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February 20, 2009

Tommy Armour III


MARK WILLIAMS: Welcome to the Northern Trust Open media center. 67 today equals your low score here at Riviera in the many years that you've played. Just talk about your round and five birdies, one bogey. What are your thoughts on your round today and what is the course like?
TOMMY ARMOUR III: The course is in perfect shape and I played pretty steady, hit a lot of fairways, a lot of greens and made some putts. Same thing I did yesterday.

Q. A couple of weeks ago, you watched Pat win the Hope and were right there; inspirational to you, get you fired up at all?
TOMMY ARMOUR III: No, I was happy for him. That's what I want to do when I play, so I mean, that didn't really change how I feel about golf.

Q. How have you been playing in the build up to this?
TOMMY ARMOUR III: I missed the cut at the Hope by two shots. I shot like 12- or 13-under, whatever I did.
Phoenix, I missed the cut by a shot, and last week I played terrible. But I mean, I feel like I've been playing all right, just need to tighten it up a little bit.
MARK WILLIAMS: Was that a little surprising after coming off a career year, to start like that.
TOMMY ARMOUR III: Well, it's not the highest I've ever finished on the Money List. It's just the money is different now. It wasn't a career year to me. It was a good year.
MARK WILLIAMS: But a lot of Top-10s.
TOMMY ARMOUR III: Yeah. I worked pretty hard on it this winter, but you know, we're in February.

Q. The work you do in the wintertime, are you tightening, or changing or are you always changing?
TOMMY ARMOUR III: Well, I think it's an always-changing kind of game. You have to change to stay the same. I think because if you stay the same, for some reason, it doesn't stay the same.

Q. Have you ever made any drastic changes in your career?
TOMMY ARMOUR III: A couple of wives. (Laughter).
I've always worked at it and had fun working at it. I mean, never really any drastic changes as far as swing. It wasn't like I, you know, went to Ballard and then went to some other guy that's completely different than him. No, I've always kind of stayed -- I've always kind of had the same type of swing.
I kind of work with Bennett and Plumber and Mike Abbott a lot, all three.

Q. How much differently do you play these two days compared with Pebble in terms of how fine a line it is?
TOMMY ARMOUR III: Pebble, I didn't play that good up there. Phoenix and the Hope, I mean, I played all right. But I mean, you know, I shot like 13-under at the Hope, but that's after four days, you're 18 shots or whatever I was, 15 shots back. I mean, played pretty good. I just didn't make a lot of putts at the Hope.

Q. Talk about staying out here longer and longer; does the winter regimen include a lot more stuff?
TOMMY ARMOUR III: I do stuff every day. I'm based out of the Madison Club in La Quinta and just kind of work on my game there and they have got trainers and physio guys. So I mean, I haven't been home since December 6.

Q. Playing with a 25-year-old and a 35-year-old, are they constantly looking for information from you?
TOMMY ARMOUR III: It's not a lot of fun because they hit it 45 yards by me, but when I beat them, that's fun.

Q. Jason, it looked like he started playing better, it looked like he was constantly asking you questions. Maybe I just wasn't seeing it right.
TOMMY ARMOUR III: We were just talking. Nothing, really. I'm 49 and I'll be 50 this year. It's fun to beat young guys. I mean, that keeps me going as much as anything.

Q. When you turned 50, Champions Tour or do you stay here for a while?
TOMMY ARMOUR III: I'm going to assess that when I turn 50.

Q. Do you get more of a kick out of this competition, or a competition against the best?
TOMMY ARMOUR III: I mean, that's what I like. That's why -- I'll play one or the other. I'm not going to go back and forth. And really, I think that next year with the groove policy changing and stuff, I think that will change the game out here more than people think it will.
I just think that the last time you saw a flyer was a long time ago. But with the grooves changing and things like that, I think you'll see a lot more guys that hit it 330,340, hitting it into the rough, and just -- it's going to change.

Q. How old were you the last time you saw a flyer?
TOMMY ARMOUR III: You know, I still have flyers, because I use v-grooved irons. I only have one club in my bag that's got square grooves, and that's my lob-wedge. So it's not going to be a big change for me.

Q. What about the talk of getting rid of the 64-degree wedge?
TOMMY ARMOUR III: Getting rid of it? Why are they -- they are saying that the max loft they are going to allow is 60? Whatever. I don't think that really matters. It's the grooves, not how much loft is on it. I mean, you can hit a -- if you have the spin-milled wedge with 53 degrees loft on it, you can spin it as much as a 60 or a 70 with V-grooves.

