PGA Tour: Defending Champion Matt Kuchar Previews 2020 Sony Open in Hawaii

2019 Sony Open in Hawaii champion Matt Kuchar speaks about his 2019 Season and previews the 2020 Sony Open In Hawaii. This year marks the 15th start at the event for the PGA Tour professional.

PGA Tour: 2019 Sony Open in Hawaii Winner Matt Kuchar Speaks about last season’s experiences

THE MODERATOR: Like to welcome Matt Kuchar, defending champion of the Sony Open in Hawaii, to the interview room. Matt, 15th start at the event. Just comments about your title defense and what it’s like to be back.

MATT KUCHAR: Love it here. So excited to be back here. I think as all the players do, you come through here and sit in the grill room area and there is the Wall of Champions, and it’s an amazing list and it’s one I’ve sat at and looked at for years and years and wanted to put my name on that list, my picture up on that wall. So thrilled.

Love the golf course, everything about coming here to Oahu playing the Sony Open. It’s just such a great event. To have won last year was a thrill, and now to be back, seeing my picture up on the wall, it’s a great feeling. I’m looking forward to the title defense.

THE MODERATOR: Awesome. With that, we’ll open up to questions.

Q. So you’re happy?
MATT KUCHAR: I’m happy. I’m happy, yeah. That was it. That was the extent of that question.

Q. You’ve won several times obviously last year. Whenever you go to a tournament that you’ve won the previous year, is there a different feeling? Do you like it more? Is there a little bit of extra pressure maybe?
MATT KUCHAR: Some of both. It’s a fair thought. There is certainly some great feelings, some great memories. I think those help spur on some more good play.

Defending a title is a hard thing to do. There is certainly some extra pressure there, yeah, but same every week. I think all of us show up intending to win the tournament. It’s a hard thing to do. There is only one guy that’s defending champion, and it doesn’t happen all that often that he defends the title.

The guys that do get a chance to defend, their games probably fit well to the course, so they may have a reasonable chance. Hard to beat a hundred plus of the best players in the world. It’s a hard thing to do, but you always hope to be in that situation, hope to be the guy that gets a chance to defend the title.

Q. We talked about it briefly this morning, but the anomaly that the last two winners at Mayakoba have won here. Can you just talk to the potential similarities, if any?
MATT KUCHAR: Yeah, it’s a really interesting thing. Funny, I didn’t really put two and two together until after I won Sony and realized Patton Kizzire had won both Mayakoba and Sony. And I said Patton, I was a little disappointed you didn’t win anything else. I was hoping to continue following in his shoes. I have yet to have Brendon Todd come up to me and be disappointed that I didn’t win any more than the Mayakoba and Sony.

The courses share similarities as far as they are demanding driving courses. If you don’t drive the ball well at either place you’re going to struggle. Brendon got on some great form last year. Amazing to see what he’s done, but clearly he’s a guy that’s kind of a straight hitter, you know, not a power player. Kind of bit similar to me.

However, Patton, he’s got all the power you need. Won both of these tournaments, which I think is a cool statement to the golf course, is that you don’t have to be one certain type of player. Something I’ve always loved about the tournament at Hilton Head is a similar one. You look back, and having Davis Love having won that tournament more than anybody, and he used to be as long a hitter as there was.

So I like the courses that provide the options. They can be played so many different ways. This course is a lot like Mayakoba. You can’t hit driver, you can’t hit 3-wood; you see guys hitting a lot of long irons off the tees, and it’s fun to just try to position your ball to determine is it more about getting in the fairway or more about trying to attack the hole?

So both courses have a lot of great options to them, but interesting to have myself and Patton win the same tournaments last year.

Q. You just got to think a bit more sometimes, right?
MATT KUCHAR: It is much more position oriented, and it’s not just grab driver and hit it. There are so many courses that we play you just know every nonpar-3 is grab the driver and smash it. The two we talked about are a lot of different options. May be driver, may be driving iron.

You see guys play it very differently, which I think is a fun sign. It’s not always a 240-yard shot. Some guys try to go 280, some guys try to got 240, and I think it’s fun where you have guys deciding and having options and playing it different ways.

Q. Two things for you. A, on the Player of the Year last year, did you vote?

Q. Okay. That was the only question.

Q. Other thing is of the accomplishments of other players on tour, the things that impress you about it, where do you rate someone who has gone 20 years without a ton of wins, but someone who has never lost their card? Specifically thinking about Charles Howell. He was talking about that today. We talk at times about guys like DJ. Do you take winning for granted? No. But keeping your card year after year after year and never having to go back to the Web or Q-School or something like that, does that impress you?
MATT KUCHAR: More impressed with DJ.

Q. I know that. And throw Tiger in there and Phil and what have you. Is that something to be expected or something that is harder than it might look?
MATT KUCHAR: I imagine if you really get into it that percentage is probably fairly low.

Q. Didn’t you go back early when you first…
MATT KUCHAR: I played on the Web in ’06.

Q. Okay. After winning once before?
MATT KUCHAR: Yeah. So I had past champion status, but I was kind of playing both tours and then realized my best avenue back on tour was playing out the Web.

I’ve not thought much about it. It’s funny. When you’re inside on the ropes that’s what your job is, right? You’re supposed to keep your job for the next year.

You never hugely celebrate. I guess those first few years there were reasons for celebrating, keeping your job, keeping your top 125 card, but at the same time it gets expected.

I think probably can’t be that many people who have gone 20 straight years; the percentage has got to be fairly low.

Q. Probably where you would falter, isn’t it, early day?
MATT KUCHAR: Struggling to keep your card early days?

Q. Yeah.
MATT KUCHAR: Yeah, and then there seems to be that mid-40 lag as well. I don’t know if you start the TOUR at 22, you’ve probably not got to the mid-40s yet to do 20 years. Yeah, first few years are the tricky ones.

Q. What did you do wrong, for lack of a better word, after you won? I think Honda was your first one.
MATT KUCHAR: Yeah, it was, ’02.

Q. Where did you go sideways and what have you been doing since?
MATT KUCHAR: I don’t know exactly, but I know in ’06 is when I hooked up with my current instructor, Chris O’Connell. So I don’t know that I have a — I was a streaky player up to then. I had some great success. I had a good run in a handful of TOUR events at a young age, but was streaky.

I could play well and I could not. I was probably just too streaky of a player in that early age after ’02 from — probably that ’04/’05 year is where the goods weren’t good enough and the too many of the not goods.

Q. Is that one of the weirdest questions you’ve ever been asked on a Wednesday?
MATT KUCHAR: Yes. I could probably think of weirder, but you caught me off guard for sure.

Q. I’ll try to make it weirder if you want. First of all, as a past Memorial winner, Jack Nicklaus turns 80 in a week or two. Wonder if you had a good Jack story or first time you met him or something fun.
MATT KUCHAR: I was hugely intimidated by Jack I think in my younger days. Took me a while to get comfortable around him. No great stories. Great memory is having won the tournament and watching the replay and watching my kids high fiving Mr. and Mrs. Nicklaus. Something I’ll have forever.

Q. There you go.
MATT KUCHAR: To look back and see my kids at just young ages jumping up and giving Jack and Barbara high fives.

But he was one that I was nervous around. I mean, to the point he was the greatest ever, and what can I say to this guy that he’s not already done, accomplished, done? If you caught a fish this big, felt like he caught bigger fish.

Q. Sounds like Jack.
MATT KUCHAR: I was nervous around him. Fortunately have spent enough time, and Barbara is so great, so easy to be around, that our relationship has become one that’s much more comfortable from my standpoint.

Q. He’s always pretty ready to tease guys, get out the needles and so forth. Of course we’ve heard rumors that you’re pretty good at that too. The question is: Having talked to JT earlier and he wouldn’t answer the question, who is the most fun to pick on in any team room that you been in or who is the one you got to the most?
MATT KUCHAR: I guess back to Jack, seemed a bit like Tiger in that area. Took me a while. Same with Tiger. Was very intimidated early with Tiger, kind of like around Mr. Nicklaus. Finally got comfy enough. Now, I’ve never given Mr. Nicklaus the needle like I have to Tiger.

