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August 17, 2007

Greg Kraft


CHRIS REIMER: Greg, 11-under, tied for the lead right now.
You've played primarily on the Nationwide Tour this year but when you have come on the PGA TOUR you've got two Top-25 finishes and obviously you're playing well this week.
Just talk about what it's like kind of bouncing between the two tours this year.
GREG KRAFT: It's a lot more fun out here, I'll tell you. It's -- over there I gave it a good start, trying to get off to a good start, trying -- 25 spots is a lot of spots but it's a tough place to play especially when you've been out here for 12 years.
You know, your expenses are more out there, you know, than they are here. You're playing for one-tenth the money so it's very easy to kind of get down and not just real motivated. I wouldn't say lazy, just kind of uninspired.
But getting really excited. You know, beginning of the year I didn't play Pebble, I didn't play Mexico or Atlanta because I was -- two years ago I won in Scranton and I ended up missing my card by a few spots on that Tour. I skipped 11 events.
So I said this year I'm going to start out and give it an honest effort, see how I do early. If I do well, then I won't be able to look back and say, "Boy, I should have played more."
This way I gave it a start. I was getting into that uninspired feeling. I said, "I want to go to John Deere and just feel where I'm at" because I don't think my game is that bad. I want to go to a course I know, know the course and greens. I know where to stay and where to go. There's going to be fans out there.
It lifted me up and helped me a lot. So the rest of the year I'm going to play out here as much as I can.
CHRIS REIMER: Talk about what you had going for you today, what's worked this week.
GREG KRAFT: You know, right before John Deere I also started working with Jim Suddy at Cog Hill. I spent three days. I was pretty lost with my swing.
I spent three days before John Deere. Coming here -- I went -- I spent the whole day Monday with him, about ten hours. I got in late Tuesday and didn't play the practice round. I knew the course. That's the benefit of being out here for awhile.
I was working on some pretty significant changes in my swing and I wouldn't be the first to tell you I'm a little surprised to be playing this solidly. I'm hitting some loose shots but my loose shots are manageable, playable and I've hit a lot of really, really close shots in two days.
Even with the anxiety of making the change I feel good -- I'm excited about playing the weekend.
CHRIS REIMER: Take some questions.

Q. When you say you're hitting loose shots, is this course a little bit more forgiving?
GREG KRAFT: It's a lot more forgiving than it used to be. The bermuda rough it tough. Don't get my wrong. I had a pitch out twice where I couldn't get to the green. Yesterday on 16 I hit it in the rough and couldn't even get it to the green. And on No. 14 today I hit it in the left rough and I could only advance it 50 yards.
It's hit or miss but I also hit it in the rough about five other times and had -- I was able to get it on the green. So it's hit or miss but it's manageable. And the greens are really big. So if you're hitting your irons a little off and with the softness of the greens it's still on the green, you know.

Q. What effect did this morning's rainstorm have on the course? Is it tough or easier?
GREG KRAFT: I don't think it really changed much because the greens were still soft. It would be an advantage if the greens were rock hard and we got a little rain storm to soften them up. With the heat and the speed of the greens, they're pretty soft. You have to keep them wet.

Q. How do you not look ahead to what could happen if you win with the exemptions and the Masters and all that stuff? Is that hard to do with two days to go?
GREG KRAFT: No. I mean I've had the lead probably five times, you know, in my career. I've been in the last group a bunch. It's far from over. I mean maybe I'll start thinking about it with a few holes to go if I'm in the lead but from now, no, not even close. Just too much golf left.

