Hal Sutton Press Conference Transcript

By Golf Channel NewsroomMarch 24, 2001, 5:00 pm
HAL SUTTON: I played well. I was 1-over going into 9, and I birdied 9, 10, 11 and 12 and that turned things around. Getting that birdie on 17 just got me one step closer to where we need to be, and i just need to go out tomorrow, one shot at a time, and hopefully there's a lot of birdies out there.
 
Q. Looking at the scores today --
 
HAL SUTTON: Well, you know, when nothing was going on early in the round, I knew something had better happen in a hurry or I was going to get outdistanced by everybody. When I got those four in a row, I knew, well, that was good.
 
Q. How does your game feel right now compared to last year, Saturday and Sunday?
 
HAL SUTTON: Honestly, I'm not hitting the ball as good this year as I was last year and I really haven't made a lot of putts. I made a couple of putts on the back nine. For the way I played, I feel pretty good for where I'm at, to be honest with you. I haven't done anything real bad and I haven't done anything real good, either. It's just, you know, I've missed a lot of greens, from what I normally miss. None of them real bad. None of them put me in real trouble. But sometimes, if you just short-side yourself here, you're not going to get up-and-down.
 
Q. Does it get to the point where you can score, while you may be are not playing as well as you could?
 
HAL SUTTON: Well, I feel good on this golf course. You know, I know kind of where we want to be, and I tend to hover around -- hover around that spot, even if it is a poor shot, I'm going to favor the side of the green that I need to favor. I thought they were pretty tough. I don't know what everybody else thought, but -- you know, I'm glad I was not in those last three or four groups, because those greens are going to get crusty and quick. 13, it got quick around that green there. I'm surprised that we've seen a few of the pins that we've seen, on the days that we've seen them. I didn't expect to see that pin on the front of 17 on Saturday, you know. I expected to see that on the first two days. They are just throwing something different at us.
 
Q. Is there a sense of urgency when you get to a point like 9, that front nine and you are still spinning your wheels a little bit? Do you have to get a little more aggressive?
 
HAL SUTTON: I didn't get any more aggressive. I actually just got some shots in there close and happened to make the putts. I made about a 10-footer on No. 9 and about an 8-footer on No. 10. Then I hit a really good shot in there, almost made eagle at 11, about 14 feet, something like that. A 4-wood in there. Then on 12, I hit it about six feet. You know, so I hit four really good shots in a row, and that's what -- that's what you need to do to get it going.
 
Q. How realistic is this now with the leaders at 11 right now?
 
HAL SUTTON: You never know on this golf course. You know, a lot of it depends on what the weather is going to be. A little bit earlier tee time is not all that bad sometimes, either, because, you know, two or three groups could make a lot of difference in the way the green feels. You know, all you can do is go out and put it on the fairway and put it on the green and make a few putts and see where that puts you at the end of the day. I'm not concerned with how close I've got to be in order to win the golf tournament. I'm just trying to play the best that I can.
 
Q. Defending this championship at all this week, when you come back is that a factor in a tournament?
 
HAL SUTTON: Not really. It puts a different twist than normally coming into a golf tournament. If you try to think about defending a tournament, that's not what you are normally thinking about. You are normally thinking about trying to win a golf tournament, to play smart shots. You don't need the added pressure of trying to defend it. I haven't even thought about that this week.
 
Q. (Inaudible.)
 
HAL SUTTON: People have been extra nice to me here. It's a real warm, fuzzy feeling when people are cheering for you like that. 17, they just cheered for me all the way around, which was really a nice feeling. It was nice to be able to make a putt for them.
 
Q. How long was it?
 
HAL SUTTON: Ten feet.
 
Q. Talk about defeating Tiger head-to-head -- (inaudible) -- and you were tough talker this week last year?
 
HAL SUTTON: I wasn't a tough talke. I was only responding to what everybody else said.
 
