June 3, 2001
PAUL AZINGER: I hate that we didn't have a closer fight. I even apologized to him, because I think at this point, he looks so bored, almost. I mean, I just said, hey, I'm sorry I didn't give you a better game. We were walking down 17 and I said, "I'm sorry I wasn't a better player for you today."
Q. Has it come to where he is getting bored at an event like this?
PAUL AZINGER: Today, he was just able to hit irons and just coast on in. Obviously, he has done that a few times. I would not say overall he's bored, no. But I would say today he was able to coast on in and I really regret that I could not have played a little better. I thought it was going to happen for me. I thought I was going to focus and just play more steady, but it just didn't happen. I think my long game wasn't great the whole tournament. Clearly, I didn't drive it like I wanted to. I've got some things I need to work on and here I finished second and I'm all bummed out. I'm not trying to beat myself up, certainly, I'm happy, I'm going to make a lot of money and all that. But I realize for me to contend at the U.S. Open, my long game has to get better and in the end, that's what I want to be able to do.
Q. On No. 5, your second shot, was it -- were you thinking about what he was going to do? Were you chancy with that shot?
PAUL AZINGER: No. I wanted to give that a go. I mean, at that point, 238 to the front downwind, I was trying to go off to the right. I didn't think that I could hold the green if I went at the flag, and I just didn't do it. I wanted to get in that mowed area. It would have been an easy up-and-down. I pulled it. I did the same thing on Thursday, trying to go off to the right and I pulled it. I think in the end, it was probably a mistake for me to take a crack at that point. I was one shot ahead, and my strength all week has been my wedge game, not my long game, and I maybe should have just laid back and played to my strength.
Q. Do you think the fifth hole was a turning point in the tournament?
PAUL AZINGER: Certainly. Absolutely. He hit an unbelievable 3-iron after I hit it in the water and went from 1-down to two ahead. I kind of wiped a drive on the next hole and had to hit 4-iron in there, and it flew the green and ended up making another bogey, and just like that, he's three clear and knocked it on the seventh green in two. I don't know who else is doing that today. The guy is on his game today. He's powerful and hits shots when he needed to. I think if he needed to shoot 64 today, he probably might have done that.
Q. Your club on 5 was?
PAUL AZINGER: 3-wood.
Q. When is the last time you played with him in a final round?
PAUL AZINGER: I don't know. I don't know if I have. I played with him at the Grand Slam for two days, two final rounds. I played a lot of golf with him. But, you know, I know enough to know that I never saw him make a swing today until the 13th tee. When he birdied 12 --, when I bogeyed 11, it was probably over for me, but I was still absorbed in what I was trying to do. I never saw a swing he made until 15th tee. I wasn't watching.
Q. He had you by 12 shots on the par 5 holes. When it is wet like this, how do you possibly counteract --
PAUL AZINGER: That's why the guy is capable of dominating. He hit 2-iron, the caddy told me -- when he hit the 2-iron on 15 today, I watched the flight -- actually I didn't see the flight of that shot. But the one he hit on 5, I asked him on 17, I said, "What did he hit on 5"? He said he hit 3-iron. It was a moon shot, you know. He told me that on 5, the day before, or maybe the first day or whatever when he hit it in there close, I hit 2-iron; he had 265. If I've got 265, brother, I can't get there with a 3-wood. (Laughs). And I've always been one of the Top-20 longest -- right now I'm maybe one of the Top-50 longest, and this guy is hitting 2-iron farther than my 3-wood. That's pretty nice for him. He's a phenom. I tell you what, he's a phenom. He played pretty good today. It looked easy for him.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Why don't you go through your round.
PAUL AZINGER: 3-wood, 7-iron on the first hole. 35 feet and made it. Fifth hole, 3-wood in the water. Didn't get up-and-down. Missed about a 12-footer, 15-footer. 4-iron over the green on 6, and really no chance there. Missed about a 15-footer. 11, I drove it to the right in the mud and had to drop up underneath the trees and hack it out. I had to lay up short. Terrible bogey there. 14, I wiped a 3-iron off into the right rough. Pathetic. Virtually, I had to lay up short of the green, left and I didn't get that up-and-down. 15, I hit another horrible tee shot to the right and laid up and hit 7-iron. It landed on the collar and rolled down about a foot for birdie and then just parred in.
Q. Given the circumstances surrounding this week, what would a win here have meant to you?
PAUL AZINGER: Well, it doesn't matter. I'll never know. I was hoping fate -- I was hoping at the end of the week I would believe in fate. (Laughs). But fate couldn't overcome poor technique in the end with respect to my long game.
Q. What driver did you use?
PAUL AZINGER: I used my back-up driver. I took the shaft out of the one with the crack and put it in the other one. It looks a little more hooked. The week I'm home, I'm going to get them to come down and try and get three, four, or five good back-up drivers, is what I'm going to do.
Q. Do you routinely not watch what the other guy is doing?
PAUL AZINGER: Yeah, absolutely. I'm totally obsessed with what I'm doing and trying to be in love with my game and could care less about what anybody else is doing. So it's not out of the norm for me to not watch him. But I was curious, after 13, so I watched a little bit.
Q. Jack's tweaked these par 5s the last two years trying to get them more challenging for you guys. Can he do anything to bring Tiger back to the rest of you guys?
PAUL AZINGER: The longer you make them, the more they play in his hand yet. I think he made the par 5's harder here. He played phenomenal shots all week. It's incredible.
Q. Obviously, he is the favorite at the Open. Given the conditions of the U.S. Open, Southern Hills, in particular: Overwhelming favorite? Slight favorite? Clear favorite? How does it set up for him?
PAUL AZINGER: I have no idea. I would say he's a clear favorite. But nobody is going to give it to him, I can promise you that. He's going to have to go out and earn it. But right now, he's the man. Right now, I would say that he's probably the most dominant athlete in the history of sports. You know, it's incredible. I don't know if the general public appreciates it. They probably do, but if they don't, they should.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Paul.
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