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January 28, 2005

Craig Stadler


JOE CHEMYCZ: Craig, we appreciate your time. We want to chat about your round today, just start with some general thoughts and comments.

CRAIG STADLER: Just kind of played the way I've really played, just made a lot of putts. Putting very well, short game is good, driving the ball well. The putting is hanging me in there, even though I've made some bad shots.

Q. Craig, 65 today, is this any different than the way you played this tournament 25 years ago when you won it or 20 years ago when you lost a playoff here? Do you feel the same way?

CRAIG STADLER: Well, I'm only a shot behind what it took to win last time. I'm 16-under now and I won with 17, I believe. I'm just out here having fun, kind of watching Kevin and playing golf, making a lot of short putts, which helps, making all the four, five, six-footers.

Q. Would you talk about the decision to play here this year? Was it strictly because Kevin was in the field?

CRAIG STADLER: Pretty much so, yeah. If I wasn't, I probably would have stayed in Hawaii, played Turtle Bay this week, because I'm going back to Maui next week. So rather than spend another 15 hours on an airplane, I would have stayed there, but it's okay. I haven't been here in a few years. It's still fun to get out here every once in a while.

Q. Playing so well out here as you have been the last couple days, do you have a little twinkle in your eye when you talk to Kevin and say, "That's okay, son, one of us is doing okay"?

CRAIG STADLER: I think he's kind of hot that I keep scoring better than he does every day. Hopefully he'll put six or seven together tomorrow and be good enough to make the cut. I'd much rather give all my birdies to him, though.

Q. Do you think you play any better because he's in the field?

CRAIG STADLER: No, I don't think that has anything to do with it. I'm playing okay. I'm not playing great. I'm chipping and putting really well, which makes up for a lot of mistakes.

Q. Are you becoming kind of like a fan favorite this year, because a lot of the fans have come here a long time and they remember your victory in 1980? Do you hear a lot of encouragement from the galleries?

CRAIG STADLER: No, we haven't had much of a gallery yet (laughter). I think we had maybe 12 people today. It should be fun on the weekend.

Q. When you're playing your best out here, is it just as fun, even now, playing great out here as opposed to playing great on the Champions?

CRAIG STADLER: You enjoy playing well anywhere. It doesn't really matter where you are. I'm certainly enjoying my tenure on the Champions Tour, and it's obviously nice to come out here and play well with the young guys. It's not any more special really. I still think I can compete a little bit, make some birdies. So far I've done it, the last few days anyway. It's nice to come out here and build your ego a little bit with perfect greens, receptive greens. If you can read them at all you should be able to make some birdies.

Q. Is it nice, Craig, kind of showing up the younger guys a little bit? And also, a couple more rounds like this, do you think you could win this?

CRAIG STADLER: I have no interest in showing up anybody. I'm just out here playing and having fun. That's probably why I'm scoring well, is I'm having fun playing again and not really thinking about what I'm shooting. I walked off the last green and added it up in my head, hey, I played pretty good. I just go shot by shot and hole by hole and keep on playing. It's nice I can still play out here a little bit when I want, which is very little. I'm not trying to show anybody up. I'm just going back to someplace I won, and I haven't been here in a while and I'm enjoying it.

Q. You mentioned you're hoping your son would pick it up for tomorrow. How hard is it to concentrate on what you're doing when your son is out here?

CRAIG STADLER: It's not hard. He's on the other side of the golf course and I can't do anything about it, just wish him well and hope he makes a lot of birdies. So far he's had putting whoas. We play about the same time so I see him in the scoring trailer. He's telling me he's missing everything and I keep telling him I'm making everything, sorry about that. It's not hard to concentrate at all. It's not a problem.

Q. You laugh about the one-shot difference between when you won and where you are now. What are the differences now between when you won? Obviously equipment, course conditions I would think would be a part of it. What are the main differences?

CRAIG STADLER: I think that's the main difference, just equipment. The ball goes so much farther.

When we played, there wasn't a PGA West. When we played here we played two rounds at LaQuinta. Back then LaQuinta and Indian Wells were the two easiest ones, and now I'd say LaQuinta is probably the harder ones. PGA West, when we first played, it was one of the longer golf courses and now it's short. Certainly the ball didn't go as far, and there weren't a lot of guys that took it -- Johnny Miller the exception, I guess, but there weren't a lot of guys that took it deep every day that have the potential that these guys do now.

After four rounds Larry Nelson and I were tied at 12-under. I mean, 12-under is probably going to be the cut this year.

Q. You mentioned you don't play very much out here on this Tour. This year, obviously, Kite is back out here, who is still here; Jacobson is still playing. Does a result like this make you think you want to join them a few more times this year?

CRAIG STADLER: Not at all. I played very well tee to green at Sony, putted very well, and finished Top 10 there. And so far I'm going okay here. But no, I am thoroughly enjoying life on the Champions Tour. I support the Champions Tour 100 percent. That's where I'm going to be. It's just I'll play probably five tournaments, AT & T, Augusta and maybe Hilton Head, and that will be it.

JOE CHEMYCZ: If you don't mind, please just take us through your birdies starting on 14 and 15.

CRAIG STADLER: 14, I hit sand wedge about four feet from the left rough.

15, I drove it in the fairway, hit a little 8-iron about 20 feet.

18, driver, 5-wood, two-putted for birdie.

1, on the right fringe, two-putted from about 40 feet.

2, I hit 7-iron about five feet.

6, I hit 3-iron off the tee, hit 8-iron about eight feet.

7, a little 6-iron about 25 feet, made that.

I think that's it.

JOE CHEMYCZ: We appreciate your time. Thanks, Craig.

CRAIG STADLER: No worries.

End of FastScripts.

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