An Interview With...2014 APL Champion Byron Meth

July 19, 2014

USGA Moderator Mike Trostel:  It’s my pleasure to welcome the 2014 United States Amateur Public Links champion, Byron Meth, here to the media center.  Byron, congratulations. Great victory today.  Tell us your initial reaction to winning the 89th and final U.S. Amateur Public Links. 

BYRON METH:  Incredibly special and such an honor.  My dad and I were joking about being the perpetual champion at the beginning coming into this week on the flight over, but really didn’t put much thought into it until right after the last putt was conceded.  It’s just an absolute honor, and it was just an unbelievable week and a week I’ll never forget.

Q:  You didn’t trail in a match until today, but then you re-took the lead before Doug made a run on you in the last eight or nine holes.  Talk a little bit about when the momentum started to swing back the other way.  How did you steady your game?

BYRON METH:  Well, Doug is a tremendous player, and he took a few big risks and they paid off.  He hit a lot of quality shots, and that’s when the momentum shifted, and I knew if I just stuck to my game plan and kept executing the smart, aggressive ‑‑hitting the smart target, and my putter ‑‑ I’ve relied on my putter a lot in my life, and it definitely did not let me down today.

And the momentum, it was big, but I think the most important part is I just stuck to my game plan, adjusted when I needed, but for the most part just kind of played my game and kept swinging away.

Q:  Seems like you made a lot of those putts in the six‑, eight‑, ten‑, 15‑foot range today that didn’t just keep you in the match but kept you ahead for most of the match.  What were the crucial putts out there that you remember being a key in the match?

BYRON METH:  Definitely the par putt in the afternoon on 7.  I ran my first putt by about six feet or so, one of those downhill sliders.  But the good thing is the downhill is out here, the grain goes downhill, the wind was going straight down, so it really didn’t move too much, just had to get it going on line and the putt dropped, so that was a big one.

And then right after that on 8, pulled my approach shot a little bit and got a funny lie and wasn’t quite sure how to play it, but I’ve had enough of those lies where I’ve kind of experimented a little bit, and I tried something and pounded it out to 10, 12 feet or something like that, and another one of those downgrain, downhill, downwind, started it on the line, and that was a big one.

And then obviously 16, making that left‑to‑righter from 12 or 13 feet, that was huge.  If I got 2‑down at that point, it would be tough to win both 17 and 18, but making that so I was 1‑down with two to play was important. I was fortunate enough to have a chance in extra holes.

Q:  Then you go to extra holes and you go back to the 10th hole.  It gave you a little bit of an issue today the first two times through.  What were your thoughts when you heard the playoff was on the 10th hole?

BYRON METH:  I wasn’t happy, that’s for sure.  I made a mess of it today, but I knew that I had played it well all week.  I haven’t made a bogey on that hole until today, three birdies and the rest pars, so I’ve played it well to this point and I knew if I just hit quality shots I could play it well again.

I hit a very solid 3‑wood off the tee, took an incredibly safe line for my second shot this morning after he hit it in the hazard. I was right in the same spot where I made a mess of it in the afternoon.

Just completely different shots.  The one in the morning rolled, but this time I had a 9‑iron from 126 out of a dodgy lie in the rough, and just hit a quality shot.

I’ve put in a lot of hard work.  Everyone has, but I guess to this point in my career, I’ve just relied on the foundation, and it’s paid off.

Q.  Can you talk about the bunker shot at 14.  You sort of stepped back from it a couple times and sort of seemed to gather yourself.  That was a critical point in the match.  Was there some thought in your mind that you stepped away from?

BYRON METH:  I just heard a couple of cell phones.  I decided to back off.  It wasn’t anything in particular with my game, I just wanted to have everything quiet and ready to go.

Q.  How hard was it, you missed a short one on 13.  What were your thoughts at that point?

BYRON METH:  Again, I wasn’t very happy, but I knew that I still had enough holes to try and get it back to ‑‑ just didn’t let it bother me and kept going.

I was a bit amped up after that, obviously, and hit that drive on the next hole 330 or whatever it was, and I had 176 out of the fairway, and that’s usually a good 7 for me.  I tried hitting 9 because I knew I was really amped up and I knew long and fast, and then I just completely came out of it, my worst swing with an iron this week by far, into the bunker, and I’ve only had one other bunker shot all week, so I wasn’t 100 percent sure on how the sand would react, but I ended up getting down there and I had a very good lie.  The bunker was raked perfectly because no one had been in it all day.  Had a very good lie, stuck with the foundation I’ve build, and executed.

Q.  Were you surprised he conceded that putt?

BYRON METH:  No.  It was a foot and a half, straight.

Q.  Talk about having your dad with you all week.  He said he walked every hole except for nine each practice round; he was with you every step.

BYRON METH:  Yeah, it was very special.  I’ve had three victories, one at Aaron Baddeley international in China as a junior, the West Coast Conference was last April I believe it was, and now this one, and he’s missed both of the previous two.  It was too expensive for him to fly to China with me.  A couple of the other ones I had to work.  It’s great for him to be here this week, and to be able to pull it out in the end it was incredibly special and something the two of us will never forget.

