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August 1, 1998

Bob Estes


DAVE SENKO: Bob, another 67 today. You are tied for the lead, 11-under. Just maybe some general comments on your round today.

BOB ESTES: Pretty erratic. Off to a fast start, made a couple of ugly bogeys on 6 and 7. Then another bogey, -- I guess I made three birdies and three bogeys; then four birdies. So that is kind of the way I am playing now and have for the most part all year, just kind of erratic; hitting a lot of good shots, and a lot of bad shots and making some putts now. I just switched to putting cross-handed or left-hand-low about a month ago. And when I went to the British Open a couple of weeks ago, I thought I was going to be putting that way and I was over there playing early and testing the high wind. I couldn't putt that way because I just haven't been doing it long enough. You had to putt a little more with your hands and everything like that. So, anyway, I had to revert back to putting conventional. Then last week when I was at home, I started back putting cross-handed and now I am making the putts that I used to not make. I guess what I am happiest about is I have really good friends and fans here in town, they have suffered with me for ten years, watching me miss all those putts after hitting it pretty close a lot; now I am making some.

DAVE SENKO: Maybe we can go through your card real quick, birdied No. 1.

BOB ESTES: Yeah, hit a 9-iron in there about three feet. Birdied 3. Poor layup short, probably tried to go a little further than I should have. If I was still going to be laying it back, I had 6-iron to lay-it-up past the tree that is in 9th fairway. I pulled it left into the rough, but then I hit a good shot out of the rough up there about twelve feet pin-high, made that one for birdie. Those are the kind of putts that I am talking about. Those are the ones that I haven't been making enough of. Ever since I have been on Tour just because I wasn't able to get the ball on line well enough, but now I am putting the way that I am putting. And then on 5, I hit good drive down the fairway. I had to kind of punch a 2-iron into the tree that overhangs the fairway; got up there just short of the front edge and I lipped out my chip shot and it went about three feet by. And made that for birdie. That is the way you like to start it at this golf course because a lot of times you are going to birdie 2, you are going to birdie 7, birdie 5, so 3-under after 5 is a good way to start here because, you know, you have got a lot of hard holes coming up. 6 and 7 are even playing more difficult. Backed the tee up on No. 6, so that is a much harder hole. A lot of times 6 is an easy birdie hole, but when the fairways are semi-soft and they have added about 15 yards to that hole in total length, that one plays a lot longer too. But bogeys on 6 and 7 --

DAVE SENKO: What happened on 6?

BOB ESTES: On 6 I hit kind of a pull-hook into the left bunker and came up short and didn't make the putt.

DAVE SENKO: How long a putt did you have?

BOB ESTES: About 15-footer.


BOB ESTES: No. 7 the first two rounds we played lift, clean and place, and then -- it is probably good enough right now. It is good enough to play it down today because we haven't really had much more rain, but I did have some mud on my ball on in the 7th fairway and the mud was on the left side of the ball. And, I guess what most people say, if the mud is on the left side, the ball is going to go right; vice-versa. That one definitely shot out to the right on me, hit the tree, came down in the fairway. Then I had about 45 or 50 yards to try to get it up-and-down and you are not going to get those all the time. But I chalked that one up to bad luck and not worry about it because I was hitting 2-iron and the hole was playing quite long. I think Russ hit a 3-iron in there. I was hitting a 2-iron. So, it is a really long hole. You'd rather try to attack it with a clean golf ball. I hit a bad shot on No. 11, kind of in between clubs, the wind was shifting, sometimes it was going downwind, sometimes it was going across. Russ ahead of me hit - caught a downwind gust and landed on the green and knocked it over. And, just tough to pull a club on that one. I hit the 8-iron, the shorter club of the two, tried to hit it too hard; blocked it out to the right in the bunker and didn't get it up-and-down.

DAVE SENKO: Birdie at 13.

