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February 10, 2008

Steve Lowery


NELSON SILVERIO: We welcome Steve Lowery, the 2008 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am champion. Congratulations. You jump right into the FedExCup race with 4,500 points today. Why don't you just take us through your day.
STEVE LOWERY: Well, I just started off really well. You know, I played the front nine probably -- I couldn't play the front nine any better than I did. I made birdie on 1 with a really tough pin placement, and I played some good shots there on 7, 8 and 9 to make birdies. I think that was probably the key of the round, shot 5-under on the front nine with the wind blowing. I think that was probably the key.
I made a few mistakes, hit it above the hole on 11, but hit a good shot in there.
Just played solid all day and made a good par on that last hole there in regulation.
I knew Vijay was probably going to make that putt. I was trying to commit myself to I've got to make this putt to win and was able to roll it in there.

Q. Is there some transition that you go through between a regulation round and say what you might call playoff mode? Is there any mindset change for you?
STEVE LOWERY: For me it was a bit of relief. I couldn't have given it any more in 18 holes. I'd been focusing all week. I just kind of told my caddie, I've got nothing to lose. Just go out and play aggressive. I guess if anything, it kind of freed me up a little bit. I just felt like I didn't have anything to lose.

Q. Obviously interesting, you hadn't won since 2000. Yesterday you made two double bogeys on par-5s. I mean, are you sort of amazed to be sitting here winning a tournament?
STEVE LOWERY: Well, I told my family, I said, if I win this golf tournament it's going to be because of the bounce-back after those double bogeys. I double bogeyed 10 and 12 yesterday, both par-5s, and still shot 2-under on the back nine. I made six birdies and two double bogeys yesterday. So that was bounce-back after those double bogeys is what won the tournament for me.

Q. This gets you out of the minor medical thing real fast, doesn't it?
STEVE LOWERY: Yeah, absolutely. I was going along there pretty good, hit one shot there last year and kind of got knocked down, so I was going to see if I could get back up, and this kind of verifies that I did, so I was pretty happy about that.

Q. You're in your late 40s, and Corey is 48 and made a run, and Vijay is of course almost 45. Are you surprised at all what's happening with the guys your age? And why hadn't you won for so long?
STEVE LOWERY: Well, I can't say why I haven't won. I've played a lot of good golf, I've had a lot of runner-up finishes in my career. I can't say why. Most of the ones that I've won -- well, all of them that I've won were playoffs. It just seems like most of the tournaments that I'm in there for the win I've got to play all the way to the end and then go out and play off.
But fortunately I was able to win.

Q. When you're getting ready for the playoff, is it any different when the guy next to you is Vijay, a guy who's won 30-some times on TOUR and kind of has that pedigree?
STEVE LOWERY: Yeah, because you know what you've got, so are you going to be able to match it and are you going to be able to stand up and play this hole because you know he's going to. I think that's the mindset that I had, that it's not a matter of him giving it to you, it's a matter of are you going to go out there and win it. I kind of knew that going out there. Yeah, he's a tough competitor. There was no doubt in my mind he was going to make that putt on 18.

Q. Describe the shot you had on 9.
STEVE LOWERY: I'll tell you what, I hit a 4-iron on 8 and 9 that were probably two of the best shots I've ever hit. The shot on 9 was out of the fairway bunker, 217 yards the way we had it figured with the conditions, and just hit it absolutely as good as I can hit it.
Amazingly because of the glare I couldn't see where the ball went, I just knew I hit it as good as I could. A lot of times there weren't a lot of claps there on the back nine so you didn't know where your ball was, but that one was in there probably ten feet from the bunker.

Q. You walked off 14 with a bogey. Did you realize at that point that you were three shots behind, and with Vijay in the lead were you thinking you were down to your last hoorah?
STEVE LOWERY: I think sometimes on certain golf courses you can kind of relax and maybe look at the leaderboard and figure out what you're doing, but when you're playing Pebble Beach and it's windy and the greens are the way they are, I am so focused on playing the golf course and just beating the golf course that I was not that focused on what anybody else was doing because I had my hands full out there trying to play the golf course in that wind. I was just more focused on beating the golf course than anything, than where I was in the tournament.

Q. Lastly, there's been a number of players who when they get to your age at 47 there's part of them kind of looking ahead toward the Champions Tour. Did you ever think that way or have you just been plodding along?
STEVE LOWERY: That kind of attitude about looking forward to the Champions Tour, I don't know about that. If you're going to go to the Champions Tour to win golf tournaments, then I can understand it, but just to say I'm going to the Champions Tour, then I don't really understand that. For me I've probably played in over 500 TOUR events, try to play as hard as I can play to win them, and whether I'm playing this Tour or that Tour, I'm trying to win.
I don't know, if I look forward to it, it's because I'm in those events and I'm going to try to play those tournaments to win. But I'm not looking to go out there and just hang out.

Q. How did you see your putt at 17 and what were you thinking after you knocked it in the bunker on 18?
STEVE LOWERY: On 17 I thought it was breaking off that hill a good bit but I thought the grain might hold it up so I didn't play quite as much break. There was a few bumps out there and I hit a good putt and it looked like it was on a good line, and you just never know if it's going to hold the line going down there, but it did. It had good speed on it. What was the second question?

