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October 31, 1997

Scott Hoch


LEE PATTERSON: Just a couple thoughts about your round today and heading into the weekend.

SCOTT HOCH: Well, it was fun, but disappointing at the end. Let one shot get away from me a little bit. My ball must have been the only bad lie that I've seen the guys get into here because I couldn't do anything with it. Just about all the other balls I've seen in the rough have been able to get to the green, whether I had it in the rough or my playing partner did. So I was unlucky that way. Then, again, I did hit in the rough. That's the way it should be here. Unfortunately they cut the rough down from what it was, so that's why the scores are so low. By having not that much rough, it just makes it more of an advantage for longer hitters here. All you have to do is look at the leaderboard. They could miss a few shots and still be fine. But I can't afford to miss any hardly, because I am not the -- I am the second shortest hitter, I guess.

Q. But you're leading.

SCOTT HOCH: Well, if any of the long hitters were hitting it like I was, they'd be 17 or 18-under from where I hit it. I just really played well. That's the thing. I can't afford, with my length, because I'm playing -- first I played with Duval in the practice round. He's hitting four clubs less than I am each hole. You know, first he's outdriving me 30 yards, a club long we are his iron, four clubs. I played with Davis yesterday, consistently hitting it 30 yards by me, straight too, which is depressing. To be hitting it that far and that straight, it just makes it so easy. You know, they can have some room for error. But it's very difficult for me because if I miss the fairway, it's tough to hit the green. Like I said, on 18 I couldn't even reach the green. I was 25 yards short after the lie I had in the rough. So, you know, we just -- I just don't have room for error. Luckily, I haven't had much error. I hit it 10, 12 feet an awful lot this week so far.

Q. In some ways, does that help you focus more if you come in with a long hitter having an advantage here? Do you bear down a little bit more?

SCOTT HOCH: No, no. It just makes me wonder when are they going to catch up? I mean, it's just -- all I can do is go out there and play the same game I always do. Can't try to hit it longer because I can't dominate. Hit it shorter, but then I hit it much straighter than I used to. Maybe that's why I played much more consistent. But, you know, those guys, they make seven, eight birdies, maybe three bogeys. Normally I can't do anything like that. I got to make my three or four birdies and try to keep it down to one bogey or something or no bogeys.

Q. In the long run, what wins out?

SCOTT HOCH: The low score (laughter).

Q. What wins, accuracy or the length?

SCOTT HOCH: The long hitters always have the advantage; any course, they always have the advantage. You get to Harbor Town, they always have the advantage. But the key is, they have to hit it straight. You get a long hitter that's hitting it straight that week, he's got a tremendous advantage over everybody else. Whereas a short guy, you know, he can keep hitting fairways, but that's his normal gain, not gaining anything by doing that. That's why these guys, you know, you have Tiger and you have Davis and Glasson, they get in certain courses and they can just overpower the courses when they're on their game.

Q. Can you talk about that stretch in the middle of the round, 8 through 13?

SCOTT HOCH: Well, it was just a stretch where I hit some good shots and actually made the putts. I hit a lot of shots like that today and yesterday. Luckily for me today, I mean, these greens are tough to read for me. Maybe they are for a lot of people, I don't know. But yesterday I had a really difficult time where I hit the ball. Just tough getting the speed right and the breaks right. But today, you know, I just left it in some good spots; uphill, little left-to-right putts, not doing too much. But not too many downhill big breakers. Left myself some good putts. The key was on the holes that I made some good reads on, I hit good putts. I'm still hitting a number of bad putts right now. I'm not pleased with my putting. But today when I read it correctly, I hit a lot of good putts. That's why, you know, I really felt good on 18, because I thought I had a good read on it. I had been making good putts, especially from that length in. I hit a good putt, it just broke all the way across the hole. Because I got on that hole yesterday and hit a good putt, I thought, for about 20 feet and the ball didn't break. Obviously, this is a different part of the green. But I still read the green and thought that it had to take it right. This time the green did take it hard left on this particular putt.

Q. Scott, Tiger said he thought today you were one of the most underrated players out there. Is that because of the lack of length?

