What they said: Jim Thorpe

March 24, 2012
PGA TOUR staff

MORE: Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic transcript archive

PHIL STAMBAUGH: Nice round today, 7-under 65, your low score since you got 65 on Saturday at the Boeing Classic in 2009. That seems like a long time ago, I know. Tony was telling me out there that I guess you found something last week in the last round at Toshiba shooting 67 and it carried over.

JIM THORPE: Yeah, well, it was very, very tough weather conditions, and I just realized I'm probably trying too hard because I worked hard enough since I've been back, and I personally feel that my nerves wasn't what they was when I left. So I finally reached a point, I just said to myself, I've done it 1,000 times, so just go out there and play. Worry about what's going to happen when you don't execute a good shot, and just hit it and go play, and that's basically what I'm going to do from now on.

One of the things I worked on very hard is my putting, and my putting is really starting to come around. This is a golf course like the golf course last week, I love to shape the ball off the tee and shape the ball into the greens, and when you have a golf course like that, you stay away from the slopey putts and that kind of stuff. You can score on this golf course. It's a very, very difficult golf course. It's a very long golf course for us, but it's the type of golf course where I don't mind hitting 4 , 5 and 6 irons. Today just I don't think I made a mistake hitting a shot today. I might have left a couple shots a couple of putts a little bit short where the speed didn't hold up and that sort of stuff, and I missed one four footer for birdie, but I made a couple of nice 20 footers and birdied three of the par 3s today.

That's pretty solid when you birdie a hole like 17, 213 into a crosswind. I hit a 3 iron to about two feet there and that's pretty solid, so I'm very happy with it.

PHIL STAMBAUGH: Do you want to take us through the round real quick.

JIM THORPE: Yeah, I hit a driver, 3 wood, and a chip shot on 1 to about six feet and made the putt for birdie.

2, driver, 4 iron there, probably 30 feet, two putted.

I don't remember the course very well, so I don't remember what 3 is. I think 3 is a par 3. Made a routine par, just a little bit long about a foot off the green but the pin is back there anyway, so that was fine.

No. 4, I hit a good shot. I missed about a six or seven footer for birdie there. I hit a beautiful shot there. That was good.

The next hole I drove it very well. That's probably the weakest shot I hit all day. We felt that the wind was going left to right and down, but it was actually left to right and against so I hit 4 iron there and come up short. And then just hit a nasty little chip shot, had it going downhill and I'm trying to play it a little bit too tight and just hit a nasty chip shot, just missed about a six footer for birdie there. Just actually was a misread. We thought it would go straight in, but it actually broke a little left.

Where are we at now, 6? Birdied 6, par 5, I hit driver, 3 wood there and chipped to about a couple inches. That was good there.

7, routine par from probably 20 feet there. I kind of wished we had hit driver there, but with the water on the right side and the deep bunkers, we hit 3 wood off the tee and thought we hit a pretty good wedge shot but come up probably 20 feet short and two putted.

8 caught a 6 iron from about 182, probably 18, 20 feet and made that putt for birdie.

9, probably the best three shots I put together all day. I drove it absolutely perfect, hit a 3 iron from 218, probably 12, 13 feet and made that for birdie.

10, I hit another very nice drive, hit a 7 iron about two inches there, so that was a pretty sample tap in.

11, hit another beautiful drive, and I spun my wedge. That's what hurt me there. It landed pretty close to the hole, but it spun back on me, so routine two putt from about 15 feet.

12, I think 12 is where I missed a short birdie putt. I think I hit it very close there on 12. Is that par there? Yeah, 12 we hit it very close there, probably four feet and missed a putt for birdie. I completely misread it. As you know the greens have a little grain in them, so if you don't know the greens very well you're going to miss some putts like that when definitely when you're dying the putts in the hole.

I think I birdied the next hole. Is that a par 5? Yeah, birdied the par 5 there, hit a beautiful drive there, laid it up. Couldn't reach the par 5, and hit it about eight feet and made that putt.

Down the hill, par 3 there, I think I hit an 8 iron 15, 18 feet and made that for birdie.

I had an easy birdie putt on the other par 5. I only had 230 to the front plus the flag I think was no, 239 front and the flag was like 30, and I hit a big 3 wood there, come up just short and chipped it very, very nicely, just left it short that side of the hole.

