PGA Tour

Players Championship: Daniel Berger in the middle of a heated rules debate

The Players Championship was marked by weather interruptions and windy misses. For Joel Dahmen, Viktor Hovland and Daniel Berger, however, their fourth round was about something else. Berger was still about 210 yards from the green on the par-5 16th hole and, four shots off the lead, wanted to take his chance at an eagle. However, his iron shot slipped and landed in the water. This everyday situation led to a heated discussion between the three flight partners.

Where did the ball go into the water? Three players – three opinions

Immediately after his miss, Berger fretted: “That’s a water ball.” After a relatively straight start, the ball flew with a slice (right turn) into the water hazard of the 16th hole. This flight curve subsequently also led to a heated discussion with his teammates Joel Dahmen and Viktor Hovland.

For Daniel Berger, the ball clearly crossed the boundary of the water hazard near the green, while Hovland and Dahmen saw the entry point much further back. The difference between the players was to be decided by an rules official and the analysis of a video recording. But official Gary Young decided he would stay out of the discussion and that the video footage that was consulted was also inconclusive.
Ultimately, the players decided to compromise and Berger dropped the ball between the two points under discussion. “I still think the drop is bad,” he clarified several times.

Divided opinions also on the net

Opinions on this debate are divided not only within the flight, but also on social networks. Some users, for example, stand by Hovland’s and Dahmen’s statement, while just as many consider Berger’s drop point to be the right position.
Viktor Hovland is one of the quietest players on tour, according to Joel Beall, editor at Golf Digest. His conclusion, “if he [editor’s note Viktor Hovland] has a problem with your drop, it’s a bad drop.”

Hovland himself said after his round, “It looked like it kind of started at the pin and then cut off toward the end because the wind was coming from the left a little bit, too.” He went on to say, “it ended up being somewhat of a compromise. He dropped a little bit further up than Joel and I kind of thought, but we ended up making a compromise, and that’s where he hit it from.”
One user went even further, thanking Hovland and Dahmen for “protecting the field and maintaining the integrity of the event.”

On the other side are Berger’s supporters. The shot tracker from the PGA broadcast is often used as a basis for argument. On this, it looks as if the ball is flying just before the green in the direction of the water hazard.

The comments go on to say, “the player knows best himself, if Dahmen doubts that, then he also doubts Berger’s integrity.”

The conclusion to the debate at the Players Championship

In the end, no clear answer can be found from pictures alone. It was statement against statement and the compromise found was probably the most de-escalating variant, although not a satisfactory decision for all players. For all players involved, however, it was clear after the round that they did not seek confrontation for personal reasons, but only to ensure compliance with the rules.

PGA Tour

Players Championship: Bizarre rule earns Major winner penalty strokes

Keegan Bradley managed to stay one-under-par on the third day and his second round of the Players Championship. He is proud of “one of the best rounds” of his career, but despite his outstanding performance in the face of difficult weather conditions, the result could have been even better.

Bizarre rule wording causes penalty strokes

Keegan Bradley had a three-meter birdie putt in front of him and marked his ball with a ball marker for it. So far so normal, but the strong gusts of wind caused his ball to roll away. For Bradley and his teammates, this was a clear situation. His ball was marked and therefore he was allowed to put it back in its original place.

Only a few holes later – Bradley started from tee 10 – did chief referee Gary Young award two penalty strokes to the American. The explanation is found in the wording of Rule 9.4 a. Here is an explicit movement described, first mark the ball, then pick it up and the subsequent again put down at the same place is considered as an official mark of the ball.

Players Championship: Bradley is visibly surprised

For the American, this subtlety of the rule is not new, however, he thought it had since been changed in favor of simplicity. “Everyone in my group, and I guarantee most of the entire field, thought the USGA changed the rule to simplify it,” Bradley said. “Put your coin down, that’s where your ball is. So put my coin down, the ball moved, a huge gust of wind came up.

“I looked at the guys in my group,” he continued, “and we all said, yep, the coin was down first, all good. Didn’t think about it again until Gary came up and spoke to me on 2, and proud of the way I handled that because that was tough news, especially with some tough holes in front of me.”

PGA Tour

Players Championship: Mega putts and hole-outs – The best shots on video

The TPC Sawgrass in Florida presents some challenges to the best golfers in the world. Designed by legendary golf course architects Pete Dye and his wife Alice, the Players Stadium Course demands the utmost concentration and golfing skill from the professionals on the PGA Tour. At the Players Championship 2022, too, it is a fine line between joy and frustration. We compile the best shots of the mega tournament (20 million US dollars prize money).

Day 3 brings wind and troubleshots

The conditions on the third day of the Players Championship do not provide for an excess of outstanding golf shots. Rather, the professionals are struggling with gusts of over 40 kilometers per hour.

Dustin Johnson showed his skills again on his last holes and placed the ball from more than 190 meters only centimeters next to the hole.

Jason Kokrak gave himself a gift on the 15th hole of his second round with a bunker shot that would probably be the envy of any golfer.

Only limited golf on day 2 of the Players

On the second day, the continuous rain over Florida gave the golfers a hard time. Before the first round was finally abandoned due to unplayability of the course and approaching thunderstorms, there were still some good shots to watch. Brive Garnett closed the gap to the top with this eagle, immediately followed by the end.

Kevin Kisner appears in this list for the second time. This time the American scores an eagle from the bunker at the 16th.

Cameron Young holes out for birdie.

Jordan Spieth scored his first birdie at the “fifth” major on hole 7 with this long putt.

PGA Tour: The best shots on day 1 of the Players Championship

Kevin Kisner, four-time winner on the PGA Tour, shone in round 1 of the Players Championship with this successful putt from over 16 metres from the front green.

Bad weather caused long interruptions on the first day, but Tom Hoge took advantage of the soft greens and holed the first eagle of the day on the second hole. After the first round had to be interrupted in the evening due to darkness, the American was even in the lead with six-under-par.

Anirban Lahiri also holed an eagle, sinking the ball from 125 yards (approx. 114 metres) on hole 6. The Indian brought a total of five-under 65 into the clubhouse.

Gary Woodland felt the ups and downs of golf. His first chip on the par-4 7th hole did not make it onto the green and rolled back again. At the second attempt, the 2019 US Open champion showed that he can do it better and saved the par in impressive fashion.

PGA Tour

The Players Championship money shower: PGA Tour sets records

It is The Players Championship time! The world’s best golfers meet on Ponte Vedra Beach on Thursday, for a very exciting week. The “unofficial fifth” major tournament will take place in Florida, and this year the prize money is higher than ever before.

A total of $20 M will be paid out to the tournament participants. That is five million more than last year. Read this article to find out how the prize money has increased year after year, even though “The Players” is not one of the four major tournaments.

PGA Tour not only increases the Players Championship prize money

That golf is only played by the “rich and famous” is an outdated cliché. The sport has long since developed more and more into a popular sport and offers everyone the opportunity to try it out. Looking at professional sports, however, one quickly realizes that a lot of prestige and, above all, money are at stake.

A good example of this is the prize money on the PGA Tour, which has reached a new record high this year alone. Jay Monahan, commissioner of the PGA Tour, stated at the beginning of the season that prize money for 2022 will increase “from $367 million to $427 million.”

In particular, the upcoming Players Championship in Florida will benefit. While the total prize money was $15 million last year, it has now been increased by another five million. From March 10-13, golf’s elite will meet at TPC Sawgrass to determine the winner of the PGA Tour’s highest-paying golf event.

The Players Championship reward over the years

When the Players Championship was first held in 1974, the total prize money was $250,000. The winner, Jack Nicklaus, received $60,000 for his victory at the time. Over the years, the prize money continued to increase. In 1987, for example, the “pot” cracked the one million dollar mark for the first time.

