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August 1, 1999

Nancy Lopez


KIRSTEN SEABORG: Nancy just flew in early this morning. She is playing in an outing tomorrow, I am sure some of you are aware. Do you want to just talk about what the schedule of events will be tomorrow.

NANCY LOPEZ: I am doing an outing here that I was supposed to do a year ago. I hurt my back a year ago in it, and the gentleman that had wanted me to do this outing, I couldn't do it then. I don't think I am going to be able to play tomorrow either. I might be able to hit a few shots, but I still can't play and walk nine holes. I tried that a week ago, and that didn't work too well. So anyway, we are just here, Chi Chi Rodriguez and I are here to do an outing tomorrow. I thought I'd just come in early and see Joselyn and everybody and go out there tomorrow. Just right now, trying to get -- my rehab has been going on for a little while. Trying to get my knees, both of them strong again, because I haven't been able to work out for, gosh, since about November of last year. So just trying to get that -- my knees back in shape so that I can get back out here and playing. Surgery on my right knee was almost about a little over four weeks ago. They found a torn cartilage in there that I didn't know that I had. I believe it probably happened in England when I fell two years ago. Left knee is the bad knee, the one I have been wearing the knee brace on. No cartilage in that knee anymore. Some arthritis setting in. Last week, took a series -- one shot in a series of three that I will take the next couple of weeks, and it is pretty sore. They hit a blood vessel or something in it when they gave me the shot. It is a little sore, but otherwise I am still walking -- swinging doesn't hurt, walking hurts. So need to get ready for that. I wanted to play here this week. Unfortunately, after playing nine holes last week, realized I wasn't going to be able to do that. Had to pull out. But I am just here to visit today.

Q. How much do you think those injuries affected your ability to play, I mean, your swing, anything like that over the years?

NANCY LOPEZ: Well, I think just, over the last probably five months now -- I had a lot of pain in both knees, not knowing why my right knee was hurting. I thought maybe I was just favoring my left so much. Then when I did the MRI and I went -- I went to the LPGA Championship hoping to play, couldn't stand up because the cartilage had gotten caught in there. But I didn't know I had a torn cartilage. When I found that out, of course -- I think the toughest thing about playing when you are in pain is probably just the down feeling of not really waking up and feeling like you can go out and shoot a great round. But nobody knows that. Only you, when you get up in the morning, you don't feel that great. But you have to kind of act like you do. It was hard, but I guess, once I realized I had that torn cartilage, I realized why I was hurting so. Then -- I think the cartilage just ended up floating into a spot that would not let me straighten my leg out, and the pain started tremendously on that Monday when I tried to get up, and walking.

Q. Is it the meniscus inside the knee or --

NANCY LOPEZ: Yes, it was inside my knee, the meniscus, back in the back part of my knee. My left knee has been my bad knee. I had cartilage -- the whole cartilage removed years ago, my freshman year in high school. Now it is completely bone on bone, and arthritis in my left knee. It doesn't hurt that bad. I feel it. They are trying, like I said, these new injections. It is some kind of lubricant that they put in. It is pretty swollen. It is bruised right now, because like I said, I think they hit a blood vessel. It is real sore. Which, really, I felt pretty good a few days ago until they had to do that. I have to take two more in the next two weeks, and hopefully, won't be as painful as this first one. My right knee still, it is still doing well. It is not real strong yet. I know when I use it a lot, it gets real sore. So right now I am rehabbing in the pool with my trainer, and we are trying to get back in shape. Need to lose some of the weight I have gained because I haven't been able to work out in so many months. So less weight, too, is going to help my knee.

Q. Target for being back full strength?

NANCY LOPEZ: I might play Oldsmobile. That would be the end of August. Then hopefully, if I can't play there, Springfield. I have a friend that lives there, that I have been staying with her. And her mom is very ill. And she'd like me to play there so I can see her mom probably for the last time. She is doing well now, though, so we are hoping things are going to look up for her. But I'd like to play Springfield for sure.