Then a good routine par on the next hole, 16.

17, I hit probably the shot of the year. That was just a gorgeous I couldn't have drawn a picture and hit it much better than that, two feet there and made that.

18, hit driver, 8 iron there. The second half of that green everything slopes away from you, so had a putt there, I don't know how long it was, probably 20 feet, 18, 20 feet, and I left it short dead center of the hole. All in all, I'm very happy with the round.

Q. You were talking about shaping shots. I watched your shot on 16, the second shot where you cut it. What did you hit there??

JIM THORPE: 4 iron. 4 iron. We had like 168 up against that wind, and of course I had on the fairway I missed it, they had it on the edge of that bunker. Yeah, I knew I had to catch it solid to get it there and just shape I probably cut it 20 yards this way, kept it under the tree and cut it, so it was a very, very good shot there.

But this is the type of golf course where if you keep it on the fairways and keep it let's say within 20, 25 feet we can make the putts because the greens are not lightning fast. The only time we catch a putt that we lose a little bit of control of it is when we're putting downhill across grain, the putts can get away from you a little bit. It's funny, too, because I played a beautiful round of golf, but he made a couple of nice putts, but he missed he left four or five putts on the golf course just basically because of speed, and maybe because of the rain, the greens probably what's the word? Thickened up a little bit, grain got a little bit tougher, maybe a little bit higher or something of that nature.

But it's a heck of a golf course here, and I'm very, very surprised. Actually I was very shocked yesterday to look at the leaderboard this morning because I finished yesterday, I didn't get to the golf course until about 10:30, 11:00 today, and to see there was a 63 by Freddie Couples and a 64 by Pernice, Jr., that's just rock solid golf, man. Because yesterday the fairways was very, very wet, and even though we lift, clean and place, you had to pick a lot of shots. If not you'll get your glasses covered with mud like I did a couple of times.

I was very, very shocked to see the scores. I figured someone would go 5 under because the guys out here are still good. These guys can play. And the thing about it, Tony was saying when I finished playing, we need one more round like this tomorrow because the guys are not going to back up. I think Sluman has gone 11 or 12 under at this point. And when Slu gets his putter going, he's hard to beat like anybody else when they get the putter going.

The only other thing I would say, normally when a guy goes low, 63, 64, it's very, very difficult to follow it up. In my case tomorrow I'll play very, very bold. I'll drive it off every tee and shoot it at every flag. I feel like I worked hard enough and I've played enough golf to have figured out a way to get the nerves relaxed again, and today I wish we had 18 more holes to go. I just felt like my game was on go.

Q. How long did it take you to get back into it after your year away from it??

JIM THORPE: Well, you know what, that year I spent away from it, I did a lot of swinging. I swung a lot of brooms and a lot of sticks and that sort of stuff, and I know it's not the same as actually hitting balls, but it's pretty much like riding a bike. The nerves will be a little jumpy at first, but once you get into it several times, you calm down. And the round last actually last week I played a lot better than the score indicated. I shot 70 the first day last week, and that round could have been four or five shots better easy. But we're putting on the type of greens where if you get too aggressive, then you find yourself with a lot of five and six footers, and they're tough to make on poa annua greens.

The round on Saturday, I didn't play bad at all, it's just that I didn't finish good. I ended up shooting 75, but I bogeyed like five of my last six, seven holes, and normally I don't do that. But when the wind is blowing and it's raining sideways, it's kind of tough, know what I mean? Sunday I thought the conditions was very, very tough, and went out there and just stuck to my guns and played probably a little bit more aggressive than I normally would play that golf course. But that's how I've won golf tournaments, playing aggressive, and I won't back off tomorrow.

Q. I know that you obviously have a lot of confidence in yourself and everything during the comeback, but is it gratifying to actually come out and do it to show that you've still got this in you??

JIM THORPE: I think what happened is someone said that you haven't won out here since age 54 or 56, and I just don't believe that. I think if you keep yourself in good shape and do the things you need to do, number one, you need to work on it. When you get a little bit older, the body needs a little bit more rest than you normally want to give it. I've seen times here where I'd stay up all night at the craps table or something. But as you grow older and that sort of stuff, you realize that you can do it in moderation and have fun with it. But when they reach the point and you want to start trying to accomplish, then you leave it alone. Now I'm sitting at a 25 cent poker machine. Normally it would be the other way around.

