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April 6, 2017

Charley Hoffman

Augusta, Georgia

MODERATOR: Good afternoon, I'd like to welcome the leader in the clubhouse by 4, Charley Hoffman, who carded an incredible round of 7‑under 65 today, 34‑31, seven birdies. An extraordinary effort here on your fourth appearance here at Augusta. Your best finish here in the past was back in 2015, when you finished placed tied for ninth at the end.
Charley, great playing today. Maybe you could talk a little bit, just open up about how it went out there.
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: Yeah, I mean obviously it was a tough day with the wind. The opening stretch, 1 is about as hard as it get. I was able to knock in about a 15‑footer for par there. And I made a decent par on 2, and then a 3‑putt on 3, which is a little unfortunate. Then I made a good long putt there on 4 for a birdie, and then a 3‑putt on 5. And then I sort of got it going there after that. Hit a good shot on 6. Then a good shot on 8 and 9, was able to convert for some birdies.
Then actually hit a good one right underneath the hole on 10. A little disappointed I missed that one, a good spot to make a birdie. Then 11, I made a par. 12 was able to make a birdie which was nice. 13 was sort of a momentum saver, hit it in the water in two and made it up‑and‑down for par to keep the round going, which was one of the bigger keys of the round.
After that, got the putter going. Made nice long putts on 14 and 15, then I hit it close on 16, 17, and had a look on 18 to make it five in a row but lacked a little steam and obviously very happy with the 7‑under.

Q. Fred Couples said that an even‑par round under these conditions was a great round. So what does that make a 65?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: A little bit lucky. Fortunate I put myself in spots to be able to make putts. Doesn't mean you're going to make them out here. I was able to make some longer putts, which you're just trying to die it up there close to the hole, and they were able to go in.
And obviously very happy with the end result of 7‑under.

Q. In the tournament you played here two years ago, as well as you played, you were in the top three for 54 holes. How much of that did you feed off here?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: Yeah, I'm going to feed off that the rest of the week. Today you just sort go with it. There wasn't, I wouldn't say, a ton of pressure today. You're just trying to make ends meet really. Just want to start hitting the fairways so you can hit the green and have the ability to make the putt.
Obviously going to sleep on the lead at a major championship here at Augusta National is not going to be the easiest thing. I look forward to it, and I look forward to the challenge the next three days.

Q. What did you think was realistic when you teed off, given that the wind was kicking up in the afternoon?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: Like even par. I was just trying to sort of keep‑‑ you didn't want to shoot‑‑ it's one of those rounds where you could shoot your way out of the golf tournament pretty quick. And obviously I was just trying to make pars, and while I was trying it make pars, I put myself in position to be able to make birdies. And I was able to convert those birdies and turn it into a fantastic round.

Q. Can you elaborate on 13, and how you ended up saving it, and how you felt walking off the green, if you felt relief or encouragement.
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: 13 was a tough shot. The wind is swirling around and I was sort of in‑between clubs. You didn't want to go over the green. I was just trying to hit a nice, smooth hybrid to the middle of the green and the wind sort of kicked up to the right and blew it into the creek.
I was just trying to give myself an uphill putt and it kicked a little left and actually I had a pretty challenging left‑to‑right about 15‑footer, and I was able to make that. You don't want to make bogeys on any hole out here, more or less a birdie hole that you do have. It was a very, very big momentum‑keeper.

Q. Did the wind affect the three‑putts at 3 and 5, and how did the conditions change during the round for you today? You were pretty close to the end of the round, I think?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: Yeah, it blew all day. I don't think it laid down any. The wind definitely affected the three‑putts. The putt on 3 was up over the hill and downwind and once you get it going toward the front of the green, it tends not to stop. I had a good look. Hit a good putt for par, but it didn't go in.
I was up and over the hill on 5, and just I thought it was going to race downhill, downwind a little bit more than it did, and it sort of came up short about ten, 12 feet and wasn't able to convert that. The wind did play a role in those putts.

Q. Can you talk about your comfort factor here and why you've seem to play so well on this course?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: Just when I step on the property, I feel good. Visually‑‑ I'm a very visual person; visually, it fits my eye. The greens, I don't know why it is, I like to see putts that break. Just it feels good when I'm on the greens and on the tees and hitting shots into the green.
I don't know if it just makes me focus a little bit more out here, but I definitely feel comfortable on this property.

