Team USA

PGA Tour: Harold Varner III Talks Debut at AT&T Pro-Am

PGA Tour professional Harold Varner III speaks to the media following a first round 67 at the 2020 AT&T Pro-Am.

PGA Tour: Harold Varner III addresses the media after AT&T Pro-Am debut.

Q. Making his tournament debut. But let’s go back 13 years ago. Competitive golf here in the First Tee Program, on the Champions Tour. What are your memories from the success you had in 2007?
HAROLD VARNER III: The only thing I remember is who I played with and I birdied 17. But, yeah, it brought back a lot of memories today being out there. It’s crazy how much you don’t remember, how fast it goes away. So it was good and I obviously played well and obviously having fun.

Q. Winner 13 years ago with Morris Hatalsky. What was it like the walk around here today? Now you’re a PGA TOUR member.
HAROLD VARNER III: It’s obviously different. What’s weird is I wouldn’t go back to being that kid. It’s just like, it was just a different, different day and age, I guess. But, yeah, it’s just, I wish I could just call Morris and just tell him, This is crazy.

So, yeah, it’s a lot of fun. Just want to play well. Got off to a rough start this year and I’ve been close, making some cuts but just haven’t cracked the egg yet. But we’re working on it.

Q. What was the difference that allowed you to play well?
HAROLD VARNER III: Just keep working at it. It’s not the end of the world. It’s just golf. Nobody’s going to die out there. Just keep it in perspective. And obviously, I have a lot of perspective from what I had 13 years ago to now. It’s never as good as you think it is. It’s never as bad as you think it is. So just keep it in between the lines.

Pebble Beach, California

February 6, 2020

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

Team Canada

PGA Tour: Nick Taylor Talks First Round 63 at The 2020 AT&T Pro-Am

PGA Tour professional Nick Taylor speaks to the media upon completion of his first round -8 63 about difference in conditions between this week and last.

PGA Tour: Nick Taylor talks to the media following his first round at the AT&T Pro-Am

DOUG MILNE: We would like to welcome Nick Taylor to the interview room here at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Thanks for stopping by for a few minutes after quite a successful first round. Monterey Peninsula, 8-under, 63 today. Talked on the way over. Really couldn’t have gotten off to a much better start than with an eagle at number 10. With that said, can you just take us through the round a little bit?

NICK TAYLOR: Yeah, I drove it really nice today. Obviously, playing 10 it’s a gettable par-5 to start the day. So hit two great shots there about 4 feet, I made eagle, so it was a nice start. And then I think I almost hit every fairway today, so I really had good numbers coming into a lot of greens, had chances, made some nice putts in the middle of my round to kind of keep it going and finished two great shots, a 5-iron and 3-iron on the last two holes to set up two birdies there. So tee to green was great and made some putts.

DOUG MILNE: You’ve got some history here. You’re making your sixth start. I think you’ve had a top-10 in 2017. Just some thoughts on the, just kind of being back here and this whole environment and how much that does for you.

NICK TAYLOR: Yeah, this is one of my favorite events of the year every year. People ask me my favorite golf course. Pebble is definitely the top of the list. I just, growing up in the Northwest, I don’t know if its that and, you know, the rain doesn’t bother me, if that’s in the forecast. I think this week we’re going to be extremely lucky with that. But I just love these heavy golf courses. Growing up on poa annua, it suits my eye, so I always enjoy coming here.

DOUG MILNE: Open it up for questions.

Q. What would be your ideal of a great lunch right now? I’m curious more on the details on 10. What did you have left for your second and what club?
NICK TAYLOR: I hit a 4-iron in. I think I had, it was helping wind off the tee, hit a great drive there, so I maybe 225 to the, all the way to the back. It was a back pin so it was a 4-iron.

Q. And I know you like the golf courses, but what is it about the event that inspires you? What do you like best about the week?
NICK TAYLOR: It is always fun meeting new people. I’ve had different partners every year. You just can’t beat these three golf courses. They’re so fun to play. And yeah, it’s a combination of things. Obviously, meeting new people and having conversations, their relaxing rounds, for the most part. Again, the weather helps out. But, yeah, it’s just a great place to be.

Q. On that, how is a five-and-a-half-hour round relaxing? What are the keys for you to make that happen?
NICK TAYLOR: It was just a lot of time in between shots. You’re never really in a rush. I played with Beau Hossler and I feel like we get along really well, so just very relaxed that way. Again, the weather helps out. If it’s raining, it’s windy, five and a half hours is a long round. But we were very relaxed today, joked all day, and I felt like the mood was great.

Q. You said the last two holes you had 3-iron, 5-iron?
NICK TAYLOR: 5-iron into 8. 3-iron off 9 tee, the par-3.

Q. How far and to how close?
NICK TAYLOR: Five — the 5-iron was about 5 feet on hole 8. I think I had about 205 hole. And then they used the back tee on 9, which I had actually never seen. I think it was 240 hole 3-iron, about 18, 20 feet.

Q. That’s a good way to end.

Q. How far does the ball not fly compared with say Phoenix last week or what have you?
NICK TAYLOR: It’s a big difference. I did a little bit of Trackman work yesterday. My 9-iron, it was normalized, which means no wind. But it was going 140 yards max. Last week was probably 155, 160, so it’s significant enough. The breeze is just heavier. So, yeah, it’s a lot of calculations that you try to guess right and today we were fortunate to guess quite a few times right.

Q. The other thing, I’m not sure your history at the Hope or — you’re too young for that. It’s the American Express in Palm Springs. Do you play that quite a bit?
NICK TAYLOR: Yeah, I’ve played it every year.

Q. The difference on a multiple-course rotation like this, is there any secret to figuring out where you are in terms of getting to Sunday when you’re all on one course? I mean, these are, I would think, different than the desert courses?
NICK TAYLOR: Yeah, I feel like these three courses if the weather is similar every day that the scores are actually close to the same. Spyglass usually plays a little bit tougher. But since they have gone to the Stadium Course, that’s usually a couple, shot and a half tougher, at least than La Quinta and Nicklaus Tournament. So that one’s harder to gauge kind of where you are in the tournament until Sunday. But I feel like here everything’s plays relatively equal.

Q. What did you see, did you see a round like this coming? Have you been building toward this?
NICK TAYLOR: I’ve been playing solid all year I’ve been driving it great. Again the putts fell today, which was nice. I’ve never really played great at Phoenix, so that was, I think that was my best finish I had last year so I guess — or last week — but I played really well in Hawaii, didn’t have a great final round and I actually was playing well at the American Express, just had a weird Saturday round and missed the cut by a couple there. So the game’s been solid, it’s just kind of been growing. And it’s early in the year, I feel like I always start off slow.

Q. To have won so early on TOUR, as a rookie I think, that was your first fall, right?

Q. Did that do anything, expectation-wise, for you going forward?
NICK TAYLOR: Yeah, I think it naturally does, I think without even trying you kind of expect that you’re going to be in contention more often than you’re not. I really, the last couple years, I feel like I played pretty well in certain stretches and been more in contention, but it still doesn’t happen as often as I think you would like. You always want to be in contention more. So there was an adjustment period in there, but I feel like the last few years my game’s much better than it was even when I won and now, obviously, getting more solid rounds, being more in contention, getting more comfortable when you’re in those situations.

Q. Lastly, the numbers might be a little bit skewed here for you to answer it, but what do you think the answer would be from most players if they were asked if they thought winning was harder before they won or after the realization of how hard it is to win?
NICK TAYLOR: Yeah, winning so early might have jaded me for a little bit there, but for sure there’s been tournaments where I felt like I probably played better golf and didn’t win than the week that I did. I think you need a few bounces here or there and putts lip in at the right time, making putts at key moments. When you get growing up watching Tiger you think that winning for some reason is easy, but it’s just, the reality is it isn’t. So as many times as you get your self in contention I feel like those breaks one week will eventually kind of go your way, but it’s extremely difficult.

DOUG MILNE: All right. Go eat.

Pebble Beach, California

February 6, 2020

NICK TAYLOR: Thank you.

Team USA

PGA Tour: Patrick Cantlay Addresses The Media Following Opening Round 66 at AT&T Pro-Am

PGA Tour professional Patrick Cantlay speaks with the media following an opening round 66 at the 2020 AT&T Pro-Am about the perfect conditions as well as his experience with the amateur players.

PGA Tour: Patrick Cantlay posts a 66 in opening round of the 2020 AT&T Pro-Am

Q. Nine birdies today on what is normally the toughest of the three golf courses. What was working so well for you today?
PATRICK CANTLAY: I played really well. I drove the ball well. I had a lot of short irons coming into the greens. I played the par-5s good on the front and then made that bogey there on 14 and got a little mud there. But all in all, played really well, made some putts, and I’m really happy with the start.

