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July 11, 1997

Nancy Lopez


RHONDA GLENN: Nancy, what a wonderful round. What a wonderful finish, birdied the last three holes, for a 68. Nancy is at 137, five under par. You must have felt great today playing.

NANCY LOPEZ: I did. I felt really good. I unfortunately started off with a 3-putt on the first hole. And from there I said, forget it, just go on and played pretty well after that. I told my caddy, I said if I could get off the No. 2, because I'd go to 2, and then back to 1, maybe we could just get going, we kept hitting a brick wall. I said that after I hit my second shot on 16. I made myself think about it a little more, and we ended up birdying the last three.

RHONDA GLENN: A number of us went down to the 18th fairway to watch you finish. And I noticed when you walked through that environmental area on the walk, emerged on the other side that you got this tremendous ovation, and people yelling "Nancy! Nancy!" Does that bring back memories? How does it make you feel? It gives you a neat excitement. You get a few chills up-and-down your spine, and you almost feel like the back of are hair stands up a little bit. It's a neat feeling. You were still able to make a birdie after all of that.

NANCY LOPEZ: Well, I tell you the shot that I had in there was a real tight shot, and because it was only a 57-yard shot it's a little tougher shot. I knew what I wanted to do and I went ahead and swung and got up close.

Q. How far was the putt?

NANCY LOPEZ: It was about a 5-footer.

RHONDA GLENN: You 3-putted the first hole. What was the distance of your first putt?

NANCY LOPEZ: My first putt was probably about, I'm going to say 15 feet. And I knocked it by, about, oh, three foot, had a 3-footer coming back. And I played it on the right outside edge, which I just said don't play it outside the cup. And I hit it right there and I stroked it good. The first putt fooled me, though, the speed was faster, I was going uphill left-to-right and maybe felt a little too sure that it was the right line. And hit it a little firm. But went on and on No. 2 I 2-putted for par. I had a chance to birdie. No. 3, I hit a 7-iron about a foot from the pin and made that for birdie. 4, 5 and 6, I 2-putted for pars. No. 7, I made a 6. My third shot I had a half 9-iron and the ball was above my feet. I pulled it left and went into that area behind the green and hit a real skimpy sand wedge and then I was just on the fringe of the green. I 2-putted from about 20 feet there for a bogey. Then on No. 8, I hit a 9-iron about ten feet from the hole and made that for birdie. On No. 9, I 2-putted for par. On No. 10, 3-putted for a bogey. I hit a good 3-iron, which frustrated me, because it felt like I wasted the shot there. Hit it by the cup, about 3 feet, again, there, but played it inside the cup. And when I took the putter back I kind of second guessed myself and brushed it a little bit and tried to hold it so I could hook it back to the cup. It was an ugly stroke. I'd like to see it on television. But I went on and tried to forget about it. I went on to 11 and 2-putted for par. 12, I hit a 9-iron for 3 feet and made that for birdie. 13, 14 and 15, I 2-putted for pars. 16, I hit a 4-iron my second shot and I had about a 10-footer there and I birdied. 17, I hit a half 7-iron to about 10 feet and I made that for birdie. Then on 18, my third shot with the sand wedge about 57 yards. And I hit it in there about five feet and I made that for birdie.

RHONDA GLENN: You hit 17 greens today. You're really hitting your irons beautifully. And it sounds like you were all over the hole.

NANCY LOPEZ: I had some other putts that I had opportunities for birdies and didn't make them, but I stroked it well. First few holes I really didn't feel like I was stroking it as well, but I kind of got back into it after a while and started to trust it again and started putting well again.

Q. Nancy, could you talk about how it feels to be in this position? Is this the best you've played up to this point on the U.S. Open and how it feels to be here?

NANCY LOPEZ: I'm very excited to be where I am after the second day. I've tried to play my own game and just think about the shot that I'm standing over. I haven't really watched the leader board a bunch. I usually don't do that anyway the first few days. But I just feel like I'm focused on what's going on out there and what I'm doing with my game. And I'm real happy to be where I am today.

RHONDA GLENN: It's her best score after 36 holes by three strokes. Previous best she had a pair of 70s to open with in 1985 and eventually tied for 4th.

Q. First of all, how far was the 3-putt on 10?

NANCY LOPEZ: On 10, I was probably about 15 feet away.

Q. And also, Nancy, of the three runner-up finishes you've had, which one was the closest? Which one do you consider to be the biggest miss?

NANCY LOPEZ: The zipper tournament? I'm not sure how many shots there were between me and first, but I know -- I know when I was playing at the Open in Hazeltine when my zipper busted on Sunday, I think that was the Open that I really could have won or was going to be able to win, going into Sunday, because I remember playing with Hollis and I was playing very well. But I just -- I couldn't keep my mind off my zipper and it opening up. I couldn't even bend down to read my putts because it would -- you could zip it down and zip it back up, but as soon as you bent over or put any pressure on it would open. Every time I went down to read the putt it would just open. And I couldn't focus on what was going on. I was playing the best I could with what concentration I had left trying to focus on what I was doing.

