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June 5, 1999

Dennis Paulson


LEE PATTERSON: All right. Just a couple thoughts about your round heading into tomorrow.

DENNIS PAULSON: The course is playing pretty tough. You have to think your way around it. Greens have firmed up, speeded up. You have to think your way around it. It's a test out there and the wind makes it that much tougher.

LEE PATTERSON: Any questions?

Q. Dennis, is it a long hitter's advantage at all?

DENNIS PAULSON: I've never played a Jack Nicklaus course that wasn't. It's the way he designs the golf course. He designs it himself. The long hitters, I would say, some have an advantage. This course doesn't have as many advantages as a lot of Jack's courses do, where you can carry it over a bunker and the fairway's wider for you. Stuff like that. There's a premium on distance and accuracy combined out here. Some of the holes are actually tougher for the longer hitters because of the runouts in the fairways. It seemed like they put a little more water on the golf course on the fairways yesterday. They seemed to be softer than they were yesterday. I don't know if that's because they wanted to make the course play a little bit longer and not as much chase, or it was just the fact that it's going to be warm and they don't want them to burn before tomorrow.

Q. They didn't put extra water on the green, did they?

DENNIS PAULSON: Didn't seem like it. They got a little drink yesterday but probably not a lot.

Q. How much faster were the greens?

DENNIS PAULSON: Probably about a foot. They got to be over 12 right now; right around 12. They're running pretty good. It probably started out this morning around 11, but 12 right now. I promise you, that putt on 18 I could have hit it down the bottom of the hill. It was going from 4 feet.

Q. Dennis, do you approach or feel differently at a tournament where a lot of the top 5, 6, 10 guys from the world ranking are in it?

DENNIS PAULSON: Makes it more fun. If you're going to win a golf tournament, you might as well win one where all the boys are here. It's definitely the hardest one to win but it's also a little bit easier in the sense that you can't lay down and play dead. You have to go out there and keep being aggressive. My two bogeys today were both because I was overly aggressive. 6-iron on No. 1, three or four feet left of the hole, hit it too far. Should have hit 7-iron on the fat of the green, let the slope take it, but I didn't. 13, I had 134 to the hole in the breeze, that's pushing a wedge. 9-iron, beautiful shot, flew in the back bunker and plugged. Those are my two bogeys for the day. You can't be too aggressive out here; you have to play smart. You can't try to make pars all day either. Guys will run right over you.

Q. Not to stretch it too much, you know Tiger and Duval or whoever are in the field. Does it tell you, hey, I got to be more aggressive possibly?

DENNIS PAULSON: It tells me I'm playing pretty good golf.

Q. Even the first day.

DENNIS PAULSON: Yeah. This is a special tournament. This is my first time here, my maiden voyage. I don't think anybody's ever won their first tournament here. I don't think that's ever happened. So that's against me. With the exception of Maltbie, the very first year they had the tournament; didn't Maltbie win? He's probably the only guy that won the first time he showed up here. So that's going against me, too. So I just got to go out and play solid golf. If I play like I did today and hit a few more good shots and if I get away with a couple bad swings -- because everybody makes them, I made three bad swings all day today and that was it. If I can play golf tomorrow and hit 38 good -- make 35 or 36 good golf swings and 2 or 3 bad ones and get away with some of the bad swings I make and I make good decisions out there, I'll be just fine.

Q. With the course conditions, you're kind of learning how aggressive you can be --


Q. Is that going to make it hard for somebody from behind to catch up?

DENNIS PAULSON: I don't know what the forecast is for tomorrow, if the wind is the same, it's supposed to be hot. If it hits it, it will get calmer. Usually you don't get this much wind. They're predicting 90 degrees. Someone could probably go out early and shoot a low score but it's not going to do them any good. We're pretty stretched out now. There's not a whole lot of guys at 4-under or better. That would be a lot of shots. Tiger's 10 or 11 or 12 right now. What is he? Tiger's the man. The only way that anybody's got a chance is if Tiger plays an average round of golf tomorrow. You know, for Tiger to shoot even par, he can probably play pretty bad; he's just so good. You know, 12 under par is a pretty solid number out here the way the golf course is playing right now. So you look at 4s, shoot 64, I don't see anybody shooting 64 on a golf course with the conditions that there are right now. Especially with some of these Sunday pins. There's some tough ones out there tomorrow.

Q. Have you thought about what you need to shoot tomorrow to be in it?

DENNIS PAULSON: No. I just have to keep playing well. I know I'm going to have to shoot under par. I don't wish bad luck on anyone. I don't want Tiger to shoot 75 or 76. That's not the way you want anything like that to happen. I know it's going to have to be under par, and I'm going to have to play solid, and more than anything I'm going to have to play smart golf. You have about 36 decisions you have to make out there, and I was correct on 34 of them. 33 of them. I made a mistake on 12, too, should have hit a wedge with a 9-iron. Thinking my way around the golf course, making decisions, those are harder under the gun. There's a lot of pressure. That's where a good caddie comes in; you have to stay calm and try to make the right decision and control your emotions and adrenaline.

