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March 10, 2002

Joey Sindelar


JOE CHEMYCZ: Joey, a good week for you, and I guess that's something you have to take away from this. You had a chance to win and I know you're happy about that and disappointed at the same time.

JOEY SINDELAR: I'm nowhere near the position in my career where I'm going to pout about second place. No where near it. (Laughs).

Of course, I mean, to win, I would have loved to, and it's still early in the year for me. I thought we would have to get to 20(-under) to do it.

First let me say congratulations to Matt. I can remember my first win like yesterday. It's going to be a big day for him. It's going to change his golf life. You think of what he's been through, being Mr. Everything there for a couple of years, and I guess it's been a couple in between probably; a little bit of a lull. Time flies so quickly. But I'm sure it was painful for him to go through that, and at the end of last year he did so well this win. We've got another one of these big, strong kids taking money out of my pocket every week, but my congratulations to him.

And also my thanks to Honda and the people here. I haven't said it once this week, but my first year on TOUR was the first year of the Honda Classic at Eagle Trace, and I can remember we played for 500,000 the first year. Sorry to be off the beaten track here, but I just have to say thanks. We played for 500,000, and we thought that was more money we could ever be worth, and we were thrilled to be playing for it.

The greens, we probably won't get around to it, but you probably heard it, the greens were fabulous. We talked about that this morning. If we could take these greens everywhere, if these greens existed on the West Coast -- of course, Palm Springs is pretty good, but when we play the Pebble Beach courses and some of the other soupier courses -- we play greens like we saw today -- and fabulous bunkers. Although they are everywhere, they are fabulous, and that's why you again saw good scores. You can play from the fairway bunkers; I didn't successfully on No. 17, but you can.

And the greensides are really nice stuff. You put a guy like Brad Faxon in these traps; he may as well be putting from 20 feet, they are that good. Enough for the commercials, but I didn't want to miss out on that.

Q. 9 and 10, at that point it was a turning point. Mike Weir misses the birdie putt and then on 10. Could you speak about the emotions you were just going through with being tied, and then all of a sudden you've got a two-stroke lead after 10?

JOEY SINDELAR: Yeah. You know, I made an odd decision today not to look at the board. I don't know whether -- I haven't been in contention enough lately to know -- I know I'm the kind of guy who would want to know once I'm up and running. In other words, now that I've been second at the Honda and I've felt all of the feelings and I'm comfortable being in the last group, I am the kind of player who would want to know, rather than the player who would not want to know.

Today I was not looking. Obviously, I knew the guys in my group, but I was figuring if I'm going to shoot 1-under on the front nine, we're going to get beat from behind anyway, which is what happened. That was a turning point.

I was disappointed in myself a little bit; that I didn't get non-aggressive, but I didn't stay -- in the middle holes, I was not as comfortable as I hoped I would be. But then as soon as I saw that Matt went ahead of me over on the first par 5 of the back nine, like number 13, I happened to look at the board -- I figured at that point, I better. And it was fun to see my body change and go, "Okay, we've got to go." And so that was a fun set of emotions.

But I know that was a very difficult -- you know, for Mike to miss -- I think missing the birdie putt on 9 was tough for him, because he hit a great trap shot and it should have trickled down there. He would have then been tied with me, and then who knows what would have happened on 10. I'll tell you and he will tell you; he was not on his A-Game today. But he can play. He hit some shots today that were -- for a guy having an off day, he still hit some shots where you go, "Yeah, I can see why he's got all that money in his wallet."

Q. Are you talking about 11 the middle holes?

JOEY SINDELAR: Kind of that -- it wasn't bad in the beginning and I wasn't ever bad -- I'm not saying nervous, pukey-nervous all that kind of stuff, but I was hoping it would almost be a non-issue. But my nerves were still tender enough in that 9, 10, 11, 12 range that I was a little on edge, I guess. And then I got very comfortable again finishing up. Except, you know what, I got to tell you, one of the hardest things is to just try to make 4 on that last hole when you are just playing for money. Because at that point when I saw Matt make his birdie putt, his second putt for par, I knew I was 2-down. And if, you know, if I had been winning three tournaments a year for the last eight years, maybe I'm throwing an 8-iron right at that pin and saying who cares about the extra 75,000 bucks.

But you know, in my position, I'm trying to say, "Okay, I'd like to play it four or five steps left of pin. If I make birdie, great and if I don't, let's make sure we get par and not spin it down the bank."

And as soon as you do that, it's like defense. It doesn't stop anything. And there I was with a 40-footer looking into the sun, everything I didn't want happened there on the 18th green. Luckily, I barfed that second putt in.

Q. As good as the greens were, we're not completely certain, but Matt one-putted either the whole back side or at least the last eight holes.

JOEY SINDELAR: Stomping me when I'm down, aren't you? (Laughs).

Q. You can't play defense against him when he's going like that. What kind of accomplishment is that?

JOEY SINDELAR: You know, it's awesome. I thought I heard some excitement on 17; that he must have -- did he miss 17 green and chip it up pretty good, three or four feet? I figured something was going on and then I saw his first putt on 18 and I thought to myself, "Yeah, I can see that." I guess his nerves were raw; he goosed that one by.

But it's what you need to do. My first win at Greensboro was not pretty. It was a rough, raw day and I had to do -- I certainly didn't get up-and-down every hole. That's pretty awesome. But, you know it's nice that he did that, and those will be great recollections for him. Great memories for him to pull from; that he's done it.

