The 2005 Senior PGA Championship
A PGA of America Event. Click to learn more

An Interview With Mark McNulty

May 27, 2005

JULIUS MASON: Mark McNulty, ladies and gentlemen. Playing in his second PGA Championship. A to want leaderboard at minus four. Mark, if you wouldn't go going through some of your thoughts today and we'll go through the card afterward and go to Q&A.

MARK McNULTY: It was obviously a lot more windier than yesterday. And the back nine the wind made club selection quite tricky. But between my caddy and I we managed to pull the right clubs on a number of occasions, but difference between yesterday and today, not much. I actually felt, I was telling Jimmy Roberts early on at ESPN that I felt I hit the ball better yesterday and than I did today. Greens yesterday afternoon were a little bit more bumpy and had a lot of tree debris on them.

This morning we still had tree debris, the bits and pieces, there's those seeds that come off those trees. But I felt that the greens were a lot easier, the ball wasn't bouncing around as much. So the difference was that I holed a few more putts, which is obviously always a thing that's going to help with the score line. And in the end the score line was magical.

JULIUS MASON: Shot a 66 today. Six birdies. Can we go through your card and talk about your birdies beginning with number 6.

MARK McNULTY: Yeah, quite often around gets going with something which might not be a birdie, it might be a shot, it might be something else. But at the fifth hole I think I hit a great shot yesterday and ended up making a two. I hit a poor shot today with a 5 iron in the left hand bunker and David hit six before me and the wind was swirling and I decided to go with a five. Left hand bunker, had a bad lie on a down slope. But away from me. And hit it about 20, 25 feet past the hole. And I just, it's one of those things, I said, you can hole this putt. You're not going to feel too despondent and maybe you can make a couple birdies and get back into this tournament. That's exactly what happened, because when I holed the putt, I managed to make a birdie on the next hole, and missed a couple of chances before I go to No. 9 or number 10, when I holed a very good 25, 30 footer down the hill. And it was quite funny. There was I was saying, "Stop, stop, stop, stop. Get close, get close." And Bruce Lietzke just said to me, "Get in." Of course as he said "Get in", the ball just went, boom, in. We looked at each other and burst out laughing. So it's always nice to have those sort of moments where the camaraderie between us elderly gentlemen is, always seems to be a little more prevalent than on the Regular TOUR.

But then I hit a very good second shot at the 12th to three feet. Knocked that in.

Then I was tricky. It was really getting windy and I hit some good shots, very poor tee shot at 15. And difficult hole. The wind was really blowing like hell then. And I hit it straight right and got lucky with a lie and of course a gap between the trees and I hit a 5 iron choked down 5 iron to about five feet.

It was a key shot at that time because I was thinking, if I could squeeze one more birdie out little did I know I was going to squeeze two more out after that one. I made a good par at 1.

17 and 18 I played pretty well of the I hit good quality shots. I hit a 4 iron to about 15 feet on the 17th green. That's a very tricky green. I don't know if you guys have seen a look at it. But even in the practice round I was saying to my caddy and the guys I played with, that it's got an enormous slope on it. And literally the ball is coming sideways as it went into the hole at 17 to make my two.

18, hit a good driver and 4 iron, I guess it was about 18 feet for eagle and misread the putt. And I guess I had about a 14 inch or 15 inch birdie putt that was in the end it was a good one putt. Because it squeezed in the right edge and rolled around a few times and managed to find the bottom of the hole. But all in all happy with the rounds. It's one a long way to go. We're there could be some tricky weather coming in. And, but it's always nice to have a good round like I've had in the bag today.

JULIUS MASON: Thanks, Mark. Questions over here first.

Q. How good would you consider that 31 then in the wind on the back nine?

MARK McNULTY: Well, you know, I was, when I started the back nine, I felt like I was playing okay. I was thinking if I could make two birdies the back nine, no dropped shots, I would be very pleased with that. So 31 I would say it's pretty strong. That's about I'm sure if you ask anybody, 31 on the back nine, especially today with the wind, they would say exactly what I said. Pretty strong. Very strong. Very strong, made me very happy.

Q. Do you begin to play with the elements after awhile. You get used to the wind and you start to factor that into shot selection, anything like that, clubs and did that help you at all?

MARK McNULTY: Well, I think there's a big difference if you start a round with a hell of a strong wind, as opposed to starting a round with no wind and gradually that wind increases and increases, so you start factoring things into the shots as you go along. I would like I've always preferred it that way, as opposed to starting out, especially on a course at, a Major course like this, where you haven't played a lot, I certainly haven't played this course before and I think most of the field hasn't played it many times. Only a few times. So it does. It does tend to get to be a little bit of guess work. Today at 14, the pin is literally just over the water on the left hand side. And looking at it, it's I think it was 159 yards. And the wind is doing this (Indicating). It's just like Augusta's 12th hole. Could it be a 7 iron, could it be an 8 iron? And in the end you just got to pull the club, and go. Just make a commitment to the shot. And that's I was lucky enough there was a little bit of a hold up there, and we got to the tee as Fuzzy hit. And he was the second off Arnie and Larry Nelson's group. And you can just see that he's got an 8 iron out by the loft. And that helped my decision. And I hit an 8 iron pin high. I could have hit a 7 iron it might have blown straight through the wind and gone in the back bunker. So, yes, the wind does play a major factor on these tough golf courses. Even if it's, they're all, even if the greens are yielding. You still at times don't know. It's just guess work.