Q. Do you see guys either practicing or using V-grooved wedges this year? Last year only three guys on the TOUR have used them.
TOMMY ARMOUR III: I don't think they have really thought about it yet. Maybe a few guys have. I know Titleist has had us test a few wedges with V-grooves.

Q. You haven't been home since December 6; where did you stay during the Hope?
TOMMY ARMOUR III: Where did I stay? I stayed with a friend of mine there. My home is in Dallas.

Q. I thought you said La Quinta.
TOMMY ARMOUR III: No, that's where I practice and stuff. And also, I was in Cabo for 14 days, too, in there.
Yeah, there was some vacation of it, but there was golf, too. I basically took like the 25th through the 30th off and practiced a little. I played golf every day, but I was a little woozy. (Laughter).
MARK WILLIAMS: When you said you would assess which TOUR you would play next year, will that be determined by your performance this year, or are there other factors in that consideration?
TOMMY ARMOUR III: I think a lot is going to be how I feel physically, and how I perform, of course. That's how you evaluate yourself is on your performances.
I started on 10. That was a big hole for me, I hit a terrible tee shot in the front bunkers there. It's 200 to carry them and I knocked it up there and I chipped it by about 10 feet and made that for par. That was a nice way to start. I hit a 5-wood and just kind of skied it. You tee off at 7:00, you have about 18 minutes of sunlight.
And then I bogeyed 15 and then I birdied 16 and 17, which was kind of nice to get it back on track. And then I -- do you want me to go through those? 16, I hit it about ten feet.
17, I hit it about eight inches from the hole in three.
1, I 2-putted from about 40 feet.
3, I hit it about 20 feet, 23 feet or so.
And then 6, I hit it about five, six feet from the hole and made those.
You know, it was pretty steady. I didn't miss a lot of greens. I missed a couple of greens, but it was just on some fringes where I could putt. I call them low-stress rounds.

Q. The second shot from the bunker, over the green?
TOMMY ARMOUR III: No. It hit short and just spun up, and then I had kind of a weird angle so I had to pitch it over that corner. It hit the hole but spun about ten feet left of the hole, just off the green. So I had not gotten on the green yet and I made that putt for par.
It was nice to start the round like that. Those are the kind of things that keep you going in tournaments.

Q. Will you talk a minute about the Sandy experiment that seems to work out incredibly solidly, having your brother back on the bag consistently now?
TOMMY ARMOUR III: He's caddied off and on for me since 1982. It's not like it's something new. But I'm making him work a lot harder than I did in '82.

Q. Has Riviera been a favorite of yours through the years?
TOMMY ARMOUR III: I've always liked playing here. I think it's a great Old Course. And it's unbelievable condition right now. The course is as good as I've ever seen it since 1982. Whoever is in charge of it ought to be commended. They have cleaned the trees up, everywhere. It's really nice.

Q. Going back to Pat for a second, because you know him so well; what is it you appreciate about him and who he is? Obviously there's a lot of different impressions of Pat.
TOMMY ARMOUR III: You know, I play a lot with him. I don't know. I just liked him the first time I met him and I like his sense of humor. Other than that, you know, I just have gotten to know the kid pretty well. And he needed some serious guidance.

Q. What kind of guidance did he need?
TOMMY ARMOUR III: Just life guidance. Telling him not to do things that I did wrong. But that's the only guidance that you can give. You don't learn by doing the right thing. You learn by making mistakes.
You know, in one way, that's good, and in one way, that's bad, because he sticks to his guns. I've been working on him for the last four years to get him to do some swing changes, and he finally did it just before the fall season last year.

Q. And you introduced him to Mike?
TOMMY ARMOUR III: He had known Mike for a long time. He's known Mike for a long time. There have been points where I've had him and he would do it for a couple of days, even up to four or five years ago, but then one bad shot and he was like, "Ah, that didn't work." His patience threshold is not way up there, and that's what I've worked on him the most is patience. Like they always say, it's a sprint. It's a marathon, not a sprint.

Q. What's the most pleasing shot you hit today?
TOMMY ARMOUR III: The putt I made on 10 for par. It's just because then you just go to the next hole. I mean, that hole, it's a very good short hole, but to start it with five and having missed the last couple -- having not made any money this year or anything, it was nice to make that putt and just go on. And then I played good, almost made a couple of birdies, and then I bogeyed 15, I think it was. I hit a perfect tee shot and I just left the iron out just a hair and hit a really good bunker shot, but it just caught in the kikuyu and stopped and then I chipped that and then it rolled on the hole and hung out just on the lip.
I just played steady.
MARK WILLIAMS: We appreciate your time coming in today. Good luck for the weekend.

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