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June 20, 2001

Dennis Paulson


DENNIS PAULSON: I'm excited. Two years ago, I lost to Duffy in the playoff and then got one from David last year. There's no place to go but down, so I better play well. I came out here about six weeks ago, did the Media Day, maybe a month ago, and they were working on the redo and I mean, I have talked to about 6 or 7 players, and they just -- there hasn't even been a hint of any negativity whatsoever. They did an absolutely fabulous job. The course looks basically the same, just got a couple of different little looks. But they left it intact with the exception of 6 green that they redid, put the, what we call, the Westchester shelves 3 and 4 and 2 and 3, no place to put a pin, but somehow they find a spot that's reasonable in a tight little area. So should be a lot of fun.

Q. How optimistic are you to come back to a track where you played well and try to rekindle something?

DENNIS PAULSON: It would be nice. I have had a tough 6, seven weeks. I made about 700,000 through Hilton Head, then I'd made 20 grand since then. It feels like two years ago the last time I played well, and it has only been a couple of months. I have taken a lot of time off between then and now, but still I missed 4 of the last 5 cuts or something, and I haven't played horribly; been kind of right there, but just not doing anything real well to put myself in positions to do well in a tournament. Hopefully, this week I will change things around. I have got a lot of positives. It should be a good week, I hope.

Q. What does this course -- why does it feel like home to you?

DENNIS PAULSON: I don't know. I don't want to know. If I knew I might mess it up. The golf course is a challenge from the first tee to the 18th green; you really got to think your way around the golf course. It's not to be disrespectful, too many of the courses out here on Tour we haven't played quite as much rough as we normally do and it has been more of a bombers' course and just kind of getting it out there. A lot of it has had to do with the weather. It's amazing what they can do with these greens here in the short period of time. Last year, we had 6 or 7 inches of rain on Tuesday. We couldn't even play the golf course, and Sunday we were begging for a little water on the greens. Here we had what, 5 inches on Sunday, and they are firmer. It's unbelievable how this course drains and gets back into shape. When you are playing a course that is this -- we call it intimate. It's not a very long golf course, 6,800 yards I think, maybe 69, and year in and year out it's the hardest course on the PGA TOUR scoringwise. Seems like someone is always gets to 10 under par but they never could stay there - eight or nine under always wins. Every once in a while when the weather is perfect and we get a little rain maybe someone gets in the teens but if the rain doesn't come Thursday or Friday I am sure 8 or 10-under par will be a good score even this year.

Q. Tiger question. When you are walking down that 18th green and you are leading, you see that gallery of 20 - 30,000 people there. Can you imagine having that all the time like he does?

DENNIS PAULSON: You know, I have played with Tiger just once in a tournament round and there was a lot of people. It was in Chicago. It was on Saturday, we were probably in about 15th, 20th place, so in a position to do something, make a little bit of noise. Neither one of us did, but it was crazy. It was unbelievable. But luckily No. 1, the fans are really good in Chicago, sometimes you get some weeks where the fans aren't too golf-polite, I guess the term you want to use. They were really great there. Tiger hits it farther than I do, so they hold still. Every once in a while, if Tiger laid up and I hit a wood, there would be a little movement. But movement is not a big deal when there's a lot of people. It's a lot tougher to play in front of 40 people than 40,000. You see people moving all over the place, it is tough, but if it is just a solid sea of color and three or four deep, it doesn't really matter. U.S. Open last week it was amazing how much movement there was off the fairway, but you don't see it because it's four deep on every hole. It's not that big of a deal.

Q. Since Hilton Head, it has been a rough stretch for you. You have talked about that. Do you feel it's technically with your game; it is a physical thing or more a mental thing?

DENNIS PAULSON: A lot of it had to do with I was sick. I got acute sinusitis, and all through Dallas I could hardly breathe. The last couple of weeks on that run and Hilton Head, and Augusta, and Atlanta, kind of got that corrected a little bit. I have got some problems with T-1, T-2, T-3 in my spine. It's pinching a nerve in my shoulder, feels like I got a rotator cuff problem, but it is not that, it's just the soreness there. I have got to make sure I make a little bigger turn and do some different things in my swing to feel comfortable. I just haven't been real consistent with my swing. I had the same problem back in '99, played pretty well with it. I just haven't played very well with it right now. Get this thing squared away hopefully, and everything will be fine.

