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April 24, 1998
GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA
LEE PATTERSON: Sir, maybe just share a couple of thoughts about your round today and heading into the weekend.
BOB ESTES: That is kind of what I have been building for towards all year long. I made some good changes at the very beginning of the year. I was starting with the Bob Hope and I have actually got a lot of new clubs in the bag, too, over the course of last few months. So, just each week, I have been getting better and getting better equipment in my bag and, hopefully, I will continue to play like this and shoot more scores like this one over the course of the rest of the year.
Q. What was the key to your round today?
BOB ESTES: I did everything fairly well today. But, of course, with the rough as high it is, you have got to drive the ball in the fairway. So I did drive it really well. I think I hit every fairway. I'd have to go back and think about it a little bit. I think I hit every fairway and probably about 15 of the greens. So, I hit the irons well and I got the ball up-and-down when I had to and I made some putts also.
Q. Forest Oaks fits into your game?
BOB ESTES: Actually, it is exactly the opposite of what I like as far as the wet conditions. I play my best golf when everything is really firm and really fast. When the -- especially when the greens are firm, it is hard to hit greens. And, then, the thing that I do best is get the ball up-and-down from around the greens and, so far, for the most part, for these two days, I haven't really had to do that because I have hit most of the greens. But, I have an advantage when the conditions are really firm and fast because you are missing more greens.
Q. Open auditions for a new putter yesterday, someone was saying, or earlier this week?
BOB ESTES: On Tuesday. I have been putting fairly well. I wasn't going to change necessarily. I just got out there on Tuesday morning and all the reps of them have their bags set up around the putting green and they have got lots of different models. So I have been putting very well inside of 10 or 20 feet, but I haven't been making much of thing in the 18-, 20-, 30-foot range. And, I know I have to make more of the longer putts if I am going to score the low scores and win golf tournaments. My stroke average is pretty low right now. I think I was 6th or 7th up to now in stroke average. But, I know that, you know, you have got to shoot low numbers out here to win tournaments and I wasn't even really scaring the hole with a lot of the 20- and 30-, 40-footers that I have been hitting. So, all of a sudden, I found a model that is totally the opposite of what I have been using, and it may actually suit the -- suit my setup and style of putting better. But it is like an 8802 it is a Scotty Cameron Napa, and it's the last putter that I thought was going to work for me on Tuesday.
Q. A blade, like a flat-blade putter?
BOB ESTES: Yeah, just, you know, it is not center shaft. It is just a heel- -- it a heel-shafted putter and it seems to fit better with the way I naturally would probably stroke it. So, obviously, I was not going to switch putters if it worked for the longer putts, but I couldn't continue to make the shorter ones. I wasn't going to switch. But, I seem to be very solid on the shorter ones as well. And so, again, just like Wednesday, before Bay Hill, my caddie was begging me to put this putter in the bag and we put new irons in the bag Wednesday evening before Bay Hill then I finished second -- got the new set of irons on Wednesday; put them in the bag Wednesday night because they were just working so much better. And so we took a chance and it paid off. And, so, maybe the same thing is going to happen with the putter this week. But, I mean, the first thing -- even before that -- is I started working with the guys with Titleist from the very beginning of the year that first week, for maybe -- it was Phoenix -- maybe the second tournament of the year, but I got a brand new driver, 3-wood, 4-wood, 5-wood, all Titleist clubs and so that is one of the -- I have kind of been working on both. I have been working on improvements with my game; at the same time I have been getting better equipment. So, it is all building and coming together. We still have some things to maybe improve on. But I am getting closer and closer every week.
Q. The way things are coming together, does it seem like it is just inevitable that you are going to finish on top one of these weeks?
BOB ESTES: Yeah, I mean, it feels like it. I have already won out here on Tour only one time. But, for the most part, I have just had to almost relearn some things or almost -- basically change some things I have kind of had to teach myself somewhat -- I trying to do things more naturally. You know, when you are doing things more naturally and you are having more fun playing, you are going to have a better chance to shoot low scores and have a chance to win tournaments. Over the course of my entire career, it seems likes I have always been trying to do things maybe too textbook when I really couldn't do certain things. The main thing that I changed at the beginning of the year was my grip. I strengthened my grip. I'd always tried to play with a more neutral grip, so I wouldn't hit the ball left. In essence, I was still hitting it left and losing a lots of shots right. So, yeah, there is so much that has been going on, it is hard to even explain or piece it all together. But, it is more fun now than it has been.
