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July 31, 2011
THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Bob Estes into the interview room here at the Greenbrier Classic. Bob, a little bit short today, but what a show you put on: 6-under par, 64. Tremendous round of golf. Comment on the day as a whole.
BOB ESTES: Yeah, it was a tough day. You know, I had to make a lot of good par saves to keep the round together, but there was I guess six birdies and no bogeys.
So, yeah, haven't been feeling that great the last few days. A little sinus stuff, I don't know, but, um, so I've kind of been trying to pace myself to get through that. So I've been a little bit short winded the last couple days, and so, yeah, made it a little bit tougher.
But I paced myself and played well.
THE MODERATOR: Take us through the birdies on 17 and 18 and what was going through your mind at that point.
BOB ESTES: Yeah, I didn't really know where I stood in the tournament really until I -- let's see, I birdied 14; two-putted 15.
After the tee shot on 16 I needed to know where I stood then, and I knew that I was two back. Didn't hit a very good second shot. I was trying to bounce it up on the green, but hit it a little thin and came up short. Made a good par putt on 16. Another one of those good par saves I was talking about.
Then on 17 I drove it on the right side of the fairway, but I had a downhill lie. It's one of those where if you're trying to reach a par-5 in two you want a little uphill lie and kind of get a little launching pad.
I was in a downslope, so I knew if I hit a 3-wood it might cut too much or if I got it online it might run through the green. With the pin in the back I didn't want to knock it over.
Anyway, I hit a 5-wood and it came up just short and right in the rough and hit a good pitch shot. Almost made it. Had to land to land it into the upslope and run it back to the hole. Almost made it, and then made the five-footer coming back for birdie. Yeah, so I knew I was in position.
And on No. 18, wanted to -- you know, if I didn't hit it tap-in, I wanted to make sure that I was right of the hole, because I knew how tough the putts are from the left side, even though Scott made his.
But from the right side you're putting back up the hill and a little bit right to left. I did that, so I kept it right of the hole in regulation and knocked it right in there.
Then I just had to wait it out and see what the rest of 'em do.
THE MODERATOR: We'll go into questions.
Q. Did you see Scott's putt in regulation at 18?
BOB ESTES: No, I was getting ready for the playoff.
Q. He made a five-footer there and then makes a seven -- footer. Talk about how tough those putts were.
BOB ESTES: The ones he made?
BOB ESTES: Well, yeah, I mean, like I said, I didn't see the first one. I actually took a peek at his putt in the playoff. It was down the hill, left to right, but looked like one of those that might in the break quite as much as somebody might read.
You know, just kind of like I missed mine on the high side. But I hit mine kind of too far into the break. But, um, yeah, he knocked it right in and deserved to win.
Q. You had lot of time between the end of 18 and the playoff. What do you do and how did you mentally prepare?
BOB ESTES: I was pretty hungry, so I went to eat first. Needed to rest a little bit, so they gave me some time to kind of sit down, eat, rest.
Then I met me caddie about 30 minutes after that, and we knew we had about 30 minutes to get ready for a playoff if there was going to be one. Then just did what I normally do but a shortened version of a regular warmup. Just went out and hit some short pitches and bunker shots and then went to the range.
Obviously hit a bunch 8-irons because that's what I knew we were going to be hitting in the playoff. But I was getting ready for 17 as well. Hit a few drivers, 5-wood, sand wedge shots. Then back to the putting green for a few more putts.
So I felt like I did everything exactly right. Just didn't make the birdie putt on 18.
Q. Talk about what this performance meant to you and what it could have meant to you.
BOB ESTES: Well, I don't know how many of you are aware of my situation, but I've got conditional status this year because my right wrist started hurting me last summer.
If I had would have gone ahead and -- as it turns out, it was worse than I thought it was. I was trying to play through it. I was inside the top 125. I wasn't playing that great, but I was still inside the top 125 in August last year.
If I would have gone ahead and gotten an MRI at that point they would have told me to stop playing like they did in December when I did get the MRI done on my list.
