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January 15, 2017

Woody Austin

Mark Mulder

Orlando, Florida

THE MODERATOR: Congratulations to our winners, Woody and Mark. Great playing this week. And a unique event‑‑ we have two winners, and you played together in the final round. So what was that experience like knowing both of you were in the lead and protecting leads? And then, Mark, your case, trying to come back and overtake the lead.
MARK MULDER: For me, it was kind of watching what he was doing. He was playing so well, especially yesterday. I know he followed up a 59, but some of the shots he hit, I was just trying to do the same thing, to be honest with you. His mindset, where he's trying to hit it on a couple holes, I was just trying to do the same thing. I just didn't want to screw it up.
I knew if I was patient ‑‑ the first six holes today, I didn't hit anything close. I was just trying not to mess it up, not to make any double bogeys. Made a good putt on 3 for bogey. And then 7 I chipped in for eagle. It kind of got me going. I birdied 8. Made a crazy good par for par on 9.
And from then on, it was just, okay, let's get back to what I know I can do, just hit the middle of the green, try to make some birdies, which I was able to do, and take advantage of the shorter holes.
THE MODERATOR: Woody, how much fun was it for you to continue to play well but then also be playing with Mark and see him play as well as he did?
WOODY AUSTIN: Well, what he failed to say, we also played yesterday together. So I got to see how good a player he really was yesterday. So it was nice to play with him again because, even though it's a fun format and it's an enjoyable format, you still want to stay in a rhythm, and you still want to play. When you're playing with somebody else who even may be supposedly a celebrity or whatever but they play just as good as you do, it makes it a lot easier to just kind of keep in your own game and keep going.
Like he said, him and his brother were talking a few times when I'd hit it into the par 5s, just hit it right there. We were doing that pretty much the last two days. He'd make eagle, and then he did it on the next hole, and he did it so good, I'd be aiming where he was.
The old adage of you feed off of each other. Even on the PGA TOUR or the regular tour, when somebody's playing good, you pull yourselves in that same group. And it was that way for us the last two days. We pulled from each other. It's like we had good stretches where we would pull each other to the other side, and then the other one would go. It was really quite comfortable for two days.
THE MODERATOR: Mark, you've won the celebrity event in Tahoe the last two years. So you're familiar with playing with pros. What did you learn from Woody these last two days? Despite all your experience playing with pros, what did you learn from Woody?
MARK MULDER: The one thing, when I play with pros, it doesn't matter whether it's PGA, Champions Tour, it's their tempo. Watching the way he brings it back so slow and so comfortable, that helps me. I kind of tend to get a little too quick, and I can become almost like a windshield wiper on high, I like to say. Watching him, it slows me down, just like with any Tour professional. It almost makes me play better watching that type of style or tempo, whatever you want to call it. It helps me, to be honest. There's nothing that is bad for me.
When I play with people who are better than me, I love it, and it makes me play better.

Q. Mark, the distances of the chip‑in for eagle at 7 and then the eagle at 12, how long was that?
MARK MULDER: It was maybe a 20 or 30‑yard chip‑in, I suppose, on 7, and then probably a 25‑foot putt on 12.
WOODY AUSTIN: I was inside him on both holes too.
MARK MULDER: Yes, he was. It was one of those where I was trying to be patient those first six holes, and I kept saying it to myself over and over. I kept hitting it to 20 or 30 feet. I hit a good approach on that hole, on the par 5, on 7. I just didn't hit it as well as I would have liked to. I came up a little short. It was into the green, and I knew I could be aggressive, and it hit and kicked a little right for me and went right in.
So it almost gave me this relief and allowed me to feel a little bit more comfortable with my game going into 8 and then made birdie on 8. 9, hit it in the water, but the point is I made an incredible putt from off the green on 9, and to be honest, that putt on 9 was‑‑ for me, it was bigger than the eagle putt. It just allowed me to relax, right when I was kind of getting those nerves again. And that par putt was bigger than anything.

Q. How long was that?
MARK MULDER: Probably 20 feet or so, but it was just off the fringe and downhill. So it wasn't a fun putt. I honestly thought I left it a little short, but it just kind of kept on going and just fell in.

