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March 22, 2001

Scott Hoch


NELSON LUIS: Scott shot a 5-under, 67, today which is his lowest opening round in this event. Obviously, a good afternoon for you, currently tied for second place. Your thoughts on the round today.

SCOTT HOCH: I was very fortunate. I did not play well. Some people saw me play well last week and not make a putt. Today, I did not hit it very well at all, but made a whole lot. You know, I think it was mostly the wind the first two days; kind of messed up my swing a bit. So I was hitting some good shots and some poor shots, and enough poor ones to make me stand over and wonder which barrel it was coming out of, which is not a good thing to do, especially on this course. But luckily I didn't play the back nine first.

Q. I was looking through your record here at this place, and you've got five straight Top-20s, and before that it was six or seven missed cuts or WDs.

SCOTT HOCH: More than that.

Q. What's the deal there?

SCOTT HOCH: The deal was they used to have this course where you could hit it anywhere and do anything, and it was all putt-your-ball, and I didn't like that. It was probably more of a combination of the course not setting for me at all, and plus my attitude about how it was set up. As a matter of fact, I didn't even come here one year. I guess told Finchem me -- (inaudible) complaining because it played too easy after Norman shot whatever he did, they needed to figure out a way to make it tougher. And the way to make it tougher without getting ridiculous is rough. It would be nice if they took that same philosophy and put it on the 2001 PGA TOUR, on these other courses. By making it tougher, you add rough. That's why the scores are so low this year. But ever since they have had rough here, which they have had some serious rough here, from the year I finished second, I went from not cashing in a check for ten years to finishing second, because they had rough. Then my attitude changed, and I played well, obviously. And since then, I knew that I could play here, especially with the rough. So when I do play well, this should be a good course for me, because it favors somebody that keeps it in play. Although, that is not what I did today. (Laughter.) But you've got to have one of those rounds that you get lucky. I mean, the two bogeys I made were two of my better shots today, I thought, but they did not end up so good. I was fortunate some other shots that were not too good ended up all right. Overall, I was very fortunate today.

Q. That said, how did you feel -- I hear different takes on how people felt the course played. Some guys felt it was there for the taking and some guys felt it was very difficult. What was your take on the greens, the wind, the conditions, etc.?

SCOTT HOCH: Well, you ask the guys who shot 75 or 78 and see if they think it was there for the taking. It took them. (Laughter). But I don't think this course is ever there for the taking. Unless you might have a night rain, just a little bit to soften things up, and then no wind the next day. Other than that, I don't think you can -- we did have the rain, but the greens were already at a speed -- a very nice speed. And getting the wind, and them not putting any water on it, it's going to be difficult on the weekend, like it always is here. I don't ever see this course there for the taking, especially today. I know it had to be cool in the morning, so it could not have been fun out here early. Although, I don't think they had much wind. We had a little bit of wind, but not much. I thought it was nice playing conditions today; but yet, the scores are not really low, so that's indicative of a difficult golf course.

Q. You've said before that you like golf courses that are tight fairways and so forth. So you like this course now; it's more of a challenge. You like that type of course?

SCOTT HOCH: I like the challenge, but it's not so much that they are tight fairways; it's that they have rough, penalizing rough. You can have some wider fairways, just if you hit errant shots or way off line, you should not be able to just knock it on the green and make your par or birdie. In this course, if you hit it in the rough, it's penalizing. And other courses, I mean -- I'm not an advocate of just very narrow fairways and high rough. No. Just have some rough that people who hit poor shots, they usually have to pay for it; and if they hit good shots, they usually benefit from it.

Q. But you seem to feel that you have an advantage --?

SCOTT HOCH: I'm not a longer hitter by any means, even with the new ball. So it's just a matter, if I'm playing well, it's better for me if the fairways are more demanding, or if it means something to hit the fairways. When it doesn't mean that much to hit the fairways, like on the West Coast or whatever, then you don't even need to count me in as a contender. Not usually.

Q. You were kind of just, you know, moseying along there playing steady golf, and then you started creeping up on that scoreboard. Did something happen during the round that sort of got you cranked or feeling good?

SCOTT HOCH: Well, I hit some good shots. Early on, I was just holding on. I made a couple birdies, and then I made some tough 15-foot par putts, and then -- in a row. And then on 16, I hit my second shot over the green, where everybody walks off and didn't judge the chip right, and it didn't get over the hill and end up making a 30-foot birdie putt. Then on 17, I lip out, right over the edge of the hole on my approach, and end up about four inches behind the hole. So that's a birdie. I felt pretty good there, except 18 was coming up. I actually hit a good drive, good second shot to the right of the green, and the dog-gone ball stopped in a sprinkler head instead of hitting and releasing down to the hole. That's just a spot where you couldn't -- I mean, there's no way that you can get it close from up there. So I made bogey there. Then I birdied 1 and 2. 3-putted 3, and that was a good shot. I hit a good shot, rolled up the hill, came back down, and I 3-putted. I was very fortunate on 4. Birdied 5. Birdied 6, and that was it. But, no, it wasn't any one thing. It was just I hit some good shots I took advantage of. Hit some good shots I made bogeys with. But that's kind of this course. But I took advantage of more -- took advantage of more of my good shots than I usually do. And also, if I hit a poor shot, I was able to feel like Brad Faxon out there and make a 15-footer after 15-footer after 15-footer. So that's nice to play golf that way. I don't feel it that often, but it's nice when it is like that.

