May 28, 1998
WES SEELEY: 32, 34 is 66, 6-under par for Steve Pate, who is our leader at this early hour.
STEVE PATE: Advantages of playing first.
WES SEELEY: Tell us how your morning went.
STEVE PATE: Obviously, my morning went pretty well or I wouldn't be in here. Front side -- the front side, I putted unbelievably well, made a lot of long putts. Unfortunately, I only putted well on back, a lot of really good putts, but only made a couple, but can't really complain. I hit it, I drove it okay, hit my irons okay, basically by putter made the whole round. I got away with three pretty gruesome shots that on this golf course those kind of shots can usually lead to virtually any score, and I turned in two pars and a birdie. So that was nice not to really have any setbacks.
WES SEELEY: Why don't you take us around starting with the birdie on one.
STEVE PATE: That was a nice way to start the day. Hit a 3-wood, 7-iron about 6 feet and made it. Getting off to a good start on this course is nice. It's hard to -- it seems like it's hard to try to make up ground out here. If you get overly aggressive, you can make a bunch of mistakes. Birdied the third hole with a 3-wood and wedge, about 10 feet, made that. Then the 4th hole is one of the horrible shots; I hooked it. I was 40 yards left of the green and had an opening through the trees and got up on the green and made a 15-footer. It was nice to keep things going. And then the very next hole, I hit it the other way. Hit it 50 yards right off the tee and almost turned that into birdie. Then eagled the 7th hole; hit two drivers on the green, made about a 40-footer. Bogeyed the 8th hole with a 7-iron left of the green and buried it in some long grass on the hillside. Chipped it up about 12, 15 feet and missed it. And then birdied 9; hit a 3-wood and a 6-iron about 20 feet and made that. Birdied --
WES SEELEY: -- 14 and 15.
STEVE PATE: 14 and 15. 14, hit a 3-iron and sand wedge about 15-feet short and hit a putt that looked like Shaquille O'Neal's free throws that hits the back board and goes right in. 15, one of my other horrible shots. I hit it dead right off the tee, hit a tree, had to pitch out, hit a 2-iron about 30 feet and made that. Made three normal pars coming in.
WES SEELEY: 66. Questions?
Q. Have you ever had such good fortune with three such horrendous shots?
STEVE PATE: Yes. Not all the time. It's happened before. It will happen again. But other times they're going to turn bad. Enjoy the good breaks while you get them.
Q. Given the conditions, do you think 66 is going to be leading by the end of the day or are there --
STEVE PATE: It's going to be close. Right now, it's playing fairly easy if you're putting the ball in the fairway, because the greens are not really that hard. I mean, they're nice; they're firm. You have to have a decent shot, but they're not brisk. I have a feeling it doesn't seem like there's a ton of moisture in them. They might dry out pretty severely by the end of the day.
Q. How has your putter been this year overall?
STEVE PATE: It's been pretty good until the last two or three weeks. And the one I had I like, so I didn't want to break it. I picked up a new one last week. I used it two days last week and then today.
Q. What are you using now?
STEVE PATE: It's a Kevin Burns.
Q. Do you like being where you are right now? You're not obviously leading the tournament, but after a round, do you like being at the top of the leaderboard after the first day?
STEVE PATE: Absolutely. I don't see a better spot out here.
Q. It's so rare that guys go wire to wire on this Tour, though. What do you do now to focus in on tomorrow?
STEVE PATE: Same thing. I mean, basically repeat what Kirk was saying five minutes ago. Just don't try to do anything different. Unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way. But it's Thursday, and it's a lot easier to continue to do the same thing between today and tomorrow than it is if you're in this position from Saturday and Sunday.
Q. Steve, your accidents in '96, what was going through your mind at that point? Was there a thought that maybe your career was over? Was it that drastic or tell us what was --
STEVE PATE: When it first happened, no. But after about four months of rehab when I wasn't nearly as far along as I thought I should have been, the thought crossed my mind. I played a couple tournaments in the fall in Australia, and I ran into a guy down there who was doing some acupressure. In 4 or 5 minutes with him, my hand got 25 percent more strength, and he recommended acupuncture at home; I started doing that. My doctors told me it was as good as it was going to get and it wasn't good enough. I tried some other things that helped it along even further.
