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April 11, 2002

Greg Norman


LARRY PUGH: Greg, you had a terrific day, congratulations.


Q. Greg, coming into the day, what were your expectations and how does it compare to what you were thinking?

GREG NORMAN: My expectations were pretty good, actually. I knew I felt very comfortable with the changes. I felt very comfortable with my pairing. That has a lot to do with it. You know, the end result, I would have liked to have not 3-putted the last, but at the end of the day, I played very, very solid golf. I was never really putting myself in a position where I had to work extremely hard.

I had to get it up-and-down on 14 for a par. I think that was the only one that I actually had to do that. So, all in all, I kept myself in play, even though I was putting from some long distance lengths, like 30, 35 feet, I was always putting uphill, so I was putting myself in the right position, where I was never putting a lot of stress on 2-putting. The last hole's the only one that had a bit of a 9 out of 10 degree of difficulty.

Q. Is the mindset different coming here on a special invitation? Do you feel more of an obligation, almost, to justify your presence?

GREG NORMAN: No. Not at all. It's just great to be here.

Q. Why were you so comfortable with the pairing? Will you elaborate on that? Do Ernie and David challenge you?

GREG NORMAN: They are very easy guys to play golf with. Their emotions, their attitude, their demeanor, even though they get upset, they are very much in control of it. Some guys out there express it a little bit more. And those guys, that was just -- they are easy to play golf with. They both hit the ball the same type of distance, and I like both the guys, so it was easy to have a conversation if you needed just to have a little break from whatever the moment is, so you have a conversation which helps you to relax a little bit more.

Q. We've talked a lot about the changes at the course. I was hoping you could compare expectation to the real reality of how it is playing. What holes were the most difficult and how so?

GREG NORMAN: The first hole played, going through will be better for my mind -- the first hole played not that much different than what we normally play. I hit an 8-iron there today instead of a pitching wedge. I would have hit exactly the same putt on the green as I would have done with a pitching wedge.

The seventh hole, I hit a driver, 9-iron into the wind, or a little bit into the wind. Last year's event probably would have hit 3-wood, pitching wedge, so it wasn't much difference there.

8 was obviously a different hole altogether up into the wind. It was a driver, 3-wood and a pitch. Normally, we can get somewhere around the front edge of that green.

9 played tough. We were playing into a left-to-right wind, so your second shot was off a slopey, hanging lie and I had to hit a 5-iron into 9 which is not an easy shot to play off the slope we were on.

10, no changes, really.

11, instead of hitting an 8-iron, we hit a 6-iron.

13, I went in there with a 4-iron in my hand.

14 played a lot tougher. I didn't hit a good drive there, but I saw the where David and Ernie drove it; they didn't have pitching wedges in their hands, they had 7-irons or even 6-irons, I'm not shoe sure, but definitely 7-irons.

So those were the holes, in this wind, north, northeast wind -- and then 18, of course. 18 played very tough, because the tee shot, it's like you've got to drive it up a gnat's ass and it's real tight there, you'd better make sure you hit it solid and straight.

The great part about it, I said at the start of the week, this golf course, it has a tendency of favoring the guy who hits it 280, to 295, because like 18, for example, a guy needs 300 yards to reach the bunker, and there's not too many guys who hit it 300 yards but the guys who do hit it that far have to shape it, Tiger, David, Charlie Howell, those guys who really bomb it, they have got to be careful now. So they did a great job with strategic locations of the bunker.

I had two birdies on 12 and 13. I hit a 9-iron into 12 about seven feet. I hit driver 4-iron left of the green, chipped it down to about four feet on 13.

Q. The reaction you get from the fans here, do you really get the sense they would like to see you win this tournament, and if so, how much does that serve as a source of this tournament?

GREG NORMAN: Hell, I really want to win this tournament, to tell you the truth. (Laughter.)

You do feel it. It's great. We had a great pairing today, and right behind us was Arnold. So we are hearing all of the cheers for Arnold, which is wonderful.

Yeah, I feel it, I sense it.

It's nice, it's hard to explain, but it's nice to be in that position where people are pulling for you as hard as what they are.

Q. What kind of a feeling is it to get off to this good of a start?

GREG NORMAN: Well, I know like any event, you can take yourself out of the tournament the first round, but you can't win it the first rounds. From my perspective, I was wanting to shoot around even par today. I knew even par would be a good score for me. I didn't know where it would be in relation to the rest of the field. There's a lot of golf to be played yet. The back nine is not giving up as many birdies as it used to give up. So from my perspective, I'm extremely happy with it.

I actually, my goal in my mind when I drove to the course, was shooting a 70, and that's probably why I was a little bit more upset with myself for 3-putting 18 because I wanted to shoot 70.

Q. Given all your history here, does this course owe you one?

GREG NORMAN: I've said that before. I don't know whether there is any such fact as something owes you anything. I think if you come out here and you play hard and produce the goods and I get into position and get a good break at the end of the tournament, and it turns out winning, yeah, everybody would say, well, you see, it all evens itself out in the long run. But there's a lot way to go yet. There's a lot of water to go over this dam between now and Sunday night. As long as I'm there at the end of the day, great, and if it doesn't work out, I've had a great time here.

Q. You said 70, is that little benchmark, is that because of you or the course?

GREG NORMAN: I wanted to shoot a good score after playing yesterday. We played with a little bit of moisture on the golf course. We played with some very fairly getable pins yesterday, and it wasn't that easy yesterday. So I knew 70 or a 69 would be a very, very good score. So that's why I had that type of figure in my mind.

Q. When you shot 63 back in '96, you got the idea that if you had it that day you could just really hit the throttle. I don't know if I can speak to that today, but is that available this year, or do you still have to play it more cautiously, do you think?

GREG NORMAN: I tell you what, you'd have to ask one of the guys who bomb it. I don't think you could hit the throttle as hard as you could back in the mid 90s and the mid 80s, because you just can't. You just can't whip it over the bunker on 18 anymore. You just can't whip it over the trees on 13 like I used to play in the 80s. Instead of hooking it around there, I used to take it over the top. So when the throttle is wide open, those are the shots you see all the time.

I don't think that can take place anymore because of the strategic location of the bunkers.

And I think the pin positions are a little closer to the edges now. The one we had on 13 today, I had not seen that. It looked like it was about 18 inches closer to the edge than what it's been before. So they are making the golf course, make you play, to earn your score.

Q. You've talked often about your strong feelings for this tournament. What is the overriding element about it that draws out that kind of emotion in you?

GREG NORMAN: It's just pure golf. There's no corporate tents. It's not a commercial event and I am not here decrying any of the other events we play in, but you just come in here and you play golf. They treat you exceptionally well. The golf course is a great golf course to play, and there's really no hoopla. You have got a great driving range, great short game, you walk onto the first tee and you just play golf. A lot of the other major championships you go to, there's a lot of corporate hospitality talent. There's a lot of other stuff happening around the golf course as you play. Here, it's just clean golf. That's how I feel about it.

LARRY PUGH: Greg, thank you very much and good luck all the way.

End of FastScripts....

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