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September 17, 2000

Chris DiMarco


NELSON LUIS: We'd like to welcome Chris DiMarco here. Chris had a very good week here, obviously. He gets to become the first champion of the SEI Pennsylvania Classic, and also makes this his first career victory. So, obviously a great feeling for you.

CHRIS DiMARCO: Yeah, it is. I remember somebody asked me how I was going to sleep last night. I didn't sleep good last night. I woke up about seven and I could not go back to sleep. You know what, they always say the first win is the hardest, and it is. And I am really glad I had a five- or four-shot lead playing the last hole. Thankfully none of the five guys made a really big run at me. I never got out of my comfort zone. Even though I made a couple bogeys, I never got out of my comfort zone. I made that eagle on 3 and that really relaxed me, maybe too much, because I tried to make it on the next hole, too and ended up 25 feet right of the hole. That was my bogey on 4. Then I bogeyed 9. I hit it right. Hit a bad drive right and it hit a tree and went further right. Hit it short of the pin. The greens are so fast. Yesterday, all those putts were going in, all those 8-, 10-footers and I was not having those little 2- and 3-footers coming back. And today, I'm a little proud of myself because I made all the short putts, 2-footers, the 4-footers for par, to keep the momentum going. I'm really proud of myself for that. Made par on 10, after bogeying 9- to get back to even. I knew there was a couple guys at 9-under. To hit it in the fairway there and make par was really big. Made a bad bogey at 11. Hit a poor chip right of the hole about five feet and I had a straight, downhill putt, and at that point I'm just trying to make sure I don't knock it off the green from there because it is straight downhill. And the birdie on 12 was probably the biggest, because at that point I think it was only a two-shot lead. I think Cal birdied 11 and I bogeyed. So we went to two shots and he bogeyed 12 and I birdied 12; so we're right back to four shots. That really helped me a lot. At the next hole, I hit a great drive on the green, 2-putted. That shot on No. 14 did not seem that hard until today. Put it in the middle of the green, 2-putted, got out of there with a par, and then actually made a good little 4-footer coming back. The next hole, I hit a really good drive on 15. Then I just wanted to hit it right of the green. I wasn't necessarily trying to hit it on the green; I wanted to go left. I hit a 3-wood, got a good drop from behind one of the scoreboards, chipped it behind the hole and made a good putt. That was when I sensed that -- I was still nervous. Don't get me wrong; extremely nervous but I was like "I think we can handle this," coming in. And to put it on the green on No. 16 to make par; and I hit it right at the pin on 17. Just didn't want to go over the green. Hit it like 20 feet short and 2-putted there. Then 18, just hit 3-wood off the tee and I pulled it a little bit, and the wind got it, I hit a tree and it kicked back in the fairway and Loren Roberts goes, "This is your week." I just hit a 4-iron up the fairway and I hit a wedge about, I don't know, like six inches or eight inches. I tell you, if it was only a one-shot lead, that eight-incher would have been really hard, but with five shots to spare, it was a really pretty easy putt.

Q. Could you go over 3, again, the yardage and the club?

CHRIS DiMARCO: I hit driver, a really good drive, and I hit -- I had 143. It was kind of straight down, and that green has been really soft. So I was between a 9- and 8-iron. I felt like if I hit a hard 9-iron, I might spin it back down the hill so I just kind of chipped an 8-iron, and it was right at it, and I heard clank, and I didn't know if it was over the green and hit somebody or if it went in and then everybody went crazy. That was pretty awesome.

Q. Did you know how high up on the pin did it hit?

CHRIS DiMARCO: It actually flew right in the hole.

Q. It did?

CHRIS DiMARCO: It made a little mark on the front edge of the hole and went straight down into the hole. It hit the pin as it was going into the hole, but it didn't hit the pin and drop down. It flew right in, which is extremely lucky, by the way. But that's where I was aiming.

Q. Do you recall ever having done that before right that?

CHRIS DiMARCO: Never in the situation I'm in. Obviously, guys trying to catch me, three shots back and for me to make eagle on the third hole to get to 14-under was, you know, big for me, because that really settled me down a lot.

Q. You had spoken on TV about some of the breaks you got. Can you give us an overall comment about breaks and how they played a part this week?