Another milestone was certainly the win of the tournament by Hal Sutton in 2000, who was able to collect over $1M for winning the tournament. Justin Thomas enjoyed a victory bonus of 2.7 million dollars in 2021. That sum will be surpassed again this year.

The Players Championship’ 22 reward

The winner of this year’s Players Championship will receive 3.6 million dollars alone. This means that the bonus for the winner has increased by an incredible sixty-fold from the beginning.

However, that prize money in golf as a whole has increased many times over since the 1970s. And that is not the end of the line. The PGA Tour already announced that the prize money of its flagship tournament will increase to $25 million by 2025.

For instance, the following table shows the win bonuses of the top 5 for the upcoming Players Championship.

Ranking Prize Money
1. $3,600,000
2. $2,180,000
3. $1,380,000
4. $980,000
5. $820,000

Players Championship eclipses major tournaments

Although the tournament at TPC Sawgrass is not one of the majors, it has something over the four competitions. It is the highest paying event on the PGA Tour. Compared to the Masters, which takes place in about a month at Augusta National Golf Club. The Players Championship offers near twice as much.

According to media reports, the premiums for the upcoming Masters amount to the $11.5 million from last year, while the Players Championship boasts as little as $20 million. Last year’s Masters winner Hideki Matsuyama’s victory bonus also represents just about half of this year’s Players Championship winner, at around $2 million.

Major comparisons

The 2021 British Open was also listed at a total of $11.5 million, while the PGA Championship gave $12 million and the US Open $12.5 million. Concrete figures for prize money in 2022 are not yet available.

The thought is that the PGA Tour is pushing up the Players Championship prize money to motivate major tournaments, over which Tour has no control, to follow suit.

Golf fans have plenty to look forward to when the balls start flying again at Ponte Vedra Beach on Thursday and the winner is determined from the field of prominent participants. The golfers themselves are also likely to be full of anticipation, after all the winner can expect not only 600 FedEx Cup points and a lot of prestige, but also the tempting sum of 3.6 million euros

PGA Tour

The Players Championship: Bryson DeChambeau withdraws

Last week, Bryson DeChambeau could not start at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. The American now also has to cancel his participation at The Players Championship of the PGA Tour. DeChambeau is out for at least another week and his comeback continues to be delayed. This means that the current number 12 in the world will not be teeing it up in Ponte Vedra alongside Phil Mickelson and Harris English.

Players Championship without Bryson DeChambeau

Due to persistent discomfort in his left wrist, DeChambeau will still not be able to return to the golf course this week either. Hayden Buckley will play on the spot of the 28-year-old star at the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.

Another setback on his way to a comeback. After competing in the Saudi International on the Asian Tour in February, he forced to withdraw from the tournament after the first round due to wrist and hip problems. His last participation in a PGA Tour tournament this year dates back to January.

DeChambeau only made three tournament appearances in the 2022 calendar year, and the California native’s return is not clear due to his wrist and hip ailments.

Last year, he finished in a tie for third place at the Players Championship. Thus, the American celebrated his best result with the third participation in Ponte Vedra.

Is the Masters also in doubt for Bryson DeChambeau?

Because Bryson DeChambeau does not show fit enough to return to the golf course this week. The question arises whether the upcoming tournaments are yet to decide for the American.

In particular, of course, the Masters of Augusta is in the spotlight. When the elite of golf meets at Augusta National Golf Club from April 7-10, 2022, Bryson DeChambeau would certainly like to be part of the field.

After all, the first of the four major tournaments will offer around 2 million US dollars in prize money and a lot of prestige.

PGA Tour Satellite Tours

PGA Tour: Officials Release Statement Relating To The Cancelation of All TOUR Events For The Coming Weeks

PGA Tour officials released a statement yesterday regarding the cancelation of The Players Championship as well as tournaments across all Tours through the Valero Texas Open.

PGA Tour: Official statement on coronavirus and the cancelation of upcoming events:

“It is with regret that we are announcing the cancellation of THE PLAYERS Championship.

We have also decided to cancel all PGA TOUR events – across all of our Tours – in the coming weeks, through the Valero Texas Open. 

We have pledged from the start to be responsible, thoughtful and transparent with our decision process. We did everything possible to create a safe environment for our players in order to continue the event throughout the weekend, and we were endeavoring to give our fans a much-needed respite from the current climate.  But at this point – and as the situation continues to rapidly change – the right thing to do for our players and our fans is to pause.

We will be prepared to answer additional questions on Friday at 8 a.m.”

PGA Tour Communications

Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

March 12, 2020

Team USA

PGA Tour: 2015 Players Champion Rickie Fowler Speaks to Media Prior to 2020 Edition

2015 Players Champion Rickie Fowler answers questions from the media prior to making start his 11th start at the 2020 Players Championship.

PGA Tour: Rickie Fowler speaks with the media ahead of 2020 Players Championship

DOUG MILNE: We would like to welcome Rickie Fowler, 2015 PLAYERS champion to the interview room here. Thanks for joining us for a few minutes, making your 11th start in THE PLAYERS Championship this week, obviously with some success, so with that said, just some thoughts on being back here at TPC Sawgrass this week.

RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, it’s obviously always great to be back here at TPC. It’s a special place being that I’ve had a win here in 2015 and some other good finishes, but this is the arguably the strongest field that we play against, it’s our tournament, and it’s been interesting to get to see the course in March versus May. So it’s quite a bit different, but looking forward to the week as all the other players, and this is definitely one that we always look forward to being here.

DOUG MILNE: You’ve obviously enjoyed the success on the course. Diabolical is a word that’s used often to describe the course. How have you been able to kind of tame that to where it kind of caters to your game somewhat?

RICKIE FOWLER: The golf course, if you look at it properly, it’s fairly straightforward; hit it in the fairway, hit it on the green, wear out the fairways and greens. But there’s a lot of other things that come into play: Plenty of water, a lot of bunkers, a lot of funky little ones. And honestly, I’m not happy unless there’s sand in my pants.

DOUG MILNE: Okay. Open it up to questions.

Q. How did you celebrate Sunday night after you won? And secondly, no one’s ever defended here; why do you think it’s so difficult to win here as a defending champion?
RICKIE FOWLER: So Sunday after we won, as you guys know, obviously there’s some media stops and I think we went and did the post-tournament show with the Golf Channel or Golf Central. By that time it was — we had probably been a couple hours in, I think there was a stop in the clubhouse and the staff had tacos waiting for us in the locker room, so that was a nice way to kind of round it out. Had a drink and then we hung out there for maybe an hour and hopped in the car, headed south, and I was on set at a shoot at 6:30 the next morning. So not a whole lot of celebrating, a couple hours of sleep and a long day the next day. But all worth it.

To me, why it’s tough to defend here, it’s a golf course that doesn’t necessarily fit any one style of player. I saw something that was posted not long ago of kind of the recent past champions here and what guys did well from whether it was driving the ball, approach, putting, scrambling, and there was nothing really that stood out as one thing between all players. Some guys hit more irons off tee, some guys hit a lot of drivers, some guys putted well, but there’s not one particular thing that was necessarily common between all of them. This golf course isn’t necessarily long so it doesn’t necessarily benefit a bomber of the golf ball, and to me at the end of the day it’s whoever has the most control and kind of keeps it simple, fairways and greens. Like I said, there’s not really one thing that stands out, so I think everyone in the field, it doesn’t really weed anyone out.

Q. You started working with John Tillery, so what led a California kid to land on the Georgia boy, John Tillery, over all the other coaches out there, and how quickly did he put you on the metronome?
RICKIE FOWLER: The metronome was definitely brought up the first time I saw him, and I’m someone that’s terrible with any sort of timing, whether how it’s related to music and dancing. That’s not something I put in my — it’s very low on my list of what I’m good at. So bringing timing and a metronome into the swing and being, trying to be somewhat symmetrical on both sides of the ball has been a little bit of an adjustment, something that’s been very beneficial. And now it’s just the kind of connection really through Kiz and spending a lot of time around him over the last few years and had been around JT a bit with him being around Kiz obviously. So he’s just someone that’s easy to be around, love his outlook on the game, the swing. I mean he’s — as all of us are, we’re golf nerds, but he’s a big golf nerd and a big swing nerd, so we have had a lot of fun together and he’s someone that’s just fun and easy to be around and hang out with.

