What they said: Tom Kite

March 10, 2010
PGA TOUR staff

Q. Tom Kite, take us through and update us on this tournament through the year??

TOM KITE: I didn't get a chance to play the tournament last year, but we made a number of changes in between the first year's tournament and the second year. And really, really pleased with how those changes have come in. It's really heightened up the landing areas and the places. We've added a couple of bunkers and added a lake there on 13. So very pleased with the changes in the golf course.

What's really satisfying is the number of players that are saying complimentary things about the golf course and how much they're enjoying playing it. Of course, everybody wishes it would dry out a little bit and has a little less rain.

I think all in all the golf course is and the entire development as well as Puerto Rico has just really become a nice TOUR stop. I think the players are really enjoying it, and more and more guys are coming down here, and getting a little bit better field every year. And I think that will continue for many years. I'm very pleased about that.

Q. (Asking about playing on both Tours.)

TOM KITE: Well, it's, you know, it's always a little bit difficult to go back and forth between the two tours. You have a number of guys that have tried it. I did it a number of -- I guess my first four years or five years -- first five years on the Champions Tour, I went back and forth and played a number of tournaments on the PGA TOUR. It really is difficult. You kind of focus on one of the tours, and you can really kind of zone in on what you need to do.

Going back and forth, it's a little bit different. The four rounds versus the three rounds is part of it. The two Pro-Ams on the Champions Tour versus the one here is part of it. The larger field, the different tee times certainly plays a part of it.

So it's kind of what you get used to. Then all of a sudden you go to a different tour and the whole format is different. It makes it a little bit difficult to jump back and forth.

But I think you'll see more and more guys continue to do that and have some success. The players are keeping themselves in better shape. They're playing later and longer and more into their mid and late 40's. So it's a natural when they turn 50 and have the opportunity to go the Champions Tour, a lot of those guys are still competitive on the PGA TOUR.

Freddy Couples, Corey Pavin, Tom Lehman, are the guys that are there now. Mark Calcavecchia turns later on this year. Those guys are still being able to compete out here on the PGA TOUR. So it's good when they come to the Champions Tour. It's great when they go back and forth. It helps our cause for sure.

Q. (No microphone)?(No microphone)?

TOM KITE: Well, I'm coming off of some shoulder surgery that I had at the end of last year. I had for two years I battled a biceps tendon that was giving me fits, and I had a number of cortisone shots through like five shots in two years. Finally just decided I needed to get it fixed.

Went to see Dr. Andrews in Birmingham. He cut the tendon, reattached it, and of course I was out of commission for about three months. So November, December, January, and a little bit into February I couldn't touch a golf club.

So I'm really trying to get my game back a little bit now. The shoulder is healthy, but it's still a little restricted. I haven't quite gained the flexibility and haven't quite gained the strength that I need to really be at the peak of my game.

Part of the reason for me playing here is that right now I need the reps. I need to get some shots in there. I need to get some tournaments under my belt. I missed a couple of tournaments at the first of the year on the Champions Tour, and quite honestly, I just need to play to kind of get my game back.

It's slowly but surely coming back. Every week it seems to get a little bit better. But quite honestly, I still have a ways to go to get back to feeling 100% healthy.

Q. (No microphone) (Asking about the golf course and how it plays).

TOM KITE: There are a couple of small things that I would like to do. Nothing in particular. Quite honestly, we're really pleased with the golf course. I have played in the Pro-Am on today with Jorge Diaz and Donald Trump. And you know we're really pleased with the way the golf course is. When you hear the players on this tour be so complimentary of the golf course.

And the caddies, they're out there totally unsolicited. And some guys, especially some of the caddies that I don't even know or some of the younger players that I haven't met yet and they go out of their way in the locker room or on the practice tee and say, boy, I really like your golf course. That shows us that we really don't have to do too much to it.

To say that it's perfect right now and that I wouldn't like to do a few things, no, that would be a little bit of a stretch. But the things that I'd like to do are very small tweaks.

Well, the golf course was designed -- the fairway bunkers off the tees were placed for, you know, certain tees. And then when we got to the tournament, the golf course is built for a resort course, and the bunkers were placed accordingly.