Probably sometime very soon, he's going to hit every green in regulation on the back nine and make a couple of putts and win it doing it that way.

Q. In addition to the physical talent these kids have, are they showing less and less fear in those situations?

JOEY SINDELAR: I think so. I think a lot more guys have a lot more shots. I mean, yes, this morning, I played No. 9, and hit a driver in the second right trap, and I had like 235 to the front I took a 1-iron out of the fairway bunker and flew it on the green and it rolled in the back right trap and I was all proud of myself. You know, I see other guys doing the same thing. They are used to be just a few of us could do that but now they all have the shots. It's unbelievable.

You're right. They don't -- it's do-or-die. You know, making 15 cuts in a row; and finishing 40th doesn't do anything compared to going for it and finishing second or fifth once in awhile. That would not suit my nerves well. I'm not a guy -- like let's take Calc -- sorry to be so long-winded. Let's take Mark Calcavecchia for example. He would represent the new guys. He's driving it, he's flying at it, and if he misses three out of four cuts, so what, because the fourth one is going to be pretty good.

That's not my personality. My personality needs to say, "Okay, I'm having is some success here, let's build on it and go from there."

So there's all kinds out there. But the golf games of these guys -- I played with Brett today, and he was pounding the ball. I mean, just with a cool swing. These guys are awfully did good, they are really are.

Q. You talked about the young kids taking money, but Matt is unconventional, staying in school for all four years. Can you talk about your thoughts on that decision?

JOEY SINDELAR: We're talking about Ty?

Q. Matt Kuchar staying in school.

JOEY SINDELAR: Oh, Matt Kuchar. But you are calling that unusual. Is it unusual? Are that many of them coming out early?

Q. Some.

JOEY SINDELAR: But one year early? Some.

Q. One, some two. But what are your thoughts on Matt? He had the opportunity to turn pro after the '98 Masters and he stayed in school.

JOEY SINDELAR: Personally, it's interesting because I'm on the side of the fence with Ty Tryon; that I wish he would have stayed and done that thing. But with Matt, what did he go through -- he was having his great year, after two years of college? See, I'm all for that kind of a guy doing it. He's done some college, he's at the top of his game. He has two more years worth of college -- we're talking about making a living. I'm okay with that guy coming out and doing it. I kind of wondered, I said, Man, if he has a year, he is going to spend a lot of money -- and I think he did go into the doldrums and probably did spend some endorsement money-- different than if he came out we was hot, because of his personality and all that stuff.

You know, I played with John Cook. It was rare, of course this was 20 years ago, but John left a year early. John was ready. You know, he had done everything. He was ready to go. And I'm okay with that. I just hate kids missing the whole experience.

But back to Matt, I think that -- I would have voted: Yeah, go for it. But, the disappointing thing -- but it's not a disappointment to me that he stayed. That's a fine decision. If he was having a blast in college, and if that's what he wanted to do, good for him.

Q. Win or lose, what does it say about where your game is right now? You didn't make a bogey until the 71st hole.

JOEY SINDELAR: Lots of people have asked me what winning would mean again, and I finally decided it would mean that the patient is completely healed after a long time. And they are about ready to kick me out of the hospital and I am just about there.

In terms of my game, what this week and last week brought -- told me, a lot of wind and we had a lot of shots into crosswinds. When you're standing out there on the par 3, No. 14, 15, the hard one, and the wind is going left-to-right, and when I can take my 1-iron, 3-iron or 4-iron and aim it at that left knob and let it drop into the green four days in a row, that makes me happy. Because if you get that double-cross, that's when you get in trouble. You're playing to ride the wind and you get it going into the wind.

I hit a lot of shots -- I hit a stinker today on No. 12 with a 3-iron, but I was in between clubs. Except for that one, I learned that my swing plane was good. Because the ball fired out the line. You know it may have curved a little one way or the other, but it told me a lot about it. I'm very pleased. Drove the ball well. And even my miss-hits, when I caught a driver a little bit thin it was not peeling -- it was not peeling out somewhere; it was holding line.

So I'm happy. I've got a lot of good tournaments to play leading up to the Masters, which I'm not in. Most guys lead up to the Masters to do well at the Masters. I lead up to the Masters to go home and have a good week off.

Q. You won your first tournament, you said you can remember like it was yesterday. Maybe your children were not even born yet, it was a different world for you. How proud are you now to still be able to contend, play against these guys and have a chance to win the tournament?

JOEY SINDELAR: It's fun. There's a handful of us -- I still maintain and you guys probably have better feel than us. But there was -- when I go home and look at -- I was first team All-American three times, I think, or second once and first team twice, and we get those pretty little plaques. And when you look at the names on those plaques during those years, that was a bizarre amount of good players. We are talking about Sutton, Cook, Tway, it's endless, O'Meara, that group. And the college coaches, the ones that come out to watch will say that that was a pretty wild group of players that came through right then.

So there's some of us dinosaurs left, but every once in a while the caddies will come up or one of the guys will come up and go: "Over there, look around. There's nobody anywhere near as old as you are on there. How do you feel?" -- in a good way, like, hey, you made it. It's fun. Longevity feels good.

Q. Why have you been able to and others have not?

JOEY SINDELAR: Who knows. Who knows why we even get here in the first place. I look back, and you know, because there are times when you get going bad with your game and then you find the right fix. You know, who knows why the path leads here, but I'm awful glad I got to stick around.

JOE CHEMYCZ: Joey, thank you. Congratulations on a great week.

End of FastScripts....

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