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May 23, 2008

Tom Purtzer


KELLY ELBIN: Tom Purtzer, ladies and gentlemen, the leader midway through the 69th Senior PGA Championship. Tom in with around of 67 today. For a two day total of 140. Even par. Tom, congratulations, some general thoughts about your 67.
TOM PURTZER: Well, it was a lot more fun than it was yesterday.
KELLY ELBIN: Better than 73, huh?
TOM PURTZER: Yeah. The tee shots here mean everything. Yesterday I missed the fairway about, I don't know, four or five times and made bogeys. And unless you wedge it close, you're not going to, it's hard to make a par if you miss the fairway. Because generally you can't get out of the rough.
So I just drove it a lot better today. And I made a few putts. I got off to a really good start. That helped quite a bit. Birdied two of the first three holes. So that gets you off thinking in the right pattern. So it just kind of continued from there.
KELLY ELBIN: Go through those five birdies, please, and the two bogeys.
TOM PURTZER: Started on 10 and I hit a good drive and an I think it was a 2 wedge, about, I don't know, six feet. Made birdie there.
12, I hit rescue club and then a pitching wedge to about two feet, three feet. Something like that. For birdie.
Missed the fairway on 16 to the right. Just had to wedge it out and missed the putt.
Then 18, I hit a really good drive and an 8-iron about six feet. And I made birdie there.
Missed the fairway on five. I made bogey.
7, hit a 4-iron about, I don't know, it must have been 12 feet, something like that. I made birdie there.
9, I hit a pretty good putt. I hit a 3-wood and 7-iron about 20, 25 feet. Something like that. And I made it for birdie.
So all in all it was a pretty good day. I hit the ball pretty good, I'm fairly satisfied with the way I'm hitting it. So I don't think I have ever been in the press room at a PGA.
In all my years on tour. But no, I don't know. The golf course is good. You just, so much depends on the, on hitting your tee shot. And I feel like I'm swinging better this week. It's kind of going in the right direction.
KELLY ELBIN: It's nice to have you here.
TOM PURTZER: Thank you.
KELLY ELBIN: Let's open it up for questions, please.

Q. Congratulations, I know it's only two rounds in, but to be sitting a top the leaderboard at this moment going into the weekend, on a course like this, and shooting a 3-under, I mean, can you -- it's quite an achievement for a course like this. Can you put that into perspective right now on a course that's not giving up a lot of sub par rounds.
TOM PURTZER: No, it's definitely -- you know, the conditions here are probably as tough as -- we always say that The Open is probably, they trick it up more than any other place. But this, the way the golf course is here is, it's every bit as tough as a U.S. Open.
Usually the PGA is friendlier to us than the USGA. But not this week.
I mean it's really brutal. And I just feel fortunate to be here. Obviously we got, everybody's got two rounds left to play, a lot of things can happen. But I feel pretty good about what I'm doing. So we'll just see what happens.

Q. It's always nice to end the round on a positive note with a birdie. Especially at a course where there aren't a lot of guys making birdies. Can you just talk about what it felt like to get that birdie and know that you had the lead going to the weekend?
TOM PURTZER: Any time in a Major, gee, whiz, it's been a long time since I've been really in real contention in a Major. My putter has been -- hey, wait, get that guy in here. I need some pointers on what to say. That's old hat for Jay.
But, no, I mean I just, it's, you just got to play it one shot at a time. It's really, it's a very demanding golf course. But I feel like this is the first, the first time all year that my swing has felt comfortable. So I'm cautiously optimistic about the weekend.

Q. I know you're one of the leading drivers on tour, maybe No. 1 right now distance-wise. Are you being forced to dial it back? Are you hitting less drivers this week? Bernhard was in here talking about because the holes kind of turn it's hard to fit drivers in here. Are you finding yourself either dialing it back or hitting less drivers?
TOM PURTZER: Yes. Definitely. I'm taking some chances on a few holes where I've hit drivers, but the golf course really doesn't lend itself to driving the ball a long ways. Like there's a couple, it's like 17, there's nowhere, it's a 460 yard hole, and there's really nowhere for me to hit a driver. I've got to hit a 20 yard slice around the trees. It's just not meant to be played as a par-4. It's a par-5.
But when you get up there, the where we're driving it, if you hit it a little left center of the fairway, it hits on this side of the fairway, it kicks it in the rough to the left.
So it's -- so that's a little bit of an example. But like 9, you know, 9, I can't hit driver there. So I've been kind of forced to hit 3-wood there.
And Bernhard is right, there's a number of holes out there that you really, you would like to kind of think you could hit driver, but it doesn't work.

Q. So with all that said then, are you happier with this particular two rounds because you're not being able to take advantage of the great length, you are dialing it back, you must be hitting better approach shots, are you happier with the way you played because you're not able to bomb it down 300 yards any more?
TOM PURTZER: Yeah, I guess. I mean, obviously probably throughout my career the driver has been the best club in my bag. I've always driven it a long ways and relatively straight.
The statistics really are a little misleading. But I feel like that's always been the best part of May game. And when I'm forced to lay back, not be able to hit a driver, yeah, it's a not a concern, but it doesn't -- I feel like I kind of have a little bit of an advantage with my length and I'm relatively pretty straight with my driver.
So in a way, yeah, I mean I would like to have a golf course that you need to hit drivers on holes and stuff. And where you can. Like the par-5 like about the fourth hole, whatever it is. I've got to hit either rescue or 3-wood there.
The first pro-am, in the pro-am I hit a driver and I hit it right into the creek. So you kind of, it kind of bothers you a little bit that you got a par-5 that you have to lay up on off the tee.
But that's just, you just have to play whatever, whatever the course gives you, that's what you got to do.

Q. I guess obviously given the set up and the course it's a ball-striker's course, do you feel like it plays to your strengths? And secondly how tough is too tough as far as the set up goes so that for the field to get separated? Can you make it so tough that maybe guys can't make birdies and it gets separated. Talk about that.
TOM PURTZER: Good question. I don't know how tough is too tough. But you would like to think that if you hit it in the rough, say you miss a fairway by or say you miss the short rough by a yard, you would like to think that you would have a chance if you hit a really, really good shot out of the rough, you would have a chance to get it on the green.
But if you hit it a yard off the fairway here, that's the worst place you can hit it. So you just, it's, you just chip it back out in the fairway and hope for the best.
I don't know. That's, to me it's borderline too difficult. We have got 35 club pros and we have got the best club pros in the country. And they're not really used to -- I mean we only get it maybe two or three times a year. So it just makes it really really difficult.
And we're playing the golf course pretty long. I know there's some back tees that we're not playing, but I don't know what the yardage we're playing it at is, but it's playing pretty long. So to answer your question, I would say it's borderline too tough.
KELLY ELBIN: Tom Purtzer, the leader midway through the Senior PGA Championship. Thank you, Tom.

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