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August 1, 2011

Charley Hoffman

CHARLEY HOFFMAN: Coming into the majors and the Playoffs that we're coming into, I just noticed that everything I've looked up and tried to do, it happened. I started on the 2nd hole, made a birdie, 3rd hole, ended up making a birdie, and 4th hole I think I made a birdie, as well, and all of a sudden I went from just trying to make it to the next FedExCup event to winning and having a chance to win the $10 million prize at the actual FedEx tournament.
I mean, it was just really special against that sort of field and the quality of golf course that I was able to pull away and close the way I did. It gave me a lot of confidence going into this year. I haven't played as well as I've liked but had a second and hopefully get on another run during the Playoffs and have another chance during the Deutsche Bank this year.

Q. It was your second PGA TOUR victory; you had won the Bob Hope I believe it was two or three years prior. Where does winning the Deutsche Bank Championship last year sort of stand in your list of career accomplishments?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: I mean, it's about as big as it can get for me. You're playing against the top 100 golfers of that year on the PGA TOUR. The only way you can get into that tournament is the way you played that year, not off last year's top 50 in the world, not off anything else besides how you played this year. So I mean, I'd put it up even higher than a World Golf Championship just because you're playing against the best current players that can be from all over the world, Europe, everywhere; if they commit to the PGA TOUR they're playing the Deutsche Bank.
I wouldn't say it's harder to win that tournament than it is to win let's say Barclays or any other one, but you do have the top 100, you're not playing against just the top 30 guys, you're playing against pretty much a full field of guys and we all know that pretty much everybody can win every week, so when there's 100 guys in the field, you've go to beat a lot of good players.

Q. I was hoping you could talk a little bit about your season so far. Your best finish this year is a tie for second at the Valero Texas Open back in April, and you've had a handful of other top 25s. Do you feel like you're moving in the right direction and having a good season so far?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: Yeah, everything has been all right, didn't start off the year the way I wanted on the West Coast. West Coast is usually where I play good. I grew up in San Diego and usually have a good tournament out at the Farmers, and I didn't play well there; and Phoenix I've played well a few times in the past, didn't play well there. So started off a little slow, and then got into a groove a little bit right before the Masters, during the Masters and after the Masters, played all right in the first major and then finished second the week after that.
It's been a very average year. I haven't played like really well. I think unfortunately I haven't putted as well as I wanted to. Hitting the golf ball really hasn't been a problem. That's why I was watching some of the video from last year during Deutsche Bank. I played really well. I just wanted to see if I could pick up some keys on that old video that I was doing something different than I had been in the past, and hopefully that'll work going into the PGA and then starting the Playoffs, so hopefully I can get on another hot run.

Q. Can you give us some of your thoughts on defending your title here in about four weeks?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: Yeah, you know, I mean, obviously I feel good. Last time I played there I shot 62 and really didn't miss a shot. I'm excited to get back to Boston. Last year my instructor Shawn Callahan came out after the first round, and I didn't feel like I was hitting the ball that great, and he gave me a couple tips to go through on the weekend and Monday that kept me going.
I mean, I feel really good going -- you obviously feel good going back to a course you've played well on in the past, and what they've done in the redesign at TPC Boston is unbelievable from the first year I played until now. It's really transformed, and it's one of my favorite golf courses on TOUR for sure.

Q. Just wondering how you're feeling and what took you to the hospital.
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: You know what, I'm not feeling that much better. I'm actually sort of surprised. We went on a houseboat trip last week and everything was great, and I got back here -- we got back here on like Tuesday, and then Thursday, I don't know if I ate something bad, Thursday really early morning my stomach was hurting. I thought it was maybe food poisoning or something like that, would go away in 24 hours. And on Friday morning I felt just as bad or worse, so I didn't know if it was appendix or something like that.
So I've never checked into the hospital, I've never broken a bone, never done anything. So I drove myself to the hospital just to make sure there was nothing wrong with my organs or anything like that, and everything came back pretty clear and good. But just still not feeling well, and I'm going to once I'm done with this phone call get another second opinion from a doctor here in Vegas.
Hopefully it gets all cleared up, we figure out what the problem is. It's a really weird pain in the stomach, and like I said, I wish I could be there, but I couldn't even imagine flying for five and a half hours from Vegas to Boston. But we'll be able to get it done with a phone interview. I'm just hoping that I good enough so I can play this week in Akron. I really like that golf course.

