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October 31, 2002

Steve Lowery


TODD BUDNICK: We welcome Steve Lowery, the clubhouse leader at 5-under 65. Steve is 29th on the Money List. You have three seconds this year, looking for your first victory. This must be a good way to start.

STEVE LOWERY: I played a good round of golf. It was pretty tough out there. I felt good about the way I played.

TODD BUDNICK: Have the conditions gotten a little better since the Pro-Am?

STEVE LOWERY: Yeah, it's dried a little bit since the Pro-Am. There's still some wet spots where the ball lands. I think on 8, the ball plugged when it hit the ground, and maybe 10. But it's drying up a little bit.

TODD BUDNICK: Let's go through your birdies.

STEVE LOWERY: 2, I hit a 7-iron about probably 12 feet and made that putt.

5, they have the tees up there, I hit a driver and an 8-iron to the back left pin. It was probably about 15 feet.

8, I hit 3-wood off the tee. Like I said, it plugged on the fairway and I hit 6-iron to probably about eight feet left of the hole and made the putt.

9 was playing straight downwind. I hit driver and a 5-wood on the front fringe, and 2-putted from about, oh, it was probably a 30-foot putt and I 2-putted.

I missed the green right on 10. I had a really tough chip shot and chipped it by about 18 feet and I missed the putt for par.

15, the par 5, I hit in the left woods. It was in the leaves over there, and I take a chance with the 5-wood out of the woods. Hit it just above the bunker, pitched it up to three feet and made the putt for birdie there.

17, I hit a 6-iron about, probably, about 20 feet right of the hole and made the putt.

Q. What were you doing over the weekend? Were you watching pretty close?

STEVE LOWERY: Yeah, I was. I had planned not to go to qualify to play and was hoping I would not have to go down there. Ended up watching it pretty close, and actually, it was really close.

Q. Did you find yourself rooting against ?

STEVE LOWERY: Just trying to, you know, see how it came out, really. I was either going here or Jackson, just trying to see.

Q. If I may, a two-part question. Number one, I was having a little problem back here, but will you give me some general comments on your round again, and then I have one other quickie for you?

STEVE LOWERY: Okay. I played a good solid round. Hit the ball in the fairway most of the day. I played the par 5s good. 9 and 15, I made some pretty easy birdies there. Just made a few nice putts and a couple of saves for par.

Q. And on Tuesday in that wretched weather for the Pro-Am, it's my understanding that you had a 10-under on your own ball, and if so, did that just give you the confidence you were looking for?

STEVE LOWERY: Well, I did. I shot 60 in the Pro-Am. I was pretty surprised around this golf course. I shot 29 on the back and 31 on the front. I shot 31 on the front but I could not find that 29 today.

Q. When you missed the cut last week, were you worried you were not going to be here?

STEVE LOWERY: I thought it would be close. If certain guys won, obviously, Scott McCarron and a few guys were really close, I think Brad Faxon did not have to play that well to pass me, so I was pretty fortunate to get in.

Q. What's your plans in the off-season after this week?

STEVE LOWERY: I'm going to shut it down and not really play that much. Obviously, I've got a few commitments but I'm not playing any tournaments from here, probably until next year.

Q. The ball looks like it's sitting up in the rough pretty good most of the time.

STEVE LOWERY: No, it's not. It's sitting down. (Laughing).

It's playing tough. If you hit in the rough off the tee, you are probably not going to get it to the green on most of the holes.

Q. Normally this time of the year, the rough is pretty dormant, but without any frost it's pretty muscly?

STEVE LOWERY: It's thick and there's a lot of wet ground underneath it. It's hard to get the ball to the green. I did get a couple of lies today where I did get the ball on the green so I was pretty fortunate.

Q. If I may have a follow-up to that par, what did that do to your confidence level going into the tournament?

STEVE LOWERY: Well, I've been playing good this year. It was a round where I just hit the ball really well, and I just think I hit almost every fairway and every green, and, yeah, it gave me a lot of confidence coming into today. I felt like this golf course, you could shoot a low score on it, and I felt like I was playing well enough to do it. Obviously, I went out today and had a really good score.

Q. How many times today did you lift your ball and place it?

STEVE LOWERY: Well, let's see, I think I hit 14 -- I think I hit 14 fairways. So it would be every time, and then I think on No. 9, I lifted it twice because I was just in the fringe there. So probably 15 times.

Q. What's your favorite hole out here?

STEVE LOWERY: I like 16. I think that's a really good hole. It's a long par 4 down the hill. A lot of good holes here at East Lake, though.

Q. Are you an old-style course lover most of the time?

STEVE LOWERY: I like the older-style golf courses. They have to be able to lengthen them to make them where we can have tournament golf on them, but I like that style of golf better.

Q. With the sogginess here, you probably have a problem with it?

STEVE LOWERY: That and the zoysia fairways make it play longer. You usually don't get much rolling when it's dry.

Q. Where did you look at this year in terms of where do you place it in terms of success based against your previous record? I know you have not won but I know it's been a pretty good run, and among some of your most consistent finishes, especially the latter half of the year?

