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May 31, 2002

Bob Estes


JOE CHEMYCZ: We welcome Bob Estes to the interview area. 2-under par, 69 today. Had it to 11-under. Looked like a roller coaster at the end. Talk about your round, if you would, please.

BOB ESTES: Everything was really fine, just like yesterday, up through No. 15. I hit a great tee shot with a 3-wood on No. 16, and I had a wedge in or maybe as it turns out it should have been a 9, but I had a perfect full wedge to the flag. But there was a false front, and I had a solid wedge shot, about 12 feet from the hole, just short of it, but spun off the front, down the hill, and so it was a situation you've got to make sure you at least get it to the flag. And I thought I could get a full wedge at least to the hole, and maybe the wind picked up. I don't know. But it came up a little bit short, and then down to the bottom, and I didn't get it up-and-down.

On No. 17, I was in between clubs, again. I knew a full 6-iron was going to go in the back bunker, but the wind is kind of shifty and changing at times, and I wasn't sure if 7-iron was going to get me anywhere near the hole if the wind was across, as opposed to helping some to the right. I tried to take something off a 6-iron and I got the toe down in the ground a little bit and miss hit it a touch and didn't quite get over the water.

That's kind of the way a course like this is. You can be a little bit off, and you're going to make double or -- bogey or double bogey. I avoided all of that for the most part, except for the bogey on No. 9, as well. And that was probably actually the best shot that I hit all day, best feeling shot, anyway.

The 7-iron that I hit into No. 9, I wasn't even playing that to the flag. The pin is in the back, you don't want to go over the backside of that green. I was trying to get it 15 to 30 feet short of the flag, but I misjudged it and it bounced over the green, and I didn't get that one up-and-down.

So really the only shot I can even remember miss hitting is the 6-iron on No. 17. But the other two bogeys I made on 9 and 16, I hit shots just as good as I could hit them. Just didn't land them in the right place.

Q. What does that do to your frame of mind? You've got it going. You've got a 3 shot lead on the field at that point, and back to -- not square 1 -- but someone is going to go past you, obviously. Does that play on your mind or do you put that behind you immediately? Could you take us through the eagle, too?

BOB ESTES: I think I can put that behind me, because I'm starting to play about as well as I ever have. I've been hitting the ball really well for the most part the last few months and struggling with the putt, but now I've got a new putter and a new system as far as how I'm going about it. So I'm putting as well as I'm hitting the ball, so that's why I was 11-under, and could have been a whole lot more than that. I had all kinds of great putts. I wasn't missing a lot of greens, and I was hitting it on the green and close to the hole, virtually every hole. So that's why I'm not as disappointed as I maybe would be, because I'm just starting to play as well as I ever have. So I'm not overly concerned.

Sure, I'd like to have those back. But on a golf course like this, and the wind is blowing like this and pins are cut close to the edges, you're going to make a few mistakes. You hope to keep those at bogey and not make double like I did on No. 17.

The eagle on No. 13, I hit 3-wood down the right side of the fairway and I was hitting 3-iron to the green. I think I had 247 to the front of the green, and so it was about 260 to the hole, but it played downhill. I was trying to hit 3-iron, kind of a low fade, try to get it working right of the flag and run it up on the green, and I did that. I hit it a little bit thin, but that's the way you want to miss hit that shot, if you're going to miss hit it. It rolled right up in the center of the green, and I had a 35-, 40-footer, just breaking left-to-right, and I made it. 3-wood, 3-iron on 13.

Q. (Inaudible.)

BOB ESTES: Yeah, but still it rolled forever. The fairways are firming up pretty good and it sloped towards the green. So it was -- what did I say, 247 to the front, only playing about 237, I probably carried it close to 200 yards, and then it just took off, you know.

Q. Have you noticed any difference in the playing conditions from yesterday? You were talking about the poa annua of the greens, are they firmed up more? Basically you mentioned the difference in the wind, are there any noticeable changes in the conditions as of today?

BOB ESTES: I think the greens definitely putted smoother this morning than they did yesterday afternoon. The guys this afternoon will pretty much have to deal with what we had to yesterday. Although since they are a little bit firmer, those guys probably won't cause as much damage today as what we saw yesterday afternoon. So the greens are probably a little smoother this afternoon, but they were definitely better this morning than they were yesterday afternoon.

Yeah, and as far as the wind goes, yeah, it was a little bit breezy at times, but nothing that was too major. Yesterday it was almost dead calm. Today it was blowing about 10 to 15 at times. And that could definitely make a difference on some of those pins that are cut right on the front or the back or in the corners. So it makes it that much tougher to get the ball on the green close to the hole, so you have to play more conservatively sometimes, which is what I did not do on 16, and I should have. Other guys, I'm sure, are going to experience the same kind of thing.

Q. You said you have a new putter. What putter is it and what does that allow you to do that you haven't been able to do with the other one, except for obviously making putts?

BOB ESTES: Well, I've got a Bull's Eye this week. Basically that's what I grew up putting with and first year on Tour. And I've tried different putters and different grips and things like that. I've been putting pretty well. I got off a bit in the last month to two months. I wasn't positioning the ball quite right. A Bull's Eye putter is real easy to line up for the most part, plus I have a line on top of it.

I think I mentioned yesterday, I can't remember if I did in here, I'm putting a longer putter, more conventional. I'd rather putt with the right hand below the left; I have a better touch and feel that way. But I have trouble getting the ball on line somewhat, putting like that. I get a little too open with the shoulders. So I'm putting the shorter putt cross-hand. I've threatened to do that all the time. I've either struggled with the short putt or the long putt. So hopefully now I've got a system down that will work for me. So this is the first week that I've actually done that. But, yeah, I had good speed control on the long putt, and I've gotten the short putts on line really well putting that way.

Q. What's the break-off distance, like where do you say, well, it's time to drop the right hand down?

BOB ESTES: There's not really a distance. Sometimes you've got downhill putts and uphill putts. It's more of a feel thing. If I feel like the most important part of that putt has to do with the speed of it, you know, that I might go right below the left, and if speed is not an issue, it's a matter of getting the ball on line, then I'll go left hand low. And that's why you see most guys go left hand long, almost everybody that putts conventional pulls left.

So anyway, hopefully I'm doing something that makes a lot of sense. It sure was working these two days. But as far as distance, no cut-off point; just a feel thing.

Q. One last thing, in FedEx you had changed, I think, the driver or the 3-wood, some equipment changes last year before you won. You were working with Cleveland a lot on that, and now you changed another equipment thing before here, and you're obviously playing pretty well. Are you more a feel person or more a mechanical person, and does making those changes give you more confidence sometimes?

BOB ESTES: No. I love to have -- well, I would say 14 clubs, but usually I'm looking for about 18 to 20 clubs that I can interchange, depending on the different course or conditions or whatever. But, no, I pretty much -- I haven't done too much. Well, I have made some changes. I have to almost think about this point on the question, but I feel like I've got a really good balance. I'm more a feel player than people give me credit for. A lot of changes I'm making are based on feels, not mechanics. They're not to change just to change something. When I make adjustment, try something, it may not work, but if it doesn't, I can learn something from it or I can eliminate it and not ever try that again. I could probably talk about a lot of different things as far as that goes, but the main thing is I have been hitting the ball really good the last few months, not putting very good. And now that I've got the Bull's Eye putter and I'm putting longer putts like this, and shorter putts like that, I'm putting better, to go along with the good ball-striking.

Q. The last month or so you seem like you've had yourself in good shape at the halfway point in tournaments and can't get a lot going on Saturday. Can you talk about that, and if there's any necessary change in your approach going into the third round?

BOB ESTES: No, for the most part it's been putting. I just haven't been making the putts. And that's why you see me trying something new this week. My ball-striking still needs to get better. And I wish I could say I made the right decision on every single shot, every round. But sometimes you've got the hindsight thing going there. But I kind of lost track, I'm getting kind of tired -- I didn't get much sleep last night. If you want to repeat that, I can answer better.

Q. Just wondering about the problems you've had on Saturdays in particular. You haven't broken par the last six or seven tournaments on Saturday?

BOB ESTES: But a lot of those times I shot 65, 67, 68, and just didn't putt very well. But yeah, hopefully tomorrow we'll kind of get off of that and keep hitting it good. There's really not much I have to change now. If I go out and do a little practice session, it's just kind of stay in touch with what I'm doing. There's maybe the first time in my life there's not really something I'm thinking about going out there and trying or changing or whatever. I just need to go keep doing the same things that I'm doing right now.

End of FastScripts....

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