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June 28, 2000

Larry Laoretti


LES UNGER: Does it feel like eight years?

LARRY LAORETTI: No, it doesn't really. All I can tell you is I'm getting older.

LES UNGER: I think if you go around the room, almost everybody here will have to concede to doing the same.

LARRY LAORETTI: Unfortunate, isn't it? Better than the alternative.

LES UNGER: What are your fondest memories other than a trophy and the check?

LARRY LAORETTI: I think you just brought it up. My wife running across the green when I played that putt on the 18th hole last time, that is probably what I remember more about the tournament than anything.

LES UNGER: Questions.

Q. Has the course changed in your eyes over the eight years?

LARRY LAORETTI: So far, I've only played nine holes. So I am going out, playing the rest today. No, it seems pretty much about the same, I think. I don't see anything new. I think on the 8th hole, they extended the tee back about 20 yards, but that is the only changes that I have noticed so far.

Q. What are your chances, do you think, of recapturing the magic that you had in 1992?

LARRY LAORETTI: You never know. I haven't been playing at all. I am like semi-retired, I probably played three events so far this year. So it very difficult to compete with these great players just coming out and playing once every month. I just -- first thing I am going to look for is trying to make the cut, then go from there. You never know, though. I am driving the ball pretty good. I hurt my arm a couple of weeks ago. Trevino helped me out. I was going to withdraw from San Antonio Friday morning, and he come over, said: "What is the matter?" I told him I hurt my upper forearm here bowling with my son. And I couldn't pick the club up. He said: "Just stand very closed with your stance and bring the club way to the inside and try to hit it." I did, but I no idea where the ball was going. I shot 75, 75, 77. So it wasn't good, but at least I was able to finish playing.

Q. Could you describe the feelings as you drove up the driveway yesterday?

LARRY LAORETTI: I guess it is a feeling like those guys say when they go in the Masters, driving up Magnolia Drive. It was very nice - signed a lot of autographs and stuff. Very nice coming back. And then I played nine holes. They introduced me on the first tee. That was like -- of course, everybody is standing anyhow. It is like a standing ovation. It was fantastic.

Q. Do you find yourself getting lot of attention? Is anybody trying to stop you and --

LARRY LAORETTI: First night I came in town, I came in Sunday night, because I did an outing over Gary -- Jerry Sandusky place, the Penn State. I did an outing over there on Friday and Saturday. So drove in Sunday night, and it was kind of late and I didn't want to cook or anything, so just jumped -- USGA was kind enough to give me my car early. I went over to this restaurant, Peppercorn right down the street. And I go in, order a drink, and asked them about a menu. He said -- looked at me: "Are you staying in the same place you stayed eight years ago?" I have never been in that place myself. That was the first time I have went in there. I said: "Yeah. You know who I am?" He says: "You are Larry Laoretti." Then the whole bar - I had more drinks than I could handle. It was a nice feeling.

LES UNGER: Could have saved them up for the rest of the week.

Q. Put into perspective what winning this has done for your career in terms of playing golf.

LARRY LAORETTI: It gave me a very nice financial retirement program. It really has. Helped me out immensely. Still doing these corporate outings. I just did about three, four in a row. Did one in Chicago; next day, went to Alaska. I came back and did the one in Penn State last week; and of course, I still have a contract with Tobacco Company, Consolidated, and they send me to different places do speeches and stuff. I think without -- if you win a tournament in your lifetime, the one probably most important is the U.S. Open or the U.S. Senior Open. It gives you more knowledge -- that tournament is going to run forever. You win a tournament, say in Grand Rapids two years from now, they will probably disband that tournament. So I think it is important if you are going to win one, the USGA or the U.S. Open is the one to win.

Q. Describe for us what your life is like these days. What do you do? And tell us maybe some of the elements, things that have handicapped you over the last couple years?

LARRY LAORETTI: Well, basically what I am doing now is I got involved with a fellow by the name of Al Chandler down in Florida. Al played the SENIOR TOUR here back when they first started in the '80s; along with Tony Jacklin who -- (inaudible) mini-tour for Senior players, that are not either coming off like myself or some guys that want to try to work on their game to get ready to try to qualify for next year. It is called the Tony Jacklin 2000 SENIOR TOUR. We got 13 tournaments in a row. As a matter of fact, the first one starts this morning. And unfortunately, I am here -- I'd rather be here, but I'd also like to be there. So it's our kick-off tournament. We got 13 in a row. They all are within the immediately vicinity of Stuart and Port St. Lucie. We took a shot and tried -- we got 12 guys put up $10,000, local people, to get us kicked off and we are away and going. It looks like we are going to be quite successful. We got over 120 guys signed up and hopefully -- of 120 signed up, that doesn't mean 120 are going to play every week. But at least we got a nucleus to draw from, so hopefully we will have 75 or 80 guys. The tournaments winner will probably get 7, 8,000 dollars. We will probably pay down to about 40 spots, but the whole key in the past is what happened, I am sure many of you read about it, all the senior mini-tour events that happened, guys would collect the money and never pay-off. So there has been a lot of disenchantment with the players and they are looking for some place -- Tony Jacklin and I basically guaranteed the money if they abscond with the money, Tony Jacklin and I see that they get paid for that one tournament anyhow. Hopefully we are going to be successful. What I do the rest of the time - been home and I have been practicing cleaning the house, taking care of outside and just fooling around, in general; nothing in particular. Doing those outings when I get invited to go.

