July 29, 1999
JAMES CRAMER: We have Mike Springer with us. 32, 31 for a 7-under par 63. Mike, before we take any questions could we go over your birdies.
MIKE SPRINGER: I started on the back. I actually hit it in the right trees off of No. 10 and had to chip out with an 8-iron and hit a sand wedge in about 12 feet and made that for a par. Good shot on the next hole. 15 feet and I missed it. 12, I hit a decent drive down the middle. Pushed a 7-iron just to the right of the green. Chipped it up a foot. Next hole, I hit a good drive down the middle. Laid up with a 6-iron and hit a sand wedge in there 12 feet and made birdie. Mediocre drive on 14, just on the left side of the fairway. Hit an 8-iron, back edge of the fringe and I chipped in with a wedge. 15, I hit a driver off the tee in the right-hand bunker. Had about a 30-yard bunker shot. Hit it up there about three feet. Made that. 16, I hit a decent 6-iron in there. Came in a little low. It landed pin-high. Just got over the green. Got down in that little collection area. Putted up short about 12 feet and made it for par. Those are nice. Keeps the round going. 17, drove it in the left -- left-hand bunker off the tee. Hit a 7-iron to about five feet. Made that for a birdie. 18, hit a good drive down the middle and pulled a 6-iron left of the green just a little bit. 2-putted just off the green. Let's see, I went to 1. Drove it down the middle on 1. Hit a 7-iron in there probably 20 feet and missed it. Next hole, I hit a 3-wood off the tee; good shape. Left-hand side of the fairway. Hit a lob-wedge in there about 10 feet and made it for a birdie. Next hole, I hit a good drive down the middle. Laid an 8-iron over the front edge; 2-putted. Next hole is the par 3 -- the par 4. Hit not a very good drive. Right in the center of the fairway. Caught a little 5-iron in there probably five feet and made it for birdie. Which is a nice birdie, by the way. Next hole is a par 3. Didn't hit a very good 3-iron on the front of the green. 2-putted. Next hole, drove it in the trees. Chipped out and hit a 6-iron about eight feet and I missed it. Next hole, hit a driver and 6-iron just short of the hole and missed it. Next hole, I hit it about a foot and a half and made that And then 9, I hit a 3-wood. Hit a pretty good 9-iron and caught me -- came up off the front. Had about a 5-footer and missed it.
Q. So you got the guided tour of the golf course today. In the trees; in the fairways; in the bunkers, and no bogeys.
MIKE SPRINGER: I putted really well. It was a nice change. My putter hasn't been as nice as it can be. My putting stat is horrible. Matter of fact, all of my stats are horrible, except for the first round in the tournament this year. No, it hasn't been a very good year or past years. It's nice to get off to a good start.
Q. This is the lowest round you've had this year. Did you try anything differently coming into the tournament?
MIKE SPRINGER: No. I've just been working hard on my game for the past few years. Today, the putter -- the putter was nice. I hit some quality shots. I made some good putts. All my putts -- most of my putts were center cut. It was nice. It was a nice change. The golf course played fairly easy this morning. You know, it was perfect scoring conditions. The greens were perfect, except for No. 6. You know, you work hard on your game, and you wonder when A player is going to show up.
Q. Did you have any feeling today would be that day before you started?
MIKE SPRINGER: No, not really. You know, you often wonder: Well, when are you going to show up and play a good round of golf. And today, I did. I was happy. I mean, I got the ball, for the most part in the fairway. I think I missed four fairways. And I putted good. I gave myself a lot of chances. And I putted good. I think to play well out here, obviously you have to putt well. You have to play good golf, but the putter can make up for a lot. Today, I hit a bunch of good shots and a lot of good putts. Didn't really drive it as well as I would have liked. I hit a lot of drives in the fairway but they weren't -- they didn't have the steam on the ball I would have liked. It wasn't exactly the picture I was picturing before I hit it. But that's the way it is sometimes. I've had it many times this year where I've hit it great and couldn't put it in the ocean off a cliff. It was just nice to make putts.
Q. Mike, you were 13th in the money list one year and you went to 198th. I couldn't find anybody else with that significant a drop. What went so right that year and what happened?
MIKE SPRINGER: In '94? In '94 I played good golf. I drove the ball -- I think that was the best I drove it, out of all the years. I've never been a real good ball-striker. I've always been relying on my putter and my short game. I have a very good short game. My swing fell apart. My body fell apart. And I just -- I went to reconstructing everything, and it just takes a long time to get back to the level that you were at and a lot of patience. Most of the time, the patience mostly comes from me. The people around you sometimes aren't as patient. You know, they wonder -- well, why did you change your swing. And I just say, hey, because you want to get better. I think most of the players out here are looking to get better. And, yeah, a lot of people would say, I'll take 13th on the money list. And 13th on the money list is fine. And you strive to be your best, obviously 13th isn't the best. And that's the way I've been all my life. I want to play a lot better. I want to be a consistent Top-10 player each week. And when you look back at things and you say: What can you do to improve that, obviously, my ball-striking has to get better to drive the ball in the fairway. When you drive the ball in the fairway, it's like playing 14 par 3s; some reachable par 5s. It makes a distance. When you drive the ball in the fairway, it's just down there further. There's just a lot of opportunity. For myself, I've been working hard on my game for a long time and it's just nice to see, finally, today, it paid off.
