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October 25, 2003

Jim Thorpe


THE MODERATOR: Jim Thorpe, with a 70 today just like the other two people in the group. After 54 holes you take a four-stroke lead on in the final round. A couple of thoughts about your day.

JIM THORPE: I felt that they played different today for some reason. The greens were was a lot more bumpier today than all week long. Nobody in the group would have made any putts to speak about. I made a couple of nice birdie putts that have been going in all week. There was a right back pin placement on No. 1. Even with the sand wedge, I couldn't get close to the hole there.

2 was a pretty simple pin. Basically what happened today, because the sand wedge on No. 1 released and took off from 105 or 110 yards, I think the green on No. 2 is going to release it off and this one backs up, so, you know, that puts you in a position where you really don't know now. Anyway I hit a routine 2-putt on 1 from 15, 16 feet.

2, had a routine 2-putt there probably 20 feet, 25 feet.

3, I think I birdied three. I hit a very nice pitching wedge there and made birdie. My putt was a lot longer when I got ready to putt and because Watson the 20-footer and Jenkins made 18. From probably about five and a half six feet. I hit it pretty solid and made it.

4 was a good par there. I put in the bunker on No. 4, that was a tough pin, back right and just to get close and I tried to hit the high 5-iron and kind of toed it a little bit in the sand trap. I made a great bunker shot. That's one of my best ever and I made for it four feet for par there.

5 was another hole where I hit a big drive and then again I hit the sand wedge from 109, that landed right by the hole but the ball bounced right of the flag. Then again you think this green should be soft but it was nice and firm. Made a routine 2-putt from about 20 feet.

6, I hit another nice drive and hit sand wedge from about 115. But I had Tom Jenkins and Watson hit in front of me. Their balls bounced on the green so I dropped mine a little bit shorter, to come up 15 feet shorter then putting downhill, you want to make it where par is a good score. I could see both of them making bogeys.

7, the par three, I hit a pretty good 5-iron 191 and routine 2-putt to probably 25 feet.

8, I hit a nice drive just in the short cut right rough area. Didn't really hit it bad just pushed it more left and I put it in a bad spot. I had a very nasty lie there, just short of the sand trap there, maybe 20 yard. I made sure I put in the green and made a 2-putt and go. Actually I hit it much too firm and I hit it 40 feet past he hole but I lipped it out for birdie. Jenkins and Watson both made birdies there.

I birdied 9. I had an excellent shot on No. 9. I made a 10 -, 12-footer downhill breaking right, hit a sand wedge there that ran 88 yards.

No. 10, I hit another beautiful drive on dead center there. I hit it on the downslope, straight down to the right. Just know to where I get it close to the hole (inaudible). I hit a good putt that putt could have very easily went in there.

11, was the probably the only shot that I wish I could play again. I had a nice drive on 11. I hit a sand wedge to about 10, 12 feet past the hole. We got so hung up on reading the putt, I forgot to hit. I left about three feet short then the next about four feet past, so now I'm looking at a 4-footer for my bogey. I just went kind of went to sleep because I'm putting straight downhill, but actually the greens did seem to have some change. Over the greens, it seemed to be a lot slower then the green out in the open. I just mad a major mistake there.

12, I come right back and I hit a big drive and a nice pitching wedge about let's call it 10 feet behind the hole. I made the putt for the birdie.

The next hole, I whipped my drive to the right. I laid it up 70 yards from the flag, wedged about two feet on the par 5 and made that for birdie.

One of the best chip shots, I hit 3-iron. 201 plus the flag on 14, I hit a 3-iron. The wind was blowing right to the left pretty good I hit it on the right edge of the green. I thought it was perfect but it just stayed there. I caught a very nasty lie but I played a magnificent chip shot there about eight, ten inches.

15, I hit a nice drive over the trees there. Got a nice drive over the trees there, got it under 15 yards. Probably the best second shot all day. I hit in there about four feet. Just a beautiful second shot.

I had to putt like I was putting through a minefield. I knew when I walked up to putt, I could not make it. In order to make it I had to be lucky as crap. It never went toward the hole. It just bounced. I think the greens today probably got a little bit crusty. They got crusty and firm, a lot different today than the last couple of days.

16, I hit another bad drive there. For some reason, I could not hit the fairway to save my life. I laid it up about 116 yards, made that for par.

17, was pretty much a routine 2-putt from 25 feet left of the flag.

18, I choose to hit driver over the tee again. I pulled it and dropped it again like yesterday, probably about the same lie as yesterday. Today I just went through the tree into the sand trap. That could have been a big number there. I hit a pitching wedge about 130. It's great to hit over the tree on the greens, it kind of nicked the tree, stopped in the sand trap, I blasted it out eight or nine feet, misread the putt. We keep playing the putt to break right but it doesn't break right. All in all, it seems like at one point I was trying to keep pace with Watson and Jenkins. I didn't feel like I was attacking the golf cause. (Inaudible) I could have spread myself out a little bit, I felt I didn't do that. Making bogey on the last hole, you hate to finish that way. But it wasn't the worst bogey in the world out. It could have hit the tree and go in the hazard.

