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July 15, 2005

Brad Faxon


STEWART McDOUGALL: Ladies and gentlemen, Brad Faxon, 66 today.

Brad, you first played in The Open 20 years ago. And this year you're a very good story, having come across to qualify in the local qualifying. Tell us your feelings that you're now in contention for the championship.

BRAD FAXON: It was a great day, as you can imagine to have six birdies and no bogeys, to play here at St. Andrews. I love coming over here, as everybody knows. It was a great day. I felt like from the first hole on I hit a good tee shot and a good iron and everything went well from there.

I was in a similar position in '95 here at St. Andrews, tied for the lead after two rounds, so good memories. Coming over here to qualify got me in the spirit a little bit and I hope it carries through the next few days.

Q. You said on Wednesday that you felt you'd won already by what had happened. So you must be feeling even better now.

BRAD FAXON: I do. When I was out in my practice round for the qualifying at London Links on Friday afternoon, I had there were about 30 or 40 members that were out following me around, just as I was by myself. And it was such a great feeling, because that doesn't happen very often to me. It doesn't happen at home. I think the people over here appreciate good golf. I think they appreciate the players that appreciate the course and the history of the game here. I said to my caddie at that moment, whatever I've done has been the right thing. So that's what I meant by that.

Q. Talk about your game and what's changed. Obviously you played some good golf, you shot 64 in the qualifier, and now 66 today. Has there been a change that's got you back on track?

BRAD FAXON: You know, I've played some of the worse golf in my career early on this year, experimenting with too much stuff, as I've been known to do. But in the last couple of months I've played more consistently. I stopped trying to play just to make a cut, which sometimes you do when you're not playing well. There's nothing magical. I'm not going to come up with a great story.

I've had a couple of guys that have helped me out on my swing, I've narrowed that down from about 30 guys (laughter). So I feel more comfortable. I played well at Westchester, I was in the last group when Padraig made that 65 footer. I could tell things were clicking, and there's no place better than right here. It kind of moves you.

I remember I read a quote by Ernie that he couldn't wait to leave Locke Lomond to come here, I don't know what he said, to get in the spirit of things.

Q. I know you've gone through this a little bit, but could you discuss the whole progress of why you had to come over? You had your Pro Am, I understand?


Q. Did you know at the time you wouldn't be able to qualify and did you say, Hey, I'm going over there anyway, or was there any question you might not come over to qualify?

BRAD FAXON: No, it was never a question that I wasn't going to come over to qualify. We have, as you know, that CVS tournament that Billy Andrade and I co host. When we selected the dates we don't get to choose the dates, and then obviously we wanted it to be close to Rhode Island. And we set a date, June 26th and 27th, and it happened to conflict with the qualifier in Canoe Brook. And when I was looking at the option, the only option left was to come over here. And if we didn't have the qualifier or the CVS the same date, I'm not so sure I wouldn't have come over here anyway. The odds are good, three out of, what, 97, make it.

Q. Were all 97 at London Links?

BRAD FAXON: Yes, it was split equally between the four courses.

STEWART McDOUGALL: 96 each course.

Q. Have you had a chance to look at the names on the leaderboard? And can you almost look forward to a weekend like what might come up with the guys who are competing in this championship? And how much will depend on what Tiger does today?

BRAD FAXON: I'm sure a lot of it depends on what he does. It's the usual suspects. I know I saw Vijay's name up there, Sergio and you're never going to stop the great players from playing good anywhere. It's only halfway home. There's a lot of golf to go.

A lot of scores are weather dependent here, and to try to make a prediction of what it's going to take, it's hard to do. I felt like I was very fortunate yesterday to I was unlucky yesterday with the draw. I played very well and only shot 72, but we got a good time today. I thought going out there where the wind was kind of at a lull on the front nine, it helped us on some of the outward holes, and it kind of helped us coming in. I know you can get it where you play all the holes against the wind, but we played the holes you want downwind, No. 4, 5. It switched back and forth. We could drive the 9th, but it was downwind from 12 on.

Q. When was your very first experience with links golf? And why do you like it so much? Or what happened that made you like it?

BRAD FAXON: Well, I can answer that two ways. My first experience was watching it on television. I think I remember the most 1978 when Jack won. And the sweater, I think that kind of was cool, the famous sweater that you can buy now for $2,000 (laughter). I've got two of them. And that five pound note.

I think watching it on television was really my first experience. I kind of liked Tom Watson's hat. I saw him wearing that little woollen cap. And that was pretty cool. I played my first Walker Cup at Hoylake in '83, and I got one of those funny hats with the pom pom on it. But that was my first experience, was '83. I was in college or just graduated. I said, "This is the coolest thing I've ever done." '84 was my first year on Tour. I came over and qualified in '85 at St. George's.

Q. How did this round compare to the terms of the quality of your play when you went so low at Riviera in that fourth round?