Q. Dennis, when they mentioned out there that you were among the big-time leaderboard and everything like that, you seemed to be upset. Do you think people will be able to compete with those guys? Do you think people are --

DENNIS PAULSON: I didn't mean that. I came in here on Thursday; there were two questions asked. No one really cared about anything. I got the general assumption that I wouldn't be right here, there's not really a story here, so let's get him out of here, Jack's coming in in just a little bit. It's not a negative or a derogatory thing. You know, I've got to prove myself before, you know, you guys really want to talk to me and find out what's going on. I've played some pretty good golf this year. I don't feel like I've played as well as I can. I haven't had a good tournament yet where I've played four rounds of golf this year. I still have three top tens. I've been in the Honda, played pretty good; San Diego, finished in the top ten, shot under par; finished fourth on the back nine at New Orleans. So I've been there and I've played well. I've been successful. I haven't laid down and played backwards other than Phoenix. I didn't have a good back nine, shot about 5-over there to finish 20 something. But other than that, it's been mostly positive. When I've had to play well, I've played pretty decent.

Q. What do you like about this course?

DENNIS PAULSON: I like the design. I just like Nicklaus courses. My top two finishes have been at English Turn, and Nicklaus did that course, too. I like the stuff he does. English Turn's more like Jack's course. It's an advantage for the longer hitters. Look at the guys who one there, with the exception of Crenshaw. Most of the guys who played there play pretty well. Davis Love, Mike Heinen, these guys hit pretty far. All of Jack's greens, I can read his greens. That's the name of the game. If you can't make putts, you can't shoot well. I seem to read his greens well.

Q. How much motivation is that for you, what you were talking about earlier, just having to prove yourself and get the attention?

DENNIS PAULSON: You know, this is a job. And I'm 36 years old. I'm going to be 37 in September. I've been playing golf for a long time. I've got a lot of friends and family that can't believe it took me this long to get on Tour. I was on Tour, lost my card, came back and got injuries. I really don't think I have to prove anything. I've played really well, competed really well when I've had the opportunity. Winning is important, but my goals this year were mostly how much money I'd make and Ryder Cup points. I didn't just want to make the Ryder Cup team, but the only way you get points is being in the top ten. The only way you can win a tournament is to be in the top ten at the end of the weekend. The only way you can win a golf tournament is playing good the last nine holes of a golf tournament. You need luck. Unless you have a 6 or 7-shot lead. I won a tournament years ago with 11 or 12 shots, but usually you need a break here or someone needs a bad break there to win a golf tournament. Look at David Duval, how many times did he finish second? A couple times he didn't play very good, but a lot of times he played a good round of golf and someone else played better. To win golf tournaments is luck more than it is skill. It's where the chips fall the last four or five holes. But you play hard, the luckier you get.

Q. You said your family or whatever couldn't believe it took you this long to get to this point.

DENNIS PAULSON: It's kind of like you're so good, why is it taking so long. Q-School's tough. It's who's the best player the first week of December. That's a crummy way to get your Tour card. Got my card in '94, played pretty good. My shoulders were killing me in '95, and lost my card then and got sick in the '95 Q-School, missed there. Had probably the best year of golf in my life in '96, won about $150,000 on a mini-Tour; that's like making 3 million out here. You have to win almost every week to do that. Pat Burke made a good point, he said, it would have been a million dollar summer if you were playing on the right Tour. So you got to play good in December or you got to go to the Nike Tour and that's the greatest thing in the world. We've proven time and time again that the guys from the Q-School don't compete, especially if you take the guys out that got through the Q-School and had cards before. If you take guys that never had cards before, then you go against the Nike guys, take out all those guys without the cards, those guys are much more successful on average than the Q-School. You can really have to prove yourself out there.

Q. I came in a little late so I'm not sure if you've been asked this. Mark said outside someone asked him about tomorrow and he said I really don't expect Tiger to play much worse than par tomorrow, less than par. So everyone else is really going to have to play up. Do you agree with that assessment?

DENNIS PAULSON: Oh, no question. I mean Tiger and David are the best players in the world by far. I mean Davis Love has played a great stretch of golf this year to get back in the fray of things. But it's pretty impressive for Tiger to fly over, come back here and play golf and he's right here again. That's hard to do. I can fly to Japan and Australia and tee up the next day. I cannot fly back from Europe and tee up the next day. I'm wiped. I'm leaving five days early to go to the British Open to try to qualify. It's a tough thing to do. He's a really good athlete; he takes care of himself. He's fit. He's been around. He's going to be out there like it's another day at the beach and have fun out there. It seems like him and his caddie are getting along real well, working really well together and that's a big key. You have to have someone helping you make decisions out there. When you make a decision, he's got to really be on your side and make you feel good about it. You have to commit to a golf shot on this course. There's no bail out. You just don't want a 30-footer because there's a good chance you're going to 3-putt. You have to try to really hit a solid shot every time you have that opportunity.

Q. I know they're not through yet, but is there a score in your mind that you think you have to shoot tomorrow to have a chance to catch up?

DENNIS PAULSON: Just depends upon the conditions. I just want to go out there and play really solid, you know. If I shoot 69 and finish 8th, it doesn't matter. If I shoot 70 and finish second, it doesn't matter. If I shoot 65 and don't win, it doesn't matter. I just want to play golf and see where the chips fall. I'd like to play four rounds of golf. This is the biggest tournament I've got to play in this year with the top of the field and I'm playing well. I'm going to go to the concert tonight, relax a little bit. Going to go see my buddies, Hootie's playing tonight. I'm going to see Hootie and relax and have a couple beers and relax and tomorrow will be just another day. Just tee off.

LEE PATTERSON: Anything else? Thank you. I appreciate it.

DENNIS PAULSON: You're welcome.

End of FastScripts....

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