Q. Surgery itself came as a bit of a surprise to you, didn't it?

NANCY LOPEZ: Yes, it did. When I got-- was doing an outing in Chicago that Monday of the LPGA Championship. I got up that morning, tremendous pain in my right knee -- right leg. I thought maybe something was wrong with my back. Did whatever I did that day, and pretty good pain that whole day. Didn't know whether to fly home or not, because I didn't know if I could play. I could barely walk, could barely stand. Went onto the LPGA Championship thinking, well, the doctors there would probably be able to help me a lot quicker than having to go home, go to Columbus or go to Birmingham. I felt like I could get in to see somebody pretty quickly, because they usually take care of us very well when we go to tournament sites. They have doctors on-call. So went there and met with a doctor there who works on the Phillies and some of the other players. His name is -- I went blank. I will think of it. Anyway, they did an MRI on Tuesday. Doctor looked at me Monday night when I got in. MRI Tuesday, found torn cartilage in my right knee, which I was shocked that I had that wrong with it. And he said he could do surgery Thursday morning. So I said, well, I can't play like this, so you might as well do it. Went ahead; did the surgery. I was great. Everything turned out good. My ACL is very, very strong. Everything is great in this knee. There is nothing wrong with it; no arthritis or anything. So I am rehabbing to get this one really strong. And this one I am going to have to live with unless I have a knee replacement, which eventually I will have to have that done. Hopefully, that will be way, way down the road.

Q. How long ago did you find out you had arthritis in --

NANCY LOPEZ: Sara Lee Classic, I went there. Knee was bothering me quite a bit. I went to a chiropractor. I don't go to chiropractors, but I went to one because I was pretty desperate to find out what was going on. I did an X-ray; they could see it, that it had pretty much taken over. And there are so many different things. Everybody throws different surgeries at me, where they can shave the bone because now this one is bone on bone. They can shave it and they put some kind of clamp on this side of your leg and, 'ick' -- you know, didn't sound like a lot of fun. I don't have time to sit down. I just -- it has been fun being off this time, because I really, you know, have really relaxed for the first time in a long time, because I am always going 100 miles an hour. I finally decided that I couldn't, realized I couldn't. So it has been kind of nice being home with the kids and with Ray and just being pretty much normal.

Q. Patti Rizzo was saying the other day this is going to be her last event. She is not real motivated to play anymore. She wants to spend more time with her family, all of those things. What is motivating you to go through all this, what could be painful rehab, to get back out on Tour?

NANCY LOPEZ: I don't know. I think, you know, right now I am not real motivated to play. I am pretty bummed out, a little depressed probably. I feel like I am. Not up like I usually am. I think I enjoy being home a lot, and I sit there wondering, why do I keep going back out there. And I say, well, you love it. You love to play. You love to compete. You have been playing so well, really, it is just in -- the putting is starting to come back. And I just, I'd like to be able to get close enough to say I can still win another tournament. I think just supporting the LPGA Tour, being on the Tour and playing some decent golf. I don't want to stay out here and be shooting a million over par and not making cuts, things like that. Then I would want to go home. But I don't feel like that is really happening right now. The putting is starting to come. I am starting to play better. I have been hitting the ball great. It has just been putting the last couple of years that really kept me out of the winner's circle. So I think, just really the motivation of saying: Let's try and do it and win one more, at least, just to show them that you still can. But I think what probably motivates me even more may be the young players. Coming back out and trying to get in there in the winner's circle and beating some of the best players who have played the game.

Q. What is the state of the Tour right now compared to five years ago and ten years ago?

NANCY LOPEZ: It has definitely grown. I think that we are -- we have got a lot of good things going on. I still, my big thing is we need to be on television more. That is what is going to make us more popular is week-in, week-out, being on television. I think that is what has made the men's Tour popular. People can relate with them because they know them. But if they don't see the faces of Annika and Karrie, week-in and week-out, they can't relate with them as much as -- or what will make them more popular.

Q. What has to be done in order to bring that about?

NANCY LOPEZ: Well, we have to convince the networks that we are worth watching, I guess. They keep telling us our ratings are low, but I don't -- I don't know how high the men's ratings are. I have never seen anything on that. Are they really that high that they should be on every weekend? I don't know. I am curious.

