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July 4, 2003

Jeff Overton

Chris Stroud


STEPHEN BOYD: This is Stephen Boyd. I'm manager of media relations at Pinehurst Resort. We have just concluded the 103rd North South Men's Amateur. We have with us tournament director Hank Thompson, we have runner-up Jeff Overton, and we have our winner Chris Stroud.

I thought I would first ask Mr. Overton to take us through his round this afternoon, then we will have Mr. Stroud do the same, and then open it up for Q&A.

Jeff, if you would.

JEFF OVERTON: I hit the ball pretty decent. I missed the putt on the 3rd hole for par. I had a great bunker shot to put us back to even for the match. Kept on grinding out. Chris decided to do something stupid and make about a 30-footer for birdie on the next hole (laughter). It's like, "Okay, whatever." Kept on grinding and ended up being two up after 9.

Then the driver got a little arrogant on the 5th hole. Then I just tried to do something kind of stupid because he hit a great tee shot and was in really good position to make birdie or par. Wound up hitting the ball about 50 yards off the tree behind me.

Then the next hole, my driver got a little arrogant, made a good par.

I mean, hats off to Chris. He played really well. He played really solid. He birdied No. 16 to put me two down. Then on 17, he hit it right in the middle of the green. Hats off to him. Congratulations.

CHRIS STROUD: Thank you.

STEPHEN BOYD: Now Chris Stroud.

CHRIS STROUD: I got off to a rough start. I thought I hit a good drive on the first tee, tee shot. Hit it way right, it was underneath a branch. Tried to get it on a green. Little punch shot, didn't get it. Ended up bogeying the hole, I was one down early.

Got to hole 3. Like Jeff said, he did miss about a four- or 5-footer, which put us back to all square. Then on the par 5, we were kind of back and forth. We weren't really hitting it straight, kind of back and forth, right or left. But, like you said, I made a 30-footer out of nowhere. I hit a bad bunker shot. It was a pretty simple bunker, shot about 20- or 30-yard shot, maybe even not that far, I hit it 30 feet by and ended up making it in front of him. He had an 18-footer down the hill. He didn't make that. So that put me at one up.

Then went to 5, and I bogeyed that hole. I think I bogeyed that hole every match. Maybe one par. But it seemed like today I just couldn't get the chipping going. I've been chipping so well all week. When you're chipping well around these greens, you have a lot of confidence to go to the pin. And today I just got a little tight. I couldn't get the swing going. I was hitting it really unsolid, a lot of missed shots, just trying to hang on.

I think me and Jeff both played the best golf just to get in this match. And I think today, the last match was just about survival.

Anyway, we get to, let's see, 5. He parred, he won that one. We both bogeyed No. 6, the par 3, which is pretty sad. Then 7, the par 4, I think I lost that hole every match, too, either birdie or par. I didn't get that up and down either. Another bad chip. Anyway, I ended up shooting 38 on the front side. He ended up birdie-ing No. 9 to go two up.

Then on 10, it was a big momentum changer for me. He hit his drive left underneath a tree. Like he said, he was trying to be aggressive, because I had pretty good position. He hit this tree and lost his ball. So he ended up conceding that hole and he went to one up. Instead of being two up or three up for him going into 11, he was only one up, and that really helped me.

He made a great save on 11. He hit it left in the fairway bunker, and I had almost perfect position left rough. Had an 8-iron to the green, hit an 8-iron to about 20 feet. He hit about this 80-yard shot or so. Okay, 120, to maybe about eight feet, and he made that par. I had a four-footer coming back for my second putt. I had to make that just to tie him. I think that was really big for him.

12, I think he ended up 3-putting, is that right? Yeah, he 3-putted 12, and that put it back to all square. That's when I knew, as far as being two down after 9, I knew I still had a chance.

All week, every match, I've been down early. And just from 12 in, like everybody's been saying, it's just been my golf course. I've been owning 12 in. I've been making a lot of good putts on 12 through 18. I made a good putt on 13. I hit about five feet for birdie. I made birdie there. On 14, I 3-putted. I had about 40 feet. He almost made birdie, but he ended up winning with a par.

15, the par 3, we both missed the green. Then again, neither one of us hit a very good chip. He had probably about a 10-footer, I had about a 6-footer. I made mine. I think I made three consecutive putts on the way in. I'm sorry. I made two consecutive putts, good putts, on 15 and 16 to pretty much secure it, to go dormy on 17.

