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October 25, 2007

Steve Flesch


DOUG MILNE: Nice round today: 5-under, 68. Just a couple comments about the round and what it's like to be here.
STEVE FLESCH: I think we're all learning the golf course a little bit more each day. I think some of the guys didn't get to play the whole Pro-Am yesterday. But one time around here I'm not sure, is enough to learn all about Tesoro.
It's got some force carries off the tees. You know, they've narrowed the fairways up quite a bit, and I think we're still trying to figure out who was responsible for that. It's very demanding off the tee.
With the wind blowing today it was pretty much of a challenge out there, but I struck it well, which I have been doing, and I putted it pretty good. So happy with my start at 5-under, 68.
DOUG MILNE: Okay. Questions.

Q. (No microphone.)
STEVE FLESCH: Right. I mean, I hate to say plain and simply I'm here to maintain my spot at Augusta. Neither one of my victories earlier in the year gave me an automatic exemption to Augusta, so I'm here to maintain my position in the top 30. I'm 25th.
Initially two or three of the guys on the Money List were entered and they went through. So, you know, I think there's maybe only one guy, Robert Allenby, he's right behind me playing, and beyond that it's Jerry Kelly and maybe a couple guys 32, 33 on the Money List.
So that's why I'm here. I want to stay top 30, and I've only played a couple Masters and I want to go back. If you would told me ten weeks ago I would be sitting here playing to maintain my spot in the top 30 I would say, You're crazy.
It's amazing how a couple weeks can change your whole year out here.

Q. You're trying to hold your position now and you've won tournaments. You look around and you see friends of yours who are fighting to keep their job. Just talk about that.
STEVE FLESCH: It's crazy. You know, the hard part about it is everybody out here are great guys and everybody works hard. With it being an individual sport, you know, it's kind of a weed-out class in high school chemistry or whatever. It's like a survival of the fittest.
Unfortunately, one bad year can cost you your job out here even though you've worked hard and you've given your best and you've performed at a decent level. With only 125 spots it's tough. I've got a couple really good buddies that are -- they're 125 to 150 now and are trying to maintain that full exemption.
My heart bleeds for them because I know what they're going through. It's no fun. It's a lot pressure and you know every shot means something, especially here in the last couple weeks. It's hard to -- the worst part about it is you're not sleeping well. The food doesn't taste good. You're putting so much pressure on yourself and there's so much outside pressure because everybody is constantly reminding us of where we are on the Money List.
It's like a Q-School year for us at the end of the year and you're trying to avoid going to it. I mean, my buddies, I'm being an encouraging as I can to them, but it's hard to put all that aside and let your talent talk. It's mostly mental. The guys that are out here obviously have the game to get out here. Most of the time it's what's upstairs that keeping guys from doing their best.
Everybody can hit it good and putt it good, but it's such a game of confidence that sometimes it's hard to get out of your own way and just let your own natural ability take over.

Q. It's a competitive game and there's competition every week.

Q. Whether it's week one or week 44, is there a real palpable difference this week? Seeing guys on the range and guys on the putting green, is there less interaction? Do you try to avoid approaching guys because you know what they're going through?
STEVE FLESCH: No, I don't think it's like that, but there is a palpable difference between the mood this week and the mood at the Bob Hope Classic or Hawaii. You know, like the Sony. Everybody is giddy at the Sony. It's like, Hey, last day of the school. It's the first day for us, but it's like the last day. Everybody is ready to get the year going.
Now everybody is like, Oh, God, Q-School is in two, three weeks. I don't want to have to go. You can tell, and you can definitely see the tension in guy's faces, you know, in the locker room after the rounds.
It's just hard to -- it's hard to believe you can go out and lose your job if you make what's right now six something, seven. Come out and make $700,000 and you lose your full-time job. I mean, I don't think people in the public are bleeding for guys making that kind of money and losing their job, but it's awfully competitive.
The hard thing -- the shame about it is there's just not a spot. There are so many great players in the world and not enough spots.

Q. Other than confidence, what's the biggest difference between you in the last ten weeks and prior to that this year?
STEVE FLESCH: You know, I've mentioned it kind of my last two wins. I changed up my equipment a little bit, and I give so much of my credit to the guys at Cleveland Golf working me into a new set of irons.
You know, it's kind of a joke because I'm a tinkerer and I've changed about everything in my bag pretty much except my 3- and 5-wood, which I've had in there for years. But, you know, I changed my driver, all my irons, and my putter, and my rescue club.
It wasn't that I just went from two totally different things, I went to a new set of Cleveland irons that they came out with. I biggest thing was I changed my golf ball. I went back to an old spinnier golf ball, which was keeping me from kind of maxing out my iron game. That's always been my strength, and I was playing with ball that didn't spin enough for me and didn't fit my game very well. So I changed to a ball that spun more.
It sounds pretty simplistic. My God, why didn't you think about that before? Sometimes we're bound by contracts that we can't get out of, and that's was the change that I made.

