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An Interview With:
TRIP KUEHNE

CRAIG SMITH: Why don't you just start. You had a little bit longer afternoon than you maybe would have hoped for but then it turned out okay.

TRIP KUEHNE: I played extremely well. I don't think I can hit my irons any better than I hit them today. Started out the first hole I hit a great drive, didn't have  -- I just had a 9-iron to the first hole. I killed my opening drive. Knocked a 9-iron to six inches. Won that hole with a birdie. My second hole I hit a bad 5-iron off the tee in a left rough. I hit a pitching wedge all over the flag. Just a little long. Had a fun little chip. Chipped it about two feet or less than that. Probably about a foot. I had that over par.

Number 5, I hit a real good drive but -- or number 3, real good drive, but I didn't turn it over into the right rough. I had like -- didn't have very far. Had like 110 to the hole. Hit a little gap wedge to the left of the green. Hit a good chip about four feet away. About maybe five feet. My playing partner had made about a six-footer for bogey and I hit a bad putt and pulled it. Halved that hole.

Number 4, I hit a poor drive in the bunker. Blasted out a 52 just to advance it down the fairway. Had 235 to the green. Hit a 4-iron about 15 feet. Hit a great putt. Lipped it out. My competitor made it for a birdie four.

Number 5, 2-iron down the fairway, wedge or sand wedge to about three-and-a-half feet, four feet. I missed so we halved that hole. Still all square.

Number 6, I hit a 7-iron about eight feet left of the hole; about 15 feet left of the hole. Perfect placement. My playing partner hit it over the green where I thought he was dead. He holed it out of the bunker for a birdie two. I lipped my putt out. I'm now one down.

7, hit a really good drive. Had 9-iron to the green there. About 30 feet left of the hole. 2-putt par.

8, I hit a 4-iron left bunker, he hit it way left in the garbage. Wedged it out about 20 feet. I went out of the bunker about six inches. Made that for par. So match is again all square.

No. 9, I thought I hit a pretty good drive. I absolutely creamed it and ended up in the ditch over there and didn't have much of a play. And I kind of looked -- I saw where the pin was. I knew there was no way short left you could 2-putt. Thai hit it short left front of the green. I knew there was no way he could make a four. Unless he made a 20- or 30-footer so I tried to pull off a miracle shot. Hit an 8-iron in the bunker. Thought I hit a good one, had about an 8- or 9-footer for par. Didn't make it. Bogey there.

Number 10, hit a real good 2-iron down the fairway. Hit an 8-iron about 15 feet just above the hole. My playing partner had about a 6-footer for bogey. I just laid it up there. He conceded four. So the match is I'm back to 1-up.

No. 11, hit a good 2-iron, I think I had 117 yards. Hit a gap wedge to about three feet. He was just a little inside me. He hit to about five feet. He made it for birdie and I made it on top of him for birdie. So I'm still 1-up at 11.

12, I hit a great drive, I had 230-something to the hole. I hit a 4-iron. Just short of the pin high. He was chopping around. Just knocked it to down there, he conceded the hole for a four. So I'm 2-up.

13, I tried to hit an 8-iron. I kind of lost my balance a little bit and my left foot slipped. I pulled it left in the bunker. Hit a bad bunker shot just over the green. Didn't matter though; he holed it out of the bunker again for birdie two. So I'm 1-up.

14, I hit a driver off the tee. I was about 10 yards short of the green just in the left rough. Didn't hit a particularly good chip; probably 20 feet, 25 feet. He was just barely inside of me. Hit a good putt; I don't know how it missed. I thought it was in. Didn't go in. Then naturally he made his putt for birdie.

About 25 feet there. So we're all square again.

15, hit the probably the longest drive I've hit in a long long time. Hole's 500 yards and I had 112 to the hole I think. Hit a gap wedge again just trying to -- I was a little bit in the rough, just tried to knock it up there. I was about 15 feet; pretty easy putt and I kind of pulled it. Didn't make it. He made a nice four- or five-footer there for the half.

16, par-3 he was hitting first. He hit probably a 2-iron on to the green. Probably 60 feet. No, probably not that far; probably 35 feet. He ran it probably 15 feet by. I hit a 4-iron probably about 20 feet. Just above the hole. I made that putt for birdie.

17, I hit a 3-wood, just short of the green. He was left. He hit first. Knocked it probably 18, 19 feet by. I was kind of in a weird spot. I was in the fairway but up against the collar. Normally would be a 3-wood shot but I didn't like the way it was sitting and so I elected to putt it. Hit a not very good putt about 15 feet or so. Not 15 feet. Probably about 20 feet because I was a little outside of him. Hit a good putt and left it right in the middle short. He missed his putt and made a par.

Then 18, I hit a dream drive right down the middle of the fairway. I had 164 yards to the middle of the green. I think the pin was a little up. He hit a poor drive off to the right. I hit a 7-iron that was probably eight feet behind the hole, nine feet behind the hole. And he kind of conceded the match there.

So all in all it was a good day. I played extremely well. I feel if I was Ty Harris I would have a good cry someplace tonight, if I was him, because I don't know how any other matches were but he would probably have won about 30 of the other matches. The kid was under par at Oakmont and he loses. That doesn't consider there was one round under par.