Well, when we got the tournament, the TOUR officials came in and suggested that we needed some length because the players hit it so far these days. So we added a number of tees and backed the golf course up. The golf course went from a little -- almost 7100 yards, to now over 7500 yards. We added 400 yards of length to this golf course.

In a couple of cases, what happened was we added so much length on those holes that the bunkers are not quite in play anymore. They're too far out there for the tee shot that -- the tees that we're using.

So there are a couple of places where we've done some things to tighten up the fairways. A couple of bunkers were added a couple of years ago. We planted a lot of palm trees to tighten up the landing areas. But there are still a couple of fairways that I think would be a little bit better if we could add another couple of bunkers or plant a few more palms into some places.

But we made such a good commitment. Jorge Diaz, the Diaz family made such a commitment to getting this golf course in TOUR condition and making the changes, that we thought we'd give them kind of a couple of year break before we went back and asked them for the bank again. So we're going to give them a couple of years. But there are a couple of things.

Q. (No microphone) (Asking about the greens and pin placement).

TOM KITE: I think that's one of the things that, you know, I'm most pleased with is the greens. There are a lot of really good pin placements out there on the greens. Not all of the pin placements are the toughest pin placements. There are some that are fairly accessible.

And if you play the golf course from the proper tees, then this golf course is really quite playable for the average player and that's one thing we wanted to get. While we're hosting a PGA TOUR event, we also have to be cognizant of the fact that 51 other weeks out of the year there are a lot of people playing this golf course and we've got to get them around and we want them to have a good time.

But we think the greens are very good and very fair. There are some tough pin placements. There are some fairly easy ones. But there are not any greens out there that are just crazy out of control.

Our most undulating green is number 11, the par 3. But a lot of the greens out there are very subtle. They have some nice little soft breaks into them.

When I hear the TOUR players complimenting the golf course, I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that there are just no stupid greens out there. There are no greens that are just so undulating and so severe that there are no pin placements.

The field staff loves the golf course because there are plenty of pin placements out there. They don't step on the green and say golly where are we going to put the pin? Where are we going to cut the hole today? Because there are four or on five or in some cases six seven hole locations on out there, so it gives them a lot of flexibility to do some things.

Q. (No microphone)?(No microphone)?

TOM KITE: Yeah, we'll be right over there in two weeks. I wish they were back-to-back. It would be nice if we were doing from Puerto Rico to the Dominican. But I'll be going to the Dominican from Puerto Rico via Austin, Texas. It's right on the way. Right on the way (laughing).

Q. (No microphone)?(No microphone)?

TOM KITE: I'm going to play this one. I'll try to qualify for the U.S. Open. I have to go through the local qualifying. And I may try to find one a little later on, you know. It will be mainly on the Champions Tour.

But I always enjoy coming out here. I think it's good for -- well, I think it's good for all of us on the Champions Tour to see where the game is. See where the best young players are, how you they're playing the game right now, and have a chance to watch them. So I'm enjoying that aspect ever it.

As far as the golf course design, that helps me a lot. To figure out what's expected out there, what the great players are doing, and how they're playing. So it gives me some ideas as to how far to push the envelope, if you will, to try to toughen up the golf course.

Again, you want it playable for the people that play most of the time, but you also want to push it and challenge the top players. So it's good to get back and forth.

But I would love to play, you know, three tournaments on the Champions Tour. I really hope I get to play. I mean, on the PGA TOUR, sorry. I'm really hoping to qualify for the U.S. Open. I'm really looking forward to that.

Q. (No microphone)?(No microphone)?

TOM KITE: Local? I didn't qualify last year. I tried the later before. I didn't try at Bethpage but I've tried a couple of times. They gave me a sponsor's exemption at Olympic Field in Chicago. What was that? '03 or '04? '03. So they gave me a sponsors exemption there. And then I qualified a couple of times after that, then I didn't try last year at Bethpage.

Q. (Asking how long his exemption will last).

TOM KITE: Well, I'm through the local forever. I'm exempt through the local, but then I have to go -- my sectional is, yeah. Yeah, I'm exempt through local forever. They can't take that away from me. Thank you.

Transcript courtesy of ASAP Sports.