Q. Was this kind of maybe possibly one of the easier days here at Spyglass because the weather is perfect and the course is playing well?
PATRICK CANTLAY: Yeah, and we went out first, so the greens on our front nine were absolutely perfect. Course was probably the best shape I’ve ever seen it and we’re getting perfect weather, so, yeah, it’s great.

Q. Seemed a little bit of continuing good play here. Is this a continuation of what’s been going on recently?
PATRICK CANTLAY: Yeah, I’ve been playing really well. I feel confident and comfortable with the game. I really like it around here. I’ve played the tournament a few times so coming back to golf courses is easier than seeing them for the first time and I like it here, so it’s all good.

Q. Playing with Kelly Slater. Is this relaxing a little bit, kind of a different way of going about your business?
PATRICK CANTLAY: Yeah, we’ve played together in this tournament before. I enjoy Kelly. He’s a great player. He rolled the rock so good today. Yeah, we both played great and it’s really fun being out here with him. He’s such a great champion and, obviously, the best to ever compete at his sport, which is beyond impressive, so it’s a real pleasure to be out here with him.

Q. Do you pick his brain about some of that stuff, since he is obviously the best at what he’s done, do you kind of pick his brain and kind of get what he did well?
PATRICK CANTLAY: We’re just out there trying to make as many birdies as we can. I might corner him at some point and try and get a little something that I can use, but he’s a great dude and we’re really having fun.

Q. Relative to your skill set, who putted better today, you or Kelly?
PATRICK CANTLAY: Kelly. He looked like the best putter on TOUR today, he looked like Greg Chalmers.

Q. Did you get that? Not a lot of people are going to get to Greg Chalmers.
PATRICK CANTLAY: Doesn’t he always lead the putting stats?

Q. Yeah, he’s unbelievable. What do you like about the tournament outside of the courses? Is it just the courses?
PATRICK CANTLAY: I like the whole feel up here. It’s one of my favorite places. I can see myself retiring here some day. I love Carmel, and it’s just beautiful, so how could you not like it up here when it’s perfect weather like this.

Q. Have you ever gotten angry up here?
PATRICK CANTLAY: I’m sure I have.

Q. Would you have if you had missed that putt on 18?
PATRICK CANTLAY: You know, even if I would have missed it I played well today, so…

Pebble Beach, California

February 6, 2020

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

Team USA

PGA Tour: Dustin Johnson Talks 2020 AT&T Pro-Am and Recent R&A Distance Report

PGA Tour professional Dustin Johnson speaks about making his first start since the Sentry Tournament of Champions at the 2020 AT&T Pro-Am touching on subjects such as the potential conception of a new premiere golf league.

PGA Tour: Dustin Johnson addresses the media prior to the AT&T Pro-Am

JACK RYAN: We would like to welcome Dustin Johnson to the interview room here at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Dustin’s a two-time champion making his 13th start at the event. Dustin, if we could just get an opening comment on your return to Pebble Beach.

DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, I always look forward to coming to this event. It’s one of my favorite events we play all year. I like all the golf courses. This year they’re probably in the best shape I’ve ever seen them. It looks like we’re going to have a little bit better weather than last year, so that’s a plus. But, yeah, it’s a lot of fun, I enjoy playing here, got a good partner, so we have a good time.

JACK RYAN: You’re making your first start since the Sentry Tournament of Champions where you finished T-7. How would you assess the state of your game right now?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: It’s pretty good. I had a nice week last week. Obviously, I played on the European Tour last week. But, you know, really solid event and yeah, this will be my second event this year, so. But it’s a place where I’ve had a lot of success. I feel like the game’s in really good form and I’m really looking forward to this week.

JACK RYAN: We’ll take some questions, please.

Q. So you played here as a rookie in 2008, I think, right? That would have been your first year. Did you like it right away, because it’s not suited for some people in terms of patience or what have you.
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I did. I enjoyed it.

Q. Why?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I just like the golf courses. I think they all set up pretty well for me and I’ve liked them ever since the first time I played here. And, yeah, I enjoy the event. It’s different, but I’ve had a lot of fun. I’ve had, obviously, it helps having a good Am partner, too, that you enjoy being around because you do spend a lot of time together out there during the week.

Q. Did you play with –you’ve had —

Q. Joe Rice.
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Who I played with for a few years, yeah.

Q. And then you kicked him out and got Wayne?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: We got, yeah, I got Wayne. I got stuck with Wayne, so… could be worse.

Q. Long hitter that you are, was curious if you had read or heard anything about the USGA, R & A report on distance, first of all, just to ask if you saw it.
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I saw the e-mail and then I looked at how long it was and I did not read it. I mean, to be honest, I really did. I looked at it and it was like 18 pages or something and I said, yeah, I didn’t even try to read it.

Q. Longer than you hit it. But you kind of know what the gist is, basically, right?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I didn’t read any of it.

Q. Well, they’re essentially saying that the ball goes too far. Does it really matter? Whatever you did — my point being, whatever you did to the golf ball, if you let it keep going or if you dialed it back, like Jack Nicklaus says, 10 percent, 20 percent, whatever, would the longest hitters still be the longest hitters?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, I don’t see that changing. And to be honest, it’s not like the scores are lower than they used to be or they’re any different, if you look at the scores, or at least from what I could tell. It’s all conditions, really. If you look at, if a course is firm and fast and it has rough, it plays hard, doesn’t matter what course it is. If it’s soft, we’re going to shoot pretty low. It’s just general, kind of the general look at things. But I mean, I don’t think it goes too far and I don’t think we make this game too easy, or it sure is not easy for me.

Q. Could you just update us on the state of your game, the areas that you’re pleased with, the areas that you think you need more work on?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Right now I feel pretty good throughout the bag. I mean, obviously, the short game and putting can always be better. But for the most part, I feel like the game’s in pretty good form right now. Yeah, I haven’t played a whole lot, but the events have I played in, I felt like I was pretty sharp. Hawaii, which was my first kind of stroke play event since the TOUR Championship was, I felt like I hit it really good, hit a lot of good shots, I did everything pretty well, just a little rusty mentally more than anything. But now that I feel like I’m kind of getting back into the swing of things, I felt like I did a good job last week, even though it was very tough conditions, especially on the weekend.

Q. I know you’ve been asked this before, but is there anything about the experience of playing — what is it about the experience of playing with Wayne that you think maybe benefits you?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Well, we get along very well. Obviously, the rounds are long here, we’re playing foursomes and there’s two Ams in every group, so you’re out there for a long time. So to have someone that keeps you relaxed and you have a good time and it seems like we’re laughing pretty much all day, it definitely helps and it helps for the time. And obviously, we enjoy being around each other, so that makes it for a lot of fun.

Q. Last summer you, your season did not end as you probably would have liked. What was it like going through, probably was your biggest slump of your career?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I don’t know. I never really thought about it too much, to be honest. I was, obviously, I had surgery in the off-season, so the only thing I can look back at is I blame it on my knee hurting.

Q. What do you think about Commissioner Monahan playing in the pro-am this week?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I think it’s great. I think it’s — he’s playing with his dad, which is really cool. I actually had breakfast with him this morning, so it was, he was excited. He said his dad’s very excited, so. But I think it’s good. I like seeing him play.

Q. Speaking of Jay, did he ask if you read his memo? It was only two pages. I’m just curious.
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I did get through that one.

Q. What did you think? Let me redirect the question. What do you know or have you been contacted by the people doing the Premier Golf League and have you given it any consideration?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I mean, I’ve definitely — I’ve heard about it a little bit. I kind of, I know the gist of things. But, I mean, obviously it’s a good, you know, they have some ideas, whether it’s going to work or not, who knows. I’m happy playing on the PGA TOUR though.

Q. The inquisition is just starting here, if you know what I mean.
DUSTIN JOHNSON: We could do this afterwards if you would like, Doug.

Q. No, we’re fine. Do you think you’re compensated well or do you think you can be compensated more? I’m talking about strictly TOUR earnings, not so much endorsements.
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I mean, I do just fine.

Q. Your memo would be like two sentences, wouldn’t it?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: It would get the point across though.

JACK RYAN: All right. Well, thank you, Dustin and best of luck this week.

Pebble Beach, California

February 5, 2020

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

Team USA

PGA Tour: Phil Mickelson Talks Defending Title at 2020 AT&T Pro-Am

PGA Tour professional and defending AT&T Pro-Am champion Phil Mickelson addresses the media prior to beginning his 2020 title defense and touches on the recent and highly debated R&A distance report.

PGA Tour: Phil Mickelson speaks with the media prior to 2020 AT&T Pro-Am

JOHN BUSH: We’ll get started. We would like to welcome our defending champion into the interview room, Phil Mickelson. Making his 4th start at this event and he’s a five-time winner. Phil, if we get comments on being back at Pebble Beach.

PHIL MICKELSON: Good morning, guys. And I love being back here and it looks like it’s going to be a little bit different style of play and golf that we’re used to where the courses are much firmer and faster. We’re not going to get any rain it looks like this week, so it’s going to be an exciting week I think and should be fun.

