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Team USA

Rickie Fowler To Play Special Edition Taylormade PIX Ball at Arnold Palmer Invitational

It has become a yearly routine for PGA Tour professional Rickie Fowler to pay homage to one of the greatest to ever play at the Arnold Palmer Invitational via a collection of special edition Arnold Palmer themed gear including shoes, hats, and bags. For the 2020 edition of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Fowler will be seen playing a special edition Arnold Palmer “umbrella” ball designed by Taylormade. Unfortunately, for the majority of us that would love to purchase this ball, it will be unavailable for retail purchase. Below are pictures of Fowler’s ball that will be in play this week.

Rickie Fowler will begin his 2020 Arnold Palmer Invitational on Thursday, March 5 at teeing off at 12:44 Eastern Time alongside Australian Marc Leishman and last week’s winner Korean Sungjae Im.

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Apparel Equipment Golfshoes Products

Rickie Fowler To Honor “The King” With Arnold Palmer Themed Puma Gear

Five time PGA Tour winner Rickie Fowler will be continuing his annual tradition of honoring the late Arnold Palmer at the 2020 Arnold Palmer Invitational by sporting special edition Puma x Arnold Palmer apparel and equipment. Find out where to get your hands on the latest gear below.

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Fowler to pay tribute to Arnold Palmer again in 2020 via customized Puma/Cobra apparel and equipment

Rickie Fowler will continue to pay homage to Arnold Palmer this year by wearing a select run of special edition Puma Golf apparel including hats, shoes and a staff bag. Many of the products will be available hand-signed by Fowler himself with all proceeds going directly to Palmer’s foundation. At the 2019 edition of the Arnold Palmer Invitational Fowler raised north of $40,000 via the autographed apparel. Below is a more detailed look of the gear Fowler can be seen wearing this week and where to purchase for yourself.

Hats

API CAMO P CAP

This classic Puma “P” hat has been engineered to be a true head turner, featuring the Arnold Palmer signature umbrella on the Puma “P” and an Arnold Palmer themed camouflage pattern on the backside. The hat is available in a array of colors and is available for $35 direct from Puma’s website here.

N1AP ROPE CAP

This Puma x Arnold Palmer mashup features a nylon rope across the bill of the hat, similar to the rope found on the perimeter of courses. The numbers and letters scattered on the hat might not be recognizable to anyone, but die hard Arnie fans will notice that they are the tail number of his signature Cessna Aircraft. The hat is available in three colors and can be purchased for $35 here.

BAY HILL CITY CAP

Pay tribute to the legendary Bay Hill Golf Club in Orlando, Florida host of the annual Arnold Palmer Invitational. The cap is additionally available in a “Latrobe City” format to pay homage to Palmer’s hometown. The hats can be purchased for $35 direct on Puma’s website here.

Bags

LE API TOUR STAND BAG

This Arnold Palmer special edition collaboration between Cobra Golf and Vessel stand bag embodies everything the king represents. The bag features Palmer’s signature colors in a camouflage pattern and a ultra comfortable carrying strap. The bag is available for purchase for $599 direct from Puma’s website here.

Shoes

IGNITE PROADAPT PALMER GOLF SHOES

These limited edition Puma golf shoes pay tribute to Arnold Palmer in a unique way via his extreme passion for aviation. The classic silver, white and blue colors are a humble nod to his famous Cessna aircraft he would fly across the country. The N1AP represents the tail number from his signature Cessna. These one of a kind shoes can be purchased for $249 direct from Puma’s website here.

IGNITE NXT ARNIE CAMO GOLF SHOES

Pay your tribute to the king with these Arnold Palmer inspired Puma Ignite golf shoes, featuring the unique camouflage pattern in red, white, yellow and green meant to honor the late Palmer. The shoes can be purchased on Puma’s website for $150 here.

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Professionals

PGA Tour: Sungjae Im Talks Victory and Leap in FedEx Cup Standings After 2020 Honda Classic

PGA tour professional and second year player Sungjae im recaps his maiden victory at the 2020 Honda Classic, beating out Mackenzie Hughes and Tommy Fleetwood

PGA Tour: Sungjae Im recaps first career victory at the 2020 Honda Classic

DOUG MILNE: We’d like to welcome Sungjae Im, winner of the 2020 Honda Classic. Sungjae, congratulations on your first PGA TOUR win. Goodness, it seems like every week you’re up there inside the top 10, and I know it feels good to get the job done, and with the win, 500 FedExCup points to move to No. 2 in the standings. Just a few comments about the week and getting your first PGA TOUR win.

SUNGJAE IM: After being so close so many weeks and even after having a bunch of top 10s and just using that experience this week was big, and just hope to really work hard and move forward and become a winner again very soon.

Q. Two questions: One, I know you understand a fair amount of English. How is your acclimation to the U.S. going?
SUNGJAE IM: I like being here, just as far as travel and the food, everything. Not just not being able to visit Korea and go back to my home country as much is the only thing that hurts me a little bit sometimes, but everything else I’m very satisfied and happy with where I am.

Q. And you spoke of it outside a little, too, but these are scary times in Korea. There’s scary times in a lot of countries. You mentioned the virus. How much is what’s going on at home, how much was that on your mind this week? How much did you carry that around with you this week?
SUNGJAE IM: There has been reportedly over 2,000 cases of people that have been affected with the coronavirus in Korea, and to be honest I’m a little concerned and worried about how fast this virus is spreading. As of right now, all I can do is pray for the best and just hope moving forward that not many more people get affected, and hopefully this virus can be calmed down and sort itself out very soon.

Q. 15 and 17 are supposed to be scary shots. How were you feeling over them?
SUNGJAE IM: In between 15 and 17, 15 is probably the hardest hole out here in my opinion, and just going into that hole the past few days, I was a little tentative and didn’t really hit my lines. But going into today, I had the right club, the wind was in the right spot, and just felt like I had everything to attack the pin the way I did and just had the right club and was comfortable with the wind. That way I just was aggressive and saw my shot, and glad it worked out the way it did.

Q. How did the Presidents Cup help you down the stretch today, your experience there?
SUNGJAE IM: Playing for Captain Ernie for the Presidents Cup this year was a huge experience. I had a lot of fun, and just we were all in the mindset of the international squad trying to win. Everybody wanted to win. Just comparing today’s pressure to that pressure, I felt a little less nervous than I did during the Presidents Cup, so experiences like that have really helped me and will help me moving forward.

Q. After Tommy made the putt on 17, you kind of blow on the golf ball in your hand. What was that for?
SUNGJAE IM: It didn’t mean anything. I just signed some balls for some of the volunteers and the ink was still wet, and I was trying to dry it out a little bit.

Q. As a guy who plays almost every week, will you take a week off, and B, how difficult has that been for you to play every week?
SUNGJAE IM: I plan on playing almost every week, maybe take an event off during the Texas swing, but nothing confirmed. But as of right now, just the one in mind, and planning to play them all.

Q. Is that difficult, or what is the difficulty in that for you, playing every week?
SUNGJAE IM: I’m just so happy to be on the PGA TOUR and just to play golf, and it’s almost as — I don’t really look at it as work, it’s more of a chance to just go out and do what I love and play golf. As far as difficulty-wise, it’s not very hard because I’m doing what I want to do. So that’s kind of how I feel right now.

Q. Could you say how you two met, how you know each other?
ALBIN CHOI: We’ve known each other for I’d say the past two-and-a-half, three years now from playing on the Korn Ferry TOUR together and I met Sungjae at the final stage in Arizona and kind of exchanged a few words there, but as the year progressed we became closer and closer, and we’ve — he moved on to the PGA TOUR, and we just kind of kept in touch, and yeah, here we are.

Q. How did you end up on his bag this week?
ALBIN CHOI: I got a phone call after Riviera, he was looking for a guy this week, and I know he’s had some language barriers with other caddies in the past, and I just felt like we communicate better, and being a player myself and having played this golf course a lot of times, he wanted somebody on the bag with a little bit of experience. I accepted, and I’m glad that I did.