Q. Woody, did you feel like, obviously after Friday, I mean, it was your tournament to lose? Didn't you feel that way?
WOODY AUSTIN: Oh, absolutely. And today, as opposed to yesterday, today I couldn't have asked for a better day today. I drove it in every fairway. I hit every green until the last hole. The only fairway I missed was 9 because I actually hit it through the fairway, which I hadn't done the other two days.
I couldn't have made it any easier on myself. I hit it right where I was supposed to all day long. I hit it close. I missed some short ones, made a couple, then I missed a short one, and then I'd make one. I never really put myself in any trouble whatsoever today to get off kilter or whatever. Every shot was right down its line.
So it was really quite a comfortable day.

Q. How does that bode for the season?
WOODY AUSTIN: Well, it's a game of ebbs and flows. We all have our little periods where we play great. Last year I won three and four times, then I didn't play worth a darn for the last six months.
Like I've always said and like I said yesterday, it's a game of putting. If I play this well and I can figure out a way to putt good for three days and not one day, I'm going to be just fine.

Q. You missed one fairway and one green. Is that‑‑
WOODY AUSTIN: That's it. I missed the 9th fairway. I drove it through the fairway. And then I missed the last green. Other than that, I hit it right where I wanted to all day long.

Q. How incredible is it to see someone who trained in another sport at such a high level? He's so competent in this game.
WOODY AUSTIN: That's what I said earlier. That's what makes it‑‑ you would think, like when we play the old Bob Hope or when we play‑‑ like whenever we play a tournament with amateurs and whatever, it can be hard if you're playing with guys that are 18s and 20s. It's really kind of hard to keep your game going when you're constantly in the trees searching for their ball or this, that, and the other.
When you're playing with another person who hits it ten yards farther than you do off the tee and still hits it in the fairway, hits the same club as you or a club longer and keeps going along and making two eagles today and a lot of birdies, it makes it a lot easier for me to keep in my game. I don't have to worry about anything.
Like I said, the last two days couldn't have been any better.

Q. I found it funny because he was saying how he was trying to do what you were doing, meaning that he was hitting second.
WOODY AUSTIN: Not really.
WOODY AUSTIN: The only reason he was hitting before me a lot of times‑‑

Q. Oh, before? I thought he meant after.
WOODY AUSTIN: ‑‑ is because ‑‑ I was hitting first because he was hitting 3 woods by my driver.
MARK MULDER: But you know what, he talks about how he missed one fairway and one green, but that helped me because I played about as well as I can play, but I'm watching him tee off first all the time, and even though I made a couple eagles, yeah, and a couple holes where maybe I teed off first, but the majority of the time I was watching him.
When you see that first ball go down the middle, it's amazing what that does for me, letting me hit my tee shot, and the good vibes that almost gives me going next.

Q. How did you develop in this game to such a level, though? Are you a relentless practicer? It sounds like you have a lot of obligations with your family.
MARK MULDER: I don't practice. I might go to the range and literally only practice maybe two, three times a year. My wife, she'd kill me if I went to the range. I don't have the patience for it. I don't have the personality for it. Monday through Thursday is my golf days, when the kids are in school. The 30 or 40 balls I hit before I tee off is my practice. That's literally it.
I'm just insanely competitive, and I don't necessarily show it, and I might not hit it as well as the guys in front of me or behind me, it doesn't matter. But I'm going to find a way to get it in the hole in less strokes than you, and that's it.
I just feel as though mentally I'm tougher than the next guy, and whether pitching has anything to do with that because hitting a golf ball and pitching are about the only two things where nothing can happen until you go and everything else is a reaction. Or maybe shooting a free throw. But everything else, you just react to the play.
For me, my mental side of the game, I just feel I'm going to find a way to get it done.
WOODY AUSTIN: And he has one of the best golf swings around. He really does have a beautiful golf swing.

Q. We were watching that.
WOODY AUSTIN: I equate it to he's obviously an exceptional athlete, and if you're an athlete first, this game really can come pretty natural because now you allow your natural ability to take over.
He didn't get stuck learning the game from somebody who tried to teach him like a robot or teach him all the specific mechanics of it to where he got all messed up in the head trying to be perfect. He allowed his athletic ability to take over. When you're a great athlete and you have that hand‑eye coordination, that's what this game's about.
That's what made Tiger so great. Tiger was just born to play this game athletically, so fluid. It's not about technique anymore. It's about how well of an athlete and how well you swing the club, and he does it really good. It's fun to watch.