For us to the play the round it was probably one or two shots I could have played different. But today the pins was back on one, back on four, back on five, back on six, back on nine, back on ten, back on eleven, back on 12. A lot of back pin placement.

Q. You thought Tom Watson was going to keep coming, but he never made a move today. Is that surprising to you?

JIM THORPE: That was very surprising. I thought he drove the ball very nicely. He never played like Tom of old. He hit a beautiful shot off the tee, but he hit 50 feet left of the flag there. He just never got to into the zone. His putting speed wasn't quite there. He had to make a lot of 4-, 5-footers or comeback putts. He never got back in the zone, which was a break for me.

I think we all felt the same way that the greens were very, very tough. Any time the greens get tough like that, actually I played much too aggressive because I had half dozen to eight putts that I'm putting downhill. We still tomorrow to go and I know Watson somewhere along the line -- Watson and Jenkins' are going to -- actually Jenkins' round could have been a lot better today. Jenkins left a lot of putts short for some reason. I know he left three or four putts short to left to the hole. I got to go out tomorrow and shoot about five or six under par so I could walk down 18 with the same lead I had today. I need to shoot solid, play solid don't do nothing stupid and just let them do what they can.

Q. (Inaudible).

JIM THORPE: (Inaudible) I talked to Tony. I said, you know I -- I think the problems that I have on 18, if I hit the drive solid enough, I'm going to be blocked out by the tree anyway. I can't carry my 3-wood far enough to carry it over the bunker. I really don't want to log a shot in the green. Based on where they stand tomorrow, I just may lay it up short of the bunker I and hit the two or three right off the tee there. Because actually if you don't cut your driver, you need to the cut it a lot because during the Pro-Am I really pushed it. I thought the ball was in the trees and on the right side of the fairway. I think tomorrow based on (inaudible), will dictate what I could hit off that tee. I think the same thing with 16.

16, the hole just don't set up good for me. (Inaudible) I need to take it down the left side but if you get double-crossed on the left side, then those trees come into play. But I feel pretty good with my wedge game so I don't mind if I miss the fairway on the par 5. I feel I could lay it up.

Q. For a day that had no movement, eleven was pretty dramatic. You bogeyed, Jenkins made birdie, all of a sudden four shots against two shots. Did your heart quicken a little bit?

JIM THORPE: No, not really. It was a dumb play on my part. I know Tom very, very well. I just felt that sometimes that is a rude awakening when you do something stupid like that. When you make a bogey that's uncalled for. When you try to get in the zone and fall asleep a little bit. Something like that probably needs to happen to wake you up. It did. I came back and birdied the next two holes. The big break I got I was from Jenkins. Jenkins hit it beautiful on No. 16 and made bogey there. That was a big break for me because once I seen the pin placement was back, then I knew I was going to have a difficult time making birdie again. You don't know if the green was going to hold or you don't know if the green was going to release, he caught a nasty lie. So I got a real break there.

Once again I know Tom is a good enough play player Jenkins can shoot 64, 65, so can Watson, so can Irvin, all those the guys that are lurking there. It might have been a good thing for me today the golf course played much tougher than the first two days. Because I know if it's playing tough for me it's playing tough for the rest of the guys. The real key for me tomorrow, if I drive the ball in the fairway, I should be all right. That's the whole key. If I put in on the fairway the longest club I'm going to hit on the par 4 is probably about an 8-, 9-iron. (Inaudible).

I need to get my driver going one way rather than both ways. It seems like I don't have trouble driving the ball until I get to the back nine. 15, 16, the holes don't set up very good for some reason. Basically I'm saying tomorrow I might 3-wood off of 15.

Q. On the green at 11 as I recall you picked up what look to be a praying mantis, you brought it to the side.

JIM THORPE: I would have killed the sucker.

Q. I was wondering if that was bad luck that you did that.

JIM THORPE: I basically find them sometimes on the golf course there. Sometimes we get in the position that you feel that your caddy takes over too much. In certain parts -- what happened, Tony likes the putter two-and-a-half feet. I didn't like it at all. It didn't look that way to me. It's not like he's putted on green. So the putt don't look two-and-a-half feet. Actually I never committed to what I was doing. I'm trying to ease up there and tap it in and go to the next hole, fine. But I never really committed. As I walked off the green it wasn't that much downhill. Plus the green was dark green versus that tan color, this was dark green. The putt wasn't as fast as I thought it was going to be. Sometimes we get caught in this sort of stuff. But we are all human. I'm sure he is trying to do the best job that he can do. (Inaudible) I got too much caught into the lie. We can make that. You know what's that was a just a mistake. I won't blame it on the little critter. If I see him tomorrow I might give him a little smash.

