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May 28, 1998

Joey Sindelar


WES SEELEY: 35, 31, 66, 6-under par for Joey Sindelar who shares the lead. How about that.

JOEY SINDELAR: It's been a while. Good afternoon everybody, by the way.

WES SEELEY: Tell us about the day.

JOEY SINDELAR: Good day all the way around. Except for the last hole, it was reasonably conventional. You know, it's just such a whale of a golf course, you know. You can name your own poison out there. You can attack it off the tee to save yourself some headache going into the greens, which I see guys do, or my method -- especially as hard and fast as it's been playing -- is back off and hit lots of irons off the tees and a little more length into the greens. But at least I've eliminated the double bogey problem on both sides. You have to fit your game to this golf course. I know you've heard it, but it needs to be said. It's such a spectacular condition, you know. So many times we play bent grass fairways and they're grainy, good and green from behind the ropes, but they're grainy. These fairways are so perfect, I wish we could play here every week; it's just outstanding. So anyway, I had a couple birdies on the front at -- birdied 1, hit a 3-iron off the tee, if that tells you anything. Downwind pretty good, fairway hard as a brick, and I just -- the first guy up, you know. Lancaster hit a 3-wood and it didn't think about staying in the fairway. I figured I'm going to hit a 1-iron out near that. I hit a 3-iron, which is my next club; I don't carry a 2. Hit a 3-iron and 8-iron in there just off the back edge and made the birdie putt from the fringe about 15 feet. On 7, was playing into the wind, the par 5. I hit a real good drive over the left bunker about 240 to the front into the wind, and hit a 3-wood just over the back and chipped that up close for a birdie, a foot and a half. Right in your range. You're a 2-putt range.

WES SEELEY: Most days bogey on 9.

JOEY SINDELAR: Bogey on 9. I knew you would come back with that. Funny, two of the better shots of the day. 1-iron off the tee. I had like 145 yards to the pin, front left pin today, and into the wind, downhill into the wind. That's always a tough combo to figure out. I hit a three quarter 8-iron and shorts, no good on 9 because they've got it shaved. If you get it coming back down the false front, it's going in the water. It was going right at it. I actually set it down and I got my wish, buried in the front bunker. Didn't have any shot. Blasted it 12 feet by and missed it. I'll take 1-under on the front anyway. It was good enough.

WES SEELEY: Birdied 11.

JOEY SINDELAR: Birdied 11. Actually, it's -- the par -- you know, 10 is such a good hole and I creamed a drive down there, a little 9-iron in and made par. So it's worth mentioning, because 10 is such a hard hole. Then on 11, I played conservatively again. I hit a 3-iron off the tee on 11. I make it a three-shot hole. In my mind, it's a 3-iron, 5-iron and a wedge. Today, it's a punch 8-iron all the way back and made that for birdie. I think that's kind of what kept me going today.

WES SEELEY: How long was that putt?

JOEY SINDELAR: Maybe 14 feet from the back behind it. Then a par on 12. So par, birdie, par on those three holes. You're always happy with that, because 12 is just -- with any kind of wind blowing, it's a tough one to maneuver and you take 3 there any time. 13, then you kind of turn downwind for a while. All those finishing holes are downwind, and it takes a lot of sitting out of them. I hit a 1-iron and an 8-iron over the green on 13, but putted it about 40 feet away and putted it up for a gimme. 14, to talk to you again about yardage, I hit a 5-iron and a sand wedge. And the 5-iron, you know, it's downwind, downhill, downwind and hard. I'm making tat point, because everybody is being fooled out there because it's so hot and the ball is really carrying it and fairways are getting hard. And my goal there on 14 is to hit it 240. That's a hundred to the front marker, then you have a reasonable shot. Today 240 was a 5-iron shot, and hit a sand wedge in there about 3 feet away and made that. 15, you know, that's such a narrow tee shot. It's just one of those do-or-die shots, and I did hit a good one. At about 210 to the front, went at it with a 3-iron into the wind. I hung it out to the right a little bit and clipped that big tree on the corner. Whenever that happens, there's out of bounds there, the creek is there. Luckily, it missed them both and got just over the water. I was able to use the slope on the green from about 20 yards off and chipped it up about 6 feet away and made that for birdie. I did get away with it there. 17 is another -- excuse me, 16 is another great example of how short things are playing. Today that was 183 to the front plus 11, so it's 194. My 7-iron is usually my 170 club. I hit a three quarter 7-iron trying to land on the front. It flew four steps past the pin Tommy Tolles hit an 8-iron and flew it on the green. And so, you know, the combination of downhill, downwind and hot air, it just -- that's where the mistakes are coming from. Anyway, parred that. 17, I hit a 1-iron off the tee and it went like 295 and I hit a three quarter wedge in. I mean, when is the last time -- it's just not the Muirfield we've seen the last few years. I think you have to be smart enough to gear down. That's the trouble with the young guys who haven't been able to see this golf course dry. They aren't aware how huge the change is out here, and so it's a 1-iron and three quarter wedge to about 5 feet, made that. On 18, hit a bad tee shot. I think my only bad tee shot today. I was between a 3-iron and 1-iron off the tee. I went with the 1-iron, I babied it and I hooked it. I was awful lucky it didn't go in the water, in the rough. I tried to punch the ball and run it up the slope was what I had hoped for. What I was planning on was pulling a little and going in the left front bunker and trying for par. It stayed on line and rolled up there about 4 feet away and I made it for birdie.

