July 13, 1997
NORTH PLAINS, OREGON
RHONDA GLENN: Ladies and gentlemen, Nancy Lopez. Nancy fired a 69 today. Her total was 275, 9 under par. Nancy, just tell us what's in your heart.
NANCY LOPEZ: Well, I was very excited to be out there today in the last group. I can't say -- I don't know, there's got to be a word in there somewhere between disappointed and happy, because I'm not really disappointed. I felt like I played the best I could. But I'm not happy, either, because I didn't win. But it was a fight. Alison played really great. You're always going to look back and say I wish I could have done this there. And I have to say that maybe -- I only say that one time, and that was on 15, because I never really felt nervous today. I felt aggressive and I felt like I was having a good time. When we were playing golf today every shot seemed like a great shot. Every time I got in there Alison did, too. We seemed to make a few mistakes on the same holes, unfortunately for me, it would have been nice to make pars there. It's a tough thing, because I've always wanted to win the U.S. Open, and this was really, I felt like my time to do it. But I think that this is probably the beginning of many more good U.S. Opens for me. Hopefully I'll win sometime soon, maybe next year, because this was probably the first Open that I felt as calm as I did out there playing, excited and thrilled to be playing the way I was playing, and feeling like I really had a chance to win this great championship.
RHONDA GLENN: May we ask you who you made your telephone calls to.
NANCY LOPEZ: Well, I called my husband. He wasn't there because they finished watching me play and they went out to play golf (laughter) I called my dad and he -- the first thing he said was you missed the putt on the 18th hole. He said I thought you might make it. But I know he was stuck to the television, too, as my kids were. I just wish they could have been here so I could be with them this evening.
RHONDA GLENN: What are your plans for this evening? What do you do after a day like this.
NANCY LOPEZ: Go on a major drunk -- no, just kidding (laughter). I don't drink. One would make me drunk, so -- I probably won't sleep tonight. I slept real good last night. But I probably won't sleep tonight because I'll be thinking about every shot and what went on and what we did and what I could have done. But I just have to say I was really happy. I played well. I can't take anything away from me, because I think Alison won it. She went out there and played her best and she won the U.S. Open today.
RHONDA GLENN: Once again, I thought the crowd acclaim yesterday was the loudest I've ever heard. Today it was just goose bumps on goose bumps. What did it do to you?
NANCY LOPEZ: It was just thrilling and exciting. I know going up to 18, especially, when I had to hit my third shot. They kept applauding and they kept applauding and they'd stop and start up again. I knew I still had some work to do when I was trying to hit my shot there. I was still in control of my emotions pretty much. I knew I could birdie that last hole. After -- when I stepped over that putt I really felt good over it. I hadn't really missed any putts on the low side too much this week, so I was really surprised I missed it on the low side. After I missed that putt was when everything kind of let loose. It was tough for me to get up to that last 5-footer, because I couldn't see the ball. I had tears in my eyes, because I didn't really have a chance anymore. But it was tough that last putt. I didn't want to miss it, and it was pretty tough to see it. I just hated missing it, that's for sure.
RHONDA GLENN: Well, nothing will make you feel better, now, but with the putt that you did concentrate on and make for par you became the first woman to break 70 all four rounds. Nancy, I noticed a couple of players came up on the green to see you at the end of that championship. Which players do you recall?
NANCY LOPEZ: Laura Davies came up and said congratulations for a great tournament. Kim Williams and Rosie Jones and --
RHONDA GLENN: Saw Betsy King.
NANCY LOPEZ: Betsy King, right. There was somebody right in front of her, I can't remember who it was. But there were, there were a few players that I guess had been watching and waiting.
RHONDA GLENN: Let's get down to the details of this. We'll spare your time and theirs, they're on deadlines, and they have lots of questions. How about going over the birdies and just those two bogeys. No. 1, a birdie.
NANCY LOPEZ: I hit a 7-iron in there, about 4 feet from the hole. I made that. No. 2 I left my -- I hit a 5-iron there and left it out to the right a little bit, chipped to about 5 feet and made that putt there. No. 3, I hit an 8-iron in there about 8 feet and I made that for birdie. No. 4, I laid back with my 4-iron today and I hit a sand wedge in there about a foot and made that for birdie and, of course, she holed out there, which --
RHONDA GLENN: What was your reaction to that? Your ball was sitting up a foot, foot and a half away.
