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September 21, 2016

J.B. Holmes

Atlanta, Georgia

THE MODERATOR: So we'll go ahead and welcome J.B. Holmes in the interview room at the TOUR Championship. J.B. finished T4 at the BMW Championship a couple of weeks ago, which moved him from 42nd to 28th in the FedExCup standings, and he'll be making his second consecutive appearance here at East Lake.

J.B., just a few quick comments to start us off on what it means to be back here and also the recent news of the Ryder Cup.

J.B. HOLMES: Yeah, it's always exciting to be able to get to play East Lake and play in TOUR Championship. That means you've played solid all year and you've had a good year. So it's a nice treat to be able to come here and have a chance to play for the FedExCup.

On the Ryder Cup thing, I'm very excited to represent my country again. 2008 was the best golf experience I've ever had. Very excited to get up there and get with the teammates and have a fun week.

THE MODERATOR: Before we open it up to questions, J.B., I know you and Erica decided to give some money to the East Lake Foundation. Just briefly, why the East Lake Foundation, and what inspired you to really make that decision?

J.B. HOLMES: You see all the good work they've done in just this area and this community. I had a U.S. Open qualifier when I was in high school down here at East Lake. Let's just say it was a rough area around the golf course. It's very awesome to see they've put a lot of work into and helping the community be able to achieve. The school has done great, great things, and being able to get kids to go to college and give them a proper education.

Any time you see any foundation or whatever that's getting really good results and doing all the right things, you definitely want to help them.

I've been very fortunate in my life to be able to play a game for a living. I absolutely want to give back and help people that want to help themselves. Obviously, these kids out here definitely are working really hard to change their life. You always want to reward hard work, people working hard and striving to do the right thing.

Q. I heard you mention the Ryder Cup, Valhalla, I saw you putt the winning [indiscernible] in Kentucky. On what basis will we know whether the task force has worked? How will we judge its success?
J.B. HOLMES: I don't know. You'll have to ask them. I mean, my goal up there is to go up there and be with my teammates and do the best we can and focus on what we can control, and at the end, have a great week, win or lose. Enjoy the experience. Obviously, we would definitely like to win, but I feel like, if the team goes up there and meshes well and we all have a good time and we do the best we can, then win or lose, I consider that's a victory.

A lot of emphasis is put on whether you win or not, but a lot of good players on both sides. We could go up there and everything could go great and we could play well, and they could just play better. It's hard to base something strictly on results. There's a lot more that goes into it. I feel like Davis and them have worked really hard. When we get up there, I feel like the team is going to mesh well together.

Like I said, if me and my pairing go out and we shoot 10 under on best ball and they shoot 11 under, I wouldn't necessarily call that -- you know, they beat us 1 up, I wouldn't necessarily call that a failure. There's just good golfers and they got hot and we didn't.

Hopefully, the results are -- we definitely want to win, and that's our goal for sure. But there's a lot of out-of-control stuff that you're thinking about.

So for me and the guys, I think we're just trying to focus on what we can control, try to do one shot at a time, enjoy the experience. You don't always get to -- not very many people get to be in the Ryder Cup and play for their country. So just enjoy being there, enjoy the experience, and you let everything else take care of itself.

Q. Before the BMW, J.B., were you conscious that you probably needed one more big finish to nail down a Ryder Cup place? I just wonder if Davis had spoken to you along those lines before that event?
J.B. HOLMES: I didn't necessarily feel like I needed a big finish. I felt like I had been progressing, and I'd talked to Davis. He'd given me encouraging words. He didn't say I was on the team or anything, but he said, Keep playing well. We know you're playing well.

And I'd been playing well the two weeks before, just my results weren't quite as good as I felt like I was playing. But I felt like I had played solid all year. I felt like I had a good chance for a pick. Obviously, I was putting a lot of pressure on myself, and the solid finish at BMW, I feel like, locked it up for sure.

I felt like I had a pretty good chance going into it. I just had to keep doing what I was doing. Fortunately, I played well enough to take, I felt like, a lot of doubt out of the pick hopefully.

Q. J.B., just curious. How much in Ryder Cup years do you sort of think about it in terms of making the team, structuring your year around sort of to make the team, maybe interacting with the captain, being proactive, that sort of thing? I was curious your approach.
J.B. HOLMES: Well, I want to make the team because I've played well, not necessarily because the captain really likes me or whatever. I want to play well and earn that spot.

I didn't -- Davis wasn't out there quite as much because he had the surgery. I didn't even get to talk to Davis until almost before the playoffs. I hadn't seen him. I saw him the year before and told him congratulations. Unfortunately, the two tournaments he had been to, I either didn't go to that tournament or was out in the practice round.

Like I said there, towards the end of the year, where the captain goes out a little bit more, he'd had surgery and obviously health issues. He wanted to get that taken care of.

