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May 27, 2010

Robin Freeman


KELLY ELBIN: Robin Freeman, ladies and gentlemen, the leader at this point of the 71st Senior PGA Championship. Robin is in with a 6-under par 66 at Colorado Golf Club. Robin, congratulations. You started out with a birdie on 10 and looked like you kept it going. Your comments on opening with 66 and leading this championship, please.
ROBIN FREEMAN: Well, comments are, holy cow, first of all. No, I got off to a good start with a -- I managed, I started on number 10. That's a tough driving hole. But I got off to a nice start. Hit a little 9-iron in there and actually made about a 25-footer in there. And that kind of got me off. And I hit a good shot on 11, which is a tough par three and made par there. So.
But it was okay as far as ball hitting. It was very, very good on the greens. Best, probably the best putting round I had in maybe ever. It was great. It was very good on the greens. I have caddie who is a great friend of mine, who is a PGA professional named Lou Cooper, who has caddied for me this week. And he reads greens very well. And we did a lot of mapping of the greens in practice rounds this week. And he read them very well. I hit them the correct speeds and I made a few. So that was kind of fun.
KELLY ELBIN: You had 26 putts for the round. Could you go through the three other birdies that you have on the back nine and then the three you had on the front nine.
ROBIN FREEMAN: Sure. Number 10 I told you about. With a driver, 9-iron to about 25 feet. Made that.
14, that was a short par pure four. I drove it a little left. Hit a nice little sand wedge about 12 feet behind the hole and made that.
Then 15's a par-5. I hit a really, really, really good drive. I hit 8-iron into that green to about six feet. Missed it for a birdie.
Then 16, the par-5, I hit a good drive, good 3-iron, just short of the green, chipped it by about probably about 16 feet and made that.
Then go to 1. I didn't birdie 1.
2, I hit a very, very good wedge into about 15 feet probably just right of the hole and made that.
6, another par-3, yeah, that was only let's see, that was 261 and I hit 5-iron.
Actually hit behind the hole. I hit it 20, 30 feet behind the hole and made that. So that was a very interesting calculation going on on that hole.
9, I hit a good drive, just a very average wedge to probably 30 feet and made that.
So I don't know, that's more putts I've made over six feet in my life in one round, I can guarantee you. Definitely more putts.
KELLY ELBIN: 66 is the new course record here at Colorado Golf Club. Let's open it up for questions, please.

Q. Can you just talk about how important it was to get a low number in early, since you didn't have to deal with so much of that wind. It's kicking up now. And then with an afternoon tee time tomorrow, was it important to get off to a really good start?
ROBIN FREEMAN: Well it's always important to get as many birdies in any tournament as you can. It was a little bit calmer conditions this morning. The wind kind of came up and laid down, came up and laid down.
But the greens were definitely different. I don't know, I haven't spoken to a PGA member yet as far as if they raised the height on the mowers or if they watered them extra or if they didn't mow at all or didn't roll, I'm not sure. But they were definitely slower this morning. They speeded up as the moisture left the greens later in the afternoon, but they were definitely slower this morning.
It was, so you could get a little more, you didn't have to putt so defensive on those putts, you could go ahead and give them a hit.
So it was very important obviously to get off to a good start and that's kind of -- I was expecting to play well from tee to green, I wasn't expecting to do that well on the greens. A brand new putter I got, I got -- my green reader just walked in the door there. So between a new putter with a big fat grip on it from Cleveland Golf that takes my hands out of the stroke, I actually rolled the ball very well today. I only missed my speed once, I think. But rolled it really well all day and with Lou having the lines read all I had to do was get the right speed.

Q. On the entry list it says you got in to fill the field. What does that mean and how did you get in?
ROBIN FREEMAN: I just got in off the Money List. I'm not exempt on the Champions Tour. I'm having to qualify, I'm a veteran member of the PGA TOUR, which gives me the opportunity to go Monday qualify. So based upon -- I had a good tournament in last year's Senior U.S. Open. Where I finished 8th. Then I played a few more events later in the year and played a couple events this year. And I had a good tournament in Gulf Port Mississippi. I think I finished 11th.
KELLY ELBIN: Tied for 12th.
ROBIN FREEMAN: 12th. So basically they gave me enough money that allowed me, after everybody withdrew, to get in. So here I am.

Q. Were you nervous? Did you think were you going to get in?
ROBIN FREEMAN: No, I actually knew I was in a couple of weeks ago. I talked to the PGA and Kerry Haigh and they told me that I was going to be able to get in. And when the injuries closed, I guess a week and a half or so before the tournament, then they told me I was in the tournament. So I knew I was coming. It wasn't like I arrived last night. Thank God. With this course.