Q. Talk about your confidence?
 
HAL SUTTON: I think -- you put me in a bad position here. All I did, first of all, was respond a little to what everybody else was saying. It just wasn't in my nature -- I had never been taught by my coach or my dad or anybody else that taught me about competition to give up before you're done playing, and that's what everybody was trying to get me to do. Just because Tiger was there, I can't imagine why they would want me to do that. Anyway, just because I stood up for myself, which is what I would expect anybody to do, I think the fans really, actually, endeared that. And the fact that, you know, I was able to go out and win the tournament on top of that. I wasn't trying to be cocky with what I was saying. I was just trying to defend myself.
 
Q. After that, how much in the locker room did people say, 'Way to go'?
 
HAL SUTTON: A lot of people were for me last year. That was a tough time right along there. Tiger, nobody had defeated him in a while. He had pretty much gone through everybody, and everybody was wondering if anybody was going to be able to get to him. So, golf needed that at that time. Tiger, as I say every week, when I get an opportunity, he lives up to his No. 1 billing all the time. In no way do I say anything to take away from him, because I think he is a fantastic player and a credit to the game.
 
Q. (Inaudible.)
 
HAL SUTTON: I'm a big Paul Azinger fan, so if I can't win, I've love to see him win the golf tournament. So I'll be pulling for Paul.
 
Q. (Inaudible) -- withdrawing from the tournament?
 
HAL SUTTON: They'd have to just about roll me out in a wheelchair on the first tee, almost. I love coming here playing. I didn't think about it.
 
Q. Guys withdrawing for sinus problems or things like that, you're a guy who is not going to pull out for any reason?
 
HAL SUTTON: I think that everybody wants their stars to line up just perfect and feel like they have got to get it all just exactly right. And having been out here for roughly 20 years now, I realize that there's very few days that all of your stars line up, and you just have to go out there and make the most of it.
 
Q. Can you go out tomorrow, if the weather really changes, and just grind away and see what happens?
 
HAL SUTTON: Yeah. You know, the weather, we've faced a little bit different wind every day. I don't know if it got cooler, if it got windy or something of that nature and they allowed the greens to stay the way they have -- it's going to be tough. It will play really hard. So, you never know what will happen. You get three or four birdies early, and boom, you're right there and everybody else is worrying about how they are going to make their par, and you've already got three or four birdies. You know, you've pulled yourself close.
 
Q. Any holes that you feel like you should birdie?
 
HAL SUTTON: I hate to think about it like that, because you might find yourself in a position where you didn't do it and you count yourself out. Like today, I birdied 2 and I hit it perfect.. Came off the second shot, didn't get up-and-down. That was frustrating, because I was right in the middle of the fairway to get the birdie and didn't get it. If I looked at it the way we just talked about it, I might have looked at it and counted myself out. All you can do is deal with what you've done, and whether you deal with it or don't, you just go to the next hole and try to do the same.
 
Q. Have you been in the fitness trailer or done any --
 
HAL SUTTON: I'm not a fitness guy. I go in there -- I go in the other trailer and get stretched and -- you can tell I'm not much of a fitness guy.
 
Full Coverage of the Players Championship
Getty Images

Honda Classic: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 19, 2018, 11:44 pm

The PGA Tour heads back east to kick off the Florida Swing at PGA National. Here are the key stats and information for the Honda Classic. Click here for full-field tee times.

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET


Purse: $6.6 million ($1,188,000 to the winner)

Course: PGA National, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (par-70; 7,140 yards)

Defending champion: Rickie Fowler (-12) won by four, picking off his fourth PGA Tour victory.


Notables in the field:

Tiger Woods

• Making his fourth start at the Honda Classic and his first since withdrawing with back spasms in 2014.

• Shot a Sunday 62 in a T-2 finish in 2012, marking his lowest career final-round score on the PGA Tour.

• Coming off a missed cut at last week's Genesis Open, his 17th in his Tour career.


