious power off the tee and little else. The lanky 6'3" Spaniard generates tremendous club-head speed with his unorthodox drop-inside move through the ball, which has been measured at 200-plus mph as it leaves the face.
But the 28-year-old native of Cadiz has other aspects to his game, and he showed that in the opening round of the year's first major championship. Playing in Thursday's final group with fellow belters Jhonattan Vegas of Venezuela and American Gary Woodland, Quiros fired a 10-under 65 to tie Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland for the 18-hole lead.
Quiros has experience in finding his way to the winner's circle, though not yet in the U.S. He's logged five victories on the European Tour - the first in the 2006 Alfred Dunhill Championship and the most recent two months ago in the Dubai Desert Classic.
His luck in the Masters hasn't been quite as lofty, as Quiros has not made the weekend cut in his previous two appearances. Indeed, his best low score before yesterday was a 3-over 75.
So how does he explain the 10-stroke difference? Below Quiros explains in his wide-ranging Q&A with reporters Thursday evening.
MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone, or I guess I should say good evening, everyone. We are delighted to have Mr. Alvaro Quiros with us. He shot a very impressive 65 today, 3-under on the front, 4-under on the back, and in his three previous appearances here, his best round has been 75, besting that by ten shots, tied for the lead with Mr. McIlroy. Indeed, we are very, very happy to have you.
ALVARO QUIROS: Thank you very much.
Q. Just talk about playing in that last group of the day, and just the feeling out there and playing well.
ALVARO QUIROS: Well, you know, I was talking with my caddie about it, walking the 18th hole. It looks like I was playing in the Sunday afternoon in the leading group. I mean, it was a very nice feeling. Because normally, I'm watching this situation through the TV sitting on my sofa. (Laughter) but it was a very special moment I have to recognize. The weather was perfect, I was playing good and I was very lucky with the putting, so I couldn't complain obviously.
Q. Following that up, how exciting were the last six holes? Your whole group just lit it up. I think you were like 12-under through the last six holes through the day. Guys were making eagles and pars and you're making a run to the lead. How fun was that when you realized that everyone was doing what they were doing in your group?
ALVARO QUIROS: Obviously Jhonattan Vegas was playing well. It's difficult to believe, watching the scores, because for an instant I thought he was over par, but he was hitting the ball well. It's just like it is. And about Woodland, he was hitting the ball very well, too, and playing well. But it's very easy to be confused just because of the scores in this tournament. It's difficult to believe that somebody who shoots 2-over plays well here in the Masters. But if you follow these guys, you can easily see that it's not that difficult playing well.
Q. When you went out this afternoon, did you think that Rory's 65 was catchable?
ALVARO QUIROS: To be honest, when I arrived to the golf course, I don't even see the scores. I mean, I just check what Sergio was doing and Olazábal, and Miguel Angel, because they are the Spanish, the Spanish guys, but nothing else. You have to see, this is my third appearance and the others my best score was 75. I cannot be pretending to see the leaderboard; it would be stupid. (Laughter).
Q. The last time I looked, I think your average drive was 309.5. Are you okay with that?
ALVARO QUIROS: I would like to hit it 320 in the middle of the fairway every single moment. But to be honest, I'm very happy today. You know, I've been struggling with my game for a long time. I know that is difficult to believe because I already won on The European Tour, but it's a shot of confidence. Especially on this golf course; most of the shots from the tee, they invite you to picture a draw, and the only bad drive that I hit was on the 14th hole, trying to hit the draw and I hit a push-fade to the middle of the bushes and after that I make five. So I was satisfied after finishing the tee shot and finishing with a five on the 14th. Apart from that, everything was good. I was lucky holing a long putt on 17, because the ball was quick, and on the end, I got two good putts on 16, easy uphill putts, long, but easy. I went to college. Meter and a half behind the hole. Again, you say to yourself, why do you have to make it that complicated? It's simple, done. I suffer, I make three, I make par, is the only good thing about it.
Q. Can you walk us through your back nine and describe the birdies and the clubs you hit and the clubs you had?
ALVARO QUIROS: Excuse me?
Q. Can you walk us through your back nine and describe the birdies that you had and the clubs that you hit?
ALVARO QUIROS: On the 10th, 3-wood, soft -- well, three quarters of an 8-iron, very good shot over the flag, like three meters, downhill putt, left-to-right, very soft putt. It was a very good birdie. Good 2-putt on 11 from the beginning of the green. 12, another good chance, a very good putt, but we don't read properly the line. On 13, a great driver. Not on purpose, I have to recognize, because we don't want to hit it that much left. But it was in the middle of -- well, it was in the middle of the fairway and 143 meters to the flag. It's always complicated. It was like a normal 9-iron. You know, the pin on the right, I pulled it a little bit, and a long putt, about eight meters, two good putts again. On 14, I pushed my driver and I found a gap between the trees. It wasn't that far away from a normal shot, but the ball came out too big, too high. I hit the branches; boom, again, into the rough. Chip out, 130 meters to the flag. Decent wedge, about four meters left-to-right and I holed it. It was a good five.
