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June 24, 1999

Frank Nobilo


LEE PATTERSON: Excellent start of the week.

FRANK NOBILO: Yeah, I am ecstatic after the Memorial a few weeks ago to get off to a good start. I started to play a lot better. Probably the last three or four weeks. You just hope that it continues in this direction. But I certainly didn't think a score of 66 was on this afternoon when I teed off. I was trying to keep it around par to be perfectly honest.

Q. Elaborate on whatever ailment you were suffering from in the past couple of years?

FRANK NOBILO: Several, really. I was -- when I first left Europe I was diagnosed with a shoulder complaint nearly three years ago. Subsequently, two years ago, both wrists blew up, the week of Doral, my whole arm both arms were swollen. I went to the Mayo clinic several times. I was effectively diagnosed as having inflammatory polly (sic) arthritis which is meant to be a form of arthritis obviously. I was put on various forms of medication that suppresses your immune system; in some respects, like a mild form of chemotherapy. That is effectively what it is. The by-product of that is the drugs weaken your ligaments and tendons, so I started like straining hamstring, thigh muscles, you name it. And so then at the start of last year, I damaged my hamstring, my right hamstring, considerably and then in about May or June I realized the after-effects of the drugs so I came off them for my leg to heal, I was still trying to play because it wasn't debilitating at this time to actually stop. It wasn't like a broken bone. Some minor things prior to the first round of the British Open; I broke my tooth on a Wednesday night when I was getting ready to play the first round. I dropped a razor in the shower - I do shave now and again - it went, sliced my big toe on my right foot. I couldn't transfer my weight effectively. That was the end of the British Open for me. I tried to play. Before the US PGA I got hit with a golf ball, got 30 stitches to my left eye. That was the last of it but effectively it went on for two years. So it was a number of complaints. But it is enough to knock your confidence when that happens. Just a lot of little things.

Q. Medication?

FRANK NOBILO: I am actually on a product now called Manitech (phonetic). I am not trying to plug it or whatever, it is just a nutrient that is all -- supposedly for supposed arthritic sufferers if you are deficient in several minerals or nutrients. But I see a chiropractor in Orlando. I had some x-rays done about a month ago. There is no bone damage or anything whatsoever in my wrist, so I don't have the effect in my blood. It is inconclusive that I have had it in the first place, that is the scary thing.

Q. Not taking the medication, is your balance better, just normally; feel better?

FRANK NOBILO: Yeah, I do because the medication I was on was prednisone, Plaquenil, which is like a chemotherapy drug and Imuran (phonetic) which completely suppresses your immune system in between. When I got a cold, I was driving to the L.A. Open, I had a cold on Tuesday, I was in the hospital Wednesday night. That is what happens and it affects your stomach, obviously, you are susceptible to all sorts of things because your immune system isn't working.

Q. What made the round work together?

FRANK NOBILO: A couple of long putts, couple 20-, 30-footers. I think the greens, as you have all seen on TV, are very, very firm and I think for example, I played with Tom Lehman, it was a situation where probably he missed a few putts that destroyed his round and momentum and I seemed to make them at the right times. I made a very good putt for birdie on the 3rd hole probably from about 30 feet which really kick-started the round more than anything because I think when you get a windy, tough day on small firm greens, whenever you are in the red you just feel you can hang in there more. You have only got to look at leaderboard to see not very many people in the afternoon were doing much, so you think if you are hanging around par 1-under you are going to have a good day. Then hit a great shot into 8 with a 3-iron to about six feet made another birdie. 8 is probably one of the hardest holes today. So it is one you don't expect - you put that in your back pocket - hit it in a divot on 9, couldn't go for the green, layed up. Hit it in close, made another birdie. Once again you put that in your back pocket. Because I haven't been playing well of late I think I am a lot more patient than some of the other guys. You take a few knocks and you just keep trying -- you keep trying to preserve your score more than anything.

Q. Do you have sort of hesitancy on the golf course, if it works for you one day, it is always the sort of fear that it is going to work against you the next day?

