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August 5, 2001

Tom Pernice, Jr.


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Congratulations, Tom.

TOM PERNICE: Thank you, very much.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: It's a wonderful victory. It's almost two years to the day when you won the Buick Open on August 8, 1999, and I'm sure it was hard to believe, to go out there and only score one point. I'm sure going into this morning, you didn't feel that way.

TOM PERNICE: No. I just felt like I needed to go out and play well. I knew the pins were going to be more difficult and the wind was blowing in a different direction today, and blowing pretty steady; it can be tricky here. You never know. That's why it is hard to pick numbers and go out and play. You just have to go out and play and see what happens. I thought I played prettily solid the front nine. I didn't hit many loose shots. Didn't hit it close to the hole, but I left myself on the fairway and the greens with really opportunities. I hit a good shot at 8 to make a birdie and that was helpful. My loose shot of the day that really hurt me was at 10. I was in pretty good shape. Just kind of came out with a 7-iron and went in the water. I had a great wedge in there to recover, I thought. I had about a 12-footer for bogey, which would only have been a one-point loss, and misread it and made bogey. After that I settled down and had some good shots and hung in there. Made a great birdie at the par 5, which put me in good shape. And then I let it slip away on 15 and 16, hit it in two shots you cannot hit it off the tee: Right on 15 and left at 16. I had a miraculous second shot at 16 and hit it up there a foot for bogey, and that's probably the shot that ended up winning me the golf tournament, actually. The putt I missed at 17, I hit a pretty good putt. It was quick and down the hill and I played it a ball outside the hole, and it still broke outside the hole and I thought I made that. I would have really iced it. 18 I was trying just to get to the middle of green. I was to the short rough in the right and hit it down in the valley and the ball bit and had a tough putt. It was definitely trying, and I just tried to stay patient and do what I could.

Q. Tom, first of all from one Bruin to another, way to go. Yesterday you said you were not a scoreboard watcher. Did you hold form with that today?

TOM PERNICE: Pretty much. I really did not see a scoreboard until the 10th green and I saw DiMarco had made eagle at 18, so I knew he was somewhere in the area; and I glanced at the scoreboard at 10 and I knew I was tied with him at the time. So I made minus three there so I knew I was behind. That is the first time I looked at a leaderboard all day. Until then I did not see another leaderboard. I made birdie at 14, the par 5, and I think that put me up by a couple at the time, if I am not mistaken. Then did I not see a leaderboard again until 16 when I tapped in for bogey. At that time, it looked like DiMarco had fallen back and it was between Chris Riley and I and Vijay at the time. I had a good opportunity at 17 after hitting my drive, but pulled my iron in the bunker. Had a pretty good bunker shot and left myself a tough 6-footer down the hill and I missed it, but luckily it all worked out. Coming up 18, I just wanted to know if that putt Chris was putting was for birdie or par; and it was for par, so I knew what I needed to do on 16.

Q. Yesterday you said playing with Vijay might calm you down; did it?

TOM PERNICE: I think so. You know, he's one of the greatest guys. He's been great to me. We play practice rounds together, work out together in the gym at night. He's just been extremely nice. It's a comfortable atmosphere being out there with one of your best friends. I know he struggled coming in and I feel bad for him in that aspect, too, but we all did. I think overall, yeah, it was nice. We had conversations. We talked about all kinds of stuff as much as could be. He got to play with me when I won. I got to play with him when he won at the Buick three or four years ago; so luckily it worked out all right. Yeah, I enjoy playing with him. I still think he's one of the best players in the world. He's awesome and I have a lot of respect for him.

Q. Talk a little bit about what was more important to you: Making the winning putt or the hugs that you got after? And talk a little about your daughters.

TOM PERNICE: Well, there's plenty of golf tournaments. I have two daughters. So, it's pretty special. We travel a lot. We don't get to see our families a lot. It's great that they were here this week. They have been great all week. I got in the lead there on Friday and they kept saying, "You're going to win, Dad, you're going to win." It's just pretty special. They are the two most important things in my life, and it's just great to have them here.

Q. You said everyone was struggling so much out there. Reasons why, you think?

TOM PERNICE: I don't know. I thought the pins were extremely difficult today, as they usually are. But they were not the typical Sundays on all of them. I think the wind blew a little different direction today. It blew more out of the east instead of the north. That had a little bit to do with it, I think. Where the pins were, if you were somewhat aggressive and had some near misses, you could make some bogeys, so I think there was probably more bogeys today as a whole -- I didn't see the scoring -- than a lot. I would say that the pin positions had a lot to do with it.

Q. Were you a little shocked by how people were sort of falling by the wayside?

TOM PERNICE: Like I said, I didn't watch the scoreboards much. You know, I felt that there were not that many people that were really close. I saw DiMarco make eagle right in front of me at 8, so I knew he was in the ball game. It looked like Chris was hanging in there, too, and I saw his name on the board. When I first saw it at 10, he was not too far back. But nobody seemed to be lighting up. So, no, I did not hear a lot of roars today. I didn't think the scoring, anybody was doing anything too spectacular.

Q. To win on a day when you score one point on this format, what does it say about the format and the way you played; that one point can win the tournament?

TOM PERNICE: I don't know. Well, fortunately, I had a three-point lead or whatever going into the lead. That truly helped. You know, I tried to play smart. I tried to play to win today. But I still, I wanted to play smart. I wanted to drive the ball in the fairway. I wanted to hit the ball on the greens where I had good opportunities to make the putts. I didn't always execute that way, but that was kind of my game plan. I felt pretty confident with my putting. So I didn't want to make a lot of mistakes, and really the only couple mistakes I made was the iron shot, I think at 10. I made some bad swings at 15 and 16, but 10 was a mistake. I should have aimed at the left, but just hit it in the middle of the green at that point. All in all, this format, if you get a little aggressive with tough pins and you start missing some greens, it can be difficult.

Q. I don't know if many of us have seen a more touching picture that after you won and your daughters were with you. For those that don't follow the Tour week-in and week-out, can you just fill us in a little bit about your younger daughter? The TV guy said that her sight is improving?

TOM PERNICE: Yeah, she was born with a generic disease calls lebers amorosis. It's where your retina did not develop from birth, and it is pretty much a degenerative disease and she cannot see. About three years ago, I was at my old stomping grounds out at L.A. at Bel Aire, and I played a round of golf with Engelbert Humperdinck and he told me about this Chinese doctor, Dr. Ha (ph) who is an aquapuncture specialist who has helped him with some of his problems; and I told him about Brooke and he said, "I think you should look into it; it could possibly help. " We went out to California and saw this doctor. He said: "I'm not an eye specialist but I believe that I can possibly increase the blood flow to those areas and possibly help the retina generate." She's been going now for three and a half years. She loves the guy dearly. She started off five days a week and now she goes two days a week. Every time we have an eye specialist exam every six months it is getting better. She is getting more and more light to her eyes. She is doing much, much better. She still really can't see much. She can see whether the lights are on or off or light out or dark out. She's going to be in first grade next year. She can read and right Braille at about third grade level. Her math skills are at fourth grade level. She is unbelievably special. But she is doing a little bit better. You know, hopefully, you know, in the future, with this acupuncture, he's kept the optic nerve alive, which is important, and there's no retinal operation at this point, but in the future something can happen. Her sister, Kristen, is unbelievable, the best big sister you could ever imagine. She's just as special as Brooke.

Q. (Inaudible.)

TOM PERNICE: She said "We won it" and I said, well you're just a part of it as I am. She didn't know for sure -- here she is, come here, Brooke. This is Brooke on my right and this Kristen on my left.

Q. The shot you hit on 12, was a long iron which kind of set the tone for the back side. Can you tell us what you were thinking with that shot?

TOM PERNICE: Actually, my foot slipped a little bit on the tee. It was kind of sandy back there and I kind of skied my 3-wood. I was trying to hit it short of the bunker. I had about a 7-iron in and ended up with 5-iron. I had 200-something yards. The wind was right-to-left and I tried to put it in the right center of the green and lo and behold, I got it up there and the wind started turning and it went right over the flag and left me with about a 12- or 15-footer and it rolled right in. Got my momentum back and in position after I made the minus three points at No. 10. Like Faherty said, "Surely you were aiming at the flag?" And I said: "No, I was aiming about 25 feet right. Just in case you pull it, that's why you aim it right. That was my big key. And after 16, leaving it in the bunker trying to get too cute, to hit the next one up there a foot, you know, it was huge. That probably won me the tournament.

Q. You obviously have not had a ton of wins on the Tour. Was there any doubt going into the back nine, and did Vijay help you out with that?

TOM PERNICE: No, I really didn't have any self-doubt. I felt good about any mechanics. I felt they would hold up. I felt good by putting. I was just trying to go about my game plan and continue to do the same. Obviously, it did not hold up. I made some bad swings, but you have to deal with that in golf. Nobody hits the ball perfect and as you saw, nobody was really puring it, I guess, and tearing it up coming in. You just have to deal with that.

Q. Did you guys talk at all?

TOM PERNICE: Well, you're not out there trying to baby-sit anybody. He was definitely -- you know, we talked about everything and anything.

Q. How do you compare this win to your first one two years ago as far as significance?

TOM PERNICE: You know, it's probably a little more special because both Brooke and Chris tin were here. From a golfing standpoint, to lead most of the way and hold on and win, that probably adds a little more significance. At the Buick, I came from pretty far back and finished quite a bit ahead of the leaders. Tom Lehman, made some mistakes for me to win. To be there in the last group and be leading after 36 and then to win, that is somewhat gratifying. I would obviously liked to have played a little better coming in, but those things happens. That's why you go out and practice and work hard so that next time you do better. I don't know how you could distinguish between the two at this point. Just from a personal deal, it means more to me because these two girls were here.

Q. You were a wrestler --

TOM PERNICE: Not really. (Laughter.)

Q. It says in the PGA TOUR guide that you were --

TOM PERNICE: I did. I was so small in high school -- I was a sophomore; that all of the football players in the football coaches said up to me and said we don't have anybody wrestling 98 pounds and we need you to wrestle 98 pounds. They talked me into it and I started in my sophomore year. Growing up in Kansas City, I didn't play much golf at that time of year and did a lot of weight training and learned a lot. Came back the next year as a junior and they needed somebody at 105. They had a guy at 98, at that time I was -- inaudible -- I really learned some discipline at that point. I was not a great wrestler, but they talked me into wrestling.

Q. The reason I asked you that, how much did that help you in your golf career as you tried to find your way out here?

TOM PERNICE: I think it did a lot. To me, they are the best-conditioned high school, college athletes by far. What they have to do in workouts and all that, when they get done, they cannot eat or drink anything. I know that feeling and it is miserable. Yeah, you learn some true discipline about it, and I think it helps. I've always worked pretty hard. Spending some time with Vijay out here and seeing how hard he works continually drives me. That's kind of, you know I have to credit most of it to working hard and continue to, you know -- part of the course.

End of FastScripts....

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