2014 Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid, interviews, Gene Fieger

2014 Senior PGA Championship interview with: GENE FIEGER

May 21, 2014

KELLY ELBIN: Gene Fieger, winner of the 2013 Southworth Senior PGA Professional National Championship, joining us at the 75th Senior PGA Championship Presented By KitchenAid.

Welcome to Harbor Shores, I know you've been here for a couple days now, had a chance to play the golf course, some thoughts on Harbor Shores.

GENE FIEGER: Thank you. Thank you for having me. Yeah, it's a beautiful layout, very undulating greens. It's a beautiful place and the golf course is in just tremendous condition from what -- being from Naples, Florida, all my members talk about how the courses up north have really taken a beating this winter, but you don't see any signs of it here, the course is beautiful.

THE MODERATOR: Gene is the PGA Club Manager at the Hideout Golf Club in Naples, Florida. You had to wait a little bit of time to compete in the Southworth Senior PGA National Championship, which was postponed because of bad weather last fall, but your victory at PGA Golf Club at Port St. Lucie last month must have been very rewarding, giving you the opportunity to lead the club professional contingent here.

GENE FIEGER: Yeah, it was. It was a really good break that the tournament was cancelled up north, because it actually got moved to a golf course I was very familiar with, probably played 30 times or so. I used to live a mile from the course as well. Plus being on Bermuda grass is always nice when you've spent 15 years in Naples, Florida, so it was a welcome move for me.

KELLY ELBIN: Going back to the golf course here, what stood out in terms of premium here, whether off the tee, around the green, or etcetera.

GENE FIEGER: Well, due to the greens complexes, you're going to have to drive the ball in the fairway. That's always a premium at any place, but certainly here, because you can't hit to these greens out of the rough.

So if you can drive the ball in the fairway and then you're going to have to hit pretty good second shots, because the greens are just so undulating that you have to get on the right side of the hole or else you just can't play.

You can't play missing these greens, unless you're fortunate to miss it in the right spot.

You got to be able to get the ball in the fairway first and foremost, because you won't have a chance hitting the green if you don't.

KELLY ELBIN: All right. Open it up for questions.

Q. I'm sure it's special for you to be here in the Senior PGA Championship, but does it mean any more being the PNC champion, kind of carrying you the torch for the club pros here?

GENE FIEGER: Sure, this is my second Senior PGA Championship, but this has a little more meaning coming in as a champion and it really, really is special, doing stuff like this and just the whole atmosphere. A lot more people know you and that's always neat.

I got a really good pairing. I'm playing with Joey Sindelar and Tom Pernice, so I don't know if being the champion had anything to do with that, but certainly looking forward to that. So, one of 35 and it's certainly special this time around.

KELLY ELBIN: You've had some experience, you played in four PGA Championships, you played in two U.S. Opens, you made the cut at Valhalla in this championship in 2011, certainly no rookie when it comes to playing on a big stage.

GENE FIEGER: No, I've played a fair share of Majors and when I was in 2001 working at Hideout, I finished 27th in the Honda Classic as well, so that was pretty neat.

We don't get a chance to play many four-round tournaments, so we'll just have to do the best we can.

Q. If we can go back to Virginia, did you play any golf at all that week before it got rained out or if so, do you remember how many holes you may have gotten in?

GENE FIEGER: No, I played a practice round, obviously, but I was standing on the tee in the tent waiting for the group to hit in front of me, and the person had the tee in the ground when they blew the siren, so I never hit a shot.

You couldn't. You hear a lot of the guys second guessing, we should do this, do this, everybody comes up with an idea, but I mean, it was just no chance. The creeks had over flowed, you couldn't even get to some of the holes.

So it was just one of those nor'easter kind of weather that I'm familiar with, being from Philly, where they say the small urban stream flooding. And that's what you had, you just had no chance.

KELLY ELBIN: Talk about preparing, having a full-time job at the Hideout Club, but preparing to come here and compete on a high level.

GENE FIEGER: Well, I don't do anything different. I just try to play a little more golf. The month of May, fortunately for us, isn't a height of the season, so I got a fair amount of chances to play. We have started our section events, so I've played in some of those. But I just tried to play a little more golf and try to not do anything out of the ordinary and just try to play a little more golf. That's about it.

Q. Can you just talk about this course and being in Michigan it still has kind of a linksy feel, though it's the lake, not the ocean, but not a whole lot of trees on some of the holes and what's that like? How much of a factor is the wind because of that?

GENE FIEGER: Well, the first day the wind was pretty, blowing pretty good. Yesterday it wasn't too bad.

It's pretty much -- you got to drive the ball in the fairway. You're right, there's not too many trees, there's a couple holes with some trees, but it's kind of like three different kind of courses out there. You have a links, trees, but it's a great, great layout, I think.

The greens are very difficult. But if the wind blows -- I don't know how these guys shot the scores they shot last time they were here, because I don't know what the heck they did, but they couldn't have done that the last two days I played. It's a beautiful layout and I'm looking forward to it.

KELLY ELBIN: Any particular holes have struck your eye in terms of pivotal holes down the stretch?

GENE FIEGER: Well, 7 starts as one hole you really have to pay attention to. It's not that long, but that's the one with the elevated green, with a very, very -- I mean, the hard thing is you don't even know if you get the ball on the green. You could hit a beautiful shot in there and it's very, very difficult, you can't see any part of the surface. But that certainly is one of the memorable holes.

4, I know that's early in the round, but that's a key hole, that par-3. That's some serious golf right there, unless they move the tee all the way up.

10, obviously, the green at 10, you got to watch what you're doing there.

18's a great hole. 17. They're all great holes.

But the tee shot on 16 I think is about the only shot coming down the stretch that you really -- especially in left-to-right wind -- that you really have to really hit a good one there.

KELLY ELBIN: What did you think when you saw 10 green for the first time?

GENE FIEGER: Well, it's certainly interesting, depending where they put the pin. You're almost better off laying up, if you can reach it from 80 yards and get an angle. Because if you hit it just on the front edge, and the pin's obviously not on the front edge, you're better off probably being 80 yards short in the middle of the fairway.

KELLY ELBIN: You start at 8 o'clock tomorrow, you said, with Tom Pernice and Joey Sindelar. Best of luck to you tomorrow.

GENE FIEGER: Thank you very much.

KELLY ELBIN: Thank you.

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