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March 11, 2000

Robert Gamez


NELSON LUIS: Robert, very nice round for you today. Got you to 12-under. Obviously must be pretty exciting for you to come here and perform so well going into tomorrow with a very good chance.

ROBERT GAMEZ: It is nice. I have been working on my game really hard since December and just really working on my short game and my putting and because the putting has been my Achilles heal over my career and I am starting to make a few putts. I am still missing a few, but I am actually rolling the ball a lot better and I feel confident over putts now. Where before, I was always wondering if I would even come close, that has been the biggest part of my game right now.

NELSON LUIS: Walk us through your birdies and bogey.

ROBERT GAMEZ: I missed a short one on No. 1. I hit it in there about six feet, about eight feet, missed that one. Lipped out on 2 actually had -- I thought I made that one. Then I birdied the 3rd from about -- I hit a sand wedge in there about maybe ten, twelve feet right of the hole. 4, hit it next to the green in two and wedged it to about three or four inches, just a little flop wedge from about 20 yards. I lipped out on 7, didn't really do anything else exciting on the front. Then I birdied 11, hit 8-iron in there about, oh, about six, seven feet right of the hole, made that for birdie. Birdied 13, I drove it just in front of the green and 2-putted from just off -- about maybe 5, 10 yards from off the front of the green, rolled it up there, 2-putted that. Hit the first putt to about a foot. Then I 3-putted No. 14, left side of the green, hit my first putt by about two and a half feet lipped out coming back. Made a great par save on 15, from about -- made about a 20-footer for par. Had a bad lie from the left rough after missing the green. Hit a wedge in on 16 to about, oh, four feet, made that for birdie. Then hit a 9-iron out of the fairway bunker on 17, to about a foot, foot and a half, so I played pretty solid. Made a good save on the last hole, nice to make a save there because I was playing so well and nice to finish that way.

Q. Was the weather maybe creating some up-and-down situations for you and maybe some of the other guys today?

ROBERT GAMEZ: I think so, but I actually hit 16 greens. I putted for birdie 16 times; hit a couple on the fringe, so I know stats don't count that as a green in regulation, but I do. The two I hit from the fringe were only 12-footers. So for the most part, I hit the ball pretty well. I didn't drive it as well as I am used to driving it. Obviously missing the fairway on 17 and missed a couple fairways out there, but for the most part, I am striking the ball well and I only missed two greens really where I had to chip and that was 15 and 18. But for the most part, I am playing pretty solid. The wind -- it is hard to get the ball close. Except for the first few holes you are hitting sand wedge on the first few holes out there, at least the way we played it today, and I only made one of them - the one on 3. I missed that one on the first hole from about ten feet - eight, ten feet, after Stuart made his putt. I missed mine.

Q. Could you talk about all the work you put into getting back here, back into a Sunday contention?

ROBERT GAMEZ: Well, I had a car accident two years ago and I am finally healthy from that. I started feeling healthy at the end of last year and that really gave me the opportunity to be able to practice the way I used to practice. I have been working really hard on my short game, mostly my putting, changed my setup at the Bob Hope this year and I struggled with it for a while. I am still struggling with it. It is hard to change something you have done for a long time and I tried to move closer to the ball. I cut my putter down a little bit, making little bit different stroke and there are days like yesterday I just didn't feel comfortable over it. Actually played better yesterday than I did on Thursday. I just didn't make as many putts. So I made a few today and missed a few. All and all I played pretty solid. I made a good 8-, 10-footer on the last hole for par which was a good solid putt right in the center.

Q. When was the last time you were in contention?

ROBERT GAMEZ: That is a good question. Actually I had a chance -- I felt like I had a chance at the Hope this year. I played pretty solid. I just didn't get anything going on Saturday or Sunday.

Q. How about before that?

ROBERT GAMEZ: It has been awhile. Actually I have had some success here at this golf course. I was in the same group with Stuart Appleby and Payne Stewart the last day when we played and Stewart won. I just didn't take advantage of my opportunities that year. I am really looking forward to tomorrow.

Q. Nature of the injury of that accident again?

ROBERT GAMEZ: I hurt my back, my right hand and my neck, so it took me a long time to be able to hit the ball solidly again. Towards the end of last year I started feeling good and being able to make a little bit better turn and I worked really hard the off-season basically from the start of the year started working out the end of the year last year trying to get going and even though I didn't really get going with my diet and everything 'til the January 1, but I have lost 17 pounds since the first of January and I have lost about two and a half inches on my waist just trying to get to where I can really stay out there and practice for a while. It was so hard for me with the extra weight that I couldn't stand on the putting green for two, three hours like I am doing now at times and it is really changing, changing my game.