So I had an frayed ligament or two and a couple cystic somethings, and so, yeah, my prolotherapy doctor and the orthopedic surgeon both told me I needed to take at least six weeks off.
I took eight weeks off to be safe, and then started to kind of ease back into it playing practice rounds. I missed the first three months of the year. My first tournament was the Texas Open in San Antonio, and I knew I still wasn't playing that good at the time.
So how many tournaments I play this year and how many tournaments the guys in my category get in, as of the last tournament of the season, they're still kind of (indiscernible) and how many tournaments I would get at the beginning of next year.
So I wasn't even writing for sponsors exemptions. Until I knew I had more game, I didn't even want to play more tournaments than the ones I was probably just going to get in.
So I played in four events prior to Hartford, and I was the first alternate for five days at Hartford; never got in. I was looking forward to an easy tournament, because ever year and every tournament I'd play it was so difficult.
And then I qualified for the Open Championship at the Royal St. George's, so that was the highlight of the year up until today.
So I was a whole lot better when I was in all the majors. That's where I want to be. I haven't played well enough. I worked on a number things the last however many years, they just weren't right for me or just didn't work.
Anyway, so this is only my seventh tournament. Yeah, hopefully I won't need any help at the beginning of next year. I might have three, four, five tournaments to make enough money if a guy finishes is 125 at the end of this year if I need it.
I was hoping to take care of it today and not have it be an issue. I had a little bit more to play for in that sense, except for the fact that I guess Scott hasn't won on tour before and I have. But I was trying to get my exempt status back.
Q. Is the wrist 100% now?
BOB ESTES: Uh-huh.
Q. And when was it 100%?
BOB ESTES: Um, I went through two rounds of prolotherapy back in January and February. I guess they say your body goes through a six-week healing process. And so they do the prolotherapy, I come back in six weeks, and the doctor takes a look at the images to see what kind of progress I've made and determines whether I need another round of it or not.
Had another round of it February. Came back about the middle of March, and he determined that -- you know, he tested and it was a lot more stable, no issues, and so I didn't need to have another round of the therapy.
So I probably gave it just a little bit more time just to make sure. Sometimes guys come back from injuries like that, I mean, especially a wrist or elbow, and your career can be over so fast, you know, if your wrist or elbow is messed up, or your shoulder.
Q. How similar your putt in the playoff to the one in regulation?
BOB ESTES: I was trying to leave it in the exact same place, but I hit it a little bit too far. In the playoff, I was just past pin high; in regulation I was just short of pin high. And so I knew that my putt was going to break a little bit in regulation. And so, you know, I hit it perfectly and made it.
So I knew that the one that was a little bit beyond pin high was going to break more, and I got it right on the line where I needed to have it, but I hit it through the break. If I had the right speed I would've put it right in. Just hit it a little bit too firm.
Q. You mentioned a respiratory thing.
BOB ESTES: Yeah, I don't know if it was the AC in the room. I don't know if I was turning it down too low or if it was something in the air down here. My parents were here for a few days before they had to leave this morning because my dad was really having bad back issues. My mom made a comment about having a little bit of a sinus issue as well.
So I don't know if any other people were having any problem at all. But I was just, yeah, just kind of -- you know, when you get this stuff it just kind of takes a little bit of your energy. So I wasn't feeling my best from the very start, but I just tried to hang in there.
I made a lot of good par putts, you know, some good up and downs. When I managed to hit a good approach shot or a good tee shot, it kind of kept me in the ballgame until I made some more birdies.
Q. Didn't seem to bother you too much.
BOB ESTES: Well, no, I mean, sometimes when you know you're not feeling your best, it doesn't mean that you might not play as well or better.
But that was a round where I missed some birdie putts but made some par putts. Could have been better; could have been worse. No, I was proud of the round.
Q. During the layoff, are you thinking about exempt status and all the ramifications that are out there?
BOB ESTES: No, I mean, it doesn't do any good really to think about that too much. It might motivate you to get to the golf course a little bit quicker on an off week to go practice or get an extra work out in or two, but I'm not really thinking about it when I'm out there playing.