SCOTT HOCH: That's why everybody asks me, Why -- well, they say, do I think I am or why do the people think I am? Well, I think the answer I gave them, I think it's a combination of the media and myself. You know, I share the blame. Up until this year, I've always done whatever for the media. I didn't get a whole lot out of it, a whole lot of positive out of it in the past. You know, I had a little boycott of the written press earlier just to let them know. I mean, I knew it wouldn't do any good, probably hurt me, but, shoot, they couldn't hurt me much more than they had. I just wanted to let them know that if you're going to write something, please take time to make sure it's the truth. If I do something bad, whatever, fine, write about it. But don't write lies about anybody or make up things or whatever. But I think, you know, if you have the press and TV -- I think TV takes a lot -- should take a lot of blame for that. They're the ones that promote it, whether they show you or not. I think you have certain people at the networks, especially one that's gone, that either you were his friend or you weren't, he wasn't going to show you. I had one tell me, I finished second in a tournament, "Nobody wanted to see you." Tells me flat out. Then you can see how powerful some of the media people are, especially the TV people. You know, it does get a little disheartening when you play well, don't get a whole lot of credit. But then again, you look at the other side. I've won tournaments, sure, but I haven't won any majors, haven't won any of the high-prestige tournaments. You can see why that could be a little bit. But, yet, my record, longevity of my record, especially playing the golf I am at this time in my life, I would hope I'd get some credit for it.

Q. With your capabilities as an iron player and your accuracy, why do you think that you haven't won a U.S. Open, which emphasizes accuracy a great deal?

SCOTT HOCH: And driving, too. I've become a good driver. I play good at The Open, but I think that's -- well, it takes an exceptional week from anybody. I haven't had that. Also, it probably has more to do with patience than anything, and mentally being really strong. At times I can be disappointed. I don't ever give up, but those type of tournaments there where it beats you, beats you. Par is a good score, you just keep going. Finally, you miss a shot, make bogey, miss another one, make bogey, it takes, you know, a person that's really got -- that's really strong mentally. Sometimes I can waiver. I still have confidence in myself. I wouldn't rule it out. I mean, you have a Hale Irwin, shows you don't need to hit it long. But then, again, I'm a decent putter. I mean, I putt good, and I can putt as good as anybody, and I can putt as bad as anybody. I'd say of anybody out here that I've seen, I probably have the biggest variance of good and bad of anybody. I can have it in the same round, from one hole to the next (laughter). I mean, I don't know where it will come out. But, you know, in the majors, I play well in the majors. Actually, it should be an advantage. I don't feel any different as far as getting heat. I don't feel any different in the majors than I do in any other tournaments, which should help me. I just say I have a consistent game, but I don't overpower it. Maybe I don't pull everything together at the same time like some of the other guys do.

Q. How do you feel when you play on a course this long? Do you feel like you're playing in a cave or something? Are you just overwhelmed?

SCOTT HOCH: You just go out and play your game. You can't change it. You just got to go out there and try to hit the fairways. I tell you, perfect example, Davis was telling me a story yesterday where he was playing the ProAm this week on Tuesday. Gets to the 5th hole, playing, tells his partners, amateur partners, "Pick up, par is your partner." He's playing the 5th hole and thinks it's a par 4. He played here in '90. I mean, that shows. He's hitting a 5-iron, 4-iron to the green, and he doesn't even realize it's a par 5. Hey, there aren't any par 5s out there that I don't realize is a par 5 (laughter). I mean, that shows the mind set that's the difference between I guess the shorter hitters have than the longer hitters have when they come here. When I came here, I heard how good a course it was. I think it is a good course. But with the greens big and the rough they cut down. I heard they really had the rough up, then they topped it a couple weeks ago. With the rough down to where most of the time if you hit in it, especially if you're a longer hitter and you're only hitting 7-irons or 8-irons to the greens, you can hit the greens with them being big. If the greens are small, that would be a lot more difficult. But this wasn't designed to be THE TOUR Championship course. This is a very good course, but it was built for the membership. It wasn't -- I'm saying this, I don't think it was built for major tournament play or big tournament play, whatever. But it's a good course. I do like playing it. But it favors the big hitters so much right now. Probably the only way to have changed that would have been to add more severe rough. You look at the leaderboard, look who's on it, other than myself. Like I said, I have hardly missed a shot in two days, and that's the way I have to play here to have a chance. You look at other guys right behind, I don't know who is there, but I was looking, Lee gave me the stats, instead of just bringing mine, stapled all 30 stats together. I was looking for driving distance. He had one other guy that's shorter, maybe two that are shorter by average, but they're not shorter at all. They hit a lot of 3-woods. I think the ones that are shorter are Loren Roberts, which he is, and then you have maybe Justin and I are about the same. Now that he's got a new driver, he's getting it out. You have Brad Faxon, which gets it out there quite a bit, too. I think his overall average for the year is lower. But then you look at everybody else on the board, you know, they're mostly long hitters. Like I said, I played with Duval and Love. I'm hitting four clubs more than they are on each par 4, when they hit drivers.