Q. Sungjae, you’ve made a lot of starts. You came really close at the Sanderson Farms back in the fall. How did you draw upon that experience coming into this stretch, and also is it kind of a relief to get that first win?
SUNGJAE IM: I was a little disappointed the way the Sanderson Farms ended. Very similar spot to what I was in today. Finished with a one-shot lead and had to wait on the guys coming in, and so drawing upon that experience I felt like it made me hungrier for today to go out and get that win, and just having come so close, it’s just very happy everything worked out the way it did and I’m just happy to get the win.

Q. Another South Korean, Y.E. Yang, won this tournament 10, 12 years ago. Do you know him? How well do you know him?
SUNGJAE IM: I’m very well aware of his victory here, and I know him a decent amount. We’re from the same place back home and have exchanged words with him in the past. I would say we’re on pretty good terms of knowing one another.

Q. Sungjae, you’ve played in three of the majors, and this win gets you of course into Augusta. How much are you looking forward now to going to the Masters, and how well do you think you’ll do, and what do you know about Augusta? What excites you now about playing in the Masters?
SUNGJAE IM: So having played in every major, obviously the Masters was the only one that I’ve been missing. Just really looking forward to going to Augusta, and right now obviously playing four rounds is the goal, and having performed well in major championships before, I just want to add the Masters to my belt, and I’m super excited.

Q. You mentioned being on his bag this weekend. You live in Jupiter, I believe. What experience, if any, do you have with this course, and kind of what brought you down here to Palm Beach County?
ALBIN CHOI: Just being a player myself, and I played final stage on this golf course and got my card through here. So I know how hard it is to kind of navigate your way through this golf course, and just with the pressure of the tournament on the line and just playing here a bunch, and I just felt like the experience kind of helped me today. Just from being — from a player standpoint, I kind of knew what he was feeling at certain times, and I felt like I could kind of draw upon my experiences to help him out today and to keep his head in the right place.

Q. You’re known for kind of a slow, methodical backswing. I’m wondering how you learned the swing and how that style suits you or how you settled on that kind of tempo.
SUNGJAE IM: Up until three or four years ago, my backswing speed was the same as the average player out here, but I wanted to experiment and just kind of find out what really worked for me, and was just doing a drill of slowing down the backswing, and it really helped. I felt like I could hit the ball where I wanted to and just got better contact in general, and now I feel like my backswing is getting slower and slower as time goes, but it’s what works for me, and I’m happy with it.

Q. Two quick things: What’s going through your head when the ball is in the air on its way to 17?
SUNGJAE IM: I wasn’t worried about being short because I took more club for that reason with it being into the wind. I was just a little bit concerned about the back bunker when the ball was in the air, but I was just happy to see the ball hit the ground fast and stop where it did, and I felt like that was a good turning point.

Q. For a guy who basically lives out of hotels, how do you celebrate tonight?
SUNGJAE IM: I’m not sure if I’m going to be heading to Orlando tonight or tomorrow night, but regardless, wherever I am, in a hotel or wherever, I feel like this is going to be one of the happiest nights of my life.

Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

March 1, 2020

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

Categories
Team UK

PGA Tour: Tommy Fleetwood Recaps Final Hole Collapse at 2020 Honda Classic

PGA Tour and European Tour professional Tommy Fleetwood speaks to the media after finding the water on the 72nd hole at the 2020 Honda Classic and eventually losing the tournament.

PGA Tour: Tommy Fleetwood still searching for first career PGA Tour victory after coming up short at the Honda Classic

TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Then playing the last I still had a chance. It’s fine margins in this game.

Q. When you have a sense that it’s that kind of a day that you just described, what’s the main thing you focus in on to hang around and have that chance on 18.
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: It’s important not to misjudge the finish line. You never know what’s going to happen. Didn’t have much going, but I was always there or thereabouts. I was in the lead for most of the day. So you just stay in and then you never know what’s going to happen in the end. Just keep going, just keep playing. I had a lovely look at birdie on 12 that didn’t go in and then made a mess of 13, but stuck in there — and that’s just a case of being patient. That’s all you can do. I didn’t do that much wrong really. It comes down to fine margins, like I said. It’s disappointing, but it was close.

Q. You said a win is important but it’s not the end of the world, you’ll see your family tomorrow, but how do you process coming so close?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Well, the shot on 18, it wasn’t a good feeling for the next 10 minutes when I was messing around trying to hit my wedge shot. It’s just disappointing. I feel fine right now. I think it’s important to make sure that you’re positive about it. You have enough people that will critique what you’ve done so. I’m going to do the same. I’m going to go back and look at what I could’ve done better. There are certain shots that I hit. At the end of the day, I felt like I was really good mentally, hung in there until the end and gave myself a chance at the last. But when the margins are small, that’s OK. I just said that I don’t feel like I’m getting worse at golf. I’ve just got to keep pushing. Absolutely I want to be a regular winner, but there’s no point in moaning and groaning about it now. It didn’t happen. There’s a lot of amazing players on the TOUR trying to win, and it’s not given, so I’ve just got to keep going and if I keep getting this close, it’ll happen.

Q. First of all, talk about that shot on 18; what was going through your mind? Did you ever think about a different shot, laying up?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: No, it was a tough one really. I had to hit a 4-iron which was clocking away, it was always going to be left, or I take the 5-wood on, which was like a really big cut, and that’s what you do, isn’t it, you play the shot. That’s all you can do. I hit a bad shot. Could have been a great shot, but actually as bad as it was, it could have landed three yards left and been on the edge of the green and I’d have had a chance. It is what it is. I was really enjoying the moment coming down there with a chance to win. I still had a chance to actually eagle it or birdie it and get in a playoff, and it just didn’t happen. But one bad shot, and that’s it.

Q. What was the conversation with Ian as you guys were getting ready?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Well, you look at the number, it was an awkward number yesterday. It was a slightly different wind, and I cut a 5-wood that pitched like 238. I had 239 to the pin today, but the wind was off the right. I felt like it was playing shorter, wasn’t hurting today. But there was only one shot really. Honestly, maybe at the time, you think, I had the world left and could have got up-and-down, but playing for that, I could have easily bailed left, not got up-and-down and then said, why did I bail out left. So you pick your shot and you hit it, and that’s it.

I think we picked the right shot 100 percent, I just didn’t pull it off.

Q. How good did you feel after the birdie-birdie start? Looked like everything was trending.
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Well, yeah, I was going well. My swing wasn’t there today, like all day it wasn’t like a comfortable day in terms of shots that I stood over and I felt really good over, these look great. Examples are like 16 is like an ideal shot for me normally, and things weren’t quite there, but I hung in there. I still hit enough good golf shots and I still had enough chances. Just that was it really.

But like I say, I started off great, had chances, and I felt like I did a good job all day even when I made a couple bogeys. I was always hanging around. I never really got overly frustrated, never thought, oh, I’ve made bogey there or I’ve made bogey there, just moved on and kept doing a good job, and even without my game feeling as comfortable as it was I got to the end with a chance.

Q. There’s obviously a language barrier for a lot of guys in this game. Do you know Sungjae at all?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, we always say hello and talk. Well, I say talk, we never had like massively long conversations, but I always say hi. He’s always a guy that I would acknowledge. Not that we’ve had many conversations about technicalities of the game, but he seems like a nice guy.

Q. How long will this take you get over?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: I’m disappointed now. Sungjae — somebody shot a better score than me. I tried my hardest, got close, getting closer, getting better, and — yeah, it’s disappointing and I’ll be thinking about it. Little things will come into your mind like what if or what if that, but it is what it is. We’ve got amazing events coming up, and my game is in good shape where I actually feel like I can hit it better, as well. I don’t feel like this week I’ve been absolutely — I’ve played some absolutely fantastic golf, but I still feel like my game could have felt better at times, and I think that’s something to look at and go away and work on. I feel like I can get sharper and keep playing better. It’s not to say I will, but I’m going to try.

