What they said: Tom Pernice Jr.

May 06, 2011
PGA TOUR staff

MORE INTERVIEWS: Regions Tradition transcript archive MODERATOR: Tom, playing in your first senior major, second round you shoot 6-under 66, a very nice day and played yourself right into contention here at the Regions Tradition. A couple thoughts about your overall round today?

TOM PERNICE JR.: Today was a much cleaner round than it was yesterday. I mean, the key to today was probably my short game yesterday saving me and getting me in at even par, because yesterday was a little bit of a struggle and missed a lot of greens and chipped the ball up and made some nice saves throughout the day yesterday, so that kind of gave me the opportunity.

I went to the range last night, got a little better feel, felt pretty comfortable with my swing today and got off to a good start. I made a nice save on the first hole for par to kind of get me going, and then from there, made some birdies.

Number 2, hit an 8-iron in there about 20 feet behind the hole, but it was a downhill left-to-righter so that was a little bit of a surprise, but it went in to get me started early.

Then 3's a par 5. I hit it right in front in two and chipped it up about three-and-a halffeet.

And then 4, my only bogey today was just a mis-club. Hit a perfect drive, it was a 7-iron all the way, perfect. Came up short, so we kind of thought the wind might be into it, so we hit one more club and hit it over the green and hit a nice pitch and just lipped out about a 12-footer for par, so that was my only bogey.

Sixth hole, par 5, I hit a wedge about, oh, 15 feet, made it for birdie. A nice save for par on number 9 out of the left bunker, a difficult bunker shot, hit it down about three feet. Kind of kept the round going, I felt.

Number 10, I hit an 8-iron about two feet, hit a beautiful shot there. 11, I got away with a bad drive, I drove it left in the trees and laid up, hit a wedge about six feet and made it for birdie.

Had some good birdie chances at 12, also at 14, but they were just above the flag so they were downhill and had some breaks. 15 was probably the save of the day. I drove it under the lip of the bunker at 15. I just wedged it out, laid it up, then I hit my wedge about 12 feet, made it for par at 15.

Then hit a 6-iron on 16 about 15 feet, made it for birdie. Hit a good wedge at 17 about seven feet, made it for birdie. So, I made a lot of nice putts, which you have to do to shoot 6-under, but a couple saves in there really kept the round going.

MODERATOR: Your impressions of Shoal Creek as a venue for this?

TOM PERNICE JR.: Like I told everybody here, this feels like a PGA TOUR event here. First time that I've played in a Champions Tour convenient where it's felt like a Tour event. The hospitality of the membership here at Shoal Creek, the design of the golf course, the setup with the corporate tents, no golf carts, which I love. It just feels like a real golf tournament. The people of Birmingham came out and supported the tournament already and it's only Friday. It really has a great feel to it.

MODERATOR: Okay. We'll just open it up for questions.

Q. I think I heard you out there say that your home course is also a Jack Nicklaus design course??


Q. And you said there are some similarities. Is there any comfort at all to playing a course that at least has some similarities to a course you're used to??

TOM PERNICE JR.: I play out of Murrieta, California, a Jack Nicklaus design, 1984 or '83 I think he designed it, so it's a similar time. They played the '84 Skins Game there. We have the same type of Bermuda grass in the fairways. We have basically poa mixed with bent green, so it's similar. We don't have near as many trees obviously as they have here. We have some massive oak trees, but here it's pretty much lined every hole with trees. But, you know, it's one of Jack's better golf courses by all means. I think if he wants to do -- continue doing new courses, he needs to come back and look what he did here because this is a jewel.

Q. Does that give you any sort of comfort level at all when you come out, not being accustomed to this course but maybe some of the characteristics of a course like this??

TOM PERNICE JR.: Maybe the same grass in the fairways, the same type of Bermuda grass, maybe I'm a little more used to it maybe than most. But it's got a little bit different look to it because it's got so many more trees, but its one of Jack's better courses I've ever played. I think it's beautiful. Every hole, you've got to stand up there and hit a shot, no flukes or anything, so I think it's a great venue, great course. You know, the people at Regions have really stepped up along with the people here at Shoal Creek and I couldn't think they could do anything more.

Q. You kind of touched on it a minute ago, but did you feel pretty early this was going to be a better day for you than yesterday? Did you feel a little more comfortable early on?

TOM PERNICE JR.: Yeah, I mean, I felt like I had a really good session yesterday on the range because I wasn't very comfortable hitting the ball out there on the course, so I just kind of hung in there yesterday and got it around. And then I started off, I hit a bad drive, but like I said, I got it down in front of the green, got it up and down, and from then on I hit a lot of good quality shots. I just hit a couple poor shots after that, but I felt that I was going to have better control of the golf ball today and I made some putts after hitting some quality shots today. There's a little less mud on the golf ball today in the fairways, which psychologically helps the players. I was a little gun shy yesterday, had a lot of mud on the ball. Today was a lot better. Fairways are starting to firm up, so a little more of a green light and I felt better with my swing as well.

Q. Calcavecchia was in here yesterday. He was talking about how he's now feeling like this is where he belongs, on this Tour, and it took him a little while to start feeling that way. What's your mindset on the two Tours and kind of the struggle that guys like you go through to decide where it is you belong??

TOM PERNICE JR.: Well, I mean, I still enjoy playing on the regular TOUR, I like the challenge. But, you know, pretty soon, I mean, I'm almost 52. I mean, eventually I need to wake up to the realization this is where I need to come and stay, but I'm a little bit stubborn. I still -- I feel like my game's good, I still can compete out there. I don't think that it matters really. Once you tee up, when you're inside the ropes, you're inside the ropes. So I enjoy playing both at this point, but this has been a real treat playing here at Shoal Creek in my first major, so it's been great so far.

MODERATOR: Tom, thank you very much.

TOM PERNICE JR.: Thank you.