Q. Did you learn a lesson there?

NANCY LOPEZ: Well, I can't wear pants without a zipper, because I won't be able to get into them unless they're spandex. I just make sure my zipper is right before I leave the hotel.

RHONDA GLENN: That was 1977, and she lost by two strokes.

Q. Nancy, a lot of great players have had one major allude them in their careers. For you personally at what point in time does not winning become a mental obstacle to winning an Open championship?

NANCY LOPEZ: I don't know if there is. For me, I don't think there is. I think it's just really getting your game in shape. And I have to say my game's probably in the best shape it's in going into a U.S. Open for a time. I was playing good at some U.S. Opens, but really mentally I probably didn't believe that I was really playing well enough. But this week I just, I feel confident. I feel like I'm swinging well. My muscle memory of my swing right now is real consistent, and you really have to think a lot. And so I feel like right now my game is the best it's been at a U.S. Open for a while. I'm riding on confidence and the way that I'm swinging right now.

Q. Nancy, could you just talk a little bit about the satisfaction you're getting out of this season, going back to the 40th birthday you refused to acknowledge and the commitment to get back in shape and lose weight and return to more competitiveness?

NANCY LOPEZ: I'm not 40 yet (laughter.) Fooled you. Well, I think that it's just -- there's a lot of self-satisfaction, because a year ago last January, I probably thought more about not playing any more golf at that time because I really was so board with the way I was playing and I wasn't enjoying it. I wasn't having fun. And that's what I always said I would do, I would play if I was enjoying it and having fun. And at that time in January when I was going to my first tournament I just all of a sudden just said, "You know, I've got to do something. I hate this. I'm not playing well. I don't feel good. I'm so tired by the 15th hole," and that wasn't any fun for me. So at that time I said, "Well, you've got to make up your mind. What are you going to do?" And I said, "Well, I think I could probably start by losing some weight, getting back into shape" and so -- and the first tournament of the year, I tried on my pair of 14 shorts I couldn't get into them. They were really tight. And that really made me mad. I said, "I've had enough. I've got to do something." And that week I started my diet of counting fat grams at that time. After being on tour those first two weeks, I went home and I acquired a trainer, and I told her what I wanted to do. I told her I was counting fat grams at that time. She told me I needed to count calories, also. We started from there and she started working out with me every night. And I started to see results and I was feeling really good. I started to see a lot of good results in my golf game because I was hitting the ball with a lot of power. And I felt strong and felt it was pretty much effort also. It just motivated me to keep doing what I was doing. And mentally I was just feeling better than anything. I felt like I could do anything mentally again, which I probably was really lacking for a long time in my golf game, because I mentally didn't feel like I could do it. Physically golf is -- I always say physically and mentally you need it, but mentally to me golf has always been 90 percent mental to me, because of my golf game and the way I get around a golf course and the thinking process. So everything was just real positive. And I saw it helping my golf game. Even though I wasn't practicing every week when I took off for a week or two, so it really helped mentally that I wasn't struggling as much when I went back out to the Tour, because when I got to that first tournament after missing three weeks when I didn't work out, it killed me to hit those first few shots on the driving range. But after working out and feeling so limber, when I went back out after not playing for three weeks, it felt like I had not missed at all, that I was playing that whole time. So it really did make a difference.

Q. Nancy, speaking of your practice on the driving range before and after a round, this week and also previous U.S. Opens, do you throttle back on how many balls you hit and take it easy? Have you taken it easier or are you working on things out on the range before and after a round and is Cincinnati home or away this weekend?

NANCY LOPEZ: Well, yesterday I practiced a little bit after I was finished with my short irons because I didn't feel like I was hitting them as close as you should hit a short iron, so I went out and hit some balls after it was done. Today I hit my 9-irons and 8-irons up there close. It paid off, because that was what was lacking a little bit yesterday. I was pulling them a little bit. So that's all I practiced. And then I putted a little bit. I don't usually practice unless I'm struggling. If I'm not hitting like my 5-iron, if I'm hitting it really bad, and every time I pulled it out I didn't feel good with it I'd practice. If I didn't miss-hit a lot of shots or something in my bag wasn't working right I won't hit shots. But I am going to go putt after I finish today. I felt good about everything else. My driver was consistent. My long irons were good and my short irons were good today. Putting was the only thing lacking today, so I'll practice that. Cincinnati is home.

Q. Nancy, do you feel that you need the U.S. Open -- do you personally feel you need the U.S. Open to kind of legitimize your resume as the greatest player of the modern era?

NANCY LOPEZ: No, I really don't. I don't feel like I have to win the U.S. Open, but I would -- more than I anything I would love to win the U.S. Open. I guess I feel like I've played in USGA events since I was a kid, and I don't know. There's just something about winning the U.S. Open. I want to experience it. I want to walk up to the 18th green on Sunday and have a five shot lead and be winning it (laughter). And I just can't even imagine what it would feel like. But I would like to experience that, because it's just such a great tournament. And I've always just respected it so much in my career playing as an amateur and then playing as a professional.