Q. Along those lines, obviously very hard courses, very hard tournaments coming up this year. You have to feel like you’re in form for the bigger tests that are coming up?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, I’ll absolutely look forward to them and keep working. And that’s the thing, with the way golf is now, just because I’ve made bogey on the last here, you don’t have time to go away and sit and sulk about it. Players are coming up next week, they want to win that tournament and if you’re playing well, make the most of it and hopefully I can do that next week.

Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

March 1, 2020

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

Categories
Team Canada

PGA Tour: Mackenzie Hughes Talks Falling Just Short at 2020 Honda Classic

PGA Tour professional Mackenzie Hughes recaps his weekend 66-66 after just barely making the cut and falling just short of a victory at the 2020 Honda Classic.

PGA Tour: Mackenzie Hughes talks to the media following completion of the 2020 Honda Classic

Q. Great finish, 66-66 on the weekend after making the cut on the number. What a run you made this weekend. You have to be very proud of yourself.
MACKENZIE HUGHES: Yeah, it’s been a really tough season so far for me. I knew I was never really that far off, but it’s all results, and the results weren’t good so far this year. I always believed I could do it, but until you do it and get yourself back in there, there was always that bit of doubt.

I mean, this golf course I knew would bring out my best because it’s just such a grind, and you just have to hang in there, just hang in there and hang in there. I mean, I just fought my butt off all weekend. Yeah, it was a lot of fun to be back in the mix, though.

Q. 16 you had that vicious lip-out for par, and you come to the 17th and from 54 feet roll in that putt. That had to be exhilarating.
MACKENZIE HUGHES: Yeah, 16 was tough. You know, didn’t put it in a good spot off the tee and didn’t draw a great lie, and the putt I thought I had just gutted, and it came right back at me. 17, got away with one. I kind of push-fanned one and it was on the green, and I stole my caddie, and I was like, let’s just try and make Sungjae’s putt a little harder. That’s a huge bonus that that ball would drop in. I haven’t been that excited on the golf course in a long time.

Unfortunately I’m standing there in 18 fairway, I just — it’s a tough shot. Wind is in off the right, and you’re trying to cut one but you can’t over-cut it because then you’re going to be knocked down by the wind. I was grinding my butt off and unfortunately just one short, but I had so much fun this week.

Q. Just a little bit short, but what a great week for you. If we can get some comments.
MACKENZIE HUGHES: Yeah, super fun week. I’ve had a very tough season so far and don’t feel like I’ve played poorly. I’ve missed a lot of cuts by two, three shots, and I’ve had my chances to play the weekend, but things just were falling short there at the end. I never felt like I was far away from being in a spot like this, and I knew that this golf course would be a great fit for just the grind — make a bunch of pars, throw in the odd birdie, and I’ve always loved coming to this place. It tests every part of your game, and it’s mostly just mental.

So I had just tons of fun competing. I love being in the mix. I love having a chance to win, and yeah, so I mean, it sucks to come up one short, to fight that hard all day. I just kind of thought I was going to do it. But still proud of the way I fought this week and looking forward to the rest of the year.

Q. Did anything change from Friday to Saturday?
MACKENZIE HUGHES: No, not really. You know, my college golf coach, he texted me on Friday night, and he said, you know what, the hard part is over. I missed five cuts, and I always said when the hard part is over you’re on the weekend. It kind of loosened me up a little bit and I said, let’s just go out there and play golf and see what happens. I was just a little bit more at ease on Saturday, and once I posted 4-under, I knew that was going to give me a chance on Sunday, and then again, I knew I probably needed the same kind of round on Sunday, but just the confidence of doing it the day before, I thought, I can do this.

I had a great feel with a lot of the shots I was hitting this week, and yeah, it was just — it was nice to be in there because it’s been a while.

Q. Have you played with Sungjae before?
MACKENZIE HUGHES: I have not. I actually was kind of joking to myself coming up 18, I was like, man versus machine. I’m the man, hitting shots in bunkers and hitting the grandstands on 18 and he’s just like a machine. It was really impressive. He played great golf, a great start, which I think actually kind of helped me a little bit because I was like, I’ve got to go get this guy. He’s 4-under through five, I’ve got to chase him a little bit. So I thought early on, he seemed to have it beat, and I was like, just hang with him and keep it close and anything can happen down the last few holes.

He honestly hit two incredible shots into 15 and 17, and he’s very, very deserving, obviously, of winning.

Q. What was that like having Albin in your group? You guys go way back.
MACKENZIE HUGHES: Yeah, that was really crazy. The chance of him being in our group were — like this is the first time he’s caddied for Sungjae and we’re paired together on Sunday. I thought it was kind of a dream come true because you get to walk with — my caddie is a good friend of mine, and I get to walk with Albin who I’ve known since junior golf days. It was a lot of fun. We had a few good laughs out there, and he might be caddying a little bit more in the future, I think, but we’ll see.

I also wanted to say one more thing. I had a friend of mine who passed away last week in Charlotte, Daniel Meggs, and all week I marked my ball with his initials, and I just want to tell Daniel, who’s up in a better place now, and his family, that I’m really thinking about them. Daniel was an incredible human being, golfer at Wake Forest, and I was playing for him this week. I always play for myself, but I looked down at my ball every now and then and just reminded myself that it’s a blessing to be able to have another round of golf, to continue to play this great game, and I know what he wouldn’t give for another chance to play a round of golf or to be with his family.

I just wanted to give a shout-out to Daniel Meggs and his family and tell them I’m thinking about them.

Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

March 1, 2020

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

Categories
Professionals

PGA Tour: Sungjae Im Recaps First Victory at The 2020 Honda Classic

Second year PGA Tour professional Sungjae Im speaks to the media about his breakthrough performance at the Honda Classic, earning his first PGA Tour victory at only 21 years old.

PGA Tour: Sungjae Im addresses the media following clutch performance in the final round of the Honda Classic

Q. Talk about the shots at 15 and 17 because eight feet, you roll them in, those were huge.
SUNGJAE IM: 15 and 17 have given me a little bit of trouble this week, especially on 15, I missed it a little bit on the left side, and today I felt good with the club and the wind and felt like I was going to take more of an aggressive approach. Just happy with the result.

Q. Mackenzie rolls in the birdie at 17 from 54 feet and the crowd went crazy. Did that add more pressure on you to hit your putt?
SUNGJAE IM: After Mackenzie made the putt, it definitely sparked my focus up a little bit more and kind of got me more focused on my own putt and probably a little bit more dialed in, so it helped me en route to my birdie putt on 17.

Q. And then clutch shot out of the bunker on 18, that was huge considering the circumstances.
SUNGJAE IM: I’ve been good out of the bunkers all week. I really like the bunkers around here, and once I got up and saw my ball and saw that it was a good lie, I knew that it was just an ordinary, everyday bunker shot. I went up there and I was pretty confident with it, and glad that the ball came out the way it did.

Q. What does this mean, 21 years old, you get your first victory on the PGA TOUR, a year after you’re PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year. What does this do for you now? You have to be so incredibly excited.
SUNGJAE IM: Even after winning Rookie of the Year and having a few chances to win, I really wanted to get that win. Had a few good chances that slipped away, but I’m also still very grateful that I could win at such a young age, and to have it happen as fast as it did, I’m very happy and satisfied.

Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

March 1, 2020

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

Categories
Team USA

PGA Tour: Gary Woodland Talks Long Term Success at Honda Classic

PGA Tour professional and US Open Champion Gary Woodland recaps his final round 67 and his consistent success at the Honda Classic, including never missing the cut.

PGA Tour: Gary Woodland speaks to the media upon conclusion of the final round at The Honda Classic

Q. 3-under 67, excellent final round. If we can get some comments.
GARY WOODLAND: Yeah, today I played great. I hit a lot of good putts. It’s as good as I’ve putted it and not made anything, so that was a little frustrating. But any time you can shoot 3-under out here — this golf course is hard. A little frustrated with yesterday. Yesterday I actually played as good as I did all week. Got in a couple sand-filled divots there on 9 and 11 and 13 I think was the other one. I had three or four holes, and I played those holes 5-over, and it cost me the golf tournament.

Outside of that, I can take a lot of positives. Played solid last week, played solid this week, so enjoy a week off and get ready for a big stretch.

