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June 15, 2007

Tom Pernice, Jr.


Q. Talk about your day.
TOM PERNICE, JR.: Well, I've always said 2-over every day is going to be pretty good around here. Even though you shoot 72, you're always disappointed a little bit. I had three 3-putts today, so that was a little disappointing.
Bogeyed two of the par 5s. But other than that, it was a very solid round. But happy at 2-over, that's for sure.

Q. Big key hitting it in the fairways?
TOM PERNICE, JR.: It's a must, once you're on the greens -- but you have to be in the fairways to get on the greens. I drove it in trouble on No. 4. I drove it in the Church Pews and laid up and hit it in the green-side bunker and didn't get up-and-down. Other than that I was pretty much either in the fairway or short cuts all day or very first cut so it was good.

Q. Is shooting a 72 like a 68?
TOM PERNICE, JR.: I don't know, it seems like you're having more fun when you shoot a 68.
You know, the breeze is pretty consistent. It's up a little bit, I feel like today. And you can tell the greens are starting to dry a little better and a little quicker.

Q. Do you think you still putted better than yesterday, six less putts?
TOM PERNICE, JR.: Yeah, but four times today, I was this far off the green (indicating a few inches). So the stats can be meaningless in terms of putts. But times I used my putter, I didn't putt bad necessarily. Just my speed was bad on a couple of them. Hit some good shots into greens and ended up with some relatively long putts and kept knocking them six feet by and missed them coming back.

Q. Do you find that you have to adjust your thinking and the way you normally play this game, even right down to what at other places would be a simple wedge shot and you have to pull back for a second before you hit it and say, "Hold on, maybe I don't want to go right there," even though you can get it there.
TOM PERNICE, JR.: It's no question. I had it at 17. I was right in between a little 9-iron and a hard pitching wedge into the wind and normally I would hit a 9-iron to the back of the pin but I hit a hard wedge because it was safe and would stay below the hole but it spun back and I 3-putted.
Yeah, you're always strategizing where to leave the ball and sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't. You need to position the ball around here, not only off the tee but when you get on the greens.

Q. 72 is a good score today; if conditions stay the same, would 74 be a good score tomorrow or 75 by Sunday?
TOM PERNICE, JR.: If you're driving the ball straight, you can give yourself some opportunities. The greens are very true. It's one of the best-conditioned golf courses I've ever set foot on. With that, it makes a difference. The opportunity is there. If you can control your golf ball and leave it in the right spot, you've got some opportunity.

Q. Outside of 18, did that par feel like almost a birdie?
TOM PERNICE, JR.: Yeah, 18 is pretty -- No. 9 is pretty difficult, too. I had a 4-iron in and just carried the bunker and it went 60 or 70 feet past the pin so the 4-iron released almost 30 yards coming up the hill there.
So where the pin is on 9 playing downwind, it's almost impossible to get close to and if you stay left you have to putt over the hump.

Q. Any good saves?
TOM PERNICE, JR.: I'm sure there was somewhere along the line. I missed putts for par on 4 and 5 on those two holes.

Q. Where were you off the tee?
TOM PERNICE, JR.: I hit it in the right bunker. Hit a good bunker shot out straight down the hill about seven feet and made the seven-footer, so that kind of kept me going.

Q. Do you see the USGA in some ways as kind of the last guardian of the game? There's a struggle between the modern power player and the old guard, and I know they feel as though the emphasis on hitting fairways has been lessened at the professional level. Do you see them as the last sort of guardian and do you agree with that position?
TOM PERNICE, JR.: Well, it's almost Oakmont. I don't know that it's USGA. Their fairways average 26 or 27 yards wide here with probably the most severe bunkering of any course you'll ever play, so let alone the rough. The fairway bunkering and 28-yard wide fairways, I'm a firm believer if the tour average was the same, you'd see some similarities.
I think it's Oakmont. What they are notorious for is building a hard golf course and having their golf course play hard. They got it there. And obviously the USGA has come in and thickened the rough, which is another added feature. It would still be a difficult golf course if the conditions were like this and firm and fast without the thick rough.
But I think the narrowing of the fairways and the very difficult fairway bunkers in itself is doing it, not so much the USGA. I think the USGA is trying to set the golf course up where you can play it, but it's tough to play. You have a lot of contouring and slope on the fairways and it makes it difficult, 26, 27 yards wide.

