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May 23, 2001

Lanny Wadkins


JULIUS MASON: Lanny Wadkins, ladies and gentlemen, joining us at the 62nd PGA Senior Championship. If you wouldn't mind giving us some opening thoughts, then we'll go to questions and answers.

LANNY WADKINS: Okay. Nice to be here. This sure is a great golf course. I'm delighted to be playing it. Like everybody else, I'm just sorry it's not hard and fast, that would be a really special treat. It's holding up with the weather very good, and I'm just sorry that the PGA of America hasn't done this thing sooner. Some of these great courses, it's really a treat for us to be here playing this week. So I'm looking forward to it, and I just hope we can have a good week playing.

JULIUS MASON: Thanks. Folks, the floor is yours. Questions, please.

Q. Both Tom Kite and Tom Watson at various times have said, "You know what, I expected a win a little bit more out here." They had expectations that they say they haven't met. True for you?

LANNY WADKINS: Yeah, pretty much the same. I thought I would have, but I also didn't expect to have the number of injuries I had with my elbow, my right one last year and my left one this year. I hate to, you know, harp on it. It's really, my left one is very, very painful right now. I mean, I'm taking as much stuff as I can probably ingest to be able to play, and it still hurts. It's just, I mean, I still lift. I've got strength in my left arm, but it's right at the take-away, when I go away, because of the pain that shoots from my elbow down the left side of my arm. The take-away is what really hurts me. It doesn't hurt through impact, it's the initial take-away, you get that initial flinch at the beginning. It's kept me from practicing. I have graphite shafts and irons this week, hopefully it will alleviate it some, you know, the shock value. So, you know, I am trying anything at this point in time, see what I can do to get it better. I feel like I can swing it pretty good. That's the sad thing. I feel like I've been swinging better the last year or so, I just can't -- last year I missed the Senior Open, about a month in the middle of the summer because I had -- my right elbow was so bad I couldn't even hit a pitching wedge for about a month. Then, fortunately, that healed. That's okay. The left wrist, I had surgery on, it's okay now. But that's something brand new. My left elbow has just continued to -- it's gotten worse every week that I played this year. It seemed like when I played a couple weeks ago in Charlotte, the zoysia, the fairway, it was painful when I left there. It was swollen when I left there, and it hasn't gone down since. I'm probably going to have something -- I had it checked. I may have it rechecked next week when I get home. X-rays, MRIs, something, just to see if I can figure out what's going on. It makes it tough to play. I see glimpses of good stuff, but it just doesn't hold up, you know? It's been very frustrating.

Q. Is it just the area of the country?

LANNY WADKINS: Actually, no, it's easier in this area of the country with the softer fairways. It's easier playing out of bentgrass, the club goes through a little easier so it doesn't hit it and get jarred and stop. I hurt my right one originally at Nashville, it was hard in zoysia. When I play in that real tight Bermuda or zoysia, it hurts it a lot. And this stuff isn't as bad. If I had had more of a diet of this, I'm hoping I'll play up here a lot in the next couple of months. I'll play back at Princeton, then two weeks in Boston. Maybe that break before hand will help out, so we'll see. I haven't had a shot in it yet. I had a couple shots in my right one last year, might shoot this one up. (Laughing.) I can't wait. So, anyway...

Q. I was wondering about your feeling on the health of the Senior Tour right now, and also on a personal level of whether this Tour is what you thought it would be when you first came out.

LANNY WADKINS: I think it's in pretty good shape. I think we've suffered a little with the sponsor stuff, had a couple of losses here and there, mainly from the economy. For the most part, I think it's healthy. To me, the Senior Tour tends to flourish in the smaller marketplaces that don't have other big-time sports going on to the degree that, you know, some cities do. We've got some wonderful sponsors that have two or three tournaments and really use it a lot, and I think for the most part, the guys really enjoy playing. They sure get a lot of guys to play a lot of tournaments. I know I had scheduled to play about 25 this year. I can't remember the last time I played 25. So I mean, I was gonna play this year. But it just depends on how things hold up. So we'll see. Is it what I thought it was going to be? Yes and no. Yes from some instances that still -- it's very competitive; I expected that. No, from I thought I would play a little better and be having more fun. And, you know, having fun to me equates to playing good golf. I haven't been playing good. I haven't had much fun. So...

