June 4, 2003
Note: The news conference was moderated by Julius Mason, Director of Public Relations and Media Relations for the PGA of America.
JULIUS MASON: Craig Stadler joining us at the 64th Senior PGA Championship playing in, I believe, his first Senior PGA Championship. Welcome to Aronimink Golf Club. Some opening thoughts and we'll go to Q and A.
CRAIG STADLER: It's not a bad place to get started. I have only played nine holes on Monday, nine holes Tuesday, God, the golf course is awesome. Wonderful golf course. Looking forward to it. Going to be a bit long with the rain, I assume. It is a bit long without the rain. Very much looking forward to it. It is a little different being out here, but we'll soon see if we can adjust. I assume we'll and have a good time.
Q. A little about what is different out here for you personally?
CRAIG STADLER: Different players. I mean, I pulled in the parking lot on Monday a little apprehensive because I don't know half the guys out here this week, I guess, probably more so on Tour, some different faces here. It was funny, I pulled in the parking lot, I got out of the car, Andy Bean pulled out, Bill Rodgers walked down; then I went to the range first guy I saw down there was Doug Sanders, a nice little 30-year range there, 25. It's great. A bunch of guys that I came out with that I have played with over the years that I haven't seen in quite a few years, and I am looking forward to it. I think it's going to be a barrel of fun. Really do.
Q. Did they have a ceremony to greet you, a pink belly in the locker room?
CRAIG STADLER: A who?
Q. A pink belly, high school football --
CRAIG STADLER: No. Somebody threw a bouquet of balloons on top of my locker. They are still there. No, just kind of went out and played a couple practice rounds pretty much like I always do.
Q. What is your view of the Senior Tour? Is it more of a competitive level or more of a kind of a reward for what has been happening over a period of time kind of a camaraderie with the players?
CRAIG STADLER: I don't know. I have never been out here. I have been here two days now. I played nine holes with Gary Koch on Monday; nine holes with D.A. (Weibring) yesterday. Guys that I have been friends with for a long time.
Q. Have they talked about that at all?
CRAIG STADLER: Not really. But I would assume just in -- the guys that are playing week-in and week-out, it will probably be a bit more laid back than it is on Tour. Just from nothing more than the age factor for one. There's certainly -- I am sure for a lot of guys it is a different type of pressure being the fact that there is no cut. You play three days, there's no cut. Which I have no idea what that's going to be like. So with those thoughts in mind I would think it would be probably a little more lower key that it is on Tour.
I am sure you still have the competitive nature from everybody out here. But as I said the other day, you have got 156 guys on Tour every week and 150 of them that can win. You have 81 guys -- not this week, but on the regular Senior Tour, you have got 81 guys out and I assume there's probably maybe 30, 35 that can win. So it's a bit different.
Q. Your expectations about winning and does this give you an opportunity to feel as if you should be competitive for the first time in a while? I don't mean to sound negative, but ---
CRAIG STADLER: You did a good job of it. (Laughs).
Q. You, yourself, have said it's time for a new Tour, so....
CRAIG STADLER: No, I don't really have any expectations. I don't know what it's going to be like. I assume it's going to be fun. I know I am going to have more fun than I have been having the last four, five years. I have played a lot up until this year, I think, I was fairly competitive last year. I had three or four top 10s or 12s. I had a good chance to win at Reno late in the year last year and didn't play well on Sunday, but played good at the International, finished 10th there, I think. Had a good U.S. Open, which for me was -- that was probably my best event of the year. I really enjoyed that because I was 8 over after 10 on Thursday, and I finish 10 over for the week at Bethpage. So 2-over the last 62 was pretty sporty for an old fart.
But as far as expectations, as far as being competitive, I haven't played well this year. I haven't played really much this year. I have only played I think three events since February and just -- kind of feeling the 50 the way you are supposed to, I was hurt for two, three weeks banged my wrist, banged my back, missed a couple of cuts and just kind of well, okay, see ya. But I played really well at Augusta first two days and I think I just got wore out on Friday playing 30 holes and then right back on Saturday for 36 more. Had a horrible Saturday afternoon, shot 79 and just that kind of shot that week to hell.