I've had so many issues my whole career with my actual physical game that I'm usually so focused on that that it kind of takes up the thoughts that might be about all the other stuff, whether it's what a win would do for you or how much money your playing or whatever.
I'm pretty good at just focusing on the process. I'm pretty good when I get in the hunt; I just don't get in the hunt often enough.
Q. Scott's first win. Can you recall your first win and what it was like for you and what it did for you?
BOB ESTES: Yeah, that was 1994; I think was 27 years old. My first year on tour was 1989. I almost won a tournament my rookie year. I got beat in a playoff at the D.C. Open my rookie year.
When I won the Texas Open, which was the one closest to where I live in Australia, Texas, yeah, it was pretty special because there were more friends and family that were there to watch also.
So, yeah, I mean, you always dream of playing the TOUR and of course winning on TOUR. So, yeah, when I had a chance to win that first one, I remember hitting a 5-iron into the last green. I guess I had a one-shot lead on Gil Morgan. I think I birdied the 15th or 16th hole, got the one-shot lead. I think I finished par, par, par, something like that.
But anyway, that last hole, No. 18 at the Texas Open, was a tough par-3. I knocked a 5-iron on the green, and I think Gil hit it kind of to the back of the green and his missed his. I rolled it up there to about six inches and tapped it in.
Yeah, it was a pretty special moment to get that first win. Everybody will tell you that. It's got to be so tough for so many guys that play our here for so long and they're working so hard at it and just can't get that one victory for whatever reason. So, you know, I kind of feel for those guys, or at least the ones that work really hard at it.
But, um, yeah, so, you could tell Scott was pretty excited when he made that putt.
Q. Were you surprised that 10-under got you in the playoff?
BOB ESTES: Yeah, I mean, I knew that Anthony was minus 10, right, after three rounds? Just want to get my numbers straight. I figured it would take at least 12, maybe 14.
This course is still pretty tricky, and so it's tough to shoot more than 3- or 4-under. You can play awfully well and shoot 67 or 68 the way the course is now.
But, um, yeah, I thought that I would have to get to at least that. So when I found out that 10-under was leading before I hit my second shot on 16, I was kind of glad to hear that because I knew I was still in the game.
You know, I love being in the hunt, being near the lead. Some guys get scared. I just try to put the hammer down and finish it off. You know, I birdied 17 and 18, but I was in position on 16 where I couldn't even try to birdie that hole.
Q. How long were you hurt before you took the time off?
BOB ESTES: Well, it was at least July, might have been June when I really started feeling the right wrist. It was fine moving in every direction except the one you have to to hit a golf ball. On the way down right before impact, you know, I would really feel it. If I wasn't loaded up on Advil, you know, I would kind of flinch at the bottom and block everything right.
I was getting worked on by different physical therapists and chiropractors. They didn't realize it was quite as bad as it was either. So I learned a good lesson by not getting it checked out sooner than I did.
Q. When was the last time you didn't have exempt status?
BOB ESTES: Well, this is my 23rd year on tour. I can't remember when I used my top 50 exempt status. Let's see, in 2000-- um, I think there's really only been one year if I'm not mistaken. 1996, with a lot of the new equipment coming out and all that change, I had a bad year after playing great in 1994 and pretty good in '95. I think '97 I finished -- no, so '96 I think I finished 149 on the Money List, and so I was in that 126-150 category.
I went back it Q-School. Last round got rained out, so that was a big deal back then. So I was stuck. And I was playing my way well back inside, so that's a whole 'nother story. I don't want to tell you about that. We'll be here a while longer.
So '97 I was playing out of the 126-150 category, and sponsors and stuff like that. I think I played 19 tournaments that year, and I think I would have gotten in maybe two, three, four more. But I played -- you know, I was prepared every time it was time to go, and finished 50-something, I think, on the Money List that year.
So I was good all the way until 2007 or 8. I can't remember which year I finished maybe 127 on the Money List, and then used my top 50 career Money List exemption for that next year.
I have to go look that up. I can't remember everything that's happened out here in the last 23 years.
THE MODERATOR: Bob, we appreciate your time.
BOB ESTES: Thanks.
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