August 7, 2003
MODERATOR: Welcome Jan. I know you have a special announcement to make, so with that being said I will turn it over to you.
JAN STEPHENSON: Thank you. There was an official invitation extended to me for the Champions Tour for an sponsor's exemption to play the Turtle Bay Championship, and I accepted today.
Q. Was it a hard or easy decision?
JAN STEPHENSON: It was actually a tough decision. I polled a lot of people. When Annika did it, I don't want to say I was against it, but I was waiting to see what would happen. It turned out to be the best thing for women's golf. Seeing the change in the gallery from before she played and the next week was Chicago, and when she played, all the kids were lined up outside. I wanted to see how that went before I made a decision. Earlier in the year, at first, I said, no. I looked at all the golf courses, and I thought Hawaii was a good one because if we do any charity extensions, people said if they wanted to play with me, it would to be great to go to Hawaii.
That was another decision to make, and Peter Jacobson was really positive, and he's a really good friend of mine. He was with Annika and Suzy, when they played. He said I saw nothing but positive for the LPGA and women's golf. And I'm one of the founding members of the Women's Senior Golf Tour and the treasurer. I feel like we're so close to getting over the hump and really getting this tour going. This could really help us. They're actually looking at maybe a mixed seniors event.
That was the decision on Turtle Bay. They've got 36 holes, and not that it wouldn't be fun to go to Hawaii, but the golf course is typically windy. I'm a really good wind player. I grew up in Australia. I know Turtle Bay. I've played there before. I felt like at the end of the season, it's not going to take away from the LPGA. So there was a lot of positives.
And then I polled all the players. Everybody kept hearing about it and knowing I had a chance. I asked them what they thought, and I talked to people. I tried to put a call into Annika, but she was overseas. I didn't want us to have any negative connotations. There is going to be some. There was some people that said maybe you're promoting rather than doing it to see how your game stacks up, which is why Michelle and Annika said they were doing it. Well, these guys are my friends. I've played with them for years. Basically we grew up on the PGA Tour and the LPGA Tour. I waited to see what they would say, and all the guys said this is a nostalgic tour, and it would be really good for the tour.
Everybody is being very positive, so I accepted, and I'm really nervous now. Last night, it was like I was like, oh, my God, I think I'm going to say yes. I was practically putting in my room. Even though I'm saying I don't care how my game stacks up, that's not why I'm doing it, I'm so competitive, it's probably going to really help me on the LPGA Tour. I'm so fired up. When I'm training, my trainer will say, this is one for the championship, and that set, I breeze through.
Annika, she felt like it really helped her. She worked really hard to play, and then when she played, it carried over for the majors.
Q. Even though you're not doing it to see how your game stacks up, have you -- just for fun, do you play against men head-to-head? And how do you do? How do you think you will do?
JAN STEPHENSON: That's a good point. Actually, every time -- I built a golf course in Florida and I play with a lot of pros and good players. The good thing is I'm a good fairway player. It's been great. I've actually started to hit the ball really well. Now, every time I go out, the golf course is going to look short because I'm playing from the very tips. I actually -- I don't want to say I'm going to do great, but I feel like my goal is to finish 30th. I don't think that's out of the question.
Q. How many in the field?
JAN STEPHENSON: 70, or is it 80?
Q. How does your driving distance measure up with guys on the Champions Tour?
JAN STEPHENSON: I talked to a couple of the people, girls that used to play on tour. She is now a rep on the Champions Tour. She said they're actually hitting the ball longer than they used to. One of our officials on the Seniors Tour was an official on the Champions Tour. He said up to three years ago the courses were exactly the same. Now the courses have gone longer because of the guys that have come out there and hit the ball long. I hit my two worst drives every single day at the tournaments when it's a long drive hole. I think it's nervous trying to see how far you can get it. I'm going to be way behind, certainly half the field. I'm not really a long hitter anyway, and my best part of my game is iron play and fairway woods. I'm going to be outdriven. That part of it, I shouldn't be too intimidated.