Q. Do you ever think of going back to the old way?
MIKE SPRINGER: No. I never thought about it, because the old way is what -- see when you're young, your body can withstand a lot of twirking and twisting, but when you get older, your body breaks down. You're not as flexible. You are not as whatever. You have to figure out: What can I do to make myself fundamentally sound. I just went back to basics. Found a new coach and went to work on it. It's taken a long time, but I've got a while.
Q. Who do you go to work with?
MIKE SPRINGER: This guy named Craig Chapman down in Palm Springs. We've been working on it. He has traveled with me 20 weeks out of the last -- not so much this year, but the three previous years up to this year. He's traveled with me probably 20 weeks. Spent a lot of money on it. But that's my job. Sometimes you have to make investments to make it better.
Q. So he's different than the guy you originally went to make these changes? Who did you originally --
MIKE SPRINGER: I was with Ralph Ramelli in Visalia, California. I was with him since I started golf. It just wasn't working out. I got to hitting it -- even in '94, at the end of '94, my swing was shot. It was shot. My shoulder was popping every time I was swinging. I was rolling my arm over. Just all kinds of funky stuff. And you know, I didn't know. I was always: Hey, where's the tee and what's the record; let's golf that's the way I've been all my life. And people say: Why don't you have that same attitude. And I do have the same attitude, but you have to build yourself into that attitude. When you're out there shooting 80 every day, how good are you going to -- who gives cares what the record is. Let's just try and keep it somewhere on the golf course. That's where I've been. I've been working hard on my game and just waiting for it to pay off.
Q. You seem to be happy with your putting, too. How many putts did you have today?
MIKE SPRINGER: I don't know. I putted fairly well. Let's see, 9 on the front; that's pretty good. On the back -- actually on the back I had 9. On the front I had 15, on the last nine holes. That's 24. I can that do. I'll take that every day.
Q. What do you think your chances are of doing this four days in a row, with the way you played today?
MIKE SPRINGER: Well, if I putt like I did today, nice. I've got great chances. Will I? I don't know. You never know. You just keep working on it and you try not to look ahead. You've got to play 72 holes; so, it doesn't really matter where you make your birdies as long as you make plenty of birdies and not too many bogeys and just kind of stay ahead of the game. Keep the ball in play and give yourself chances. Most of the guys that win out here have good putting weeks. Not too many guys win that say they putted poorly. That's definitely a key factor. I've won two tournaments out here. And the first tournament I won, I hit the ball extremely well and putted pretty good. I putted -- first day of the tournament I putted really good. The rest of the days I putted solid. But the second tournament I won, I hit it all over the lot and made everything. But the winning key was both times I putted pretty solid.
Q. Didn't you get off to a good start last year at Pleasant Valley?
MIKE SPRINGER: Matter of fact, I think I was 10-under after two rounds at Pleasant Valley. I think I ended up finishing like to 20th or something. First day, I played really good. I shot I think 8-under or something, 7-under or something. That day I putted good. That day I remember I made like 20 8-footers -- obviously, you're not going to keep that up for four days. I guess some guys do.
Q. Was there a rain delay?
MIKE SPRINGER: I don't think so. That was a very enjoyable golf course. It's too bad we're still not playing there. It was a fun golf course. You always had a chance to birdie the par 5s and knock them on in 2 and all that kind of stuff.
Q. How many records do you have?
MIKE SPRINGER: Course records? I don't know. Got a few. I've got a few 61s out there in California.
Q. Is that your low, 61?
MIKE SPRINGER: That I've ever shot? Yeah, for me. All in money games. I shot 61 one day at Palmet Valley and lost money.
Q. Where's that?
MIKE SPRINGER: That was in California. Escondido, California. I was standing with Admiral Oberg (ph), who designed the flight pattern for Top Gun. And him and three of his buddies went out all and played in the 90s and I shot 61 and lost. (Laughter.)
Q. Did you ever think of getting into another business after that?
MIKE SPRINGER: That's funny because I had just turned pro. I had just turned pro. I was there for the second stage of the U.S. Open qualifying. And I just got out of school and was just right at it. I didn't qualify. I lost by a shot. But that 61 would have been nice two days later. They got me good.
Q. Is this the lowest on TOUR that you've shot?
MIKE SPRINGER: I think I've shot 63 probably four or five times. 7-under -- I think the other 63s were 9-unders. I always go by not really the number but under par, you know what I mean? Here we only have two par 5s.