Q. Ever look at a guy like Tom Kite, very similar, won a lot of money, fairly well respected, but never really got the respect until he won a major title. Do you look at your career as maybe you get that one victory, you might finally get that respect?

SCOTT HOCH: No. I wouldn't be the same like he is right now. Have to do an awful lot between now and his age to catch up with him. When you hit it -- when you're a little shorter, you just look at the mentality of everybody. The Kites don't excite a whole lot of people, even though they're great players. You have Hale Irwin, you know, the fans don't flock to him like Tiger. Gather player, whatever, he's a great player. When you had Nicklaus and Arnold, the crowd and everybody is infatuated with the long shot. All the great players, all the fan favorites, I mean, they're all good players, but that helps quite a bit. I mean, look at some of our most popular players. You know, they're all long. All except for, you know, Corey Pavin. I would say he's a popular player, but that's because of his bull dog attitude and how well he plays. He had a tough year. Corey might be the exception. You have Davis, you have Freddie, you have Tiger, now you have Duval. I mean, he's not there yet, but yet he hits it long. That's what excites the people.

Q. Corey won a major, too.

SCOTT HOCH: Yeah, exactly. I'm not saying you can't. Anybody can. You said thinking about Kite. Kite has a great record. He's the only won one major, but he has a great record. I'm consistent, but that's the consistency up here for him (indicating). His average are Top 5s almost.

Q. Scott, you played very well at the Ryder Cup this year. Unsung hero or whatever. Did you come in with an extra load of confidence this week, playing so well in that big spotlight?

SCOTT HOCH: If I'd have come in bringing something from the Ryder Cup, it wouldn't have been confidence. I mean, I was 2-0-1, but it wasn't because of my sterling play. It's because Kite knew how to pair me up with a good partner. I'd say my partners helped me up there. I had some good shots. But I think they put me on the team just to make the matches closer (laughter). I mean, I wish I'd had been hitting the ball like I am now when I was over there, then Kite would have been able to play me. I just wasn't playing that well. Like I said, I was keeping the matches close. You know, I just played very mediocre at best against Montgomerie in the finals, luckily to get half out of it, because he gave me a 15-footer. I wasn't playing good over there and I would have liked to have been because that course would have worked well for me. I would have liked to have had Tom have more confidence in me. I would have had to play better for him to have more confidence in me to play me more in the best ball. He just gave me a chance for the alternate shot because, you know, usually keep the ball on the fairway. I was having problems with my irons that week.

Q. Did you talk to him about only playing three times or did he notice it himself?

SCOTT HOCH: Well, I tell you, I've had two Presidents Cup captains, and him there. I tell you what, I don't know what he could have done to be any better than what he did. He got criticized in the press, by his own admission, by not being more forceful in getting guys to come over from the British Open to play. That's BS. You ask everybody to a man, and one more round there, even three more rounds there would not have made a bit of difference playing that course. It was kind of goofy. Not goofy, but they made it difficult. They took some of our advantages away. Plus the greens were very tough. If you're not going to learn how to read greens, I mean, if you don't know how to read them, you're not going to read them in a day or two more. That's where they beat us, on the greens. That premise that if we'd have come over there for the British - would have been tough for me to go over for the British (laughter) - but it wouldn't have made a bit of difference if I'd have played one round or four more rounds there as far as knowing the course any better. He did everything possible.

Q. He picked up on your --

SCOTT HOCH: He talked to the other players. He had more rapport with all the players, from what I gather from some of the other guys that have been on a number of teams, than any of the captains ever had. Said he did a better job than any of them ever had. You know, I feel bad for Tom because for the job that he did, it should have been a wipe out for us beating them. Unfortunately, he can't play. If he could have played for us, I'm sure we would have won. Unfortunately, he couldn't strap them up and go.

LEE PATTERSON: Go over your birdies for us real quick.

SCOTT HOCH: Why spoil something like this?