Q. Could you talk a little bit about the year without Tiger, with all these new young players who are coming along and just tearing these courses to shreds and what it means to the PGA TOUR?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: Yeah, actually I was thinking about that same exact question. I was actually sitting on the couch all day yesterday, didn't have much to do except watch golf and watch the X-Games. I'll tell you what, if you're a fan of golf, it's some of the most exciting golf you can watch, with all the playoffs that have been going on and seeing guys trying to win tournaments and then make bogeys.
What Scott did yesterday was unbelievable, making all those birdies on the back nine, then sort of derailed on 17, you're thinking that he's done by making bogey on probably the easiest hole on the golf course, then comes back and fires it two and a half feet on the last hole, which isn't a very easy shot. And then the playoff, pumping the crowd up and hitting almost the exact same shot again, that's -- I am a golf fan obviously, and I think it's been great for the viewers to get to know the younger players coming up and not have Tiger dominate. I think it's great for the sport.
Everybody wants to see Tiger do well. He's obviously one of the best golfers that I've ever seen or played with, and we all want him back playing well again, but when he's not here, I think the young guys have stepped up great and won some big tournaments under their belt, which is good for their careers, there's no question.

Q. How well do you think Tiger will play when he comes back?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: You know, I have no idea. From the interviews he's given, it sounded like he wasn't going to come back until he was ready to win, and it seems like he's messed around a few times before and knew his body wasn't ready. So I assume he's going to be ready to win. I sit on the sidelines for two or three weeks, I get the juices flowing and I want to get back into it. I couldn't imagine going three and a half months or however long he's gone without hitting a ball, getting those juices. That's what keeps Tiger and all us professional golfers going is the juices you get once you get to that first tee. So I'm sure once he gets those going he'll play just fine and he'll be hard to beat just like he always been in the past. I'm hoping he gets back there because you always want to play against the best in the world, and he's definitely one of the best.

Q. I know you're a sports fan. In that regard, I think most sports fans tend to root for the underdog, yet in golf, somewhat in tennis but certainly in golf, it seems people want to see the favorites win. Your average fan here a year ago wants to see a Phil or a Tiger or a Vijay or whatever. While we might think it's great, here comes Charley Hoffman shooting an incredible score on the final day, the average fan roots for the big names. What is it about golf that that seems more prevalent than in other sports where the underdog is more popular?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: Well, I don't know if I completely agree with you on that. You've got baseball, everybody rooting for Boston and New York, two favorites; you've got basketball when Jordan was playing good, everybody was rooting for the Bulls.

Q. Rooting for Boston makes sense, Charley, we get that.
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: (Laughing.) I think everybody likes a favorite. I think obviously Tiger drove the game for a long time, and I think what everybody like watching was him break records, shooting low scores and trying to catch Jack and those records. He was trying to do something. Even though I'd say people weren't really competing with him on the golf course, he was running away with most of the tournaments on his own. But we were watching something that's never been seen before.
It's obviously slowed down now, but I think in any sport everybody likes watching the favorite and watching the favorite win. I don't know if there's any sport anybody likes watching the underdog. I think once you get the tournament going and you see the underdog fighting with the champ that they may start rooting for them, but I think when everybody starts watching baseball, football or golf, they always obviously go with what they're familiar with.

Q. Would you give us a rundown of the equipment you're using and maybe some changes that you're considering?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: You know what, nothing. Everything is the exact same as last year when I won the Deutsche Bank. I put in a new driver in play a couple weeks before the Deutsche Bank last year, and it's still in the bag. 3-wood is the same, it's actually a Callaway 3-wood; hybrid is an Adams hybrid; irons are Titleist 710 blades; wedges are the same Vokey wedges.
I screwed around with a few putters this year trying to find one that the ball goes in the hole with, but mostly going to be going with the same putter I putted with last year at the end of the season. Obviously got some good vibes and good feelings from that putter the way it performed last year. Usually putting is one of my strengths, so hopefully that thing heats up a little bit at the right time.

Q. Since you've been sick, have you been able to play at all, and when do you expect you'll be able to get back on the course?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: I'm hoping I go to the doctor and they give me some antibiotics today and I'll be out in Akron tomorrow. I had a flight this morning, and about three hours ago I said I'm not going to get on to go out to Akron. Obviously no pro-am this week in Akron, which is nice. I can actually show up on Tuesday and still get a practice round in. If I'm not feeling good by Wednesday, probably not going to make the trip at all, just because the week after is the PGA and I want to feel healthy and good for that.
So hopefully I'm feeling good tomorrow and I'm on a plane out to Akron. I haven't played much besides that because, like I said, I was on a houseboat vacation trip with some friends and family and didn't touch a club for a week there and then practiced a day and a half and then I got sick again.
Everything feels good. I'll definitely be fresh when I get on the golf course next.

