May 31, 1996
WES SEELEY: Payne Stewart 68, 68.
PAYNE STEWART: 68, 70.
WES SEELEY: Payne Stewart 68, 70.
PAYNE STEWART: I wouldn't expect you to know that, Wes.
WES SEELEY: I had 138 for 6 under par.
PAYNE STEWART: If I shot 68 start, how are we going to get to 138? Let me start this interview process. Wes is having difficulties. It was another good day. I started with a lot of patience. I missed two drives. I missed the fairway on two drives. Like I was talking about yesterday, you need to play from the fairway. One of them was the -- one of them was 18. Those are both my two bogeys that I made today. Other than that, I hit the ball well. I missed a few greens with 8 and 9-irons, which is not good when you are doing that, but I was fortunate to get them up-and-down. I putted the ball extremely well today. I felt very comfortable with the putter. It was -- I was hitting my lines. I was reading the greens right, and everything was going in, so I was fortunate too on that aspect to have the putter working today because the irons weren't quite as sharp as they were yesterday, but I will work on the practice tee and we will rectify that situation.
WES SEELEY: Birdies and bogeys and the eagle.
PAYNE STEWART: Let's see. I birdied the fifth hole, hit driver and 4-iron and wedge to about 15 feet and made it. Then bogeyed 9, missed the fairway to the right. Laid up, almost fatted a wedge into the water, and it stayed up and then I chipped it up about 5 feet and made it for bogey. 14, I hit a 2-iron, 9-iron to about eight feet, made it for birdie. 15, I hit driver, 2-iron to about 20 feet, made it for eagle. And then 18, I drove it right in the bunkers and had to lay up and hit a 60 degree wedge shot in there, that 77 yards, and hit right next to the hole and spun back off the front edge of the green about 10 yards off the green. I chipped it to two feet and made it for bogey. Other than that, it was -- you know, it was it was a good day of golf. I enjoyed myself out there. I managed my game well. I am disappointed on couple of iron shots, but as a whole, I felt that I swung at it very well, and I needed to get on the greens because I feel very comfortable on the greens, and I seemed to be putting the ball very well.
WES SEELEY: Questions.
Q. Greens getting faster than yesterday?
PAYNE STEWART: They are a little bit faster, Larry. (LAUGHTER).
Q. Is it okay, Charlie.
PAYNE STEWART: Larry, it was a little faster -- (LAUGHTER) -- than yesterday.
Q. You said you weren't going to insult me anymore.
PAYNE STEWART: You know, once you look at it in that direction, I am sorry, Steve. Yeah, they are getting a little bit quicker. There is not -- you know, it is perfect out there right now. It is a gorgeous day here in central Ohio. Very little wind. It is not really hot. It is not like it is sucking all the moisture out with the heat or the wind is not drying them out. But they are quickening. They are not -- we are not going to see them ultrafast this week, I don't think, unless something drastically happens. But from what I understand, there is a chance of rain on Sunday, so...
Q. Why do you think that there hasn't -- I know the course isn't playing easy, but hasn't there been any low scores and there is hardly any wind?
PAYNE STEWART: Well, I think it is because the course is just playing longer. You have got par fives, you know. Normally, you are thinking about getting on the fifth hole in two. It you are not able to do that, sometimes you are thinking about getting on 7 in 2. You can't get -- it is just not thought of now. 11, since Jack -- we did the creek -- before the creek there on that left side, I don't even consider playing that hole trying to get home in 2. I understand Ernie was playing right behind me and knocked it on in 2. It is just not something that I attempt to do. I just don't think that is very beneficial to me. I just think that the length, you know, because of the softness is making the golf course -- making the scoring hard, harder.
Q. 15 is the only par 5 that --
PAYNE STEWART: That is reachable, that is really reachable, yeah. I mean, for the majority of the people in the field.
Q. You are normally a real good fast green putter, aren't you?
PAYNE STEWART: I like them. I always liked these greens, especially now. I consider these greens fast, and I consider Augusta fast; but these greens are reasonable, and I don't consider Augusta's greens reasonable. And I have an extremely hard time putting Augusta's greens. I mean, they are ultrafast fast and these greens are fast.
Q. Where would you put U.S. Open greens, in between the Augusta and here?
PAYNE STEWART: It depends on what year you are talking about.
Q. Oakmont? Oakland Hills?
PAYNE STEWART: Oakmont, greens are a lot like Augusta's. They are very difficult for me to putt. The Hazelton greens I thought were -- the speed was very quick until the rain came on Thursday before the start -- well, the start of my round anyway -- and that kind of slowed them up, and then as the week progressed, they got back to that speed. You know, I am sure they are going to be fast in Detroit in two weeks, but I understand that they have had -- haven't had good growing for their golf course this year. I mean, they put some kind of chemical on the greens from what I hear over the winter to try to help them grow, and the chemical didn't -- didn't blend into the soil properly and they have been pretty spotty from what I understand so, who knows they will get them -- the USGA will get them down there to dirt, if they have to.
Q. How have these greens managed to get so fast with -- I think they have had 16 inches of rain since the beginning of April.
PAYNE STEWART: Look at the grounds crew that is around here. It is not like they have two guys mowing their greens. (LAUGHTER) They have an unlimited budget, looks like to me, to make sure that these greens do get fast, and they were great surfaces. They are built properly and they are just designed right to get the water off them when the water does come. And they brush them and they cut them and they brush them and they cut them and they get them quick.
Q. Payne, do you have an explanation why you usually play so well here?
PAYNE STEWART: I think it is a comfort situation. I feel very comfortable on the golf course. I have been staying with the family here for 14 years now ever since I have been coming here and it's just a comfortable week for me. I feel very relaxed, and I enjoy practicing and the facilities are phenomenal. The golf course is fun and I think all that yields to my playing here.
Q. Do you think often about the two Memorials? You came so close to winning and didn't even get to play the fourth round that one year.
PAYNE STEWART: Well, you know, that is -- what can you do about mother nature? You have to take, you know, take the good pill with the bad pill, and I just -- I will look forward to having a chance to win on this Sunday. Maybe I will learn something. Maybe something will click in from those two that I got very close in to help me do better than second or third this year.
Q. Did it take a while to get over the Azinger shot, even though you and he are pals?
PAYNE STEWART: Not really. I mean, but you know when you keep seeing it over and over and over and over and over and over and over. (LAUGHTER) First picture you see on the wall when you walk in after you get out of the car, Paul is like this (INDICATING SPREAD OUT ON CHAIR.) Yeah, it gets a little old. (LAUGHTER)
Q. You hear a lot of players talk about how good the practice facilites are. What is good about them? What separates these from --
PAYNE STEWART: Have you been out there?
Q. Just at the range, just by the shack there.
PAYNE STEWART: Did you notice how the range went all the way around so you could go practice in any wind you wanted to? Did you notice it had two really nice greens that you can practice your chipping and bunker play? There is not many facilities that are like this. The only one I would say that comes close to comparing to this is the TPC in Jacksonville that I have been to. Lunchtime. Great.
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