Scott Hoch Press Conference Transcript
Q. A lot of us have covered you for a long, long time, but I don't think I have ever seen you so patient during a round, during a week of play and that had to be part of the key to winning, patience and the way you executed yourself?
SCOTT HOCH:Well, gosh, if you say patience, hitting it good, that is what happened. I really hit a lot of good shots today, nothing was happening; then I finally got it going, I hit a lot of really good shots from I guess 11 home, and could have been patient, but it's easy to be patient when you are hitting all the fairways and the greens, then you know, I just felt in control at least until I got to the green. And then it became somewhat of an adventure at times. I started out a little tentative. I wasn't trying to be. I was trying to be aggressive, but somehow at 45 the neurons or whatever between your brain and your hands there is a few glitches in between, and sometimes how you want to hit it, ain't exactly how it gets down to your fingers. For a while there I was too tentative then I hit some good shots and made some putts, I made a lot of good putts for about nine holes there. I started off a little shaky. Then middle of my round made a lot of good putts. At the end I knew I had a lead and that was probably the worse thing because then I was a little too tentative again.
Q. Could you talk a little bit about grabbing a handful of rough there after you-?
SCOTT HOCH:I said, hey, the rough was perfect after all. (Laughter). Mark Russell, he is smarter than I thought he was. No, I am kidding. Mark Russell, he is the advance guy here, is a good friend of mine, I have known him for a long time. We were kidding a bit every time we saw each other during the week. Normally it's to my advantage to have more rough. And that might be indicative of the way --I don't know how much you saw out there today, but I drove it really well. And that was -- it's an advantage with the rough the way it is, driving it in the fairway, but you know, really pays dividends if you have high rough. When I play well, I would like more severe rough, but I played well. I played really well. Hit a lot of good shots, a lot of good iron shots this week and even out of the rough, I consider myself a pretty good iron player out of the rough as long as it is not too thick. I was able to hit a lot of greens and make some birdies even on -- out of the rough this week. Obviously I was barking a little bit earlier, but you know, good play can overcome a lot of things.
Q. In a regular situation would your caddie read more putts than Mike did --
SCOTT HOCH:You noticed he didn't read any putts?
Q. I didn't see him read a whole lot of putts.
SCOTT HOCH:No, he did. Mike has caddied for me before, but he doesn't know my game now. It has been a long time and he just did all the other things and did it great. Did a great job. He didn't say a whole lot but what he said came at good times as far as pumping me up, keeping me in the now and shots, thinking about the shots. And the yardages, stuff like that. The guy I feel sorry for is my regular caddie, he is an excellent caddie. I didn't know if I was going to play this week so he had already planned a little vacation and I didn't want to interrupt it because I didn't know I was going to play here until Monday and he had to leave Sunday. So you know, I know he's feeling bad, but he can take solace in knowing that he helped getting me to this point. Hopefully when he starts back with me next week I can do the same thing with him because he is called the Chicken Man because he can do a great chicken dance and he has been waiting to do it after I win. So I might have to see a tape of that at home after today but I would have liked to have seen it in person.
Q. How much did it cost him missing?
SCOTT HOCH:It cost him. It cost him. But then again, he will get it back too because this is going to get me in some other tournaments that I might not have gotten in before and he will be the beneficiary of that. I will take care of him. I will take care of him.
Q. You said you got off to a shaky start. Any particular hole or shot where you calmed down?
SCOTT HOCH:Actually felt pretty good, hit pretty good putt on one. Hit a good shot but then two I hit real good shot right front fringe, misjudged the chip, I thought I had a clean contact with the ball and didn't. I had grass behind it, came out really soft and left it 25 feet or 20 feet when I thought for sure I was going to make birdie. That is when all of a sudden, gosh, now I am not feeling too good because I birdied that hole everyday and I should have birdied it then. I am trying not to think about it, but it kind of creeps in there. Man, the way everybody is bunched you can't waste shots like this. Then I hit a couple of other good shots and hit good putts and nothing went in. And then finally hit a good shot on 7, made birdie there, and actually played well from there on. Putted well for the most part for next six, eight holes, putted really well. The ones I missed I thought I hit good putts. Coming in I got a little tentative again when I had a lead.
Q. Were you concerned about winning again because of your game or because of your age?
SCOTT HOCH:Those probably go together.
Q. Do they?
SCOTT HOCH:I think, yeah, I think they do. Age has got to have something to do with your game. That is another -- that is -- but I also wanted to prove to myself that I have got the game no matter what age I am; that I can still win and you don't know when -- like I said, yesterday you don't know when you are -- when it is going to be your last tournament that you win. But then again I haven't been real sterling on Sundays this year. And I haven't exactly done a whole lot the last three years to get back in the winner's circle. So this was kind of a new experience. Definitely new, I told Hicksy on the 18th tee, I said, man, I can't even swallow. I don't know when the last time is that my mouth got that dry. And I don't usually drink that much during play but I had to last four, five holes because I couldn't swallow. I tell you another thing that I didn't say anything out there about it, but it's getting me to think about it. I kind of last night -- first of all, my wife has been very supportive of me and even said a couple of things today and this morning that really helped. And also I was just talking and saying some things to Payne and as many of you know, Hicksy was Payne's caddie. And I just told him to try to help us get through today. And I really felt that he was out there today too. And I think when I just -- I just started thinking about it when I got a little down and then I don't know, just something turned me around, can't say what it was, it just -- I went from like the duck looking calm on the outside on top of the water, but peddling like hell underneath and that is kind of the way I was inside and all of a sudden I just felt kind of a calmness out there through the middle of my round.
Q. How did you select Mike to caddie for you this week? Did you just call him earlier in the week?
SCOTT HOCH:Actually I called my -- well, like I said, I didn't know I was going to play until Monday, later Monday evening for certain. But I called Gregory which is my old caddie to see if he was playing but he is caddying -- see if he was going to be here. Just in case. This was -- actually I woke him up Monday morning, but I called him and he said well -- and then I asked him maybe if he thought Hicksy or Smiley, Timothy, which caddied for me in the first -- I was thinking about lining somebody up in case I did come. And then after Greg told me that Mark was playing and I don't know if he mentioned Mike Hicks or I thought about it or asked him about it, but anyway, I got his number from Rita (phonetic) and then called him up and he said -- I asked him if he was working because I figured since he is close to home he is going to be working. I figured I would give it a shot because I know how good he is. He said, no. I said, would you like to. Then he said, yes. He said, yeah, I'd really like to. I said, look though, I don't know if I am going to come so if you get another offer or something I am just letting you know that this is not firm. And he said, no, no, I will caddie for you, but if you don't come that is fine, I am not -- I wasn't planning on working this week and I am not going to work for anybody else. So -- then I called I guess I called him back Monday and said -- was later Monday and told him I was definitely coming and let's get ready.
Q. Did you and Mike talk about Payne today?
SCOTT HOCH:No. Mike doesn't even know anything about that. That is just something that you know, I thought about last night and then I thought about it about the middle of the round today when nothing was going on. That just saying, hey, things could be a lot worse. Than just nothing happening on a Sunday, so....
Q. Were you looking at the leaderboard today? You were conscious of how jumbled it was at the top?
SCOTT HOCH:No. Actually I probably didn't look at it. I asked my caddie about it one time. I think, I asked him how I stood. He said I was tied. I can't remember what -- I guess that might have been on 10 or playing 11. Somewhere around there. But then I really didn't look at it until I got on 15th green, and I was lining up my putt but I wanted to know -- it's one of those downhill sidehill putts, I wanted to know how I stood and the dog-gone thing would never get around there. I was wasting time trying to line it up, kind of looking back at it, lining it up, finally it came across. It showed. I had a two-shot lead, worse thing that could happen. I had just ginked (sic) it down there instead of putting a better stroke on it like I did on the two previous holes. But that was really the only time. Then I kept watching after that with a two-shot lead I just knew how I wanted to hit it and I executed the shots really well coming down the stretch except for the pumped up 9-iron on the last hole, I had, gosh, I had 150 over the green and I thought it was a little in the wind the way it had been going to. I am going a little downhill, hit a 9-iron. I only hit a 9-iron about 135 yards, and that thing flew -- I saw that thing land, I said, oh, my gosh what have I done. Left it one place I did not want to leave it.
Q. Do you plan on coming back next year to defend?
SCOTT HOCH:Yes. You betcha. They can have the rough however they want to (laughter) however they want. However they want. They don't even have to have any, I am fine.
Q. How do you think they will treat you tomorrow at the Pro-Am?
SCOTT HOCH:Well, they are having a reception tonight and doesn't look like I am going to make it so I won't have to buy all the drinks so that might save me some. They will be some teasing about, yeah, that rough was really tough, all this other stuff. As a matter of fact I got a note from somebody in my locker this week and it said: Stop saying all that stupid (expletive). It said from -- and then from who it is from, it said from the PGA TOUR. So didn't -- looked like a girl's writing - I didn't even know if Joan maybe wrote it -- I know Joan wouldn't use that language, but somebody put that in my locker. And I guess they were trying to be helpful. But I got the message. It didn't look like it was real official, it wasn't real official PGA letterhead, so I don't know -- I don't think it was -- I think it might have been one of the players. Probably one of the long players that don't hit it straight who does not like to see rough like that.
Q. If you look at the record books very few players win past the age of 43.
SCOTT HOCH:Thank you.
Q. Do you think that -- so you know that is a compliment to you first. Do you think it is mental physical or both?
SCOTT HOCH:Combination. I would say yeah, it got to be because gosh what I am out here, this is my 22nd year or something, all throws 3-footers and everything else, you know, it got to take it's toll. You look at many of the golfers not just now, but in the past, winning after that age, there aren't that many. A lot of reasons, you have got family. You might-- many of them might not be as hungry because they have already done what they figured they are going to do; they just come out here and play and I mean, some of guys that have done a lot, I think have lost interest more so. I feel that I have left enough out here on Tour that I should have in my closet that I still have stuff to prove. So I think that is what spurs me on. Plus I have a lady at home that is great and that helps me and helps me come out and do what I need to do and knowing that my kids are taken care of and looked after very well at home. And this was a joint decision coming up here. It wasn't just my decision. It was my wife Sally's and mine to come up here because I told heard I said look, I feel I am playing pretty good. I think it would be to my advantage to go to Greensboro. She said yeah, but you just shot 75 on Sunday. I said but, Sally, you don't understand, I played pretty well. I just didn't make any putts. Then she came back and said, well, how about not playing so well and shooting a good score then. The heck with this playing decent and not getting the good score out of it. So it was a collaboration between the two of us.
Q. Does it really become harder to make those three-footers than it was ten years ago?
SCOTT HOCH:Well, I tell what you, I think my fingers are more sensitive to -- the nerve endings are a little more sensitive than they were when I was 25, yes. I mean, that is the one thing I didn't -- I didn't have any fear that my game wasn't good enough. Striking the ball, hitting the ball, I mean, it is just coming to where I am starting to hit it good now. I hit very poor earlier. I have seen Leadbetter a couple of times in the last month, month and a half, and it is really starting to take and I am really we made some changes, and really feels good. It is just that I think that part that might let me down more, especially this year, than any, is putting on Sunday. And even if I wasn't even in contention it -- just Sunday putting wasn't very good.
Q. You seemed to be enjoying yourself out there today. I noticed a big smile after the drive on 16. Was that the case?
SCOTT HOCH:Yeah, I was glad to get that one out of the way. I said they -- I can't get in too much more trouble after that knowing 18 was pretty wide open. I hit it hard. I really drove it well the back nine today. Gosh, that just makes the game so much easier and my iron game was pretty much tuned in. I felt good. Like I said, hitting the ball I felt really good best I felt in a while.
Q. What is your last win -- the last time you won in North Carolina?
SCOTT HOCH:High school but then I won the North Carolina amateur after that. ACC, I won the ACC Championship last two years I was there. It was in Raleigh, actually.
Q. Amateur was before the ACC?
SCOTT HOCH:Hey, I am 45. You can't expect me to remember back when I was 20 or 22 or something like that. But probably the last one, my senior year I won the ACC tournament and unless I won something that summer which I might have, I don't recall. But it's good to win on home soil.
What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm
Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:
Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff
Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.
While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.
Watching Andrew Landry and Jon Rahm in playoff. Walking off tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me ? Talking at all. ?— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.
0 words— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The issue is I don’t want to make you a bit relaxed or comfortable. High pressure, good.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you watch the end of the NFL games yesterday ? Enough said.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
I didn’t say you couldn’t be friends and competitive. But in a playoff, 1 tiny mistake and you lose, and that devastated me. Friends before and after, competitors during play.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you win ? It’s all about surviving the competition to test yourself.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.
Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over
The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.
As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.
Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.
And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.
And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.
McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.
The Ryder Cup topped his list.
Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.
When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.
“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”
McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.
Or similar assertions from TV analysts.
“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”
European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.
And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.
The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.
Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.
And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.
Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.
The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.
The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.
More bulletin board material, too.
Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.
Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions
Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.
The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.
It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.
The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.
“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”
Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.