Q. With the new venue like this and you mentioned a little bit you did a little extra work on the greens, but how much extra or how many practice rounds did you get in and how much extra work do you do as opposed to place you see every year?
ROBIN FREEMAN: I still haven't gotten enough practice rounds in. Those greens are very, very difficult to read, especially with all the wind. We -- in fact Lou and I went out Monday to map the greens and it was blowing so hard that it was all wind break. It wasn't slope break. So we couldn't map the greens as well. And what did they have 70 mile an hour gusts or something like that?
But we did a lot of work around the greens. Luckily I was hitting it well enough to know that if I missed a green where to miss it and I was pretty spot on today with my irons as far as distance control and missing it in the right spot. And, but it's just a feel on the greens. Especially when the wind starts blowing hard you have to gauge wind and your break and speed and stuff like that. But with Lou's help, we read the greens pretty well and I actually did, they rolled the ball pretty well today, so. That's how you kind of luck into a 66.

Q. With your background in Oklahoma does that help you play in the wind and is that an advantage?
ROBIN FREEMAN: It would be, but I haven't been to Oklahoma in 30 years.

Q. But you grew up there.
ROBIN FREEMAN: Yeah, I grew up there. I know how, I can hit it low if I have to. But it's kind of funny that a lot of times you want to hit the ball up in the air here, just so it will carry the right distance. The spin is very important coming off the irons here, into the wind, even downwind, because if you don't spin the ball correctly the wind will knock it down or balloon it or whatever.
So I think a lot of that has to do, I hit my irons very solid today, which helped me maintain the right distance control. But, yes, to your question, growing up in Oklahoma does help.

Q. Wondering, how often you have played at altitude and is it difficult when you got 261 yards and a 5-iron in your hand to convince yourself, yeah, this is right.
ROBIN FREEMAN: Very difficult. And I played a lot at the Castle Pines tournament probably seven times, I played in the Reno tournament and well ever since it's been in existence. So I played at altitude before. I know the calculations pretty well.
But still, when you're standing back there on that tee and you got 261 to the hole but you're only trying to land it, what, 230, 225? Whatever it is. We had 225 front I think. And you take the calculations to the front knowing that it's going to release. So it's still pretty hard to stand back there and say, yeah, I'm going to hit this 261s, I'm going to hit a soft 5-iron. That just doesn't compute. But you still have to commit to the swing and just make it. And it worked out. But it is hard.

Q. Hearing you go through your round it sounds like you kind of made up strokes where the course gives you the chance to make up strokes in a lot of cases. The rhythm of the course to me seems to have scoring opportunities and then survival requirements. Can you talk about that a little bit?
ROBIN FREEMAN: You're correct. There's quite a bit, there's -- there's scorable holes, no question about it. There's nice short holes, par-5s are get able, except maybe No. 1. You can knock it on -- well some guys probably can, but -- but there's quite a few holes that if you drive it well in the fairway, has to be in the fairway, the rough, you cannot, it's hard, you can't spin it out of the rough, so you have to drive the ball in the fairway and then if you control irons you can get to some of those, some of those hole locations.
I don't think the hole locations were what, were extremely difficult today. Probably will be a little more difficult with the wind kicking up this afternoon, like I said, it was a little down this morning, so and the greens were softer, so you go ahead and fly them to the hole a lot of the times. So that made the scoring easier.
When you have to start calculating 10, 12, 15 yards of release, then it's obviously a lot harder. So there are a few holes that you go out there and you go, well, this is a birdie hole. And there's a few holes you go out there, okay, let's just get a good opportunity. If we make par, let's just get out.
But it's a very good golf course. I don't know if it was built for this much wind, but it's a very good golf course.

Q. The putter you talked about that takes your hands out of the motion, but --
ROBIN FREEMAN: Lou's got it in the bag, you can see it.

Q. Is this the first week you used it?
ROBIN FREEMAN: It's the first time in competition I used it. In fact the first time I was using it last week with last Saturday at La Quinta at my brother's course at Citrus there. And I rolled it really well. I said, Lou, I'm going to put it in play and he said okay. And it worked out really well today. It's a big, it's just a fat grip, a thick instead of getting there and being handsy, there's a grip there. I get it a lot more in the palms and I get to use my arms and shoulders a lot more as opposed to letting my hands interfere. And it seemed to work. Knock wood. Hopefully it will last for three more days.

Q. So it's the grip?
ROBIN FREEMAN: Well, it's a putter I've used before, it's just a new grip on it. The stroke felt good, even in the high winds. I was a little concerned about it because it's much lighter than I normally use. So I was a little concerned about it. But I'm not concerned about it anymore.
KELLY ELBIN: Robin Freeman, in with 66 leading the Senior PGA Championship.
ROBIN FREEMAN: Thank you very much.

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