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February 1, 2005

Jonathan Kaye


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Jonathan, thanks for joining us for a couple minutes here. Congratulations again on winning the FBR Open last year. You started out this season well, finished 2nd at the Mercedes Championships. Talk about your season so far. You played great at the first tournament of the year.

JONATHAN KAYE: Yeah, it was a nice start to the year. I took a lot of time off in the off season and tried to get healthy. Unfortunately my back flared up in between the second and third rounds, so I've been battling a little sore back, but it's starting to feel better and the game feels pretty good right now.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Talk about winning here at the FBR Open last year. This is your adopted hometown now, and it had to be great winning in the city where you call home.

JONATHAN KAYE: I grew up here, went to high school here and grade school, so this is pretty much my home.

It's like a major for me. It's the one tournament I really look forward to all year, and here we are again, and it's a great time of year.

Q. Jonathan, this week is a crap shoot out here anyway, but do you think your game is in position to repeat or defend?

JONATHAN KAYE: Yeah. If I can putt well, obviously it always comes down to putting. Last week I struggled with the putter, but I'm back on familiar turf and starting to feel good again, so I look forward to a valiant effort at defending at least.

Q. Did you practice here today?

JONATHAN KAYE: I did. I went out and played a few holes. The course is playing a little longer than it did last year. It's a little lusher. The rough is way up compared to last year and very penal. I would assume that as the week goes on, the course is going to dry out if we're not expecting any weather, which will definitely make it challenging. I think the scores will definitely be a little higher, but you never know, if someone is putting good and hitting it straight, anything is possible.

Q. What do you think the winning total will be?

JONATHAN KAYE: Boy, I'd hate to even venture a guess, maybe around 14, 13.

Q. You were talking about the rough. What approach do you take to the tee ball, length versus accuracy?

JONATHAN KAYE: I think in the past I think length was really important out here, but judging from the way the rough was, I think accuracy takes a little bit of premium over length this week. I guess if you hit it really long and you can get sand wedges in your hand out of the rough, you've got a chance, but if you're hitting mid-irons or 9s and 8s out of the rough, it's going to be tough to get it close to the hole.

Q. Do you find the course is playing longer?

JONATHAN KAYE: Definitely. Well, it was today.

I haven't played here since last year, so just the ground is so wet, a lot of mud on your ball, not as much roll, so it definitely played a lot longer today.

Q. Did you head out to 16 and see the new seating and stuff?

JONATHAN KAYE: I played right through 15 and then I had to go do the Special Olympics putting contest and I had to abort my round at that point, so I didn't get to see 16, but I will tomorrow.

Q. You mentioned Phoenix is like a major.

JONATHAN KAYE: It's just a major to me.

Q. That's what I meant, to you. Do you feel like your game is ready to break through and win a major, and are you ready mentally and physically for that this year?

JONATHAN KAYE: I'm not ready for anything that comes after, but I'm ready to win one. I'm not going to worry about the rest of it until it happens.

Q. Did you find that you kind of got more popular or people recognized you more after your win last year?

JONATHAN KAYE: A little bit, especially right after it, locally anyway. Billboards and stuff, you kind of get to be a little bit recognizable, not that I like that, but it just kind of comes with the territory.

Q. You mentioned that you learned how to play this golf course, not necessarily as a Quail Hollow or whatever. It's not one of your favorites per se, but you've learned how to play it. Now seeing it the way it is this year with this rough, does that -- again, do you have to recompute some things?

JONATHAN KAYE: Well, in years past we've seen this course with thicker rough than last year. Usually year to year something is always a little bit different. I've played this course enough that I've seen it in almost every condition, it's just that we've had so much rain this year that everything just took off growing. The overseed came in really nice, especially in the rough. I mean, the fairways are thick, too, so I think being in the fairway is paramount this week.

Q. Have you made any changes for 2005 from 2004?

JONATHAN KAYE: I got a new ball marker (laughter). Equipment-wise?

Q. Well, any changes.

JONATHAN KAYE: No, not really. You know, I have all the same equipment, a new ball. You know, I got a couple new wedges, but they're the same, just like the old ones, so nothing has really changed.

Q. What's the ball marker?

JONATHAN KAYE: It's a '65 quarter, just well-rusted.

Q. What ball are you using now?

JONATHAN KAYE: The new Pro V1x. Don't ask me what the difference is because I don't know. I'm not good enough to tell (laughter).

Q. How is that back going into Thursday? How is your back feeling right now?

JONATHAN KAYE: It's a little tender, but if I continue doing my strengthening exercises, it feels pretty good. It's just a little stiff in the morning and at the end of the day.

Q. Age?

JONATHAN KAYE: It's starting to catch up with me.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Jonathan Kaye, thanks.


End of FastScripts.

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