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June 15, 1999

Lee Janzen


LES UNGER: You've just gone through the second year as the reigning champion. What kind of year has it been?

LEE JANZEN: I would say it's been a very good year. I would say that I learned a lot the first time. Feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to do it the second time. The first time, I probably tried too hard and pressed a little bit, and when I wanted things to go right and they didn't, it probably frustrated me more than it should have. But I know you're not going to play good every day, and rarely do you play good -- you're not going to play good every week, and you rarely play good four or five days in a row. If you could do that four or five times a year, usually you have a great year. After last year's U.S. Open, I really enjoyed the victory and have been much more relaxed, I think, than any other year, and just enjoyed playing golf.

LES UNGER: How many opportunities have you had to play a practice round here.

LEE JANZEN: I played yesterday and today. I played a few holes Sunday, and I played last week Monday and Tuesday. I've seen the course plenty of times. And unless some weather comes in and the course plays completely different than what I've seen already -- I know the shots I'm supposed to hit, it's just whether or not I can do it.

Q. Did the course play appreciably different today than it did yesterday after the rain?

LEE JANZEN: It was a little moister today. I played earlier before the second time it rained. It was slightly softer. But mostly with the lack of wind, and what it was, came from a different direction. Some of the holes played shorter. Some of the holes played longer. But for the most part, I didn't see a whole lot of difference. I know as soon as the clouds go away and the sun pops out, it will dry up quickly and play very fast then.

Q. Do you feel like the three-inch rough this year might broaden the field in terms of contenders, maybe bring more guys into potential chance?

LEE JANZEN: I think it's very fair, three-inch rough. I think it's going to be very challenging, all the same, unless we get a lot of rain and the greens are so soft you can fly the ball out of the green into the rough and make it stop. I think the rough being that low, not that that's really low, allows everybody to try to knock it on the green from the rough. Tempts you to make a shot you shouldn't be attempting. If you squirt left or right, you can end up in the pine trees or miss the chipping areas and be in the wrong spot. I think if the rough was deeper, and you hack it on the fairway and hit a wedge on the green, you'd see more pars and bogeys. And this way, you'll see maybe some great birdies, and also maybe some doubles. I think it's better. I think the shot-making will still -- it will still be premium shot-making, and I don't think it will be -- give that many people a chance to win.

Q. Lee, for a month, a lot of people were worrying about what the USGA would do to the golf course and the setup, and maybe make it too deep a rough and not give it the character that Pinehurst is supposed to have. Do you think this is the way it should be with this short of rough and more chance?

LEE JANZEN: Yeah, I think the fairways are generous. The rough is very plentiful. The rough could be treacherous. Last Monday or Tuesday, you could barely make a ball mark in them. They've been softer the first couple of days this week. I hope to see them more like last week. But I think the course is probably the fairest setup I've seen for a U.S. Open.

Q. I've heard a lot of comments about how fair this golf course is. Does that mean it's going to be easier compared to some of the ones you've played in the past?

LEE JANZEN: It all depends on how dry it gets. If it would dry as everybody wants it, or the USGA wants it and players want it, over-par could win, but I think everybody would be happy with that. The shots are right in front of you. The fairways are wide, and you have to be precise with your irons. We don't care how hard it is as long as it's fair, as long as it's the same for everybody. When you hit a shot that lands four feet from somebody else's ball, and they end up four feet from the hole, and you end up with an impossible shot; that's what nobody wants.

Q. Lee, if you play your normal, regular game at Pinehurst, how would you assess your chances of repeating? This course looks like it could match up with you pretty good.

LEE JANZEN: I like the style of the course, and I think if I play really well, it is a course that suits me. But you asked me if I play normal; if I play normal, I'll finish about 15th. That's where I usually finish, it seems like.

Q. Obviously you're having great success, winning two Opens. What is it about an Open venue that clearly brings out the best in you? How do you play this, in general, differently than you would a normal TOUR event?