Q. How is it now? Is it 100 percent?
STEVE PATE: Strengthwise, yeah. It hurts all the time, but it works just fine. I have to do a lot of maintenance. I mean, I'm always getting something done to it two, three times a week, some kind of treatment to it. It works fine for now. I don't think it will several years down the road, but for now, it's fine.
Q. Do you take anything for the pain?
STEVE PATE: No. I try not to. Basically, when I started the acupuncture, I went from about 1800, 2,000 milligrams of Advil a day to 0.
Q. How often do you get the acupuncture treatment?
STEVE PATE: I haven't had it now for about three or four months. Whenever it starts hurting, I go home and see the guy and do it a couple times when I get home. It's basically for pain. I don't need it for the strength any more. The muscles don't lockup, so now it's just strictly for pain relief.
Q. Is the bracelet magnetic?
STEVE PATE: Uh-huh, yes.
Q. Do you have that as part of the --
STEVE PATE: Yeah. I tried it all. I had copper, I had this. I found I lost the copper one time for about a week and found out it didn't make any difference. I lost this one for a week one time and it made a big difference, so I'm still wearing this.
Q. What is that material?
STEVE PATE: I don't know. It's magnetic. It's a magnetic bracelet. I don't know what the material is.
Q. Well, I guess the material is not important.
STEVE PATE: No.
Q. The important thing is it's magnetic.
STEVE PATE: Right. The two balls on the end of it.
Q. You mentioned you were getting treatment a couple times of week.
STEVE PATE: Stretching the nerves out I lost range of motion, stretching it out and getting the muscles massaged. The muscles lockup, so range of motion. It's an hour a week.
Q. You go to somebody and they do that for you?
STEVE PATE: Yeah. The therapist there.
Q. A lot of times when guys go through something like that, it changes their perspective about their career. Did that happen to you, too?
STEVE PATE: Oh, yeah. I haven't broken a club since I've been back.
Q. What was the count before?
STEVE PATE: Yeah. It's a lot more fun. I got a taste of sitting home for 10 months and I didn't really care for it. I started comparing my job skills to what was available out there, and I figured I better try a lot harder.
Q. What's the club count this accident?
STEVE PATE: No. Can't count that high.
Q. Did the injury come from the repetitive motion of hitting the ball --
STEVE PATE: No. It came from driving my car into a truck at 75 miles an hour. I was actually rather lucky just to do this. I broke my hand and wrist and a bone in my face. Other than that, I walked away from it.
Q. Was there any explanation for doing that?
STEVE PATE: Yeah, I wasn't paying attention. I ran up the back of a truck going 20 miles an hour and I was going 75. Oops.
Q. One other thing with the way this course plays during the practice rounds, the way the fairways were running things like that, when you saw your tee time today did you go, yippee?
STEVE PATE: I loved it, yeah. I like being out early and being first out theoretically is great. But when it's at seven o'clock in the morning, it's not so great for me; being first out at eight o'clock was great.
Q. You hit the very first ball today, right?
STEVE PATE: I did, yep.
Q. How is your game different or how do you feel compared to six, seven, eight years ago when you were playing pretty well? Is it the same? Are you as good or are you different?
STEVE PATE: I don't -- well, different. I don't hit it -- I used to be probably in the top-30 lengthwise, and I'm not any more. My numbers are basically the same, but everybody else with equipment and everybody getting bigger and stronger, I'm hitting it about the same distance, but it's not farther than everybody else. I probably haven't hit it quite as well with my irons as I did when I was playing really well. That's probably the biggest difference.
Q. How did the injury affect your -- you've only struggled with the driver over the years, how has it affected that?
STEVE PATE: Actually this year is the best numbers I've ever had with a driver. I stole a driver out of a friend's bag last November, and it's the best I've ever driven it.
Q. That club has been one of the keys this year, hasn't it?
STEVE PATE: Absolutely. I'm hitting driving average distance about 270. I'm hitting almost 70 percent of the fairways.
