The PGA Championship

An Interview With: Billy Andrade

August 15, 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.

BILLY ANDRADE: I thought the golf course this morning, you could tell it was going to start changing and getting firmer and faster, and it did. I thought I got off to a nice start. When you start on the back nine, you have to be ready to go right out of the gate. I bogeyed 15, 17 and 18, missing the fairway at 18 and not hitting the green on 15. You know, you get to that point, you’re just trying to survive. I felt like I survived today. I played well. I made some bogeys but I made a few birdies, which helped, and I’m pretty happy shooting 72, as difficult as I thought it played. You know, what can I say, I’m under par after two days and I like where I’m standing. I like my chances and I can’t wait for the weekend. I bogeyed 15. I hit a 7-iron in the left bunker. I hit a nice bunker shot out and had about a 6-footer that kind of fooled me. I hit a pretty nice putt there that didn’t go in. 17, I 3-putted. I hit a nice drive in the middle of the fairway, a 5-iron. Hit it right next to the hole and went to the back of the green and 3-putted that. 18, I drove it in the right rough and that was dead. Chipped out and hit a wedge on and 2-putted from 20 feet. Then 1, I hit it in the left rough there. Hit it just short of the green and had a fairly easy chip. I just had to chip over the bunker and I flubbed my chip and got up-and-down. I made a great 5 after flubbing my chip. Then I kind of settled in. The second hole, I hit a 3-iron and an 8-iron about ten feet and made birdie. On 5, I hit a 3-wood and a 9-iron about 25 feet and made birdie. On 7, I hit -- this is a situation where the golf course is changing. I hit a 2-iron off the seventh tee to keep it in play because I thought, you know, as you go further, the water comes into play on the right. I hit a 5-iron about 20 feet there and made birdie. Then I did not hit the fairway on 8. I was in the right rough, and I was happy to make 5 coming in. I almost birdied the last hole. So overall, those three birdies in that stretch on the back nine, put me in the position I’m in. So I’m pretty excited.

Q. How did you play 9? There’s been some comment about how tough 9 is playing today. And is it possible that the course is so much more difficult today than it was yesterday that your score was as good, if not better than yesterday’s?

BILLY ANDRADE: You know, it’s hard to say that. I think any time you shoot under par, you’re pretty excited about it, on a golf course like this. I think 72, I don’t know what you’re going to rate whatever par is today, but your golf course is getting harder and harder. Like I said, I’m pretty excited about the 72 today. The ninth hole, I hit 3-wood off the tee. It was a little into the wind and just felt like, you know, it’s a little easier, maybe to get in the swale down there in the fairway than to try to hit driver up on top of the swale. If you go a little left off the tee with a driver, you’re going to hit it in the left and it’s going to kick into the left rough. I think hitting fairways now is a big concern for a guy because you can’t just bomb it or you can’t just target it and hit it and it’s going to stop. When it hits the ground, it’s going somewhere. I hit a 3-wood and a 5-iron into No. 9. It was dead into the wind, second shot. Hit it to about 20 feet and almost made birdie. But to answer the second part of your question, yes, I think the golf course is getting much harder. And 72, I think is a pretty good score.

Q. Are you in a rented house, and did you have electricity when you got home last night or were you camping out?

BILLY ANDRADE: I was camping out. I was staying in a hotel that we didn’t have electricity at all. They had flashlights for everybody. You know, I couldn’t even -- you couldn’t even see the hotel when you are coming off the road, it was so dark. It was kind of cool. Everybody was just kind of camping out. The bar was open so some guys were having a good time. You know, when it’s dark and you’re alone, you know, all you could do is go to sleep, so that’s what I did. I just went to bed, and about 12:30, the lights went on and I shut them off and everything was fine. They just popped up.

Q. That sort of just seems to be consistent with the attitude you’ve taken toward this whole tournament, just kind of take it as it comes, I never thought I would be here, go with the flow.

BILLY ANDRADE: Yes, absolutely. I wasn’t in the tournament and, you know, now I’m in it and I might as well try to make the best of the situation. Like I said, I haven’t played very well this year and maybe this is a break that I needed to jump start my season. You know, as Ben Curtis proved at the British Open, anything’s possible. You know, I like my chances after 36 holes. When I get in this position, I kind of thrive on it. I’m going to go for it. I’ve got nothing to lose, and I’m looking forward to the challenge this weekend.

Q. Would you just go over how you found out you got in the tournament?

BILLY ANDRADE: Well, I was playing golf Monday at Capital City Club in Atlanta where I live. Got a phone call that I was second alternate because Davis Love won. That was about 9:00 in the morning. Then I got a phone call in the afternoon when I was out at the course and got my messages, and the phone call that I was first alternate because Larry Nelson withdrew. And about two minutes later I got another phone call from the PGA office saying that Tanaka declined to play and I’m in if I want the spot.