Q. You're a confessed tinkerer. Do you feel like it's risky to always be playing around and say ing, Let's try this putter and this wedge? This is your job. You're playing for your living.
STEVE FLESCH: I've thought about that. Here's my thought on it: If I got a club in my bag -- they only give us 14, obviously -- if I got a club in my bag that I don't feel good about or I'm definitely not confident over, whether it's a putter or a driver or whatever, I'd rather not have it in there because I got bad Mojo with it.
I'd rather not say, You know what, this 3-iron, I've kept it in my bag and I've had it in there forever, but I don't like hitting it. Because then I'm going to start playing around that 3-iron or whatever it is. I'm going to not want to hit it, especially a putter.
If I feel like I'm not going make any putts with a putter there's no reason to have it in the bag. I'd rather put something totally new in that I have no expectations with or had no bad Mojo with, you know, hit some bad putts, than keep using the same thing over and over again and seeing the same result.
That's why I tinker. I'm always thinking, you know what, this could be better. What I got right now might be pretty good, but this could be better. I'm pretty good about not throwing something in my bag that I know is wrong. So, you know, that's kind of my thought on it. Yeah, I'll try stuff, but it's only because I think something might be better than what I got, especially putters or drivers.
I might hit something a little straighter or farther, but definitely if I can find a putter that I can make more putts with, that's so important out here.

Q. (No microphone.)
STEVE FLESCH: Who's to say it's different. Yeah, I've gotten a lot better at shrugging stuff like that off. Definitely. Yeah, I'd really be kicking myself and probably just tell my caddie, I'll see you tomorrow. I'm out of here. I just want to get away.
You know, the worst part about finishing like that is it's a tough day out there. You know, and I missed two of those like 3- or 4-footers today. One was for birdie and one was on the 7th hole, Par 5. I missed same length putt. You know, nobody likes to finish like that. If that was 16 and I missed it that's no big deal. But that's the last thing you did before you finished. It what it is.
Like I said, I'm looking forward to getting out there and getting that back tomorrow.

Q. We talked to you at Turning Stone, and statistically you were just peaking out in every category. You were able to ride that wave to get your second win of year. Again, you're up stats-wise. You are mentioned all the tinkering, but have you had any physical changes that might account for some of your high stat rankings?
STEVE FLESCH: What do you mean, physical? Like working out?

Q. Yeah.
STEVE FLESCH: Do I look like I'm working out?

Q. Have you done anything to your game other than tinker with clubs?
STEVE FLESCH: No. I've talked to Butch Harmon just a couple times. Haven't been with him face to face and haven't seen him since -- the PGA is last time I saw him. The great thing about what I've learned from Butch is I do the same three things wrong when I get in trouble. I learned that five years ago when I started working with him.
Since I feel like my equipment kind of fits me better now, that's what I kind of key on. I'm concentrating on the same couple things I always got to look out for. I mean, my ball-striking is incredible. I hit 17 greens again today in that wind and how hard it is to drive the ball in the fairway, I mean, that's kind of crazy stuff on courses that we play.
I mean, I had one 3-putt, but the things that he's given me are so simple and clicked so well that that's kind of all I've really worked on. Finally got my equipment where I don't even need to think about it. Yeah, I'm always tinkering with the putters, but the rest of my golf game has been so good. Right now if I can get my putting really good I feel like I can win every week. But the rest of my game has been crazy good the last ten weeks.

Q. You did go wire to wire like you mentioned in Reno. Did that give you any extra momentum going forward?
STEVE FLESCH: You know, I just -- for some reason when I get up there in the lead I like it. No, I don't know. My track record I guess in the last couple weeks or since the last win was once I got up there I stayed.
Got a long week ahead of us, but I'd certainly rather start out at 5-under than anywhere else.
DOUG MILNE: Let's run through the birdies.
STEVE FLESCH: Birdie on 2. Hit a drive and 3-wood just off the left side of the green and knocked it to about 4 feet and made that for birdie.
Par 3, 4, hit a 4-iron I think, 222 it was, and made an about an 8-footer. 10, I made about a 15-footer after a 9-iron in there.
11, I hit a sand wedge about 12 feet and made that. 14, Par 4, I made about a 15-footer on 14.
16, got up and down from just short of the green and made about a 20-footer actually and 3-putted in from about 10 feet.
DOUG MILNE: Okay. Thanks.

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