Tom Kite (Media Center)

July 13, 2012


THE MODERATOR:  Good afternoon, everybody.  Tom Kite is kind enough to join us again today.  Tom, you were even for the round, 5 under for the championship.  One off the lead.  How would you characterize your round today?

TOM KITE:  70, even par.  Just nice and consistent, just steady.  Just a bunch of pars out there.  Not quite.

THE MODERATOR:  Did the course play harder today?

TOM KITE:  It did.  The whole golf course, it dried out a lot.  I was joking about being consistent out there, by the way.  Didn't give me a chance to go on.

The fairways are firm.  We hit three good shots on the 9th hole, but none of us could hold the fairway.  That fairway needs a dousing.  Not just water, it needs to be doused because you can't hold the fairway.  If you hit it far enough that it carries over the cliff on the right‑hand side, it goes through the fairway well into the left rough.

So it got a little bit out of control there.  The greens are a little brown right now so they need to put some water on them before tomorrow's round.

I played a nice nine holes of golf on my first nine holes, the back nine.  And then I played a very poor nine holes of golf.  Other than the bogey on 9, where I did hit a nice tee shot there, I can't really attribute any of my bogeys on the last nine holes to the drying out of the golf course.

 I just hit poor shots, and as we talked about yesterday, this golf course will give up some good scores and will give up some birdies.  But if you miss it, it will bite you in the rear.  It bit me a couple times on the last nine holes.

THE MODERATOR:  Let's open up for questions.

Q.  You talked about what a funny game this is.  You bogeyed a hole, you eagled, you birdied a hole, you double bogeyed.  Your front nine were good both days, but they were different nines.  This is kind of a funny game that way, isn't it?

TOM KITE:  Funny ha‑ha or funny strange?  I mean, it's a sadistic game is what it is.  It really is.  It drives us all crazy.  As Harvey Penick said, it's such an easy game to play, it's just such a hard game to play well.  That's what we're trying to do.

In a championship like this, we're trying to play very well, and they've given us a stern test on a golf course that is very tricky.  The greens are very severe in a number of places.  It's just you've got to be on your toes all the time on a course like this, and you have to play very well.

Q.  Was it something in your swing that went awry?

TOM KITE:  Yeah.  I've been working on some things the last few weeks in my golf swing.  And for the most part, I get it pretty good.  And then occasionally I'll revert back to some of the things I'm trying to get out of, and when that pops in there, I can hit it right or hit it left, either one.

I hit a couple of shots to the right on 1 and 2.  I drove it in the bunker at 1 up under the lip and basically had no play.  Then I drove it into the right trees on 2.  Then hit a couple left after that.

Fortunately, I got back to 7, 8, and 9, my last three holes, I really made some nice swings there.  Two good pars on 7 and 8.  And then like I said, a bad break on 9 with the fairway being almost impossible to hit.

I made some good swings there, and I'm pleased with that.  So I'll go hit a few balls on the range and try to get back to it.

Q.  Did it just start on the back nine?

TOM KITE:  No.  I played beautifully on my first nine holes of golf.  I really did.  I drove it long, drove it straight.  Hit my irons very well.

Q.  Tom, being a former major champion, a U.S. Open Champion on the PGA Tour, how would you compare the setup of a USGA Champions Tour Senior Open as opposed to a PGA Tour, regular tour U.S. Open?

 TOM KITE:  Surprisingly enough, one of the big deals that the current staff of the USGA has been touting is this graduated rough, and I don't think there's any graduated rough anywhere on this golf course.  I think the 16th hole, I think they put a little bit through the fairway on the 16th hole, and it's the only place on this golf course.

So I would say that the rough on this golf course is significantly more difficult than what they saw at Olympic just because this is more like an old traditional USGA setup in that there's really none of the transitional.

Q.  What about the green speeds?

TOM KITE:  Green speeds are reasonable for these greens.  They're certainly not fast, but if they had fast greens, we would have no pin placements that are usable on a number of those greens.  They can't get them any faster.  If they do, they would have a debacle like they had at Olympic years and years ago or like they've had at some of the other golf courses, Southern Hills, where the ball rolls up and rolls back.

So I think they've got the greens in good shape.  Like I said, they dried out a lot this afternoon, and so they're firm.  But they also grew throughout the day, and they didn't get lightning fast.

Q.  Tom, talk about the full‑time caddie, part‑time player Ten Broeck.

TOM KITE:  He went to school at the University of Texas.  I played a lot of golf with ‑‑ not a lot, but I played a bunch of golf with Lance when he was in Austin.  He's had so much talent for so many years and just, to a lot of people's minds, didn't take advantage of all the talent that he has.  Obviously, he's playing very well right now.

It will be good to watch him play.

Q.  You'll be paired with him tomorrow.  How surprising is it to see his name up there at the top of the leaderboard?

TOM KITE:  It's the second round of a U.S. Open, a Senior U.S. Open.  You're always going to have a couple names that pop up there from time to time, and Lance is a good player.

He hasn't been playing much, so I think it's a little bit of a surprise, but he's a talented guy.  I'm sure he's playing very well right now.

THE MODERATOR:  Given the wind today, Tom, and perhaps the conditions over the next couple of days, this course is going to get faster and more firm.

TOM KITE:  Let's hope not.

THE MODERATOR:  Do you go into the weekend thinking you need to protect your score right now, or can you be aggressive going into Saturday and Sunday?

TOM KITE:  I still think you can be aggressive.  I'm not quite sure that I totally agree with you, because I think when they go out and start assessing some of the fairways and some of the greens, I would be shocked if they don't put some water to this golf course in a number of places.

Now, whether they put it all over remains to be seen, but they're sitting there watching television too.  They're seeing balls ‑‑ again, I hate to keep harping on that 9th fairway, but it's just the last hole we played.  It's practically impossible to hit that fairway.  The fairway is about 15 yards deep, and it's rock hard.  You're hitting a 3 or 4 iron or a hybrid, trying to hold that fairway, and it's just not going to happen.

So they're watching TV too, and they don't want to look like they've missed the ball.  They've had that happen before in certain courses, where it got out of control, and it's never a good look for the rules makers in the USGA to let a golf course get out of control.

So I'm not sure I totally agree with you that it would get firmer and faster.  I think the golf course was set up beautifully.  Personally, I'm not in favor of that graduated rough.  I like traditional U.S. Opens with the deep rough right off of the fairway, or if you miss the fairway, you get penalized.  I don't have an issue with that.  Personally, I like it.  I wish they'd get rid of that graduated rough in major championships and just get back to driving the ball on the fairway.

But I think, as we said, the golf course, if you're playing well, there are a number of places where you can make some birdies.  So you're still going to have to go out and attack it.

THE MODERATOR:  Tom, thanks.  We wish you the best heading into the weekend.

TOM KITE:  Thank you.



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