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April 4, 2003

Lee Janzen


THE MODERATOR: Lee Janzen, long day out there. It's a tough course to walk, but you played great out there. Can we just get some opening comments from you.

LEE JANZEN: It is a long walk, I guess. We're all in great shape, though. Golfers are probably the best conditioned athletes in the world.

You know, that's probably -- I think the golf course is great. If there was a drawback, it would be the long distance between holes. But I think the way the holes are laid out, each hole, I think, is pretty special. I enjoy playing the course. I especially enjoy playing it when it's hard and fast. I'm sure you've heard me say that before on other golf courses, but I really enjoy that kind of challenge.

It's been fun the last two days to hit it really well, manage myself around the course, chip well and putt well all at the same time.

THE MODERATOR: You made six or seven cuts so far this year, but I'm sure you're still looking for your first breakthrough performance. What are the things you're working on to get into the Top 10 or a win?

LEE JANZEN: I felt like I've been pretty close most of the year. Couple times in the west coast I played really well and it's just a matter of making a few more putts here and there, I could have shot 67 instead of 71. And, you know, that's really the difference.

The last two days I just eliminated some of those holes where, you know, if I make four, five birdies in a row or if I'm 4-under, I'd say a month ago I would have just had a bad hole or didn't make bogey, maybe parred in, and it would have turned into a 70 or something. Today I just managed to keep things going no matter what.

Q. Playing the front nine last, it's pretty challenging.

LEE JANZEN: Yeah, the 9th hole today, especially when we just finished, the wind was really whipping back into our face on the second shot. I hit a really good drive. Planning on hitting a 7-iron to the middle of the green, hoping it would (inaudible) back to the hole, but the wind seemed to be at its maximum right when I got ready to hit. I had already decided what I was going to do and didn't really want to start all over.

I hit it solid and the wind just stood it up and came up a little short. But you can get up-and-down from where I was, so that's not a bad plan there.

Q. (Inaudible)?

LEE JANZEN: Yeah, I was on the up slope, so it helped. I could get the ball in the air and put some spin on it.

Q. What happened at 8?

LEE JANZEN: 8, I just pushed it with a 3-iron. I've been hitting the ball pretty much where I wanted to hit it for the first two days. So all I did was hit that in the middle of the green. My arm, we're a little lazy on the way down, (inaudible). The second I hit it, I knew what I did.

(Inaudible) hit, kicked pretty far right to the right side of the bunker. I was on the downslope. I felt like I'm controlling my chips and my bunker shots. Now if I could land it just on the very top of that hill, chipped it up on the green next to the hill and it just didn't bounce. Otherwise, I would have just hit it 25 feet past the hole, which is probably the smart play.

Q. What particularly was clicking for you today, what part of your game?

LEE JANZEN: I drove exceptionally well, never was in trouble. I was always in the fairway. I don't know how many -- you got a ShotLink. I don't know why you guys need to come in any more with the ShotLink other than for some good jokes, I guess.

Q. (Inaudible)?

LEE JANZEN: Oh, they don't have that in the ShotLink?

Hit driver wedge every hole.

I don't know if I missed a fairway today. If I missed a fairway, it was only one of them. I can't even remember what it was, so...

Q. This tournament's had weather problems. I think you missed the cut the last three years. You said you liked the course. But it's not been playing hard and fast to your liking?

LEE JANZEN: That would be somewhat of it. I was disappointed when they moved it out of May, because I knew there was a chance of more rain this time of year and maybe a little colder, whatever. That's my own fault for having that attitude.

First time I came back, I guess, was 2000. I skipped the one year when they moved it before the Masters. I probably just didn't have my mind the way it should have been a week before the Masters. I know missed a cut that year. Played well at the Masters that year. Then the next year I came back, I got up to a great start, fell apart after that.

Last year I made 9 on the last hole and missed the cut. Played pretty well up until then.

I'm stubborn. I won't give up that easy. I keep coming back.

No. 18 last year, yeah, it's not even worth getting into. I chunked in the water with a wedge, then went up to the drop area, spun it back in the water again. I was thinking I had to make a birdie to make cut, all I needed was a bogey. So bad course management.

Q. This is kind of the best of both worlds. You like firm, fast US-Open-type things, but you got no rough, so pretty good combination.

