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June 22, 2003

Jonathan Kaye


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: We'd like to welcome Buick Classic Champion, Jonathan Kaye.

Jonathan, congratulations on a great victory, tremendous way to end it with an eagle. Can we just talk about your first PGA TOUR victory joining Ben Crane and Steve Flesch as first-time winners? Must be a great feeling.

JONATHAN KAYE: Yes, it is. I've been seeing my name on the Golf Channel, "most money without a win," so I get that off my back, anyway.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: You played 30 holes including the playoff. Obviously you're in good shape, but just talk about your day today.

JONATHAN KAYE: It was a long day. It's hard walking around in wet, soggy grass. My knee was bothering me a little bit today. I've never had a knee problem. I don't know why it was bothering me, but I was limping around, just trying to stay focused and take care of business.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: We'll go into some questions.

Q. The 3-wood you hit from the fairway on the playoff hole, what was going over your mind standing over that ball?

JONATHAN KAYE: Actually, I had the exact same number to the pin the first time around coming through there. I hit it pretty good the first time but I misjudged the wind. The second time, I had a little better angle and I knew I could hit it as hard as I could. It was a rescue club; it wasn't a 3-wood. It was like a 2-iron, strong 2-iron.

I just knew if I hit it good, I couldn't hit it over and it would be all right.

Q. Can you talk about the pressure of playing 18 in regulation, knowing the 13 was up on the board -- I think on TV it said 252 to the hole; is that about right?

JONATHAN KAYE: We had 254.

Q. Knowing that you are going to birdie the hole, what pressure is that? Is that more pressure than the playoff hole itself?

JONATHAN KAYE: Definitely more pressure. If you don't birdie 18, then you're not in a playoff. Luckily, I had been in this situation before, and I kind of recollected on my experiences and tried to stay out of my own way and not let my mind wander and get ahead of myself.

Q. Were you in your way before?

JONATHAN KAYE: Yeah, probably. I mean, a lot of thoughts creep in your mind when you're leading and about to win a tournament. I just tried to stay focused on hitting every shot and not get too far ahead of myself.

Q. After all the close calls and everything, can you talk about what it means to finally have that win?

JONATHAN KAYE: It feels great. I don't know if it's sunk in entirely yet. But, you know, that's why we are all here, to try to win. I've had a lot of chances and I haven't come through, so it's nice to finally come out on top.

Q. You lost a playoff, was that last year?

JONATHAN KAYE: Last year I lost the playoff at Reno to Chris Riley.

Q. What did you learn out of that?

JONATHAN KAYE: I learned that it's really important to hit it in the fairway in a playoff. (Laughs).

Q. Which knee was bothering you?


Q. Was it something that happened during the round or was it something that you had coming in?

JONATHAN KAYE: You know, I think it happened on the 10th tee yesterday. I was sitting on a cooler and everybody -- I was sitting there and everybody kept asking me, "can I get a water," about seven people came in, kept lifting it up, setting it down and my caddie lifted it up and I went to sit down right when it was open and I sat right in the cooler. (Laughter.) So I kind of bruised my gluteus and the back of my leg, but I'll get over it.

Q. You said in the past that you're a self-taught golfer; can you talk about how you got going and how you taught yourself?

JONATHAN KAYE: Well, I actually grew up playing golf at a public golf course in Denver, Colorado. It's not to say that I'm self-taught. I guess I have a lot of instructors. Everybody always tried to help me and I'm thankful for that. I took bits and pieces from everybody, and kind of called it my own swing.

Q. Could you talk about your putting today. You hit some putts past, but you made every comeback, could you talk about that a little bit?

JONATHAN KAYE: My speed wasn't too good today on my long putts, but I was feeling pretty confident from six feet and in. You know, those are the ones you've got to make. No one is going to make a ton of bombs, but if you're going to win a golf tournament, you need to make your short putts.

Q. Looking at your results for this year, it looks like you had a stretch where things weren't going really well and then you started putting something and then you got the Top-10 in the Open last week, what happened in that stretch?

JONATHAN KAYE: I wasn't hitting it so bad, I was actually hitting better than I am now. Just 128 putts every tournament isn't going to get you too far, unless you're hitting a lot of greens, which I missed a few. It was mainly the putting that was holding me back. I just tried to focus on keeping my eyes still when I was putting, because I noticed that everybody told me, I was coming up and out of my putts so quick, and, you know, I tried to stick to it and just keep my eyes still and hit the ball, and then look up.

Q. When you say everybody, did anybody specifically?

JONATHAN KAYE: Well, Tommy Armour said something to me. A lot of guys when you're out there struggling, you know, "I'm putting bad."

Paul Azinger told me to open up and just react to it instead of getting so caught up in trying to hit it on the perfect line, which is something that was very valuable to me.

Q. When you started your play, finishing the third round this morning, how confident were you that you could get into a position like this?