BOB ESTES: Real good drive. Hit 5-iron in there about twelve feet, pin-high to the right. Didn't hit a real good putt, but it went in. Hopefully that is what will happen too me now that I am able to get the ball in line better, some of the putts that aren't so good maybe will go in also. That is pretty much the same it has been. I have hit some marginal putts - what I feel like are marginal - and they are still catching the corners and going in. But, good 2-putt par on 14. 15, 3-wood off the tee and 9-iron pin-high right about 18 feet, kind of putt up and over the hill, and made that one, last turn, just barely got there, but it went in. 16, I hit a bad tee shot. Real solid, but I blocked it to the right. I was in the rough. All I can do was hit a wedge out to the fairway and then again was kind of in between 8 and 7 and chose the 8 because the pin was in the very back. You don't want to go over that green. And, I think they said it lipped out. It landed about, I think, 15 feet short of the hole, maybe. I don't remember exactly. It was rolling right at the hole; everybody started screaming and they were disappointed when it didn't go in, and I was too. But it was just right behind the hole. I guess it caught part of the hole. If they showed it -- did you all see it? Did it hit the hole?

Q. I think it went just right around the edge.

BOB ESTES: 17, another real good drive. And 6-iron, turned over a little bit to the left - pin kind of stayed straight in the middle the green so had about 25- to 30-footer for pin-high down the hill, breaking right-to-left, and I had that there just high enough and last turn, it caught the corner and dropped in.

DAVE SENKO: Questions.

Q. Which tournaments did you putt cross-handed before the British?

BOB ESTES: Since I switched back to that, only the Western Open. I have only played two tournaments, I think, out of the last six or seven. But I had so much frustration even through that stretch, you know, where I was playing pretty good towards the end of it; I was getting really tired after Memorial. I think there were only a couple players that played more tournaments than me after Memorial. My putting was getting really sloppy and, yeah, it has been like that all throughout my career, just hard for me to line up my shoulders properly to putt end-to-end. I could easily correct that putting because it is a much simpler adjustment - much simpler stroke, so I am able to get the putter on line much better. But, I have tried it off and on for the last probably five, six, seven years. But, I came up with a new grip. It is kind of a double-overlap-left-hand-low as opposed to like having all ten fingers on the putter. And, finally, I have real good balance now with my right hand and my left hand being involved in the stroke. So, instead of being so much all over the grip, I am in closer together, so it is more like just one connection to the putter. It works better for me.

Q. Is that why you took a month off because you were tired?

BOB ESTES: Well, I took a month off -- I guess I had three weeks off and actually during that stretch, after the Memorial, I was trying to qualify for the U.S. Open which I don't think I should have had to do. Didn't you all pick me as a favorite Gary, dark-horse favorite?

Q. Did we?

BOB ESTES: No, are you -- you are not with Golf World. Switched to who?

Q. Sports Illustrated.

BOB ESTES: I knew that. I just forgot. But so Golf World had me --

Q. Extreme dark horse.

BOB ESTES: (laughs) Right. There were like three of us that even had to qualify -- that is a whole other story. Three tournaments off and then I think I played the Western and then two tournaments off, but I went to the British Open early, the Open Championship and played that one.

Q. Which tournaments did you putt cross-handed?

BOB ESTES: I can't remember. Just recently, only one I can tell you is the Western Open. That is the only one I have done it at this year. And then off and on in the past, but I can't tell you which ones.

Q. Having a great year out there. You have won before on the Tour. You almost won at PGA several years ago. Almost won at Greensboro this year. Anything different you are going to do in your routine tonight or tomorrow, maybe be in the winner's circle tomorrow?

BOB ESTES: I guess I have to try and go back and find out what I did to screw things up before. (laughter). No, I don't know. No. Probably just have dinner and get plenty of rest. I was out semi-late last night so, I don't know, maybe that is the answer. But, I need to get some good rest; probably come out and chip and putt some in the morning, make sure that the short game is sharp and I never know how I am going to hit it, so, who knows....

Q. This isn't the best time to be asking you this, but your fourth round scoring this year has left a little bit to be desired compared to your other rounds. It is almost a stroke higher. Any thoughts about that now that you are in the lead?

BOB ESTES: Sure, I mean, there is a lot of good reasons for. I can remember Greensboro, in particular, Hal Sutton and I were tied for the lead after two rounds -- obviously, you have got the pressure factor. You are playing late. It is just hard to be maybe as aggressive when you are playing towards the very end and you have got the lead, you are right around the lead. But also when you are playing late in the day, you just -- the greens aren't as good. You are going out and you are putting on greens that had 75 or 80 players, and the caddies. So, I remember Greensboro, in particular, because Hal Sutton and I were talking about that and you have got to hit a lot of greens -- I think that is one thing he was saying also you have got to hit a lot of greens on Sunday because it is going to be tough to make a lot of those 4-, 5-, 6-foot par saves. I need to -- my ball-striking is, like I said, is kind of shaky. I will hit one good and hit one bad. So, I am up to the point where I just don't even worry about it too much anymore. Just score as best as I can. That is just another reason, but -- so in the past I have a real low Sunday stroke average, but maybe I wasn't in as good a position after two or three rounds as I have been more often this year.

Q. Why are the marginal putts going in and why did they go in today?

BOB ESTES: Just because I am more mechanically sound with what I am doing. I am now able to get the putter going down the line and down my target line or at the hole. So I have got more margin for error. Just making a better stroke. It is just more mechanically sound. I have always had good speed. I just always struggled with getting the ball on line. Now I am getting the ball on line better and so my good putts are going in the middle and my marginal putts sometimes catch the corners and go in.

Q. Several guys had good scores today, but some of the leaders didn't really pull away. Any particular reason why the course is playing so tough today. Did playing it down have much to do with it?

BOB ESTES: It wasn't so much about playing it down because the balls were -- they weren't picking up mud really maybe just a little bit occasionally. But, let's see, you are talking about the leaders; why the scores weren't quite as good. It is just a harder golf course than it's been in the past. They have lengthened it out. In the past -- actually, too, we hardly ever played this course when the wind blows. It was -- it wasn't windy out there, but kind of breezy makes a big difference. So you have got 10-mile-an-hour-wind and it is going to make about a 20-yard difference on a particular hole, like, if you are playing into the wind. So instead of hitting, you know, 6-iron in, on a particular hole maybe you are hitting a 4-iron in. So that makes a big difference. A couple tees are different. No. 12 is -- I thought I read Vaughan Moise was talking about how bad that tee was at No. 12. It is. It is so much out of place. We shouldn't even play it, but we got there -- I wasn't even expecting to go to the tee to the left on No. 12. I was going towards the other one. I saw Russ going to the left tee because it just seems you right -- the fairway slopes that way right-to-left. You pretty much have to hit it over the trees. And, we have already got one of those on No. 10 where you have to go over the trees to get to the fairway. That is plenty for one golf course. Now you pretty much have to go over the trees to land in the part of the fairway where you have to land it to keep it in the middle. I never thought this golf course should play as easy as it does, but usually it is -- the ball sits up perfectly in the fairway. If it is dry, the ball is really rolling down the fairway and then the greens are pretty smooth, but they are too soft. You could have you a brute of a golf course if these greens were something -- Bermuda or something like that. Then it would really play hard. Maybe Bermuda grass fairways also because you have got plenty of high rough out there which right now, the rough is so difficult. You have got to get real lucky to be able to hit something more than a wedge or sand wedge out of it.

Q. Just from a statistical standpoint, you ranked 7th in putting. Why monkey with that?

BOB ESTES: Because I -- my putting stats are deceiving because I hardly ever 3-putt and I chip and pitch the ball real close, so, if you look at the statistic where, you know, I am leading the Tour, I was leading the Tour for the second year in a row and getting the ball up-and-down then you know that I am chipping and pitching the ball close. So, I made most of my short putts. I hardly ever 3-putt, but I don't make nearly enough of the 12-, 15-, 20-footers, but now I am making those. Like I said, I just switched back for this week and I have made a lot of 12-, 15-, 20-footers, a couple 30-footers this week all three days that I haven't made in the past. So I am able to shoot lower scores now. A lot of times I might shoot some pretty good looking scores, 68 or 69, but, you know, I may only hit 10 or 12 greens and getting the ball up-and-down a bunch, but you have got to have the ability to shoot the low scores out here to have more chances of winning golf tournaments because it is hard to shoot 67 or 8 all four days. So if you can throw a 64, 5 or 6 in there, you have got a better chance.


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