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March 30, 2008

Lonnie Nielsen


PHIL STAMBAUGH: Lonnie, tough day for most everybody out there. Final round, 77. But, nonetheless, you end up in a tie for second, which is your best finish since your win at the Commerce Bank. Congratulations on the good finish.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: Maybe just a couple of general comments about the overall day. These kinds of days are so few and far between for us, but everybody has to sort of batten down the hatches on a day like today, right?
LONNIE NIELSEN: It was obviously very difficult. I am sure the scores show that. As I was walking up here, I had about three guys say "great playing" and you don't get that when you shoot a 77.
I was just trying to par the down-wind holes and see if I could not do anything worse than a bogey on the into-the-wind holes. I managed to make a double today. I made a couple of nice birdies on 14 and 15. That kind of saved my day and gave me a little bit of confidence to make some good swings there on 15 and 16 as well -- or 16 and 17 and make a couple of pars there. I was disappointed I 3-putt in the last. But, nonetheless, glad it's over.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: How impressive is Bernard's 1 under with the conditions?
LONNIE NIELSEN: You know, he's got such a tremendous short game that when it was blowing like this at the start of the day, you'd almost bet that he was going to win, you know, hands down. When it is windy like this and you can only hit about half the greens, he is just a magician. And he just continued to amaze us all day long, getting it up and down.
In fact, he actually holed a shot on the 6th hole from the hazard for a birdie. Just hit the most beautiful shot out of the hazard right in the cup.
So he's got as good a short game as there is in the game, and we knew he was going to be awfully hard to beat today when that wind was howling.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: Sort of take us through the early part of the round. You were the closest to Bernhard for most of the front 9. Just sort of take us through your day, if you can.
LONNIE NIELSEN: Couple of solid shots on 1. Kind of a routine par. We all left our putts short on 1. It seemed like that green had more grass back there or something because we all had very makeable birdie putts and every one of us left them a foot short.
2, I hit two nice shots right on the back fringe and a 2-putt birdie.
3, I played pretty well. Nice routine par.
The 4th hole, boy, did it play tough today. It was just one of those -- Fred hit a gorgeous shot there and just barely cleared the bunker, landed right on the front of the green and went 5 yards over. There was just no way of hitting it that on the green. I hit it in the bunker and didn't get it up and down, struggled a little bit with my putter early in the going.
What's next? 5. 5, that's a heck of a tough hole. I hit it -- I had two pretty good shots but through the green and a nice pitch down, almost made it.
And then 6, I hit three in a row real nice shots. Had a routine par there. Hit about a 10-footer for birdie, which I just hit too hard.
And then we turn back into the wind. 7, 8 and 9 were absolute killers. Driver and a 3-iron at 7. I think I hit a sand wedge in there the other day. The 8th hole I hit -- actually hit a pretty good shot and 3-putted it. I got it on that green, which is a tough -- a tough shot into the wind there today.
And then 9, I didn't think any of us could reach but Bernhard hit a driver, 3-wood. Hit two great shots right on the front of the green. I tried to do something with a 3-wood out of the left rough and left it -- didn't hit a very good shot and left it 120 yards out and made kind of a routine bogey after that.
I knew I was in trouble after those three holes. It was just -- wow, it was playing so tough. And then the 17th hole was laughable, as hard as that played. There was just no way of playing that hole. Somehow we all made pars there. We were from all over the place.

Q. The last two days, what did you hit on 9? Today you said you hit 3-wood from the rough.
LONNIE NIELSEN: Yeah, I hit a 9-iron yesterday and a -- I hit a 7-iron the first day. I couldn't reach it today, I don't think. Maybe if I was on the fairway, but ...

Q. Was there any other crazy yardages that you hit clubs? Any long irons that you hit middle-iron distances?
LONNIE NIELSEN: The 14th hole we have been hitting driver and 4-, 5-, 6-irons in there, the par 5. And today I hit a driver 3-iron, 8-iron and came up short. So it was -- what was the other hole? There was another hole -- I don't know. It was tough. It was very hard to keep your patience.

Q. Do you learn anything from a situation like today, or is it one of those things where you just want to get it over with?
LONNIE NIELSEN: I learn I have to work on my short game if I am going to keep up with this Bernhard Langer. He is a magician with that wedge. He is going to be in the game every week because even when he is off, he will be making some pars and, you know, eventually he will hit good shots and make some birdies. Seems like it will be hard for him to shoot over par watching him for two days, I will tell you that.

Q. Given how well chips the ball, were you surprised he used the putter over the 18th green?
LONNIE NIELSEN: I was a little bit. But anything can happen back there. I think maybe -- I know he got relief, but I think it was still bothering him a little bit that that was so close. Obviously, didn't make any difference, he made his 4 anyway. But I was a little surprised because he pitches the ball so beautifully.
But, you know, if you chub it just a little bit there, it comes right back to your feet and you got it over. I am sure that's the last thing he wanted to do.

Q. I know you are out there doing your own thing, but did you pick up on anything on Bernhard and Stefan together, how they work together?
LONNIE NIELSEN: Well, they've got a wonderful father-son relationship, that's for sure. On the course, it is all business and Stefan did a nice job today, did a very nice job. He was right there. He knew exactly what dad wanted and needed and he was right on the ball all day long.

Q. Did it impress you they could have an all-business relationship? Not easy for a father and son to do.
LONNIE NIELSEN: My son comes out and caddies some. We are not quite as businesslike as they were. I am not probably as organized as Bernhard is either. I have a little different personality than he does. So -- I played with him before with his other caddie and it was really a very similar relationship.

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