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June 24, 1999

Larry Nelson


PHIL STAMBAUGH: Mr. Nelson a fine 6-under 66 highlighted, by an eagle at the]13th hole. Just a little bit about how your day went, and then go through your birdies and your eagle.

LARRY NELSON: I was real kind of excited about the way I played today, because I haven't been very consistent from driver to sand wedge as far as my ball-striking. And today was the first day in a long time that I really felt like I had control over all the clubs as far as hitting the ball where I wanted to it hit it. And I only missed two greens today, and one was because I -- both of them actually I could not hit the green from where I was. And I hit two errant drives and kind of paid the price for it. But every time I was in the fairway, I either hit it on the green where I wanted to and 2-putted, and hit the ball pretty close so it was a fairly non-taxing 66, I guess. I don't feel very tired afterwards.

Q. You must have been in a good place on 13?

LARRY NELSON: 13, I actually had perfect yardage. And I hit a 5-wood in the middle of the green and kind of curled around, which was pretty nice. It's funny; I played last year on this golf course, and I was in every place you didn't want to be. So I had tried to avoid all those places this year and I knew from last year, trying to hit it to that flag over there is a little bit on the stupid side, I guess. And I just aimed it for the middle of the green, and took the slope and went down there about a foot. Those are the kind of 3s you like to make.

Q. You said it was perfect yardage?

LARRY NELSON: I had about 238 to the hole, something like that.

Q. Do you have any idea how close it might have been?

LARRY NELSON: No, actually the people in the back -- you can't see the ball, of course, and the people in the back were -- they started clapping. So you know it's getting closer to the hole. And finally, when it stopped, somebody behind the green did one of these things. (Indicating arm-raising). So I knew it was pretty close. It was kind of nice. A little extra bonus. Where I was I should have made 4, but making 3 was kind of an added bonus. A little bit disappointed coming in because I had three birdie putts that I felt like I could have or should have made one or two of them, and they were just the kind of putts that they might have gone left or they might have gone right. You just could not tell. But you knew they were going to do something. And I kind of guessed wrong, three times. But like I say, I'm really excited about the way I hit the ball, and it's kind of nice to be a little bit pain-free; so I'm looking forward to a good next three days.

Q. What were the three birdie putts?

LARRY NELSON: The three would be -- let's see -- 14 is the par 3, is it? 15 is the par 3. 16 I hit it about probably about eight feet right below the hole. And then 17, I hit it about, oh, maybe 12 feet, 15 feet to the right of the hole behind the hole. And then 18, I hit it about 15 to 18 feet. There were 3-putts made right in front of me, so --

PHIL STAMBAUGH: You just want to run through your four birdies.

LARRY NELSON: Four birdies, 3rd hole, the par -- the par 5, I had I think hit it on the green there in 2. The par 5, I hit my second shot with the 5-wood in the front left bunker and hit a sand wedge out about four feet. So I made it for birdie. No. 5, I made birdie, 5th hole, I hit pitching wedge about -- it was about eight feet. 6th hole, I hit L-wedge about four feet. And then I birdied 11. And I hit pitching wedge about 7 feet.

PHIL STAMBAUGH: Your two errant drives were where?

LARRY NELSON: I hit a bad drive -- well I didn't hit a bad drive. No. 7, I drove it right down the middle of the fairway, and I hit a 3-wood a little bit right. There's a big tree just in the right edge of the green. Hit the tree fell down in the bunker and that's where I missed the green. I missed the green out of the bunker. It was a long bunker shot. And then I missed green on 14. Missed it up to the right which is not the place to miss it. Of course, you don't want to miss it left on that hole either. You want to try to hit that fairway there. And I just missed it up to the right, and really kind of played conservatively out to the right, hoping I could kind of run it onto the green. And got it up-and-down from about 30 yards short of the green.

Q. Would you say that you are comfortable with this course now that you know it well enough?

LARRY NELSON: It's almost as important knowing where not to hit it than it is where to hit it, because you can avoid where you don't want to hit it most of the time; so you can't always hit it where you want to hit it. I found that in my experience, going around on these golf courses for the second time -- this being the second time I've played here that I've done very -- I've done much better the second tournament that I've played. And last year, I didn't play very good here at all. And I think that kind of knowledge is helpful coming into this because you really do know what to avoid, since I hit it into every bad place that you can possibly hit it last year, because I had four days to do it. It seemed like every day, I hit it in four of the bad places you didn't want to hit it at each hole. It's nice to come in here hitting the ball well and knowing where not to hit it. It's nice to play these tournaments for the second time. And the golf course is just perfect. One of the few golf courses I've played in the last four or five months that the speed of the greens are very consistent. We play a lot of greens where they are real slow uphill into the grain and real fast downhill downgrain. But these greens are fairly consistent. The only difference in the downhill put and the uphill put is gravity. And you can kind of judge that pretty good.