Q. Nancy, I know when I talked to you about this, I guess it was at the Dinah Shore, you said at 140 pounds was your goal. Is it getting too personal to ask how close you are to getting there?

NANCY LOPEZ: No, it's not too personal. I'm not shy. I'm kind of stuck on about 152. And I haven't been able to move from it. But my trainer said if I just ate a lot of vegetables and protein, I can do that. But I haven't been able to do that. I'm still working out though almost every day. When I'm on Tour it's a little bit harder to work out as much as she makes me work out when I'm home, because the days that I play which are Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I don't do any weight lifting; the other days I do. So it kind of stops me from getting to that goal a little bit more. But I feel good. Like yesterday I walked on the treadmill for 45 minutes before I played in the morning, but because I played so early this morning I couldn't do that. And I would have loved to because I think it's a lot -- it gets a lot of your adrenaline going and gets out a lot of the bad feelings you have that morning, if you have them. I didn't get to do that this morning. I know I would have felt even better before I teed off.

Q. I wanted to ask you about the 7th hole out here. A lot of people had difficulty on it yesterday and the scoring average on it was over five, which is a little unusual for a par-5. Just talk to me about that hole a little bit, if you would.

NANCY LOPEZ: The 7th hole, you have to hit your drive -- I hit a driver and I hit it right where I wanted to. And second shot you laid up. But the wind was a little bit in our face and I hit a 5-wood, which got me a little too far down, because I got down in the dip. And that's where I was, and I had to drop because I was in the drain. And the ball was way above my feet, so I ended up pulling it. When you're hitting to an elevated green you don't really want to have that shot. I told Tommy wanted to be back of that tomorrow, because I don't want to be down there. And it's better just to have a little longer shot and a flatter lie than to be closer and be on that little slope and have the ball above your feet. It's kind of an awkward-shaped green and you just really don't want to have a tough shot going in there.

RHONDA GLENN: How are your allergies right now?

NANCY LOPEZ: They're better than yesterday. I didn't have as much problem. But I think as the day goes on, in the afternoons, I start coughing a little bit more. It was better this morning.

Q. It's important with your second shot to get the ball on a flat area, is what's key on that hole?


Q. Nancy, through 15 holes you were six shots back of Liselotte Neumann. In the last three holes you made up six strokes. You really came on strong. Now, were you aware that you were making that kind of a charge or were you just concentrating and focused so much that it was shot after shot after shot?

NANCY LOPEZ: I pretty much was really focusing on what I was doing. We had to wait on the last few holes, on 17 and 18, so we were kind of standing there watching. And I saw lot a chip from behind the green on 17 and didn't know, I guess she must have gone over the green in 3. So I figured she made a par there. But on 18 someone said she did bogey 18. So I knew she had bogeyed before I hit my third shot. So I thought, though, when I kind of glanced at the leader board, I saw a 6. I thought she was at 6, finishing at 6. But I guess Alison Nicholas finished at 6. So I did kind of watch that. Because we were standing there waiting, otherwise I probably wouldn't have been paying much attention.

Q. Given that the leader board is similar to what it is now, who do you see as your main competition out there and who is it that you would not want to be close to you if you were in the lead on Sunday?

NANCY LOPEZ: My only competition is myself. I don't really see who's up there. I just have to play my own game, because I can't control what they're doing. I can only control what I'm doing out there. So I just want to go out there and stand over the shot and make the best swing at that shot that I'm standing over.

Q. Will you not look at the leader board if you're in the lead on Sunday?

NANCY LOPEZ: Yeah, I will. Yeah, I would like to know where I'm standing. I like to know where I'm standing, but I still have to play my own game.

Q. When was the last time you put together a late charge like that, can you remember, where you hit three tough concluding holes as well as you did today?

NANCY LOPEZ: I've been playing pretty well the last few holes. This year -- I talk about how I was playing before, where I was so tired I'd bogey three of the last four or five holes. But now I've started to make birdies coming in. So I would say I've been doing that a little bit more this year on the last few holes, making a few birdies.

Q. At any point during that disappointing stretch, did you think you might not get another shot at being competitive at an open?

NANCY LOPEZ: You mean a year ago when I

was --

Q. A year ago or any time in the '90s, you feel it might have passed you by, having a shot at winning the Open?

NANCY LOPEZ: I never really thought of it. I just know what -- I believe I know what it takes to win an Open and I think that at those times I always try to be prepared that way, short game especially, and putting, especially. So always playing in the tournament before the U.S. Open, the week before, I tried that. I tried one time not playing the week before the U.S. Open and then playing the week before the U.S. Open. It's always better to play, because you just get some consistency on what's going on on the golf course. And I just have to come here with a good golf game and a good mental attitude more than anything, because I think U.S. Open is definitely a big mental event. And you have to be able to conquer that, also

End of FastScripts....

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