Q. Do you think this week, because of the way this course is playing, do you think it will be great practice for you?
JAN STEPHENSON: It will be great practice. This golf course really doesn't suit my game because it's such a wide driving area. I didn't play here last year. The course is a lot different. The long hitters have a big advantage here. You really can't miss the fairway, so this course probably doesn't suit me, but definitely the length is going to help. It's going to be a good practice, yes.
Q. Do you see any downside to this?
JAN STEPHENSON: Yeah, there are some downsides. I think if I play badly, I think I'm going to get absolutely crucified. The downside is the positives from Annika and Suzy, they have been such great ambassadors, that if I didn't look like I was having a good time, I think it could hurt, and if I don't perform, it's definitely going to hurt. I'm putting a lot of pressure on myself that way. It's been great. Those two have done really well for the LPGA and for the Women's Senior -- well, for women's golf in general. All the girls have been coming up and giving me hugs. They're like, we know you can do it and handle the controversy, if there is any, and everybody has been very supportive. I feel like I'm really still carrying the flag for women's golf.
Q. Have you hear about anybody say anything negative about it?
JAN STEPHENSON: I have heard that Fuzzy was very negative about Annika playing, and when he was interviewed, he was negative about it, but he's a pretty good friend. They asked me how I would handle it if he came out and said something bad about it or negative. I told them I would call him and ask him to have a practice round. I probably would give him a big hug and kiss and whack him across the head for saying something. I'm not going to take it personally. I say that, but I'll probably be upset. I'm still upset about Jim Rome saying that.
Q. You weren't on the show. You heard him say that?
JAN STEPHENSON: My phone went off the hook with everybody calling. My mobile phone was off, and when I turned it on. He said I was going to shoot 85 and I had absolutely no business doing it.
Q. Is that today?
JAN STEPHENSON: No, when the invitation had been extended and I had not made a decision yet, so -- I keep -- I have been upset about that. Everybody says it's Jim. I can't wait to play really well and then call him.
Q. Maybe he'll be in the Pro-Am out there?
JAN STEPHENSON: Yeah.
Q. Do you think this will promote maybe more of the Women's Senior Tour?
JAN STEPHENSON: We've got a lot of good players. That's one of the reasons that it's been tough for me to play is that when you get to 60, it's tough enough, but out here, being a woman, I think physically we're really at a disadvantage. I keep myself in -- I work out like crazy. Maybe I'm not a typical 50-year-old or 51-year-old, but obviously it's 45 and over and Nancy Lopez or Beth Daniel could represent and probably do better. The criteria is you have to be 50 and over. There are only three of us down here, and I'm the leading one of those ages. I do think it's going to show you can still compete and play and we have something to offer. All these girls that have retired come back and play really great. They're such great personalities. They have so much fun at the seniors event. If they can see we still have fun and compete and have something to show just like the men, and the fact that the Women's Senior Golf Tour is now getting some publicity, that in itself has made it worthwhile, whatever I have to go through.
Q. How many events did you have on that Seniors Tour this year?
JAN STEPHENSON: We had two.
Q. Where were they?
JAN STEPHENSON: One was in Iowa, and the next one is Indiana coming up in September. Next year we have six letters of intent. If they would sign and put the deposit down, we're set. Hopefully this will help.
Q. How many are in the field? What's your format?
JAN STEPHENSON: We have 45 to 50 players. We typically keep it between 300,000 and 500,000. Last year we had huge galleries every time. We have had 20,000 on the last day twice.
Q. How many holes?
JAN STEPHENSON: We go from 36 holes to 54 with two day Pro-Ams. It's kind of interesting all these girls are people that are my age that got the tour going, and you don't have to ask them to be nice to the Pro-Am players. They have breakfast, lunch and dinner with them. We're older and we're all there drinking all the different wines. When you're young, you don't have time. You want to get home and practice. Everybody is saying it's kind of like the men's Champions Tour. It's so much fun out there.
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