Q. Never missed a cut here; what is it about this tournament?
GARY WOODLAND: This is a good golf course. I mean, it’s hard. You’ve got to execute shots. When the wind blows like that, you can flight shots, and I enjoy flighting shots. I enjoy hitting the ball low. And today I executed great. It’s nice to sleep in your own bed. I wish I would have putted a little better overall, but I’m excited with where I’m headed.

Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

March 1, 2020

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

Categories
Reports

PGA Tour: Christie Kerr and Paul Azinger Speak at the 2020 Golf Channel Media Conference

LPGA Professional Christie Kerr and Hall of Fame PGA Tour professional Paul Azinger speak at the annual Golf Channel Media Conference in Orlando, Florida

Q: Cristie are you looking forward to transitioning to television?

CRISTIE KERR: Well, I’m not done yet. I just finished sixth last week in Australia.

Q. How did this come about?
CRISTIE KERR: It’s just kind of a fun thing. It’s interesting to learn about it and to be able to see if I want to do it after golf, and I know Molly Solomon pretty well from The Golf Channel, and she’s provided me with some opportunities to get some experience, and I was in the booth in Orlando during the Sony Open on the weekend this year as well as this past year doing the CME TOUR Championship for the women, my Tour, in November.

Q. So this is your PGA TOUR debut?
CRISTIE KERR: Yes, with my good friend Paul Azinger.

Q. Your new colleague David Feherty, they asked him to do it, and he said, this beats playing golf. Is there anybody you would kind of look toward as far as an on-course reporter like Roger Maltbie?
CRISTIE KERR: I look up to everybody. I’m honored to be here working with them this weekend, and I’ve definitely picked their brains about different things. They’ve got a great team, so it behooves me to be able to kind of get information from them and just kind of lean on them when I’m sure I’m going to mess something up this week.

Q. What are you most looking forward to?
CRISTIE KERR: Just the experience. Just everything. Just also seeing the guys play. We don’t get to see them play that often. We’re not exposed to the PGA TOUR that much. I wish they would bring a mixed team event back. I know you played in that.

PAUL AZINGER: Several times.

CRISTIE KERR: I never got to play in it, so I’m like, man, I wish they would bring a mixed team event back to the U.S., with the PGA and the LPGA. I think that would be so much fun.

Q. Do you watch golf much?
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, I watch golf. I’m a huge golf fan. I fly over to Hawai’i for one of our tournaments on Saturday so I can watch the Sunday of the Masters, make breakfast. It’s a tradition. So yeah, I’m a huge golf fan. I watch as much golf as I can, while doing a wine business and having two kids under the age of six.

Q. Will it be nerve-racking? Will you be more nervous to be a reporter than to play in the event yourself?
CRISTIE KERR: I think the feelings I’ve had being here this week have been a little bit different than playing. Playing it’s like you’re very focused, you have your routine of what you do. Like this is a different experience for me. I think it’ll be a rush. I think it’ll be — I just think it’ll be a lot of fun. I know a lot of the guys out here on TOUR, and I spent five hours on the golf course out here scouting out things yesterday. Not the drop zones and where they are apparently, but just bringing back memories of when I played here as a junior. I remembered a lot more of the golf course than I thought I would.

Q. Paul, what would your advice be now that you’ve been doing this for a while, the transition of going from a playing career to broadcasting? There’s a lot of timing involved. It’s so different than what most players probably think. It’s probably tougher than what most players may —
PAUL AZINGER: The mechanics of it can overwhelm you sometimes, I suppose. But you get used to it. It never bothered me. I don’t think it’s going to bother her. The only thing that would make her nervous is not having been around the men’s game that much. If you were doing the LPGA it would be easy as pie. There wouldn’t be any nerves. It’s what you wonder what you don’t know that’s the worst thing. In the end it’s golf, so she’s going to be able to look at the ground and look at the lie and tell us how far it is. It’s either evaluate — be yourself, that’s the thing. She knows golf as well as anybody. She said she spent five hours — you didn’t spend that much time in your career looking at the course. She’s going to be great.

Q. It’s not like you had a really job description or apply for a job with Molly, but when you look at Paul’s role as the analyst, Dan as the traffic cop in the booth and the reporter role, reporters have so many different definitions. Do you play it straight? Do you try to add humor? Do you bring the empathy of someone who’s succeeded at a high level? How do you see the role of all of this for you?
CRISTIE KERR: I have no idea, honestly. This is my first week on the PGA TOUR. I’m just trying to get through tomorrow.

Q. What’s the mindset? You’ve talked to course reporters.
CRISTIE KERR: I think just be accurate, tell if somebody hit a great shot, brilliant shot, somebody hit a bad shot. Try to talk about what I do know and not try to make up for what I don’t know about the players out here because that takes time. I mean, I think when Dottie first started doing the PGA TOUR, she didn’t know a lot of the players, especially there’s such an influx of all these very, very young players, so I’ll just try to talk about the things that I do know. Hopefully not say something stupid and be able to get through Thursday and go have my glass of wine.

Q. Certainly not on these telecasts in recent years, but you probably have never seen an analyst that was unduly harsh to a player, but just your thoughts about it from a player’s perspective?
CRISTIE KERR: About being a player reporting on players?

Q. Yeah.
PAUL AZINGER: Someone is unduly harsh to her or to us?

Q. Just in general. Johnny Miller had a rap for calling it as he saw it, but there’s also a balance, too, isn’t there.
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, there is a balance, and I’m not going to be somebody that’s going to sit there and try to say some things to get noticed for myself. The show is the show, and the players have the stage. I’m not going to be like, hey, I’m Cristie Kerr, I’m here, I’m going to say this and that so I get noticed. It’s the show. It’s the golfers who are playing. If I have some intelligent things to say and people like them, yeah.

PAUL AZINGER: The best advice I got was from a guy named Bob Howard. Some of you may remember Howard. When I got the job with Faldo at ABC, he said, just remember, let the picture be descriptive, you be informative. We can all watch it with the mute button on. And then my wife always says before I leave the room, just remember, now, nobody is tuning in to hear you. But in the end, that’s your job. This is what you do.

She’s going to be great. She’s really truly going to be the analyst on the ground. That’s how it works. She loves golf and she knows golf, so she has a responsibility. Hicks or the hole host will go, and the person on the ground is next, that’ll be her. The wind is blowing left to right, he’s going with a 3-wood or he’s going with a 5-iron, he’s got 100-something yards and he’s got to get it over that bunker there because that’s what you would see if you were the player. That’s how it works. I think you never know until you’re doing it, but she’s done it. She knows how to do it.

CRISTIE KERR: The biggest difference is the distance out here and how far certain people carry their 3-wood, so I know whether they can get over the bunker or whether it’s an iffy shot. I can read a lot of what’s going on between player and caddie to see if they’re comfortable, confident, uncomfortable. You can mention and notice those things. You can tell when somebody is out of their routine. You can say that. I’m just going to try to report on what I’m seeing and not talk about what I don’t know.

Q. Any on-course reporters tell you the importance of turning off your mic when you’re not on screen?
CRISTIE KERR: Well, it has an automatic on and off switch, so it’ll be okay.

Q. Yeah, Feherty has some great stories where he failed to turn it off.
PAUL AZINGER: You know, Feherty was on the ground a long time, and he and Maltbie are probably the best ever at what they do, being on the ground. Being on the ground is a trip. It is fun. I think you’re going to love it. I’ve been on the ground before.

CRISTIE KERR: Yeah.

PAUL AZINGER: I did the Ryder Cup in 1995 with Tommy Roy back then, and it is a blast. But the stuff that happens, you just can’t believe the stuff that happens on the air.

Q. I know you’re old enough to remember, I don’t know if you are, but Bob Rosburg on ABC. He was wrong so often, no chance —
PAUL AZINGER: He’s got no chance. That’s what he was famous for.

Q. Cristie, you won a championship here a while ago, right, when you were a junior player?
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, 1995 with a big afro and Coke bottle glasses.