Q. Last week, you opened with a pair of 68s; got off to a great start; slow on the weekend. This week another great start. How is your mindset going into this week compared to last week?
BOB ESTES: Actually, what happened last week is the -- even though I said that those irons that I have got are, you know, better than the set that I was playing - same company - but last week the greens got so hard on the weekend, what Davis did was unbelievable. It was hard enough to get it on the green much less have a chance to make that many birdies. But the greens got so firm from all the winds on the weekend and I was playing the Tour professional ball, so, basically, I was hitting my approach shots too low and after this week, I still may end up switching from the Tour professional to the Tour Balata. The Tour Balata spins more and if I had been playing The Tour Balata on the weekends -- last weekend, I guarantee you I would have finished a lot higher than I did. So, I am still -- that is part of what I am going through right now, also, is trying to find the -- you know, the right ball for the right conditions and get the right clubs for each day that we go out to play.
Q. Is your grip a 10-finger baseball?
BOB ESTES: Yeah, actually, I probably should just go ahead and write a book, I have been so much through the last three, four years; ever since I had my best year in 1994. But yeah, last year, I played most of the year with a baseball grip; that is how lost I was, but it taught me a lot of things. So, last year -- Before I forget, this tournament last year was kind enough to give me a sponsor's exemption and I remember making 8,000-something dollars, so that certainly helped. But, last year, the main thing for me was to make sure that I got my exempt status back so that I could kind of get my career going again this year. So, that was really kind of the Jaycees to give me that exemption last year.
Q. What is the plan for this weekend?
BOB ESTES: You mean, besides winning?
Q. What do you got to do to win?
BOB ESTES: I don't know. We just have to wait and see what happens this afternoon. I guess you have already got a 7 and a 6. They are now just teeing off and the wind is starting to pick up out there some. So that is going to make it more difficult, you know, to hit as many fairways, hit as many greens, and make as many birdies. So, yeah, hopefully things will be kind of sitting where they are, but who knows; you just never know what is going to happen out here. So many guys are capable of shooting low scores, especially when the fairways and the greens are this soft, and greens are rolling fairly smoothly also, so, I may not be in the lead come later today even though I have got a 4-shot lead now.
Q. Are you an aggressive type of player or are you rather laid back?
BOB ESTES: I am trying to get more aggressive. I have had to almost play defense in the past; kind of like what we talked about with that 10-finger grip. I couldn't really attack off the tee. I would have hit a bunch of snap-hooks. I am hitting the ball so much better now also that I can take some chances. I still try to play the percentages and play smart. But I am improving in every area of my game and so I am trying to get myself in a position where I can attack more because that is what the best players out here do.
Q. I remember McCord used to on TV call you "Robot Pro". Was that just a reference to your mechanical swing that you had then?
BOB ESTES: Yeah, and he doesn't do that anymore. We kind -- I didn't need that. I mean, obviously, I needed to learn how to play better and not look as mechanical with what I was doing and that fits right into what we were talking about, trying to be more natural and not so mechanical.
Q. How is your game different now than three, four years ago when you had the win? Is there much difference?
BOB ESTES: I couldn't hear --
Q. Is there much difference in your actual game from now than three, four years ago when you had the big year in winning?
BOB ESTES: Yeah, a lot. In almost every way. I mean, back then, I was hitting almost everything left-to-right. My clubs were longer. That ended up leading so some elbow problems. So, I have got so much to that I have gone through so much to talk about like that. But, just trying to think of -- different equipment. I am gripping it differently. My swing is different. When I strengthened my grip, it allowed me to move the ball back in my stance a little bit and square up my shoulders and that allowed me to hit the ball straighter. I am approaching the ball straighter down the line as opposed to being over the top and steep. I used to play like kind of like McCumber and now I am hitting the ball much straighter and I knew that that is one thing that I had to improve on also because there is not too many really good players out here that spin the ball too much one way or another. So I knew I had to, you know, learn to hit the ball straighter and not hit the big cut. Especially when it gets windy -- when it gets windy, a cut is no good. Most of the guys hit the ball right-to-left, play a little better when the wind blows. That is one of the changes I knew I had to make also. I have always been a -- a -- I had a lot of things that I had to change to get better to start to approach the highest level. I am still not anywhere near it yet, but I am moving in the right direction.
Q. I know you had time to adjust to the changes, but does it feel kind of weird looking back and how different those two things are the two ways you played?
BOB ESTES: Yeah, pretty much. I guess I just had to go through a period of kind of seek and discovery. I have tried so many things, you know, with my game and my setup and equipment that, you know, I pretty much stayed away from teachers. Not that teachers can't help, but I needed to learn some things on my own. So, I guess I have kind of taken the Hogan approach over the last three, four years. And I don't think that -- I don't think that I would have been able to make the progress that I have made because some of things that I have done are things that maybe, you know, teachers would not have suggested. So, I don't know, maybe I could have done it a better way. I don't know. But I feel like that I am really glad that I have kind have done it on my own for the most part the last three, four years and really kind of taught myself some more about the game and how to play.
LEE PATTERSON: Why don't you go over the birdies for us, starting on the backside.
BOB ESTES: I am kind of getting yesterday and today mixed up. We finished so late last night, the two rounds almost kind of blend together. No. 10, hit driver in the fairway, and then I believe that was about a 6 or 7. Actually, I didn't get too much sleep last night either, so I am going to take me a nap this afternoon. I woke up about 3:00, 3:15 and couldn't really go back to sleep. But I'm just trying to remember what club that was. 6-iron. I hit 6-iron on 10 about four feet behind the hole. I mean, it probably came real close to going in and I was really trying to hole one out there today because I didn't get one yesterday after Hulbert and Fuzzy both holed iron shots for eagles. I came pretty close yesterday and today; made about a 4-footer for birdie there from behind the hole. Then I had three in a row on 13, 14 and 15. 13, I hit a sand wedge about eight feet left of the hole pin-high, made that one for birdie. And then I hit a 7-iron into No. 14, just about foot-and-a-half for birdie. And then 15, another sand wedge about eight or ten feet below the hole. Made that one. No. 2, driver in the fairway, hit 3-wood just off the right edge of the green and a little kind of pitch-and-run shot out of the rough; came up a little bit short. I had about 12-footer up the hill and made that. 5 and 6, hit 7-iron about 18 feet right of the hole on No. 5. Made that. And then 6, 3-wood off the tee, 9-iron about eight to ten feet pin-high had a big swing right-to-left. It did just what it was supposed to do. Cut right in. I hit real good shots on the last three holes also, 7, 8, 9. I just ended up -- too much wind blowing me on No. 7 into me. I came up 18 feet short of hole with you but it was right on line. I thought it was going to be real close; kind of the same thing on 8, kind of in between clubs hitting the hard 5; came up just short. But chipped it up there close and then curled it around the hole on 9. So, finished with 3 pars.
Q. Ever 3-putt with that thing yet?
BOB ESTES: Let's not even talk about that.
Q. Obviously not today.
BOB ESTES: I don't know. Not today and I don't even want to think about yesterday. I don't think I did. But -- but we will just pretend that I haven't keep thinking it is the magic wand.
LEE PATTERSON: Anything else?
Q. Are you surprised at all how you played? You said you are geared towards hard and fast conditions. Today was wet out there you still shot -- are you surprised how well you have played?
BOB ESTES: Yeah, but the changes I have made with the equipment and with my game over the last three or four months are allowing me to play in any kind of conditions. I mean, it is kind of like what I have done with the driver. This whole year we have been trying to get, you know, a lot of different clubs to give me a lot of different options that work, so, like with the Titleist driver that I am playing -- I have got a 6-5 degree for when it is really windy. I have got an 8.5 a couple of 8.5s. I have got a 9.5, so usually one of those three is going to work. That is just one example of what I have done trying to allow myself to play better under any kind of conditions.
LEE PATTERSON: Thank you.
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