Q. How did the 16th hole set up for you?

JIM THORPE: For some reason it doesn't look right. I can't get myself lined on the fairway there. Years ago you could hook the ball so bad, every now and then I try to hit what's called, a hot stinger. If you get a hot stinger, the ball runs forever. I will try to set up on the left side (inaudible). I hit it about head high down the fairway. It's just a hole; it just don't appeal to the eye, you know. Like I said, again tomorrow if I come there tomorrow hopefully with the same lead that I came in with today, I'll be definitely trying to hit a big tee shot. Hit it hard and get it on the green, you know, 16 could be -- it's the type of hole that I know my opponents could make an eagle on. I'm could come back and hit 25 or 30 (inaudible). If I could get it turning one way, I think I'll be OK on 16 tomorrow.

Q. I remember how you used to curve the ball with these wooden drivers; do you play a much straighter ball with the modern drivers?

JIM THORPE: I think the golf balls today are designed to go straight. Trying to the work the ball is nearly impossible. Basically everybody hits it straight and high. Before we used to curve the ball in. Just like the shot on 10 with the pitching wedge from 125. Nine times out of ten, that would have been to get in the middle of the green and watch it turn left and play back to that hole, but today I couldn't do that. I couldn't take the chance. I'm trying so hard to play with the Callaway Black, which I think is a great golf ball but I have a difficult time working that ball. I don't have a tough time making it go straight. I think some of my tee shots I've hit, that you put the inside right move on that thing and trying to drive over a little bit and it just hangs there. To give you a good example, the shot I hit on the par 3 on 14, no way in the world -- the grass near the tee went directly this way. I hit a nice high 3-iron to the right edge of the green, that ball has to go at least four, five yards out. It just stays straight. It never moved. Ten years ago the golf balls we had played or even five years ago, that golf ball would have curved a little bit. I do think the golf clubs are designed to hit the ball much straighter than years ago.

Q. Lots of variables in the final group with you trying to the win the money title, Watson going for the Schwab Cup, you can finish second in the Schwab Cup as well with a win. Any thoughts on that?

JIM THORPE: Actually, I did think about the money title. I guess I'll get my boys to beat up Watson tonight. What do you think? (Laughter).

I bet you for a hundred-dollar bill, I could get all those guy in the top 10 beat up and broken up. I haven't thought about it but I think winning the money title would be great. It's something I've never done. I don't think I've ever worked this hard on my golf game before. I haven't taken the game as serious as I have in the past four or five years. All the stuff that I've done with the horses and casinos and the gambling all that stuff, I realize this is my the last go-round. My wife is taking advantage of it because I'm still the same old Jim. I enjoy living it up a little bit and that's a lot fun, but as quick as I make the check, she puts in her pocket. She has control of that stuff right now.

Winning the money title would mean -- I don't really know what it would mean. I think it would look nice on my resume, but the Charles Schwab annuity would look very, very nice for my 14-year-old, providing I don't donate it someplace because maybe I'll donate it someplace. I haven't given it much thought. I hope to come out tomorrow and shoot a good solid round of golf.

I felt that today was the round I needed to get out of the way. I felt good about the first round, the second round I felt pretty good. Today I probably had a little more butterflies. Today I probably thought about it a little bit more. If I go and play my game, they know they have to make birdies to beat me. I think I have that much control of my game. Keep Tony involved. Keep him talking to me. (Inaudible) It keeps you loose. So I'll have a conversation with him this evening or tomorrow morning let him know, I might want to wipe my eyes or dry my hands or whatever. But you know what, the caddies, they are just like the players. They get nervous. They don't admit it. I'll never forget in Long Island, I had a two-and-a-half-footer on the last hole to win the tournament. I could see it in his face. I'm waiting for Bob to putt, I don't know if he is going to make it or miss it. I was talking to Tony on the sideline, you can tell by his face that he feels the pressure. I think they are as much as involved in this thing as we are. I said, are you all right? He said, I'm glad I'm not putting this 2 -footer (laughter).

I've been there. I kind of wish it was eight inches too but unfortunately it wasn't. But you know what; we miss them and we make them. We have been lucky enough to win golf tournaments. It's been a magnificent year and a season. I think the Champions Tour was the best thing to happen to a bunch of old guys. Whatever happens is going to happen. I'm just glad to be a part of it, the excitement the thrill of it. Someone might get hot and shoot a 62 or 64, God bless them. I'm going to go out and try to play my game and hope to walk out on 18 with a three- or four-shot lead and hit a couple of 5-irons and 7-irons and get it over with.

End of FastScripts.

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