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June 11, 1996

Mark Brooks


LES UNGER: You have played 16 holes before the lightning threat chased you off the course. How about giving us your evaluation of Oakland Hills.

MARK BROOKS: It is playing long and the greens are not probably what they want to be as far as speed and they are awfully soft right now which probably makes the -- I think it makes the short iron shots probably tougher to get close and certainly it is a lot easier on the long holes if you are hitting a lot of club out.

LES UNGER: Is this a course that you look forward to playing?

MARK BROOKS: Under these conditions, I don't know if anybody really looks forwards to playing. I mean, it is fun; you have a challenge. It is going to take an awful lot of patience by the guys that end up doing well this week. You are obviously going to have to drive it straight, but there are probably a number of place where guys will end up not even playing driver from tees. The rough is penal as I have ever seen it at an Open. I am sure a lot of that is due to being wet as well, but it has the appearance that it has all been raked back towards the tee boxes. That is the direction it looks like they are mowing. It is basically "hack out" from anywhere in the rough.

LES UNGER: You are having a very, very good year. With that behind you now, do you consider yourself a strong contender?

MARK BROOKS: Well, if I do, you know, drive good and putt good and hit most of the good iron shots, I should be in pretty good shape - and play smart.

Q. Mark, could you talk about what the rain and moisture does to the speed of these greens?

MARK BROOKS: It slows them down. I mean, it is really that simple. I mean, I would prefer that they were certainly a little faster than they are, and it may be if we don't get rain, whatever it will be, 36 hours, or-- they made -- I don't even know if they mowed them yesterday, but they made a dramatic adjustment or improvement to today. They still weren't what you would call fast, but they picked up considerable speed overnight, I think, and they probably just had one double cut on them but... But there is a lot of little bumps, you know, ridges, I mean, a lot of bumps and ridges in these greens. And the type of greens they are, what is underneath there, you will end up -- if they keep drying out, they will end up pretty treacherous, because the lumps are going to dry out the fastest. There is no question about that. So you will get the ball bouncing a lot more than you are seeing right now.

Q. As much as you played earlier in the year, as well as you played, as much as you were in contingent, did you get kind of run down mentally going through that stretch? Did you feel like you needed a break and any difference now that you have taken a couple weeks off the last few weeks?

MARK BROOKS: Yeah, I think that is fair because I played -- basically I played straight from, I guess, Augusta through Colonial. I don't know what that was, maybe six weeks in a row, and I played good a couple of the weeks, you know, certainly the two prior to Colonial. And I kind of felt like it was kind of time for a break.

Q. Did you do anything interesting to get away from the golf?

MARK BROOKS: No, just work. I mean, I played some. I did not -- it was actually very good, Texas, our weather was pretty good last week and high in the '80s, probably not too dissimilar to this. We actually got some rain a couple of days from last time since last September. No, I didn't do anything special. Probably I guess surprising thing his question about the greens and my comment that you come here even though it is raining expecting maybe a little faster situation, if not a lot faster, but I have never played -- I had never played here before yesterday, and I think I was surprised at how much slope they had. So they don't need to get them that fast. I would compare this set of greens probably more to Winged Foot. I mean, I think Winged Foot has a really difficult set of greens to play and putt on, and I mean I would put these right up there.

Q. On that note, what is your regimen this week (inaudible)?

MARK BROOKS: I don't know that you really can, other than go out there and try to really observe all the greens. I mean, my method, I go from the center out. I don't really stand on the green. I go to the center again and tried to picture all of the directions and get some kind of reference from the center of the green. Some of these greens, there is a few that actually slope away from the fairway, maybe the first half or two-thirds of the green may even slope away from the fairway, so it is good, I think, to get a picture in your mind, what the front third of the greens are doing, and slopes standpoint, there is no better place to look at it from the middle of the green.

Q. Do you sometimes feel, especially with two wins this year, that you get overlooked as a player sometimes; maybe not by your peers, but maybe by the fans and the media, six PGA TOUR wins and you know --

MARK BROOKS: I would say it is possible. I mean, I don't know if you all tend to go towards the end of the decades, kind of break things up, the '80s and the '90s. I would think, you know -- of course, I don't have to speak -- my record is pretty decent from '90 on. I don't know what number, but I'd say I am certainly one of the top 30 players on our Tour from 1990 on with a few spirts maybe better than that. But it is a long -- hopefully you have a long career, you know, 20 years, or something like that and you are not going to be judged on a couple of bad ones or the beginning or because I got a pretty slow start, which a lot of guys have the first three to five years, usually it is pretty slow. I think it changed -- what has changed a lot of that now there are some real good players like David Duval and the Mickelsons, but there are just a few of those type players. And the difference is the guys win a tournament now it is generally a pretty large check. I mean, when I started, there were a lot of -- it was maybe 54,000 was first and guys could win and finish 50th on the money list and now it is pretty tough to win, you know. There is, I would say, probably three quarters of events, if you weigh it, probably guarantee the top 40 money list finish. The money has changed. Maybe peoples' perceptions and where guys finish on the list. I know it is tougher to make cuts now than when I started. The scores are better and that is just basically -- there is a larger group of competent players out here.