Q. Gives guys a fighting chance versus guys who can put it out there at 320?
TOM PERNICE, JR.: No question it's a positioning golf course. You have to maneuver the ball, hit 3-wood, 5-woods, 2-irons where you can and where you need to and you need a specific strategy and more importantly you have to have control of the golf ball.

Q. Can you go over your birdie holes?
TOM PERNICE, JR.: 2, I hit a little 7-iron about a foot and a half.
13, I hit a wedge in there about 20 feet just left of the hole and made the putt -- oh, no, that was 14, excuse me.
13, I hit an 8-iron eight feet above the hole.

Q. You played well at the Open last year, too. Do you feel like these courses do set up well for your game?
TOM PERNICE, JR.: I think that you have to drive the ball in the fairway and over the last three or four fairways since I've been working with Jim Hardy, my golf instructor, I feel that I can drive the golf ball relatively straight. So I feel like that gives me some opportunities to be able to play these venues.
I played well last year at Winged Foot after starting at 79, I brought it back. You know, I feel like I have the opportunity to maneuver the ball and have a game plan and hit the ball in the fairway and go from there.

Q. Do you think the course played much more difficult today than it did yesterday afternoon?
TOM PERNICE, JR.: I mean, it's playing faster. I mean, just that in itself with some of these crosswinds, the fairways are definitely faster. The greens are firmer and faster.
So, you know, just like we saw, everybody thought yesterday was probably the easier of the days because of the moisture and today it's definitely firming up.

Q. Is it frustrating when you're hitting good shots and playing the hole the way you're supposed to play it and something goes wrong?
TOM PERNICE, JR.: I don't think that it's out of control. I think that if you play smart and hit the proper shots, you can be okay. I don't know that you need to be able to hit a good shot and have to be right next to the hole. I think you need to be able to play strategy and if it's downwind and the pin is up front and if it goes 20 feet by, you have to play it.
The 9th hole today, I thought it was important to hit it in the fairway. So even though I knew the long iron coming in might be difficult, but my opportunities might be better even if I had to putt from 60-some feet. I don't know that it's necessarily unfair. It difficult, but, you know, they are trying to test all aspects of the game, whether it's if you want to take the chance and hit a driver and hit a 7-iron in, you can stop the ball better. If not, you're going to be long and then you have to putt well.
So I don't believe it's out of control by any means. It is difficult, and I think, you know, everybody knew it was going to be difficult, and it truly is.

Q. How hard is it just to calibrate what par means? Most weeks, 4-over par -- but here, 4-over par is pretty good.
TOM PERNICE, JR.: I'm not even worried about it. I'm just trying to play the hole I'm playing and see what I can do. That's all you can do is put yourself in positions to hit a lot of fairways and greens and when you get opportunities to make some putts, go for it.

Q. Talk about where your game is right now.
TOM PERNICE, JR.: It's been a little up and down. I felt like I started hitting the ball better at Colonial, actually, and Memorial. But I putted not good at all at either one of those venues. That was pretty bad.
And then I played actually pretty good at Memphis on Friday. I played terrible the first day in the wind but I played quite well on Friday the second day in the wind. So I felt like I was starting to come around.
Jim Hardy was here this week and we spent three good days with him. I felt that the opportunity was there if I could just get the ball in the fairway, and I feel pretty good about it.

Q. Your impressions of Charl Schwartzel, getting a lot of buzz?
TOM PERNICE, JR.: Well, obviously he's very young. So the amount of potential that he has going forward, I think he's 22 or 23 years old, is phenomenal. I'd say he's your typical South African, they never talk; just like Retief and Ernie, not the most exciting personalities but loads of talents, no question, yes.

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