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May 29, 1996

Nancy Lopez


RHONDA GLENN: Ladies and gentlemen, a player you know quite well, certainly the most outstanding modern golfer that we've had. And certainly what she has done as far as her impact on women's golf has been a tremendous boost to the game, Nancy Lopez. Welcome to the 1996 Women's Open, Nancy. What does it look like as far as your chances and how did you like the golf course?

NANCY LOPEZ: Well, I feel good about my chances. I've been playing fairly well this year in that I've been striking the ball very well. The only thing that's kept me from getting really close is my putter. The last month or so I started to putt better, and I decided to change putters last week at the Corning Classic, and feel like I found a putter that sits really nice when I get up to the ball, and I feel really good standing over it and stroking it. Last week I made a lot more putts. And the whole thing is when you haven't played a lot competitively, you really have to get yourself in there more often to feel good about being in that situation and comfortable, and I have been doing that the last month, I've just felt like I was just a couple shots of being closer and closer. And basically that was just because of my putter. But I feel good about my game. I'm hitting the ball very well, I feel. Healthwise, I feel very well with that, also. And the golf course is just beautiful. It's what a U.S. Open golf course should really make you feel like when you get out there. It's just -- you stand up on the tees and the fairways are just beautifully cut. And if you go out of them you'll be in trouble, you know that. And it's playing a little long, which is fine. I think that most championship golf courses or championship tournaments should have the golf course a little longer. But the greens are in super shape. It's really, really pretty out there.

RHONDA GLENN: When you mentioned your putter, as I recall, your old putter was a Ray Cook, and you've had that since you started at least in professional golf. That has been an old friend. What kind of putter did you go to?

NANCY LOPEZ: Well, I went to a Rossie II, an Odyssey. I have played with my Cook -- the first Ray Cook I ever played with was -- I had it since I was 12. And I guess maybe about eight years ago, seven years ago I changed to a Ping a couple of years ago, and got away from the mallet a little while and just really didn't feel good with that and went back. And finally found a Ray Cook that was similar to my old one. The reason I didn't go back to my old one was because during the time that I played with that putter, I felt like the metal had fatigued in some way, because whenever I had any kind of breaking putt, the speed was so inconsistent off the putter, I didn't feel good anymore. That's when I decided to retire that one. My new Ray Cook that I've been using probably the last four or five years, I putted pretty well with it, got confidence back and started making some putts again. But now it's not feeling comfortable anymore so I decided to change, only because my dad said if it didn't work, change it. I'm tired of trying to make it work, so I changed.

RHONDA GLENN: I might add that you look terrific. I know you've lost weight and been in a conditioning program. You look 20 years old again.

NANCY LOPEZ: Thank you.

Q. Nancy, your weight loss program has been reported at 30 pounds. Cabbage soup or how did you do it?

NANCY LOPEZ: Well, I did use some cabbage soup, but it wasn't the diet, it was low in fat grams. But in January I decided at that time, while I was 39 on January 6th, and all of a sudden something just hit me, that I wasn't -- something wasn't right in my life. And I couldn't figure it out. I said, well, my marriage is fine, my kids are healthy, and everything is going good. But I just wasn't really happy with me, which was probably making everybody else miserable in the household because when women get that way, they get really crabby. So I decided in the middle of January, the first tournament of the year, that I was going to go on a low-fat diet and start exercising. And so what I did, I did start the diet at that time, counting fat grams, and also counting calories. But then I decided when I got home about the middle of February that I was going to hire a trainer to train me so I would really get into exercise and not just kind of do it. So from that time on the trainer came over to my house every day and told me that I needed to eat between 20 and 25 fat grams a day and 2,000 calories, which is really a lot of food, you just have to watch what you eat. And then we started exercising two hours every day. And before I knew it, I started feeling a lot better. What I've done in the two hours, I do one hour of cardiovascular, which would be either 30 minutes of Stairmaster, 30 minutes on the treadmill or 30 minutes with the bike. My endurance just got better and better, the weight was coming off. I felt better. I just don't feel tired. I was so tired last year. I just really didn't feel like I could do much on the golf course, because once I started getting tired, my swing started getting tired. I didn't have any get-up-and-go in my swing anymore. I'd end up bogeying a few holes. But now I feel much better that I don't feel tired my more, my feet don't hurt me anymore. I've always had really bad problems with my feet. And with the weight loss, my feet don't hurt at all. Once in a while they will, but hardly at all now. So that has really helped me change my attitude, too, probably about the way that everything is going and the way I feel on the golf course. And I just feel that I can really do anything now.

