June 24, 1999
HARRISON, NEW YORK
LEE PATTERSON: Good playing. Nice start. Maybe just a couple of thoughts about your
round today; then we will open it up for questions.
STEPHEN AMES: Oh, my thoughts. Not too many actually which was good. I was coming into
here, I have had the week off at the U.S. Open and then the week prior to that was in
Memphis, where I had my coach out. We worked on a couple of things to get things ready for
the year basically because I have just started. Basically what we have been doing for the
last two weeks I kept doing and ball-striking was very good and putter was very nice today
LEE PATTERSON: Questions.
Q. The scores are pretty good. They are not a lot of great scores but a lot of very
STEPHEN AMES: Yes.
Q. Is it conditions?
STEPHEN AMES: Well, I don't know. This is my first time here. I don't know what the
usual conditions are. I thought the last nine holes that I played, the wind switched. I
think middle of every group it switched the opposite way. I thought that made it really
tough this afternoon. The latter part of the morning, should I say? But the greens are
firmish, not really hard, and the putting surfaces are very good.
Q. What was your impression of the course overall?
STEPHEN AMES: Great golf course. I enjoyed it very much. I like very much old style
kind of golf course, the architecture and don't prefer much for the TPC. Some of them are
good, some of them are not that great. But this one I definitely enjoy very much.
Q. Do you have a greater urgency to get on with your year since you had so much time
STEPHEN AMES: The urgency is more just to play golf because I have had six months off.
My last competitive round prior to Kemper was the Australian Open, which is at the end of
the year. So I was quite eager to get out and start playing golf, just to play golf
because I can't play much golf in Canada.
Q. Considering that you didn't play much golf, third tournament got to be a pretty good
STEPHEN AMES: The good thing about it, that I think I have reached the stage where I
know where my faults are coming from in my golf swing and the hardest thing of course was
basically to get the mind back into it. I think that was tough the first two weeks that I
have played; this week was a little easier. It has become a little easier. I think as time
goes on it will become a little more easier.
Q. Playing four practice rounds --
STEPHEN AMES: I have had the opportunity of playing Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. It
helps. I think like I said, it was lack of play in my case. I think I have hit the range
once this week, which was this morning or yesterday -- yeah, this morning. And it was just
the playing aspect of it, is what I was lacking and having the opportunity to play both
Pro-Ams Monday and Wednesday and then of course Tuesday was a practice round, I took the
opportunity. So I was quite happy to do that.
Q. Can you think back to the last time you started a tournament 6-under also maybe was
STEPHEN AMES: No. I can't. No, I can't think of that. Can't remember.
Q. You said you enjoy this kind of course, what makes this more enjoyable than TPC
STEPHEN AMES: The fact that you can play a different variety of shots. You can stand up
on like 11 where the pin was back there in the right, if I had hit the fairway, my thought
of a shot there would have been a low-running up-shot rather than a high-flying one. Where
at the TPCs you basically have to fly your golf ball to a target, which is basically what
a TPC is. I see it as a target-oriented form of golf. Playing old style you have the
option of playing different shots into the pin, which I enjoy very much. And the same off
the tee, because if you are on the wrong side of the fairway, you have to play completely
different shots also for your second shot.
Q. For someone like myself who doesn't know much about you, why did you take six months
off or what has been the premise for last --
STEPHEN AMES: Waiting for my visa. That is basically all it is.
Q. Do you feel confident that all those problems are over with now?
STEPHEN AMES: I don't know, I have to ask my lawyer that one. (laughs)
Q. Have you left the country since Kemper?
STEPHEN AMES: Yes, I have. I have left it twice.
Q. You haven't had any problems?
STEPHEN AMES: No.
Q. Do you have to leave between tournaments?
STEPHEN AMES: Not this year, no. Only reason I am leaving is because I am going home. I
live in Canada. Home, I want to go. Basically I don't want to spend another week in a
hotel. We do enough of that as it is.
Q. Is it a shock to you because you haven't played that you could be leading after the
first round; does that surprise you?
