Senior PGA Championship

Interview with Mike San Filippo

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: Mike San Filippo in after the first round of the 64th Senior PGA Championship at 2-under. Mike, if you wouldn't mind going through your card first, birdies and bogeys, then we'll bet some general comments on the round and then we'll go to questions.

MIKE SAN FILIPPO: Okay, Julius. Started on 10, got off to a kind of a poor start because I hit it in the only place in the bunker where you shouldn't hit it and I had to make -- I made bogey there, but I kind of righted the ship on 11 and 12, two nice birdies - hit it in close on 11 and made a real good birdie on 12. Probably made my best swing of the morning on 12 with a 4-iron in there. I hit it in there close. That sort of made me feel like okay, the swing is in control, and of course, I turned right around on 13 and 3-putted. But I started playing well and hitting good shots on 15 and 16, made a nice putt on 16 for par.

Made a beautiful putt on 17 for birdie from just off the edge of the green. That was about, I'd say, 20 feet.

18, I made two great swings, which you need to do. You need to start to feel the rhythm in your golf swing. 18, hit two perfect shots in there about four feet, made birdie.

So good start, you know, continued on No. 1, hit a beautiful drive and 8-iron about five feet, birdied that hole. Then my caddie starts saying now don't start thinking too much, Mike. (Laughs).

But, of course, I turned right around. Hit a poor shot on two and it was probably the first time I tried to play safe all day, up until that point I'd pretty much been firing at the pin and two, the pin was over on the right side in a little nook and I kind of tried to play safe and made a mistake and made a sloppy bogey, but was fortunate on the next hole, 3, which was playing pretty tough. I hit a 3-iron in there about oh, 25 feet and made that putt.

So it seemed like every time I did something bad I came back with something good and I think that was pretty much the key to the round today. Of course, I came back on 4, I made bogey, but I actually hit a real good iron shot in there. Hit 3-iron just about a foot over the green and caught a gnarly little lie on a touchy little shot and I didn't negotiate it very well and made a sloppy bogey.

But I was glad to see -- I settled down and made some good pars, especially on No. 7, 7th hole I mis-clubbed I think I knocked it over the green; probably shouldn't have tried to go for the pin there, middle of the green was probably the play, but I overclubbed, knocked it over and had a real tough chip shot and I hit the best chip I have hit in a long time, just chipped it perfect and knocked it down there about five feet and knocked it in the hole. That was a big key there. Finished with two pars - a little unfortunate on 9. 9 is probably the easiest hole on the golf course today, dead downwind, I am sure there's going to be some birdies and probably a few eagles. But I didn't drive it in the fairway and when you don't drive it in the fairway you have got problems here.

JULIUS MASON: Putts on 11 and 12.

MIKE SAN FILIPPO: 11, 8-iron in there about five feet from the hole. 12, I hit a 4-iron in about eight, 10 feet from the hole. I had a lot of straight putts today. I think I was fortunate, seemed like every time I had a birdie putt it was relatively straight and that's important. I didn't have to negotiate a lot of break on any of them, actually.

JULIUS MASON: Questions.

Q. What kind of expectations did you come in here with this week?

MIKE SAN FILIPPO: I came in here expecting to play well and do as well as I could. I have not played and this is my fourth senior event and so I would not say that I am an experienced hand, but I have been playing well as of late. I had my best tournament in Georgia (at the Columbus Southern Open) a couple of weeks ago on the Champions Tour. I was certainly hoping that I could come and play like I know I can play. I didn't put any position on my expectations.

Q. You talked about your caddie joking with you not to start thinking, but was there ever a point where you started sitting there going, geez, I am playing pretty well, look at the leaderboard and try to keep control of yourself?

MIKE SAN FILIPPO: Well, it was, when I birdied the first hole to go to 3-under then obviously -- then I see the TV guys setting up. It's a distraction if you haven't been there too many times, and that's when Sammy said to me hey, let's not think too much about it, let's just play golf. He did a good job today. I have got Sammy Rachels on my bag. His dad plays on the Senior Tour. He is a very good caddie. He was a steadying influence today and he helped me a lot. You just have to try and block out all the external distractions that are out there and today I was glad I did that coming down the stretch. I settled down those last five holes played some pretty good golf. Quite frankly, probably could have been a little better than 67, but I am happy with the round.

JULIUS MASON: Questions?

Q. It seems like there's going to be at least a reasonable number of high scores because of the length of the course and its wetness. How did you deal with that and did you expect to play as well as you did on the course today?

MIKE SAN FILIPPO: Well, I don't think the length is an issue here. The course is got a few long holes because we are not getting any roll, but for the guys out here who are playing at this level, I do not think length is a serious obstacle. It's key just to putt the ball in the fairway and when the fairway is a little bit wet then they get a little wider because the ball can't roll off the fairway. So I am a little surprised, 68 is low quite frankly, because I didn't think the golf course is playing all that tough this morning. Now as we start to come in down the stretch, the wind is picking up, and that's another story. If the wind starts to blow like it's blowing and gets any higher than it is, then I think that it could play a little tougher in the afternoon shifts. So I probably got a good break getting off in the morning shift.

JULIUS MASON: Questions? Thanks for coming in.

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