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May 24, 2006

Loren Roberts


KELLY ELBIN: Loren Roberts, ladies and gentlemen, making his debut in the Senior PGA Championship. Loren, three wins early on this year on the Champions Tour, thoughts on the state of your game right now and of what you've seen here at Oak Tree so far.

LOREN ROBERTS: You know, I always like to say I'm playing just bad enough on the practice round days that hopefully by Thursday I'll be starting to peak out.

But the golf course is fabulous. Unfortunately, I wasn't here in '88. But the golf course is excellent. I don't have any past history to base that on, but as far as condition of the golf course, it's excellent. The fairways are extremely good, greens are very firm and fast and I notice that they did put some more moisture on the golf course this morning, but by the time I finished the ninth hole it was drying out again though.

So I would just happen to think that even par might not be a bad score by the end of the week, if it continues to get dry and if we have a little wind like they're talking about on the weekend.

KELLY ELBIN: Questions?

Q. You said you weren't here in '88, your first time around Oak Tree, how much of a guessing game is it, not with just this course or any Major championship venue that you rarely see except for every four, five, six, years?

LOREN ROBERTS: I think, once you go around the golf course a couple of times, that generally that's enough for you to figure out where you want to hit it and where you don't want to hit it.

I think that for me at a Major championship and particularly on this golf course, you're always looking at trying to find out spots where you want to miss the ball. And there's some, obviously there's some very extreme holes here.

I think that par will be a very good score because of that. But I think once you see the golf course a couple times you pretty much figure out how you want to play it. The only factor that could be different would be if we got an extreme wind or something from a direction we haven't seen. But two rounds are pretty much enough just to see what you want to do and get a feel for what you want to do.

Q. Do you remember where you were in '88 that you were you not exempt for the PGA? Were you back in San Luis Ibispo, what were you doing?

LOREN ROBERTS: I was on the TOUR, but I didn't have enough points to get in. '87 wasn't, I missed my card by a few spots, I had to go back to the Q School, so I don't know where I was on the alternate list or everything, all I know is that I wasn't here.

Q. You had a good deal of success since you joined the Champions Tour last year. Is your first Major the next step along the way? You had a string of 10th or better in every event basically that you played in.

LOREN ROBERTS: Well, you know, the goal is to win Major championships out here. Obviously I didn't get that job done on the Regular TOUR after 23 or 24 years. So I would like to get it done out here.

Obviously you have a much shorter window out here to do that. So you want to make sure all these weeks count. It's nice having five Majors versus four on the Champions Tour, but I definitely would like to win this tournament, obviously it's a Major, first one of the year, I think that it's on a quality golf course, but for me, it's a little extra meaning for me because I was a PGA member, you know, I came up through the assistant pro ranks and actually got my PGA card the legitimate way, you know, going through the business schools and all that. So that would be a little extra, a little extra added incentive for me to be able to pull that off.

Q. You're known as one of the best putters in the game. How do the greens out here at Oak Tree set up for you?

LOREN ROBERTS: Well, they have got a lot of movement in them. And I think that just speaking for myself, I like to see greens that have a lot of movement because it's easier to see the line. It doesn't necessarily make it easier to putt them, but it makes it easier to see the line. You can see the breaks better. I think flatter greens are for me tougher to putt. The greens are in very good shape. It's nice to be back on bent grass again. We have been on Bermuda the last few weeks, so it's nice to be back on bent grass. And the greens are relatively small here. There's a few that are, that have several different tiers, but by and large most of the greens are pretty small. So if you're going to play for the middle of the greens here, you're going to have a birdie putt. If you get the ball somewhere in the middle of the green, with the exception of two or three holes, you might have a chance to make a birdie.

Q. On this night before the championship, the last day of practice here, what do you try to do? Are you going to work on some things out here, are you going to try to get off the golf course as soon as you can to get ready for tomorrow, what's your plan?

LOREN ROBERTS: Well, I feel fortunate that I'm playing late tomorrow. Because I can put a little more time in today. I'm going to go out and play the back nine here this afternoon. I played the front nine, I'll finish up on the back nine. Just try to tweak a few things. I've been trying a few different drivers. I'm just going to make a decision which driver I want to use and go out and play nine more holes with it and hopefully I'll be ready.

Q. No one over the age of 48 has ever won a Major on the Regular TOUR. Will we ever see a day when someone 50 or over goes back and wins a Major on the Regular TOUR or are we talking there's really not a good likelihood of that happening? Can you defend either side of that?

LOREN ROBERTS: Well, if you just look at the athletics now that a lot of the young guys have and play with and you look at the fact that golf courses on the Regular TOUR on Major championship, outside of the Open Championship, they're all 7500 yards. It's awfully tough to think of someone that would be 50 years old to be competitive on a golf course that's 7500 yards.

I really don't see it happening. And I think that as professional golf moves on, you see guys like Tiger and Ernie and Phil have such great careers over a 20 year span, you know, you win a lot of Majors and you're a great player, for 20 years, do you really want to spend another 20 years playing more golf when you consider how much money's involved with pro golf now.

Q. When I look at you and Jay Haas and Peter Jacobsen, you guys are three players who really were competitive on the PGA TOUR as you neared 50. How much has that helped you with the three of you coming on the Champions Tour together, and maybe keep up that level of competition, because you know they're not far behind?

LOREN ROBERTS: Well, without a question it's helped me. It definitely has helped me. Just being focused on trying to score, trying to play. I think sometimes if you sit out for a long, extended period of time it take as while to get just the idea of scoring and playing the game back into your routine. And I think for me personally it really helped me to try to stay competitive all the way through. Obviously I think the good start I had this year is a direct result of that.

