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March 7, 2002

Brad Faxon


JOE CHEMYCZ: 7-under par 65, and a 31 on your inner nine. Talk about how you played today.

BRAD FAXON: Well, I played very well today. Putted very well. Made a lot of putts. We got nice conditions the front nine, no winds. Softer greens than they did maybe Tuesday or Wednesday, but less wind made the course a lot easier. I didn't play that well the front nine. I made a couple of bogeys and didn't drive it that well, but then drove it great the back nine and made five birdies. Made a bunch of nice putts and very happy.

Q. Is this a course that you look at coming in thinking, "I can play well here"?

BRAD FAXON: Yeah, I haven't quite figured out how guys decide one course is good and one isn't. I try to feel like I can play well on every one.

I played well here last year. I haven't played this course a lot, but I played well last year until the last couple of holes, and I enjoyed the course. I really did. The course is in great shape. You've got to play -- you always have some winds here, and I like it when it gets windy.

Q. Why is that?

BRAD FAXON: But the greens are good. I think that you can get pretty -- they are pretty true. They are not unbelievably fast, so you get a good roll on these greens.

Q. Mark Calcavecchia out at Match-Play was talking about how frustrating it is when your putting stroke doesn't work, how it sours your mood, but then you come to the course and you're already in a bad mood because you know you are going to struggle on 4-footer; and then there are guys like Brad Faxon who arrive at the course and are really happy because they know you're going to putt well.

BRAD FAXON: He told you to say that to mess with me. (Laughing.)

Last time I looked, he and DiMarco were both 1 and 2, and they both hold it like that (indicating claw -like grip.) So what's he talking about. (Laughter.) That's funny.

I don't know what his problem is. He's putting pretty good. He's playing pretty good.

Q. He was talking about when he wasn't, why he went to the Claw, how miserable he can be?

BRAD FAXON: Oh, well, tell him he's miserable, still. (Laughs).

Well, if you're not going to be in a good mood on the putting green, you're not going to putt well. It's pretty simple. Not too many guys think they are lousy putters that putt great.

Q. Why are you known as such a great putter?

BRAD FAXON: I don't know. I've putted well since I can remember playing, like my dad was a good player. I never really have tried to analyze it. It's fully funny, the last few years, the more people want to ask more, getting into more and more detail, and sometimes when I start thinking about it, I get kind of messed up.

So I try and just putt like it's shooting baskets with your friends out on the basketball court. I try and make it so easy and simple and thoughtless, and people don't like to write about that. They don't think that has enough substance.

I don't know, I think the best athletes do naturally what they are great at. And I know when I'm in a good frame of mind on the putting green, the worst I'm ever going to putt is pretty good. And when I get in a bad mood or when I start thinking too much, I can putt awful.

Today was an exceptional day. I putted great. I had a good feel around the greens. I saw the lines. But that's when I putt my best, when it's easy. I know there's no explanation for that or nothing to satisfy anybody that will sell a book, but I don't really worry about that.

Q. How would you evaluate your game? Everyone always identifies you as a great putter, but you are obviously more than that. Does that get tiresome?

BRAD FAXON: It gets tiresome when people say you're "lucky" to be a good putter, because I don't feel like I'm lucky to be a good putter. I feel like I work at putting to get better, and my stats have gotten better over the years and not worse as I've gotten older. Most people think you get older, you get worst.

I think I've raised the level of my ball-striking. My swing feels better. I'm more confident than I was five years ago off the tee. I'm encouraged because I feel like I can still improve a lot with that.

I'm just having a good time with my life right now. It's fun playing. I can't wait to get to the golf course.

Q. Played well at Nissan, you played well at Match Play, then took a week off. Were you chomping at the bit to get back out here?

BRAD FAXON: You know everybody says, "Well, you're playing good how can you take a week off?" Everybody else here, we always have lives off the golf course. I've got a brand new baby, three kids from another marriage; I've got to go home once in a while. I'm playing three weeks in a row now.

So I try to set my schedule up so I can do my personal stuff and then do my business and I'm out here for three weeks now. If I play great for three weeks, I'm going to go home the week after that. I don't know, sometimes you have to change your schedule, but I get psyched when I'm at home.

I think it's better to leave the Tour in a good mood, thinking about how great you played, rather than play until you start playing badly. That doesn't do any good.

Q. Is it tough to pull yourself away when it's time to come back here, with the new baby?

BRAD FAXON: Is it tougher to pull myself away from home? Well, she came. First trip. Last night was her first tournament night. She slept through. It's a good sign.

Q. What's the baby's name?

BRAD FAXON: Charlotte. Seven weeks.

Q. In your stats, you always make a lot of eagles, yet you're not known as a long hitter.

BRAD FAXON: I had a good eagle year last year, which was exceptional for me. A lot of eagles are luck. A lot of it has to do with making a shot from the fairway once in a while or making -- last year, I just had a great streak where I just seemed to make eight or nine eagles in two or three weeks.

I'm hitting it a little bit longer. So I feel like, you know, I should be able to hit it long.

Q. It's not making long eagle putts, getting on the green in two?

BRAD FAXON: I hit it on the green in two close one time, holed one out. A combination.

Q. The weather forecast, would morning tee times have a definite advantage today?

BRAD FAXON: You know, I would say if the rain comes and cancels the day, sometimes when you go back after a thunderstorm, it's nice conditions. The wind can calm down. The course is softer and the greens get a little smoothed out; so it's hard to say. The wind is what's going to make this course more difficult. Nothing else.

Q. A couple of Masters things. The thing in the Golf World this week about the uniform ball. Do you think that would be a good way to maybe level the playing field?

BRAD FAXON: I think that would be the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard in my life. How can they do is that? What company is going to make -- what, is there going to be a no-name golf ball? There will be players that won't show up if they do that.

I don't know why they are panicking so badly. I really would Love to sit and talk to whoever, Hootie Johnson. They don't have a bad thing going there. It's pretty good. (Laughter.)

But a uniform ball, there's no way to decide what a uniform ball is because one ball -- I mean we work for hours and days on trying to find what the right equipment is for us. Everybody is different. Everybody has different swings, angles of attack, preferences for feel, and then you'd have lawsuit city.

Q. It's a private course; it's an Invitational.

BRAD FAXON: They can do whatever they want, but I don't think there's a reality to that. I mean, I may be way wrong, but I don't see how they can do it.

Q. I guess if they just say, all right, this is a ball, they don't even have to reveal who it is made by and it all goes the same distance, allegedly, but then the big hitters would still be hitting it longer than the small hitters; right?

BRAD FAXON: You would think.

Q. Greg Norman suggested that the manufacturers might all make that ball for their players, whoever is under contract.

BRAD FAXON: I mean, that's like NASCAR trying to make every car the same. You're always trying to make an edge. Dimple patterns would affect -- just the way a ball is stamped makes a difference.

I mean, Titleist is the ball I've used forever, and they were looking at trying to change the way they stamped their golf ball. They asked me to test random stamping versus putting the Pro V1 on the seam which they have done forever and it looked so different. So just tiny little changes, for us, they are huge.

And having a random ball doesn't work because there is no way you can decide who this -- what this ball should be. I mean, do you remember when Spalding had a ball that came out that Stadler and Norman used and they were spinning it off greens? Some balls spin too much for players because they have a totally different way they attack the golf ball. The ball Tiger and Davis Love use, I can't use, because I can't spin it enough. So what's going to be fair?

There's nothing wrong with the game of golf right now. The guys are hitting it far. You know, everybody wants to talk about technology being -- it's going too far and you've got to rein it back. I agree they have to stop it from advancing as quickly as it has the last few years, but what they don't realize is guys are much better athletes than they have used to be. They have been playing golf from a younger age. They specifically play golf. It's not just they play tons of sports. They are playing golf at 12, 13 years old now. And guys have learned to swing hard, hit it hard. And the shaft, the head are -- if you're going to say is guilty, they make as big a difference as the golf ball does.

So it's not just the golf ball. You have to say, okay, like the USGA tried to go to 47 inches; it didn't work. They can't make these random rules in the middle of January and say, "We'll try this one out." Because every time we have to say, "oh, we made a mistake."

Did I make myself clear? (Laughter.)

Q. In Sports Illustrated, Charles Barkley made some comments this week about Augusta lengthening being a racist move.

BRAD FAXON: I think that's the funniest thing I've ever heard.

Q. Wouldn't it favor Tiger if they lengthened the course?

BRAD FAXON: You would think.

I love listening to him. I don't know where he comes from sometimes, but that's a beautiful concept.

Q. If not the ball, what then?

BRAD FAXON: The thing -- I didn't finish the question. I feel like players -- what never gets written about is players are now smarter players. They learn how to manage themselves around golf courses better. Where if you get on a par 5 that you can't reach in two, you lay it up to 95 yards, and you know exactly how far your sand wedge goes with the ball that you use and guys are just better.

Short games are better. Conditions are better. Score is going to be lower. I've watched Shell's Wonderful World of Golf in 1963 watched Gene Littler and the ball goes like (indicating bumping up and down) this, when it's going down the putting green. Now you look at it and it's so smooth; it's going to help.

So for this to be a technology-based -- it's almost to the point where it's ridiculous because it's not. I mean players are better now. The guys that are coming out here at 17, 18 years old, they have been playing tournaments five, six, seven, eight years. When I got out on TOUR when I was 21 years old, I had never played a tour before. I had never played more than two tournaments in a row in my life. I didn't know what I was doing, and these guys are so seasoned, it's a joke. They come out expecting to win. And as a 40-year-old that's been out here 19 years I've still got to find ways to get better.

The players are complaining about technology -- it's like you know what, you've got to kind of fess up to yourself. It's out there. I'm going to take advantage of it, rather than get mad at it and find a way to hit it further. Work out more.

Q. So you don't think there's a need to dial back the distance?

BRAD FAXON: You can't. How are you going to stop the distance?

Q. I guess Augusta is worried about becoming obsolete. Do you see that course, at 7,300 yards being obsolete?

BRAD FAXON: It's not even close to obsolete. I don't know what's wrong with the finish they had last year. That was the most exciting tournament in the world to have. If I got it right, Tiger birdied the last hole to knock Mickelson out, and I think Duval had a 6-footer, right? I mean, do you want it to get anymore exciting than that or any better?

Q. It's not like guys are shooting 60s every day.

BRAD FAXON: It's just mind-boggling. I don't know what -- I love Augusta National. I love the Masters. It's my favorite tournament to play in. I hope in ten years from now it's not going to have five-inch high rough down both sides of the fairways. But it's changing the nature of the golf course.

But I don't have any problem with adding a tee to go back further. As a matter of fact, I told a few people, I feel like guys that don't hit it that far will surface at Masters every year because the short game is going to be more important. The Olazabals of the world are going to do okay on a long golf course. It's not just going to be the guy that hits it nine miles.

JOE CHEMYCZ: Can you go over your card real quick.

BRAD FAXON: I birdied 1. Hit a good 9-iron out of the sands trip fairway bunker to three feet and then I hit a 7-iron.

And on No. 2 and made a 12-footer.

Drove it into the fairway bunker on 3. Hit it from the fringe about 60 feet and missed a 5-footer.

No. 5, I hit a 5-iron and hit a 30-footer.

6, drove it in the rough. Missed the green, actually into a bunker. Didn't even knock it on the green and made 5.

9, hit it in the front bunker got up-and-down in two. One-foot putt.

Hit a sand wedge second shot on 10. That ball made a 12-footer there.

14, knocked it on the green from the bunker in two and hit it to about four feet.

15, 2-iron to 30 feet.

16, knocked it on the back, being back of the green, chipped it to ten feet and made that.

18, hit a good drive and a 6-iron and made about a 12-footer, 15-footer.

Q. The way you're playing, are you thinking about winning; do you feel like another win is imminent?

BRAD FAXON: I feel confident, yes. I want to have a chance, like everybody says, the back nine Sunday. I'd like to just keep playing like I am because I know I'm going to be there. I hope my golf swing hangs in there and stands up, and if I putt like I did today, it will be nice.

Q. At Augusta, the changes, do you think that benefits you because you do have a good short game and that might be more of a premium this year because of the wind?

BRAD FAXON: I think it's going to be a much bigger premium. Short game is always important there. But now, I think the best players in the world aren't going to hit 18 greens at Augusta National. When you are hitting a 4-iron into No. 11 and a 4-iron into 18, who knows what you are going to hit into 14 now or 7.

Q. Have you been yet?

BRAD FAXON: I haven't.

Q. Are you looking forward to this more than usual because you may have a better shot than normal?

BRAD FAXON: I always go in there excited to play. I love the tournament. It will be just very interesting to see what happens.

You know, the Masters has had great weather the last few years. If it gets nasty with the new course, it might be embarrassing. It's going to be amazing to think how long the rounds might take if the weather gets back, because they take a long time now. So, who knows.

End of FastScripts....

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