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August 9, 2018

Craig Hocknull

St. Louis, Missouri

Q. A lot of build-up to the very first debut, it looks like you were pretty focused most of the round to handle your very first PGA Championship.
CRAIG HOCKNULL: Yeah, I tried to stay focused. It's hard out there. You just don't realize all the different noises that you actually try to not hear and I drove it great until my last tee ball and then I managed to recover from that just fine. So overall I thought it was awesome. I had a great day out there. JC did a great job caddieing for me and we had good conversations and I felt like I did my part. I did, I think I played pretty well today.

Q. You're using your own putter and obviously it didn't cause too many bad problems out there.
CRAIG HOCKNULL: No, it definitely wasn't putter error. If I missed anything it was operator error. The putter felt great. Actually I think I probably made a couple more putts than I normally would have because of the putter. I just have to learn to trust it, that's actually the very, very first competitive round of golf with that putter, that it's ever been in. So I really felt comfortable with it and I think tomorrow I'll be even more comfortable with it.

Q. You got off to a good start, 1-under. You missed a couple short ones, burned the edges on a couple putts that easily could have been it, 3-under. Did you start getting in rhythm early on after you got under par?
CRAIG HOCKNULL: Gosh, I almost holed out I think it was my fifth hole hit a 5-iron it must have gone right over the cup because everybody was screaming, get in, get in. And I missed that putt from probably about eight feet. That would have got me to 1-under. And then I did make a birdie two holes later. I missed another short putt, another maybe 10 foot birdie putt on 8, on the par-5. Had a couple of long putts come up inches from the cup. So I wouldn't say I got in a rhythm per se, I just kept my head down, kept trying to do intelligent game play, I think I hit a lot of greens today, so that put me in good position to play pretty comfortably and I was just hoping to get the putter hot, maybe it will get hot tomorrow.

Q. You played in a lot of huge events all over the world, you played practice rounds out here. But when you get there on the first tee, it's a different ball game, isn't it?
CRAIG HOCKNULL: It is a different ball game. I mean you realize there's that many more people watching you, you realize you could injure that many more people hitting it in the rough, it's just one of those things where you just got to believe in yourself, you got to believe in the process and step up and just let it go. And then if you guide it out there, it makes it challenging. So I've got to be able to just do what I do and let it go. And that was really what I brought to this tournament was just the confidence that I'm going to do my best and hit the shots and then just let it go.

Q. How would you rate overall your first round in a huge Major?
CRAIG HOCKNULL: It was great. I thought it was great. I wanted to start making more birdies, but I felt like I just needed to keep playing it smart, keep doing the things I needed to do, and I mean I really only mishit one shot and that was a little club indecision on 10, put me in the bunker and then I didn't get up-and-down for my par. But overall I felt like I played great, I felt like it was very solid. I think I'm, I don't know, 46th or whatever it is at this point, so for me to be in that position and really not play my best but play good, I think that's a great place to be.

Q. You had a good warm-up by win being the Southwest PGA Match Play Championship. Did that kind of help you adjust not so much for the putting, but just for being in competition.
CRAIG HOCKNULL: Yeah, for sure. I have to make sure that I always got a little bit of competition going on. It really helps me to focus, it's kind of what I play for, I don't just play for social golf, I play for the competition part. And to test myself and to make sure that I'm on top of my game, that was important. And I really wanted to get into Arizona and play. I mean it was 116 degrees I think that day, so I think playing in that temperature really helped me prepare for today. It was, it got really hot on holes 12, 13, 14 and I just really was struggling a little bit with energy, so I had to make sure I ate and kept my fluids going and, yeah, but I thought overall that was good preparation for this.

Q. How would you evaluate Bellerive after this first round then?
CRAIG HOCKNULL: Oh, I thought the course was great. Greens definitely sped up, they smoothed out, which is exactly what I expected, I personally didn't really have any issues with the conditions of the fringes or any of that kind of stuff, I had to putt off of one and over one today and I didn't have any trouble with it at all, so I thought it was great.

Q. Tomorrow's conditions are going to be a little different, you're going off in the afternoon, your mentality heading into tomorrow's round now that you have this under your belt?
CRAIG HOCKNULL: Yeah, no, I'm just going to go out and practice putting, kind of get more confidence with the speed. I thought actually the greens might have been a touch quicker and I left some putts short, so today I'm or this afternoon I'm going to go hit some more putts, try to get the speed down. I know the spike marks and everything's going to be way worse tomorrow than it was today, that does affect it, I had one putt today hit a pretty big spike mark and miss the cup. So I'm going to have to just go out there on the practice putting green, find some really spike marked areas and practice my putting, because I know that's what it's going to be like tomorrow.

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