Q. On your cell phone?

BILLY ANDRADE: Yes, on my cell phone. So I absolutely called back and said, “I’m coming.”

Q. Getting into the tournament, you mentioned that you thought that it was kind of destined to be here and you had an opportunity to take advantage of. After four bogeys in five holes, any thoughts that maybe you were kind of giving it away, the opportunity that you were given?

BILLY ANDRADE: Not really, because everybody else has got to play these same holes, too. The holes that I was playing at the time are the hardest holes on the golf course. You know, I played a beautiful round of golf yesterday to shoot 3-under, and not too many guys did that. So I think I’ve been out here long enough to know that you can’t let a bad stretch get you because this is the hardest, right now -- in my opinion -- it’s the hardest golf tournament that we’re all playing. That’s the one we are playing right now. And it’s brutal if you don’t hit it in play, and this is a very difficult test. You know, I’m not going to be perfect. I’ve never been perfect. I’m not going to hit every fairway. My worst statistic is probably hitting fairways. A stretch like that, after playing 16 years out here, it’s not going to faze me. It pisses you off, you don’t want to do that, but you’ve got to bounce back and be a pro.

Q. Going back to when you found out you were in the alternate, is there a certain time frame when you have to get back to them and say, “Yeah, I’m in”?

BILLY ANDRADE: I don’t know. You’d have to ask the PGA of America. But I would think that if you leave a call on somebody’s phone that says you’re in the tournament, you need to give us a callback, I think you’re going to do it pretty quickly. I don’t know where Tanaka was, if he was in Japan or in L.A. or in the United States, but he got back to them pretty quick and said he didn’t want to play. So I’ve got to thank him as well.

Q. You’ve salvaged some poor years in the past and you look like you’re about to do it again. Why is that? Why do you play so well late in the season?

BILLY ANDRADE: I have no idea. It’s something that maybe -- you know, I really wish I could explain it. I just seem to have always been a player that gets hot, and when I get hot, I can run with it. I’ve struggled at times and sometimes the periods take a long time for me to get out of these funks. I think maybe because I try to be -- every year at the beginning of the year, my goal is to be more consistent. Maybe I’m thinking too much about being too consistent instead of just going out and playing the game. You can call it salvage, but, you know, the way I look at it is the season is ten months long. It’s not how you start your season; it’s how you finish. You’re not judged on the first quarter or the second or the third. You’re judged on the last quarter. I mean, you look at Ben Curtis. I heard that he didn’t even know if the money was official when he went to the British Open, and now his whole life has changed and now he’s great. I think that any time -- you look at Rich Beem last year, he wins The INTERNATIONAL and boom, he gets it going and wins the PGA. I think what I’m going to try to do is to be the best I can possibly be from this moment now until the end of the year and see what happens and see where I end up. Hopefully it will get me in some nice tournaments at the end.

Q. As we look ahead to the weekend, could you size up 17 and 18 as back-to-back finishing holes, and if you could think of another major where you had two back-to-back that were so difficult?

BILLY ANDRADE: I can’t think of another major that I’ve played in that had been that brutal. 17 and 18, there’s no faking it, at all, on those two holes coming in. You know, I guess that whoever is leading the tournament coming to those last two holes, you would like to have maybe a three- or four-shot lead so that you can pad yourself. Then again, if you’re a couple shots back and you play them at even par, you might win yourself the golf tournament, as well. I think it’s all you want. You can’t fake it. You have to hit two really good drives on both holes and you’ve got to hit two perfect iron shots. I hit a perfect iron shot today and the 17th hole is a par 5, I think because that green is not set up for a 3-iron or a wood coming in there because it’s so firm. I hit two perfect shots today and still walked off with a 5. So it’s all you want, that’s for sure.

Q. What irons are you hitting in there on 17?

BILLY ANDRADE: I hit a 4-iron yesterday and a 5-iron today. But the wind was kind of helping a little out of the left. Those are iron shots; I was just trying to get it to the front of the green.

Q. Did you play Olympic in ‘98, U.S. Open?

BILLY ANDRADE: I did.

Q. Reminds me a little bit of 17 there which was converted into a par 4. When you stand on the tee or when you get there, do you consider that a par 5 in your head and if you make a par, it feels like a birdie, or can you talk about the mentality there?