JOHN BUSH: Talk to us a little bit about the state of your game coming in.

PHIL MICKELSON: So I had a good week last week where I finally got some results and started to score a little bit better. I didn’t get off to the greatest start on the AmEx or Farmers, but I felt like I was playing well, but you wasn’t scoring well, I wasn’t thinking very well through the round and visualizing and all that stuff and that seemed to get a lot better last week and I’m hoping to build on that.

JOHN BUSH: Pretty cool deal this week. As we all know, you play with the silver coin from your grandfather here at Pebble Beach. All of the amateurs this year are getting a replica coin from the tournament. Just talk a little bit about how that whole process started and your thoughts on that.

PHIL MICKELSON: So it’s, this place here in Monterey, Pebble Beach has been a very special place to our family because my grandfather was one of the original caddies in the caddie yard. And he had to quit school in fourth grade to help work and support the family. And he always felt poor and he would carry around this silver dollar here that I have. It’s from 1900, it’s an old Morgan head silver dollar that he would leave in his pocket. He would reach in and touch whenever he felt poor and it made him feel like he had money. And so he often times would go to bed hungry and not eat because he wouldn’t spend it. He just wanted to always feel like he had it. And so our family’s come a long ways as we look back at him caddieing here for 35 cents a loop to now winning seven figure checks and having my brother with me and so forth and what this great game of golf has given our family for the last couple generations. So we’re very appreciative. The fact that the tournament made a replica of kind of showcasing my five wins in the same size and shape as the Morgan head silver dollar is pretty special. I have one with me. I’ll probably carry both because I think they’re kind of cool and it reminds me that I’ve had some success here. But my grandfather’s coin means a lot to me because it just shows how far we have come as a family.

JOHN BUSH: Open it up to questions.

Q. Nobody wants to ask the first question, so you know how that goes. Do you feel like you have momentum coming off the Saudi Arabia?
PHIL MICKELSON: I feel like the area that I was struggling in is better. So I have felt coming into this year that a lot of the physical areas of my game have been addressed. I was really excited about how I was playing. And then I get on the golf course and I start not seeing what I want to have happen but more what I don’t want to have happen. And the same thing started last week where the pro-am, I hit 12 out of 14 fairways and the very first hole I missed the fairway with a 2-iron and the second hole I hit driver right in the middle of the lake and make double. And my inability to kind of control my thoughts was getting the best of me the first few weeks. And I was able to identify the problem and then fix it and start to control my thoughts a little bit better, control my visualization, and I hit a lot of good shots thereafter.

Q. Different subject, but you definitely need to, I think, weigh in on it because you like to hit bombs.

Mickelson addresses USGA & R&A distance report

Q. The distance report that the USGA and R & A came out with, what’s your reaction to it and do you think that there is, A, a possibility of them, the two governing bodies, doing something or B, the PGA TOUR reacting in some way to either reign in the ball or make sure it isn’t reined in.
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I don’t know. I didn’t really read anything tangible from the report. I only saw that they were, they didn’t want each generation to continue getting longer and longer. I also don’t feel that you should punish the athletes for getting better. I don’t think that we have had massive equipment changes. We have just had athletes that have been able to take advantage of the equipment more so than in the past. And I hate to see that discourage. You look at what Bryson has done getting in the gym, getting after it, lifting weights, and hitting bombs, and now he’s — now you’re talking about trying to roll it back because he’s made himself a better athlete. So I don’t know if I agree with that. But I also don’t really understand the whole scope of how it affects the game and how it affects agronomy and golf courses and so forth, so I’m not sure I’m the best one to really comment on it. I just know from the small little bubble of the PGA TOUR, I hit a seeing the athletes be punished or discouraged from continuing to work and get better.

Q. Back to that first topic. I would think for you someone who has pulled off so many high-risk shots over the years that you see fairway and not trees and green and not water, how do you get into negative thinking, if that’s the right phrase, and what did you do to fix it?
PHIL MICKELSON: So it happens to all of us and you see it often times with guys that are playing great the first three rounds and then the final round they shoot something in the mid-70s and they just aren’t able to recapture their thoughts and they start letting thoughts about what they don’t want to have happen creep in and not be able to redirect their thoughts to what they want to have happen. And certainly because I’ve played poorly now for the last year it was becoming more and more of a challenge. But once I identified it, because I’ve already fixed the physical aspects and I’m hitting the ball really, really well, it’s been much easier to gain control of that. So it’s a process. Like, winning and playing well is a process and I feel like last year was a big step in my process to getting back to playing my best.

Q. I have two questions, actually. First, you talked about your grandfather and obviously every year it’s an issue here on players on TOUR coming here and the quality of the field. You’ve always embraced this event. Is it because of the family connection, because you played well here, why has this been a no-brainer for you?
PHIL MICKELSON: So early in my career I did miss it a few times, but as I got older I realized what an important event this is in developing kind of a relationship with a lot of the decision makers and key players in the game of golf and developing these kind of emotional connection that leads to better decisions as far as supporting the game. It gets companies and CEO’s more inclined to support the game of golf. It creates a relationship and fan experience between players and celebrities and so forth. And I think that this week, along with the AmEx, the two events in all of sports that allow amateurs to play alongside the professionals in the actual competition, is a unique experience that needs to be taken advantage of. Now, it’s also not for everybody. So I understand when guys don’t want to do it, it’s not for everybody. A lot of guys feel like look I only have so many number of weeks a year to compete and it is a, it’s difficult for me to play my best when I’m interacting with a lot of people and so forth. So some people, it’s just not for, and I respect their decision. But for me I’ve always enjoyed it and actually have played some of my best golf when I’m partnered with very interesting players. And I’ve been partnered the last few years, I’ve had a chance to play alongside Jimmy Dunne in the same group. And there’s nobody that I view more as an American hero than Jimmy Dunne for what he did in dedicating profits from his company for the next two years following the 911 tragedy, whereby every other company in the World Trade Center followed suit. I think he’s led by example. There’s nobody that I look up to or respect more in this entire country than Jimmy Dunne and for me to have these days with him, to ask questions and spend time with him, is what brings out some of the my best golf, because I’m having so much fun.

Q. Unrelated question. I know you’ve been asked before, but turning 50 this year and state of your game, you mentioned sort of getting over the poor play from last year. What’s realistic? What can you do at age 50, which historically not many players have won or done well on this TOUR at that age.
PHIL MICKELSON: So I, what I believe, I still need to show. Like, I believe I can play at an extremely high level, I just need to show it. Physically, I’m swinging the club better, more on plane, striking it more solid, hitting the ball longer, swinging the club faster than I have in many, many years. But there’s a lot more to winning than just hitting bombs, and I’m trying to put all those pieces together and I’m enjoying the challenge. So I don’t know if I can answer that directly. I would rather just show what I believe is possible and have a great year.

Q. How has what you consider hitting bombs changed? What was the distance or what did you consider a bomb back when you first came out here versus what it is today?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don’t know if it really compares to back when I first came out. The way I view it is to — you can win on the PGA TOUR not hitting the ball long. You can out-putt, you can out-strike, you can have great weeks and win golf tournaments without being the longest guy or without overpowering a golf course, but you cannot dominate the sport without speed. You might be able to do it for a year or two, but you can’t out-perform everyone consistently without clubhead speed, because there’s no substitute for speed in this game. It allows you to put more spin on the ball, it allows you to hit the ball longer, make carries come in higher and softer into the greens. It allows you to do more with a golf ball than if you don’t have speed and the best players in the world are going to have to have speed. So there’s no substitute.

There is a point, in my opinion, of diminishing return at about 182 mile an hour ball speed, which is going to equate to about 122 mile an hour clubhead speed. You usually have about a 1.5 smash factor, 150 percent energy transfer. It’s a little bit less the faster you swing the ball. But 182 mile an hour ball speed with a driver, you start going faster than that, you start losing a little bit of control and it almost has a diminishing return and that’s why, that’s, you’ll find all the top guys right in that area. I was struggling to get 170. I was struggling to get to 170 mile an hour ball speed. For me to hit 182, 183 now is, I can do it at will. So that doesn’t hold me back. Now what’s holding me back are some of the other areas. Maybe my iron play hasn’t been as great, my putting hasn’t been as great, maybe my accuracy could be better. Well, that’s not maybe, that could be. But the those areas I’m also addressing, but if I didn’t have the speed to start with, it wouldn’t even give me a fair chance. So hitting bombs is flying the ball 315 and getting 182 ball speed with ideal launch conditions.

Q. And when would you say you made such a concerted effort to keep up with these younger guys that were hitting it longer than you?

Q. No, when.
PHIL MICKELSON: A couple years ago. It took me probably a year before I overnight had five, six miles an hour more clubhead speed. You know, I was struggling to swing 115. I think that was kind of my average clubhead speed. Now it’s easily over 120. If I need to get to 122, 123 I can at will. And that’s an important part for me to feel like I’m not at a disadvantage before I even tee off. Now I still have to go do all the other parts, and that’s been a challenge too, but I couldn’t start until I had the speed.