Q. That other hour, did you lift weights or something like that?

NANCY LOPEZ: Yeah, the other hour I'll do upper body weights and I do 200 sit-ups every day. I do take one day off a week to not do that.

Q. So, six days a week you're exercising?


Q. What do you eat to make up the 2000 calories?

NANCY LOPEZ: Like for breakfast I'll have a bagel and I'll have cereal, because bagels have one fat gram, and I can have jelly on it. I don't eat butter anymore. I don't eat cheese anymore. I don't drink anything but skim milk. I only use mustard, I don't use mayonnaise anymore. I can eat basically anything for breakfast except sausage. Once in a while I'll have an egg, because I need protein, so I'll do one egg or just egg white. And then at lunch I can eat a sandwich. I usually get fat-free turkey, and it's great. And I use mustard. And I can eat any kind of bread I want. And I'll have a salad probably or a vegetable of some kind. And then at night I eat a lot of cereal. Like, when I'm hungry in the afternoon, I'll eat cereal, which is great with bananas and skim milk. What you really are supposed to do on this kind of diet is eat all day, but you should have fruit; grapes, apples, oranges, low-fat graham crackers, which are really good. So you can eat all day, because your metabolism -- my metabolism has gotten better. I've always had a thyroid problem, so it took a lot more for me to lose weight. I have a hypothyroid, and I still do. I still have to take Synthroid, but my metabolism is so much better, because I'm losing weight now, and I'm not eating any less. I just keep working out and just keep eating the same amount of food. And it's just really a good way to diet, because I don't feel like I'm dieting, I feel like I'm watching what I eat. And I feel so much better than I ever have, really. Even when I was young, I didn't feel like I took as good care of myself like I am now.

Q. Did you eliminate anything else besides those things you mentioned?


Q. Did you eliminate any other foods?

NANCY LOPEZ: No, I don't eliminate anything except what I said. I drink a lot of water.

Q. Still eat ice cream?

NANCY LOPEZ: No ice cream, no.

Q. You're in the Hall of Fame, so you really don't have anything to prove in golf, but you've never won an Open. What would this tournament mean to you?

NANCY LOPEZ: Well, I always said if I won the U.S. Open you could never get me off the 18th green, because I'd stay there forever, turning flips or doing something. I would just love to win the U.S. Open. I came close a couple of years. One year, as an amateur, I finished second to Sandra Palmer, and I really think the second year I had a chance when I finished second to Hollis Stacy. I really believe I would have won that tournament, but my zipper busted on my pants that final day and I really couldn't concentrate, I was so worried about my underwear showing. I really felt like I would have won that Open if my pants hadn't split open. I felt like it wasn't my time. I keep saying experience is what helps you win an Open and I've been experiencing it since I was 15 so I'm due. My experience has definitely come to a peak, I hope, and that I can go out and win this week.

Q. Do you use stronger zippers now?

NANCY LOPEZ: You used to have those plastic ones that you could zip down and zip back up, and they'd be okay. That's the kind of zipper I had, but every time I bent down it would bust open and it was a horrible experience.

Q. They're expecting a lot of huge crowds this weekend, any advice you would give to spectators about what not to do to distract players?

NANCY LOPEZ: Most people that follow us have pretty good golf etiquette. I think most of the people that come out, play golf or have been around golf enough to know that the big thing is they need to really be considerate of other players after one player has putted out. That's the only thing I see a lot of fans doing, they start walking away before everybody has putted out. And I think that's real important to be considerate of other players.

