July 30, 1998
DAVE SENKO: Paul, real quick in with a 65, just maybe share some thoughts with us on your round today.
PAUL AZINGER: Well, just real solid tee-to-green. I drove it good and drove it pretty far and took advantage of the par 5s. I might have made a couple that I didn't expect to make and I missed a few I thought I could make. But, it is a good start. I haven't played here in a while. I don't know how completely comfortable I am on the golf course, but I really did swing good at it today and it does the body good. Kind of like milk.
DAVE SENKO: How were the conditions?
PAUL AZINGER: It was beautiful this morning. It was reasonable temperature and wasn't until, I don't know, about the 18th hole, or our 9th hole today that it started getting really steamy. By the time we got -- I don't know, three or four holes under our belt on the front 9, it was really hot. I live in Florida and I am used to really hot weather, but this is a little different, I don't know why. I don't believe it is 93, the weather man says that is what it was. It feels like 110 to me.
DAVE SENKO: Paul, let us go through your card real quick. Started with a birdie at 14.
PAUL AZINGER: Four steady pars and then 14, I hit 5-iron probably five feet. 16, I hit driver, 3-wood, 30 -- 40 feet. Made that. Then I bogeyed 1. I hit it in the left-hand rough and in the right-hand bunker, easy bunker shot, but a bad lie and made bogey. I missed a 15-footer, probably. Hit 3-wood, wedge on 2, 15 feet. Hit driver 3-wood on 3, right short of the green, chipped up three feet. Hit driver 3-wood on 5, 40 feet past the hole, 2-putted. And No. 8 the Par 3, I hit 7-iron about twelve feet.
DAVE SENKO: Questions.
Q. You said you don't now how comfortable you feel on the golf course. Is that a general thing or is it this golf course here?
PAUL AZINGER: I am not totally familiar with this golf course here. I wasn't real sure on a couple holes what to hit off the tee. And I am not really -- I don't have it in my head yet exactly what the greens look like, like if the pin is sticking behind a bunker back left or over on the front right, I am not exactly sure yet. I tried to look around today as I was playing.
Q. Did you play a practice round?
PAUL AZINGER: I did. I didn't play 13 through 17. 10, 11, 12 in the loop and the front 9.
Q. I guess you get this question everywhere you go: How far are you back from your situation several years ago and ability-wise, strength-wise? I know you hear it everywhere, but can you bring us up-to-date?
PAUL AZINGER: Well, it would be hard to shoot 65 unless I was pretty healthy. (laughs). My golf game is getting better too. It just seems like I have been able to shoot some better scores during the year. I have played some, you know, I played good at the Masters. I played really good the last day of the U.S. Open which turned out to be a decent tournament for me. And all and all, it is just getting to be a little bit better. It is not coming easy to me. Everything is hard work at this point. There is times when you go through spells where everything comes easy. I am not there yet, but I could just see signs have been coming out of the whole thing.
Q. Did it come easy before or did you have to --
PAUL AZINGER: At times it came easy. There was times when the game seemed easy. I think I have heard Fred Couples say that. It was easy for him for a long time and it may be right now for Freddy the way he has been playing. But sometimes you can shoot 3- or 4-under when you don't really hit it that great and then there is times like I have hit it pretty good in spots the last couple of years, and got nothing out of it. Because it just wasn't that easy for me. I don't know why it is starting to turn around. I am just -- everything is getting better. Driving better; hitting my irons better, chipping and putting much better. I think that has probably been the big difference chipping and putting. My putting was lousy for probably the last three years.
Q. Have you actually done anything different this year like since April as far as your game goes, technically?
PAUL AZINGER: No. Not since I saw you last. I mean, I have got a different set of irons that I flight lower and that has made a difference. I am not struggling to keep the ball down. I am swinging more instinctively like I used to working to get the ball up again. That has helped me. I did - after Hilton Head I hurt my back at Hilton Head and didn't touch a club for several weeks. So I really trained -- worked out hard, the trunk-stabilization program it is recommended for golfers and that helped me. But my confidence has been restored mainly because of my putting. I move the ball further away from me and got -- more of a relaxed position. I can see the line better with the ball out away from me. That has been the big difference. When I took all that time off, and came back out and played Westchester, I still was hitting it decent, but I still was putting very well, and I have been through the ringer with my putter the last two, three years it has been frightening.
Q. Wasn't that similar before the cancer scare; you were very strict with your putting; you putted great for three months and then --
PAUL AZINGER: Yeah, I think tee-to-green I have been pretty much -- I would say I have been very steady for the last year. Certainly this year I have been very steady tee-to-green and very consistent and I would say adequate, similar to where I was before, if not as good. The difference has been that I haven't been able to putt. I didn't putt very well at all until April. Just the facts, but that is changing.
Q. How has that been as far as a frustration fact for the last two years? Like I said, you have had spells where you hit it pretty good and nothing to show for it. Have you gotten really frustrated at times or how have you dealt with this whole thing?
PAUL AZINGER: It has been hard. You want to quit sometimes. You just -- you are not going to quit, but you want to. You just wonder: What is it going to take for me to play the kind of golf that I got accustomed to and it may never happen again is what you start thinking. Eventually I guess if you stick with it long enough, things will start to come around. But you can only take so much mediocrity when you are used to something different. It was really hard. It has been hard.
Q. Any reason why you decided to play here this week? You haven't been back here in a while.
PAUL AZINGER: Well, I wanted to play -- I took all that time off. I wanted to add a couple of tournaments to my schedule. I wanted to play a few in a row and then take a couple of days off to go to the PGA. Also my brother has moved out here now. That has kind of been helpful for me coming here. I have really tried to avoid the heat. It is really a hard week. It is a hard day - July in Memphis is not that easy. I am glad I came back. I am a Bermuda grass guy anyway.
DAVE SENKO: Anymore questions? Thank you, Paul.
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