But Phil is without a doubt the most — (laughter.) I mean, that’s an easy one. He’s so good at dishing that to be able to dish back and kind of stop him is the most fun.

Q. You have a specific example of that that you want to share or just going to leave it at that?
MATT KUCHAR: I think probably the first Cup team playing ping pong with him. He was the man. He was just handing out dishes on everybody that came his way.

Q. Challenging, yeah.
MATT KUCHAR: And then once I got on the ping pong table I felt comfy enough, like that was more my arena than his arena, and was able to shut him up pretty quickly.

I struggle with exact quotes there, but it was good fun shutting him up quickly. (Laughter.) He’s only the most fun because he dishes it out so well.

Q. Does take it well or no?
MATT KUCHAR: Yeah, absolutely.

Q. If you were keeping score in a match of needles, you to Phil, Phil to you, what’s the score right now? Are you up and by how much?
MATT KUCHAR: (Laughter.)

Q. Never mind.
MATT KUCHAR: I have to think he probably has more volume of me, right? Just sheer like quantity and quality I think, and he’s one that throws out the quantity. Sometimes the quality is not quite there. (Laughter.)

So he may be up as far as sheer just by numbers.

Q. How do you feel about the conditions? Do you like to play in high wind conditions?
MATT KUCHAR: I do. I do like the windy conditions. I like the forecast. I know that a handful of these courses, they demand control of your golf ball. You have to really be hitting it well and playing well.

I feel good about my game. Winds are up. I feel like that bodes well for me. Conditions are surprisingly soft as far as the golf course is concerned. Typically with high wind it dries places out. Typically get windy, goes along with firm and fast.

This is not firm and fast this week, this year. Funny, I was just out there on the front nine and I had my book from last year. Had my notes from the 1st hole. No. 1 was whipping mostly downwind. I hit a good drive. I hit 170 yards to the front.

Last year in my book I didn’t have one number that was more than 140 front, and so wind was — there was light wind last year. Wasn’t strong wind like this. The course was just very fast last year.

Interesting just how different even strong downwind I know didn’t come close to where I was driving it last year. The wind is going to make it play challenging, but the softness eases the course up. Greens are very receptive. I think even with the high winds, still probably see some pretty reasonable scores just due to the softness of the greens in particular.

Q. As your family evolves and your kids get older and whatnot, are there things you’re going to hope to be around for more? Have to change the way to approach your TOUR schedule or just be business as usual?
MATT KUCHAR: Yeah, that’s an interesting thing I foresee happening an adjustment to the schedule based on what the family is doing. I’ve had a great run up to the point. We’ve homeschooled the kids for the last four years. Had them out pretty much every week with a teacher. It’s been awesome to be able to keep the family together.

We’re just now talking about putting the kids in school. They are actually enrolled back home in school. We’ve got a teacher that travels with us part time, but looking forward to seeing their interest in sports, their interest in friends at home. Understanding that that’s a big deal and they’re going to probably want to be home more than they wanted to be on the road in the past.

I think they’ve enjoyed being out on the road up to this point. I don’t know how much longer it’s going to sway in that direction. I foresee the other direction where they’ll want to be home playing sport, hanging with their friends. It’s something we know is coming, and kind of got to adapt to it. I don’t have any definite plans of what’s going to happen to change. We foresee change coming.

Q. Going to see star golfers or star tennis players?
MATT KUCHAR: Right now we’ve got — the boys played both — they play a lot of golf, tennis, and baseball, so we travel with just heaps of equipment.

But they do some of everything. It’s been good fun. I hope to see them continue their love for is it because they really do enjoy playing all three of those at the moment.

Q. Would they be good needlers as well?
MATT KUCHAR: (Laughter.) Right now they’re proper brothers. They go at each other pretty hard both physically and mentally I’m afraid.

Q. Bronze medal four years ago. Wonder how special that still remains, and would you, I don’t know, in some way be pretty disappointed to not be on the Olympic team if you can’t move up into that…
MATT KUCHAR: Yeah, exactly. Still hugely proud of it. I’m still amazed at the scale, the scope of just what the Olympics means to people, how big the Olympics is.

I’m hugely proud to have been part of an Olympics, to be able to call myself an Olympian. Hugely proud to be a medalist at an Olympics. It’s definitely a goal of mine to be part of the Olympics in 2020 in Japan.

It’s a tough one to be a part of Team USA. You think of the chance of qualifying. It’s a hard team to be a part of. It’s a big goal of mine. I would be disappointed if I didn’t make it, but I understand how challenging it is at the same time.

Q. You’ve won some TOUR events. Where does that final round in the Olympics rank with winning and so forth?
MATT KUCHAR: Yeah, that was an incredible run. It felt Olympian. Looking back it ranks hugely high just to be able to finish so strong. As golfers, guys in the game, we realize the last round counts the same as the first round; the last shot counts the same as the first shot, right? They’re all the same.

However, you feel like you’ve done something extra special when you closed strong, when you’ve had a great final round. They all do count the same, but to be in a situation where you know exactly what you need to do and come through and execute, you kind of made your bed up to that third round and you’ve got to figure out, you have to play well or there is no medal, no podium.

To be able to go ahead and know exactly the situation and come through and have a great round was amazing. I mean, it would go down as funny to think to finish third. I’ve probably had some other great Sunday rounds to finish Top 5, probably Top 3 even. But to think there is that big cut off between third and fourth. It’s either you medal or you don’t. Medalling is winning in essence, and that was certainly one of my great final rounds.

Q. Where is the medal now?
MATT KUCHAR: I have it. I have it. Stays in my backpack.

Q. Does it?
MATT KUCHAR: Yeah, yeah.

Q. Goes everywhere?
MATT KUCHAR: Wherever my backpack goes it goes, yeah. It’s just been fun to show off. Hadn’t found a home anywhere other than my backpack. You know, it’s easy to travel with. Fun to show off. I probably haven’t brought it out other than in airport screenings I always take it out. They see this big medal blob and always take it out. I always bring it out and it’s in a sock, and the screener always — you know even though I’ve put the sock out open in a bin, the screener always grabs a hold of it, pulls it out, and eyes kind of bug out.

So it comes out at every airport. Aside from that…

Q. In a sock? Is the sock made for it?
MATT KUCHAR: No, a typical sock.

Q. A regular sock?
MATT KUCHAR: A regular sock, yeah.

Q. Do you wash the sock? Good Lord.
MATT KUCHAR: It was washed before — it was a clean sock before. (Laughter.)

Q. What’s the funniest thing the screeners have said when they looked at it?
MATT KUCHAR: I don’t know funny, but it’s a similar reaction over and over again. Just kind of bug out. Is this real? What’s it for? They start showing it off to their friends. Hey, I got to catch a flight now. (Laughter.)

Q. What is it you gave to Wood that day?
MATT KUCHAR: Oh, they had a — I don’t know how to describe it. Wasn’t a replica medal, but assistance medal. I don’t know what it was made out of now. Different material. Wasn’t a bronze, silver, or gold. I think it had some significance. It was a medallion and it was — I’m not sure if it was just the U.S. Olympic Committee that started doing these for — that you got one to offer up to support staff.

Q. Coach or…

Q. Does he keep it in a sock?
MATT KUCHAR: I haven’t asked where he keeps his. His probably has a unique spot. I think his house is a bit like a museum to begin with.

Q. Is there any one particular athlete at the Olympics that wasn’t a golfer that you took a shine to?
MATT KUCHAR: It was an interesting week in that it was my first visit to an Olympics. I had been a huge fan and always wanted to go whether it was as a fan or athlete. I certainly wanted to compete. As a kid the sport I chose I thought wasn’t in the cards for me to be a competitor, but I had never been in any capacity.

To go as a is competitor was a tricky balancing act. You go to win gold. You go with the idea that you’re focused on your sport and play the best you can. At the same time, you want to take in as much as you can and enjoy the experience as much as you can.

