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July 31, 2008

Dave Delich



DAVE DELICH: I started the back well and just I was doing something with my mid-irons, I seemed to have 5- and 6-iron in my hand all day, and I made three or four really poor swings on the back. I think I under-clubbed 10 half a club and it cost me three shots from the middle of the fairway, and you just can't do that out here and put myself in some funny spots.

All in all, I drove the ball real well and I'm still trying to figure out the speed of the greens. They are a little bit slower than what they have been last month or two I think. They were very fair today. The pins were tough but I'm still struggling over the speed. I'm used to them a little bit quicker than this and I'm leaving some putts short.

Q. What happened on 1.

DAVE DELICH: Well, I got a hug from my two little ones, Emma and Katy, and that helped. It was just pretty exciting. There were a lot of people there, probably more than I expected and you know, at that point, I told Russ Miller, our director of golf here, I said, the first guy might roll one 80 yards and everyone is going to go, "This is the competition, huh?"

So I was just happy to get it in the air. Actually it was one of my better drives today and I hit a bunch of good drives.

Q. Talking to some of your family members, they said you wouldn't be doing this without Chuck, not that you wouldn't have qualified, but you wouldn't want to play the Senior Open without Chuck on the bag.

DAVE DELICH: Absolutely. Chuck is two years older than me. We grew up obviously playing every sport under the sun and Chuck played up at the Air Force Academy and I played down here at Colorado College, hockey, and we have been playing or competing against each other for most of our lives and he knows my game. He was very helpful today. I just couldn't make the adjustment that he was trying to get me to adjust to out there quick enough and it cost me shots and coming in, too, 14, 15, and 18.

So he did a great job today. A couple times I wasn't sure of the line, what it was going to do right of the hole and he stepped in and we were both on the same page.

Yeah, it's great to have him out there. He knows the game and he understands me, and I don't know what more you can get out of a caddie than that. He's probably played this golf course twice as much as I have in the last ten years, so he certainly knows the course.

Q. Is this a welcome distraction for him to be involved in something like this knowing he's got a pretty big weekend?

DAVE DELICH: Yeah, he's got a tough time coming up obviously, and I think if you asked him, he would say he wouldn't want to be any place else; that's not what he tells me, but that's probably just so I still buy the beer and feel a little bit bad about it.

But yeah, I think he's pretty happy to be out here. We had a terrific start to the day and I just didn't get it closed. I knew the back nine, you people are watching the golf out here, and your tournament is going to be won or lost from ten to 13. That's the golf course, and I came through there 4-over, and I didn't feel I hit a bad shot. And so that's the problem with the golf course and we just didn't get through that stretch today.

Q. How about the gallery and just the support you had out there today?

DAVE DELICH: Well, were you on 17? They were pretty raucous for the moment. It was unbelievable. I expected obviously some family out there today and a few friends, but it appears that nobody was working in Colorado Springs this morning.

It was a lot of fun. It's added -- I didn't want to believe it, I guess. I've heard from Russ and Mark, our head professionals here, a number of times, that it's changed the environment of this tournament a little bit having someone from the club and having a local constituent, and it felt that way today. People were supportive.

I kind of expected a little bit on the first tee, and I just didn't expect them all to come with me. They hung in there for 18 holes and they were all there and the crowd seemed to get binge bigger as the day went on as maybe I was playing some of my poorer golf today it got bigger, and nobody left.

I jokingly told my wife, Karen, and a few others this morning, I said there are going to be a lot of people after three holes saying I need a drink, and headed for the concession tents. But they stuck in there.

Q. How many people do you think you had following you?

DAVE DELICH: I don't know. I didn't look that much. I was trying to stay focused on the game, but they were making some noise and doing me some good. It was positive to have them there.

Q. What happened on the front nine?

DAVE DELICH: I had 21 putts on ten holes and I was 1-over. I was striking it and hitting it on the greens in the places I needed to. I had my brother and I kind of chuckled on the first hole, and I don't know how many guys are going to 3-putt that green, but a bunch of them are.

The USGA has a way of giving you something different than maybe what you're preparing for this week, and there are a few places out here, they did it on 6, also, where you can put pins that you'll never see; and not unfair, but just never see them, and 1 was that way.