CHRIS DiMARCO: You know, earlier in the year in Memphis I played really well, I finished second. And coming down the stretch I hit two absolutely great shots to 16 and 17 and both of them -- one went over the green by three inches and down and I made par on one hole, a par 5. If the ball stays on the green, I've got a 20-footer for eagle and end up making par. And on 17 I made a really good up-and-down. You know, everybody was like, man, that just went over -- and it wasn't my time. You know, today, it was my time. No matter what I did it was my time. You know, it was extremely nice to walk up the 18th fairway with a five-shot lead.

Q. But in a situation like that, do you wonder if it is ever going to be your time?

CHRIS DiMARCO: Yeah, you do. But you can tell. You know, even on the first hole, I hit it in the right rough and I had a good lie. You know, even if I missed the green, I had a really good lie and I could chip it. You can just tell, the little things, it just wasn't real hard today. If I missed a shot, I had a shot. You know, sometimes you can be -- I hit in the trees a lot today and could have been stymied right behind a tree, and I happened to have a good lie and just a clear shot at the pin the whole day. So it was certainly my time.

Q. On TV you talked about times when you thought maybe about giving up, maybe when it was not going to happen. Could you just take us through that a little bit?

CHRIS DiMARCO: 1994 was my rookie year. I had a really good year. And 1995, I struggled. I had a terrible year. It was mostly putting. I was not putting well at all. '95 at the end of the year, I played in a mini-tour event and I was not playing well. And Skip Kendall showed me something, "look at this grip." And I looked at him told him "You're crazy," and I tried it and it kind of resurrected me. I had no status anywhere in 1996, but I had this new grip, and I knew I was as good as anybody out here from tee-to-green. It was just a matter of getting the ball in the hole. You know, that kind of resurrected me. And I took a step back in 1997 and went on the Nike Tour, finished third on the money list. Had a really solid year. I think I only missed three cuts that whole year. And then in '98, I had a good year. I finished, you know. I had kind of -- not a great year but I had a year that I proved to myself that I can play out here with that grip, and then, you know, last year I had a good year, I finished 60th on the money list. And obviously this year has been a lot better year. I tell you one thing, it is all about winning, it really is. I don't know how many times I've played in a tournament, 150 or whatever, but winning it is out here, it really is. It's the greatest feeling. It is what you hit those extra balls on the range for, what you hit those extra putts for. Also, you know, you get respect from certain guys out here, and until you win, I don't think you get their utmost respect from the top-notch players. So, for me to kind of break through and be part of that, another elite club. The Tour is on elite club as it is, and then the winner of a PGA TOUR event is another one, even amongst itself. So I'm extremely proud of myself that I achieved that.

Q. You said these greens were fast and your putting had improved since you changed your grip. How did you handle these greens today? Did you do anything different?

CHRIS DiMARCO: You know, just playing the practice round, the greens on Tuesday afternoon before the rains, they were really, really fast and I was playing with Mike Springer, and I putted really good, and I said, "Boy, there's going to be some 3-putts this week." And he said, "You know, if you don't 3-putt this week, you're going to blow everybody away." I didn't have a 3-putt the whole week. And that is the key to these greens. I must have had 35-footers; you just can't get it close sometimes. You get on the wrong side of the hole you either make it or you have a 5-footer. The greens are great, they really are. They were tougher when they were soft because they were not spinning off. You could hit shots and they would release a little bit. They were hard when they were soft because you were just spinning over hills and you could not get close to the hole.

Q. Overall how did the course play for you this week?

CHRIS DiMARCO: Pretty good, obviously. You know, like I said, I drove it really well all week up until today. And I really drove it good the first nine -- eight holes today, I drove it really good and then I kind of -- I struggled a little bit coming in. Nerves played a big part of it. I hit some key drives when I needed to. My irons were great all week. I attribute my iron play to obviously winning, putting myself in position. You know, putting is always the key to winning. But I hit a lot of greens. I don't know how many I hit, but I'm sure I hit just as many as anybody else this week. That's these the key out here. Not having any 3-putts is the other one.

Q. How many times did you see the replay of Florida's winning touchdown last night?

CHRIS DiMARCO: I only saw it once and it was good. (Laughter.) I saw it a hundred times and I think it is still good every time. I like that ref is who I like. I don't know who the other guy was who called the play before that. He calls it, somebody knocked it behind the line of scrimmage -- it was a win for us.

