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March 19, 2006

Rod Pampling


JOE CHEMYCZ: We welcome Rod Pampling in. Rod, an even par 72. Kind of a wild finish there, but just I'll let you talk about the day and how it unfolded and how it finished on a positive note.

ROD PAMPLING: Yeah, the day was going great. All I was trying to do out there was not make any mistakes. If you had a chance for birdie, you go for it. Pretty much hopefully make someone chase me. Obviously I hit that one out of bounds, which I didn't even think it was out of bounds there, that's how wide it was.

We regrouped straight after that, and then obviously Greg made that putt on 14, the par 3, and then it was like back in chase mode, which I think got my head obviously back into aggressive mode because you can make birdie straightaway.

Yeah, I didn't birdie 16, which is slightly disappointing.

And then obviously on 17, I figured my chances were just about done once I had missed that putt. So I was sitting back before Greg had putted and just telling myself that I had to make birdie on the last. That was what I needed to do. And then as we all saw, I don't know what to say, just whatever happened to Greg there, just gave me that boost of confidence when I got on the last. I just got up, hit a really nice tee shot and just hit it in the center of the green, and thankfully two putts was good enough.

Q. Were you even watching on 17 or were you walking to the 18th green?

ROD PAMPLING: I started to walk. When he missed that first putt, then I just figured, oh, well, I'm still one behind. And then I caught it on my eye as it came back out, and yeah, that was obviously it was a shock. You never want to see anyone do that.

But, yeah, it just gave me the confidence on 18. And instead of having to make birdie, I could just put a nice, solid tee shot and put the pressure on Greg again to come up with the goods.

Q. How much sympathy did you feel for what happened to Greg there?

ROD PAMPLING: You just hate to see anything like that happen. First, you don't want to win a tournament like that, but you just hate to see that happen to anyone. It's such a cruel game, but the thing is, it's happened to us. There's not one guy who that hasn't happened to. Thankfully it didn't happen to me. Yeah, as I said, it's cruel, but, you know, that's golf.

Q. He threw four birdies at you the first ten holes, and you've still got a two shot lead until 13. And then the way you played 18, do you look at that stretch and tell yourself that you deserve this, you earned this?

ROD PAMPLING: You know what, I played nice, solid golf. It will always be looked at as the one that Greg kind of 3 putted, but I know I played great all week.

Yeah, I definitely deserve it. I didn't back down. I kept fighting all the way, and as soon as obviously it was a bad shot on the par 4 that went out of bounds. But to get up and hit one straight down the middle after that and just get back on the saddle; yeah, I definitely deserve the trophy.

Q. What did you hit off 13?

ROD PAMPLING: A really bad 3 wood. (Laughter).

Q. You had iron there yesterday, didn't you?

ROD PAMPLING: I think it was iron, yeah. It was different wind. We had a downbreeze yesterday. The club wasn't a problem. It was the same shot I hit on the Saturday of the third hole. Just balked a little bit, but yeah, this one obviously went a little bit further.

Q. Did you say anything to Greg, or do you remember anything Greg said to you after the round?

ROD PAMPLING: Just when we were in signing the cards. I just said, "I don't know what to say but I'm sorry." He said it's not my fault; he did it. You know, it's a tough call. You don't quite know what to say.

Q. I know you felt like you deserved to win, but does it feel like you won?

ROD PAMPLING: You know, I gave away two shots on 13 and obviously Greg did the same on 17. I know coming down the stretch we were level on the last hole and that's you know, I made par to win the tournament.

Q. Do you remember anything close to that happening to you in competition?

ROD PAMPLING: To myself?

Q. On either end of it?

ROD PAMPLING: Oh, I've never seen it before like coming down the stretch. I've definitely I wouldn't say not on the 71 hole, I know I've done it before, but not on the 71 hole when I was in front. But trust me, it's happened before.

Q. Did you feel like 18th tee, even though you were tied, you had the edge, because he looked pretty shell shocked to us.