Q. I was told you were building a new house?

DENNIS PAULSON: That's all done. That's old news. We have been in it now for a year. We have got the office to finish and that's it. Wife's got to do curtains and stuff. We are in, everything is basically done, few little things.

Q. Talking with a few of the guys this week. They say how they like coming here. It's a nice trip for their families. There is a certain mystique, certain feel of New York kind of game. I believe you mentioned something like that to us at Media Day. Could you comment on the energy, playing in a place like New York?

DENNIS PAULSON: I have never really gone to the City. I have only been told about how great it is, and how bad it is. Depending upon what you think about big cities, I grew up in L.A. basically, and so I kind of know where it is at, a little more laid back, not as quite as hustle and bustle as you have got in New York. It's nice. I like being -- living in the city, I like the options of having 30 different movie theatres to go to and 7 different markets and not having to drive 15 miles to get gas in my car. I like that. But it is nice to be out here where we are kind of away from the rat race. If you want to be a part of it, go to the shows and get all the best things the city has to offer with the baseball games, we have got it, it's just a little trip down there, you get there and out of there and everything is great. We have got a great golf course. I think one of the reasons why it is such popular spot, No. 1 the golf course, but the tournament committee, Peter and everybody here is so much for the families. The barbecue, the beach club, they have got a deal to the aquarium for the kids on Friday. The day care is a real good spot for the kids so the wives like to come here. You get some weeks where the day care just isn't that great. It's not the service, it is the facilities for the kids. Maybe it's not big enough, you know, and the toddlers are mixed in with the infants and they can't sleep, and so you drop your kid off then you come home and he is miserable because he hasn't napped all day. Everything about this place is really kid-friendly. They go above and beyond the call of duty for everything that needs to be done to make the players happy and the wives. And during the summertime when the kids are out of school, it is really nice to put on a tournament where the family wants to come. The wife says she is coming or not coming. You don't bring the family. She just says I am going to that tournament for whatever reason, that' what is really neat about coming here because they do everything, the wives want to come and the family shows up and there's always something to do.

Q. Obviously every tournament is different but is there a different buzz to playing in a place like New York or is?

DENNIS PAULSON: You know, I don't know. It is not -- I don't think it is so much New York. I think more it's the golf course. The golf course is such a test, you know, you have got the field that you have here because of the golf course. It's a tribute to your course because I thought you guys were -- really got hurt pretty badly with the field because everybody wants to play a US Open course going into the U.S. Open but no one want to go get beat up two weeks in a row especially the week after the US Open. To have the guys that are coming to play here - most of the top players that are playing here are the foreign players. There's a few of the top Americans that aren't playing, but you still got a great field this year. You got a lot of the guys in the top 50 in the world that are playing this week and it is a testament to the golf course. You look at the PGA TOUR the week after the US Open doesn't matter where it's at usually takes a pretty good hit on the top players. You can give all credit you want to Peter and the tournament staff and everything else, but basically boils down to if the golf course isn't one that the guys want to go to, they are not going to come unless you play for 6 million a week.

Q. Given your injuries and stuff, but you are comfortable here. Can you contend?

DENNIS PAULSON: Oh, yeah, I think so. This whole golf course is one of those where if you get off to a good start -- last year I did, I think I shot 4-, 5-under the first day. I think I made maybe one bogey all day but if I can do that tomorrow, late in the afternoon because I did it last year late, I went late in the afternoon and shot the low score later in the day. That gives you that much of an advantage going out in the morning on fresher greens. Out here the golf course -- Thursday morning to Friday afternoon the golf course really changes complexion. To get a late/early tee time is really an advantage because you basically play the same golf course two times in a row as opposed to the guys that play earlier get a little softer fresher greens on Thursday morning, then they can get brick hard and firm and kind of crusty and tough. So it's like playing two different courses so you really have to adjust where if you play later you kind of get the same course, you don't have to dress much, you get done playing, go out the next morning and tee it up. I like my tee time. If I can get off to a good start, but if you make two or three bogeys in the first five, six holes, there's not a lot of birdies to be made out here. You just got to be patient and if I get off to a good start I should be fine. If I don't then we will see what happens.

