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July 4, 2007

Loren Roberts


RAND JERRIS: It's a pleasure to welcome Loren Roberts to the interview room this afternoon. Loren is playing his third United States Senior Open this week at Whistling Straits. Loren, you have a win and a number of top-5 finishes in the Champions Tour this year, how are you feeling about your game this week?
LOREN ROBERTS: I feel pretty good about my game. I feel pretty good about this golf course. I think it's a pretty good golf course, you have to have a good imagination to play it. And I kind of like where I am right now with my golf swing. Just a little sidebar, I spent a couple of hours with Manuel de la Torre down in Milwaukee Country Club Monday and got a few pearls of wisdom, and am looking forward to having a good week here.
RAND JERRIS: Is he someone you've worked with throughout your career?
LOREN ROBERTS: I've worked with him a couple of times, once before the tournament in Milwaukee I think about in '97 or '98 and played a pretty good for a couple of weeks, had a second in Milwaukee and won the next week. I'm hoping the same thing will happen here.
RAND JERRIS: A lot of conversation has been made about the wind, but I'm going to ask you a question which is about the greens, talk about the greens and the role putting might play in the Championship this week.
LOREN ROBERTS: When I said you need to have an imagination around this golf course, obviously that applies to the greens, because there is going to be several pin positions out here that you will probably need to play away from, you'll need to play defensively and you need to play smart.
Like any Major Championship and particularly the U.S. Open and U.S. Senior Open, you're going to have to make some putts for pars if you're going to win the golf tournament or even be in contention.
You're going to have to make sure you leave the ball in areas where you can get a 2-putt.

Q. With your solid finish at the PGA in 2004, tied for 17th, how much of an advantage does that give you going into tomorrow?
LOREN ROBERTS: Well, there's so much to this golf course. I mean, there's just so much golf course out there that any time I think the more looks that you have at it it's really going to help you.
It was mentioned about the wind earlier. Depending on what direction the wind blows, the golf course can play so totally different than you're going to be -- you may play a 9-iron one day and a 2-iron the next on the same hole.
So the more rounds that you get to see the golf course, and this is a golf course that I think you need to play somewhat defensively. Obviously there are birdie holes out there, you need to make birdies, too, if you're going to win the golf tournament, but there are definitely some holes that need to be played totally defensively.
Any time that you get more rounds to look at the course, you just know where you can hit it and where you absolutely can't. Because every hole out here has one spot that you absolutely can't hit it.

Q. This is your third Senior Open and you were close the first two times, you had a chance at NCR, a 62 last year at Prairie Dunes. How does that help you with your confidence level coming into a course set-up like this and also a four-round event that is different from what you normally see?
LOREN ROBERTS: I like, obviously, a four-round event. I think having that extra day gives you a better chance to recover, obviously. And I don't see this as a golf tournament where you're going to go out and shoot four rounds 60s. It would be great to do that and you're going to try to do that, but because of the nature of the golf course it's nice to have an extra round to be able to pull something off if you have to.

Q. Are you still carrying the L-wedge that you added to your bag at Kiawah?
LOREN ROBERTS: My caddy won't let me take it out. Yeah, I still have it. I switched to a 60-degree wedge at Kiawah and I think I might have been the last guy to do that. Curtis may have only a 56 in the bag, still. But I kept it in there and it's actually helped me out.
So hopefully I won't have to use it too much around here, but with the depth of some of these bunkers, you're going to have to hit a couple of bunker shots where you're going to have to hit them straight up. So I think it will help.

Q. We talked to Mark O'Meara about playing in his first U.S. Senior Open and he looked back to your experience and how it differs maybe from PGA and the initial experience, things like that.
LOREN ROBERTS: My first U.S. Senior Open was at Dayton on a golf course that I absolutely really liked the minute I got there. I don't think I've ever played a golf course that had really no white, red, or yellow stakes on it. And I thought that was great.
But it's a little -- I will tell you it's a little different than the regular Open because it's -- you can make some birdies. Generally they set up the U.S. Senior Open where you can make some birdies. And I'm looking to hopefully take advantage of that here.
This golf course is probably a little harder venue than we've probably seen -- it's only my third, but just from some of the other ones I've seen or looked at, this course seems to be a bit tougher than what they've had in the past.
Having said that, the tees, I do think, comparing this golf course this year to the PGA three years ago, I think the rough is a little thicker than it was for the PGA. I don't think it's quite as long, but it is a little thicker.
And I noticed a few of the landing areas have probably been narrowed in a little bit from what they were, particularly in the last few holes.