Q. There seems to be a lot of growing abundance of caution regarding the coronavirus and all that with cancellations and postponements of events all over the country. But it’s largely business as usual out here this week. As a player, do you have more concern maybe about signing autographs, about interacting with the galleries this week other than maybe you normally have, and are you conscious of that more so than usual?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, I would say probably taking a little bit more precaution than normal. But over the years I think I’ve gone — I’ve become more and more kind of cautious of how I’ve interacted as far as high-fives or maybe any kind of — yeah high five to fist bump, anything that goes on throughout the round. Early in my career I felt like there was a lot more of that, which led to — not saying it was a direct reflection of it, but sick more often. So for me, usually try not to do anything really on course at all, and then with the autograph area setup, it’s really where I’ll kind of direct all signing to and that way I am really in control of how it’s done and I can kind of hang in one spot, and I mean, I’ve always signed with my own pens and stuff like that, so it’s not necessarily a change, but you’re still having contact, whether you use people’s Sharpies or pens, you’re still getting their stuff.

But if I can do it after the round or when I’m done with my practice or whatever it may be, I can go ahead and sign and then if there’s hand sanitizer to be able to go to the restroom and wash up afterwards. Nothing really more than normal, but just maybe a little bit more precautious (sic).

Q. This is an Olympic year. You are obviously a proud Olympian with the tattoo and everything, but describe just preparing your game for having six marquee tests of golf from THE PLAYERS all the way through the Olympics. And with this being the first test, how are you going to approach those six the rest of the year?
RICKIE FOWLER: Well, with how the new season’s laid out, I mean, you used to look at Augusta obviously the start of it and then May to August kind of from PLAYERS through our playoffs, that was really the main chunk of the season. But now it almost seems like it doesn’t really stop, so through the fall is kind of the time that you look to maybe take some time off or work on the game, however that is, whether that’s away from tournament golf or playing some events.

Then you start with THE PLAYERS and now it’s a little bit longer of an extended — big events that are a little bit more spread out. So I wouldn’t say necessarily that you’re trying to peak in the summer or anything like that, you got to be on top of your game a lot more often for an extended period of time. So it hasn’t necessarily changed it. Obviously every time you’re teeing it up you’re going out there to play your best and you’re playing tournaments to go win.

I think the biggest change was THE PLAYERS being switched from May to March. It plays differently here with that two-month difference, and then with the PGA going to May, with some of the tournaments being further north we could get some interesting weather or potential cold weather, but for me you still look at the majors and THE PLAYERS as those are the ones that you’re setting your schedule around.

There’s only a handful of guys that get to go to the Olympics. I’m still on the outside looking in. I got to take care of business to have a chance to be there, but it’s something I highly recommend for guys to go do and girls on the women’s side. It’s a special experience and hopefully with everything going on that it’s still going to be able to go on in Tokyo this summer.

Q. Regarding your grouping yesterday JT talked about the fine line between getting serious, and as he said, yukking it up when you’re with friends. How do you look at it playing in a group; is it more fun with close friends?
RICKIE FOWLER: It is for me. I mean, there’s definitely going to be more interaction with the guys that you’re closer to or closer with. Maybe a little bit of trash talk, just between us for fun and what we would normally do. But within reason. And to me, I mean, playing with your buddies, your close friends, it’s always kind of pushed me to play my best. Not that that comes out every time that you play against your buddies, but your close friends are the ones that you want to lose to the least amount, so you want to go beat them up, and it would be nice to have bragging rights over them each day and it would be fun to kind of push each other through the weekend as well.

Q. This is a question from a fan in China. You’ve had some great moments on the 17th, and what’s your strategy and mindset on the island green here this week?
RICKIE FOWLER: Island green, yeah, I’ve been fortunate, I’ve made a lot of good swings there and had a lot of success on 17. But trying to keep it as simple as possible there. Obviously my caddie Joe and I, we pick a line and a specific target of exactly where we’re trying to land the ball. Really getting committed to that, making sure we go through our normal process, setup, and when we’re over the ball it’s just focusing on making a good swing and hitting that number. Easier said than done, but no, it’s a fun hole. Luckily it’s not very long, but when it does play back into the wind, which is possible this time of year but I don’t think we’re going to get much of that this week, it’s a fairly simple shot. It’s just when you get out of your routine or you kind of have like a little mental hiccup, that’s when the problems happen. But the more that you can kind of stay with what you normally do and stay precise on where you’re trying to hit your shot, usually good things happen.

Q. A little off topic here, but just looking at the last three or four years of Masters, guys who have almost won it or finished second, it’s a real who’s-who list of guys on TOUR. I’m wondering how you process 2018 between being proud of the close that you had to have there to get that close and then maybe recounting I let a shot get away here or there. Just how did you process finishing second that year?
RICKIE FOWLER: I thought it was great week, especially coming off of some of the Sundays I had there prior to that, being around or having a chance and not necessarily playing a good front nine or just having a bad Sunday as a whole. I did a really good job of just managing my way through the front nine, not necessarily playing my best golf, making sure I was still in the tournament and not taking myself completely out of it. And then I did a really good job on the back nine, had a few missed opportunities, but executed the shots and drove the ball well and put myself in a position where I had a chance. So I was happy with it. Yeah, one shot short and something you can go back on, and there’s a number of tournaments where you’re a shot or a few shots back of who ends up winning on Sunday, and you can always, well, what if this went in or if I just made this putt, but there’s nothing you can do to change that. You can only learn from it and try and limit those mistakes, if they were mistakes. Sometimes you hit a good putt and they just don’t go in, it might have been a misread.

But for me it was more just how I handled everything that day and through the back nine, like I said, executed, and like you can learn from the little mistakes that were made, but to me I didn’t make mistakes. I missed some opportunities on the greens. 17 I thought I hit it in there close and I missed my landing spot by about two yards to that right pin, and no, that’s where you want to be on Sundays, and we put ourselves in that position and had a chance to do it, and Patrick played well.

Q. I also have Masters question. Tiger’s win last year was one of the biggest moments in sports in 2019. Will the spectre of that victory still sort of hang over this year’s Masters, at least at the beginning when people are arriving? I mean, does it have that kind of permanence that even a year later it will still be in people’s minds?
RICKIE FOWLER: That’s going to be in people’s minds forever. Tiger’s had the biggest impact on our sport with that stage kind of set by guys like Jack, Arnie, Greg Norman, and some others that came before him. But for him to do what he did, to come back after being away from the game for a few years and potentially in a spot where he may not be able to play competitively again, to come back and win at East Lake and to go win the Masters, like I said, from a position where people thought he may not even play competitive rounds again, it’s very impressive. So that’s going to be around forever.

Once the tournament gets going, it’s about 2020, but 2019 is definitely part of history.

Q. When you won in 2015 you gained three strokes off the tee. In the last three years you’ve lost strokes off the tee every year. Do you have an idea of why, and has your strategy changed at all off the tee for this year?
RICKIE FOWLER: I didn’t drive it as well the last couple years here. Yeah, when I won in 2015 I was, I mean any club I was hitting off the tee, because you’re not always hitting driver here, I was hitting everything very tight lines, knew where it was going, I was very much in control. I mean, definitely shows when I was able to pull driver on 18 multiple times and I was swinging very freely. So it wasn’t like I was guiding it or trying to control, it was just kind of letting things happen, and it was point and shoot and just commit to it.

