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June 15, 1996

Frank Nobilo


LES UNGER: General comments from Frank Nobilo and then a lull bit on birdies and bogeys. So your general thoughts, first, if you don't mind.

FRANK NOBILO: Yeah, I mean, it is nice to be in contention in a U.S. Open again first and foremost. Oakmont is probably -- I thought Shinnecock was the best course I played in my career, but I would have to say this place here is unbelievable. It is certainly not unfair. It is a great championship course. If you hit the ball in the fairway, you have a shot to the pin. You know, and from the fairway, if you hit a great shot, you can give yourself a birdie chance and when you get onto the green, if you are not close, you have a very difficult putt and I always thought that is what really what golf was all about. And I compliment the USGA and the way in which they have set it up. I think given the set of conditions that they have had and the very inclement weather they have done a tremendous condition to get the course in the condition that it is. I got off to a good start. I hit a 3-wood and 8-iron to about 20, 25 feet on the first, made that. I hit a drive and a 4-wood onto the second hole, 2-putted from about, I suppose, 20, 25 feet. And then I birdied the par 5, 12th hole, where I hit a drive and 4-wood just off the right-hand side of the green; chipped it to about two and a half feet, made that. And then 15, I hit 2-iron off the tee, and then I hit 6-iron into about six feet and made that. The bogeys, well, 8th hole, hit a good drive, unfortunately it went into a divot had 4-iron to about 20 feet. Hit a poor putt, went down to about six feet. I thought it was a much quicker putt, and missed the putt for par. 10th hole, 3-wood in the bunker on the left. Pulled a 6-iron into the green-side bunker on the left. Blew it out to about twelve feet and missed that. And then 14, I drive it left. Probably the worst shot I hit all day in the rough. Hit what I thought was a great recovery shot, but it just got up a bit quick, caught a branch; then hit another branch and it killed it. Hit a wedge on to probably 15 feet. Good putt. It didn't go in. Then 18th hole, hit pretty good drive, missed the fairway about six feet. Then it is dead. Wedge out. Wedge on and missed a 6-footer for par.

LES UNGER: Any saves?

FRANK NOBILO: No. Basically -- oh, sorry, on 9, I made about -- I hit 3-iron, just off the left hand edge of the green and hit a great little chip to about eight feet and made that. But you know, I hit 14 greens today; hit a lot of great shots and, you know, I think -- fair to say I was a little unlucky out there.

Q. Given your success in the American Majors, when you have played here a limited time, have you given any thought of playing more or switching to the PGA TOUR?

FRANK NOBILO: Yeah, I appreciate the question. It is one that I have considered an enormous amount. I-- unfortunately, I have a daughter from a previous marriage that is educated in England. She is six years of age, and even though I have a base in England and played the European Tour for the last eight or nine years, I am still classified under the American Regulations as an Australiasian Tour player and because of that, my home Tour is deemed Australiasia and therefore if I was to play the U.S. Tour, I would need a release for any tournament to play in Europe, which, I consider a bit unfair because, you know, I played there since 1987 and the likes of Faldo and Langer and Sandy Lyle and Montgomerie and the other players that have chosen to play both sides of the Atlantic, have carte blanche to come backwards and forward. And clearly by my birth right, I am denied that same privilege.

Q. Can you explain why it is only in the last three years, say, that your finishes in Majors have -- I mean, you have been sucking up top 10 finishes?

FRANK NOBILO: Yeah, quite simply, I have only been playing in them for the last three years. I have played a lot of golf worldwide and due to the exemption systems on the tournaments on this side of the Atlantic, I was kept away from them and then the USGA considered that the top 15 in Europe would get into the U.S. Opens, so three years ago I finished in the top 15 in Europe. Played my first U.S. Open at Oakmont; teed it up in the last group on Sunday and since then, I have played my way into every major, through form. I have never received an invitation from the Masters. I have had to play my way into the event. That is basically why the last three years I have played well in Majors. I haven't played in them prior to that.

Q. Frank, I wanted to ask you about the putting. I know you fellows go out and play your practice rounds and you do extra putting on each green. And I know that you are able to go to the practice green before each round. But in the heat of the competition -- there seems to be a change as far as the lagging and so forth. Can you help us understand that a little bit? Is quite a bit of it the pressure or is it a combination of the weather, etcetera?

FRANK NOBILO: It is a combination of a few things. If you watch, generally, on the putting green, players will putt 2, 3 balls in a row. So if the first one is hit a bit hard, you hit the next one a bit softer and if that is not enough, you normally work that out. Unfortunately when the tournament is on, we get one chance and-- to state the obvious. And your unfortunately, the tension at the moment, you have to make a decision and the hardest thing sometimes is deciding whether or not you are going to hit the putt firm or soft or lag it or whatever because you are never ever going to get another chance. That is why the great players like Nicklaus, or Trevino, the Hogans, of the like, I think they were the best at planning their rounds of golf. Someone like Jack and I think Nick Faldo is probably the other player that comes to mind, are the best of making putts when they count and I think that is because generally they do their homework probably better than anyone else. And when it comes to making a putt, they are extremely positive in whatever action they decide - if it is a lag putt, they lag. If it is a makeable putt, they try and make it. And that is why those guys have had such tremendous careers.

Q. Is it fair to say that winning the Open will be doubly important to you because that would allow you to play when and where you want, pretty much?