Q. How old were you?
CRISTIE KERR: 14, 15. ’77 I was born, so however old I was there, 17 maybe. I don’t even know. 1995, and I was born October of ’77.

Q. Who’s your favorite on TV when you watch?
CRISTIE KERR: Analyst, commentator?

Q. Besides Paul.
CRISTIE KERR: Yes, of course Paul.

PAUL AZINGER: Thank you very much.

CRISTIE KERR: I think the whole team here is great. I hate to single anybody out. It is a very well-oiled machine. I’m just hoping to be part of that machine this week, and no, I’m not running for politics.

PAUL AZINGER: If you go outside of golf, my favorite analyst was Gruden when he was doing it, but honestly, John McEnroe is my favorite analyst.

CRISTIE KERR: Both very opinionated.

PAUL AZINGER: Yeah, I just loved McEnroe’s style and the way he went about it and all that. I’ve changed so much since I really just thought about doing McEnroe, but it’s different at NBC.

CRISTIE KERR: Peter Kostis is amazing, so is Dan Hicks.

PAUL AZINGER: The whole host — Hicks, Tirico.

CRISTIE KERR: Terry Gannon is great. Terry does figure skating.

PAUL AZINGER: Steve Sands does a nice job.

CRISTIE KERR: They wouldn’t have a job at the network if they weren’t very good at what they do.

Q. Do you have a broadcasting schedule beyond this tournament?
CRISTIE KERR: No, I don’t. I think I’m going to have a blast this week because I know I can’t play. Like when I was doing CME it was a great experience, I was there, but part of my heart hurt that I wouldn’t playing. But I did a great job, and I learned a lot. But being here, doing this, knowing I can’t play in the tournament, it’s going to be a lot more fun for me, I think.

Q. What did you learn? What’s the biggest thing you learned?
CRISTIE KERR: There are a lot of moving parts in TV, and how everybody has their slotted roles, and everybody has to do their roles to make the whole giant machine work. It’s pretty impressive operation if you’ve never been in a control room, there’s about 100 screens.

Q. With that in mind, have you gotten used to people talking into your ear and giving you thoughts as you’re performing?
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, well, I’m sure I’m going to get used to it that first nine holes for sure. But it’ll be a little bit different this time because at CME I had two ears in, and I didn’t have the headset that just has one ear. So I had one for producer, one for show, and I’m going to have two and one this time, which I don’t know what I prefer, so we’ll just see what happens.

Q. And last question on that is equipment has gotten lighter. I’m not talking about wedges and clubs, I’m talking about the utility belt you have to wear. Have you gotten used to all that?
CRISTIE KERR: It wasn’t bad when I tried it on and walked around and stuff.

PAUL AZINGER: We’re going to rehearse this afternoon. We have a 4:00 meeting probably the last 20 minutes, we’ll talk about last week and then what the setup is. The officials come in and talk to the whole team, we ask questions about the course, where the drop zones are, what are the drop zone yardages, will you give us drop zone yardages in week because some courses you don’t even need to know that, there’s no water. But we’re going to go out and rehearse, everybody is going to practice, you’re going to practice a little bit down there, maybe call some practice shots today for fun.

CRISTIE KERR: I don’t know what they said, today or tomorrow morning.

PAUL AZINGER: Just all that. It takes a minute.

CRISTIE KERR: Bones is like, you never want to — he said he stepped out of play to announce into another hole where they were playing, so he said this course shouldn’t be a problem, but there’s a lot of little minutiae kind of stuff where you can’t talk downwind where they hear you. I’m like, I’m going to mess all this up. No, I’m sure I’ll be okay.

PAUL AZINGER: The wind mic is gold because if you’re talking downwind they’ll hear it. They’ll snatch around, that’s the last thing you want to hear.

CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, that’s the last thing I want to hear, so Bones and I will be —

PAUL AZINGER: You have to know how to get in position in time to get all your information, so you’ve got to know where to be. You want to see where it’s going a lot of times, but when you’re the broadcaster you’ve got to see where it is, so you’ve got to be out there. You’ve got to see where it lands. If you’re back here on the tee, you’re seeing where it’s going, that’s great. Second shot you’ve got time to see where it’s going. Tee shot, you’ve got to be halfway out there.

Q. When you’re on the golf course, you’re reliant on your shot and what your caddie has to say. In this situation you’ve got a whole truckful of people that are trying to put you in the best position to be successful. Is that a different mindset?
CRISTIE KERR: I mean, it’s definitely — well, I mean, my caddie and I just like when you played, we are a team, but it’s just a much bigger team, but you still know who you’re reporting to and who you’re going to hear critiquing from and what you have to do.

PAUL AZINGER: The hope, I think, in the end, is that we can all just be trying to have a conversation, and we’re just going to include her in it. A lot of times if you’re going down to the course reporter, the host, Gary Koch or whoever it is, Steve Sands tomorrow or Notah as the analyst will probably ask a question, what’s it look like, what you got, and off we go. It almost always will be a question. Everybody can answer questions.

Q. Nervous about if any rules situation comes up?
CRISTIE KERR: Well, I’m not in it, so I can call for a rules official. I don’t have to worry about taking a wrong drop. I mean, I can talk about these are the options in a lateral hazard or whatever. Who knows.

Q. You’ll have a blast.
PAUL AZINGER: That’s the best thing about it is you never know what’s happening. You never knew Patrick Reed was going to move sand. You didn’t know so-and-so was going to hook it in the water.

CRISTIE KERR: He didn’t think he moved sand.

PAUL AZINGER: You didn’t know what’s-his-face was going to blow a four-shot lead or a guy was going to come from behind and shoot 61. You just don’t know.

CRISTIE KERR: Being on the other side of it this week, I just feel so bad for the person who had to report that.

PAUL AZINGER: Oh, the Patrick Reed thing?

CRISTIE KERR: Yes.

PAUL AZINGER: It was a weird dynamic, I’ll tell you, and then Hicks and I went down to the putting green and said we’ve heard from everybody else, but before we go on air do you mind talking to us, from you, we want to hear it from you so we know what to say so we get it right is what we said. He was great. He just explained — yeah. It’ll hang with him forever, I’ll tell you that. He’s got to be on his best behavior now.

CRISTIE KERR: He’s a unicorn with the way he handles pressure, though.

PAUL AZINGER: It’s unreal.

CRISTIE KERR: Most people would go hide in a hole.

PAUL AZINGER: You might want to all be aware, too, he didn’t hit it that great. He had 45 one-putts. If he hits it good, Bryson, he didn’t hit it that great on Sunday, and he had three three-putts. These two guys — you’ve got two guys that didn’t really play that great that both could have, should have won. I always say, not a lot of guys can win unless they’re playing great golf. Rory is one of those guys. Well, I think those two guys — he proved he can win when he’s not playing as best as far as I’m concerned.

CRISTIE KERR: I mean, how many victories do you have?

PAUL AZINGER: 12.

CRISTIE KERR: And how many times did you just play lights out where you hit it great? Half the time?

PAUL AZINGER: Not very many.

CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, same.

PAUL AZINGER: The weeks I ever won, for whatever reason nothing really bothered me.

CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, you just get in a groove and get the ball in the hole.

PAUL AZINGER: Even the first day, buried under a lip on the first hole and it doesn’t bother you because you know you’re hitting it great. There’s something at peace about it. I saw Viktor Hovland today, too.

CRISTIE KERR: Oh, you did?

PAUL AZINGER: I wanted to know how he felt coming down the stretch, so I just asked him point blank.

CRISTIE KERR: Did he know the putt was to win?

PAUL AZINGER: Yeah, he knew it all. From 15 on, he described a shot he had on 15 that was — he said he wanted to have it come and swing in but he hit it hot and it kicked straight and got on the same line and went in, so he said he got lucky there. But then he said everything just relaxed for him, and I thought, oh, yeah, I’ve had that, because that’s what happens.

CRISTIE KERR: It’s the zone.

