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April 6, 2006

Rod Pampling


CRAIG HEATLEY: Rod, congratulations, a great 72 this morning. Questions, ladies and gentlemen.

Q. You ought to be pretty pleased with that, 72?

ROD PAMPLING: Yes and no. Obviously 72 is a great score to start off with. I played really well out there, and just 13 and 16, I kind of let a shot go on both those holes.

On the whole, obviously it's a nice start to the tournament. But I figure I could have been in the red.

Q. What club did you hit on 13 and what happened?

ROD PAMPLING: 5 iron. I was just aiming for the center of the green and it's one of those, I think every time I've played, there's so much slope there, I think it actually double crosses yourself. You can put a good swing on it, which I think will go right to left, but it goes a little bit left to right and it's hard to trust that. Yeah, I just didn't trust it. I hit a good shot but obviously with that double cross, it just slid a little bit right and that's the way it goes.

Q. What does it say, do you think, that you're coming into the media center at even par at the Masters? Is it turning into the U.S. Open?

ROD PAMPLING: Well, I still think, I'm only first group out, so leader in the clubhouse I suppose. (Laughter).

There's guys, I think Rocco is 2 under and there are a few guys at 1 under. I'm sure it will be in the red by the time of the end of the day finishes.

I think the course is playing great. I don't think you can put it in the U.S. Open because they don't have the rough here. It's just a very good test of golf. You can be a foot either way and have a good shot and a bad shot. It's a fine line, and, you know, I think the golf course, it played fantastic and I wouldn't put it in the same toughness as a U.S. Open, no.

Q. What did you hit on 4, and how did 11 play?

ROD PAMPLING: On 4, I hit my 2 iron, my rescue club, and that was a great line there. If there was any more right, I think I would have been in the trap. It's a perfect club for right on the edge of the trap.

But I hit that 2 iron in there and 11, I hit driver, 7 iron to maybe ten-foot just left of the hole.

Q. Was there a bit of butterflies on the first tee this morning perhaps more so than starting any other event?

ROD PAMPLING: You know, I kept myself calm before I got there. I knew there was going to be butterflies, but I was just trying to relax before I teed off and just worked on keeping calm.

Yeah, once we got the call up, we were a little bit ahead of time, so it was nice not to think about it too long, just put the pin down and hit it, so it was nice.

Q. Weather wise, we've had a good week so far. How much different are the greens now to what they were at this time on the opening day last year; can you remember?

ROD PAMPLING: They are obviously a little bit softer now. They are playing fantastic right now. And last year, you weren't quite sure if they were going to bounce firm or stop. Whereas here, I think you're getting a pretty consistent bounce right now.

Q. Are they very quick?


Q. Seriously quick?

ROD PAMPLING: They are not seriously quick. I think Tuesday was seriously quick. I think they backed them down a little bit yesterday but they have kept them consistent today. It's a very nice speed.

Q. Any sort of coincidence picking to wear a green shirt today or not?

ROD PAMPLING: No, supposed to start with green and finish with green.

Q. Playing the course now under tournament conditions, how would you assess, being the first group through, how would you assess the course now with the changes that were made?

ROD PAMPLING: The way the course is playing now, I think the changes are good. The length is the fairways, you're getting that bounce, which is getting into those zones that Mr. Johnson was talking about, the 280, 300 zones. Once you're in that area, I suppose it's where they want their golf course to be played from. If it gets soft, obviously it's going to be quite difficult.

But at the moment, I think the changes, you know, they are fine. You're not sitting back hitting everything uphill.

Q. What did you see out there that might have been the most dramatic change on any particular hole, say 4 or 11, there's been a lot of conversation about those.

ROD PAMPLING: I think just a couple of those holes. Obviously 4, that's a long hole. But I think just a couple of holes like 11, 15; it's the holes where you can't see the rough and it's come in a lot more. Like you can't look at the tree line expecting that to be the first cut. You see a lot of shots come down where if you're left of the trees, you're always fine. But now they are just getting caught up in that rough so you've got to be a lot straighter off the tee on those holes. You can't use the hill.

That's what I think the biggest difference is, that rough just holds them up, and especially on 11, if you're right there, you have to virtually fade it around, the second shot there.

Q. There's guys out there who are well over par, and you've played five rounds here now and you've done well every time. Do you have an explanation for it?

ROD PAMPLING: Hitting the ball where I'm aiming. I just like the way that you've got to work your way around the golf course. The more of these courses that we play, the better. I think that you can't fire at every hole. You've got to take your medicine if you're in the wrong spot and hit to a part of the green and rely on your putting and your short game. I think it's just you've really got to think your way around this golf course. I like to do that instead of just getting it up there and smashing it. You have to use the hills to get close to the pins.

Q. Can you run through what you did this morning please, what time you got up, what time you had breakfast, what time you got to the course?