Q. Was last year's experience at the British Open a positive one for you, and can you tell us just what happened going down the stretch there?

MARK BROOKS: Well, it certainly was a positive experience. I don't know, just one of those days you get to watch -- it was a little difficult to watch leader boards there, you know. They were kind of just in a couple of places. So somewhere around the turn, I realized I was in pretty good shape, and I don't remember exactly what went on there as far as what I did. I think I made -- I think I bogeyed the 11th hole and then maybe didn't birdie 12 from a pretty good place. I stayed in contention and then birdied 14 and 15, and I think I must have maybe parred 13. But I did birdie 14 and 15 and at that point I was -- I think I was two behind Daly and there was a board you can see there, and of course, with his lengths and the way those last holes were, he had maybe a mid-iron to the par 5; had he hit a decent drive, just a decent drive and certainly he could have reached the 18th green. Basically at that point, I figured if I could get to 7, finish at 7 - I was at 6-under - that I had a real good shot at it. But so -- and I had three holes played. I really basically think you had to play 17, you know, trying to make 5. It all depended on where your tee shot ended up and a lot of different factors. I ended up -- if my drive had missed the bunker at 16, I would have had to wedge to the green. It went in one of those pop bunkers and actually I hit a good drive. I would do it again. It just -- it didn't blow -- the wind -- the ball just didn't blow nearly as much as I thought it would. I hit it. I thought I hit a perfect drive and it just kind of stayed on a straight line. And I mean, the bunker probably wasn't twelve feet by twelve feet. You couldn't have hit it in there if you'd tried. But it turned out -- I should have made a bogey on the hole anyway. I ended up making double there there. I went for the green on 17, made par, and then birdied 18. So I finished at 5 and I mean, been a hard call, I have had people say, well, you should have hit iron. Well, I had hit iron twice to the left and made bogeys, and I needed a birdie at that point, and just one of those deals. A lot of stuff happens fast in this game.

Q. Did you have to qualify last year?

MARK BROOKS: Yeah, over there?

Q. Yes.


Q. What does that say about you? I mean, a lot of people don't know a lot about you. A lot of guys say, I am not exempt; I am not going to go there. What does that mean to you just to be --

MARK BROOKS: Well, I think, you know, once you reach a certain level, I think I am not going to say some of the guys skip going to qualifier for the British Open or skip trying to qualify for this tournament. The British Open, there can be finances involved. It is an expensive trip. It is a little bit more difficult to qualify than it was ten years ago. The scores are better. So you go over there and play pretty decent qualifier and spend 10, $15,000, so it can be a pretty expensive trip. I go because I love playing over there.

Q. What does that say about Mark Brooks?

MARK BROOKS: And I love playing over there and that style of golf. I like playing true Links golf of which there is very little in the United States, if any.

Q. Do you feel like maybe for people who don't know much about you that you -- I know you are a little bit more a student of the game than people make you out to be and just being more of a guy who cares more about the history than some of the younger players coming up --

MARK BROOKS: I have a golf course design business. We've just done a couple of small deals to get started, but that -- I'd say that is really where my study of the game and history, you know, started - started a long time ago about -- before I went to college. Kind of learning a little bit about the -- I think by doing that, you end up learning about golf, and I mean, if it is what you do for a living, it is your profession, you ought to at least try to research and find out, you know, kind of where it started. If a guy's going to be a stockbroker on Wall Street, you think he would kind of want to know how did this kind of all start. Kind of required-learning, I think, and it is not required out here, but I think it can give you a greater appreciation for the game, you know, why you play it; why you maybe shouldn't play it. I mean, it is a great game. You can come out here and they could have no rough; they could -- this whole place could be, you know, cut down to fairway heights and they'd still have a great tournament. The score might be different. Obviously, it would be different for the winner, but it still would be a great event. But I think that is kind of a test to the golf course. I am sure when they played the Senior Open here, they didn't have, you know, 6-inch rough off the fairways, but that is the great part about the game. It could be played in a lot of different conditions. I mean, it is the competition, see who can get it in the hole the fastest. The USGA just chooses to -- most of the time chooses a certain route and has kind of become very, very traditional. I mean, you go to some British Opens they don't have rough this long and you go to some, they don't have any rough. Kind of depends on what their weather has been, you know they don't have the irrigation systems quite like most of the places like here do so you go play the British Open, sometimes there is virtually no rough. But I think I answered your question, that is why I studied.

Q. Is the rough six inches now?

MARK BROOKS: In places it is probably longer if it's standing up, and there is places it is not as long. But you know, you are not going to find too much out there under four inches. And you know, kind of depends where you measure it from. Kind of what is the ground, you know -- I mean, there are some places obviously where it lays down and it gets pretty long, but it would be -- it is just a good rule of thumb , if you get in it, don't expect to hit it more than maybe 100 yards. You are going to hit it lucky and have decent lies. I think the more rounds that are played people walking through it, you will get an occasional, you know, decent lie in the rough.

