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July 12, 2003

Craig Stadler


MODERATOR: Okay. Craig, bogey free 65 today, and you move up and you're now squarely in contention heading into tomorrow. General thoughts about the round today, and then we'll go over your birdies.

CRAIG STADLER: I putted very good today, which is kind of what you're looking for. I haven't done it in ages, but I hit a real good putt on 1 that didn't go in and made a whole bunch thereafter. I drove the ball okay. The iron game was not great, not bad. Probably the best shot I hit in the day was on 14, and I missed the irons. It was very enjoyable to hit the ball not great, but not too bad. I pretty much birdied most of the greens I hit.

Q. Any adjustments in the putting from yesterday to today?

CRAIG STADLER: I read the greens a little bit better. I misread one horribly on 11, but that was the only one of the day. Other than that, read them pretty well, and very consistent. I putted very well all day.

MODERATOR: You want to run through the round for us.

(Score card gone over.)

MODERATOR: Our sheet says you hit 23 today.

CRAIG STADLER: It wasn't many. It's nice to see them go in.

Q. Nice playing. Are you comfortable? Do you like this course?

CRAIG STADLER: There is a couple holes I have trouble off the tee on.

Q. The weather was a lit bit nicer, a lot, but not too many people made moves like you did. Any thoughts?

CRAIG STADLER: It was still pretty breezy today. You still have to drive the ball well out here. I had pretty workable chips. I kind of kept in play, and the times I hit poor shots, I recovered well on the putt. On 4 and 8, I tried to hit a couple of lags of 35 to 40 feet, and they both went in.

Q. You said it's been a while since you saw this many putts go in. How long?

CRAIG STADLER: I don't have a recollection. I made my fair share of putts, and I made them all from 4 to 6 to 8 feet. I made one long one on 15 on Sunday, and that was probably the only putt over maybe 10, 12 feet I made all week. I played pretty well. I shot 64 the last round up in Grand Rapids, but I think six of the birdies of the eight I had was this side of 4 feet. You didn't really feel like you were pouring everything in. I made some bombs on Thursday as well. It's nice to get over.

Q. First, can you talk about being a rookie on this tour? And second, I don't think you've won a tour in six years. What's the importance of maybe getting back on the winning track and what it would mean to you to win?

CRAIG STADLER: You just want to go play. As far as being a rookie, it's not really different. You give it all your concentration and effort and whatever else you can. It's the same thing I've done for 30 to 40 years, the difference being it's pretty much a new golf course every week, which I haven't seen. I've pretty much played at the same places for 27 years. Now it's all new golf courses. I'm playing with all my buds from 30 years ago. It's awesome, I'm having a great time. Whatever happens tomorrow happens. If I win, fine, if I finish 8th, 10th, 23rd, whatever. It was nice getting started on Thursday without digging myself a grave early; getting in there with some real numbers. That's all you can ask for.

Q. Craig, do you remember the first time you saw Tom Watson play? Are you guys really contemporaries?

CRAIG STADLER: No and no. Wow, the first time I played with him, I have no idea. I couldn't tell you. He might remember, I don't. I doubt it.

Q. (Inaudible)?

CRAIG STADLER: Um-hmm. Oh, I probably played with him 1,500 times I'm guessing.

Q. (Inaudible)?

CRAIG STADLER: I don't know. Don't know. He won a hell of a lot of more trophies than I did, so it probably wasn't me.

Q. Talk about this is one of the season's majors. As new on the tour and everything, does it have a feel to you of a major championship?

CRAIG STADLER: Not per se like the majors I have been playing up until when I turned 50. It's a different type of golf course. I have been used to playing really long, really hard, rough golf courses. This is not. The wind made it very hard yesterday, but you can get great or ugly lies in the rough. As far as length-wise, it's certainly nothing like Augusta, but that's why there is 78 guys here and somebody's going to do it. A lot of them aren't. You give it your all.

Q. Some guys would rather be a shot head or a shot or two behind. Do you have a preference as to which approach you would like to take on Sunday?

CRAIG STADLER: No, the first six months of this year I was a shot ahead almost every day but the last one on the paper. It really makes no difference. To be honest, I would love to be 10 ahead. That didn't happen.

Q. Can you talk about do you remember when it started to go bad, your putting, and how tough it's been to hang in there given that your putting wasn't what it once was?

CRAIG STADLER: Most of the guys out here on the Champions Tour have all went through the same thing. We were all terrific putters when we were young. To be truthful the, the only one who is still that way is Crenshaw. He's wonderful always; has been never changed. You all go through your cycles and obviously Watson's been through times, Tom Kite , Lietzke is pretty consistent, but I started probably in the early '90s, I kind of didn't get very comfortable with the putter. I was trying to cheat a little bit with it. I have been through everything and changed early this year and went back to regular grip. And I went for two and a half months grinding on that and couldn't get to where I was comfortable. And a couple years ago, I was playing on the putting green, and I kind of watched him and seeing what the heck he was doing and it looked like he stroked it so well, without any effort at all. Kind of walked over, and I looked over his shoulder and I got comfortable with it. That worked for pretty much a couple years. I've putted pretty good since then. Without playing much, it kind of went away early in the fall/winter last year, and then I couldn't get this regular grip that I was trying to work with.

I went back I guess Sunday in Grand Rapids and went back to the -- not the claw, but the exaggerated claw or something, I shot 64, and just putting is so fickle. All it does is take one day of something, and I putted pretty well since. But, it's all a matter of making a few and getting the confidence.

Q. Craig, how long was your first putt at 17?

CRAIG STADLER: Probably 45, 50 feet.

Q. Is it tougher to beat Tom Watson knowing he's trying to win it for Bruce?

CRAIG STADLER: No, not at all. They're both friends. We're all friends. With that said, everybody will go out and try to beat each other's brains out.

MODERATOR: Thanks a lot.

End of FastScripts....

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