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May 30, 2017

Kevin Kisner

Dublin, Ohio

DOUG MILNE: We'd like to welcome Kevin Kisner here at the Memorial Tournament. Congratulations on your second PGA Tour victory last week. Before we move on to this week, just a couple of quick questions. To put a period on last week, you were looking at the notes, one of five players to play all four rounds in par or better, and you just seemed dialed in and relaxed. If you could comment on what's been clicking for you last week and heading into this week.

KEVIN KISNER: Yeah, I love Colonial. It's a great place. One of my favorite tracks on Tour. The key to that golf course and to make pars and a good scores is to get the ball in the fairway.

I just put in that new Callaway hybrid that I used probably off about four or five tee shots that was really crucial out there, where you can only hit it 250 yards and you've got to be in play. So I think I led the field in fairways hit and second in greens in regulation. So that pretty much puts you in the top three or four when you do that.

DOUG MILNE: In addition to the win, you've collected another five -- four or five top-10 finishes, two of which were runner-ups. Obviously off to a great start, you're making your fourth start here at the Memorial here. And you finished in the top-10 in 2015 here. Your thoughts being back here at Memorial.

KEVIN KISNER: I love the golf course, love the place. This tournament has a little extra special feel. It's Mr. Nicklaus' tournament, so it's a lot like Bay Hill, Mr. Palmer's tournament. When you get here they treat you well.

The golf course is sweet. It's demanding, but still you can make a lot of birdies. So that's the cool thing about courses on Tour when you can still shoot five or six under, but if you don't shoot well you're going to shoot a couple over.

Q. (No microphone.)
KEVIN KISNER: Well, obviously a dream to be representing my country in any form or fashion. I think playing in New York City is going to be pretty kick ass, to tell you the truth. Having all those people on our side, and hopefully they're as rowdy as ever, and I can make a lot of birdies.

But I've still got a lot of work to do. I'm not guaranteeing them to myself until I'm told I'm on the team. I'm going to keep grinding, playing hard, working on things I need to work on. Just because I'm playing well now, doesn't mean I'm going to be playing well then. So I need to keep working hard.

Q. Is part of your goal to be on the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup?
KEVIN KISNER: Yeah, absolutely. East Lake team events are goals every year, at the start of the year. I played with Stricker last week, I had a few jabs with him about that. We'll have a good time.

Q. I just saw you in the gym just now this morning. Can you talk a little bit about what that does for you, and where would you be at this point at the long season out here without doing any of that stuff?
KEVIN KISNER: Well, I had back issues, so the gym is pretty crucial to me. Trying to keep everything moving, loose. Especially after a win and a couple of cocktails, it helps to sweat it out a little bit (laughter).

I think fitness is a huge part of it. It's a grind to play 30 weeks a year, 35 weeks a year. What most people don't understand is how grounding the travel is. The golf is difficult but the flying and the toting of bags, carrying the families, loading the car seats and everything else. So we get plenty of work out, and I think fitness is a huge part of it.

Q. Who is your trainer again?
KEVIN KISNER: On the road is Adam Kerley.

Q. I want to ask you a Tiger question, but I want to ask it in a way in which I get an answer that you're comfortable with, and that is, how much does golf miss Tiger and how much do you want to see him come back?
KEVIN KISNER: Well, I think golf is always going to miss Tiger. He was the guy that made golf what it is today. But also on the flip side, we have a lot of great young players that are moving in the direction of him. I don't know if we'll ever see a player in my era that was as good as Tiger Woods. But also I think the competition, you have five, six, seven or eight guys that are young, ambitious and really good at golf.

I think the game is in a good spot without him. We'd love him back. I'm not sure if he'd ever come back. If he does, we'd welcome him. We want him to get back winning, too.

Q. You talked in the beginning with about what you like for this tournament. What's the biggest draw about this tournament that makes players want to come back every year?
KEVIN KISNER: I think it's just Mr. Nicklaus' tournament. It's an invitational, it's a small field. You know you've accomplished something when you're here. The field is fantastic. He knows how to take care of his players. Everybody here takes care of us great. Anything you want they have it for you. That's the type of stuff that we love.

