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August 13, 2016

Gene Sauers

Columbus, Ohio

THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, it's my pleasure to welcome Gene Sauers into the Media Center. Gene with rounds of 68, 69, and 71. He is currently in second place here at the U.S. Senior Open Championship.

Gene, had a little bit of deferring out there weather-wise at least. Had heat and sun.

GENE SAUERS: The heat, the wind, the rain on the last hole. It was a brutal day.

THE MODERATOR: You did. Let's just go through your card a little bit. A little bit of both birdies and bogeys. Started on No. 1 with a birdie.

GENE SAUERS: No. 1, I hit a driver off the tee. Hit 9 iron up to probably about eight feet, made it.

2, I made a great par. I hit it left into the rough and got up and down.

No. 3, I hit a sand wedge in there. That was probably about six feet right above the hole and made it.

Hit a good shot on the par 3, 4 and had an opportunity there. That was a tough putt.

Then I hit a great drive on No. 5, and I'm right down the middle of the fairway, and I'm in a divot and then a pitch mark in front of the divot. That was the worst thing I've ever seen. So I ended up making bogey there. My second shot went in the bunker and plugged up against the lip. Man, what else could happen here?

THE MODERATOR: A good recovery shot there.

GENE SAUERS: Yeah, that was a rough hole. Then I bogeyed -- was it 7?


GENE SAUERS: 7 and 8, I just -- I missed the fairway and just hit a bad putt on No. 7. Hit it in there out of the bunker probably about four feet and missed it.

And, 8, I was right down the fairway and hit 4 iron and hit it really good and solid like I wanted to, and it just bounced over the green, and I was dead over the green. So made a bogey there.

THE MODERATOR: A string of pars, and another bogey on 12.

GENE SAUERS: Bogey on 12. I three-putted it. I drove it in the right rough and hit a 7 iron out and tried to hit pitching wedge into the green. Wind got it. I was in the first cut. I thought it might jump a little bit, and it didn't. I was probably 60 feet and three-putted it, which is a stupid mistake. Here I am trying to get fairways and greens, and I'm not doing what I'm supposed to be doing.

And then I bogeyed on the par 3. I hit hybrid in there, left it short, and hit a bad chip probably 15 feet and missed it.

THE MODERATOR: So you're back at even, and then you're four or five back. You hit two great birdies to rebound at 16 and then again at 17.

GENE SAUERS: 16, I hit a pitching wedge ten feet behind the hole and made it.

On 17, I hit a 5 iron and kind of blocked it a little bit to the right. I was probably 50 feet away in the fringe, the first cut. I elected to putt it and putted right in the hole and made a great birdie.

Then made a great par on 18 here. So I'm glad where I'm at. I was kind of letting it get away, but I brought it back. I'm back to where I need to be.

THE MODERATOR: 71, a very good round today in these conditions.

Two years ago, Oak Tree National, you were right in the mix, in fact, in a playoff with Colin Montgomerie, finished runner-up. What can you take from that experience, playing in the final group tomorrow here?

GENE SAUERS: Just to stick with my game plan. Try not to do anything out of the ordinary and try not to get -- just try to hit fairways and greens. Just try not to force yourself to where you've got to try to go at the pins. That's where you get in trouble.

So just give myself opportunities. That's all I got to do tomorrow. Hopefully, they'll fall.

THE MODERATOR: Have you played with Miguel before?

GENE SAUERS: Never have. Never have. Talked to him a lot but never have played with him.

Q. Did you understand him?
GENE SAUERS: Will I understand him? I think so. Hopefully a little bit. He probably doesn't talk too much anyway, and I don't talk that much either. We might be all right.

Q. So you were the only guys who didn't get in before the rain. Do you feel pretty special?
GENE SAUERS: Yeah, that rain came down pretty hard. It came down in sheets there when I had to hit my shot. Joey got lucky. He got a little break there. Yeah, I told my caddie, I said on the 17 -- walking down 17, I said, I think we're going to miss the rain, and I shouldn't have said anything.

Q. Shouldn't have said that. I know you got 18 holes tomorrow, but just talk about the last three holes you played today. It was a great par on 18, like you just said. Those last three holes really are a difference maker for you going into Sunday.
GENE SAUERS: Exactly. I go home kind of happy tonight instead of frowning. Hopefully, it just builds my confidence up and carry it on into tomorrow.

Q. Gene, it looks like there were only three birdies on 17 today and had nine balls in the water.
GENE SAUERS: Nine balls?

