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November 4, 2010

Tom Kite


PHIL STAMBAUGH: Okay, Tom Kite, 32, 35, and 4-under, 67 to open your 11th straight Charles Schwab Cup Championship. You've had in your career ten wins in the state of California: Six on the PGA Tour and four on the Champions Tour.
Talk about coming back to play in this event and then your round today.
TOM KITE: Well, obviously excited about coming back here. Any time you get back here it's pretty nice. It's really nice if you're over 60. There aren't many guys that get back in this tournament that are over 60. I think Tom and I are the only ones that are here. So it's nice to be able to do that and show that we're kind of hanging in there as much as we can with our game.
Obviously first time to play the golf course and enjoying it. Sorry that the rain last week prevented us from playing it down. Still picking up quite a bit of mud on the balls, and I guess the forecast for tomorrow is a little bit of rain. I'm sure we'll be playing lift, clean, and place all week.
And that's unfortunate, because the golf course is really a nice golf course to play, and it's got some spectacular holes that are world class. They're as good as any golf course we ever play. They have done a nice job with it, and it's good to see it. It's a fun course to play.
I played well. A lot of birdies, six birdies out there today. Couple little hiccups in the middle of the round, but a little better than I've been doing. I have not been consistently decently -- or decently consistent or whatever it was. I have been indecent and inconsistent; how's that? (Laughing.)
My game has been up and down all year around. I've played very good at times and in spots, and then other times I've looked like a pretty good 12 or 15 handicap. So I never quite know what's coming out.
But getting a good start today was very pleasing.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: Just take us through the round. Four birdies on the front. Good start.
TOM KITE: Yeah, got off to a good start. Hit 9-iron on the first hole about 15 feet and made that for birdie.
Got away with a bad one on No.4, the par-5. Hit my second shot into the left rough and just drew a horrible lie. The pin was back left, and I could only play it out to the right-hand side of the green. I made about a 30-footer coming down that slope, so I got away with one there.
Hit it close at No. 7. Sand wedge about six feet.
Then No. 9, put it in the left bunker. Played a nice bunker shot out about five feet and made that for birdie.
Bogeyed No. 11. Hit it in the right bunker. Decent bunker shot out about eight or nine feet, but I missed the putt.
Then bogeyed 14, the one up the hill. That was really playing long when we came through there. The wind had just switched and was starting to come in off the ocean. Hit a good drive and hit 4-iron just over the back edge and was not able to get it up and down.
Birdied 16 and 17 to finish out. Good sand wedge on 16 about five feet; and then a 7-iron on 17 about eight feet.
Par on 18 to finish up.

Q. Tom, obviously as is top golfer year after year, in team sports, the management decides, quote, you can't do it anymore and they cut you. You said you were playing like a 15. Do you ever start thinking, Am I losing it and how long can I play, or, I can still play this game and it doesn't matter?
TOM KITE: Yeah, I mean, there's no question that once you get out on this tour you start to realize that your days are numbered. After you've been on this tour for ten or eleven years, you realize they really are numbered.
There's not -- I don't have that many more years of competitive golf out here. I guess some of the things that I've gone through and -- you know, I see all the guys that are in their late 50s and 60s struggle with it -- at times they can still play. It's just a question of being able to do it a little bit more often like we used to be able to.
We used to be able to string weeks and weeks, and sometimes months together of really good golf. Now, you know, you're kind of hoping for one good week, then make a couple of okay weeks, and another good week. It doesn't come as often.
But yet there are -- yeah, I mean, when you're going through those periods when you're not playing well, yeah, you say, Golly, am I done? Am I finished?
But then along with about the time you're ready to start packing it up, then all of a sudden you have a good week and you challenge and you have a chance. I mean, you know, I wasn't playing pretty well, and then at Pebble Beach, I should have won that golf tournament. I had makable birdie putts coming down the stretch, and had a great opportunity to win that golf tournament.
All of a sudden, I'm like, Well, you know, if I can get on the right golf courses and get my game going, well then I still have a chance to play well.
So I'm not quite ready to concede yet, and yet I know it's over the hill.

Q. Did you draw any inspiration to how close Larry Nelson came to winning last week?
TOM KITE: I think all of us. You know, it's nice. Once you get in your late 50s and 60s, I think you're always encouraged when you see guys that are playing well. Hal had a good week last week; Larry played well last week; obviously Tom's had a really good year with the win early on, and some good tournaments there.
So, yeah, I mean, right now we're looking for anything to draw inspiration from. When your peers that are the same age as you play well, then that's encouraging.

Q. When things are not going well, are you not hitting the shots you used to hit or are you saying, God, I can't hit the ball as far or the putts won't go in?
TOM KITE: No, it's not as far, it's just more inconsistent. You just don't string as many good ones together. The good ones are still as good; the bad ones are about the same. There's just more bad ones, you know, than there used to be.

Q. Does your mind tell you that you can still win and your body struggles with it?
TOM KITE: No, I'm healthy right now. You know, obviously coming off that shoulder surgery I did in the last year, there were three or four months starting out where I can honestly say I wasn't 100% or even close to 100%.
But right now I'm healthy. I'm feeling good and strong. I'm fairly fit right now. We're getting ready to start the off-season. Coming back in January I will be fit. I will be really fit coming back when we start up in January in Hawaii.
But I don't know what it is. I mean, you know, honestly I try not to analyze and dwell on it too much because I'm still trying to win. It's more fun to have these rounds and be able to talk about the six birdies.
All I'm saying is they just haven't come as much this year.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: Tom, good luck.
TOM KITE: Thank you.

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