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July 9, 1997

Nancy Lopez


RHONDA GLENN: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for being here early this morning. Looks like a better day, better weather, we can all relax a little bit. Certainly want to welcome Nancy Lopez, one of the greatest golfers of all time. Nancy and I were just talking, in her rookie year on the Women's Tour in 1978 when she was only 20 she won nine tournaments. So what's going on today is really nothing new. It's been done before. Nancy was also runner-up in the U.S. Women's Open three times. She's had a victory earlier this year, a number of high finishes. She's playing better than she has in some time. Nancy, welcome. How do you like Pumpkin Ridge and the golf course so far?

NANCY LOPEZ: Well, I played yesterday, and it's just a really neat golf course. I really enjoy playing it. They have small greens, some holes played long, some played a little shorter, but give and take. But I have to say it's really one of my favorites. I felt really comfortable out there and felt like it was the type golf course where you can really have fun. And I don't usually feel that way about U.S. Open golf courses.

RHONDA GLENN: Having fun. Nancy, so many new people began to come into golf and began to show up at golf tournaments, because of the wave effect from Tiger Woods. Did all of that seem familiar to you?

NANCY LOPEZ: Well, I know when I was watching Tiger and his start on the PGA TOUR, there were probably a lot of similarities saying I had to do that, I went through that. And of course going through, I'm sure some of the jealousies that he's gone through, too, from other players, there was that out here, too, for me, unfortunately. But there was a lot of similarities in the way his career started and the way that mine was when I was a rookie, and what he's had to go through. I'm sure he's dealing with a lot of the same problems, probably, even, and the same fun things that I went through at that time.

RHONDA GLENN: Did that have anything to do as far as inspiring you maybe to work on your game a little more? You're having one of your best years you've had in a long time.

NANCY LOPEZ: I was watching what he was doing and I was getting some good feelings from what was happening to him, because I remember the feelings I was having during that time. And I would say it probably did motivate me a little bit to say I'm still around, I need to get out there and start playing the type golf I still think I can play, and maybe just prove to myself I can still do that. So really it started even maybe a little before everything happened with Tiger, which was about a year and a half ago, when I started on the program of getting back in shape and everything. But mentally more than anything it's helped me a hundred percent, because I just feel good out there. And if I was not playing well, at one time during this year so far, I felt like I could come back and get back in there and I could do that. Golf is like that because you're going to have your up-and-down days, and if you will feel good, and you think good, you can make anything happen out there.

RHONDA GLENN: Do we have any questions?

Q. Nancy, you said already that this is one of your favorite U.S. Open courses, can you describe specifically why perhaps in relation to the courses the last couple of years, Pine Needles last year, why particularly?

NANCY LOPEZ: I really liked Pine Needles, and I'm going to say the last -- even though I missed the cut last year, I have to blame it on darkness, because I was playing in the dark, and I cannot see. But it just -- it's got character, it's got personality. Most Open courses I've played I can't remember the holes. Almost like they're a little boring, only because they're back and forth and back and forth. And this one, I'll remember the holes after I play them a little more, but they all have character of their own, a personality. And I felt good out there yesterday when I was playing it. And maybe it's because I'm playing good, too, that I like the golf course even better. It's a tight golf course. The driving area is -- you're going to have to hit your driver, because if you don't, you're going to have a long shot into the green, into a small green. So it makes you have to work a little harder, but it's the type golf course that that's what I like to have to do. Sometimes I've played on Open courses I thought were a little unfair, but I really didn't feel that yesterday. The course seems really, really nice, and it's going to call for a good golf game, though.

Q. Did you play for the first time just this week?


Q. How much of a carryover was there from your win in Atlanta through the rest of the year, just that confidence boost?

NANCY LOPEZ: It was a big boost for me, because I think no matter how I won it, I played very well. And I think from that point I said I can still do this, I can still win. I think on Saturday when I was playing in Atlanta I kind of knew that it was going to be the last day, because the weather didn't look good, and of course I watched the old faithful weather channel, and they said it was going to rain a lot. I said to my caddy, you know, we need to be leading after today, because I think we may not be playing tomorrow. So I went out there with the attitude that it was the last day. And that's what you always want to almost proof to yourself when you haven't won for a while, if you can stand the pressure from within to go out and play the type golf you need to. And I think with that, after I won that one, I felt really good, and to go on for the rest of the year. I've been swinging well. I feel really confident over the ball. My putter, I'm finally starting for feel really confident with it. And it just takes seeing a few more putts go in and hitting the perfect shots again. I'm a little hard on myself, because I don't -- when I don't hit it really solid it bothers me. And I'm sure it does a lot of other people, too, but it's -- Ray says I'm a little too critical on myself, because I always expect to hit that shot that I want to hit every time. I've been doing that more often now, so it's really fun when you get out there and I look forward to playing. When I get out on the golf course, I can't wait to get out there, compared to saying, boy, I'm not real excited about being here, I wish this was the 18th hole instead of the first hole. So the attitude is definitely different, also:

RHONDA GLENN: Nancy's scoring average has improved quite a bit this year, she's average under 71 strokes per round for a long while. And she's played in 11 tournaments so far and all but three of those she's finished in the top 15. So you're off to a rapid fire start.