I think there was a nice balance in that golf was typically played — our tee times were 10:00 to 11:00-ish and had then a good chunk in the afternoon free. So my wife was with me. I didn’t stay — you can’t stay in the Olympic Village with a significant other, so we stayed in the condos by the course. I think we got maybe nine, eight, nine events in just as — there is my wife now — just as sheer fans. I don’t know that there was another athlete that I really was able to connect with.

I did become friends with Jack Sock actually. He’s the tennis player. We saw their bronze medal match. He played with Steve Johnson, and Daniel Berger’s dad was the coach. Jay Berger was kind of heading up the men’s tennis team.

So we sat in the players box with Jay Berger and they won bronze. They came over just in huge celebratory fashion and Jack and I traded shirts. I got an Olympic tennis shirt for one of my Olympic golf shirts. So we became friendly that week mainly due to Daniel Berger’s dad.

Q. You think you’ve make a good U.S. Cup captain? And if so, why?
MATT KUCHAR: I’m not good at answering that stuff. I would love to be. I hope other people would give better answers as to why I might be a good captain or not. I would love to have that honor. I think it’s an awesome honor. It was so cool to play for a playing captain this year. That was amazing.

I think most of us in this area, we continue to believe we’re going to be playing for a lot longer. But, you know, I’ve played for a lot of different captains, and you look up to every one of them and hope that one day you get that chance. It’s such a feather in a cap, such an honor I think for those guys to be selected a as captain. I would definitely love the opportunity.

Q. Do you know how to apply?
MATT KUCHAR: I don’t. I don’t know. I’m hoping it’s by playing well and continuing to play well. You know, being a good teammate I hope is a good application.

THE MODERATOR: With that, thanks for your time. Good luck this week.

MATT KUCHAR: All right. Thank you.

Honolulu, Hawaii

January 8, 2020

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


PGA Tour: Justin Thomas Revisits Last Week’s Victory and Previews Sony Open in Hawaii

Sentry Tournament of Champions winner Justin Thomas recaps his 12th PGA Tour victory last week and gives a look ahead to this week’s Sony Open in Hawaii.

PGA Tour: Justin Thomas talks Tournament of Champions and Sony Open in Hawaii

THE MODERATOR: We would like to welcome Justin Thomas into the interview room.

Justin, thank you for joining us for a few minutes.


THE MODERATOR: Fresh off your victory last week in Maui. I know you’re hoping history repeats itself this week going back to back.

If we can get some comments on the win last week.

JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, it was a bizarre ending I think, to say least. It was probably fun to watch on TV, but not so fun to deal with at times.

No, it is great. I feel like I’m going to be able to build a lot on that last week and a lot of learning experiences and feel like I can really take a lot from it. Yeah, very easily and in all reality should have lost the tournament. To be able to come through and hit some good shots when I really needed to and make some putts to kind of stay in there and get it done.

THE MODERATOR: You holed out for eagle on No. 9 in the pro-am. I know that’s a hole that means a lot to you. Just comment a little about this golf course and how much you like it.

JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, it’s a cool course. It’s so, so different this year than it always is. It’s always really firm and fast. The greens are usually pretty firm, and I don’t think I’ve ever played greens as soft as these this week.

So it’s going to be a lot different. I’ve never seen the wind blow like this and it’s supposed to blow like this every day. I thought I was going to get a little bit of a break after last week, but looks like we’ve got more wind and rain.

Luckily I had a little bit of a week head start, so hopefully it’ll help.

THE MODERATOR: All right. Start with Doug.

Q. What’s the difference of wind here versus last week in terms of playability on the golf course?

Q. A whole different golf course.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, yeah. Last week was more trees, so you kind of get some holes where you’re a little bit protected. But then, again, you also — as crazy as it is, you kind of have to factor for once a ball gets above the trees, or you’ll get the holes that are very exposed, like the second shot on 10, tee shot on 11, 12, 13, and then get some holes back in trees where they aren’t as exposed.

Whereas here it’s all flat. It’s not really that much protection. It’s pretty constant throughout the course. So I would say last week you have a lot more — the ball moves a lot more. It just feels like a lot stronger wind, although it was gusting over 30, 35 last week, where I don’t think it’s going to quite get to that here.

That wind at Kapalua is just very strong.

Q. All things relative, which is the harder course to face this kind of wind?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I would say here. It’s going to be harder here. I mean, the fairways are just so big here. There are so many birdie chances, four par-5s.

I mean, even with last week, you know, three of the four days it blew really, really hard, and, I mean, I easily could have gotten to 17 or 18 under par still.

I think if it blows like that here — I’m not good at guessing scores — but it could be anywhere from 8 to 15. It’s tough to say, but the greens being very, very soft is going to change a lot.

If you got wind like this in normal conditions, it would actually be a very difficult test.

Q. Obviously it wasn’t easy last time, but very mental grind. You spoke about playing in the wind. That’s going to make it tougher to do what you did a few years back, right, to back it up?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yes and no. I mean, it’s just — I mean, I’m not going to shoot 27-under this week, if that’s what you’re saying. I hope I do, but I wouldn’t think so with this wind.

But I also have played in it for a week and I’m maybe a little bit more accustomed to it; whereas guys, you know, they live in cold, been hitting indoors, or maybe they go out west where it’s in Palm Springs and it’s not blowing at all, I mean, that is a big difference in getting used to it.

I definitely have a little bit of an advantage maybe having a week of it. Yeah, I’m probably also a little bit more tired than some of the other guys. For good reasons, so not complaining.

Q. To review, what was your attitude coming into the playoff, and how did you keep, I guess, a positive perspective when you had to go into it?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I mean, my mind frame was that I was given a second chance. I said to my dad as I was walking, he just asked, Do you need anything, from him. I was like, Yeah, I’ll take a mulligan. He goes, You were just given one. I think when he said that it did sink in. Yeah, I was. I was very, very lucky to be in that playoff or for Xander to have the wind pick up on his putt and 3-putt to give Patrick and myself a chance. So it was a mulligan in itself, so I tried to telling myself that.

I just felt like if I just kept making birdie — I think the 18th hole is a weird hole as a playoff, especially when you’re trying to beat daylight. It’s a very long hole and hard to walk. You’re just going to make a lot of 4s. I just kept trying to tell myself, Don’t be a hero and make a 3. If you keep making 4s I think I’ll eventually outlast somebody.

If someone makes 3 and beats me, then so be it.

Q. Xander was talking about attitude and improving his attitude. He thought of all the guys out here, Webb might have the best attitude. I think he said strokes gained plus 50 or whatever. Where would you put yourself?

Q. Would you have a strokes gained plus?
JUSTIN THOMAS: For sure. I mean, attitude isn’t necessarily if you don’t swear and you’re just happy-go-lucky all the time. My attitude is good because I’m a fierce competitor and I have all the confidence in the world that I can beat everybody else.

That’s my attitude. It’s not — yeah, if I make a bogey I’m not going to be smiling walking off the hole and high fiving people, but I’m going to be like, okay, we need to make some birdies to get back in it.

Q. And turn it around.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah. So attitude is a very relative term in terms of if there was a strokes gained stat. Yeah, Webb is one of the nicest guys on the planet and he does have a great attitude and he is also competitive. I mean, best of both worlds.

But in terms of how we act and what we say on the golf course, Webb and I are probably a little bit different.

Q. Tiger be more like you?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I guess. I don’t know. I mean, similar in the sense we probably do some things that don’t look that good on camera that we’re not happy or proud about that we have done, but I guess it is what it is.

Q. This is a weird one to ask you. The last two years the winner at Mayakoba has won here. Is there any reason off the top of your head you can think what that coincidence might be?
JUSTIN THOMAS: No. I mean, there is wind there. There is a little bit of wind here. I don’t know. It’s short. Yeah. You got to make a lot of birdies, I guess. Greens are — I don’t know. Greens are faster here. No, I don’t know.

I mean, the two very good players that did it, it’s not too crazy of a coincidence, but I hope that’s not the case this year.

