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July 30, 2005

Craig Stadler


RAND JERRIS: We're now joined by Craig Stadler, 11 under par for the championship, our co leader, with a round of 2 under par 69 today.

Craig, maybe you could just start us off with some general comments about the playing conditions there today. I think the golf course played tougher than we've seen it this week.

CRAIG STADLER: Yeah, I think so. The greens definitely were a little tougher. They're drying out a little bit, a little crustier in spots, getting pretty baked on the back nine, quite a few of them, especially 16 and 18 with the slope. But certainly a little faster off the tee. The ball was running out a little bit more, and actually a very different golf course today.

RAND JERRIS: Take a moment and walk us through the birdies and bogeys on your card, please.

CRAIG STADLER: It will be a while. I bogeyed 1, I drove it in the right rough, hit it right of the green, hit a horrible chip about 20 feet by, made bogey.

2, I hit a little 7 iron, pulled it, buried under the lip of the back left bunker, came out across the green into the right bunker, came out across the green short of the hole about 12 feet, made that for bogey.

Good two putt on 3.

4, I hit 3 wood down there about 70 yards from the hole and played a sod over sand wedge short of the green, good two putt for par there.

Driver, 3 wood on 5, right of the green, good chip there, all the way up to about five feet and made that for birdie.

Parred 6.

9, I drove it, hit 3 wood in the left rough on the hill, 8 iron over the green short of the tree into the left, hit a great shot absolutely dead, hit it about three feet, made that for par.

Then good drive on 10, hit 7 iron about 15 feet, two putts for birdie.

3 wood, sand wedge to about eight feet on 11, made that for birdie.

Driver in the right rough, chopped it out in the rough short of the green, hit that one over the green, hit that one past the hole, hit that one right of the hole, finally made that one for six, for double.

5 iron on the next hole about 40 feet and three putted. Left it about six feet short and missed that.

Then 3 wood, wedge on 14 about six feet, eight feet, made that for birdie.

3 iron about ten feet on 15, made that for birdie.

Driver, a little 8 iron about 10, 12 feet on 16, missed it.

3 wood just a little sand wedge on 17 about ten feet past the hole, made that.

And drove it in the left bunker on 18, hit 7 iron in there about four feet and made that.

Q. What was your yardage coming out of that bunker?

CRAIG STADLER: 153 was the yardage on 18.

Q. How bad a lie was it?

CRAIG STADLER: It wasn't that bad. It wasn't that if you get in these bunkers where they haven't raked, you're not going to get a good lie. I don't know what the deal is with this sand, but it clumps up and your ball just kind of makes a little gopher track in there. Every time you hit it in one of these bunkers it's sitting down. I did that on 9 yesterday. I was right in the middle of the trap and had 130 yards and hit a sand wedge and I couldn't hit it more than 30 yards. It had about that much sand behind it. It kind of gets in there and sinks.

It was not a great lie, not a bad lie, but I caught it perfectly. I was very fortunate.

Q. Just talk about how important that finish may be, birdies on four of the last five to get back in it for tomorrow and all that.

CRAIG STADLER: Well, I thought the finish yesterday, birdieing 18, was good, and then I bogeyed 1 and 2. But obviously the back nine was just a yo yo the whole way. I made one par in nine holes, which was not ideal, but fortunately there were more good than bad.

Momentum wise, as I said yesterday, you always want to finish well, and after doubling 12 and bogeying 13, I dug a pretty good hole for myself and kind of regrouped and came back good. So hopefully that will carry over into tomorrow. You never know, but it's good it's always nice to go home on an up note than go home bogeying the last two or something.

Q. You were in a similar situation last week after the third round. You were one back in that case, but here you're tied for the lead and in the final group in both cases. Are there any parallels you can draw? How did you feel then? How do you feel now?

