May 25, 2005
JULIUS MASON: Curtis Strange, ladies and gentlemen. Playing in his very first Senior PGA Championship. Curtis, welcome to the Laurel Valley. How about some opening thoughts and then we'll go to Q&A.
CURTIS STRANGE: The first one is sorry I'm late. I just came up today. The weather was a whole lot better at home to practice. It's such a beautiful golf course to play. To start with. It's absolutely fabulous. I hope the weather holds up to so it plays the way we all want it to play. But it's nice to be here. My gosh, it's I've had fun the last couple months and I look forward to this week.
JULIUS MASON: Questions?
Q. Has this TOUR been what you thought it would be? Any surprises?
CURTIS STRANGE: Yeah, I've been asked that question the last couple weeks and it actually I was probably more aware of what was, what it was like out here on the Senior TOUR than a lot, because I did so many events on TV for the SENIOR Tour. We did the Tradition out west, we did the Ford Seniors, we did Indianapolis, all three or four years in a row. So I knew the way the courses were set up. I knew the players, obviously. I knew the atmosphere, which is more sedate and calm and relaxed than the PGA TOUR. And so I knew pretty much what to expect, yes.
Q. Is your preparation any different?
CURTIS STRANGE: On the Senior TOUR or this week?
Q. The Senior TOUR as opposed to the PGA TOUR.
CURTIS STRANGE: Oh, I probably am a little more relaxed. I still have done my before I started in Naples my first event I worked reasonably hard. Because I hadn't played in a while. With a specific goal in mind. When I played the last three four, five years on the Regular TOUR it was more for to be around the guys, it was more for my TV work, it was kind of to go out and knock the cobwebs off four or five times a year. And it served its purpose very well. But I didn't play very well doing that. And so but what I'm getting at is there was no real, other than a purpose of TV work, there was not a real goal in sight of playing. And now all of a sudden come last November when I started working, there was something to push for. To play well and to compete again.
As far as that's concerned, yes, there's, I practiced pretty hard when I've been on TOUR. And you would have to ask my wife on that one, I think I have gone about it, not as hard as 25 years ago, but pretty hard.
Q. Did that lull you into some trouble when you think like that. You keep saying it's more relaxed now.
CURTIS STRANGE: Well, it is. I don't know the proper word really to say, other than there's not the thousands of people, it's not the we have our corporate sponsors, but it's not it's just different. It's just more relaxed. It's 78 players versus 156 most weeks or 156 most weeks on TOUR. Sometimes 144.
That's much more manageable. Two day pro ams has actually been quite nice, because it's practice rounds for me. The pro ams are a huge part of the week on the Senior TOUR. It's just an entirely different atmosphere.
Q. Did getting in the hunt the last week or two feel like you thought it would?
CURTIS STRANGE: Yeah, I got nervous like I used to. Actually, I got since I haven't done it in a while I was nervous. Apprehensive to the point of not really quite sure what to expect. Whereas, when you're playing well and playing well day to day and playing a lot of tournament, years ago, it was, you know, that's what you try to do, obviously. And you expected it. But it's getting better. It's getting better. I sprinkled too many bad rounds around a couple good rounds. But at least I shot some good rounds. That's the good thing.
Q. I think at Greensboro you were unsure of your game and you were going to work a lot on your game going into the fall and everything else. Obviously as Bill said, you had a couple good week, where do your expectations go now? Because back then it was you were unsure, you must have some clarity now.
CURTIS STRANGE: Well, when you haven't played as I just said, when you're almost kind of playing I don't know how the right way to put it the last four or five years. When I played, like I said, it was thereto play, and to do the best I can. But not expecting anything. And, again, to remind myself how tough this game really is. I think when you get in the booth, you forget in a hurry. But you're right, last fall is when my build up to the Senior TOUR started and it even started after those two or three tournaments I played last fall I was still very apprehensive and very careful what I said. Because you don't know what to expect. Where I go from here is just keep working. Just keep working. Hopefully shoot some more good rounds and not sprinkle so many mediocre rounds in there. My feel is back. I want to do well. I want to play hard, which is a big part of it. And this is a big week for me, just because it's a big, big tournament. Big field, big tournament, wonderful venue, hard golf course. A lot of rough. You have to play here. And that's good.
Q. If you were to be on the television this week, how would you handicap the field?
CURTIS STRANGE: You got to go with whose been doing well. I just played with Tom Watson a practice round and he's playing very well, it looks like to me. I think that you have to look at guys who have been playing well in the past. It's like any other sport. Who is making the free throws, who is making the shots, who is making putts. Jim Thorpe's been playing exceptionally well. I think when you handicap, you also have to bring in the conditions of the golf course. It's a much tougher course than we would have been playing. So you have to bring that into the equation. I think you got to put Hale Irwin at the top of the list, Tom Watson, a guy like Jay Haas who might not have been playing that great lately, but he's been playing tough, tough golf courses every week on the PGA TOUR. You have to throw him in the mix. I think you have to throw Craig Stadler in the mix, because he's so long. There's a reason to throw all of those guys in there.
Q. You've played here.
CURTIS STRANGE: Yes.
Q. Numerous times.
CURTIS STRANGE: Numerous times.
Q. How do you what kind of attack plan do you have?
CURTIS STRANGE: Sorry?
Q. What kind of strategy will you put together?
CURTIS STRANGE: Strategy? This is one of the I don't know how old this golf course is, but it's, it sits in here like it's been here for 60 years. 46? See, I was damn close. It's just been it just sits in this area just wonderfully. I mean every hole is beautiful. And I forgot your question. Oh, strategy. You know, this is a you have plenty of rough for the course is playing extremely long. And it is for me anyway. And you just got to put it in the fairway and put it on the green. There's no tricks in this golf course. It's really not a whole hell of a lot of strategy. You just got to play good, solid golf.
Q. How would you say the course is holding up after all the rain the last couple of days?
CURTIS STRANGE: Beautifully. The fairways are reasonably soft, what you expect, greens are a little soft. What you would expect, but everything is in good shape. There's no standing water, no mud on the balls. It's going to be, if we, with this rain, if we miss rain for the next couple day, it's going to be great for the weekend. It really is.
Q. When you first started out on the PGA TOUR, you obviously had certain things you had to experience and get used to and everything else. Do you feel any of that coming out here?
CURTIS STRANGE: No. No. I think you refer back to being a rookie again, the youngest kid on the block. For a time. Back new to the game, competition, no. Interesting question, but, no, you've been doing it for a long, long time. You come out here and compete. I think you have to get your nerve back again. In the last when I say that, I think that's more confidence than anything else. You have to get your confidence back to not only believe you can hit the shot, but actually try to pull it off. That practice range for the last five years whenever I hit balls is a different animal than actually out here competing. Say at Laurel Valley this week. I can hit some pretty shots on that practice range. But I can hit some of the God awful ugly shots on the golf course, just because it's a different animal. You are trying to hit a shot. You know level lie, 4 iron uphill, back right pin. Everything is a lot of different element that is become involved or are involved. So it's, trust me when I say it's a different animal, it really is. And those and I know that's tough for some people to understand, but I have talked to Hale Irwin a little bit about it and a couple friends on TOUR. They say, how is it coming? I say, it's coming slowly, but it's coming. I see some light. And so it's interesting to go through this, because we as golfers have never done this. Those who have quit the game for awhile, for whatever reason, go through it, but it's interesting to have to relearn and gain confidence back.
Q. Just a follow up.
CURTIS STRANGE: Did I answer your question?
Q. Yeah, you did. You did. You did. On the other end of the equation is there an urgency out here for you?
CURTIS STRANGE: No. No. I'm actually enjoying this. I get frustrated, and I'm working I'm working fairly hard. But I don't feel a real urgency, no. I really don't. I feel frustrated after I shot a terrible round Sunday. Where were we? Bruno's. That kind of stuff. But it's different than 25 years ago. It's a whole lot different as far as that, yeah. It was a need back then, not wanting to play well, but having to play well. Both financially, wanting to make a name for your self. Not quite sure about what the next 25 years would be like. Now it's not quite like that. Doesn't mean I don't want to go try to beat the guys, try and beat them, yeah. But it's a little different.
Q. You're in your first Senior PGA Championship, but one of the golfers out there that may be playing one of his last Senior PGA Championship's is Arnold Palmer. Can you, no matter
CURTIS STRANGE: I doubt it. (Laughter.)
Q. No matter what happens to Arnold playing, can you ever imagine golf without some sort of a major role for Arnold Palmer?
CURTIS STRANGE: My answer is just like everybody else in this room and around the golf course, fans, players, no. It's like at Augusta, it's like at here, it's like at Bay Hill. Wherever he has a real presence. No, I would love for him to always be around doing something. I know his days as a player aren't going to last forever. And that's those of us who grew up with him, we're all pretty much the same age and we grew up watching Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus on television. And it's and I've been very fortunate to know the man. Away from the golf course. And it's I don't feel sad because I don't think he's going very far. To be quite honest, to answer your question. He's going to be around. He's going to play golf every day back home. I hope he plays great this week.
JULIUS MASON: Questions? Thanks.
CURTIS STRANGE: All right, we'll see you this week. Thank you.
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