ROD PAMPLING: That's going to hurt, it doesn't matter who it is, that's going to hurt. Yeah, I just had that boost of confidence to go out there and hit a great tee shot, and that's what I said, put the pressure back on Greg and make sure I hit a good tee shot.

He still hit a nice tee shot. It's just that it's such a hard second shot in there, and I think he must have caught a little flyer. When it went in that back trap, it just allowed me the freedom not to aim as far right as I could. I could just hit it center of the green and hopefully a 2 putt would be good enough.

Q. When something like that happens and you go from, you know, burying your head in your hands with one hole to play to suddenly being right back in the race, how do you make that adjustment?

ROD PAMPLING: I had not buried myself in my hands because I knew I birdied yesterday

Q. On 18.

ROD PAMPLING: Yeah, right. That's what I was telling myself, you've got to birdie 1, par is not a gimmee on 18 by any stretch.

So I knew a birdie was a chance to get me there. And that was my thought plan. I was just telling myself just running through the shots I hit yesterday and then, yeah, I didn't change my plan on the tee. It was still keep it down the left side, that's a slightly better angle. No, I was never down on myself telling myself that it's done. There's always a chance.

Q. Are you having a hard time enjoying this as much as you might normally because of the whole baggage thing and the way it ended?

ROD PAMPLING: A little bit. But still, you know, once we get later on tonight, you'll definitely go through and realize, you know, you have won the golf tournament and will definitely enjoy a lot.

Q. At 13, it seemed to really change you and how you were carrying yourself. You were just moving along, making pars, making pars, and suddenly, boom, double; how did that change your approach to the whole round?

ROD PAMPLING: Obviously it was a bad tee shot. I didn't feel down on myself. I go up there and hit a great next shot, I hit a good shot in there. I wasn't down on myself. I knew even hitting that shot, it wasn't like I hit that shot to go two or three behind. It was more of, well, you know, now someone's with me. I've got to just play a little bit more aggressive and not be as careful out there.

Q. Do you know Greg that well, or is it the feelings that a golfer would have for another golfer normally under those circumstances?

ROD PAMPLING: I don't know Greg all that well. But yeah, it's definitely a feeling any golfer is going to have for another golfer when that happens. As I said, it's a cruel game and you just never want to see that happen.

Q. So what is the sequence you're going to remember from this week? You know the world is going to remember what happened with Greg. What's going to stick out in your mind about the week?

ROD PAMPLING: Just the golf shots I hit through throughout the day. I played 8 at 3 under for the week, and that's a tough hole.

Just the shots I hit all week. The birdie on 18 yesterday, that to me, that's one of best golf shots I've hit under the situation. And then I know I played well.

It was unfortunate what happened to Greg, but it wasn't lucky that I won. I hit a lot of great shots. I only hit really one bad shot all day, and the rest of it was under the gun all day. I'm proud of the way I played out there.

Q. How many navy blue blazers do you own now?

ROD PAMPLING: One. And this is a good one. (Laughter).

Q. You admitted last night that today was going to be a big day in your career. Now that you've won under these circumstances, do you see this as a huge building block or can we not read too much into it?

ROD PAMPLING: Oh, definitely, as I mentioned yesterday, my Sunday's weren't that great. That was something, I had a lot of Top 10s last year, and it was something that we had to address is why my Sundays weren't that great.

And even San Diego this year, it wasn't a great Sunday, but I wasn't hitting it, so I didn't get down on that. I just kept working on what I've been working on. I think definitely now knowing that having the lead and playing as well as I did all day, it's definitely going to be a boost of confidence knowing that I can play on a Sunday and win a golf tournament.

Q. Did you and Angela have an official session last night?

ROD PAMPLING: Yeah, you know, we just went through the tournament and the holes. It all was good. She said I looked good out there, I didn't get down on myself. It was all positive and today, you know, we just talked about a few little things. Just more preparation so I don't think about things out there. It's already been done and I just continue with my game.