Rickie Fowler

• The defending champion owns the lowest score to par and has recorded the most birdies and eagles in this event since 2012.

• Fowler's last start was at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he failed to close a 54-hole lead. Fowler is 1 for 6 with 54-hole leads in his Tour career, with his only successful close coming at last year's Honda.

• On Tour this year, Fowler is first in scrambling from the fringe, second in total scrambling and third in strokes gained around the green. 


Rory McIlroy

• It's been feast or famine for McIlroy at the Honda. He won in 2012, withdrew with a toothache in 2013, finished T-2 in 2014 and missed the cut in 2015 and 2016.

• McIlroy ascended to world No. 1 with his victory at PGA National in 2012, becoming the second youngest player at 22 years old to top the OWGR, behind only Tiger Woods. McIlroy was later edged by a slightly younger 22-year-old Jordan Spieth.

• Since the beginning of 2010, only Dustin Johnson (15) has more PGA Tour victories than Rory McIlroy (13). 

Getty Images

Randall's Rant: Tiger no longer one with the chaos

By Randall MellFebruary 19, 2018, 9:49 pm

Back in the day, Tiger Woods appeared to relish riding atop the chaos, above the raucous waves of excitement that followed him wherever he went.

Like Kelly Slater surfing epic peaks at Banzai Pipeline ...

Like Chris Sharma dangling atop all the hazards on the cliff face of “The Impossible Climb” at Clark Mountain ...

Hell, like Chuck Yeager ahead of the sonic boom he created breaking the sound barrier in a Bell X-1 over the Mojave Desert in 1947.

It was difficult to tell whether Woods was fueling the bedlam in his duel with Bob May in the 2000 PGA Championship, or if it was fueling him.

Fans scampered in a frenzy you rarely see in golf to get the best look they could at his next shot at Valhalla in that playoff.

Same thing when Woods turned his 15-shot rout into a victory parade in the final round of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach that same year.

And when Woods improbably chipped in at the 16th at Augusta National to shake every pine tree at the Masters before going on to defeat Chris DiMarco in a playoff in 2005.

Tiger brought a boisterous, turbulent new wave of excitement to the game, unrivaled since Arnie’s Army followed the legend in his heyday.

Woods attracted new fans who did not understand golf’s time-honored traditions. He lured them to the game’s most hallowed grounds. There were challenges with that, though they always seemed more daunting to Woods’ playing partners than to him.

At his best, Tiger seemed to be one with the chaos, able to turn its energy into his energy.

Every Tiger pairing in his prime turned wherever he was into a home game, turned every golf course into his stadium and transformed every opponent into the visiting team.

We heard how hard that was for the Bob Mays, Chris DiMarcos and even the Ernie Els of the world.



That’s what added to the intrigue of Tiger’s return to Riviera last week, and what will make this week at PGA National and the Honda Classic similarly interesting.

Tiger’s back.

Well, the overly exuberant frenzy only he can create is back, but his game isn’t. Not yet. And now we’re hearing how the bedlam is a challenge to more than his playing partners. It’s a challenge to his game, too.

“It cost me a lot of shots over the years,” Woods said at the Genesis Open. “It’s cost me a few tournaments here and there.

“I’ve dealt with it for a very long time.”

Huh? Did Tiger forget the advantage he had playing in a storm? Or are today’s storms different, more unruly, more destructive?

Did having total control of all facets of his game when he was at his best make the bedlam work for him?

Does the focus it requires to find his old magic today make the chaos work against him?

Jack Nicklaus used to say that when he heard players complaining about difficult conditions going into a major, he checked them off his list of competitive threats.

You wonder if Tiger did the same back in the day, when players talked about the challenges that surrounded a pairing with him.

Golf is different than other sports. That has to be acknowledged here.