Q. Along those lines, is Tom Watson obligated to play more?

LANNY WADKINS: No. No, Tom can do what he wants. He can play wherever he wants to. I don't think he has an obligation to the Senior Tour any more than, you know, I mean if he still feels like he's competitive and can play the regular Tour, I would, you know, he might want to play there. If I had been playing -- I mean, I came out last year and won my first event. If I kept playing at that level, I would have played some more on the regular Tour last year and this year probably. But with the things I've had, it's just a waste of time. So I've been trying to just get my game in shape out here and hope I have more fun with this. But I think Kite and Watson and myself are all able to go play other places if we want to. We've won enough tournaments everywhere, I could have played last week at Colonial and I didn't. There's a lot of things you can do. Here, again, if I'm going to try and play 25 out here, then that doesn't leave a lot of weeks for me to go play over there. I was just going to go ahead and focus out here pretty much anyway. Tom might get into it more, kind of like Hale did, took him a year or two. Maybe after this year or during this year, he'll figure he wants to play out here more. I don't think it's anything he's obligated to, though, no. I mean if anything, I think Tom may feel some obligations to the game of golf because he's done so well. I think he wants to play. I don't think it's -- may not be the number one priority right now with him that it always was; I don't know. That you'd have to ask him.

Q. A lot of the guys have been talking about intimidation factors, whether it's Tiger playing now or Jack in his day. You've kind of spanned both of those. What do you say, did you see intimidation from Jack or did you sense being -- sitting up at the booth last week and being around the regular Tour a little bit, do you sense any of the younger guys being intimidated by Tiger?

LANNY WADKINS: Not last week, because he was in Europe. He didn't scare them at all last week. (Laughing.) No, but I think as, you know, the more Tiger plays, the more he is going to get beat. I mean, golf is about learning to accept defeat. Because you have a great year, let's say you play 20 events and you win six or eight or whatever. You've had a great year, but you've also lost a dozen times. Somebody's beaten you those weeks. I mean, that's going to happen. So guys are going to figure out what it takes, certain courses, who knows? He's not going to be on top of his game every single week. With his desire and work ethic, he's sure going to be trying to be. But as far as when Nicklaus played, I'm sure he probably had that with some people. I always relished the opportunity to play against Jack. I couldn't wait to play him or be paired with him. I just always thought it was pretty cool. I remember my rookie year, I was paired with him the first two rounds of the Open at Pebble Beach. We were tied for the lead with 36 holes. He went on to win. I never felt intimidated by Jack. I sure respect his ability and his game; I love to watch him play. But I've always loved to play with really good players. I'm excited about playing with Watson the next couple of days. I look forward to those things. They're friends of mine. Obviously, over the years now, when I was a youngster and first came on Tour, I looked up to Jack and Arnold a lot, but I had played with them and known them because I had played so well in amateur golf. I had been paired with them in other things. I had already been exposed to them and what they could do. I was pretty cocky back then, so nobody really bothered me.

Q. Guys today don't seem that way.

LANNY WADKINS: Probably some are. I don't know, I haven't been out there the last year or so to see with, you know, when Tiger's really been dominant, to see. I'll be at the PGA this year and we'll, you know, probably get a good taste of it there, see what's going on. You know, I don't really, you know, don't see anything. I mean, a lot of guys get caught up watching him hit it, no question. When you're playing with somebody like that, you really got to play your own game and, you know, you can watch him play but you've got to really almost concentrate a little bit harder. I think if you take the attitude that you want to beat him and really try to play well when you're playing with someone like that, you're probably going to have a pretty good day.

JULIUS MASON: Thanks, Lanny.

LANNY WADKINS: Thanks, Julius.

End of FastScripts....

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