Q. Following up on your sort of athletes versus technology and difference, how much farther do you hit the ball at 49 than you did at 21, 22 and how would you quantify how much is athleticism and how much is the technology?
PHIL MICKELSON: So my numbers might be fractionally off, but in 1993 or 1994 I was 25th in driving distance at 269 and in 2003 I was 25th in distance at 299, so there’s a 30-yard difference there. And I’ve jumped up a little bit in the last few years from 2003. I’m averaging just over 300, I don’t know, 303, 307, something like that. And that is equating to just training and swinging the club faster. I’ve always been right around 25th in distance, give or take, and I’m back to that area, I would say. But in that jump, I would say a big, a majority of that jump was that golf ball when we went from the wound ball to the solid core. That was a big deal because what happened was the longer guys with more speed, the stronger guys, would swing that wound ball and it would just over spin. It would spin 34-, 3,500 RPM. It’s not that the ball came off slower, it just had so much drag in the spin. And when we created that solid core technology we were able to reduce the spin and increase the launch and also perimeter weight the ball, so that made a big difference too because it wasn’t curving as much and that allowed guys to hit it the same speed off the face, but get rid of 12- to 1,500 RPM’s of spin and reduce the drag and get the ball to fly right through the air. That’s been the biggest difference.

Q. Also related to the project report, there was a suggestion to study the possibility of a local rule which would allow tournaments to use equipment that, where the ball wouldn’t go as far and the clubs wouldn’t go as far. Any reaction to how that, what you think of that?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think the best players will still find ways to win. They might not do it by overpowering the golf course with driver, but they will find ways to do it with their iron play or what have you. I think the best players will always kind of find a way to win and do what it takes. I struggle with some of our governing bodies. I struggle with it because we’re the only sport, we’re the only professional sport in the world that is governed by a group of amateurs, and that leads to some questionable directions that we go down. I wish that we had people that are involved in the sport professionally to be in charge a little bit more.

Q. Looking back, can you recall, when you left here on Monday having won, what was your outlook for the rest of the year and when did it kind of start going, did you feel that it started kind of going south on you?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, after I won last year, I knew I was going to go out and just crush the rest of the year, and the rest of the year crushed me. Kind of reversed it. I did not play well, I didn’t play up to my level of expectation, and it just kind of snowballed and got worse. But this is a different year and I’ve had a great off season and a lot of good things have happened in the last three, four months and I’m very excited for the year. I know that I didn’t get, the first two weeks didn’t go as planned, but the rest of the year is going to be very good.

Q. What happened last year? Why did you get crushed?
PHIL MICKELSON: Just the ups and downs of a career and play and I just kind of lost some focus and direction and now I have it back.

Q. Whether it’s later this year, three years from now, seven years from now, do you have any interest in the Champions Tour? How do you view that long-term?
PHIL MICKELSON: So a lot of the guys on the Champions Tour are friends of mine, people I really enjoy being around. I appreciate all that they did for me starting. When I started out my career, they were just ahead of me, and guys I really enjoy being around. If I — I don’t want to hurt the Champions Tour in any way and if not playing the Champions Tour is going to hurt it, I’ll play a couple of events. I’ll probably play one, two or three events a year because I want to support it, I want it to be successful, I don’t want to hurt it or be detrimental to it in any way. But I feel like to be successful on a TOUR you have to commit entirely to that one TOUR. So if it’s either going to be the PGA TOUR or the Champions Tour, I don’t see me oscillating back and forth, and, until I’m ready to go one or the other. And I’m not saying I’m not going to play the Champions Tour right now. I’m just saying that I believe the next six months are going to be really good and encouraging for me to play out here because this motivates me to compete against the best players in the world. That drives me to get in the gym, it drives me to work hard on the range, it drives me to spend time on the putting green. And I’m not sure I would have the same passion and drive to be my best on the Champions Tour, but I have it out here and so right now it’s starting to bring out the best in me and I want to play out here.

Q. Building off that, the first tournament you would be eligible for would be the U.S. Senior Open the week after the U.S. Open at Winged Foot. Any interest in playing there and would winning a U.S. Senior Open bring a certain level of satisfaction to you?
PHIL MICKELSON: None whatsoever. No.

Q. For playing it or satisfaction?

Q. Kind of along those lines, you had such a long stretch of all the cups and qualifying for them without being a pick for a long time. How much pride or how much of you does not want to need want to rely on an exemption for the U.S. Open this year?
PHIL MICKELSON: I won’t accept it. So I am either going to get in the field on my own or I’ll have to try to qualify. I’m not going to take a special exemption.

Q. Why not? You would probably be eligible for at least a couple of them, I would think, just given what you’ve done in the game. Why wouldn’t you?
PHIL MICKELSON: I just won’t.

Q. I would ask a follow-up, if I had one, but… Please? What’s, is it a, you know, a conflict with the USGA or is it just strictly pride or what?
PHIL MICKELSON: No, I just — they have never been an organization that likes to give out exemptions, special exemptions. I don’t want a special exemption. I think I’ll get in the tournament. If I get in, I deserve to be there. If I don’t, I don’t. I don’t want a sympathy spot. If I am good enough to make it and qualify, then I need to earn my spot there.

Q. Do you see it as a sympathy spot or a reward for greatness over a long time, which they have done, whether it was?
PHIL MICKELSON: I see it as the former and I don’t want that.

Q. You see it as sympathy. Okay. Last time you qualified was Cherry Hills? I feel like it was — I feel like there was a qualifier at Denver somewhere. Didn’t you get hosed on having to come back the next morning when you were probably about 21?
PHIL MICKELSON: That year was Baltusrol, I think in ’93, where I lost in a playoff maybe.

Q. Yeah. A three-for-one spot or something?
PHIL MICKELSON: Something like that, in Ohio, and I didn’t qualify there. And I think I’ve been in every one since and I don’t know if I qualified, had to qualify in ’94 or not. That was at Oakmont. I thought I might have just gotten in there after.

Q. I kept thinking there was a story where you had to come back on the next morning to finish the playoff.
PHIL MICKELSON: That was in ’93, I believe.

Q. Some guy holed a 40-foot putt —
PHIL MICKELSON: That’s it, yeah.

Q. With a rooster tail.
PHIL MICKELSON: That’s it in ’93. I think that was the last one I missed.

Q. It’s probably a bad memory, but it was a funny story when you told it.
PHIL MICKELSON: No, it happens. I think — look, you learn a lot more out of failure than you do your successes and that was, I learned a lot from that experience and I’m fortunate, it also drove me to not have to qualify for that tournament. I don’t think I’ve had to qualify for it since. I think ’94 — I won twice in ’93, so I think that got me in somehow. Money List or maybe top-30 on the Money List got in —

Q. They used to reward winning back then.
PHIL MICKELSON: — something like that, yeah.

JOHN BUSH: Phil Mickelson, thank you for your time. Best of luck.


Pebble Beach, California

February 5, 2020

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

Team USA

PGA Tour: Patrick Cantlay Speaks on Career Start Number 4 at AT&T Pro-Am

PGA Tour professional Patrick Cantlay speaks to the media ahead of the 2020 AT&T Pro-Am at Pebble Beach about his history at the event.

PGA Tour: Patrick Cantlay addresses the media prior to round one of the 2020 AT&T Pro-Am

JOHN BUSH: We’ll get started. We would like to welcome Patrick Cantlay into the interview room. He’s making his fourth career start at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Patrick, if we can get some thoughts on being back here at Pebble Beach.

PATRICK CANTLAY: Yeah, I like it here. It was my first top-10 finish as a pro here, I think in 2013, and then came back here and started my, I guess comeback, you would say, here and made the cut, which was an accomplishment for me at the time. So I really like the golf courses this week and it’s always nice to play in California, so I’m excited to be here.

JOHN BUSH: All right. We haven’t seen you since a 4th place finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Just talk a little bit about what you’ve been up to since that point, the state of your game, and how things are going.

PATRICK CANTLAY: Yeah, so went over to Abu Dhabi and played there and have been in California practicing. Got some new sponsors and everything’s going good. Just getting ready for the new year. I love playing on the West Coast, so play this week and play L.A. next week, and everything’s gearing up for the Majors and once the season starts to get going in April. So game feels good, played well in Hawaii, and I like it in California, so I’m excited for the next two weeks here.

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

Q. Can you talk a little bit more about that first event back after being away so long, playing here and what that felt like and why here. I mean, it’s cold, it’s not exactly the most conducive place for a guy with a, coming back from a back problem.
PATRICK CANTLAY: Well, the reason to come back here, I think it was, one, I was coming back on a medical and didn’t obviously have great priority to get into events, so it was one of the few events that I was going to get into on the West Coast. But I had had some success here before and I like the golf courses, so that kind of outweighed the cold weather. And it was actually, it was brutal weather that year. It was rainy and there were delays. But it feels like once every three years the weather’s really nice, once every three years the weather’s really bad, and one of the other years it’s kind of marginal. So it looks like it’s going to be sunny and pretty here this week. So I just like the golf courses. I think they suit my game. And Pebble Beach is one of my favorites, whether it’s in competition or just practice rounds.