8-footer on 15, like I said, maybe a five- or six-footer on 16 for birdie. That put me two up and dormy. 17, I was getting a little nervous because you don't ever -- when you're two up, you have two to play, you want to play very safe. Just went for the middle of the green. Right when I hit it, I knew it was going to be on the green. He was going to have to hit a great shot. I think he tried. I think he pushed it a little bit.

He almost chipped it in on 17. I don't think anybody knows that. He hit a 25 -, 30-foot putt downhill on 17. He almost chipped it in for birdie. That would have made me have to make my putt just to tie him.

Anyway, it was a great match. Hats off to him. He made the finals and a great tournament.

STEPHEN BOYD: We'll open it up to Q&A at this point.

Q. Jeff, you acted a few times like the heat was bothering you. Was heat and fatigue a factor with 36 holes?

JEFF OVERTON: Like, it was really hot, yeah. But we played a lot of 36-hole matches. Like he was saying, we played our best golf really just to kinda get here. I'll bet if you look at our 18-hole scores, each time we play, I know my worst round was the fire round. It just wears you out. That's all that match play stuff is, just trying to hang in there, trying to hang in there. Just hung in there really well today.

Q. You got to 2-All, what was your mindset at that point? Were you thinking you were on a roll with momentum to you?

JEFF OVERTON: I was trying to get to three up and four up, five up. In match play, you just try to get on a roll. It's real easy to get on a streak of holes where if you can start winning a hole or two, it can kind of get repetitive, just because mentally you have the other person kinda psyched out a little bit.

I was just trying to get on a roll. My driver swing kind of loosened up. It kind of got arrogant a little bit the first round of golf today. Then finally on No. 10, No. 11, it just kind of hurt me a little bit. I don't know.

Q. Would you have preferred to have the 36-hole finals like they normally have? Would that make any difference at all to you?

JEFF OVERTON: It would have been great to go out there and play 36. I mean, losing two and one or whatever, with another 18 holes of golf, goes back to that patience factor, just trying to hang in there. I mean, you just never know. Maybe I could have gotten on a roll coming back, on a four- or five-hole roll like Chris did.

That's not how it was. It finished up he won.

Q. Can you just go through your situation there when you hit the tree. You hit it under the tree. Could you take a full swing?

JEFF OVERTON: The thing is, there were some trees to the left, the tree trunk. But I didn't I would hit them if I hit it left. If I tried to hit it right, punch out to the fairway, my club, about two feet after I hit the ball, it would shatter up against the tree trunk.

I would have had to hit it probably -- I probably only could have gotten it to about 200 yards anyway. I was sitting there thinking, Take a hard cut. I can hit it seamless with a 2-iron. I just kind of pulled it a little bit. Actually, I pulled it a great deal, smoked the tree trunk about 10 yards left of where I was trying to hit it, going about 80 yards behind me.

Q. Chris, could you talk about 12 through 18. Seemed to be your main holes. Something about them that fits your game?

CHRIS STROUD: I don't know what it is. I don't know if it was mentally this week I seemed to pick it up, if I knew I was down. I think almost every match I was either down or all square going into 12 or 13. I don't know if I calmed down mentally or just what.

Seemed like every match it took me a few more holes to get the feel and get my swing back. I was swinging it so poorly the first nine holes every match. I couldn't get the irons to go right.

But, anyway, like I said, I mean, 12 all the way in, I think it seemed like I had a little bit more focus. I think I made twice as many birdies on 12 through 18 than I did in the rest of the golf course this week. I putted very, very solid on those greens. I think I made two or three 10-footers every match on the last two holes.

I don't know what it was. I don't know if it was just the setup of the holes. I know 16, I love 16, that was a great hole to have the advantage. I think having the extra length that me and Jeff have, I think it's a great hole for us. If you hit a really good drive, you have a chance to make birdie on the par 5.

I was just trying to hang in there. Maybe the first few holes, the first 11 or 11 holes every match, it calmed me down more. Because I think being ahead, two or three up, is harder than playing one or two down. One or two down, you can play a lot more aggressive. When you're up, you don't know what the other person's thinking.

I hung in there and it seemed like it went my way this week.

Q. Chris, could you talk about your reaction on 17. Did I hear you say it took three years to make that putt?

CHRIS STROUD: It seemed like it. Like the beginning of the week, you get here a week early, before the tournament is over, it takes a whole week. I think I flew in last Saturday. Then Sunday I played my practice round at No. 8. This is the first time I've been here. I knew it was a beautiful resort and all this stuff, but I had no idea what this place was about.