Q. How active is Baz and helping you pull clubs. You mentioned him earlier. If there is a question, will you go with him or is there, will you go with your gut feeling?

MARK McNULTY: Oh, you know, I think sometimes quite often you go with your gut feeling. But you got to listen. If you've got a good caddy relationship, you guys have all watched TV, you've seen how Bones and Mickelson have a good relationship. Tiger and Steve have a great relationship. Kenny and Hale have a great relationship. So if you got a good relationship, your caddy knows exactly how you're thinking. That's what it all boils down to. So today was a test. Basil knew what I was thinking, I knew what he was thinking, and he knew what to tell me to because it, in these Major events you also got to play smart. You don't want to be a complete dumb bird and hit these shots that just take you into Ya Ya Land as such where you've got no prayer of making a par. And there's a time where you got to just play away from the flag because of this situation with the wind. And certainly at number 14, that was a classic example. Even though it seemed Fuzzy hit a good 8 iron. I hit an 8 iron, but I went for the more towards the middle of the green, because the angle of the wind was if you went more towards the flag, you would be just slightly that ever degree more into the wind. And those are the sort of things that he and I talk about. And we talked about that at that particular time. He said, I think you should hit an 8 iron at the TV stand. And that was exactly on the line. I hit it exactly where we both had thought about doing. And that's very important in these events like this.

Q. On the back in particular any good saves and how about on the front?

MARK McNULTY: Well, apart from number 5, the only other really good save on the back nine was at 16. Where I think if I remember the yardage it was about 147. And I was sort of back into the wind again there. Had hit a really good drive. I hit a 7 iron. And I was just trying to hit it right, sort of keep the elevation down a little bit on the shot. And it just came up a yard short of the green and then it caught that big slope and it meandered down in the valley if you go, if you you got to see the front of that green. So in the end I was six yards short of the green, putting up a big slope. And I putted up, I guess, maybe, eight to 10 feet away. So that was a good save. That was only two saves that I had.

Q. You got a year under your belt on the Champions Tour now, how do you feel things have gone for you? As well as you thought, better, not as good and what are you looking at as far as goals this year?

MARK McNULTY: Well, I think it's been right on the money as far as I'm concerned. In hindsight you can think about a lot of things. But obviously the three wins last year were very important for me. Psychologically. I remember it must have been World Match Play, 2003, at Wentworth. Not this Match Play here. And Gary, I live, I have a home or had a home pretty close to there. And Gary Player was working out and he normally always plays in the pro am and he said to me, "Mark, I think if you work really hard and you play all the tournaments, you can almost but win the Money List." So I just said to Gary, "Well, thanks, that's what I've been thinking about." And so I had two months off in the middle of the year, I can't say that I had ever come close to doing what Craig did. So if I look at everything I would say, yes, I'm right on the money and I'm about exactly where I would like to be. I had a couple shots at some events this year which haven't come off and we all know you lose a lot more in this game than you win. So if I can just keep knocking on the door, maybe it will fall down in front of me.

Q. This week, this was one of the so called five Majors on TOUR. What does this tournament mean to you and how is this tournament set apart from the Regular TOUR events on this TOUR from your view?

MARK McNULTY: Our regular or the regular, regular.

Q. The Champions Tour?

MARK McNULTY: The Champions Tour. Well, it's obviously a lot different in that even in the fairways in width are very fair. You just stand on the tee and you can tell the difference. There's a lot more definition. We know the greens are going to be a little bit quicker. Even though we had rain, they're still quick. There's no question about that. They obviously are not as firm as they could be if the sun had been shining the last couple weeks. Thank goodness.

But I know that when you come to these events you can almost expect what you see when you arrive. And I was obviously very pleased to see the golf course in such fantastic condition. And I like the definition, knowing you got to hit the ball, most guys have said it's going to be a guy who strikes the ball, a ball striker's week. And there's no doubt about that. But at the same time in my opinion as really all golf tournaments around the world, if a guy gets the ball in the hole, he's going to win. So if you take 20, 30 guys who are playing really well every week. It's all the guy who gets the ball in the hole who wins.

Q. Your bio mentioned you play a number of sports growing up. But that also you played pea and no too. How does that help with discipline or practice habits growing up and learning different sports? Did that help you at all?

MARK McNULTY: I didn't catch all of that, but I can get the gist of it. The family were pretty musically oriented when I grew up. And I think the nicest unfortunately I don't play or practice the piano nearly as much as I used to sort of maybe 10, 15 years ago. But as a matter of fact unfortunately I haven't even got a piano in the house yet. But that's on the card soon.

I think though the nicest thing that I used to find in the past is that if I was struggling with the game or I was cheesed off or something, there was nothing like going home and just playing for 10, 15 minutes. And it's relaxing and it's de stressing. So and another thing which I was always accused of as a kid and I put "accused" in the commas, because I always thought that playing snooker or pool. Snooker is we call it overseas, as opposed to pool, you and I played a lot as a kid, and I was pretty good. And I think it helps your putting. Because you work your angles all the time. And certainly on the putting green I think you always are working on angles. And it's the pace of the snooker ball that you're trying to hit to either screw back or get the ball to drop softly into a hole. But it's the same on the putting green. It's the pace of the putts which I think is ever critical and in particular in Majors, where maybe in regular Majors or these Major, because you know the U.S. Open guys that at the USGA and the PGA of America, they are always trying to get their courses really up there.

JULIUS MASON: Thank you very much.

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