June 1, 2001
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: We'd like to thank Paul Azinger for joining us in the interview room. Good round today.
PAUL AZINGER: Thanks.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Looks like you are going to be in a great position going into the weekend. Why don't you make a couple comments about today's round and we'll go into some questions.
PAUL AZINGER: Played obviously pretty difficult, with the wind, but the greens were so soft; it made it very playable. I didn't drive it particularly well, either of the first two days, but I hit my irons laser-beam accurate. I think if -- to keep playing well, I'm going to have to hit a few more fairways. I still have some work to do. I'm not totally dialed in, but, you know, obviously, it was very good.
Q. You were 2-under before the delay on the day, and then you made two bogeys at 6 and 9. Did it take a while to get back into the swing of things?
PAUL AZINGER: Maybe a little bit. It might have taken a little bit of the momentum away, but I wiped a drive on 6. I kind of just slid it off to the right and I did the same thing yesterday, and I had to lay up both times, and I bogeyed that hole twice. I hit a similar drive on 7 both days, but I managed pars. Today on 9, I drove it just an inch into the left-hand rough, and the first cut, and it made a big difference in that second shot. Then all of the sudden, I hit a good drive on 10. You know, it just started happening. I hit it reasonably close on 11. 12, I hit a beautiful shot there, and didn't birdie either one. Then 13 to 17, I played some really nice shots. I hit all the fairways. Actually, I missed the fairway on 14 and 17, now that I think about it. I need to drive it a little straighter. I played some good shots out of the rough on 14. I hit it three or four feet there from the right rough. And 17, pin-high left, probably 10 or 12 feet. Two really good shots considering the wind was blowing like it was. And the rough here, when it is wet, it's really tough.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Do you want to go through those holes; the club selections?
PAUL AZINGER: Driver on first hole, 7-iron, ten feet. I laid up on No. 5. Hit sand wedge, four feet. 6, I hit it in the right rough, laid up. Hit sand wedge 20 feet, missed it. 9, 8-iron, left rough in the first cut; didn't get on the green. Didn't get up-and-down. Missed about a 10-footer. 13, I hit the fairway. I hit pitching wedge about to about eight feet. 14, right rough, pitching wedge four feet. 15, driver, driver, 25 feet, pin-high left and 2-putt. Hit 7-iron on 16, I would say about 12 to 15 feet, something like that. 17, was about the same. I hit a 9-iron second shot to 12 feet. Good putt on the last hole. I would have hated to make a bogey there. That was a good, solid 10-footer there for par.
Q. Scott talked at Greensboro about feeling Payne in the final round, feeling P-a-y-n-e in the final round. Is it too early to be getting mystical about this week?
PAUL AZINGER: I'm not into all that mystical stuff.
Q. Obviously, you had a pretty emotional day on Wednesday. Has any of that carried through?
PAUL AZINGER: I don't know if any of it has carried through or not. I felt like it was a little more difficult to prepare. I didn't feel totally ready on Thursday. I'm glad I had an afternoon tee time, not a morning time. My Wednesday practice round was just horrible. It was after I gave that talk that I was able to finally gear in and focus. So I went back and changed clothes -- I'm staying across the driving range there. I came back and got, really, some effective practice in. But it wasn't really until after the ceremony that I was able to really get focused in. But I prepared reasonably well at home, too.
Q. You've been off six weeks, is that normal for you this time of year?
PAUL AZINGER: Yeah. Around the fourth or fifth week, friends start calling up and saying, "Are you hurt?" And I say, "No. Remember I did this the year before and the year before that and the year before that?"
Q. Is there something that goes on at home that causes that?
PAUL AZINGER: It's just a good time to fish.
Q. For what, anything?
PAUL AZINGER: Mainly I like -- yeah, whatever. (Smiles).
Q. In the Gulf?
PAUL AZINGER: In the bay, in the Gulf. In-shore, not off-shore.
Q. Fundamentally, what part of your game are you most happy with today, overall?
PAUL AZINGER: Both days, my irons were really good. I hit only a couple marginal iron shots, but for the most part, my distance control was pretty good, and I was really good, you know, with my trajectory. I was controlling it; if I wanted to hit it in the air or down. I hit my irons really great both days. Hit a lot of shots close.
Q. The greens are said to be, even though they are very receptive to your shots, they are said to still be rolling really fast?
PAUL AZINGER: They are very fast.
Q. Are you surprised they can take on this much water and still be as slick as they are?
PAUL AZINGER: Yeah, it's amazing that it can rain this much and they can be this fast. I just watched from the next hole that green on 5 today just fill up with water. There was more rain in five minutes standing on that green than we've had in three months. It's just unbelievable. It's funny, because you can watch the bunker just fill up with water, and the greens just soak it up.
Q. Were they any different, the greens after the delay?
PAUL AZINGER: Might have been just a hair slower, but not much. The wind is blowing so hard, it's drying them out. The wind was the major factor today, I thought. It really was whirling around.
Q. Does that make five straight birdies even more impressive to you?
PAUL AZINGER: Well, it wasn't easy. I know it wasn't easy. If it was easy, there would be a lot more low scores.
Q. If your irons are laser sharp, do you know what the trouble is you are having off the tee?
PAUL AZINGER: I hope so. Jack talked to me a little bit after I got done. Jack Cook watched me hit some balls before I started. I think I'm getting ahead of it. He said, "Just the start of the downswing, it looks like you might be getting ahead of it." He says, "Just stay back a split second," and he says, "you'll hit it great."
Q. What do you reflect on when you come back to Ohio? Two of the great moments of your career have been in this state.
PAUL AZINGER: Clearly the fans in Ohio are just crazy about golf. The majority of the cities we play golf in, there would not have been a thousand people out there today. It was just amazing. It was almost like a British Open. Doesn't matter what the weather is like; they don't go home. It's always fun to play in front of that. You know, I don't know why I play decent in Ohio, but clearly, I think the most -- the most dramatic moment of my career took place right there behind us in that bunker.
Q. Do you remember that more than the PGA in Toledo?
PAUL AZINGER: The PGA was obviously the greatest feather in my cap, but I think the moment dramatic moment of my career was that moment.
Q. The shot that you had out of the rough, did you wish you were in the bunker?
PAUL AZINGER: No, I didn't want to be in the bunker, because it was wet, and it looks a little more downslope now than when I was in there a few years back. I really didn't have much of a shot. I was surprised it got as close as it did. When I hit it I thought it was gone, but it actually rolled up and came back. I would like to say I knew that it was going to do that, but I didn't. I had not hit a chip shot in a long time, since the ninth hole. So it's been a solid two and a half hours since I hit a chip shot, and it was a good one.
End of FastScripts....