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June 15, 2001

Mark Brooks


RAND JERRIS: We're now joined by Mark Brooks. Mark, you had a 64 in the second round today which ties the U.S. Open record for the lowest score in the second round. Could you start us off with some general comments about your 64 today.

MARK BROOKS: Well, I got off to a good start. That was kind of the key. We didn't have a long time between rounds. I don't know, 35, 40 minutes. And I wasn't real thrilled with the driver I had, I picked for the first round. So I switched, sent my wife back to the house and she brought it back. So I switched drivers and proceeded to hit the first two fairways and actually hit a couple of good shots into the greens and got going. And that was a good way to turn around my finish of the first round, where I actually hit a perfect tee shot with the bad driver. And then hit a bad iron shot. I wasn't really trying to get greedy on 18, and ended up making a bad double. And after that I actually hit a couple of good shots. On 3, almost made that putt. 4, I hit it close, like, I don't know, four or five feet. And then I hit a good third shot at 5 and hit it close. And that was -- that kind of got things going.

Q. How many drivers are you traveling with? Did you have to tell her, "Make sure it's this one"?

MARK BROOKS: I can't reveal that -- more than five and less than 12.

Q. What did you change from, to, on drivers?

MARK BROOKS: Basically the same head, different shaft, that's what I do. I have different shafts and basically two different head models that are fairly similar. So I do a lot of that. If I change lofts it's usually never more than a degree or so. But I will switch around shafts. I've been trying to find something that is perfect and it's, obviously, I'm a tough fit.

Q. Mark, there's a possibility that you might be the only player with a major championship on the leaderboard. Does that play into the weekend?

MARK BROOKS: Probably used to, more than it does now. And I guess at the end it might make a little difference, if it ends up being that situation. But most of these guys are pretty seasoned and they probably realize somebody is going to win, and if they get in their own way, because of that fact that they haven't won, it can become a factor. But that's when you get into that mental game, the mental side. Sometimes you handle it well, and sometimes you don't, depending on -- and you may have won them and not won them. A lot of it depends on how the guy is playing, how much control he has or feels like he has with his own golf game, and how he's going to make decisions. It's really decision making that is affected as much as the golf swing is.

Q. Mark, did you see this round coming, and also you've called this kind of a positioning-type course, is that kind of the way it played today?

MARK BROOKS: Yeah, I think it's going to play that way all week. Certainly the rain made a difference. I don't know, I talked to somebody this morning that said two inches, two inches plus or whatever it was. So it definitely affected the way the golf course was playing. The lack of wind, a little different direction, probably made a few of the holes play a little easier. But the greens certainly became more receptive, fairways were easier to hit, because the ball wasn't bouncing. I think the golf course, it probably went two shots softer because of the rain. And you'll probably see that or more when you look at the score of guys that haven't played a lot or guys that finished or played most of their rounds.

Q. Mark, I'd like to know if you're surprised that Tiger is nine strokes behind you and the other two?

MARK BROOKS: Yeah, I'm surprised. I think you're always surprised when he doesn't play well. I don't know what that is here for him. If I can shoot 64, he can shoot 60. So don't count him out. He's human, and he probably showed it today, and probably a little bit yesterday. And this is probably, again, not -- this golf course isn't set right up his alley. Even the 5th hole, he probably had to hit his two best today to reach it. When you get too focused on one hole, and I know he doesn't, but I know everybody else does, they think it is such a big deal. He might have hit an iron off the tee, for all I know. I did play here with him in '96 at the TOUR Championships, and he didn't play well for him here. So he probably doesn't have as many good feelings about this place as he does about every place else.

Q. When Tiger was talking about thinking he still had a shot, he kept pointing to your round today as inspiration. Does it kind of strike you as a little odd that Tiger Woods would be looking to you for inspiration?

MARK BROOKS: No, not really (laughter.) He probably remembers playing with me in '96, and he's probably still sick about it. It's probably affected him here. I think we actually had to play two rounds or he had to play two rounds with me. Actually, that was the year I had a good year, and I was pretty much out of gas when I got here. He's a great player, he's capable of doing a lot of things. I shot 64 today or it could have been 70 or 62. I made some putts, but I didn't make a whole bunch of putts. I made a few early, and other than that the longest putt I made on the back 9, I guess I made about a 12-footer on 11 and the 8-footer on 18. It was one of those days, if it had been perfect, it could have been -- golf is, it could have been a couple of shots better. But it certainly could have been four or five worse, as well.

