May 30, 1996
WES SEELEY: Wayne Westner, 33, 35, 68, 4 under par and tied for the lead. Before we get started, I have copies of his record for this year from the rack out front, but it includes three wins and a playoff loss on the South African Tour all before March 3rd. Thanks for coming in. How about telling us about your round.
WAYNE WESTNER: Not bad. I played, I felt, really solid. I got off to a good start. I birdied 1 and 3. I hit a bit of a negative shot at 4. I hit it right and tipped on to about 4 foot and missed the putt. I got a little flustered there and I didn't reach the next par 5 in 2 and made par there. I knocked it on in -- is 7, the par 5? 7, I hit it about six foot.
WES SEELEY: What else did you hit in there?
WAYNE WESTNER: Driver, 3-wood. And I missed that, parred the par 3 and then I birdied 9.
WES SEELEY: What did you hit in it and how long?
WAYNE WESTNER: I hit 5-wood, 8-iron about 15 foot left of the flag and made it.
WES SEELEY: 1 and 2?
WAYNE WESTNER: 1, hit my tee shot into the bunker right of the tee. Hit 5-iron to about 4 foot right of the flag. And 3, I hit it about 2 foot from the hole with a 5-wood and a 9-iron. 10, I hooked my tee shot into the trap left. I was right up against the face and tried to go at the green, but I caught the lip. I hit it just short; pitched up to about eight foot and missed it. 11, I hit a 5-wood, 4-iron, sand wedge to about 10 foot, missed it. The short iron I hit it about 15, 20 foot, missed it. I birdied the next. I hit 3-wood, 5-iron to about six foot. That was 13, was it?
WES SEELEY: Correct.
WAYNE WESTNER: 14, I had to make a decision on the tee. I didn't know what to do. Hit a 5-wood into the right rough and then hit a wedge right over the back, which is not the place you want to be and managed to make 5, which was a good score there because I was looking at a double. Par 5, I hit driver, 5-wood to about 4 foot and missed that. What is the next -- par 3, I hit the front right edge, didn't hit a very good shot and 2-putted for par. 16 -- that was 16. 17, I hit my tee shot into the right part of the fairway, hit 6-iron right front left bunker, and I up-and-downed it there from about six inches. 18, I hit it into the right hand bunker off the tee and 7-iron to about six feet behind the flag and made that. So I felt I played pretty good. I didn't drive the ball exceptionally well today. Hit some good tee shots, but also hit a few loose ones, and I didn't putt very well. The greens are really fast - some of these darn old putts are just like lost, but I suppose you get used to that in a couple of days.
Q. Are the greens faster here than you are used to playing?
WAYNE WESTNER: Yeah, they are a lot faster now. Greens are always wet where we play, so they are a lot slower, but, you know -- yeah, they are a lot faster, a lot smoother, so you have got to shorten up your stroke quite a bit. I haven't quite got that under control really. I haven't quite figured out how to be aggressive on the greens, because if you are aggressive and you miss it, you got like a five, 6-footer coming back, so... But I am sure I will get the hang of that.
Q. What are your plans for the U.S. this year? Going to play much?
WAYNE WESTNER: Well, I am not too sure. I am going to play as many as I can. I think I am allowed to play seven, not including The Majors, and I am playing this week, next week, and the Fed Ex, and then I am playing the International, the World Series. I have written to quite a few others, and I am hopefully going to try and play as many as I can; try and play the PGA, try and play in the Open. I really like to play over here. It is very similar to what we have got at home; golf courses are the same. Style of golf -- you can hit the ball in the air; you don't have to play running shots. If you got 155 yards, you can hit an 8-iron. In Europe, you got 155 yards, you can hit anything from a 3-wood to a wedge. I suppose it would be nice to come and play over here, but as you guys know, it is very difficult to get on this Tour, so I am exempt in Europe for the next three years. So it gives me a chance to try and play as much as I can this year.
Q. Have you ever been to the Tour school?
WAYNE WESTNER: Only once, 1995. I got through to the finals; I didn't make it. I didn't play any good. And I just think, you know, even if you get your card on the Tour school, it still doesn't guarantee that you can play. So I have never really bothered to go back to the Tour school. Also, because the Tour school has always coincided with our South African Tour, and our South African Tour carries quite a few exemptions for us all over the world, so I have never really had a chance. I have been playing in Europe since 1991, and it is a good place to learn; but it is not the kind of place that I'd like to spend the next six years playing golf. It is really difficult with the languages and the travelling and the hotels. You guys have got it really good over here, I must tell you.
Q. You hit -- a lot of shots were with your 5-wood. Is that a club that you use a lot, something that you just have for this week?
