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July 17, 2008
Q. When did you find out?
HEATH SLOCUM: Let's see, 9:15-ish.
Q. So you just came over here and hung out?
HEATH SLOCUM: I did. You know, I knew that I was first alternate, so I decided Saturday night to go ahead and come. I mean, John Deere was gracious enough to have the charter flight and they let me on, so I was like, all right, I'll try it.
I played Tuesday and Wednesday, showed up this morning. Everybody was talking about Harrington, 50/50 or whatever, and so I wasn't -- not pulling for him, but I was ready to go if he wasn't going to go. I went out and hit some balls and it was pretty clear he was making pretty good passes at it, so I cut that short and just went inside and got warm.
And when he teed off, I went into the family dining, was probably there for 20 minutes and got the call on my cell phone that said that there's been a withdrawal and you've got the 9:42. I didn't ask who. All I know is I headed to the range, hit a few more.
Q. After you saw Padraig hitting balls, you probably figured you didn't have much of a chance?
HEATH SLOCUM: I'll be honest. I didn't figure I had much of a chance at that point. I knew it was going to be a long day. I knew the weather was not good this morning, and if it didn't happen in the morning that I probably wasn't going to get in.
Q. What time was it again?
HEATH SLOCUM: Around 9:15 I would say. They told me I had about 30 minutes.
Q. What time did you get out here?
HEATH SLOCUM: I got here right around 6:00. The first tee time was 6:30, and I figured that I wasn't going to get here any earlier because it was going to be a long day, but 6:00 would give me a little time to grab breakfast, make sure everyone had shown up, and they had, so I just waited around.
Q. A lot of the American guys probably wouldn't have waited around this long. Did Harrington's uncertainty, did that help you make up your mind?
HEATH SLOCUM: I would have stuck it -- obviously I committed myself to be here at least until Thursday at 4:00, the last tee time.
When I came over, I knew I was going to be here until Thursday no matter what.
I came out, just on the off chance that someone does withdraw. It happens every so often, and it just happened to work out for me this week.
Q. Did you have a plane booked already?
HEATH SLOCUM: No, I did not. I figured that I couldn't get out until tomorrow at the earliest, so I was spending the night here regardless.
Q. What was it like for the last four days just sitting around and waiting?
HEATH SLOCUM: You know, the first couple days it felt like I was playing a golf tournament. It wasn't until honestly yesterday on the putting green that I'm seeing everybody kind of getting the final preparations. I know how I treat a tournament. But I was like, you know, a little bit saddened. I'm like, I'm not in this field and this sucks.
It's funny because I was putting, and I was going through kind of a routine and I kind of cut it short and just said, you know what, I'm just done. I'm just going to go back and relax tonight. It was going to be an early morning. I just figured if I get in, great; if not, it's been a great experience. I got to play a great golf course for two days. I had never been over here before, so I was just going to treat it as a mini-vacation.
Q. So you played two practise rounds?
HEATH SLOCUM: I did, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Q. More than the USGA would do.
HEATH SLOCUM: A lot more than the USGA would do. The R & A were very gracious and I think they take care of their first five alternates, I believe, four. That was part of my decision. I don't think I would have come if I didn't have playing privileges just because I didn't imagine playing this place blind. It's hard enough just getting to play it twice. Yeah, when they said that I had full playing privileges and everything, that helped me make my decision to come over.
Q. Did you get a locker?
HEATH SLOCUM: Yeah.
Q. Before today?
HEATH SLOCUM: Yeah, they treat you like you're in the field. It was awesome. They really treat you just like you're in the tournament.
Q. What would you have said at 9:00 this morning if someone had told you you'd be low American right now?
HEATH SLOCUM: I was just hoping to play. There's a lot of golf left. Obviously, like I said, I was happy to get in the field, and I played actually quite well today. It's just a hard golf course. I left a couple of shots out there, but everybody does.
Q. Did Harrington know you were an alternate do you think?
HEATH SLOCUM: I don't know if he specifically knew I was an alternate. Obviously he knew there were alternates here. But he's defending champion, he's going to -- I mean, even if it's probably broken, he deserves the right to tee off.
Q. You guys were fairly close on the range hitting balls, correct, two spots down. Did you see him?
HEATH SLOCUM: I actually saw him swinging, I did. I only hit -- it was not even close to a full warm-up. He looked like he was swinging quite well, so I just said, it's raining, it's cold, and if I get in, great, then I'll go from here. But I wasn't going to get sent out there -- I knew it had the potential to be a very long day, and if I had gotten in at 11:00 or 12:00 there was no reason to be out there pounding balls.
Q. That was the only warm-up you had today?
HEATH SLOCUM: I had 30 minutes, about 30 minutes before I got in.
Q. You got word 30 minutes before?
HEATH SLOCUM: 30 minutes before, so I went out and hit, did an express warm-up again and hit a few putts, then went to the 1st.
Q. Do you have any idea how many Japanese photographers were shocked and disappointed to see you walking on the 1st tee? A lot. Did you see them?
HEATH SLOCUM: I didn't. I knew when they probably introduced me, they were like, right, we'll just go somewhere else.
Q. A couple years ago Axley sat at St. Andrews on Friday.
HEATH SLOCUM: I talked to Axley about it before I came over, and he said that he had come over one year and sat all day. So I was like -- if that's the way it is, so be it. Once I just committed to come here, I was -- I wasn't going to be upset. Whatever happened, happened.
Q. Were you going to play Milwaukee?
HEATH SLOCUM: I was. I mean, it was a decision that -- I've played Milwaukee, I think, almost every year, and I would have liked to have played it. But I felt like I had an outside chance of getting in. I've never played in a British Open before, and being that close, I was going to gamble and take the chance.
Q. Did you think Harrington was your best chance?
HEATH SLOCUM: Yes, I did. Just because of what I've read in the media and just -- I had never talked to him or anybody, but just reading what I was reading, I really didn't expect him honestly to pull out, I really didn't, unless for some reason it just hurt that bad this morning on the range. And like I said, when I saw him hitting balls, full swings, I figured he was going to be okay.
Q. What time did you have to get up in order to get here?
HEATH SLOCUM: I got here at almost 6:00 and I probably got up at 5:00.
Q. When did you find out what your time was?
HEATH SLOCUM: About 9:15.
Q. Where were you?
HEATH SLOCUM: I was in the player, family dining.
Q. And your first thought?
HEATH SLOCUM: I was excited. I was like, oh, I'm a little bit stunned, because I really wasn't anticipating it. I wasn't expecting it, I really wasn't. I thought after Padraig teed off, nobody had said anything about Toru being injured or --
Q. It didn't give you time to get nervous.
HEATH SLOCUM: I get the first tee jitters in every tournament.
Q. Like getting your name called for an upgrade?
HEATH SLOCUM: Exactly, no doubt about it. Actually like getting on a plane standby.
Q. It seems like when they announced that you were in, I told the guy from ESPN I wouldn't be surprised if he's on the leaderboard at the end of the day because you hit it so straight and you usually hit it where you look. You're not blowing it out there 9 million yards, but --
HEATH SLOCUM: It helps out here. I hit a couple stray ones today. You're going to hit some stray ones, but yeah, it definitely helps to keep it between the bunkers. I did a pretty good job of it today. Just have to continue it all week and I'm going to have to make some putts just like everyone else.
Q. I hear 11 and 16 are pretty daunting.
HEATH SLOCUM: They are. I got them in the fairway, both. I was really yelling at the one on 11 to get up. I actually hit them both solid.
HEATH SLOCUM: Yeah, that's what I heard.
Q. You've flown all the way over here just to be a reserve. What do you make of the guys that walked off?
HEATH SLOCUM: I didn't know there were guys that did that. Obviously I don't know their reasons or whatever. I mean, yeah, I'm not going to speak for them. I feel like I came here to play golf, and no matter what I shoot, I usually stick it out.
At the U.S. Open a few years ago, I had some pretty nasty rounds, but I figured I'm out there playing, and it's just my competitive nature, I suppose, I just like to play golf.
Q. Did you come over on the jet Sunday night?
HEATH SLOCUM: Yeah, the charter.
Q. You weren't out-of-pocket for that? They made it a low-risk gamble?
HEATH SLOCUM: They did. That was very nice of them.
Q. So this being your first round, what was it like?
HEATH SLOCUM: It was an awesome experience. I'll tell you, just growing up and watching the golf course, the weather, and I tee it up and I hadn't seen a rain drop until I got here this morning. It was about exactly how I imagined it could be. I mean, it rained sideways. I was really, really cold. I didn't pack appropriately (laughter). I did have my rain gear, and I had some golf balls, so I was good there. I was actually just so happy to be playing in the field.
Q. What's the closest you've come to playing in this tournament before?
HEATH SLOCUM: Last year I started the week at fifth alternate, and I don't even know what I got to.
Q. Did you fly over?
HEATH SLOCUM: No, I did not show up. The R & A contacted the PGA TOUR, who contacted me and said that you're currently fifth. Are you considering going over? I said, not unless I got to at least first by, I think it was, the Friday before.
Q. What alternate did you start off this year?
HEATH SLOCUM: Fourth.
Q. And by the time you got here you were what?
HEATH SLOCUM: First. Kenny Perry withdrew or decided not to play. I don't know if it was Luke Donald or David Toms next, but both within a day, so that moved me to first on the Friday before.
End of FastScripts