Q. With all due respect, when we spoke to you after the win you sort of didn’t look like a winner because you had been through the grind. Have you taken the time you spoke about I guess for it to sink in what you did last week? Do you feel extra proud again?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I’m proud, but it’s over with. I mean, I’m just focused on trying to play well this week. I’ll have two weeks after this week to enjoy it, if you will, or if I want celebrate it. I stayed there Sunday night and was able to have a couple drinks with my family and just kind of relax and sit down and just not have any stress or anything for the next day.

Once Monday night came around, it’s done with and I need to figure out — my dad and I were talking about what we needed to this week to get a little bit better and what we need to do to feel like we have a chance to win this week.

Q. And generally speaking, do you think you celebrate your wins enough? Some guys say they forget to sometimes.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I’ve always been someone to celebrate a win, whether it’s enjoying it with people or doing something or buying myself something that I wouldn’t buy myself. I mean, I have always been someone that I do that. I’ve always said, okay, my next win I’m going to buy this or…

It’s like I’m not going to do it until I do that. I just feel like it’s very, very important to reward yourself when do you something well or you accomplish something because you did something good. You deserve it.

Q. What will you buy?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I haven’t yet. I think I’m going to get a car.

Q. What’s the last thing you bought yourself? To the guy who has everything.
JUSTIN THOMAS: What was the last thing? Well, the car was that one. I just haven’t had time to mess with any yet. I don’t know. I mean, like I got my girlfriend a watch or do something like that. I got my dad a car one time. I always want to do something to where I feel like it’s, okay, I accomplished it and I want to do it.

I built a man cave in my house one time.

Q. Urinal in it?
JUSTIN THOMAS: It does have a urinal. (Laughter.)

Q. I’m just curious, when you think back to 2017 here, why do you reference 27-under instead of 253?
JUSTIN THOMAS: That’s a good question. Easier for me to remember 27-under. Less math. I don’t know.

Q. So we don’t need to go down this road.
JUSTIN THOMAS: No, we don’t. I don’t know. I guess obviously it’s the same, but it is different, because if you look at a 72-hole record you say it as 253 not as 27-under, so that is a good point. I might start doing that, but…

Q. You don’t have to.
JUSTIN THOMAS: I don’t know. I guess it’s just because that is what my total was in relation to par. Yeah, not sure. I think that’s what it is. Yeah, it’s just like a lot.

Q. (No microphone.)
JUSTIN THOMAS: Birdie. Yeah. It is. I’ve never like — imagine that. What did you shoot this week? Yeah, 272. I don’t think anybody has ever done that. Maybe.

Q. (No microphone.)
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I shot however many under. Yeah, exactly. So I guess I don’t know.

Q. What did you shoot yesterday, 2-under or 68?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Probably 2-under. Like I don’t even know what I shot last week. I shot 15-under, but it’s like I would never say…

Q. (No microphone.)
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, exactly. It’s never like — so it’s weird.

Q. (No microphone.)
JUSTIN THOMAS: There you go. I don’t even know what that is.

Q. Yeah, just wondering, I’m from Central Ohio, and when I was assistant pro back in the ’80s, your grandfather would always kick my butt. Just wondered if this course reminded you of his course in Zanesville?

Q. And how is your grandfather doing right now?
JUSTIN THOMAS: He’s good. Yeah, I played Zanesville a handful of times. I was pretty young. I remember like the 1st hole that kind of went down and couple holes coming in, but a lot of the middle is pretty blurry. I do remember it was an awesome golf course.

Yeah, he’s good. Just entertaining as always. I talked to him on the way to the course Sunday before I played. He said I’m hitting it good. Just like always, just need to make some putts and this and that. Yeah, he’s great.

Q. I talked to Wahlberg. Said you guys are good buddies. Kind of give us a little synopsis of his golf game. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it before today.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, we’ve played a couple times. He’s always fun to be around. I really enjoyed just playing with him, because I’ve always heard from other people in the film industry how hard he works. It’s kind of cool to ask him questions and pick his brain, just kind of how he goes about it.

He didn’t play great today, but he’s always had his own method. He aims way left and comes across and hits it pretty far because he kind of d-lops (phonetic) it a little bit. But he can get it around pretty good. One thing you’re always going to have when you play with Mark is it’s going to be fast. You never have to worry about slow play. He gets it around there pretty good.

He’s a very, very impressive guy. He takes everything he does, whether it’s a business or a movie or directing very, very seriously and works hard. So it’s cool.

Q. Favorites movie of Wahlberg?
JUSTIN THOMAS: That’s tough. He’s got a lot of good ones. Yeah, Shooter is a good one. I don’t know. Just depends on the mood. I mean, Ted is hysterical and there is a bunch of good ones. He’s got a good list.

Q. Xander was speaking last week, and he said that when he was young there were times where he didn’t tell people he was a golfer because it wasn’t necessarily cool. Now, you grew up through the golf world and always liked it. Was there ever a time where you felt that as a kid, that pressure of this isn’t the coolest thing to be improved in, I should be a basketballer or a footballer?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I never had that. I loved it so much. I’m not saying that Xander didn’t, but I don’t know. I just didn’t care. It’s just what I wanted to go out and play golf with my dad and grandpa. I was watching Tiger and all these guys and just thought that looked so cool. Going to golf tournaments just seemed pretty cool in my eyes.

I definitely understand. I know what you’re saying. You definitely would get some looks and some comments in grade school. You play golf? People probably call you a loser or whatever it is. It is what it is. I’m sure I didn’t really care.

Q. I guess that comes to that, how do kids, per se, be strong mentally in that scenario? They’ve got people like you look up to now. Any advice you give people, be true to yourself or something like that?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I really don’t think that’s something that’s that common. I don’t think anybody is getting judged because they play golf. It is up and coming and there are so many — it’s in such a great state, the game is.

Yeah, I feel like the amount of young players coming out is great, but I don’t think there is anything that — kids are never getting judged. I don’t really think I ever did. I might have. I don’t know. When you’re a kid, there is always something that you can make fun of other kids for.

I don’t know. I think just telling them to enjoy it. That’s what my parents always told me. They didn’t care what I did, as long as I had fun with it then they would support it.

Q. Matt Kuchar is the defending champion here. He’s been out 20 years now. Do you have a favorite Matt Kuchar moment or story that maybe he interacted with you?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I got a lot that I can’t share.

Q. That you can share.
JUSTIN THOMAS: I don’t know. I mean, it’s bizarre. I feel like you have those guys you play with a lot, like I’ve played a lot with Jordan, Rory, a lot Tiger, who I just get paired with the first two days.

I think last year with Kuch was like the first time I’ve ever gotten paired with him the first two days, and then again this year. I don’t know. He’s just one of those guys I haven’t played with a lot, but every time I do it’s just unbelievable how good he is.

You know, he reminds me of kind of like a Zach Johnson where he plays his game, and doesn’t matter what the course is, he is probably going to hit every fairway. If he can’t, does have a good club, can’t get there or whatever it might be, he always leaves it in the right spot and he always gets it up and down.

It’s just really impressive to watch them pick their way through a golf course and how well they do it week in, week out for such a long period of time. I mean, Kuch is so funny. His humor is one of a kind.

Q. Is he in the middle of team rooms or does he sort of sit on the side and just sort of…
JUSTIN THOMAS: No. He’s in the middle, but he’ll just always say something like in the middle, out of nowhere that you’re like, It’s only Kuch. You know, him and (indiscernible) are both great assets to the team rooms and the teams for many reasons. The entertainment is definitely high.

Q. Since I’m asking about other players, how much have you played with Sung Jae Im, and what are your impression?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I played with him enough to know he’s really, really good, freakishly talented. Good at pretty much every asset. Played with him in Korea last year, and he has unbelievable control of his ball.

A place like this this week with this wind — well, he plays well every week — but I would think he will play well because he just hits it so solidly and consistent.

Q. You’re not playing 35 times a year though?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I am not personally, no.