Q. Was that the Shape Up diet you have referenced?

ROBERT GAMEZ: Yeah, it is a special diet. It is a new diet, actually just came out about a year and a half ago, it is called Shape Up. Low carbohydrate diet, got supplements and everything, fat burners, everything, when you are keeping your carbs out of your body, you have to take the supplement with it. That is what it is.

Q. At what point did you feel like you started hitting the ball as well as you are now? Earlier in year or something like that or anything -- when did you start feeling a little bit better about it?

ROBERT GAMEZ: Actually at the Hope. I didn't hit the ball that well in Hawaii. It was kind of a shock that I got in there, actually. I didn't expect to get into the Hawaiian Open. They called me Monday morning. I really didn't start working on my game that hard at that point. I was working on my swing from the beginning of the year, but I figured I was going to have to work on my short game that week. I got called out there, but when I missed the green, couldn't get it up-and-down; missed the cut by two, I think. I went to the Hope the next week and worked really hard on my short game on Tuesday and it paid off during the week. I played really solidly. When I missed greens, I was getting it up-and-down doing a lot of the right things. So every week since -- I played two BUY.COM in -- in Gainesville, I didn't hit the ball that well, getting it up-and-down, doing the things I had to do to score, and in Lakeland I hit it pretty well, missed a few putts; made a few. All and all, playing solidly every week. Phoenix I struggled on Sunday, shot 41 on the back 9 on Sunday, but I felt like I was -- I had to get in the Top-10 to get into Pebble Beach because I didn't get an exemption to get in Pebble. I really forced it. I felt like I had to get it to -- to shoot 3-under on the back nine and went after a few pins I shouldn't have and made bogey on. So I went after a few later in the round; it cost me some strokes. But all and all, I am playing pretty solidly and hitting the ball well. I am looking forward to tomorrow.

Q. How many tournaments are you in?

ROBERT GAMEZ: I am in next week, that is as far as I have got right now. Being a past champion of the Bay Hill Invitational, I am in there for life, so right now I am going one week at a time. I am hoping to get into Atlanta by way of my play. It is going to be harder to get an exemption there only because the week before The Masters, but I am hoping I can get a Top-10 at least here, if not win. I really feel like my game is close enough to win. I don't know if it is there or not. We will wait and find out tomorrow. But I feel confident that it is close enough and if I get a couple of breaks here and there, you know, you never know what is going to happen. You need breaks in this game to win golf tournaments. I am hoping they are there for me tomorrow.

Q. When you have won out here and proven that you can play with the best, what it is like when it kind of -- you kind of lose it and you don't feel like you can contend?

ROBERT GAMEZ: Well, I have never thought I couldn't contend, actually. I have always felt like I could play well enough to win golf tournaments. Even when I was hurt, obviously I wasn't doing it, but I never lost my confidence in that. I never hit the ball well enough to do it. But I always felt like my short game could hold me up even though -- always seemed -- like last year I actually played pretty solid. I made quite a few cuts last year, I just didn't shoot any low rounds being hurt, it was hard to shoot the 65s, 66s, 67s that you need to. I was shooting a lot of 70s, 71s, things like that. If I could have got in the Open, I felt like I probably could have done pretty well. I feel great.

Q. How did you get in here?

ROBERT GAMEZ: Sponsor exemption, Cliff Danley has been great to me and I played a lot of golf since I have been here. Played the Pro-Am on Sunday, one on Monday and one on Wednesday. But, you know, it is something you have to do. I have played a lot of Pro-Ams over the years for people. I am hoping that the tournaments look back on that. I have played a lot of Monday Pro-Ams when I didn't have to, so with some of the events I am trying to get exemptions for, I am hoping they will remember that and help me out. They helped me a little bit last year which was nice. Unfortunately, I didn't use it to my advantage last year but this year I am playing well and healthy again so I feel like I can do it that way.

Q. What is the biggest difference between how you feel mentally and maybe one year, two years three years ago, whatever point you want to assign, why you are feeling so good other than your game?