WES SEELEY: What was the club there?

JOEY SINDELAR: Punch 7-iron. I got 184 yards, 182 yards maybe.

WES SEELEY: For 66. Questions for Joey?

Q. How many times did you hit your driver then?

JOEY SINDELAR: I'm thinking four. Let's see, number -- the first time I hit it was on the first par 5, No. 5, and just -- I cut it around the corner a little too much and missed the fairway by a foot, but it was a good shot and I laid up. Then I hit it on 7 and reached it in two. Then I hit it on 10. And if my caddie was back there, I wouldn't have hit it on 10. I know it sounds dumb, but when he handed me the club on 9 green, we thought the wind was left-to-right and in toward us. He took our shortcut to get our sandwiches. He's 200 yards away, and I'm standing there with a driver and the wind changed. I thought, oh, hit it, which was the dumbest thing you could ever do. So I hit it on 10. That was the third one and 15. So I guess that's just four times.

Q. Give us a sense about your, you know, attempt to regain leader roles and win and, you know, get back in touch with all that. What's that struggle been like for you?

JOEY SINDELAR: The whole comfort zone thing all over again? Yeah, I've always been slow to get there, slow to leave kind of a player. I'm not one of these -- I'm not a Robert Gamez who comes out of college and rips them apart. I'm not one of these. I'm more one of these -- hopefully, and when I was having my best year ever, the year I broke my hand, I was 17th on the money list the week before the PGA and then that's my season. I've always been a second-half player, and then I broke my hand and the whole deal. You know, 18 months out, and I've actually hit the ball way better. I haven't putted as well until recently, but my confidence, I'm not a person who creates my own confidence. I need to prove it to myself, and I have been slowly. But the questions at home and from friends are, you know, they can be brutal because they don't understand the feeling. I can feel it coming, but they can't. They're looking at scores, and they're going, well, like Coach Brown used to say: What you do speaks so loudly I can't hear what you say. It's been a long road back, but I'm definitely a better golfer now than I've ever been my whole career. I just hit 40, and, you know, the knees and the shoulders ache a little more than they used to, but it's the comfort zone thing. It's reacquainting yourself with the cameras and the interviews, and the big crowds and all that stuff. I mean, it's -- that's why you see guys get hot and stay there I think for a while, because they get accustomed to it. Always in the beginning of the year, the leaderboard looks so far away to me. It looks like how do they do that? Then you do it a couple times, then you expect yourself to be in the top ten and see yourself there. So it's acclimation for sure, and I'm there. Not just because of today, but in general.

Q. Outside of a Major, would this mean as much to you as anything to win?

JOEY SINDELAR: Well, you know, I'm at the point where any victory, you know, always in my career, they're all fabulous, and the rewards are unbelievable. And this clearly is, you know, it's an invitational, we know that, but it's an incredible -- from the golf course to the service and then you top it off that I was able to be in this city to go to school for four years. I mean, for me, it's as good as it gets. And certainly Majors have worldwide implications, but if you're going to win a Tour event, this is an awesome one to win, which is why I needed five more minutes of rain a few years ago.

Q. You talked about being out of the limelight for a little bit.

JOEY SINDELAR: Thank you for being so polite with that.

Q. How do professionals deal with that? I mean, are you able to just stay with the game you play or do you have to sort of reinvent yourself?

JOEY SINDELAR: Actually, my injury came at a time where I was -- I made a decision to simplify my thoughts and to -- we all go back to these things you do wrong, and I labeled my one or two things, and I said I'm going with it. It has worked for me. It's just the injury came along, and -- tell me the question. I want to answer that different. Say that question one more time.

Q. Well, you know, when you're not in the spotlight, you know, like a Tiger Woods or something, your game is not as productive as you would like it to be. How do you, you know, or if you're coming back from an injury, how do you do that? Do you have to reinvent your game?

JOEY SINDELAR: Well, you know, golf is still such a nonstandardized thing to do. In Europe, there are coaching groups who produce replicants, if you're a blade runner kind of a guy, and they do the same things. But in the U.S., we don't come from groups of schools where we look robotic, and I'm not demeaning what they do there. They're turning into fabulous golfers there, but it's really interesting to see that they're moving through the same stuff. Here, it's so individual that you have to go -- I mean, for me, it's three or four of my close friends, and I don't give them free reign when I ask them a question about my swing. I say: Am I too steep? Am I laid off? Am I quitting on the ball? I'll give them three or four choices. I don't give them the world, because everybody's view of this game is so different. My culprit, on the other hand, I grew up with Mark in Horseheads, New York, and he has gone the other direction. He's a David Ledbetter student. He relies very heavily on position-by-position golf. So we would be the two extremes. My freelance hands type of golf and his position golf, and most people would fall in between the two. And you have to know what makes you tick and go with it. That's the only way it works. And then -- and be persistent with it. And hopefully have enough success. The hard part is to stay on Tour. You know, I mean, 10 years ago -- this is my 15th year -- 10 years ago, you could get out of sync for a while, and you didn't think much about losing your card if you were one of the players who had won and you were in that kind of category. But look at the guys coming out now, they're so good, I mean, Harrison Frazar, I played with him last week, such a good golfer and a young guy. Tommy Tolles and the list is endless. I mean, the game is so much different than when I first came out here. They're so good when they come out. You don't have time to be bad for a while because you're not here. It's amazing. I hope I answered your question.

WES SEELEY: Anything else for Joey? Okay

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