Q. This is a big year with a lots things. Where do you put the priorities for the rest of the season with the Olympics and the majors?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I mean, priority right now is the Sony Open. That’s all I’m worried about. Obviously majors with the Olympics are extremely important, but all I’m trying to do is prepare for the next event and try to peak at the right times of the year. You want to be peaking around the majors. Hopefully try to make the Olympic team first and then hopefully play well there. And then for the playoffs. I mean, there are a lot of different times you want to be playing well, but most importantly just staying healthy and rested throughout the year so that when I do tee it up I’m ready to go for that certain event.

Q. Does the Olympics have as much importance as a major for you?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I’ve never played in it so I don’t know. I mean, it’s very important. I would love to be a part of it. In terms of winning it, you’re comparing apples to apples I think. Both extremely important.

THE MODERATOR: Let’s take one more.

Q. I ran into Matt yesterday, and I don’t cover the TOUR a lot, but the very first time I saw him I guess subliminally with popped into my head was the tipping controversy in Mexico. Do you think that was overblown and unfair to him and the reaction that he’s kind of dealt with on the road sometimes is not fair to the person that he is?
JUSTIN THOMAS: That’s just kind of between them and everything else.

THE MODERATOR: All right. Anything else? Justin Thomas, best of luck this week.

Honolulu, Hawaii

January 8, 2020

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


PGA Tour: Abraham Ancer talks President’s Cup and Sony Open in Hawaii

PGA Tour professional Abraham Ancer speaks with the media about his 2019 President’s Cup experience, going head to head with Tiger Woods, 2020 Olympic games and 2020 Sony Open in Hawaii

THE MODERATOR: Okay, we would like to welcome Abraham Ancer into the interview room, making his third start at the Sony Open in Hawaii; tied for 29th last year. Abraham, if we can get some comments on being back.

ABRAHAM ANCER: Yeah, happy to be back. Happy to get the 2020 year started. It’s a golf course that I like a lot. Got to be really precise off the tee; can get really windy.

Yeah, looks like the weather is going to be tough this week, so it’s going to be a nice grind.

THE MODERATOR: You’re coming in with a couple Top 10s from the fall in your last couple starts there in China and Mayakoba. Just talk about your season up to this point.

ABRAHAM ANCER: Yeah, game feels really good. Ended up playing good in China, playing good in Mexico, and then Presidents Cup was fun. Good golf there. Good experience.

Yeah, ready to go. A lot of golf ahead.

THE MODERATOR: All right. Let’s go right into questions.

Q. Just expand on the Presidents Cup and what being in that environment and that situation has done for your confidence or anything going forward? What can you draw from?
ABRAHAM ANCER: Yeah, a lot good stuff came out of Presidents Cup. Just playing a lot of golf under a lot of pressure. I like to put myself in those situations. I feel like I get a lot out of that. I become a better player when I put myself in those situations, and moving forward I feel like I will be a little calmer in situations where I would be normally very stressed out.

Q. Two things on the Presidents Cup. First of all, there was a number of players, Scottie and I think Louis was another one that basically predicted that you would be a big points earner for the week. Why did they do that?
ABRAHAM ANCER: I don’t know.

Q. Must’ve been doing something right.
ABRAHAM ANCER: I don’t know. I mean, I played a little bit of golf with Scottie before the Presidents Cup. With Louis, I mean, obviously I met him and spent a little bit of time with him, but I’ve never played with Louis before.

So I don’t know why they predicted it or why they said that. I appreciate it. It gave me confidence coming from that level of players they are to say that about me. Obviously gave me confidence and it was fun. It was a week that obviously I will never forget.

Got to spend some time with them. It was really cool. I mentioned before, now I got to spend some time with my teammates, and when I left it felt like they were my brothers. It was really cool.

Q. The other thing, there was so much made about you wanting to play Tiger, and you explained it well, the whole situation. Was there any kind of downer to have such a great week and have so much attention – even Tiger’s comment of, Hey, he wanted me, he got me – did it take anything away?
ABRAHAM ANCER: You know what, I tried not to get to me, because the way I said it — well, that was actually month before in Mayakoba when I got asked this question. I was like, Well, out of the 12 guys who would I like to play on a big stage in a big event like that, it would like, yeah, obviously I would like to play my hero growing up, Tiger Woods. Be an incredible experience.

And so I didn’t only learn from the golf course and from golf. I learned a lot about media and how it can get twisted. Yeah, definitely got twisted and just the context how I said things. And maybe Tiger didn’t know the way I said it. He just kind of took it from what he was reading or what he heard, which is fine.

Yeah, maybe it was a little bit of a downer because just people didn’t know how I said it. Some guy like reached out to me, like you were really, really cocky. I was like, What?

I just a little thrown off by some of the comments. Yeah, I don’t know. I try for them not to get to me because it was such a great week, such a great experience. I feel like I played some good golf.

But, yeah, definitely didn’t like how it got twisted the way I said things for sure.

Q. What does it say about the way that you played that everyone was raving about how well Tiger played.

Q. 15 holes plus… (No microphone.)
ABRAHAM ANCER: Yeah, I mean, I feel like I played good. There were few shots that I know — like the second shot on 9 when I hit it in the bunker. I should have never done that. That was a mistake.

And the putt on 14, that’s where the match kind of could have gone my way or could’ve gone either way for sure.

Q. (No microphone.)
ABRAHAM ANCER: Exactly, yeah. I mean, make/miss on that 14th hole, if I make and Tiger misses, we would’ve been tied going into 15.

Yeah, I knew going into that match I just couldn’t miss. I had to play some perfect golf to have a chance to beat Tiger. I knew he wasn’t going to make any stupid mistakes. He’s playing some really good golf; he made all the shots he had to make.

I feel like I played really well. I played really well. Obviously have to be perfect if you’re going to play against Tiger and didn’t happen. But like I said, I like putting myself in those situations, and coming out of there I feel like I’m not better player from being in that spot.

We’ll see where it takes me after that.

Q. You’re going to keep that confidence level going forward, right? Not going to shy away from the person you’ve always been going forward.
ABRAHAM ANCER: Yeah. I mean, definitely, like I said, it gave me a lot confidence and really shows how I do under a lot of pressure, and I feel like I did good. Obviously I wanted to do better. I didn’t play — feel like I played better the rounds before than when I played with Tiger, but I didn’t play bad. I played pretty solid.

Yeah, just shows me what I need to get better at, how you feel under pressure, and I can take that and look back when I’m in a situation like that maybe playing in the last round for a chance to win. I’ll draw back and remember how I felt that day.

Q. If you could just sort of give us a feel of how the team felt afterwards.
ABRAHAM ANCER: Yeah, I mean, I think Ernie did such an amazing job of making the Internationals an actual team. It’s always a challenge when you have guys from all over the world and try to mesh that week. Some of the guys don’t spend time with other guys during the year. Different languages. It’s hard.

So we were definitely pretty devastated the last day because we wanted it bad obviously. We were doing a good job up until that last day.

But, yeah, we were in good spirits when we left the golf course. I feel like Ernie left the culture of what needs to be done so we can get better, and I think it’s only going to get better from now on.

Q. Winning one become a big goal for you now?
ABRAHAM ANCER: What’s that?

Q. Winning one a big goal for you now?
ABRAHAM ANCER: Of course. Yeah, definitely, definitely. Any type of team golf, it was so much fun playing for not only for you but for a team, country, and really meant a lot to are me and I know everybody else on the team as well.

Q. Do you feel like a better player after this Presidents Cup? Like you not only played well under pressure, but you learned some things?
ABRAHAM ANCER: For sure, yeah, absolutely. I think like I was saying, there was a lot of golf that we played that was a lot of pressure at all times. Every single shot you feel like, I have to make this, I have to pull this up, because you’re playing for your team. But also if you’re playing alternate shot your partner is right there; you don’t want to put them in a bad spot. Every point counts, every half point.

Yeah, I feel for me, it’s feeling comfortable out there is what makes me a lot better. I don’t work on my swing that much. I’ve never really — I’m not a very technical guy, so I feel like if I can get better in that aspect it definitely makes me a better player.

Q. How about Tiger up close? Did you see anything in his game that you said, I need to somehow incorporate into mine, or maybe his mannerisms or anything of that nature that you took away and said, That’s something I need to do?
ABRAHAM ANCER: I mean, obviously he’s Tiger Woods, right? He does everything really, really good. I wasn’t paying much attention. I was just really focusing on my game.

So, yeah, I mean, he didn’t make any dumb mistakes, which is what you need to do, especially in match play on a tough golf course. Yeah, I took some stuff out of that match. Mainly just personally, how I felt. We play different games. I don’t hit it like he does. It’s just situational where I drew from how I felt in certain moments that I’m going to definitely incorporate into the future.

Q. What’s your early schedule look like here the first six to eight weeks?
ABRAHAM ANCER: Playing here and then La Quinta, and then week off. Might go overseas for maybe one week and then go to L.A. for the Riviera and then Mexico City for WGC.

Q. Congratulation. How was the reaction back in Mexico afterwards, and how did you feel with the whole situation, the crowds, playing on a big stage like that?
ABRAHAM ANCER: Yes, it was incredible. I mean, all the Mexican people were really, really proud and just happy to have a Mexican guy or a guy representing Mexico in the Presidents Cup. I felt a lot of support. People were great, which I’m really, really thankful. They were awesome, so I really felt the whole country was behind me there, which was really, really cool.

Yeah, playing on a big stage like that was a lot of fun. Like I said, it was a week that I will never ever forget. The feeling of playing in front of the Aussie crowd and really people from all over the world made the trip, it was really special.

My teammates made it a really unique experience as well, which I’m really happy I was able to play that week.

Q. Now that we turn the calendar to 2020, how much are you looking towards the Olympics and representing your country at the Games in Tokyo?
ABRAHAM ANCER: Looking forward a lot. I know it’s still ways away from that, but it’s something that always wanted to do. Now that golf is part of the Olympics, again, really excited. Any chance I can get to play for my country or as a team, I just enjoy it so much. I think it’s going to be another great experience.

Q. How big is a gold medal to you? Is that like winning a major?
ABRAHAM ANCER: I think so. It’s different because I didn’t grow up like really thinking about the Olympics for golf. Never been part of it. But now that it is, definitely a big deal. Huge deal.

Yeah, I would consider it like maybe fifth major. One of those for sure.

Q. You made me forget my question.
ABRAHAM ANCER: You’re the last one. Got to go. Got to practice.

THE MODERATOR: Anything else?

Q. In 2020, obviously looking to knock off a win at some stage on this tour. Do you have a specific goal in term of a time frame or just trying to play your best?
ABRAHAM ANCER: No time frame. I think just got to keep doing what I’m doing. I’m not trying to really think about the win, the win, the win. I just want that to just come whenever it has to come. I’m not really thinking about that. Just want to get better every week.

Q. Regarding Fletcha Azul new?
ABRAHAM ANCER: Yeah, my tequila company coming out this year.

Q. Did you say mine?
ABRAHAM ANCER: Me and my partners, yeah, we’re starting it. Really excited about that.

Q. (No microphone.)
ABRAHAM ANCER: (Laughter.) Yeah, that was something that we were, me and my partner was my sponsor for about a year and a half. Like my brother to me, like my big brother now.

Q. A sponsor as someone who supported you?
ABRAHAM ANCER: Supported me, yeah. Really good friends. More than a sponsor. Really good friends. We’re both Mexican. Both love tequila. We just said, You know what? Let’s give it a whirl. It’s been in the works for over a year, and we’re really excited. We’ve been nonstop working on it, so really happy with all the profiles of our tequila and everything.

We pretty much are excited just to already showcase it and have people try to. Should be in Texas here in about a month. Yeah, ready to roll. Something really excited about.

Q. (No microphone.)
ABRAHAM ANCER: Yeah, actually met in that Pro-Am in — where was it? In Fort Worth, at Colonial. We met there at the Pro-Am, hit it off, became really good friends. This was maybe two and a half years ago, maybe a little more.

Yeah, and here we are. It’s been a lot of fun, something that I — I really wanted to put my name on something that I’m really passionate about, something I will enjoy, and actually something that I drink. I don’t really drink anything else. (Laughter.)

Q. Your profile is going up and up.
ABRAHAM ANCER: It’s true. It’s true. I don’t want to sell here, but it’s something that I — that’s what I drink. Everybody that knows me knows that if I’m going to drink I’m going to drink tequila on the rocks and that’s it.

Q. (No microphone.)
ABRAHAM ANCER: We have five. We have Blanco, Reposado, Anejo, Cristalino. Cristalino is the one I’m really passionate about. It’s just so smooth. People when they try it they are like, Wow.

It’s just remove the stigma of people like have tequila when they’re in college and they’re already kind of drunk, and then they have tequila shots that are pretty bad and then you mix it and end up throwing up. (Laughter.) You wake up with the worst hangover.

What you remember is like, Wow that tequila got me. Yeah, we’re trying to get the culture to really understand how tequila works and good it can be. If you just had have on the rocks and don’t mix it with anything — I mean, I can throw down — for my size, I can throw down some tequila and the next day 7:00 in the morning I’m hitting balls and I’m completely fine, which is amazing.


Q. (No microphone.)
ABRAHAM ANCER: No, not at all. If you mix it with some sugar, other drinks, yeah, you’re going to be messed up. Just got to know how to do it for sure.

Q. (No microphone.)
ABRAHAM ANCER: There is a lot of drinks that you can make. If you don’t like to just sip on it, there are definitely some mixed drinks you can make for sure.

Q. (No microphone.)
ABRAHAM ANCER: We got you guys. (Laughter.) We got you guys for sure.

Q. (No microphone.)
ABRAHAM ANCER: Yeah, I definitely want to make it at least once before that week. I don’t want to get there and just be overwhelmed. First time there, right? I want to go there at least once or twice, see the golf course.

But I want it to be closer to the date because I don’t want to play a different golf course, which I know it’s not going to be exactly the same. They really get the greens way faster during that week.

Yeah, just want see it and be there before that week for sure.

Q. What was that like?
ABRAHAM ANCER: It’s really cool. I mean, first time…

Q. You know it’s coming?
ABRAHAM ANCER: I didn’t know it was coming. I saw some post of other people like putting on Instagram or Twitter. I was like, Well, I need to check my mail then. When it was there I was like, Wow, this is pretty sweet.

Yeah, I’m probably going to frame it. I had to put it in my office right on my desk, and I’m probably going to frame it.

Q. Have some tequila?
ABRAHAM ANCER: I did actually have some. Not much, but I did.

THE MODERATOR: All right, Abraham, we appreciate your time. Best of luck this week.

ABRAHAM ANCER: Thank you, guys. Appreciate it.

Honolulu, Hawaii

January 7, 2020

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


PGA Tour: Patrick Reed Speaks to Media Following 2020 Sentry Tournament of Champions

7 time PGA Tour winner and Master’s champion Patrick Reed speaks to the media following his final round at the 2020 Sentry Tournament of Champions in Maui, Hawaii.

Q. Patrick, you shoot 7-under par, that was the low round of the day. You gave yourself a chance. Is that satisfying even though you’ve lost in this playoff?
PATRICK REED: It’s all about winning. At the end of the day, I knew what I had to do today. I went out and had to go shoot a low number, especially with how windy it was today, to give myself an opportunity, and I did. Unfortunately I had two putts really to close it, and one of them I got gusted on, and then this last one with the wind and the break, just got me again.

Q. You knocked it on the front edge, we all expected you to (indiscernible).
PATRICK REED: Yeah, the thing is (indiscernible) right in the middle of it and I thought I landed it high enough, and (indiscernible) it almost was easier from farther right where you didn’t have that big ridge.

Q. You played so well all day long. You’re such a competitor. I know this is a disappointment. Tell me about the putts in the afternoon here.
PATRICK REED: Really the first one with the eagle I hit it exactly where I wanted to, it just happened to not break enough. And then the second one, the wind picked up right where we hit it and it made the ball stay straighter because it was more downwind and it actually didn’t break at all. And then the last one I needed to make that one to tie and obviously continue for an extra hole, and right after I hit it a gust came and the ball ended up missing by a cup and it was actually outside his mark. That was the thing about today; you knew especially really the last three days that the wind was going to be a factor on putts, and unfortunately it came down to having to make too long a putt in order to either extend or to win, and at the end of the day when you have that long putt and you have the wind, it just makes it a little harder.