Q. Is there one hole in particular amongst that first few five or six that you consider the real test of you will know whether you are playing well or not?

DENNIS PAULSON: I really think if you start on the front nine you know, the first hole right off the bat, I mean, you have got to make a good swing there, you got to get it between the bunkers and land it in front of the green right on the front edge and just get it on the green somewhere. Give yourself a 20- or 30-footer. If you miss that green most likely you are going to make a bogey unless the pin is on the right and you hit it in the left bunker or you got some green to work and then you have got to hit a great bunker shot to mark par. 2 and 3 aren't that tough but 4 I think is probably one of the best holes on the entire golf course. 4, 12 and 8 are probably the hardest holes. 11 I think the green's tough, but if you hit the ball in the fairway you should be able to be able to just make a 4 there. You hit it in the fairway on 12 or 4, you still got bogey looking at you if you don't make a good swing. That green on 4 is just treacherous and it's into the very big target. Those big pine trees on the right are kind of in play and you don't want to miss it left and the green if you don't hit it below the hole, you have got better than a 50/50 chance to 3-putt. So if you can just get through the first three or four holes in par, you got the little rest there before you have to play No. 8, 5, 6 and 7 aren't too bad. They have got do something on 7. That tree on the corner is get so big, only place to play it from is that fairway bunker so I am just taking driver and bombing it up by the green and take my chances. It used to be a pretty easy hole. That tree left is get so big now that they are just -- my caddie and I were talk about it, we don't know what the smart play is, maybe 6-iron off the tee; maybe 9-iron over the top. But that green is no bargain if you don't put it on the right level so you want to try to get yourself close enough to the green where you can get Tour that doesn't have a pond or anything weird, it is just trees and grass and you can't beat it.

Q. Your life changed any since this time last year?

DENNIS PAULSON: Not really. Being a winner out here is a really neat thing, but I don't think you get more respect from the players or anybody else because you have won out here. I think my first year when I got back out here from the Nike Tour when I finished in the top-30 coming from the BUY.COM out here you have got more respect from the players because think know how hard it is for a guy that's basically in the Q-School category to play his way up into the next category without winning and finish in the top-30 on the money list. I think you get more respect from the players with that. The changes that the majors have made in winner's category; not necessarily getting you into The Masters and, winning this last year was nice but I was already in the Masters. Only real tournament I got into was the Tournament of Champions. That was a neat thing, but winning doesn't seem to carry as much weight and significance as it used to. You lost Augusta, and we have lost the Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup, World Championships used to be a winner's tournament only. So it's just really not that big of a deal. The last thing you want to be is a guy that wins a golf tournament on the PGA TOUR who has never heard from you before because that happens more times than it doesn't. So you got keep your head on straight. You are only as good as your last hole you have played out here. There's guys that have almost won a tournament and then they never do another thing the rest of their career, so, injuries are or for whatever reason you have got appreciate where you are at. If you don't really realize it, you are only as good as the last hole you played. You are not going to do very well out here.

Q. Did you realize that from the start when you won?

DENNIS PAULSON: I have known that from the very beginning. I took it a little for granted in 94 when I first got my card because I was hurt and my shoulder was bugging me. I finished in the top 125. I said this should be no problem out here and my shoulder was worse, didn't get any better. I didn't finish -- I finished out side the top 150 lost my status; didn't have NIKE privileges. I went from the PGA TOUR to State Opens. That's when I realized that it's a pretty special thing to have the opportunity to play out here and make the most of it, don't take it for granted. Because there's 300 guys trying to get to the top 125 out here and there's probably at least 100 in the world that deservedly could be here no problem if everything was right for them, whether Q-School or you know, because they are playing over in Europe or playing in Japan or wherever they are playing there's at least 100 guys that are very deserving that are capable of playing out here and being 125 on the money list if they had that opportunity. Look at Rateif, you guys don't know much about him. We all know how good he is because we know as players who the top players in the world are and we know how good he is but you guys made it like it was something special for him to win the US Open. The way he was swinging, I watched him on Thursday, it's a no-brainer. He was spearing it. There's 50 guys out there like that that could win out here but they don't have the opportunity or they don't want to for whatever reason. So you got to appreciate what you got out here and try to get better because there's five guys in line to take your spot, just ready to jump in that spot if you don't want to stay where you are at.

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