So that’s a lot more of where I feel like I am this year coming in. I know it hasn’t been the greatest start to the season for me, but definitely been heading the right way and trending. So with working on a lot of the new stuff with JT, I love where we’re at and where we’re heading, so we’re heading the right direction. Like I said, I feel like I’m much more in a spot where I know where it’s going, and that’s something that can be very beneficial around this place.

Q. I’m curious, a lot of players we’re now hearing battling injuries, Brooks, Justin, wrist injuries, knee injuries. What do you feel is contributing to that, and how do you balance that between working out, practicing, your schedule, and is there anything in particular fitness-wise that you do just to protect the long term of your game?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, ultimately you want to be out here playing healthy when you do play. I mean, I think a lot of injuries can come from almost playing too much. Doing anything at a high level and high speed, you’re putting a lot of stress on your body, so the time management of that, of playing the right amount, not playing too much, but also not playing too little where you’re not ready to play when you do play. I think there’s almost — there’s too many playing opportunities. There’s not really an off season where guys either get to go work on the game, rest if they may be in a spot where they need to work on a part of the body or an injury. For me, off weeks when I’m at home is when I do most of my working out. I’ll be in the gym lifting weights probably five days a week, doing therapy every day, and on the road it’s therapy every day and I’ll try and get in a workout or two early in the week, if I can, if time permits, but I’m also not wanting to push the body and be fatigued come Thursday.

So this afternoon I’ll probably do some sort of movement, just to make sure the body’s firing and good to go and then get some more therapy after that. But, yeah, like I mentioned the first part, it’s the time management side of it and making sure that you’re playing the right amount to where you’re also able to recover and then work out to make sure you’re staying in a consistent spot with your body strength-wise and movement, so that you’re not seeing the body kind of taper the wrong direction through the season.

So it’s personal, kind of a personal balance for everyone. Everyone’s going to be different, whether it’s how hard they push in the gym or maybe not at all. Yeah, you’ve got to find out what works best for you.

Q. You go way back with Kevin Dougherty who’s been so close the last couple years. Can you kind of reflect on how you met him and growing up with him and what qualities in Kevin that stand out to you?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, I’ve known Kevin for a long time. We both grew up in Murrieta back home, played a lot of golf with him. When we were both juniors, I believe he was four or five years behind me. So at one point he was a lot shorter and smaller than me. Now he’s 6’2″ and he’s spent a lot of time in the gym and is very strong and hits the ball a lot further than me now, where I used to be able to hit a 4-iron past him. So it’s been really fun to see him grow and be somewhat of a big brother to him.

He’s someone that has basically turned himself into a real professional golfer. As a junior he wasn’t necessarily someone that was looked at as one of the great juniors or anything like that, but he kept working really hard to get himself to the next level and he’s continued to do that. He worked hard through high school, gave himself a chance to go to Oklahoma State and get to play there and kept working there and just kept getting better and better. So which is, I think, somewhat — it’s not something you see all the time. A lot of times you see the guys that are talented and towards the top of each level, those are the ones that move on, and some don’t make it, some do, but it’s rare to see someone just go out and outwork and put the time in.

It’s been fun to watch, and very proud of what he’s been able to do, and we stay in touch quite a bit, and if we’re not talking I’m always watching and seeing what he’s doing. So it’s been nice to see him be close early this year and to start to play a little bit better and, yeah, I feel like he’s someone that he’s a fighter, and like I said, he’s going to outwork his way and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s out here with us soon.

Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

March 11, 2020

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

Team UK

PGA Tour: Last Week’s Winner Tyrell Hatton Speaks With The Media Prior to Making Fourth Start at The Players Championship

PGA Tour professional and last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational winner Tyrrell Hatton speaks with the media before the 2020 Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

PGA Tour: Tyrell Hatton recaps maiden tour victory celebration and previews The Players Championship

JOHN BUSH: We would like to welcome Tyrrell Hatton into the interview room. He is making his fourth career start at THE PLAYERS Championship, and he’s coming off his first PGA TOUR victory last week at Arnold Palmer Invitational. Tyrrell, first of all, if we can get some comments on being back here at PLAYERS.

TYRELL HATTON: Yeah, it’s obviously good to be back. Unfortunately it’s a tournament that I haven’t done too well at in the past, but I’m hoping that changes this week. Obviously nice week last week and a few days to recover before we get going tomorrow.

JOHN BUSH: Talk a little bit about getting the win last week, extremely tough conditions there at Bay Hill. Just talk about finally stepping into the winner’s circle on the TOUR.

TYRELL HATTON: Yeah, obviously extremely tough week. You know what they say about the rough, that’s where the four-leaf clovers are. So I was in there a lot and it was kind to me.

JOHN BUSH: Let’s go right into questions.

Q. You said that you weren’t sure you would be right until Wednesday with the celebrating that was planned. Was it all that you had hoped for, and what did you do exactly?
TYRELL HATTON: Yeah, I’m still feeling — I’m still quite tired, to be honest. But I was cuddling the toilet by 5:00 in the morning, so it was a good night.

Q. And then just real quickly, I don’t know how I can follow that, but so obviously that was extremely difficult golf. This place is known for being pretty difficult golf. What do you think a 12-handicapper would shoot in tournament conditions on this course?
TYRELL HATTON: 12-handicapper. I don’t think that they — they wouldn’t break 90. I think they would probably — I would like to think they might break 100, but if the crowds are out there, there’s a different type of pressure that they wouldn’t normally be used to, so it would be a long day.

Q. What was the celebration like on Sunday night? Who was there? Can you say how many glasses of red you had? But also probably more importantly, what’s been the reception since your victory? What’s the text messages and all that sort of stuff you received?
TYRELL HATTON: Yeah, I’ve had a lot of messages, which has been really nice. The guys obviously out on TOUR, everyone’s kind of stopped and said congratulations, which is nice. Sunday night celebration, there was a lot of red wine and then unfortunately I think the finisher was the drinking the vodka and tequila out of the bottle, which never kind of ends well. And, yeah, I fell victim of that, definitely.

Q. Can you describe your emotions coming down the stretch last week?
TYRELL HATTON: Just obviously a little bit nervous, like anyone would be, but I was just trying to do the best I could, try and — the only bit I can control is obviously myself and try to not kind of make any mistakes. Although I was trying my best down 16 to make a few of those. No, just trying to keep calm. Obviously I’ve won in Europe before, so obviously I know I can get over the line and thankfully it just kind of worked out for me last week and it was my time.

Q. Are there any text messages or congratulatory things that particularly meant something for you that you can share with us?
TYRELL HATTON: Honestly, I’ve still got around a hundred unopened WhatsApp messages. The reception has been incredible, so it’s just — I just really appreciate the amount of people that have kind of messaged me to say well done, and I know for like my family and stuff, it was quite nail-biting to watch, it was difficult to watch, but yeah, I don’t know.

Q. Has the Ryder Cup captain been in touch, and is it too early to know how your schedule will alter because of this victory?
TYRELL HATTON: Well, like I say, I’ve still got a hundred WhatsApp messages unopened, so I haven’t — I don’t know exactly like who has messaged in that sense. But my schedule at the moment isn’t, hasn’t changed, that’s something that me and my manager, Danny, we are yet to kind of sit down and talk about, but obviously I would like to be on the Ryder Cup team in September and I’ve had a good start to the points race again, which is nice, and hopefully I can kind of continue pushing on this year and make that team.