Q. How do you feel over the years the players' relationship with Mr. Nicklaus has changed? Obviously for a while they were guys that he played with. Now that's not the case. How has that changed over the years?
KEVIN KISNER: I loved how much he interacts with us. He rides around in his cart talking to us on the range, in the course, in player dining. He's around all week, and he's accessible. I think that's the coolest part. As soon as I got here, he was sitting in the cart right by the valet. He likes interacting with the players and seeing what the young guys are doing. I think he likes that part of it.

Q. How well do you know Tiger?
KEVIN KISNER: Never met him.

Q. You mentioned at the start you like this course. Is there any part of it that jumps out at you? This is where I'm going to green light and try to go deep?
KEVIN KISNER: I like the par-5s here, they're reachable for me. I don't play that often that I can get to the par-5s.

I love 5 and 7. And then 11 is kind of risk-reward. I like the par-5s where I can attack with a driver, where some guys may not feel comfortable hitting the driver. If I hit it straight enough, I can still get it. I think those are cool designed holes. Par-3s are a little of scary.

Q. Have you changed your expectations of what you expect out of yourself?
KEVIN KISNER: I've got to question it a bunch on Sunday. If you told me ten years ago, in 2017, I'd have two wins and six seconds on the PGA Tour, I'd have taken it.

I really -- I didn't wake up yesterday and think, man I'm a better player now than I was before I teed off on Sunday. I love the direction my game is going. I love where my team is. I love where I am as a family man, person. I just want to keep doing what I'm doing to get better and have another great five or six years.

Q. Were we supposed to ask you that question ten years ago?

Q. When you've taken as long as you've taken to get where are you were going, and then have that terrific run of contention a lot and winning, et cetera, when you take a dip, whether it was injury, driver, whatever the case may be, is there any part of you that's concerned how long it takes to get back to where you were?
KEVIN KISNER: You know, the game is kind of a roller coaster itself. So as difficult as it was riding this stretch last year, I wasn't playing well. I didn't feel good about my game. I was a bunch of 35th place finishes.

You know at some point if you keep grinding it's going to come back. And I think the best part for me was the off-season. I kind of took a month off, didn't play any golf, played The Shark Shootout, and had a great time and went to Hawaii and was fresh. And I think that was what was huge for me. I played with JT before we ever went and we were doing the same thing we're doing in December right now. I think that's the key to my success.

Q. I know you love Colonial. How do you sort of -- the balance -- the look of a place with the confidence that you had. This wouldn't necessarily be a place off the tee that you would pick, maybe?
KEVIN KISNER: Yeah, there's a few uncomfortable tee shots for sure for me, especially. I love when this place is firm, because I can get it moving on down the fairway and hit some shorter irons on these holes. If it's wet it's more difficult for me. Obviously it just plays long, and some of the guys are flying it 40 by me and having wedges in.

He gives you a lot of room here, which people don't realize. And I like that opportunity. He brings it in on the par-5s on holes that you want to move it up there and get it to where you can get it in two. I think that's the cool part of it. You can always lay back here, if you want to. For me, I like the challenge and trying to hit driver.

Q. Have you ever read an accurate description of who you are as a player? And if you have, what did it say?
KEVIN KISNER: Strick called me a bulldog on Sunday, so I liked that one pretty good. I didn't know if he was talking about where I went to school or how I played.

I really don't know what -- I'm just a competitor, is what I would self-describe myself. I play the game because I beat other people at it and I like doing it. The whole reason I'm out here is to be in competition.

Q. Good putter, good short game, have you ever heard that, or does it do you a disservice?
KEVIN KISNER: I hope I make everything. I hope I chip in on every hole and make every putt. I'm not going to hit 350 anytime in the future, so I'm going to have to learn to chip and putt pretty soon.

