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June 10, 2001

Bob Estes


LEE PATTERSON: All right, Bob. Congratulations. I know it's a great victory, to be able to do what you did this week. It's one of the hardest ways to win on the PGA TOUR. Maybe just a couple thoughts about that, and then we'll open it up for questions.

BOB ESTES: Yeah, I guess my two wins now have both been after leading after the first round. So I guess that's the only way I can do it. Now I know I've got to get off to a quick start every week if I hope to win more tournaments, anyway. But, yeah, it was a little tougher than I wanted to. I sure wanted a four- or five-shot cush coming down the stretch, but in that awkward position on 14 and having to chip out on 15, I just had to take my medicine and move on. Would have rather had a three-shot lead going down 18 instead of one, but you've only got to win by one, don't ya.

Q. Talk about going into the final hole with a one-shot lead. Talk about the thought process on the approach shot, what club you used and what was going through your head.

BOB ESTES: Actually, the tee's probably more of what you're talking about. I've driven in the lake on the left so many times. I've driven all of my friends and fans crazy. But that's exactly what I've struggled with for the last seven years. You know, I've worked so hard to try to find a grip, setup, swing, equipment, you know, that I can play like I played when I was in college and first on TOUR, where I could hit it hard and not have to worry about going left. You know, I've still got it in my head. I'm still fighting that, and it just makes it -- I can stand on the range all day long, hit it as hard as I can and that ball is not going to go left. It might take off a little left and fade back to the centre; it's just not going to go left. I could not do that in the past because I was playing drivers that were too upright, had a hooked face, too long and too light. Now I've got a driver -- I'm 50 yards behind Daly on certain tee shots. But if I just go ahead and just let myself hit it, I can hit the fairway, under pressure, like did on the last hole. That was one of the toughest things I've ever had to do, was step up on that 18 tee and rip it down the fairway. Obviously, you can't go left because of water, but you don't want to hang it out to the right in the rough either. You have no idea what kind of lie you're going to get with that pin in the back left. My caddy and I just kept talking, "Trust it, hit it hard." When I hit it hard, I can hit it straight. And I didn't hit it hard enough on 17. Kind of hung on it a little bit and hung it out to the right. But I was able to make myself do it on 18, and that was the difference. Then we can talk about the second shot if you want to, but the first shot was a whole lot tougher than the second shot.

Q. Given how difficult you said the shot was going to be on 18, did you have any particular swing thought, anything you really relied on in that moment of pressure?

BOB ESTES: Hit it hard. You know, I've kind of laid off the driver so many times. I see a lot of other guys out here on TOUR doing it, as well. If they hit it hard, they hit it left. Next time, they will hold on and block it way right. If I just set-up to it, stay in the shot, hit it hard, I'm going to hit my fade. It's going to take off a little left and come back to the center. I just had to trust it. Sometimes that's the hardest thing in the world to do, but I did it that time and it mattered the most. That gives me a lot of confidence and satisfaction.

Q. All week long you've been talking about the fact that you were just going to remain in the same mode that you are always in, going to treat every night just the same. Could you do that last night? Was last night a regular Saturday night before a Sunday final for you?

BOB ESTES: I guess not. Now we start getting to all the personal stuff, I guess. Had a date last night and the night before, thanks to all my Memphis friends, with all their connections. So, yeah, we had dinner at Memphis Country Club. We had a nice group. We had a great time. That kind of helps keep things relaxed, as well, even if they do keep me up too late sometimes. Had a nice dinner, got to bed. Didn't keep me out too late. Had a decent night's sleep. Just got up and did it all over again.

Q. So there were no nerves?

BOB ESTES: Well, there's always nerves. But because I am more confident with what I am doing now with my game -- just like what I just talked about with the driver and like we have talked about all week with the putter, I'm just so much more relaxed and confident about what I can do if I just let myself do it. It wasn't like that before. Before, I was lost. You know, the putting was a mystery and hitting the driver in the fairway was a mystery. So I worked really hard -- and a lot of people have worked really hard to help me get to this point. My club technician back at Golf Smith in Austin, Bill Totten (ph), he should be here right now to tell you how much time, to tell you the time and energy we've put in to try to get me the right specs on all my irons, drivers, 3-woods, 5-woods, everything like that. I wish he was here to be able to enjoy it with me, but I know he was having a great time watching it on television, and I'll definitely give him a call tonight and talk to him for a while. It's not just him. There's so many other people that have helped me out. And then the Cleveland reps and technician, Jeff, you just can't imagine how much time that they have given to me individually, to get me to this point. So I owe them a lot.