Q. Your last win was in San Antonio and it can get a little windy in Texas. Do you consider yourself a natural wind player? Is it something that you have to learn how to adjust to?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: Yeah, I've had success in the wind, which is nice. San Antonio, Bob Hope, the year I won, it was blowing a ton that final round. Was able to win there. I've played well, but I've also played horrible in the wind. I've had no success at the British Open. You'd think if I was a great wind player, I'd have some success over there and I haven't had any.
I enjoy the challenge, I think, more than actually the wind. Just this golf course just sort of challenges me and keeps me on my toes. I enjoy that.

Q. Wanted to ask you, what's it like when everything seems to be working for you on a course like today? I know probably there were many things that didn't work the way you wanted, but for us observing it, it seemed like a pretty magnificent round. Describe what it was like today as things were working so well.
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: For lack of any better words, it was a dream. I mean, you hit the shots that you're sort of looking at, and then the hardest part is to convert the putts and I was able to do that and I got some good numbers coming down the stretch and I was able to do that.
I mean, a few weeks back, I sort of sat back on a week off and asked some people what I needed to do better, and asked myself what I needed to do better, and I just needed to believe a little bit more. I think I'm just starting to believe. This game's tough and I'm starting to believe and obviously seeing putts go in and seeing shots where you want them to go helps the belief process a little bit.

Q. What week was that when you had that conversation and what's happened since? And also, remember how brutal that day was at Hope when you won at the course where they used to play; was that any comparison to this as far as conditions?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: Yeah, the Hope blew a little bit more, but you don't have the swirling winds out there as you do here. But it blew a little bit more in Palm Springs. It was the week before L.A. and sort of the week after L.A. where I finished fourth and I just sort of‑‑ everything seemed like it was close but I just didn't have that belief that you need to have in yourself.
If you don't believe in yourself, who is going to believe in you? I sat back with a few people that are close to me and I can ask those questions to and sort of all said the same thing.
When they say it, it sort of, it hits you, and it's something I've started to believe in myself. As dumb as that sounds, sometimes you forget to do that out there, and I'm definitely doing it now.

Q. Just to follow up on that, the people that talked to you, were they people in golf or just friends, relatives?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: People in golf. I'm not going to use names. They know who they are. And you need your tight‑knit group to say things, and I did; but I wasn't scared to ask the questions about what they thought I needed to be doing better. I'm in a good spot.

Q. Certainly had lower scores but given the conditions, given the tournament, given all the pressure, how would you compare this round career‑wise? Is this about as good as it can get?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: Yeah, only thing, the run I did at Deutsche Bank, that 62 in the final round was sort of similar where everything just started going in and ball going where I was looking, is the only thing that compares obviously. The stage, it was a playoff event where I did that and this stage is as big as it gets.
I really enjoyed it and I'm really looking forward to the next few days to see how I handle everything, and just go forward.

Q. It almost seemed like you were playing on a different course. The dispersion of the scores is pretty great; the separation between you, and if you leave out the next couple, is pretty great. What would you attribute that to, and if you can, what would you say when you started out, what would you have considered par to be today?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: I mean, anything around par would have been obviously a great, great score. I knew that going into it.
Why, how did I separate myself? I got some good numbers. And back to that belief thing, when you get the good numbers, you can always sort of aim over here, aim over there; knock it down, hit the shot. Step up to the plate and hit the shot, and I was able to do that today. Haven't always been able to do that, and I did today.

Q. Just kind of a commentary of what this game is like, a guy like you, successful career, had some wins, made a lot of money but sometimes the belief comes and goes?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: Oh, belief definitely comes and goes. There's confidence with anything. I was struggling with the putter pretty much the first start of the year and at Bay Hill, something clicked.
I thank my caddie Brett Waldman for pointing out my alignment wasn't good. And then once I got that on track, I started to believe that my alignment was good and I was able to see the putts start going in the hole and started visualizing good things instead of bad.
MODERATOR: Congratulations on a great round today. Best wishes this week.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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