Q. Did you play here very much at all before you turned professional? Was this a place you came to and played much?
PATRICK CANTLAY: I didn’t. I played one round with my dad here maybe when I was about 12. But I would hear stories about all the guys that were older than me play the California Amateur here, but by the time I was old enough to play it, it wasn’t here anymore, so…

Q. Nice timing, right?
PATRICK CANTLAY: Yeah, that would have been great.

Q. Anything you remember about that round with your dad that sticks out?
PATRICK CANTLAY: I remember it being really foggy. And I was probably too young, my dad probably still beat up on me that day. He was a good player.

Q. I would have been curious when you came back here in 2017 what your expectations were in terms of how long it would take you to get back to where you thought you should be, and that led to kind of a different kind of thinking of what do expectations even mean? Is there a difference between practical expectations and far out expectations?
PATRICK CANTLAY: In a weird way it was an accomplishment to finish a golf tournament, just because I hadn’t played in one for so long. So on one hand, I was just happy to have played a whole golf tournament and not had any serious pain. And then on the other hand, I was happy to have made the cut just because when you’re out for that long, of course it’s reasonable to have doubts about your game or how you’re going to hold up. It had been over three years since I had played an actual tournament. I think I played a U.S. Open qualifier, but not, like, a four-round tournament. So coming away from the week I was happy to have made the cut. I think I finished around 45th or 50th or something like that.

Q. 48th.
PATRICK CANTLAY: Yeah, it wasn’t exactly what I wanted and I felt like I could have played better, but I was happy about making the cut and playing as well as I did and it gave me confidence going forward that I hadn’t really lost much and I was still the player that I used to be.

Q. You’re definitely in the running for the Olympics, you’re definitely in the running for the Ryder Cup. Is it too early for you to be thinking about those or are they on your mind?
PATRICK CANTLAY: There’s so many big events between now and those two events, and I think the way to get there is to focus on all of the events between now and then. And those would be big honors and they’re definitely big things that I would like to do and they’re goals of mine, to make those teams. I think Olympics would be really fun. And after Presidents Cup I can’t wait to play a Ryder Cup because I’m sure it will be — all the great things about the Presidents Cup will be even more amplified during a Ryder Cup, so I’m very much looking forward to that. But it’s not, because the way you qualify is through playing well in the big tournaments, just makes sense to have all your emphasis on those and look at the Olympics or look at the Ryder Cup as a potential bonus or reward for playing well.

Q. How would you describe your level of satisfaction with what you’ve accomplished since your comeback?
PATRICK CANTLAY: I think after the first year I was very satisfied with making the TOUR Championship with a limited schedule and making a TOUR Championship with really, no really goals or expectations to make the TOUR Championship at the start of the year. Like, I wanted to play really well and obviously get my real card after coming back from a medical, that was a goal, and competing at tournaments to win. But it didn’t really occur to me to have a goal to make the TOUR Championship or something like that. So after that week, after finishing the year as well as I did, looking back, I was pretty satisfied. And then I would say since then I don’t really associate the rest of the two years of golf after that with a comeback. That first year felt like kind of a comeback and then after that I felt really confident and comfortable playing out on TOUR and I didn’t really associate the next two years with a comeback, more a resumption of just me playing tournament golf.

So with that being said, looking back on it, I’ve played really well the last three years since I’ve come back, really consistently, had some chances to win, won a couple events, and qualified for the Presidents Cup team and played well there and that was really fun and really exciting. So I would say all in all, it’s been good. And I feel like now I’ve seen all the golf courses multiple times in multiple weather conditions for two or three years now, which I think is an advantage, and I’m excited to go back to all those places that I like to play with the experience that I have now and the confidence that I have now and see what I can do.

Q. How important do you think distance is in your success?
PATRICK CANTLAY: Well I think it would be ignorant not to look at people that play well and say distance isn’t a big issue or a big component of all the good players’ games. So, yeah, it’s definitely a huge component of me playing well. And I’m hitting it a lot farther than I did when came back and probably hitting it farther relative to other players than when I first turned pro. And I think part of that is putting an emphasis on it and part of that is just maturing and getting older. But, yeah, I mean, it’s a huge part of the game and to ignore that or to say it’s not that big of a deal, I think would be a mistake because guys are hitting it farther and the golf courses are suited for that.

Q. Do you think distance is a problem in golf?
PATRICK CANTLAY: Not for the amateur player. I think all the equipment and all the stuff is great for the amateur golfer and can’t get any, it can’t, the ball can’t go too far for a 10 handicap. So in general I would say no, some golf courses on TOUR, yes, but most golf courses on TOUR, no. If I were to play Cypress Point this week, yeah, it would be a problem at Cypress point because there’s a lot of holes that you can’t hit driver or a lot of holes that other guys would hit driver, 7-iron and I’m hitting driver and a sand wedge or driver and a gap wedge. But for the majority of golf courses we play out here on TOUR I would say no.

Q. You mentioned all the big events that you’re going to play before the Olympics or Ryder Cup and of course first major’s two months away. Wondering what your mindset is going into Augusta this year, given the fact that you came close last year, you had a chance and does that change your mindset I guess about how you now look at the tournament knowing that you got your self in the lead and at least gave yourself a chance?
PATRICK CANTLAY: Right, well, until I played the weekend last year I hadn’t shot any really low scores at Augusta and then I shot pretty two good scores on the weekend, especially on Saturday. So I think any time you put in good rounds like that at a golf course that you’re going to come back to it shows you that you can do it and it shows you kind of how to do it and gives you confirmation that your game plan or the shots that you see on that particular golf course work. I really like the golf course and I think it is obvious that you need some rounds out there and some experience out there to play it as best as possible. So having success there last year and knowing that I can play the golf course really well and liking the golf course, I like the golf course, I think it suits my game, I think will only bode well for me in the future, especially this year.

Q. When something like that’s over, how much do you think back on the tee shot on 16, after the tournament’s over.
PATRICK CANTLAY: I mean obviously I think about it, any tournament you would play and you hit a shot that you wouldn’t have rather hit, you think about it. I think what’s interesting about that hole in particular is it’s just the opposite of what you see. So you would rather be short sided in the bunker or you would rather be rather even pull it long left of the green than you would hit it where I hit it, even though it doesn’t look like that. And I think I knew that, I just made a bad swing. But the fact that I know it and I still did it makes it maybe a little bit more painful, but that’s kind of the nature of the golf course. So, yeah, I mean of course I would have liked to have hit it to this far (Indicating) and gone to the 17th tee. But there will be plenty more years for that.

Q. I’m sure you would have. I think what I’m curious about is, when you’ve come close to winning a tournament, how often do certain shots linger once the tournament’s over and did you find that Augusta that it maybe lasted longer or stronger, just because what have it is?
PATRICK CANTLAY: Yeah, I think that inherently playing a big event like that you think about what would have, what would have, could have happened more than say another regular tournament. But looking back on it, if I would have played halfway decent Thursday, Friday, and had the weekend that I had, I would have won by a lot. So I played really well on the weekend, I played really well Saturday and the first 15 holes of Sunday to give myself an opportunity and sitting at home at dinner on Friday night no one would have thought I even had a chance at all and so the experience that I gained from it is invaluable going forward and as long as you draw on the positives from it and don’t linger too long on the negatives but learn from them, I think you’re best off going forward.

Q. So do you think more about 16 and 17 or Thursday and Friday?
PATRICK CANTLAY: Well, brain-wise it’s really hard to think of all of the mistakes you made Thursday and Friday because there were so many, but it’s easy to say, yeah, that’s the easiest hole location on 16, you should make a birdie and go to the 17th hole and that maybe might have put me in a playoff or something. Yeah, it’s easy to say that because all the work that it took to get there Saturday and the first part of Sunday makes you think like that. But it’s hard to think of it in terms of pieces of the tournament. I think all the shots I hit over four days, it added up to like whatever it added up to, 11-under or 10-under or whatever it added up to. You got to look at it as a whole instead of focusing on little bits and pieces because you can drive yourself crazy one way or the other. You wouldn’t talk to somebody who made eagle on 15 on Friday but missed the cut by two and say, Did you really, like did you when, coming away from the tournament, did you think about how good you played the 15th hole if you eagled it Thursday and Friday, but you missed the cut. So I don’t think you should do that the other way if you mess up a hole or hit a bad shot on Sunday.