Q. You could look up at the leaderboard during the course of the day, see Curtis Strange, Nick Faldo, Nick Price, Langer. Is that daunting at all?

BOB ESTES: Yeah, but it's kind of hard to answer. Really, Langer just kind of popped up on me all of the sudden. I don't know what his back nine was like, but I didn't know that he was right there at 16. I figured it was still pretty much myself and John and Scott, but, yeah, those guys are tough. They are typically not going to back down, and I didn't want to, either. I just happened to put it in a couple places where I had to settle for bogey for the most part, unless I made a long putt. They have won their share of tournaments. It's my turn.

Q. You said you thought about doing other things during this seven-year period. Is that true? Did you really come close, and what would you have done and what were the lowest moments?

BOB ESTES: It's easy for us to say that. We all get to feeling sorry for ourselves sometimes when everything is just going wrong. The last thing that you want to do is get up to go to the golf course and struggle again. You know, I had to go back to Tour School in '96. In '96, I finished 149, I think, on the Money List, and so that was the second year of my real struggles. '95, I did okay, but I was on a decline, for sure. So then I had to go back to Tour School in '96, and then missed. So in '97, I thought that I was going to be playing both tours, some of the BUY.COM TOUR, some on the regular tour, and I played in a couple of the -- well, at the time it was the Nike Tour. I played a couple Nike Tour events. I was still struggling with my game. One or two of them, I was just, like, you know, "What am I doing here?" A few years ago, I was 14th on the Money List and ranked in the Top-30 in the world or something like that, but I knew I had shot myself into that position. Out here, you've got to keep doing it. I knew that my game wasn't good enough, and because my game wasn't very good, my desire wasn't where it needed to be. And then it kind of snowballs from there. But almost every player has gone through this. You all know what all John has gone through with his life and his game. Curtis, as well; he won the two U.S. Opens, and then after that, you know, he didn't do too much, for whatever reasons. Maybe he just lost that desire or fire because he had been pushing so hard for so long. But that was one of the low times. I can't remember any other real specifics. You know, a lot of my friends and family will tell you there were many times when I called from out on the road where they could tell I just didn't want to be there, didn't want to be playing golf and wasn't getting any good out of it, and might as well just have been home, practicing. That's why it's good to have friends and family that really care about you, that continue to support you, because this game is hard. It's crazy. More bad things happen than good. This is my second win in I don't know how many tournaments. Somebody look that up if they want to; that's a lot of defeats. It's not like a team game where you at least win 50 percent of the time. For me, it's been more about the satisfaction of learning how I'm supposed to play the game. You know, I really didn't want to talk too much about it until after the tournament was over, but about two months ago, I went back to -- I had gone back and forth with this over the last six or seven years, as well. But a couple months ago, I went back to playing with the ten-finger, the baseball grip, but I didn't want you all out there on the course checking out my grip making me to self-conscious. I've known for a long time, that's the way I hit the ball the most solid. There's so many different -- and then one thing leads to another. You know, it was tough getting everything matched up properly, and then all of the sudden what I did just a week and a half ago was I went to a mid-size grip. So the grips on my clubs are quite a bit bigger than most of what everybody else's are. That just gives you a little bit of insight into all of the trial and error that most players go through. If you were here Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, you saw all the equipment trailer, all the reps, all the clubs and everything like that. There's just so many things that you can try and do. It's so hard to get it just about right. But I think I'm just about there.

Q. Was the second win harder than the first win? And the second shot at 15, what was the thought process there?

BOB ESTES: Chip-out? I didn't have much of a choice. I probably should have chipped it a little further down the fairway. I was kind of looking at the way the fairway was. But I was down in the rough; so there was no way I could hit a low shot between the trees down the left side of the green, and I wasn't able to hit a hook around the trees, because the ball is just not going to spin around the rough like that. So, really, my only option, especially with a couple-shot lead was just try to chip it into the fairway and try to get it up-and-down with a wedge. Like I said, I probably should have pitched it a little further down the fairway. I went up there and looked at it, but I don't think I looked at it quite close enough. I had a little longer shot in than I should have, to give myself a better opportunity to get up-and-down. But I didn't have much choice under the circumstances, but just to pitch it out into the fairway.

Q. So you are on 18 tee box. You hit it a little left. It fades down the middle. It comes down. What are you thinking there? And on that second shot, it appeared as if you attacked the pin, but you've said differently. So what was going on there?