NANCY LOPEZ: I couldn't really see it, but I knew it went in, you could just tell by the crowd. And I just -- my shot looked terrible after she hit that in the hole.
Q. How far away from the hole?
NANCY LOPEZ: I was like a foot.
Q. The wedge shot?
NANCY LOPEZ: I was 56 from the pin. It was kind of a kick in the face, really, because I thought I'm going to pick up a shot here maybe and I ended up losing a shot and lost the tee on the next hole, too. It was pretty shocking, I guess I could say. Then on 5, 2-putt for par. 6, I 2-putted from the back fringe there. That was a good pin there. I hit a 4-iron there into the green -- 5-iron, sorry, 5-iron into the green. Then 7, 8, 2-putt for par. No. 9, I bogeyed.
RHONDA GLENN: You hit only two bad drives all day.
NANCY LOPEZ: I hit that in the bunker. And really thought I could make par. I had a good putt there to make par. I probably babied it just a little bit and I ended up pushing it right just slightly. And I only had about a 7-footer there and missed it. Then on 10, 11, 12, 2-putted for pars. 13, I hit a half wedge there to about six feet and made that for birdie. 14 was a big turn around for us, of course. I hit on the green, hit a good 8-iron, the pin was tucked, downwind, downhill; I got to stay on the green and made par. Alison there made a double bogey, which really opened the door for me. I went on to 15 and it was just stupid, but at that time, I'm aiming for the pin because I didn't feel like I was going to miss it to the right, so I'm aiming from the pin and I brushed it right a little bit.
RHONDA GLENN: What did you hit?
NANCY LOPEZ: I hit a 5-iron. And I left it to the right. I really had a tough chip shot and had to make a putt there, really, about a ten-footer, but it was uphill and I had to hit it right in the center and firm. And I didn't hit it firm enough.
RHONDA GLENN: I heard you say to your caddy, "stupid bogey," as you walked off that green.
NANCY LOPEZ: I should have aimed for left of the pin there. But when you feel good about the way you're swinging, I felt like that pin was just waiting for me to hit within in there close.
RHONDA GLENN: It seemed like you were firing at the pins all day.
NANCY LOPEZ: I felt like I could. I was not intimidated by where they were.
RHONDA GLENN: Did you feel like you had to?
NANCY LOPEZ: I had to. I really had to. Because she wasn't giving anything to me. So I had to kind of go for it with a little bit more. But I felt good going at the pins, because I knew I was swinging well and I wanted to go for it. Its fun when you hit up there close and everybody goes crazy, it's a great feeling to do that. Really, that was my big mistake, more than anything, was on 15. Then on 16, I hit a 4-iron in there about 5 feet from the hole and made that for birdie.
RHONDA GLENN: What were you thinking after you made the birdie, then, on 16?
NANCY LOPEZ: I was excited. I felt like the next hole, No. 17, has been a great hole for me and I birdied it a couple of times; I just had real good, positive feelings about it. I got up there and I hit my driver just horrible. I aimed for the center of the fairway and I felt like I just didn't swing aggressively at it. I felt like I was trying to hit it down the middle instead of swinging hard at it and just go at it. Ended up hitting in the rough and kind of hooking it just a little bit. Even after I was there, I still thought I might be able to hook it around the other tree and get on the green, because I didn't have a bad lie, and up until the bunker, but I hit a great wedge out of there. I had about 73. It was to the flag. And when I stuck it up there, I just knew I was going to make that putt. And then I saw Alison hit hers left. And I said, "Boy, I can do this. I can really make this putt." When I stepped up the putt, I knew all week I'd been barely getting it to the hole, even downhill putts; I wasn't getting them to the hole. Even though I made them they were just falling in. I stepped over and I'm concentrating so hard on the line I didn't hid hit it and it was dead to the cup. And that's where -- would have just flip-flopped there again. I wish I could have those two holes back, for sure, 15 and 17.