NANCY LOPEZ: It's fun to get back in there, because I don't really think about it, until all of a sudden I look at a stat sheet and it tells me what I'm doing. And I say wow, okay, I like that, top-10, all right. So I don't really think about it until it's happening and I look back and see what has happened the last few weeks. And it just kind of motivates you and pumps you up to maybe get in the top five, for me, because I'm not playing that much anymore, I probably play 17 tournaments this year, but to look at where I stand on the money list or where I stand in top-10s or greens and regulation, or anything like that, it's fun to see that and see myself improving. It really motivates me even more.

Q. Nancy, Laura Davies came in yesterday and made some of us about drop our teeth when she said this was one of the shortest U.S. Open courses she could remember. Do you get the feeling this is a short course?

NANCY LOPEZ: No. But every course is short to Laura, now. You can't ask Laura what she thinks about length. It definitely -- it's not the shortest golf course I've played, because like I said there's holes for me where I would say I'm probably in the top-20 long hitters, top-25 long hitters, and I'm going to hit my driver, because if I'm short -- I was looking yesterday at some of the layup spots where I could hit a 3-wood or 5-wood, but then I've got a tremendous shot to the green. But if I hit my driver, now the bunkers come into play, I've got to hit my driver straight. So that's the type course I think of an Open course to be. You have to hit the driver and you have to get the length and you have to hit it between bunkers or between whatever and I think that it's definitely long enough. And there are some holes that are even longer. One of par-3s I hit a 3-iron yesterday, which to me is long, it's a little bit long to me, other players I know are hitting 5-woods and maybe if you're hitting a softer 3-wood or something, but there are a couple of holes even irons into were longer. But like I said, some might be shorter and some longer. But the shorter holes, it's your choice. You can make it longer if you lay up or you can make it a little shorter by hitting your driver, taking your chance of maybe getting into a little bit of trouble and having to scramble for your par from there.

Q. She was saying she wouldn't use her driver except on the par-5 holes, 2-iron on all the par-4s. Another thing I'd like to ask you, is how good was Kelly Robbins' score lasts week? I know it was a record. She wins by eight shots. How outstanding was that play?

NANCY LOPEZ: Well, the golf course we played last week is a really -- it's not a really long golf course, but she played very well. For Kelly to hit her driver, she hit it quite a bit, because I kind of asked if she was hitting her driver on some holes. But she was using her driver and just going for it. And it was basically a positioning type golf course. And I'm sure she had a lot of short irons into it, because it's not a long golf course, but it is a thinking golf course, and you have to hit certain shots. But it's the type golf course that she could probably eat up because she hits it so long. And I'm comparing because of the way -- I probably average about 240, 245 now, when before my rookie year, for a few years I averaged about 260. So my advantage was I hit it straight and long, that's why I think I won so many golf tournaments because I used my driver and I didn't have anything to the greens. And of course you're going to get shorter irons closer than you would a longer iron. But Kelly is a great player. She played super. Because it's not the type golf course you're going to shoot 19 under on, unless you're doing something right. And she obviously played very, very well.

Q. I don't mean to dominate this thing. But I'm curious if you played 18 enough now to get a feel to how that's going to play for you?

NANCY LOPEZ: No, today is going to be really my good testing day, after yesterday I chipped and putted a lot and practiced a lot. My caddy even said I did -- he doesn't even usually say that. I said Tom you're like my husband, you're not chipping enough, you're not putting enough. What I'm going to do today is play every shot where it lies. I'm going to just play the golf course, and if I get in the bunkers, hit the shots, do some concentrating work on just -- because I can drop the ball in the fairway all the time and sure I'm going to play real good, I think I'm going to go out today and have fun and play it wherever it lies. If I go in a hazard, drop it out.

Q. If you hit it in the rough, play it there.

NANCY LOPEZ: I'm just going to do that. I think it will be a good thing to practice on.

Q. You haven't played 18 enough, is that a hole you can reach in two?


Q. Yes.

NANCY LOPEZ: I hit a really good drive yesterday and a really good 3-wood and I think I had six feet to the pin. I was only a little short of the green. If we have a downwind I might be able to do it.

Q. If it firms up a little bit?


Q. Nancy, obviously with all you've accomplished there's really nothing you really need to do, but will it bother you if there's not an Open on your resume, will it be something you'll think about more?

