ACE Group Classic interview: Tom Pernice Jr.

February 15, 2013

MORE INTERVIEWS: ACE Group Classic transcripts 

PHIL STAMBAUGH: Tom, a nice 6-under par 66 to start the ACE Group Classic. You go with five straight birdies there on your front nine to get going, and 35 on the back. Just talk about the day.

TOM PERNICE JR: Obviously a great start. We got somewhat fortunate on the weather, I thought. The wind never did pick up and we had a few intermittent showers on the front nine but nothing too bad, so that really was nice. So all in all, the scores conditions were pretty good. Yeah, off to a great start. I hit 3-rescue into 2 about 20 feet, made birdie. 3 is a par 5, so I hit a 2-iron right in front of the green and just chipped a little pitching wedge up there about a foot, made birdie.

4, if I remember all these holes now, I hit a 3-wood in the fairway, hit a 9-iron about 11, 12 feet and made it for birdie. And then 5's a par 3, hit a 7-iron about 15 feet just left of the flag and made birdie. And then 6, the par 5, bad tee shot in the bunker up under the lip, just hit a 7-iron out, then I hit a 5-iron about three feet and made it for birdie. Drove it in the fairway bunker at 9 and got it to the front part of the green, chipped up about eight feet short. Made a nice put for par on 9. And then 10 I hit 9-iron to about a foot, almost made it for birdie. 11, hit it left of the green, chipped it to about seven or eight feet, hit a pretty good putt but misread it and made bogey. 12, I hit a 5-iron, good shot, about 12 feet for birdie and misread it, made par. 13, just chipped it from left of the green about, oh, eight or nine feet short and made it for birdie. 17, hit it just right of the green, hit a bad chip, didn't make birdie. 18, hit a 6-iron right over the flag about 14 feet for birdie and just missed.

PHIL STAMBAUGH: You come in here after finishing second last week. Just talk about your game right now.

TOM PERNICE JR: Well, I worked hard in the off season trying to be prepared for the start of the season. Ball striking's good, hit a lot of good quality tee shots and iron shots today, set up a lot of opportunities for birdie. So, you know, I just came in and worked hard in the off season trying to be ready.

PHIL STAMBAUGH: Okay. Let's go to questions. Who wants to start? Naples News, Greg, go.

Q. What's it like coming back out here after being on the Tour last year on the PGA TOUR and how's that change your mindset, if at all?

TOM PERNICE JR: You know, I played over here a little bit last year, I played seven or eight times. Once you get to the event and you start getting ready, I mean, nothing's different. It's still a game, I've always thought. So I'm just trying to get prepared and be in the mindset to really get off to a good start out here and put yourself there, give yourself a chance on Sunday.

Q. Well, your confidence must be rolling right now at a high level.

TOM PERNICE JR: Yeah, I mean, it helps when you're hitting the ball well and you're putting well. But yeah, I feel good about my game right now. It's good to see my buddy Bob Tway up there on the leaderboard. We played together on Tuesday, so that was good to see as well. Confidence is up there. I feel like I've got a good understanding of my golf swing. Everything feels pretty good right now.

Q. Can you just elaborate a little bit about your relationship with Bob and how you guys became friends?

TOM PERNICE JR: Well, he was at Oklahoma State when I was at UCLA, so it started there. We've been friends since college. First year out of college, neither one of us made it on the Tour and we both went over to Asia and played. A lot of my good friends are actually people I played with over in Asia before I got my card, whether it be Vijay or Bob Tway or Joey Sindelar, so it started a long time ago. We both use the same swing instructor, EJ Pfister there at Oak Tree, so we spend a lot of time together and work together.

We play in Liberty Mutual, the team competition, together. Usually go to dinner every night when we're out here together, so we spend a fair bit of time together so it was great to see him play well as well.

Q. The other question I had is, could you talk -- I don't know if you can give the Cliff Notes version about your golfing career and how you were kind of a grinder as a PGA player; now it seems like you've just gotten on this Tour and really are starting to have some really good success.

TOM PERNICE JR: Well, later in my career I think I started hitting the ball better and had a better understanding of my swing and just started playing better, I think. Didn't think that -- my ball striking was never really up to par as it should have been my first part of my years on the Tour. My short game always kind of kept me in there. I continue to work on the short game as well, but I feel like the golf swing is getting better and better, good understanding of it, worked hard in the gym trying to stay healthy and trying to stay fit. We do all these things so we can be ready to play good.

Q. Have you ever played with Bob in a competitive round?

TOM PERNICE JR: Yeah, my first Tour event out here when I won at SAS, I played with him and Andy Beah the first round. Obviously we play together at Liberty Mutual together too every day. But yeah, my first Champions Tour event at SAS the year I won was played with Bob first round.

Q. What do you think it's going to take to win this week? How low do you think you're going to have to shoot if the weather conditions don't vary too much?

TOM PERNICE JR: I mean, they're talking 20-, 25-mile winds on Sunday out of the north; they're talking 15- to 20-mile per hour winds tomorrow out of the north.

There's two determining factors that make scoring difficult, wind and firm greens. The greens aren't firm, but 25-mile an hour winds will definitely make a difference. You know, you need to have good control of your golf ball and you're going to have to have the short game, you're going to have to get up and down, you're not going to hit every green, so it will be a lot more difficult. Today was obviously the day for scoring and I kind of knew that and I was able to take advantage of it.

PHIL STAMBAUGH: Anything else? Tom, good luck tomorrow. Thanks much.

TOM PERNICE JR: Appreciate it.