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October 4, 2007

Trip Kuehne


THE MODERATOR: With U.S. Mid-Am Champ, Trip Kuehne, who has waited 13 years to get another shot at doing this. It's been a while since we did the finish and the trophy presentation, but give me your thoughts. You've been waiting for this for a long time.
TRIP KUEHNE: Yeah, you know, you get so close, your second USGA event, and then to play my 29th USGA event and to be so close and be playing well, and then to finally get the job done, it was overwhelming when it was finally over.
THE MODERATOR: How overwhelming? When did you start thinking about it? You couldn't really lose it from lunchtime on, but --
TRIP KUEHNE: No, I guess the great thing about losing to Mr. Woods 13 years ago is never count your blessings until it finally happens in the game of golf, because I couldn't control what Dan was doing or the bounces I might get, I could just do the best I could to try and control my emotions.
I didn't look up a whole lot today, I was focused on what I was doing and keeping my emotions in check, getting it on the fairways, getting it on the greens and giving myself a chance or a spot where I had an opportunity, and the probability was in my favor to make a par, and I did a good job of that today.
THE MODERATOR: You have been so generous with your comments while your brother wins, your sister wins. Did you ever think your time wasn't going to come?
TRIP KUEHNE: Sure. Those thoughts go through your head, to be so close. Who knows if you're ever going to get your game in top shape and come into one of these events. For years I put so much pressure on myself to do well, especially in the amateur. I didn't give myself a chance, and after I made my second Walker Cup team in 2003, what let it all go for me was being the low amateur at the U.S. Open in 2003. I finally got a USGA gold medal, and after that, for me the pressure was kind of off.
This is my first official title, but the way I look at it now, I have basically four USGA championships. I have the low amateur at the U.S. Open, the Walker Cup win, the state team win, a U.S. Mid-Amateur win. Once I finally got a USGA gold medal, I realized that, hey, this is not what a do for a vocation. It's not my job; I do it for fun.
Golf is a game, and you play games. My golf game was a heck of a lot better after I decided to do that, just play golf and play the game, and that's what I'm trying to do. It's been a great run. I'm thrilled.
THE MODERATOR: We talked about it before, but it's a good time to put perspective on it. Losing in '94 maybe wasn't the worst thing that ever happened to you, was it?
TRIP KUEHNE: No, it's the best thing. Couple of the toughest things for me is just the pressure that I put on myself, been chasing the ghost of Bobby Jones and the legend of Tiger Woods my entire golf career, and to finally get my individual title, being the Bobby Jones trophy, is special to me, because one of the things I want to do is change amateur golf.
I want people to realize that you don't have to turn professional if you're an All-American. There are other things out there. You can get a good-paying job, you can enjoy the game of golf and play because you love the game of golf, and hopefully some people have done that, or will do that in the future. I know that the USGA is proud of it, and I'll probably get in trouble for saying this, but I don't like the fact that almost 100 people in this event are reinstated amateurs.
I would love to see more guys that are 35 years old that have always been amateurs who play because they truly love the game of golf. That's why I play the game, because I truly love the game of golf. I think it's watered down a bit with the prize money.

Q. You winning this, what does this mean for your family? I mean, with Hank with a USGA title, with Kellie with a USGA title, now you've finally got yours.
TRIP KUEHNE: I don't know. It's improbable for what's happened. The odds of it happening are astronomical; it's improbable that it happened. You know, I guess mom and dad put so much into it, as far as if we showed the dedication and the want and desire to play the game of golf.
We were privileged to play the best clubs, have access to the best equipment, best instruction, and we could play in tournaments as long as we -- anywhere in the world as long as we kept our grades up and showed a passion toward the game of golf. So, you know, that was the opportunity that we were given, and to be able to see it and finally win -- my time to kind of complete the trilogy, or whatever you want to call it, or triple, I guess it's fitting that I was the last one.
I've always put my -- even to my own detriment, I've always put my accomplishments in the game of golf to the side. You know, I never tell people that I won the state high school title two times. I was more proud that we won three times at state as team, a team championship. Won with Oklahoma State, member of the Walker Cup team.
Those are the things that have meaning to me, because you can share those with other people. To finally be able to put my name on an individual trophy to match my brother's and sister's is a dream come true, and I think it will take time and reflection for it to sink in. It truly is a dream come true. Never thought it would happen.

Q. Really?
TRIP KUEHNE: Yeah. Like I said, I had my opportunity, and I happened to go up against the greatest player in the world to probably ever play the game in Tiger Woods. To put so much pressure on yourself to get it done, and who knows where my golf game was in '99 and probably 2000. It was -- it wasn't any good. To be able to do this, I'm thrilled with it.

Q. You're probably a little better now than you were in '94, aren't you?
TRIP KUEHNE: I'm the best I've ever been in my life, basically, right now. My short game is so much better. I told Danny when we were playing the practice round -- I made a couple of putts, and I said, "I finally learned how to putt. I watched Happy Gilmore." I was a good putter for par but not for birdie. I worked on my mechanics, got a putter that's perfectly balanced for me, and Happy learned how to putt, and Happy has won three tournaments in a row. (Chuckles.)

Q. You finally got this one. So what's in the future for Trip Kuehne, as far as your playing? Are you going to keep on going or say, well, I got my big one, and now it's time to say, see ya later?
TRIP KUEHNE: I think the Masters is my last tournament.

Q. And the reason?
TRIP KUEHNE: How does it get any better than this for me? I'm the member of a winning Walker Cup team, won the USGA state team title for the state of Texas, I won my individual USGA Championship and didn't make a bogey. Can't do any better.

Q. Except for one thing.
TRIP KUEHNE: What's that?

Q. You need to keep playing, because you've got to be a Walker Cup captain.
TRIP KUEHNE: To be a captain, I would be thrilled, but there is nothing else for me to do in the game of golf, and I'm not turning professional.
THE MODERATOR: What have you sacrificed to get here? Obviously started a successful business, but you made a commitment to see it through to this point. You've sacrificed a lot.
TRIP KUEHNE: I had to sacrifice being a husband and a father, basically. I've been very selfish. I was giving it until my son turned ten years old, and that was it, I was done chasing it, and he is seven. He told me he wanted to go to the Master's, and I looked at him and I said, "I don't know if I can make that possible, but I'll do my damndest to make that happen."
This afternoon when I made the birdie I thought, I want to take my boy to the Masters. That's when I started thinking about it.
THE MODERATOR: Is that when you hit the green --
TRIP KUEHNE: No, the pursuit of trying to win one of these is finally over.

Q. Your son is ten now?

Q. Seven, okay.
THE MODERATOR: Been a special ride. Got to share it with dad, kind of like the same way you came in, the two of you.
TRIP KUEHNE: I could continue, but my goal was to win the '03 at Oakmont, and then in a perfect world I guess what would happen is -- I told some folks that if I was the low amateur at Oakmont, that -- the Walker Cup after that comes in the low amateur, usually, that would probably be it. I can't do anything else in the amateur game. Can't do it.
THE MODERATOR: Sure is hard to play, what was it, 27, 28, 29 holes without a bogey, but that is the game plan. You came out sharp today.
TRIP KUEHNE: When I'm focused on what I'm doing and playing the game of golf, I know how to play golf. I make a bunch of pars, and I try to take advantage of a par 5 and a couple of good shots, give me a couple of birdies. My goal every single time when I tee off is not to make a bogey, not make a bogey or not to have a 5 on the scorecard. That's my whole thought process.
That's who I am, you know, just try to minimize the errors, and that's what I did. I tried to minimize my errors. I knew if I didn't make any bogeys, that I would be difficult to beat, because I figured I was going to make my fair share of birdies the way I'm driving the golf ball and hitting the golf ball and especially the way I was putting.
THE MODERATOR: When you came in this week your dad said you weren't going to go quietly, because you knew you were playing pretty well.
TRIP KUEHNE: I knew I was playing well. My golf game was built for link-style golf, and that's just the reality of the situation. I'm not a high-ball hitter, I hit the ball low, I hit it solid. My game is made for link-style golf, and I got here, and guys at the Walker Cup told me I was going to win the Mid-Am, and I just wanted to give myself the opportunity to win, and I got it done.
THE MODERATOR: Is there anything else that you want to put on record? It's been a heck of a ride. You've been the best!
TRIP KUEHNE: I think I'll miss the kids most of all. The relationship I have with the young players.
THE MODERATOR: You've got an exemption here for 10 years. You can use it when you want to and give it back --
TRIP KUEHNE: What I thought was pretty neat here was the stars aligned, with all the success that Texas has had this year --

Q. No kidding.
TRIP KUEHNE: In all the USGA events. It was really -- especially after winning the state team, and Colt sent me text messages, and talking to Loren.
THE MODERATOR: When you got out yesterday with a couple of extra matches and there were rainbows on 1, and you were playing 36 holes -- (Chuckles.)
TRIP KUEHNE: That's the first thing I noticed when I was walking to the tee as I looked over there was a rainbow on the hole, and when I got ready to tee off there were two. It was spectacular and special. I said a prayer that I hoped that at the end of that rainbow is my pot of gold and not Dan's.

Q. Have you heard from Henry or Kellie?
TRIP KUEHNE: Heard from everybody. Haven't had a chance to talk to them. We'll see.
THE MODERATOR: Still early. There might be a party to go to.
TRIP KUEHNE: Exactly. We'll see. I started playing again with the goal of the U.S. Amateur, and to get my name on a championship trophy, I've done it. The other thing was to play in the Masters as an amateur. Hopefully that invitation will come, and I can walk out on the hallowed ground the greatest amateur ever to play built.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations!

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