When you hear mainstream sports fans wonder what is so wrong with a fan yelling in a player’s backswing, you know they don’t understand the game. A singular comment breaking the silence over a player’s shot in golf is like a fan sneaking onto the field in football and tripping a receiver racing up the sideline. It is game-changing chaos.

Is Tiger facing game-changing chaos now?

Or was Riviera’s noise something he just can’t harness in his current state of repair? Is there more pressure on him trying to come back in that environment?

If Rory McIlroy needed a “couple Advil” for the headache the mayhem at the Genesis Open caused him playing with Tiger last week, then May and DiMarco must have needed shots of Demerol.

Then all those guys who lost majors to Tiger in final-round pairings with him must have felt like they endured four-hour migraines.

“It got a little out of hand,” Justin Thomas said of his two days with Tiger at Riviera.

Maybe McIlroy and Thomas were dealing with something boisterously new, more Phoenix Open in its nausea than anything Tiger created when he broke golf out of a niche.

Whatever it is, Tiger’s challenge finding his best will be even more complicated if he’s no longer one with the chaos, if he can no longer turn its energy into his energy.

If that’s the case, he really may be just one of the guys this time around.

Getty Images

What's in the bag: Genesis Open winner Watson

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 19, 2018, 7:02 pm

Bubba Watson won the Genesis Open for a third time in his career. Here's a look inside his bag:

Driver: Ping G400 LST (7.6 degrees), with Grafalloy Bi-Matrix Prototype X shaft

Hybrid: Ping G (19 degrees), with Matrix Altus Hybrid X shaft

Irons: Ping iBlade (2), Ping S55 (4-PW), with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 shafts

Wedges: Ping Glide 2.0 (52 degrees, 56 degrees, 62 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 shafts

Putter: Ping PLD Anser

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

Getty Images

Monday Scramble: Which way did he go?

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 19, 2018, 4:15 pm

Bubba Watson reemerges, Tiger Woods misses the cut, the PGA Tour might have a fan problem, Billy Hurley III loses an election and more in this week’s edition of Monday Scramble:

Bubba Golf is back, and not a moment too soon for the PGA Tour.

Love him or loathe him – and there are plenty of folks on both side of the aisle – the game is more interesting when Watson is in the mix.

Bubba went AWOL for two years, and entering the back half of his 30s, he thought his golf career might be finished. He got passed over for a Ryder Cup spot in 2016, despite being ranked inside the top 10 in the world. He endured a mysterious illness that caused him to lose 40 pounds on his already slight frame. He surprisingly changed his golf ball (more on that later). And he questioned his desire and motivation to play, until wife Angie gave him a swift kick in his white pants.

Watson was at his best at Riviera, again, shaping shots around the tree-lined fairways and holing just enough putts for a two-shot win.

Where Bubba goes from here – the Masters is less than 50 days away – is anyone’s guess, but the game just got a lot more entertaining.

1. Watson has not disclosed what illness he suffered from last year, and in true Bubba fashion, he grew tired of being asked about it, even though he was the one who brought it up. “I’m not talking about the illness no more, it’s no big deal. I’m here. I’m healthy. There are people that are a lot sicker than me in this world, so the illness is nothing.”

He said that he seriously wondered whether he’d ever win tournaments again. Though he has a number of small businesses to fall back on – a candy shop, a minor-league baseball team, a car dealership – it’s not as satisfying as playing good golf.  

"I was close [to retirement]," he said. "My wife was not close. My wife basically told me to quit whining and play golf. She’s a lot tougher than I am."

2. Though his game was already trending downward, Watson decided to switch his ball at the beginning of 2017. Players change equipment all the time, of course, but none rely on feel and shot shape as much as Watson.

It was a bizarre decision that he hasn’t yet fully explained, and likely never will, but he said in October that he didn’t have a ball deal to begin this new season. He played the Titleist Pro V1x at Riviera.

“Equipment is not the problem,” he said Sunday. “I got down to low-160s in weight. My ball speed, my swing, everything changed.”  