LEE JANZEN: I enjoy courses with no rough; I think everybody does.

But when the course -- when you get a course fast enough and firm enough, you don't need rough. I think Greg's design philosophy is great (inaudible).

I'm trying to think of other courses I played. (Inaudible) Harder than most courses, but same concept. You know, nobody likes hitting out of rough like that.

I think this encourages more shot-making, too. When you do hit it off-line, you get to curve the ball or play some sort of great shot.

Two days in a row watched Kevin and Steve hit a ball from the right side of 9 around the trees, landed short and roll it up and catch it and use the slope of the green to get it back down by the hole.

When there's rough, it's just a hack out to the fairway. Most players at this point, the way they set up The Players Championship course, even though it's for good champions and made for good tournaments, that course just doesn't need rough, you know. It's taking away all the shot-making.

Q. How much would a win mean to you right now given kind of where you are?

LEE JANZEN: I think it would be a great way to go into the Masters. I haven't played well enough this year really to think I would be going into the Masters on a high, but it can turn around in a hurry, that's for sure.

I felt really well about the way I played the last two days. I'd like to win. It's easy to say that's all I'm striving for. But you can't lose sight of what -- I want to get my game at a level where I can give myself chances to win more often. That's just been a struggle to get there. It's been frustrating because I feel like I'm making progress and then I take a step back.

But fortunately last week, even after a terrible round on Sunday, I was not overly deflated. I really felt like my game was still in good shape and I could come up here with maybe just one adjustment and play well and get right back in it.

Q. At what point did you feel like everything had fallen into place as far as your swing and your game? Over the winter, earlier this year?

LEE JANZEN: Last year I hit it really well all year. Once my putting started coming around, I started kind of hitting it bad. So it's just a matter of putting the two together.

My putting is probably as good as it's been in a long time, in two years. I'm not having 22 or 23 putts a round, but I'm hitting all my putts on-line where I'm expecting to hit them. And it's just a matter of hitting them the right speed. Today I could have made five or six more putts easy if I had just hit them the right speed.

But they're all on-line, which is a confidence boost right there. I'm making my short putts, which is good.

Q. Lee, you and Bob and Retief all had Major Championship wins in the past. Having that kind of experience in a course like this, does that help at all given the conditions the first two days?

LEE JANZEN: What's been different the first two days is, you know, most weeks, conditions are soft enough that there's not a whole lot of worry about hazards. You just fire at the pin. If you hit a good shot, you're near the hole. So there's not as much course strategy.

But here, you actually have to play away from the pin, even with short irons in your hand, to make sure you stay away from trouble. You probably can look up on there and see any one of good players playing in this tournament that has made a double-bogey or more on a hole that's probably not very long just because, you know, if you're not paying attention, make a little mistake, it can cost you dearly.

So much like a Major Championship, you have to have the discipline to play away from the pin even with a short iron and give yourself a 25- or 30-footer sometimes.

Q. With rain kind of expected maybe tonight or tomorrow, does that change your mindset yet, or do you wait and see what it's like tomorrow?

LEE JANZEN: I think it would take a lot of rain to change the course a lot. They watered a little bit last night just because it was getting really firm. You could tell they watered. The course is still very fast and dry, so I'm sure there will be some wind in this storm. I would think that it would have to rain pretty hard to change the course a whole lot. If it rains a quarter of an inch, I don't think it's going to make a big difference.

Q. Pin placement this year, do you think the course tends to get a little too lush, too easy to fire at flags?

LEE JANZEN: Yeah, I've been fortunate every tournament I've played in this year other than TPC has been perfect weather. The Riviera was great. Tt was firm and hard. We didn't have much rough. So there's an example you don't need lush fairways with high rough.

Firm, fast conditions really is probably the best way to challenge the best players in the world. You can't always depend on the rain not showing up, so, you know, they try and make up for it by watering the course and getting the rough up. But that gives the advantage to the big hitters, there's no doubt. It makes the fairways wider because there's no roll.

You know, Phoenix, we're in the desert, they can make that as hard and fast as they want. I think that's a fun tournament to watch.

Q. Did it enter your mind at the start of the year this is the last year of your Open exemption in the Masters and to have a better year?