Obviously Jay Haas has pushed me along a little bit, Jay really had a couple of really years there when he was 48 and 49. Even the year he was 50 he had a great year. So and then you look at who all is coming on now, with Nick Price in a year, you got Mark O'Meara, you got John Cook, a lot of really good players. And then you got Fred Couples, what, three years behind? I know he wants to play. That's going to be really a lot of guys that are coming out that have still stayed competitive into their mid 40s, and I think it bodes well for the Champions Tour and for senior golf.

Q. You said this afternoon you're going to test a few drivers out, see which one you'll put in play. When you're looking to make that decision, which one to put in the bag and I mean what are you looking for and especially with the hype Mickelson got using two winning at Augusta, just what goes into your mindset to pick which stick to use?

LOREN ROBERTS: Well I'm just looking for something that I know I can flight the ball properly with here. You got a unique situation here where you got sloping fairways, they're relatively narrow, and you're going to possible have a lot of wind. So I'm just trying to find a driver that I feel like I can keep the ball down with and get the ball running a little bit. For one thing if it blows hard, I don't want to be shooting the ball way up in the air. So that's kind of what I'm looking for. It was mostly, basically just a loft issue that I'm following with.

Q. Is that something that could change from round to round or week to week?

LOREN ROBERTS: No, once I start the week, I'm not going to change it around.

Q. Obviously you're very used to playing four round tournaments, like you play this week, but can you just talk about what the preparation was like for you making the transition from four round events to three round events on the Champions Tour?

LOREN ROBERTS: I think that it's helpful in one aspect that you can get off to a big lead in the first couple of days and you're tougher to catch. The other end of that is that somebody gets out front, you got one less day to try to reel them in. You tend to play, at least I do, tend to play a little more aggressively in a three round tournament, obviously, than I would in a four round tournament. This being a Major and a four round tournament, it's totally different than a three round format. So in a Major you're looking to make a lot of pars and hopefully hit a couple of good shots, get in there and make some birdies. This isn't the kind of tournament you go out looking to shoot 62 in. I mean it would be nice, but you're looking to make a lot of pars.

Q. You talked about controlling your drives. You did that this morning and you seemed to be in pretty good shape, though it looked like you had a little trouble on 6 and 9. Is that a showing of how quickly you can get into trouble on this course?

LOREN ROBERTS: Yeah, you can. You have to be able to pick the lines here. Wind direction is going to determine what line you can take. You got a lot of trees that you kind of have to play off the trees a little bit. You may have to start a shot down a tree line to get it to end up where you want it to be. So you really have to control your golf ball on this golf course. I'm just still trying to learn exactly where I want to put it. But I think I pretty much got an idea of what I want to do. This golf course, really most holes there is not one safe side of the fairway. You've got to make sure you hit the ball in the fairway because there's usually, if there's bunkers on one side, there's trees on the other. A couple of holes on the front side you got some room to hit it, but generally you have got to put it in the fairway. It's hard to play out of the rough, even though the rough is kind of sporadic, it's very hard to play from the rough.

Q. Kind of relive, what was it like to win three times in a hurry this year and kind of be seen as the, for awhile, as the guy to beat. And how does that feeling compare with anything else you had in your career?

LOREN ROBERTS: No, obviously not. I played extremely well, I hit the ball extremely well for about a six or seven week period there. In fact, I've spent the last three months trying to get back to that level, I haven't quite got there, but. No, it was a great feeling. I played well. I put a lot of preparation in to starting the year well. Obviously I couldn't have predicted I was going to win three tournaments, but I did spend a lot of time in the off season. I went to Phoenix and practiced for five days. Before I went and started at the Sony Open, on the Regular TOUR in Hawaii. So by the time I got to the first tournament I was ready to play and felt like I was tournament tested, so it didn't surprise me that I played well, I was just a little surprised I won the first three.

Q. You talked earlier about coming up through the PGA ranks, looking back you won the PGA Assistant Professional Championship in 1979, a long time ago, but wondering how that altered your career aspirations, maybe changed them, a big change in your direction.

LOREN ROBERTS: Well, it kind of did. It altered my plan. I was going to be a club professional and that's what I started to work at. I went to the business schools and put my time in. And when I did win that tournament I thought, well, I think it was only a 51 man field. But still, I said, well, maybe I can play. So I played, I went overseas and played after that a little bit, to Australia, and then came back here and eventually got through the Q School in the fall of 1980. But it did kind of reinforce my thought that, you know, maybe I can play.

Q. Along those lines, I was just talking to a friend of yours last week, John over at Southwind, and he was just talking about how you seem to have a real appreciation for the job that those guys do. Can you just talk about your experiences and how you got that appreciation for those guys.

LOREN ROBERTS: Well, I'm sure that one thing that always I don't want to say it bothers me but every time I see somebody say, you know, I never had a lesson in golf, that bothers me, because generally there is some PGA professional somewhere that told the guy, you know, you got to lay your left hand off more at the top or something, gave them a little tip somewhere to play. Nobody ever learns this game completely by himself. I mean it doesn't happen. When you work in an assistant's job or you work ahead job, you know, it's a 60 hour a week job, minimum. And I just appreciate the time that the guys put in. That's where golf meets the general public. And I did work at a public facility for a year in 1982. And we did 300 rounds a day, 365 days a year, and that gave me a real appreciation to go out there and hit a lot of golf balls so I didn't have to come back.


KELLY ELBIN: Loren Roberts, thank you very much.

LOREN ROBERTS: All right. Thank you.

End of FastScripts.

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