NANCY LOPEZ: I would love to win the U.S. Open. And it was funny, because I always think about PJ Boatwright, and when I was an amateur, and I won a lot of amateur tournaments and I kept wanting to win the U.S. Women's Amateur, never did win it. And he came up to me one day and said -- I kept saying I don't want to turn professional until I win the U.S. Amateur. He said it will be all right if you don't win the U.S. Amateur, go ahead and turn professional, it's not that big a deal. And it was really neat that he said that to me. Because I really looked up to PJ Boatwright as a junior golfer, because whenever he came around I'd bogey the hole because I got so nervous he was there. When he said that to me it made me feel okay, it was -- for some reason, it was like he was god of golf at that time for me, as a junior player. So when I come out here, and of course I'd love to win the U.S. Open, because I know how I would celebrate it, but if it's not on my list of wins I'm just going to say, well, I finished second three times. And probably could have won the U.S. Open in Hazeltine, but my zipper was busted on the last day. But that was my chance then, I know for sure, but I was concentrating so much on my underwear showing, it was pretty hard to concentrate on that final day.

RHONDA GLENN: That was when she was an amateur, too.

NANCY LOPEZ: I was declared professional, because it was the Open before the week I qualified for my LPGA card, I finished second to Hollis at Hazeltine, but at Sunday my stupid zipper busted. For 18 holes I kept thinking about that zipper.

RHONDA GLENN: I remember it was hard for you to bend down and look at putts.

NANCY LOPEZ: Yeah, I couldn't even read every putt.

Q. Two questions, actually. Can you describe your attitude coming into this U.S. Open in your feelings going into past -- I'm not asking this question right. You're having one of your best years in a long time. Is your feeling going into this U.S. Open different than it has been the last few years, and also, what goals are different now, for this year, for you than you had at the start of this year?

NANCY LOPEZ: Well, probably my attitude this year. It's a little different. I feel really confident, more confident than I probably have in a long time coming to a U.S. Open. I feel happy. I feel like I'm going to have a good time. My mood's different this week. So I hope that's a good sign. But I think most U.S. Opens that I've gone to, maybe I was too serious, and made it too important. And I just have a different attitude this year. I feel good about my golf game, and I just have to go with my loft game and stop worrying about where I am, and just play golf the way I have all year. My goals for the rest of the year are just to enjoy my family and play the rest of the tournaments I plan to play, because I'm having a good time doing that.

Q. Do you think about Player-of-the-Year again? I know that you've been concentrating on majors the last few years, but with your great start this year, are you thinking about, shoot, why not go for Player-of-the-Year or money list?

NANCY LOPEZ: Well, money list I really can't set that as a goal, unless I play a lot. But Player-of-the-Year, you know, that came into my mind, I don't know, a few weeks ago I thought about it. But I just had to go back and focus on just playing and playing golf the way I have felt I've been playing, very comfortably and enjoying it, and then if that happens it would be great.

Q. You had said earlier in the year about how since you've gotten back into shape like you wanted to be, for a while there a couple of years ago you said you hurt all the time when you played and you were sore. Do you notice a difference in a four round tournament, like an Open course like this?

NANCY LOPEZ: Definitely. I know a year and a half ago, right before the first tournament of the year in January I really didn't feel good about anything, didn't feel good about myself, I didn't feel good about my golf game. And I really thought more then about retiring and quitting, because I felt like I was beating my head up against the wall, and even though I said, yeah, I'm playing okay, I knew I wasn't playing okay. And that bothered me enough to make me feel like I should just -- why was I playing? I was wasting my time. And from that point I got back in shape and my attitude changed and I was giving myself one more chance to get back out there and play golf the way I could. And 18 holes to me now is like nine. I could probably play another 18 because I just don't feel tired anymore. I could go all day long. My feet don't hurt anymore. It's so much better now for me. When before, I would be tired after about 13 holes. And you could tell, because I usually bogeyed three out of the last five. Now I've started to birdie three out of the last five or two out of the last five. It's just been a whole different thing. And it's just mental, too. Mentally I just feel really good, I'm not tired. My concentration is better, focusing is better, and I think it's just from feeling better. It's just helped all around.

RHONDA GLENN: Nancy, are your daughters with you this week?

NANCY LOPEZ: No, they're not. They were with me last week. And Ray is home this week, and they're with Ray, because we he didn't get to have them last week.

RHONDA GLENN: You're on your own this week, and maybe that will help the concentration element.

NANCY LOPEZ: I have a good friend from Georgia, like an adopted grandma, she's not that old, but like 55 or something like that, I said -- because she is like my second nanny, when our nanny is home, she's like Torrie's grandma. Every time she's come to a tournament and taken care of Torrie. I said why not come to the U.S. Open, nobody is going to be there, you can follow me and watch me play golf. So I have a good friend with me.

RHONDA GLENN: Thanks so much, we wish you lots of luck this week.

End of FastScripts....

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