Q. What do you take out of today?
PATRICK REED: It was a solid day. I was 8-under through 21 holes, so it was great golf as a whole. But I mean, of course it stings at the end whenever you don’t birdie for the win. But really I gave myself an opportunity. I put myself in position to have a chance, and I needed a little bit of help at the end there, and they gave it to me, allowing me to even get in the playoff.

Q. Did you think you had any chance when you finished?
PATRICK REED: I didn’t. I was staying just because I had to. If all of a sudden you leave, that’s the one time I would actually have an opportunity. But I didn’t think I was going to have an opportunity to even be in a playoff. That was a gift there towards the end to even give me an opportunity. I had a shot, though. I birdied the first one and got bested on the next two putts. Unfortunately from that point it just wasn’t meant to be.

Q. What do you take away from this week?
PATRICK REED: A grind in the bad weather. It’s easy to stay comfortable with your golf swing, stay comfortable with your putting stroke whenever it’s calm outside, but when the wind starts to blow are you able to stay in pattern and are you able to make putts and get up-and-down, and I felt like I was able to do that all week, and I was really able to bounce back after being 3-over through 7 the first day and to be able to have a chance to win a golf tournament means a lot.

Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii

January 5, 2020

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


PGA Tour: Xander Schauffele Speaks Following Playoff loss at 2020 Tournament of Champions

Post tournament interview with runner up finisher Xander Schauffele at the PGA Tour’s 2020 Tournament of Champions.

Q. What a day for you. How would you describe the emotions of this playoff?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE: Yeah, windy. Very up and down. I was happy with the way I played in regulation. I should have won the tournament. I know it. Everyone knows it. I mean, J.T. was right there, but under the circumstances I should have closed it off, and I didn’t. I kind of did everything I was supposed to do until the last moment, which sucks. But this is another learning experience, and I guess I’ll have to work on some wind putting.

Q. Can you walk me through that putt in regulation?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE: Yeah, I think I got gusted, honestly. On the initial putt, it went — I honestly thought it was going to go like four feet by, but it caught some speed, and once it started breaking right with the wind, it kept going. I was so convinced that it was going to go back right to left coming back up the hill, but it really wasn’t going to do that. It was just bad.

Q. You mentioned a learning experience. What will be your takeaway from this week?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE: I can win. I think that’s pretty plain and simple. I’m good enough to hang with the best, and I just need to be a little bit smarter when the time is right and able to close it out.

Q. Heck of a defense today. I know you’re disappointed, but it looked like you kind of fought back on the back nine. What turned it around for you there?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE: Yeah, it was windy. That stretch of holes J.T. went 4- or 5-under through, I’d like to see anyone else try it. He was hitting ridiculous shots, making good putts in the wind, and he deserved the lead he got, and I just kept telling Austin let’s play smart, stay patient. We finished last year with a bunch of birdies, and we were able to do the same this year.

Q. You had a couple of chances in regulation and then in the playoff. Just tough putts there at 18?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE: Yeah, it was kind of stupid on my part. I trusted the wind a lot. I got gusted a little bit on that first putt and was convinced that it was right to left kind of coming back even though it was a pretty straight putt. I was a little dumbfounded when I missed the hole by half a cup. If I had maybe took a little more time, maybe called Austin in, just stuff in the moment that I wasn’t really aware of. I was doing great all day until probably that moment. Same thing in the playoff. I was kind of spooked by my first putt going so far by, I left my playoff putt 25 feet short. It was just childish, and you try to learn from it.

Q. How would you assess how the day played out today?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE: Yeah, I’m happy for the most part. J.T. sort of had a little present there on 18. I think I’m more than capable of two-putting from about 35 feet. Obviously it was a little windy. My downhill, downwind putts today I’ve hit by all day, so why not do it again to try and win the tournament. It was just a little childish, I think. I think I held on pretty decent. J.T. had an incredible stretch of golf through some difficult holes to gain a lead, and I started birdieing the easier holes to try and claw back into it, and it was a whirlwind day.

Q. You’ve won a lot of golf tournaments, but you’ve also had your fair share of disappointments. How disappointing is this one?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE: Yeah, I think that’s the problem, I haven’t really won enough. I’ve only won four tournaments. It would have been nice to be a little more mature at the right time, sort of assessing the wind and the downhill speed. Just realizing that I’ve been hitting it long all day. I didn’t think about it at all and I managed to hit my winning putt eight feet by and then misreading the second one due to the wind. Just sort of a rookie move trying to close out a tournament, and I’ll definitely try to draw back on this in a positive way when the time is right.

Q. That also begs the question, what positives do you take out of this week?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE: Yeah, that I can win. I think I’m plenty good. I don’t see why I shouldn’t keep playing great golf. This sucks. Maybe I need just a kick in the ass to sort of wake up and do the right things most of the time. Yeah, this kind of burns a little bit, but overall happy with how I handled myself.

Q. I think it’s the first time since ’99 and Tiger that someone has gotten that close to their two title defenses. Can you just run through obviously being so close?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE: Yeah, just sort of a rookie move. I think my awareness — in all honesty I was pretty calm all day. I didn’t feel much nerves. The first time I sort of felt nerves was walking down 18, which is different than the past, so that’s a good sign if I’m trying to find the positives. If I was more aware I would have realized that I’ve blown all my downhill, downwind putts, and Austin told me it’s going to be a helping wind once the ball starts breaking with the wind, it’s going to start moving, and I kind of got gusted. I thought it was going to be like three, four feet by and it ended up going six or seven with that extra trickle. It was just sort of a rookie move, not really being aware of where I was and what I did in the past, I guess.

Q. How proud are you of the way you fought back today?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE: Yeah, it was just comfortable again. I just needed someone to get out ahead of me so I could chase them down. I mean, if you look at the stretch of holes J.T. went birdieing through, it was an unbelievable stretch of holes. 9 is a birdie hole, 10 was tricky, 11 was tricky. All those downwind holes are so tricky. I thought J.T. played an incredible stretch of golf through that stretch. I wasn’t too worried about it. I was waiting for my turn.

January 5, 2020

Kapalua, Maui, Hawai

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


PGA Tour: Justin Thomas speaks on his Tournament of Champions victory

Post tournament interview with Tournament of Champions 2020 winner Justin Thomas talking his 12th PGA Tour victory.

PGA Tour: Winner Interview Tournament of Champions Champion

RACHEL NOBLE: We’d like to welcome 2020 Sentry Tournament of Champions winner Justin Thomas to the interview room. Justin, thoughts on how that all played out.

JUSTIN THOMAS: I don’t really know, to be honest. My adrenaline is kind of wearing off, so I’m tired, I don’t know what happened, but all I know is I played — I mean, really 16 I feel like I didn’t play that poorly. I hit a great drive, just the wind got it, took it a little farther and a 70-yard bunker shot is not exactly easy, but I played 16 holes about as good as I could have played them in those conditions. I felt like I had total control of the tournament. I was doing everything well, and just kind of got between clubs on 17, made a great putt there for par, and then 18 was a terrible drive that left me on a steep, steep downslope and hit the wrong club, but we got lucky to where we had a chance and even more lucky that we were given more chances, and fortunate enough to get it done.

Q. Talk about that final shot you hit.
JUSTIN THOMAS: In the playoff? Yeah, I had 113 hole, and we just — it was kind of a — that pin is so weird because you can do so many different things, and that’s kind of what I said to Jimmy. The wind was kind of quartering down and off the right so I either needed to hit something high and cutting that flew the slope to have some spin or I needed to hit something driving with a little bit more left to right on it to land up on that top shelf and roll down. I just felt like — although it was actually funny, the first thing Jimmy said was, “What do you think is the safest?” I said, We’re 113 yards, I need to make birdie; I’m not worried about what the safest play is, like we need to make 4.

