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April 3, 2002

Bryce Molder


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: We'd like to welcome Bryce Molder to the BellSouth Classic media center.

Bryce, thanks for coming in.

BRYCE MOLDER: No problem.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Bryce was a four-time first-team all-American at Georgia Tech and made a lot of history in college. I know you're looking to do some things this week at the BellSouth Classic on the PGA TOUR. If you could start with some opening comments about how you are playing and talk maybe a little bit about the tournament.

BRYCE MOLDER: Okay. I'm excited. This is my, maybe, sixth tournament of the year. I have kind of progressively played better and better. I had a tough fall last year, that as it got later and later in the year, emotionally, I got so drained; I couldn't play.

But I'm fresh. I'm excited. It's fun to be back in Atlanta where I played for four years, and go back and see some of the guys on the team the last couple of days and practiced there at the range that we've got. I miss it -- I don't quite miss the 4.1 million people; that's why I moved back to Arkansas, but I'm excited this week.

My game, I feel like it's getting better and better each week. Putting and chipping the ball great right now, and driving the ball, really the last two tournaments, drove it really well. So my irons are, I feel like, are always pretty good. I'm excited about my game and this is a good place to play well.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: You played well on the BUY.COM TOUR event in Australia with a second-place finish. Talk about your experience down there a little bit.

BRYCE MOLDER: Well, I went down about a month before the BUY.COM event and played in the Heineken and A&Z. The Heineken is at Royal Melbourne, and to be honest with you, that's a pretty tough course to play your first event of the year, and I really didn't play too bad. I had a bad first round, but played good in the next round. And the next week the weather was, whatever, and I was just ready to get back home.

It really -- I think it really showed up a couple of weeks later that I was really glad I went down there. I know a lot of the guys, it was their first event of the year, a lot of the U.S. guys that went down there, and they really struggled because it was a very, very tough golf course. We played in Adelaide. I think there's only maybe a dozen players under par on a not very long golf course. So I think that helped me out a lot.

For me, I've been struggling with my driving, and to play that well on the tightest golf course I've ever seen, and the most penalizing golf course I've ever seen for missing fairway, that gave me a lot of confidence. The next week I played pretty good and had one bad round where I just got stuck in the wind and couldn't find my swing, and not the right time to do that. The next round, I actually played pretty good, the final round, and got kind of the bad tee time with the wind.

But it was a good experience down there. It gave me a lot of confidence. It got me back with the idea of winning, which it's easy to have that in the back of your mind. But to get out there and be in contention and really have a good chance to win, it kind of -- it makes it in the front of your mind.

So, I've got some confidence from that event. And on the way over here, the only difference was I made some putts at the right time, which I had not been doing. I may be hit that one fairway where maybe I bogeyed the hole before, but I hit it right down the middle the next hole, or hit that one chip. Momentum was on my side, I felt like, all week where beforehand I was always fighting against it. So, it was a good turnaround for me.


Q. What are the sponsor's exemptions you have for PGA TOUR events?

BRYCE MOLDER: It's hard to say exactly because I haven't seen a whole lot in writing, and a lot of them, you're 90 percent this, 90 percent that. But the ones I know for sure: Compaq Classic down in New Orleans, the BUY.COM in Arkansas, the Arkansas Classic, which is in two weeks. I've got the Memorial. And then later in the summer, hopefully I'm playing PGA events later in the summer, but the John Deere Classic and the Milwaukee Open and the B.C. Open, as far as I know. Those are the ones I'm expecting, I will say that.

There's a couple more in there, also, that I've heard from that are really close, and a lot of it depends on the week before, who decides to play; if all of the Q-School guys get in and they have a couple other spots and stuff like that.

Q. You've had some great examples that it can work, like Howell and Kuchar and all, but you did put yourself in a handicap not getting out of second stage last year; that surprised a lot of people.

BRYCE MOLDER: You know, that deal is so tough, because at the end of the year, to have that much pressure on you when you're already so dead from the year before. And I had a lot going on in the summer and then college golf started in January, and so it was -- it was tough. I wasn't playing very well at the time, which makes it even tougher. I was, you know, a few shots off.

But my goal coming out of college was for a year and a half from then to have a PGA TOUR card. It was not for that year. I knew, and even if I don't get one this year, I'm not discouraged. Of course, I would love to -- I would love to win this week and have a tour card the rest of the year. That would be -- that would be the best situation. But I also know that this is a long process, and a lot of it is just playing good at the right time. Some of that is luck. But I feel like the way that the tour is set up -- I feel like if you're good enough to play, you're going to make it eventually.

And so, I'm not necessarily worried. I'm lucky that I'm in the position that I am, to have a pretty full schedule without a card anywhere, and I'm pretty close on the BUY.COM TOUR events, status there, and I can play the rest of the year there. There's so many different ways to get a tour card now, the BUY.COM TOUR, with the exemptions or through the Q-School at the end of the year. I guess one way to look at it is, I'm just lucky to be able to play and not have to go elsewhere.

Q. Could you talk about your time at Georgia Tech and how tough a transition it was for maybe a kid from Arkansas, like you said, to come to Atlanta with 4 million people?