Q. Take us through where you've been with your golf game since Valhalla in '96 I think was the year, what's gone on with you since then?

MARK BROOKS: Man, I've been through that so many times. I did not -- I didn't play well for about a year and a half, or maybe even a two-year stretch. But I started playing poorly at the end of '96, basically it was equipment change that caused all of it. It wasn't all equipment changes that caused it, it took a while to figure out that I needed to play something a little different than what I was trying to play at that time. And I made the change and started playing better pretty quickly. In fact, the first week off I ended up like 12th or something at Hartford. And I hadn't broken an egg in probably ten months. So the equipment ended up having been a factor, but I'd not played well -- I didn't play well at the end of '96. I think I got tired and got into some swing habits -- bad things were going on in my golf swing. And I kept playing virtually every week, and they got pretty ingrained. I haven't played a lot of great golf in the last couple of years, but most of it's not been -- missing the wrong putt at the wrong time, just the odd shot to keep you from shooting 65, you shoot 68. Instead of 70, you shoot 72. If you look at my stats scoring-wise it's not been that bad. It's kind of that half shot around from being in the top-30 or 40 in the money list. I missed the first month of this year. I had kind of a back injury. I didn't play the last month of last year, and I didn't play the first month of this year. So I'm probably a month behind. I'm old enough now that I don't worry about the money list at this stage of the year, because I did miss a month and I normally play that month. So another two or three months then I'll look at it and see what we have to do. I'm just trying to get better. I was thinking about it, not today, maybe, but the last couple of weeks, I'm actually playing -- I feel like I'm actually a better player in a lot of ways than I was in '96. And some of that's maturity. It's not all imagined. I'm older, I'm going to lose my mind and hit a lot of bad shots at times. But I've got more shots in my bag than I had then. A lot of it is confidence. Once something good happens, you can look at the -- is it Ladbrokes or whoever -- if I happen to win here, my odds like for the British Open would go from a thousand to one to probably 40 to 1. And am I really any different player than I was when I came here? Not really. I just started hitting some good shots, built some confidence and made some putts. It's a fine line between you all thinking we're playing good or you all thinking we're really playing bad. And sometimes it bleeds over into our brain. But I've been on the edge of playing pretty good for a while. Is that enough odyssey?

Q. Did you come in here thinking that you would do well or what was your mindset?

MARK BROOKS: I expected to do -- I expected to have a decent golf tournament. What is that? 10th? First? 12th? 40th? It all depends on how things shake out there. You can prevent the ending I had my first round, but you can't say, "I'm going to birdie five of the first six" or whatever it was. You keep plugging. If I was at even par, I wouldn't feel I was out of the golf tournament either.

Q. Mark, how comfortable are you on this golf course, and what does that mean to a golfer in terms of being comfortable, when he's looking at his shot?

MARK BROOKS: Well, I don't know how comfortable I am yet. I guess this is the fourth round this week, and I've played it a dozen times or so. I just think -- hopefully you learn a little more each time you go around. The more good shots you hit, the more fairways you hit, the better you feel about it going to the tee the next time. It's not that tricky. I mean, the greens are tough. Not playing here as much as probably most of us would have liked to, we don't really know for sure how to get it on the right tier and be under the hole. So there's still some guesswork, and obviously as the weekend goes on with no rain, you're going to be better off 40 feet below the hole putting up a tier than you are 12 feet from the hole maybe off the collar. And they're going to get faster. They're speeding up this afternoon. And it's going to make a big difference.

Q. Mark, 6-under after 11 holes, I believe. You said it could have been, going back, you said it could have been 70, you said it could be 62. 62 has never been done in an Open, 63 is the record. I was wondering if you were aware of those numbers and the significance of them. And was either 62 or 63 creeping into your mind at any point in the round?

MARK BROOKS: I kind of set a goal of 62 when I got it up-and-down at nine. But I really didn't hit it close enough. The one I missed -- actually had a tough 2-putt on 13, the par-5, laid it up in the crosswalk, had to drop it on some pretty hard ground, and I thinned my wedge. If it landed two or three yards shorter, it would have come down the hill and I would have had a short birdie putt. Then you could start thinking about it. When I didn't get that one, with those last five holes the way they are, I would have certainly taken five pars and gone to the house.