PAUL AZINGER: Once you get it going, it’s like, whoa, this is awesome. And now it’s on, you’ve got the same rhythm, everything relaxes. Sometimes you’re not because you’re not hitting it good. Everything relaxed for him the other day. Did it feel as good as the Amateur, because we called the Amateur — anyway, I love Viktor Hovland. Of the three, Wolff, Morikawa and Hovland — somebody did ask me who I thought. They’ve all won, of those three. Last year they asked me who I thought would be the best, and I said, I think Viktor Hovland is going to be the best of all of them. I hope that Puerto Rico jinx isn’t real. Anyone who’s ever won in Puerto Rico has never won again.

CRISTIE KERR: No.

PAUL AZINGER: Uh-huh, like 11 straight years.

CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, but he’s from Norway. He’ll be fine.

Q. Who are you looking forward most to watching? Obviously you’ll have an assigned group.
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, I don’t know who I’m going to be with.

PAUL AZINGER: You’ll be with some show pony.

Q. Who are you most interested in seeing, whether you’re assigned to their group or not?
CRISTIE KERR: I’m a libra; you’re never going to get a straight answer out of me. Yeah, so —

PAUL AZINGER: I’m looking that up.

CRISTIE KERR: I balance the scales.

Q. Why do you think Viktor is going to be the best of those three?
PAUL AZINGER: Why do I think Viktor will be the best?

CRISTIE KERR: He’s got that look in his eye.

PAUL AZINGER: He just gets it, that part, and he’s a big-game player I just feel like. He’s been through a lot. We watched him win the Amateur. I called the Amateur when he won it, and if you just watch the way he hits his wedges, it’s just is on another level. And he drives it nice and hits it far, but you and I both know, when you’ve got somebody that can peel those wedges like that, it’s like, oh, he’s going to get eight to ten wedges the rest of his life every day. That’s just the way golf works.

CRISTIE KERR: He’s fearless now; what is he, 21 or something?

PAUL AZINGER: Confidence. He’s just polished, and he’s got that personality that just seems to be — he’s like a Tom Kite personality with a better smile.

Q. I was going to say, it’s hard to get the smile off his face.
PAUL AZINGER: He’s Kite with a better smile. Nothing ever bothered Kite that much. It doesn’t look like anything bothers Viktor Hovland, and he smiles. He Matt Kuchars it to death.

CRISTIE KERR: Kuchar smile.

PAUL AZINGER: Doesn’t he, Viktor? He’s got a beautiful smile. That kid just looks happy. He just looks happy.

CRISTIE KERR: Hashtag, 25 years later us.

PAUL AZINGER: Curmudgeon.

CRISTIE KERR: That’s golf, you know.

Q. Did you hear the Norwegian call on Viktor Hovland’s win?
CRISTIE KERR: I did, yeah.

PAUL AZINGER: They call golf every week, you know, over there, and was that the best reaction you ever heard in sports really? It’s like what they do in Mexico City.

Q. He was the first one to win from Norway on the men’s Tour.
CRISTIE KERR: Unbelievable.

PAUL AZINGER: I wish I could have seen the translation of what they were saying, as they were going off, just the volume. It was just such a guttural reaction, wasn’t it, from those guys? I loved it.

Q. It was pretty good.
PAUL AZINGER: You heard it, too?

Orlando, Florida

February 26, 2020

Q. Yeah, it went viral.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

Categories
Team USA

PGA Tour: Rickie Fowler Talks Current State of His Game Heading Into The Honda Classic

PGA Tour professional and 2017 Honda Classic champion previews his 2020 return to the Honda Classic and speaks on the current status of his golf game

PGA Tour: 2017 Honda Classic champion Rickie Fowler addresses the media prior to the 2020 edition

DOUG MILNE: Rickie, 2017 Honda Classic champion, tied for second last year, obviously some good memories of the place. Just some thoughts on being back at PGA National.

RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, like you said, we’ve had success here. I love this golf course. I feel like it’s very demanding of the game, not always hitting driver, but you’ve got to get the ball in play, and very much a second-shot golf course once you do get it in the fairway.

Typically we’ve got some wind, which for me I enjoy playing in, especially living down in this area. I’ve been in Jupiter for about 11 years now, and looks like we’re going to have a little cooler week than normal. We’ve got a front coming in later today. Yeah, a little cooler, a little different wind than we’re used to seeing here at this golf course. But throw some sweaters on in the morning and go play. Everyone has got to go play the same course and same weather.

Q. How are you feeling about your game coming into the week?
RICKIE FOWLER: I’m excited. I’ve had three weeks — well, off of tournament golf, but I wouldn’t say I’ve had three weeks off. A few workdays in there and I’ve been putting in a lot of time in the gym, on the course, but it’s been nice to have been at home sleeping in my own bed for three weeks, and like I say, getting good work in. So I’m looking forward to getting started back here at Honda, and as of right now, we’re looking at playing six out of the next seven weeks.

Q. Is there an element of comfort for you at this golf course, or do we just perceive that because we know you live here and we’re so used to seeing you here?
RICKIE FOWLER: I mean, I’ve had a lot of good tournament golf played on this golf course, going back to junior golf actually. I’ve always been comfortable here.

At the same time, it is challenging. I’ve had plenty of mishaps. It happens around this place. It’s bound to happen. You’re going to make bad swings, and sometimes they happen at the wrong time.

No, I enjoy what this golf course kind of brings to the table and what it demands of you as a player, and then like I said, with the wind typically being up, you’ve got to hit some shots and control your golf ball around here.

Q. Does it ever become exhausting, you can’t help but see how many little ones are dressed like Rickie and they just love you and they want to meet you and get your autograph? Does it ever just become exhausting to see them all out there? Do you want to make them all happy if you know what I mean?
RICKIE FOWLER: No, it’s obviously a great position that I’m in. No, I mean, it makes your day better, if anything, to see the support and see what kind of impact that I’m able to have on people at times. I try and make that be a good impact.

But no, I’m kind of blessed to be in this position, so to be coming from when I was young, looking up to guys who played the TOUR or to riding, racing dirt bikes, something I did growing up, to now being in a position where I’m the person that kids are looking up to, it’s a cool position to be in.

It can take some time here and there to sign autographs and whatnot. Unfortunately I’ve tried it; you can’t please everyone. So there’s some people that take that better than others, so that’s one of the downfalls that sometimes we have to deal with as far as trying to make people happy, but at the same time accepting that you can’t take care of everyone because we’d be sitting out here signing all day sometimes.

Q. Do you know what the phenomenon is that has them gravitate towards you, like dress exactly like you and want to be you?
RICKIE FOWLER: I don’t know. To be honest, it’s not that — we didn’t try and do anything different or out of the ordinary as far as for who I am. I feel like kids are really good at picking apart if someone is genuine or not, seeing if they’re fake or for real, and I feel like I’ve always — as far as me knowing and the people that I’ve grown up with from friends and family, I am who I am. This is who I’ve been growing up to playing junior golf, college golf, and on TOUR.

I’d like to say I haven’t changed. We’ll go to them for confirmation, but I think that may be one thing that kids can pick up on and they see, as well, in J.T., Jordan, Rory, and guys across the board.

Q. A year ago you were top 10, you’re 25th now or something like that. You said you spent three weeks working on your game. Is that the reason, the drop? What were you working on?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yes and no. I mean, I took all fall off. We got married, honeymoon. I wanted to make sure that I was able to do that right and enjoy it. Yeah, I didn’t play as great through maybe the kind of spring and summer last year, but also with the time off, that’s been not out playing and not earning points, so that’s been part of falling back.

No, it’s been a very, I think, beneficial time off. Yes, I’ve fallen back in World Rankings. A lot of that’s just due to not having played, and now we’re jumping back on the horse right now, and we’ll climb our way back up to top 10 and go from there.

Q. With your OSU connection, do you have a good relationship with Viktor? I’m curious, watching some of these kids come right out and win, what’s your impression of that?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, I have good relationships with both Matt and Viktor. I probably know Matt a little bit more, him living down here now. But Viktor I’ve spent a decent amount of time with. They’re both great kids. I say kids because they’re 10, 11 years younger than I am. But it’s been fun to watch. They’re two great players. I feel like in a way they play kind of two different kinds of golf, two different swings, but they’re good at what they do.

I don’t think that especially now and especially you look at Collin Morikawa, these kids are another step above where myself and some other guys coming out of college were just because I feel like the talent level and competition keeps getting better and better. They’re just more and more prepared to come out here and compete.

Q. I’m sure you saw or heard Rory’s comments on the proposed golf league.
RICKIE FOWLER: I haven’t.

Q. Where he said that he wouldn’t be interested, basically, said he didn’t think it would work —
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, yeah, I heard something on that, but I also heard that the transcript was kind of — the one thing was taken out of what was really said, if you read the whole transcript, versus just the one line.

Q. My question is what were your thoughts on it?
RICKIE FOWLER: I don’t really have a stance yet. I need to gather some more information and see where we’re at with all that, but it sounds like some of that stuff moving forward — but yeah, I don’t have enough information to take sides or comment on it a whole lot.

Q. You live here, you’ve had success here, you’re coming back after a few weeks off. Do you feel like you have a course advantage here?
RICKIE FOWLER: Not necessarily. You know, playing this golf course, I play it once a year. I’ve played well here, but there’s also a lot of other guys that have played well here, Brooks being — staying at home, as well. Him and I both finished second last year. No, I don’t necessarily look at it as a home course advantage. Some guys like sleeping in their own bed and take that as an advantage. There’s some guys that aren’t playing this week, just because it’s a little odd playing at home maybe for them. I enjoy it. Like I said, I’ve played well here. I look at this as it is a nice week to be at home, be comfortable, and it is a golf course where if you have a little bit more confidence on it, having played well, it definitely helps.

Q. Just talking about comparing your first couple years on TOUR to the player you are now, what do you remember about those first few years? What were your biggest challenges?
RICKIE FOWLER: I think the biggest challenges were always just time management and learning how the TOUR works, week in and week out, how many weeks you can play in a row, how to go about your Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, how to get ready for if you’re teeing off early Thursday or if you’re playing late Thursday, when to eat, how to eat, when to work out, how to get worked on, stretched, and how to get your body right. There’s a lot of stuff that goes into it. One of the biggest things the first couple years is learning golf courses. You’re playing all new places that you really haven’t been before. So there’s a lot on your plate. It’s not easy to do, but good golf always answers a lot of questions.

Q. Do you think that’s understood or not understood, that it takes all those things?
RICKIE FOWLER: I think golf at the highest level or PGA TOUR golf where you’re traveling and playing for a living, I think to me as a whole is very much misunderstood as far as what goes into it. It’s not just the glamorous life it teeing it up Thursday and finishing Sunday afternoon.

Q. (Indiscernible).
RICKIE FOWLER: Those are just the basics. There’s a lot that goes into it, and like I said, it’s learning how to manage everything, when to do it, how to do it. Like I said, figuring out how many weeks in a row you want to play. If you do play three, four, five weeks in a row, which I don’t play more than three, then is it one week off or two weeks off, then you add in workdays as far as shoots with sponsors, whether they’re still or commercial stuff. I do about 25 to 30 days a year, so those obviously aren’t in a row. You’ve got to pick and choose are those Monday and Tuesday when you get back from a tournament or mid-week, or if you’re fitting them into one week off, it kind of interrupts your preparation or your rest, so then you have to take two weeks off to fit shoot days in. So there’s a lot that goes into just picking which tournaments you want to play.

Q. You’ve had a couple weeks off and a busy upcoming schedule. What are some keys for you to get into that competitive form not just for this week but with THE PLAYERS and Augusta not too far away?
RICKIE FOWLER: Just keeping it simple. You know, working on stuff at home, at Grove, Medalist, Turtle Creek, playing, being in the gym. The big thing coming out here is we’ve been working on that, don’t try and go work on stuff on the golf course, go play golf; keep it simple. Sounds cliché, fairways and greens, but some days it’s a lot easier than others. But that’s the biggest thing is go out and play golf and go score, not try and think about what you’re doing with the swing. Go with one or two swing thoughts. So the more simple I can keep it the next seven weeks, that seventh week we’ll be in a really good spot at Augusta.

Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

February 26, 2020

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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PGA Tour

PGA Tour: Viktor Hovland Discusses First Win on Tour Prior to Honda Classic Debut

PGA Tour professional and rookie sensation Victor Hovland recaps his maiden PGA Tour victory last week ahead of the 2020 Honda Classic.

PGA Tour: Viktor Hovland speaks on his first Tour victory and Honda Classic debut

DOUG MILNE: We’d like to welcome Viktor Hovland. Thanks for joining us for a few minutes here at the Honda Classic, making your first start at the Honda Classic and coming just a few days after your first career PGA TOUR win at the Puerto Rico Open. I was thrilled to be there with you for that. If I could start by taking you back to San Juan, obviously the dramatic putt there on the 72nd hole to get the job done. Just kind of a little bit of a reflection on the week and getting your first TOUR win last week.

VIKTOR HOVLAND: Yeah, I mean, it was — it definitely just looking back at last week, it felt like a really long week. That was kind of — I’ve had some back-door kind of top-15 finishes, some top-10 finishes, but it’s been very back-door, and last week I was kind of in contention, from not quite the get-go but had the co-leader from the second round and definitely felt the extra pressure of kind of being up there the whole way. It was a really long week, but to find of finish it off the way that I did felt really good.

DOUG MILNE: You mentioned the extra pressure. You’re one of these ones that as soon as you set foot out here on the PGA TOUR, expectations were pretty high. Is that something that you were aware of, kind of the expectations, given your history as an amateur and so forth growing up in the game, the expectations for you to get that first win right away?

VIKTOR HOVLAND: Yeah, they were — yeah, I definitely felt it. It was kind of weird just having people expect so much from you when I haven’t had quite the finishes that maybe warranted those expectations, but I kind of just stuck with within myself and tried to perform the golf that I know I’m capable of, and fortunately last week it came out, and I hope in the future that I keep — that I can get that out more often.

DOUG MILNE: Just some thoughts on being here this week, shifting gears and getting back to business as usual. Have you had a chance to get out and kind of see how the course sets up for your game?

VIKTOR HOVLAND: Yeah, I played 18 holes here yesterday in the evening, so it was a little windy and the greens were really firm and fast, completely opposite from last week. I’ve actually never been here before. I didn’t play the Polo Junior here or the junior tournaments that a lot of guys have played, so that was the first look at the course, and it’s tough, and it’s a really good test of golf.

Q. With that victory, do you come here feeling momentum, or is there something more difficult than we understand about winning and then having to play again right away?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: I mean, I would say I just come into the tournament with a lot of confidence. Obviously it’s a way different course. It’s a lot longer, and it requires kind of different shot making. But I’m definitely taking a lot of the confidence that I had with my irons going into this week, and if I can just keep hitting fairways and hit my irons the way that I have been, I think it’s going to be another good week.

Q. Viktor, it’s different for everybody, I’m sure. We know what comes with winning in terms of the prize, the money, the points, the status, all those things. But it’s only been a couple of days, but do you feel like there’s been a mental change, an emotional change? Other than the stuff you get, what do you think really changed now that you can say that you’ve won one of these?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: Well, I think it’s just a little sense of relief. I was in a spot where I didn’t really know quite what tournaments I would play except for a couple weeks ahead, so this certainly gives me a little bit more leeway to really pick the events that I want to play. But still, I’m kind of right outside the top 50 in the world, so I can keep playing well and get inside there, that would really get to the next step, and then I could really pick my schedule, and yeah, try to figure out where I want to go. But except for that, it’s another week, and I’m going to try to do the best that I can.

Q. How did you celebrate?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: Me and my caddie and a couple other people, we just got some food at the restaurant at the hotel and had a couple drinks and went to bed and flew out the next morning.

