home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


June 15, 1994

Tom Kite


LES UNGER: Just having retired from the course for the third time this week, we are interested to hear what Tom Kite's thoughts are on Oakmont, and the heat, and anything else you've got in mind.

TOM KITE: I am sure all this is going to be redundant from what everybody else has said. The greens are just incredible. We have played some fast greens so far this year. Augusta National's were as fast as I have ever seen those down there, but, you know, these are different than Augusta National's in that Augusta's have slopes, but then they have plateaus. Kind of come off a slope; then you will catch it level; then come down off a slope; then you will have another level, and that level gives that ball a chance to bottom down and slow down a little bit. Number of these greens don't have that. Number of these greens just have straight slopes and once that ball gets going, there's not a whole heck of a lot to make that ball want to stop and in a lot of cases, it doesn't, and it is -- well, I mean, we know before you come to Oakmont that it is going to be the toughest golf course that is in the Open (rotation) and this year they have got it set up as difficult has it has ever been. Really going to be a fun week!

LES UNGER: Any comparisons between '83 and now?

TOM KITE: Well, I think, you know, your memory plays tricks on you a lot. I know that the greens were very fast then and I know -- the '69 amateur that I played here was the fastest greens that I had ever seen, but of course that was in '69, and I didn't have a whole lot to compare it to as much as I do now. But those seemed really fast and every year you come here it is just like "God, look at that, how can they be this much faster?" But I don't ever recall the situation. Obviously, I have read some of it and so I know everybody has talked about number 12. I don't ever recall number 12 being so severe that it was really difficult to keep the ball on the green. And now that is the case. So, I think that certainly the technology has become so sophisticated in the agronomy area, that the equipment is better; they are able to do more things with the grass; that you have to think that this is as severe as the golf course has ever been set up.

LES UNGER: Questions.

Q. Tom, what do you think about your game that you think would give you an advantage here over a lot of people?

TOM KITE: Well, I am playing pretty well right now, Mark. I really am. I am having some good tournaments. I haven't been able to pop to get the win yet this year, but I have had a number of top 10s and a number of good runs. I am very pleased with my game. I like hard golf courses, generally speaking, and this is the hardest. I don't think there is any question about that. And whoever wins or whoever plays well this week is going to have to have their game hitting on all cylinders. They are going to have to be putting incredibly well and going to have more patience than Job.

Q. You have already made it clear that you thought that the course is the toughest conditions that you have seen. Do you think it is a fair test of your abilities?

TOM KITE: Yeah. No question about it. As we talked about it at other tournaments, there is a real fine line between setting the golf course up unfair and testing the limits of today's players. You have to push a golf course very hard to really make it difficult enough for today's players if you want par to be the standard. And obviously, the USGA would like to have par or close to par to win the golf tournament. So you are faced with a situation where you have to push the golf course as much to the limit as you can, and they have done so here.

Q. How much of a factor is the experience playing coming to a course like Oakmont; local knowledge, things like that?

TOM KITE: Well, being as old as I am, I hope that experience plays a big factor in this tournament. I hope that it really pays dividends. Yeah, you'd have to think that it is going to have some effect, but again, the golf course is so difficult that you can have all the experience in the world, but you are still going to have to play very, very well. It is very demanding. Yeah, I'd like to think that at least I know what to expect with the tournament; with the Open. And certainly, I think that there are going to be a lot of disasters happening out there. There are going to be disasters happening to everybody. And to expect that and know that it is going to happen to everybody and then go on and be able to play, is what it is going to take, and that is tough to come by without some experience.

Q. Does the heat here compare to Austin, Texas and how will it affect your game this week?

TOM KITE: Oh, gosh. Yeah, we are hotter than this. We may not be quite this humid. This is more like Houston or New Orleans right now, but Mark, you just left there, it is no cooler in Austin right now than it is here, I can promise you.

Q. 95, 96?

TOM KITE: It is smoking.

Q. Tom, some of the players -- international players have said that because of the bump-and-run situations here where you can do that, that maybe, finally, they might be able to break through and win another Open?

TOM KITE: Well, I think it is only a question of time before one of them does. I don't know whether it will be this Open or next Open, or four, five years from now. But at some point in time, there are going to be some European players that are going to pop through -- some international players that are going to pop through and win this major championship because they are quality players, and that is going to happen. You know, we talked about how they have dominated Augusta for the last few years. I have no explanation for it. I don't think there is a real, real solid definite reason why they have done so well in the Masters and we have done so well in the U.S. Open, other than that it is just, maybe a cyclical thing that follows a pattern and I think we will start seeing some Americans win the Masters. I think we will start seeing foreigners win the U.S. Open.