Just for me I felt like my best chance was going to be to hit a cut sand wedge and we were trying to fly it about eight short, so that was playing I felt like about 95, so I just tried to hit a 95 cut sand wedge, and it looked like it was pretty close to going in.

Q. Loft on it was what?
JUSTIN THOMAS: 57 degrees.

Q. They say that you can learn more from a loss than a win, but I feel like this might be a win that you’ll take a lot away from. Can you speak to that?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, you should take something from every round, but yeah, it just was such a bizarre way for it to finish. I mean, something about this place I seem to have the tournament pretty well under control, and then I hit it in a hazard, on 15 and 17 I did it. But as long as it ends up the way it did, then I’m fine with it. But yeah, it was — I feel like I’ll be able to — once early next week or after next week, I’ll be able to kind of sit back and maybe think of some stuff we could have done differently.

Q. As a huge positive, 12 wins now, the most for anyone who’s currently in their 20s on TOUR, and I think you just took over Jordan’s spot there. Talk about the accomplishment of having so many wins.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I mean, personally it’s not an accomplishment getting to 12. It’s an accomplishment winning today, but I’ll have fun with my family and celebrate it tonight, and next week we try to get 13.

Q. Curious about the pitch shot to the right of the green on the first playoff hole I guess it was. Of the three guys, you looked like you were least likely to —
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I was definitely in the worst position. I was praying that that ball stayed in the fairway so I could get my hands on it. I didn’t have a very good number on the second shot. It was a 3-wood — if I just pured that 3-wood, if I hit it like that it had no chance, and I couldn’t get a 5-wood there. So I tried to kind of cut a 3-wood, which is hard to do downhill, ball above your feet, and I hit it on the screws. So when it went over, it just — we went back there and I saw where it was, and I was like, you know, Jimmy, what do you like here, what are you thinking, and we kind of both agreed that we felt like a sand wedge was going to be best because less bounce and it wasn’t going to dig as much, and it was very grainy and wet. I had the wind to my advantage where as long as I hit it hard enough to the left the wind was going to take it down, and man, when it was rolling I thought it had a really good chance to go in. But it was one of the better shots and definitely the best chip I’ve hit this week.

Q. Earlier in the week we sat here and you talked about, yeah, I definitely should have won more, I’m a little disappointed. Here you are winning more. I guess I’m trying to just gauge how that feels in light of what you said earlier in the week.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I mean, right now it’s — I don’t know. It’s been a pretty bizarre last two hours. But yeah, I mean, kind of like Ben said earlier asking about the winning and losing, I feel like I’ll be able to really take a lot from this once I figure out what it was or whatever it might be. But yeah, I mean, it —

Q. Winning is winning?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Exactly, yeah. It’s always nice no matter how it’s done.

Q. Two things on 18 in regulation, a nice moment to reflect on. On the second shot you had, did you hit a bad shot or was it a bad lie?
JUSTIN THOMAS: It was a really bad lie. It was the wrong club. I should have hit a 5-wood. It just — I had no chance to get it to the green. The only good thing about a 3-wood was that it was going to cover more if I slightly pulled it, not hit it as far left as I did. But I mean, as steep as — the thing is the farther down you get it, the flatter it is. I hit that drive so bad and so far off the toe that I didn’t get it far enough down to be flat. It just was — with a one-shot lead that was so stupid. I would have been better off hitting a 6-iron than a 3-wood. It doesn’t make sense.

If I just would have made 4 there I would have won the tournament in regulation. Obviously if I made 5 I would have, but standing on 18 tee, I’m like, we make 4 we’re probably going to win this thing, and boy, I botched it up pretty badly.

Q. I know some things take a while to digest, but after you missed the eight-footer and you’re off to the green with head bowed and hat off, are you already digesting the pain of throwing one away?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, for sure. It’s so weird. Xander had to go through the same thing I did with the wind on that putt. It really is not a hard putt. It’s probably the two easiest putts that you could get to that pin. Xander’s was probably straight, maybe left edge, and mine was right edge, something like that. But because of that wind, you know, the wind kind of picked up on mine and went low and the wind stopped on his and that’s why his broke. Same with Patrick’s putt on the last hole. There’s no wind there, that thing goes in the dead center. It’s just — I don’t know. I really don’t know how I won today. I got very fortunate.

Q. After what happened on the last in regulation, were you at all worried about your second shot on the final playoff hole?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I wasn’t worried. I don’t like that second shot. I fat it once a year. I fatted it like twice this year. Something about it, it’s just — I like working the ball left to right, and you need to work that thing right to left, and for me if I try to draw it, my miss is going to be a little bit behind it, and then when you’ve got a huge slope behind you, it’s really behind it. I mean, I had a perfect 5-wood number and a perfect lie, I thought, in the last playoff hole and I fatted a 5-wood again. I don’t know what it is about that hole, but apparently I need more than a one shot lead, I know that.

Q. Along those same lines, have you ever played the same hole four times in a row in a tournament that you ended up winning or even ever?
JUSTIN THOMAS: No, definitely not. I know it was the worst hole we could have possibly played to try to beat daylight. We picked a 680-yard par-5 with the wind blowing 30. I think a 200-yard hole we could have got in maybe five or six times. I was saying that to Jimmy, walking down the last playoff hole, I was like, man, this is a pretty bad hole to play when you’re trying to beat daylight.

Q. You won this tournament back in 2017, arguably your best year, you won the PGA that year. How do you feel after winning this tournament this year compared to winning it in 2017?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I don’t know, I mean, they’re very different. I was in a little different stage of my career then. Not that one win was better than the other or felt better. They’re both tremendous accomplishments and huge for me, but that was a long time ago, and they were both done differently. This one was a lot more stress and a lot more hard-fought. So I’m probably a little bit more tired, a little bit more exhausted after this one. But they both ended with the correct result, which is nice.

Q. Should we expect a 59 on Thursday?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I hope so. Tell me where to sign, I’ll take it right now.

Q. I know you have to digest it, but you hopefully will push this through —
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I’m not — I haven’t thought about anything next week yet. I’m just trying to figure out where I’m going to stay tonight because I missed my flight and I don’t know what’s going to happen. Hopefully I’ll be able to find a room around here, and we’ll get there tomorrow, and then once tomorrow gets settled then we’ll worry about Sony.

Q. This may be a little bit repetitious, but what’s the emotion because you don’t seem — like I’m sure you’re happy you won, but is there more other emotions like relief and so forth that are sort of mixed into that?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, it is. It’s just a lot. It was really hard today. If you went out there and played 18 holes in that, like you’d be tired at the end of the day just for how hard it was.

Q. And the 40 extra shots.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I wasn’t going to bring that up. But trying to win a golf tournament and the grind and then just the emotions and how I was winning and then I was barely winning and then I was losing and then I barely got in a playoff — just that takes a lot out of you. I probably don’t seem as elated as I might be or as I would hope to be.

But it’ll just take a little bit. Once I get back to the hotel hopefully with my family, I’ll be able to enjoy it a little bit and we’ll talk about it. But yeah, relief is definitely a word that comes to mind. But still very happy.

Q. You’ve had obviously a nice run since it started in Malaysia, but just curious, as much as you won, do you think it’s underrated the fact that you’re guaranteed coming back next year? Do you think about stuff like that?

JUSTIN THOMAS: Absolutely, yeah. I mean, I was stressing last year. I only had five or six events left to try to get in, and yeah, there’s no — that’s the first thing I said to Jimmy on 18 after we won, I said, “We’re coming back.” I mean, I don’t know. I guess everybody feels differently about this event because some guys don’t come, families, whatever it might be, but man, I love starting the year here. It’s a pretty nice feeling.

Q. I know you’re in the moment, you’ve still got a big putt left, but as a competitor what’s it like when you hear someone scream out “cheater” after Patrick hits?JUSTIN THOMAS: Did someone do that?

Q. Never mind. I retract the question.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I didn’t hear.

Q. You didn’t notice that at all?

Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii

January 5, 2020

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports