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July 18, 2002

Des Smyth


STEWART McDOUGAL: Yesterday there was some doubt that you were going to play. Obviously you played very well today; no problem at all.

DES SMYTH: Well, obviously no problem. My back is stiff and a little bit sore. I did a silly thing. I had a very long day on Monday and arrived from Geneva; flew to London, arrived in Edinburgh; rented a car; got here, I was quite tired. Played nine holes, and I was just too tired to play anymore. But I had to wait for a friend for about an hour and a half so I did a bit of putting. I said I would just lie in the car for a while. I put the seat down and laid in the car with one foot over the steering wheel and one foot on the dashboard. I know I shouldn't have done that. I know. But I fell asleep like that for about 10, 15 minutes and when I got up I felt my back a bit stiff. I didn't think anymore of it, though. But that night when I was asleep I was very uncomfortable. I was getting pains up my back and down my leg. So I played the next day but I was hurting so badly after my practice round that I went into the physio guys explaining what happened and they checked me out and they said some little joint down the bottom of the ^ facet joint or something has gone up against a nerve and that's what causing the pain and anyway, I had treatment all day yesterday three times. They told me not to play. Of course my only worry was that I would have to pull out. That would have broken my heart.

So I said I don't care what I have to do as long as I can play on Thursday. So they said you can practice but don't walk - the more you walk, the more pressure you put on it. I hit about two buckets of balls, did a little short game practice; didn't play yesterday at all. I was keen on playing nine hotels last night but they said ,we warned you, but it is up to you. I said, no, I will take the advice. At my age you can take advice. So I didn't play yesterday. And woke up this morning I felt a lot better. Still a bit stiff and sore but I felt a lot better, felt comfortable. I took an anti-inflammatory tablet yesterday and again today. That was my only fear was I wouldn't tee it up this morning. Didn't think I'd play so well.

Q. How did you sleep?

DES SMYTH: Last night, fine. Much better. The night before that I was worried. I was really worried. But I barely spoke about it. These things happen. I said it is just bad timing. It could have happened last week or next week. It just happened this week.

Q. (Inaudible)?

DES SMYT: I was first off last year and I loved it. I don't think it was an advantage this time because the greens were -- there was quite a bit of dew on them and if you have been out there, they are quite sandy. And they were picking up sand as they were rolling so they were extremely slow for about -- they didn't speed up for us until we got to about the 11th. That's when we felt the greens were speeding up a bit. They should be great this afternoon. Overall it was a great day to play golf with very little wind.

I just love playing the Open. I always did. Maybe I am not as afraid as I might have been in years gone by. It is enjoyment for me now. I think for a lot of players who come here looking to win, there's a lot of tension. You will meet them and you will run into them all week. They want to win and I went through that period and it is sort of, I don't know, I think it might affect your game a little bit; you don't perform the way you feel you should. I am performing better than I am expecting to because I am just looking around thinking it is marvelous to be here. I love this. Maybe it's having the right effect. I suppose you have got to get over 40 to even feel like that.

Q. (Inaudible)

DES SMYTH: I am still not going to take any chances. I mean I am 3-under par, but with these courses -- I played with two guys today who played a lot of good golf; hit it in the rough three, four times and they have mid-70's. Only had to hit it in there three, four times for that to happen. I could do it tomorrow morning early on. I certainly won't take anything for granted out there. The key is to put it in the short grass whether you hit a 3-iron or 1-iron, no matter what you hit off the tee, you must be on the fairway.

Q. (Inaudible)

DES SMYTH: I don't think it is a big hitter's course either. The key to this golf course is to hit it straight. Straight hitters are going to do well this week.

Q. (Inaudible)?

DES SMYTH: Last year the course was tougher, I think. I don't know why I say that, but it was tougher. I think all the Open courses -- in a sense it is a pity they don't let you hit a driver many -- I am not a long hitter and I think I only used my driver four times. And I mean, there was no wind. Now obviously if the wind blows you will able to hit your driver more often - certainly into the wind, but downwind you won't.

Q. What is the reference point from the 1st tee?

DES SMYTH: It's a yellow stake up in the distance. That little path that goes out there. Then it extends to the fairway. But there's a yellow post down there. It a crossing post, that's it.

Q. Intimidating?

DES SMYTH: It is because you can't see the fairway. You just see that little strip in front of you. There's a few tee shots like that you don't see anything. I think 6 is like that too, if I am not mistaken, you can't see anything off the tee.

Q. (Inaudible)

DES SMYTH: I think it's all the golf we play. We play golf every single day, that keeps you sharp and competitive. (Inaudible)

Q. Scoring could go very low?

DES SMYTH: Yes. Course is very fair. It is all about hitting it straight. They have to hit it straight.

Q. 63 is the Open record, if I am not mistaken. Can it be broken here?

DES SMYTH: I think if the weather stays like this it's a possibility although they have some tough pins out there. You want to be careful. It's all about hitting fairways and not missing the green on the wrong side. There's a few times today myself and Ray said you can't even go for that pin. Hit it in the middle of the green, because if you happen to miss it right, it's an automatic bogey. There's a lot of that sort of planning while you are out there. Other than that, just keep hitting it straight.

End of FastScripts....

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