3. As memorable as Bubba’s holed bunker shot on 14 was, this will be the defining moment of his week in LA:


4. Here’s what Watson said in late 2014: “My goal is 10 wins and to make every team event. Those are the biggest goals. And until we reach those goals, I’m going to keep trying. If I get to 10, then I can switch it from there. Or retire.”

Watson on Sunday bristled when asked whether he was possibly going to retire, like he had said – “I don’t know if I was going to retire, let’s don’t start putting words out there” – but the point remains that he now has to change his goals.

And he doesn’t know where to start.

“Nobody thought that Bubba Watson from Bagdad, Fla., would ever get to 10 wins, let’s be honest,” he said. “Without lessons, head case, hooking the ball, slicing the ball, can’t putt. Somehow we’re here, making fun of it. So yes, I’ve got to set a new goal.”

After this latest win, and the two-year exemption, he said that he won’t retire for at least two more years, and that he’ll play the Masters “until they kick me out.”



5. The Tiger Woods comeback tour hit a snag last week at Riviera.

The driving issues that hampered Woods at Torrey Pines didn't magically disappear. He was still inconsistent with his iron play. (His 16 greens hit in two rounds were the fewest of his Tour career.) And he wasn’t as sharp around the greens. It added up to 72-76 and an early exit in his first L.A. appearance in more than a decade.

In two starts this year, Woods has hit 36 percent of the fairways and 54 percent of the greens.

That's a problem, because PGA National might be even more difficult, with water on seemingly every hole and 15-mph winds expected. Uh-oh.

6. Woods’ driver remains his biggest problem.

While he’d largely eliminated the left side of the course at Torrey Pines, that wasn’t the case at Riviera.

Putting a new, more “stout” model of shaft in his TaylorMade driver, Woods missed right almost exclusively in the opening round, then had several double crosses left with the big stick on Day 2.

His short game and putting might be vastly improved compared to the horrors of the past few years, but it’ll be hard to compete and then contend if he’s hitting it off the planet. (And many of those off-line drives would find the water at PGA National.)

For the week, he ranked 128th in strokes gained-off the tee, 100th approaching the green, 95th around the green and 65th putting.

7. The news wasn’t all bad, though.

That Woods committed to the Honda Classic, his hometown event, was an encouraging sign. That signals A) he has a desire to play tournaments, and B) he’s physically able to do it.

For the first time in years, we’re finally able to judge Woods on the quality of his play, not his health. 



8. The PGA Tour might be reaching a breaking point in regards to fan behavior.

Players know what they’re signing up for at TPC Scottsdale, but even regular Tour stops are getting more raucous than players and officials would like.

Woods created such a scene over the first two rounds at Riviera that his playing partner, Rory McIlroy, said that he had a splitting headache and that the circus probably costs Woods a half shot each round. Justin Thomas said Saturday that spectators are trying to scream and time their moronic comments perfectly. “It’s completely unacceptable,” he said.

The same thing happened at Torrey Pines, where a fan screamed during Woods’ putting stroke. It happened (a lot) at Phoenix, where a fan twice yelled in Jordan Spieth’s downswing. And it’ll absolutely happen again this week at the Honda Classic, especially at the long, par-3 17th, where tournament organizers have put their most overserved fans almost directly on top of the tee.

It’s only a matter of time before one of these idiots costs a player the tournament.  

9. Bill Haas was involved in a horrifying car crash last week in Los Angeles. The driver of the Ferrari he was traveling in, 71-year-old Mark Gibello, was killed, while Haas and the driver of the other vehicle were taken to the hospital.

It was a scary incident, and a sad one for the Haas family. Fortunately, Haas escaped without any major injuries, but the mental toll could be immense.

Wish him the best.  



