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January 8, 2019

Patton Kizzire

Honolulu, Hawaii

THE MODERATOR: We would like to welcome our defending champion, Patton Kizzire into the interview room at the 2019 Sony Open in Hawaii.

Comments on being back here to defend your title.

PATTON KIZZIRE: It feels good. I told my wife, Kari, when we got here, I said, I just feel comfortable here. It's so nice staying right on the beach; country club feel. Everybody in Hawaii is nice so it feels good.

THE MODERATOR: Awesome. With that, we'll open it up to questions.

Q. That run coming out of the fall and winning this, how would you assess the rest of your season? What was the mindset leaving here?
PATTON KIZZIRE: Well, the rest of the season wasn't what I wanted. I think a little bit of expectations got me a little bit and started trying too hard, trying to change few things to get a little better to give myself more chances.

But it was all necessary, all part of the growing process. New opportunities and new things are sometimes difficult, and I didn't handle them as well as I could. Now they're not new anymore. I'm looking forward to more opportunities and handling them better.

Q. I don't know how you quantify this, but how much confidence did you feel inwardly from Mayakoba and then from here? Was there a moment last year where you felt you were losing confidence, and if that's the case, what caused that to happen?
PATTON KIZZIRE: Well, confidence is a fickle thing. Sometimes you feel like you can't be beat and sometimes you feel like you can't beat anybody.

But that's the now confidence. You have to maintain belief in yourself ultimately. After my second win on the TOUR last year here, I was booming with confidence; and then there was the Ryder Cup, there was the this, there was the that, all these new things that you start looking at and you get a little distracted. I think that was something that hurt me last year.

But you just have to maintain belief in yourself and try to get the snowball rolling in the correct direction. When I play my best I get a little momentum going here and there and then kind of just let it go. That's when I play my best.

Q. When you talk about things like the Ryder Cup, what you're saying you is start thinking about what you can do, and as a two-time winner here is where I should be, and all of a sudden you start chasing a carrot? Is that kind of what you're getting at?
PATTON KIZZIRE: Yeah. You know, it's new. Things you're not used to are difficult sometimes. I put myself in a position to make the Ryder Cup, a lifelong dream of mine, and kind of thought that I was protecting something. Oh, I just need to do this or I just need to do that.

There is a big difference in protecting something and chasing. I think I do better as hunter and not the hunted. I feel like if I can go after something it frees me up and I play my best. If I feel like I'm protecting something, really the shots don't come off properly, you don't handle them as well. I think that got me a little bit last year.

Q. Are you the kind of guy that writes down your goals at the beginning of the season? If so, did you go in and pencil in some new ones after this week last year?
PATTON KIZZIRE: Well, I consider them desires more than goals. You know, I'm more of a short-term guy. What can I do now to give myself the best chance to reach those desires?

You know, I want to win more. I just want to win. I want to represent my country, win majors. First I need to contend in majors. Whether I can jump that hurdle of winning a major before contending, I'm kind of a steady progress guy to where I get in a spot that I've never been in before. Sometimes I can jump right in and pass that hurdle of the growing pains. Lots of time I'm just inching my way up a little bit. I'll inch up and fall back down and inch a little bit higher and fall back down.

So I have a lot of desires this year. I want to put myself in spots I've never been.

Q. How old were you your rookie year on tour?

Q. Wonder if you would ever get in?
PATTON KIZZIRE: Wondered, yes. Doubted, yes. But I never really had a plan to do anything else. It was just what I was going to do. No backup plan.

Q. Did you graduate?
PATTON KIZZIRE: No, I didn't graduate. Maybe the reason I made it. I didn't want to have to go back to school and get a job, all that stuff.

My options were limited.

Q. I don't think I've ever gotten a clear picture on what took so long. You had kind of a -- I don't know what the word is -- dry spell?
PATTON KIZZIRE: Yeah, I consider it growing pains. You know, when I was a junior golfer I was a pretty highly ranked junior golfer. I had a lot opportunities coming out of junior golf.

In college I didn't take it as seriously as I probably should have. Had a little bit too much fun. Messed around with my friends. Chased girls. Had fun.

But that set me back a little bit heading into professional golf. I stayed in Auburn where I kind of continued my old habits, and then I finally moved to Sea Island and decided to be a professional.

Decided to be a professional, met my wife, mentored by Davis Love, my management group, teachers, everybody, it was just a big step for me.

Q. Any part of you when you look at people like Jordan and Justin are always good examples, any regrets, or is that just the way life panned out and you still learned from it?
PATTON KIZZIRE: I wouldn't change my path for anything.

Q. (Regarding lost time.)
PATTON KIZZIRE: Yeah, no, it wasn't lost time. I think sometimes stuff like that is necessary. You have to experience -- you want to experience everything in life. I got to experience that. Struggles build character, and I certainly had plenty of those.

It makes it even more impressive when you see the young guys come out and come out firing and winning tournaments. That's really impressive.

Q. If it's impressive to you to see the young guys come out and succeed, is there any part of you that is impressed with a guy that takes 20 years to get on TOUR and is a rookie at age 42?
PATTON KIZZIRE: Every single player out here is impressive. Every player that on the TOUR currently right now is impressive to me. What's great is you have guys like Chris Thompson who has taken a long time to be here. I don't really know if he's played on the PGA TOUR before or not, but I guess this is his first year. That's awesome.

I see him and I don't know the guy but I'm like, Great job. Then you have guys like Rickie Fowler or Tiger Woods or Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, those guys who just jumped right out and started winning tournaments on the PGA TOUR and everywhere in between. I guess I'm right in between there. So I just I have respect for every player out here.

Q. When you talked about learning how to be a professional back in the day, was there a moment that made you say, I need to make this move and make the jump to get out of Auburn and get to Sea Island?
PATTON KIZZIRE: Somewhere in there it had just been building for a couple years while I was living life wasting time. It was building, and I finally decided after talking to my management group that was the thing I needed to do. Time was running out a little bit. I didn't want to waste any more. I decided to move to St. Simons in 2012 and get after it.

Q. What stands out from the playoff last year now that you look at it?
PATTON KIZZIRE: Neither one of us really grabbed it from the other. I kind of outlasted James. I made a few big putts; he narrowly missed some winning putts; I had to make some big putts to stay in it.

Maybe the biggest shot I had the whole playoff was on the first playoff hole. I got up and down from the bunker for par. Hit a great bunker shot to like this and he missed his birdie putt.

So after that I felt like I was playing with house money.

Q. Put any money on the game last night?
PATTON KIZZIRE: We won't talk about that. Yeah, I was on the --

Q. Apparently we're going to.
PATTON KIZZIRE: I was on the wrong side last night. Yeah, I'm an SEC guy and thought Alabama would do it again. Boy, was I wrong.

Q. Just curious if the experience of defending now feels a little more normal since this is your second one, and if it's more comfortable?
PATTON KIZZIRE: Yeah, it's not brand new to me anymore. At the Mayakoba I felt like I handled it pretty well, especially the first few days.

The mind is an amazing thing. I go in there with no expectations, trying to have no expectations -- I'm defending champ at Mayakoba so there are a bit -- and played well. And bam, I'm right in there. I could win this thing again, and I didn't handle it the best.

If I get in that situation again this week I'll be a little better.

Q. What are your expectations then?
PATTON KIZZIRE: Go hit it in the hole. Go out there and have fun. I've started handling myself a little bit better. Mentally my attitude has been a little bit better.

Sometimes I'm on edge to start. I'm always on edge to start. I just get so excited to tee it up. More so than most people I believe. Just really gets me going.

But I've been able to handle that a little better and not let it get me too riled up.

Q. You've been through the pressure of winning a tight one in my Mayakoba; six-hole playoff here. Where did the playoff with Tiger fit into the learning curve?
PATTON KIZZIRE: It was right in there at the top. At the time I don't realize how good it is for me, but things that get me so excited I can hardly even perform are what make me better.

That was one of them. I literally felt like I just -- I wasn't me. You know, I was out there and so excited I couldn't concentrate. In the long run those are things that make me better.

As painful as they are, those help.

Q. Might sound silly, but did you know how big he was?

Q. (Indiscernible.)
PATTON KIZZIRE: Yes, because I've seen him. I've just been a golf fan for so long and a Tiger fan for so long. I pay attention.

But I wasn't surrounded by -- but that was really cool. It was just kind of a sea of people. I would rather have a sea of people than just a few. Means you're doing something good.

Q. What did you take from that? Did you learn something about yourself? How good you are our how good you need to be or whatever?
PATTON KIZZIRE: Yeah, I'm learning stuff about myself every day. It's a constant battle with yourself learning about yourself, overcoming things. That was one of them.

I mean, I'll feel more comfortable next time I play with him. I had a funny Instagram post after I played with him. I don't know if anybody saw it, but I said, It was like a first date with Tiger. I was pretty nervous, but soon I'll be farting in front of him.

Q. Will he fart in front of you?
PATTON KIZZIRE: Probably. No, it would be...

He was really cool. We talked about dogs, kids, boats, you know, all kinds of stuff. He was really cool.

Q. Who was the third member?
PATTON KIZZIRE: Didn't matter. No, I'm kidding.

Q. There goes the respect.
PATTON KIZZIRE: It was Sneds, yeah.

THE MODERATOR: Any other questions? Thank you for your time today and good luck this week.

PATTON KIZZIRE: Thank you, I appreciate it.

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