WAYNE WESTNER: I use my 5-wood a lot. It is a really nice club. I used to carry a 1-iron. And I replaced my 1-iron with my 5-wood and I find I can just hit so many different shots with a 5-wood. You can hit it low. You can hit it high. You can hit it right-to-left, left-to-right. You can do just about anything with it. You can hit it from 200 to like 250, whereas a 1-iron is like 230 and you can't hit those, like, soft shots, you know? I do enjoy my 5-wood. It is a really nice club.
Q. Doesn't sound like you hit your driver very much.
WAYNE WESTNER: I guess I hit my driver when I have to, you know. I hit my 3-wood 260, 265, so when I really need to hit a driver, then I will hit a driver; otherwise, I guess it is just positional play. If I am driving the ball well, which I normally do, I hit driver a lot. But if you are going off with your driver a little, it is silly to just keep hitting it, you know. I think you got to be on the fairway.
Q. How old are you, Wayne?
WAYNE WESTNER: 34.
Q. Did you see much of a change during the course of your round today in the conditions out there? The guys this morning that played had a tough time getting it very far under par. Seems like a lot of guys this afternoon are running it lower.
WAYNE WESTNER: Well, I don't think so. I think the conditions this morning were pretty -- well, I teed off at what, 11 o'clock? So what is that, morning or afternoon?
Q. That gives you an hour.
WAYNE WESTNER: Okay. When I got here, I think it was a little cold this morning. When I went outside from the hotel it was really cold, but by the third or fourth hole -- I think on the third hole I had taken my Jersey off and my sweater off and I was fine. Might have had something to do with the cold, but I don't think the conditions changed much.
Q. You are pretty long with the driver. How far would you say you hit it ordinarily?
WAYNE WESTNER: Not as far as Daly.
Q. But pretty far?
WAYNE WESTNER: I don't know. I think at sea level with him, about 275, 280 carry.
Q. 285 average in '93.
WAYNE WESTNER: Yeah, I averaged, in Europe, 280 for a couple of years, and I don't have a really long driver. I have got a 43 and a half inch driver with a 10 and a half degree loft. It is not really a long driver. I just like to try and hit the ball in the fairway, but I can reach most par fours so it is adequate for me.
Q. Did you play Wentworth last week?
WAYNE WESTNER: Yeah.
Q. How did you play?
WAYNE WESTNER: I didn't play any good. I think I finished plus 3. But again, it is very difficult. It has been raining there everyday. It was really cold. Just nice to be able to stand on the practice tee and make a swing, you know? Did you see on television the week before at the Bensen & Hedges? 50 mile an hour winds.
Q. What is your best finish in the U.S.? Didn't you play well in the International one year?
WAYNE WESTNER: I played well in the International a couple of times. I finished 18th last year in the International, but I don't think I have played much more than five or six events over here in total.
Q. Did you say you are going to try to play in the U.S. Open?
WAYNE WESTNER: Yeah, I am going to try to play U.S. Open.
Q. You need to go through what, the sectional qualifier then?
WAYNE WESTNER: I got to qualify on Monday.
WAYNE WESTNER: At Lake and Brookside. Had a look at Lake yesterday. Looks pretty straightforward, and I believe Brookside is quite a good golf course.
Q. Talk about your start this year, what, the 3 wins back home and --
WAYNE WESTNER: I missed the first part.
Q. Talk about your start this year, getting out with the three wins and is that your best?
WAYNE WESTNER: Yeah, I won the money list at home, which I have been trying to do for a long time. I had a quite a few seconds, but I played -- really good at the start of the year and then took four weeks off, and I haven't played much better since then. But I guess it is just -- I think it is just the weather in Europe. You come out of sunshine and golf courses that you know, and you're playing windy, rainy, hard golf courses. It is different.
Q. Did you make any kind of change that led to all the wins? What can you attribute that streak to?
WAYNE WESTNER: It is not any one thing. It is a whole lot of things. You're always learning, I think, in the process of learning. Every year you learn a little bit more, and then eventually you get to the stage where you can actually win. And I have won before, but not as many tournaments as I won in the beginning of the year. And I putted a lot better this year in the beginning. I haven't been putting really good the last few weeks putting, but I think that is an important ingredient. If you hit the ball semi-straight and you putt the ball, you are going to shoot under par most of time.
Q. You were talking on TV earlier about the difference in your game now from when you played here a few years ago. Could you just go back over that again?