STEVE LOWERY: Yeah, obviously one of my best years. The last three years I have really improved my game and stepped it up this year. This year has really not been any different but I felt like I gave myself opportunities to win this year. I played aggressively with chances to win and had some good putts on the last hole a few times to win, so I feel good about the way that I played.

Obviously, you know, I didn't win, but I felt good about my chances of winning and how I played down the stretch.

Q. You list on your interests Alabama football. I was wondering if you could talk about if you're a fan of Alabama like Chris DiMarco is of --?

STEVE LOWERY: I don't think anybody is that big of a fan. DiMarco is about as big of a fan of Florida as there is.

I went to school there, my father was a trainer for Coach Bryant. I went to a few games last year and the Georgia game this year.

I follow it. I enjoy watching Brody Kroll (ph). His father runs a charity in Alabama that we raise money for. Just a lot of close ties in Alabama and I enjoy watching football. We are happy to see Alabama doing well again.

Q. I was wondering what you think about your chances this weekend; maybe this will be the week that you finally win?

STEVE LOWERY: Well, you know, I definitely like my chances of going out and playing to win. Obviously a lot of things have to happen. I can't do anything about the other players, but if I go out and play my game and play well, I'll have a good chance, just like I have a few times this year.

Q. Where do you rank this tournament and what would it mean to your career to win this?

STEVE LOWERY: It would be the biggest win probably for me. I won the international in '94. It would be probably the biggest win for me. Obviously, the strongest field here. So, you know, I feel really good about winning this. This would probably be the biggest win of my career.

Q. What has made you the most consistent the last few years?

STEVE LOWERY: I think my putting has improved quite a bit. I've been driving the ball in the fairway the last three years more than I have earlier in my career. Probably driving and putting have been the biggest improvements that I can point to.

Q. How many times have you seen the video of that double-eagle?

STEVE LOWERY: A lot. I've seen that a lot. It doesn't get old for me. (Laughing).

Q. Talking about putting, the guys tell me that the greens are absolutely perfect. You had 29 putts today. I wonder your thoughts on your putting today?

STEVE LOWERY: I didn't hit it as close today as I did, obviously, in the Pro-Am but I putted well and my speed was good. I kept the ball below the hole and I made a lot of the putts that you would like to make, probably the 10-footers and inside; I felt like I putted really well.

I hit a lot of greens. 29 putts, hitting a lot of greens is a pretty good day.

Q. What did your team finish in the Pro-Am?

STEVE LOWERY: I think they were 12-under. (Laughter.)

Q. You played in the TOUR Championship before, but never when it was here. When you shot the 60, was that the first time you had seen the course or did you play some Monday?

STEVE LOWERY: That was the first time -- let's see what did I do Monday? I played nine holes Monday and that was the first time I had seen the back nine.

I had played East Lake, though, years ago before they renovated it. Probably 10, 12 years ago. I didn't know the layout of the holes. I just had not played it in a while.

Q. What brought you out higher when you played?

STEVE LOWERY: I was qualifying for the BellSouth Classic when it was Atlanta Country Club. It might have been longer than 12 years ago, but when they had the qualifying out here.

Q. Did you recognize the place when you pulled in?

STEVE LOWERY: No. It looks quite a bit different. (Laughter.)

Q. There was some great stories about guys getting golf balls stolen out of the fairways?

STEVE LOWERY: I used to hear about the pro that used to carry a gun in his bag.

Q. No problems when you qualified?

STEVE LOWERY: No problems when I qualified. I think it's definitely on the upswing.

Q. Now that you've had some time, what do you think about your experience at the International this year?

STEVE LOWERY: That was something that, I didn't win the tournament, but it was something I will never forget. The series of shots I hit on the last six holes, just were probably some of the best shots I've ever hit in my life when I needed to hit them.

It just was an incredible feeling to -- I've never made a double-eagle in my mind and to make a double-eagle on the 71 hole of a Tour event with a chance to win, it was an incredible feeling, walking off the green.

Q. Have you asked yourself, "What does a man have to do to win a golf tournament"?

STEVE LOWERY: It's pretty unusual. If I had not won tournaments before it would probably have been disheartening. At least I had won some before.

It's pretty unusual to have a putt on the last hole that you either win or lose because normally you miss it, you go to a playoff. It was either that format, you make it and you win or you miss it and you lose.

It was a lot of fun. Obviously, I would have liked to win, but I would not change anything. The memories are great.

Q. An original two-part question if you don't mind. If you would have gone to Jackson this week, for what purpose?

STEVE LOWERY: I would have gone to Jackson to try to finish in the Top-30, because even if you go to Jackson or you were to win, you could make enough money to pass guys that are in this field of the top 30.

Q. Some of the other guys this week and last week were saying they were opposed to opposite-field events, saying that they dilute the product; what are your thoughts on that?

STEVE LOWERY: Well, it gives a lot of opportunity for players to play.

Yeah, I guess there's two sides to that. It gives more guys opportunity to play. There's a lot of guys playing for their card and trying to stay in the Top-125, so it gives them more opportunities to do that.

On the other hand, you have two tour events going on within a few hundred miles of each other. It may be a little bit distracting on that.

End of FastScripts....

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