Q.  You mentioned the support and yet not being pushed.  Can you talk a little bit about your relationship together when you were a younger golfer?

BYRON METH:  Yeah, so growing up, I started playing golf when I was three, and took lessons at golf clubs when I was five and a half and six.  So the first two years, it was, ‘Hey, do you wanna go to the range?’ ‘Yeah, sure.’  It was never, ‘We’re going to the range.’  It was just all about having fun.  Even when I started playing competitively from six to 13, it was never ‘We’re going to this tournament, we’re going to go do this, we’re going to go practice.’  It was ‘What do you want to do today?’

They’ve supported that mindset ever since I was a kid and that is probably why I fell in love with the game and enjoy it so much.  I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face all day.  It was just an absolute blast and one of the best weeks on the golf course I’ve ever had regardless of the actual scores and the results.  It was just so much fun.

Q.  Walk me through the range of emotions on the 36th hole.

BYRON METH:  Yeah, so after Doug fanned his shot, which I thought went OB but wasn’t sure, I knew my line was going to be the left edge of the fairway.  I’d been hitting my driver pretty well all week, and I knew if I made an aggressive swing at that line there was nothing that could go wrong, that I could carry that bunker.  It ended up in the rough, which was ok because I knew I actually just needed to make par.  And then the second shot I had 127, same yardage I had in the playoff, the extra hole, and I hit a wedge ‑‑ it was into the wind, and it was kind of a weird lie but almost too good.  It was sitting way up in six‑inch rough, so I had to adjust for that, and I knew it wasn’t going to spin as much so it might knuckle and kind of get through the wind.  So I took a lesser club and I knew an uphill putt would be fine.  I had that putt earlier today.

So I hit that shot, and it came down in a pretty similar spot, a little further left so it had more of a left‑to‑right bend in it, and I saw him miss his bogey putt and had a four‑footer for double or whatever it was, and I got up there and just didn’t read enough break and didn’t hit it hard enough, and it came back to my feet and had to do it again.

The second time I made sure I got it there, and turned out to be enough to win that hole and move on.  But actually if it was stroke play, I wouldn’t have even been in it after the 10th hole in the first round.

Q.  Coming up next you were saying that you’re traveling to Arizona, playing an event there, then you’ve got U.S. Amateur coming up now, you’ve got a busy schedule and jury duty somewhere in the middle of that.  Talk about your schedule coming up over the next month or two.

BYRON METH:  Yeah, so I fly home tomorrow, which is Sunday, and we land and get home in the evening sometime. Laundry, packing, get everything ready to go, hop in my car, drive eight hours by myself to Flagstaff, Arizona, from where we live in Southern California.  I might be able to walk the course in the afternoon when I get there; we’ll see.  Probably going to be pretty tired.  Hopefully I draw an afternoon tee time on Tuesday because if not, I’ll just try to make a bunch of pars.

But I’ll go out there and play the Pacific Coast Am this week, drive back next Saturday, and then I have jury duty that week.

Hopefully I don’t get on a jury so I can actually practice and prepare for the Am, and then straight off to the Am.  I think my new coach, Coach Chris Hill, is coming with me to that, so that will be a fun week for the two of us to get to know each other a little bit better.

Q.  Is he going to caddie for you?

BYRON METH:  Yeah, he is, so I’ll have a lot of fun down there, and then that ends on I believe it’s the 18th, so then I’ll fly home after that, on the 19th, I guess, load in my car and drive 500 miles to school and move in on the 20th.

Q.  You said before that Sahalee was a big tournament for you – building confidence. Can you talk a little bit about that, the way you played coming in here?

BYRON METH:  Yeah, so the entire 2014 season I’ve been playing pretty well.  I’ve had a lot of good finishes in college, this semester especially, capped it off with a win at conference and then fifth place finish at regionals, missed nationals by a shot, second year running actually, so that stung a bit.

But I knew I was playing well.  I knew if I kept to it, it would pay off in the end.  Then down to Sahalee, played excellent the first ‑‑ it was actually 36, 18/18, so I played pretty good.  I’ve never seen the golf course before, had one practice round with my host, and that was a good practice round.  It was an interesting format because it was a team event, so kind of played a little more aggressive than I would have normally in practice rounds.  Didn’t quite see enough of the golf course, but played fairly conservative in the first 36 holes, actually got myself tied for the lead at the halfway point.  Third round went all right, shot 74, which really isn’t that bad out there, and played in the penultimate group the final round, and I’m still getting used to galleries and cell phones, people walking and waiting and regrouping, it’s all part of it.  I have no problem with people taking pictures or walking.  They’re trying to have fun and watch good golf, or hopefully good golf.

It was a good learning experience.

Q.  How do you plan to celebrate?

BYRON METH:  I’ll probably have a beer with my dad.  I turned 21 earlier this year, and we haven’t had a drink together yet.  I’ve been at school and traveling all summer, by myself most of the summer, so it’s nice to have him here, and we’ll probably have a drink together.


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