FRANK NOBILO: I would say it would be triply quadruply, it would be unbelievably important to me.

Q. NBC made a comment during your round about your great, great grandfather had been a pirate or something like that. Can you fill us in on that a little bit what they were referring to?

FRANK NOBILO: Basically, it is true. But it dates back to the early 1800s. My ancestors, on my father's side - reasonably poor family - and I think all the good looking girls were gone in Italy, so they decided to rape and pillage their way across the Baltic to Yugoslavia. And they found out that the girls were no good there either. So they then immigrated to New Zealand in the early 1900s so that is pretty much the way it goes. But my mom is not too impressed with that.

Q. Based on what happened with all the leaders today, how are you going to attack the course; it may be better to sit back and play conservatively or go out and attack?

FRANK NOBILO: I don't know, really. But no -- it is a great golf course and it is a great Championship and in order to succeed in that environment, first and foremost, you have to play great golf and that is why -- you know, sometimes they have looked at the U.S. Open list of winners and they have said, well, you know, he didn't win anything else before or whatever, but when you go through each tournament they have had over the last 100 years, every man that has walked off that 18th green and held the trophy high, has played the best golf that week because the golf course forces that out of you. So as far as I am concerned for tomorrow, I have got to play my best golf and that might be playing great to shoot 70. And I think it would be a disrespect to anyone else in the field if you have beaten them with anything else barring your best golf. And if the golf course is similar to the way it is set up today, it is going to require a very patient player and a player that is playing at the top of his game; that is hitting the fairways; giving himself a number of birdie opportunities and holding his nerve on the greens. This golf course tests every part of your game and that is why it is a great championship course.

Q. It seems like when you watch the scores of all the players through the championship, there are a lot of low scores in the front 9 and then you get to the back, the last five or six holes, can you comment on the last final five here at Oakland Hills?

FRANK NOBILO: Yeah, I am glad someone said that because most people have only talked about 16 in. I think when you walk off the 13th green, the short par 3, you stand on 14 which is 470 yards long and it is hard work from there because 14 bends a little bit to the right; the wind has been right-to-left behind the last three days and it is -- because of its length, you have got to hit a good drive, but then again, you have got to hit the fairway. It is also one of the toughest greens on the course to putt on. Then you turn back into a little bit of breeze with, strategically, a brilliant bunker in the middle of the fairway I mean-- it would appear a nothing dog-leg left par 4 but Donald Ross introduced a bunker there that just makes it a great par 4. A lot of the players are hitting an iron short of it and it leaves you with approximately 160 yards and it is a gettable birdie if you hit a great shot, but there is a bunker off the tee; there is a green-side bunkers; very 3-puttable green. Then you hit 16 where -- the key to 16 is hitting the fairway, you have got to have a shot off the fairway because the green has generated probably more backspin than any other green on the course. But you know, the greens slopes into you and it slopes away on the left and away on the right-hand side because it has got the spine that runs through the middle. So it rewards a great golf shot. It penalizes a bad tee or a second shot that is played too conservatively. And then you turn to 17 which is uphill par 3, close to 200 yards, and 17 is very similar to 16. When the pin is on the right, you don't want to be left. And when the pin is on the left, you don't want to be right. So you can forget about the size of the green. You are hitting -- when you are hitting your tee shot into 17, you are trying to land the ball basically in an area half the size of this stage. So while the green looks like a couple of acres in size, the landing area is probably 5 square yards and 18, well, you are hitting into a fairway on an angle. It is 450 or 60 yards and it is a dog-leg right, but with a fairway sloping right-to-left. It requires nothing better than a great tee shot. And then from there on in, you have got an uphill second shot to a green once again with a spine in the middle of it. So it is -- not only you have got to get the ball on the fairway, you have got to get the ball to the right section of the green and that is why it is a great finish. Every shot that you have - even if you hit it in the rough and lay it up, you must then lay the ball in a position where you can get your third shot to the right part of the green. And I mean, it is a pleasure to play a great course.

Q. 16 seemed pivotal for a couple of the fellows, particularly after you today. Was it playing any harder or just the pin or just happened to be that way because, like you said, it is a tough hole?

FRANK NOBILO: 16 is what we call a sucker pin today. It was set on the right, but it looked like, you know, well it was accessible, but, you know, if you watched, obviously, Tiger Woods' shoot on the firs rounds, you can spin the ball back in the lake. And I remember playing with Greg Norman yesterday who holed his second shot so when you are hitting into a little puff of breeze, you are very conscious of the ball spinning backwards so inevitably you are going to hit it past the flag which means you are going to have a downhill putt it also brings the bunker into play. Because of the slope of the green, if you hit it in the rough, you tend to have a crack at it. I think the thing is, when you have only got 150 yards - it is one of the shorter shots out there - it is very hard to lay it up when you are in the rough and I think -- not speaking out of position here -- I don't know what happened to Payne, but he made 7 and I saw what happened to Ernie is that you try and bite off too much because if you lay-up to the left, you are now faced with a really delicate pitch. So it basically comes from hitting the ball out of play or hitting the ball in the wrong place off the tee.

Q. I have heard your name pronounced Nobilo, Nobilo, Nobilo. Tell me how you pronounce your name?

FRANK NOBILO: Frank. (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER) It is anything but Nabilo (ph). But thanks. Thank you very much.

End of FastScripts....

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