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May 30, 2002

Franklin Langham


TODD BUDNICK: Welcome, Franklin Langham to the pressroom today. 8-under 63, ties the course record, and also ties the career low.

FRANKLIN LANGHAM: It's got a good sound to it.

TODD BUDNICK: Looked like you started a little slow before getting the ball rolling off 16 and 17, 1 and 2. Go ahead and go through all the birdies.

FRANKLIN LANGHAM: They seem is to come in bunches. As long as they come, that's all that matters.

I had my first birdie on 11. The par-3 I had a 9-iron to about 6 feet and made the birdie.

And starting at 16, I hit a 9-iron to about 12 feet, made that.

17, hit a 6-iron just past the pin about 20 feet, made that.

18, I hit a 7-iron in about 10 feet, either 8 or 10 feet. I hit a good shot in there. Made that.

Made the turn, went to 1, hit a 9-iron about 15 feet, made that.

No. 2, par-5, had about a 70-yard shot for my third shot and I hit it for about a foot.

Going around to my next one on 6, par-5, I wanted to go for it. I had a number to go, but I laid it up to about another 75-yard shot and I hit it about five feet and made that for birdie.

Then 8 -- or 7, I hit a 6-iron again to about 15 feet, made that. And almost made it on 9. I hit two really good shots on 8 and 9. I didn't realize it was for the course record until somebody told me driving up. I had two really good chances. I really thought I made the one on 9.

TODD BUDNICK: How far was that on 9?

FRANKLIN LANGHAM: Probably about a 30-footer; just missed it on the low side.

Q. 8?

FRANKLIN LANGHAM: 8, I had about a 15-footer. I had a lot of birdie chances today, I really did. It was one of those days you dream about. I drove it good, as good as I've ever driven it. Only had one bad drive today, and that was probably more thinking than it was mechanics. And my iron game complemented my driving the ball. I drove it really well, and made enough putts to shoot 8-under. So it was a good day.

Q. Considering you coming off an injury and a lot of missed cuts, is this round coming out of nowhere for you?

FRANKLIN LANGHAM: Well, I guess if you look at it like that, it is, but not to me. When you go in for major surgery -- I quit last year after the PGA, was my last event. And it was probably one of the toughest decisions I've ever had to make, but I was hurting so bad that I had to do something. And fortunately for me, Dr. Frank Jobe and Dr. Ella Trask (ph.) assisted on it, and they did a good job, and the rehab was pretty extensive. So you had the surgery in October, I didn't touch a club until after Christmas, and spent most of the month of January and all of February really rehabbing, working out six days a week, four and five hours. So it was worth it.

So I feel like I've been working up to this. I had seven events. I was on a medical extension, and what the Tour does, I finished 141st on the money list, they gave me seven events to make the money equal to 125. And so also talking about your question, I played okay in Atlanta, my home event, finished probably 35th there. But I played real solid all week, and then it was hard because I never could get in a rhythm. I played for an event and off for three or four weeks.

And then I played Houston and Atlanta, kind of got something going, but I wasn't at Augusta or MCI, so I had another few weeks off. I went back and played not really good at New Orleans, but in Dallas I had a really good week. The last time I shot even par, if I shoot 3- or 4-under, I finished top-5. There was a good chance to maybe do something really good there. But it was enough money that it got me out of the category. I'm fully exempt for the rest of the year.

I feel like I've been building up to something good happening. Last week I missed the cut at The Memorial by a shot, but I didn't really play that bad. If you look at the stats without looking at how I've played. I feel like I've been playing good, and building up to this.

In my left elbow -- it's been going on three years. That's how come I had this surgery. And we first thought it was tendinitis, but it ended up being blica, b-l-i-c-a, and it's scar tissue built up, gets in the joint, around my radial head in my elbow, and also my ulna, the swelling, as well. I had a lot of build-up. They went in four spots arthroscopically and removed that scar tissue, and I didn't have to have anything cut on or moved around, which was a good thing. After that I had to fight the atrophy I had in my arm, it shrunk up a lot. I had to get the muscle strength back in my forearm before I could get back.

It took a little while to get that back. Like I said I had the surgery October 12th, and my first event was the end of February, beginning of March, for the Doral-Ryder Open. I played a good bit of golf that month leading up to that. But before that, I was mainly getting my strength back, and gradually getting back into it.