FRANK NOBILO: No, not really. I think I have played well enough and over the years and I have played long enough to realize that golf is very much a day-to-day proposition. But with the last couple of seasons that I have had, season and a half, I have taken enough blows to realize that one swallow doesn't make summer, but the last -- I think I have had six rounds in a row under par, so it means the direction indicates means that my game is coming back. Even when you are playing great doesn't mean you are going to shoot a good score each day but it means that you are in with a chance. Just lately because I have practiced hard, worked very hard with my coach, just on getting confidence with my swing again and my short game, just to at least have the feeling when you stand on the first tee that you might play well because that is really what was missing for about a year, still on the first tee, you looked at the course -- at the board, somebody shot 64 or 65, I thought I can't do that today. No way. At least now you think, well, you never know, might happen. So it is a much better attitude to have.

Q. Since you were the only guy to emerge basically this afternoon, you must feel pretty good about tomorrow morning? Presumably you will have somewhat easier conditions --

FRANK NOBILO: Hopefully. But these tournaments are four rounds, 72 holes. So obviously I'd love to have a great round tomorrow, but more importantly, I'd like to be in contention and that is what I also said at the Memorial a few weeks ago because that is the quickest way to get your game back. I'd like to be in a situation like, for example, what Payne Stewart was talking about last week where you are in a situation to make the same mistake or correct the mistake that you made the previous year. That is where you learn the quickest in this game, I mean, Jim Furyk last year played great, lost in the playoff. Makes eagle to tie J. P. Hays; plays the same hole again 15 minutes later, plays it terribly. So I think we know in this game, more than anything, it is a very humbling game. So the thing is tomorrow hopefully I can make the most of good conditions, if I don't, then hopefully I can do it in the weekend.

Q. How do you like starting off with a par 3?

FRANK NOBILO: It is a little weird, but I am trying to think which British Open course it is, I think it is Lytham started with a par 3 where Tom Lehman won. It is weird. Actually prefer to start off with a par 4 because I always think you can sort of get away with a miss-hit tee shot. But here you are, it was 191 yards today, you got to hit a good shot, straight off, otherwise there is a good chance with today's pin you are going to drop a shot. I think it just means that you have got to be more aware when you stand on that first tee. But the second hole is a little bit softer, but the first is a tricky hole.

Q. Were you actually lucky with the golf ball incident because you could have really been injured more severely?

FRANK NOBILO: Very. My wife's actually reading a book I am going to get the name wrong -- I think it is Journey -- basically the lady is a paraplegic, anyway just a freak accident and yeah, I think you realize afterwards the more people you speak to that have had neck injuries, lost eyes, you know, little further down it would have wrecked the orbit of the eye; obviously further down would have taken it out. Further to the right would have done more damage. Further to the left it would have been in the temple. Yeah, I realize I was lucky. It took a long while to heal properly, but yeah, I was very lucky.

Q. Where were you exactly when you got hit? Where were you on the golf course?

FRANK NOBILO: It was the week I wasn't playing. Lake Nona. It was 4:30 in the evening, I was driving to hit some balls on the range to get on the range to get ready for the U.S. PGA. So was actually driving up the cart path up the second hole which is a par 5, driving towards the line of play. But it is 4:30; there was a gentleman on the tee; already hit three or four tee shots. Little blind shot, I didn't think it would be there again, he got me 60, 80 yards with a snap hook.

Q. Where?

FRANK NOBILO: Scar is pretty good. I got a good doctor. My wife says I have got a hard head, so probably...

Q. Do you figure that the scores will get closer to the par as the week goes on?

FRANK NOBILO: It depends very much on the greens staff. I noticed this afternoon they were syringing the greens. I thought some pins today, given the conditions, were extremely difficult. So should they decide to put them in difficult situations then I think your assumption is right, they will get closer to par. Should the pins get a little softer, softer as in difficult. Then, no, I think people will accumulate a couple under each day at minimum.

Q. When all these things started happening to you, you were kind of at a point solidifying yourself at the top of the game. How frustrating has it been to persevere through all of this?

