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May 10, 2000

Loren Roberts


DAVE SENKO: Loren, maybe just start us out, you come in as defending champion. Maybe just a -- maybe a quick assessment of your year so far, and then we'll open up for some questions.

LOREN ROBERTS: You want the whole year so far up to this point? The end of last year, I hired a personal trainer to get into shape, and I spent the last two months of the off-season lifting weights and everything, and I got out to the Tournament of Champions out at Kapalua and couldn't even hit the ball hardly. So, I quit doing that. And I struggled the first month of the year, and after that, I'm playing pretty good. And obviously the -- three out of the last four times I've played, I've played pretty good. Finished, what, tied for 4th at Bay Hill, and then 3rd at the Masters and -- the third at the Masters was -- you know, I think that probably knocked another year and a half, two years off my age. I feel a little younger again after that, playing good at a place that nobody would even consider that I would even contend. So, it was nice to play good there.

Q. Does it ever amaze you with guys like Duval and Greg Kraft who, you know, who are Charles Atlas like in their weight lifting to do that, after what you went through?

LOREN ROBERTS: Some guys can do it; some guys can't. The guy who works with me Tom Boris (ph) who works with a lot of guys out here told me that structurally, I wasn't someone who could do that sort of thing and get much benefit out of it because I'm -- I'm so inflexible. And I guess he proved that right. Proved that theory right. So he warned me before I went and did it. (Laughter.)

Q. He warned you ahead of time?

LOREN ROBERTS: Yeah. I figured --

Q. What does he know ...


Q. So after Kapalua, that was it?

LOREN ROBERTS: Yeah, I quit doing it. I'm still doing the aerobics type stuff and stretching.

Q. Do you get a refund when something like that happens?

LOREN ROBERTS: No. No. (Laughs).

Q. So you finally got the trophy last night?

LOREN ROBERTS: Yeah, that was great. The dinner last night was -- was really something special. I mean, the guys that were there were all guys who had been out on the TOUR for a long time. I think it was Nick and Craig Stadler was there, Lietzke and Crenshaw and Phil Mickelson and obviously, Byron. And the stories that Byron has -- because we all have questions, you know about the older players and we want to know the stories. And, obviously, Crenshaw is the unofficial tour historian, and just the old stories about some of the old guys Lefty Stackhouse and Leo Diegel and all those guys, Ralph Guldahl. It's just great. Byron Nelson for 88 years old. His memory is unbelievable, how he remembers the names of the players that he played with. I mean, he told us a story last night about when he and Hogan were caddying out there at Glen Arden, he remembered the name of the caddy master, who was the manager of the club, who was the pro, and told us a story about how they caught him chipping ball down on the 3rd and 4th hole down there off the street by where he lived, about how they told him they were going to fire him if he -- if they caught him out there again. I guess the manager spotted him with binoculars from the clubhouse or something. The funny thing about the story was that they -- the club manager asked Byron, "Well, we won't fire you as a caddy if you promise not to go out there and do that again." And he said, "No, I can't promise you that, because basically I love golf too much. I can't promise you that." But they acquiesced, and obviously, it was kind of a funny story. You might want to ask him about it. I probably don't have all the details about it right. That was the basic outline of the story. His honesty was that "I couldn't say no that I would not go out and chip and putt and practice on the golf course, because I know I would -- because I love golf too much."

Q. You've got to live another 44 years before you can remember stuff from last night.

LOREN ROBERTS: It was really a special time.

Q. So Stadler was there?

LOREN ROBERTS: Yeah, he was there.

Q. I assume you've played TPC now, or have you?

LOREN ROBERTS: I just played a practice round over at Cottonwood because I'm playing the Pro-Am today over there. So I haven't played there yet. I played seven holes in the Shootout, but they weren't any of the seven that were changed.

Q. Have you gotten much feedback, the early scouting report from the other guys about what their thoughts are on some of the changes? What's the locker room chatter?

LOREN ROBERTS: It depends on who you talk to. (Laughs). The 10th hole I think is probably the biggest change. I think the angle of the tee, I know some guys were concerned about the trees in the left-hand side. But I don't know, I haven't seen it.