Q. When you took the cast or whatever off your elbow, how bad was the atrophy? I had that once. It's pretty shocking.

FRANKLIN LANGHAM: It is. I had it in a sling. I never had to put it in a cast. I could see all the bones in my elbow sticking out. I felt like I had aged 30 years or something, but it was because I lost this forearm muscle. But I would say that at the thickest point of your forearm, it was probably the size of my wrist. I lost a good bit of muscle there. But it was still there, thank goodness, and all I had to do was build it back.

I really had great surgeons, but I think the rehab was just as or more important than the surgery. I put a lot of time and effort into that and I think it's starting to pay off, because when you have an injury like this, it goes without saying that the elbow is injured, but I think the rest of the body shuts down a lot. When we're not using our golf muscles, you tend to lose strength everywhere else. My goal was not only to build that left arm back up, but also my whole body.

Q. Was there ever at any point after the surgery a point where you said there's no way I can play golf again? Was that ever a consideration? Was there doubt in your mind?

FRANKLIN LANGHAM: There were times I was scared. I never got to the point where I said I'm not playing again, but I definitely was scared. Because it took me a good -- surgery was October. It took me until the end of November until I could straighten my arm out again. The first month of my therapy was only just working to get the -- it was like this (indicating), and it was working to get the arm back. And it hurt so bad from the stuff I did, like, how am I ever going to grip a club again? But I was real determined to do it. I feel like I got a lot of fight in me, so hopefully it's paying off, and now I'm starting to reap some of the rewards.

Q. You had a gallery of five, I think, that followed you the entire round.

FRANKLIN LANGHAM: It got bigger as I went along.

Q. I saw you point to them or wave to them. Were those friends or family?

FRANKLIN LANGHAM: Yeah, one guy is the COE of this company, which is up here in Rossville, Georgia, and we've been friends for a while. I knew him before he took over that post. And he's from Newnan, Georgia. Which is 15 minutes from where I live in Peachtree City. We always stay with their family when we come up. And the others were a real good friend of my uncle's. He works in the Navy at the Pentagon.

Q. Obviously you're playing with less pressure when you don't have the big crowd following you. Is that a given?

FRANKLIN LANGHAM: Yeah, but having said that, I think most of the guys out here, we're used to playing in front of galleries. This is my sixth year on Tour, and I've had good finishes, had a lot of chances to win, and I think it's just, as they say, part of the territory. You guys work on deadline all the time, but it comes with the territory. You know how to operate when the pressure is on. I feel like I'm the same way. I'm used to seeing people out and it's nice. You want to give them something to clap for.

Q. This event has a reputation, obviously, as having a bunch of first-time winners on Tour. You are still looking for your first win. Does that enter into your mind when you come to a place like this, or is it just another golf tournament that you want to win?

FRANKLIN LANGHAM: It can't be a bad omen, but every week you go, you try to get yourself prepared so you can win every week. And if that works in my favor, great. But, no, it's not something I think about. That's something I really can't control. I'm just trying to stay focused on the next shot and what's in front of me. But it can't be a bad thing.

Q. After shooting a low number as you did today, do you shut it down for the day, go home and rest, or do you go back to the range for more practice? Do you have a customary routine that you have after each round that you play?

FRANKLIN LANGHAM: We're never satisfied. There's always something to work on. I'll probably -- I may hit a few balls, just to keep the rhythm going. And I think the biggest thing you'll see us do is, like I played the morning today, tomorrow the greens are not -- we're not getting any rain today, so each day they're starting to firm up a little more. I'll probably come back and putt and chip a little bit, just to feel what the greens are going to be like tomorrow afternoon. But after that I'm not going to spend a lot of time out here.

Q. Is that your normal routine?

FRANKLIN LANGHAM: Pretty much, yeah. So you want to get a feel for the course, definitely it's going to play a little different.

Q. Since it does tie the course record, how does it feel to shoot 63? Thousands of people wonder. What does the ball-striking feel like? What does the putting feel like? Do you feel like the cup is a foot big? Can you give us some sense of it?

