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October 19, 2005

Robert Gamez


TODD BUDNICK: We welcome Robert Gamez to the 2005 Funai Disney Classic at Walt Disney World.

Robert, of course, a win just about a month ago at the Valero Texas Open, your first in

ROBERT GAMEZ: Long time, a long time.

TODD BUDNICK: Let's visit with that first, an exciting time for you.

ROBERT GAMEZ: Yeah, it was great. I've been working pretty hard over the last few years for it, and especially the last few months. It was nice to see everything happen and come together and it was nice it get it done. San Antonio, my dad grew up there, so I have a lot of family there. It was almost like a home game. Growing up in Vegas, that would have been nice to win there, but San Antonio, pretty much the second best thing, except for here now that I live here. It was just wonderful. I was so tickled to death to get in there and actually win it instead of having somebody lose it to me at the end.

TODD BUDNICK: Fifteen years is a long time, but in between, with the car accident, look back to that time, did you ever think after the accident that you would get back to playing the player that you were?

ROBERT GAMEZ: For the first couple of years after the accident, which happened in '98 I wasn't sure if I was going to get back there. Once I got healthy, I felt like my game was starting to come back and I knew I would get back in the winner's circle at some point. I just didn't know when. I think that's what kept me out playing. Because, you know, you get out here and you get in a rut sometimes as players where you just play and everything you do seems to turn out wrong; and you just can't break through, can't play well or can't score well, say you get it going for a while and then you make some bad swings and make some bad shots.

You just start wondering if this is what you want to do, because of all the travel, the travel is so tough, and then you're not playing well, so you start second guessing yourself. But luckily, I was able to hang in there and still believe in myself that I was going to get back to the winner's circle and get back to being the player that I feel like I should be.

Q. Did the long time in between wins make you appreciate what you did early in your career? Did it seem at the time when you won those tournaments

ROBERT GAMEZ: I was young and dumb, and, you know what, I thought it was so easy, you know. And taking that long to get back in the winner's circle, I had eight second place finishes in that span, lost in a playoff to Fred Couples at the Honda one year. So I had some chances and just never broke into that winner's circle.

You need some luck to win. Yeah, you have to play well, but you need a few breaks here and there. You need a putt to roll in that hangs on the edge or you need a ball that you didn't quite hit well turn out well. Stuff like that, you need to happen. I had a couple good breaks early in my week in San Antonio that just seemed to keep me going.

But it's a tough sport. There's 100 how many players this week, 144, and any one of these guys can win, that's how strong our Tour is. You know we've got the strongest Tour in the world and it just proves it by, you don't have too many guys winning. Yeah, you have some guys dominating and they are used to winning. It seems like Tiger intimidates people and you get a guy against him on Sunday and it seems to go Tiger's way more often, which, hey, he's a great player and he's done a lot in his career and these guys dominate.

But you don't see the number of new winners and different people winning every year because it's so strong out here.

Q. Everybody talks about how thin the line is between success and not success, but did that stretch between the win and the car accident, did that reinforce just how narrow a window there?

ROBERT GAMEZ: You look at it, and it is, it's tough to get in there. I don't know how to explain it, it just for me, I won early, twice twice early and thought it was going to be easy. And it just wasn't. It was a lot tougher. The guys that take you look at a guy like Charles Howell, he's a great player and he's won once. You have to take it and when you're playing well, is when you have to take advantage of it.

You look at Duval for the years that he played really well, and now he's struggling. And that window, I mean, the guys that can sustain their play and their winning ways like Tiger and what Jack Nicklaus did when he was playing, you know, they just get it going and they keep it going. I don't know how to explain other than that but that's how I feel about it.

Q. For a couple of years before the car wreck when you were coming to a tournament this time of year how does that play into it, too? Is it easier to play when you're feeling okay, or when you have to make something happen, does that make it even harder?

ROBERT GAMEZ: I don't know, because I played well both ways. I played well when I had to do it and I played well when things were easy. I was 149th on the Money List starting at San Antonio and had a good first round and knew I had to have some good weeks coming up. I just focused better and just played better.

There have been times, well, after my first win, it was easy to win at Bay Hill because I had already done it. So I've done it both ways. A lot of players have. But it is tough coming down to the end of the year knowing that you have to have some good weeks. You know, there have been a couple of years where I didn't get it done, so it's a different mindset, for sure.

The guys that can get in there and take advantage and go get it, I mean, that's what we all live for. That's what we strive to do is get in there and go do it. Luckily I'm getting it done right now.

Q. I wanted to get your impression of the course changes, specifically those last three holes on the Mag side where it's been stretched a good bit; and secondly the Q School finals are here again this year. In the back of my head I seem to remember you telling me you had a bad hole late, it might have been Bear Lakes or something and you missed by a shot and had to basically play in the secondary category. Address those two points for me.