Q. Can you please specify the surgery that you had and why you needed it, as well as why you think your body responded so well and so quickly to it?
TYRELL HATTON: Well it was keyhole surgery in my right wrist, and the initial injury was back in 2017 when I fell over at the Masters during the par-3 tournament. It was canceled due to a storm that came through. I just slipped on the pine straw, and over time the wrist just got progressively worse with a build-up of kind of scar tissue and my range of movement was nonexistent and I just had basically a lot of pain kind of coming in to try and make contact with the golf ball, especially with the wedges because you naturally come into the ground a little bit steeper so there was more sort of, it was anything in that kind of movement that was uncomfortable. I had had three steroid injections in 18 months. They all lasted sort of pain-free between four and five-and-a-half months. But obviously that’s not kind of sustainable to just keep having injections. So we decided that the time was to properly fix it would be to have surgery.

The surgery obviously went well but the recovery time was much longer than we had all hoped for. I mean, initially we thought it would be four weeks and I would be back kind of hitting balls again. I was hoping to start my season in mid January, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and I wasn’t even hitting chip shots by then. So obviously these kind of things you can’t rush, and Mexico was a great place for me to start my season because I was guaranteed a full tournament week. There’s no pressure, no cut, you just kind of play and see how the body feels and it was absolutely fine. I had no issues, which is nice, because the first event back you’re not quite sure how it could go.

Q. You mentioned Sunday at Bay Hill that you were pretty nervous over that final putt, that your putter was shaking little bit. And I’m wondering, I know it’s only been a few days, but what you have learned, what your takeaway has been, not only for your game but about yourself, given that tough test on the back nine Sunday that you’ll be bringing to THE PLAYERS this week?
TYRELL HATTON: Well I think throughout the whole week at Bay Hill I managed myself pretty well, which is always one of the hardest things for me. So that was obviously something that I would like to continue, and obviously I’m human so I’m going to make mistakes along the way, and yeah, there’s probably going to be weeks where I’ll have some blowups but hopefully that’s kind of few and far between. So, yeah, hopefully I can kind of stay cool, and I’ve got my dad out with me this week, so to have him there to kind of get back on point with my swing, because playing in those kind of conditions where you’re constantly trying to flight the ball and your weight’s in a different place than it normally would be, it can kind of knock your swing out. So it’s good to have my dad here, and hopefully we can have another good week here.

Q. This may be because I’m American, but I’ve never seen your name spelled the way it is in the first name with two R’s, and I was wondering if there’s a story behind that at all and my apologies if you’ve been asked this three thousand times before.
TYRELL HATTON: Well, it’s my granddad’s middle name is kind of where it comes from. My parents that play golf, they like the liked the film Caddyshack and obviously the guy was, I think was it Ty, I think, so that’s how they kind of got my name. But in terms of the spelling, over here it would be normally Ty-rell, wouldn’t it? But I ain’t no Ty-rell, so yeah.

Q. Why do you feel like you were able to learn from your past trips here to THE PLAYERS Championship that you feel like you can build on for this week?
TYRELL HATTON: Well, this week’s not normally been a good tournament for me. I actually had, I mean last year it was kind of typical me, where I was one shot away from like one shot outside the cut line with five holes to go and I had a blowup, snapped my 3-wood and basically started hitting shots on the run, and I think we missed the cut by five or something like that.

So it kind of just goes back to making sure can I kind of control myself, and that’s normally the first step to me having a decent week.

Q. Gambling is becoming much more normalized in sports, especially golf now. I’m wondering if you’re aware of your odds each week and if you’re aware of your odds this week.
TYRELL HATTON: To be honest, I have no idea with my odds in terms of golf tournaments. I don’t mind putting bets on the football back home, but obviously we are — we’re not allowed to do any betting or anything like that in golf, and yeah, so sort of I’ve got no interest in that kind of thing. It makes no difference to how I go about my week, but I can tell you that I’m not very good at betting the on the football. I’m quite good at losing money each Saturday.

Q. You said you were playing Xbox and drinking red wine during your time off. Do you have a particular go-to Xbox game?
TYRELL HATTON: Yeah, Call of Duty. So I’m actually devastated that the new War Zone game’s come out. It was released yesterday, and I’m not going to get to play it for another few weeks. So that’s cut me deep.

JOHN BUSH: Tyrrell, we appreciate your time. Congratulations once again on getting the win last week. Best of luck this week.


Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

March 11, 2020

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

Team USA

PGA Tour: Brooks Koepka Talks Course Record at The Players Championship

PGA Tour professional and four-time major champion Brooks Koepka speaks with the media prior to the 2020 Players Championship, an event that he has yet to capture victory at but does have the course record in his name

PGA Tour: Brooks Koepka talks with the media and previews 2020 Players Championship

AMANDA HERRINGTON: We would like to welcome Brooks Koepka to the interview room here at THE PLAYERS Championship. Brooks, when we look at the course record at this course, your name’s on it, had success here. Thoughts going into the week.

BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, hopefully it’s a good week. Obviously I’m going I’m not playing that good, so hopefully can right this ship and figure out how to get the ball in the hole, score a little better. Everything seems to kind of be piecing together piece by piece, and good memories of this place, I like it, played it a lot growing up. In college we would sneak over here a couple times a year, so hopefully that can bring out some good mojo.

AMANDA HERRINGTON: Open it up to questions.

Q. It was reported that you went to go see Butch. I’m wondering when you decided it was time for a fresh set of eyes. I know you said that you still have the same coaches and stuff, but what prompted the decision to fly out there?
BROOKS KOEPKA: It was something that Claude’s always going to be my coach, Pete’s always going to be my short game coach. I had spoken with them on Saturday, I think I made a phone call to Claude and it’s one of those things I felt like I just I had so much going on in my head, so many swing thoughts and needed to clear the slate, and the Harmons are family to me, and so we flew out Sunday, went and saw Butch Monday, and got in yesterday afternoon.

Q. That was the first time ever taking a lesson from him?
BROOKS KOEPKA: No, Butch has seen me swing it a million times, he knows — I’ve seen him at Floridian a million times and he’s stood there when I’m hitting balls with Claude and he’s stood there at the Ryder Cup. It’s one of those things where I just needed a different set of eyes, maybe something might click, because I was failing.

Claude was giving me, telling me the same things he’s said for five years, the three keys that we have just worked on, and for some reason I just couldn’t do it. That’s on me. It’s not on Claude, it’s not Claude’s fault, it’s not Pete’s fault, it’s not anybody’s fault except my own, and the fact that I couldn’t do it, I just needed a fresh set of eyes just to look at it and see if he saw anything out of the ordinary. And the beauty of it is Butch has seen it so many times. So it was good for me to go out there. I had Claude’s blessing. I called Claude, I told Pete, and they were all behind it.

Q. Certainly every professional athlete has had ups and downs in their careers; what was the difference in this one? Was it confidence? Why were you just feeling different with this downturn?
BROOKS KOEPKA: I wouldn’t — it wasn’t that I was feeling different, I just couldn’t match everything everybody was telling me to do. You go through feelings where sometimes they say release the club or hold it off, whatever it might be, and it’s fairly simple but right now for whatever reason it just felt difficult, I couldn’t do it. That’s me being aware of where the club face is or being aware where my path is, where I’m set up, different things like that, but that’s all on me.

Q. Wondering, for somebody who has accomplished so much already in golf, how difficult is it for you to make changes like that, which are I’m assuming incredibly significant.
BROOKS KOEPKA: Not really, it’s pretty fundamental stuff, I just wasn’t doing it, to put it very bluntly. You fall into bad habits, yes, and sometimes you just got to work your way out of them. What Butch said, I mean he saw it in four swings, I think, and told me a couple things and I had planned on being out there all day Tuesday and except he told me to fly home, fly out here, or well, not fly home, fly here, and get out here and practice, because he felt like everything was on the right track and now it’s our job to make sure that it progresses and it progresses nicely with Claude.