Q. Maybe Greg might need her number. Can you comprehend, unfair question to ask you, granted, what it would be like to be in his position and trying to deal with that tonight, do you comprehend that?

ROD PAMPLING: It's just going to have a huge knot in your stomach, to know that you've had it. I suppose a consolation is he obviously has finished second. But, yeah, it's a huge hole in your stomach. Like it wasn't anywhere near what's happened to him, but getting back to Carnoustie, when that happens, it hurts, but you've just got to look at the positives. I'm sure, you know, we all saw Greg play today, he's a great player and he'll definitely get another chance.

Q. As you said, when the dust kind of settles tomorrow and the next day when you get up to the TPC, are you going to have the same kind of feelings winning and carrying that momentum over to next week at a course where you made a couple of cuts and where your countrymen have played very well at?

ROD PAMPLING: Sure. If you don't get a boost of confidence out of winning a golf tournament, you know, there's something wrong.

You know, I like the golf course. It's very similar to here, where you can't just get up there and blast away. You've got to work your way around the golf course. You know, it was interesting, my coach, he got in on Sunday and just said, "Let's work on the game, get us ready for next week and The Masters" and all that. So if we can win just getting ready, who knows what will happen next week.

Q. The run from 16, looked like you had the edge there briefly, what happened on your second shot, can you run through the hole?

ROD PAMPLING: I had just been hitting little draws all day. I just aimed at the left edge of the trap. It was basically just hitting a shot there. Obviously you didn't just want to err left; that was the only place you could not go there. The wind just pushed it a little bit. But in the trap, I knew the trap was a good position to be in, but my ball just didn't roll back far enough. So I thought I had one of those uphill trap shots. And the sand actually felt quite firm but when I had hit the shot, the club just went straight under the ball.

Yeah, it was a bit of a Greg, I walked past and I saw Greg had a decent lie. So I knew he didn't have a lie where he was hoping to get across the water. I knew he could get across the water. So I knew the situation was still we were both going to be going for the green. So it was disappointing, but I knew it was not the end.

Q. What was your club there?


Q. Are you serious when you said you didn't know there was OB on 13?

ROD PAMPLING: Well, you don't look that far right. (Laughter). Trust me, it was a long way right.

Q. What happened with the swing?

ROD PAMPLING: I just balked at the shot. The main thought was, you know, it's such a fairway that you have to hit; the second shot is only a short one in, but if you're in the rough, it's extremely difficult. You know, I was aiming left, just wanted to hit the strong shot and just let the breeze come back. Got a little bit quick and just bailed out of it. Yeah, normally, because you don't want to go too far left there, but obviously I went the extreme and it went a long way right.

Q. I know you've already covered a lot of ground here, but I wonder if you can just relate at all how this feels different from when you sat there Sunday after The INTERNATIONAL?

ROD PAMPLING: Obviously there's two different finishes. One, you're just on a huge buzz, first golf tournament to win. It was fantastic feeling just to win on the U.S. Tour.

And then and to win Arnold's tournament, that makes it so much more special. You know, forgetting what happened on 17, I know I hit the shots I needed to hit on 18 to win the golf tournament. It's a huge thrill to win another tournament and to win your second event and being Arnold's tournament, besides the majors, it doesn't get much better than that.

Q. The last three holes, a lot can happen on those. You can make an eagle on 16, you can make double the last two and make birdie, was it any different playing those last three holes today with the tournament at stake, as opposed to say a Thursday or Friday and just talk about those holes in general as a finish?

ROD PAMPLING: 16, 17, 18, they are three great golf holes. Especially with that pin on 16 today, that's the first time I think we've had that on a Sunday. So normally you take enough club to carry all the water so it's never in play. But today obviously it was in play.

Yeah, you know, Saturday, Sunday, obviously is a lot more pressure and it's not the basic Thursday, Friday, get up and hit the golf shot and knock it on. It always seems easier those days.