Everyone is going to try to keep that flag between the mountain and their ball all week, so they are putting into the mountain and putting uphill. You hit it left of the flag today on 1, you had a really tough putt. You want that ball 15 feet right of that pin. They had it on the slope and the only place on that green where the ball breaks left-to-right and has some downhill in it, so we kind of smiled on the first hole and we kind of knew it wasn't going to be an easy putt.

And I hit it in the front nine in every spot I was looking, and I had putts at it; I had putts around the edges and nothing dropped, so it could have been a little better front.

But, c'est la vie, I was never in any trouble, and just kept kind of hanging in there.

Back nine got a little rough.

Q. Did you think that your knowledge of the green held you back a little bit because you're used to certain speed and do you think what you saw today will help you tomorrow?

DAVE DELICH: Well, it hurt me on 10. It hurt me on 16, on the back nine. I 3-putted both of those greens. 16 was an easy putt. Those are putts that, you know, 20, 30 percent of the time, I'm thinking I'm going to make, and I left them both way short, and it's just when you're kind of trained and you get on those slopes that you're used to, the ball -- and of course you're playing in the morning, too, so it's going to get drier and quicker, and they have got to protect the golf course out here, and for me I just on the back nine especially, wasn't getting the ball close.

So some of my knowledge certainly didn't help me on the back nine, but overall it's a huge advantage. I watched these guys get over putts and I'm thinking, you know what, that ball needs to be eight feet right of that to have a chance but there's no way for them to figure it out that quick, not in a couple of days.

Q. Do you think tomorrow afternoon with the greens being quicker that will help?

DAVE DELICH: Well, the golf course should be faster so should be able to hit the ball out there just a little further than today maybe. The greens will be firmer, though, and once you pick up speed on the greens, it will be harder to control the ball.

I'm looking forward to it. Got to shoot a better number tomorrow to have a chance to make the cut. As I said yesterday, you've got ten or 15 guys out here at the end of the day, and about half of those guys are going to show their face and have already figured out the golf course and their game is right on wherever they looking, and they will figure these greens out, and you'll probably know those ten or 12 guys probably by this evening.

Q. Any difference between this and hockey?

DAVE DELICH: Oh, hockey, yeah, I used to get butterflies in hockey, someone drops the puck, someone hits you in the face, there are not any more nerves, that's the game.

There's no place out here to just kind of shake them. After I hit balls, I went for a jog, I ran over to the clubhouse just to breathe a little harder and try to calm down a bit. So I don't think there's a whole lot you can do on the golf course other than have the experience of going through it. But you know, talk to your leaders, and I'll bet every one of them tells you they had that nervous energy for a while today at least, until they got into their game.

You know, that's the difference with hockey is you're nervous, you've got all that anxiety, and you're ready to go. But the first shift, you get out there and you pop somebody or somebody pops you, and then the game's on, the nerves are gone.

Q. What do you think the cut will be?

DAVE DELICH: I said before the week started, and really the practice round last week, that I was looking at the course that I thought it was 146. I'm not sure that I've changed my opinion on that a whole lot. I don't know what the USGA has intended. They could move that number up-and-down based on course setup and some other things. They have the course a little bit shorter today than it might be tomorrow. They had the tee up on -- they had the tee up on 13 and they had the tee up on 17, is that accurate? Yeah, 13 and 17. Is.

But I think 146 is going to be right there. It's hard for me to believe someone is going to get it 6-, 7-under after two days. I think your number might be two to four under, so that putts 6-over within ten; that's my guess.

I only saw two groups out there, and I shot 76, and I think one fellow in our group had a pretty good back nine and might have shot 76, also. But I saw some plus-tens and plus-eights and plus-14s around me, so I think you're going to have plenty of numbers up there.

Q. Were you on the National Team for hockey?

DAVE DELICH: I played for seven months with that Olympic team and didn't play in Lake Placid. All of the pictures and all of the memories, I didn't get any ice time in Lake Placid. There were five of us. And unlike today where they are playing five on the roster, back then they made you fix a 20-man roster the day of the games, so a few of us didn't play.

Yeah, I got the benefit of Herbie and none of the pleasure. Wish I could have played for Herbie longer. Could he have made me a better hockey player than maybe I thought I was. He's a good coach.

Q. Talk about the two dreams, that was a dream, this was a dream. Compare the dreams?

DAVE DELICH: Hockey was a dream I lived with my entire life. Golf was something that I dreamed for other people. I watched the Arnold Palmers and Nicklaus's growing up. Tom Watson was a huge, huge favorite of mine, and I just love the way he played and his tenacity and his courageous effort every time he played.

I just love the way he played, and so golf wasn't my first sport, and so yeah, my dreams were pretty big for hockey and I have to tell you, most of them were fulfilled. I didn't think that I would see and do the things I did by the time I was 25 or 26 years old.

We traveled extensively with national teams behind the iron curtain when it was a real iron curtain over there in the late 70s. I played in Tokyo in the World Championships, and we traveled all every Asia and northern Europe and central Europe and Eastern Europe; to wear an American jersey was pretty exciting.

I would guess it's kind of your Curtis Cup/Walker Cup/Ryder Cup kind of environment. Golf is an individual game, and occasionally you get to represent your country. There is nothing more special that you will ever do in sport. The millions I guess are nice, and people like that, but you want nerves and apprehension, put that jersey on one time.

Q. So you were in Lake Placid?

DAVE DELICH: Yeah, I wasn't on the playing roster. I actually left the team and I was the property of the Minnesota North Stars and went ahead and signed my NHL contract and started that effort which was incredibly successful over the next few years.

So no, I didn't stick around to watch the players play. I went actually to Oklahoma City, which was the North Star's top farm team and watched the games like everybody else did on TV.

Q. Would making this cut makeup for that?

DAVE DELICH: I can't fit -- you've all seen the pictures of all the boys in the stands, I don't think my wife can fit into the sweat suit that I had on for that Olympic team. I must have been like 112 pounds back then.

But I watched, just like everybody else, and was thoroughly excited. I never felt one ounce of regret or should have been there. You're picking a team with 20 guys, and again, they do this in golf all the time, these Walker Cup captains, and it's not easy and you just go with your gut, and I'm just thankful that they have the right guys there at that time to win. It was an incredible event.

Q. Are you proud to have been part of the process?

DAVE DELICH: Yeah, the process was excruciating for months on end. I mean, it was not what people remember as the last five days ever Lake Placid when all of a sudden they were going to play the Russians and they beat the Russians and they still had to play the Fins -- if they had not got beaten by the Fins, they wouldn't have won the medal. That's what people remember.

It was a long winter, it was a measurable winter. Herbie was a very, very, very demanding and difficult coach to play for. You don't know if you played harder to prove him wrong about something, or if you just were mad at him all the time. That was part of his philosophy. He didn't want friends. He wanted everybody -- pardon the French -- pissed off all the time and fighting each other for jobs and fighting him and fighting everything else. There were 20 guys who were looking just to survive and have a chance to play professional hockey and do something else, and things got on a roll in Lake Placid and the rest is history.

I don't remember when the Games started, but it was within a week or two of the games that I knew that I wasn't going to get there.

Q. Did any of the tenacity that you kind of got from going through that process, did any of that help you in your golfing career?

DAVE DELICH: Well, no question. You don't ever get up. You don't quit. I think golf for me, it's a game about forgetting what just happened and trying to stay in the moment and not giving anything up; you know, fighting for everything you get.

Hockey is that way. Sport is that way. There's nothing worse than playing against the pit bull at your heels all the time, and that's what it feels like out here sometimes. You know who those guys are out on the Senior PGA Tour, one comes to mind is probably Allen Doyle. He's a pit bull. He's not pretty, but other guys will leave your heel after a while and he won't. That's why he's won two of these things, and you lineup, everyone has a better golf swing but no one has a better golf game.

And I think Allen probably has learned that from his days as a hockey player or an athlete, and Hale Irwin is another one. Hale didn't learn to play golf the way he plays golf on a golf course; he's too civil. Spend some time in a defensive backfield, get your head knocked a little bit, and that's where you kind of learn. I'm sure he was running at the guys a heck of a lot bigger than him in college and had to find a way to compete, and that just carried forward into his golf years.

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