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April 9, 2009

Larry Mize


RONALD TOWNSEND: Good afternoon, and congratulations, we welcome Augusta native, Larry Mize, our 1987 Masters Champion back to the press building. Larry shot a 67 today, 5-under par and this is his 25th Masters. We'll go directly to questions.

Q. Did you imagine a 67 when you got out here this morning and when is the last time you felt that good on that golf course?
LARRY MIZE: I did not imagine a 67. I came out hoping to play a good round. My game has felt pretty good coming into the round. My game has felt good coming into the week. I felt probably as good on the golf course as I felt in a number of years. I felt really good out there, and, you know, it was a good day for me to play today. The wind was a good direction for me. I said earlier where some of the holes that play tough for me,7, 14 were downwind so that was a positive. I felt good with my game and I felt good on the golf course. I wanted to be a little bit more aggressive out there and I did that today.

Q. I saw you practice yesterday. Did you get a lot of practice in earlier in the week?
LARRY MIZE: Well, I played Sunday, which was good. Sunday was a good day and I played nine holes on Monday, and I did play nine Tuesday, but Tuesday, I was just trying to get a little feel because the wind was blowing so much, and then I played nine yesterday and had a nice putting session yesterday afternoon.
I got in a fair amount, but the wind obviously kept me a little bit from getting your normal weeks in, but playing Sunday was a good thing for me.

Q. Are you asked every time about 1987 when you are on the grounds here?
LARRY MIZE: Every time, I don't know, but quite a bit. That's a popular question for me. You know, it's okay. I don't mind. It's a good subject for me.

Q. We have heard coming into this Tournament all about how this golf course has become so much different than the golf course that you won on and a number of guys won on in the past. Is something going on -- was there something going on out there today, whether it be moving the tees up a little bit or whatever that made you feel more comfortable and made it feel more like '87 or that period of time.
LARRY MIZE: Well, it still didn't feel like '87. It's a different golf course, and it needs to be a different golf course. The game has changed. These kids hit the ball a long way. But some of the tees were up today, which I think was a good thing, and it did not play -- some of the holes did not play quite as long as they can play. So I think that was good.
But you know, I think a lot of it is, I just had a good attitude. I wanted to come in with a good attitude and enjoy my time, play a little more aggressive, and I'm playing well. I think that was a lot of it. You know, I love playing here, and I remember driving down Magnolia Lane Tuesday night to come to the dinner; reminds me how nice it is to come back here and how thankful I am to come back to this place every year.
My attitude is really good coming in. Not that it's been terrible, but it's been really good coming into this week.

Q. Given how quickly things can unravel out there, how important was your finish? You made nice par saves on 15, 17 and 18. Those are as important as birdies, I suppose.
LARRY MIZE: It's great to finish that way. You can't let a bogey at the end of the round ruin a good round. No matter how I finished, I would have felt good about my round. But no question, those are momentum boosters to do that coming in, because to contends and play well at Augusta, you have to do those things I did coming in. You have to make some really good saves and make some really good par-putts. It did cap off my round today, no question.

Q. What kind of encouragement did you get from the fans, or what do they say to you? You probably have the same fans following you for quite a while.
LARRY MIZE: I don't know, the fans were great today. There's as much whooping and hollering they have had for me as I've had in a while. I haven't given them much reason in the last few years to do it again. The fans were spurring me on and that made the day even better. They were great.

Q. After you shoot a 67 on Thursday, does that change sort of the way you approach then the rest of the week? Do you go into tomorrow thinking differently than maybe you have in recent years?
LARRY MIZE: You know, you really don't. I've got to go out and do the same thing tomorrow. I don't know what tomorrow holds, so I'm just going to enjoy today. I have to go out tomorrow and just put my first drive in the fairway and put the ball in the right spots on the green and try and make some birdies. That's kind of my mindset, I need to make some birdies, you're going to make some bogeys, but the key is you need to keep the birdies coming.

Q. Do you expect the golf course the same each day?
LARRY MIZE: I think and you don't expect the golf course to be as hard as it is, it's like a shot in the gut, and I expect the golf course to be difficult the rest of the week, and that's a good thing. Even today, to me, even when it plays really well like it did today, it's still difficult. It's a fine line out there, and you know, I hit some good shots and a little bit here or there and it does not turn out that way. So you have to keep plugging and fighting away out there.

Q. Other sports, you ask coaches how long they enjoy a win; how long do you enjoy a round like this before you turn it off and get ready for tomorrow?
LARRY MIZE: I'll try and enjoy it the whole day. You want to draw off this round and just continue to build your confidence, and I need to let today encourage me and just lift my confidence even higher. Any time something good is like this, I'll play it over -- I may play some shots over in my head tonight while I'm laying in bed going to sleep, because that's what you need to do.

Q. Now that you are in, you see Greg Norman also shot a good score today and there are some names up there, players with a little age on them. What does that say about either the way the course was playing or what was going on?
LARRY MIZE: You know, that's a good question. I just think my first thought is just we are older, but we are still competitors and we love to compete and we love this place. You want to come out there and play well.
And Greg showed last year at the British Open, he can still compete and contend. So I just think at a place like this, experience is always a good thing. I think experience is good anywhere, but here maybe even more. But I don't know. We are old guys fighting as best we can.

Q. Gary Player earlier this week was talking about being in his 52nd and being able to last a long time and he segued into guys that are playing longer and extending their careers and that will continue to go. Is that somewhat the case with you, or not?
LARRY MIZE: I think with the Champions Tour out there, it definitely encourages us all to keep working hard, because we can still keep playing. Without the Champions Tour, it's hard to compete on the regular TOUR once you get in your 50s. So I think that does keep us all working hard to keep playing better.
Gary is an inspiration to all of us. He's incredible, the shape he stayed in and what he continued to do. I think that probably the Champions Tour has a big role in that.

Q. They talk about Tiger-proofing the golf course, and they sort of Mize-proofed it on the 11th green; when you go there, what do you think of the golf course now versus the way it was in '87?
LARRY MIZE: You know, this golf course has made changes over the years, and they have needed to. I mean, the tees have gone back from the 30s to now; they have had to lengthen it because of the game changes, the balls and the club change.
I don't know. 11, it's a different animal. With the trees on the right, it's a lot tougher driving hole. The second shot is still similar to what it was. To the right of the green where I chipped in is a little different where they had to re build the green after it got flooded and washed away. It's a little different but the character of the hole is still there. They make some changes here, but they never lose the character of the hole, and I think that's one of the great things that they do here.

Q. Specific to that shot, you have to hit a flop now instead of a chip from that position?
LARRY MIZE: It depends on where the pin is. You can flop it. I think that it is a harder -- it's a little bit more of an upslope, more of abrupt upslope than it was in '87.
So in a lot of ways, I think it's a harder shot, but in some ways, you can flop it now a little easier than you could, but it's still according to how much green you have and how hard you want to try that flop shot. You still have to -- I practice both when I'm over there, the bump-and-run and the flop.

Q. I know competition is competition, but do you have a sense of compassion for what you -- I guess what you did to Norman in '87 in that situation, knowing his history?
LARRY MIZE: You know, I really don't give that one much thought. I probably have more compassion with the Faldo thing where Faldo played a great round and Greg didn't play his best and he got beat there. I probably feel more compassion there.
You know, when you're competing, it's nothing personal. You're just playing your best, he's playing his best. So with mine, I don't really have those kind of feelings, but a little bit more -- I think it was tough to watch it when he lost to Faldo here. That was a hard one there. I have always felt like it was good that it was Faldo that did it, because if it was someone else, they may not get the credit they deserved.
Faldo shot a 67. That's a great final round.
RONALD TOWNSEND: Would you like to hear Larry describe his birdies ask club selections and No. 18?
LARRY MIZE: I hit two woods down short of the green on 2. Didn't get as close as I wanted to and had about a 30-yard, 60-degree wedge and knocked it in there four to five feet and made it for birdie.
Hit a 3-wood and 9-iron into 3 for about six feet for birdie there.
I was trying to hit a soft 3-wood at four and I hit a rocket one. I went and was way over in front of the 5th tee. So I was happy to make bogey there. I chipped it on the green and 2-putted.
No. 5, I hit a drive and a 5-iron really good in there about four feet, three or four feet, and made that for birdie. I think that did it on the front.
10, hit a good drive and 5-iron in there about 15 feet and made that for birdie. Really good putt there.
13, I hit a drive kind of right in the pine straw, punched a 4-iron down there. Hit a 60-degree wedge from about 70 yards and made it in there to about ten feet for birdie there.
Drove it just in the first cut to the right on 14 and hit a 7-iron in there about five feet and made that for birdie.
And that was it. That was my birdies. And then I made a nice up-and-down on 17.
18, I had 4-iron in there and I hit it a little too flat and I guess I carried up top and went up the walkway, not where you want to be. I went up two-thirds the way of the walkway and bumped a sand wedge there and thought I was going to go too far but it stayed up top and made it, it was probably about 15 feet there for par. Made a nice putt on 17, too, about another 15-footer there for par. So two nice par saves on the last two holes.

Q. When was the last time you dared let yourself think about winning another green jacket, or can you even afford to let your guard down and think about it again?
LARRY MIZE: You don't really want to do that yet, because you know that what you have to do to get there, so you forget that and you focus on what you have to do to get there.
So whenever that comes in my mind, I go, yeah, that's what I want to do, but now, what do I need to do to get there. There's a long way to go, but this is a good start and I have a long way to go to get to Saturday and Sunday.

Q. Did it ever get to be not fun to come here?
LARRY MIZE: No. It never gets to be not fun. It's disappointing to come here and play poorly; I think that would be the biggest thing. It's frustrating.
Over the years, I've played pretty well. I won it once and had a chance in '94 to win. I really had a lot of good Tournaments and a lot of top 20s, I think, if my memory is right. I just love to play well here.
I think it was still fun, but it was frustrating and disappointing for me to come here and play poorly. But you know, the way I feel now, I do want to play well, but I'm trying to get go of the frustration and disappointment and just enjoy the fact that I get to come back here every year and play.

Q. I think we all probably thought the safest record in sports might be 63 here, and right now, Chad could par in for that, get a birdie on 16 and get a 62. Did you ever think on this golf course that maybe that number was out of reach?
LARRY MIZE: Like I tell you, I had not really given it much thought. My mind doesn't get to 63 too much out here. (Laughter).
I don't know, but that is a great round. Chad is a super player, and wow, that's great playing.
RONALD TOWNSEND: Thank you very much, Larry. Welcome back and good luck this week.

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