Q. So there's no concern now that it's going to be any kind of long-term thing, maybe this week or even less?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: I am really thinking hopefully it's better in about three or four hours, but that's what I've been thinking for three or four days now. It's just a little stomach flu -- I think it's a little stomach flu that's just hanging around the stomach. I really haven't eaten much the last few days. Head feels great, it's the stomach and digesting food. So obviously if I'm not getting food in, it's going to be hard to go around the golf course for six hours and play at the highest level. So until I start eating like I like to, which is a lot, I'm probably not going to be out on the golf course.

Q. A lot of college aged amateurs have been playing very well on the PGA TOUR and Nationwide Tour this summer. What is your impression of that, and can you just talk about maybe the difference between playing well for maybe a summer or a short period of time and being a full-time PGA professional?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: Yeah, I mean, you've got the kid from California, what's his -- that played great in the U.S. Open and Hartford.

Q. Cantlay, I think.
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: Yeah, I mean, I just think nowadays just because you've seen in the era of Tiger Woods kids started playing golf a little younger. It's probably a little cooler to play golf in high school and before high school than it was probably when I was growing up. So there's not that, well, I'm a golfer/baseball player/soccer player/like to go to the beach and ride skateboards and all that. I think a lot of kids are just focused on golf now just because it is a decent way to make a living and it's pretty cool since Tiger is obviously one of the best athletes in the world and people see that.
So I think golf is a sport that athletes are playing now. I think a lot of athletes used to depend on soccer, baseball and football to get their college degrees and do all that, and I think now if you're a good athlete and you like to play golf you're not really looked at weird by any means. Athletes do play golf, also. I think that has a lot to do with what Tiger has done for the game.

Q. Maybe you just think back when you were an amateur, and is there a difference, though, in terms of being a full-time PGA TOUR player who's grinding out every week as opposed to someone who's just doing this over the summer like these players are doing before they go back to school? You can have short-term success, but I assume it's much more difficult to do that every week?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: Well, yeah, it's definitely more difficult to do it every week because there's part of traveling -- that's the worst part of playing the PGA TOUR is you're traveling every week. If you're a kid that's playing a few tournaments during the summer against your idols on TV, you really have nothing to lose; if you go out and shoot 80-80, the media doesn't talk about it, but if you go out and shoot 68-70 and you're tied for the lead, it's a minor miracle.
I just think if I went out with that attitude every week that I've got zero to lose out there, which could help you and could hurt you, but I think we all know playing the PGA TOUR, it's a marathon, it's not a sprint. Two weeks isn't going to do it for you out there, and you've got to play good all year-round and right through the Playoffs and through the majors.

Q. My question is a little off topic. With everything that's going on in Washington these days, it's no secret that we're in for a rough ride, and I wanted to get your -- well, with unemployment high, with what's sure to be an inflationary period, where do you see the TOUR going barring a miracle, and what do you think they need to do to navigate through this?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: You're asking the wrong person. Seth probably can answer that question better than I can. I really don't know. I mean, what Tim has been able to do with the TV contracts and renew the sponsorships with a lot of these companies has been amazing really. We haven't taken a cut in any purse yet that I know of. Lost a few sponsors, gained a few sponsors. I think golf is just a great sport where it's pretty much the last honest sport where if I go out and get sick this week and don't play, I don't get paid anything, whereas a football player gets sick he's still getting his weekly check of who knows what it is.
I mean, I think we'll be all right. I really don't have any idea what it's going to do to us in the future, and I don't think really anybody can answer that question. If we knew the answer to that, we'd all be a lot richer because we could project the stock market and what it's going to do.
I think we're going to be all right, and hopefully the economy in the U.S. is going to do all right is the most important thing for everybody else that lives in America.
SETH WAUGH: Look, I was very concerned in the downturn. I talked to a number of you guys about that, that it was deeper and longer than any of us really understood at the time. I think the government did a great job of kind of crisis management of getting us through that. We didn't face a depression, and the world continued to spin.
Having said that, there's longer ramifications to that, right, you're unwinding a bubble that may have happened in five months that would have been depression-like, and you're stretching it out over a period of time where you're going to have very I think slow sort of boring growth for a while in the U.S. I don't think it's a disaster. I'm not in panic on it, but that's, I think, where we're going.
Unfortunately this weekend, as Churchill once said, America always does the right thing once they've exhausted every other possibility (laughter), and that was this weekend, right, and so the shame of it is I thought it was a real opportunity to make a difference and become a leader again in the world, and we didn't. We kicked the can down the road, which is what -- that's thinking outside the box. That's the new thing, right? So that's too bad.
In terms of sports generally, I think a lot of it is -- Charley's point is I think a lot of professional sports are kind of broken, and you can't have a league where three teams make money and expect it to continue to go and then have an arms race on how much you can pay the next year despite the fact that you're losing money. And I think that has to change. The NFL is probably not broken, but the other major sports are all kind of broken.
Golf is not broken. Golf has done remarkably well, and as Charley said, they've really signed up new and different and renewed lots of folks. It is different, it is a different game that speaks to demographics in a different way, that speaks to integrity and honesty in different way. When we were thinking about having to do a brand, there was only one choice for us, and that was golf. It's a game you want to be associated with, that your clients understand, et cetera, et cetera.
Having said that, I don't -- I think the game, everybody in this environment, if it's going to be hard, have to be thoughtful and careful about how you approach it and not get overconfident because the world is in a different place. And are there going to be 30-plus sponsors every week, and that's really the secret sauce, that are willing to spend significant money to do it? Certainly somewhere in that neighborhood. But I think you have to be a little careful, and the LPGA is probably the best advertisement for it, which is struggling because there's some sponsors, there just aren't enough to make it every week.
So I think sort of nurturing of it and making sure that you have a product that continues to have its integrity but also gets more and more interesting, which is what's happening with the play that's going on and figuring out the whole international aspect of it is a big deal because Asia is a huge market, and will the TOUR capture that? Will Europe capture that? Will some combination capture that? I think that's where you have to be thoughtful is how do you take -- if there aren't 30 sponsors in the U.S. that are going to do it every week, and I'm not saying there aren't, but let's use that as an argument, there are 30 in the world, and so how you -- or there are probably 50 in the world or more. How do you capture that is I think the next sort of frontier in my view.

Q. Charley, last year with your great finish at the Deutsche Bank tournament, with your energy, your enthusiasm, there was an underswell that you'd be a great addition to the Ryder Cup team, something that the team needed. Was that a situation where you felt that energy and were you approached and what were your obviously feelings at the end when you were not picked?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: Yeah, you know, that's sort of a funny story. I don't know if this really came out in the media. I was in player dining at Deutsche Bank on probably Tuesday or Wednesday of the tournament, and Paul Goydos was in there. He and I sat down at a table, and I go, Paul, I know I'm not really in contention for the Ryder Cup now, but if I win this week, would I be in the mix, and he looked at me, and he goes, 100 percent.
I go back out and obviously go and win and don't get picked, so I was a little confused there. But I understood. I got a call from Corey Pavin that evening after I had landed in Chicago after I had flown out, and he called me and said, we decided to go with another player besides yourself for the Ryder Cup.
You know, I completely understood. Obviously I was trying to sell myself. I was playing as good of golf as I could at the time, loved the competition. I thought I'd be able to help the team. But there's also a side of U.S. golf with the pick -- this is only my opinion, I don't know if this is Corey's, the way he thought about it. I think we've got to groom our young players, and I know Rickie hasn't won yet, and Rickie is an unbelievable player obviously, but for us to start winning Ryder Cups in the future we have to groom our young players to play the Ryder Cup. So I think the pick of Rickie was smart, just sort of getting his feet wet, so hopefully in the upcoming years he obviously makes the Ryder Cup teams and doesn't have to be picked and he's ready to go and he's ready to play and he has some experience. Wow, I'm 32 years old -- or 33 or something like that last year, and don't get me wrong, I would have loved to play, but the reality is I don't have that many more Ryder Cups in me, while Rickie Fowler is 20-something, has a ton more Ryder Cups. So for the future of the game of golf and U.S. Ryder Cups, I think Rickie Fowler was a great pick, and he performed, also, which made it even better.
So I was not disappointed one bit. I had all year to get my points up to be able to get on that team without worrying about a pick. A pick is just a bonus. I had all year to earn my spot and I couldn't earn any spot so I didn't feel bad at all. I would have loved to have been on the team, but I wasn't a pick.

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