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March 23, 2007

Rod Pampling


NELSON SILVERIO: Rod, thanks for joining us for a couple of minutes. Good play today obviously, 69. How would you compare the conditions between yesterday and today?
ROD PAMPLING: Pretty similar. It's just obviously today there wasn't any rain until the last green. Pretty similar wind. Once it gets about 15, 20, doesn't matter how strong it is. Yeah, exact same direction, so obviously no rain was the difference.

Q. Your eagle, what did you hit there?

Q. Can you just talk about that, was it a nice boost?
ROD PAMPLING: Oh, yeah, saved me having to try and work out how to make one, that's for sure. I had not made a putt on the front nine, so, yeah, it took away the problems of trying to make a putt.
Yeah, definitely, whenever you have a 2 out there, it's definitely a boost to your confidence. It gets you fired up again, you keep going.

Q. You parred the rest of the front nine, you said you weren't making any putts; was it tough to read the greens, the changes?
ROD PAMPLING: I wasn't really stroking it that well. I put a new putter in this week, and changed my grip, so I was kind of trying to get comfortable with that and just wasn't quite there on the front nine. But we worked it out and it's starting to roll again.

Q. You've put some good rounds on this place, do you like this place? How do you feel about the Blue Monster?
ROD PAMPLING: Yeah, obviously I like it. It's a good, solid golf course. It's certainly open, but the greens are firm and the rough, you're not really getting the spin like normal golf courses where you really have to position yourself in the fairways. It's a huge factor here.
I enjoy that challenge of hitting fairways, which allows you to be more aggressive at the pins. Yeah, it suits the eye well.

Q. Did you happen to see, did they fix the score board before you arrived on 18?

Q. You didn't happen to notice it? They had you making a quadruple bogey on 17.
ROD PAMPLING: A quadruple? Wow. I thought I hit it ten foot for my second shot. (Laughter) Quadruple? Wow. That's tough to do on 17.

Q. You didn't see that?

Q. Damned good thing.

Q. You know what you did.
ROD PAMPLING: Yeah, it's not my score card, which is the main one.

Q. How accurate are they usually out there on score boards on TOUR, does that happen much?
ROD PAMPLING: It's pretty close. Sometimes the walking scorer will be a little off, but generally it's pretty close. Maybe the walking scorer, sometimes they can hit a wrong button pretty quick on the ShotLink.
Yeah, I'm sure it's happened plenty of times out there, but you don't see it too often.

Q. Can you talk about the conditions? I know you didn't play all the Florida Swing, but the other tournaments all had a lot of rough and scores were not low, and this week the high winds, the scores are not low; it's been a very tough month as far as trying to make birdies, is that good or bad, do you like it that way?
ROD PAMPLING: I think some of the courses are getting a little bit too extreme. I think if you had put a poll out there, the spectators would certainly like to see a lot more birdies out there. As a player who is not -- I'm not the longest and I'm not the shortest, but it's hard work out there. It kind of -- you lose a little bit of that fun when you just are grinding every single day. It's been a month on the Florida Swing now.
They are trying to make scores higher and higher. Sometimes I think they just are slightly going the wrong way about it.

Q. Do you think that plays into your hands a little bit as one of the better ball-strikers and maybe puts more emphasis on accuracy for you?
ROD PAMPLING: Yeah, it does. It certainly, it helps. But as I say, I still don't think that's the way we need to go to make the courses harder. You know, they can certainly dry a few of the courses out. Here it's playing great. I think the greens are fantastic here. Obviously we've had some rain, but it's still nice and firm.

Q. Was Bay Hill any tougher last week than it was last year?
ROD PAMPLING: I don't think so. I think I was commenting to my caddie, there was just a bit more rough around the greens. I don't think the fairways were -- the rough was any thicker. I just didn't play as good. But I putted really bad, too.

Q. Vijay's score was two better than what you did.
ROD PAMPLING: Well, basically. Obviously 4 was playing I think -- well, it could be playing pretty similar to the 4 last year, being the 5. But 17 definitely played a lot harder, which I think makes Vijay's score a lot better than what mine would have been. Because 17, I think he took a few criticisms there.

Q. 17?
ROD PAMPLING: Oh, 16, sorry. I was meaning 16, changing from a par 5 to a par 4. I don't know if it's a good par 4.

Q. You seem to show up quite a bit at the crack of dawn for practice rounds with Tiger more than most, how did that come about?
ROD PAMPLING: In the majors I try and ask him to do that. You just like to see the way he gets around the golf course, how he plays those courses. A lot of them I don't get to see throughout the year, and I think he stops in quite regularly on a lot of these courses. And he's pretty open with his information. And you have some fun out there. It's nice to get in amongst the gallery early in the week and just get used to the huge numbers out there.
So hopefully when Sunday comes around, the galleries, you've had them for a few days. It's not that big a deal.

Q. Is that the biggest gallery you get on Tuesday until you get to the weekend?
ROD PAMPLING: Basically, yeah. (Laughter)

Q. How many times have you done that, practice rounds, early practice rounds?
ROD PAMPLING: We've had a few now. Maybe it could be double digits now. It started with Steve Williams, just knowing Steve, asked me to come along. I just stuck my hand a couple times, keep asking, he hasn't said no yet, so I'll keep asking.

Q. Are you surprised more guys haven't done that --
ROD PAMPLING: It's just whether or not they want to get up at 6 o'clock and go play with him. He gets out there in the dark so you've got to get out there early. Having two kids, you're up ready to go anyway, so it's nice to get out there with him and try and learn something.

Q. When is the first time you did that with Tiger?
ROD PAMPLING: It's got to be maybe three or four years ago. I couldn't tell you which event. As I said, it's been a few now. Maybe one of the British opens early on we might have had a round there.

Q. You'll sleep in tomorrow?
ROD PAMPLING: Tomorrow, yeah. Well, it's a good weekend; we can sleep in tomorrow, as long as the kids stay asleep.

Q. Tiger has won here the last two years, he's on top of the leaderboard --
ROD PAMPLING: He hit a triple, didn't he? Didn't the score board say triple? (Laughter)
Q. I'm sure nobody is running up a white flag, but just given his history, how does seeing his name at the top of the leaderboard affect your approach?
ROD PAMPLING: Just look at his past record, something like 85 percent by the time 36 holes comes around and he's leading and he wins. It's pretty amazing what he does when he gets in the front.
We certainly don't rule ourselves out. Obviously I don't think he's going to have the weekend he had at Bay Hill, but you know what, it's a golf course where you've still got to be pretty strong off the tee and play some good shots. As I said, I don't think it's going to happen, but it's still there and it's -- you know, maybe it's something fresh in his mind that someone gets near, he may actually feel a little bit of pressure for once.

Q. Your putting grip change, was it anything big?
ROD PAMPLING: Just getting my left hand a lot stronger and just separating my hand. I've just got both hands fully on the grip now instead of overlapping. Just helps me get my left hand a little bit stronger.

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