CRAIG STADLER: No, not really. I played well last week, and I didn't get off to a good start on Sunday. I hit three drives, kind of like I hit on 18 today. Started it right of the bunker and cut it off and they didn't cut. I did that three times on the front nine, ended up in the gorge twice, in the face of one of those bunkers and came out sideways three times, which could very well have cost me the golf tournament.

But this golf course is a little bit more favorable for me off the tee. It sets up very good for left to right on almost all the holes. I just need to probably make a couple less mental mistakes than I made today. I should not have hit driver off 12, and I paid the price for that. You know, I probably should have backed off on 1 and I didn't. Anyway, you learn from those. The only thing that I'm looking forward to tomorrow is certainly you get in the last group every week, after a while it gets a little easier and you get more comfortable with it and hopefully I'll have a good day tomorrow.

Q. Is it tougher to avoid mental mistakes when you've changed how you have to play according to the conditions twice in three or four days?

CRAIG STADLER: Is it tougher to avoid mistakes when the conditions change? To y'all, probably yes. To us, it shouldn't be. We do it every week. Very, very seldom do we go three or four days where we have the same course conditions, the same wind direction, the same wind condition, lack of wind. I would say it is very much the odd tournament out every year where it stays the same every day. We're more than used to that, and we should be more than able to adapt to it. You know, you don't know why. I mean, I birdied 10 and 11 and pulled out driver on 12, and I shouldn't have. I knew it, but I went ahead and hit it anyway and made double bogey. I get up on 14, I've hit driver the last two days, and after making two birdies you make a mental error, and after making double and making a bogey and you're pissed off at the world, you get up there and think, "I don't think it's a driver today." Go figure. I hit 3 wood and made birdie and started a good little run. You never know, you just have to pay attention from the first tee to the last green you're out there, and occasionally I don't.

Q. Is your son on the bag this week?


Q. Just so follow up then, is the caddie you have on your bag somebody that could rein you in and say, "Craig, what are you doing pulling driver at 12"?

CRAIG STADLER: Occasionally. I let him know it. He read the green on 11, which is the first green I've had him read all week and he read it right and I made birdie. But then we both kind of fell into a little trap on 12. But it happens. It won't be the first it's not the first and it certainly won't be the last time. It just hopefully won't happen tomorrow.

Q. Tomorrow you'll be paired with Loren. Have you played many times with him, and anything that stands out or any thoughts on that?

CRAIG STADLER: I haven't played with him in quite a while actually, probably I don't know, three or four years maybe at least.

Q. What is it that allows you and probably everybody out here, most guys out here, to be pissed off at the world, and then in just like a flick of a switch turn it around and get everything back on track so easily, or what appears to most people to be so easily?

CRAIG STADLER: I don't know, something new to me (laughter). It never used to be that way (laughter).

Oh, I don't know. You know, you just you've got to train yourself mentally, you've got to train yourself not train yourself, but you've got to allow yourself to learn to manage yourself around a golf course, and it's really something you can't teach, it's just something you learn over time.

You know, it was very hard for me when I was young. I wanted to go out and hit it a mile and just birdie every hole. When I made bogey, it set me off for two, three, four holes sometimes. You can use all the adages you want, I guess. We mellow out as we get older and so on and so on, but I've been probably a good 10 or 12 years now where it still bothers me to no end to three putt. That's as bad as it gets for me. I can sit there and scrape it around, hit trees and make X's here, but when I three putt, that really gets under my skin.

As you just said, I three putted 13, and then that started the run of four out of five birdies. I'm repeating what you said. You get so pissed off that you just finally enough is enough, and you get it over with. You hope that happens, and most of the time it does.

Very seldom do I let one shot affect the next one. I might have today on 13. There was probably a little bit of the reason that I three putted there. It's just something you learn and something you adapt to and you create within your own mind and character, and confidence really, more than anything.

Q. Has it been easy or hard for you to figure out why this year hasn't quite matched up to the great season you had last year?