ROD PAMPLING: We were up at, it was 5:40. Showered, breakfast, left here at quarter past 6:00 to get here for half past 6:00. Went into the locker room, just sat down, had a little bit more food, just some fruit, things like that. It was about ten to 7:00, we just kind of cruised out, tried to warm up. It was a bit fresh this morning, so just got out a little bit early and warmed up. Yeah, 40 minutes there and half hour back over on the putting green.

Q. What do you average off the tee, please, with the driver?

ROD PAMPLING: On the stats, I think it's like 290.

Q. With the rough the way it is as you say, what makes why are the scores so high? Is it just the added length?

ROD PAMPLING: I think it's just the golf course. I'm sure there's plenty of high scores every year. It's just the guys who get out of position, it's tough to get a par out of it. If you're out of position

Q. You mean out of position on the hole?

ROD PAMPLING: If you leave your second shot and you're in the wrong spot on the greens, it's tough to make a par. I'm sure there's been over the years, not just because the changes are here. Every year there's guys who will shoot a lot of numbers.

I think now the course is playing firm. We've had a few years where it's been wet; I think you can get at it a bit more. But with the course being firm and fast, you can't get away with it.

Q. I think this is your first consecutive round at Augusta that was par or below. What sort of confidence does this give you and what are you seeing, how does it fit your eye on the course to have success back to back to back now?

ROD PAMPLING: Obviously it gives me a great boost of confidence, but still you can't just be going out there thinking, I like the course, I'm going to play good. You've got to have ball control, distance control with your irons, and that's what we worked on for a lot of years is to get distance control. I think it really pays off on golf courses like this where you've got an exact number to hit it to, and as long as you can get it somewhere near there, you're going to have a chance to get around the golf course.

Q. How close were you to exact today?

ROD PAMPLING: Obviously there was a lot of holes where I hit it really good. I hit a lot of shots in the spots we wanted to. They might be close, but we hit them to where we wanted to.

Q. Now, when it plays hard and fast like this, is it more the ball striker's course as opposed to just a putting contest?

ROD PAMPLING: Well, any tournament is going to be a putting competition. But I think it certainly helps if you have your distance control, and that's what certainly pays off here. It will definitely help you a lot more than if you're struggling with your contact, you might hit the right numbers.

But it's a bonus to hit your exact numbers all the time.

Q. Can you remember how many pins you actually aimed for?

ROD PAMPLING: Today, it would be maybe half a dozen. Generally any of the middle to back pins, you can go at, but you still are hoping that you get to bounce the rolls up pin high. You're not trying to get pin high, that's for sure.

Q. What were your best distance control shots today, 2 or 3?

ROD PAMPLING: Best distance control, well, 9 is one that stood out. It was a perfect shot in there, just hit the tier just before the pin.

Q. How many yards and what club?

ROD PAMPLING: I hit 7 iron and it was 156 meters to the pin, 171 yards.

Then on 18, we had I think it was 167 meters or something like that and it was just a nice 6. We had a bit of helping breeze up the hill there.

Q. How many yards?


Q. Were you pin high each time?


Q. Close, how close?

ROD PAMPLING: 9, we were about six foot and on 18, it was about maybe 15 foot.

Q. Did you have on Tuesday, or Monday, you hit 2 iron into No. 1. What did you hit this morning?

ROD PAMPLING: This morning, it was a 7 iron this morning, yeah. But then Monday, you know, it was back into the breeze and the fairway, it didn't bounce. And today, well, I ripped it off the first, and the further it lands up, the bigger kick you're going to get. With the fairway firming up, it got up the top there.

7 was still a middle, short of middle landing position, too. So we weren't trying to get back to that pin at all.

Q. The two examples you've given here, both 9 and 18 are uphill approaches, are those clubs you would use for that distance or did you have to factor something else in there for going uphill?

ROD PAMPLING: That was slightly well, 9, I knew I could just step up there and hit it as hard as I liked. It wasn't going long. 18 was another good number. It was a number that normally I'd hit maybe about eight, nine yards shorter on 18, but with the up and the slightly helping, it kind of leveled out perfectly.

Q. The Scottish Claymore, that trophy you won earlier, what kind of use have you found for that?

ROD PAMPLING: The what, sorry?

Q. One of my colleagues said you won this huge sword/trophy at an event.


Q. It's called the Claymore. What is it like on the centerpiece? What have you done with something like that?

ROD PAMPLING: The one we get, it just comes in a wooden box and it's maybe a foot and a half long. Yeah, it's just in the cabinet in it's own little wooden box.

Q. For the kids to play with?

ROD PAMPLING: No, they won't be playing with that one. That's a little bit dangerous, that one. (Laughter.)

CRAIG HEATLEY: Rod, thanks for coming in. Well played and good luck for the rest of the week.

End of FastScripts.

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