Q. How many outings do you do?

LARRY LAORETTI: Probably do 15 to 20 this year. I a got couple more in line now. Definitely in the Grand Rapids tournament which is, I think, in the first part of September and -- not 100% sure yet, I can't tell exactly if I am in the Long Island tournament, Meadowbrook this year, but it looks pretty good that I might get a sponsor exemption.

Q. Did you sell the motor home?

LARRY LAORETTI: I sold one and my wife is in bicycle races, she just set the state record in Florida for speed, 40 kilometers. She wanted to get a smaller one because I was going to be done playing and not using it. So I got a smaller one which is 30 foot, and she said that that is too big so now I have got that one and I have used it a few times that I have been out. But, you know, anybody that wants to buy it, it is for sale. I will ship it out.

Q. Are you discouraged at all that you are coming in here not having played a lot and obviously you are a big center of attention or one of the centers of attention this week, does that affect you in any way getting ready for this tournament?

LARRY LAORETTI: Never been discouraged a day in my life. I am happier than a pig in you know what. I am just happy to be here and I have never got discouraged even when I was playing bad. You don't feel good about it, but I never got discouraged.

Q. Ever find yourself reminiscing about that week or just the magic of that week and/or once it is over, do you sort of just let it go and move on?

LARRY LAORETTI: Kind of -- you know, it is funny, I don't know who sent -- the USGA sent me a tape they had put together and I don't think it was five years after the first time I ever saw the tape or the play, some hole-by-hole play stuff like that. And Whittaker opened up and said, Larry "LorettO." I was -- I said, geez, I should have shut this thing off right now. But it was very nicely done, but no.

Q. What went through your mind when you saw the tape when you saw what you were doing?

LARRY LAORETTI: I don't know, it was just: Geez, I can't believe I hit it that good. I sat down, had a good look -- I should be watching that tape now to find out how I hit it so straight. The last two rounds I only made one bogey which was No. 11, I think I 3-putted. The last day I didn't miss a green except 18 which was about a foot off the green and I was lucky enough to make that next one. I just had an unbelievable week of ball-striking. Prior to that I was playing pretty good and I knew I had a pretty good chance because I was driving the ball good. In the Open, that is the whole key, driving the golf ball.

Q. People would say you only had that one week. Would you rather have won five or six tournaments or --

LARRY LAORETTI: Somebody asked me that about two weeks ago. I said, I would never give up that one U.S. Open because like I said, those four, five tournaments, they would be off the map in a few years but this U.S. Open will be going for a long, long time.

LES UNGER: I got to say, if you win this week, you got to show up here with a box of those Tiamos.

LARRY LAORETTI: I will bring you a truckload if I win. Everybody will have a box. I will have them shipped to you. If I win this tournament, I think I am going to be just like Mr. Jones, retired, hang it up, and say: Where am I going from here? That would be a great feeling, an opportunity to quit.

Q. In the interviews some of the rookie golfers, Watson and Kite were concerned about the greens here, never played the course before. How are these greens?

LARRY LAORETTI: Just the nine holes that I played, they were terrific. They are quite undulated. Again, the key is naturally driving the ball in the fairway and after that, negotiating the greens. But I think I got through that maybe with one -- maybe one 3-putt for the week so, that is another big key. But the greens are -- I mean, they are very receptive, but I think they are a little bit softer right now. Maybe it is because of all the rain you had. I don't know whether or not it is going to dry out. Seems to me that in 1992 they were a little bit firmer than they are today. You may see some lower scores this year. Guys come to me and said: How did you ever shoot the under par? I think the scores will be lower. If the conditions stay the same; if you don't get extreme wind, or if it stays like it has for the last two, three days, I think you will see some good scores.

LES UNGER: Thank you. Good luck.

LARRY LAORETTI: Thank you very much. Nice being here. I hope to see you Sunday night.

End of FastScripts….

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