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May 29, 1998

Len Mattiace


WES SEELEY: 68, 67, 135, 9-under par for Len Mattiace, leads by one at the moment. A bogey-free round. So tell us what it was like out there.

LEN MATTIACE: It's nice to go around Jack's course without bogeys, you know. That's a good thing. That's an accomplishment. But I played real solid the whole day and I hit the ball solid. I think I missed some opportunities to even go lower, but all in all, real pleased with the way I played and the position that I'm in so far.

WES SEELEY: Tell us about these five birdies.

LEN MATTIACE: Well, where did I start, par 3, 4?

WES SEELEY: Correct.

LEN MATTIACE: That one, I hit a 6-iron just to about 2 feet, tapped that one in, just a close one there. And parred the par 5, where else.

WES SEELEY: Birdie on 7 and 8.

LEN MATTIACE: 7, I hit a third shot in there par 5 from 70 yards to about 8 feet past the hole, made that. And then 8, the par 3, I hit a 6-iron to about 15 feet pin-high left, made that. And the back 9, where did we go?

WES SEELEY: 15 and 18.

LEN MATTIACE: 15, I hit two good shots to get just on the back edge of the green, hit driver 3-wood and had about a 50-foot putt -- 40-foot putt down the hill and coasted it down about a foot and a half down, tapped it in. And 18, I hit 3-wood, 8-iron to about -- well, to only about a foot and a half, 2 feet again.

WES SEELEY: Were you in danger of a bogey today.

LEN MATTIACE: I don't know. Depends what you mean by danger. No, I -- the whole day I hit the ball real solid, so I don't know how many greens in regulation I hit, but going through the round real quick, No. 10 I hooked a 5-iron left in the green-side bunker and had a very difficult shot because the bunker sits low and it was a downwind shot, green's up high, everything runs away and I was able to hit a high soft bunker shot about 5 feet from the hole and I made that, and that was probably a -- that was probably my potential bogey there. But, you know, coming in, I hit the ball really solid. I had a lot of birdie opportunities, didn't make, you know, didn't make as many as I wanted to, but it was a good sign of being right in there.

WES SEELEY: Questions for Len?

Q. Looks like the iron play was strong all day.

LEN MATTIACE: Pretty good. Pretty good. You know, I hit -- like on 17, I had about an 8-footer, only had L-wedge into the hole playing downwind and hit it 8 feet and I didn't make that. There were probably four or five opportunities that were 15 feet, say, around, give or take, maybe 10 to 20 feet that they didn't go in. But, you know, the whole day, I had, you know, elected not to go at some pins because I think they're just, you know -- like 9, the pin is in the back right, and there's water, you know, 2 feet right of the green because of the embankment. Everything just slopes into the water, so, you know, you go more to the center of the hole and a couple of those pins where you just if you go at it; it's probably a mistake.

Q. How many drivers did you hit today?

LEN MATTIACE: Well, I laid up on 3, on 9, 11, 14. So that's, what, four I laid up on, so I hit ten drivers.

Q. 18, you hit a 3-wood.

LEN MATTIACE: Laid up on 18; hit nine drivers. The course is playing fast, you know. The yardage is playing shorter than what it could be, you know, because of the rain I guess. But in the past years -- but it makes the greens really firm and fast, and I'm sure you'll hear that from a lot of guys. It's a give and take. Because like 17, I hit it -- I hit downwind; I hit an L-wedge in. But if they have the pin in that left corner or the back right, it's going to be really hard to get those close, because the greens are like the table.

Q. Have you had a better two rounds in a tournament?

LEN MATTIACE: Well, I really don't know. Fairing -- I don't think so. Fairing against the field, I think this is -- you know, given the field and the golf course, it's probably right up there. I don't really know numberswise if I've been more under. I don't know.

Q. You've been in contention, you know, and played well this year. Going into the weekend, do you feel you'll be more confident because of that experience or are you feeling kind of pressure to try and break through?

LEN MATTIACE: Overall, I'm feeling more confident going into the weekend. THE PLAYERS Championship gave me a lot of confidence. I feel like in the last couple months I've grown as a player out on the golf course. I have more of an understanding of my golf game and how it works out there. So I have more confidence going in. And really what that means is just keep doing the things I've been doing, because they've been obviously working. So, you know, nothing stupid, and just keep doing the same stuff.

Q. You've been here a couple times before, right, in this tournament?

LEN MATTIACE: Just last year.

Q. Just last year. Comparatively with the conditions, do you play better on a course like this versus a course like that?

LEN MATTIACE: I think comparably I play better on this type of course where it's firm and faster, from what I've seen. I don't know why, but I think I do.

Q. Have you been a good putter at other courses?

LEN MATTIACE: Not really. I've been okay, but I'm not a -- you know, I haven't gone lights out in -- although I like to play in the rain. I do like that, but I don't do as well usually against the field. It seems like when the courses are harder to score on, I've been seeing myself doing better than normal.

Q. Why is that do you think?

LEN MATTIACE: I don't know. I really don't. I do think that, you know, I have a game play that allows me to make some birdies along the way and try not to mess up and try not to, you know -- like on 9, like I was saying, try not to hit it to the right. If you hit it to the right, you're going to make a double or triple and it's going to kill your score. I try to recognize some of those spots and, you know, go along that way.

Q. Have you always maybe prided yourself or tried to be good at course management as you've developed as a player from one level to the next?

LEN MATTIACE: Well, I think in the past years, I think I've been too aggressive, honestly. And I think it's hurt me a lot of times being in positions to maybe do well in tournaments and too aggressive, maybe too aggressive on par 5s, and maybe too aggressive with iron shots into the greens. It's kind of backfired, so I kind of throttle back a little bit and not necessarily play more defensive, but play smarter when I needed to. But I will say in the last couple years, my game has improved overall, you know. I think I've been becoming a better driver of the ball. My iron's a little bit better and my putting has been a little bit better and everything is kind of improving and I'm seeing more good play. I'm seeing more, you know, better finishes in tournaments, and you know.

Q. Was the throttling back a conscious strategy that you made at the beginning of this season or did it start before that?

LEN MATTIACE: About two years ago, yeah. Two years ago.

Q. Going back to THE PLAYERS Championship, the 17th hole, just how much stuff, did you get letters and things like that after that, how much?

LEN MATTIACE: I got a ton of responses. They all said, "Don't hit it at the pin!" No, I probably got a thousand responses, calls and letters, and they all said, "God, you showed great courage during the tournament; you handled yourself well after the event and you came back on 18 and birdied the hole." Everybody said kind of the similar stuff, and it's been great, and the people have been fantastic that way. I wasn't trying to go at the pin, but...

Q. How do you look back on that experience and how has that changed you as a golfer, as a person?

LEN MATTIACE: Well, it gave me a lot of confidence. I mean, I made seven birdies through 10 holes on that Sunday play. That Sunday was super tough. So I made nine birdies for the round. And without that one shot, I mean, I really had a great score on that Sunday. So I just look at it and say, well, that's obviously just a level to where potentially my game can go, and the more I can get out of my own way and let that happen more and more, the result is going to be better and better.

WES SEELEY: Anything else for Len today? That's all for today.

End of FastScripts....

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