But I don't feel like I am playing poorly. My putting is spotty. It comes and goes with confidence, obviously. Level comes and goes. But I played okay last year, I think I made -- I played 21 events. I think I made 13, 14, cuts, something like that. The last three majors I have played I have made the cut and played okay in a couple of them. Played well at Bethpage, at Augusta last year, somewhat well, not very well this year. But with that all said and done, it is going to be different. It's going to be fun. I am looking forward to it.
Q. What is it like to be called rookie again?
CRAIG STADLER: (Laughs). Actually it's kind of fun. You start your second career, I guess or second livelihood or whatever. What better opportunity than to hit 50 years old and doing something that you have enjoyed doing for almost 30 years and all of a sudden you look at it you are thinking the last ten years have been okay, not great, but been competitive here a little bit and now all of a sudden you are thrown in the limelight and everyone is expecting you to be on top of the heap again. In that regard it is kind of fun. You kind of look forward to that. I don't know what the difference is. You look at a lot of guys out here that just were not very good from 45 to 50 and all of a sudden they come out here and they find something, they start playing great again.
I have been horrible this year. I will be the first to admit it. But I think it is just a little different mentality out here, you feel more like you belong, more like you can be competitive with all these guys as opposed to going out and just kind of when you are 48 and 9 kind of hoping to make the cut, if you play well, then maybe have a good week, that's great. But not really I would say going out every Thursday and expecting to win the golf tournament each week. I think that attitude will change. And with that I think the golf game will change. I think just everything kind of falls into place and not necessarily hitting it better but I think my scoring will get better.
Q. You played with a lot of these guys, (the Office Depot Father/Son challenge) with (son) Kevin (Stadler). Did you ever try to talk to Jack (Nicklaus) or Raymond (Floyd) or some of the guys and ask them what you might expect on this Tour?
CRAIG STADLER: Not really, no. There was -- as far as I was concerned there was no point in it. I am going to come out and play a couple of pro-ams and tee off on Friday and Saturday and Sunday and go to the next one. I am sure the first week will probably pretty much -- not necessarily this week, but couple of weeks in Michigan will pretty much set the tone as to what you are going to expect out there. I would assume most weeks are pretty similar.
Q. How about since you have had some time off and haven't played much, what kind of a schedule do you anticipate playing?
CRAIG STADLER: Other than the end of the year where I think there's Hawaii and San Antonio or something, I have committed for everything but three events. I think I am playing four weeks in a row once, there's some weeks off, I play this week; get a week off. I play two weeks; have a week off. I play four weeks; I think have two weeks off, three weeks, a week off, something like that. So.... It's not too bad. It's not like I have got a whole helluva lot to do at the moment. Play golf and build a few golf courses and that's about it. It's not all bad.
Q. What did you do to celebrate your 50th birthday?
CRAIG STADLER: Absolutely nothing. Got my normal caddie I have had since '85. His daughter is graduating high school tonight so he's not here this week. So I have got my cousin caddying for me, and his wife and Sue and I are here, nothing. Practice round went out and had dinner.
Q. What is your cousin's name?
CRAIG STADLER: George.
Q. Last name?
CRAIG STADLER: Farias. It's actually my wife's cousin. But I will claim him.
Q. What are your impressions of the course and were you surprised at the length being your first Champions Tour event?
CRAIG STADLER: I really wasn't surprised at the length. Knowing it's the PGA and I have played in a zillion PGAs. They are never short. And I am just guessing that this is probably a pretty long course for most of these guys. But the back nine yesterday didn't necessarily play real long, a couple of good 4s. Obviously the No. 14 and 18 maybe. But the front nine on Monday it was 4, 5, 8-irons, a 3-iron and a couple of wedges to the fours, which is typically longer than what we play on Tour. It was more like a Muirfield golf course, even a little longer than that.
So the course is in awesome shape, perfect shape. Just wonderful golf course. Never played here before. But wonderful course. You can get really used to playing something like this every week. This would be wonderful. It's in great shape. Greens are soft. They will be soft all week from the rain. And some of these guys that don't carry the ball too long it's going to be a bear for them. Because you are not going to get any roll out there. So it's definitely going to favor some high-ball hitters, guys who can carry it a ways. No doubt.
JULIUS MASON: Thanks very much, Craig.
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