Q. Have you ever surfed and if not why not?
PATRICK CANTLAY: I have surfed. I try everything once, twice if you like it. But I didn’t like it, I wasn’t very good at it and for me to keep doing things that I’m not very good at takes a lot of will power. And surfing-wise, just the whole process of it, you got to buy the board, find somebody that knows how to surf, go out there, the California water’s really cold, put your wet suit on, wax your surf board up, go out there, maybe you don’t catch any waves, for me I could try to catch as many waves as possible, I’ll keep falling over, maybe not even get up. So I never got into it. My dad played golf, he never surfed.

Q. So you went and chipped and putted instead?
PATRICK CANTLAY: Chipped and putted, yeah.

Q. Did you do any other sports as a kid?
PATRICK CANTLAY: Basketball and baseball.

Q. Were you any good?
PATRICK CANTLAY: I was good enough to make the all star team and pitch and play short stop when I was about eight or 10 and by the time I was 13 I was playing right field, so I figured it was my time to exit.

Q. What happened?
PATRICK CANTLAY: I wasn’t getting bigger or faster, I was probably biggest compared to everybody else when I was about 10 years old. By the time I was 13 or 14 I was one of the smallest kids, and the kids were a lot bigger and stronger and growing mustaches. And I was like 5′-3″ and instead of hitting doubles, I was lining it out to the second baseman, and I didn’t have a chance. I was slow — and basketball was even worse. I could shoot and that was about it.

JOHN BUSH: But the golf thing has worked out pretty well for you. Patrick, thanks for your time.


Pebble Beach, California

February 4, 2020

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

Team Ireland

PGA Tour: Graeme McDowell Recaps Victory Last Week and Previews 2020 AT&T Pro-Am

PGA Tour and European Tour professional Graeme McDowell revisits last week’s victory in Saudi Arabia and also previews the upcoming AT&T Pro-Am.

PGA Tour: Graeme McDowell previews the 2020 AT&T Pro-Am

THE MODERATOR: We would like to welcome Graeme McDowell to the interview room here at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Graeme, great win last week. How satisfying was it to travel over here coming off a win and then going to a place like Pebble Beach where you’ve had so much success in the past?

GRAEME MCDOWELL: Yeah, absolutely. Long journey coming here but when the sun shines there’s no better place in the golfing planet to be. I love this event, this and the Dunhill Links, any time the weather’s half decent, they’re some of my favorite weeks of the year. I play with a buddy here this week and we rent a nice house. And it’s a fun week, but at the same time, obviously, here to try and continue to play well. Feel like the game is certainly trending in the right direction, and obviously, would love to have a nice week this week. But the win last week was important at a lot of levels, just to get me back up the rankings, get me back in a couple of the WGC events, which is really important, the major championships, and get me back in the right direction again. So very pleasing. Ticked a lot of boxes and hopefully I can use it as a springboard to kick on for a big year, big season ahead.

THE MODERATOR: Of course, this is the 10-year anniversary of your win at the 2010 U.S. Open. What is your favorite memory looking back at that victory.

GRAEME MCDOWELL: Yeah, it will be 10 years in June. Lots of great memories that week, of course, but probably coming up the last and just having that two putts from 25 feet to win a U.S. Open. You visualize that as a kid standing on the putting green and then all of a sudden you’re like, Well, yeah, I’ve got two to win a major championship here. So just special memories. And obviously, kick started a pretty amazing five or six years of my career and can’t believe it’s going to be 10 years in June, but a lot of good stuff’s happened. Excited to be kicking back up into the top-50 in the world. And one of my big goals is get myself back up in the top-20 and have a chance to experience that back nine at a major championship again with a chance to win. So that’s really the goals for the next three or four years. And like I say, last week has really given me that little bit of a boost, given me an opportunity to get in back of some of the big fields, which is where I want to be.

THE MODERATOR: Open it up for questions.

Q. I want to clarify something first. I’ve never heard of anyone standing on a green as a kid in twilight saying, I’ve got two putts for the win. You’re supposed to, like, make this for the U.S. Open, aren’t you?

Q. Did you ever say, Look, I just got to lag this down there to 2 feet?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: You’re really getting hung up on the details there. Yeah, that’s true. It’s a valid point, this one, yeah.

Q. Let’s move on.
GRAEME MCDOWELL: Put it this way, I’m glad I had two (laughing). And I think my last thought before I hit the first putt was, Well, at least if I 3-putt, I’m in a playoff. So that took the pressure off me.

Q. You mentioned top-50 and the importance of that a minute ago. I’m curious from, let’s say, a couple years ago when you’re in the 120 range, how far does 50 look when you’re there?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: It feels unbelievably far away. It really does. I think I was in the top-50 in the world for, I don’t know, five, six years. And when you’re on the outside looking in — when you’re not in those WGCs and the major, the WGCs especially, they nearly have a self-perpetuating World Ranking cycle, making money for both tours, when you’re on the outside looking in, yeah, it feels an awfully long way away. So top-50 was a big goal coming into this year. I don’t want to say — I achieved it faster than I expected, but 47, we need to establish ourselves inside of that, you know, you could be one week away from falling back outside of that. So obviously establishing myself back inside of that top-50, which is getting up into the top-30, top-20, that’s what I really want. But I think this will pretty much get me in Mexico in a couple weeks time, pretty much guaranteed World Match Play, which is really important to me, and I think Memphis as well. So just to be back in those, I think I’ll appreciate them a lot more this time around. I think all those years where you just, it’s expected, maybe you don’t appreciate what it is and what they are and how important they are at the time. So I always felt like if I ever got the opportunity again I was really going to appreciate it and not, never take it for granted and prepare well and make sure I continue to work hard, because you just don’t know when this is going to go away. I think that’s probably the biggest thing the last three or four years was just realizing that you’re not invincible and that this sport is very fickle and it will go away some day. I think I tasted that little bit of mortality probably this time last year and I realized that I needed to, if I ever got the chance again, that I was going to work hard and do the best that I possibly could with that opportunity.

Q. Could you explain why you think players don’t come here when they have the opportunity to spend, like you’re going to spend three days, I think it’s with Brown, isn’t that the guy?

Q. Why would you not come to this when you have those opportunities?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: I really feel like a lot of players look at this event as a little bit of, you know, it’s an unnecessary distraction having to play with another amateur, or another pro and another amateur. I feel like I have always looked at this as an opportunity — I’ve always enjoyed the format, going back to my early days in the Dunhill links, I played, I think one of my first AT&T’s I played with Ray Romano, speaking about distractions. I played with him and Kevin James. I think he was shooting a HBO documentary that week on trying to make the cut and we ended up getting beat in a card playoff for him to make the cut. I’ve always enjoyed the distraction. I like the idea of that it’s not just about my golf ball, that I’m reading my partner’s putts and worried about where his shots are, and I’m nearly getting, not totally immersed in yourself in a team event, but it just takes the pressure off the individual. And if you can relax and enjoy it, your own ball nearly takes care of itself and you do better than you expect.

But when you look at the list of people that are here this week, I mean, it’s some of the most high-profile CEOs in America. You get a chance to meet potential sponsors, great friendships with people that I stay in contact with a lot. Just really important people. I mean, it’s weird to come into an event when you’re potentially not the most important person there, you’re certainly not the wealthiest person in your group by a long stretch, you know. So you’re surrounded by successful people and it’s a great opportunity to meet other successful people in other spaces. And listen, I get why guys don’t like this event from the point of view it’s six-hour rounds, the weather can be a little dodgy here, for sure, and like I say, there’s a lot of distractions here. So you look at a guy like Phil who has won here what, five times? He gets it, and has certainly hasn’t struggled corporately in his career, and I think a lot of that is down to the way he’s able to embrace a week like this and take it for what it is. It’s an important opportunity to connect with people, some of the most important people in business. So thankfully I’ve always enjoyed it. I enjoy that side of the game, I enjoy the relaxed atmosphere this week. And obviously, my kind of relationship with this part of the world is fun and I love the walk. There’s no better walk in golf than the 4th tee at Pebble out to that 10th green. It doesn’t get much better, especially when the sun shines like today.

Q. Getting back to Fergie a little bit on that. Now you’re at 47, how far away does 20 and 30 look?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: Feels a little closer. But making those big leaps, when you start getting up to the business end, requires big finishes in big events. But the fact you start getting into the WGCs, you start creating opportunities for a lot of big chunky World Ranking points, wins in Punta Cana, don’t really have those chunky World Ranking points that you’re looking for as opposed to, like, a top-5 in a WGC or that. So it becomes doable. It becomes achievable again. And I’m certainly, last week didn’t have that emotional feel that maybe my win in the Dominican last year had. The win in the Dominican last year was, it was about my employment status, you know? It was about having a job to go to here in the States for the next couple years. The win last week was more about this is the journey that I’m on to get back to where I want to be and it just felt like a rung in the ladder. It was, obviously it was an important victory, but it felt kind of like I was ready for it and certainly ready to take those next steps, hopefully back up into the, onto the big stage again and give myself a chance to get in the back nine at an important event again soon.

