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May 25, 2021

Alex Cejka

Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA

Press Conference

Southern Hills Country Club

JOHN DEVER: Good afternoon. Welcome back to the the 2021 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship here at Southern Hills Country Club. We're with Alex Cejka who just a few weeks back won his first PGA TOUR Champions major, the 2021 Regions Tradition Championship. You're only four events into your senior career and you have that victory I spoke to and a runner-up finish. Pretty safe to say you're enjoying this in your new workplace here?

ALEX CEJKA: Yeah, I'm having a blast. I'm blessed overall having a great career playing so many years in Europe, playing 18, 19 years on the PGA TOUR and having a transition to the Champions Tour, so far it's a blast. I've been playing great, I see a lot of guys, a lot of idols I had when I was young, when I was a teenager, and I'm just honored to be part of this tour and seeing all those Hall of Famers and great players, so I'm very happy right now.

JOHN DEVER: Let's talk for a second about your win a couple weeks back. Is there some level of validation, that was the first major championship of your career and what kind of an emotional tug did that have on you and are you still feeling it a little bit here afterwards.

ALEX CEJKA: Oh, I'm still feeling it. I think it's going to sink in, who knows, maybe in a couple week, a couple months, it's a great feeling though. You know, I was in a good situation where I had a little bit status when I turned 50 to play on this tour, but I didn't know how many tournaments I was going to get in and everything. Then I had to Monday qualify a couple times and did it and played pretty good. And then obviously that win, it was a great week, I played great, I beat an incredible player who was hot not only on this tour, but even on the PGA TOUR. It's a great feeling. We battled all the way to the end, we had to go to the playoff. At that time I won, every playoff is different, every tournament is different, but it was a blast, it opened a lot of doors, a lot of opportunities for me, what made it a little bit easier to schedule, to play, to plan a little bit for the next couple of years. So that was my dream, my goal. Obviously, it came in the, I don't know, in the third tournament for me, so I'm super excited.

JOHN DEVER: So when you're on the verge of 50, you probably take a peak at the schedule for when you are able to join the PGA TOUR Champions and you see the majors lined up in May and you saw the Regions Tradition, but then you see this, our KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship and it's being played at Southern Hills. Did that get your attention pretty darn quick? I mean this is one of the top golf courses in America, we're going to test you guys this week.

ALEX CEJKA: It did. I mean, it's history, a lot of great events has been played here. And I've never been here, I played yesterday for the first time and I was like, wow, this is incredible. It's a big challenge. It's a tough track. It's going to be interesting to see how the scores are, especially it's a little bit wet, windy. But it's a great golf course, it plays beautiful and I think we all are excited to be here this week.

JOHN DEVER: How about the fans that will be there? Everybody in the last year and a half or so, 15 months, 16 months, there have been some fans in the last recently, even into last year, but I think we're seeing the numbers emerge and you'll learn this rather quickly, Tulsa's a terrific golf town, they're used to these major events. How much can you kind of pull off their energy and you make a good shot and there's a bunch of people giving you the reciprocating right back to you. That's important for you guys, isn't it?

ALEX CEJKA: It's very important. I think we all have been missing this for a year now where a lot of tournaments were with no fans or limited fans. When I drove up here yesterday and I already saw a lot of cars parked over there on the other fairways and all the banners and everything, it's going to be nice for all of us to have support, clapping, it doesn't matter if you're in the leader group or playing the first, second group out in the morning, there's always fans and cheering and it's I think we need it, we want it and it's time for the fans to come back and have fun too and see incredible tournaments.

JOHN DEVER: Maybe a question about your game and how it fits here. Give us a little bit of a preview of what, how you play and how that fits maybe it's well, I hope it is, but even if it doesn't, love to hear your thoughts on that.

ALEX CEJKA: The last couple tournaments I hit a lot of drives, I played a lot of, I want to say aggressive golf what paid off. This week, this course is tricky. You can hit drivers, but you take a lot of trouble into play. So yesterday we, when I played a practice round, I was thinking about it and we'll see how it is today in the pro-am. I want to hit a lot of drives, but you can get in a lot of trouble and the question is, is it worth to be 20, 30 yards further and then taking so much trouble on. So it's going to be challenging. It's a really tough track, you got to really shape your ball well. It's a good ball-striking golf course and around the greens it's tricky too. They're undulated, they're all a little bit raised up, the bunkers have deep lips, so you really don't want to short side yourself. It's a really good test and I have two more days to figure out my strategy, how I want to do it and hopefully I'll find a way that works all week.

JOHN DEVER: Last question for you. How much of this, of a golf course with this much history and this much heritage, from what you've seen, I know you played it once, but how much of it is mental, the grind of it is the physical, you know, shaping shots, but also making the right decisions? Talk about that balancing act that you guys have to perform out there.

ALEX CEJKA: Well don't forget also majors have four rounds. It's walking. Some of the tournaments are three rounds, we have a lot of guys hop in a cart, so it's a little bit easier. This is challenging on everything, on your head, on the physique. You know, this is a golf course where you go up-and-down a lot of times, it's not really flat. And then if you play well, it's in your head, you know, you got to grind. And as you said, it drains you to play, to focus for four rounds and especially when you're doing well, so the last two rounds maybe. So majors are always, I think, for no matter who it is, it's just a way exhausting week than just a regular normal tournament. Because you want to do well and the pressure is there for everybody.

JOHN DEVER: That's the way we like it, Alex. (Laughing).


JOHN DEVER: We thank you for again for finding us, best of luck all week long and come back and visit and we'll talk about a low round of yours, okay.

ALEX CEJKA: Thank you very much.

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