Q. Did you pay for it?
STEVE PATE: Oh, no. I paid for the shaft, though. I changed the shaft. That's the shaft that I actually bought. I have two shafts in my bag that I bought.
Q. Actually paid for them?
STEVE PATE: Oh, yeah.
Q. Are you also driving better behind trucks right now?
STEVE PATE: Yes, I am. I don't play with the stereo quite as often.
Q. What type club is this that you --
STEVE PATE: It is a Gary Player Black Knight driver, and the shaft is some current shaft company that caters to the club repair business, it's an Apache shaft.
Q. Did your friend let you borrow it or?
STEVE PATE: No, it's mine, yeah. He let me borrow it, and I hit it well, and I asked if I could take it and I did.
Q. Is it titanium?
STEVE PATE: It's titanium, yeah.
Q. Is he a professional or just a pal back home?
STEVE PATE: No, just a pal back home I play with.
Q. Player used that club to win his last tournament in America.
STEVE PATE: He's been playing for a while. The friend I took it from owns a big chunk of the company, and he was -- I don't know, I watched him hit for six months, and he hit it pretty well, so I tried it. He had to get another one.
Q. How big was it for you to get off to a good start this year and have a couple tie finishes? Does it take the pressure off for the rest of the year for you?
STEVE PATE: Yeah. I didn't really have a decent finish last year until May or June, and it makes it easier to take a week off. It makes it easier to not get too concerned when one of them goes sideways. Obviously, I'm still -- I'm not trying any harder, but it's a little more relaxing.
Q. This tee shot on the fourth hole, how bad was that?
STEVE PATE: Oh, no, it's fourth hole, 3 par.
Q. Did you have to --
STEVE PATE: No, it was pin-high. It was just over in the dark forest there over on the left.
Q. It was a sand wedge?
STEVE PATE: Yeah, I had a nice opener. If I had a good shot, I could get it 15 feet, and I did and I made it.
Q. Can you refresh our memory on not the most recent accident, but the one at the Ryder Cup?
STEVE PATE: I wasn't driving in that one.
Q. I know. What happened there? What injury and how -- did you just miss Sunday's singles or what?
STEVE PATE: No, I played a round Saturday, and I couldn't move on Sunday.
Q. The accident was what day?
STEVE PATE: Thursday night.
Q. This is a different accident?
STEVE PATE: Yeah. That was at the Ryder Cup.
Q. I presumed you were talking about the same accident.
STEVE PATE: No. That was 1991.
Q. How about the other injury in '96, the other when you hurt the other wrist?
STEVE PATE: That was on a family vacation.
Q. What happened?
STEVE PATE: I tripped and fell on the dock and cracked a bone on the other wrist. It was a bad year. That wasn't that bad. That was about a three-, four-week recovery. There was no rehab. I just cracked a little bone.
Q. Did you hit a driver on 5 and 15?
STEVE PATE: Yes.
Q. How good do you feel about the 66? Is it one of those where you go, boy, I'm in the zone. I have it this week. Or do you feel like you kind of stole it today?
STEVE PATE: Both. Every time I got on the green, I was surprised if I didn't make it. I didn't care if I was 60 feet or 6 feet. I mean, I miss playing, but they were all good putts. Everything I hit, I was surprised if I didn't make it, and I wasn't hitting it great, but I didn't have to, so I didn't really aim at very many pins, just hit it on and see what happens from there.
Q. Can I bother you to repeat 15 again after the dead right tee shot?
STEVE PATE: Go to the right, hit a tree, just had to pitch it out to where the guys I played with drove it, hit a 2-iron about 25, 30 feet and made it.
Q. This putter, did you get it last week at Colonial?
STEVE PATE: Uh-huh, yes.
Q. How much were you paying attention to what Kirk was doing?
STEVE PATE: Not much. But it's obviously -- it's obvious that he's playing well. It's nice to be playing with somebody else making birdies. If you get stuck with a lot of guys that are making bogeys, you think, boy, this course must be hard. It makes it a lot easier to play if somebody else you're playing with and Bobby Wadkins was playing well. He didn't shoot a good score, but he was playing well. It just didn't seem that hard.
WES SEELEY: Okay folks?
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