Q. What were your thoughts when you hit it in the bunker on 18?
STEVE LOWERY: Yeah, I was hoping to be far enough back where I could hit a long enough club to get down there. All I could get over the lip was an 8-iron, so I didn't really worry about how far back I was going to be because I just had to get out of the bunker. I hit it clean, but I still had a maybe a 6-iron in for the third shot.

Q. What does this do for your career and this year and your schedule?
STEVE LOWERY: Well, a lot of things. For example, I wasn't even in next week, so it does a lot of things for me. It gets me back to where I've been before, you know, being fully exempt in these tournaments. A two-year exemption gets me exempt for a good while. So yeah, it does a lot for me. I was in a position -- was playing well and hit a shot last year and hurt my wrist and maybe took a chance by not staying out completely and trying to take a full year. But at 47 I felt like I was healthy and -- you know, I was going to come back and try to play. I tried to come back and play last year at the end and wasn't able to play well enough.

Q. What tournament and how far into the tournament?
STEVE LOWERY: It was the Sunday, the final round of the FBR last year early in the year. I finished Top 10 in Hawai'i, was playing well in Phoenix, was maybe Top 20, something like that, and hurt my wrist on the 8th hole on Sunday, and I was out for at least three months. I didn't have surgery but I couldn't play at all, and then with the FedExCup I didn't qualify for FedExCup so I was out for another month.
I just didn't have enough tournaments to play to get myself back exempt and kind of took a little chance there, but I just felt like I wanted to play and I was healthy, so I went ahead and played and was hoping that I was going to maybe win or do something, and fortunately this week I did.

Q. What was the nature of the shot where you hurt yourself?
STEVE LOWERY: I was hitting a driver on the 8th tee at FBR. I hit it about 300 yards right down the middle and heard something pop and just could not get it in play after that.

Q. You don't know if a putt is in out here until it's actually in the hole. But your putt looked good all the way on 18. What were you thinking as you were certain it was going in?
STEVE LOWERY: Yeah, I mean, you're just so focused on just rolling that putt in. I hit it good speed and it was on a good line, you're just hoping it holds the line because it was going in the in the middle. And it really did, it went right in the middle from my perspective. It was good speed and it was going right in.
I felt relieved when I saw the putt go in, but just really proud of the way I played the golf course today. I played the golf course really tough. I mean, the golf course is a really tough golf course in the wind.

Q. The putt on 18 in regulation, talk about that and your reaction.
STEVE LOWERY: That putt, although it had a great chance to go in, if it didn't hit the hole it was going way by. It was very fortunate that it hit the hole. Again, a putt like that, it could have gone in. If I missed the hole, I probably would have been eight feet by.

Q. You mentioned all the runner-up finishes throughout your career. How much did that help in any way today, and how tough is it that you've been there many times and not closed the deal very often?
STEVE LOWERY: Well, I think most of the time I finished second it's just been the guy who had a hot round on Sunday or whatever. I haven't really had the lead that many times on Sunday where I gave it away, but you know, it's tough. It's tough mentally to overcome that. You've been doing this for a long time, and you're trying so hard to win, and so few times in your career do you find yourself in the situation that you do. It's a tough challenge. It's not like you've done this 30 times for me.

Q. At this point in your career, given the injury, is this the most meaningful win of your career? And maybe compare it with what the other ones meant at the time.
STEVE LOWERY: Oh, absolutely. Kind of what I've been through with the injury and had some play that was not as good, some times that I didn't play very well. This is absolutely the most meaningful.
All three of mine, like I said, they were won in playoffs. I won at The International, the playoff in 1994, was my first win. It was very special for me to win there. But this is -- after seven years and winning on this course against Vijay and everything, that really means a lot, probably the most special.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about when you went to the scoring tent after regulation? You sign your card and wait for Vijay to come out. Were you trying not to think about it? Were you just trying to relax? What was going through your mind?
STEVE LOWERY: It was kind of going through my mind that it just feels like for me -- and I'm sure every player feels this way, but I've just had to work for everything I've gotten out here. It didn't surprise me to have to do it in a playoff, but you kind of hope that you're going to win it without the playoff. But it didn't surprise me so I was just kind of just trying to prepare myself, how I was going to play the hole.
You want to walk off that hole, win or lose, and feel like I played the hole as courageous as I could. That's kind of what I wanted to do, go out there and play that hole as courageous as I could, I could feel good. Whether you make birdie or eagle or whatever, you can say I did all I could do.

Q. When the crowd went nuts there when he stuck his shot pretty close, does it pop into your head maybe he has a chance for eagle?
STEVE LOWERY: Well, we didn't have a TV but we had a radio, and they told me that he hit it a foot, so I never really had the thought of it going in. I just heard he hit it a foot. Is that how close it was?

Q. Were there any strange circumstances to either of the doubles yesterday as far as stuck in the trees or something? And secondly, what were your thoughts after -- a second double, what am I doing? What were your thoughts if they were something like that?
STEVE LOWERY: You know, it was obviously a very special week for me because I drove it perfect on 10 yesterday, and I had a decision -- I was so close to the green there to go for it, that was at Poppy Hills, that layup really wasn't an option. I guess you could have maybe aimed to the right of the green or something. But the wind was blowing and I had to hit a 3-wood in there. I hit a good solid shot but the wind got it and it went in the water, and I ended up making double.
Came right back the very next hole. Like I said, that's probably where I won the tournament, very next hole, 215-yard par-3, I hit a 5-iron about a foot, made birdie. Stood up on the next hole, another par-5, made double. And then came back and -- I had my amateur partner with me. I made birdie on the next hole, and I don't know, I told him in the fairway -- he says, "You're going to get it back." I said, "Well, I'm just trying to figure out some way to win the tournament," and I think I birdied five of the last six holes there to shoot 2-under, so that was key.

Q. Did you get the sense that the crowds were kind of pulling for Vijay because they know who he is obviously and you're probably less known?
STEVE LOWERY: Yeah, I think people are going to pull for the people they know. It doesn't surprise me. They relate to people that win, so you've got to win.

Q. Was it a problem for you just getting in the field this week? And if you hadn't won this week, where were you going to be able to get in next?
STEVE LOWERY: I was going to play in Cancún, Mexico, was the next event. Wouldn't be in again until probably the Puerto Rico event. Yeah, it's been a challenge, been an uphill battle trying to get back into the events since I've been hurt.

Q. Were you able to get in fairly easily this week?
STEVE LOWERY: Yeah, I think I was in by about 30 or 40 people this week.

Q. What's it mean at this stage of your career to get a chance to return to Augusta?
STEVE LOWERY: I mean, just amazing to be able to go back there and play that golf course because I think I've played in maybe four, five Masters. A little bit overwhelmed, but it's a great golf course that really challenges you mentally and it's something that I want to go and kind of stand up to the challenge there because that's the ultimate mental test.

Q. Are you aware that Vijay bogeyed 14, 15 and 16?
STEVE LOWERY: No, I saw his shot on 14. He hit pretty close I thought to the hole, spun down the hill, and it went all the way down kind of where I was, and I knew -- I hit a great shot there and still made bogey. I knew he was probably going to make bogey there. I didn't know about 15 or 16. Like I said, I was playing the golf course and just trying to birdie the holes.

Q. Your approach on 14, did you come over the top a little bit, pull it?
STEVE LOWERY: Yeah, the wind was really blowing there. I mean, I wrote down in my yardage book "long left is okay" because I knew if I hit it right it's going to roll off the front of the green down that swale. I wasn't expecting it to roll down the hill on the left there, but that's a tough par-5. I'll tell you what, that is a really tough par-5.

Q. How well do you know Vijay? Have you played with him much?
STEVE LOWERY: I've played a lot of practice rounds through the years with him. I haven't played a lot of tournaments with him. I know I played with him in Memphis last year. We've played some together.

Q. You weren't trying to psych him out or anything, were you?
STEVE LOWERY: Yeah, I don't think that was going to happen (laughing).

Q. Coming down the playoff hole, you're right down the middle, Vijay goes in the bunker the first shot, hits the second one out, ends up in the bunker the third shot. Your third shot to the green, is it hard to keep from being really anxious because you can see what he's doing over there and you're right there in the middle and 72 yards out or whatever?
STEVE LOWERY: Yeah, I guess fortunately, playing golf as long as I've played, you see the momentum change so quickly on one shot. You can't really all of a sudden just start playing safe just because he's in the bunker. You have to play the hole, like I said, courageously. Try to play for birdie; it's a par-5. You've got to play it the way you would play it if you went out there ten times.
I was able to hit all four shots, I mean, really, really good. I was fortunate to -- I guess, one, that he didn't birdie; and two, that I was able to make that putt. But I played solid all day, so I'm very proud of the way I won it.

Q. You talk about the Pebble as if you knew it well. How many times do you think you've played it? Do you play it every year? How many Opens did you play here?
STEVE LOWERY: I haven't played any Opens here. I would estimate I've probably played 10 or 12 times in this tournament. I'm not 100 percent sure. You know, one of the big things, though, is that most of the time when we play here I'm kind of a high ball spin player, and when you have a lot of rain and a lot of wet greens, I have a hard time competing here because of the spin back.
I had a little bit of issues this week, but nothing like I normally do. And it actually ended up being kind of in my favor because the greens got firm and I was able to stop the ball, and I think some people that hit a little flatter trajectory weren't able to do it. So I think it ended up being a little advantage for me this week because of the weather and the greens.

Q. Do you remember your previous best finish here off the top of your head?
STEVE LOWERY: No, I don't.

Q. On the radio did they discuss, on 18 Vijay's drive actually glanced off the tree and kicked away from it so he had a swing.
STEVE LOWERY: No, I was just listening to the third shot. I was going over my card, and he had the radio on, and he said Vijay hit it a foot. So that was the only shot that I heard, but I knew at that point we were going to have a playoff.

Q. Have you been here to play Pebble any other time of the year or just for the tournaments?
STEVE LOWERY: Just for the tournament, only time I've been here.

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