May 25, 2005
JULIUS MASON: D.A. Weibring, ladies and gentlemen. Playing in his third Senior PGA Championship. And this is the second year in a row where he has won the week before coming into this event. Interesting side‑bar.
D.A. WEIBRING: It's becoming a tradition.
JULIUS MASON: Some opening thoughts and we'll go to Q&A.
D.A. WEIBRING: Sure. Thoughts are, so far my season has been a steady one. We all talk about wanting to make more putts and putt better and whatever, and that certainly has been my case so far this year. I felt good about the way I've played so far on the Champions Tour. Winning a couple times. I felt very good about having 15 top‑10s last year, being consistent, which I think was No. 1 on the Champions Tour.
But we all strive to win. And that was my focus coming into this year. The season set up pretty good from my schedule with a couple weeks on, a couple off, as we went through. But getting to Birmingham was really one of our first weeks getting on bent grass greens. Besides the California bent grass greens we putt on. And growing up in the Midwest and now living in Dallas, that's what I prefer. That's why it's kind of fun coming here. And I played a very good week. I think I was No. 1 in greens hit or No. 1 or 2 in driving accuracy. And I think all my numbers were good. I only made two bogeys. Everything set up very well. Except the last few seconds of the event. And I wasn't looking for anything more dramatic, but it certainly got that way. Unfortunately, the whole focus of the week is on what happened on the 18th green. And all I could do was go through the process as I leaned over to tap in the last putt with a two shot lead, saw the ball move, or change slight position. As I looked down I realized my putter was above the ground. I knew that for sure at that moment.
I guess the automatic nature was I went ahead and tapped in. And I have researched, reviewed that in my mind thousands of times, since Sunday, and I really didn't know leaning into the putt what I was doing. I know what I always do is I kind of lean in, steady myself, lean over, don't ground the putter, and tap the ball in.
But yet at that moment you don't tap in a putt to win a golf tournament every day. And so all I knew to do was after I tapped it in was to turn and look for someone near by, it happened to be Tom Kite. And say, did you see that? And he said, yeah, I did. I said, the ball moved. Yeah, it did. Did I ground my putter? You know, and we really didn't know at that point. So we went through that process. And all I knew was to call an official and Ken Lindsay came, former president of the PGA, and Ken, we explained what happened, I sat in the tent, prepared to do whatever I had to do. And Ken Lindsay came in and was very assertive. Really came down and held his hand out and shook my hand, he said, I saw it from three different angles and this tournament is over, let's check your card. And that was obviously reassuring. I have not seen any replays or whatever. I've got a variety of e‑mails and phone calls from a lot of different people, saying a lot of the same things. It was unclear, I guess, at the first angle and then it looked clear that it wasn't. So, anyway, it's been a little disappointing to have that happen. I thought I could handle it from four or five inches. With a two shot lead. I really did. I didn't think that would be a problem. But the nature of our game is that we protect the rules and we protect the integrity and given a difficult situation I did the absolute best I could and thanks to Ken Lindsay, who was there to go through that process, that cleared things up. So it's been a lot more about four or five inch tap‑ins this week than it has been about golf.
JULIUS MASON: Questions?
Q. Two parts. One about the putt. If you ground your putter, it's a two shot penalty not one? Is that correct?
D.A. WEIBRING: Well, if you ground your putter, the ball moves, and then you hit it, it's a one shot penalty, then another one shot penalty from hitting it from a wrong spot. So I would have had to move the ball back. And I thought about that a bunch of times and I think that in automatic motion is that I guess I must have felt comfortable in my subconscious that the putter was above the ground and so I guess if I would have backed out of there, and paused, I would have been thinking, oh, I did something to cause it to move. And so as I tapped it in. But I was fully prepared, given the whole thing, as I tried to replay it in my mind, that if Ken would have had any doubt, absolutely any doubt, then I would have taken the pretty severe consequences, and we would have gone back down the fairway. Because it's not worth anything ‑‑ not worth the money, it's not worth ‑‑ I mean it's not worth that. And unfortunately there's a little cloud of doubt. Certainly it wasn't in Ken's mind. And I and I haven't seen the replay. So all I know is what I normally do, what I thought I was doing, but no question in my mind, my mind was raising ahead. What am I going to do when I tap this in. Am I going to dive in the lake? What am I going to do. And trying to enjoy a nice accomplishment.
Q. Just talk about the golf course, some of the changes Arnold has made since is the last time you were here and just how good it is or how tough it is?
D.A. WEIBRING: Well, I would like to know ‑‑ I don't know all the changes he's made. It's been awhile since I've been here. And I played in a couple of the Alcoa events I recall. I know I played Family House here. I always remember the valley, the richness of the valley, the long views, the dominant trees, contours. It looks so detailed out there. Those bent grass fairway, carved through the hill sides. It appears that there have been a lot more bunkers added possibly. There's a variety of greens out there. I know 11 has been changed. It used to be the dogleg right and now it's the left. I think that's a new bunker in front of the green because it didn't show up in my yardage book. So that might be real knew. I'm not sure Gorgeous George has been in here to check that one.