BRYCE MOLDER: It was really tough to go way from Arkansas. That was -- I mean I've always been a big Razor Backs fan, and I know so many people there and they would always tell me, "I can't wait to root for you when you're at Arkansas." But I knew it was going to be tough, the transition.

When I decided that Georgia Tech may be my next home, I kind of decided that it would force me to mature, get me out on my own. I can't call mom and dad if there's a problem and they are two hours away; I just had to do it. I just decided that the coach was going to take care of me there, the players that were there, they were going to take care of me and their families if there was my problems. I just kind of knew I had to throw myself in the middle of it and mature, you know. But that's one reason why I chose to go to school for four years was that maturing is a slow process, also, and it's an enjoyable one.

I enjoyed my years at Georgia Tech, and I miss traveling with the guys. That was so much fun. That's one thing I miss now is traveling with, you know, four or five your best friends. But it was -- it was pretty tough. But when you've got a close-knit group of friends, and when you're on campus there at Georgia Tech, you don't realize that you're -- you forget about the fact that you're around 4 million people. I also think that coming to a school in a city like this where golf is just booming and the golf courses are so good, and tough at the same time, I think that helped my game as well, which I didn't plan on.

Q. What did it mean to you guys when Kuch decided to come back for his senior year and kind of keep things in perspective there?

BRYCE MOLDER: I think it just showed us how important it was to him. I mean, he didn't like school. He hated school as much as I did and as much as everybody else did, but he chose to come back because maybe he felt like physically or mentally he wasn't ready, I don't know.

But I know a big reason why he came back was he couldn't get those two years back, and the college experience, and playing with the team. We don't get an opportunity like that very much. But I think it just showed us how important our team was, and just college itself.

Everybody asks me about Ty Tryon, and I have no idea whether he's going to make it or he's not. I've hardly seen him -- I've seen him swing a couple of times on TV and that's it. But I wish he had the chance to go to school for one year and just experience it. But obviously, I wish him the best, and I I'll see him out here and enjoy talking to him about it.

People ask me now if I wish I had -- or did I think about turning pro early, and it wasn't even a consideration for me.

Q. You made yourself look like a genius when you didn't play the Amateur and almost won the next week, but have there ever been any regrets about that at all?

BRYCE MOLDER: That was a really, really tough decision, and I had people pulling me -- well, I was probably the only one that was -- that was ready to go. Obviously, my parents, they were going to support me either way and I just kind of had them bounce some ideas back and forth with them, but I had a lot of people here in the area pulling me to play. I think I made the decision to go ahead and turn pro when I was more excited turn pro than I was to play in the U.S. Amateur again. It's hard to explain -- it's hard to explain that, but I just felt like mentally I had already moved on and I was excited about that and it was time to go.

It's something that 30 years from now, I may look back on it. I felt like it was the right decision for me at the time. Really, I've been too busy to think about it, actually right now.

Q. Are you hoping to qualify for the Open?

BRYCE MOLDER: I'm through to the second stage. It depends on where I'm playing the week before the qualifying, as much as where I do it. If it was at East Lake, I would come back to sure. That's been pretty good for me.

Q. Would Memorial be the week before?

BRYCE MOLDER: I think -- actually I'm about to sit down with my manager and look at that, actually, so I'm not sure. It may be.

Q. Your near miss in Australia when you had those closing bogeys and whatever, how did you come out of that? Did you pull anything out of that positive?

BRYCE MOLDER: If you just kind of look at it on the score card or if you just kind of look at it, if you watch a little bit on TV or whatever, I've had some people say, you know, what happened?

I say, well, 15 , it was 231 to the hole and wind into me from left-to-right. I said, I'd probably bogey that on my home golf course six out of ten times with the way the greens were. And then I felt like I hit some really good shots that maybe got a couple bad breaks and just didn't make some putts.

But I came out of that just with the fact that I played really well that day. I hit probably more good shots that day than I did any other day. Of course, the pin positions were tough, or the wind was actually tougher that day than it had been since maybe the first day. And it was -- you know, I made some big putts early on in the round, or midway through the round; and so I kind of took that from it. And I just took the fact that I really was not playing that great at the time. I was -- my swing didn't feel that great but I felt like mentally I made -- probably mentally, that's about as well as I can do, just as far as focusing, getting ready to hit each shot, and so I kind of took that away from it.

Then I went to the next tournament, and actually the first to days, played about as good as I can play, as solid as I can play. So that's what I took away from it.

Q. Have you played this golf course much over the years?

BRYCE MOLDER: I've played it nine holes before Monday. So not much at all. I've been out here and watched Matt play a couple of times, but that was it.

Q. Who is going to be caddying for you -- and when will we see Wes Latimer?

BRYCE MOLDER: Wes is going to start in a couple of weeks. He broke his ankle snowboarding about two months ago and he just got his cast off about two weeks ago.

Q. Didn't Wes caddie for you in the Pro-Am?

BRYCE MOLDER: He did on Monday and we decided, we sad down and decided it's best for him to just go ahead and make sure he heels up in the next couple of weeks. I've got a buddy, actually met him, played golf with him when I was ten in Oklahoma and kept in touch. He played for ou, and got him in town now.

But Wes will probably start at the Arkansas Classic in two weeks.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Thank you very much.

End of FastScripts....

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