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July 31, 2003

Mike Sposa


THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Mike, for joining us for a few minutes. Great round today, 7-under par. Came out pretty hot with 6-under on the Back 9. Talk about your day and we'll go into questions.

MIKE SPOSA: It was a very good day. I started out on the Front 9 hitting the ball well, getting it in the fairways, not really getting anything going. I made an early birdie, but didn't take advantage of the two par 5's. I was trying to stay in my game as far as hitting fairways out here, which is the key to this golf course.

You know, turning at 1-under was a bit frustrating, but I seemed to hang in there. Hit a good tee shot on 10, hit it in there close, made birdie. Then on 12, I hit a poor tee shot with a 5-wood in the rough. I holed a wedge. That seemed to get the round going.

After that, I take advantage of 13, which is a really tough par 5 with the pin where it is today.

14, drove it right in front of the green, got it up and down. Just played solid.

I had it in the greenside bunker on 16, got that up and down. Really, the only shot I missed today was the tee shot on 18. I just blocked it a little right, in the trees, had to chip out sideways. I hit a wedge up there from about 110, 12 feet, just above the hole to the left, which is another brutal putt. Had probably four feet of break in it. I made that, so...

Obviously, you know, holing it out on 12, then my putter being hot was the deal for me today.


Q. Can you talk about your tee shot on 12, what happened, and how far was the wedge you holed?

MIKE SPOSA: Well, I'm basically trying to take the left bunker out of play on the tee, which was about 260 to it today. 5-wood is about as long a club I have that doesn't go that far. I just made a sloppy swing. Probably the easiest fairway to hit on the golf course, I just blocked it a little right. Caught a good lie in the rough. I think I had maybe 110 yards right in there, about 110, just hit a little three-quarter pitching wedge, maybe 15 feet short, perfect, went right in.

Q. How have you been coming into this week? What are your expectations for the week?

MIKE SPOSA: I have not been playing well up until last week. I missed four cuts, two by a shot, and I think two by two shots.

I wasn't playing horrible, but, you know, when you're playing well, you're not on the cut line basically. I was putting bad. I worked about 15 different people last week in Hartford (laughter). Well, the last one was Dave Stockton. He actually said some things that really helped a lot. I putted really good in Hartford for three days. I wasn't shooting that low. I was 4-under maybe going into the last round. I was in position to have a good tournament.

I didn't putt well the last round, shot 2-over. But, you know, finishing 35th or whatever, I actually felt pretty good about my game. Played a practice round with Olin Browne, Azinger on Tuesday here. Olin mentioned even one more thing about the putting, about my grip. That seemed to be the one thing that allowed me to do the things in the stroke that I've been trying to do. I tend to get a strong grip. He mentioned something about it. Immediately, the light went off.

I have never played good here. I've been here five years. I just can't putt these greens. You know, for the first time ever, I felt good over the putter on these greens, had the speed, had the line. You know, I really felt like I could make any putt I got over today.

Q. Did you have a theory on why you've never putted these greens pretty well? Usually they're smooth. Most of the guys enjoy putting here.

MIKE SPOSA: They are usually good. They've been good every year I've been here. I think there's a lot of subtleties in them. They have not drastic slopes, but there's enough slope out here to where if you're not under the hole, you're playing quite a bit of break all day. When you're playing a lot of break on poa annua greens, if you're not comfortable with the speed, you're not going to make anything, because they get a little bumpy.

I guess that's basically it. I just never felt good reading the greens here. I have a friend of mine on the bag who is from Southern California, all they have there is poa annua greens, I'm just letting him tell me where to aim it. Putted good.

Q. Mike, Ben Curtis wins the British Open, Craig Stadler winning at 50, Peter Jacobsen, so many first-time winners this year, does that talk about the depth of talent out here on the TOUR today?

MIKE SPOSA: Absolutely. I don't think there's too many guys that wouldn't tell you they didn't feel like they couldn't win a golf tournament at any given time. I'm certainly thinking I can win any given tournament starting the week.

Obviously, I'm not thinking about winning this golf tournament. I'm thinking about going out and playing a solid round again tomorrow.

It's just one of those things where I've been out here long enough to where I'm not intimidated, I'm not nervous. But it's different playing good for one day and then the second day. Your world is kind of like this, and now you're kind of near the hunt, on Saturday your world is like this. You play good again, on Sunday it's like this.

It just takes some time to get used to that, to keep playing well when you're playing well, you know.