It was a hard course today hard and fast. It's a monster course out there. I'm very fortunate to get through this match. It was a touch match and we'll see what happens the whole time -- I knew I was in a dog fight and I just kept reminding myself of '94 a little bit the first round match I played, a fellow named John Grace then and I had to go extra holes. So I knew it was a gut check time, especially when he birdied 15 to suck it -- or not birdied 15, when he birdied 14 to square the match  -- that I had to look down deep inside myself and see how much I wanted this. And I found some stuff and it was good preparation hopefully for the rest of the week and more importantly some good preparation for going overseas in a couple weeks for the Walker Cup. I proved to myself again it's been a long time since I've been in position like this that I want the ball when the game's on the line. And I was able to drop on some past experiences and get the job done today.

Q. How far was the drive at 1?

TRIP KUEHNE: I have no idea. I could probably look at my pin sheet. I had 134 yards to the front, 157 yards to the hole. So I don't know how far that hole is; 480, 330.

Q. Was there a point -- you talked about how you were feeling about it, but was there a point where you were thinking maybe this isn't going to happen today?

TRIP KUEHNE: When he holed it out of the bunker on number 6, for all practical purposes I said, I could be screwed today. I played great. I couldn't play any better through six holes and I'm now one down. This guy holed out of the bunker where he didn't have a prayer really to get up-and-down. But he hit an incredible shot; it went in and it was good for me. Because right there a smidgen of doubt crept in. And that's when I had to look inside myself and say, hey, you know, this is the U.S. Amateur, you need to suck it up and let's go. Prove to yourself and prove to everybody that you can play in a tough match. And I was able to do that today.

Q. When he did it again at 13?

TRIP KUEHNE: Well, 13 for all practical purposes it didn't matter because I was over the green. I was chipping for par. But when he did it again I was like, you know, hey, there's nothing I can do about it. I can't control his ball and then I was thinking to myself, hey, he wasted one, he would have got up-and-down and probably beat me. So just things like that are good. Because they make you test yourself and like I said, I got to see what was deep inside, deep down inside Trip Kuehne again today. And I liked it, what I saw.

Q. Is that the beauty of match play; you just don't know?

TRIP KUEHNE: I mean it is. It's the beauty of match play and it's also the agony of match play for Ty Harris, because the kid played phenomenal. He hit lots of good shots. When he was in trouble he hit good shots. He played a phenomenal round of golf and unfortunately he happened to draw a guy today that also played a phenomenal round of golf and he unfortunately got beat. I don't think there would be -- there's a winner and a loser in every match but I'll tell him the same thing I got from Tiger in 1994, there were two winners that day. Ty Harris didn't win the match but he's a winner in my book.

Q. Clearly '94 is in your mind. How do you approach that now?

TRIP KUEHNE: Well, I got it planted in my mind before I even teed off. I'm in there and they start talking about 1994. I had to get up and leave. I had to cut lunch short. They were talking about it in there. So it's always in the back of my mind; how could it not be? I got to used to it as a springboard. I know what it takes to get to the finals of the U.S. Amateur, I know you're going to have hard matches. I know hopefully to get there you're going to have some easy matches. But you know, I only think about '94 when I'm reminded of '94 for the final match. There's some stuff along the week that I take, that I draw back on just like I did today in my match against John Grace. It was a dogfight. And there's going to be lots of dogfights out here and I was lucky to get by this dogfight today.

Q. Was it the TV preview?

TRIP KUEHNE: I guess that's what it was. I don't know what it was; I never seen a tape of that  match and, you know, I saw, I have seen his shot on 17 one time in my entire life. I was going through an airport in Atlanta, sitting there and it was the same time that Tiger's triple thing was going out and I happened to look up and saw his ball and got a little sick to my stomach. But I never watched the tape nor do I want to watch the tape and I saw it came up and I was sitting right behind Bob Ford and I said, I don't want to see this. I'll see you boys later.

Q. How long did it take before you could reflect back on that and take the positives out of the week out of there versus the negative?

TRIP KUEHNE: I played great. I shot 66, 73 at Sawgrass and lost. How could I not take positives away from it. It was an incredible week. I just happened to lose to a guy that was supposed to win that day. I'll contend the same way with Ty Harris today; there was two winners that day. I mean if I would have won that match in 1994 I wouldn't be sitting here today. I wouldn't have the wife I have today and I definitely wouldn't have the child I have today. That match changed two lives. And I think both for the better.

Q. You frequently have such an advantage off the tee with your distance; do you find yourself having to fight ego very often as far as club selection pulling the driver out?