Q. Your record here, obviously you’ve had some good mojo here. Oftentimes it just takes one good round or two to kind of snap things out of it. What would a good day tomorrow do for you, do you think, in terms of just kind of —
BROOKS KOEPKA: It just takes one shot. It’s there sometimes right now and then it’s still — I still resort back to the old habits, old things. It’s getting close, I’ve said that for weeks and weeks, but now it’s just getting more consistent. I felt I had something to build on, I putted a lot better Saturday, and then Sunday I definitely putted better. Other than a little hiccup there on 1, which was just me lapsing in concentration.

But I’m progressing, and every year we’re in this slump — we had a little bit of a team meeting, my whole team yesterday for about an hour, hour and a half, just trying to go over everything and make sure everybody’s on the same page and knows what we’re at, what we’re trying to accomplish, and a lot of that is on my shoulders. I haven’t done maybe the best job of doing everything I need to do.

Q. How much has the knee had an impact on this, or is it more the layoff from the knee that the three months away or so?
BROOKS KOEPKA: My knee’s fine. My knee’s exactly where it should be. It’s just a matter of execution, taking care of what I need to take care of. It has nothing to do with my knee. It’s all me not being able to do what Claude’s told me to do, what Pete’s told me to do, Jeff on the putting. That’s me, whether it’s lack of concentration, focus, decisiveness, whatever it might be, that’s all on my shoulders, it has nothing to do with anybody else.

Q. Do you know what it is? Is it lack of focus, concentration?
BROOKS KOEPKA: No, that’s kind of what we were going over yesterday. Making sure we’re a little bit more decisive. I think maybe it has been a little bit of lack of concentration, because I go into a major, and a perfect example is 6 at Honda. You pull one in there off the tee, which in a major I never would, I would be so scared of hitting it in the water I would hit it to the right, make sure the miss is to the right. And then we drop one and then I hit it in the water again where I would never make sure that miss is left on any of those holes.

My misses right now are in the worse possible places. I’ve short-sided myself, I’ve put it where it’s very penalizing. When you’re playing good, you hit things and your misses are in the correct spots. And even if you’re playing bad, you need to make sure that you choose the right shot shape, the shot where you want to miss it and things like that.

I think that’s — I see the shot in my mind and I just haven’t executed and when you’re on that’s perfectly fine, but sometimes when you’re off you need to understand that center of the greens are good and that’s where you want to be.

Q. Do you think if the TOUR pulled you aside and whispered into your ear, this is a major this week, do you think it would help?
BROOKS KOEPKA: It doesn’t matter. I try my ass off in every tournament. It’s just, I take it up a notch, I don’t know, it’s very hard to explain. I think someone said this yesterday in the meeting, that I have a hard time accepting that I’m going to make mistakes in a regular TOUR event, but in a major I seem to know that I’m going to make mistakes and I just want to minimize those. I think that was kind of perfectly said. I try to be too perfect out here a lot of times and try to never miss a golf shot, try to win it with my iron play, my driving, when a lot of the times it’s not how you win.

Q. On a lighter note, you just had your feature in GQ; you’re a pretty fashionable guy. A couple things that have gotten some attention lately had EVR’s joggers, you had Adam Scott rocking pleated pants, and I’m curious if Nike came to you with either one of those, would you be willing to say yes to pleated pants or joggers?
BROOKS KOEPKA: Well, Nike’s already come with joggers. They did that.

Q. You’ve worn them?
BROOKS KOEPKA: I’ve worn them, yeah. Not in a tournament but they were the first ones to do them out here.

Q. Have you ever turned down any apparel that Nike put in front of you?

Q. What about pleated pants; would you turn those down?
BROOKS KOEPKA: I mean, those are in right now.

Q. What does Chase need to do with his game to get out here?
BROOKS KOEPKA: I don’t know. I haven’t been around him playing too much as of late. It’s all about opportunity. I think the hardest part is getting here. It’s easier to stay here than it is to get out here, for sure. He tried Europe, and I won’t say he didn’t like it, but he wanted to make the transition over here and missed — well, I guess got conditional status on Korn Ferry, and there are times when I’m out here and I’m like I know he can play out here. But at the same time he’s got to wait for his opportunity, take advantage of it when he can and that’s — I mean there are guys that deserve to be out here that aren’t out here, just plain and simple. It’s all about the timing and when they have, if they timed it up right.

Q. Does he have a good eye for your swing and vice versa?
BROOKS KOEPKA: I can’t tell anybody. Everybody loves to ask, like amateurs, like what am I doing, and I know how to hit it, I don’t know how to coach. But, yeah, I mean, I’ve watched him hit balls so much, I know pretty much how he lines up, how he sets up, and I can see things like that, but he’s played fine. I think a lot of times it’s his expectations and, look, I don’t envy him at all, he’s in a very tough spot and a lot of times I really feel bad for him being the younger brother and then having me. I really do feel bad for him. It’s not fun.

If he ever steps in an interview room like this, 90 percent of his questions are about me, they’re not about him. So I feel real bad for him a lot of the times, and sometimes as a family it’s about picking him up a little bit and make being sure that he has got the confidence, he’s got what he needs to be successful and not always hear about me. You even hear it when he goes to a golf course, a lot of times the only questions he gets asked are about me, and I give him a lot of credit, I couldn’t be in those shoes.

Q. Do you feel like you’re relatively receptive to a lot of this stuff? Are you too hardheaded at times?

Q. To the changes that you’ve been talking about, even before when people would tell you things, do you feel like you soak them in or do you feel like you didn’t process them the right way?
BROOKS KOEPKA: It’s funny, we talked about this last night in our meeting. I think if you would have — what’s made me successful is I don’t listen to anybody. I listen to my coach, my team, everybody inside. I’ll do what they ask, I’ll do what’s needed and I don’t tinker. I don’t tinker with clubs, I don’t make changes on anything and then all of a sudden I kind of veered off the path of all right, well, let’s try this, I think this is going to make me better, when it got me to world No. 1, it got me four majors, seven wins out here. Why am I changing that?

I think I’ve always laughed because you see guys do it before you. They make changes right when they get to the top to improve and the intent behind it is really good, but at the same time a lot of these things are what makes me successful, what makes me tick. And that’s what I’m trying to go back to right now is make it very fundamental, very simple and keep the main thing the main thing. Keep those three points I worked on with Claude for five years and that’s the only thing we have ever worked on and that’s what we’re going to.

Q. The other thing, one thing that Butch seems to be very good at is not only looking at your swing and making comments but making you think better and feel better about where you’re going. Did you feel like he helped you somewhat mentally in that just time, that little time you had with him this week?
BROOKS KOEPKA: It was good. It was nice to get out there and go see him. Obviously I hadn’t seen him in, it’s been awhile, since he’s not out here. But every time I’m around Butch I enjoy it, you get a nice laugh and, yeah, I think that’s one of Butch’s — yes, he’s a great golf coach, but at the same time he’s a great motivator, big team guy when he’s standing there. So that was nice to see. But at the same time, so was Claude and so was Pete.

I’ve got, I think, the best team around me. And those guys do the same thing. I think it’s in the Harmons’ blood for a little bit of motivation and confidence and that’s probably the reason why Claude stays with me at our house. Every time we get a house he stays with me, and it’s definitely in their DNA.

Q. There are a few holes during the whole calendar of the year that can be so decisive on winning or losing, like 17 and 18 here. Can you describe these holes and what makes them so special, especially in a, let’s say, pressure situation on the final day, for example?
BROOKS KOEPKA: I mean, I’m probably not the guy to ask about 17. I think I’ve probably played it the worst out of anybody probably the last five years. But I mean, yeah, you just got to pick your shot, be decisive about it and obviously hit the green on 17 and you’re going to have a good chance the way it’s kind of broken up in those three little quarters. Then 18, we usually play with 3-iron, 3-wood, somewhere out there on the right and then try and let my ball striking take over and be successful that way.

Q. There’s so many big events cancelled throughout the world. European Tour has cancelled due to this coronavirus. Have you thought a single second about maybe not attending here or how did you guys handle this whole situation at the moment?
BROOKS KOEPKA: This is the TOUR’s biggest event. I’m not going to skip it.

Q. Can I ask you a little bit more about what Butch was asking you to do or what he was seeing in your swing? And I’ll say this based on some things that Paul Marchand, who works with Fred Couples, told me about Fred’s swing many years ago. This could be 25 years ago, and he said all golfers get tendencies and they tend to go back into some tendency that they had and it’s important to have a coach who has an eye who understand that swing, and what he told me was he said for instance Fred is very limber and for him that’s a problem. He gets too loose and then his shots will spray or his timing gets off or something. So with you was Butch trying to get you back to something that you had done in the past correctly?
BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah. Yeah, it’s —

Q. Was he just in his language was able to —
BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, golf’s just a — we could see it on video and what I was trying to do and didn’t know how to get there. There’s a few things that were wrong and the two things he told me were what same thing Claude’s been telling me but just in a different way and it clicked or it felt better. I can see it in the film now when we’re on the driving range or on the golf course like today, the positions it’s in is a million times better. I’m pleased with it. It goes through your whole golf bag, your whole swing, all your tendencies go through your whole golf bag.

Obviously I’m a fader of the golf ball. You can see it probably in my putting; my putting is not exactly the perfect stroke, but at the same time I come over it a little bit and it’s just like my golf swing. And when you get bad tendencies they seem to go all the way through your putting, and that’s why I’ve struggled so much.

So everything is, it’s gone throughout the bag and I think that it’s taken from what Claude and Pete and Butch have said and it’s — I’m on the right track. I think I just needed a little bit of reassurance for myself like — listen, Claude knows my swing as good as anybody, but I needed a little bit of reassurance for myself that I was making the right choices and that’s — and, you know —

Q. Butch has a great eye.
BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, he does, he’s got a great eye and at the same time so does Claude. To have — it was important to me for me to get Claude’s blessing to go out there because if I didn’t I don’t know what I would have done.

Q. On a hypothetical, if it ever reached a point where there were, where there were no fans on the golf course, which I’m sure you probably experienced on the Challenge Tour I would imagine, what would be the upside and downside to that?
BROOKS KOEPKA: I don’t really know if there would be an upside to that. It’s kind of fun playing in front of fans. You can hear the “ohhh” when you miss it, you know, you hear the cheer when you make it. It kind of gets you a little bit pumped up. It gets you excited and you really feel like you did something. I mean we’ve played a couple events, a couple rounds I should say with no fans, and it’s — we talk about it as players when we’re out there during that round, it’s very weird, it’s awkward. You don’t have that momentum, you don’t have, I guess, the momentum of the fans or the cheering and it’s kind of hard to get excited, especially sometimes when you can’t see where the flag is and you don’t know if it’s 15 feet or it’s tight. It’s a lot easier when there are fans there.

Q. Have you had a chance to play Michael Jordan’s new golf course?
BROOKS KOEPKA: I have not, no. No. I’ve stuck with Medalist. I’ve been at Medalist for awhile practicing and at the Floridian just practicing. I haven’t — if he wants to give me a membership, yeah, I’ll go out.

Q. You said after Honda with the issues with your putting then was just you hadn’t been out there a lot because of the knee, just with the layoff. Is that the root of all of this, do you think, as much as anything, was just not playing a lot and having those three months off?
BROOKS KOEPKA: I think it had a little bit to do with something. I think it’s only been 22 rounds since August. I mean, that’s six months that’s not really a lot of golf. That’s why I played last week just to get some rounds and it’s great to be hitting it on the range, but you need to have that competitive — understand when you’re trying to hit a shot under pressure what it does and the unfortunate thing is probably halfway through the season and I’m still trying to figure it out.

Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

March 11, 2020

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

Team USA

PGA Tour: Patrick Reed Speaks With Media Prior to Making Seventh Start at The Players Championship

PGA Tour professional and Masters champion Patrick Reed addresses the media prior to the start of The 2020 Players Championship about how his preparation differs for large scale tournaments.

PGA Tour: Patrick Reed talks to the media prior to making start at The Players Championship

NICK PARKER: We would like to welcome Patrick Reed to the interview room here at THE PLAYERS Championship. This is your seventh start coming in here at THE PLAYERS. Just talk about the challenge that awaits this week.

PATRICK REED: I think the biggest thing is kind of getting used to the firmness and softness of the grounds. The greens yesterday were relatively soft, but today you had some more skip and bounce in them, but with the fairways being soft, you can kind of adjust your line a little bit more off tees. You’re hitting a couple longer clubs off the tee because you’re not worried about the ball rolling or running through. That being said, the longer club you hit, the easier it is to hit it in the rough, and that rough out here, even though it’s not very long, it’s really thick. So it’s a golf course that is going to take a lot of thinking, a lot of really quality ball striking and if you get out of position some good short game.

THE MODERATOR: Open it up for questions.

Q. You’re rarely among like the few favorites gambling-wise. I’m wondering if you pay attention to your odds whenever you play and if you take it as a sign of disrespect that you’re 35 to 1 this week when you win just as much as anybody out here?
PATRICK REED: I honestly don’t pay any attention to the gambling or any kind of odds. Does anyone know what my odds were at Augusta? How about 40 to 1? How about WGC?

Q. You were same thing, like 25, 30.
PATRICK REED: Okay. I like my odds then. Those are good odds. So no, I mean, I don’t. I don’t really ever focus to that because at the end of the day when you come out here you have fields on the PGA TOUR now are so deep and you have to play your A-game in order to win golf tournaments out here, especially at an event like this at THE PLAYERS where you have all the top players here playing, and when that happens you have to go out and you have to play really good golf from top to bottom.

So at the end of the day to me it’s just like any kind of during the March Madness or anything like that; when you start playing, all those odds go out the window. It all determines how you go out there and what you do when your name’s called.

Q. Do you have events like THE PLAYERS or the majors circled on the calendar and does that affect your prep for those weeks at all going into it or maybe a couple weeks out?
PATRICK REED: Well I mean everyone — I mean, for me I circle — there’s nine events that I circle, all WGC’s, majors and THE PLAYERS. And with having those nine circled, I try to treat all nine of those the same. My prep work will be the exact same, everything kind of leading up into the event will kind of be the same, and at that point I know that I’m not going to get too amped or too excited compared from one to the other because once you start over-prepping or trying to take such a big moment and turn it even larger and start thinking of it that way, now all of a sudden mentally you’re not going to have it and you’re going to put more pressure on you than you really need when you’re out there trying to play.

Q. When you’re out there, talking about the mental game, is that something that you consciously think about, okay, this is what I want my mental strategy to be this week, I want to bear down or whatever, or is that something that comes naturally to you?
PATRICK REED: Now it comes naturally. It’s something as you grow up and as I was a junior golfer growing up I would always write down a game plan in my yardage book and how I’m going to play each hole. But then I get to that hole and if I made bogey on the last hole, I come up to the next one, if I’m supposed to hit 3-wood off the tee I would hit driver because I was like, oh, I got to get that shot back and so I would kind of veer off the game plan, and nine times out of ten it never really worked.

So I’ve really gotten used to now just kind of always sticking to the game plan. I always have usually two game plans on each hole. I have an aggressive one if I feel like I’m playing really well and then I have a more conservative one if I don’t feel like I’m swinging the way I’m supposed to be swinging.

But with having that, it just kind of allows me to stay in my own mental space to really just focus on the then and now and not really what happened a hole ago or a shot ago or what’s coming up. Instead I’m able to really focus on what I’m trying to do right then and there.