Q. The Colonial is not the same as when Mr. Hogan was around. In that sense, do you take any extra special thought coming here and Jack's around and knowing that winning a tournament with him here, how much that would mean?
KEVIN KISNER: I thought Hogan was there with that hawk all week. He kept flying around No. 10. Isn't that what they say?

Any of these tournaments are cool to win. I'm going to start here. If you win on the PGA Tour, it's pretty awesome. I'll take any one of them anytime I play, anywhere. It would be awesome to greet Mr. Nicklaus off of 18 green. I don't really hold any of them in higher regards than any other because they are all sweet.

Q. What's the closest you've ever been to being intimidated on the golf course?
KEVIN KISNER: Never. Nothing on the golf course ever. I'll just stop there (laughter). What have you got to be intimidated about? You have people fighting wars all over the world for us and we're playing golf. Think I'm scared of Dustin Johnson because he hits it 350?

Q. Are you?
KEVIN KISNER: No. You can ask him. We've been playing golf since we were seven.

Q. Would you mind sharing whatever details that Georgia brain can remember of the time you took him down?
KEVIN KISNER: DJ in the playoffs? Have you asked him about that? You'll have to ask him about that when he comes in.

He never let's me live that one down. He had a 1-shot lead on the last hole and of course it was a par 5.

Q. What tournament?
KEVIN KISNER: It was some junior tournament in South Carolina. We were probably about 14. And I was trying to hit it to the green in two, because I was one back. And he laid up. I blocked it in the trees, couldn't see the green. He laid up perfectly, wedged it to like 12 feet. I skulled it out of the trees, hit the mound, goes up over the hill, hits the flag doing 100 and it goes in. He proceeds to three-putt.

I win and his granddad in the background over the green goes, Well, God..... And DJ has never let me live it down.

We played together probably four years ago the last day in Memphis in the last group. And he won and said, I got you back.

I said, I would trade them if you want to trade them.

You've got to ask him about it. He tells how terrible my shot was, but it still went in.

Q. You didn't describe it as a thing of beauty?
KEVIN KISNER: No, it wasn't beautiful. I remember I was like dirt -- it was like a muni golf course, dirt, trees and I had to hit it low, couldn't see the flag. And I heard it hit the flag and go in. His granddad in the background (laughter). Then he 3-putted from 12 feet to lose.

That's all right, his career has taken off from there.

Q. Because his career took off, do you have a flashback at all?
KEVIN KISNER: No. He was my fourball partner throughout my whole junior life. I loved DJ ever since I was ten, because I would play from 100 yards in front of my tee shot.

Q. Having spent so much time with him, what have you seen from kind of his chart, I guess, of his career?
KEVIN KISNER: Well, if you had asked me when we were 12, I'd have told you he would be just as good as he is now. His maturation process has been pretty awesome. We used to go pick him up and take him to tournaments, my mother and father. We spent a lot of time together.

Q. Was he always six foot three?
KEVIN KISNER: Always six foot three, always hit it 350, even when he was 12. He used to take it way back like John Daly. I don't know if he did that when he first came on Tour. I think Butch shortened him up. He always smashed it, always had that grip, always had that face.

Q. I think we remember DJ at the U.S. Open, how he dealt with a controversial situation, was able to blocked it out and played excellent golf down the stretch to win the U.S. Open. How do you deal with distractions, on the course, off the course? Is there a way that you get yourself focused and are able to block out any distractions?
KEVIN KISNER: I don't have many. You guys don't bother me too much. I just go play and have fun. I can't really think of a distraction I've had in a long time.

My wife and family travel with me every week. We have a good time. My caddie is awesome, been with him for eight years. Everybody knows the program. We all just have fun. If I had to drama around the USGA, I would just laugh at him, as he probably did.

Q. What was the distraction the one time you were intimidated?
KEVIN KISNER: I haven't found that time yet.

Q. On the golf course?
KEVIN KISNER: I'd have to go get my gun -- just kidding.

Q. Just one of them?
KEVIN KISNER: Depending on what truck I was in.

DOUG MILNE: On that note, Kevin, thanks for joining us and have fun this week.

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