The PGA Championship

An Interview With: Rod Pampling

August 14, 2003

Julius Mason: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Ron Pampling shoots a 66 today, 4-under in the first round of the 85th PGA Championship in his first PGA Championship.

Rod, some opening thoughts on your round today, please and we'll go to Q&A.

Rod Pampling: Just nice all day, drove the ball really well. I had two tee shots that went into the rough so I really didn't have to deal with the rough all that much, which obviously made it a little bit easier. I hit some nice shots and made some putts. It was pretty boring but I'm happy with it.

Julius Mason: If you don't mind, let's go through the card. Talk about some of your birdies.

Rod Pampling: Well, I started on the back nine. Hit a lot of good shots into the first three greens and didn't make any putts. I hit one close on 13 to about three foot and made that.

Made a nice putt on 14. It was traveling pretty quick.

On 1, I hit it ten foot and made that.

On 8, I hit it to about ten foot again and made that one.

Q. Having no bogeys on this course is pretty amazing. Did you try to hit less of a club off the tee and just the premium was putting it in play or you just kept hitting your driver straight?

Rod Pampling: You still have to use driver here. There's no run so you can't really -- well, I can't hit 2-iron or 3-wood; some guys might be able to. It was just hitting the driver really solid, and the fact that I didn't make a bogey, that's definitely a bonus, which any time you can do that in the majors is certainly going to hold you in a good position.

Q. Talk about 17 and 18. There have been problems already. David Toms had a double-bogey. How tough are those two holes playing so far?

Rod Pampling: Yeah, they are going to be two extremely tough golf holes. Fortunately I hit a really good drive on 17 and hit 4-iron to about 25 foot there.

And 18, actually that was one of the fairways I missed, but I was lucky it went into the bunker. So I had a pretty straightforward shot to the green and knocked that on.

But if you miss it in those fairways, it's a good 4, it's a tough 5, still. It's exceptional to make a 4 if you hit it in the rough.

Q. You played really well your last three starts, earlier this season you played well; how much was your difficulties the result of having your clubs stolen, and are you now comfortable with what's in your bag now?

Rod Pampling: I'm definitely comfortable with what I have in the bag now.

Yeah, it took a while. Generally, we swap clubs around, but when you lose 14 clubs, there's a couple of clubs that you've had for a long time in there and that puts pressure on other parts of the game that it normally doesn't. It took a while to sort of get around that.

But, yeah, that's all in the past now. Comfortable with everything we've got in the bag and things are going well.

Q. I heard a lot of people this week say that the course is right out there; if you hit driver, if you hit fairways, if you hit greens it's pretty simple. What makes this place so difficult?

Rod Pampling: It's definitely the rough. It's just brutal, really. If you hit it in there, basically, you're chipping it out. I think once the course dries out a little bit more, you'll start to see a few more balls into the rough. At the moment, the fairways are playing wide, just purely because there's not a lot of run.

It's just that the rough is really, it's just gnarly. It's kind of growing everywhere. When you miss a green, as well, it's just difficult to know what the ball is going to do once you're in the rough around the greens.

If you drive it well, it's definitely there to shoot a number, the way the course is playing. I'm sure once it dries out, it will get a lot tougher.

Q. I know there's still three days left in this event, but what level of satisfaction do you have in putting up the number that you did on a course like this and in an event like this?

Rod Pampling: Well, to be coming in second at this stage after round one, it's great. At least you've got off to a good start.

Very happy with the way I played today. I didn't really do anything wrong. Obviously, by the score card, you can see. Yeah, obviously, it's the first day and there's still three more to go, but it's a nice position to be in, that's for sure.

Q. Can you give us the details of the clubs being stolen, please?

Rod Pampling: Every one of them? (Laughter.)

Out of my garage at home in Dallas. Just woke up one morning, because they were all packed up and ready to go, and there was nothing there. Gone.

Q. Mate, Angela, your wife, obviously as a clinical psychologist, and she usually walks with you, what sort of help or can she give you and do you interact at all when you're playing; do you look to her and what sort of things does she tell you about your game and how to sort of, you know, score better or whatever?

Rod Pampling: Obviously, we don't interact while we're out there. She more or less just looks at the way I react to certain shots. If I've hit a bad shot, she'll just see how I react, just to make sure I'm keeping on top of it and not letting it get to me. We do a lot of work before the round, just to make sure I'm prepared for what to expect, if something happens. Just keeping alert if something bad or good happens, just to keep you in the zone and keep on just performing so that you can play well.

Q. Is it important for you?

Rod Pampling: Oh, definitely. It's a huge part of the golf game now. It's just another link, I suppose, that can get you to the top of the game, and that's an area that you need to be good at to perform out here. There's just so much pressure involved that you have to be level-headed out on the golf course, so that you can perform.

Q. After such a sensational round, anything you'd like to shore up for tomorrow on the weekend, and how are you going to spend the rest of the day?

Rod Pampling: Well, it's getting a lit too hot out there to practice now. It's starting to warm up quite a lot.

Probably just take it easy. Just maybe go watch a movie or something this afternoon, but just generally pretty laid back. Just do a little bit of practice this afternoon. It's a long time before we play again, so there's no need to go overboard.

Q. A couple of questions about your round. You said you holed a putt on 14; you didn't say how far it was.

Rod Pampling: Maybe 25, 30 foot, somewhere around that range.

Q. Also, how many times were you in the deep rough?

Rod Pampling: Once.

Q. Which hole and what happened?

Rod Pampling: No. 4. It was a left-to-right tee shot and I just cut it just a little too much. I was about ten foot into the rough.

The other one was 18, but it went into the bunker.

Q. And from the rough, did you get it to the green?

Rod Pampling: It was a par 5, so just hacked one down to the fairway and knocked the third one on.

Q. You're coming off a significant performance at the B.C. Open. Do you feel that you gained some momentum with how you've played over the last couple of weeks, especially the B.C. Open, where I think you finished fourth?

Rod Pampling: Yeah, the last three tournaments I've played really well. It's just a lead-on from there. We just kept working on the game and it's just gradually getting better and better. The last three tournaments, yeah, have definitely cemented the confidence in my game.

Yeah, it's just gradually been building. I knew early in the week that I was playing well. It's just a matter of keeping the head on and just keeping it level. I knew we could play well because I had been hitting it well during the week.

Q. Back to the theft of the clubs, please. How long ago did that happen?

Rod Pampling: I think it was the weekend after Hilton Head, so I think that was mid-April, somewhere around there?

Q. And you said you opened the garage and everything was gone; golf clubs and bag or car and everything?

Rod Pampling: Oh, no. That was separate. Just the golf clubs.

Q. Last year with Rich Beem, this year Ben Curtis, from the players with less of a reputation, is there a conscious awareness that when those guys win majors that majors are out there for all of the players?

Rod Pampling: Oh, definitely. I think the depth on TOUR now, anyone can win every week. And it's just when you see guys like that win, it definitely gives you confidence that you can go out there and compete at the highest level.

Yeah, especially when they win, it shows that majors are not just set out for the Top-20 in the world, who are the only ones that can win it. Anyone who starts this week can win.

Julius Mason: Thanks very much for coming down.

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