Q. Nancy, how long was that putt?
NANCY LOPEZ: About a 10-footer on 17. Then on 18 I hit a real good drive. Hit a good 3-wood. I was trying to get it up on the green there. I just miss-hit it a little bit and ended up right there just short of the bunkers. Hit a good chip shot, carried longer than I wanted to, and my putt was about a 15-footer, and it was downhill left-to-right. And of course, I missed it then I made my 5-footer coming back.
Q. What did you have on your second shot on 18?
NANCY LOPEZ: To the front I had a 18 -- on 18, I had 234, I believe it was, into the breeze.
Q. What were you thinking when you were one stroke away from being tied with Alison?
NANCY LOPEZ: I knew that I had to try and birdie 18, because I didn't think she was going to bogey it. She was playing very well. I had to go into 18 as aggressive as I could be. And it's funny when you're one shot behind you, almost don't believe it. You feel like you're tied, because you're just trying to figure out some way to get that one shot back. But you're not -- I don't know what it is, it's like you're almost dreaming when you get up on that last hole and, you know, you're so close and you're just right there trying to win that tournament. Being that one shot behind it's like I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it. And that's how I felt going down 18, was I still had that chance.
RHONDA GLENN: You weren't beaten.
Q. Can you talk a little more about the putting? Was it the pace of the greens or just your own stroke?
NANCY LOPEZ: The putt on 15 was uphill and I knew I had to hit it. Because going downhill and going uphill is really two different stories on the course. When you're going downhill it's fast. When you're going uphill it's really slow. You really have to change your momentum going uphill. And you've got to get comfortable in that stroke pretty quickly, when you don't have a lot of uphill putts. And I think that's probably really why I might not have made that putt on 14, because I had to get myself to hit it up the hill, my putt, not my chip.
Q. Were more of your putts downhill this week than uphill?
NANCY LOPEZ: Pretty much downhill or level. When they're level, they're still pretty fast, they roll really nice.
Q. This is four second place finishes now.
NANCY LOPEZ: Does that equal one first place?
Q. 25 percent of the time. -- Or 20 percent. Do you feel at all snake-bit by this tournament? Are there any of those kind of feelings?
NANCY LOPEZ: No, I don't feel snake-bit at all. I felt really good out there. I have to say this is probably the Open that I remember feeling the best at, the calmest. I didn't really feel nervous out there. Maybe I felt too calm. I think just my tee shot on 17, I mean I felt pumped up but I didn't feel nervous. And I have to say there's many times I've felt nervous in the U.S. Open. And there was just a different feeling. And just a different feeling the way I was approaching everything out there. I was not worried about anything. I just kept playing and just kept waiting for those shots and those putts to go in the hole. But I don't feel snake-bitten. My dad said that too on the phone. He said maybe you're not supposed to win this U.S. Open.
Q. What did you say to him?
NANCY LOPEZ: I said, no, dad, I'm going to win it some day.
Q. Nancy, what kind of an emotional carry over was thereafter her eagle? You birdied three of the first four holes. Did it carry over at any length of time or did you shut it out?
NANCY LOPEZ: No. I pretty much forgot it on the next tee. I was pretty numb there when she hit it in. I don't know how to react to it; I didn't have any feeling. My birdie just seemed like a bogey when I stepped up and made a putt. But I pretty much forgot about it the next hole; I was off and going again.
Q. Nancy, obviously there's a lot of attention on the last few holes. But getting back to the eagle, do you think maybe Alison won the tournament over the first four holes, because if you caught her, you were 3-under at that point, you would have had her early and maybe things would not have developed like they did?
NANCY LOPEZ: I think that early was definitely a key for me, because I did make some birdies. I was three under after four holes and she was right there. If I would have bet before I teed off that she would have topped me after the first four holes, if I knew I was going to be three under, I don't think -- I think things might have been different, of course. I might have put a little more pressure on her at that time. She really played well, though. The backside when the pressure was on she played very well. I think she was a little pumped up when she hit the ball over the green on 14. I think her adrenaline was flowing pretty hard, because I know she -- I don't know what she had in her hand, but it couldn't have been about a pitching wedge or 9-iron. It was a little downhill. It plays short going downhill and downwind. Maybe she miss-clubbed herself. But I think the adrenaline was going pretty hard for her. I've done that before, when I flew the green. You get pretty powerful when you're playing well and you're excited.
