May 26, 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: Like to welcome you, ladies and gentlemen, to the Fuzzy Zoeller Show, featuring Fuzzy Zoeller, the 2002 PGA champion at Firestone. Fuzzy also played in the PGA Championship in 1996. Fuzzy, welcome to Valhalla Golf Club and the Senior PGA Championship. Some opening thoughts and we'll go to Q and A, please.
FUZZY ZOELLER: Well, I will say one thing, I just hope that Mother Nature is a little bit kinder to us Thursday through Sunday and, by God if you haven't sprung a leak up here. I'm hoping it's holy water here, take a little bit here.
No, but I just like to say, two weeks ago when I was over here playing a couple days, the golf course was in marvelous shape and it still is. But Mother Nature's put a little chink in the armor here by adding this rain, which makes it play just a little bit longer. And I think we're going to have a couple wounded senior professionals before we're done here. There will be some of them, they will be taking a lot of Advil and whatever else they have to have to kill the pains from walking this golf course.
JULIUS MASON: Questions?
Q. Just talk about with the crowd obviously going to be in your backyard and that. Just talk about what it feels like this week and today when you were playing. I know a lot of people were following you guys. Does it give you a little bit of an advantage to sleep in your on bed and that kind of stuff?
FUZZY ZOELLER: Well, now the one positive is sleeping in your own bed, that's kind of nice. That doesn't happen very often for any professional. Because we're used to being on the road. Now if I play poorly you can blame it on my wife, Diane and the kids, you know. No, you can't blame it on anybody. I'm the one that looks in the mirror, I'm the one that hits the bad shots. But it's nice to have the support. And I think that the people here in what we call the Kentuckyana area, once again, have proven that when you have a professional sport come to the town, they open you with arms, there's something very special about these people that I live around. That's the reason why I live here because in my eyes there's none finer. The support they give for the tournament, no matter like the Seniors, the Senior Professionals or the PGAs or the Ryder Cups, they back it. As they do with their college sports.
Q. Buddy Harston said he played here maybe 25 times over the last 18 years, he thought maybe you were the only guy who played it more than him. Do you have any guess how many times you played here?
FUZZY ZOELLER: Well, I'm one of the lucky ones, I have a couple of my friends who are members over here and I do stroll over about 3, 4 times a year. But is that an advantage? No. Because we're playing different tees. When I come over and play what I call customer golf, I play the tees that those players can play and enjoy the golf course on. We don't play the back tees where we're at playing now. But it's more of a fun time to go out and watch them play a very difficult golf course. And it is very difficult right now.
Q. Are you a little more juiced because you are home to do this one? A little more pressure?
FUZZY ZOELLER: No, what is pressure? In my eyes pressure is just a word in the dictionary. If you're afraid to screw up then, yeah, there's a little bit of pressure there. I've never had that problem. I'm not scared to do it. If I feel like the opportunity is there to take a shot at it, I'm going to take a shot at it. If it's somewhat in my favor. I might not pull it all the time off, but you can't be scared. You got to go out and just play. That's the only reason that I guess the reason why I've stayed in the game so long is because I've learned to do that, just to compete and to stay at a top level.
Q. Jay Haas is so competitive on the regular TOUR, he comes out his first start this week. Talk about your first couple of events out here, did it take a little time to adjust and is he a guy to look at as maybe the favorite like a lot of people were talking about him bringing his name up?
FUZZY ZOELLER: Well, now he's probably the youngest in the field, so, yeah, he's got to be a favorite, right? Now Jay is ?? it's amazing on the guys coming from the TOUR who just turned 50. The ones who stay competitive through their career and play until they're 50 or are usually the ones who do very well out here for the first four or five years. The guys ?? like I'll give you an example, like a Ben Crenshaw or Jerry Pate, who have laid off that 7 to 9 years, they're having a difficult time in that transition of getting back into playing golf week after week. But the guys who have played all the way up, usually they do very well.
Q. Is that because of the physical part of it or the mental part of it?
FUZZY ZOELLER: I think both. All of the above.
Q. Where does winning this two years ago rank for you now that you have had a little time to think about it?
FUZZY ZOELLER: Well that's, it ranks right up there. Again, as a golfer goes, we are judged by our Major tournament wins. You can win 50,000 other little tournaments, but for some reason those Majors mean a lot because you're playing the best fields, you're playing under the toughest conditions, and I guess if you have to judge a golfer, that's kind of not a bad way to judge them.
Q. Two, three years ago you were really struggling with your back and all that, what did you do to get into this kind of shape?
FUZZY ZOELLER: Well, I can tell you now. I couldn't, honestly, I couldn't mention it before, but the pill that I'm taking is Concor HA, which was developed down at the University of Kentucky, there's those bluebloods. But I was kind of like a guinea pig, they started in horses first and they came out in this pill form. So they called me about a little over two years ago. And asked me if I would be interested in being like one of the test jockeys. And I said well sure, be more than happy to. Because I was having trouble, I was spasming quite a bit. And I haven't had any pains in about two years. I've been very, very lucky. Is it from the HA? I think so. So I'm not saying it's a cure?all for anyone, but it's taken all the inflammation out of my hands, my joints, it's a lubricant for the body is what it is, and it's worked.
JULIUS MASON: Questions? Questions twice. We got a front row again.
Q. They made some changes, I know you played a couple times this year, just talk about them and how big are they, especially 2. Being as a par?4.
FUZZY ZOELLER: Well, again, No. 2's a par?5 hole. And why they switched it, I don't know. But in this game of golf, a 5 is a 5, a 6 is a 6 and a 10 is a 10. It doesn't make any difference if they played it a par 2. You still got to add the numbers up. It is a better par?5 than a par?4. Only because of the way the fairway is and it just chokes everything down to where you have to drive the ball. But that's fine. They want to play it as a par?4 we'll play it as a par?4. Now as far as the length on 16 over there, I'll give you that. The length doesn't bother us, it's the green that's bothering us. It's terrible. The green is not a green that is receptive to the shot that the player has to hit. We're back there, we're going to be rifling a lot of 3, 4?woods, 2 and 3 irons, 4 irons. To a green that's probably set for like an 8?iron, 7?iron. On down to a wedge.
Q. Two years ago, one more quick question, after you won you were on the phone back to your club buying a round or whatever.
FUZZY ZOELLER: Yeah, $3,400 later I got the bill. Yeah. I know.
And you know what really up gets me about that deal is that I would say there was probably a thousand dollars worth of cigars on that dag gone bill. How do you figure that out? Well, no, but if it happens this week we'll all have a big party I'll have a big party at the house, how is that? Or better than that we'll just open up Covered Bridge because we're real close. Hopefully I can do that for everybody. Because there's no better feeling in the world than to beat the best at what they do.
JULIUS MASON: Beautiful. Fuzzy Zoeller, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you very much.
FUZZY ZOELLER: Thank you all very much.
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