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June 14, 1994

Larry Nelson


LES UNGER: Larry, there has been so much talk about the previous winners. I know you may be looking forward to your match-up on the first and second round bringing the winners together. Maybe you want to share some nostalgia with us; talk a little bit about your game. I know you haven't gone through 18 holes yet, but your feelings on the course as you have seen it so far.

LARRY NELSON: I decided that coming back up here this year, I was going to kind of just enjoy it. When you are going through the championship, you don't get a chance to enjoy it quite as much. Coming back, you can kind of remember things that happened and you are not kind of whisked away from the media room after it is over, so you can just spend four days, five days just kind of going over what happened 11 years ago. It is really interesting kind of how every shot that you get comes to mind; especially the last round, as you walk around.

LES UNGER: I see on video you and your wife were near the scoring tent, I guess, and Tom Watson had what turned out to be an impossible chip. Did you have any thought at all on that occasion that he might drop that in.

LARRY NELSON: I had much more-- when he was standing at the fairway-- he hit a great drive on 18. I don't know if I had ever seen any balls hit that far up the 18th fairway. And so given where he was, I thought the possibility would be that would have made birdie but. . . After he hit it over the green -- it almost hit us -- he hit it over the green to the left, I figured he wouldn't hold it out on the 18th hole or 17th hole two years in a row, so I felt my chances were pretty good.

LES UNGER: Your wife didn't look so sure.

LARRY NELSON: Well, when -- actually, when he made that long putt, she felt that he had tied me because it was such a long putt; that was the reason why she had that look on her face, but I think after I saw the putt, it was a little bit, I guess, to the right of the hole going down and I knew I had won.

Q. Larry, some people have criticized the USGA for giving out so many exemptions this year. What is your feeling on exemptions into the Open and could you just give us your take on that?

LARRY NELSON: I don't know who would be criticizing them. I don't know who they are, but, you know, it is the USGA's event. They have this thing once a year. I was very happy that they decided to give me one; being I won here last time that I played here. I thought that that was okay. I don't know how -- I kind of understood that they had three exemptions, but as it turned out, I guess, they had given five or something like that, five exemptions, so it is not like that they have diluted the field by giving five exemptions. Most of our tournaments, I think, have eight exemptions or something like that, either by foreign or by local, by the sponsor, so I don't think that is unheard of. It is like I told them if this was next year or if they had been playing at Winged Foot instead of Oakmont, I would not have a problem of not getting an exemption.

Q. Were you surprised you got one, I mean, I remember you talking at Doral and it had yet to come out. Were you surprised?

LARRY NELSON: I never knew exactly what is going to happen. I mean, it is their decision and kind of whatever decision they make is final. When you have two or three people making the decision, sometimes you may or may not agree with it. I was hoping that I wouldn't have to disagree with their decision. I was very happy, very honored that they gave me the opportunity to come back to the golf course where I won on.

Q. After winning here in '83 you played in a lot of rainy conditions compared to the greens today. Are you rooting for rain?

LARRY NELSON: No, the rain, the scores will go down. Right now the golf course is playing more difficult than it did any round in '83. We had, I guess, rain early part of that week. It kind of softened everything up. Then we had rain through the week. This golf course will play harder, drier.

Q. Could you elaborate a little more on the course; as it played when you won here and as it is playing right now?

LARRY NELSON: Well, I only played nine holes yesterday; played the front nine and I don't remember hitting anything less than a 5-iron at the number 1. Third hole I hit a 9-iron. During the tournament I was hitting 6, 5, 4, so the golf course is playing a lot shorter, but it is also hard to keep it in the fairway. Even though a drive in '83 would have stayed in the fairway, roll in the short rough, and to stop it on these greens you need to hit it out of fairway. It is almost impossible to stop it on these greens. I don't care who you are if you are in the rough.

Q. Given that analysis, would you say then that somebody who is a longer hitter would have an advantage in that he could play irons a lot off of the tees if it's playing as short as it seems to be?

LARRY NELSON: I don't think -- usually longer hitters have an advantage pretty much anywhere they go, but I think on Oakmont-type course, it kind of makes everything equal, everybody equal. It doesn't matter if you hit it longer in the rough or shorter in the rough. It is still almost impossible stopping it on the green. If they are longer and straighter, they are going to have the advantage. But if they are just longer, it is not going to make any difference because it is almost impossible to stop a pitching wedge out of the rough on the green. It is just as hard on most, as it is with a 5-iron. There is going to be a lot of bump and run shots this week, which is going to be a kind of unusual for the Open course, or for us United States players anyway.

LES UNGER: Thanks for coming. We wish you good luck.

LARRY NELSON: Thank you very much.

End of FastScripts....

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