Q. Since you've been on both sides, talk a little bit about the Nationwide. What are some of the downsides to playing in the Nationwide?
GREG KRAFT: The hard thing is, to be honest with you, is the money. I feel sorry for a lot of those guys. I have an advantage that I've been out here for 12 years and had some decent years and I got -- you know, lost my health a little bit, had to play my way back.
But I feel sorry for those young kids, you know, that just -- they go through the qualifying school and by the end of that, they don't make any money. They're out 15 grand probably between three schools and the entry fee of 5 grand and the hotels and caddies, and they don't make a check so they're 15 grand in the hole, then the Tour starts out in Panama, Australia, New Zealand. Put another six, seven on top of that.
Every week, they have hotel, rental cars, gas, food, caddie. Out here you don't pay for car. They do dry cleaning for you. There's a lot of little things that are really nice.
Those kids, I feel sorry for the kids. I really do. Because I mean they're sucking air. They only get to play -- the Tour doesn't get going into April. Probably 25 grand in the hole before they start and I mean you got to play pretty good out there to catch up on that.
CHRIS REIMER: Obviously the upside would be the competition out there, what it prepares you for out on this Tour.
GREG KRAFT: Yeah. If you're looking for -- that's why I think it should be a little bit more -- maybe the Tour ought to look at that because especially with the FedExCup this year, there's a lot of guys that qualify and make the Tour and then they're forced to go play over there because they can't get in out here.
So the level of play out there, there's nothing taken away from the guys out there working and trying and playing because they can play. You can just see the guys that do well and come out here and do well.
It's like, you know, nobody talked about Camilo and Bubba Watson and all of a sudden they get their Tour card and they're on every poster and ad you see. They were over there for a couple years.
The level of play, you can't take anything away. I just wish they could -- lot of guys are -- you know, have their head down. It's tough. But I guess it's not meant to be easy but I would just like to see it a little easier on those younger guys.

Q. Greg, you certainly haven't had it easy, either. You mentioned your health. What was that all about and did you consider giving it all up?
GREG KRAFT: You know, it was tough. I got Valley Fever which is a fungus that grows in the desert in Tucson at the '02 Tucson Open.
It's something that a hundred thousand people a year catch every year there. Diagnosed right away, you take anti-fungal medicine and you're perfect within five days.
I caught it. Two weeks later I started showing the signs of it at the Honda. Had to withdraw after five holes. Had to withdraw Bay Hill after the first day. Players Championship I could hardly walk.
I ended up losing about 30 pounds and took them five months to really figure out because when you have a fungal infection there's no bacteria so when they take your blood and they run it, check on you, nothing shows up so all you got, some kind of virus, you might have mono, let's just treat the symptoms and hope things get better.
Five months later when they finally did a CAT scan on my body for the third time and they said I had cancer. Because it looks just like cancer in your body and all the signs, your white blood cells.
I lived with that for about seven days until they did a surgery and removed some of the lymph nodes around my heart and then they told me I had this fungus. So, thank God, I don't have cancer.
Then I go on an antifungal which is like a light chemo for nine months. During that nine months I can't keep any food in me. I couldn't put on any weight and after the nine months of me taking the medicine the fungus came right back.
Put me on the medicine again for six months. Three months into it I started getting worse and they finally just went in and said, "We've got to remove part of your lung" where it was primarily first diagnosed.
So they took that out and had to be back on that medicine for three more months just in case something got loose while they were removing it and then been battling back for about a year and a half since then.

Q. Obviously you had to give up golf on some level. Did you think at anytime that you're never going to play again?
GREG KRAFT: I never thought -- I didn't want to not play again. I did think I might not. You know, the hard thing is when I was 38 when I caught it and I was strong. I like to workout and then when you don't workout and lose a bunch of weight and time passes by you think to yourself, "Am I get getting weaker or older?"
I had to get by the psychological part of it wondering am I ever going to be back to where I was or am I just older, is this the way I'm supposed to be?
I got over that, finally. But now it's just the part of, you know, thinking right and being hungry enough. My desire has always been there. I always wanted to play, still do.
CHRIS REIMER: Anything else for Greg, guys? Go over your clubs here for your birdies.
GREG KRAFT: I hit a lob wedge on 1 to about four feet. I hit No. 2, 2, and 2-putt from about 50 feet. No. 5, I hit another lob wedge to about eight feet. Made that.
10, I hit a 7-iron to about 8 feet. 14 was the hole where I had to chip out which I had a good up and down from 50 yards. I hit lob wedge to about four feet and made par.
And then 17 I hit a 3-iron to about six feet.
CHRIS REIMER: Alright, guys. Good luck this weekend.
GREG KRAFT: Thank you.

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