CRAIG STADLER: Well, I really haven't tried to figure it out yet, to be honest with you. It's obvious I haven't won. I've had chances. I should have won in LA, should have won at Valencia. I had a good chance in Long Island, had a good chance last week. You know, I'm starting to sneak up there and get a little higher going into Sunday each week, which is good. As I said, you get used to being there, it makes it easier to get there.

You know, it certainly didn't help the cause that I was, I think, from about the 1st of May until the end of June, I was playing pretty much hurt when I did play, and I finally just had had enough. I couldn't swing 100 percent, so I withdrew at Laurel Valley, which I think Laurel valley is a good golf course for me, a lot of left to right, good high ball hitters' course, and when I first saw it, I really liked it. I only played one round there. I didn't start the next week, withdrew from Des Moines, withdrew from Kansas City, had the next week off, and before that I withdrew from Birmingham, Pensacola, I played hurt on Friday and then everything felt good on Saturday, then I was sore again on Sunday. I shot 70, 60, 70, and then had the week off before that and then it was Austin, and a Top 10 at Austin, but I was sore all week. It's been the better part of two, two and a half months.

With Laurel Valley, with Des Moines, Kansas City off, most of it was muscular, I came out to Boston and I felt good since. I had no pain anywhere. I've never had back problems before, so I can certainly see what these guys are complaining about all the time with back problems because I've never experienced them and it is no fun. Fortunately everything is healthy now and it'll be good for the rest of the year.

Q. Ray Floyd is hanging right in there. Are you surprised a guy his age is so close with just 18 holes to play?

CRAIG STADLER: No, not really. I mean, he won here last time anything was here. He obviously likes the golf course, and just in coming back to somewhere you've won and you've played well before, it gives you an added boost of confidence. And I'm sure no matter how he's playing, he'll get up on the first tee and he's thinking, yeah, I won here and shot four great rounds and won a major here, so it might be a pretty good week, and it has been. He's definitely more than proven himself over the years that he can still play and still compete. Good for him. I think it's great.

Q. 17 birdies and one eagle in 54 holes, I would call that some great golf, and I think you'll agree, it was with your putting. You really did the job.

CRAIG STADLER: There's some others in there, too (laughter). I'm not 19 under.

No, I've actually hit a lot of good shots this week. I've driven the ball pretty well, but a couple times today I didn't get away with it. I got away the first day with a couple of wayward drives, but I've putted okay. I missed some putts yesterday, I made some today, but I've hit the ball. I've hit a lot of good iron shots this week every day. I've certainly had opportunities and haven't made the most of them, but I've done, I think, what I have considered a fairly good job at converting.

Q. Do you recall your closest brush with a U.S. Open on the PGA TOUR? Did you have a chance to win going into the final nine ever that you can recall?

CRAIG STADLER: At the U.S. Open?

Q. Yeah.

CRAIG STADLER: Yeah, I played well at Medinah for a while. I had one round I don't know if Sunday was bad or something, but I played well at Oakmont the year that was that the PGA that Nelson won?

Q. That was the '83 Open.

CRAIG STADLER: I played okay there. I really honestly think my best Open that I had was Bethpage. I finished like 18th or 17th or something, but I think that's the all the Opens I've played in, I think that's the one that I was really most proud of the way I played. I got out Thursday, I started the back nine, and I bogeyed 1, so I bogeyed my 10th hole on Thursday to go 8 over par for the day, and I finished 10 over for the week. That was pretty good for an old man. You know, I made the cut and then I had about an eight footer to get back in to Olympia Fields last year and missed it on 18 after sitting there 45 minutes looking at it with a rain delay.

I was pretty proud of the way I played there, hard golf course, hard for me, long golf course, but I hung in there pretty good. It would have been very easy to shoot my 82 or 83 on Thursday and go through the motions on Friday and just go home.

RAND JERRIS: Craig, congratulations on your fine play and we wish you luck tomorrow.


End of FastScripts.

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