LEE JANZEN: That's a good question. I guess I'm still trying to figure out what it is. I love the U.S. Open. I think any American player would love to say they've won the U.S. Open. It's a major championship on one of the great courses we have in the country that we get to have every year. Maybe I just like the tough conditions. Maybe that helps. And I've just been very fortunate; played really well during the U.S. Open. I do get excited about it. And I know that because the course is so tough, it eliminates a lot of players; so it's a better opportunity to play well. If you're playing well, you have a much better chance of winning the U.S. Open than you do a regular TOUR event.

Q. Do you change your philosophy on an Open venue?

LEE JANZEN: You've got to have more patience that week and realize there are more things to distract you, and you can't let those get to you. Mentally, you have to be more prepared for a lot of things. The course is extremely tough, but also a lot of things that can distract you.

Q. One of the good things that makes this tournament different is in the locker room, you've got a combination of other great elite players such as yourself and club pros, people who qualify you may have never seen before. Can you assess -- do you notice what you think might be going through their minds? Do you recall when you were in their shoes, and what does that feel like?

LEE JANZEN: I qualified for the U.S. Open when I was 20 years old, and I just got out of my junior year in college. And I probably know a handful of the guys or more that have qualified for this tournament that I've seen in four spots or the mini-TOUR when I played. So at least I have knowledge of them. But when I was 20 years old, I didn't know a soul in the whole place. Being pretty shy, I was in the locker room about two seconds and left. I didn't want to be in there or have to talk to anybody. I was much more odd than most of the guys are here.

Q. Lee, you've won two U.S. Opens, but still you don't get the type of attention that Tiger Woods or Duval, some of those people get. Does that bother you? And the second part of my question: Have you ever done anything outrageous?

LEE JANZEN: Have I ever done anything outrageous? I don't know. Depends on what you think outrageous is.

Q. Something you wouldn't want to tell us about, but would?

LEE JANZEN: Something I wouldn't want to tell you about, but would. I'll have to think of something. And I see the attention David and Tiger get. They've won a lot of tournaments over the last few years, and I would like to do the same thing. But for the next few years, if I could have a run like that, I know myself to be one of the top three or four players in the world, I'm sure I would get that kind of attention. I don't think I've played well enough to deserve it.

LES UNGER: I'm going to make a statement. You could disagree with me: You certainly have to be happy with the performances of yourself over the last years.

LEE JANZEN: I've done something twice that neither one of them have done once. And I know I'm in an elite group.

LES UNGER: They can't take that away from you.

Q. Lee, what kinds of shots are you considering for around the green, and what have you been practicing? Have you ruled anything out because of the green and such? Can you get a lob wedge underneath the ball with the quarter-inch cut?

LEE JANZEN: I've been using a lob wedge mostly on a lot of the shots. With more loft, you can square the club face up and make sure you hit it solid. Sometimes you have to hit more of a lob shot. But almost every time you can chip up to the green, still land on an upslope to slow the ball down, and let the ball run. You're not going to always have the easiest chip on each hole. But if you manage your way around the course, you can give yourself a chance to get a good up and down. I'll hit some lob wedges. I haven't tried chipping and running, I figure if I have to chip up the hill, I'll just putt it.

Q. You said this is one of your courses, if not favorite course, and this is one of your favorite tournaments. Can you put too much pressure on yourself and want to win it too badly?

LEE JANZEN: I would love to be able to win it. I know everybody has been practicing hard and trying to get their game ready. Some of the top players deal with the attention all the time going to a tournament, but I certainly have had more attention going into this year's tournament than I usually do. I don't think I put too much pressure on myself, but because of all the conversations I've had, maybe the toughest part is keeping my mind directed in the right direction.

Q. Any previous play here, in an Amateur --

LEE JANZEN: I played in the 1982 TOUR Championship. I remember the greens were a lot softer. They might have been faster when we played them, but the course, I fell in love with the course then. And when they announced the U.S. Open was going to be there, the following year, for the last six years I've been excited about coming. I couldn't wait to get here.

Q. I guess the differences may be the 16th tee is now a par 4?

LEE JANZEN: Added a lot of length to a lot of holes. And 16 as a 4 is a lot different, it's going to be quite a hole).