Q. (Inaudible.)

LARRY NELSON: I think the scores are low because the golf course is in such good shape. I think the greens are really good -- to make putts. And, for the most part, except for where I was on three of the last four holes, they are easy to read. And I think that's the reason a lot of people are making a lot of birdies here. The pins today were in a position where, even if they were on the front of the greens, there was a back stop behind it. So, if you knew not to -- if you erred long, you still had a pretty decent putt, because the ball would come back toward the hole. But if you erred short, you had a really hard time getting it up-and-down. I don't think it's a very long golf course. If I was playing a little bit longer, I think the scores would be a little bit higher because, you know, if you're hitting 6-iron into these greens instead of 8-iron, 9-iron, then the scores would be a lot higher. But there's a lot of holes where you hit a sand wedge or a pitching wedge, and guys are still going to make birdies hitting. And, you have to kind of take advantage of your good -- but I think because the pins were in a position today that guys were making a lot of birdies.

Q. Has this golf course changed much from day-to-day?

LARRY NELSON: It's pretty close to what it was yesterday as far as the firmness, you know, the greens and fairways. I don't know -- I don't think it's going to change. I hope they don't let the greens get any harder. It wouldn't be -- I don't think it would be fair that way. I think the greens are really the perfect texture if you hit a good shot out of the fairway you can get the ball close. If you hit it a little bit thin or hit it a little bit fat, the ball is going to roll into trouble. I think the golf course is really in good condition, speedwise, right now.

Q. Are there many similarities between this golf course and where the Tradition is played?

LARRY NELSON: I think this golf course is a lot fairer in most areas. Plus the fairways, you can spin the ball on these fairways. The problem I have at Desert Mountain is that you've got pretty firm greens and you've got fairways that are not as close cropped; so, you can't spin the ball as much and it's very difficult to play on fluffy fairways with hard greens.

Q. Can't hold the greens right?

LARRY NELSON: It's very difficult. Plus, you don't have much room for error there. From the front of the green to the back of the green, maybe, eight steps before the pin. You go over the back of the green, you're dead. You leave it short, you're dead. Now, you've got to throw it in there somewhere. I played it well this year because the fairways were wet and the greens were wet. It's very difficult to play the golf course where the fairways are fluffy and the greens are hard. That's why it's was so good this week because it's pretty consistent. Fairways are really firm. They are really short. You can get the club on the ball and you can actually spin it.

Q. Larry, how much have you geared in that this is a major tournament? Is that playing into your -- how important is that on your agenda?

LARRY NELSON: I think it's probably more important that it's a four-round tournament more so than it is a major. It's important to me to get off to a good start because it is four rounds. I'm getting used to the Senior major thing. Having been, you know, playing in the other majors for 20-something years, it takes a little while to get into the majors out here. And this is one. But, I gear it more towards the four-round side of it than the fact that it is a major.

Q. You talked about the consistent nature or the inconsistent nature of the way you've been playing. Is there anything out of today's round -- anything out of today's round that kind of gave you a hint or a clue that, you know, you're on the road to being more consistent?

LARRY NELSON: Yesterday, I think playing in the Pro-Am yesterday, and actually the way I played the last couple weeks, I could see it getting better. I didn't hit as many bad drives. And, I hit more good ones. And coming into this week, I felt like it was all kind of coming together. You get little bitty things -- well, you need to do this. Trying to figure out what's wrong with your swing; I need to do this and you work on that for a little bit and something else comes up for a little bit, and you need to do this. The combination of all those weeks, finally works its way into your swing and all of the sudden you start feeling solid again. And those same things, sometimes evaporate, too. And that's when you start going down the other way. And I think that's -- I think that's -- I just had felt more comfortable. I felt stronger. I felt like my balance is better. And I think that's just because I'm swinging at it better. Fundamentally, it's better and I felt like I can work it left to right and right it left. I went through weeks this summer or this late spring where I could not hit the ball from left-to-right. And I hated it. I didn't like it. And so I've been work to go try to get it so I at least can hit it left-to-right.

Q. Is that injury-related?

LARRY NELSON: I think some of it's injury-related. I got to where I would not move my right shoulder through impact. I kind of hung back and kind -- even though I made a pretty good shoulder turn, my downswing as always been very aggressive with my right shoulder going through at impact really pretty strong. I think after I hurt my neck, I got to where I was a little bit tentative with my right shoulder. It's hard if your neck is bothering you over here, and your arm is bothering you if you keep your head down and move your right shoulder through this way. It puts a little pressure. I almost had to swing like David Duval for a while with my head moving with my swing.

Q. That's not so bad.

LARRY NELSON: A. He's doing pretty good. Maybe he's been practicing a lot longer. I would practice that way just to kind of strengthen up my arms and take the pressure off my neck. I would actually try to move going through; so I felt like I could practice longer.

Q. When you joined The SENIOR TOUR did you come on thinking having any goals, and have you adjusted?

LARRY NELSON: Well, I came out with a little bit of -- a little expectations that I mean I wanted to you know, win tournaments, and wanted to be the leading money winner out here one year, two years, something like that. I'd like to be leading money winner at one time. That's basically the goals I had when I came out. I think this year, I just wanted to kind of have a good time. Sometimes when you put goals on yourself, and you don't feel like -- and you're not feeling like that you're approaching those goals, then you start getting a little upset. And you start putting pressure on yourself and it's just not worth it. I figure if I'm a good enough player and play well enough to be leading money winner, it's going to happen. And if I don't, it won't happen. It's caused my level of enjoyment to rise a little bit. I've enjoyed it a lot better.

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