Q. What's the weirdest thing anyone has ever done to distract you?

NANCY LOPEZ: The weirdest thing? That's funny you asked me that, and this came to my mind. I remember I was getting ready to hit a shot, and I had this tree limb in my way; I take a practice swing, and it was right there. So I had made up my mind what I was going to do with the shot and I stood over it, and all of a sudden I saw this tree branch moving back. And I looked and there was some, like, 65-year-old man sitting there pulling it, holding it, trying to help me (INDICATING), and it was so cute. But I said, I'm sorry, but you can't do that. So I remember that. And that was years ago when I was playing in California. I think it was at the Kemper.

Q. Is the thing that hit you a function of turning 39 or a function of feeling like you weren't being as competitive as you'd like to do, or what were the things that hit you?

NANCY LOPEZ: Well, I think first of all I was -- I wasn't feeling competitive last year, really, at all. When I was playing golf, I think I was just really playing golf, and that's all. I didn't really believe that I could do what I wanted to do out there, and I think maybe it was my way of saying give yourself a chance. You don't play as much as you used to, but maybe this might help you to play better when you do play. And it definitely has made me feel like I'm going to play better than I did play last year, because mentally I just feel very positive about so many things. And I think that that definitely carries on to the golf course.

Q. Was the 39 anything that rang anything, impending 40 or whatever?

NANCY LOPEZ: Ray says I'm talking too much about my age. I think it bothers women when they're going to turn 40, I think. I don't think I'm an abnormal going to be 40-year-old, and I know that 20 and 30 bothered me, for some reason. I would imagine I really thought about 40, probably, after I turned 39, because I just don't feel that I'm -- not that that's old, but that I'm that age. When I play golf with the young players on tour, I relate with them in that I remember how I was at that age, but then I feel like I could ask if they wanted to go to a movie, and we could go eat pizza, because I don't feel like I'm that much older. So I guess 40 will probably bother me a little bit. I told my friends I would not be home on January 6th next year, and that they would have a tough time finding me. I don't really want to celebrate that birthday for some reason.

Q. Nancy, every player has a different perception of how important this title is. How important is it in the whole scheme of things; what's the atmosphere out here; how big is it to win this tournament?

NANCY LOPEZ: It's hard to say, really, because the feelings you have are what the professional golfer feels when she's out there playing golf, swinging the golf club, winning tournaments, knowing -- well, growing up with the USGA, and playing in the USGA junior tournaments, and the USGA Women's Amateur, and how much pride there's always been in the U.S. Open tournament, it's thought about so much. The golf courses that we've played have been thought about so much, and how tough they need to be to have an Open championship the way it should be. There are just so many things that are involved in the U.S. Open that make it so different but so neat; cool, as my kids would say it. It's just something that I think that every player would love to win, to be able to have their name on the trophy. I just think it would be a great thing to be able to accomplish.

Q. Will it be a gap in your career if you don't win it?

NANCY LOPEZ: I'd like to say no, but probably yes.

RHONDA GLENN: Any changes in your motivation? This is a veteran's question, as compared to when you were young and hungry, to win. Do you feel any differently about winning now or being competitive?

NANCY LOPEZ: Well, I think when I was younger winning was something I wanted to do, and I knew that I had nowhere to go but up. So I think when you're young and you first come out, you're just definitely very aggressive, because you have nothing to lose and nobody really expects you to do anything. So it's definitely a lot easier to be aggressive and go for the putts and see what happens. I know when you finally accomplish so much in professional golf, then you're protecting it, what you've done. And it's expected of you sometimes to play the type golf you played when you didn't have any fear at all. And then when you get older I think you definitely develop some fear, only because you don't want to not win. And you're trying not to lose. So there's a different attitude in that way. That changes the way that you approach the game and changes your aggressiveness, for sure, because once you reach the top or you win a lot of tournaments, you want to be able to do that all the time because second, third, fourth doesn't mean anything anymore. And I think you get -- I get aggravated because I know last year -- because I really didn't play the way I wanted to, and I really wasn't that close to playing the way I wanted to. I really kind of got bored with myself in that I said this is ridiculous, I hate finishing and just playing. I'm not really playing for the money anymore. Not that I can't use it, but that's not ever been what I've ever played for is the money. So just finishing was just kind of boring. And I said this is not what I want to do. If I'm going to do this, I might as well go home and take care of my kids and husband instead. So you definitely have a different attitude.

