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February 28, 2003

Scott Hoch


JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you for joining us for a few minutes. Great playing today and you continue to hit your irons well. You were talking about that yesterday. I was watching on the television, and it seemed like you were hitting your irons well again. Just talk about today's play and then we'll go into questions.

SCOTT HOCH: Yeah, anytime you play-match play, you want to get up. And unfortunately today I got 1-down early, I hit an iron on the second hole and then 3-putted. That puts me 1-down. At this stage, you don't want to be giving any holes away. And I know he had to play well to make it as far as he has. I figured I'm going to have to do the same thing I've been doing. Just put it on the fairways, put it on the greens, and make birdies, and not make many mistakes.

I hit a lot of good iron shots. I've really hit it right down the stick pretty well the last three days. And my putting could have been a little better today, but once you get a couple, three over, you don't want to be too aggressive, even if you have a birdie putt, because these greens will get away from you. And I think that's what happened to me a few times. I know I hit a good shot on 14, probably didn't make the stroke I wanted, just not do anything stupid. The key for me is I have to hit fairways, hit greens, make a few birdies, very few mistakes. And I'm going to have to do that tomorrow, make more birdies, and even less mistakes.

But then again, who's to say he's going to be on top of his game. That's the way match play is. He beat me last year in the first round. He seems to be playing pretty decent right now.

Q. You've been around for almost ever.


Q. That was meant in a complimentary way. I would say you're fearless. There's nothing that scares you anymore in the game, so is the idea of playing Tiger intimidating?

SCOTT HOCH: No, I wouldn't say intimidating. I'm saying I'm going to have my work cut out for me. But, no, I'm not going to go out there and consider myself 3-down before I tee off. What's the worst that can happen? I lose. With all the stuff going on in the world, what is that? I lose a golf match. Worst thing that can happen. And I've gotten farther than I thought I would.

Last week I was playing like a dog. I had new clubs from Yonex, and they sent my old ones back to get them duplicated, because they were worn out, and they were going to make a few other sets like it, and I played so bad last week, or hit the ball so bad last week, with the clubs I'm playing with now, that the president of Yonex was following me, and I said you need to get my clubs back from Japan, and send them here. Well, the message -- the translation was a little garbled, I guess, because the clubs did come back, but they went to my house. So I said I'm going to have to make due with what I have this week.

But I played a little better on Sunday in LA, and then I've really hit the ball well here. A lot of good iron shots, but you have to keep them on the fairway. If I don't hit a fairway, I don't have a prayer in hardly any of these matches.

Q. What turned you around this week, since your clubs didn't make it here?

SCOTT HOCH: No, I just started hitting a little better. Before I thought, well, I didn't play but three rounds of golf since November. So it's not as if I knew exactly what the clubs were going to do in a game situation. I've practiced with a number of different sets for the last few weeks and narrowed it down to this. These I hit well in practice, but when you get on the course, that's a little different. You can groove about any club on the range, over and over, even if it's not the one exactly fit for you. So that's kind of what I thought I had done. I grooved it on the range, then all of a sudden when I take it on the course it's not the same. But it was more or less my swing.

Also went to Leadbetter before I came out here, he told me a few things that helped me. Since I've been here, one thing I did really poorly in LA was putt, very poorly. I've seen Scotty Cameron, gone to his studio twice this week, and he's helped me out. A combination of things, new clubs, Leadbetter's helped me out right before I came, and Scotty Cameron has helped me a good bit with my putting. Still feels awkward, what I'm trying to do, what he's -- he's not trying to get me to do something, he's just giving me feedback about what the camera says. And so I'm trying to fix that. And so it's a little awkward right now, but I'm trying to get used to it.

Q. Is that alignment thing, a setup?

SCOTT HOCH: Combination, yeah, alignment, ball position, all kinds of -- just about everything was wrong after LA, and that's why I putted so badly. I kind of amazed myself. And I don't think I've had that much pressure on me. I had to par the last four holes to make the cut. Usually it's not that tough, but I was feeling heat, the way I was hitting it. I didn't want to come all the way out here and wait around four days before this thing started.

Q. What makes you a good match-play player?

SCOTT HOCH: When I'm playing well, I'm a good match-play player, but when I'm off my game, then I'm not. I don't hit it long enough and have enough tricks in my bag to help me out when I'm not playing well. I think the key on this course is you hit the ball in the fairway, keep it in play. And then make some good putts, some good shots, and I think that's key. Because if the guy you're playing with pretty much knows that, hey, he's not going to give you many holes. That means the guy you're playing figures he's going to have to earn them, so he might have to take a few more chances.

It's playing long enough where I can't go for a whole lot of pins unless I'm hitting good. Today I felt comfortable. Even when I got up, I said let's not be subtle with this, let's not make any stupid mistakes, but hit good iron shots and have birdie putts to finish this thing out as early as possible, because anything can happen. I like the change of the sides, because whether you're up three with four to go, a lot of things can happen here. You miss a fairway, you make bogeys, you can birdie the par-3s, the par-5s. I didn't want to get to 16 today.

Q. Scott, can you stay patient tomorrow against Tiger, when you know he's going to be firing?

SCOTT HOCH: I have to. I don't have any other game. I'll try to bring the best I have, and hopefully he doesn't bring his best, because I'm not sure many people out here can beat him on his best, even if they bring their best. So I look forward to the challenge, actually. He's the best player in the world. He's on top of his game. Man, it would be great to play -- believe me, it would not be a shame if I lost, but it sure would be great if I won. I would say it would be the unexpected for me to win, but yet I feel I can.

Q. You're in almost a no-lose situation.

SCOTT HOCH: Essentially. It's not a shame to lose to the best player. But like I say, I need to play well. I can't go out there and not bring my A game. If I don't bring my A game, then I can't win.

Q. Just going over the Ryder Cup, when other guys were struggling, the last few Ryder Cups, you seemed to play well, even against opponents who theoretically were better golfers.

SCOTT HOCH: Did you look at my record at the Ryder Cup? I got dusted. I played pretty good, though. I played the wrong guys.

Q. '99 and '97, you played very well?


Q. Is it something -- the great line that match play is a better test of character, stroke is a better test of golf. Did match play bring something out in you?

SCOTT HOCH: That's the loser that says that. (Laughter.) Go ahead with your question.

Q. Does it bring something out that isn't there in stroke-play?

SCOTT HOCH: Well, head-to-head, you're not playing the other guys. You're not worrying about what the other guys are doing. You're not worried they're playing different conditions. They play early in the morning and we play in the afternoon. You feed off the other guy. You play according to what the other guy does. If he hits it -- say he hits it out of play or in the rough, then you can take a little off and make sure your tee ball is in the fairway, something like that.

Whereas if it's in medal play, you're not concerned with what the other guy is doing that you're playing with, you're trying to play the course the best you can. Here you're playing the guy -- the course -- you're playing the course, mostly. But depending on what the guy does will determine how you hit some of the shots, whether you go for it, whether you lay up, whether you take a chance and go for a pin or the middle of the green or what. So that's what's totally different. You gear off what the other guy does in match play. Whereas in medal play you're not concerned what the other player you're playing with does.

Q. Tiger's made one bogey over the first three matches, and he busted out today, 7 and 6. Do you have to be -- I know you said you have to be patient, but do you have to be more aggressive tomorrow because of the fact that you're going to have to make more putts or at least put better scores on the board than you maybe have over the last two days, because of that?

SCOTT HOCH: My match scores have been pretty good the last few days. I looked at what he did the first match. I think he might have had two birdies and a bogey or --

Q. Just two birdies.

SCOTT HOCH: Two birdies? Well, he lost. But it's match play. You only need to do as good as that person to beat. So what he shot and what I shot first round doesn't mean anything, it's if we're going head-to-head. You look at Darren Clarke last time when he won, I remember watching it on TV, hey, he was in the fairway, on the greens, and Tiger was struggling, and that's the key. When you kind of force the issue each time knowing that if the guy makes a bad shot he's going to lose the hole, then that's my key, that's what I've got on him, hopefully. And if I continue to play like I have been he'll know that he can't make too many of those bad shots. Even though he hasn't, but before he might not have worried about it. But you know what, he's probably not going to be worried about anything. He's playing his game. He knows he's playing well right now, he's going to continue the same thing, and so am I. And we'll see. I still play decent. I've only made three bogeys in the tournament, and they've all been 3-putts. I haven't made any bogeys, I don't believe, from missing the fairway or anything like that, just 3-putts, and they've been long putts.

