Senior PGA Championship

Interview with Larry Nelson

June 5, 2003

Note: The news conference was moderated by Julius Mason, the Director of Public Relations and Media Relations of the PGA of America

JULIUS MASON: Larry Nelson in at 1-under after the first round of the 64th Senior PGA Championship. Larry, talk about your birdies and bogeys if you wouldn't mind.

LARRY NELSON: I played at Hazeltine (in the PGA Championship) last year; this golf course played longer than at Hazeltine. Actually it played longer than the last regular two PGA, at the Atlanta Athletic Club and Hazeltine. I think that's the reason why 68 is leading. Plus this afternoon, the wind really got pretty difficult. No. 16 I hit driver 6-iron in there and during the practice rounds I hit pitching wedge. So it was kind of difficult the last nine hotels.

Birdie-wise I started on the back side and actually bogeyed my 12th hole. Didn't make a birdie until 16. I made it from just off the green on 16 for birdie. I putted it in the hole, I didn't chip it in, I putted it in. It was probably about 25 feet:

Birdied No. 2. Hit a 6-iron about 10 feet and then No. 5, I hit 6-iron about eight feet.

No. 9, the reason why I am just not in a great mood right now probably hit the best drive I hit today 195 yards to the front of the green on the par 5, 9th hole and ended up making 6. So I am not a happy camper. You are thinking you are going to get out there 3-under and you end up 1-under. It's not much fun.

Q. Not to rub salt in the wound, but the last bogey, can you tell us about that?

LARRY NELSON: That fairway is probably the wettest of any of them. Kind of borderline, whether it was casual water or not, and the worse thing, you don't want to hit it fat there and so I ended up hitting it thin, almost topped it with a little utility club; only had 159 to the front, left it about 85 yards from the hole. Hit an L-wedge just right of the green, and some of the fringes, the collars of these greens just outside the bent stuff, I don't know what this grass is but it's just steroid-type stuff, and I tried to put it -- I was only like an inch or so into it, tried to putt it and the ball didn't go but eight feet; then I missed it from six feet for par. Actually made a 5-footer for bogey. That part of it, I guess, I could be happy with.

Q. You had success in the majors on the other Tour but you haven't on this Tour. What has been the difference? What is the key when did you win?

LARRY NELSON: I think just in the last couple of years, of our majors out here from what I saw early on, the majors weren't any different than the regular tournaments so it was just -- to me it was just a matter of rotation more than anything else. I won 17 times out here, but just happened not to be one of those tournaments. I think now, since Akron last year the (Senior) PGAs have gotten a lot more difficult; it's more like a major championship. Before it was not, not a -- well, it was a major -- it was because they designated it as a major but it didn't play like one having come right off. Like I said, before, this one, it played longer. The greens were not as fast. The greens were not as fast as the last two PGAs I have played in, but the golf course played longer than last two. So it's getting difficult out there. Plus the rough is, I think the rough was as bad if not worse than Hazeltine.

Q. You alluded to this before with the comment about Hazeltine and stuff. Is this the type of course you think that could have a major on the men's regular Tour?

LARRY NELSON: There is no doubt to me that this golf course could support any type of major, U.S. Open, PGA, any of that. It's definitely major quality. I mean they can get these greens to about 11 and a half (on the Stimpmeter) and it would be very interesting, and there's -- the way the greens are sloped, they actually could play that way. You could actually play them at that speed.

Q. For somebody who spent as long on the regular Tour as you did, to move to the Senior Tour where only a few years ago, majors didn't really feel like majors. Do you prefer this now that they have sort of cranked it up, raised the ante, racheted up the pressure, the difficulty to make it feel more like the old majors on the regular Tour?

LARRY NELSON: I think it should be. I think it should be a test. I think it should be a test of all your equipment, this one is. I mean, I think I hit two sand wedges or L wedges today to -- one to a par 5, one to a par 4. I hit a lot -- I hit two 4-irons, so I hit everything in between. That's the way it should be. I don't -- to me, in a major championship out here guys should raise their game to win instead of the major championship committees lowering the bar. So to me, I think whoever wins this week is going to be the best player out here this week. It's not going to be a putting contest. It's not going to be a driving length contest. It is just going to be the guy who plays the best this week, and the smartest.

JULIUS MASON: Thanks for coming down, Larry.

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