Q. What did you hit in on 17?

SCOTT HOCH: I hit an 8-iron. Just punched an 8-iron and hit three feet in front, four feet in front. Well, between the ball mark and where the ball ended, draw a straight line; it's just right over the edge of the hole. It had to come pretty close. It got in my range, anyway.

Q. Why don't you give us the lengths of those birdie putts on 1 and 2 and 5 and 6?

SCOTT HOCH: 1, I hit a wedge to about 12 feet. Made it for birdie. But I did start on the back side. 2, I drove it in the rough there, but still ended up with a sand wedge to the green and hit that about four feet. Made that for birdie. 3-putted the next hole from about 25 feet. 5, I birdied from about six feet. 6 I birdied from about -- about ten feet. Go around to 11. I hit 11 in 2. Driver, 3-wood about 20 feet. 2-putted. Like I said earlier, on 14 and 15, I made a couple 15-footers for par, after poor drives. Actually, no. 1 was a good drive. The other one was a poor second shot. Like I already said, on 16, I made about a 30-footer for birdie. Maybe about a 4-inch putt for birdie on 17. And a bogey on 18. But a lot of that was, I mean, I was making some -- I made a couple birdies from fairway bunkers and stuff. My driving was not good today, and that's one thing that has been really good for me lately, especially last week. I drove it and hit the ball really well and putted like a -- putted like Ray Charles last week. But kind of made up for that just today.

Q. Are you seeing much difference with the ball, the new ball?

SCOTT HOCH: Well, yeah. I see a difference. Matter of fact, last week was kind of my -- well, was almost my last week with it. I said if I don't do any good with it, now, at Bay Hill, then I was just thinking about going back to the old ball. I haven't done much with it. Yeah, I do hit it a little bit longer, but if you can't -- you can hit it longer, but it doesn't necessarily make it any better if you don't control it or chip -- I have a tough time chipping with it to this day. I keep hitting it too long. That's just the opposite of everything else. Most of my problems -- I had eye surgery first of January, and it is a little odd, more with chipping and sandshots, because when I had contacts -- I had 20/15 vision in both eyes so both were the same. And after I came out of surgery, LASIKs, but one was good, like better than 20/15 and the other was like 20/25. I never had that before and that takes some getting used to. When you are used to seeing the same out of both eyes, and then all of the sudden, you get your eyes done and one is a little different, it's like you're expecting -- your depth perception changes a little bit, and I think that's what affected me more than anything, as far as getting my chipping my sand shots down. That's one thing that's been very poor. As far as reading the greens and hitting shots, it has not affected me at all.

Q. Do you think Ray Charles has any idea he's become the butt of a golf cliche?

SCOTT HOCH: Well, I tell you what, I think a couple of people, I saw a couple of the writers who were following us last week when I was playing with Norman, and I really hit it well and I'm sure Ray could have done better from where I had it. But that's kind of my MO, though. Sometimes I putt well and sometimes it's -- sometimes it can get ugly. But one thing that did help me -- I did play with Norman and Tony. His caddy was talking to somebody and told somebody what they thought I was doing with my putting, and that somebody told me. And so the next day I worked on it, what he said, and I actually putted pretty good. It was something that helped me, and then I'm taking it on to this week and trying to make that an every-stroke occurrence, rather than something I'm thinking about all of the time.

Q. What was it?

SCOTT HOCH: I just wasn't stroking through the ball. I was just kind of coming up on it, like just putting it and not following through to it, even on the shorter putts, because I was -- my 8- or 10-footers, which were for birdies last week, I had a bunch of them that day and wasn't hitting good putts. They were not rolling well and more like -- you can't whish them in. You've got to stroke them. Sometimes when you are so close to them and you don't know that you are doing it and your caddy doesn't necessarily see that you are doing that, either, because it's what you are gradually getting into doing. It takes somebody else a little more removed from your game to be able to tell you. And I don't know if that's true or not. I don't know if Tony told him or not, but that's the story I was told and I'm sticking to it. But it's helped me in the last two competitive rounds I've played. I've putted much better. Even the putts I've missed look better.

End of FastScripts....

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