Q. But you are aware of the numbers?

MARK BROOKS: But it's not that big a deal, kind of one shot wonders. One round numbers. I'm not really interested in being one of those. It's like my putt on 18. Was I trying to make it? Yes. Did I care if I made it? I was trying to make sure I didn't 3-putt, to be honest with you. The thing wiggled down about eight different directions, and it just fell in. I feel good that my speed was good. But it was very lucky to go in.

Q. Mark, anybody that was at Valhalla in '96 was a little bit surprised at your reaction, how subdued you were after that championship. Given everything you've gone through since that time, if you went onto win this Championship, do you think you'd respond in the same way?

MARK BROOKS: Probably. That's me. It would be obviously a bigger deal, being older, and I'd already had some success that year, so it was kind of like the icing on the cake, finishing off a good year. But that was that one and we'll just have to wait and see on 18 on Sunday. I hope I have that opportunity to 4-putt and win. But I don't know, I'm not going to predict my reaction. Just look at the tape today when I made my 5th out of 6th. I probably didn't do anything real weird there.

Q. Mark, how much did you go head-to-head with J.L. in college, and how --

MARK BROOKS: I think he's a lot older than I am, actually (laughter.) Isn't he? Isn't he like 43 or something?

Q. I think you're both 40.

MARK BROOKS: He looks older. He's got gray hair (laughter.) I don't remember playing with him in college. He didn't remember playing with me, either?

Q. He did remember playing with you.

MARK BROOKS: Where did he play?

Q. At Southwest Texas?

MARK BROOKS: We never played in the same tournament with those guys. I went to Texas. We played with Oklahoma State and Oklahoma and Houston, and I guess occasionally Southwest Texas State, I don't know. I played a lot with him. He was a great player back then (laughter.) He putts better now, though.

Q. Mark, there's been some question, and history has been written that people that have played Colonial previous to coming to Southern Hills have played Colonial pretty well. You're a member down there, compare that golf course to this one.

MARK BROOKS: I used to be a member. I just don't think they're very similar. There's not a shot at Colonial that's anything even resembling your second shot at 18 here. And you could go on and say that hole, there's nothing like that there. This golf course is far more rolling, hilly, undulating, greens are tougher. Colonial can be a tough golf course in its own right, but generally speaking you don't see scores skyrocket at Colonial. A bad round there is 75. Sometimes you walk off this place and 75 you go, "It could have been a lot worse." And so there's maybe some similarities. The grass used to be similar. Common Bermuda rough. Colonial has 419 Fairways. They're essentially perfect. And this still has kind of that old common look. And it makes the golf course tougher. I think Colonial got easier once they switched to Fairways, but I think it was great for members.

Q. Could you go over the card?

MARK BROOKS: And back to his question, I probably won't do what you want me to do, my reaction. Where are we, round two? What do you want, clubs or just on the birdie holes? 6-iron, a foot. 4-iron on 2 to about 12 feet. Pitching wedge, 4 feet. 8-iron on No. 5 to about 7 feet. 7-iron on No. 6, probably 30 feet. Any significant saves need to be in there? 9, made a good up- and-down at 9 from the left bunker. I hit a 7-iron on 11 probably about 14 feet. And that's it. Well, 18, that would be a significant save. That was probably 10 or 12 -- probably 12 feet there. A very acceptable bunker shot.

Q. How big a save was that?

MARK BROOKS: How big a save? I don't know, just 64 looks better than 65. It's not as common. I don't know, I don't think it was any kind of earth shattering thing. The fact that I hit it -- I said earlier, at least I judged the speed right. I don't think that thing was going very far by, had it missed. And that was kind of my goal was just hopefully wiggle it down there on the right line. And, again, it was lucky. But that felt like one, again, you get up in the northeast on the poa annua greens, you have to wiggle them down there, sometimes they go in, sometimes they don't. Other than it was kind of a neat round, probably my second low round in a major. I know I shot 64 at Turnberry one year, to make the cut. That was significant because I had not played well the first day.

RAND JERRIS: Thanks very much for your time this afternoon.

End of FastScripts....

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