Q. How confident are you right now with your game?

SCOTT HOCH: I feel good about it. I feel good about it. I feel good going into a match-play event. I don't know -- it's not to my advantage that the course is playing as long as it is. But I've always said that -- most people think I want short courses with rough. That's not necessarily true. I don't care how long the course is, as long as it has rough.

Rough is the great equalizer for the bombers that hit it anywhere. And if you look, this has been about -- well, from what I've seen, this has been the only tournament on the West Coast that had any rough. And that's why I haven't played any. I used to beat my head against the wall. I had some success on the West Coast, but for the most part it's not worth it for me to come out here and try to play well and finish 10th to 20th or something like that. Although I would have taken that coming here, the way I was playing. But I'm looking forward to it. It seems like the Tour has gotten where we're playing less rough than we used to. When you play in the pro-ams, I can see that, because you have to get the amateurs around.

Q. In match play, do you sort of have to pick your spots when you want to try to win a hole or you decide whether you're going to tie a hole?

SCOTT HOCH: Not necessarily. Like I say, try to hit the ball in the fairway, and if I have a pin I feel comfortable with, I'll go with it. I'm not sure the situation is going to make that much difference. Early on -- I don't want to go out there, if the pin is tucked on the first hole, go for the pin, after hitting a good drive, go for the pin with a 5-iron, and hit it in the bunker and make bogey, and give him a hole right off the bat, no. If that's what you're talking about, about picking your spots, yeah, maybe, but there are not that many spots I can pick out there. I just go where I can.

Q. At this stage in your career, how satisfying are these last couple of years, as well as you have done, and coming in here, knocking off some young guys?

SCOTT HOCH: I wasn't too happy with my year last year, but I would say this week's a good start. Since I didn't play until LA, I'm way behind everybody else, or most everybody. But then again, maybe later in the year I'll be fresher than some of the other guys. It feels good. I don't look at age that much, because I look at some guys that are 40 that probably aren't as in good of shape as I am. But other guys like Jay Haas, Nick Price, and Loren Roberts that are still very good players, and are playing well. So I think that's one thing we've proven, the older guys -- seems like we have more older guys playing well now than we've had in the past.

Q. Have you ever done what you did yesterday against Harrington on the second hole and asked the referee for advice on where the ball went?

SCOTT HOCH: No, something like that I normally wouldn't -- I would know where it went. But we have an overhanging tree there and he hit it up in the air and I didn't see it. I thought my caddy would see it, but he was doing yardage. So I asked him, because it makes a difference, because I didn't see his ball on the green, I couldn't see his ball. And so it depends on where he -- if he hit it in the bunker, I might play more for the middle of the green. I asked him, "Can I ask you where his ball went?" And it threw him for a loop, because he didn't know, either. He had to call in to ask for certain. I mean that's not asking for help, as far as a shot, but it's just -- I don't know. That's why I asked him if I could say it. And then if he said no, then I'd have said, "I'm not asking you, then." (Laughter.) But he found out yes, he could, because that's not aiding anybody, that's just stating a fact, I guess.

Q. Scott, last year you had some physical issues. How are you feeling now physically?

SCOTT HOCH: I had some physical and eye. Actually I did, I had an eye, and when my eye got better, I came back and my hand started bothering me. I was out six weeks to two months. It's much better. I didn't make light of it much last year, but I was seeing double out of one eye, and that made it a little tough. But all my contracts were coming up at the end of the year, and I'm not going to let that be known. (Laughter.) It wasn't that bad. I had a contact that would help correct it. But we had a tough time getting it to where it would correct it completely.

And now I've had another surgery that improved it a good bit, so now I wear a hard contact lens, so my astigmatism flattens out. The contact flattens out my astigmatism. I see 20/10 out of one eye and 20/15 out of another eye.

Q. Was that a laser surgery?

SCOTT HOCH: Yeah. I've got a goofy right eye. I had real bad astigmatism. And they're working on trying to get it down. And now it's just a small astigmatism, and it's very workable. I have no excuses, everything is in good shape.

End of FastScripts....

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