LEE JANZEN: I am well aware of that. The last time I was playing in my last year of exemption was in '98. So, you know, I look back at that year, and I wanted to play well at the Masters so I could get myself back in. When I left the Masters, I was not in the Masters for the next year and I was disappointed, but I knew I could get back in at the US Open.

So I kind of over-shot that year. I was just trying to get back in the next match, just not the next five.

I'd be happy to do that again (inaudible).

Q. What do you expect going into the weekend as far as scoring, what you're going to have to do?

LEE JANZEN: Who knows? If the course does get softer, the pins will be more accessible, the greens are rolling good. If it's windy, that will make it play tough.

So, you know, I just plan on hoping that I'm still hitting it where I'm trying to aim. And if I can hit as many shots as possible, the way I expect to hit them, then I should be able to shoot a good score - whatever that is, whether it's 66s or 71s, you know, depends on the conditions.

Q. Is it tougher to win, the longer it goes between wins? You've won in bunches before and you've had dry spells before.

LEE JANZEN: It's tougher to win if you're not shooting the lowest score in the field, that's all I know (laughing).

You know, I haven't won because I haven't played well enough, and that's -- it doesn't get any -- can't come up with any better explanation than that.

I've wanted to win, and I've worked at it. But, you know, there were plenty of times I put myself in position and I could have shot a couple under par in the back nine and won the tournament. I think I pressed too hard and I guess there was a number of things. But I feel more peaceful about it, feel better about my opportunities. If I get that chance, I think I would handle it better.

Who knows what will happen if I'll do it or not; if I can get to that stage, if I can get to the back nine on Sunday with a chance to win the tournament, what I'll do.

THE MODERATOR: Can we go over your score card quickly. Start on the back side with a birdie on No. 11.

LEE JANZEN: Yeah, that was playing pretty good hole, even though it's just a wedge shot today. The greens, that's probably the hardest green on the course.

But the pin's was way left over by the water. I just used the wind and the slope of the green and hit a big draw wedge in there about 10 feet, 12 feet.


LEE JANZEN: Driver. I was going to hit 3-wood but the wind died down a little bit. Hit driver and was fortunate it kind of crawled around the bunker a little bit and stopped in the fringe just about pin-high, so it was about 20 feet from the hole.

THE MODERATOR: Then bogeyed 16.

LEE JANZEN: Bogeyed 16, pushed a 7-iron in the bunker and the pin sort of front left, and I hit a pretty good bunker shot and left myself about 8 feet. I just pulled it a hair, missed on the high side barely.

THE MODERATOR: Came back with a birdie on the next hole.

LEE JANZEN: Yeah, I hit a good drive, I was in a divot. I just took an 8-iron, played to the right side of the green and tried to hit a low draw and use the slope of the green to work it back around towards the pin. Got it down there about 3 feet from the hole.

THE MODERATOR: Front side, birdies on 3, 4 and 6.

LEE JANZEN: 3, I hit a 2-iron off the tee, (inaudible) the hole. I guess it was about 25, 30 feet. Steve Stricker putted right before me pretty close to the same line. I watched his ball go pretty straight down by the hole. Learned a little bit off his putt and made it.

4, I hit a 3-wood and 4-iron on the green and 2-putted from about 25 feet.


LEE JANZEN: 6, I hit a driver, 3-wood on the green about 25 feet and 2-putted.

THE MODERATOR: You said on 8 pushed a 3-iron.

LEE JANZEN: Yeah, pushed a 3-iron in the right bunker and I didn't leave myself a bunker shot that was easy to get up-and-down, and I didn't get up-and-down.

THE MODERATOR: Any more questions?

Q. (Inaudible)?

LEE JANZEN: I think 9. You miss the green right, they've grown rough up to stop your ball from rolling straight in the hazard, which I think is good. I think it would be totally unfair if you could actually lay it on the green and go in the water.

If you hit it left of the green, your next shot is going down there, too. So...

That's a cool hole, though, a beautiful hole. I think he did a great job. I studied architecture of all the great courses, and the way he used the grade that was already here and ran the holes, I think he did a great job designing the holes.

Q. (Inaudible)?

LEE JANZEN: I hope so. I keep saying nice things about these other guys' courses, maybe I'll get one.

THE MODERATOR: Lee Janzen, thank you.

End of FastScripts....

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