It was kind of getting down to a bit of match play I suppose, seeing where Greg hit it in the trap, I wasn't forced to hit a great golf shot. I knew my bunker play was solid. I think I had had it up and down every one this week. So I wasn't worried. It was more just left edge, just hit the shot; it was just more not going left. That was the thought plan there.

17, with that breeze, it's a strong hole. It was more, again, just center of the green, just hit the shot and just come over it a little bit and the wind pulled it. Still, it wasn't a bad position. You know, there's so many scenarios that can go, you don't want to miss it right. It's just you're trying to think of where you need to put it depending on what Greg's done and he hit an unbelievable shot there, and he just got unlucky that it rolled back down.

Then 18, again, it's a match play situation. You don't get that match play situation Thursday, Friday because you're not going to win the tournament then. Once Greg hit it we were looking at the hole, just a bit left at the hole, but once Greg hit it in the back trap, you hear it every time you're sitting there watching it: Hit it center of the green, 2 putt and you're out of there, and that's what we did.

Q. Yardage and club for your approach on 18?

ROD PAMPLING: We had 154 meters, 169 yards. It was back into us, but it was just a good, solid 6 iron.

Q. Did the word "playoff" ever flash into your head at any point on 17, 18?

ROD PAMPLING: Basically on 18, yeah, it was there. But there was still a lot of golf to go. Until the final putts go in, you just don't know. I was more worried about what I was doing rather than worrying about the playoff.

Q. You talk about winning Arnold's tournament, growing up as a kid, did you know much about him?

ROD PAMPLING: Oh, sure, what you see on TV, obviously he's a legend, legend in the game. They don't come much bigger than Arnold. To win his tournament, to have a trophy with his name on it, it's very special.

Q. Did you guys see any footage of him?

ROD PAMPLING: We didn't get too much down in Australia. When I started watching the game and playing the game, he was kind of getting towards the end of his career. But there were still flashes and it was still special to watch.

Q. Did he share any thoughts with you when he put the jacket you or talk about the end of the day?

ROD PAMPLING: He looked at me and just sort of went, "wow," and that was exactly what I said back to him. (Laughter) he just said congratulations. It's one of those deals, you don't know what to say at the end there after seeing that.

Q. You kept a real poker face on 18 when Greg's putt lipped out, were you kind of in shock there?

ROD PAMPLING: Yeah, you know, you never it's the same deal. You think he's going to make it. I figured it was in as obviously he did, too. From my angle, I wasn't right up, but the crowd started to cheer. So I think it's in. I thought we'll do a playoff. I was telling myself, "You've played the 18th well, if we're in a playoff, that's fine."

As I said, you don't want to you're not going to sit there and go, "Woo Hoo, he missed the putt." It's such a cruel game. It's sad to see it happen, but for me, fantastic.

Q. When you drive in next year, are you going to look for that banner along the street with your name hanging on it next year?

ROD PAMPLING: Oh, yeah, look for the banner, the flag, my face on the cover of the book, with the magazine.

Q. Both's picture on the wall in the clubhouse?

ROD PAMPLING: Yeah, as long as someone doesn't put the squiggly glasses on, I should be all right.

JOE CHEMYCZ: 14 of 18 greens, it looked like from the distance, you were talking about hitting a lot into the center of the green and didn't have a whole lot of birdie opportunities.

ROD PAMPLING: Basically, yeah, the greens got really firm out there, so it was tough to get those shots in nice and tight. I hit a lot of great golf shots out of there, just didn't finish up close. Yeah, the birdie on 4, I think it was I hit driver, 3 wood into the left trap. Then hit the trap shot to maybe four foot.

8, it was driver, 6 iron, to maybe 25 foot.

13, obviously hit it out of bounds and then reloaded and hit 3 wood. Hit lob wedge to 15 foot, missed.

Then 15, it was driver, wedge to about ten foot.

17, 2 iron, chipped it up to ten foot and missed that.

JOE CHEMYCZ: Rod, thanks. Congratulations.

End of FastScripts.

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