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March 26, 2009

Jason Gore


MARK STEVENS: I'd like to welcome Jason Gore to the media room. Jason shot a 5-under and is the leader after the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. If you'd just start off giving us some general comments about your round today and then we'll take some questions.
JASON GORE: Well, it's the first time in a long time I didn't suck (laughter). You know, I've been making a lot of changes, doing a lot of work, and I got a new coach, so I started working with Michael Abbott, who's the same guy that's working with Pat Perez and Tommy Armour, and we made a huge swing change, and it's finally starting to get comfortable, and I think it's going to be a really good thing in the long run.
MARK STEVENS: At the end we'll go through all your birdies and your bogey, but if you want to go through your eagle on No. 12 real quick.
JASON GORE: I hit a pretty good drive down there, and I had 269 hole and it was straight downwind, and it was right in between 3-iron and 2-iron, so I choked up on the 2-iron for a hybrid and hit it to about 15 feet below the hole and made it.

Q. What kick-started those last three or four holes, anything in particular? You birdied three out of your last four today.
JASON GORE: I did? Oh, yeah, I did (laughter).

Q. As well as you've played before that, did anything click in on that stretch?
JASON GORE: No, not really. I mean, I hit a good drive on the par-5 and chipped it up there to like a couple feet and made that, hit a good 6-iron into 7, made about a 10-, 12-footer or something like that. I hit had good numbers. I hit 7-iron into 9 and hit it two feet or three feet or whatever it was, but it seemed like 20.
But no, nothing in particular. I was hitting some good shots all day and just finally got a few things to click correctly, and I guess I didn't even realize what I was doing. I was just trying to stay focused over the shot and try to execute it the best I can. I think most of my goofs come from lack of focus, and I just hit these "well, anyway" shots, and I'd just get over it and hit it and before I know it, it's gone. Just tried to stay focused and stay in the shot that I was executing.

Q. Steve was telling me you and Mr. Palmer go a long way back.
JASON GORE: Steve is lying. Do you want the long story or the short story?

Q. The long story.
JASON GORE: I was afraid you were going to say that.
When I was 11 years old, all my family is from Pittsburgh, so I was just starting to play golf. My uncle John Kovak was a teacher, wasn't a PGA teacher, but we went back to Pittsburgh for a month for the summer, and I was just getting into golf and he was helping me, yada-yada, started to absolutely love it because I could drive a golf cart there. This was back when I thought Pinnacle 384s were the best ball in the world.
My mom and I went for a ride up to Latrobe, wasn't that far away. We found Latrobe Country Club and drove in like we owned the place. I was wearing a light blue Town & Country surf design tee shirt with a big ugly emblem on the back, and I had these shorts on that had yellow and pink and blue and red, I don't know what they were, obnoxiously terrible. Never been on a surfboard in my life, but I looked like a surfer.
So we walked into the pro shop at Latrobe Country Club, members only, walked into the pro shop, and we kind of in a stupid way said, "Is Mr. Palmer going to be here?" They said, "As a matter of fact, he is." So we waited around. He drove up in a tractor-like golf cart.
I just remember he was nice enough, he took a picture with us, signed a scorecard, and he said, "Son, I'm going to go hit balls. Would you like to come watch?" "Well, yeah, I'd love to." So he went down, took a whole leather bag of shag balls, dropped them on like the ladies' part of the first tee, the lower tee, and he sat the caddie down there and hit balls and I sat right on the little slope right behind the first tee and watched Mr. Palmer hit balls for about 45 minutes, and from that point on I knew I wanted to be a professional golfer.

Q. Have you told him that story again?
JASON GORE: I told him that story, we had an outing at Calusa Pines last year, and I told him that story, and it was like a fireside chat is what it was. We were all inside, and he was telling stories about the Ryder Cup and all this stuff, and I finally just said, "I've got to reiterate this story," because that hour of my life changed my life completely.
I told him the story, and I look over at him, and I can see him kind of starting to well up a little bit. It might have been what I wanted him to do, so I might have been making it up (laughter), but he got up, shook my hand, pulled me in, gave me a hug, and that's just the kind of person he is. This guy is the -- the littlest things he does for a punk dressed in surf clothes who was trespassing on his property changes lives. He's got that power, and that's what makes him The King, and that's why he's the greatest person to this game.
I went up and saw him a couple weeks ago down in Seminole. We played in a pro-member, and I knew I had gotten a sponsor's invite. I drove out there and said, "Mr. Palmer, thank you very much for giving me this opportunity to play your golf tournament." He looked at me and winked, and he said, "I never forgot that story."
I think he doesn't even know who I am or remember that moment, but he did, and it's a very touching moment, and it changed my life forever. So there's the long story. Good luck printing that one.

Q. Have you had trouble getting in tournaments? How many have you played this year? Are you in the 126 to 150?
JASON GORE: Yeah, I'm in that category, but I've been very fortunate, this is my fourth sponsor's invite. I've got a lot of people fooled into thinking I'm a nice guy, and they've been giving me some spots. The three I got were on the West Coast, so I'm a West Coast guy, so those were very nice. I got one into LA, into Bob Hope, and also into Phoenix. Those are very fortunate things. They're few and far to come by, but any time you can get a lucky break you try and capitalize on it, which is not what I have done this year.

Q. Until today.
JASON GORE: Well, we're working on it.

Q. How tough are the conditions out there, and do you expect them to get much worse over the weekend?
JASON GORE: Oh, the greens are definitely going to get harder and faster, and you can already start to see them turn purple. That's what makes this golf course great. You've got to really place your golf ball in the fairway with the right number and play conservative. You have to play conservatively aggressive to these flags. Sometimes hitting it 25 feet left with a 9-iron is a great shot. You just can't go at these pins and be silly. You just have to play the right shot and hopefully you can roll one in every now and again, and you'll have your opportunities.
One of the par-5s plays straight downwind, No. 12, so there's opportunities out there, you just have to stay within yourself, focus on every shot and never let your guard down.

Q. You said in kind of a self-deprecating way that you haven't taken advantage of these wonderful opportunities. What happened today?
JASON GORE: That's not self-deprecating, that's honest.

Q. I was trying to cut you a break.

Q. What changed today? Where did this come from, in other words?
JASON GORE: Well, like I said, I've been working real hard on changing my golf swing. I've had a just lot of moving parts, I've had a lot of stuff that made it very inconsistent, kind of just wasn't using this wonderful body to my full extent. You know, I've learned how to hit shots, I've learned how to knock it down, which before me playing in the wind was just hell. So I hit a lot of good knock-down shots today and I was able to control my golf ball, and I was still driving it good.

Q. When did you start making the changes?
JASON GORE: Right after Q-school. Right when I was just tired of stinking, tired of being average.

Q. Are you working with anybody?
JASON GORE: Michael Abbott.
MARK STEVENS: If you'd go over -- you went over all the holes except No. 10 and your bogey at No. 15.
JASON GORE: I hit driver off 10 and hit a little pitching wedge in from like 113, it was a little back into the wind, I hit it to seven, eight feet and made that.
And then at 15, I thought I hit a great drive, took it right over the tree -- well, not over the tree, it ended up going in the tree, came down, chipped it short of the green and just didn't get up-and-down. I thought I hit a good pitch and just ran it 12, 15 feet by and missed it.
MARK STEVENS: Thank you for coming in and best of luck tomorrow.

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