Q. Mike, do you know in your heart that that 13th finish was well-earned and you belong as one of the top players, and it's only a matter of time before you get back there?
MIKE SPRINGER: Oh, absolutely. No doubt in my mind that that was certainly no fluke. I played solid golf. To tell you the truth, I mean, the first five, six months of the year, I made most of my money and then I won a tournament in September. And that was -- like I said, my golf swing was falling apart and I took five weeks off and didn't touch a club and then it was really in the toilet. But you always work hard at it. And I'm a pretty -- I'm a pretty confident person. I've always been that way. All I know is hard work and determination takes you a long ways.
Q. What about your attitude? Are you naturally a loose person, tight person?
MIKE SPRINGER: I'm pretty easygoing.
Q. Was it easy for you to stay easygoing during the tough times?
MIKE SPRINGER: Yeah, I'm still -- I've made 30 grand this year; so, I wouldn't say the tough times are definitely behind me. I'd say I'm still looking it right in the eye. But, no, it's you know like my friends say at home, they say: God, I can't believe your attitude. Your attitude is so good for the way you've played the last few years. And you get people that give you: Oh, you can't play anymore, but I know I can. I know I will some day. And that's all that matters.
Q. What type of putter do you use now?
MIKE SPRINGER: I'm using -- I use the Ping Pal-4 for a long time, the brilliant copper one. And I made a change a couple years ago and putted with Odessey for a couple years. Putted with the Odessey a little bit again this year. I've currently been using since the Kemper a Scottie Cameron. I haven't really putted all that great until today. Today was nice. It was nice. But I've been working hard at it. You wonder -- I actually putted really good in Milwaukee. I shot 66 to open it up. And I hit the ball all over the lot. And I was kind of -- it was kind of a blessing in disguise. I hit it in the rough all day and only hit four fairways and kept telling my caddie, which is my twin brother: It's better that we're in the rough because now you can't -- it's hard to hit it crooked in the rough. (Laughter.) All you have to do is -- I played really good the first day and had 24 putts that day, and then I shot 77 the second day and hit five fairways that day. I hit it wide. And every time I got in the rough there, I was dead, and shot 77 and had 27 putts. So the putter was looking nice and then we went and played last week and the greens were pretty slow. Usually there the greens are usually pretty quick. You get a lot of up-and-downs there. You're putting up, and then down. This year they had a lot of rain before we got there, and the golf course played really soft. The greens were not the normal greens. You get up there and you're 12 feet above the hole and you leave them three feet short; and normally, you're knocking them eight feet buy by. It's playing a lot different.
Q. Did your brother caddie for you today?
MIKE SPRINGER: Yes.
Q. What's his name?
MIKE SPRINGER: Marty.
Q. Is he identical?
MIKE SPRINGER: No. And I'm 20 minutes older.
Q. What's that like?
MIKE SPRINGER: He started off caddying for me when I first turned pro. I took him to Australia for three months. His mind really wasn't there, and I had to fire him. (Laughter.) And then this year, I wanted to come back: Come on, I can help you out and this and that is and so I gave him another shot. I fired my caddie that I had for seven years, Dave Begley, and hired my brother back. You know, he's good. He's there and he's got good support. Not that my other caddie didn't, but I just made a change and figure we'd try something different for a while.
Q. How did you fire him the first time?
MIKE SPRINGER: My brother?
Q. Yeah. How do you do that?
MIKE SPRINGER: I just told him it wasn't working out and I need to make some changes. You know, he understood. He went home and went back to work and: Well, give me another shot. I said, well, some day. It took quite a while. But I had a real good caddie. Dave was a great caddie. I think what happens out here is you start playing not like you want to, and one of the first people to go is your caddie. We hung in there for quite a long time. These last few years haven't been too wonderful. But I've managed to pull through and keep my playing status. And here I am this year, again, in the same boat. But, you know, all you can do is keep going. You can't really moan about it because that doesn't do any good.
Q. Is Dave caddying for somebody else?
MIKE SPRINGER: I think he's caddying for Ty Armstrong right now.
Q. When did your brother come back?
MIKE SPRINGER: His first week out was Westchester. He'll be out the rest of the year and we'll see what happens.
Q. What's your take on the issue that's been brought up now about pay-for-play in the Ryder Cup?
MIKE SPRINGER: I think the guys that moaning about that forgot that they are getting -- they are getting paid to play, in a way. They all get to play for 5 million. NEC, isn't that Ryder Cup -- I think that's getting paid to play. I think they forgot about that. Yeah, that's been -- matter of fact, that was a hot topic on the range this morning.
Q. What were guys saying?
MIKE SPRINGER: Well, they were just saying, you know, a lot of guys would love to play in the Ryder Cup, you know and some guys I guess -- I guess they forget. I don't know.
Q. What was the strongest comment you heard?
MIKE SPRINGER: I don't know. I can't remember which one. There were several of them, though.
JAMES CRAMER: Anything else? Very good. Thank you, Mike.
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