June 24, 2003
RAND JERRIS: It's a pleasure to be joined in the interview area by Craig Stadler. Craig is playing in his first U.S. Senior Open. He is a past USGA champion by virtue of having won the 1973 U.S. amateur here at Inverness. Craig maybe can you start us off by talking about your memories of 1973; what do you remember about the golf course and what do you remember about that memorable week.
CRAIG STADLER: Well, the golf course was obviously a lot different then. It didn't have the four new holes. The greens were about the same. They were really quick as they are today.
But I'll say other than the four holes, the golf course hasn't changed much; it's gotten shorter with technology. But you still got to put it in the fairway and put it to the right side of the hole to have a putt at it. In that regard the course hasn't changed much over the years.
All I remember is I would like to get some of those memories back because I made everything in '73. I hit it horrible but I made everything. This would be a nice week to make putts, no doubt about it.
Q. You had a few hours this morning to go out and play the golf course. Can you talk about the playing conditions out there?
CRAIG STADLER: The course is in perfect shape. The fairways are perfect. The greens are quick. And to get them this quick there are three or four greens which probably only have one or two pin positions on them. 18 being one and probably 7 being another one. But if you miss it on the short side you are not getting it within to feet of the hole to chip.
So you got to get it in the fairway and you got to be able to not miss it on the short side or you are dead. You drive it in the fairway, the greens are very receptive. They are not that hard. The ball is stopping well. It's good though, in great shape, it's awesome.
RAND JERRIS: Let's take some questions.
CRAIG STADLER: It depends if they move the greens if they get them any further than they are. You are damned if you do or don't. There is so much slope in them. If you get them softer with some rain, the ball will go back off and if you don't get them firmed up and you are over the green you are dead here. You just got to be patient. Lag some putts where you have to. You can hit good lags from 20 feet that end up eight feet from the hole on probably five or six different holes out here. If we don't get any rain I would think under par would be a heck of a story. I wouldn't mind taking 1-under and bagging it right now.
Q. Do you have any personal expectations?
CRAIG STADLER: What are my expectations for this week? Well, it was good to finally get a good round in on Sunday up in Grand Rapids. Last week I shot 64 and really played well. My longest -- other than one putt I made from 20 feet, the next longest birdie was about five feet. I missed it three or four times from six feet. I just hit it really solid and played well yesterday and didn't drive it that good today. But other than that, I hit the ball good. It was good to get a low round in and remember to have a score again because it's been a while.
I like my chances around here. I have been driving the ball really well, my irons are good and the putter is starting to come around so it's good combination this week.
Q. I want to ask you about the five-hole stretch starting with No. 3; is that one of the most difficult groupings to the course? If you can go through that five-hole stretch in the tournament say even par without significant, you know, trouble, is that going to put you in position?
CRAIG STADLER: I think so. It's definitely the hardest stretch out there. 3 is a good little par-3, depending on where they put the pin. If they put the pin right it's almost impossible to hit a ball over to the green in the right unless you bounce it to the right and run it up the crown to the right side. 50-50 shot, the way it wants to go.
The next hole is a hell of a hole. All of these holes now since I have been here in '93, I guess, or '96, whenever it was -- what was it?
CRAIG STADLER: '93. Yes. 10 years I'm driving another 15, 20 yards farther. A hole like 3 is pretty much almost a 3-wood now. So you can drive it down the end of the fairway in that rough and then you are dead. But 3 is a good solid hole, 3-wood, 4-iron, 3-wood, 5-iron. Or 4, I'm sorry.
And then 5 is a little short hole. The big old hill in the middle of the green, you miss it there you are dead. 6 is a long stretch. 7 and 4 are the two hardest holes to the golf course I think. But it is a good stretch. 8 is no give-me birdie. You don't hit a driver to have tee; you got to hit a snap-hook second shot to get it somewhere short of the green there. I mean one through 18 is a pretty good stretch of holes there. The driving range isn't bad either.
Q. Can I ask a follow-up question about the 1973 Amateur. How much of that sticks with you over the years, just kind of that good feeling about how well you played? I think you beat the reigning U.S. Amateur champion and the reigning British Open champ in that one week there?
CRAIG STADLER: On Saturday.
Q. How much does that stay with you?
CRAIG STADLER: That's obviously a memory. I got Siderowff and Vinnie on Saturday after going 20 holes at Augusta. I think it was 20 holes. Maybe 18, it was definitely on the 18th.
But you know, there are a lot of good memories. Unfortunately the one memory of the hole that I ended on no longer exists. It's the little par-3, 13, isn't there any longer. As I said, it's always fun to come back and play someplace where you have played successful; not won but played well or won obviously.
This brings back to me memories of not playing very well but putting just out of my mind for five, six days. And I think, as I remember, everybody I played hit it better than I did. I hit it all over the lot. I had this big wicked 80-yard slice going every hole. Everything inside 20 feet I made and I made every hole every day. Finally they got fed up and I warmed down. I wouldn't mind making one or two of those a day here. That would be okay.
Q. At the time did the magnitude of that, did that hit you at the time, the fact that those two guys were pretty renowned golfers, the guys that you beat?
CRAIG STADLER: Yes, obviously, Siderowff was the current British Amateur champion and Vinnie Giles was defending U.S. Amateur champion. So they were probably two of the top-5 favorites in the field; I don't think I was. I was maybe top-20. But to get them both in the same day was a little sweeter yet.
Vinnie -- I played good, I think I played Vinnie in the afternoon, as I remember. But I played pretty good that day. I beat him on I think 16, 3 and 2. But I think I was four or five under for that round.
Q. Craig, how have you liked your experience in the first two senior tournaments that you played?
CRAIG STADLER: Well, Aronimink was a great place to start, a wonderful golf course, it's the same it was; so wet. Not exactly what I had in mind Saturday morning, the next of the last group to start out with 2 for being late. After five holes later I got over that. I got 5 over after 5 on Saturday. But I played really well all week. I didn't putt very well. But I just kind of looked back on it.
I had a 2-shot penalty which I probably normally wouldn't have had. And I think I 3-putted eight times and only got beat by 5 or 6. I should have been right there. As I said I played miserably last week, the first two days and finally got a good round on Sunday which was good. Because you see all of these guys that you have played with a long time and you pretty much knew a lot of them you could beat back then you should be able to beat now and they are just kicking your butt for two days. It was good to get a low one in, to give me some confidence that can I take it low again. It was fine. It was great seeing all of the guys I haven't seen in a long time. The course last week was pretty short, Aronimink was long. Aronimink played longer than this one day. But it was wet; a good solid golf course. I was feeling well; I had a good time playing.
Q. How do you see your role now changing gears and being on the Champion's Tour as it relates to fans and sort of working with the fans as a champion?
CRAIG STADLER: Well, you know, it's the same old thing; I'm not going to change. I'm going to do the same thing that I do every week, did it on TOUR, did it here, it doesn't matter where I am. I don't go out and change my personality for a given day or a given week. No, I just go out and try to have some fun. Making a lot of birdies is a lot of fun.
These greens here can be pretty penalizing so it's just kind of patient around here. I really don't -- I think as far as you are saying what do I see my role -- I see myself in the role of coming out here, supporting the TOUR and playing a lot. As far as entertaining, or entertainment value you are going to get out of me, you are going to get what you got. It's not going to change any. There is people that enjoy that. And there might be people that don't but so be it.
RAND JERRIS: Craig, thank you very much for your time. I wish you luck.
CRAIG STADLER: Thank you.
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