Q. When you made the top-five-player-in-the-world comment a few years ago, obviously it generated a lot of noise and attention. You’re now very close to actually that position and you’ve won significant events. Do you feel even now better placed that that’s exactly where you should be and where you’re headed, and what would that mean to you if you get there?
PATRICK REED: It would mean everything. Every golfer and every competitor that’s out here playing, they’re all trying to get to one spot and that’s to be the best player in the world. And all of us are working very hard to win golf tournaments to get to those positions, and the only way you get to top five, top one, or the best player in the world is by winning golf tournaments and winning big events.

The biggest thing is to not only are you trying to win those golf tournaments but you’re trying to turn those off weeks into top-25s, top-15, top-10s, and I think that’s the biggest thing is as we have been getting closer to the top five number, for me really it’s just continue to try to grow on the golf and continue to try and play better and more consistent because all of us when we’re on we’re on, we can go shoot some really low numbers. And it’s those days that you’re not — you don’t quite have it there that you need to kind of be able to turn a 3- or 4-over-par round into even or 1-under, and the top players in the world, that’s what they’re able to do. So that’s more kind of where we’re striving.

Q. When you win a tournament like the WGC, clearly it makes it more likely that you could qualify automatically for the Ryder Cup. Is that something you’ll think about? Will it register for you as a great bonus of having done that, and are you somebody who would maybe look at the standings throughout the year to see who is kind of it in it?
PATRICK REED: I think we all look at the standings. Every player does because there’s nothing like going to represent your country and playing for red, white and blue. And the biggest thing is the easiest way to do that is by giving yourself chances to win the big events and really giving yourself chances to win every tournament and to be able to cap off a WGC and hopefully to have a chance this week and to hopefully have a couple chances in the majors and maybe cap off a couple of those, I mean, that is how you qualify for the Ryder Cup and for the Presidents Cup, and because of that you just have to continue to grind and continue to work and try to get to that point because, you know, the only way to get to all your goals and to succeed on all these things is by one thing; it’s working really hard and playing great golf. If you do that, then everything else takes care of itself.

I think that’s kind of where I’ve always felt like I’ve been good at is never really looked too far ahead. Just try to look right stay in the present and try to improve each and every day, and I feel like that’s the reason why I’ve been getting a little bit more consistent and something that I’ve been really working hard on.

Q. You’ve come into a bit of heat this year. I’m just wondering, does the heckling bother you at all?

Q. No?
PATRICK REED: No, I mean, I think the PGA TOUR has done a great job on the security and the fans. I feel like, as a whole, the fans have been pretty good. You’re always going to get a couple people here and there that are going to say something. That’s normal, any sport you play. For me when I get behind the ropes and I get inside those ropes it’s I have a job to do and that’s go out and play good golf and to have a chance to win on Sundays and to provide for my family and to go out and represent myself the best way I can, and I feel like I’ve been doing that.

Q. The 17th here, the island green is notorious, especially on the Friday afternoon. Are you worried at all that you’ll pass through there Friday and come under a bit of fire?
PATRICK REED: I mean, no, not really. For me the biggest thing on 17, it was today — Kessler, it’s the first time he’s actually hit the green. Normally he hits it in the water, so that means I cannot hit it in the water the next four days because if I do, if I hit in the water once, I won’t hear the end of it until next year. So I just got to go out there and I’ve always played that hole somewhat conservative, I’ve never really taken on too many of those flags. The front flag is obviously — you’re trying to fly it past and kind of bring it back down to it. And back flag you’re trying to hit to the middle of the green. That right flag being a drawer of the golf ball I don’t ever really go for, so for me it’s just kind of put the ball in the middle of the green and let my putter try to work.

I’ve heard horror stories, guys hitting 7-irons, 6-irons to that hole in the past. Besides for last year, every year’s been 100 degrees because of the time or the time the tournament was. So I’ve hit lob wedge there one year every day. So it’s just kind of one of those things that for me it’s just hit it in the middle of the green and take your medicine.

Q. Are you a Pete Dye fan and is there a particular hole out here that you find visually disturbing?
PATRICK REED: Oh, I am a Pete Dye fan. And a hole that is disturbing? I’ve never — well, when the golf course is firm and fast, 18 for some reason, that tee shot, just even being a drawer of the golf ball just never kind of suits my eye. If it’s a little softer this year, my driver or 3-wood down that right side doesn’t go through if it’s into the wind, so that one this year hopefully is going to be a little nicer to me.

But when it’s firm and fast I seem to never be able to get the ball far enough left and I’m always in those trees and having to give a fan something to either cheer about or kind of scratch their head about.

Q. Rory said yesterday his favorite was No. 12. Do you have a favorite?
PATRICK REED: Yeah, of course he likes 12; he can hit 3-iron on the green. I mean, yeah, I’ve always thought No. 2’s always been a great par-5. Off the tee you see guys hit everywhere from 5-wood to driver. The guys who fade the ball sometimes they don’t really feel comfortable with driver because they kind of turn it, but then after stepping up and hitting a draw or whatever shot there, then from the second shot you have to work it the opposite direction. So it’s kind of a double dogleg, and for the most part everyone can get home in two, but going for it you put yourself just in the wrong spot. Even if you’re only 10 feet off the green you’re struggling to make par. You’re hitting it to 30, 40 feet to some of the flags, so I feel like that’s a hole that is just an amazing design from tee to green that really just makes you think all around.

Q. Going back to what you were saying earlier about the noise, if you will, two things, one, have you had a chance or have you talked to Brooks since a few weeks ago?
PATRICK REED: I haven’t. I don’t — last week he played in the same event and I don’t think I saw him once last week.

Q. Secondly, do you think that noise ever goes away at any point or does winning maybe help eliminate that?
PATRICK REED: Well, winning always helps everything. But really at the end of the day the noise goes away once y’all decide it goes away at the end of the day. I mean, I feel like the players and all of us have moved on, but at the end of the day all we can do is go out and continue playing good golf and doing what we’re supposed to do.

Q. Is it going to be easy for you to come back to Augusta as not the defending champion?
PATRICK REED: Definitely.

Q. And why is that? Not many people successfully defend that tournament.
PATRICK REED: I think the biggest thing is so for me in particular being my first major, my first one I won, I didn’t know what to expect. And then kind of showing up and getting back on-site, just kind of the extra kind of a adrenaline and just kind of hype that was going on on the week, all the extra pressures you put on yourself to play well to try to defend and have a good defense, whether — just have a good finish.

And with having to be the host of the dinner, having all these extra little things that you don’t realize what to expect when you come in, you feel like your day starts at 6:00 a.m. and doesn’t stop until 7:00 p.m., and then on top of it you got to go out and play solid golf.

So it was kind of — it’s awesome, it’s amazing to defend, but the good thing is now that I have won my first major, I know what to expect when I have the opportunity to win another one, what to expect if I’m going to defend.

Q. When you’re playing the 17th on a Friday afternoon and you’re doing that walk, as a player now generally, I mean, do you have to prepare yourself mentally that somebody’s going to say something?
PATRICK REED: No, not really. When I’m out there and I get inside the ropes I’m full on focusing about golf and either talking to Kessler about what we’re about to do, whether it’s a putt, iron shot or chip like where the ball sits on the green, if it’s going to be fast, if it’s going to be slow. That’s all the preparation we do during the week is to figure out, okay, what greens are faster than others, what putts are faster than others and vice versa, and for us we get so in tuned in golf that everything that goes on around us it doesn’t matter, we’re out there to grind and to go out and play good golf.

Q. Noticed you stopped wearing red on Sunday; why is that?
PATRICK REED: You know, I mean just kind of one of those things that I’ve always I used to always wear red and black but whenever I’d signed with Nike and everything, we want to make sure that we wear the current product so we keep up with what the fans and what the people who see us on TV, what they can go to the store and what they can buy.

Q. So now you’ve won in black, will that be a new look on Sunday?
PATRICK REED: It could be. That shirt that I’ve worn the past couple Sundays is one of the current products, so it works, it’s current and most likely it will be in it.

Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

March 12, 2020

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports