May 25, 2004
Note: The news conference was moderated by Julius Mason, the Director of Public Relations and Media Relations of the PGA of America
JULIUS MASON: D.A. Weibring joining us at the 65th Senior PGA Championship praying in his second Senior PGA Championship. And coming off an exciting win on Sunday. Welcome to the Valhalla. Some opening thoughts and we'll go to Q and A, please.
D. A. WEIBRING: It's great to be back at the Senior PGA Championship. I played last year. And I thought the golf course was wonderful therein Philadelphia and didn't play my best. But I look forward to coming here to Valhalla. I played here in 1996. I played pretty well. And I know it's a very challenging venue. I played nine holes yesterday. A little rough out there and narrow fairways. Those strong contours are still in the greens.
JULIUS MASON: You remember '96 then, don't you.
D. A. WEIBRING: I remember a little bit. Yes. Absolutely
JULIUS MASON: Good deal. Thanks. Questions, folks.
Q. How much does winning carry over to the next event? How much momentum is there?
D. A. WEIBRING: Well, I really think that as we start knew years we all think about trying to win. And I think once you win it takes a little bit of that pressure off you and gives you more confidence. That's ?? it felt good last year. I turned 50 actually today. I'm 51 today. Last year I played my first event in Nashville. And it took me the first couple weeks to kind of get comfortable with the new schedule and new activities. I felt like a rookie again, going to new venues. But after I got comfortable, the guys out here are guys who I played with and I looked up to when I came on the TOUR, back in 1977. And so my goal was to win. But I think at first you try to establish yourself and get your game in shape and contend. I think top?10s indicate that. I had a number of those and then that led into having a chance to win a few times. And I won in North Carolina. This year I was really anxious to win that second time. And I had six top?10s in the first 10 events and I felt like I was going in the right direction. Made a couple adjustments equipment?wise. I have a new set of Adams cavity back irons and their new 3?wood and driver. And I made a little adjustment with that. But I really felt comfortable on the golf course last week. It was fun to be in that mix in challenging situations with great players coming after me. And so that does give you confidence. And I have really looked towards the Majors this year. I came close in a number of majors during my regular TOUR career and always felt like I had one of those in me. I'm going to try to correct that now on the Champions Tour.
Q. Would you talk a little bit about how nice or is it nice maybe to come to a different venue than one you play every year?
D. A. WEIBRING: As far as the Majors?
Q. Just about coming here to a venue that you don't play all the time. Nice, not so nice?
D. A. WEIBRING: Well, it takes a little more preparation. I think it is a little bit of an advantage that I was here eight years ago. I know there's been some modifications to the golf course, but I don't think very much, beside some bunkers and what have you. But it's a mindset of coming and playing challenging conditions. It's back to four round of golf. Which we all grew up playing. I look forward to the preparation. I was a little worn down yesterday, but I got two days of practice now to get ready for Thursday. So it's also fun coming to a venue like this. I remember the golf course, but I also remember the enthusiasm of the golf fans in this area. Growing up in the Midwest and enjoying playing in the Midwest. We're a little south here, but the Kentucky and Indiana golf fans really embraced us when we came in 1996, the first event here. And I remember that very clearly.
Q. Do you come in with a sense of maybe a little bit extra bounce in your step this week after you win, obviously, but also knowing that a lot of these guys haven't seen this golf course, even though it was almost 10 years ago, knowing that you've seen it, and the fact that you're coming off of a win?
D. A. WEIBRING: Well, I think those help. Last week was my first experience on the Champions Tour playing on an event twice. Because they change the date for the Allianz championship. We played in August and it moved forward and they moved Kansas City back. It felt good going in knowing where to stay and knowing the golf course and it's a very challenging golf course up there, like this one is. So it does help me. There was some holes ?? I remember the golf course, I didn't remember No. 2 being a par?4 when I got around yesterday. But I know that there's been some changes. And that does give you just that much more experience. It takes a little bit of that, as I mentioned, that pressure off. I've got to win. And now I want to get another one. And I want to challenge for the year's Money List and Charles Schwab and all those things with double points this week. All those things are there. Normally if you take care of your game and you take care of your golf, those other things happen. And so that's what I've been trying to do. I felt confident in my position last week based on my experiences so far and I feel the same way starting here on Thursday. I would be very disappointed if I wasn't ?? if I didn't play well this week. So that's my goal is more focused on how I can play and get myself in that position and then maybe good things can happen.
Q. I was going to ask about the course set up this week as compared to last week. Did it help playing the set?up you had last week going into this tournament even though you only played nine holes?
D. A. WEIBRING: I really think it will. I think the green speed ?? actually from what I saw yesterday, I know there's been some rain here, the rough might have been longer last week than it is this week so far. It was very penalizing. But very similar where you've got your intermediate cut, your thick rough and then the native grass. It's a very similar set?up. Green speeds are probably be similar. Really strong contours on this golf course. I think you're really going to have to spend some time ?? I think your short game is going to be very very important this week. Recoveries are going to be challenging. If the wind blows like this, you're going to be dealing with that a lot. So it's going to be managing your game as much as anything else.
Q. First of all happy birthday.
D. A. WEIBRING: Thank you.
Q. You're welcome. Two part question. How did you do in '96 and what kind of a number do you think might it take to win this week?
D. A. WEIBRING: Well, in '96 I think I finished in the top 20. Seems like I was 17th or 18th or something. I played pretty well. I was right in that mix. It was a few weeks after I won I think at Hartford playing here. I remember we had some thunderstorms and the heat and but I remember playing pretty well. The number, it will be strictly June on the wind. If we have wind the way I felt this morning walking down here, it could be a pretty high score. If we get the clouds roll in and the wind dies down overcast conditions, a little damp, then one thing I've learn is that all these guys have rolled the calendar over to 50 plus, but they still can play. And you've got a lot of great players in this feel. A lot of guys who get a little extra excited for a Major championship. A PGA Championship is very meaningful to all of us. I started off as an assistant pro. I had a chance to win the PGA a couple times and it would be very meaningful to me. So I think that lifts everybody up. It lifts the really outstanding players up. So it's really hard to ?? I haven't seen the back nine yet, but it will really depend on the wind. Last week I shot 9?under par to win and I think that was probably a little lower than what they were predicting. I played well. I holed some good putts, I got some good momentum. And I got it done. But I think anybody starting the week would have been happy at maybe 6 or 7?under par and it might be the same type of thing here.
JULIUS MASON: Tied for 17th at the PGA Championship, but closed with a 67 on final day.
D. A. WEIBRING: How many under par was that? What was the total score?
JULIUS MASON: You were 282.
D. A. WEIBRING: Par 71?
JULIUS MASON: It was a par 72.
D. A. WEIBRING: Par 72?
Q. You talked about the fans embraced you here back in 1996. Do you think that's because there's not a regular tournament here or do you think it's just the golf in this area?
D. A. WEIBRING: Well, I think it's both. I think golf in this area, as I mentioned, I grew up in Quincy, Illinois, went to Illinois State University. And in our state a little bit like Indiana and Kentucky, it's kind of basketball and golf. It's a wonderful mix. They really love their golf in these areas. You've got a couple positive things. You've got Fuzzy who is kind of in your backyard. Fuzzy generates a lot of enthusiasm, it's nice to have him to kind of be a member of your family. Number two, I also learned that playing the Champions Tour I think the best fit for us ?? Major markets are great, I think our TOUR need to be a little bit different than the regular TOUR and the Nationwide Tour and when we go into markets like Des Moines, like Grand Rapids, like Birmingham, like Austin, and I would say Louisville, the same type of feel. There are other professional port there, but many times I think was there AA or AAA baseball or hockey or whatever, but it really is a big thing. Plus just the nostalgia, the history, the great names playing this TOUR, as well as the good play and the final thing is, I do think the guys out here 50 and over, we all need to realize that, No. 1, we're 50 plus, and we have the opportunity to still compete at our sport. And so I think every morning as we get out of bed we neat to hit our knee and say thank you to have the opportunity to go do that. And I think that is reflected in the fan friendly direction our TOUR is going. The personality you see. Sometimes the regular TOUR gets so competitive and it's so difficult to get this. I've got a son who is 24 who made the Nationwide last year, he's playing the Canadian Tour this year, he's moving the right direction, but I see him trying so hard to get there, sometimes the natural personality is hard to come out. All of us are a little bit different. I think that interaction makes it more fun and I think it has a great future for the Champions Tour that way.
Q. Your first year out you won a tournament. Now this week Jay Haas makes his debut. Just talk about that. Is it an advantage for him? He's been playing so well on the regular TOUR, is that an advantage for him and what do you think about his game right now and his first event?
D. A. WEIBRING: Well, Jay and I grew up playing against each other. I'll a year older than he is. He grew up in Belleville, Illinois and myself in Quincy and Jay's been a player from a youngster and that hasn't changed. I think he's been motivated, as I have, having a son coming along playing, choosing to do what we want to do and he has two sons doing that. They push us a little bit. We want to play with them, we want to make them proud of us and we're proud of them. So I think that's been a very positive thing for Jay. Jay Haas played fabulous golf. He's kept himself in great condition. I think he's been motivated, he has putted very well the last couple years. He's always had a great short game and great putting. But he's found a couple things that I think has been fun for him to kind of work on. He definitely has to be one of the favorites coming here. Given this is going to be the same feel as a regular TOUR event, this is four round, there's a cut, it's not going to be the three rounds and the different format we have on the Champions Tour. And it takes a little adjustment to that. He won't be as comfortable possibly because he hasn't seen a lot of these guys in a while. But his game will measure up very well here. He's always been a good, tough golf course competitor, because he drives the ball in play and he's got a great short game. So I'm sure he'll have a good week. And I'm sure also in a year or two he'll drift out here where we all belong.
JULIUS MASON: Well, I do want to let you know that last night and early this morning we sent a hat around the media center made a lot of money to bring you what we're getting ready to bring you right now in honor of your 51st birthday. So you need to be able to we got a lot of money to get something like that.
D. A. WEIBRING: I can see that. I can see somebody worked real hard going down to the local grocery store. Thank you very much.
JULIUS MASON: And this is the first time I've ever done this before. Ladies and gentlemen on three. One, two, three.
(We all sang happy birthday to D.A. Weibring.)
D. A. WEIBRING: Thank you very much. That was an easy wish, too.
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