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May 25, 2014

Bob Friend

Craig Thomas


KELLY ELBIN:¬† I'm Kelly Elbin with the PGA of America here at the conclusion of the 75th Senior PGA Championship Presented By KitchenAid at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor Michigan and I am joined by two outstanding PGA club professionals, Craig Thomas and Bob friend who have shared low club professional honors here at the championship and, gentlemen, welcome, different routes to finishing your rounds, but you both finished at 3‑over par, congratulations.¬† Bob, ask you first, for both of you gentlemen it is your first Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid and to finish in a tie for low club professional honors, what that means to you.
BOB FRIEND:  Well, obviously it's very important.  It means a lot.  I used to play on TOUR back in the '90s and stopped playing in 2003 and been working at Pikewood National Golf Club in Morgantown, West Virginia since January of 2005.
So the duties of every club professional, I handle all the marketing for its club, I handle all the membership sales, I give lessons, run tournaments with my fellow golf professional Chris Maginnes there and have the opportunity to come and compete and the owner of the club is graciously allowed me to try some Champions Tour qualifying this winter and this summer and I played well enough to get into the golf tournament and next week go down to Iowa, try to qualify for that and if I don't then I'm right back in the shop on Thursday afternoon.
KELLY ELBIN:  Terrific.  Unlike Craig who rolled in a very lengthy birdie putt at 18, you had a little bit of struggle there with a double bogey.  Talk about that just for a second, please.
BOB FRIEND:  Well, it was just one of those things where I played well most of the week and just hit one loose tee shot, got left on me, down in the marsh and hit a great shot out of the marsh but it needed to carry about another foot.  Ball was in the fairway bunker and ended up making a double bogey of the it was a very sloppy finish, but that's golf.  As I've told my kids, I've got three kids, and they all play, and it's just all you can do is your best on every single shot.  You never quit.  And if you go about business that way, then you keep your head high.
KELLY ELBIN:  Very good.  Craig, like Bob, you're 50 years old, like Bob, this is your first Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid championship head professional at Metropolis Country Club, White Plains, New York, congratulations.  As we discussed earlier us you made that long putt on 18, I would imagine it's a thrill to finish along with Bob as the low club professional this week.
CRAIG THOMAS:  Yeah, it was a great honor to be here with Bob and just to be able to compete in this championship, especially on Memorial Day weekend, it's a great honor.
KELLY ELBIN:  With your Marine Corp. background I imagine it's very special.
CRAIG THOMAS:  It's very special indeed.
KELLY ELBIN:  Talk a little bit about this golf course, the championship was held here two years ago and coming back two years later the reviews of the golf course were just spectacular it looked beautiful on television I'm sure it was a very stern test, did it sort of seem to appeal to your eye from the moment you laid eyes on it?
CRAIG THOMAS:¬† Well, yeah, I liked the golf course.¬† I think tee to green the fairways are good, the conditions are phenomenal.¬† But it really puts a premium on your shot to the green.¬† Hitting greens out here is not necessarily a guaranteed par.¬† If you hit it in the wrong spot on the greens with a lot of these little knolls and humps and ridges it would be very, very difficult to 2‑putt.
So it worked out well for me, it's a good driving course, I putted well all week, so I was very happy.
KELLY ELBIN:  Very good.  Bob, tell us, give us a sense to your fellow professionals in terms of your preparation and practice rounds here.  How many practice rounds did you play, how did you please proceed prepare getting here leading up to your first drive for real on Thursday morning.
BOB FRIEND:  Basically I got here, I drove in from Pittsburgh, I, work in Morgantown.  I got here on Sunday evening, came out picked up my vehicle and any credentials were done Sunday night and then I played 18 holes on Monday and spent the entire day working.  Worked very hard on Monday, which is when I was on TOUR, the heavy workday is on Tuesday and it's usually for me because I'm a grinder, it's what I do, it's usually 7 o'clock in the morning until dark.  That's what I did on Monday.
Then but I was very determined that I was not going to wear myself out.  I'm not, I like to believe that I'm 35, but I'm not.
So what I did on Tuesday is I came out and I played nine holes, I played the front nine, in the afternoon, around 4 o'clock in the afternoon.  Then I practiced for three or four hours prior to that.  Then on Wednesday I came out early and I played the back nine and then practiced just stopped practicing at 1 o'clock.  And just kind of laid it to rest and said it's kind of my old golf coach at LSU is if you don't have your game, you're not going to find it now.
So I was playing well and so I played a total of 36 holes, but I played nine holes on Tuesday and Wednesday, not to wear myself out.
KELLY ELBIN:  Right.  Exactly.  Good.  Craig, you hear so much from club professionals at big events like this of I just want to make the cut.  You made the cut, I'm wondering if your approach Saturday and Sunday was any different than when you teed it up starting on Thursday, after you had made the cut.
CRAIG THOMAS:¬† No, no, I don't think my approach was any different.¬† I started every round wanting to put up a good number and for meaning it was a little bit, once I made the cut Saturday and Sunday felt like a little bit of a bonus it was a little bit easier, a little bit freer, you're really not worried about what the number is going to be, two or three or 4‑over you go out and play golf and make a few putts and see what you do.
KELLY ELBIN:  Bob, as you look back on this week, anything stand out to be, obviously you're sharing this with Craig, what's your most proud of?  Is it being the low club professional, is it playing four solid round of golf on a tough test like this?  What really stands out.
BOB FRIEND:  Well, No. 1 I think that it is quite an honor to share the low club professional honor here, there's guys all across the country, 27,000 club professionals that would give their right arm to have the opportunity to compete in a Major Championship.
To come out here and again we had 12 guys make the cut and compete on the weekend, to come her and be the low guy along with Craig, it's very special.  I know that Craig and myself, I know that we have another job.  And you spend a lot of time, there's a lot of long days and a lot of people don't quite understand the long hours you have, especially during the season.  And it's nice to have the opportunity to be able to play and to be able to compete.  I love the golf course, I think it's brilliant and the conditioning and the ground crew, they did a wonderful, magnificent job.  When you consider especially the winter that they had here.
KELLY ELBIN:  Yeah.  Remarkable.
BOB FRIEND:  It was a remarkable job KitchenAid wonderful sponsor, Whirlpool, to come out here and play for 2.1 million dollars, make the cut, and have a few shekels in your pocket at the end of the week is a pretty good time.
KELLY ELBIN:  Thanks.  Craig, final question, both of you gentlemen come from really good playing sections, you happen to come from the Metropolitan Section and I would imagine going back and being able to shine in front of you a lot of your Met Section guys is something that a little feather in your cap at this point.
CRAIG THOMAS:  Yeah, it will be.  I'm sure all the guys back home are watching.  There's only two of us from our section that actually made it into the event and unfortunately my good friend mark was unable to make the cut, but he hung around to, was out there rooting me on today, so, yeah, a little bragging rights isn't bad.
KELLY ELBIN:  Sure much like Mark Mielke and Jeff Coston shared low club professional honors last year, you two sharing it this year.

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