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April 23, 1998

Chris Perry


CHRIS PERRY: This is what an interview room looks like? (laughter) Been a long time. Actually, I played well earlier in the year. Lately, the putter has been letting me down lately. Bay Hill, TPC, been playing pretty good, but haven't been scoring. Today, with ball in hand, you get it in the fairway and, actually, I hit a lot of shots close and that is the reason why I kept ringing them up. I have been playing decent, but have been missing putts. I got here -- if there is such a thing getting late to a 2:20 tee time, I didn't get my normal warm-up that I normally have. Maybe I'll just stick to that one.

Q. You are, obviously, very pleased today?

CHRIS PERRY: Yeah. Any time you are amongst the leaders and right up there, you are just kind of -- you are not scratching and clawing, you know. It seems like every week, the last few weeks, I have been scratching and clawing on every single hole. I have been playing well -- like, last week in the Pro Am, I don't think I missed a fairway and I got to the tournament - Harbour Town, seemed like I hit trees on every other hole. But, I have been playing decent this year. I think I am about I -- I have won $181,000; nothing spectacular. Like I have said, I have missed more cuts than normal and it's just nice to get a real good start. I played well earlier in the year, Bay Hill and Phoenix, and striking the ball. Today, I just kind of opened my putting stance up and made a few putts -- actually, I missed a lot starting up, then I started stiffing it and it was quite nice to hit the fairways and when I did hit it in the rough -- I got a good break on 11. When I did go in the rough, I was able to hit the green. I hit it, you know, close on a bunch of holes. Do you want me to go through my --

LEE PATTERSON: Yes, you can.

CHRIS PERRY: They had a couple of the tees up because of the wet conditions, so there was kind of a wait. The first hole, I missed about a 14-footer for birdie. Driver, 8-iron, then I hit 3-iron second shot just short of the green on No. 2 to an inch. So I made a birdie there. 3 -- What did I do on 3? I did make a long putt. I made about 35-footer there right-to-left. Doug Barren, who was playing with me, gave me the line. I ended up making that. Hit twelve feet on the 4th hole. Missed that. Made about a 3-footer coming back. The next hole, I hit it 12 or 14 feet straight up the hill. Missed that. 20 feet on 6, missed it. 7, was in the fairway trap. Hit a great shot to about twelve feet just over the green. I missed that one. Hit a 4-iron to eight feet on No. 8. Made that. Number 9, I hit a pitching wedge from 125 to about twelve feet. I made that. No. 10, driver, 8-iron to about ten feet. Made that. Then I hit in the rough on 11. I was fortunate enough had a good lie. Got it on the green about 20 feet. 2-putted 6-iron on the par 3. Thought it was a hole-in-one. Ended up about two and a half, three feet. Made that. Hit it in the rough. Got it over the water to 102 yards on the par 5. Hit that four feet. The next hole had drive and 7-iron from 171 to about four feet. Made that. So I am 8-under. Really, my thought was, now the cameras are coming around -- whatever, you know -- I am just trying to stay one shot at a time -- which I always do -- and it was kind of downwind and my thought process, really, was to hit a 3-wood to hit the fairway. I went ahead and hit -- the driver came off. It was probably my worse swing of the day. Hit it way right in the trees. I tried to just kind of pitch it about 120 yards and I only hit it about 60 yards. I was still in the rough. Then I hit a good 5-iron out to about -- I had 132 yards for my fourth shot. Hit it, actually, about ten feet. Hit a good putt for par and hung it on the lip. 16, I missed the fairway to the right; short of the green. Hit a mediocre pitch shot. It checked up on me about 20-something feet short. It wasn't very good. 2-putted that. 17, I pulled a 3-iron left of the green chipped to about 9 feet. Missed that. I hit 3-wood, 7-iron from 182 yards in the last hole downwind. Made about 16-, 18-footer; something like that. So, made some putts, missed some, but really pleased and looking forward to tomorrow. Being that I am -- I was born in Edenton, North Carolina, I have a little bit of ties here. I have people coming up here every year. I used to play high school ball against your dad and uncle. I didn't like them. (laughter) I didn't like them then, but he said when they got in the pros, they really pulled for them. So I have got a lot of people from my dad's side of the family coming up to me and wishing me well. But I always loved North Carolina.

Q. Is this your best start in a tournament?

CHRIS PERRY: Oh, I don't know. I think I have led probably -- You mean my score-wise or my position-wise?

Q. Score.

CHRIS PERRY: No, I have shot 63 or 4 a couple of times, I believe.

Q. In the first round?

CHRIS PERRY: Yeah. Hartford, one year. But, you know, you just the way it is out here, you know, the ball in hand -- like you said -- you hit the fairway, you have got a perfect lie every time and the greens are holding, you are going to see some good scores, which you did. If you start driving in the rough, you are going to start seeing a lot of guys struggling.

Q. How much is it a pick-you-up for getting the birdie on the last hole?

CHRIS PERRY: It stopped me. I was going the other way. I am the kind of player that I don't make a whole lot of birdies, but I don't make a whole lot of bogeys, either. I am very steady. I haven't been playing -- just been making too many bogeys lately and today, like I said, I just started hitting it close and there was a lot of good scores out there. Robert Gamez has played with me. If it wasn't for a couple of lipouts, he would have been sitting here next to me. I think he shot 4- or 5-under. But, it is a good golf course. You have got to be able to work the ball both ways. It will be nice tomorrow morning because we will have really smooth fresh greens. With all the water, there's -- a few of the holes were pretty bumpy. Actually, you had to kind of watch the side of the hole you were on.