Q. You guys are playing a golf course that's not on the TOUR. Normally, you see it once every seven or eight years, or maybe never, for some of these guys here. What do you and your caddy do to familiarize yourself with this place? Not everyone was here last week. Do you take a laser thing out there? What's the process, as opposed to a course that you're intimately familiar with in playing it every year?

LEE JANZEN: The first time you play a course that you've never seen, it's tough. You have to go around it. Try to make some mental notes or write some stuff down; so maybe the next time, make some measurements. But the first time, you really need to see the course to get an idea of where you want to hit the ball the next time. Every time I've played at British Open. I'm playing a brand new course. And the first time I go around it, some of the holes are completely blind; so it's really tough to figure out where you're going. Sometimes it takes three or four times to get comfortable to get the shot in your mind exactly where you're supposed to go.

Q. Did you find your yardage book from '92?

LEE JANZEN: Yeah, I still have my yardage book from '92. I transferred some notes over. George Lucas did the books for this U.S. Open. He didn't do the book for the '92 TOUR Championship. A lot of the numbers I had written in his book; so I guess I can do yardage books if I'm ever looking for a second career.

Q. Why do golfers have such good memories? And to what extent do you use your memory of a round, a similar shot, to help you with a current shot, for example?

LEE JANZEN: I remember the layout from when I played here in '92. And I think I used to have a great memory until I played on TOUR for about four or five years. I could remember just about any shot or any course I'd ever played. But now that we play the same courses every year, they sort of disappear, what shots I hit. I'm trying to remember some of the shots I hit when I was here in '92, and I really don't remember a lot of those shots. I remember the holes, but I don't really remember a lot of the shots.

Q. You've played a lot with Tiger over the years. He struggled at the U.S. Open in the past. Do you think his game has evolved, both his game physically, and maybe his mental outlook for a U.S. Open to compete this week?

LEE JANZEN: I know mentally he's very tough. He has made some changes in his game over the years, I think, to become more adapted to the U.S. Open. I would say he probably hits his driver 20 or 30 yards shorter than he did when he first came on TOUR. He's really trying to learn how to tone it down, to be a ball-control player. He knows he has to hit each iron the right distance consistently. I see him working towards that. And I think he is improving on that. He drives the ball very straight for as far as he hits it, and I think that's because he's learned how to swing at 75, 80 percent. I would say he also spun the ball a lot three or four years ago; now he hits it and it stops. So he's had to change his angle of attack, I guess, or the shots or the ball that he uses.

Q. Lee, are there any greens out there that have the potential to being losable the way the 18 became losable on Friday, or the way it became on Friday last year)?

LEE JANZEN: I guess you could put a pin on some of the greens in the wrong spot. But I think the greens are big enough and tough enough that they can put the pins in sensible places and still be very challenging. The front right of the 6th green, the par 3, the pin was there this morning, and I was wondering if they might put the pin there in the tournament. I thought that might be borderline unfair. We saw it in the practice round; so maybe we won't see it in the tournament. There were only a couple of spots that in order to use the whole green, there might be an unfair pin placement. I think there's plenty of room that they might be okay.

Q. Last couple of times out you've been 36-hole mark, you've been right up there, Top 5, first page of the leaderboard. The weekends haven't gone real well for. You do it backwards a little bit. Anything in particular that you've pinpointed, or just random happenstance?

LEE JANZEN: The more I get myself up on the leaderboards on the weekend, the more comfortable you become with it. And I'm feeling more and more relaxed, and maybe a little too relaxed at the Memorial. But I played well Saturday at Byron Nelson, and Saturday at the Colonial, and not played well Saturday at the Memorial. So it seems it's maybe just been one round. If I had gotten away at 72 or 73 at Memorial on Saturday, I still would have been in the tournament. You may have one day that doesn't go your way, here, you have to make sure it's 1- or 2-over and not 7- or 8-over.

LES UNGER: Thank you very much. Good luck this weekend.

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