LEE PATTERSON: What else you going to talk about?

SCOTT HOCH: Nothing. We don't need to know about birdies. I birdied one, five, eight, nine, ten, 11, 13 (laughter). Birdied the 1st hole from about eight feet.

Q. What did you hit in?

SCOTT HOCH: I can't even remember the 1st hole now. Can't remember.

Q. 7, 8?

SCOTT HOCH: No. That would have been what they hit. I probably hit 5. Wait a minute. I think 5-iron. Where was the pin? 5-iron sounds good (laughter). 7-iron yesterday, you can put that, birdied it yesterday with a 7-iron. Today I can't remember. 5, I hit a driver, 3-wood, up about 18 feet and I eagled it yesterday. Today I hit a pretty good putt, just misread it, 2-putt birdie. 8, I hit it in there about six feet with a 5-iron. 9, I hit a driver, 3-wood, and 2-putted from about 40 feet. 10, I hit a 5-iron in about eight feet. 11, I hit a 5-iron in about eight feet. And 13, I hit a sand wedge in, probably about 12 feet. Made that for birdie. Then drove it in the rough on 18, made bogey.

Q. How long was your sand wedge on 13, how far?

SCOTT HOCH: It was 95 yards. Wind came up. Otherwise I was hoping to knock it in the jar. Hit it right down the stick. Didn't know if it was going to get there. Then the wind came up a little bit and knocked it back. I can get about two more yards out of it if I really try to hit it hard. I thought that was going to be perfect, regular sand wedge.

Q. You were 12 feet short?

SCOTT HOCH: Yes, short.

Q. Just to clarify, when you talk about being short, it's really just short comparatively among the guys that are here, not tour wide?

SCOTT HOCH: If you check my stats, I'm probably 160th driving distance. Averaging about 260, right around 260. But it's a combination of things that are going to be changed, starting in about two weeks. I'm going to do a little research. I didn't want to change balls. The ball I'm playing with, I played for a long time. There are other much longer balls out that Titleist makes. I'm not going to switch brands, just switch that, especially off the tee.

Q. You playing the Balata?

SCOTT HOCH: Yeah. Especially off the tee. All the guys that I used to outdrive or be the same, they're putting it on by me. Plus I need to change drivers. One a little less soft, so when the ball hits the ground, it runs.

Q. Still with the Yonex driver?

SCOTT HOCH: Oh, yes.

Q. I mean when you change.

SCOTT HOCH: Yes, yes. As a matter of fact, this is the end of my contract year. Things look pretty good for staying -- are looking good. Looks like I might still be there before Mickelson takes all the money.

Q. No Shaquille O'Neal free money?

SCOTT HOCH: It's a fair deal. Actually, I probably got -- I probably got paid what the media thinks I got paid (laughter). I'm happy and they're happy with it, so that's fine. I'm not a Kevin Garnett, because nobody would pay me like Kevin Garnett.

Q. Are your kids here this week?


Q. No Halloween plans?

SCOTT HOCH: I kind of messed up by playing late. I was going to fly home and come back. Just kidding (laughter). It would have been a good story. Actually, I just talked to my wife in there. We were concerned about their trick or treating at home, checking on them. They have tornado warnings in Orlando. It's hampering their trick or treating a good bit. I think they're staying really close to the neighborhood. We live in a gated community that's very safe, so everything is fine. The weather is not cooperating there.

Q. Maybe they're all at your house?

SCOTT HOCH: Hope not.

Q. I know you take a lot of pride in the fact that you've had some disappointments in golf before, but always have bounced back pretty strong. Fans I guess, in this city would remember a couple years ago on Sunday --

SCOTT HOCH: I remember (laughter).

Q. Would winning here this week kind of erase some of that?

SCOTT HOCH: That doesn't have anything to do with that. That is something totally separate from any other tournaments that I might have either given away or what people think I gave away or whether I messed up to not win. That was something totally separate because that was just one of those things when, you know, you have a tournament won, and I did, it was ridiculous. That taught me a lesson that, hey, you might have a five or six-shot lead, but it's not over. You still have to grind it all the way in. I let my mind wander. Then all of a sudden when it started getting close, I couldn't get my game back. Started pressing. You know, just completely stepped on myself. That's totally separate. That's something that I never even worry about. You know, just stupidity made me lose that one, not my golf game.

LEE PATTERSON: Anything else?

End of FastScripts....

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