Q. Golf is not that high. The people who watch it buy the products. But there is always a pretty low rating. There has been some speculation -- there was someone wrote an opinion piece in Golf Digest this month saying that part of the reason the LPGA Tour isn't thriving as much as the men's Tour is that we seem to be more obsessed with who is out there, who is playing. Do you think there are enough women supporting the LPGA Tour in general, coming to events, getting involved corporately -- all those things? Do you think that is part of it?

NANCY LOPEZ: I see a lot of growth in more women playing golf. I think even corporate women are playing golf because they realize there is a lot of business going on on the golf course. But I see a lot more women playing golf, and I would think that that would help women's golf in some way, because I think that women probably influence their husbands quite a bit in bringing them out to watch or -- I don't know -- I am hoping that that is happening or will be happening with the amount of women that are playing golf now. It has happened in the last few years, maybe the last five, six years that more women are playing golf. So we need the women to kind of support and push for anything that they can, for their husbands that come out and watch women's golf. But women, I think, have always kind of been pushed to the side on the golf course. So they have got to fight their way, I think, through that, and be able to say: Let's go watch the women. And then somebody listened to them.

Q. Nancy, what is your feeling about this event and what you'd like to see happen?

NANCY LOPEZ: Well, is this -- this is our last --


NANCY LOPEZ: I don't know. I think du Maurier has done a great job in their event. I mean, every year, they put on a first-class event. I saw something on television the other day saying that it was probably one of our least important majors, which I don't really think that is true. I haven't played in it in a few years, but it is because -- even if the LPGA Championship was during the week that my kids started school, I won't play in it. It is not because it is in Canada or it is the du Maurier. It is the week my -- it fell a lot of weeks when my kids were starting school. I needed to be there with them, and they felt good about mom being there. And that is why I didn't play. But it wasn't that it wasn't important to play. It just fell in the wrong weeks for me. I think that it is a first-class event. And they always seem to bring the best out in the players, because they do make -- put out a pretty difficult golf course for them to play on. I don't know -- I don't know what goes on behind the scenes, you know, whether they are struggling or if there is a struggle or what is going on. But I think that -- I hope that they stay with us and keep the du Maurier, or whoever is going to, ends up sponsoring it eventually. But I think it is good that we have a tournament in Canada. I think we need to keep the interest of the Canadian golfers interested in women's golf.

Q. Just as a worse-case scenario, if they were to lose the tournament, what -- do you think that the LPGA should have a fourth major somewhere else or just end up with three majors?

NANCY LOPEZ: I think we should keep our fourth major, since we have had four majors. There is a lot of -- not a lot, but a couple corporations that I know that would like to have a major event. The thing is trying to find the title for an event like that. We can't say -- we can't name anything after the men, because they won't let us. You know, they have kind of stolen all the names. So you are sitting there trying to think, well, what are you going to call it? If you decide to have a super tournament event that is going to be a major -- you know, Tournament of Champions, we have used that one too. But there has got to be something there -- they want to have that elite tournament that people will look at like The Masters. We really need a Masters event. I think Dinah Shore is close to that. The U.S. Open is always important. But Dinah Shore has that same kind of feeling, I think, as The Masters. But you look at the golf course the guys play there, I mean, it is tough, very tough. The thing is -- it is hard to compare men and women's golf, because men are so much stronger than we are and they can hit so many more shots than we can. If they put us on a golf course like The Masters, you know, it would just chew us up because we can't hit those shots. We can't -- because of strength. I don't want our players to be 5- or 6-over par, because nobody wants to watch that. So you have to make a golf course that is tough, and you are going to bring the best players out, because there are some great players out here. But to put us on a course like the Masters, I don't think we can deal with it very well. It would be very tough.

Q. Is the British Open, women's British Open -- is that something that would be a prospective major in your mind?

NANCY LOPEZ: It was brought up a few years ago they were talking about that. Yeah, that would be great. You know, England is a great place to go and play. But I don't know -- I don't know how much -- how serious they are about that. I don't have an idea about that. But we already have a tournament that is going on here that we have had for so many years, and Joselyn has been such a great supporter of the LPGA Tour, and I'd hate to lose that with her.

Q. You are going to be playing with the Fountain of Youth tomorrow. And Chi Chi, who is a wonderful spirit and still hits the ball extremely well -- (inaudible) -- you talked about the strength factor and talked with the people in your HEALTHSOUTH fitness van, whatnot, they will talk about the differences - that the arms take a bigger beating, the women's, their hands, their wrists; seniors seem to be playing into their late 50s and playing very well. What about for the women, how far along do you think you can play at a pretty good level, physical factor; not necessarily the mental factor?

NANCY LOPEZ: On the SENIOR TOUR you mean to play?

Q. Yes.

NANCY LOPEZ: I think you could play for a little while. The thing is just keeping the motivation going. I mean, I am looking at, you know, the Medalist Tour that is going on right now - it is not even the Medalist Tour anymore and it is not really Seniors Tour - some of the players have just really started it. I got involved in it because I wanted to promote LPGA golf in other areas. But now it is kind of started to become like they are talking really about doing tournaments and that concerns me a little bit because unless it is blessed by the LPGA in that we have these events going on, they could have them if they wanted during the weeks of the LPGA events finding the players that are playing in it. But I would not play in it. I would not play in any events against the LPGA unless it was blessed by the commissioner and the LPGA, that yes, we would have the seniors Tour. I don't really want to go to a seniors Tour. I want to stay out here because I don't think that my golf game is going to get better with players that are playing the same as I am. I want to play with players that are playing better than me because it is going to make me play better. I truly believe that. But to play for a long, long time, for me, you know, I don't want to play for a long, long time. I want to go home and be -- have the other life that God wants me to have and not be on the Tour forever. I know that there is another side, the older players that financially probably need to keep playing and making money to keep living, I think it is a great idea. But for me, financially, I don't really need that anymore. I would play to support it once in a while. But this Tour is the one that I support 100% and that I would be here if they need me for anything, even if I can't win or play anymore.

Q. I guess one of the questions I am trying to get at is because playing in heavy rough in some of these tournaments and there is a wear and tear the body, do you think that you would be able -- or women players would be able to play to the age that some of the seniors are playing now --

NANCY LOPEZ: They would adjust the courses because I know they adjust them for the seniors. They play them shorter and I am sure they do a lot of things to make them happy, and keep their golf games to where they are playing decent. I think they would do the same for the women. So that they can still -- I think the women would be able to compete if they altered the golf course to a certain extent and not made the rough real, real heavy or the greens too fast and that we could get the ball to bite on them; especially when we are hitting 5-iron when the guys are probably hitting 7s, 8s, there is a big difference.

Q. You put your name on golf clubs now. Are you happy with the direction that women's equipment is going? Do you think that it is finally catching up to where the men are at?

NANCY LOPEZ: Well, I don't think that we have really had women's equipment that -- that has really been made for women. With NLG, Nancy Lopez Golf, we have really just thought about women. That is all we think about is what they want. What clubs are going to help them to play better. With the company, they can build their own golf clubs. We don't just cut that form and send it to them. They go into a pro shop and we have this thing called a Match Play system. What they do is they go in, they can pick a certain size grip that they want. We have 3 different grip sizes; 5 different shafts; 3 different heads. There is so much to offer. It really gives them the opportunity to build a golf set for themselves. There is a lot of places where you can go and you can hit the clubs so they really know what they want. Husbands can now buy the golf clubs for them - they know their hands; their wife's hand size; the type of player she is, and you can really build a set for them. Most of the women, or the letters I have gotten all the women that have played with my golf clubs have played very well. They said they have cut ten shots off their game, so I am like I wonder what they were playing with before. I know our clubs are good but 10 shots is a lot of shots. So I am real excited about the positive feedback we have gotten. But I would say we were the only ones right now that have really just thought about women. I know that Cobra and some other companies had built women's golf clubs but they didn't really, you know, help these women to get the right clubs in their bag. But it has been a lot of fun and to see women write when I have gotten letters from them, telling me how well they have played, that is what I wanted to do. I wanted to see people play better with my golf clubs. There is a lot of senior men playing with the woods because we have a senior shaft. They have played very well with them. So it has been a lot of fun with the interest of the people that are out there. Right now we had to cut back and we can't distribute as much as we'd like to but eventually hopefully that will grow back to where it was before.

Q. Out here especially on the LPGA Tour you see a lot more 7-woods in the bags and even some 9-woods. Would you recommend for the average woman to get rid of that 3-iron and that 4-iron --


Q. -- Stick to the woods?

NANCY LOPEZ: Yeah, even for women it is a macho thing if you can hit a 3-iron. But why make it tougher. They have got clubs and almost hit the ball by itself, like a car, or a plane, it lands itself. I hit a lob wedge my husband had in his bag. I had never touched one. I am from the old school, sort of, I don't like to change too much. I hit this shot. I am like, there is no effort there. You are not even hitting a good shot. The club is. So I show him how to hit it with my club because my club is a lot harder to hit. So I realized then that, gosh, the way they are building golf clubs now the golf clubs do a lot of the work for anybody. Hit a 7-wood, why not. I mean, it is going to be a lot easier going to come in higher, softer than a 3- or 4-iron. Why do you want to try and struggle like that? I am going to have a few in my bag eventually because I think it is the right thing to do. It is a smart thing to do. Why make the shot tougher if you have got a club that is going to make it easier?

Q. Any advice to recreational golfers how to cut down on their frustration, the pressure on the golf course?

NANCY LOPEZ: (laughs). I don't know. I think that most people that go out to play recreational golf, they have to realize they don't play a lot and they should not be so hard on themselves about the way that they are playing. I take my daughters out and they don't play hardly at all, but once in a while they will say: Mom, let's go play; they are frustrated because they can't hit the ball the way I do. I am like, you know, I have been doing this all my life. You have only been doing it for a few hours and you haven't played in months and just enjoy it. Just go out there and try and hit the best shot you can and just enjoy it. I think most recreational golfers do that. They go out there thinking they are going to hit it like the pros and they are not going to. So if they have the patience to go out there and just hit every shot and enjoy it, they are going to get better because the frustration isn't going to take over. When you get frustrated your muscles get tense; your brain gets frayed; you just can't relax. So I think that most recreational golfers, too, I mean the best thing to do for them to go to a teaching pro. If they are really serious about being a good consistent amateur golfer, they should take a good solid lesson. Not just one, but take some good lessons from a pro, a teaching pro, and learn golf right. Learn it right. Don't pick up bad habits because once you pick up a bad habit, it is hard to change. So I think that is a first thing they need to do. Then equipment, the right equipment for them.

Q. There is some research that shows that scores are not going down even when people are playing two or three, four times a week scores are not going down.

NANCY LOPEZ: They are not going down if they are playing three, four times a week?

Q. Yes.

NANCY LOPEZ: It is probably because they haven't had any lessons. They are listening to the person they are playing with instead. That really messes you up. Probably play worse because of that, but yeah, I think lessons are very important.

Q. How competitive are you with Ray when you go out and play?

NANCY LOPEZ: Very. Very. Oh, yeah.

Q. It is the reverse thing --

NANCY LOPEZ: We don't fight anymore. We used to fight on the golf course when we first got married because he couldn't accept that he wasn't going to beat me a lot. So that was really hard for him because he beats me in everything, except golf. So it was really tough for him. But now I try and help him with his golf game. He helps me with mine when I haven't played a lot. We have a good time out there. But still after a few holes, if he is beating me, he lets me know and then the competitiveness comes out of me. I am like, well, not for long, honey, because if he would not say anything, it would be fine; I would be just playing. If he beat me, it would be fine, but when he rubs it in, I can't stand it.

Q. Because I know my wife says to me whenever I try and tell her something, she goes, well, I don't see you playing on any Tour. What is his reaction when you give him advice?

NANCY LOPEZ: Well, he caddied for me for four tournaments a few years back and he really did a good job. He is very conscientious, really cared about what he was doing, but I mean, it was -- the baseball player in him was coming out; then he analyzed everything. If you want to play good golf, you cannot analyze everything because you will be crazy. It was -- it just got to the point where the husband was coming out of him and then the wife was coming out of me. I just wanted to strangle him. I was like, you know, okay, when we are done we will talk about it, honey, not right now. Because he wanted to know what I was thinking, how I was going to hit the shot; why I was hitting that club. That doesn't work because I know when I want to hit, I just hit it. I don't want to explain to anybody how I am going to hit it. But Ray is a good golfer. He doesn't play a lot and he is probably about an 8 handicap. He could probably be three or four real easy if he got to play everyday. But he doesn't get to do that. But we love to play golf and the competitiveness in both of us is pretty strong when we are out there. I would just like to play for fun because I have to keep my score all the time; I'd rather not have to count my score. If I make an 8, I just want to be able to go on the next hole, not worry about it.