Q. You spoke in Hawaii about getting away from a little higher launch for a wee bit of distance to getting back to G-Mac kind of golf. When did the light come on?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: You know, we talked about it. I started working with Kevin Kirk back in August last year. I think the event in Medinah was my first week with him. And there’s no doubt, I started to hit the ball very high, for me. I’ve always been a guy who never struggled to hit it low and I always struggled to kind of flight it from 200, 250 yards. In the search for a little bit of distance, my attack angle with my driver went from about 2 degrees down to about 2 or 3 degrees up, so I changed my attack angle by nearly 5 degrees, which is a lot, and I drove the ball really well for a period but then it really started to affect the way I was hitting my irons. I was hitting my irons so high and I really could not keep the ball down very well at all. So my good wind game had kind of disappeared a little bit. I was struggling to flight those balls back down into the breeze. So one of the first remits I had for Kevin when I started working with him was I wanted to get my the ball flight back, I wanted to start flighting the ball down again. And that’s probably one of the most significant changes that he’s made with me is really getting my flight back down. He’s got me teeing my driver back down a lot lower than I was. I always teed the driver very low. I would go for fitting sessions with these equipment companies with drivers and they would be like, Have you ever tried teeing it up a little higher? And I’m like, You’re about the 85th person that has said that to me. But, no, I like teeing it low. But everything’s high launch, low spin, so let’s tee it up and hit it four on the up and spin it low. So I tried that for a while and, like I say, I drove it okay, but it affected everything. So I’ve got that ball teed low again, I’m squeezing it back out there. Like, Honolulu, for example, I really flighted my irons fantastically. And last week in some windy conditions that really stood me in good stead again and I’m back driving the ball a little bit more like me. It’s not particularly long, but it’s in the middle of the fairway and it’s pretty playable and it’s nice to be kind of cheering back into the way I used to play a little bit more, rather than trying to play a game with which I’m really not that familiar. So I’ve got the flight under control which is very pleasing.

Q. When we talked in January at Kapalua, you talked about attitude a lot, about how a quote from Drew Brees had an impact on you and how Kevin’s changed your attitude a little bit. But you talk about these technical things, I’m curious, that certainly helps your attitude when you see the ball going where you want it to and whatever, but it’s the chicken-and-egg thing. What was first? Was your attitude altered first or was the golf swing producing shots that changed your attitude?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: I think that’s a fair question, for sure. No, it has to be golf ball first, attitude second. You can’t think your way out of a really bad swing. If you’re just not swinging it good, it doesn’t matter how good your head is. You’re just not going to be able to think your way around a golf course when you’re not hitting it good, simple as that. So, yeah, golf ball back under control first, and then sort of plug a really, really good attitude on top of that and put it all together a little bit. So, yeah, it’s easy to think good and have a great attitude when the ball’s going in the general direction you’re aiming it. When it’s not, that’s when the toys come out of the pram a little bit.

Q. Have you had time to think about how your schedule now could change or will change?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: There’s a few question marks still. Augusta is still a big question mark for me. I had a little look at it, certainly changes up a little bit. I think if I play Mexico, I think Honda is going to have to suffer, which is an event I haven’t missed in 10 years. But you just can’t play every week, unfortunately. And Dominican, I can’t go and defend down there. So World Match Play problems, which is a great problem to have, but one part of me is disappointed that I can’t go down there and do the right thing and defend my title, even though part of me was hoping I was going to have a problem. But, so, yeah, it’s certainly a little bit of a change. Augusta I think is the Monday after Match Play, so I’ll have to be top-50 by then. So we’ll see what happens there, but very, very excited with some of the new additions to the schedule for the next six months. We’ll see what happens.

Q. Given that you had kind of turned the corner with the victory in March, what was it between then and August that led you to just feel like you needed to try something new with a different coach and what was it that made you choose Kevin?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: It was probably a little bit of the inconsistency in my play from about just pre-Pebble, a couple weeks before Pebble I was just having some good rounds and was having some average rounds and just wasn’t really happy with the general consistency of the way I was hitting the ball, down to the ball flight stuff I was talking about. Even at Pebble, at the U.S. Open, I remember hitting a few shots and in my mind I’m just like, man I just cannot keep the ball down here, this is not good. I had this left shot going on around The Open Championship time at Portrush, I just had this left and I could not get it fixed at all. So it was, yeah, it was general inconsistencies. At the end of 2017 I toyed with the idea of getting an American-based coach. It really boils down to the fact that Pete Cowan has been by my side for the last 14, 15 years and he still is part of the team, but since I fell outside of the top-50 I just really wasn’t getting a chance to see Pete enough. Pete does most of the WGC’s, all the majors, all the big stuff and I really just wasn’t having enough time to see him. And then I wasn’t really able to get it fixed over the summer what was going on and I was like, right, now’s the time. I just asked around and I got some ideas from people who they thought the smart guys are out there, coaching guys were. And I interviewed a couple of guys and I just settled on Kevin. I just liked his attitude, I liked the sort of energy that he brings to what he does. I liked the way his guys swing it. Patrick Reed, Johnny Vegas, both got great technique, great golf swings. He’s been a breath of fresh air, he really has. Like I say, Pete’s still a huge part of what I’m doing and Kevin’s actually worked under Pete quite a lot, studied under Pete so he speaks the same language. So I really didn’t feel like it was a massive deviation from what I had been doing, which was important to me. Like I say, he’s brought a lot of simple stuff into my practice, just better practice, more organized practice and I really, he’s just brought some really good stuff to the team, which has been I really feel like it’s been massively important for me for the last five months.

Q. Length isn’t everything, but how much harder is it to win in this era for a player like yourself for a player like Webb Simpson, who also won in the same weekend as you, would you say?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: How much harder is it to win? It really depends. Golf-course related of course. Thankfully, there’s still Hilton Head’s and Hilton Head’s and —

Q. Pebbles?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: Pebble, there you go. Thanks. Yeah, I mean, you know, it’s funny, I look at a golf course like Phoenix last week, I haven’t been to Phoenix since 2006 because JB Holmes won back-to-back there and I thought, well that’s the end of this place for me. And I spoke to Adam Long today and I played a bit of golf with Adam the last few months and he’s a good kid and I just said, he finished 8th I think in Phoenix last week and I said, Can we, as in the mere mortals, can we get around Phoenix. And he said, yeah, it was firm and fast and he felt like you could still play around there. I looked at the leaderboard and I feel like all I saw was Tony Finau and J.B. Holmes and Wyndham Clark guys that I know all hammer the ball. Thankfully, there still is more to golf than hitting it 350, but there’s certain golf courses that you feel like you are two shots behind per round standing on the first tee because guys are going to be getting on 5’s that you can’t get on and you just you’ve got to do it a different way. But I don’t know, I mean, I think a guy like Webb — Webb’s long, I mean, he’s not a short hitter, he’s just short relatively speaking to the — it used to be there was only three or four uber long guys, now there’s like 34 of them. So it’s just, there’s just more guys hitting it a long way. But for me I feel like I’m long enough to compete 90 percent of the time. And that’s okay. I’m okay with that. There’s going to be 10 percent of the time where you’re just like, well, this is not really kind of my kind of a joint this week, I’m going to have to either putt the eyes out of it or I’m probably not going to have a chance to compete this week.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much and good luck this week.

GRAEME MCDOWELL: Thanks a lot, guys.

Pebble Beach, California

February 4, 2020

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

Team USA

PGA Tour: Justin Thomas Recaps Top 5 Finish at Waste Management Phoenix Open

PGA Tour professional Justin Thomas speaks with the media following his final round at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in which he secured another top 5 finish.

PGA Tour: Justin Thomas recaps final round 65 at 2020 Waste Management Phoenix Open

Q. Birdie four of your last six maybe the highlight birdieing 16 with the Kobe jersey on. What was this week like for you with what happened a week ago?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I mean it’s always a fun week here in Phoenix, somehow it gets crazier every year with the fans and the amount of people here. But, no, I mean, it was, I guess, a somber week, if you will, it just is, a lot of us playing with heavy hearts. A lot of my good friends from the West Coast area are big laker fans, big Kobe fan and I just kind of became a Kobe fan, just for being a fan of his and loved the way he went about everything. I have a couple Kobe jerseys so it was a no-brainer for me to bring them and wear them on 16.

Q. Good week, good finish for you today. What was going right for you today?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I hit it a little bit better today. I really, to be perfectly honest I don’t feel like I played very well this week. I got it around really well and I managed my game tremendously and sometimes weeks like this can give me more confidence than winning, as crazy as it is. I mean obviously I would have rather won, but to not have my best stuff, really drive it very, very average, iron game not very sharp, and not really have a hot putter once this week and still to hopefully be able to squeak a Top-5 is pretty good.

Q. I know you’re a big sports fan. Who do you like tonight?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I don’t know. I love watching Mahomes play so I’ll probably be pulling for the Chiefs. Good buddies with Gary Woodland so I couldn’t do that to him, so I guess I’m going to go with the Chiefs.

