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June 29, 2000

Robert Gamez


LEE PATTERSON: Excellent start to the week. Maybe just a couple thoughts about today, and then we'll open it up to questions.

ROBERT GAMEZ: Today was a great day out there. No wind. It wasn't real hot, wasn't real cold, just a perfect day. With the golf course being softened up by the rain on Tuesday, it played pretty simple, I thought, for the most part. I had some pretty accessible pins out there. The fairways are holding drives. They are staying in the fairways; so you don't have to worry about that part of it. The greens -- these greens are perfect. They always have been. Every year I've come here they have been perfect. I'm a little disappointed the golf course is in soft shape, but it helped me today a little bit.

Q. It hasn't been the most fruitful of seasons, especially lately. Have you worked on anything the last couple of weeks?

ROBERT GAMEZ: Actually, the beginning of the year started out great. I worked really hard. I changed my setup and my putting, and really worked on my grip, and through the Honda Classic I was playing real well. I played well at the Honda; finished 12th there. And after that, I played a couple BUY.COM tournaments. And I worked on my left-hand grip, working to get it on even better position, just working to get it better for the rest of the year and everything else, but the problem was I wasn't working on my right hand grip to compliment it. So what ended up happening is I worked -- I've been working really hard on my putting. Last Wednesday in Memphis I sat on the putting green for three hours and just got in the tournament and putted poorly, because my forearms weren't lined up, weren't squared on my line because of the way my grip had gotten. So they were working against each other; they were not working together. I was down in Chicago on Sunday after I missed the cut and worked with my short game teacher, Tom Sones, and made an adjustment on my grip. After looking at some video from the Bob Hope and Honda, he could see right away what I was doing wrong. We changed my grip. It's a little awkward, but it's getting my arms to work together. The speed on my ball is a lot better and my roll is a lot better. I'm getting it started on line again.

Q. And how long did you look at the tapes and stuff like that?

ROBERT GAMEZ: We worked for an hour, hour and a half maybe. That's all I needed. It was just a little fundamental thing. My alignment, my setup, where I was -- the setup I had been working on, getting my hands underneath my shoulders and doing all this stuff, trying to get lined up properly, squared up except my forearms got off. It was fine on the putting green, because I could adjust because there's no pressure, nothing to get in the way. When I got on the golf course, a little pressure my right hand took over, and it was either pull putts or push putts. The last few weeks, I hit the ball so well -- I actually feel like the way I hit the ball at the Open the first two days, I felt I could have won it as good as I hit it. I missed the cut because I putted so poorly. I couldn't get it up-and-down. I 3-putted 5 at the Open on Friday from five feet. But that's just something that got off, and, you know, I couldn't see it in my game. Really, on the putting green, everything was fine; so it's something you didn't really see, unless you really know what you're looking for. So we worked on it, and I made a lot of putts today. Made a lot of good putts. I thought I made the last one. I had a downhill putt on the last hole and thought I made that. So, you know, pretty happy.

LEE PATTERSON: Can you just go over the birdies for us real quick?

ROBERT GAMEZ: Birdied the 2nd hole. Actually hit a pretty good shot into 1. Had about a 20-footer, just hit it a little bit too firm. 2nd hole, I hit my tee shot and it just rolled just into the first cut of the rough, and I hit an L-wedge up there about, oh, I guess it was about 12 feet and made that for birdie to start it off. 5th hole, the par 3, I hit a 4-iron. I couldn't really carry the bunker on the right with a 4-iron, but -- and I putted just in the middle of the green and made about a 20 -- 20 -, 25-footer up the hill. I was just left and short of the hole; made a good putt there. The par 5 I hit my second shot in the right rough. I actually thought I was in the fairway, but I was just short of the last bunker in the right rough. Chipped up; had about a 60-yard shot and hit it about 15 feet and made that. And then I bogeyed the 7th. I didn't hit a very good -- the only really bad tee shot I hit all day. Hit the right edge of the fairway and took a big hop and bounced under the lip of the trap. So I couldn't -- I couldn't get on the green. I hit the lip on the way out and came up short of the green. Actually I hit a pretty good chip that I thought was going to check a little bit but it didn't. Raced all the way through the green and I made bogey there. Had about a 15-footer from the back fringe and missed it. But hit some good shots, 8, 9. 9, I hit it in there close and missed. I hit it about 12 feet. My two playing partners, Skip made about a 50-footer on that hole and Bradley Hughes made about a 30-footer and I missed mine. Weird. Then I birdied the par -3 11th. Hit 9-iron just right at the pin. I mean, the other caddies are all yelling: "Get that 25,000 for the hole-in-one." That's how good a shot it was. And it just landed on the bunker. Made about a 15-footer downhill. 12, I actually missed about a 4-footer. I had a left-to-right down the hill, and I hit it in the left edge and it didn't move and it lipped out. Then I birdied the par 5; had to lay up. I just had it in position where I just didn't think I would get there. So I laid it up. Had 84 yards and hit an L-wedge that hit just right of the hole, went past and spun back. Tapped it in from about three inches. Little more pace and it goes right in the hole. Parred 14. Had a long wait on 15, guys trying to drive the green so we had a little bit of a wait, and I hit my tee shot just a little right of where I wanted to. Hit right and kicked into the bunker. Where that pin was, it was a tough shot. Tried to run it and check it into the bank, but it rolled by about 35 feet and 2-putted. On 16, I hit 6-iron to about four feet and made that for birdie. And then 17, I hit a four-wood off the tee, and 9-iron about 12, 15 feet and made that one. And then the last hole, I had about a 25-footer downhill and thought I was going to make it; thought it was going to go in, and just kind of broke right at the end. I basically hit every fairway but two, and -- two or three, I guess, and missed one green. So, you know, pretty easy to shoot good scores that way. I mean, if you're putting halfway decent.

Q. Do you see the conditions out there conducive to a lot of people going low today?

ROBERT GAMEZ: Yeah, I think so. There's no wind. I've never seen it this calm on this golf course. And with the softness of the greens, and the softness of the fairways, I just think there's a chance for some low scores, because the ball is not going to run out into the rough. There's some good rough out there, but, you know, if the fairways were fast, you could actually, you know, if you miss-hit a tee shot a little bit, the ball can roll into the rough and not have a very good lie. But, you know, the ball is not rolling out.

Q. When is the last time you put yourself in position like this after the first round?

ROBERT GAMEZ: Probably the Honda. I did it in Florence at the BUY.COM tournament about two months ago. But, on the regular TOUR, it's been Honda back in March. Like I said, I've hit it well enough the last six weeks. I didn't hit any better today than I have hit it then. I just made some putts. You know, you make a few putts and you get something that feels good and starts working, you just build on your confidence from there. Like I said, at the Open, I started out I missed some putts early in the first round, and those greens were so bumpy that you had to be kind of defensive, unless you got a little confidence. And I was so defensive on them because I was 3-putting. You know, I just couldn't make anything, and it just snowballed on Friday; had a bad round there. Same thing last week. I had two 3-putts on Thursday and on Friday I had the three 3-putts and 4-putt, and I was 5-over for two days on the greens.

Q. Could you talk a little about how you were pretty successful right off the bat and then kind of a little lull there? Did things maybe come too easy at first?

ROBERT GAMEZ: I stopped working on my game. I just got out and was having a little too much fun. Didn't work as hard on my game, and in turn, I'd have some bad tournament, lost a little confidence, and that's where it goes. I've always struggled with my putting. My rookie year, that was the best year I've had out here in putting. I finished 7th that year in putting, I think, and every other year since, I've been 130th to 150th in putting, and you're just not going to win golf tournaments that way.

Q. You didn't work hard?

ROBERT GAMEZ: I did. But what I was doing was wrong. I didn't do what I did at the beginning of this year. I mean, I'd have one or two good weeks a year, and that would be it with the putter. And the rest of the time -- because I've always hit the ball well. I mean, I've always been up high in ball-striking and greens in regulation. And this year early wasn't hitting very well, but for the most part, except -- I mean, except for after the accident, for the most part, I've all been up there in ball-striking and just way down in putting. These guys are too good out here to be giving up three and four shots a day on a green.

Q. Have you changed your approach now, the way you work on your game?

ROBERT GAMEZ: Yeah, I have. I had a real poor work ethic, even when I was in college and high school. I just -- I've never been the type of person to stand on the range and beat balls and stand on the putting green for hours and putt. I just get bored pretty easily that way. But it's been tough this year, because I've really worked extremely hard on it. Just trying to make sure I can get out there and work -- work on my game, even though I tend to get bored, but I try to do little mental game to get me focused again and to keep doing it.

Q. At what point did you say: "I'd better shape up or I'm going to be shipping out here"?

ROBERT GAMEZ: Back in '98, that was kind of a wake-up call because I was still actually starting to work right back then, and right before that, I said I'd better start doing something. And Atlanta, earlier that year, I started working pretty hard. I played pretty well except for one hole each day. I made a 9 and an 8 on I think it was the 4th hole and finished 15th or 20th in the tournament -- 4th or 5th hole, a little par 4 down the hill, I played that hole like 7- or 8-over par and lost by six or seven in the tournament. So I started working on it back then. And then the accident at the Kemper Open, it took too long for me to recover. Basically, I didn't get completely healthy with all my injuries until the end of last year. And then I said, you know what, now that I'm healthy, I can go out and bang balls and putt and do all the things I needed to do. So I'm doing it.

Q. That was basically an 18-month recovery?


Q. I assume during that time you had some wonderment: "Am I ever going to get back there"?

ROBERT GAMEZ: I was worried about it for a little while. But I felt like if I could just get healthy again, I knew I would have a different approach to the way I came out here and played.

Q. What were some of your injuries?

ROBERT GAMEZ: I hurt my right hand. I hurt my back and my neck, and those were the ones that took a long time to heal. For a long time, I've been the type of player that takes pretty good-sized divots, and you hurt your hand and you just didn't take a divot. And then back and everything else, because of my back, I couldn't sit on the putting green and putt; it just hurt too much for too long. I was in the hospital for a bruised spleen and bruised liver. I was there for five days in Maryland. But, you know, it's behind me now.

Q. Was it life-threatening at all?

ROBERT GAMEZ: They kept me in the hospital, because if the spleen or the liver rupture, I could bleed to death; so kind of. And I gained some weight and I've lost that this year. So that's the other thing; I've gotten in better shape, and that's helping me also, to be able to make a better turn. And I've been working really hard on stretching do a lot of stretching and doing a lot of other things that's helping me to be able to practice and play and be strong.

End of FastScripts...

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