Q. I think Laura is winning, I am not sure, but just watching her, it seems so easy for her to just birdie the par 5s hit some irons; make some pars, and maybe it is unfair to say it because it just seems like she should have won a lot more. I don't know, that is, you know, maybe an uneducated thing to say, but do you get that sense that when she wins, it looks like she could win all the time and maybe she has not taken the best advantage of her talent?

NANCY LOPEZ: Laura is very talented. I know the first time I played with her she always hit it a mile. She didn't have control of what was going on though in her golf game. She was everywhere. She finally was able to kind of hold back, take that 1-iron, 2-iron out, and put herself in position. I hear this golf course is very long. She is probably in places that players can't even dream of being because she is that strong. When she is hitting it straight and on and she can hit the driver, she is going to be, you know, in control, I think. She has been hitting the ball very well. I think it just gets frustrating for her that she can't hit her driver and she has really started to back down which has helped but that is putting her back with us now. She is going to be with the long hitters they are hitting drivers where she is hitting her one higher. But when she can take that driver out, I mean, she outhits me 40 yards and I can't go places she can go.

Q. This week she has hit driver on all the par 5s but that is the only place she has hit it. Just try and make pars on the other holes. Does that sound like a new strategy to you for her?

NANCY LOPEZ: When I was in my younger days on the Tour I hit the ball very long and I definitely had an advantage on the par 5s. I was hitting 2-irons into the par 5s, most of them. Made a lot of birdies and I made eagles. So I definitely think she is -- if you can birdie the par 5s you are going to pick up shots on the field, if you can birdie every one of them, and of course, for me, I was such a straight hitter. I hit my driver even on tight par 4s and I had wedges into the green, so when you are hitting a 9 or wedge and they are hitting 7s and 6s, there is no comparison, you are going to hit them closer, seven out of ten times at least; if not more. So it is whatever you got in your hand the second time and if you are not in trouble.

Q. You mentioned the younger players on the Tour. Do you think the caliber is at and all-time high or close?

NANCY LOPEZ: Well, it is hard to say because we have got the depth as much deeper than it was when I first came out on Tour. But the quality of players when I first came out on Tour, I think was just as strong as what is going on now. Ray -- it is funny because I talk about equipment, Ray will pick on me he will say, you know, Annika is winning all these tournaments -- he brought Annika up, he said, Annika is winning all these tournaments. You need to start using the clubs she is using or something. I am like, okay. I said, if Annika can win with the golf clubs I won with 20 years ago, and she can win 48 tournaments then you come and tell me something. (laughs). So you kind of picked on him back because he was picking on me. So I shut him up real quick. He says, oh, you know how to shut me up, honey, don't you. I says, well -- but the golf right now is tremendous. I think Annika and Karrie and --

Q. Karrie just went to minus 9. Laura is minus 10. Juli Inkster just went to minus 6. Donna is minus 5.

NANCY LOPEZ: -- But Se Ri Pak, all these players, they play great golf. I mean, they can hit shots and putt and length, you know, Kelly Robbins, I mean, they are just -- they are outstanding players. It is fun to watch them. It is hard for me to leave a golf course on Sunday because I want to see who is going to win. That is fun.

Q. Do you think they face added pressure out there, comparing someone like Karrie the fact that she hasn't won a major, that type of thing, do you think they face added pressure these days, added media scrutiny?

NANCY LOPEZ: I think they probably do to a point, but I think a player like Karrie, she probably likes that pressure. I remember being that age and I played better with that pressure. I knew it was there and I might have put my own pressure on myself. But all the other pressure from the media or whatever, it just made me, you know, thrive to play better. I think that Karrie is like that. She made up her mind -- she played well last year and I don't know what she finished in the Top-10. She says, I am better than that. I want to be No. 1. And she has the ability to do that because she has got it up here and she has got a great golf game. So you just have to sit back and just watch her.

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