10. So it looks like it’ll be another drama-filled year for Lydia Ko.

After going winless in 2017 and changing every major aspect of her game, she returned this year with even more changes – a new swing coach, Ted Oh, and caddie, Jonny Scott. She tied for 19th in her season debut.

It’s time to be concerned. She was on pace to be one of the all-time greats, but now – whether because of insecurity or too much parental involvement, who knows – she has changed her entire team. Again.

Ko said she deleted Twitter from her phone not because of the deluge of criticism she has received over the past year. No, more curiously, she said it was because she didn’t use the app that much and it was “taking up [too much] storage on my phone.”

Uhh ... Ko has more than $8.5 million in career earnings, so obviously she could splurge for the 256 GB plan, and the app takes up less storage on a phone than Uber, anyway.

Maybe she’ll get it turned around this year, but we’re not overly optimistic. There’s too much noise upstairs. 

11. Just in time for the run-up to the Masters, Spieth’s putter is starting to heat up.

On tricky greens for the second consecutive week, Spieth had another week with a positive strokes gained-putting statistic – and that’s a marked improvement from the start of the year. He tied for ninth at Riviera.

“I just made some tremendous progress,” he said. “I feel great about the state of my game going forward, feel like I’m in a great place at this time of the year as we’re starting to head into major season.”

12. Amateur swing coaches popped up everywhere as Patrick Cantlay appeared painfully slow during Sunday’s final round.

On full shots, he shuffles his feet while looking at the target and waggling the clubhead. But over putts, he remains still with his upper body while doing the same dance routine.

While putting on the 16th and 17th holes, he took six and seven looks at the cup, respectively. Perhaps not surprisingly, those putts did not drop. Playing in the final group, he shot 71 and finished three back.

Is there something going on here?

Cantlay’s first-round scoring average (67.67, second on Tour) is almost four shots lower than in his final rounds (71.13, 100th). He has broken 70 only once on Sunday – and that was in Vegas, where he won with a closing 67.  

Cantlay has incredible potential, but this is just one example of smart golf people believing he’d be better suited with a quicker routine:

Billy Hurley III put together one of the most epic campaign ads of all time, but did he release it too late?!


That’s the only reasonable explanation for why Hurley wasn’t elected as the next Player Advisory Council chairman on the PGA Tour.

Hurley’s ad went viral, logging more than 750,000 views on Twitter, but he released it the day before the election. Maybe most Tour players already cast their votes.

Shame.

Maybe next time, #GoldenMan.

This week's award winners ... 


Peaking For Augusta?: Phil Mickelson. Well, well, well, Phil recorded a third consecutive top-6 finish, the first time he’s done that in 11 years. One massive hurdle remains – putting together four good rounds for his first win in nearly five wins – but he’s absolutely getting closer.

Count Yo’ Money: Kevin Na. With a runner-up at Riviera, the 34-year-old has now crossed $25 million in earnings despite notching just one win in his Tour career.

Changes Coming?: Augusta National’s fifth hole. Site plans were filed last month that show the 445-yard par 4 could be pushed back another 25 to 30 yards, the Augusta Chronicle reported. It’s a short- to mid-iron approach right now, but we’d rather see them address the severe undulations on the green.   



Nice Goin’, Rook: Jin Young Ko. She went wire to wire to win in her first start as an LPGA member, at the Australian Open. She’s just the second to accomplish the feat, joining Beverly Hanson (1951). Of course, the 22-year-old Ko also won last fall, but at the time she wasn’t an official member. The check still cleared, though. 

Stay Hot: Joost Luiten. He made 21 birdies in his last 54 holes to hold off Chris Wood and win the European Tour event in Oman.

Blown Fantasy Pick of the Week: Paul Casey. Seemed an easy pick, after a playoff loss at Riviera in 2015 and after recording a tie for eighth at Pebble that was his 12th top-20 in his last 13 starts. Instead, he needed to birdie his final hole to make the cut on the number, then continued to tread water on the weekend, eventually finishing 49th. Sigh.