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November 4, 1999

Bob Estes


LEE PATTERSON: Nice start to the Championship. A couple of comments about your round, and we'll go to some questions.

BOB ESTES: Wasn't a very pretty round by any means. I hit my share of good shots, but I made a bunch of tough par putts, and I pitched some in the rough. I guess I was 4-under through 15 holes, and could have easily been either 1-over or 2-over. So my game is not that sharp right now, but my short game was, and I made a number of good par putts to keep the round alive. And I made a few birdie putts, as well. And then the bogey on 16 was a real sloppy birdie putt, didn't realize that I was so much up the hill, left it short and misread the par-putt. 16, I drove the ball through the fairway to the rough and managed to get it up there about 20 feet below the hole. I was putting up the hill, and I left the putt short. So I had about a 4- to 5-footer for par. I misread that one and lipped it out. So not a very pretty bogey on 16. On 17, I drove it right in the trees, I didn't know if it was out-of-bounds or not. I was able to get a free drop from the stone drainage ditch, which was left of the out-of-bounds fence, and I was able to get the ball to drop and go down the hill and rollback down into the rough away from the trees, where I had a clear second shot. And I punched it down the fairway. But then on my third shot I had 110 yards to the hole. It was 98 to the front, it was 12 on; for 110. And we were playing straight downwind. I was hitting a full sand wedge, which I thought would put me pin-high, it might spin backwards from, I hit a good sand wedge shot just to the right of the hole, but it barely carried on the green and then spun back in the water. When I hit that shot I had no worries that the ball was going to be close to pin-high. But instead it carried just a couple of yards on the green, and spun back in the water. And I ended up making double. The last hole I had a good drive, the ball was in perfect position in the fairway. I think I probably had -- I think I had 162 to the hole. I hit a 6-iron to about 18 feet long and just curled in the corner. I lipped it up and dropped it in the back hole. It was nice to finish with a birdie after totally messing up 16 and 17. So 16 was a very weak 3-putt. And I hit a bad tee shot on 17, but you're not planning on making double bogey from where I was in two shots. It was just sloppy; most of the round was. I hit a lot of good shots, a lot of bad shots, it could have gone either way. It was kind of riding the fence most of the way.

Q. Is this your first time here?

BOB ESTES: First time in Spain and Valderrama. So I guess we got in Monday evening, played nine holes and practiced some on Tuesday, and played a full practice round yesterday. Been around it two and a half times now. Still learning the golf course, but I feel I have a pretty good grasp on it. I seem to be able to hit it more often where I'm trying to. It's just a matter of being able to hit shots, which I haven't been able to do as well as I'd like to lately.

Q. You're back in the top-30 players now. Does it mean more to you now having seen the other side and losing your card and having to go to Q-School, now that you're back among the top-30, as far as maybe not taking things for granted?

BOB ESTES: I don't think I ever took things for granted. Yeah, I mean I feel like I do belong in the top-30. I'm still struggling in various parts of my golf game. And just can't quite seem to put things together. But things could change in the off-season and the beginning of next year. I don't think I took things for granted, I just had to make changes. After 1994, the end of 1994, and we talked about this some before, I was having all the elbow trouble, so at the beginning of 1995 that's when I started trying a lot of different things, trying different shafts on my irons and try different grips and setups and things like that. So the changes that I was making, normally we're talking about taking something for granted, you get lazy, you're not practicing, you're not doing the things that you should, but I was just lost in trying to find answers. I was working just about as hard as ever, I just wasn't finding those answers until maybe more so, I guess, in '97 and in particular, last year.

Q. I didn't necessarily mean taken for granted. But I think Hal Sutton appreciates things more now because he had the low period. People who have low periods -- I just wondered if you appreciate things like this, the World Golf Championships and the perks of a top-30 player more now that you had that little slip?

BOB ESTES: Yeah, I think so. You hate to be down here when you feel like you should be up here. And so the way golf has grown in our Tour and Internationally, this is where you want to be. I know there's a few players not playing this week, but they play Ryder Cups, Presidents Cup, World Golf Championship events, all the Majors, and those are the tournaments that you want to be playing. You want to play with and against the best. And so I just hope to be able to continue to improve my golf game, whether I'm in the top-30 or 40 or 50, but maybe try to get up in the top-20, top-10, and keep moving more towards the top. I've got a lot of areas I can improve on.

Q. Bob, I think if I'm right, were you next in line for Ryder Cup pick this year?

BOB ESTES: Yes, I missed out by one shot, so one spot also. I was next in line. I went to Brookline and played practice rounds the week before the Ryder Cup just in case, because at the time we didn't know if Davis Love was going to heal from his injury and be able to play. And numerous people were telling me to be ready just in case. So I knew that that also meant I needed to have played the golf course at least once, in case I got a late call to go up to Brookline. And they said that I was the first alternate all the way up to the opening ceremonies. So I guess that was Thursday afternoon. So I was in San Antonio preparing for that tournament, but I knew that if I had to leave that tournament and go to Brookline, at least I had already played the golf course once, and I had a good idea of where to go and how to play it.

Q. Was that a difficult or frustrating week or was it quite exciting?

BOB ESTES: I guess for some people it might have been, but I was still in a situation where I wasn't guaranteed to be in the top-30 on the money list. I was probably 24 or 5, 6, with still a month and a half of the season to go. So obviously I would have liked to play on the Ryder Cup and be on that team, but I knew I was in a situation where it was going to be good for me to be either place. So I just prepared as if I was going to be, I guess, at either one of them. I was working on my game and playing -- like I said, I played Brookline, I was playing practice rounds and practicing at Oak Hills in San Antonio. But also to make sure I placed at least in the top-30 to qualify for THE TOUR Championship, I guess that guarantees you a spot in this field. But also the U.S. Open next year. And you have the top-20 for the Open Championship at St. Andrews. So I was in a position where that was a golf course where I had a potential to play well at. So either way it was going to work out good for me.

Q. Do you have any Ryder Cup bonuses in any of your contracts?

BOB ESTES: I might, but I didn't really -- I didn't really think about it or ask my agent. There might be one or two, maybe, for making that team. I know in previous contracts from years past I've had that as well. I think I had a pretty good chance to make the team one other time. I think that might have been 1995, because I think I was 9th or something like that in world standings after the first year. And that would have been nice, more purse that you were talking about. But I wasn't really too worried about that. Just being on the team would have been tremendous, especially somebody like me, who's kind of been borderline, fringe. I haven't played to the level of a Tiger or Duval or Justin or Davis or Freddie or any of those guys, so that I would be able to consider myself really right there with those guys and other people would consider me as good and consistent as those players are. If I could have been on the Ryder Cup team, that would have, I think, put me in a little different light as far as how other people perceive me. But remember, too, that I was just one shot away. Not one tournament, but that's over the course of two years, for the most part. Those other times I finished in the top-10, one shot would probably have made a difference, because I wasn't that far behind Jeff Maggert in points. I was one point away from making that team and could have easily been picked, I guess, as well, knowing that just one shot made the difference from an automatic qualification and missing out by a spot.

Q. Is there one shot that sticks in your mind as being the shot, when you look back over the couple of qualifying period?

BOB ESTES: Probably the tee shot on 16 at the PGA. It's like a 90 degree dog-leg left, Sergio's hole. Sergio hit the shot and did a dance. I hit it left the day before, with a 3-wood in the trees and had to chip out. You know you can't go left. If you go right you might have a chance to advance the ball up, on or around the green. And I didn't have any shot, really. All I could do was chip it out again from the right trees. And I wasn't aggressive enough with that tee shot and I kind of blocked it out to the right and it went through the fairway into the trees. And I evened up bogeying that hole. I bogeyed the next hole, as well, but maybe I wouldn't have bogeyed 17 if I hadn't bogeyed 16. I guess there was that much more pressure on 17 and 18 after having bogeyed 16.

Q. Were you thinking Ryder Cup standing on the 16th and 17th tee there?

BOB ESTES: Just a little. Because people were also saying -- I think when I walked off the -- maybe the 15th green -- I'll make sure I've got the holes straight -- I think that was -- yeah, that was the 15th green. Somebody screamed out from the stands, see you at Brookline. I knew I was there. I saw the leaderboard. But I don't think the pressure was so much different than it would have been really as if I was just in that same position in the tournament. Once you're feeling the pressure, it can only go so high. Not that I wasn't able to function, but if the Ryder Cup would have been an issue, I think it pretty much would have felt the same. I just knew I did not want to go left on 16, because I was guaranteed to have to chip out. And I just didn't stay with it. My bad shot normally is hitting the ball left. And when I really stay down and hit the ball aggressively I hit left, and a lot of times I come up in block shots and come out right, kind of like I did on No. 17 tee today. So I'll be working to improve my body and also my golf swing. I'm going to have to incorporate a little different move into my golf swing to eliminate the bad shot and make me more consistent, especially so it will hold up better under pressure.

Q. Who do you work with for your game?

BOB ESTES: I started working with Chuck Cook a week before The Masters, and Dick Coop, as well. I haven't spent that much time with either one of them for various reasons, but I think this off-season and beginning of next year I'll be spending a lot more time working with both of them.

Q. Where are they based?

BOB ESTES: Chuck is in Austin, Texas, where I live. And Dick Coop is in North Carolina. He's also associated with the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. The university is Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Q. Is he a psychologist?

BOB ESTES: Yeah, he's the sports psychologist. And those are also the two that Payne Stewart was working with. We were talking about that in the ABC booth. That's how I really started to get to know Payne this year, was the connection with Chuck cook and Dick Coop. We started playing a lot of practice rounds together. I was working with both of them more at the Majors, in particular. I hope to benefit a lot from their expertise in the next few years.

Q. Bob, you mentioned earlier that there were some top American players who aren't here. In fact there are seven U.S. Tour players who are eligible who are not here. Do you understand and comprehend that, their absences?

BOB ESTES: Yeah, I think so. I'm not saying that they should or shouldn't be here, but a lot of those players you're talking about, for various reasons, I guess, are not here, like Duval. Maybe he's golfed out. He knows -- is it not possible for him after last week, even though I guess there could have been deadlines before the tournament was over, to win the money list on our Tour? But the commitment deadline was still Friday night, wasn't it, for this tournament so before the tournament was even over -- with two weeks before, Duval could have still won the money title, and I don't know what he shot the first two rounds. So I'm just trying to piece it together in my head, as well, what his thinking was. I know if he said he didn't have a chance to win the money title he probably wouldn't play this week. But if the commitment deadline was Friday and he never did commit -- I don't know if he committed and withdrew or never committed. So David is a great player, he probably will win the money title a few times in the near future, although Tiger is tough to beat. I'm kind of babbling about that, because I didn't know the circumstances under which David was not playing. And then I heard O'Meara was playing poorly -- or playing like he is, he didn't want to come this far and play that poorly. And I heard Steve Stricker withdrew, I don't know what that's all about. He has a fairly new baby girl. And the season is getting longer and longer; I just talked about that a little bit also with ABC, the fact that I think that after the PGA, I kind of lost a little bit of enthusiasm for the game. I pushed it so hard in the first week of January, through the PGA, that I just haven't had the -- quite the desire and the intensity level to really practice and prepare and play tournament golf that I had up through the PGA. I think a lot of my finishes have reflected that, my scores, instead of finishing 6th or 8th or 10th or 12th. I think I've had finishes where I was 20th, 25th, 30th, stuff like that. And then next year I noticed on our schedule we don't finish up -- we still start the first week of January but the season doesn't end until November the 12th. And golf just takes so much time and so much energy, and now there's more travel involved. It just wears you out. There's some guys that just love to play all the time. And there's other guys who probably love to compete at golf more than they necessarily just love to play golf all the time. And I'm one of those guys where I love to play tournaments. But when playing those tournaments I want to be prepared to play them well. So it's hard to keep that up for ten or eleven months.

End of FastScripts�.

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