TRIP KUEHNE: Not really. There's a couple holes that test me out here like that. The two holes are 14 and 17. 17, I can't hit a driver because I hit a driver solid I'm over the green. And on number 14, I basically made a decision there, it's 294 to the front of that bunker, that's on the left. If I hit a solid drive I can fly the bunker and if I get it far enough right I could knock it on the green. You just got to play the hand that's dealt you. I've been driving the ball extremely well. I drove the ball well again today and I'm going to continue to hit driver because if I can consistently be past, in the fairway, a guy that I'm playing, 30 or 50 yards, the more holes we play, the better chance I'm going to have. And it's just that simple. These greens will get extremely hard and fast and they're difficult to putt. And if I'm going in there with a 9-iron or an 8-iron and they're going in there with a 5- or a 6-iron, over time, I'm going to beat them. It's just a matter of whether it's going to be in 18 holes or whether it's going to take longer, maybe 36 holes. I just got to keep doing what I'm doing. And if I continue to drive the ball the way I'm driving it I'll hit driver on basically every hole.

Q. Is that what you were able to do at 1? Did you try to fly it all the way back and bring it back?

TRIP KUEHNE: I had a 9-iron and hit it like a foot to the right, took one hop and stopped. It was six inches. So it's a big advantage. And in my last few USGA and match play events the round that's killed me is -- and this is not looking past my opponent tomorrow, but I know in the back of my mind the round that's killed me in USGA events is the second round of the 36 hole day. Because the greens get a little bit harder and a little bit faster and I usually can control my distance with my ball pretty well. And I find myself hitting where I want to hit, but the greens being so firm and fast I have a lot of 40 and 50 footers and that's not my strongest suit. So I know what I got to do, only thing I can concentrate on is, tomorrow morning I got to figure out when my match is, but get ready, get prepared to play whomever I play and knock the ball in the fairway on the first hole. That's all I can control from here until tomorrow. And that's all what I'm going to be thinking about. I'm going to go home relax, take a dip in my host family's pool and kickback, pat myself on the back and say, "Job well done today, let's forget about it and go tomorrow."

Q. Is it better even to have to put yourself through such a tough test the first day?

TRIP KUEHNE: I contend in order to win a match play championship or anything, whether it be college basketball or the U.S. Amateur or the Mid Amateur you're going to have rounds where you're going to get tested. And I had a round where I was tested today, I was tested to the max. I'll be able to draw on this later in the week or tomorrow, if I have a tough match, I'll be able to draw on what happened today. Also, I also contend that you have to get past one of your bad rounds. Over the course of qualifying for the U.S. Amateur you play 36 holes, the stroke play to get here is another 36 holes, I believe I counted the other day when we were talking it was 11 rounds in order to make it to the finals and win the championship. And at some point in those 11 rounds you're going to more than likely have a bad round. Hopefully when you're having your bad round your opponent isn't playing that well either and you can somehow gut it out for a win. And that's the way it is. '94 gave me experience and I have some experience over these guys and that's about it. When you step on the first tee. I'm 31 years old, I have a wife and kid at home, golf isn't near as important to me as it is those guys and I have been in this situation before and playing against a guy that they all know. So if I continue what I'm doing, play like I did today I think I'll be around for awhile.

Q. I think you have been to this course probably more than most of the guys that are competing this week. You also played at Olympia Fields, could you kind of just quick compare, contrast between the two.

TRIP KUEHNE: I don't mean this in any way, any harm to a member of the Field's Club, but because the people at Pittsburgh have kind of embraced me, it's been nice to see.

Q. Olympia Fields, I'm sorry.

TRIP KUEHNE: Olympia Fields, oh. Not really any comparison. This course is six or seven shots harder. That Olympia Fields could be overpowered. The greens weren't quite as fast and they were, the last day there was, there couldn't have been a sterner test of golf than Olympia Fields was on Sunday. The pin placements were brutal, the greens got to where they needed to be, because it was firm and fast. And if Oakmont Country Club ever gets firm and fast, the scores will be through the roof. Prior to this week the first time I ever played it, I probably played the course 25 times, Oakmont is a single hardest golf course I ever played in my entire life. There's many courses you go and you can step on a par-5 or a par-4 and know there's no possible way you can make a bogey. You can bogey every single hole out here and you can have a five-footer for birdie and make a bogey. But every single hole is demanding, almost every par-4 is 380 yards or 480 yards. You have to drive the ball in the fairway and you have to get the ball in the right spot on the green. And it penalizes bad shots. You look at the scorecard and you say, well 15 or 14 and 17 are easy holes. Well, there's a fellow that's a pretty damn good player named Danny Green who wishes he could play those two holes over again. He made a 7 and a 8 on holes that don't even measure 700 yards probably combined. That's the beauty of this course. It tests every facet of your game. It tests your patience, it tests your driving ability, it tests your long iron ability, it tests mid irons, wedges, short irons, chipping, putting, bunker play. It's the ultimate test of golf. And it's going to be an incredible venue for the 2007 U.S. Open. But I just hope that Craig's peers here at the USGA don't make it just ridiculously difficult. I know the members are concerned how their course stacks up, how does their course stack up, we need to make it harder, we need to make it harder. All you have to do is, you got 312 of the finest amateurs in the world playing this golf course and one person broke par, I think three people shot even par. That's a pretty good indication of where the golf course is. And that was with some rain on Saturday two days before the qualifying so the course wasn't set up exactly how the USGA wanted it to. I know they're talking about making a couple changes and they're going to make it even more difficult, which is hard to believe because I don't know how you can make a course that that's this hard harder. Long answer for a question, but it's an incredible golf course.

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