Q. When you went to see Manuel de la Torre, what did you go to see him for?
LOREN ROBERTS: I just kind -- I just kinda wanted to see what his thoughts were about the golf swing. I spent one hour with him 8, 9 years ago. And I wanted to go back and have a talk with him. And because I was coming to the area I thought Monday was a perfect opportunity to come see him.
And what's so great about being around Manuel is that he talks more about the mental side of the game and the positive side of the game a lot more than the mechanical side. And that's why I wanted to visit with him, just to get his pearls of wisdom on how to be positive, visualize, and things like that.

Q. Would you say he's one of golf's wisemen?
LOREN ROBERTS: One of absolutely golf's wisemen. Great gentleman and a great teacher, I think. You know, he has kind of an Ernest Jones' background of swing the clubhead. And that's kind of what my game was and is. But he's interesting to be around because he has a lot of little great sayings about things. He gets the point across directly.

Q. Couple of questions. One, given your success at the U.S. Bank/GMO, coming back to Wisconsin does it feel like home to you? And I think this year -- I don't think you're in the field because the Senior British is next week?
LOREN ROBERTS: Yeah, I'm playing in the regular British this year. But I'm hoping to sneak back in the field at least one more time, hopefully.
But I love coming to Wisconsin, Milwaukee and this area. I have a lot of friends up here and definitely Kopps was one of the first places I stopped. I just love it up here. I think this is a great place to be in the summertime. And you have great grass for golf courses up here, too.

Q. We asked Tom Watson about sort of his thoughts on the state of the game right now, that there seems -- golf in general there seems to be so much emphasis on the new generation and raising these prodigies, and the old rivalries from the '70s and '80s, and people would watch them week after week. Do you think the game has lost anything?
LOREN ROBERTS: I don't think the game has lost anything. I think the game has changed and is changing. And I think we're in a trend now where you see a lot of young people that are playing the game. I think it runs in cycles like anything.
Technology has made a difference in the way the game is played, I think, a little bit now. And you look at some of the younger players now. Even when I came up as a player, when you were a kid, golf was a third or fourth sport you played. You played baseball, basketball, football, you played in school then. And you could play two or three sports.
Now these kids seem to pick up golf as -- they decide that's their sport and that's what they do all year long. And that's why you see some of these kids get to be such good players at an earlier age.
I don't know if that's such a good thing for golf or not. Because when I was in high school golf was my third or fourth choice at what I wanted to do. And now you see kids majoring in golf from when they're eight or nine years old. I hope that doesn't tend to lead to early burnout, I really don't. That's the one thing that I would be concerned about playing these junior tours from 12, 13, 14 years old. Until you get through college and all of the sudden you've played at an aggressive level for 10 or 12 years. Could you be tired already? Who knows.

Q. Given the fact that you've been so close for the Senior Open, what's needed for you to actually win?
LOREN ROBERTS: What do you think it's going to take to actually win? Shoot the lowest score. (Chuckles.)
There used to kind of be a saying that out of 156 guys every week, there's probably going to be 50 guys that hit it good enough. And then out of that 50 there's probably going to be 15 guys that putt it good enough. And out of that 15 there's going to be one guy that's lucky enough.
And obviously the more you practice the luckier you seem to get. But generally if something is going to happen it's because you've practiced a lot and you're prepared, but it's also going to be a hole-out or chip-in or a couple of long putts or something like that, and you just want to put yourself in that position where hopefully that will happen to you.
You know, I would like to go back and finish a little more on that question about the state of the game. We were sitting around talking with some guys today in the lunchroom. And I do have a bit of an opinion on a lot of the younger kids coming into the game.
And also I think the state of the game right now, we're just not getting enough new players in the game. That there could be enough new players in the 25-year old age bracket who maybe can afford clubs now, afford a membership at a club, or afford to play golf at a higher greens fee-type facility.
I think we're missing that $18, $19, $22 green fee at a reasonable golf course.
And I think another thing we're missing is it seems to me so many of the younger kids, and in that 25, 35 year old generation have grown up on video games, things like that, where an hour and a half of doing something and they're ready to move on to something else.
And you all know golf is a four- to five-hour activity. And that's the one thing that I'm hoping that we can get past that. And some of the folks can see that four hours out in the sunshine is not a bad way to spend the day.

Q. Given what you said about the burnout of potentially young golfers, are you particularly concerned about what's happened with Michelle Wie?
LOREN ROBERTS: You know, I'm not prepared to say anything about it, because I don't know her. A great, great talent. Obviously she's injured right now and I'm just hoping she gets healthy and can continue on with her career.
RAND JERRIS: Loren, thanks for your time. We wish you lots of luck this week.

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