Q. Yeah. And then 18 only had one birdie all day. Can you talk about coming down the stretch, what the closing holes are going to be like?
GENE SAUERS: Like I say, 17 today, I hit 5 iron. The wind was dead in our face, and it was swirling all kind of -- on 17 or 16, it was going this way. Then it went this way. Then it went back this way. It was kind of swirling around. It was hard to pick a club.

And on 17, Billy hit first. He hit a 5 iron. He hit it kind of up in the air. The wind kind of died a little bit. Then the wind, he hit it kind of long and left, where the pin will probably be tomorrow. Then the wind kind of picked up a little bit on me, and I tried to hit a little 5 iron.

That's where you get in trouble. You're going to hit a hard 5 iron, you're going to hit it easy. That's what happens to me. When I try to hit an easy shot, everything kind of happens. My timing has got to be perfect instead of just going after it. So I kind of blocked it a little bit. Luckily, I was pin high and made a great putt.

And 18 played long. I tried to start it at the right side of the bunkers -- well, at the bunkers on the right side of the fairway, and I pulled it like kind of dead down the middle, and it kicked left in that first cut of rough. I'm glad it was in that little first cut instead of the second one. It's a great hole. I was hitting 4 iron from there. I think Billy hit a hybrid into 18. So it's a long hole. It's a good finishing hole.

Q. Gene, Scioto, what kind of a course is it for the folks that are chasing the leader? Can you make a lot of birdies in a row, or is this something where you have to take your time and pick your spots?
GENE SAUERS: I think you've got to pick your spots. You know, a couple of holes, like -- what is that? 4, it's kind of short. You can maybe attack it there. You've just got to get it in the fairway and give yourself an opportunity.

Where else is there? 7, that's kind of a short hole, where I made bogey. You've just got to get it in the fairway and try to -- those are the ones that you're going to try to -- that you want to birdie or at least have an opportunity to make a birdie, the shorter holes.

The par 5s, you might could get a couple of those. But other than that, you're golfing your ball the rest of the round.

Q. And can you just talk about how difficult the 8th hole was playing today.
GENE SAUERS: I hit a great drive down there. I was 195 yards to the pin. I tried to hit a low long 4 iron in there and I hit it just like I wanted to. It probably landed just past pin high about the middle of the green. It bounces over. There's no way I could hit a 5. If I hit a 5, it might balloon up, land short, it could go in the water, it could do anything. The wind was really howling at that time. So it's a difficult hole.

Even though they played it a little bit up today -- or was that second tee? I can't remember what it was. But that's a great hole. I have a hard time turning the ball over. I don't really turn it over a lot. So that's a difficult shot for me.

Q. Just talk about how much fun it is to be in this position, especially in the last group, but just to have a chance going into Sunday at a Major.
GENE SAUERS: You know, it's great. Five years ago, I was laying in a hospital bed. So here I am playing with some of the best players in the world and the last group on Sunday. Didn't ever think I'd be playing golf again. So it's a thrill to me and an honor, and I'm just so humbled to be here.

When I got out of that hospital and started practicing after about three months, I said, you know, a bogey isn't going to matter much anymore. I thought a little bit out loud. They told me I had a 25 percent survival rate. So I'm just thrilled and honored to be here and to have this opportunity. It's going to be awesome, I think.

Q. Gene, good playing. Given what you have gone through, you've played really well on this Tour the last three or four years.
GENE SAUERS: I have, yes.

Q. You've been close a lot of times. Does that surprise you? Not that you're playing, I guess, but played so well and always put yourself in contention.
GENE SAUERS: It has surprised me a little bit, considering where I was. When I got out of the hospital, I couldn't hit a pitching wedge five yards. It was that bad.

But I worked myself -- I guess I've got a strong mental side to me, just to pull out of what I went through. But I have had a pretty good successful four years out here. I've lost in two playoffs, and I'm really kind of upset that I haven't won yet.

All my friends, all my guys I hang out with, they're winning. Who knows? Tomorrow might be my day.

Q. And any thoughts on what it's going to feel like for you when you do finally get that first victory?
GENE SAUERS: I know I've got a lot of people to thank, a lot of doctors back home that saved my life. It's going to be a great feeling to where I was and pulling through everything. I don't think words can express. It's going to be unbelievable.

THE MODERATOR: Gene Sauers, one stroke off the lead through 54 holes. Best of luck tomorrow.

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