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April 16, 1999

Payne Stewart


JAMES CRAMER: We have Payne Stewart with us, 7-under, 64 today for 10-under par total. Payne, maybe a comment about your round before we go over your score card.

PAYNE STEWART: Well, it was solid. I putted the ball extremely well. I hit a lot more greens than I did yesterday. I don't know really how many I hit. I would have to figure that out. But I don't think the wind is blowing as hard right now as it did yesterday, but it is out of a different direction. I think it is out of an easier direction to play the golf course than the direction yesterday. So -- but I putted extremely well today. I holed a lot of putts and -- but I gave myself a lot of opportunities, so they kind of go hand-and-hand.

JAMES CRAMER: Let's go over your score card.

PAYNE STEWART: First hole I hit 3-wood 9-iron to about 18 feet, made it for birdie. Second hole, hit driver, 3-iron just through the fringe, through the green on the collar, chipped it to a foot. 3, I hit a bad drive out in the right woods and hit it up front right, chipped to the back fringe and holed about a 25-footer for par; just off the collar. 4, I hit 5-iron to about 15 feet right on the back collar, made it for birdie. 5, I hit a driver, 4-wood left of the green, chipped to about 15 feet and lipped it out. 6, I hit a driver, 7-iron to 16 feet made it for birdie. 7, I hit a 6-iron just short of the green, chipped to ten feet, made it for par. 8, I hit a driver, 5-iron to 25 feet and 2-putted. 9, I hit a 3-iron pitching wedge to 15 feet, made it for birdie. 10, I hit a driver 7-iron to the back edge and two putts. Actually hung that one on the lip. (laughs). 11, driver, 8-iron, 15 feet, made it. 12, driver, 7-iron to about ten feet, missed it, two putts. 13, hit a 3-wood, then hit a 9-iron that buried in the front bunker, chipped it to the back fringe in two putts from there for bogey. 14, I hit a pitching wedge to a foot, made it for birdie. 15, I hit a driver, 6-iron, sand wedge to 20 feet, two putts. 16, 3-wood, 8-iron to 18 feet, made it for birdie. 17, hit a 6-iron to the right fringe, chipped it to five feet, made it for par. 18, 3-wood, 5-iron two putts from 18 feet.

JAMES CRAMER: Questions for Payne.

Q. Difference in today's play as compared to yesterday?

PAYNE STEWART: Well, I hit more greens today. I gave myself more opportunities and had a little bit better feel with the speed and the pace of the greens.

Q. Obviously you won here a couple of times, but even in other years you seemed to putt up a 65 or 64 here during one round the last few years. What is it about this golf course that kind of suits you?

PAYNE STEWART: I really enjoy playing the golf course. You don't have to -- it is not a ball beater's golf course. I mean, you don't have to -- it is not -- distance isn't everything on this golf course. They have got some of the best holes on this golf course that we play all year long. And the 9th hole yesterday, short little par 4, probably playing harder than any hole on the golf course. There is lot of great holes on this golf course where length doesn't -- isn't demanded. You've got to think your way around this golf course a lot. You have to position yourself. You have to hit good iron shots. You are not going to hit all the greens, so you have to chip well. And to play and shoot the 64s and the 65s, you have to putt well. But if you remember hitting a lot of greens, you are not far from the hole on these because the greens are so small.

Q. Is there a hole that you don't like out there?

PAYNE STEWART: No. I really don't. I mean, I like -- they are just -- it is just a fun golf course for me to play, especially after last week.

Q. Do you like to move the ball back and forth? I mean, the course dictates the play. Do you like to move it back and forth?

PAYNE STEWART: I do. I do. There is -- you get on holes where -- like you really need to pay attention off the tee where the pin is located on the green on certain holes because you want to be on the right side of the fairway, left side of the fairway, and you try to position yourself for that or you will be blocked out by some of these trees. Like 16, you have to position yourself in between the trees so you have a shot to the green. It is just -- you really have to think a lot around this golf course, about where you want your tee shot to end up so you have -- so you can play your next shot into the greens.

Q. Is this a golf course where the more years you play it the better you get at it and the more you know the nuances?

PAYNE STEWART: I think so. When I first came here years ago in 1983, 2 or 3 was my first year I played here, it was -- it wasn't in very good shape. And I said I am never coming back. It was -- it was awful. I couldn't believe that we were playing a PGA TOUR event on a golf course in that kind of shape. Since then the foundation has taken it over and they have done a wonderful job with it. The golf course is in phenomenal shape this year. And it has been ever since I have been coming back. Maybe I just got a bad taste that first time and took a few years off and didn't come back until '89 because we were going to have THE TOUR Championship here, and I decided I needed to figure out how to play the golf course, and ended up winning that week. I have been coming back ever since.

Q. Do you like to see the Tour Championship come back here?

PAYNE STEWART: Oh, you bet I would. You bet I would.

Q. Any other course on Tour that even compares to this that you like as much?

PAYNE STEWART: Well, we used to play really neat little golf course in San Antonio, Oak Hills -- yeah, Oak Hills. It had these little, you know, carved out a bunch of oak and pine trees. You had to, you know, work it around. It was a great little golf course; fun golf course.

Q. Was that the one that was public?

PAYNE STEWART: No. Now we play -- I don't even remember the name of it --


PAYNE STEWART: That golf course would be the one that would compare for me most to this golf course.

Q. What did you hit on 14?

PAYNE STEWART: Pitching wedge.

Q. 165?

PAYNE STEWART: No, it is not playing 165 yards. It was 132 and 5; 137 yards. Playing straight downwind, too. Pin is right on that little front little left neck today; cute little pin.

Q. Why are you always at the leader board at the U.S. Open seemingly?

PAYNE STEWART: I don't know.

Q. Must be a reason.

PAYNE STEWART: I think that I understand the importance of par at the U.S. Open. By the end of the week, that is generally a very good score.

Q. You just have to accept that you can't make red numbers on certain holes?

PAYNE STEWART: Yeah, and if --

Q. Is that what you are saying?

PAYNE STEWART: Yeah. And if you happen to hit it on a par 5 in two and you 3-putt, you walk off with par. That is still not a bad score on any hole. At the U.S. Open, par is not a bad score.

Q. Ever watched the video of the back 9 at Olympic at all?

PAYNE STEWART: I have yet to see it.

Q. I guess you probably won't then.

PAYNE STEWART: I have no -- I know what happened.

Q. I was going to ask you a question about how well Lee hit the ball on the back 9. I think he hit all greens but one.

PAYNE STEWART: I heard that he striped it, after he chipped it in on 4, 5 where the ball fell out of the tree, I heard he pured it. You have to to shoot 68 that day out on that golf course.

Q. Last time you played Pinehurst?

PAYNE STEWART: That was THE TOUR Championship there.

Q. '91, '92, I think.

PAYNE STEWART: That would be the last time.

Q. Do you like it?

PAYNE STEWART: I do like Pinehurst. Hopefully it will allow you to play the golf course the way the golf course is designed to be played. You are supposed to play a lot of bump-and-runs and supposed to have a lot of creative chipping around the greens. I think to move the rough way back away from the greens which it should because that is how the golf course is designed, and I don't think they need this around the greens. (indicating a foot). They just need something like that (indication three inches) If they grew the rough like this, like they had at Olympic around the edges of the green at Pinehurst, it would actually make the golf course easier because the ball is just going to roll this far (indicating a foot) off the green. But that Bermuda, that they will have there, will be (indicating a foot). It will be right to the bottom. A major tournament week and call it four inches .....

Q. Those collars and shaved areas with the undulations that you have played over the year, anyway to prepare for that? You are going to have to actually hit chip shots at the U.S. Open for the first time in God knows how long; 6-irons?

PAYNE STEWART: Exactly. I think that is what is going to be great about Pinehurst is you are going to see our ability being tested and our creativity being tested instead of, you know, lob wedge out of the hay. I think it will be a great test, I really do.

Q. Be different, definitely.

PAYNE STEWART: Yes. And I think it will be a fair test of golf.

Q. Can I ask you wasn't that long ago everybody was predicting Tiger Woods was going to win everything on the Tour. Guys like you and Davis and the "regs" that are always up there really didn't blink. I think because you know how equalizing this game can be, can you talk about that?

PAYNE STEWART: And humbling.

Q. Yes. Can you talk about that a little bit? You got Tiger here the first week this time --

PAYNE STEWART: I asked him today on the putting green -- I was glad to see that he came here and played because I think he will -- I asked him, I said, what do you think about this golf course. He says this is a cute little golf course. That is -- I hope this isn't the only year he comes here. I think that he will appreciate -- if you look and see who has won golf tournaments here, you will understand that it takes some talent to get the job done around here. I think that he will -- hopefully he will be back. Hopefully he will return because he should play these great golf courses that we play.

Q. You probably set a goal for yourself today. Did you exceed it today?

PAYNE STEWART: Well, I really didn't set a goal today. I just -- I wanted to give myself a lot of opportunities because I felt pretty comfortable with all aspects of my game. I got on a roll with the putter and I just kept making them. And when you get there, you go ahead and take advantage of those days because it might not be everyday.

JAMES CRAMER: Thank you very much.

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