Q. What's your sense on where he would rank on PGA TOUR driving distance?
WOODY AUSTIN: Unfortunately, on PGA TOUR driving distance, he'd be probably at best average, maybe low. Those guys‑‑ I mean, he's ten yards longer than me. Out there they're 30 yards longer than me in the air.
I'd say on average he probably carries the ball 280 in the air. They're carrying it 300 in the air out there on a regular basis.
But the better thing, again, I don't think he‑‑ looking at it from my perspective, he doesn't swing as hard as he can, though. He swings at it basically the way my generation would. I guarantee he goes at it 90 percent?
WOODY AUSTIN: Nowadays, they go at it 100 percent every shot. I guarantee he doesn't go at it 100 percent. If he did, he'd probably hit it even further, but he also wouldn't hit it as straight. He drove it as good as anybody I've played with as an amateur. He hits a beautiful little baby fade and carries it 280 in the air. That's awesome. 280 in the air with a little baby fade.
MARK MULDER: My little cut is kind of my safe shot. I could try to turn it over and get to the inside of the ball and hit it further, which I can do at times when I'm really feeling good about myself, but that's really not my game. I just, hey, if I keep hitting fairways, I know I hit it far enough that I can make greens, and I know I'm going to make some putts, and that's it.
WOODY AUSTIN: He's smarter than your normal‑‑ you could tell in the two days he understands himself and he understands how to play the game. He's not one of those people that's, okay, if I swing really hard and catch it, I can hit it a really long ways. He understands, I can hit it solid this way a hell of a lot more, and I'm going to get a lot more out of it. That's why you can see that he doesn't play any bad rounds.

Q. If he practiced more than hitting 100 balls a week, do you think he could play on the Champions Tour someday?
WOODY AUSTIN: I could see someone like himself, he could make it. But he's got ten years?
MARK MULDER: 11. Well, 10 1/2.
WOODY AUSTIN: You're asking a lot to do that for the next 10 1/2 years looking off that far in the distance. But he's got a hell of a lot more chance than Mr. M.J. had that everybody said he would, a hell of a lot more.

Q. You guys seem pretty compatible. What was kind of the vibe out there? Did you like having this addition of Champions and women players too?
MARK MULDER: I loved it. I had Lexi Thompson the first day, and I was barely getting my 3 wood past her. Every time she teed off first and hit it, I was stressed for my tee shot going, listen, it's made for TV when she out drives me, so let's hit a good one.
To be honest, it made me play better, especially on day one. In these tournaments, whether it's Tahoe or this, I tend to come out a little slow. Playing with her and Mardy the first day pushed me a little bit. Just drove me to be a little bit better on that first day. But I think the addition of the Champions Tour, it's incredible. I think it makes this event, even pushes it forward to be better next year.
WOODY AUSTIN: Listening to him talk about‑‑ you were asking him about earlier and how much he practices and whatever. The more I've been around him these two days, the more we're‑‑ even though we're different, we're really a lot alike. I don't like to practice. I grew up on a golf course with no driving range. So I don't like to hit a lot of balls because that's not how I learned to play golf.
So when he says, I just go and warm up, that's me. I like to just go play. There's a lot of similarities in there. Like I said, I could swing at it a lot harder if I wanted to too, but it's not the way to play the game of golf that I learned.
MARK MULDER: To be fair, I don't understand the golf swing, nor if you wanted me to sit down there and break down mechanics of a pitching motion. I could do it. I just don't prefer it. I pitched on feel. I golf on feel. I can watch him, and I can watch Tour guys, and I learn from them. Then I‑‑ that's the athleticism, where I just try and go do what they do, and I try to replicate that.
Sometimes that's not always a good thing because I try to hit shots that Tour guys hit that I can't hit, but I also understand what I can and cannot do, and I'm okay with that. So far, it's done me okay in these celebrity tournaments.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations again and thanks.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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