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June 4, 2004

Stephen Ames


JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, Stephen, for joining us for a few minutes. Another good round today in some tough conditions. 68 and tied for the lead with two other players. Why don't you make a couple comments about today's round and then we'll go into questions.

STEPHEN AMES: Like I said outside, today's round was I think a little bit more patient. There are certain flags you could have gone at and certain ones you couldn't because the greens were getting a lot firmer. That's the way Jack likes it. He's built a good golf course here. It makes you think as you go around the day.

My first hole, as an example, I laid back with a 3-wood so I could hit something lower and run the ball into the back left pin there, and I hit it about five feet there for birdie.

The par 5, I almost got up in two there, chipped it up to about two feet, made birdie there.

On the 8th, I hit 7-iron to about 12 feet, made birdie there.

11, I hit a good drive, laid up with a 6-iron, then hit wedge to about 12 feet, made birdie.

16, just hit it right of the flag. The wind was so hard off the left there it was hard to keep the ball at the flag if not left of the trees, so I had to try to draw the ball in there and I didn't hit the ball I wanted. It ended up left in the trap and missed about a five-footer for par.

Then I got it back at 18 today, same club, 3-wood, 7-iron to four feet.

Q. How much tougher do you think the conditions were today? I think you kind of caught the worst of it today, too.

STEPHEN AMES: I would say I did in a sense. The wind started to pick up a little bit as the day went on. The greens got a little chewed up with spike marks and the softness of them, but they played a lot firmer. It was tougher to putt, especially keeping the ball in line because of the fact they got a lot faster. It was hard to make putts.

Q. How much more mentally taxing is the course and the setup and conditions like this than, say, a normal event? Do you find yourself a little more mentally tired on a day like today?

STEPHEN AMES: Yeah, I think it would be. I think you've got to play -- you want to tap, but at the same time be conservative when you're tapping. I notice there were a couple times today I was tapping certain putts and I should have been thinking of my speed more than anything else, and those were mistakes that I made today, if there were any, were on the greens, rather than hitting the golf ball in that sense.

I think hitting the golf ball, there's certain pins you can go at. You have to be dedicated to aiming left and being committed to that line and hit the shot, you know. If it meant leaving you 20, 25 feet for birdie at least you had an opportunity rather than ending up with bogey or double bogey.

Q. That play on No. 1 seemed well thought out. How did you come up with that plan?

STEPHEN AMES: I made that plan before I even teed off, knowing where the pin was itself. You realized that you had to either fly it all the way there or fly it in there, and I ended up laying back with 3-wood off the tee and chipped a 6-iron in there and used the hole perfectly.

Q. What did you play there yesterday?

STEPHEN AMES: I hit driver. It was in the trap on the right, hit 9 in to about 12 feet.

Q. The two guys you're tied with, Justin and Ben, they talked a little bit today about having in the past, in the recent past, two good first rounds and getting in position and then not finishing it off on the weekend. I think Justin's quote was, "Halfway there is nowhere."

I wondered if you've had any experience with that in maybe the last year or two where you were in position, and how did you play on the weekend?

STEPHEN AMES: I'm trying to think now. MCI this year, tied for the lead, one shot off the lead I think it was, or two shots off the lead, and ended up 3rd on the last day.

I thought I handled it well. At that time I was going through changes with my caddie and how to play golf my way in that sense, the commitment part, and standing over the golf shot, making sure I was committed to the club I wanted to hit. That was where I noticed the biggest change. Where I had to make the change was after that week there.

Coming into this week now, it's been like that for the last four weeks since that event there, and I'm just going to go out and do the same thing I've done the last two days, pick my club, get up there, commit to the line, commit to the shot I want to hit, if it comes off, it comes off. That's basically all I've got control of from there. Whatever anybody else has done or can do or will do, that's all I can do.

Q. What in your game has changed recently that has you playing so well?

STEPHEN AMES: My mind is I think a lot of it. My golf swings have been pretty solid for the last year and a half, so my mind has been a big change for me.

Q. Who were you working with on the psychology side?


Q. After all these great finishes, are you putting any pressure on yourself to win or are you going back to one shot at a time?

STEPHEN AMES: No, I'm going back to one shot at a time. If it's going to happen, it's going to happen. I think it's more fun this way.

Q. Some guys are saying that you're very high in two stats that I think maybe you put some credence in all around in the scoring average. You said yesterday that -- somebody told you yesterday that some guys in the locker room have been saying that they won't be surprised if you win pretty soon. Are those statistics just indicative of how well you're playing?

STEPHEN AMES: Yeah, I think so, and then there are also statistics that I look at that I have to work at.

Q. Which are they?

STEPHEN AMES: The short game.

Q. Chipping, bunker play?

STEPHEN AMES: Chipping, bunker play, 30, 40 yards in, that's something I'll put more time into, more so than the ball-striking, because I think we've hit the nail on the head with certain keys we can look at that day in and day out we can get it in like we have now.

Q. How satisfying is it to be part of this upper level where you get to play in some of these select fields? Is it kind of a little satisfying to be here this week, much less the fact you're playing well?

STEPHEN AMES: A little bit of both, definitely, satisfying just to be playing well, period, day in, day out, week in, week out. That's a lot of fun. It also takes a lot of energy, too. I'm noticing every week that I'm always in contention, it takes a lot more out of me, so my schedule is changing now where I'm taking bigger breaks than I normally would. In the past it's always been three -- my third or fourth event in a row where I start kicking in right away. This year it's completely changed. Now I'll take two weeks off and not touch a club, come off that particular week and finish another Top 10. That's nice that I can go home, relax, not think about the game and come back out and turn it on. It takes a lot of pressure off me in that sense, not to have to think about the golf swing, and I can enjoy life a little bit more.

Q. Was it worth the wait to get here, to reach that level?

STEPHEN AMES: Yeah, definitely. I've enjoyed the journey getting here.

Q. Literally not touch a club for two weeks?

STEPHEN AMES: Yes, Colonial, two weeks before Colonial. The same was for MCI. We were in Maui for two weeks. That was our first family vacation. My oldest is seven, my youngest is five, so seven years before we had a family vacation without clubs. That was awesome. We're going back again.

Q. You're not going to wait seven years, though?

STEPHEN AMES: No, end of the year we're heading there.

JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, Stephen, for joining us.

End of FastScripts.

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