ROBERT GAMEZ: Before the accident I was starting to work on my game. I was actually starting to get in shape, really working on my game hard, trying to rededicate myself back then, then the accident came. Little disappointing sitting there in the hospital, I was at the Kemper Open, I am sitting in the hospital thinking, boy, I start -- just starting to play really well, and now this happens. I realize that I was taking everything for granted out there, just my career, figured I would never be hurt bad enough to where I couldn't play. And after that I said I am going to start doing things differently. I tried to do it last year, but every time I tried to practice and tried to be out there, it was too much pain. I couldn't make the turns I was used to making and too much pain in order to -- trying to practice my putting, too much pain on my back and everything else. When I started feeling healthy towards the end of the year last year, the season was over, basically. So this year I came back and, you know, my attitude is a lot different in that respect, where I went through a divorce and all that other stuff some people go through and so my head was a little messed up that way. But golf-wise I have never lost confidence in myself or my ability. I lost focus, but I never lost confidence in myself.

Q. Anybody, like a friend or a family member that is helped you out an awful lot?

ROBERT GAMEZ: Not really. My new girlfriend actually, she has been pretty good, you know, she has been great, been really nice helping me get back to where I should be, you know, thinking properly, I guess. We talk quite a bit about my rounds afterwards and try to figure out what went wrong here, what went wrong there, so...

Q. What is her name?


Q. Did you work with anybody on your swing?

ROBERT GAMEZ: I went back, started working with my coach from when I was 14, his name is Dick Huff (phonetic). We have been working really hard this year and towards the end of last year we worked a little bit, but he left Vegas a long time ago. We went from Las Vegas up to Northern California, took a club job up there, so I didn't spend as much time as I should have. I didn't fly up there to see him; didn't do the things like I said, I got lazy, I just -- I just didn't take advantage of them, and since he has been back in Vegas we started to work again pretty hard. In fact, before I went to -- before I went on the road again -- before Tucson, I went out one day and the wind was blowing so hard, but I was having trouble with my punch shots. We hit punch shots for an hour and a half. But what is what I have to do. Those are the things I have been -- I was struggling with were my little 3-quarter shots. It's helped me out here this week.

Q. When this time of year rolls around do you start getting excited what happened to you at Bay Hill, where does that fit on your radar scene?

ROBERT GAMEZ: I am trying not to think about that yet. I have got tomorrow to think about. It is always nice going back to Bay Hill and being at Arnold's tournament, obviously, I am looking forward to it but that is on Monday. I have got a job to do tomorrow.

Q. Tell us about the WWJ thing on your wrist?

ROBERT GAMEZ: Well, Payne was wearing them and, you know, I felt like Payne was a pretty good friend. We didn't have dinner together. We didn't do things like, but we were always cordial to each other; joked around in the locker room and had a few beers together once in a while after a round or whatever. But he was a great friend and I considered him a great friend even though some people were better friends with him, but he was always fun to be around and a nice guy. It is in memory of that as well as my belief in God, so...

Q. Do you think that with examples of other players have shown out there that if you want to survive on the PGA TOUR that golfers have to start thinking themselves as athletes and physical conditioning and that has got to be --

ROBERT GAMEZ: You look at the guys now, they are just in better shape. I think -- what it's done for me - and I can only speak for myself - is the first five events I played and I played three PGA TOUR events and two BUY.COM tournaments first start of the year, and last year or previous years I would have been so tired by the third or fourth week. I mean, I was going and I felt great. I never got tired in Lakeland which was my last event. I played pretty solid and even in Tucson I played my last nine holes 3-under in Tucson. Played 72 holes and my last nine was 3-under which that is strong for me. Because I was in shape. I didn't get tired at the end of the week. It has been like that. Just like today I had 3-under on the back, just played solid and hit some good shots coming in, and just -- I don't feel tired.

Q. Do you use the fitness trailer or do you work out on your own?

ROBERT GAMEZ: I have been working with a trainer back home and there was another guy in Palm Springs that I talked to working -- doing some stretching. I am doing a lot of stretching just trying to get my flexibility back, doing a little bit of weights, not too much, I really haven't had a chance to work with my trainer at home. I am there for a week or four, five days at a time and he doesn't really want to hurt me that bad because he wants to wait until I have two weeks off, two good weeks off to be able to go through some of the stuff that he wants to do. What he has done has helped me a lot.

Q. (inaudible) did you start working out and once you felt better....

ROBERT GAMEZ: Yeah, I mean, it was hard-- was doing a few stretching exercises last year and doing some stuff to try to get healthy again, really, this year really gone all out in trying to do the stretches and doing a little bit of weights a little bit of cardiovascular, try not to wear that part out until I got have some time to really work with this guy to where we can go ahead and just do it. My position right now, if I get called on Monday to come out and play, I am going to go. I can never set a schedule, so it is kind of one of those things where I can't say, okay, we got two weeks, but I got to take it easy just in case I get that call.

End of FastScripts….`

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