August 4, 2001
CASTLE ROCK, COLORADO
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Great position.
TOM PERNICE: I played relatively solid today. I'm not disappointed by any means.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Do you want to talk about how the conditions were out there, if they were different from the past two days.
TOM PERNICE: The greens firmed up quite a bit, and I think the fairways did, as well. I think all of the pins were very difficult to get to, especially the ones near the front because the greens got too hard. The only one that was soft for some reason was 15. Chris Riley and I both hit good shots there and they both spun back 10 or 12 feats. The greens are starting to firm up, and if we don't get any rain again tonight, I think it will be more difficult again tomorrow.
Q. Tom, you made three less points today than your normal score. (Laughter.) But, you gained a stroke on the field.
TOM PERNICE: I wasn't really paying too much attention to what was going on out there on the leaderboard. I played okay today, I really did. I hit a couple shaky iron shots on the front nine, but I got the ball up-and-down each time, so that kind of kept my momentum going after hitting a good wedge on No. 1 and making birdie. I made the bogey at 6. I hit a bad iron shot and had a tough chip and knocked it by about six feet and missed it. But then hit another bad iron shot at 7 and got it up-and-down out of the bunker. Then 8, I laid up and then hit it about 12 feet behind the hole and made a nice downhill putt for birdie there. So I thought that was really big.
Q. Do you think playing the ball down today made it a little more difficult than the first two days? Scores were down, that's why --
TOM PERNICE: I think it had more to do with the firmness of the greens, to be honest with you. There was no mud on the ball today. The fairways are good enough here that you are not going to get any better lie by cleaning it and placing it, to be honest with you. The first two days, to be able to was to not have any mud on your ball, and I didn't have any mud on my ball today. So I don't feel like it made any difference, to be honest with you.
Q. You and Vijay played a practice round on Tuesday. Did you unravel some mystery about the course?
TOM PERNICE: I don't know about that. We play every Tuesday, but we played with Vijay Singh on Tuesday and we had a nice day. We try to play together on Tuesdays. He's been a great help to me. He's kind of taken me under his wing at times, and he's someone that I look up to. He's a great player. I think he's one of the best players in the world. His work ethic is outstanding. We have a good time together and I think we'll have a great time again tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it.
Q. One of the comments that you made during the practice round -- and I was around and I heard it -- saying that "this week I'm going to make a bigger check than you." Were you prophetic?
TOM PERNICE: I think that's just our normal joking with each other. You know, I'm happy that Vijay played well today. I'm delighted. We had a great time playing together. The year he won at the Buick three or four years ago, we played together on Sunday. It was nice and I played well, also, that day. You know, I enjoy playing with someone that I'm comfortable with. I played with two great players today. Stewart Cink and I and Chris Riley. Chris is really quick-paced and a lot of fun and Stewart and I play a lot together. It was great. I'm looking forward to it. I'm going to have to go out and play another good round here. I still have to make points here no matter what. I'm really excited about it.
Q. Do you ever talk about on Tuesdays playing together on Sunday?
TOM PERNICE: We always hope we'll be in the last group playing together on Sunday, but that's probably the same thing with anybody that plays together. I think that we have a little bit, but, you know, it's just going to be -- you could not ask for a better playing partner for me. I respect him a lot. He's a great friend and he's a great player. So, to be right there with one of your friends is going to be fun and we have a lot of fun together when we play.
Q. How did that friendship blossom?
TOM PERNICE: We played together on the Asian Tour before either of us got out here. We were over there for three or four years before either one of us got our card. Vijay went over to Europe for a while and then he came over here. He's obviously blossomed a little bit more than I have. But that's where our relationship started.
Q. Does it make it harder or easier to be point man on the leaderboard?
TOM PERNICE: I don't think either way. I've still got to go out and make some points tomorrow, and I don't think you can ever not make enough points on this format, so you've just kind of got to focus on what you're trying to do and go about it. I don't know any other way to play. That's the way I play, and I'm not a leaderboard-watcher, to be honest with you. I've just got to go out and take what's in front of me and go after it. Hopefully, hit some drives on the fairway and give myself some opportunities to hit some good iron shots and give myself some chances to make some putts for birdie.
Q. Can you expand on how you strategize No. 8 with the tee back?
TOM PERNICE: Well, I didn't hit a tee shot far enough to go for it today. I had to lay up today. I didn't know what to lay up because I had never laid up before. I actually laid it up in the rough a little bit. A little miscommunication there of where to aim it. You know, I played with Stewart and he hit a really big drive there and got it on with a 3-wood. Not many people got it on the green, I would think. He had the tee back there today at 8 and 14 both. Unless you can really bomb it, not many people can knock it up there in two with the wind the way it was today. I drove it in the fairway and laid it up just into the right rough. It was just a few feet in the right rough.
Q. TV put up a stat that you had never led after the third round at all in your career.
TOM PERNICE: That's probably right. I have not been in the lead that much; so that would not surprise me much, either. I don't think that it matters that much. I have a few more points than everybody, but you've still got to go out tomorrow and play a good day. You've still got to go out and make some points tomorrow to be able to have a chance to win. I don't look at it that much different really.
Q. Do you get a sense that people out here know who you are?
TOM PERNICE: I don't care. (Laughter.) I'm out here to play golf. They know Vijay Singh and Sergio Garcia because they have played better and they have won tournaments and they should know them. Your good play warrants whatever comes from it. I just look ahead to whatever I have to do. If I play well, everything else, whatever happens, happens. I don't care. I mean, there's nothing that I can do about it.
Q. What about your style of play fits this course and this scoring system?
TOM PERNICE: I don't know. I don't know if my style of play is any different from anybody else. I don't know. I like the place. I like the people, the Vickers people have been friends of mine since I've been in Kansas City. The hospitality is wonderful, and the weather is great. I'm comfortable here I think more and the course is always in very nice condition. I don't know particularly why.
Q. A couple players mentioned that you are a very good player. Do you feel like you should have won more in your career? Do you have any explanation for that?
TOM PERNICE: Oh, I think that I've just slowly progressed and gotten better. I think my ball-striking has always kind of kept me back a little bit. I went and saw Jim Harding (ph) this spring down in Houston, who has been working with Scotty McCarron. Scott was struggling last year and Scott McCarron went from 150th on the Money List to about 50th; and Peter Jacobsen has done golf courses and he has helped his swing tremendously. I talked to them both and decided to see him right before Atlanta, and I played pretty well in Atlanta the first two or three days. I really understand my golf swing. It's much more simpler to me. He's used some people out here as some models to look at and what they do, and that's helped me visually. He likes a lot what David Duval does and he likes a lot what John Daly does through their downswing and through-swing; so visually it is a lot simpler and complex. I've always been pretty complex about what I'm doing. Jim has made it much simpler for me and I a little more freer, so I think that's really the step that I needed to make.
Q. And then one of the TV announcers a couple weeks ago, I think was talking; there was a pairing of friends -- and it might have been Ken Venturi. And he said that's not good because they get too comfortable with each other and they are not as hungry or competitive. Do you worry about that? You say you like to play with Vijay --
TOM PERNICE: I think quite the opposite. I personally play a little better when I am a little more relaxed and a little less intense. You know, when I worked with my sports psychologist, that is what I try to work on is just try to be more relaxed and more of an atmosphere of -- playing in an atmosphere of playing in a practice round or playing in a Pro-Am and that suits me best. The comment was probably O'Meara and Tiger's pairing at the British. I think somebody made some comments about that. But Tiger kind of goes on the intensity level and it could notably have hurt Tiger. That's what I recall about it when I was watching. For me, I think the more relaxed I am, the better it is for me.
Q. You made kind of a scrambling birdie on No. 1. How much of a momentum builder was that?
TOM PERNICE: That was good. I started off and I wanted to play pretty aggressive on the tee. I wanted to put it on the right side of the fairway so I could see the pin. I drove it on the left side the first two days and could not see it. I missed the right side by a couple yards so I had to play up. I laid up nice and had a perfect yardage for wedge and hit it about three feet. I think that's a great way to start off: Start off and get some points, I think. Absolutely. Birdied 1. Like I said, I bogeyed No. 6. I hit a 9-iron heavy and it came up short. No. 8, laid it up just in the right rough and was behind the hole about 12 feet and made a good putt. 13, I hit a good 2-iron off the tee and hit a sand wedge about 20 feet and rolled that one in. 16, I hit a good 5-iron, it was about 30 feet and a downhill putt and forcing for that one to go in. 17 was the 5-iron, pretty much in the middle of the green and I 2-putted from about 40 feet.
Q. Going into the week, did you have any inkling that this was going to be a real good week for you, or not?
TOM PERNICE: Well, I played well at Hartford. I really felt like I really started hitting the ball well going into Hartford. I had a chance there on Sunday and got myself in good position. I hit the ball great on Sunday and felt really good about my game, and I was really looking forward to the upcoming events in Chicago and Milwaukee, where I've played good, and hopefully I was going to play good and hopefully make enough to get into the British. But I missed both of the cuts there by a shot or two, I think. And I was really disappointed because I felt like I was playing good. Same at John Deere, I was making mistakes and not making many putts. But inside I felt like my ball-striking was there and I really had control of it, and I just needed to putt a little better. And I saw my short game teacher, Jim Seekman(ph). He came in on Tuesday picked up a few things on my putting. My hands were behind the ball, and I moved my hands a couple inches ahead and allowed me to open my stance a little bit and I could see the line a little bitter. Obviously that's helped me to make some putts this week, to make some points. I felt like I was really coming long and playing good. It's been disappointing after Hartford to have a decent finish there. I was just trying to be patient and thinking that it is going to turn around and some good things are going to happen.
Q. Is there a significance behind the button on your cap?
TOM PERNICE: My daughter gave me that on a Father's Day card. The button came off a couple years ago and I've just always worn it ever since she gave it to me. My two daughters flew in on Thursday and it's special that they are here this week. It says: "This dad is loved a lot."
Q. Have you been in contact with the folks from Coors at all?
TOM PERNICE: Yeah, I have, actually. The charity has our celebrity Pro-Am outing on Monday, as well, when we get done on the same course. In fact, Steve Saunders is here in the area. I saw him on Wednesday, actually. Nice to play well here, too, with Coors being so close.
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