Q. Nancy, how does the course set up for you and your game?

NANCY LOPEZ: I love the golf course. It is, I have to say, one of my most favorite Open golf courses that I've played. It is playing long. The last few holes are definitely longer than most Open courses that we have played, but I've played it three days now, and I really like the way I feel on the golf course. But it is going to be longer. And the middle of the greens is a good place to go. I've had to hit a few 5-woods second shot on the par 5's. And I'm not hitting it shorter, but it's definitely playing longer.

Q. Are you as long as you ever were?

NANCY LOPEZ: I'm not as long as I ever was, but I'm probably hitting it about 245 off the tee and I'm hitting my 3-iron about 190, which is about average, I think, or more than average -- a little bit more than average.

Q. This may be a little trivia thing, but I wrote a little column about you and I mentioned that you used to be called "The Spanish Queen." And it was in your book. Someone wrote me a letter and said it was never used, that phrase. Was it? I really have it clear in my mind. Have you ever heard the term "The Spanish Queen" for you?

NANCY LOPEZ: I have a few times, but the term I always remember the most is "Nancy with the smiling face," more the name that I remember.

Q. Thank you, you cleared up a big problem.


Q. Nancy, where is the family this week, where are the children?

NANCY LOPEZ: Well, they're home finishing up school. Friday is their last day. It was funny because Ashley, my oldest, she's going to be 13 in November, she -- the day before last she said she had a softball game last night and she had a big test today. And I said, well, I'm going to let you make this decision. I know they need you pitching, but I want you to make an A in social studies, so what are you going to do? She said, well, mom, I'm not sure. And I said, well, I'm going to let you make that decision. Last night when I called her she said mom, we got rained out. And I was so glad because I was able to really study for my test. She was praying to God it would rain or something. They're at home and they're finishing up school. Ray is in Florida. He will be flying home to Cincinnati tonight, and then fly up tomorrow and watch me play tomorrow on my first round. And then he has to go back to Cincinnati on Friday.

RHONDA GLENN: With such great genetic attributes, are any of your children, you think, are of superior athletic ability?

NANCY LOPEZ: Both Ashley and Erinn are great softball players. They're a little bit ahead of their time, because they've played with their dad so much that he's made them throw bullets. And the other little girls can't catch them. But they both hit the ball very well. Erinn has more desire, a lot like I saw myself or at least felt like I had. Ashley has a lot of talent, but not the desire that I see in Erinn. But once they get together, they both have a lot of desire when they're playing against each other. So I see a lot of Ray and myself in them when they're doing that. They just started playing golf this year. They never really were interested. They didn't like it. And probably because I never really took them on the golf course with me much because I was really trying to protect them more than anything from just what went on. But last year they walked around with me a couple of times and I think that really got them excited about it. So we got them golf clubs for Christmas and golf shoes, and what they do, they go out and hit balls with me a little while, but they take their gloves with them in case they get tired of hitting golf balls, and they throw softballs while I finish up my practicing. It's kind of fun for them to get interested now, because I'd love for them to play just with me and Ray and be able to go out and play golf with them, because it's a great sport and it's something you can really do with your family, and it's a lot of fun, and I'd like to see them -- I'd like to be able to see what they can do with a golf ball at that age.

RHONDA GLENN: Nancy, thank you so much. We wish you a lot of luck.

End of FastScripts....

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