FRANK NOBILO: It has been the hardest thing in my life. One of the decisions to come over and play here is because I thought I was ready. It was big sacrifice because I have a daughter who is 9 now that lives in London with my ex-wife. So to me I was sacrificing a lot to come over here and try and play against the best. And I thought my game was -- you are dead right, just starting to get it to where I really felt I was a good player. I wasn't a great player but I was a good player and I was contesting a lot of majors to when you feel like you have got a lot of unfinished business, was extremely hard. I think you suffer -- your attitude suffers, as positive as I try to be, I couldn't. Because something else would happen, and you get down on the mouth and my friends knew how much it affected me. That is tough when the people you play with and your peers are doing so well because you want them this do well, but every time I came out for a period of time you are completely uncompetitive and you don't know what to do. I love playing golf, I love competing more than anything. I know it has been said 100 times, it is a great game and very fair game. But that was really hard. I thought at one stage that was the end of my career and it sounds melodramatic now when you sit in a chair after a good round, but it only seems like five minutes ago where I couldn't play. I was -- I was struggling. I was doing my best. I was practicing. There was nothing there. So it was tough, but maybe you need that now and again. Maybe you do.

Q. Traced all back to the medication that --

FRANK NOBILO: No, I mean, a lot of things happen. The move from Europe to here; maybe a little bit of different stress. Obviously it was an inflammatory problem. It is like I said, it is now inconclusive if it was rheumatoid arthritis. I was training hard because as soon as I got injured the first time I wanted to get back. So I over trained. Just a combination of things that hindsight is marvelous, but I can't put my finger and say, yeah, it was that, it would be wrong. All the doctors I saw were the best; they were doing their best as well. I look for answers and I couldn't find them, really.

Q. 99 has been pretty good so far?

FRANK NOBILO: 99 has been a hard -- I am 140th on the money list, probably the same in the World Rankings, so this is as low as I have been for seven, eight years. But as I said to Bernie one of our press correspondents when I didn't decide to qualify for the Open I said, you have got to cut your cloth accordingly. When you are struggling, you have got to put both feet on the ground and say, I have got to look up because that is the way you have got to go. Rather than trying to compete you have got to resist the situation and just keep working forward. Look where I was on the money list, I said, that is it, that is -- you are playing now. Sure, when you get your game back, you will play better, but you got to work it out of this situation, not wishing you were back where you were.

Q. Wrists pain-free now?

FRANK NOBILO: Yeah, totally pain-free. Totally.

Q. I am not sure this is an appropriate time, I am curious about those Italians ancestors got any pirate stories you can tell us about that?

FRANK NOBILO: Well, I mean, it has been told a few times, yeah. Mid-1800s, I think they went from southern Italy across to -- the Adriatic to Yugoslavia, Croatia, Serbia, whatever you want to call it now, what is left of it.

Q. What did they do at that point?

FRANK NOBILO: Pretty much in those days anybody that didn't have that much money had to try and steal their food and whatever for more than one person was considered a thief or a pirate. I think there was a lot of people like that. That is where a lot of people from Australia came from, they were convicts, and their crimes were life imprisonment for stealing a loaf of bread, so it was much the same. Very poor.

Q. Just settled in prison-- (inaudible)?

FRANK NOBILO: My family never finishes up in prison. Only guys in New York, you know?

LEE PATTERSON: For the folks on deadline give us a couple details on your birdies. 3, 30-footer?

FRANK NOBILO: Correct. I hit drive and 7-iron, 30 feet. 8, 3-iron 211 yards, to six feet. 9 hit in a divot off the tee laid up with a 7-iron. Then I hit a sand iron to about eight feet. 10, was 2-iron lob wedge, and a 30-footer. 12, pull-hooked it off the tee. All I could do was just chop it out. And hit a 9-iron on the green for my third shot just made a conventional bogey.

LEE PATTERSON: 15 and 16.

FRANK NOBILO: 15 was drive, 8-iron to 20 feet. And 16 was a 4-iron to about 30 feet.

LEE PATTERSON: You missed one on 17 just barely.

FRANK NOBILO: Yeah, 17 hit it in to about 10, twelve feet. I played good. Obviously really good. Very happy.

Q. 15 downwind?

FRANK NOBILO: 15 was right-to-left down breeze, yeah, so, you to take it over the right-hand side of the tree, I mean, if you really caught it, I imagine some guys would get it on with a wedge today. If you took the right wedge.

End of FastScripts....

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