The next one, a good driver, just a little bit cut it, the first cut, in the rough. We were between two clubs, 7 or three quarters of a six. I pulled a 6-iron to the back of the green, two good putts from over there. 16, poor 9-iron to the right, the ball came back to the beginning of the green, two good putts. The second one was like a meter over the hole. The next one, it was a good driver, soft wedge. I pulled it again, seven meters downhill and I holed it. Just before me, Gary Woodland holed the same putt almost on the same line, so I just have to follow the leader, follow the line. On 18, massive driver, perfect 9-iron, meter, in.
Q. You're leading a major; with that comes pressure. How do you avoid a letdown round tomorrow?
ALVARO QUIROS: As I said, my target tomorrow is made the cut. It would be stupid to think about to shoot 65 again, because it's not my way. As I said before, 75 was my best round here. It could be just one good round of golf. So to avoid that, I want to think in the next shot that I'm going to have, which is the tee shot on the first hole.
Q. Phil honored Seve in his dinner the other night with a menu or Seve. Can you talk about your interaction with him over the years and what it would mean to him if you were to win?
ALVARO QUIROS: I couldn't say what it could mean for Seve if I win a tournament. I'm pretty sure that in every single corner of this golf course, everybody will know what Seve did in his times. I think he's a figure who marked something here for European golf. In my case, unfortunately -- well, I don't know if I'm too young, but whenever I hear about golf, Seve is coming back, almost his best level. So it's the only thing that I can say about it.
Q. How do you explain a 10-shot difference between your previous best round and what you did today? And a couple of weeks ago, you had said that is Seve had the hands an artist and you had the hands of a bricklayer; so did you switch?
ALVARO QUIROS: Well, the first one is very easy. The two previous years, I came to the Masters thinking that I can play well, shoot low. And this one was my main mistake. My main mistake, because it's a golf course -- it's too tough. Every single situation has to be measured. I mean, the risk, the reward; and today, I was very happy making pars. This is why probably shoot 65. If I push myself to shoot 65 from the first tee, I tell you, probably it will be the same, 75, 76, like the previous years. And like the hands of a bricklayer, everybody knows I'm not the most skillful guy with a 58 in the hands; at the opposite situation, that's Seve. He was obviously one of the best ones in general, but especially with the short game.
Q. Watching you today going around, you seemed to be speaking nonstop almost with your caddie. Is that your normal style to be so animated?
ALVARO QUIROS: First of all, this is the first official round of golf with my caddie. He's a completely new caddie. So we have to talk a lot of things. (Laughter) We need to improve. We need to figure out how we are going to do it. And this is why we are talking as much as you see me. And at the same time, when you are playing well, everything is happiness. (Laughter). The problem is when you are playing bad. So let me enjoy today. (Smiling).
Q. What is the name of your new caddie and why did you change? How did it come about? Do you remember his name?
ALVARO QUIROS: I know perfectly. Gareth (Lord). He used to be the caddie of Robert Karlsson for a long time. And I changed -- well, I know that it's difficult to believe -- well, no, it's not difficult. Somebody who knows about golf will understand perfectly. But it's like in soccer, or in football: When a team is playing bad, you cannot change the 22 players. The only thing that you can change is the coach, isn't it? (Laughter) In my case, it's the same. You know, I cannot change myself. Well, I'm trying to change myself but it doesn't work. So probably the only decent way I can change the cut is I change something. Sometimes it's not, how do you call, the final --
ALVARO QUIROS: That's it. It was the only thing.
Q. Continuing on the football theme, I know you're a big Atletico Madrid; are you the Atletico Madrid of golf, big highs and lows?
ALVARO QUIROS: This is why I want to avoid every sign of enthusiastic moment. Obviously I'm very happy. As I said, 65 is my best score by 10 shots, as the people said every single moment. (Laughter). But my target will still be the same. Tomorrow, a drive on the first hole and make the cut. I will be very pleased to make my cut in my third appearance in the Masters.
Q. McIlroy said he ran into you in the mall last night; were you at the same restaurant?
ALVARO QUIROS: Yeah, we were in the same mall. Yeah, I was with my family. Yeah, by accident. I was watching Rory play with a rugby ball with his friends in the middle of the parking. Did he tell you that? He was joking -- he was doing terrible. (Laughter).
Q. He didn't tell us that.
ALVARO QUIROS: Ha, I tell you. (Laughter).
Q. How good you with an American football?
ALVARO QUIROS: I like the American football. I never tried it. I never tried it before but I like. I'm very -- how do you call it, sportman. I like almost every single sport. When I fly here to the States, I like to see the sports that you have here, like American football mainly, baseball is another one. But I don't have too much idea about technique, things. I know the rules a little bit, but that's all.
Q. Can you talk about your strategy on holes 15 and 16 and how it may change as you progress through the weekend?
ALVARO QUIROS: Well, I mean, we broke a little bit the strategy on the 15th today, because yesterday and in previous days, we were speaking about, if we have wind across or helping hit the 3-wood, because it's a hole that I can't reach on 2 if I hit a good 3-wood. Probably with a 3-iron or a very good 5-wood. But it will be enough for me. But today we were hitting the driver well. So we said, "Come on, go for it." I didn't hit a massive driver, but it was pretty good, decent, in the right side of the fairway by two meters. And after that, on 16, is the par 3, obviously left is the wrong side to be. You know, we were again between distances. You know, it was a massive 9-iron or a touch with the 8. So I decided to go with a good 9. Unfortunately I pushed it. I blocked it a little bit, pitched in the middle of the green, come back until the beginning, two good putts.
Q. Can you describe what it's like to shoot 65 in the first round of the Masters?
ALVARO QUIROS: Well, it's something difficult to believe. In consideration my favorite, favorite rounds. The best score here was 75. Obviously I played well. I played very well. And the best part of the bag was the putter.
Q. You drove the ball very well and very, very long. How big an advantage is that here?
ALVARO QUIROS: Well, it is everywhere, but especially here against what we have. We really need to put the ball in position. And with long drives it is an advantage.
Q. When I spoke to you last in Malaga you were struggling with your swing. Have you found something?
ALVARO QUIROS: Well, yesterday I wasn't hitting the ball well, so I mean, today was a good round of golf. It's just the first round of a week. Tomorrow will be a different day. Nobody is going to be bringing anything, so hopefully I can come preserved with the same level of game.
Q. How do you explain today? Fantastic round compared with your previous rounds here.
ALVARO QUIROS: Well, the key was the putter, there's no doubt. I mean, I holed out, one-putt on 17. If I don't catch the hole, probably I would have been chipping for par, and I make obviously a good putt on 17. I holed many good putts, so obviously that was the best club.
Q. It's going to be a very, very satisfying evening, isn't it?
ALVARO QUIROS: Well, it's just a fact, nothing else. It's a detail. It's one day. Hopefully I can play well tomorrow, make the cut, and it will be an improvement after the two previous years.
Q. You had quite a few birdies on the back nine, how much momentum did you have for finishing this first round?
ALVARO QUIROS: Obviously I'm very happy. 65 is my best score by far in the Masters. This is my third appearance. So I have to recognize that I was lucky on 17 to hole the putt, because the putt was quick. But at the same time it's like it is. You need to have luck to shoot 65 on this golf course.
Q. I spoke to you yesterday and you said before your practice round yesterday you weren't feeling it and you shoot lights out today. What changed between then and now?
ALVARO QUIROS: I don't know, to be honest. That's why everybody is happy. In my case, I couldn't be that happy because I don't know if it's just an instant of a day, you know what I mean? I don't know if it's a good level of golf just for one day. As I said, for me the most important thing is tomorrow, hit the driver on the first hole tomorrow and try to fight for the cut. And after that I will let you know if something changes of the swing or not. We're going to see it in the score for sure.
Q. You had a great back nine, do you hope it carry that momentum into tomorrow?
ALVARO QUIROS: Well we will see if I can hold it. I was lucky, as I said, on the 14 hole. I hit a really poor drive, I took a risky shot, I played it and then I have to hit my fourth shot to the green with a wedge, full wedge 130 meters and I hole a very good putt for bogey. On top of that I have to recognize that I don't hit a very bad drive of the ball, I was always on the proper side, hit it more or less into the middle of the fairway. For the moment I'm very happy with my game. Tomorrow I don't know. It's a question that I'm not going to, I cannot say how it is going to be resolved.
Q. How important would it be for you to be playing on Saturday and Sunday?
ALVARO QUIROS: It would be for sure a very big shot of confidence. This is my third appearance here and unfortunately the first two rounds of the two previous years weren't, were not great. About confidence, about stay calm, and today it looks like everything was working properly. Even the bad shots finished long, far away from the flag, but I was able to make 2-putts. This is the important thing.
Q. A lot of the earlier golfers said that the greens were very receptive early in the day. Do you still feel that even though you were in the last group?
ALVARO QUIROS: I think we are in one of the best golf courses of the earth. I don't know how many players we are in the field, but the ball was rolling perfectly at the end of the afternoon. You can see obviously spike marks, but they were not big. They were not a big influence for the roll of the ball. I cannot complain. I think that everything was perfect.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.