Q. Playing like this, Nancy, what does this do for the future for you? How much encouragement do you take out of this?
NANCY LOPEZ: I'm very encouraged by it. I have played well all year. I don't know, it's hard because you set goals and, of course, I was looking forward to coming to the U.S. Open and winning it, hopefully. And I think after I got here and I played the golf course, I felt really excited about it, because I really liked it. I felt like it was suited for my game. It's a little let down for me because I don't know what to set as a goal starting tomorrow because this was really the, I guess, the ultimate goal for me to set for the year is winning the U.S. Open. Now it's gone and now I have to wait until next year. I think that tomorrow will be a good day for me to just relax and think about what I'm going to do for the rest of the year and spend the rest of the week with my family. I'm planning on playing Youngstown the week after next, so hopefully I can get myself pumped up for that.
Q. Nancy, what did Alison say to you when you guys hugged there on the 18th green? Is it something you can share with us?
NANCY LOPEZ: She was very nice. She said she really, really enjoyed playing against me. She said that I was a great champion and it was an experience for her. That was really a great experience for her today. She was very, very nice. Alison has always been super. I've always really gotten along well with her and appreciated her golf, also, because she is a great little player. I told her, though, that I always felt short, but standing next to her I felt really tall (laughter). Because I'm becoming the shortest person in my family. I'm always looking for somebody shorter than me. She was very complimentary, and I really appreciate that very much.
Q. Nancy, with so many questions this week about being 40-something, why do you make references to this being maybe the beginning of your open chances rather than something approaching the climax?
NANCY LOPEZ: I think maybe this week I realized that I finally learned how to play in the U.S. Open, for some reason. And maybe all these years I've been trying so hard to figure it out and maybe I figured it out. So now I look forward to next year's U.S. Open because of that. I just know that it was a neat experience for me this week at this U.S. Open, one that I've never had before. So I'm going to save all the feelings I have and carry them on till next year.
Q. Nancy, you make the turn and you're four back, the U.S. Open begins on the back 9, I guess. Were you surprised that Alison on her second shot pulls out a fairway wood and when she pulled it were you thinking maybe --
NANCY LOPEZ: On which hole?
Q. On 11.
NANCY LOPEZ: Yeah. I didn't know why she was hitting a wood there. I saw her pull that out. I didn't know why she would be hitting that wood.
Q. Was that encouraging to you?
NANCY LOPEZ: Well, she had a four-shot lead. I would have probably pulled out my wood, too. No. Not really. I wouldn't have. I was surprised. But she up-and-downed from a very tough place, so I was surprised there, yeah. I was paying attention to that.
Q. What did you take for your allergies this week? I know they were bugging you early in the week?
NANCY LOPEZ: Someone was giving me a pill called Alegra and it helped. I only took it at night. I didn't take it while I was playing, though, because I wasn't sure if it was going to make me do funny things.
Q. When was it that you said to Alison, "come back and try the U.S., LPGA Tour," and why did you direct those comments to Alison, what did you see in her to make you say that?
NANCY LOPEZ: It was probably at Solheim, I think, when we played.
Q. Which year?
NANCY LOPEZ: The first Solheim. I'm not sure what the year was of that. She just was a fighter and she hits the ball a long way for a small person as she is. I saw someone that loved to play golf and loved competing and I thought she'll do well. I enjoy playing with her very much. It's fun to play with somebody that acknowledges you, acknowledges you and your good shots. That's sportsmanship to me. And sometimes we have players that don't do that. That's a shame, because we're all out here doing something that we love and that we're really lucky to be able to be doing. They should be enjoying it and having fun and not be a sourpuss about it. Really enjoy it, because it's something you can do for a long time. You can't compete forever. But I really enjoy playing with her. And she was just a really nice lady.
RHONDA GLENN: She said that shot to you after the iron shot on 16, I remember, that was one occasion.
NANCY LOPEZ: She did. She always said good shot when I hit a good shot. She was very, very nice.
Q. Nancy, after the flurry of red numbers on the first four holes, on the 6th hole, Alison made a remarkable, almost an up-and-down, I believe it was a 2-putt and then on 7 you had a putt that lipped out. Firstly, the putt that you had coming downhill, there, did you feel you could make that or get it really close?
NANCY LOPEZ: On 6?
Q. On 6.
NANCY LOPEZ: I did. I felt good over that. I had to step away, because I lost sight of my line. But I felt I could make that, yes.
Q. Alison's tee shot on 9 skirted the backside of the bunker, and you were unfortunate there and caught that. Did that play with you at all? Did you just think about what you had to do from going from that position, from being in the bunker?
NANCY LOPEZ: No. I let my drive go right. That's not where I was aimed. I kind of brushed it right a little bit. I hit it solid, so I thought I might get over that bunker, but I didn't. It hit up on top and trickled back in. I didn't feel troubled, because I couldn't really get my 7-iron up and on the green fast enough, so I hit an 8-iron. I didn't use enough club to get me to the green, because I couldn't get it up fast enough. So I hit my 8-iron there and then I chipped. And I had an opportunity to make that putt. I should have made it.
Q. Nancy, can you speak to what it means about women's professional golf and about the U.S. Open and about Alison that you shot four rounds in the 60s and you aren't the champion?
NANCY LOPEZ: Well, if Alison wouldn't have been here I would have won (laughter). It was probably a personal best for me, too, to be able to have four rounds in the 60s in the U.S. Open. Because to me, the golf course you play in the U.S. Open is going to be one of the toughest courses you play all year. And I'm going to pat myself on the back and say, "Nancy, you did a good job, keep your chin up and be happy with that." So I have to get some good out of all that and say I know what's going on now at the U.S. Open. I think maybe I can do it again because -- it was a great experience this week. I really felt great. I felt excited. I felt motivated. A way I've not felt in a long, long time.
Q. You've played through a lot of transitions with the LPGA. How does it feel now after close to 20 years with so much exposure for the LPGA? It's a very different place now. What does it mean to you and how has the game changed, if any?
NANCY LOPEZ: I think that women's golf has come a long way. And I think that we deserve more credit than we get. We have some great players on our Tour, great competitors. Yet sometimes, I feel like we're still second to the men. Not that we should be compared to them, because I think we play a whole different game than they do. But I think that we're the best professional women's organization that exists. Golf is a wonderful sport. You can play it forever with your family. Junior, little kids are coming out and watching Tiger Woods and watching Alison and watching me. I think that golf is a great game. And the women -- I feel the women are just as popular as the men, really and truly. I think we have a lot more to offer. I think there's a friendliness on the LPGA Tour that there is not on the PGA TOUR. And I have a lot of friends on the PGA TOUR, but I think the women are a little more sensitive to that. But yet they can still go out there and make birdies. And it was funny because -- I felt like I had good luck today because I went to work out and Hollis Stacy came in and was working out. And I said, "Oh, this is a omen." I rubbed her and I said, "I know you've won a few Opens." She was describing me, but I think it's just the same as the women. She said Nancy, you just smile at everybody and then you stick that knife right in there and you make those birdies. I think that's how women's golf is, too. They're tough and they go out there and they compete and they smile and sometimes they don't smile only because they're shy. We have some great players out here and I think women's golf should come far ahead of all this other stuff. So many articles have been written about things that don't need to be talked about, because it doesn't matter. We go out and play golf, we love it. We want to entertain the people that come out to watch us. And I think we're great role models for the kids today, because they need somebody to look up to. I think we deserve the credit that you are willing to give us. And the press is what can help us to become that. I'm proud to be a LPGA player and I'm proud to be able to play in the U.S. Open. And I think we're just as great as the men are.
RHONDA GLENN: There was a column in his in the Oregonian, he wrote that you were the first one who could come along who could be charming and gracious and a tough as dirt competitor.
NANCY LOPEZ: Thank you for everything. Thank you for being here.
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