JONATHAN KAYE: You know, I was hitting pretty good. I was still trying to win. I was close to the lead. It was kind of, everybody else didn't play as well as probably they would have liked to. I stayed with it and grounded out and, I mean, I don't really know how to answer that question.

Q. Your wife was saying that when you first got out of college that you were going to kind of give it a shot as a professional golfer but you weren't committed definitely to playing and then you wanted to see how it went. Could you reflect back on that and what it means to find yourself in this position now?

JONATHAN KAYE: I just remember when I graduated from college, everybody was getting jobs and I didn't really want to get a job. So I figured I'd give it a shot. I didn't give it my all in college. I was focused on school and a lot of other things, but once I was done with college, I decided to dedicate some time to my golf game and give it a shot. You know, my first try at Q-School I missed, and then the next year I got through.

I've been back once since and got back through again.

Q. Up until this week, what's been your best moment of golf, pro or amateur? Anything really memorable?

JONATHAN KAYE: Probably the last tournament win, 1996 Colorado Open, in my home state. So that was pretty gratifying.

But this tops it.

Q. What was the most gratifying thing about the Colorado Open, besides your home state?

JONATHAN KAYE: Well, it was my first tournament back after reconstructive shoulder surgery. I wasn't really expecting too much and I went out there and I had not played golf for five months and just kind of took it as it came. I didn't forget how, I guess.

Q. How did the shoulder get hurt?

JONATHAN KAYE: Who knows? Car accident, getting run over by a truck. I've had a lot of close calls.

Q. It wasn't a cooler; right?


Q. Because you've experienced losing in a playoff, how hard is it to win out here? Do you ever think at times when you've been going through it, losing a playoff or you're not putting well that it's never going to happen?

JONATHAN KAYE: Sometimes it feels like that, but if you stick to it, everything will turn around at some point. I've worked really hard on my game, and it's a really gratifying feeling to come out on top. You know, sometimes you can play your best and it's still not good enough out here, and I've done that a few times.

You just try to take what you can from it and chalk it up as another experience and put it in the Rolodex and hopefully some day you get to recall that when you need it.

Q. Is there a time that you can remember that you've played better than this?

JONATHAN KAYE: Yeah. I mean, I played good today -- Las Vegas a few years ago, I shot 62 on the final round and didn't win. So, you know, I played great today. I played great all week. But that was pretty memorable for me because I'm like, you know, I gave it all I had and I still didn't come out on top. Furyk beat me by two strokes, I think.

It was close and it was fun. I learned a lot from that experience that I got to use today.

Q. Do you think it helped you in your first win, not having to sleep on the lead, just come in, play your 30 holes?

JONATHAN KAYE: Maybe. It seems like a lot of guys come from behind out here and it seems like that's what I did. I've slept on the lead before, so I was ready to do whatever I had to.

Q. Do you have any regrets about the incident in the clubhouse at the Michelob last year and would you like to be known as a nice guy?

JONATHAN KAYE: (Laughs). Yeah, I am a nice guy. Whatever you guys heard happened there, wasn't how it happened.

Q. What did happen? Could you explain what did happen?

JONATHAN KAYE: Well, let's just leave that alone. It's done. (Smiling).

Q. Do you think this, perhaps, looking at that, a win here, do you think that changes people's perception just out on TOUR of you, for whatever they thought happened there?

JONATHAN KAYE: You know, nobody really knows what happened there except for me and that guard, and I can assure you that what he said happened didn't happen.

What was the question?

Q. Do you think that the win, which will change any perceptions out there of you -- because you see what probably happens to guys once they win their first.

JONATHAN KAYE: I hope so. I hope that it changes their perception of me. I don't think I have any enemies out here, so I try to be friendly to everybody.

Q. Someone did describe you as someone who isn't too caught up in what people think about yourself and I was wondering if that enabled you to be successful on TOUR; that you don't necessarily care about people's opinions of you?

JONATHAN KAYE: Well, you know, it's nice to have people regard you highly. But at the same time, there's a lot of people in this world; it's hard to make everybody happy. The people that I do make happy are really happy, and I guess the people that I rub the wrong way, I rub the wrong way.

So it's hard to be diplomatic with everyone.

Q. Who are those people that you make happy?

JONATHAN KAYE: Who knows? A lot of people. (Laughter.) Could be you. (Laughter.)

Q. How did you feel about this course coming in this week? Did you have any sense that a win was coming on? Are you generally a pretty good mudder?

JONATHAN KAYE: Well, I am a mudder.

But this happens to be my favorite golf course on TOUR. Unfortunately, we don't play that many classic golf courses like this anymore. It's hard for the fans. I always cherish coming here because it's a treat to play this golf course.

Q. What other close calls have you had aside from the so-called car accident?

JONATHAN KAYE: Well, I flipped a car doing 85 miles an hour on the 525 in Colorado five times and walked away from it. I got run over by a truck in Mexico on a 4-Runner and spent two weeks in the hospital for that. My mom says I have nine lives like a cat, so hopefully I've got a few saved up.

Q. How old were you in these different instances, like the truck?

JONATHAN KAYE: All in college. One was driving to the state stroke-play championship in Pueblo, and I wasn't even driving, but my friend was driving. It was lucky that we were both alive, really because neither one of us had seat belts on. I don't know, I don't even want to think about that.

Q. I know you said you worked with a number of teachers and I know you are friends with Paul Alexander; has he helped you at different times in your career?

JONATHAN KAYE: Yeah, Paul used to be pro out at a course in Colorado, Bear Creek, and I used to go out there and practice out there. He used to look at my swing and offer me some advice. He was always real supportive. We competed against each other in amateur golf in Colorado, and he's a great friend.

Q. What do you consider the best part of your game and the strongest part of your game?

JONATHAN KAYE: Driving. Tee balls.

Q. If someone had asked you if you thought you could win a tournament coming out of college on the PGA TOUR, what would your response have been?


Q. Do you chew tobacco when you're playing?


Q. Were you today?


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: If we could go over your final round, and we'll take one or two final questions.

First birdie came on No. 4.

JONATHAN KAYE: Yeah, I hit a little 8-iron in there, I believe I had 155 to about 12 feet, a little downhiller and trickled it in.

5, I went for it in two. Hit it in the green-side bunker right, and wedged it out to -- I don't know -- three feet, made birdie.

7 was a turning point for me. I was hitting driver trying to hit it over the tree and I pulled it way left in some casual water and got a drop and almost holed it. Hit it about a foot from the left rough.

9, I hit it in the right rough off the tee. Hit a 9-iron out. It was playing like 165. I had a 7-iron and just spun out and hit it pin-high way right and three-jacked it.

14, I hit a little three-quarter 8-iron in about six feet below the hole and made it.

18, I made about a 4-footer, 5-footer on the last hole to get in the playoff.

Q. You made a save on 10. Was that a big turning point? It looked like you were headed for a crooked number there.

JONATHAN KAYE: That was not the place to hit it. Fortunately, when I was over there, I had a little window to hit it through. I didn't think I could keep it on the green, but I wanted to make sure I got it over that bunker, and I hit it a little too hard and went kind of halfway down that hill. I had a tough lie and hit a pretty average shot from there but made a good putt.

Q. What kind of wedge?

JONATHAN KAYE: That was a lob-wedge.

Q. I saw on your bio that you have in your hobbies you have Jalapino farm; could you tell us about that?

JONATHAN KAYE: I live in Arizona, and my gardeners took the liberty upon themselves of planting Jalapinos all over my house. So I kind of liked that, and now I take care of them myself.

Q. What's your caddie's name?

JONATHAN KAYE: Rich Caniglia.

Q. Did you find nerves ever creeping in as you moved up the leaderboard and as you were on top of the leaderboard?

JONATHAN KAYE: Only on every 5-foot putt. Because you know you've got to make them. Everyone expects you to make them, you expect to make them yourself. So I guess that's where the pressure -- it's all pressure, no one can really put it on; you can only put it on yourself.

Q. You played basically the whole day, a group in front of Tiger, which can sometimes be distracting with all of the people, did you ever have any thoughts about having any -- any instances where that became something you have to deal with?

JONATHAN KAYE: I've been in front of Tiger before, so I was kind of prepared for the crowds.

You know, I just made sure that everyone and my caddie did a good job of keeping everyone quiet and holding still; do this, do that, "quiet please."

We took our time and didn't hit shots until we were ready to.

Q. How hard is it to harvest those Jalepinos, what do you do with them and what's the strangest food you put them on?

JONATHAN KAYE: It's not hard to harvest them. You just grow them by themselves. You just decide when to pick them. It's how hot you want them. With Jalepinos, the more cracks there are, the hotter it is.

Q. Anything unusual?

JONATHAN KAYE: I love Mexican food. I live in Arizona, and he with just use them to cook. I give them to friend, I take them to whoever wants them.

Q. Christmas gifts?

JONATHAN KAYE: I wouldn't go quite that far. (Laughter.)

Q. You said you learned form your close calls on the golf course, have you learned anything from those close calls that you had on those highways that made you a different person?

JONATHAN KAYE: Well, to be honest with you, none of those accidents were my fault. I was a passenger in a car. The other incident, some drunk guy ran us over in a truck doing 60 miles an hour while we were doing 40 going the same direction. So kind of unfortunate bad luck, good luck but I'm still here.

Q. How far was the eagle putt?

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Eleven feet, ten inches.

JONATHAN KAYE: I was going to say 12 feet. (Laughs.)

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Jonathan Kaye, Buick Classic Champion, thank you.

End of FastScripts....

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