STEPHEN AMES: A shock -- no, I have been playing this way for when I had the
opportunity of playing the first couple of weeks that I played, I had the odd shot here
and there that cost me a couple of shots. I didn't make as many putts the first couple of
weeks. This week I have made some putts. I putted very well, but then again, I had it
inside of ten feet eight or ten times today and I missed a couple of 2-, 3-footers, so, I
had the opportunity of going even lower, but I am not going to squabble over. I am quite
happy with the way I played and scored. Only difference is that I made putts today and
hopefully the putts are going to continue going.
Q. You said you weren't playing. Do you remember the six months basically; were you
practicing? Were you putting on carpet?
STEPHEN AMES: I was practicing indoors, hitting balls inside, trying to keep myself
fit, those kind of things more than anything else. But playing indoors and playing out
here in the sunlight and on grass is a completely different atmosphere.
Q. What was it like when you teed it up at Kemper for the first time?
STEPHEN AMES: It was the first time I have had heart palpitations. I have forgotten
what that felt like. Standing up there: Wow, I am nervous up here, what do I do? Actually
it was just getting over the first four holes because I started off bogey, bogey,
double-bogey. It was like, wait a minute. What am I doing here? I completely forgot how to
play golf, the mental aspect of it. Then I realized after that: Let's play golf, let's
play for pars basically. I played well there. Made the cut, I finished 33rd, I think it
was. So was happy with my performance. Just didn't make as many putts as I wanted to but I
was quite happy to be playing basically.
Q. So when you were idle, was it a case of you could not leave Canada because you
weren't sure you would get back in?
STEPHEN AMES: No, I couldn't get into the States.
Q. Why couldn't you have then played in the Far East or some other place?
STEPHEN AMES: I played the European Tour for six years. I gave up that exemption end of
1997, I gave up -- '98, actually I gave up that exemption to play in the States. I didn't
have the opportunity to play anywhere else basically.
Q. First time you have had a first round lead that ended up (inaudible) --
STEPHEN AMES: I think I was leading the L.A. Open last year where I finished third at
the end. I think I was, wasn't I? 67 first round, I think.
Q. Does it make sense to you that the list of champions in this tournament includes a
lot of guys that have done well in tournaments like the Open?
STEPHEN AMES: Because of the -- yeah, I can see why. Basically because it is premium
and on iron-play. And putting, of course, and then of course a lot of patience involved
and getting your golf ball around. There are certain pins that you can go at. Certain pins
you dare not to go long at. I think it is a big premium on, like I said, iron-play which
is basically what an Open is. And putting, of course, very big.
Q. Is the course going to get tougher as the week gets along?
STEPHEN AMES: I hope so. I hope the greens get firmer and we have to play different
shots and par looks like a good score, that is how I look at it. I'd prefer that.
Q. Just give us your basic thoughts on being 6-under and in the lead right now?
STEPHEN AMES: I am happy with my performance today. Being in the lead I still got the
afternoon to go. But at this stage three days to go, a lot of golf to go, I'd like to keep
the same thoughts that I had today, same feelings in my golf swing if I can retain that, I
will be happy with that.
Q. Any part of the course that you felt was the major factor today?
STEPHEN AMES: In performing the way I did?
STEPHEN AMES: The greens were very nice. I think we had the opportunity, like every
morning group when you go out in the morning you are going to have perfect greens and they
are perfect out there at this time of the day. This afternoon they don't look too bad for
this afternoon, but, no, basically that was it.
Q. Of all things that keep people off a Tour, yours is surely a unique reason. How hard
has it been to keep your frustrations under control during all this?
STEPHEN AMES: You are asking the wrong person. You should be asking my wife. (laughs).
It was tough, but I think the good thing about it is that we have two children now and I
had the opportunity of staying home with my two-and-a-half-year-old now. Kemper Open was
my first week back and my second was born then. I was not happy not being there, but at
the same time I had to get started somehow or the other. Family aspect of it, I thought it
was fantastic. I enjoyed it very much. I had good quality time there. Being on the road as
much as we are, and sometimes you are able to travel with your family, it is quite
difficult. She is out here this week with the two boys, and I am happy that things turned
out that way, frustrating-wise, yeah, it was frustrating very.
Q. Child born during the Kemper?
STEPHEN AMES: Yeah, it was.
