July 22, 1998
PACIFIC PALISADES, CALIFORNIA
LES UNGER: Peter, we appreciate you joining us. For those who don't know, Peter was the professional here for four years. What were those years?
PETER OOSTERHUIS: Two years.
LES UNGER: They were --
PETER OOSTERHUIS: I was professional here from the L.A. Open 91, through to 93, I guess, Nissan Open at that time, but three tournaments here. Really, a two-year period I worked at the club.
LES UNGER: Are you back here for the first time since when?
PETER OOSTERHUIS: I have played a couple of rounds with friends and members. That was before Christmas. But, first time for an official event, yes.
LES UNGER: How long is it now that you have been doing some television commentating.
PETER OOSTERHUIS: I did quite a bit have commentary in 1994, mostly for Sky Sports in England which is a satellite station in Great Britain. A lot of that was covering the American Tour. We'd take the American coverage and then adapt our own, take some of the commercial breaks to put our own interpretation on what was going on. Then 95, 96, 1997 I was with the Golf Channel covering the European Tour; did almost 90 tournaments in those three years. Saw a lot of the European Tour. Most of my work was Renton Laidlaw (phonetic) who is the long time writer for the Evening Standard. He has recently given that up but long time person --
LES UNGER: The dean of the British writers.
PETER OOSTERHUIS: I guess he is chairman of the Association of Golf Writers in Great Britain. He certainly had a huge amount of experience on the European Tour. It was great to work with him.
LES UNGER: Whenever there was a problem with our press setup, Mr. Laidlaw was the first to tell us.
PETER OOSTERHUIS: It was good to work with him, a lot of experience. One of the things doing the work for the Golf Channel, one of the things I hoped would happen, get some coverage in the United States; maybe it would lead to some work with a network over here. Eventually it did. Now I am full-time. Expect to do 20 tournaments with CBS this year and play some Senior events around that.
LES UNGER: How has your back to golf been?
PETER OOSTERHUIS: It has been a battle. A bit up and down. I don't want to look at the stats in the book, but it has been a battle. I seem to be inconsistent. I will play a few good holes just the way I'd like to; then a couple of disasters comes in and kind of shakes you up mentally when you haven't the experience of playing tournaments and dealing with adversity. It has been a battle.
LES UNGER: How many rounds of golf have you played here?
PETER OOSTERHUIS: Well, quite a few. This week I have played two practice rounds. I didn't play a great deal when I was working here. There was a lot of administrative work. Played a little bit, but not as much as you'd might expect. I played the L.A. Open every opportunity I could. I always loved the course. I think when I came from the interview process to get the job at Riviera, I certainly -- I said the course was one of my top four or five favorite courses, which it certainly was. Whether the interview committee believed me or not, I don't know, but it is certainly up there with -- my favorite course was Pebble Beach, St. Andrews, and Cypress Point, courses like that. I probably haven't played this course as many times as people would think, but certainly played every L.A. Open, every tournament round I could get into then.
LES UNGER: We had Gary McCord in here earlier today. We sort of open and close with voices on TV.
Q. How does the course play different in the summer now as did it in the wintertime for the L.A. Open?
PETER OOSTERHUIS: It is just the kikuyu grass can thrive in the summer and doesn't grow very much during the winter. We have seen -- I can remember playing in the '83 PGA and the rough was -- whether it was as long as this or not, I don't remember. But I can certainly remember having some impossible shots around the greens where the ball, it was a full swing to hit the ball 10 yards. But it is just the nature of the warmer weather that kikuyu thrives. If you want to leave it long and have it very difficult, you have that option.
Q. Winds change in the summertime?
PETER OOSTERHUIS: The wind, I don't think so. No. I think you are still going to expect that afternoon breeze off the ocean. You still -- I am not sure whether we get Santa Anna conditions this time of year as well. You know that better than I do. So far, two days, it has been the off-the-ocean winds which is really the way the course is designed to play. You have got the tough par 4s: 2, 3, 5, 12, 13, 15, all playing into the wind. I think that is the way it is designed to play.
Q. That said, Peter, what is the key to winning here this week?
PETER OOSTERHUIS: I think even more than most tournaments it is hitting fairways and hitting greens because if you miss the fairway off the tee, chance of reaching the green in regulation are slim; you are going to have to be very lucky with the lie. And if you miss greens again, you are going to have some luck with the lie because you can get some horrible shots around the greens where just getting the ball on the green is an achievement.
Q. That said, for a major championship, senior or any other kind, should luck be a factor?
PETER OOSTERHUIS: Well, luck is always a factor in the game to some degree. The rough is very thick. I think basically practice rounds have been quite important here because people have had to judge different kinds of lies around the greens and how the ball is going to come out of different kinds of lies. So you can prepare -- there is some luck in the lies you get, but if you have prepared properly maybe you can deal with them as they come. Luck is always a part of the game. You are never going to be able to rule out luck completely. If you hit on the fairway, you will always get a perfect lie. No luck involved there. The fairways are absolutely fantastic. So hit the fairway and give yourself better chance of hitting the green.
LES UNGER: Having as much information about this course as you do and knowing the conditions, what would you judge to be a winning score?
PETER OOSTERHUIS: Haven't really thought about that. I have been concerned about my own game, my own preparations. Obviously depends on the weather; how much wind does come up off the ocean because those long par 4s can play very difficult. I think it might be under par, but it will just be a few shots under par if it is under par. I don't know how fast the -- the greens are quite fast already. If they speed up anymore, any time you have a downhill putt, it is a real test lagging the ball to the hole.
LES UNGER: One so-called favorite thought it might be over par.
PETER OOSTERHUIS: I think it is possible. Does depend a little bit on the speed of the greens if they get fractionally faster than they are, that will affect the scoring immediately.
Q. The length of the course, particularly on a course that you are not going to get much roll on, is that a factor here particularly with seniors?
PETER OOSTERHUIS: It is pretty long on the card and it is playing long. The number of mid-iron shots you hit, all those holes I have mentioned, the 2nd is probably a long iron, the 3rd, 5th, 12th, 13th, they are all medium-iron shots, a lot more and the par 3s as well, 14, 16 playing into the winds, hitting 4-irons and 6-irons and probably more medium-iron shots for the average hitters than most courses. I have got to say, I have been surprised I have only played three SENIOR TOUR events prior to this week and I have been surprised at the toughness of the setup; especially the pin placements the tour officials have used, the tournament pin placements. They haven't played, let's make some easy pins; let's get the scoring down. They have put pin placements out that will test the players. So it is not as if -- obviously this is going to be a little more difficult than the average tournament, but it is not as if the SENIOR TOUR players, those people who play that Tour regularly are going to be surprised by some pin placements. They will know what to expect and should know how to handle them.
Q. The pin placements, the toughness of the course, the way it is set up, is it auditioning a little bit maybe for a US Open?
PETER OOSTERHUIS: Well, I don't think there is any secret to the fact that Riviera, the ownership would love to have -- any course -- not any course. Riviera certainly would like to have the U.S. -- some courses don't want to have -- scrap that. Obviously there are courses that are not interested in having a major championship. Riviera definitely is. This was always going to be the conditions for this Championship, whether there was a possibility of a US Open or not. This was going to be the conditions and as far as anybody who has ever played the course knows Riviera is a good, challenging course. And, if you put it into Championship condition, it can challenge anybody. Whether the U.S. Open comes here or not depends on a lot of factors, I am sure.
LES UNGER: Thank you very much.
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