Q. If some of these course changes do make the TPC play a little bit harder than some of tournament officials have speculated, does that put any greater premium on getting birdies at Cottonwood at all?

LOREN ROBERTS: I think it does. Since we've gone to Cottonwood, I think effectively you have to go over there and I think probably I'd say 3- to -- somewhere between three and 4-under par is probably even par on the golf course. But they have done some things to toughen that course, and actually got some rough over there this year that makes the golf course a little bit harder if you don't drive it straight. But I think effectively, par is about 3- or 4-under over there and you need -- you need to put up a good score over there if you're going to challenge, especially if it's windy out. I think over there, you have if you happen to catch a windy day on that golf course, that's still a golf course that's very playable. It's windy.

Q. More so than TPC?

LOREN ROBERTS: I think so. I think the TPC course here is -- plays much harder in the wind than the Cottonwood does.

Q. What's been the difference for you this year? This has been very good year, weights aside, once you got that taken care of, in terms of being up there on Sunday quite a bit. Can you point to anything?

LOREN ROBERTS: Gosh, I really -- I really can't think of anything other than -- I've played good, with the exception of the Masters, at golf courses where I've played good in the past, and I think it's more of just playing there and enough local knowledge and that sort of thing. And putting. You know, I mean obviously, the performance the Masters, what did I have, 108 or 109 putts through the week, which is pretty low there. But then again, I don't hit a whole lot of greens there, either. You know, for me, it's always a matter of putting. I mean, that's what I'm known for. With the exception I think of Saturday and Sunday here last year, I think I hit every green except the last one on Saturday and every fairway. I think Sunday I only missed maybe two or three fairways, and I think maybe hit 14, 15 greens. So outside of that, generally it's my putting. I'm not known as a great ball-striker or anything.

Q. But I would think your success would depend on your iron play. We assume that the putting is always good, just a matter of whether you're putting for birdie or saving par.

LOREN ROBERTS: Sometimes I feel like that I'm almost a little better if my iron play may be a little bit erratic, because I generally feel if my iron play is very good, I'm going to hit a lot of shots that are, you know, 15, 20 feet from the hole because I'm not that aggressive of a player, from the fairway. I think sometimes if I'm a little more erratic, I tend to maybe hit a couple real close, and then, you know, miss some greens and up-and-down. I think sometimes for me, some of my better rounds are played when I have to struggle the first two, three, four holes and kind of get into the round a little -- to make it a little tougher for me to get into the round. I think sometimes those are my better rounds.

Q. I haven't seen your spot on the list -- or on the Money List, but if you keep up this good, steady play, I would think you would get into the Top-10 in terms of the Presidents Cup. Have you ever thought about that? You had a nice Ryder Cup in '95.

LOREN ROBERTS: I think I'm currently 15th on the Presidents Cup list right now. That is an outside goal of mine this year is to get on that team. It helped that I played well in a major. Obviously, you know, this is the final year of picking, the majors are double-double. So those are the key factors for me to get on the Presidents Cup team is to play well in the majors. I'm looking forward to Pebble Beach because that's a golf course that I know I can play.

Q. What is your history there at Pebble? You worked there in San Luis Obispo?

LOREN ROBERTS: Yeah. Really, I did most of my golf playing south because that was in the northern California region. But I did go up and play it a few times. I used to go up and watch the Crosby with my dad. It's funny, I never really liked to spectate much for golf. I wanted to play. I didn't really want to watch a whole lot. I wanted to get out there and play. I don't have a big history there, but I have played well there in the past.

Q. At the AT&T?

LOREN ROBERTS: At AT&T and also at that -- used to be the Spalding. It was a Hogan Tour event there for a while. I think it's the Pebble Beach Invitational. (Callaway).

Q. How much do you think the course will be different, with the rough topped at three inches instead of the usual five inches?

LOREN ROBERTS: If that's true they are going to top it out instead of letting it get real super long, you know, the greens are so small there that if they are firm, you're going to really have to do a lot of, you know, chipping and pitching with the golf ball. If they are firm and you have a chance to get it somewhere up around the green and around the rough instead of just chip out, that could tend to make it even a little tougher, because you'll be tempted to go for the green, and those greens are so small and sloped from back to front that if you start knocking it up on some of those greens, you're really going to have some problems.

