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July 22, 1998

Larry Nelson


LES UNGER: Larry, you are sort of a rookie on the SENIOR TOUR. What has it been like?

LARRY NELSON: SENIOR TOUR I have really enjoyed. It took me a little while to kind of get used to everything. But now I feel very comfortable and I think the last three months my play has gotten a little bit more consistent. So I feel like that starting September when I have actually started playing tournaments for the second time that it will even be a little bit more consistent.

LES UNGER: Tell us a little bit about your experiences on this particular golf course.

LARRY NELSON: Well, I have always enjoyed this golf course. It has historically been one of the best golf courses we have played on Tour, and kind of depending on where it fit in the West Coast schedule, determined whether I played here or not, simply because I always played so well in Florida. So if this was the last tournament on the West Coast, I didn't play it that often, but they kind of did move it around a little bit. I always enjoyed the golf course and had some good tournaments here and felt like that I had a hard time putting these greens. And since they have gotten new greens now maybe it will help.

LES UNGER: Questions?

Q. It seems when you ask people who should be the favorites in this tournament, if they don't say Irwin and if they don't say Morgan, they say Nelson. How do you feel about your prospects and how is your game suited to Riviera?

LARRY NELSON: Well, I think when you -- those three names, I think there is probably one common thread in all of them. All of them kind of drive the ball well and none of the three are very short. I mean, they have pretty good length off the tee. And I think on this type of golf course accuracy is going to be very important and so you would look for the guy who has the -- who is in the Top 10 in all-around, driving, which is distance, and accuracy, and also the Top 10 in greens in regulation. I don't know for sure but I think Hale and Gil are probably 1, 2; 2, 3, something like that. I am probably somewhere in the Top 5 of a lot of those categories, too. I think that would be the reason. But I want to add that this may be the hardest venue that I played anywhere. I am talking about U.S. Opens in the past. I am talking about PGAs in the past. The way this golf course is set up right now, it could be as hard as any of them I have ever played.

LES UNGER: Can you be more specific on the setup?

LARRY NELSON: Well, the rough -- I don't know, but kikuyu grass, I don't think you are supposed to grow it 12 inches high. I am not sure about that, but there is no rules. But I mean there is a lot of times that I am walking six inches above the ground because it is so strong and my feet never get down to the bottom of it. I mean it is just very, very difficult but it is not the hardest part -- is not around the fairways because everybody is going to miss greens. And in the Opens and PGAs this if you miss a green, a lot of time you can't hit it on the green. If you miss fairways, I mean, you can't knock it on the green. But it is so rough around the greens that even if you do hit the fairway, you have got to hit the greens because if you miss the green, it is almost impossible to get the ball close. You never know what the ball is going to do out there. You may hit a couple of good shots and you may hit one sideways or you may go completely underneath it. So I think it is not just the height of the rough because we have played other golf courses, other major championships where the rough was higher, but this is so inconsistent in its height and in the way the ball has played out of it that every shot is going to be different. You can't go out there and practice shots, chipping it out of the rough at the practice area and expect to have that same shot anytime during the week.

Q. Is that good for a major tournament? Is that what you want those kind of challenges or is that?

LARRY NELSON: It was unexpected for me. I expected to be more difficult than what we play normally. But I didn't think it would be more difficult than any of them I have ever played which -- well, I mean, you know, the golf course is what, 6900 yards long or 68 or something? A lot of golf courses that play that long, you actually get some roll. The ball actually rolls on the fairway. Here it doesn't do that. So you are playing the golf course -- when it says 6900, it is playing 6900. It's not that you don't have that many downhill tee shots, except for No. 1. But then you have to go back up hill on No. 18 so you are not gaining any yardage. So it is just playing very long, very difficult. Fairways are soft and the greens are hard, which is not a combination you like. You like it the other way around.

Q. But you like the course, Larry?

LARRY NELSON: Yeah, I like the golf course because it is very fair. You have just got to keep it in the fairway, even though the rough may not be fair but nobody can really put a fairness on rough. It is either you go to U.S. Open and one guy says it is too high and other guy says it is not high enough. And I guess it is depending on how he is driving the ball. I mean, when -- after I won the PGA in '87, somebody asked me how the rough was. I said, "I don't know". I never was in it. And that is pretty much the case. I played 72 holes didn't hit it in the rough too many times. That is the way it is here. I think in a Major championship there should be as much emphasis on driving as is putting. Here, they have got that.

Q. Putting is not the premium? This isn't going to be a putting contest?

LARRY NELSON: This is not going to be a putting contest, no, nor the first tournament in pretty good while. Even in some Open tournaments that we have played in in the past that were actually putting contests because either the greens were so big and it was easy to chip and putt around the edges and that kind of stuff. But this one is not the case. You have -- the guy that hits the most greens here will probably win.

Q. Given everything you have just told us, what do you think the winning score is going to be?

LARRY NELSON: Well, I think the winning score will be over par. If the wind blows the way it has blown the last two days and the conditions -- well, I can't see the conditions are going to change as far as the rough around the greens or that kind of stuff. I honestly believe that the winning score will be over par. I certainly hope I shoot under par, but I think the winning score will be over par: Basic reason for that: There is no holes to make up on. There is no holes that you can go, (SIGHS), that's a birdie hole. There is not any out there. You have to hit -- I made two birdies in 17 holes and one of them was because I hit it on the green in two, par 5. And the other one was because I hit it about six feet with an 8-iron. But I also made about three or four bogeys because I missed a few fairways. And nobody is going to hit them all.

Q. Normally you take a look at your record: Two wins, four 2nds and you think, boy, this guy is tearing up the Tour. But you have got 2 other guys who actually have done even better. How would you say your game is doing, all things considered?

LARRY NELSON: Well, all things considered, taking into consideration that every golf course I go play is pretty much new, it is new to me, and the two guys who are ahead of me have played at least once or twice. And Hale probably three times, this golf course -- which I have been to a lot of golf courses that I play maybe a practice round or two Pro-Ams, and the wind will be blowing in one direction and play one round with it blowing that way. Then all of a sudden it blows the opposite direction and if you have played there for three or four years, you know that that is a possibility and you have played under those similar conditions. All of a sudden you are hitting it into bunkers that you didn't think you could even get it close to because all of a sudden the fairways dry out and the ball is rolling 50 yards, where Wednesday or Thursday the ball was plugging and not going anywhere. I make two or three bogeys a round. When you figure that you have finished 2nd four times and probably two of them by a total of two shots, that you know there could be some changes there. So feel like I have played well and I have played fairly consistent. I haven't played as well as Gil and Hale. And I feel like that I will be a little bit more on equal territory once I have gone through all these tournaments at least once. Then I think I would be able to compare myself or compare whether I have played well or not. But I am happy with the consistency. It seems like it is getting better and I am just looking forward to starting of September when I have gone through the stretch again. But playing these golf courses, I am at no disadvantage. And so I think one of the golf courses I won this year was on a golf course that nobody had played before. So I felt like it was equal there too.

LES UNGER: Any other questions?

LARRY NELSON: Hope you will have a good week. I know you all probably had some pretty good courses in here. If I am not the first, but I mean I honestly believe and it is probably not because I haven't played any very many difficult golf courses in the last year because I have played at Winged Foot last year, also played well. I played the Open and PGA last year Congressional and Winged Foot, and even though the golf courses were the rough was high, the fairways or the greens weren't as hard as these, weren't as firm as these. And the fairways were at least you could get some roll even though the golf course was 7200 yards, it played shorter than this one is playing. So it will be interesting to see what the scores are this week.

LES UNGER: Thank you.

End of FastScripts....

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