Q. Give me your list of favorites for this championship given the conditions; the fact that it is playing so hard.

MARK BROOKS: I don't know. I am going to go with Larry Mize. I mean, you got to put Norman up there because he is a great driver. I think there are a lot of aspects of his game that are probably maybe a little flashier, or, you know, people pay more attention to, but he is just -- he is a very straight driver for as long as he hits it. And you know, somebody that is long and straight, certainly has an advantage there. I think he is probably the best driver that is in the longer category. I mean, there is a lot of guys that can -- there are some guys that think that they are long and straight and they really are. I mean, when it comes down to it, they are not going to be as straight as they think they are this week and I'd certainly put him there. And then kind of a -- straight hitters, I think you are going to see a number of them on top. Corey played well. I don't know. Those two come to mind, but I think anybody that starts -- that tends to go wild -- if you go wild one day here, you are going to have a hard time, you know, putting anything up better than maybe 74. So you are going to see a lot of that, which kind of brings another comment, you know, the winner here probably will shoot 1 round 72 or higher, 73 or higher; it is possible, very possible.

Q. Would you put yourself in that category?

MARK BROOKS: I mean, I am a good driver. I mean, David Edwards is a good driver, but if you kind of look at who has played well, just in the last few weeks, I'd say Larry Mize has come on and played had a couple of good tournaments and he is a great lag putter. Certainly Ben Crenshaw has played well here before. He is a better driver now that he has finally got some metal woods. But you know, good drivers and great lag putters and there is not a whole -- there is not a real, real long list. You might get 10 or 12 guys on that list. Kind of medium length, straight hitters and good long lag putters. I think the two names I gave you are probably about as high up in those categories as you can get. I will give you another guy like Fred Funk. I think Fred had a good tournament last week. I mean, he has a hard time missing fairways. But this certainly is his kind of crack. (sic). He, again, is in the same category.

Q. Those type players won't get worn out by the length of this course or anything like that?

MARK BROOKS: I don't think so because it doesn't really -- there is not, you know, three and four hole stretches of 450, 450, 470, you know, 450. I guess probably the longest stretch in the golf course you know, back-to-back-to-back, there is probably two places. One is at -- it is 3, 4, 5 and then 8, 9 and 10, those two stretches, those are the two long, you know, 3rd hole in a rows, twice. Then you can hit as much, you know, 3-iron, 5-iron, 3-iron, maybe the first stretch and say 4-iron, 4-wood, you know, 2-iron, 3-iron. So those -- as far as I am concerned, those are the two, to me, those are the two key stretches of the golf course: 3, 4, 5, 8, 9 and 10. You know, 11 the short par 4, 12, par 5, 13, short 3; then you have 14, which is a big hole and followed by a pretty short hole; followed by not a real long hole, so as far as the length of the golf course, those are the two stretches where it gets pretty long. And I don't think it is going to wear those guys out.

LES UNGER: Croswell talked about 14 through 18, he felt that that was the stretch --

MARK BROOKS: Is that the local pro?

LES UNGER: The pro here.

MARK BROOKS: He probably knows the golf course better than we do, but I don't know if you don't play those two stretches I talked about, who cares about the last four, five (LAUGHTER) I mean, you are trying to break 80 at that point.

Q. That fits my next question, if you look at this, the guts of this golf course is the first 10 holes. I am not saying that is all the golf course, but --

MARK BROOKS: I do. I have only played it twice, but I think what -- you know, I don't know what maybe he is thinking that I mean 16 can be dangerous, I guess with the leg and all that. I think, you guys, if you polled this field, or polled 100 Tour players that are playing here, I think they would think 14 was a lot easier hole than number 5; probably not anymore difficult really than eight, you know, day in, day out. I don't think they consider 15, 16, tremendously difficult holes. They would be tougher if the fairways were fast, to be honest with you. I think they would be a lot tougher; in fact, this whole golf course would be tougher if the fairways were fast, but, you know, 17 is certainly a tough par 3 and, you know, 18, I can't remember the last time I have played an easy 18th hole in an Open. And they may have that thought too, to be honest with you, because of the members, I understand, play 14 and 18 as 5 pars. So if you played it that way, you would think that is the east stretch and then they convert it and then all of a sudden, that is the monster finish. But 14 has got a pretty -- the fairway is pretty generous there. So I don't know, that is kind of my point where can you keep it in the fairway. I don't think it is as difficult coming in. I think that stretch out there of 4, 5, 6, 7, right through there 8, 10, if you knock it in the rough in those holes, you are not going to be able to finish. You are going to be wedging out hitting wedges.

LES UNGER: Anyone else? Well, it will be interesting to see which way it goes. I hope you handle them all well.

MARK BROOKS: Thank you. We will try.

End of FastScripts....

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