July 2, 1996
LES UNGER: Tom joins us as our defending champion. He is going to go back on the 10th hole as soon as we are finished here. Tom, couple of comments about the course and then we will go to questions.
TOM WEISKOPF: Well, I think the golf course is a wonderful course to host a Senior Open. It is totally different than the golf course that we played last year. Much shorter, much more layups, rough is not as tough but, you know, it is in perfect condition. Just absolutely perfect condition. But it is a much different style course than last year. Much different style. Any questions, guys?
Q. What type of player does the course favor? Last year it favored the long hitter what about this year.
TOM WEISKOPF: This course does not favor a long hitter. This -- it just doesn't have the length that last year's course had. It doesn't have the difficulty in the rough that last year had. Now when I played the press outing here, was that six weeks ago, Les? When I was here in May, the rough was tougher or as tough as what I experienced at Oakland Hills. And that is not evident right now. So what it does, I think this golf course now brings more people into the spectrum.
Q. It has been a year since your victory at Congressional. How has it been a year being Senior U.S. Open Champion?
TOM WEISKOPF: Well, it is very gratifying for many reasons. First of all, I accomplished a goal that I had announced when I turned 50 that was very, very important to me, and that was to some day win a Senior Open. Just because of the challenge of the golf course because we don't experience this type of a challenge on a week to week basis on the Senior Tour. This is very unique and it is just like it has the same uniqueness that it had when we played in younger years, you know, in the U.S. Open. I mean, they don't experience those types of golf courses or those types of conditions on a week to week basis. Although, the difficulty of their courses is much more difficult on a week to week basis. So, you know, when you go back to these old courses that are proven -- that have hosted major championships and you do become a winner, you know, I think you really kind of are a part of history, just from the standpoint that they have proven themselves in the past and produced many fine champions and been very stern tests of golf. I enjoy that type of a challenge. The other important thing was and probably the most evident thing and I talked about it for just about a year, talked to you about it before, I think more of my fans and more people were -- enjoyed that win with me than ever in the past. I think more people, I just became more aware of my fans and they just made me feel very proud. It is quite an honor. It really is.
Q. Tom, the rough isn't up and I am wondering if the rough isn't up and the greens aren't quite as fast, how would --
TOM WEISKOPF: No, no, I didn't say they are not as quite as fast.
Q. Are they --?
TOM WEISKOPF: I never said that the greens weren't.
Q. I know. I said that.
TOM WEISKOPF: The greens are very small. They are very firm and they are very fast. So if you keep knocking the ball in the rough, Jim, you are going to find places that you are not going to hit the ball on the green. But it is easier to get around the green from the rough than it was last year, or like at the Open this year, you know, you knock the ball in the rough, you couldn't get around the green. You could only get anywhere from, you know, 70 to 30 yards from the green all the time. Now you have a reasonable chance, if you play an excellent golf shot because of the design of this golf course to land the ball short, if you can control it and roll the ball onto the surface, that is what I am saying. So consequently, I think that and because of the lack of length compared to last year, there is more players that enter into the spectrum, this week. And there is nothing wrong with that. That is just -- that is just this style of golf course. Now Jack Nicklaus won here in 1973. Now we played some longer tees and the rough was a little bit heavier, but must be a heck of a course because the best player that played the game won.
Q. How many 3-woods or 1-irons are you going to hit.
TOM WEISKOPF: A lot. I will drive -- I hit a 3-wood or 1-iron on 1, 2, three holes on the front side. Possibly 4. 10, 12, 14, 15, 4 holes on the back for sure, and possibly 5, if I catch 18 downwind, it will be a 3-wood. So there is a lot more layups from the teeing areas, I think, for most people than what we experienced last year.
Q. Have you changed any as a person as to what happened at Congressional?
TOM WEISKOPF: I don't know. Much more appreciative of people. The response that people have toward me. Much more appreciative to have the opportunity to play the game on a senior level whenever I can. I wish I could play more. And I just don't take it as, you know, it is not as hard-core. It is not as -- I guess I can laugh at myself a lot more. I understand my bad days and can look at those and my bad shots a lot easier than I could 20 years ago. But I think that happened a couple of years ago, to tell you the truth, as I got older.
Q. Can you compare your game coming into this week to a year ago, Tom?
TOM WEISKOPF: Well, I don't think it is quite as sharp. It is not -- I feel comfortable. I feel comfortable, but I don't feel quite as confident. And the only reason I say that is maybe I lack a little bit of the motivation that I had going into last year because I had -- I have won, you know what I mean? However, I will say this, has anybody repeated?
TOM WEISKOPF: So I had never done that. I don't think -- yes, I have a long time goal, but that is my goal. That would be my goal is to defend it and I am not worried about it. I don't worry about my golf game. It is more of an emotional psychological attitude. My game just evolves around those rules. Has nothing to do with how sharp I am hitting the ball. It is just how I feel. If I can motivate myself. If I can stay interested, and you know, try to achieve a defense, that is my goal, but my game will take care of itself just because of the attitude.
Q. I am sure you have answered this one a bunch of times before, but forgive me, I am not from around here, I am not too sure I know the answer. How far back do you go with this course?
TOM WEISKOPF: I don't go back very far at all. Just 1973.
Q. That was --
TOM WEISKOPF: I grew up playing public links golf in this area, and when I left and went to Arizona then my mother was able because she was a widow to join this club.
Q. So this was after you left?
TOM WEISKOPF: This was after I left. Long after I left Ohio. My brother was the club champion here in 1979, but I never even played here with them, not one time. So all my rounds of golf are tournament rounds on this golf course. So there is probably some guys here that have played more rounds of golf on this course than I have.
Q. How far away from here was home.
TOM WEISKOPF: Bedford Maple Heights.
Q. Which is --
TOM WEISKOPF: That is 10, 15 miles; is that about right, George?
TOM WEISKOPF: Less than 10.
Q. You never played this course as a kid?
TOM WEISKOPF: Never. Never did.
Q. What is a good number to shoot for this week.
TOM WEISKOPF: That is a good question. Well, I didn't think that I would -- I didn't think I'd shoot what I did last year, you know. I will say 8 to 12-under. If the weather is perfect.
Q. Rain will make it even lower?
TOM WEISKOPF: That will make it easier if it rains. But I would say 8 to 12-under, somewhere in that realm. Last year I thought 4 to 6-under and I don't even remember what I shot last year, 11?
TOM WEISKOPF: 13, okay. These guys are very good at what they do. There is a lot of wonderful players that are playing well. I would say Hale is -- I would say he is the odds-on favorite. Aoki is close second. Nicklaus is third. That is the way I rank it. Perfect course for those two guys that I just mentioned.
Q. Which two of those three?
TOM WEISKOPF: The first two. Hale and Aoki. Aoki just played fantastic. He is a marvelous control type of player, finesse, great short-iron player, this is that type of a golf course. You know, Hale is just methodical. His execution is almost flawless. He has the patience of Jobe. He is a great competitor, and Jack, I just don't know how much Jack has played. That would be probably just how much has he played. Competitive? He is the best competitor and if the conditions get a little bit windy and very dry and hot, then I'd give the advantage to him.
LES UNGER: Tom, thank you.
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