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July 13, 2003

Craig Stadler


PHIL STAMBAUGH: 65 66 the last two rounds and you become our third different winner of a major championship, and you also become the youngest winner of this event, ever, so congratulations. We'll just start with a couple general comments about how the day unfolded for you, and then we'll go through your round.

CRAIG STADLER: Well, it actually unfolded well. I birdied the first well. I hit a real good tee shot, a little sand wedge in there and made a good putt from about eight feet, nine feet behind the hole.

Then hit some very ugly shots on No. 3. Fortunately got them all out of the way on the same hole. Hit a drive that caught the edge of the bunker, swung around on the upslope and really had no shot from there. Hit a pretty good second shot from the right rough. Didn't draw a very good lie there, hit a horrible wedge into the bunker, hit a horrible bunker shot about 20 feet short. I thought it was a foot short; It was a good, solid six, every bit of it. But then I hit a real, real good tee ball with a 4 iron on 4. Caught it off the bunker about 12 feet but missed the putt.

I came back from No. 3 to hit a real solid shot on 4. From then I just hit a lot of good shots. Made some putts, made a couple unexpected bombs here and there on 6 and a chip in on 12. But other than that, the only other little bump was on 13. I kind of laid a sod over a 3 iron a little bit and left it about 45 feet short and 3 putted that. That was one thing I liked about my game this week because every time I seemed to make a mistake, I came back. And I came back with a birdie on 14, which I'm sure is by far the hardest hole on the golf course. It was a very hard hole for me with the wind blowing left to right. I came back with a good, solid birdie there.

Got a little up and down on the next hole. Kind of shook it in through the three tree on 18. Caddie tried to talk me out of hitting a wedge: "Sure you can get over the tree?"

"Yeah, I can see the blade right through both of them." Could have gone for the first, one should have hit the second one, but got it on the fairway and made 4. Somebody out in the lightning rods was very kind.

PHIL STAMBAUGH: Some general thoughts on what it means for to you win a major and for this to be the first major out here? CRAIG STADLER: It's great to win a first event, any event would have been nice, don't get me wrong, but to win THE PLAYERS is awesome. I had a couple good chances at Jacksonville a long, long time ago, and didn't get it done. But I'm just very happy the way I played today. I played real solid. Made some good decisions when there was some decisions to be made, and I think especially on 17, after the delay, having to hit a 2 iron out there, I just kind of made par. It was an ugly par, but I just wanted to make par and make sure I didn't do anything disastrous there and then finished off on 18. As I said earlier, it is just you really can't imagine how fun it is to putt well for a couple days. Those of who you play know, but it's just been so long and God, it's nice, it's wonderful. It's a really good feeling.

Q. How good of a feeling is it for your first victory to be a major?

CRAIG STADLER: Well, I'm glad I won early. I wanted to win early. I wanted to kind of come out and just tell myself, and pretty much a lot of other people, that I can still play good, still play well consistently.

Fortunately, when my birthday was (inaudible) the first five out of six were majors. Plenty of opportunities. I feel like I played well enough. I could have won at Inverness, as well as the PGA. I putted horribly at the PGA, hit the ball really good. At Inverness I finished Top 10 but shot 78 the first round, which killed me, put me out of the event.

As I said earlier in the week, when I got away from Inverness, I had a charity event in Toronto on Monday, and after having a week off, and I just hit every shot the way I wanted to hit it all day long. And not that it was it did not mean anything, just four guys having fun and playing a best ball tournament, and sometimes those things click. I went up there and shot 63 or 64. Could have been in the 50s. Just every shot I hit was perfect. I thought, you know, this is pretty cool stuff. See if I can take this for a week. Other than the wind on Friday when I got blown away on a couple tee shots, which should still be out there somewhere, but I found them fortunately. I played solid round of golf and I played solid on Friday. It was not easy out here.

Q. Did you have any idea that this putting stroke was coming like this, is it slowly coming or is it just completely out of the blue?

CRAIG STADLER: No, it's been kind of slowly coming. I changed to the re vamped Claw, the Calcavecchia Claw. I went to it a couple years ago, actually this week, the week of Milwaukee. I putted pretty well for a year and a half and then was just horrendous on the West Coast this year. I went down to Phoenix in March, worked with Stan Humphrey (ph) for a day, trying to get back to regular grip. The fundamentals were right but I never could really get comfortable with the confidence level with it. I knew what I had to do, but I never really could get to the point where, just release it and it's going to be okay. I didn't really feel comfortable with it. As poorly as I putted Aronimink, I went back on Sunday at Grand Rapids to the Claw and shot 64 there. Didn't make a lot of long putts, made a lot of 4 and 5 footers. But pretty much got to where I felt pretty good and back where I was a couple years ago.

I putted well in Toledo. I putted very well. I just got off to a bad start, as I said on Thursday, and made three bogeys the first four holes Sunday or I would have had a good score there it's been coming around. It's pretty solid right now. It's nice to get over a putt from four feet and think that you have a chance to make it. It's been the other way, trust me.

Q. Can you talk about 12, which seemed to be a pivotal hole in the round, and a swing between and you Tom where you gained two shots after you chipped it in?