Q. Do you go back to your van now?

CHRIS DiMARCO: No. It was hard to drive around. If we didn't win against Tennessee, you get a lot of crap about that. I like driving my car now a lot better than that van.

Q. Are you surprised that no one was really making a run at you, and why do you think that is?

CHRIS DiMARCO: You know, it is a hard course, it really is. It's a hard course. What was the low round this week?

Q. Jim Carter had a 64.

CHRIS DiMARCO: It's just, you know, you have that stretch, 7 -- 8 is not too bad, but then 7, 9, 10 and 11 are brutal holes. You miss a fairway in any of those and you're hitting a wedge, and you really don't want to wedge into these greens. With the spin and so much undulation, it's just hard to gauge how close you're going to hit it. And I was surprised -- I thought maybe one person was going to get -- I think Jonathan Kaye got to 10-under at one point, but I think that's as close as anybody got. And I was really surprised nobody got any closer than that.

Q. What do you think the guys that played here this week are going to tell the guys that didn't come here, about this course and this tournament when it comes back in 2002? Are they going to say good things?

CHRIS DiMARCO: Oh, yeah, they could have an Open here -- they could have a lot of things here. This is a great golf course. A lost guys missed out not playing. It really is a top-notch course and it certainly didn't feel like a first-year tournament. They were unbelievable. They did their homework.

Q. Just in everything?

CHRIS DiMARCO: Everything. The food was great the whole week. The transportation committee was great the whole week. All the volunteers were great the whole week. It was a phenomenal week, it really was. It just didn't like a first-year event. Seemed like they have known what they were going for the last ten years, 20 years.

Q. You've going to be a unique situation where you're going to be the defending champ at a different course.

CHRIS DiMARCO: I wish they could bring it back here next year.

Q. Will you play Laurel next year?

CHRIS DiMARCO: Oh, yeah. I'll come back to this tournament for as long as they keep asking me.

Q. Did you ever talk to anybody about what way win feels like out here?

CHRIS DiMARCO: You know, I got a good message from Brent Geiberger last night. I didn't answer the phone because I knew he was going to give me crap about the Gators with four minutes left in the game. He said: "Focus on yourself, don't worry about anybody else ." He broke through last year and won at Hartford. I told my wife the message. I said, "You know, that's such good advice." I said, "Don't get ahead of yourself, just do -- you know what you've been doing the last three days and it will be great." And I took that to heart and I did that.

Q. Does winning feel as good as you thought it might feel?

CHRIS DiMARCO: Better. Better. Because, you know, it's been such a long journey to this point. Me and my wife have been through so much and my family has been through so much. Being so close so many times, even on the Nike Tour, losing in playoffs -- it's just never been easy. And today was easy, it really was. It was hard coming through, but playing 18 was easy for a change. It wasn't like I had to make a birdie to win. It was nice.

Q. Does the putting grip have a name and is it copyrighted?

CHRIS DiMARCO: It's not copyrighted. I just call it: I Make Putts With It.

Q. You mentioned Loren gave you words of encouragement on the last hole. Did he say anything early in the round?

CHRIS DiMARCO: You know, he was struggling out there. He had a really good chance early to put a lot of pressure on me. He missed about a 4- or 3-putter on No. 2 for birdie and he 3-putted -- here he's got a chance to pull within two of me, and he 3-putts No. 3 and I make eagle, and all of the sudden, he's 6 back here. Here he is, a chance to get two back and now he's six back. I think that discouraged him. He putted well today. He hit a couple putts from 30 feet that lipped all the way around the hole. You know, he's been there. I kind of watched what he did. He knew -- he had a game plan. He just wasn't on today. It just wasn't his week.

Q. Did he say anything to you to encourage you?

CHRIS DiMARCO: No. He was trying to win the tournament. He was trying to win it.

Q. Once it looked like he was out of it?

CHRIS DiMARCO: He just -- you know, you could see -- "great shot there"; "good putt there"; "nice birdie"; that kind of stuff. He's still trying to win a tournament. He's still hoping I make double-double coming in, and maybe he'll make birdie or something.

End of FastScripts....

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