BOB ESTES: Well, I was definitely playing down the center of the green. My caddy and I were talking about that. It's the thing to do when you have a one-shot lead: Play to the center of the green, 2-putt, take the trophy and go home. As I set up to the ball, I could tell the ball was a little bit above my feet, which is going to tend to make you pull it or hit a little bit of a draw. So I adjusted slightly. Lined up just a little bit further right. But then when I did that, I knew that I had to still stay in the shot. If I'm lining up a little further right, the last thing you want to do is come up out of it, be too cautious, protect against going left, and then hit it right in the bunker. I didn't want to have to try to get it up-and-down out of the bunker, especially the bunker shot towards the water, with the green sloping away from you. So anyway, that ball was -- it got as far left as it was going to go. If I know my game, that's as far left as it could have gone. And so I guess I allowed myself just enough cushion. It was nice to see it going just at the flag, drawing right at it. I hit the perfect club. Yesterday, it seems we were just right in between. I never could get a nice, full shot where I could just really attack, you know, get the ball close. And then combining that with the greens firmed up some the last couple days, it just made it a little more difficult to score. But, yeah, it was nice to -- only had to 2-putt from ten feet, instead of 40.

Q. What club was that?

BOB ESTES: I wasn't planning on 2-putting either, I was planning on making it. But hitting it that softly, I didn't play enough break to keep it high enough.

Q. What club was that?

BOB ESTES: 7-iron. I had 161 to carry the false front, and I think 175 to the hole.

Q. A lot of the guys after the round were talking about that sometimes it's more difficult to play with a four-shot lead than you might think, because maybe you protect the lead a little bit. What's your thought process? Usually you're trying to squeeze every shot you can out of the course, but when you have that cushion, can it be a little more difficult?

BOB ESTES: There may be are going to be just a couple of shots throughout the course of nine holes that you are going to play differently -- for me, anyway. But for the most part, I know where I want to play to off the tee and I know where I want to play to, to the green, and you know, if I would have made one or both of those putts on 11 or 12, I would really have had a nice cushion going into 13, 14, 15, 16. As I think back over the course of that round -- you know, if there's trouble on one side or the other, whether I'm leading or I'm behind, you're still usually favoring just a little bit towards the center away from the trouble. So, you know, there really weren't that many shots that I played that much differently on the back nine. It's just that on 14 and 15, you know, I put it in positions where, you know, whether I was five-up or five-down, I just couldn't hardly make par.

Q. Did you see the flag waving battalion of kids as you went along, and did it mean something to know that it was your group there admist the sea of John Daly supporters?

BOB ESTES: I was glad they were out there waving those towels. Hope they didn't get in trouble or anything like that. Yeah, it helps. That's why it is so much fun for me to come play in Memphis, like when I'm playing in San Antonio, Dallas, Fort Worth or Houston. I've got that many more people there cheering for me, that personally know me and care about me. This is one of those places, also. I love coming to Memphis.

Q. Granted, that you did have a good rooting section out there, but you even had said yourself during your post-speech that you knew there were a lot of John Daly supporters out there. How tough was it to overcome that, given the fact that there seemed to be more people out there pulling for him, is it something that you try to block out of your mind? How do you deal with that?

BOB ESTES: It's hard to block out those razor-back fans. (Laughter.) I was just kind of laugh about it. It was no big deal. I remember how much fun it was for David Toms to win in New Orleans, watching that on television. So I knew what it was going to be like, with all of the Arkansas fans cheering for John today. Just makes it a little bit more fun. Golf can be boring sometimes, as we all know. So it's okay to make it a little bit loud once in a while, more of a party, as long as it doesn't get too much out of control.

Q. I want to ask you, on 5, it looked like a turning point hole for Daly, and you held up pretty well there. What were your feelings there at 5?

BOB ESTES: How many under was he after No. 5, for the day?

Q. 2-under.

BOB ESTES: He had an eagle, birdie and a bogey, and I was one --

Q. Tied at 18.

BOB ESTES: So I had been thinking about this. As long as I could get through 5 without him blowing me away, with those two par 5s and a couple shorter par 4s that I would be in good shape. I felt like I had a little bit more of an advantage on some of the other holes, where you do need to drive the ball in the fairway and hit smart shots. I guess 11 is a crucial hole. I feel like I can be a little bit more precise than he can, with the big swing that he takes. It could have been a two- or three-shot swing; it was only one, but that one could have made the difference. For me to hit that 9-iron exactly where I wanted to on 11, and John knock it is over the green on the water, that's kind of what I'm talking about. I felt like some of the shorter, tighter holes and shots, I might have a little bit of an advantage over him. So for him to only be -- only picking up one shot in the first five holes, I felt like that was pretty good.

Q. Did you ever have any doubt or concern after the two bogeys on 14 and 15?

BOB ESTES: Well, yeah. I don't know exactly how things stood -- I can't remember when I saw that longer was at 16-under, and I didn't know if he was done. I didn't know exactly when his tee time was, but 16-under, 16 holes, two hard holes coming up -- I can't remember the question. Oh, yeah, the two bogeys. I'm tired, but I deserve to be. (Smiles). After bogeying 14 and 15, I'm just glad I had a cushion. If I could still birdie 16, and finish birdie, par, par, I'm probably still going to win the golf tournament. I just knew I was going to hit a good bunker shot on 16, and I was just a grain of sand from spinning it up a foot from the hole and tapping in for birdie. But I caught just a smidgen of ball and it got away from me a little bit. I still had a chance to pitch that one in from just off the edge of the green. But the par putt on 17 was huge. That was the shot of the tournament, I guess, when I made the putt on 17, coming down the hill. The putt on 17 was about a 12-footer.

Q. Going back to the baseball grip, was there anything in particular that made you go to that? Is that rare on the Tour, the baseball grip, the ten-finger baseball grip?

BOB ESTES: I think so. I guess Dave Barr was probably the last guy that played that much out here on TOUR, unless some of the other guys have converted. Sandy Lyle, you see Sandy Lyle now, and maybe Craig Bowden. I think that was him, in the Natural Golf ad that you see on the Golf Channel or FOX or whatever it is. I hit the ball more solidly that way. I just started experimenting with that, back in '95, probably, after hitting it so poorly at times. I just thought, "Well, let's try this." I've tried just about everything. You probably couldn't suggest something that I have not tried. I just hit the ball more solidly. The reason I have not continued to play it this entire time goes right back to the driver. Because until I could use the baseball grip and get the driver -- hit the driver hard and hit it in the fairway, it wasn't going to go. Since I didn't hit a driver until just perfect last week; that's why it has been back and forth with that. I still have struggled with it, even though I was using the ten-finger grip. But stuck with it for the most part, and then went to a mid-size grip, with a shorter, heavier driver, a little flatter lie, a little more open face angle, started to fit together a whole lot better.

Q. Is your instructor comfortable with that or is that just blasphemy?

BOB ESTES: No, there's a couple people that I have worked with. But at some point, you kind of have to figure some things out for yourself. I think that's the way Ben Hogan did it and maybe a few others. A teacher can't tell you everything. A lot of times, they see what you look like, but they don't know what you are feeling inside. Especially when you have to do it under the gun, like we just did it on 18. I couldn't hit the two shots that I hit on 18 in the past, with your standard overlap or interlock grip. Without going into too much detail, it just doesn't work as well for me. I can get into a better setup position and make a better golf swing with that grip, but I also had to go to the mid-size grips to kind of counter that to give me an opportunity to make it all come together.

Q. Now that you've got these things worked out, how do you approach going into the Open? Apparently, no one has won the tournament before the Open and then gone on to win the Open. How are you feeling about your chances for the next week?

BOB ESTES: Am I the favorite now? (Laughter.) I don't think so. There's somebody that will be there next week that wasn't here this week, and I think he's done a lot of good preparation. He's probably there right now getting ready. I'm just -- like we've talked about some the last few days. It's just satisfying to me to be able to go out to the driving range and just hit the ball solid and hit it relatively straight. And then the putting is better, also. For a long time, golf was just not fun. It's like that for a number of guys, not everybody. But I want so badly to play well, and I'll do just about anything within the rules to get there. I could go off on so many different tangents. I've gone through so much. But anyway, as far as the U.S. Open, I'm looking forward to playing. Qualifying on Tuesday was really nice. I needed something good to happen to me like that. I guess it gave me maybe a little more peace of mind, whatever, starting this tournament. So I just went out real relaxed on Thursday. The course obviously wasn't playing as difficult, and just kept letting it happen. Just having a good time, and my friends were keeping me loose, and I was able to shoot one of the lowest scores that I've ever shot. Yeah, I'll need to be pretty smart about how much rest and how much practice time I give prior to teeing off on Thursday. And luckily I have a late, late tee time on Thursday, and that will help, as well because every hour before that first tee time can make a difference. I just need to be pretty wise about everything that I do between now and Thursday. But we are still going to get a group of people together and celebrate this one a little bit tonight, but not too hard, okay.

LEE PATTERSON: Thank you, Bob. We appreciate it.

End of FastScripts....

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