Q. His name?
STEPHEN AMES: Ryan Michael.
Q. How tough is this golf course?
STEPHEN AMES: Tough. It is a good golf course.
Q. What makes it tough?
STEPHEN AMES: I think the greens, as severe as they are, they can tuck the pins in
certain spots and they are going to get firmer. I am sure as the week goes on; maybe not
too firm, but trying getting the ball close to the hole would be very difficult so you are
going to leave yourself a lot of 15-, 20-foot putts, don't make too many of those. Not
Q. Is your strategy any different first couple of rounds as opposed to looking on the
leaderboard and seeing who is doing what; is it you versus the course or do you keep it
similar -- how do you go in the second round?
STEPHEN AMES: Play my own game, basically. You try to play your strategy, how you are
going to play the hole. Depending on where certain pins are, I think what is important is
knowing where the pin is before hand and then deciding which side of the fairway you want
to be at, going in at the pin, so you have an easier second shot. There are certain pins
-- today there were a lot of pins that were tucked behind traps and a lot of the par 3s
were very tough trying to get the ball close to the hole. I think as the week goes on,
some of them are not going to be as tough and some pins you are going to be able to go at.
Then again as the week goes on, I am sure the greens are going to get a little firmer so
it is still going to be tough to get it close to the hole.
Q. You said that from the Australian to the Kemper you were back home. I was wondering
where in Canada?
STEPHEN AMES: I live in Calgary.
Q. Is it totally snowing at that time, you couldn't go outside?
STEPHEN AMES: Golf courses didn't open until the end of April.
Q. I saw that you were on the (inaudible) list for the Nelson which obviously you
didn't play. How much notice were you given that you weren't going to be able to -- how
did it work?
STEPHEN AMES: Nelson was the week we found out that we got the okay to get the visa
back and then it took another week and a half just to get it into my passport. That was --
so it was -- and then when we finally got it, which was on the Friday before Kemper, then
I realized I was playing.
Q. Did you give any thought because of the birth of your son of not playing of maybe
waiting until Memphis or --
STEPHEN AMES: No, I wanted to get started. I got permission, put it that way. (laughs)
She had a lot of help. She has got both her sisters and her mom and dad are there, so she
had her help.
Q. Is there a reason why it took so long to get the visa?
STEPHEN AMES: The story is long. It is a long story. We don't have that time. We will
leave it that the State Department was looking after it at the time and my lawyers who was
actually from here, New York.
Q. Canadian State Department or the U.S.?
STEPHEN AMES: U.S..
Q. You saved a par there on 18?
STEPHEN AMES: Yeah, I did.
Q. What happened there and were there any other significant --
STEPHEN AMES: Coming back into the -- getting back into it, the short game -- my short
game has been a little weak; the biggest one being my bunker play. It is one that I have
spent a lot of time in the last three weeks that I have had the opportunity of being out
here. It is something I have still got to work on. But I had the opportunity getting
up-and-down because I was just right there in front of the green. I made a good par. I was
happy with the result at the end.
LEE PATTERSON: Why don't you go over the details of your birdies for us. 2 and 3.
STEPHEN AMES: 2, 3-wood off the tee and then hit a 9-iron about six feet. 3, I hit
driver, 8-iron pin-high right to about twelve feet.
LEE PATTERSON: 8 and 9.
STEPHEN AMES: 8, hit driver off the tee; then 6-iron about eight feet again. Downhill
putt; made that. 9, it was green-side trap on the left, hit it about -- bunker shot was
about five, six feet, made that.
LEE PATTERSON: One hiccup on 11.
STEPHEN AMES: I misjudged - I blame my caddie on that one - he forgot to tell me which
way the wind was and I played it the way I normally would which is down the right side --
you have a better opening, but the wind was off left and it pushed my ball into the trees.
It was my fault in a sense too; also his, I thought. 12, 13 I birdied. 13, hit 3-wood off
the tee, up the middle and then 8-iron about six feet. 14, 9-iron about I think it was
seven or eight feet above the hole.
LEE PATTERSON: 16.
STEPHEN AMES: Hit 5-iron, three feet. 17, 18 I got it up-and-down, both traps.
LEE PATTERSON: Anything else?
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