Q. Did your uncle throw the spitter?

CHRIS PERRY: One time -- I mentioned this a long time ago. People asked me that. When I was about 12 or 13 I asked him, I said: Uncle, my friends and I really want to know -- they wanted me to ask you Do you really throw the spitter. He says: What? I was just a kid. I was sitting in a chair like this. He pulled me out from my shirt onto the ground; pinned my arms behind me and had both shoulder blades eating the carpet, just my face down there, he says: You tell your friends I don't cheat. (laughter). That was the last time I have asked him so I don't know. I am sure he did something -- I don't know what -- really know what it is. I am not going to give away his secrets. He never told me because I never asked him after that. Have you seen the new ESPN deal? That is one of better ones I have seen - where he has got the gook all over his hand: Good to see you. And, he pats the guy on the shoulder. He has got it all over the keyboard. Yeah, that is pretty funny. So it was good start, 25% of the way there, and we will see what happens.

Q. Have you enjoyed much of a baseball career?

CHRIS PERRY: I played through 9th grade. Baseball and golf in Minnesota were -- where I grew up it was in the spring, so I had to choose one or the other. There is a lot of days where I wish I would have gone that route, but, you know, golf is a game of a life time and it a lot of peaks and valleys that hopefully we will build on. You can play a long time.

Q. How long did you live in North Carolina?

CHRIS PERRY: Not -- you know, just being born here. Really didn't live here more than a year because my dad -- I was born in 1961 and he was with the twins. He was actually with the Indians from '59 to '60, part of '61, then we moved. He got traded. He got picked up; traded to Minnesota. He played 17 years and we were -- so I grew up mainly in Minnesota because he played there from 1961 to 1971. Finished in 1975.

Q. Your dad, your uncle, is it the record for brothers or is it the Niekros?

CHRIS PERRY: The Niekros because they played so many more years. I think Gaylord played 20 or 23. Niekros played seven or eight years combined, more, so they past him. My uncle had 314 and my dad had 215 - 539. That was on a trivial pursuit question, actually: Who had the most wins.

Q. Did you miss it?

CHRIS PERRY: No, I got that one right. But, no, I was more -- I probably would have played hockey before baseball. It seemed like because they played in the wintertime in Minnesota; I am a big hockey fan.

Q. You are saying steady is pretty much your (inaudible) -- You had one par on the back 9, were you aware -- (inaudible)

CHRIS PERRY: Normally. Golf isn't a normal game, so, I thought it was going along there pretty good. When you think you got things going pretty well, one shot throws you off. You have got to count them all. In golf you count all your flies because couple of them went in the rough today and it cost me.

Q. Seeing your name on the top of the leader board, did that affect you?

CHRIS PERRY: No, I am not going to say it was a shock because I have been struggling a little bit lately. I have been playing fairly relaxed. And, you know, I made a couple birdies just keep going, a lot of times tendency when you get 3-, 4-, 5-under, you kind of want to protect. Well, I was going the other way. I was being aggressive as I could because if I messed up by making a bogey it was because I was aggressive; wasn't because I backed off. Which is sometimes been a little bit of my problem when I have had good rounds going -- I kind of protect it. I didn't do that today. I actually went in reverse; just hit two bad drives on 15 and 16. 17, I hit an okay shot, just pulled it a little bit. But, you know, I am pleased. It is my best start in a long time. Fresh greens in the morning and hopefully the rain will hold off. And, I don't know, will they play the ball down tomorrow?

Q. What do you think?

LEE PATTERSON: They always look at it in the morning.

Q. What is sort of your gut feeling? How do you feel? Will you have it in hand in the morning?

CHRIS PERRY: Well, I'd rather play the ball down. I mean, it is just that is the way golf is supposed to be. The way the conditions were there was a lot of mud on the ball. You have to. They have had so much rain here. I was playing in the Pro Am, or even -- I guess I played nine holes, practice round; this could be the thickest rough, at least, the thickest comparable to a US Open that I have seen. I mean, it is really -- you can just --. It is just like in an Open. You can get lucky; every once in a while get a lie, but it is wicked thick. I mean, it is just nasty because it is wet and it is thick and you are just not going to hit it anywhere. What makes the scores better is your driving: If it hits a fairway, it is going to stay. If it was firm and the rough was like that, who knows - you'd have balls running in the rough. It would just be brutal.

Q. Is that why you played -- was it 15 you had the ball -- your stance was on the cart path; looked like you dropped on either side -- probably six feet deep rough?

CHRIS PERRY: Well, no, I had a good lie and I would have had to have gone farther in the trees, so I just hit it. I just -- I didn't want to pull it all the way into the other rough to the left, but I never got it in the air so I only hit it like 60 yards. It was kind of -- wasn't a very good shot. But, I was fortunate to get the third one in play and I hit a good wedge shot. I hit a good putt; just didn't go in. So.... Just regroup and go on tomorrow.

Q. Do you think the course could have dried out any by tomorrow?

CHRIS PERRY: Yeah, if it is not raining, it is going to dry out. It is going to dry out. I mean, the greens are actually -- they are not, like, totally plugged and they are hitting and rolling a little bit.

Q. Do you prefer playing here over a major tournament or --

CHRIS PERRY: I mean, I enjoy all the tournaments. You know, I haven't yet won on the Tour, so, any win is going to be great for me. I am not thinking about that now. I am just trying to get in position to win. The Majors are great. I have only played The Masters one time. I really would like to get back there, but I have played a bunch of PGAs, and U.S. Opens, but, you know, the way I look at it, pretty much every tournament is a major. (laughs)

End of FastScripts....

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