But yeah, it's very gratifying that at age 63 you know you can still go out there and shoot those numbers. Today is the first time when I got to yeah, I had a putt to go 6 under, and I knew I had six or seven holes left to play, and I said, you know, I can shoot my age today on a big golf course. I don't think it's out of the question.

I actually think I'm a better driver of the ball now than I used to be, and I think the only thing different is that we play a lot of golf courses where when guys like Couples standing out drive you 40, 50 yards, he's very difficult to beat. Very difficult to beat. You're just chasing all day long, and you know Freddie, if he ever gets it going, he just goes low.

I think what we do, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves versus going out there playing and doing the things we know we can do. I've won 16 golf tournaments and they didn't give me one of them. I won those golf tournaments. So you know you can do it, it's just the idea you have to block out all the negatives, push them to the side or kick it out of your head or something of that nature and just go out there and make it happen because you can make it happen.

Even though I'm not one of the guys out there that hits a lot of hybrids and that kind of stuff because I am still strong enough to hit my 3 irons and 4 irons, my caddie said today, man, Jesus Christ, the shot on 17, the first thing he said, man, I wish we had a hybrid that you could hit back in there. I said, I've got my 3 iron. First when you put a tee under it, just stand there and make a good swing and trust it, and I think that's what happens. You reach a point where we hit so many bad shots we stop trusting it. Everybody that plays this Tour out here is a winner, champions at one time or another in their life. Any given day when it's your turn and things are going the right way for you I'll give you a good example: The tee shot on 16 today, that's the only fairway I missed. I pushed it just a smidgen. The wind was hard left to right, which is a tough wind for me. I like the wind that I can hold my ball against the wind.

And I hit that tee shot today, and I knew when I picked me tee up, I said, hell, I just hit it in that devilish bunker. But it didn't go in the bunker. It stopped maybe a yard, yard and a half outside the bunker and I had a perfect line, just had to cut the shot. We can do that very easy.

Now, when your round is going the other way, when you're 1 or 2 over par, that ball is in the bunker. But when you're 5 or 6 under par that ball stops where you can do something with it, where you can get it on the green, hustle your par, give yourself a birdie chance.

It makes no difference how good we play; we still need a break, we still need a little bit of luck, and when it's your turn, nothing can stop you, man.

Q. Yesterday was the first time you ever played the course??

JIM THORPE: First time I played the course. Basically I focus on one hole at a time. For years I could never that. My mind always chased, because I was a big ball hitter, the par 5s, I can birdie this par 5 or that par 5. I don't care about the next hole, let me play this hole here. I think that's why I don't remember the golf course that well. If you tell me to leave here and go to No. 6, I wouldn't have no idea which way you go unless I went to the first tee and started. I think that's a good way to play. You can't go out there and play with a lot of things. By going that way the course is on your mind and you think about it, and it's very, very difficult to set that stuff

Q. (No microphone.)

JIM THORPE: Yeah, I made 14 calls to find the golf course. I remember a time I wouldn't do that. I would have loved to stay at the casino all day long. You live and you learn. We all make mistakes in life, and sometimes in life you forget to dot the Is and cross the Ts but if you don't learn from it, it's your fault. I learned from that mistake, and that will never in life happen to me again versus trusting someone else to take care of you. I'm going to make sure that I'm taken care of, and that way I can continue to do what I do until it's time to quit.

Q. How do you do it at age 63??

JIM THORPE: Well, 63 is just two numbers, six and a three. I don't feel like I'm 63. You know, I still work out pretty decent. My only problem is I like sweets. I'm like Bob. I like sweets when I finish my meal. I like the Chocolate Thunder From Down Under, the chocolate souffles and all that sort of stuff. But as long as you work out now, what I do in the morning is when I get up, the first thing I do before I get in the shower after you brush your teeth and that sort of stuff, I stretch for 15 minutes, and I learned that from the guys out here, certain stretches and certain exercises I do, and nine times out of ten, when I arrive at the golf course I can go straight to the first tee because I do that 12, 15 minutes of stretching, and if you do that and make sure you fuel the body with some nice cereal in the morning, bananas and oatmeal and that kind of stuff I played with Sam Snead when he was 66, 67, he was more flexible than I was and I was like half his age. If you take care of yourself, you can do it.