CRAIG STADLER: Yeah, when we were playing 11 when you were on the 12 tee, then it was straight right to left. When we got up there, it felt like it was downwind and only 145, which with no wind should just be a nice little dink 8 iron. I thought we were getting fooled by the wind . Once we got by the trees, it was going to take it left and I wanted to make sure I hit 9 iron; get in the air come up short. I watched mcCullough hitting 8 iron just over the green. I chipped it, hit a pretty good shot just on the edge of the rough. Couldn't decide whether I wanted to put it with a sand wedge, because I had had trouble in the stuff earlier in the week, and decided to pitch and run. Took a little 9 iron. It was a pretty good shot, only rolled eight or ten feet by no, it was about 30 feet probably. Actually hit the middle of the hole, came back and then went back in. If you want to look for a turning point, that was probably one of them. No doubt. I make 2 and Tom makes 4.

Q. Do you remember the last time you felt this good about your putting, the last tournament?

CRAIG STADLER: Yeah, it was probably early 80s.


'80, '81, '82.

Actually, I will admit, I can't say that because in '80, 81, '82, I just made everything. You got used to it every day. I hit the ball every which way. But yesterday was pretty typical the way I used to play in my late 20s early 30s. I hit 11 greens yesterday and shot 7 under par. Early in life, I got to be such a lousy driver of the ball, I'm usually hitting it every which way and making putts. I tell you, it's a lot more fun to hit it awful and putt well than to hit it ten feet every hole and miss.

Q. I know you had not won in a while, talk about that and also how special was it to win an event with your son?

CRAIG STADLER: Well, that's the last tournament I won, so it's been six months, and I'm counting now. We won't go into how long it was before that. But that was just such an awesome event. Truthfully, I didn't win that event, he did. He played just wonderfully all week. I chipped in on that extra hole, sudden death hole was a 40 footer and that was the longest putt I made all week was here, before that in two days. That was the 200,000 he won, he should have made about 180,000. My couple wedges and putt, I chipped in for 20,000. That was a wonderful win.

It is such a great tournament to go out there and spend the week with your kid and compete with him and watch him and see how he handles the pressure, the different situations. It's just a wonderful week, it really is.

How long ago it's been, don't worry about that. It's been about an hour, half hour.


Q. How difficult was the long wait on 17 on you and what was going through your mind on that wait?

CRAIG STADLER: It really wasn't. You know, I hit 3 wood off the tee so there was absolutely no thought going for it. I had 258 to the front or something. That's actually the reason I hit 3 wood. I didn't want to have to get up there and decide whether to hit a 2 iron or 3 iron right of it or hit a 2 iron to the back bunker. You go to the back right and you end up with something like this down towards the water. Tried to eliminate all of the little bad things that could have possibly happened. It really wasn't, just about typical, I hit about six 3 irons, about six 4 irons and got out there and hit 2 iron. Stuck a 2 iron and hit it over in the right trench which was fine I wanted to have a straight shot down, not having to take water into play. I got a lousy lie in the fringe. I thought I hit a pretty good shot. Certainly didn't expect it to stop. It hit, checked and just stopped up there but made a good 2 putt up there.

Q. How concerned were you when the wedge on 18 clipped those trees? That could have led to something bad.

CRAIG STADLER: I hooked the first one and that was actually the big one. It was going straight through and looked like, you know, watching the Enterprise (ph) taking off, it was a big hole and went right in the middle of it. Didn't touch a thing. I said, somebody Red Wing was looking over at Avalanche for the moment. That will never happen again.


Q. At start of the round you and Tom were pretty much straight shots, making three birdies in a row, what was the importance of that little stretch?

CRAIG STADLER: Yeah, it had the makings of a two guy race for a while. I birdied 1, he birdied 2. As I said earlier I made a horrible bogey on 3, and I think he will tell you the same thing. He should have made 4 and he makes 6. He should have picked up two shots, and all of the sudden I walk to the next tee feeling good that I didn't lose anything to him.

Then he made a good par on 4. We both birdied 5. And he didn't have much of a bunker shot on 7, and that par there, the 3 putt on 8 kind of got him going the wrong way a little bit. But he had to make some putts to catch up and I just kind of kept hanging in there and took advantage of a couple good iron shots that I hit.

PHIL STAMBAUGH: Can you go over the putts and lengths of putts? CRAIG STADLER: On 5, I hit pitching wedge about three feet. 6, I hit 60 degree wedge about 30 feet and made that coming back. 7, I hit 3 wood in the left bunker came out about a foot and a half or so. 10, I hit pitching wedge about four feet. 12, I chipped in with a little 9 iron. 14, I hit 6 iron about 15, 16 feet behind the hole.

Q. Since you brought up the Red Wings/Avalanche, any more sweeter the victory that you're an Avalanche fan winning in Red Wings' territory? What do you think of them signing Darian Hatcher and Dominik Hasek coming back?

CRAIG STADLER: Good for them. They need them.


Hey, you know what, we made it three more games than did you this year. We had about five more days in our schedule. Darian Hatcher, he'll be okay for them. They still need to find a forward somewhere. They have a tough time with their power play, I think. Never has been worth a damn but it's going to be good now though. I think I can score on that line.

Q. Tom said earlier this week how much he wants to win for Bruce, did you get a sense playing with him in that final 18 holes that some of the other guys he tends to press at times that, maybe emotions get a part of him?

CRAIG STADLER: I don't think so. It didn't appear that way today. He's been in kind of the same boat as I've been for a while now. He made a couple good putts early, and a couple short ones that killed him. It's just great to see Bruce out here trooping around, and he's been a good friend for very, very long time, as has Tom. It's just a shame that things that life gives you at times, but hopefully we'll find something and he'll come out of it and have a good life, and we all will.

End of FastScripts....

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