BILLY ANDRADE: Well, you can do that, but it’s still a par 4. If you walk off -- there’s good pars and bad bogeys and good bogeys. I felt today I gave one away there because I was on the green in two and came away with 5. But, what if I hit it in the rough and I slash it out in the fairway and knock it on 25 feet and make a 6-footer for bogey? Hey, that’s a pretty good bogey. So you’re pretty happy doing that. I just think that if you look at the last two holes probably and whoever wins this golf tournament, the guy who wins this thing on Sunday night is possible going to play those two holes pretty well. That will probably be the key.

Q. Being the first one in the interview room to apprise us of playing conditions out there today, how far-fetched has it entered your mind that the winner could be over par?

BILLY ANDRADE: Well, I think the winner could be over par, depending on how difficult it changes from right now until the end of the day and then the next two days. If the golf course continues to get firm and fast, you know, anything could happen. I think over par definitely could come in the picture. These are the best players in the world and who knows what’s going to happen. You can’t predict it. But it’s definitely tough enough that that might happen. It’s definitely tough enough.

Q. This is a classic USGA-setup. Given the fact that the PGA has been a little more accommodating in recent years, can you liken this to any PGA Championship in terms of the setup of the course that you have played in?

BILLY ANDRADE: Well, you know, I think ‘97 at Winged Foot comes to mind as being a very difficult test. I think that all of the golf courses, all majors, it all depends on weather. I think that weather dictates everything. They haven’t had rain here -- they had a lot of rain leading up to it and now the golf course is changing it. All of the practice rounds up to this point are probably not doing any good now because the golf course has changed that much. I heard Oak Hill is always a tough golf course, back growing up. It depends on where the venue is. But ‘97 at Winged Foot I thought was a very difficult test, and I think every major is a difficult test if you’re not playing well.

Q. If you’ve addressed this, I apologize. But with the premium on good driving, can you tell me the holes where you’ve used your driver?

BILLY ANDRADE: I started on 10. 16 is the first hole on the back nine I used a driver. I used it on 16, 17 and 18. I used it on 8. So four times I hit driver today.

Q. 3-woods? BILLY ANDRADE: I hit 3-woods and 2-irons on all of the other holes. And I think that’s probably the norm. I think a lot of guys are probably doing that. You’re better off being 200 yards away hitting a 4- or 5-iron in the fairway than maybe trying to get it up there further to hit a 6- or 7-iron, but if you’re in the rough, you’re chipping out anyway.

Q. I know you said anything could happen, but is it far-fetched, at least in your mind, that you could be the leader after 36 holes?

BILLY ANDRADE: No. Maybe. That would be great. I would relish that. But I played the best I could play for two days. There’s a lot going on from here to the rest of the day. There’s really nothing I can do about what everybody else is doing. I know one thing, when they see my name on the leaderboard at 1-under, I don’t think they are scared, okay. (Laughter.) I don’t think there’s anybody scared that Andrade is up there. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens. I played the best that I could play for two days and I can’t wait till tomorrow.

Q. Can you comment on the hole location at 17 and was it in your opinion the most difficult hole location?

BILLY ANDRADE: Well, there’s a lot of them out there that are dicey and difficult. That is definitely one that I would say is. I don’t think there’s a hole location on 17 that’s going to be easy. I think that whole green is just so difficult that wherever they put it on that hole it’s going to be hard, especially coming in with a long iron. It’s hard. It’s right on that front edge. I think now the golf course is firming up so that you can actually bump something up there. But when I played this morning, it was still maybe, if you left it short of the green, it wouldn’t bump up to the green. I landed my ball this far (indicating a foot) from the hole pin-high and was four feet putting past. There was a lot of interesting pins today and that is definitely probably the top.

Q. Talking to Tom Watson who saw you go around here for 36 holes the last two days, he thought that your game was really good over the last two days. You came in here yesterday and today saying how your game had not been that good this whole year. Can you tell us when you felt like your game was as good as it’s been over the last two days?

BILLY ANDRADE: Say the end of that question again.

Q. The last time your game was as good as it is now over the last two days.

BILLY ANDRADE: Well, as Joe would say, “as I struggle every year till the end of the year,” last year I played really well at the end of the year and had a chance to win a couple of times and kind of gave one tournament away in Pennsylvania. So all fall, I really had it going and I was playing well. You know, this year, I just haven’t had it yet, so I would say the last time I felt as confident as I’m feeling right now is last fall. I’ll tell you what, I had an absolute blast playing with Tom. I really enjoyed -- when I saw I got paired with him, I was really excited. There are not going to be that many more opportunities that a player , being on the Senior Tour, I’m not going to be there for another 11 years. So to have a chance to play with a legend like Tom Watson was a lot of fun. I really just had a blast being with him for two days. And for him to say that means a lot to me. JULIUS MASON: Questions? Thank you very much, Billy.

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