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June 14, 2005

Spencer Levin


RAND JERRIS: It's our pleasure to be joined this morning in the interview room by Spencer Levin. Spencer is playing in his second U.S. Open This year at Pinehurst. He finished in a tie for 13th last year in the 2004 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills with a particularly memorable hole in one on the 17th hole in the first round.

Spencer, start us off by talking about your experiences at Shinnecock last year and how those will help you as you go out and play this year at Pinehurst.

SPENCER LEVIN: I think it's just getting used to all the people and all the crowds and everything. Last year at first in the practice rounds I was pretty overwhelmed with all the people. I mean, I expected it, but once you see it, it's different. This year I realized I knew that there was going to be a lot of people, and I think I'm a little bit more comfortable with that.

RAND JERRIS: In the last year or two you've really emerged as one of the more prominent amateur players in the country. Clearly there's a lot of expectations and important decisions that need to be made by someone in your position. Maybe just talk to us about your thoughts the last couple of months and if there's anything in particular you'd like to share with us this morning.

SPENCER LEVIN: I decided I'm not going to go back to school next year and I've turned pro for this event. It was a tough decision, but that's the decision I made. I signed a couple days ago.

Q. How much time did you think about turning pro and making that decision and how difficult of a decision was it for you?

SPENCER LEVIN: I've thought about it probably for the last couple months. It was a tough decision, just because school is fun and my coach is great and my teammates are great. You know, I don't really feel like I'm letting them down, but I felt like it would be nice to stay. But at the same time, I thought I should do what's right for me. It was a tough decision, but all the guys on the team and my coach respected it, and they just said, "Go ahead, do whatever you think is right."

Q. Obviously you've had the great success last year at the Open. How much did that come into play, the fact that you realized you could handle that kind of pressure that you talked about and getting over the overwhelming crowds and what not and your finish there. Did that come into play in terms of you deciding to do this?

SPENCER LEVIN: Yeah, I think so, a little bit. Yeah, I know it was only one week, but I felt pretty comfortable. That had something to do with it. But I also had a great summer, which also helped me feel like I'm ready to turn pro. I definitely think that that had something to do with it, yeah.

Q. You mentioned you had two sponsor's exemptions. Have you secured any more looking ahead?

SPENCER LEVIN: Yeah, I've got Westchester, Reno Tahoe Open, John Deere, and hopefully I'll get in the Milwaukee and the Canadian Open. Those are two of the ones I'm looking at. And then just try and get as many as I can, try and get all seven.

Q. Now that you've seen a second golf course in the Open rotation, how does this compare to what you witnessed last year at Shinnecock? And tell me the differences and what you have to prepare especially for this week.

SPENCER LEVIN: The differences, I think this one might be a little bit longer, but it's still pretty similar in the fact that the rough is high, the greens are fast, they're slopey, and once again, it's going to be big on driving accuracy, just like pretty much all the USGA events that I've played in have been, at least for me. But yeah, the greens, I'm sure they'll get a lot firmer and a lot faster because that's how it was at Shinnecock. The first couple practice rounds they weren't as firm or fast, but I'm sure by the time the tournament starts, they'll be firm and fast.

Q. Have you seen a course like this where there's so many options for your short game around the green?

SPENCER LEVIN: No, I haven't. That's a good question. You know, I was talking, everybody is hitting a bunch of practice chips and everything. There's probably going to be a lot of divots around the greens which will make you choose whether to putt or chip and it'll give you more options. I've never seen a course where you can putt, 3 wood, chip.

Q. Do you enjoy that?

SPENCER LEVIN: Yeah, it gives you some options and makes you think a little bit. Obviously there are certain times when you should use certain clubs, and I think it tests you pretty tough.

RAND JERRIS: Could you talk to us a little bit about any practice rounds you may have played out here and what you're attempting to accomplish when you're out there during a practice round.

SPENCER LEVIN: I actually got to play with Tiger on Sunday. That was pretty cool. And then yesterday I got to play with I actually played with Tiger and Trip Kuehne on Sunday, and yesterday I played with John Rollins and all great guys.

It was interesting watching Tiger because he hits a lot of chips on every hole pretty much from everywhere. I started doing that a little bit more. That's probably what I'm going to try and do, work on my short game. Like you were seeing, there's a lot of options, and try and figure out which is going to be the best option for that particular shot.

Q. How do you figure your life will change now when you turn pro? It'll be your job now. Just how will it be different for you?

SPENCER LEVIN: I'm still playing golf, so that's not going to change. But I guess just the guys I'm playing against and the courses I'm playing will all be different. Other than that, I don't see it changing that much.

Q. Who's on the bag this week?

SPENCER LEVIN: My dad is on the bag this week.

Q. You haven't fired him yet?

SPENCER LEVIN: No. He's tough to fire (laughter).

Q. Are you going to have a regular caddie once you start playing the other events, or is he going to be with you the whole time?

SPENCER LEVIN: I think so. I have a caddie who caddies for me out in Monterey. His name is Johnny Barnes, and he works at Pebble Beach and I think he's going to caddie for me in my other tournaments this summer.

Q. Just to ask you some more about playing with Tiger, what do you learn from that in talking with him? What do you talk to Tiger about?

SPENCER LEVIN: You know, I just asked him pretty basic questions, like what kind of shot would you use here, what did you hit there, what were you trying to do there, just stuff like that. We only played about nine holes together. You just learn from watching him and watching how he's totally calm all the time. You're just learning from just watching the way he acts, what he does, the way he practices. I try and learn from that. I only played nine holes with him, but I tried to get as much out as I could.

Obviously he's the guy that everybody my age has looked up to playing golf, so I was just trying to get as much out of it as I could when I got the time to play with him.

Q. It's kind of a mixed bag it seems for guys coming out on Tour when they're young when we've seen a lot of guys have success right away and other guys really struggle. What in your game or your approach do you think suits you coming out now?

SPENCER LEVIN: That's a good question. You know, I'm just going to play the way I've always played or tried to play the way I've always played. I'm not going to change anything, so I don't know if it's going to work out or not, but I'm just going to go with what I've got, and hopefully it's good enough.

Q. When you say go with what you've got, what do you think your strengths are that make you a potential PGA TOUR player?

SPENCER LEVIN: I usually drive it pretty straight and I usually putt pretty good. Those are my two strengths. I don't hit it as far as a lot of guys, but I'm usually in the fairway and I can usually putt pretty good. I'd say those are my two strengths.

Q. Do you expect it to be sort of a different kind of pressure when you go out in terms of trying to having only seven events plus this, just to make the money you need to try to get some status on Tour? Is that going to be a different kind of pressure you put on yourself than in an amateur event?

SPENCER LEVIN: I'm not sure. Ask me that a few months from now probably. I'm got to try and not let it be. I'm just going to try and go play golf and keep that mindset. That's what I'm going to try and do.

Q. You're kind of known as sort of a passionate player, some of the chronicled temper tantrums you've had on the course and the smoking and so forth. Is that something you look to change or do you want to stay the same player that you are?

SPENCER LEVIN: I'd like to quit smoking eventually. Other than that, I don't know. It's the way I am. That's the way I play. I don't plan on changing that, no.

RAND JERRIS: Thanks for taking some time out to be with us and play well this week.

SPENCER LEVIN: Thanks, appreciate it.

End of FastScripts.

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