What they said: Jeff Sluman

April 02, 2011
PGA TOUR staff

MORE INTERVIEWS: Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic transcript archive

DAVE SENKO: Jeff, thanks for joining us. Another good day today, 6-under 66, and 12-under, another bogey-free day. But maybe just talk a little bit about your afternoon, and we'll get some questions.

JEFF SLUMAN: Well, I mean, it was obviously a great day to play golf out there. The crowds are out, and it's just nice to see the community coming out and supporting us and watching. I think they saw some great golf today.

Tom Lehman played terrific. He definitely had the mode on the back nine, and of course, Frosty is always going to play well. I did essentially the same things I did yesterday. I knocked it in the fairway and knocked it on the green and ended up shooting 66. Same type of round, one eagle, four birdies, no bogeys. I'm quite pleased.

It was fun to watch Tom on the back nine.

DAVE SENKO: You started with a birdie on No. 1, shot sequence.

JEFF SLUMAN: Driver, 3-iron to one inch. Never made a double-eagle and it was one inch right of the hole. So obviously a good start.

I birdied -- I hit the sixth hole in two with a driver and a hybrid to about 15 feet. And 2-putted it.

And 10 I made birdie from the middle of the fairway and hit wedge to -- that was my longest wedge to that point of the tournament and I made a 6-footer for birdie.

12, I hit a 3-wood off the tee, that sets up good for me there, and had 125 and hit a wedge to about two feet.

And then I didn't capitalize on the shots; I had good shots on 13 and 14 but lipped those out.

Of all things, I didn't hit a great pitch shot. I thought I did, but it ended up 30 feet short and I go ahead and make that putt. So out of the blue, having not made a single putt all week over six feet, I make it up, over, down and swinging hard left-to-right from 30, 35 feet. I was as surprised as anybody at that point.

I don't think I got my head down or anything. I hit a lot of good putts. The greens are firm tough to read, and, you know, just got to kind of hang in there with all of that.

DAVE SENKO: Is this little stretch some of the best golf you've played in the last few years? I looked it up, and you've only had one bogey over the last --

JEFF SLUMAN: That's the kiss of death.

DAVE SENKO: 84 holes.

JEFF SLUMAN: That's just something -- I'm hitting the ball extremely well. Coach, Craig Harmon, I was down there last week in Palm Beach for a couple of days, and he said it looks to him as if I'm playing as good as I've ever played right now.

So I don't really judge it or measure it by anything. I know I feel pretty comfortable over the ball and for the most part, I start the ball where I'm aiming; which when you don't play well, it starts too far right or too far left.

I'm very comfortable over it, and we'll kind of see what happens tomorrow. I think if the forecast is correct; it's supposed to be warm but with a significant amount of wind tomorrow. So that will really make this golf course play extremely difficult and you'll have to hit a lot of different shots out there.

Q. With the great start with the eagle, did you think, okay, everything's good again, or just kind of pick it up??

JEFF SLUMAN: Yeah, the second hole I hit a beautiful drive, 8-iron to six feet and missed that.

The next hole, hit a nice shot underneath the hole and left it short by an inch.

4 I drove it down there, hit a wedge right over the flag and 2-putted. It was just -- kind of just keep it going, you know.

Q. What was it like with Tom playing the way he was playing, seemed to be going back and forth??

JEFF SLUMAN: Yeah, we were back and forth. He birdied No. 3, and I believe until 13, we actually halved every hole. Every hole that I birdied, he birdied and vice versa.

Then he made a bomb -- he actually made a bomb on 12. And I was in there tight. Made probably a 35-footer there. And he got it up-and-down on 13 is; I didn't. We hit it the same distance on 14. He made it, I lipped it out.

15, I made it, but you know, it's kind of one of those things, and you know, his bunker shot on 18, looked like it was about a six-inch tap-in the way it went in. It was perfect. You kind of watch it from the side and you see where it hit and you say, oh, boy, if it's not going in, it's not going too far by. He hit a beautiful shot there. It was fun to watch.

Q. Kind after amazing, what would have been the course record again today, yet it's no longer the course record --

JEFF SLUMAN: In talking to some of the people when we were signing autographs at the end, they had big smiles on their face that were following our group and they saw some tremendous golf from all three of us. I think they all realized that we can still really play. We are not out there hitting ground balls and hitting it 220 or anything like that. Perception is, you know, until they come out and see how we actually play, a lot of people believe that we're playing 6,400-yard courses and they are not too long.

We have got tucked pins. Courses are relatively speaking, they are 7,100, 7,200 yards. We are all very competitive. Now, it doesn't mean we can go out on a week-to-week basis and play with those animals, but there are -- if you look in the past year and a half, a lot of guys have crossed over and done very well, and come close to winning with Corey and Freddie and a lot of guys.

There's still a lot of good golf left on the Champions Tour.

Q. How do you hit it so far??

JEFF SLUMAN: I've been asked that a lot in my life and simply honest answer, I don't know. I believe I've had the club in a fundamentally sound position throughout my whole golf swing and throughout my career, and I just turn through it and go ahead and release the club and that's -- I don't think about it.

There's no real -- I mean, I'm sure there's a technical reason, but as Claude Harmon used to say, "The ball doesn't know how big you are." It just reacts to however it's being hit.

I've got a great golf ball, a great driver, and flights the ball perfect for me. Not really maxing out as much as I can. I don't think there's a different setup with golf ball or whatever and driver that I'm going to hit it much further with.

All in all, I've always been able to move it out there farther than people would imagine. I think some of it actually comes back to being a product of your environment. And I grew up on a really long golf course. Well, I had to learn how to hit it a long way. When you're a kid, that's the thing; you just naturally learn how to do those things. You've got some ability, and fortunately I did.

Q. On 18, I saw you kind much gently bow down to Tom after he hit that shot, and David, too, it looked like you enjoyed playing with each other??

JEFF SLUMAN: Absolutely. That's what the Champions Tour -- that's one of the things it's about. We have competed against each other for 30 years, and I think Hubert Green said a long time ago, the difference between the Champions Tour and the regular TOUR is we have already done it.

So we have all won; we all know how to win; we have all given away tournaments versus a lot of the young guys haven't gone through that maturation process. So we have enjoyed playing against each other and competing, and you know, whoever wins tomorrow, everyone is going to be happy for him and say, "Maybe Outback in two weeks will be my week." It's just a little different flavor.