WAYNE WESTNER: Couple of things. I am a lot shallower on the ball. I have got a much softer flight on the ball as opposed to what I used -- especially here, you got this very fine grass in the fairways, whereas we have Kikuya. It is a very course, thick grass. Are you familiar with it? We have always been taught to hit big divots. All of a sudden, you come over here and you can't really hit big divots. You have got to hit the ball clean. So that was quite a big change, and I got a lot shallower with my irons than I used to be so that makes a big difference.
Q. Did you get any key advice from Fulton or Ernie about playing here?
WAYNE WESTNER: No, not really.
Q. Win list for three years before -- (inaudible)?
WAYNE WESTNER: Yeah.
Q. What was going on? Were you playing the Tour regularly?
WAYNE WESTNER: I was playing pretty good. I won in Dubai in 1993. I had two decent years in Europe; made 150,000 pounds and 1,000 -- well, what did I make? I think I only made 82,000 pounds last year, but I didn't play much at all last year. And I have never really played full-time, because I just don't like to stay out there for five or six weeks in a row. I normally play three weeks and go home for a couple weeks.
Q. What do you do when you go home?
WAYNE WESTNER: Anything, really. I enjoy conservation quite a lot, spend a lot of time in the bush. More things to life than playing golf. I don't think I take it as easy as Bruce Lietzke. I don't take it as easy as he does, but I certainly haven't played a lot. But this year I am going to try and play quite a bit. I think I will try and play a full season and see what happens.
Q. Could you explain what conservation stuff you do? I mean, what do you do in the bush?
WAYNE WESTNER: How much time have you got?
Q. We have got all afternoon.
WAYNE WESTNER: Conservation is preservation of game, monitoring game. We have got a conservancy in Zimbabwe. Well, actually, I rather you didn't say that, but we have got a game farm in South Africa, and I prefer if you said that, that we have got a "game farm" in South Africa. And conservation is a great thing. You learn so much about the simplicity of life when you are in the bush and doing game counts and really preserving the animals. A lot of people disagree with killing animals, but once you put a fence around a certain piece of property, it can only accommodate so many animals, so you have to do game counts, and you have to see how many animals you can keep and how many species you can keep and the rest you have to set-off or you have to get rid of them. And it is an ongoing process. It is a pretty full-time job. But it is something I really enjoy doing because there is nobody out there -- well there is a lot of people that are trying to do it, but I don't think enough. I'd love to see my kids see animals in the wild, you know, to see a lion from 50 yards or to see an elephant from 50 yards not have to go to the zoo to see it. Seeing a lion in the bush face to face and seeing a lion in a zoo is not the same thing - not even remotely; especially when there is nothing between the two you have, you know, it is interesting.
Q. Do you carry a weapon upon with you when you do this?
WAYNE WESTNER: Yeah, but the bush is very simple in that if you obey the rules, you live, and if you don't, you die. There are certain rules that you just don't break. Most of the dangerous animals are nocturnal so you just got to be careful at night. You don't go walking through the bush at night and expect to come back alive. At night you stay in your camp and you sit around your camp fire and you drink beer, I suppose. But during the day your predators are pretty -- well, placid, really. They don't -- a lion is not going to jump up and attack you in the middle of the day.
Q. Was Ernie Els in the field in any of your tournament victories this year?
WAYNE WESTNER: Yeah, he was there, I think at the FNB. And he wasn't there at the first two. The other guys McNulty and most of the other South African players were there but Ernie wasn't there. He was only in the one that I won.
Q. You said you didn't play a lot last year. Did you have an injury or just decided not to play very much?
WAYNE WESTNER: Just didn't feel like playing.
Q. You just put the club's away?
WAYNE WESTNER: I played a bit. I think I played 12 or 13 tournaments, but I just really didn't feel like playing. You are not playing well, you are not finishing in the top 10 you just really don't feel like playing, why play?
Q. You won the Order of Merit of South Africa?
WAYNE WESTNER: Yes.
Q. That exempts you for the British Open, but it didn't exempt you for the U.S. Open. Do you have any feelings on that? Craig Parry is in the same position winning the Australian, he also has to qualify for the U.S. Open?
WAYNE WESTNER: Well, there are so many extenuating circumstances to all these exemption things that take place, you are never going to please everybody all the time. I think they certainly may try to please as many of the people most of the time, but they are never going to please everybody. I thought I might get into The Masters this year being on the money list and I didn't and I wasn't particularly upset about it. I think I am more a fatalist. You get in, you get in; you don't, you don't. It would have been nice to not have to qualify and spend that time at the golf course practicing, but qualifying is not a major problem. If you don't make it, at least you got a week off.
WES SEELEY: Anything else for Wayne Westner?
WAYNE WESTNER: Okay, guys.
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