August 19, 2003
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: We'd like to welcome back the defending champion, Craig Parry, for the NEC Invitational. We have a different golf course, but I'm sure you have fond memories of your win last year in Washington. If we could start off with some opening comments about defending your title.
CRAIG PARRY: It's a little unusual coming back to a different golf course. Usually you go back to the same venue, whereas this year we're going to a different venue in a different state. Even though Sahalee was tree lined, this is tree lined, however the trees aren't encroaching as much as Sahalee. The golf course is in fantastic condition. Hopefully we don't get any rain. I'm sure we're going to see some really good golf out there this week.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: You finished the tournament last year 48 holes without a bogey. Is that one of the best streaks you've been in in your career?
CRAIG PARRY: Actually I was talking about it today. I actually went through 90 holes at one stage when I played in Europe and I made a bogey on the easiest hole at the Swiss Open. I was supposed to hit driver onto the green and I decided I was going to hit 6-iron and hit a pitching wedge and I made bogey.
You don't really have that many streaks in your career where you just don't make bogeys and you add up all your birdies and that was what I did last year.
Q. Any common thread to your, I guess you would say, so-so form this year or has it been different in different tournaments?
CRAIG PARRY: It's been a little bit different this year. I played an extra tournament before the U.S. Open, the F.B.R. I wouldn't have played that. I'm just really making up the numbers this year and I'm going to try and spend as much time at home with Jenny and the kids. I'm not really worried about where I finish on the money list this year. I'll come back out next year and have a full year's crack at it. I've played pretty ordinary.
Mind you, I have missed a few cuts by one or two shots, and that can sometimes be a little bit misleading. That might be just a bad bounce or lipping out like I did at the U.S. Open. I finished poorly there, otherwise I could have been right there in the U.S. Open. That's just the way it goes.
Q. Your decision to have a quiet year and put golf on the back burner, was that a result of struggling a little bit or was that planned at the start of the year?
CRAIG PARRY: No, it was planned at the start of the year that I wasn't going to play too many events. This is my 15th event and the American Express is the 16th, and that's all I'm going to play in America, and I'm going to play the Japan Open and then some in Australia. I've always wanted to have a relaxing year because I've been a professional on the Tour for 19 years now -- sorry, 17 years, and it takes its toll. You don't get any time off, and the last time I had some time off was January -- December-January of 2001. That was when I had the last break, because I went through the end of last year when I won, come over here, played a few more events and then played in Australia and then you start off the first week of January in Hawaii, and I didn't have a break until after the Master's where I didn't touch a club for five weeks. That was when I decided, look, this is just going to be a relaxing year type of thing, just go and play and not really worry about it too much. It doesn't mean you can't try, but just not as much pressure on me to play.
Q. I'd like you to put yourself in the position of a golf fan, not a golfer. The final round of the PGA on Sunday, they said the TV ratings were down 41 percent from the previous year. If you're a golf fan sitting there -- I don't know if you watch golf when you're off the Tour or not.
CRAIG PARRY: Not normally been. Majors would be different.
Q. If you're watching a major, do you want to watch it just as much if Shaun Micheel and Chad Campbell were coming down the stretch -- let's say a few years ago Tiger and Sergio in Chicago. If you can put yourself in the shoes of the fan, what do you like to watch?
CRAIG PARRY: Well, you're probably asking the wrong person. We're professionals. We like to see what's happening, what the guys do under pressure. We're probably looking at it a little bit different than what the normal golf fan is looking at. Guys do the same thing under pressure, it doesn't matter if it's Tiger or whatever, you tend to make the same mistakes. If you can learn from guys in those positions you're going to be a better player. I'm sure that's what the players on Tour look at when they're watching the golf. We're watching the golf, not so much the person.
Q. Have you watched Tiger much this year, and if so, I was wondering if you could assess the way you think he's swinging and if you can account for his relatively mediocre performances in the majors?
CRAIG PARRY: You're kidding. He's played terrible (laughter). I know Tiger reasonably well because we practice and play when I'm in America. Sometimes you get a golf course that you like, sometimes you get a golf course that you don't like. It's pleasing to the eye and you get comfortable on it and you go out and play, and that might have been the case this year. He was very close at the British Open. He wasn't far away. By his own standards he didn't play that well. It's that type of thing. Golf is a game; one day you've got it and the next day you haven't got it. I'm sure if you know Tiger he's going to win the next four. You just don't make him angry at the start of the week. He's probably going to be very difficult to beat this week with all this heat. He's still the best golfer in the world, by far.
Q. You mentioned this course is pretty similar to the course in Seattle where you won last year. Can you tell us your impressions about this course? You were talking about Tiger, how sometimes you like certain courses and sometimes you don't. Tell us how you like this.
CRAIG PARRY: Last year I think I finished third, behind Tiger obviously. I really enjoy playing Firestone. It's a very good golf course. I feel as though everyone can play it. Even though Tiger has got a strangle hold on this place, I truly feel everyone can go out there and play, especially when it's playing fast. If you drive the ball well and you're in the fairway you can hit it close to the flag. It's got a lot of demanding par 4s. A little bit more length on 14 and 16 really doesn't hurt anyone. 16, 14, we're hitting a little bit longer club in, 4 and 5 iron, but if it starts to rain you're going to need a lot more club in there.
Q. Following up to what I asked you earlier, did you watch Sunday?
CRAIG PARRY: Yes.
Q. What did you think about the way those guys played under pressure and especially that the shot that Micheel is going to be remembered for on 18?
CRAIG PARRY: I watched the whole of the back nine. I thought it was riveting golf, hitting it at the flag, hitting it in the right place, the putts that were made. It was a great event to watch. The people that didn't watch it really missed out.
Q. The reason you're taking it easy this year, is that because this is the first time you've ever had an exemption?
CRAIG PARRY: Yes, exactly. It's the first year I haven't had to worry about my card for the next year. I knew at the start of the year what events I wanted to play in. The only event I added was the one in Washington, the F.B.R. I think I've had a pretty good schedule. I just haven't played as good as I would have liked. If I played right everything would have been good. I haven't played that well, but I'm not worried about it. I'll come back next year.
Q. Any specific part of your game you haven't been happy with?
CRAIG PARRY: You can go through the whole game. My driving actually this year has been very good. I'm up there in the driving in hitting fairways. I wouldn't say my iron shots are poor. I'd say my short game hasn't been a strength this year, like 70 yards and in, around the greens, bunker play has been disgraceful, putting has been pretty ordinary, so it's pretty hard to score.
Q. The guy coming in next behind you is Ben Curtis. I wondered if you know him at all. This is his first year on Tour. Also there's a lot of talk now about the reasons for guys like him winning the British Open, Shaun winning the PGA. It's just that the slogan, the advertising slogan, the tour, "These guys are good," is starting to come to pass. What explanation do you have for what's happened the last two majors?
CRAIG PARRY: The guys are so good. Anyone that tees it up in any of the tournaments can win it. That's pretty evident of what's been happening lately. The first-time winners last year, the players, what they've done over the last couple years. They just go out there and go after the flag. If someone has a good day they're going to shoot a low number. The next day they might shoot another low number. If you don't get out there and play you're not going to have a chance. The golf courses are very hard. They're not easy golf courses, what we're playing nowadays. I think they made it a lot tougher this year versus previous years by placing the flags in some corners and things like that. They've really made it very difficult.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Craig Parry, thank you and good luck this week.
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