Q. I know the conditions -- Pebble Beach on Sunday, weather conditions were drastically different than this. Potentially, if it doesn't rain, could this course play hard all four days as Pebble Beach was on Sunday?

TOM KITE: I don't think there is any question there. You go back and look at all the pre-tournament press clippings, and reports, and quotes from all the top players at Pebble Beach, and of course, I have got a scrapbook from Pebble Beach; read a lot of those things over the years, and everybody in the tournament, even those players that later on were some of the most critical of the USGA and the way the golf course was set up the last day, they were raving about the condition of Pebble Beach. `this is the fairest. This is the best. The golf course is set up perfect. And of course, that is probably when you don't hear a whole lot of griping and complaining from the guys; you-- probably makes you think that it may be a little too easy. And we saw that the first couple of days at Pebble Beach, and a lot of low scores and of course, Gil Morgan shot 12 under par, -- Gil Morgan 12 under par at one time, and it looked like that was going to be really, really low scores and then Saturday, scores got a little bit more difficult. Sunday, as we know it, became very much so, but here, you know, you are not having a lot of people saying, "Gosh, this is the most perfect set up Open." You are having people saying, "Gosh, this is the hardest golf course I have ever seen in my life." So the pre-tournament comments from all the players is entirely different than what we had at Pebble Beach and more closely, Ken, to what you were reading Sunday afternoon or Monday morning.

Q. Which players in the field do you expect to push you closest this week?

TOM KITE: Well, talking about experience, as we did just a minute ago, I think you have got to go with the top players. This is going to be, you know, a tournament that is going to push everybody to the limit. I think that you just start at the top and you take the top 15 or 18 players and you can probably pick the winner out of those. Might not even take that long a list. Might be your top 8 or 10.

Q. Some of the people have said 4, 5 holes will hit the driver. How about you?

TOM KITE: Not many drivers. I haven't really counted them up. I will probably hit it on number 4. I will probably hit it on 9. Maybe 7. 9, for sure. 12, 15 and 18. Not many at all, five or six. This is-- the golf course is playing, you know, as firm as and as fast as the greens are. The fairways are in similar condition - so dry that the ball is bouncing. Fairways are in perfect condition, but you are getting some distance out of the ball. So there is really not a great thing to hit a driver on a lot of the holes.

Q. You struggled the last round at the Buick and you said Saturday that now you are really playing well.

TOM KITE: I got off to a kind of a shaky start. I missed the green at number one and failed to get that up and down and missed a fairly close birdie putt at number 2 and then 3-putted number 3. And from that point on, I think I was trying to press a little bit and trying to catch up. I knew I needed a good hot round and wasn't able to get it. I think I started pressing a little bit. But I am still very optimistic, the Saturday's round at Buick was again one of the finest rounds that I have played in a long time. Really hit the ball well; putted well and I prefer to emphasize that round as opposed to Sunday's round.

Q. Tom, in about every publication you see out here you see pictures of the Church Pew bunkers on number 4. Do you have any memories or anything about that bunker getting out of it?

TOM KITE: I hate to say that I have never been in them because as soon as I say that, I will putt the damn ball in it tomorrow morning, but so far, I have been able to dodge the Church Pews. I have been in that bunker to the right on the fairway on 3 and I have been in the bunkers to the right on 4, but I have never actually been in the Church Pews, and hoping to dodge those. That picture of Arnold in there on the program is priceless. When you are looking at him playing out of the thing, you can barely see half of his body. It is a great photo. You know where you are when you see that.

LES UNGER: Anymore?

Q. Is it true your primary goal for the next few years is to prepare yourself for the Senior Tour?

TOM KITE: Wouldn't you know, Larry Dennis would ask that question? No. No, my goal for the next couple of years is try to get through this week. No, I am not even thinking about the Senior Tour right now. I think you are seeing a lot of the 40 year olds really starting to play well or continue to play well-- not starting to play well, but continue to play well on our Tour and I think to a lot of them, there is not the tremendous excitement about the Senior Tour. We know it is there. We know it is going to be fun when that time arises, but I think you saw a situation with Raymond (Floyd) where the Senior Tour was nice and now he is committed to playing strictly on that Senior Tour, but it took him awhile to get his decision made up as to which way he wanted to go. I think Hale (Irwin) is playing so well on our tour right now I think you are going to see a number of players. There is a lot of guys. Watson is playing well right now, and you know, realistically, there is one major league tour in the world that everybody wants to win on. The European players, while they have a great tour, love coming over here and winning on our tour, where the same cannot be said as much for the American players going over to Europe. This is the big leagues right here. This -- the Tour that we have US PGA Tour is the major leagues and everything else, including the Senior Tour is a step down, in my opinion, and I think that it is not a big step, but it is certainly-- the European Tour, Asian Tour, Japanese Tour, those are not big steps down from our tour, but it is down some.

Q. Tom, you mentioned to play here you need the patience of Job. You won the Open two years ago. Talk about the kind of patience that one is going to need to win out here this week?

TOM KITE: Well, the week that I had at Pebble Beach was-- I have had other weeks since that time where I was as "with it" as you needed to be and it doesn't always come across with a win. I was that way this year at Augusta. I was totally in control of my emotions and my mental thoughts and my game was good, so everything was there for a good week and it just so happened, it didn't come across with a win. But a good top finish. So you know, you have got to know that being that patient is not going to guarantee a win, but you also know that the guy who wins the tournament will show that patience throughout the entire week. It is just going to be a tremendous battle out there and there is only going to be a couple of players that are going to be able to win that battle and certainly the winner will come from that list, that short list.

Q. Tom, what about starting at number 1, a lot of people call it the toughest hole in golf by a lot of people. What are your thoughts about playing that?

TOM KITE: I don't know about the toughest hole. Certainly one of the toughest starting holes.

Q. Starting holes.

TOM KITE: Yeah, any time you take a par 5; turn it into a par 4 and, you know, have a green that is made for a par 5, it is going to be a difficult hole. And that is certainly 1. When you have a downhill second shot to the green that slopes away from you, I really think that is probably one of the unique things of Oakmont is that a number of these greens, the first hole included, actually slope away from you. You don't see that at many golf courses. We were looking at the 12th hole today and the first hole would be another example of that of holes that if they were exactly turned around 180 degrees and they were pitched into you, they would still be severe greens. They still have enough slope that they would be brutally difficult. Then you take it and you turn it where it is running away from you and, you know, thank goodness they don't build highways like that. There would be a pile up of cars on the side of the road where everybody skids off. You don't see many golf courses where they have so many greens that run away from you as much as this does.

Q. 40-something players continue to excel here; seeing more and more people in your age group that are playing good golf instead of seeing their career on the PGA Tour kind of slack off?

TOM KITE: Well, I think the Senior Tour has had some effect on that. Certainly, the players want to be ready to go on the Senior Tour and they want to remain competitive through their 40's. I can remember when I was-- I think Jim Colbert is like 8, 9 years ahead of me now. When I was in my 30s he started talking to me about, oh, we got to have a 40-to-50 Tour. It is so important for us to get an over 40-Tour started. I am thinking, "Jim, that doesn't make any sense." And I was 33 or 34 at the time and he was into his 40's. He said, well, you just wait when you get to be in your 40's, you will see; you just can't compete with those young kids anymore. Of course Jim Colbert is now 53, I guess. He is playing the best golf that he ever played in his life. If he had played at 43 the way he is playing at 53, he would have been competitive on the US PGA Tour. And so I think it is a lot of attitude. It is just making up your mind that age is nothing more than a number, and if you really want it bad enough, you can play well. Just a question of maintaining the desire to be able to spend the time out there on that driving range and spend the time on the putting green that it takes to be competitive in your 25th or 30th year on the tour.

Q. Tom, you have always been known as a great driver of the golf ball. Here, with so few players opting to use the driver, is that somehow a weakness in the set up of the course in that it doesn't demand that skill.

TOM KITE: I don't know that -- I think they call it a weakness in the golf course, but it is one of the things that seems to be happening when you go to a U.S. Open; more and more they try to narrow up the fairways. The players are long enough now that they find that they rather be in the fairway even if they are back three or four clubs further away from the green and have a chance to play and so, there is -- you know, you start getting the fairways -- especially at this golf course where they are wide in certain area; then they narrow down, the players are going to go for the widest part of the fairway and they are going to back down. If that means hitting a 5-iron into the green as oppose today an 8-iron, so be it. At least you have got a chance because the rough is so severe that even if you are an 8-iron distance from the green; if you are in the rough you are not going to get to the green.

LES UNGER: Tom, thank you very much.

TOM KITE: Thank you very much.

End of FastScripts....

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297