ROBERT GAMEZ: 2001, I think it was, Bear Lakes and West Palm, I shot 40 on the front nine, made double on No. 9 and came back with 3 under on the back nine to miss by a shot. If I shoot 72 the last day, I get my card that year and get my basically I was still playing. I still had status because of being a past champion and I was in the Top 150 that year. It actually gave me confidence, even though, you know, missing by a shot, still gave me a lot of confidence because I played well for five days, I struggled for nine holes. I hit a bad shot on the ninth hole in the bunker and fatted it in the water. To be able to come back and shoot 3 under -- yeah, it was disappointing I didn't get my card but it gave me confidence, and then 2002, I had a pretty good year. Looking at that, that was great for me, even though it didn't turn out the way I wanted it.

Looking at the changes here, I think they made some good holes into bad holes, a couple of them, No. 5 being one. I thought unless they change that green I hit a pretty good drive today and killed a 1 iron to get it on the green. No. 9, I thought was a good hole before and now it's just kind of I hit 3 wood today. I had 240 to the hole and it was into the wind. It wasn't that easy of a hole to begin with. You had to drive it well, and if you pushed it a little bit, you're in the bunker, and now the bunker doesn't come into play really, and the water definitely doesn't come into play. So you weren't hitting I remember hitting 9 irons, 8 iron, 7 irons. It's a hard green to get it close.

The last three holes, I hit 18 was downwind. As long as it's downwind it's not bad because the green isn't real severe, and I hit 4 iron.

17, maybe just I think they needed to do something, because being able to fly it over those threes, that made it into kind of a dink hole. But I think where they put the tee, they should have been right behind the 16th green maybe, I don't know. It's hard to say because it would have given it a different angle. I hit a pretty good drive today and hit 5 iron in. If I had been in the left side of the fairway, I couldn't have gotten on the green because of the tree on the left.

16, I didn't think was that bad. I hit 5 iron for my second shot today. Hit a pretty good drive. That was into the wind a little bit. That was always a driver and a wedge hole, so that one needed a little bit more length. I think they did something stupid by moving the tee up on 13 and actually put it over on the right this year well, if you can fly it 300, you can drive it. When you're flying it 260 like I am or 270, you're not getting there. For me it's a 1 iron and a wedge. I was hitting a 1 iron to where I was hitting my driver last year and hitting a wedge, so it's only going it affect maybe three or four guys in this field that can fly it 300 in the air. That one I feel like needed to stay where it was.

Could have added some distance on this golf course, but maybe 15, 20 yards a hole, not 50 on a couple holes. No. 5, if the pin is on the front off left side, you can use the back tee, but if it's tucked over on the right, you have to play the tee up. There was no way I was going to be able to hit it to the right pin. I just don't hit it far enough. I'm averaging pretty good this year, I think, 280. That's not anything like some of these guys are doing, but that's in the short.

When you look at I think they are going the wrong way when courses get longer. I think what they need to do is do what they did in Vancouver where we had a fairly short golf course but it was tight and the greens were small, firm. That's the way to keep the scores in check. You just get it long, you're playing into the long ball hitters' hands. We play out here, the greens are usually pretty soft and fairways are soft, so the ball is not even rolling into the rough so it doesn't matter if there's rough or not.

Q. Everybody seems to be in the dark as far as the upcoming announcement of the schedule, but I'm just curious, what is the speculation among the players, is it a topic of conversation and could you have imagined the TOUR patterning its finish after NASCAR?

ROBERT GAMEZ: Well, you know, guys are talking about it. I mean, the majority of the guys are wondering why we're changing what seems to be working.

You know, we have a lot of excitement in our sport already. Our Tour has come a long way, and we've got so many good players and so many stories out there. We have a lot of stories that don't get covered. That's the problem I think that we have, the TOUR has, is that we just don't get them covered. Our TOUR marketing people are not covering the Jason Bohns and people like that; that's a good story. He won at B.C. and he's come from, where he came from, getting that hole in one when he was this college and the stuff he's gone through, that has not gotten covered enough.

We don't promote enough players. We've got so many good players out here. Yeah, they haven't won, but you've got guys that can be there all the time and are there quite a bit. Maybe they are not winning, but you've got to take care of them.

That's why I think people and tournaments feel like they don't get strong fields because they don't know who they are, who these people are. We have strong players every week. There's 100 I've always said there's about 100, to 125 guys that tee it up a week that have a chance to win. The only reason I say it's not the whole field is because you always get a guy that's maybe not playing all that well or might be hurt. I know I've played sometimes when I was hurt and really didn't have a chance to win.

But we have so many good players out here, that we need to capitalize on that, and I think that would help what we're trying to do out here as players and trying to promote our Tour and make it better. I don't think we need to go and do this point system and change the schedule for 1 percent out of our Tour, and I think that's kind of where we're heading. You've got 1 percent of the TOUR wants to play fewer events and they don't care about the Disneys and the tournaments at the end of the year that made the TOUR what it is.

You've got, I think San Antonio might be safe because Valero has come in and they have kind of said they are ready to put up a lot of money to keep an event. But you look at a tournament like Greensboro and Chrysler has come in and been a great sponsor to the tour for years, they have sponsored tournaments like Tucson, which has been an opposing event, and next week, and obviously Greensboro. Those are three events that maybe don't get the strongest field, per se, or the Top 50 in the world, which I think is a bad ranking anyway, but they don't get the Top 50 players in the world; but, it's been a great sponsor. Why kill a tournament like that and boot them out for 1 percent of the Tour? I don't think that's right. That's just my feeling.

I think we're strong where we are. There's enough excitement out here week in and week out, and the real golf fans like what we have already. We have too many I just know people that I know that are real golf fans like to see golf no matter what it is. That's the way I feel about it.

Q. (Inaudible.)

ROBERT GAMEZ: No. No. (Laughter). We don't have any say out here. You know, we have a few guys that have some say and

Q. The top 1 percent.

ROBERT GAMEZ: and the top 1 percent. Unfortunately I think it's going to end up being what the 1 percent wants instead of what the majority want.

We had a pretty good meeting last week in Vegas and everybody in the meeting kind of felt adamant about what was going on and didn't think it was right. We don't know what we're trying to do. I know TV had something to do with that, because they got hurt on last negotiations. I think if you polled the majority of the players out here, they would say, you know, we're fine where we are. We're playing for enough money every week. I don't think it needs to raise that quickly in the next few years. Hey, why don't we just give them a break for a couple of years and see how it goes? Because I mean, we've got a strong thing we're doing.

We've got a strong Tour and a strong sport, I guess. We don't have people that are beating up other people and we don't have people getting in bar fights. We have a good product to give out there. We need to keep it the way it is. We've got a lot of guys out here trying to make a living. And you do what they are thinking about doing, it's going to hurt that.

Q. Inaudible?

ROBERT GAMEZ: It's not going to hurt anybody. We've got 30 guys making over $2 million this year. Anybody that gets in THE TOUR Championship, they are going to make over 2 million, I think. I'm looking at the number to get in that Top 30, it's going to be like 1.9 million something is my guess. Everybody that gets in THE TOUR Championship is going to make over $2 million. How can that be a bad thing? There's plenty. And the Top 125 is going to make 650 maybe, a little less than that. But over 600,000, I don't see how we need to raise them more than that. We could probably take a little bit of a hit and save some of our tournaments that have been around forever. Greensboro has been around 80 some years or 60 some years. You can't get rid of tradition like that.

Our sport is based on competition, and I think what they are trying to do is get rid of some of that, especially with the World Golf Championships having no cut, taking care of some of these guys. You look at the last one, there are a few guys that you've never heard of because maybe they were second or third on the Order of Merit in Australia in five tournaments down there or whatever. That's not competition because there is no cut involved. Have a full field or have a cut if you want to have a World Golf Championships. Get the Top 150 or 144 ranked players if you're going to do it that way and have a cut.

I know something was said last week about the World Golf Championships are great because the Top 50 are playing. And somebody made the point, well, if it's great with the Top 50, why not the Top 100 would make it better. You get the Top 100 players in the world, that's got to make it better than the Top 50.

Q. Could you talk about the possible weather situation this weekend? You live here and you know what to do, but for these guys that don't?

ROBERT GAMEZ: Yeah, hide.

Q. And their families that are here, could that take away mentally the first two days?

ROBERT GAMEZ: I know it's tough. We've dealt with it a little bit in San Antonio early in the week. We thought that storm was going to hit it us down there and luckily it moved north and missed us.

As far as a mindset goes to play golf, you try to get off to a good start just in case you're washed out for the weekend or whatever. Last year we got hit pretty good with the hurricanes right in Celebration where I live. Luckily I wasn't home for any of them. This might be the first one I'm really going to be home for because, you know, when we play, these hurricanes come in, I'm usually gone.

You just have to brace yourself, and I think the hotels are safe enough and hopefully the power won't go out. I'm just hoping it misses us more than anything.

Q. Inaudible?

ROBERT GAMEZ: Some guys are mentioning it, but I haven't heard that much about it. We'll see what happens. Hopefully it will miss, like San Antonio did.

Q. Forgive us if we looked a little shocked. We're not used to sitting down and listening to professional athletes saying greed is not good. Would you run that by us one more time?

ROBERT GAMEZ: Well, we don't I don't think anybody out here is greedy and want more. We're doing well, we really are. I think, like I said, I think the majority of the Tour, like I said, 99% of the Tour players, if you polled them, they would agree that we're playing for enough money right now.

I think guys are telling them, but they don't have a say, either. The policy board doesn't have they are supposed to it's not one of those things, unfortunately. And I wish they would just look at it and I hope I hope the meeting last week was a little bit of a wake up call, because everybody in the meeting last week, there were probably 50 guys in the meeting last week. I think everybody was a little upset with what was happening.

TODD BUDNICK: Thank you, Robert.

End of FastScripts.

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