Q. What's your thinking on the USGA tending to take a par 5 and make it a par 4 and try to get it to a par 70? Does that matter? I mean, everyone essentially is measured by their score and not whether it's called a bogey or a par?

LOREN ROBERTS: Obviously, not being a long hitter, I would prefer the opposite choice. But, you know, it's up to them to decide which holes they want to. Unfortunately, I think sometimes the holes they may do it on may not reflect a green that's somewhat accessible for that type of shot. But that's totally up to them to decide. And I understand one of the main reasons they do it is just because technology and the guys hit the ball so far now.

Q. Well what about, like on 2 at Pebble, does that change the rhythm, I guess? I mean, it seems like at Pebble it invites you into the course and then it just kills you when you get around 8, 9, 10, and now you go fairly easy Hole 1, and then boom.

LOREN ROBERTS: It will change probably the way that you start on that golf course. I don't think that ever would have been a factor if the tree to the left side short in the ditch there had not have died and fallen down. I don't think that ever would have happened. But now that that green is basically wide open now, they have the opportunity to do that.

Q. Did you play in '92?

LOREN ROBERTS: No, I did not. I didn't qualify that year.

Q. Did you watch any of the final round that year, or shared some of the war stories?

LOREN ROBERTS: No. I really didn't watch any of the final rounds that year. If I'm not really in the field, I'm not interested in spectating. I heard all the guys talking about it.

Q. You said in Houston that your dad would probably come to Pebble. He's not going to come here this week?

LOREN ROBERTS: No. He's not going to come here this week. He's just going to go to Pebble Beach.

Q. Speaking of technology, I think I read somewhere your comments on some of the new thin-faced drivers out there like the Callaway ERC.

LOREN ROBERTS: Well, somebody asked me the question about that in Houston, I think it was, and I think I said, "Well, if the R&A doesn't ban it in the British Open, I'm going to try to play with one." As long as it's legal, they haven't made a decision on that, and that's on opportunity for me that I might as well take.

Q. You don't use one normally?

LOREN ROBERTS: No. They are illegal over here. I haven't even seen one. In fact, I don't even know if I can get one, but I have a couple of clubs in my bag, maybe they will loan one to me for a week.

Q. Why is the Presidents Cup such an outside goal? I mean, a lot of people don't hold it as high regard as that other little exhibition.

LOREN ROBERTS: That's true. You know, it's a goal because I know if I get on the team, that -- it goes a long way to legitimizing me as a player. And I like -- when I was on the other two teams, on the Ryder Cup team and the first Presidents Cup team, I just enjoyed being part of the team and playing in the team atmosphere.

Q. It also gets you in the Firestone.

LOREN ROBERTS: That's right. Which is a golf course I really, really like.

Q. Of all the World Golf Championship events, is that the one field qualification that may seem a little out of place, maybe too exclusive or too limited?

LOREN ROBERTS: I think it is. I think it is somewhat limited. That's my personal feeling. You know, that's an awfully limited field, considering they were talking about a world event. You know, that excludes a lot of really good players. You know, it excludes a world-class player who maybe didn't, you know -- finished 12th or 13th on the list over a two-year period and still may have won something. I mean, it excludes them from that. I mean, theoretically, you could exclude a major winner for that year from being in that event. Doesn't seem right that somebody could win the U.S. Open and not be in that event.

Q. How would you fix it or change it?

LOREN ROBERTS: You know, they have already got a stroke-play championship. Already got the Match Play Championship. I basically was under the impression, and this is strictly my feeling, that that was the carrot that was offered to the guys for playing on the Presidents Cup team and the Ryder Cup teams for no pay. I basically thought that was the reward for that. I think that's probably an unspoken thing.

Q. So did you lose the emphasis, though, on winning? That was the old World Series, you had to essentially win.

LOREN ROBERTS: You had to win to get in the event. Obviously, there were selected tournaments around the world, but you always had a stellar field there.

End of FastScripts….

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