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: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, Defending Champion Fuzzy Zoeller joining us at the 64th Senior PGA Championship. Fuzzy, welcome back again to Aronimink after Media Day. Some opening thoughts.
FUZZY ZOELLER: I hate to see the weather like this, to be honest, but I know the staff here at Aronimink has worked their little tails off to get this in tip-top shape, which it is. We have seen Mother Nature kind of wet down our party. I guess the rest of the week looks pretty good. It is going to be an advantage to players -- I will tell you that any time a player can stand out there at 150 yards and hit that 7-iron, 8-iron, you know it's not going but 150 yards, the golf course will yield a few birdies.
Q. Your impressions yesterday versus what they were a month ago?
FUZZY ZOELLER: I will be honest with you, things have grown in. They had a lot of sod they had laid in certain spots. I don't know from wintertime kill or from the improvements that they had made, those have all grown in. The golf course is absolutely spectacular. The greens are beautiful. The fairways are nice and lush and the rough is very rich.
Q. Your impressions were very good a month ago. Now that the rest of the guys are here, what do they say?
FUZZY ZOELLER: Well, have you heard any complaints?
FUZZY ZOELLER: I don't think, honest to God, I don't think you will hear one complaint. This is truly -- that's a thing of beauty right out here. It really is. Everybody would love to have one of these in their backyard because it is spectacular.
Q. Do you still stick with the same winning score?
FUZZY ZOELLER: Oh, yeah, I don't think -- with the rain today, score might go down a little bit. If you can shoot 6-under, for the three, four days, you are going to beat a helluva golf course if you shoot that. You will probably win by two or three.
Q. Talk about the mindset in major tournaments. You usually go to defend someplace else.
FUZZY ZOELLER: You were talking to me about mindset?
Q. You have to defend a big title someplace else. What is different -- obviously different site, but how do you prepare differently?
FUZZY ZOELLER: I don't do anything any different. I wish my golf game could be turned on and off like a light switch. It doesn't work that way. I am one of those that likes to play coming in. I would like to have had a little bit more positive feedback from my game last week but I hit the ball very well. In Nashville (for the Music City Championship), I didn't putt very well. I didn't make any putts. That's basically what I am saying. So maybe I was saving them up. But I have got a good feel. I am driving the ball very accurately and I think the guy who wins here, whomever that may be, myself, or one of the other pros out there, they are going to have to drive the ball very accurately to keep it down that high rough because it is very high.
Q. I have an off-the-wall kind of the question for you. In light of what is taking place with Sammy Sosa and the corked bat, those kind of things, how important -- golf has always been associated with integrity and honesty, things like that. How important is integrity in sports in your mind?
FUZZY ZOELLER: In sports in general?
FUZZY ZOELLER: It should be -- that should be brought up, instilled into the minds of the young players all way through. Everybody likes to get a little bit of an advantage. Now was that a freak from Sammy? Time will tell, I guess. We will check the rest of his stuff. I don't know. I would certainly hope he picked up the wrong bat. Because he's a talented baseball player. As far as the golfers, you know, they are honest people. They call strokes on themselves, they respect the game, the rules, and I can only speak for my sport, which is golf.
Q. What about the equipment that's used, everything things come out differently, every year, new enhancements, can that sometimes go over the line?
FUZZY ZOELLER: Well, I think there's certain things, I think like the golf ball right now is kind of over the line. I am not sure how the USGA tests the golf balls. I am not sure they really test the golf balls because there's such a big market, but the golf clubs are not anything different. Metal woods or metal woods we have had them, I remember in the driving ranges that I spoke about a month ago, we had metal woods back then -- there was no block.
Now the manufacturers made them look like golf clubs but the golf ball right now is a rocketship. It goes through the air with the greatest of ease. It's hard to maneuver the ball. You don't really see a lot of players today hit the fades and the hooks. There are a few guys that still do, but most of it now is aim right at it and fire because you know the ball is not going to waver too much. That's technology, and I think it's probably gone a little bit too far. I think we need to bring her back to a happy medium or not let it go any further.
Q. Is there a different feel when you come here to the Northeast to an old traditional golf course -- you guys probably don't see a course like this on a regular basis. What is the different feel that you might have as a player and how you approach things differently playing a course like this?
FUZZY ZOELLER: I think you look at holes like No. 15, for example, 465 yards, always into a little breeze, but on the older style courses you always have options. What I mean by that is the front of the green is open so you can run and play a low-running shot, which it was designed to do. On the new golf courses today, everything has got to be hit straight up in the air because they will have bunkers and waters and lakes. I think that's the reason why the older-style courses are just very priceless. They have -- they give you options from the fairway whereas on a new style courses you have no options. It's up-and-down type of game.
Q. Talk about what winning this tournament last year meant to you.
FUZZY ZOELLER: Well, I think any time you win and beat the best of what they do, it means a lot. But with golfers we're kind of judged by what we do in major tournaments. That's under the toughest conditions, you have the best fields, so I have been fortunate in my 29, 30 years I have been playing this crazy game professionally that I have gotten a Masters, gotten a U.S. Open, I came very close to wining the PGA, when I was in my prime. Came very close to wining the British Open; didn't do it. Now we're having like a second chance to go back around and try to pick up the things that we didn't do. I was fortunate enough last year to get the PGA one.
Q. With The Masters and U.S. Open, you have had experience defending those titles. Do you feel the same thing coming here?
FUZZY ZOELLER: You feel very special, let's put it that way. It's a good feeling coming in the gate and seeing your picture on the tickets, seeing your picture on -- on everything. It means you have done something well.
Q. Popular issue to talk about is Annika Sorenstam. Jack Nicklaus talked about it a while ago. Your impressions.
FUZZY ZOELLER: It's a hot issue? I thought Annika did very well. I mean, I haven't figured out why she played, but there's other courses that would be better suited for her game -- why she picked that golf course, that's one hard golf course. I think the humble pie that she swallowed there the last day because she hit the ball very well. That golf course will do that to you. You shoot very well one day and the next day you hit the ball about the same and you look at your score card you shoot 76, 77. It's happened to everybody. But I thought she fared very, very well.
Q. How does this golf course fit your eye, does it favor the way you like to work the ball?
FUZZY ZOELLER: Yeah. (Laughs). It's amazing how when you stand up on a tee and I think that's where it's key, is stand on the tee, do you have a good feeling from that tee to the landing area and yeah, everything sets up pretty good to my eye right now. Sure does. Whereas, where the U.S. Open is being played in Toledo this year I have a very difficult time of getting my angles set right. To me that golf course is more of a left-to-right type of a golf course. They are two different characters. Golf courses are like people, they all have different personalities. Some that you can play and some that you feel good on and there's also those courses that they just have you handcuffed all week.
JULIUS MASON: Fuzzy Zoeller, ladies and gentlemen.
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