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June 24, 1999

Tom Byrum


LEE PATTERSON: Very good opening round. You finished fifth last year here. Maybe just a couple comments about today and then we will open it up to questions.

TOM BYRUM: I thought the course played difficult even right from the start, the greens were firm. They had some good speed. We didn't have any wind to speak of at the beginning, but the greens are definitely firm and some of those pins are a little hard to get to with the greens being that firm. But I played very well for 17 holes, made one mistake really today and it cost me a bogey. Other than that, I am very satisfied with the start though.


Q. What made the round work today? Why did you play so well?

TOM BYRUM: Well, I am a good driver of the ball and that worked well today and I got some nice breaks, chipped in on the first hole, made a long putt on the 3rd hole. Kind of got the ball rolling. Then just consistently putting it in the fairway and not having to chip to these greens, being in the fairway, you can hit the greens a lot easier. I stayed away from a lot of that. Just a good ball striking round and didn't put myself where I was having to scramble all the time.

Q. Were you able to set your own pace out there today; you were first out?

TOM BYRUM: The first nine holes. We had a little ruling on the first hole which we took -- took a few minutes, but after that it was pretty smooth sailing so we were on our own. Then we came around the ninth hole and one of the officials told our caddies that we better slow down, looks like we are going to run over the top of the groups coming up. So then we got timed for a hole and then we caught them and waited about five holes in a row coming in. I don't know what the deal was there, but I won't mind talking to one of the officials about it.

Q. The front 9 is --

TOM BYRUM: We had nice speed on the front 9.

Q. How have you played this year and what problems have you had with your game; have you been tinkering with your game?

TOM BYRUM: I don't tinker anymore. I just wait for my tournaments. This is one of my favorite tournaments. I kind of wait for the courses that suit my game. Most of those seem to fall from around the summer through the fall, rather than -- there is a couple on the West Coast, but hardly anything in Florida that I play well in. So this is my time of year.

Q. How do you feel about starting on a par 3 hole?

TOM BYRUM: I don't mind it. I think it is -- it is okay. Don't have to worry about hitting the fairway, just the green, takes half of the worry out of it.

LEE PATTERSON: Why don't you go over the details.

TOM BYRUM: 1, I hit it just over just through the middle of green there on the left and had a nice little chip, made that. Just off the edge of the green. Probably 20, 25 feet. Basic par on No. 2. No. 3, I hit just in the first cut on the right side of the fairway and had to go around those trees and hit a nice shot that on the left side of the green pin-high and made about a 30-, 35-foot putt there. Then birdied 5, the par 5 just laid up, hit a sand wedge about eight feet.

LEE PATTERSON: 9, birdied.

TOM BYRUM: 9, I laid it back and hit a wedge about ten feet. Then I bogeyed 11, drove it into the left rough, hit it in the bunker, hit it out in the middle of the green and just 2-putted, which there is not a bad bogey. 14, I hit an 8-iron about ten feet, made birdie. 17 was my only really -- the only swing that I felt like I should have made a better swing. I had a wedge into the green and pulled it into the bunker. Hit a pretty good bunker shot that hit right on the edge of the fringe and ran -- took off on me a little bit, so I made a bogey there. Didn't hit a very good wedge shot on the last hole but those pins just aren't that easy. You want to be aggressive, but then if you are too aggressive you find yourself putting downhill with about a 25-, 30-foot putt that you can't make them; so you got to kind of bounce them in there a little bit.

Q. When you get off to a good start like this, do you allow yourself to think about winning a tournament at this early stage and is that something you have to fight at all?

TOM BYRUM: I think it is something that I try to -- not that -- I have only won once. It has been awhile. I think you need to put that in the back of your mind. It enters your mind but it is something that is so far away, so irrelevant at the time that you have to be -- have to realize that, you know, that is three days from now. I am just hoping that I have a chance to win on Sunday. I hope I am in the thick of it on the back nine on Sunday just like every week everybody would like to have that opportunity. So the first round is really such -- it is great to have a good first round but it is really just a -- you know, as far as getting in here and getting all hyped up about it, it is nothing to get too excited about.

Q. When was the last time you were in the hunt on the back nine on Sunday?

TOM BYRUM: Would have been last year, I don't know. I played good year here but I know, I had a couple of chances after that. Maybe Vancouver or -- I was playing good in Las Vegas, a good round or two at the end of -- so, I don't remember. Last year there weren't a lot of opportunities. This was one of them where I felt like a good round on the last day and I would have had a chance maybe, I don't know how far back I finished. There has been a few times but not nearly enough.

Q. Do you feel you are playing better this year?

TOM BYRUM: It is just about this point where I have played the same. I really don't know. Nothing great, just -- I don't know how to explain it. I don't play well until about June.

Q. What do you think it is going to take to win this tournament score-wise?

TOM BYRUM: I don't know. I hope three more of those and I like my chances, three more 68s. The way the course is playing -- there is a prediction for rain, I think, so if it rains you are going to have to start shooting it pretty low, but those greens are getting firm. Today they are going to -- you are really going to see some balls take off because they are already doing that on some of the shots. If the wind is blowing and it gets downwind that is even going to be harder to stop. Scores are not going to be that low today I don't think. It is going to be an exceptional round to be 5-under today.

Q. Because you started early today how much do you think that was an advantage?

TOM BYRUM: I think that was -- if there was any advantage I was the first one to hit this morning, so if there was any moisture left in those greens we had it for at least nine holes over, or at least for a hole over the group behind us. It is not getting any easier out there for sure right now. Wind is picking up and the greens are drying out right now what little they had in them.

Q. Did you play last week?

TOM BYRUM: Not at the Open. I think it was a good thing. Looks like. That looked like a tough course.

Q. It was.

LEE PATTERSON: Anything else? Thank you.

TOM BYRUM: Thanks.

End of FastScripts….

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