FRANKLIN LANGHAM: Yeah, you know, it's just a good feeling all around about your game. I think a lot of guys will attest to the fact that a lot of weeks you come in and your game is great, but maybe you're not driving the ball well. You're not hitting bad putts, but the putts aren't going in. You really appreciate days like this when everything seems to be clicking on all cylinders, and it felt like that for me. I wasn't far off that week, and I felt it coming on. But out there, like I told you, until I was driving up, I didn't realize it tied a course record. We're just -- when it goes like this, you just want to keep it going.

Today I was trying to figure out how I could make the next putt or get the shot in the next position to give myself an opportunity for birdie. But never today -- that's the great thing, we wish we could think like this all the time. I was just over the putt saying if I could roll this ball good, the chances are it will go in. That's what I was mainly concerned with my routine and what I did to create good shots.

And having said that, to an amateur out there, probably the most important thing that worked good for me today was my mind. I never got ahead of myself. I never thought, what if? What if this? What if that? It's only the first day, but sometimes your mind races in front of you. It's only natural, but I was able to bring it back in and concentrate on each shot. And I felt like, as they say, I was mentally there on every shot.

Q. To piggyback on that, a lot of Tour players, including yourself, talk about staying in the present. I'm wondering when did you learn that? When were you first told that's important to do out here? Is that something you learned in junior golf or when you came out on Tour?

FRANKLIN LANGHAM: I really didn't. Because I was just ahead of Tiger's way where you started learning about sports psychology and all of that. I've been fortunate enough to be associated with some great sports psychologists along the way. But it was probably once I got out here on Tour, then you start making enough money that you can afford those guys. That's when it started coming on, when I first got out on Tour.

You hear junior players who are going to sports psychologists. I think there's some validity to it. It still goes back to you have to hit from Point A to Point B. I think to be a good player, and you've seen this in Tiger. You have to have the whole game. You have to have a good fundamental golf game.

Q. When you look at the leaderboard and see someone like Norman up there at 47, can you talk about your reaction to that, is it a fair fight, someone your age and someone's Norman's age?

FRANKLIN LANGHAM: Norman is somebody who has kept himself in great shape. I hope to do that, too. We're lucky in the game of golf that there's no age limit on it, there's no size that you have to be, a certain size you have to be to play this game. And it doesn't surprise me. He's a great player. He's been there before, he knows what it takes to win. And it's just a matter of getting himself focused. I think more so than physically him not being able to play -- I think he's got a lot going on. He has a lot of business ventures, as do a lot of guys when they get that age. Your sole, No. 1 focus isn't on golf anymore. And I think that's more a detriment than saying him being 47. A couple of weeks ago we saw Tom Watson play great. And he's won there before. I forget how old he was when he won it. Is he on the Senior Tour yet, 48, 49? So it's not surprising. The guys that take good care of themselves, and we're learning as we were talking about in sports psychologist, we're learning about physical fitness. The better you take care of yourself the more -- the longer you'll be able to play.

Q. Is there something in particular about this course that suits your game?

FRANKLIN LANGHAM: You know, I guess. The one thing I can say is that a lot of the tee shots hit my eye. You stand up and you've got a good comfortable look at with where you want to go, the shape of the shot you want to hit, and I've played here a number of years. I've seen the course probably playing -- I've played it here when it's been firm, I've played it when it's been soggy. I'm comfortable. I feel like whatever it throws at me, that doesn't mean I'm going to succeed, but I feel like I'm prepared for it. It never hurts to come back to a place where you've done well in the past, it brings up good memories.

Q. (Inaudible.)

FRANKLIN LANGHAM: I shot 71 the last day, and finished second, tied for second. But we were all log jammed. I know I look back at the birdie shots, and it was closer than it really seemed.

Q. Wiebe had some elbow surgery, too?

FRANKLIN LANGHAM: Shoulder surgery.

Q. Are you able to put it aside when the partner in your threesome is shooting 16 over par?

FRANKLIN LANGHAM: You know, you try not to -- we all learn how fragile this game is, all of us who play out here. And I feel for him, but you're just trying to block that out. The same way you block out that someone is shooting 10-under, and you're trying to catch him. Hopefully that falls in the category of mental toughness. He did have shoulder surgery, and I didn't get a chance to talk to him to see how he feels. I'm not sure if he's feeling a hundred percent or not. He's a good player, and he's played out here a long time. He had a tough day today.

End of FastScripts....

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