I think Davis has been working -- I think as a captain, you've got to be behind the scenes. You've got to be doing all your work, but you can't bother the players and stuff like that. He did a great job of being out there when he needed to and taking care of stuff.

I had a doctor, I think, in Phoenix or whatever doing blood tests, kind of trying to get some stuff ready for the year and people's -- I don't know exactly what they were doing with the blood test, but it was something to do with their energy. I think in the playoffs, the people they thought had a chance, they were testing some drink supplements or whatever for 36 holes to test our energy and stuff like that.

So I think they've been really good at doing stuff behind the scenes but not being like, Hey, this is for the Ryder Cup. Hey, you need to do this. Hey, play good this week. I know he's been busting his butt and the captain has been doing all that stuff, but they've been doing it, in my opinion, the right way, in the back, letting the players play. Hopefully taking as much pressure off as players can. I know I do, you put so much pressure on yourself, you don't need any extra pressure.

But looking forward to it. It's going to be a blast. I think Davis is -- the biggest part of their work is the two years before it starts. I think, once it starts, work has been done. I think so far they've done a great job. The team's going to be relaxed and ready to play when we get up there.

Q. J.B., what did the high finishes at the majors do for your confidence this year? Secondly, you paired well with Bubba at the Presidents Cup. I'm just curious, what clicked really well with you two? How did you see him in the team room and everything and fitting in with the team?
J.B. HOLMES: One of my goals this year was to play better in the majors. It was nice to be able to get those finishes. It's a big confidence boost, especially at the British. In the past, I hadn't played my best over there. So it was really, really a confidence boost to be able to play well and do that on the big stage.

I always knew I could do it, just matter of fact of doing it. So it was nice to get that, and hopefully I can progress on that and keep playing well in the majors.

Last year with Bubba, we just kind of clicked. We have similar games. I think we both freed up each other with our drivers because I wasn't really worried about if I hit it in the fairway or if he hit it in the fairway. We knew, if we hit it in the bush, we'd been there before. With similar games, we knew we could get it out. It was relaxing in that where I didn't have to worry about where if I played with a player who hits a whole lot of fairways and not used to being in the rough. I think, in turn, we hit more fairways because we weren't worried about it as much.

It was good. I felt like it was a good pairing. We fed well off each other. Like I said, we hit it about the same distance, so on alternating shots, we weren't hitting new shots. We were pretty much playing our ball. So it was just an easy fit, best way to do it.

And I thought Bubba did great in the team room. I thought everybody last year was a good group of guys and everybody got along. We'll see on Sunday if we'll be able to make that pairing again or if Davis has got other plans.

There's a lot of great guys on the team. I feel like I can play with a lot of guys. So we'll see how it goes.

Q. J.B., at 28th in points, several things have to fall into place for you to win the FedExCup. Do you feel like, in some regards, you're kind of playing with house money with the FedExCup?
J.B. HOLMES: I mean, it's kind of like making the Ryder Cup. If you're trying to win the FedExCup, you can't win the FedExCup; you're trying to play this tournament. So I'm trying to play this tournament. I'm trying to do the best I can this week. I'm trying to win the golf tournament this week. If I win the golf tournament this week and I win the FedExCup too, awesome. If I win the golf tournament this week and I don't win the FedExCup, that's awesome too. That's something you can't really control. There's got to be other people factor in on that stuff.

All I can do is do the best I can do, and the best I can do is the best I can do. Hopefully, whatever the results are is what they'll be. I'm happy to be here and fortunate to be able to play in such a cool event.

Q. And just speaking of the $10 million, some of the guys have come in here and have talked about how the FedExCup has evolved and that the trophy has become more important and maybe the money is not quite as important, at least as far as an incentive. How do you view such things? How do you balance those two things?
J.B. HOLMES: I feel like they've done better with the playoffs and getting it -- I feel like it's a little bit more fair, I guess you would say. You're rewarded more for playing well all year. I felt like some of the early stages of the FedExCup, there was too much movement. I think it's great the way they've got it. They've done a good job of changing up some stuff.

I'd actually be cool with them splitting the money and do $5 million for the regular season and like that, and then the playoffs have a different format. They can get as crazy as they want, but I'd like to see, if they did that, reward the guys who are playing really well all year. That's more difficult than getting hot here at the end. If you get real hot the last few tournaments, you can win the FedExCup, which is an awesome feat, definitely.

Usually, all the players at some point in the year get hot, get a streak, and play well. If mine is early in the year, then at the beginning of the year, I finished fourth, fourth, sixth, or something like that. Basically, I had four top tens in a row, where if I'd have done that in the middle of the playoffs, I'd be like third right now.

And I've played well. I don't mean it that way, but it's just kind of a timing thing.

I think it would be neat to split it up and give that and then at the playoff -- everybody would agree, if you did that, they could make the playoffs as aggressive as they want it to be because you kind of got your reward or your seeds from playing well all year. Then if you want to do match play or wanted to do winner-take-all at the end, I think guys would be up for that.

So it's an awesome thing to have the FedExCup and have that sponsor and have all the options -- there's so many cool things they could do with it. It's a neat thing they do right now, and the possibilities they could do even greater things with the funding and such a great sponsor. Like I said, it's good now, but I think if they did some polling with the players and everything else you could get something really cool, it would be really exciting. We'll see what they do.

Like I said, it's a great format now. I think they've worked out a lot of bugs, and it's really good now. There's a possibility for other cool formats they could possibly do if they wanted to.

Q. Did you like finishing on the previous 18th hole, the par 3? Your thoughts on that hole and now your thoughts on the finishing holes now that they've been reversed.
J.B. HOLMES: I think it's a great thing they reversed it. It's going to be better for the fans and watching. A lot more exciting things can happen. The last hole is not a bad hole, but it's just a par 3. There's just not a whole lot of stuff that's going to happen, especially at that length. There's not really water around it, there's the bunker. You're pretty much going to make a par or make a bogey. That's kind of your options.

At that far distance, you're trying to hit it in the middle of the green and just not a lot of stuff that's going to happen. That back side is just so much tougher than the front, or last year's back side. You're mainly just making par. It's hard to make a run, but on the new back side, you can -- 7, 8, and 9 are definitely birdie opportunities. You can see some stuff going. If somebody's got a two-stroke lead going into last year's 18, it's pretty much over. If somebody's got a two-shot lead going into the last hole this year --

As a player walking on the par 3, you feel like it's pretty much over. You feel like the guy that you're behind is going to have to mess up, and you're going to have to hit a good shot. Whereas with a two-shot lead, the other guy could make a par, but you could do something great and make an eagle. It's still a little bit, you feel like you have a chance to control that a little bit. But if you're walking on the tee on a par 3, you feel like, well, I've got to do something good, but he's got to screw up.

Q. And the success that you have on 18, what did you normally get in there?
J.B. HOLMES: I think I played it even. I don't really remember. It was either even or 1 over. I think one year I -- one time I hit a 6 iron. One day I was ripping a draw 4 iron. You basically aim for the middle of the green. They moved the tee up one day. So you had a front pin and had a chance maybe to make a birdie, but you're still 200 yards out. Middle of the green is still a pretty good shot.

Like I said, if it was an island green at 110 yards -- it's just there's not a whole lot of stuff up there to -- I mean, rightfully so. It's a 240-yard hole. You don't want to put a lake right next to a 240-yard par 3. Like I said, it's not a bad hole, but it's not the best finishing hole, in my opinion.

Q. Tiger Woods is a two-time FedExCup champ. He's also now a U.S. Ryder Cup vice captain. What are you expecting from him to bring to the table to get the U.S. team up and running?
J.B. HOLMES: He's got a lot of experience obviously. We can hopefully learn from some of them. I have to get up there, and we'll have to see. I haven't been with Tiger in a team room yet. It would be hard to -- I was at the same club with him for a little while and we talked a little bit. I can answer that question better in two weeks.

Q. One more Ryder Cup question. Europe seems to sort of play this underdog card almost every Ryder Cup, it seems, and Darren Clarke, I think, just mentioned the word "underdog" recently. From your standpoint, what do you sort of make of that? I mean, you look at their team, and it certainly doesn't look that way.
J.B. HOLMES: It's all strategy. Everybody wants to be the underdog. There's no expectations. Biggest thing in golf is people throwing expectations. That's one of the things you have to learn to control and fight out here because expectations, just added pressure doesn't do you any good. Like I said, we can go out there, and we can play great next week, and everything would be teamwork, we play great, and you know what, they could play better.

We're talking about world-class golfers here. There's Stenson and Phil whip the whole field at the British Open by 12 shots. Last week I beat Phil. At the BMW, I don't know if he had a great week or not. You get those times. I played well at the British too, but Phil and those guys crushed me.

If I go out and play really good and beat 98 percent of the people in the field but I'm matched up with a guy that's tearing it up -- like I said, you base everything on results, it's really tough to feel successful. All you can do is control what you can control, and you go out there, and we do the best we can. If we play well, hopefully, the results will be the way we want them to be.

The underdog card is just a strategic move just to get the media not to have expectations and not throw extra things on there. We're the underdogs. We have no expectations.

Q. Have you guys ever been the underdogs?
J.B. HOLMES: I mean, we're always underdogs, in my opinion. For them to say -- I don't know how many they won out of the last six, out of the last seven. How can they be the underdogs? It's just strategy. Match play has begun.

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