I came in. They had the banquet the other night. They told us all about the history. It's just amazing. This is just a museum of all these great names and great tournaments and everything.

Anyway, I played No. 8 for the practice round Sunday. Then Monday is our first stroke play. I played No. 8. I shot 66. I played very, very solid. Made only one bogey, seven birdies and one bogey. Really pumped me up. "Man, this could be really good this week."

The only thing is I had to play No. 2 blind the second day of stroke play. Hadn't played the golf course yet. I kept hearing from everybody it was really simple tee to green. But the hard part about it was getting on the green and make sure you know where to hit it, how to read it. It's a turtle back, hard to putt, hard to chip.

Anyway, I just played really conservative. The second day of stroke play, just tried to hit the center of the green. I ended up shooting 71. I was very happy with it. Even though I didn't get medalist, people kept asking me why, I think I was in second place after the first round, they were kind of upset I didn't get medalist. 71 with a blind golf course, No. 2, Pinehurst, I was very happy. I think I had two or three birdies, two or three bogeys.

What I meant by how long it took, it seemed like every day I'd wake up earlier and earlier and then go to bed earlier. It seemed like every day just got slower and slower and slower because you want to win the tournament. You know, you have dreams and hopes that you're going to win the tournament, you're going to hold the trophy. You try to keep that out of your mind. Seems like so far away, now it's here. It feels like it's taken a year to get here.

Q. What prompted you to come to the North and South?

CHRIS STROUD: Yeah, well, I played in a few other tournaments. I played the Monroe Invitational the last two years, I played again this year also. I just wanted to get a good summer schedule that was spread out. The last few summers I've been wearing myself out. By the time I get to Publinx and US Am, I'm worn out, I can't do anything. I've tried to space it out. I think I did it pretty well. This was right in the spot where I needed it, in between the Publinx and the Monroe.

I always like to try one or two different tournaments every summer. I'm sure glad I got to come to this place, sure glad I got to pick it. I sure hope I get to come back next year.

Q. How familiar were you with the tradition of this tournament?

CHRIS STROUD: Really not familiar. I felt very ignorant when I came here, when I got here and I saw all the unbelievable history of this place. You know, I know everything about Pinehurst, I thought. Then I came here. I was just in awe for two days. I come out here, they have the croquet, I think the lawn bowling they call it. That's just awesome to me that people come out. I think they said they have 1600 members. I may be wrong on that. That's just incredible.

I just feel honored to be a champion of such a great tournament.

Q. Posing for pictures, who were the folks you were posing with?

CHRIS STROUD: That was my host family. I forgot to say thank you to them. They treated me like I was a king. They fed me every meal I needed. They have done everything I could ask for. I owe half that to them.

Q. Who are they?

CHRIS STROUD: The Randy and Gretchen Nelms. They treated me like a king.

Q. How frustrating was it for you today?

CHRIS STROUD: It is frustrating to get a lead, think you have a momentum going, and then lose it all of a sudden. But I played quite a few match play events. I know that match play can be like that, especially in the final match or semifinals when you get further, especially with Jeff, he was playing well.

No matter how well I was playing, I would have to make birdies to win the hole. Fortunately, or I should say unfortunately, we made a lot of bogeys today. Like he said, we made more bogeys today probably than we made all week.

But, you know, that's just how it goes. It was rough, but it was a lot of fun. A lot of fun.

Q. I think you only had five holds in the entire match. Did you have another match this week where it was that back and forth?

CHRIS STROUD: That's right, we went back and forth a lot. You know, like I said, I knew it was going to be like that. You've got to expect that in the final match. The guy is going to be playing great. Fortunately he just didn't -- as bad as I was hitting it early, I shouldn't say bad, I just wasn't hitting it very solid, I was getting a little stuck. I thought he was going to go four or five up quick. I don't think either one of us were playing that well.

But luckily I was only two down after 9. I really felt like I had a big advantage there because I really thought I started getting my swing back on 10 and 11, started getting warmed up, taking a few better swings. Then 12 or 13, I started swinging really well. I made a good putt on 13, the par 4. I think when I made that birdie on No. 13, I really thought I had a good chance because I went one up again. I really thought I had control from then.

Q. What does this do for you psychologically going into the rest of the summer?

CHRIS STROUD: This is huge. I mean, it feels so strange to actually be in this seat, be the champion. I thought about it all my life. The biggest thing I've won is just a local match play called the Kroger. Actually, I won the conference championship two out of three years at Lamar. It seems like I've always finished Top 10, Top 5, maybe second or third a couple times. Last year, I finished semifinalist in Publinx. That was pretty big for me.

But to actually be a champion of a big tournament like this is quite an honor. I'm still in awe. It's going to take a while to soak in. It does give me a lot of confidence for the rest of the summer. I actually feel like I can win a tournament now. Like Tiger and all the other pros talk about, you have to learn how to win. I've learned quite a bit this week. I think what really helped me is my patience. I really felt like I was calm with myself. No matter how bad or good I felt like I was hitting it, I felt like I stayed in control and I think it really helped me. Possibly could be the reason why I'm here.

Q. One more year at Lamar?

CHRIS STROUD: One more year at Lamar, yes.

Q. Jeff, what is your feeling? Are you terribly let down? Do you feel good about the week you've had?

JEFF OVERTON: I mean, I played really well to get to this point. It's just kind of frustrating. It's a lot more fun to go home when you come in second and you shoot 2- or 3-under and you know you played pretty well.

Whenever you don't, you go out there and you don't really give it your best effort on the last few holes, you kind of get a little upset with yourself. You just kind of -- you're a little disappointed.

I've been playing great. I had a little cyst in my wrist about two months ago. I took like two and a half weeks off. Ever since that, I haven't lost. I won the Publinx in my last four or five holes. Then I came to win by one. I've been playing extremely well. It's a little frustrating not playing very well in the last five or six holes today.

I mean, hats off to Chris. He did it. He was the most pay patient one, and he did it. Got to feel great.

CHRIS STROUD: It feels great. Especially after such a long week. It feels like a year it took to get here.

STEPHEN BOYD: For further information on anything to do with Pinehurst, go to www.Pinehurst.com. Questions can be directed to Janeen Driscoll at Janeen.Driscoll@Pinehurst.com. Thank you.

HANK THOMPSON: Our yardage for course No. 2, which all match play was played on, was Front 9 3438, Back 9 3638, 7076 total. Par 71, 35 on the front, 36 on the back. I don't have No. 8's card in front of me. I apologize. The first round of qualifying was played at approximately 7035, par 72.

The fifth hole, one of the most famous holes on course two, par 4, 442 yards. The 12th hole actually played a little bit long, par 4, 446. Also 18 at 445. Actually, the 8th hole, I need to back up, was the longest par 4 on the golf course at 466.

Scoring I thought was pretty low. Low round at No. 8 was I believe Chris' 66, if I'm not mistaken. Low round on course two was 7-under, 64, by Casey Wittenberg, our medalist. Wednesday we only were able to get in the first round of match play due to some severe weather at approximately 1:15, in addition to a tornado. Fortunately, it didn't come here. It was down the road a while.

So we played the first round Wednesday. We played the second round and quarterfinals yesterday on Thursday. All four quarterfinal matches went to the 18th hole. I don't know that we've had had four consecutive matches that good or that competitive, I should say.

In my opinion, probably one of the best matches of the week was the Davis-Snedeker quarterfinal. Davis was two down through 11. He birdied 12 to go one down. He and Snedeker both birdied 13. Davis made a 30-footer on 14 for birdie. Snedeker calmly rolled in a 15-foot downhiller on 14 to top him or have him. 15, both players missed the green. Davis hit the green, Snedeker missed the green, was unable to get up and down. Davis two-putted. 16, Davis gets up and down from a greenside bunker in two, eventually birdies it for four. Snedeker makes an 8-footer to have that hole.

Davis is one up at this point. They half 17. They go to 18. Davis hits his second shot in the middle of the green, Snedeker hits it over. It's probably the best shot from where he was. Still had to make a 10 to 12-footer to force Davis to 2-putt to win the match one up.

Casey Wittenberg, 17-year-old, may be 18 now, going to Oklahoma State as a freshman, he's from Memphis, Tennessee, he was our medalist. He beat Mike Castleforte, from Springboro, Ohio, member of the Duke golf team, six and five in the second round. Quarterfinalist, he beat Matt Davidson two up before Chris Stroud beat him this morning in the semifinal match two and one.

Probably the biggest upset of the week was Andrew Dahl, 31 seed, beating the second seed eight and six on Wednesday morning.

Of the 31 matches, 10 matches went the scheduled 18 holes or more. The finalist Overton, he beat his first-round opponent four and two, then had to go the distance the rest of the week, except for today's final where he lost two and one.

Stroud won two and one his first round, then went 18 holes the rest of the week with the exception of his final where he won two and one.

Thank you.

End of FastScripts....

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