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April 26, 2008

Jeff Sluman

Craig Stadler


DAVE SENKO: Lonnie, maybe if you can get us started, you followed up your 7-under day yesterday with 12-under today, and it looks like you had 12 birdies today. Maybe just get us started, Lonnie, by talking about your day, and then we'll hear from Brad.
LONNIE NIELSEN: Brad got us up and running those first two holes. 10 and 11 are good chances for birdies. But doesn't mean they give them to you. So Brad hit a beautiful shot and made a nice birdie at 11, and nice enough to let me help there on the third hole. I hit two good shots, a driver and 7-iron on the third hole and made about a 10-footer which helped. That's nice to get both guys involved and both feeling like you're part of it.
Then Brad just took off running. He just hit one great shot after another --
BRAD BRYANT: Almost in the bushes. Brad (speaking in third) hit it in the bushes.
LONNIE NIELSEN: Almost birdied into the house and I managed to birdie on the last and gosh, it was fun, it's amazing when it gets going, because they just start adding up so fast and just one after another. So loads of fun we had on that front nine.
And the back nine we played pretty steady, too. What did we shoot, 4-under? That's kind of what you figure is par, 4- or 5-under, in this format, and we played pretty steady. We had a couple of -- 4 and 5 and 6, I guess we were struggling a little bit. We managed to make some pars there, so all in all, a wonderful day and we were thrilled with the 60.
BRAD BRYANT: Well, we had a good day. (Laughing) How's that?
It was really fun because every time -- I hit it in the bushes several times today. I really got on a roll and made a bunch of birdies there at the start. But every time I hit it in the bushes, Lonnie played just a beautiful hole.
And I guess it was really No. 2 where you pitched it in. No. 2, I birdied four in a row, but Lonnie birdied 18, which those of you -- you guys have been here before, but this is his first year; he's not real sure how good that birdie was. I want him to think that hole is real easy.
It was a great birdie, and I birdied No. 1 and No. 2 we slashed a couple of drives, got a couple of funny lies and I chipped it across the green into the fringe. So I was making a big score and Lonnie pitched it in for a 3 from off the back edge of the green, and that was kind of the sort of big thing of the day.
You know, you look back on the day and say, where could things have really gone wrong, and when he pitched that ball in, it was really a two-shot swing for us, so that was sort of the shot of the day for our team.
DAVE SENKO: How far was that?
LONNIE NIELSEN: 15, 18 yards. I didn't have a whole lot of green to work with, but I had a pretty nice lie. And when it landed, I knew it was going to have a chance, it came out -- it was a dream. It came out just like I wanted.
DAVE SENKO: And Lonnie, you had another chip-in somewhere else?
LONNIE NIELSEN: Chipped in for a par on 5. Never hit a good shot until the last one.
DAVE SENKO: Just to back up real quick, starting at 10, Brad, do you remember you birdied 10 and 11, how long were the putts?
BRAD BRYANT: 10 was close, two, three feet probably.
11 was about ten feet.
I had a tap-in at 14.
15, I made about a 12-footer.
16, that was 8 to 12 feet.
17 was about three feet. I hit 6-iron off the tee.
DAVE SENKO: And Lonnie, you made the birdie on 18.
LONNIE NIELSEN: Yeah, I hit a driver, 6-iron there, probably 15 feet short of the hole.
DAVE SENKO: And then Brad add No. 1.
BRAD BRYANT: No. 1, I pitched it up there four feet.
Lonnie pitched it in on 2.
4, I pitched in -- made about a 5-footer.
9, Lonnie hit a wedge about four feet.
We had a lot of short birdies today, a lot of them. It was fun.

Q. Tomorrow, do you have to shoot 60 again with the way the course is being set up and the weather do you think?
BRAD BRYANT: Depends on the weather. We've seen weather here in the past that can make this golf course play very difficult.
Today we had perfect conditions. This was -- I think today was probably about as easy a scoring day as you've ever seen on this course. The greens are fairly soft, so you can attack some of the flags that normally you can't.
And normally that 18th hole, it's really tough to put the ball on the back part of the green, and today, you can kind of be a little more aggressive on a few of the holes.
So if the weather stays like this, we'll see some low scores again tomorrow.