Q. Do you think you’re feted to win this thing one of these years?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I feel like it’s definitely a good course for me. I feel like if I would have played well this week I would have had a really good chance to win. I just kept getting it around, I never once got hot, I never either could make some longer putts or could hit it close enough multiple times in a row to get anything going. So I was very, I’m very, very pleased with how this week turned out for how I felt like I played.

Q. Something click today?
JUSTIN THOMAS: No, I mean I didn’t do anything special today. I hit a wedge in there close on 2 and I made a good putt on 5 and I hit a wedge in there probably 12 feet on 6. And then all my birdies on the back nine were pretty easy, they were short range. I just felt like I did everything I should have done, I mean this course you can birdie, I mean 10 to 12 holes out here, 15 holes, it’s, you just, it’s hard to get it going when the greens are get a little bit firmer like this and they tuck some of the pins but I just felt I could never really get anything going to go low.

Q. Was there any point on the back nine where your focus shifted from trying to put a good number up to potentially trying scare the leaders?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Absolutely, I thought when we were on — I thought when I was walking up 14 I saw the leaders at 15, which I was just couldn’t believe and I was at 11. And I was like, man if I somehow can make about — I had a 35- or 40-footer — I was like if I can make this and eagle either 15 or 17 and birdie 16 and 18 and we can post 16- or 17- they got to at least look at it. That’s all I wanted. And I was — I bombed with that tee shot on 17, that just was bad, I would at least like to have a look at eagle there. But overall I can’t be too disappointed with the last six holes.

Q. Is the zone a thing in golf? I cover a lot of sports, basketball, a guy gets hot they stay hot. Does that happen here?
JUSTIN THOMAS: It didn’t happen today but it definitely happens in golf. I think any of us will tell you that when you get rolling — I mean a round like today, I don’t want to say far from, but it definitely wasn’t. When you get in that 7-, 8-, 9-, 10-, 11-under range and you’re just borderline unconscious it’s a pretty cool feeling. It’s hard to explain.

Q. Curious what you thought of the crowds this week as compared to previous years and not just 16 but the whole experience.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, it gets crazier every year. You expect that, you know you’re getting it, so it’s not like it’s a surprise, at least it isn’t to me. And, I mean everybody has their bad stories and their good stories. Fortunately I thought this week it was fine, you’re always going to have a lot of noise and a lot of drunk people yelling stuff, but I guess that’s the Phoenix Open, that’s what it is from time to time, but, no, I mean, it was great, 16 was awesome as always and very, very enjoyable experience.

Q. And how does it compare to other tournaments, like just the size of the crowd?
JUSTIN THOMAS: It’s not even close. You can’t relate this to any other tournament that we play because it’s different. I think I would say 70 percent of the people here maybe don’t come even for the golf they just come for the fun and hospitality and the tents. And there’s a lot of people out here for golf but when you have however many hundred thousand people that’s a lot of people.

Q. Did you and Tony talk about Kobe at all, you both wore jerseys.

Q. He’s your Presidents Cup teammate and all that, he’s vying for the win here. What are your thoughts on your game now, are you a little surprised that he hasn’t picked up a W since 2016?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, we were talking about that today because he obviously handles the pressure really well. I mean, look how he’s played in the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup and that’s, I mean, personally, I think the biggest pressure you can get. I mean, I felt stuff at the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup that I’ve never felt in a tournament before. So he’s handled that tremendously. So I mean it’s, the thing is you can’t, I mean, no offense, but you got, you’re going to be hard on him because he has been there and hasn’t won, but it’s hard to win, there’s only one every week and you never know when he might go on a little spree and win three or four of six or seven events. Or he might not. That’s the thing that, I hate to say it, but the thing that sucks about this game and the thing that’s great about it is you just have to stay in the right frame of mind to let it happen if it comes.

Q. How much fun is it for big hitters like you to play this course as the second longest driving average on TOUR?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, it’s fun, it’s I feel like I have a little bit of an advantage, I would say mostly into the greens. But when you hit 50 percent of your fairways like I did this week it’s not too much of an advantage.

Scottsdale, Arizona

February 2, 2020

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

Team USA

PGA Tour: Bubba Watson Talks About Tough Conditions at Waste Management Phoenix Open

PGA Tour professional and Master’s Champion Bubba Watson speaks to the media following the final round of the 2020 Waste Management Phoenix open about the windy final day conditions and the difficulties it presented.

PGA Tour: Bubba Watson addresses the media following final round of 2020 Waste Management Phoenix Open

Q. Nice finish out there today. How did that putt at 18 not go in? I saw you looking at me, it looked like you hit it absolutely perfect, it just didn’t drop.
BUBBA WATSON: Yeah, for sure, and all I wanted to do was beat Justin Thomas, that’s all I looked at, I saw I was tied with him and so I really wanted that putt to go in, just so I could text him. But I hit a great putt — I hit a couple good putts today that didn’t go in, but all in all you’ll take the week and take the putting stroke, it looked pretty good this week.

Q. With the wind and the firmness of the greens it got a little challenging out there, didn’t it?
BUBBA WATSON: Yeah, number 11 and No. 12 — 14, is always a goofy hole, a tough hole — but 11 and 12 were two of the toughest I’ve ever seen out here because of conditions.

Q. I know you’re a big sports fan who do you like in the Super Bowl tonight?
BUBBA WATSON: I really want Mahomes to do well. I just think he’s a special talent, it’s been fun to watch him. So I love seeing creativity, that’s how I kind of think of my golf game, so it be would fun to see him do some heroics.

Q. Could you just tell me about the crowds this week, not just on 16 but throughout the tournament and how it compares to previous years?
BUBBA WATSON: No, it’s growing, it’s growing tremendously. I think that they have created an atmosphere, the Thunderbirds have created an atmosphere, the city is really behind it, Phoenix and Scottsdale, you can’t ask for better crowds. When people come out here and support you, this many people, I mean this has got to be one of or the biggest sporting event in the world, the amount of people that come through the gates over a seven-day period or whatever it is, pretty amazing.

Scottsdale, Arizona

February 2, 2020

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

Team USA

PGA Tour: Tony Finau Talks Playoff Loss at Waste Management Phoenix Open

PGA Tour professional Tony Finau speaks to the media following heartbreaking playoff loss to eventual winner Webb Simpson.

PGA Tour: Tony Finau speaks with the media following playoff loss at Waste Management Phoenix Open

Q. I know it’s tough to talk right now, but 2-up with a couple to go. Hey, Webb came after you. He made some birdies, tied it up, and I thought you had two great looks at 18 that just wouldn’t go.
TONY FINAU: Yeah, I hit good putts. You know, the first one I hit really good, I thought I made. It would have been nice. It just slid past the hole. Second one, similar line, a little bit further, decided to play a little bit more break and it didn’t break this time, so hat’s off to Webb. A couple birdies coming home and if you’re going to get beat that’s how it should happen. I definitely didn’t give him the tournament. He took the lead from me early and I got it late, but unfortunately, it’s how the cookie crumbles today. And it’s bitter week as I look back on it. But man, lots of stuff to be learned. And I love Webb. I think the camaraderie that I have with him as being one of my best friends out here, it’s, it would have been hard for either one of us to take this victory from each other. He got the upper hand this time, but I love that guy, and that’s one hell of a finish. If you’re going to birdie 18 a couple times you’re probably going to win.

Q. You went from leader to chaser, up 2 with a couple to go. Describe the range of emotions on the back nine and in the playoff?
TONY FINAU: It was crazy. I knew I had to be patient, no matter what. I was going to have a chance to win coming down the stretch if I just kept plugging along. And it was a little tough out there, really firm. Back nine, I thought it was hard to get really close on a lot of those holes. And I mean, I played nicely, coming down the stretch I had some looks. 15, 16, 18, I had some looks to win the golf tournament and they didn’t go my way today. So that’s how the cookie crumbles and I’ll be back on the horse and ready to go again in a couple weeks.

Q. You were in control most of the day. What would you say was the turning point where the tournament started to slip away?
TONY FINAU: Man, no real turning point. Even with a couple shot lead going into 16, I knew I probably still needed to make at least a birdie or two to kind of separate myself. And Webb did what he had to do. He birdied 17 and 18 and ended up birdieing the playoff hole. He’s a great champion and hat’s off to him. I’m a huge fan. He’s one of my best friends out here and I love that guy.

Q. While this stings now, what can you learn from this going forward?
TONY FINAU: Yeah, just learn my game’s in a great place early in the season. I feel good. I had a chance, a great chance to win this week. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen, but my game’s better than it’s ever been. I have more confidence than I’ve ever had. And again, if you know anything about me, I’ll persevere through anything. If you want to say this is a stumbling block or whatever it is, to chase this next one, but I’ll knock it off soon and will be on my way.

Scottsdale, Arizona

February 2, 2020

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports