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U.S. SENIOR OPEN


June 25, 1998


Dave Stockton


U.S. SENIOR OPEN, Pacific Palisades, California

LES UNGER: Dave, you were 2-over today and we haven't had a visit from you before today. Here you are sitting in a pretty good position. Are you surprised at that?

DAVE STOCKTON: I am sneaking up on them. Did you see the official program this week -- this year?

LES UNGER: I did.

DAVE STOCKTON: I did win this tournament two years ago. All the other past champions got their picture. I got a picture of Canterbury. So I am -- that didn't upset me but -- "sign the picture," oh, you don't have a picture but there is a picture of Canterbury. I can't even figure out what hole it was. It is good to be in here. I am playing very, very well. Just have not hit my irons well enough yet. I say "yet" because I feel like I am pretty close to doing well. I have basically missed one fairway yesterday. I missed two fairways today; both of them were in the immediate cut, one on 11, one on 18. But the iron game just has not been as sharp as I would like. Basically the lack of birdies. I started out my first bogey came at No. 4, the par 3, so-called, I am hitting driver and got it pin-high to the right, 3-putted. I was off the green about ten feet and I putted down about two and a half foot and missed it -- excuse me, I missed another fairway, the 5th fairway. That one I couldn't get up at. I was in the deeper rough to the left on 5, tried to hit 6-iron out short of the green which I did and then hit kind of an indifferent wedge about 20 feet and missed the putt. So I made back-to-back bogeys. Had birdie chances on 6 and 8, didn't make them. 7, I putted from about six feet off the green. And on 9, I drove it down the right side, missed the green to the right, and made about a 10 foot par-putt. Made a good putt for par at No. 9. And then I birdied 10 and 11. 10 was a wedge to about two and a half feet. 11, I hit it in the right fringe off the tee, 3-wood and a wedge to about 15 feet behind the hole. Then I hit two bogeys coming in. The par 3, 13 which is probably the widest green we play on the Tour all year and I missed the green to the left. By far, the worst shot I have hit. Hit the wrong club, with the wrong thought, and the wrong swing. Other than that, it was perfect. I buried it in the lip of the bunker about 20 yards short of green. It wasn't too good. Blasted it over the green; made a helluva up-and-down for a bogey. Then parred 15 and 16 and hit a good drive at 17, only to hit my 3-wood into the right rough. And had a pretty good lie, but the ball just flew on me; went over the back of the green, chipped it to about ten feet, missed the putt. Then 18 was an adventure. I was in the intermediate rough to the right off the tee, tried to hit a cut 3-iron, and didn't quite catch it, left it 25 yards or so short of the pin. You know, you got no green to work with, but I didn't want to land it short of the green. So carried it on the green; went maybe, I guess, 16, 17 feet past the hole and I was fortunate enough to make it. So another round of 2-over.

LES UNGER: In your opinion, has there been anymore difficult course in your Senior Open career?

DAVE STOCKTON: Hell, yes, when I was defending champion last year and I missed the cut at Olympia Fields, I thought Olympia Fields was much harder. I am saying that tongue and cheek. I know Riviera so well. I am very proud of what they have done to this golf course - the tree treatment they have made; the greens are just phenomenal. Obviously, you know, kikuyu in the summertime is going to be the best -- the ball is going so sit up like it is on a tee every time, and we will not discuss the rough. When they are talking about the toughest course they have ever seen, it will always have to do with the kikuyu. I mean, just can't hit it in it, that is all. If you hit it in, funny things happen, that's all.

LES UNGER: Questions.

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Q. You went back to Ray Cook putter; was it?

DAVE STOCKTON: Yeah. Actually that putter won the L.A. Open on these greens in 1974. So it has been in the closet a little while; I figured I would try it.

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Q. One of what, four putters that you have?

DAVE STOCKTON: Three of them that are identical to that, but this is the one that I won with in '74.

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Q. Did you find -- I was talking to Donna earlier. She was saying that you were doing something with your hands; that they were lower. You found to bring them up a little bit --

DAVE STOCKTON: I am trying to raise my hands, trying to smooth my stroke out, hit the ball a fraction more on the toe of the putter so I get a little softer roll. By and large, it has been pretty good. I just haven't got the irons as close as I want them. Putting basically has been good when I have had a chance to use it.

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Q. I understand you have been on kind of junior watch coming down the back 9. Can you talk about that; how you were trying to keep an eye on what he was doing while playing your game?

DAVE STOCKTON: I knew he was tied for the league with five, six holes to play like. I -- Cathy walked up after 9 and, you know, to get the results. And I saw her on the 12 green and walked over and Phil Stanbaugh had given her a printout. We saw that he is tied with Willy Wood, with somebody one shot behind him, so he is in good shape.

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Q. How many rounds would you say you have played at Riviera over the years?

DAVE STOCKTON: Probably, say 300, maybe more, from the college days all through the L.A. Opens to the junior tournaments. I played here to just -- some of the casual golf, something like that.

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Q. The putter you were talking about - you say you have three. When is the last time you used the one that you are using this week?

DAVE STOCKTON: I know I won Napa about three or four years ago on the SENIOR TOUR with it. I can't -- that was the last time I won with it. But, I have tried it occasionally, but my stroke has been fast and I have not -- it has not felt right to me. Obviously, some of the newer heal-and-toe weighted putters feel solid and I have got to hit the Ray Cook correctly or it is not going to be as nearly as solid as some of the others. So I tried it a couple of times last year with so-so results, but this week so far has been pretty darn good.

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Q. Specifically (inaudible) because of Riviera L.A. --

DAVE STOCKTON: I took last week off. I didn't play last week and I picked a marvelous time to come to Southern California. It was 114 the day I got home. So I sure wasn't going to stand there and hit a whole lot of balls. I'd get up there in the shade and putt. I just took it out and I decided that if I putted good with it years ago, what am I doing wrong to figure out -- believe me, the first couple of hours that I worked with it, I mean, the results were not good. But I kept sticking with it to figure out how I had to slow it down or whatever was going to make it feel right because all the years that I could putt like a demon with it, something was haywire. I experimented with everything, grip, you know, moving the ball away from me, back in my stance, you know, working on my speed, trying to slow down. So last week I put two or three really good days into working with my putting because basically that is what has been driving me nuts. I mean, the third round at TPC last tournament I played in Michigan, I shoot 78 which is not a really great score for me, but I had 36 putts. I can't remember the last time I had 36 putts. I took the week off at a good time because I was -- I am pleased in my long game and I have been distressed with my short game. This is showing results of it and I am pleased with it.

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Q. Did you use that putter for a long while after L.A. When did you give up on it the first time?

DAVE STOCKTON: I don't remember. I used to change putters -- I had two or three of them that I changed all the time. I am firmly convinced it is not me. I am perfect. I have just got putters that don't feel like working sometimes. So I will change it and feel a lot better about myself.

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Q. We know that Raymond is in the lead. How do you feel about catching up?

DAVE STOCKTON: Well, you can't say he has a commanding lead. I had a 7-shot lead at Canterbury and 16 holes of never missing green -- oh, yes, I did, 16. 15 holes of never missing a green at Canterbury. I am even par and I am one shot ahead. So Raymond has to play good tomorrow, no question about it. Same guy that gave me fits is Hale Irwin is sitting right with me. So, you know, I think all of us are going to say the same thing: We are going to be very honest we have got to go out and play Riviera. Raymond, obviously is very happy to have a 3-shot lead. I am sure if somebody told him he is going to have it starting the week, he would be ecstatic because he hasn't been in that position in quite a while. But I played the first two days whim he is driving the ball extremely well, his putting looks very good. The best thing is his attitude looks great. That is the one thing I think I have got going for me, too, is that I have been really happy this week. And there is a lot of USGA events that I hadn't been overly excited about playing in because they beat you in the ground. And I think Raymond and I playing together the first two days, I think we rubbed off on each other because we both were playing pretty well, and if we did miss a shot, we didn't let it get us down.

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Q. Contrast a feeling right now to a year ago; was that embarrassing or particularly --

DAVE STOCKTON: I couldn't hear the first part.

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Q. Would you contrast the feeling right now to a year ago this time, missing the cut as defending champion, is that embarrassing? How did you deal with that?

DAVE STOCKTON: I wasn't too excited about it. I am sure -- ask Graham Marsh how he feels. Maybe it is a jinx, I don't know, I have done it twice now. I managed to miss it at the PGA Seniors in West Palm Beach which didn't distress me nearly as badly as being defending champion there at Olympic feeds last year. I just -- I was more shocked than anything else because I love the golf course. I mean, I think the USGA, the way they have set up the Senior Open for us the last few years has just, I think, has been phenomenal. I am not sure how much of this is USGA or how much of this is Riviera trying to get a great old course back to what people think about it being a true Championship caliber test, it certainly has been this week. The rough didn't need to be as deep as it is, but kikuyu is a very strange rough. I mean, just about the time you get one you can't hit, the next one you hit is terrible and the sucker is sitting up and you can hit a driver off it. So, it is just -- that is the nature of the beast, but I -- to answer your question, I was very embarrassed last year. There is nothing I can do about it. Bounced back, two or three weeks later won Park City. It wasn't like it put me in a funk. All you can do is try.

LES UNGER: Dave, we thank you. Good luck tomorrow.

DAVE STOCKTON: Thanks.

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