Some of the greens are a little wiggly. Some of the greens are a little milder. But it's a very pure golf course. It's a ball striking golf course. If you drive the ball well, and you're going to have to maneuver the ball both ways and play a lot of probably more medium iron shots, if it stays wet. You're going to have to handle the speed of the greens, the contour of the greens. So I think it sets up to really crown a very good champion come Sunday. I think everybody, I think the response I heard from people is that they're really looking forward to playing. Hoping for sunshine but looking forward to playing.
Q. You guys aren't used to playing four rounds and having a cut. How does the mindset change? Do you change your game plan at all?
D.A. WEIBRING: I don't really think so. I think that the majority of us have our PGA TOUR days still in our back memory. And I know for me adjusting the first year out I was antsy. I was ready to go on Thursday. And it took me awhile to adjust on Friday. And I think that some guys with the three rounds, we play a lot of those, they think they have to get out and get aggressive to put a good score up. I never felt that way. I was too much I think schooled by my father on trying to play, let the golf course come to me and play within my own game. You feel different every day, conditions are different. And so you kind of go out and get a feel for things. And I'm a big believer in playing the percentages, putting the ball in the middle of the fairway, choose the right iron to the green and kind of pick your spots to be more aggressive. So I think that sets up ‑‑ I played pretty well in some of the Major championships through the years. I always wanted to win one. That's my No. 1 goal on the Champions Tour. So I like the opportunity of playing well coming into this event and see if I can put myself in position. People have said forever you can't win it on Thursday and Friday, but you can lose it. You can get out of position. So I think just to be smart and to play within your game and if you get a chance to make a run, go for it. But just kind of build momentum as the week goes along.
Q. What are some of the more colorful things you heard from fans this week about the putt and should fans have a right to call in and play rules officials like that?
D.A. WEIBRING: Well, I think that engages us in the game. The calling in is a difficult thing. Bob Murphy was sharing with me yesterday, you know, I had a lot of guys come up and kind of kid me and say, well you didn't have to build the drama there. But I think that it probably sent some shock waves to anybody who plays golf. And especially tournament golf and professionally, because the craziest things happen. I think most guys have shared with me that, hey, forget about it, you handled it nicely. That had to be pretty scary. Because you really don't know where you are at the moment. And so I have had a lot of that. I really haven't had too much by the fans. I did have a guy at the hotel where I was staying, I had a problem with the shower and he came in and he saw my golf bag sitting there and he went, oh, yeah, boy, that last little putt ‑‑ he went right into the little putt and whatever. He said, oh, you were fine. And you tapped it in. And I play Adams Golf too. You know, so I got him a cap and signed him a cap. And so I think most ‑‑ our game is unique. Because we do in essence officiate ourselves. And I made a comment that in most games players try to get away with it. If it's a little holding on a check out, or they will slide in for a block in basketball. Or I've heard offensive linemen say whatever I can get away with to protect my quarterback, it's okay if they don't catch me. We don't have that attitude. And when something happens like that, you immediately think the worst because you really don't know. And so that's what I went through in that process. And you're almost guilty until proven innocent. And the direction that Ken Lindsay took, as assertive as he was, as thorough as he was, certainly helped me in that manner. Because I honestly don't know. I know what I normally do, I know what I try to do. Why the ball moved, I don't know. And so that's the problem. But I'm sure I'll hear some comments as time goes on. But most golfers understand, you know, intent is not always a big word in our game. It's kind of what happens. But clearly there wasn't any intent, but just to get the thing in and get off the green.
Q. Do you think the rain has had any affect on the golf course?
D.A. WEIBRING: It always will. It appears this golf course, even though it sits in a valley, that it drains pretty well. The cool weather and the rain will, yeah, it will soften the greens a little bit. But it will make it play longer. It will make the rough play longer and thicker. But it appears to me the fairways are pretty reasonable. I was please today see that. I think the recovery is a little bit of a part of golf. Sometimes when you put it in the rough like this and you're just chipping it out sideways, you're going to hit it in places in the rough where you're not going to have a play. But you might catch a decent lie and be able to kind of scoot it up. The majority of the entrances are protected, but you might be able to chase it in there. I do think one issue, there appears to be an awful lot of sand in the bunkers. And they're flashed a little bit. That will be a challenge for the maintenance staff if we get some hard rains. I think the ball's going to plug. If you carry ‑‑ a lot of the bunkers are flashed a little bit and so maybe a tee shot or iron shots into the green, you don't want to put it in the bunkers this week. You don't want to deal with that. Because you're going to get some funny lies.
JULIUS MASON: Thanks for coming down.
D.A. WEIBRING: Thank you. Appreciate it.