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April 17, 1999

Payne Stewart


JAMES CRAMER: 9 under par, Payne Stewart, 204 after a 72 today. Payne, maybe talk about how the conditions were out there.

PAYNE STEWART: The conditions were fine. It was the wind picked up a little bit as the day progressed. But it wasn't anything like we played in the first two days. And the golf course I think held up very well today, the conditions. The greens got a little bit quicker today. They have dried out a little bit more. I think that that will be the same thing tomorrow. I think as the day progresses they get a little bit drier. And I don't know what the weather forecast is for tomorrow, but -- supposed to be nice. So it is going to be an interesting finish tomorrow, I think.

JAMES CRAMER: Quickly go over your birdies and bogies.

PAYNE STEWART: Wow. First hole driver, pitching wedge to eight feet. Made it for birdie. Next hole drove it in the waste area, 8-iron out right in the middle of the fairway. And had 103 to the pin and hit a sand wedge over the green to the back bunker and it plugged. Chipped that out to 15 feet, 2-putted, made 6. 4, I hit a 6-iron. And I hit it -- I just didn't turn it over a little bit. It hit right in the buck head, went in the water. Got that up-and-down for bogey. Chipped to about three feet, made it for bogey. 5, hit a driver, 4-wood, through the green, chipped to two feet, made it for birdie. 6, I hit a driver, 8-iron to about four feet, made it for birdie. 7, I tried to hit the 6-iron up in the air. Got to the right, hit the base of the tree, kicked back up on the green to about four feet, made it for birdie. It was unbelievable. It was the weirdest thing you have ever seen. Just, bing, back up on the green. And, you know, you take advantage of breaks like that. I did. Then 9 I pulled my 3-iron. I was still in the fairway. But it was dead where I was. And hindsight is 20/20, I should have just played out to the back right of the green and taken my four and tried to hit a wedge underneath and drew it in there and one-hopped in that back little pot bunker. And I had no shot to shoot at the pin. I had hit it out to the right and it rolled down in the fringe. I chipped it about eight feet past the hole, made it for bogey. Then 12, I drove it right in the middle of the fairway. I had 152 to the hole and felt like didn't feel like I could get 8 there. I felt like I had to hit the 7-iron up. Then the wind stopped. I backed off, I hit a horrible 7-iron up in the air. It hit the tree, came down 30 yards short of the green. Didn't get that up and down. Missed about a 15-footer. Next hole, drove it perfect and pulled a 9-iron left of the green, just flat, looked up on a chip shot. Oh, that was it, was very amateuristic. Two putts from 18 feet. Pars the rest of the way in.

Q. Payne, 7th hole, you got third straight birdies, the ball hits off the base of the tree, you make birdie there. John goes double-bogey on that one, big swing, you have got a large lead all of a sudden. Did you rest a little bit there? Did you kind of mentally just say all right, I have got a nice lead now, let's -- did that change your game style at all?

PAYNE STEWART: No, not at all. I really hit the ball pretty good off the tee. I missed the second fairway. And the rest of the day I was right where I wanted to be. I hit every fairway except for the No. 2. I hit some bad iron shots, you know, trying to judge the wind, how the wind was blowing; how hard you had to -- that is the fun part about Harbour Town, is trying to figure out how hard the wind is blowing. Is it right in your face? Is it cross? It is -- what did do, you cut it up in the wind. Do you draw -- all those things are what Harbour Town is all about. And I didn't execute a couple of them very well. But I'd like to have -- you know, hopefully I will drive the ball as well as I did today and give myself more opportunities with the irons. I rolled the ball pretty good today. I didn't make the putts like I did yesterday. But I just kept doing what I have been doing for three days.

Q. I think you are like 10-under on the front and 1-over on the back. It is because the third of the holes in the back are in the wind, and is it tougher or it is not set up as nice for you?

PAYNE STEWART: You have got two par 5s on the front. But the back 9 I think is a little bit harder than the front 9. It only has one par 5. You can't reach it. The front 9 par 5s, both of them you can get home in two if you hit good shots. It just -- you know, then you get to 16, 17, 18, and, you know, 17 is a very difficult hole. I mean, it is pretty straightforward, but it is difficult. We had the wind straight in our face today. Then 18, where they had the pin today that you would have had to hit one awesome golf shot to get close to that pin.

Q. How often do things happen like what happened to you on 7 today that we don't hear about?

PAYNE STEWART: Well, it happens out here. I am sure it happens every week. But you just -- it might happen to somebody that isn't fortunate to come into the media room. So it happens out here. If you play golf long enough, you get the good breaks, you get the bad breaks. That ball could have just as easily kicked and gone somewhere else. So, like I said, you have to take advantage when you get a break like that. And I did. I stepped up, knocked the putt. That is good for me. That -- that is reassuring that I am taking advantage of breaks when I get them. That is how you win golf tournaments, you take advantage of these breaks.

Q. The way you played this course on a lot of occasions, are you pretty pleased with your position now?

PAYNE STEWART: I am not pleased with my 72 today. I could have been in the lead today. You always want to be in the lead. I am disappointed about my score today. But I am still in the golf tournament. And that is why I came here. I felt that if I can give myself a chance to win the golf tournament on Sunday, that is all I am asking. Now I have that opportunity tomorrow. So I have to go out there and perform. There is a lot of people in the golf tournament now. I mean, it could have been, you know, where there weren't very many people in the golf tournament. And now there is a lot of people in the golf tournament. A lot of explosive people, people that can make a lot of birdies.

Q. You go back to the wind. Do you have an idea, since you have played here so much, on certain holes where the wind is likely to be or -- and mechanically what do you go through to trying to read the wind?

PAYNE STEWART: Well, there is a couple of spots where they have the television tours. And if you catch a peak of those, they have got a flag up on top of them, a string like deal. So you kind of see that. Then -- but it also, when the wind is coming in from the south and the west like it was today, it will come up and push behind you on -- like for me it came up -- you think the wind is across on 11. And I had 169 to the pin or 167; that is just a nice little smooth 7-iron. All of a sudden it comes in and it hits and it swirls and pushes up behind you. That 7-iron was well over the green - not well over the green, but it was -- I mean, the way it swirled and pushed behind it, I could have gotten an 8-iron back to the pin. So yeah, you have to -- I think that my knowledge of the golf course will be a big benefit tomorrow.

Q. How aware were you at the beginning of the day of the score that was going on before you got on the course? And did that have any effect on how you played?

PAYNE STEWART: Well, I was over having breakfast this morning, and you knew there was no wind. It was overcast, you knew it was a day for scoring. Now, as the day progressed, that moved on through and we got the wind. So it was harder to score in the afternoon than it was this morning when David Frost shot his 7-under and these other players. But that is part of the tee times. You have to deal with conditions . You have to play. You take advantage of it when you can. The guys that -- such as David and the good scores that were shot, the Doug Tewell, those scores, they took advantage of the conditions being kind of laid down. That is what you do out here to get yourself in position.

Q. Did that create anymore urgency for you to --


Q. What is the most weeks in a row you limit yourself to playing these days?


Q. Davis has just pulled out. This is his fifth week in a row. Are you surprised a player of his experience would play that often?

PAYNE STEWART: Well, it has some kind of a -- it is a surprise that he might have played Atlanta, but, you know, Jacksonville, he lives in Sea Pines. He has got a good history of Atlanta so, it is tough when you have a lot of tournaments that you perform well in; that you like, you know, you have to make a selection, being the defending champion here, he has got to play here. Some people defend their championships; some don't. But I think you should. It is an honor to be the defending champion.

Q. Do you limit the three for psychological or physical reasons?

PAYNE STEWART: Well, it is more scheduling, really. I have got tournaments coming up. I don't play well at Greensboro so I don't go to Greensboro. I didn't play Atlanta, so I played Masters, Hilton Head, have a week off; then I play Houston, New Orleans, Dallas; take a week off because I am going to play Kemper, Memorial. So I am not going to play Fort Worth. I sat down and looked at my past history of tournaments through the '90s and '80s, and you know, Fort Worth, even though I like it there, and I have got a lot of friends in the area, and I think I should play well on this golf course, I really haven't performed that well there. I had two second places, two runnerups in playoffs in the '80s but in the '90s haven't performed that well so I am not playing there. So my wife and I sat down, we kind of looked at where I have done well, where I have not done well, and I mean, she -- that was one reason I played AT&T this year and not San Diego where I was going to play two, come home for a week, then go backs out for San Diego, L.A., and the Match Play. She said, well, your record at San Diego is not as near as good as AT&T; why don't you go play AT&T; skip San Diego. I said, fine, because I do like the AT&T tournament. Look what happened. So that has a lot to do with how I schedule. I don't know how anybody else schedules. I have been out here long enough to know tournaments I do like; golf courses I don't like. I don't go play golf courses I don't like - unless I have to.

End of FastScripts....

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