BRAD FAXON: Maybe a little difference in having something so big to play for the last round at Riviera. That was an inspired round. But today was a great ball striking round for me. I drove it very well, hit a lot of good iron shots, putted very well the front nine, to shoot 5 under. And really hit it good on the back nine.

I don't know how much you saw, but I lipped out about four or five putts from pretty close. I hit it in there nice. I played some of the hard holes well, like 17. So it was really nice to make birdie on the last one. I made a string of 8 pars in a row. To get it up that close to the green, you want to finish it like that.

Q. Who is your caddie this week?

BRAD FAXON: My caddie is Nick Hunter. I actually met him in '81. He's English, down near Birmingham. But he used to work with David Leadbetter or for him in '81, '82. He caddied for me in The Open in '85. And he probably caddied for me in three or four others. I couldn't take my regular caddie over because it didn't make sense for a guy to come over for two days. And now I'm sure I've got a few text messages. But this guy is a great friend of mine, he's been out here and he loves it.

Q. Did any of your friends or golfers who wouldn't come here, did anyone raise any eyebrows or say you're mad for trying that and you may be back home at one day, two days? And secondly, do you feel that the sacrifices of actually getting here, has that made the crowds warm to you more, because they realize that you have made sacrifices to get here?

BRAD FAXON: I've had a lot of people say things about coming over here, about coming over to qualify and how impressed the people were by that. And I've told people from the beginning, I don't do that I'm not doing that to impress anybody. I'm not trying to win over anybody. I want to play in The Open. And that was my only choice.

I have a lot of friends that were like, "You're going over there to qualify?" With raised eyebrows. And part of them were saying, "You're nuts," and part of them were saying, "I wished I did it." Because there's only a few majors you play in in your career and this is one of the top, right here, playing at St. Andrews.

Q. Given how well you putt, do you have much of an adjustment to make from your regular greens in the U.S.?

BRAD FAXON: You know, amazing, at London Links, when we were playing, it seems like the greens here, they're almost all similar in firmness, speed and there's so many putts that are straight or just close to straight. I've just been able to pick up the speed. I saw the line very well today. And you have a lot of long putts here. It's stuff you can't practice. You don't know when you're going to have a 70 footer and it's hard to decide, do you pace this off, how do you pick up the speed here. But you've just got to kind of use your eyes and trust that you know how to hit it the right distance.

It's hard to explain. Some days it's right on. And today I had the pace and the speed. It's almost like it's deceptive. When you have a 75 foot flat putt it's really hard to it's not like you it almost helps to have breaks sometimes.

Q. Brad, you mentioned the sweater before. Can you expand on it? What does Jack Nicklaus's career mean to you?

BRAD FAXON: He was the guy when I was starting to really get involved in golf as a young teenager. He was the best player in the world. I thought he was like the coolest guy, the blonde hair, he had kind of gone away from being "The Big Jack." He was dominating in the early '70s, and I thought he handled himself extremely well. He was always a gracious winner and a gracious loser. He just was powerful. He was the greatest putter in the world. And he was the most popular player. He took over from Arnold, and took on all the challengers of Watson and Trevino and Miller and Weiskopf. He's been the biggest ambassador of the game that you can imagine.

Q. Can you run through what are your memories from that weekend in '95 here when you had a chance? What do you recall?

BRAD FAXON: Well, I remember I was playing the 18th when Arnold was teeing off, which I thought was awesome, to watch that. I came back later to watch him come up the 18th hole, like I'll do today with Jack. I don't know how Jack's playing. I'm sure everybody in the world wants to see him play two more days.

STEWART McDOUGALL: Under par today.

BRAD FAXON: Under par today, that's great. I know he's trying hard.

I met a kid that was just the cutest young boy. He was probably 12 years old when I met him, just in a practice round. And I kind of had him come inside the ropes and walk down the fairway with me. His father was out here today. But we were sitting on the steps when Rocca chillied his chip and made the unbelievable putt. I remember the roar. I remember looking over at John Daly, and he really didn't know what was happening. He didn't know it was a playoff. I actually played well there. I had a chance to do well on Sunday. I had maybe a five or six foot putt for eagle on the 14th hole to get within one or two at the time, but I didn't make it. I didn't finish the last few holes well. I remember being very excited.

Q. What's a striking memory of Arnold coming up that last hole?

BRAD FAXON: When he came up?

Q. Yes.

BRAD FAXON: I just think the respect that Arnold gets, and how popular he's been for so long, even now. He's transcended the game as much as any athlete has transcended their game, other than maybe Tiger now. When he came over was it Troon in '61 and won, I don't know, it kind of made Americans come back over here and notice the tournament. He's kind of been like the torch bearer for so long, and just having him walk up there, filled with emotion, and everybody on their feet. There wasn't a person sitting down.

Q. You were on your feet, too?

BRAD FAXON: Oh, yeah.

STEWART McDOUGALL: Brad, thank you very much.

End of FastScripts.

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