Q. (Inaudible)?

MIKE SPOSA: Absolutely. More so from a Ben Curtis than a Stadler, Peter Jacobsen. Just because they're 49 doesn't mean they shouldn't win golf tournaments. Ben Curtis, for a guy like me, is really going to turn the light on more than anybody else, especially in a major, for a guy like that to get himself into position, get off to the start that he did on Sunday, then pretty much choke less than the other guys did, it's pretty amazing.

I thought he was a European Tour player. I saw his name on Saturday, I didn't even know he played our TOUR. I know he plays it now (laughter).

Q. Talk about playing with Carl, the hot start he got off to. Does that help you in a way, your relationship with him from playing in past tours together?

MIKE SPOSA: Carl and I have known forever. Playing with your buddy always helps as far as relaxing. I don't think any of us are really that nervous or whatever on a Thursday.

He definitely got the ball rolling for our group early on. It does have kind of - I don't know - a vacuum effect when a guy gets it going in your group. You can at least see birdies being made.

I don't know. It's like you just go from a mental attitude of trying to make birdies to just kind of letting things happen. You're not trying to make putts. You know, you hit it in there 15 feet, you go up there, you pick a line, you're trying to hit it solid, and they go in.

I think that comes from guys in your group, seeing them go in, you know.

Q. How long was the hole out at 12?

MIKE SPOSA: It was like 110.

Q. Is it too early in the year to worry about your standing on the Money List?

MIKE SPOSA: I always worry about my standing on the Money List. I do it after the first week, you know (laughter). There's been a couple years out here where I come out of the of the School, Nike Tour, you're worrying early on, how you're going to shuffle. There's been years out here I'm fully exempt, and I'm worrying about it about getting into invitationals.

When you decide to do this for a living, you have to come to the realization that your life is a number. It's always going to be a number, unless you're Tiger. His is a number to an extent. For the rest of us, you're always a number, whether you're exempt or not. There's always tournaments you're not getting in.

Q. Does that affect your strategy on the course from time to time where you're thinking about your position, Money List?

MIKE SPOSA: I'm not thinking about it while I'm playing, no. I should rephrase that. I'm not thinking about it when I'm playing, you know. If I'm playing a practice round or I'm hanging out in the locker room on Tuesday, I see a Golf Week, I'm going to pick it up and look at the Money List.

You're always kind of in your mind projecting what the certain numbers are, not only the top 125, but the top 70, top 40 gets in the Masters next year. It's just always a number thing.

Once your tee time comes, now you're just trying to play golf.

Q. Do you think it's that way for most guys?

MIKE SPOSA: I don't know. It's that way for me. I can't say for other guys.

THE MODERATOR: Let's go through your round.

MIKE SPOSA: No. 2, I drove the ball good. 7-iron, that was a long putt, probably 30, 35 feet below the hole, I made it.

10, good drive, wedge, maybe 12 feet, a sand wedge.

13, drove it down the middle and hit 3-wood front left bunker. Hit that to 12 feet, probably 10, 12 feet, made it.

14, right in front of the green. Chipped it to three or four feet.

16, greenside bunker in two. Left it up maybe six feet back, made it.

Q. How would you describe playing conditions?

MIKE SPOSA: Right now, the fairways are kind of firm, but not crazy firm. The greens are very receptive. You know, you're going to see some low scoring. These greens are going to get a little bumpy because they are soft, and some heel prints are going to last all day. I'd be surprised if somebody can get to seven or better.

The par 5s, if you drive the ball good, are all reachable, especially the two on the Front 9 have very accessible pins. 1 is probably the easiest pin on the green. 7, as well, probably the easiest pin on that green.

Q. 13?

MIKE SPOSA: 13 is brutal. Carl and I were talking about that today. I think it's probably the best par 5 on TOUR.

Q. Third most difficult hole on the course at the moment.

MIKE SPOSA: The pin, where it is today, I mean, I drove the ball in absolutely as good a spot as you could be. I was just short of the tree, but far enough left where I wasn't near the tree. I had 225 to the front of the green. I'm deciding on a 5-wood or 3-wood. I'm not even thinking about making birdie. I'm like, "Which is the less brutal place to chip to this pin from? Just short in if I hit this 3-wood hot, it goes over, that's dead."

It's just one of those pin placements on that hole. You kind of want -- you're trying not to make seven, you know.

Q. When was the last time you were leading first day?

MIKE SPOSA: Couple years. Probably Greensboro a couple years ago. Been a while, not too often.


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