Q. Do they need to do some things to make it more -- I don't want to say respectable, but that's the only word that comes to mind; that maybe you have should shoot 64 instead of 60 to win?
BRAD BRYANT: I don't think so. I think that you can't -- the golf course is in really good shape. You don't shoot good scores on a scuzzy golf course.
So it's in good shape. The greens are a touch on the soft side for this particular event. Normally the greens are a little faster -- I shouldn't say the greens are faster, but they are normally a little firmer. And that's just a product of not having wind, not having that dry wind that we've had a couple of times.
So far, the scoring positions have been really good.

Q. Can you compare the setup today to yesterday, and also is the scoring more a function of the weather or of the course setup?
BRAD BRYANT: I think the scoring is more a product of the weather than the course setup.
I think that they haven't really thrown any brutal pins at us. I think tomorrow we'll see some more difficult pin placements with the Raphael Division gone, so we may see some pretty tough ones.
But I think that the weather has more to do with the low scoring than anything ever. Any time we don't have wind, the guys shoot some pretty low scores.
LONNIE NIELSEN: I've never seen it before, but the course is in perfect shape. We haven't had much wind; the course is in great shape, and no reason you can't make some birdies. And when you have a partner, one guy gets on the green, the next guy shoots at the flag. You're trying to make more birdies than if you're out there trying to play by yourself, certainly, and that's also a function of the low scores.

Q. Can you talk about your friendship, and is it the first time you've played in a team event together?
BRAD BRYANT: Well, we've been friends a long, long time. Lonnie is one of those guys, we used to play gin rummy together and I never, ever beat him. It's one of those things.
So he's been walking around with some of my money for a long, long time and I'm hoping he makes some of it back for me this week.
Gosh, we've known each other since, what, the 80s?
BRAD BRYANT: Before mini tour days, the 70s.
LONNIE NIELSEN: We played a lot of practice rounds together when we both first came out on the TOUR, and Rod Nettles (ph) was my partner and Brad Johnson was Brad's, and same partners, and we had an awful lot of fun back in our rookie years on the TOUR.
BRAD BRYANT: It's pretty neat, Lonnie. And I have been friends for so long that when he won last year, I was standing right at the edge of the green with his wife, Mary Jo, at New York Commerce in Long Island, and so he walked off the green and hugged Mary Jo. And I got him before he even got to the scoring tent and I looked at him and I said, "That puts us in the Legends."
He said, "Okay, we'll do it." I held him to it. I think he's tried to get out of a couple of times. So within just a few seconds of him -- of both of us being qualified for the tournament, we were partners.

Q. Can you talk about your experience this week and what it's been like to be in a tournament that you haven't played before?
LONNIE NIELSEN: Well, it's been great fun. This was always a tournament, you know, it's tough to sit out. It's a big money tournament and I remember several times sitting at home losing about eight or ten spots this week on the Money List. So it's nice to be part of this event, and it's really nice having a partner like Brad by my side, that's for sure.
I'm thrilled to be here. This is a real highlight of my career to be playing amongst the legends of the game. So it was great to see all of the guys on Monday and Tuesday, it's pretty cool to see the Demaret Division, and a lot of those guys I haven't seen in years.

Q. In your years as a club pro competing, did you play in any or many teams events?
LONNIE NIELSEN: Yeah, we usually had a better-ball event in our section every year. So I definitely played a couple of pro pros, a good friend of mine, Jim Smith, we played several pro scratches together.
So I'm used to playing better-ball, but a lot of times on Tuesdays, we played better-ball matches. It's nice to have one of those as on official event now, and I think all of the players out here now are thrilled about it.

Q. Do you and Brad play Tuesday games together?
LONNIE NIELSEN: He's never around on Tuesday. He's home.
BRAD BRYANT: I have kids at home. I still have two teenage boys, so they are in school and my oldest will be a senior next year. So I try to stay home as long as I possibly can, mainly to keep my sons and my wife apart. Our playing schedule is really difficult on our families so I generally stay home as long as I can each week.

Q. Do you live near each over?
LONNIE NIELSEN: He's in Orlando and I'm in West Palm Beach.
BRAD BRYANT: We were usually down the hall from each other on the PGA TOUR. For 25 weeks a year, we were neighbors for a long time. And then Lonnie left the TOUR to go basically be a club professional and was what, two times, three times, five times Club Pro of the Year? Only three, Club Professional of the Year, which is quite an achievement of itself. You're in an organization of 40,000 people and he was No. 1 three times; that's pretty good. He's a legend, as well.
DAVE SENKO: Thank you.

End of FastScripts

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