June 6, 2003
Note: The news conference was moderated by Julius Mason, the Director of Public Relations and Media Relations for the PGA of America. Ebihara answered through an interpreter.
JULIUS MASON: Let's go ahead and let's get some general comments on your round.
SEIJI EBIHARA: First of all, I want to say that it's an honor to be able to play in this kind of wonderful and tough golf course and every year. I am looking forward to coming back here every year and play over and over again. Especially this year, Mr. (Arnold) Palmer, he was in the group right behind me and I was able to get an autograph from him on the tee shot at 14 and this is going to be my precious gift and I am going to bring it home as a souvenir. I was very lucky. (Palmer autographed his visor).
JULIUS MASON: Talk about the birdies and the bogeys and their details.
SEIJI EBIHARA: On the first hole, I was able to use a 4-iron on the second shot and I was able to get it 3 meters (about 10 feet) -- I used a 4-iron on the second shot, got it about ten feet close to the hole. I was able to putt it in for a birdie.
2nd hole, too, I used a 4-iron, it went over 12 feet and I was able to get it in from there to make a birdie.
3rd hole, I had three shots to get it on the green and I made two putts on the green, which made it a bogey.
On the 5th hole, I used a 4-iron, got it to the right of the pole about 60 feet away and I was able to make a putt 60-foot putt to get a birdie from there.
On the 7th hole, made a three putts, which made it a bogey.
11th hole, I used a 6-iron on the second shot, made it to the left of the hole, about six feet away and made a putt.
12th hole, second shot I used a 5-iron, went over about 10 feet, made the putt again to make a birdie.
On the 13th hole, I used an 8-iron. There was 13 feet more to go and I putt it, it went in, another birdie.
After that hole I was on the tee shot of 14th hole and that's where I got autograph of Mr. Palmer. Because getting the autograph from Mr. Palmer I was able to make a good save pars from after that.
The 18th hole was pretty tough, too, but I was able to make a par.
JULIUS MASON: 66, ladies and gentlemen, ties the lowest competitive round on the golf course. In 1962 John Barnum, Bob McCallister, and Cary Middlecoff all shared the Aronimink Golf Club competitive record. It played 7,045 yards back then. If you have any questions we'd like to take those now.
Q. It seems like you were more excited to get Arnold Palmer's autograph than to shoot a 66?
SEIJI EBIHARA: Yeah, I guess the autograph is more exciting to me. Last year I made a 65, so making a 66 didn't really catch my mind that much. But I am surprised.
JULIUS MASON: 65 at Firestone.
SEIJI EBIHARA: Yes.
Q. Last year on final round you shot a 27 over the first nine. Today's course, you know, competitive record, what is it about this Championship that seems to bring the best out of your game?
SEIJI EBIHARA: Maybe it's because every year this tournament the greens are just beautiful, the fairways are just beautiful. It is a tough course, but one thing on my mind is that if I can get it onto the fairway, I can get a good score, and the greens were pretty soft too, so it stops. Also because I was able to make a 27 last year it made me very famous and thank you very much.
Q. Wondering how long have you been a fan of Mr. Palmer's and is this the first time you ever met him and had a chance to get his autograph?
SEIJI EBIHARA: I was his fan for a very long time. He's is about 20 years older than me, so I have been a fan all the time. And I didn't really have a chance to meet him before, but from this year I am able to get into the Tour over here in the States, so I was able to see him from far behind, but I never was able to get up so close as this time.
Q. What was Mr. Palmer's reaction when you asked for the autograph?
SEIJI EBIHARA: All he did was smile and said, okay. He was very glad that he said that. Am I the only one who asks for autograph on the tee box?
Q. Sticking with the autographs, do you plan on asking anybody else for autographs, and if you stay in contention, are you hoping that some people come up and ask you for your autograph?
SEIJI EBIHARA: I am intending on getting a lot of them signed. I am having my wife put on a hat and getting everybody's autograph on so every time we go everywhere to different Tours, get signs from everybody. But I never actually thought about being asked for an autograph, so I don't know about that. But this hat is only for Mr. Palmer.
Q. You are going to wear that hat (with Palmer's autograph) for the rest of the week for good for good luck?
SEIJI EBIHARA: Of course.
Q. How much did you get to see Arnold Palmer playing golf growing up in Japan and was Arnold Palmer as much of an influence over there as he was here -- is here?
SEIJI EBIHARA: Obviously all of the players at around my age, everybody looks at Mr. Palmer, and it's not how he swings or how he putts or that kind of stuff, it is just his name, just Arnold Palmer is just so great and not only that, his way -- his offensive way of playing style, that was just great to everybody.
Q. There have been a number of Japanese players who have come here and had quite a bit of success. Have you spent most of your career on the Tour over there or you are a club pro or what? Why are we just hearing about you in the last year or so?
SEIJI EBIHARA: For about 10 years I was a normal seed player in Japan, but when I turned 47 I had a back pain and I couldn't play anymore. But for three years without playing I was getting ready for the seniors, getting my back ready, getting it fixed and when I turned 50 I started to go on and play as a senior. And it's looking good.
JULIUS MASON: Thank you very much.
by ASAP Sports