Q. How much is Ryder Cup on your mind this year? Obviously a long ways off, but that sort of went a long way toward that, as well. Have you heard from Padraig or anything along those lines?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: Yeah, hopefully it didn’t hurt, and no, I’ve been looking at Ryder Cup as something that I want to play in for a really long time, and it’s certainly, I would say, pretty much the pinnacle of a golfing career, being on a Ryder Cup team. I saw Padraig yesterday. He said congrats, so that was great, and hopefully I can just keep playing well and kind of make more of my mark that maybe I have a chance to be on the team.

Q. Speaking of your schedule, you’re now in the field at THE PLAYERS Championship. Have you played that course before? Do you have any experiences there, and just your general excitement to play at Sawgrass?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: Yeah, I played Junior Players there the year before I went to college, so that would have been 2015, I believe. It was a different time of year and the rough was really thick, and it was playing really soft and long at the time. So it’ll be different or interesting to see how it plays this year. But the course is awesome. I think it’s maybe one of my favorite courses I’ve played in Florida. I think sometimes in Florida you get not boring courses but everything is kind of right in front of you, but at TPC Sawgrass, I feel like everything is just — every hole is just completely different, and it really tests your arsenal of shots. I think it’s a really good test of golf.

Q. Can you take us a little bit down the path of how a kid from a place known for winter sports becomes a player on the PGA TOUR?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: Yeah. I mean, my dad got me into playing golf, and since I was really young, I always played golf. When I got a little older, I wanted to practice all year-round, and somehow I ended up at Oklahoma State, and that kind of made the process go a little faster. I learned a lot those three years in college under Coach Bratton and Coach Donnie Darr. So yeah, it’s kind of crazy to think that we’re here just under a year later since I was in college.

Q. Who are role models for you if you didn’t have a lot of guys from your country playing? Who are the guys you watched and learned?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: Well, we had one PGA TOUR player currently playing when I was kind of younger and growing up, Henrik Bjornstad, so I was kind of following his scores every week when he was playing, and obviously born under the Tiger era, so certainly was very inspired by what he was doing on the course, and I really liked kind of the flair that Sergio Garcia had while playing. So just looking at — I would kind of take pieces from every single player and kind of like some of what he was doing, then this guy would do something else that I would think was pretty cool. It was mostly Tiger, but I would kind of pick something from all of them.

Q. Usually for a player the first or second year on the TOUR is going to be a tough acclimation, not just on the course but off the course, culturally. Have you had any of that, not knowing where to go, not knowing who to sit with in the dining room, that kind of thing?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: A little bit because I would say I’m a little shy person naturally. But I think it’s great for me to kind of get out of my comfort zone a little bit and kind of challenge myself with just, okay, I’m just going to do my thing, and if there’s people sitting there, I’m just going to go down there and sit there and say hi to everyone and kind of get out of my shell a little bit, and I feel like I’ve definitely come a long ways, and yeah, I feel like I’m somewhat getting the hang of it.

Q. Is it a hard thing, though, and does it help to be playing as well? Does that make it easier?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: I don’t know. I haven’t really thought much about it, but I guess it helps a little bit, gets you that extra confidence to kind of sit down and do those things. But you don’t really want kind of your results to be the driving factor behind it, you just want to be the person that you want to be.

Q. This victory brings a lot more attention to you. You had a lot of attention from before, but now even more. Do you like that, or do you just feel like you want to play golf and shy away from all the crowds?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: I mean, it’s nice to have the attention because then that really shows that you’re doing well. But kind of obviously sometimes when you’re done with a round, you just want to sign the scorecard and go to your room. You don’t really want all the extra attention. I mean, there’s good parts and bad parts with it.

Q. You’re known for being Twitterless Viktor, and back home in Norway, everyone is wondering are you going to be on Twitter?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: After the win on Sunday, I got so many text messages, I couldn’t even respond to half of them, so if I got a Twitter, that would just make it even worse, so probably not.

Q. You touched on this a little bit before in terms of being able to set your schedule and knowing where you’re playing. What are you kind of most excited about after the win, or looking forward to the most?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: Yeah, I mean, obviously getting into the PGA Championship is going to be a lot of fun. I haven’t played that major. THE PLAYERS is going to be awesome to play in, and hopefully I can kind of keep my ranking and get into the Match Play event that’s coming up. I’m really a big fan of match play, and I would say I’ve played some of my best golf in matches, so hopefully I can get in there and do well. I mean, there’s so many cool tournaments out there. Just whenever the next tournament I’m playing, I’m pretty excited, and then we move on to the next, then the next, then the next.

Q. Augusta I would imagine would be on that list of —
VIKTOR HOVLAND: It’s up there.

Q. Curious your earliest memory of the Masters.
VIKTOR HOVLAND: I don’t remember. I couldn’t tell you.

Q. Really?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: I couldn’t tell you. I don’t remember things like that, if back in 2004 I was watching the Masters. I don’t really remember that stuff.

Q. How about Tiger?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: I think it was in elementary school sometime, just watching golf and seeing him fist bump, go crazy. I couldn’t tell you.

Q. Congratulations on not being on Twitter officially makes you the smartest person in the room, so good job on that.
VIKTOR HOVLAND: Thank you. Setting the bar high.

Q. I know you just played the course for the first time last evening, but everyone knows 15, 16, 17, but those are obviously not the only hard holes. 6 can be brutal, 11 can be brutal. Did the course live up to the expectation of how hard it can be?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: Yeah. I played — I went off 10 yesterday with Matt Wolff and Martin Trainer, and it was into the wind on 10, and I didn’t hit very many balls after teeing off, and I kind of necked one. It was dead straight so I thought it was going to be fine, and I didn’t check my yardage book or anything, I just stepped up to the tee and what happened it, and yeah, I obviously necked it into the wind, spun up a little bit in the air, and I walk up the fairway and I’m thinking it’s going to be in the fairway, and it’s in the bunker like 260 out from the tee in the lip, and Shay is shooting the flag, and it’s like 235 to the pin. I’m like, This is a pretty easy par-5 if I just catch one. He’s like, “It’s a par-4, mate.” I was like, well, okay, that’s a good start to the week. But yeah, there’s a lot of really tough holes out there. But if you hit the ball good, there’s definitely opportunities to score.

Q. It’s hard to win at any level in golf, Korn Ferry TOUR, Euro Tour, certainly out here, and you and Collin and Matthew have stepped out in a matter of months and won. Do you find that remarkable, or is that just part of the plan?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: I think honestly when we were in college and looking forward to turning pro, that was definitely our plans, if you will, that we were obviously dreaming about it, but for all of us to have won within a year, I mean, it’s pretty remarkable. I don’t know how else to explain it. It’s a pretty crazy ride.

Q. Did Matthew’s win early on kind of give you more confidence that I can step out and do this?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: Yeah, I would say for sure because I played and practiced with him every day in college for two years, and I saw what he was capable of, and I knew what I was capable of. So certainly seeing him kind of laid the — broke the ice a little bit for me, I would think.

Q. Going back to Austin, what is it about match play that you like so much, and what are some of your favorite memories that you’ve had playing match play?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: I think it’s just that you get to play with the person that you’re playing against. You’re not necessarily playing — you’re not playing against the rest of the field or kind of the course. You just have to beat one guy, and to kind of see what he’s doing and then you have the opportunity to kind of combat that and be clutch I think is really cool. I have some great moments from obviously the U.S. Amateur and NCAAs, but even before that in the European Boys Team Championships that I would play back in 2013, ’14, ’15, representing Norway, and yeah, just had some great matches.

Q. Putting aside the fact that it would help you at this moment, you beat a very good field in Puerto Rico, a lot of good players out there. Do you think the Masters should reconsider its policy of not letting winners of opposite events into their tournament?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: I don’t know, I haven’t put much thought into it.

Q. Even after winning?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: I mean, it’s not up to me to decide.

Q. It’s not up to me, either.
VIKTOR HOVLAND: No. I mean, I don’t know what tournaments really get you into the Masters —

Q. Everything but the opposites.
VIKTOR HOVLAND: Okay, well, I don’t know. It is an opposite field event, so you can make that case. It’s just how the rules are. Obviously I’d like it to get me in, but I don’t think it should change just because I won it. I don’t really think it’s wrong or right.

Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

February 26, 2020

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports