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April 26, 2004

Scott Hoch


CHRIS REIMER: Scott Hoch, shot a bogey-free, 5-under, 67 today for a second place finish, two straight Top 10s now after a tie for 7 at Heritage. Came out, played a few more holes than usual for a Monday finish. Kind of talk about how the day went start-to-finish for you.

SCOTT HOCH: Well, I couldn't tell much from -- I guess I birdied the first hole to start the day and then parred -- I think I went birdie, then bogey, so I was even for the holes that I played this morning. I didn't see anything special in that, nothing that would indicate what I'd do this afternoon, especially when I nailed it off the first hole and didn't even get to the fairway.

The field staff fell asleep on the first hole today. Chris Riley and I both hit good tee balls and we did not get to the fairway. Luckily I was in the short cut, ended up birdieing the first three holes, fourth hole, I had six feet, left center putt, pushed it a little bit, misread it and missed it, otherwise -- that kind of stopped me a little bit because I didn't get anything going.

I don't think I birdied another hole until 12. I birdied the first three and I birdied both par 5s on the backside, and that was my round, 5-under, but where I really got fortunate -- I missed a couple makeable birdie putts, but where I really got fortunate was on 7. I chipped it in for par. I drove it in the rough and tried to get it up, tried to lay up on the left side and hit it in the rough again and then hit my next one over the green, but luckily I had an easy chip and chipped it in for par, and the other guys had shots to the green for their second shots, and both of them made bogey, so there's no justice. I'm sure they're thinking there's no justice in this game.

After the first nine holes Thursday I was trying something new because I putted and hit it so poorly that nine holes that I had to go and do something different, something just wasn't right, and I changed something completely and it worked the rest of the week. It felt good, but coming down the stretch when you're contending and you're working on something new, it doesn't feel as good as it did when you first changed it a day or two before.

I was trying to be aggressive but at the same time have both hands on the wheel, not trying to do something goofy. Vijay was just too tough. I'm not sure if he made any bogeys the last few holes, but if he did he packed them up with a couple birdies.

CHRIS REIMER: You and Vijay were the only two bogey-free rounds today.

SCOTT HOCH: Yeah, thanks, Vijay.

Q. What was it you changed?

SCOTT HOCH: Well, hitting the ball I changed my takeaway a little bit. Last week I felt I should have won the tournament but I gave so many shots away -- either hit a real good shot or a terrible shot, and I led the Tour in birdies last week I was told, and yet I finished four shots back. I gave away four shots just the last day, hitting poor shots into bad spots where I couldn't get them up-and-down, so I changed a little bit there.

Then in my putting I just changed my putting grip. I did instead of one finger overlapping I did two fingers, so I took my right hand out of it more. Instead of like this, I did two fingers over (indicating), so I made both hands more so they worked like one instead of before every now and then I get into that -- it's not so much the yips because I'm not doing this with it, but I'm just not starting on line because the hands are fighting each other.

So I just tried that and I've never done that before. I mean, it was really a weird feeling, but luckily I made the first two putts the other day when I tried it, and I stuck with it and it proved to be very beneficial for me as far as hitting the line, but these greens are so slow. I don't know if you noticed or anybody has talked about it, but there were quite a few times where I hit balls dead in the hole, I just didn't hit them hard enough, but I think everybody did. It just means it was a little tougher to adjust the speed with that new grip, but I was able to hit my lines much easier.

Also when the sun comes out, it's easier for me to see and read the greens. I was having a tough time reading the greens overcast. Some of you know, I've got one eye that's not great. It has a little double vision in it, and when there's not a whole lot of sunlight then it acts like it's double vision, but when it's sunny out then it doesn't bother me. I was having my caddie read a lot of the putts before that, but today I read almost all of them because I could see the line really well.

That was a long answer for whatever question it was.

Q. Do you pay attention or were you paying attention to where Vijay was or what his score was or do you just play the course?

SCOTT HOCH: I was worried about what I was doing, and then when it got towards -- when I got on the back nine, then I was aware of how I stood to the other people. As hard as it played, the pin placements were tough for me to hit anything close to where I could have a good birdie putt, and I didn't, except on the par 5s. I hit good sand wedges up there, good birdie range and made both of them. Other than that, gosh, I didn't have too many birdie putts inside 15 feet.

Q. I hear you had a lot of reservations coming here, this golf course.

SCOTT HOCH: Well, any time that you play a course and play it for -- whatever course it was over there, I enjoyed the first one, and then they went to TPC. Whenever you've had success and you like that course and they change it, you're going to be disappointed, and I was.

I saw two different courses this week. I saw it hard and fast, and then today the wind switched and blew the opposite direction, and it was soft, and I think it caught the players by surprise because we hadn't practiced in this type of wind. Like I said, the tees the first hole, we couldn't even get there, but we might have been playing when it was gusting the most on 1.

I like this course a lot better after the last two days than I did the first two. Actually I thought it was fine. It worked to my game because it had rough, and I like hard and fast where no matter whether you hit it long or short, you've got to hit good drives to stay in the fairway, otherwise they'll run until they get in the rough, and I like that.

When it plays soft, it's not to my advantage at all. It hurts me because then the ball doesn't roll as much and more people are going to hit more fairways, and when I hit the fairway it's going to be a longer shot, and when I hit the rough I'm going to have hardly any chance of reaching the green.

Luckily I played really well, and the errant shots that I did hit I was in a place that I could recover from. That was the key today.

Q. As far as chasing down somebody, is there anyone that's tougher to catch in this kind of situation than Vijay? He's so steady.

SCOTT HOCH: Well, he was this time, but that's not his normal game. His normal game is he'll make a bogey and make three birdies. I think for anybody to play today without a bogey, they had to have some really good up-and-downs or really good putts or something like that.

He's an excellent player, one of our best. Last year he was playing better than anybody when the season was over. He's one of our top players. Obviously when they're playing good, they're tough to catch, and he played behind me the first -- gosh, was it the last two days? I'm getting the days confused, but every time I looked he played behind me every day.

The first two rounds he played right behind me. I was looking back the second day and he was hitting everything right down the fairway 40 yards farther than where I was. It's a lot easier to play this game -- he's long, and when long hitters are in sync it's going to be tough to beat them. When he's playing well and he's not hitting errant tee balls or errant shots, shoot, it's going to be doubly tough to beat him, and I couldn't beat him. I did as good as I could do, and I'm pleased with how I finished. I couldn't have done any better.

Q. It must be a lot more satisfying than your last runner-up finish?

SCOTT HOCH: Oh, yeah, I gave that one up big-time. You don't know what happened under the table after the tournament. He hasn't won for so long, and it had only been a couple years for me (laughter). I was just kidding.

That was definitely my biggest throw-away out here, but I learned something from that. I was writing my speech on 11 or 12. I said, this is a cakewalk. I learned that it ain't over until it's over. The course changed while I was playing the back nine, it baked out, hit a few errant shots, didn't recover, and then I started pressing. That's why I lost that day.

He played really well to catch me. I mean, it wasn't just me playing poorly, but he played really well to catch me.

Q. You've been back I think every year since except last year?

SCOTT HOCH: Like I said the other day when I was in here, that was my silent protest, not coming last year, but nobody heard me.

I was disappointed they moved it, plus I had called ahead and found out how the course was set up. I had already heard it's going to be a really long course, and that doesn't bother me, but when I heard they didn't have much -- the greens are not the best and they didn't have hardly any rough or it was very patchy, that wasn't for me. I was already disappointed that they moved it, and it was an easy call for me not to come.

To be truthful, I didn't commit here until Friday, and my wife had a lot to do with my coming. I played really well, hit a lot of good shots last week and felt I gave away the tournament easily. If I just hit iron shots like I normally do -- she said, you're close, you ought to go there. Gosh, I better not say for one time she's right (laughter), but I'm glad she almost made me come, but like I said, when she brought it to my attention that I really played well last week and I could have won, which I already knew, and that I was close to playing real well, that made me think, yeah, why not go. That's the time to play when you're playing well, and you work on a few things you're doing poorly and if you get those corrected you really play well.

I guess that's what I did, and any time you play this well and finish 2nd in the tournament, you've had to have played well, at least for me. I'm looking forward to coming back as long as they continue to have the rough here next year. I'll pull a Jay Haas, play for a few more years. He's my hero, that old man (laughter).

CHRIS REIMER: Two straight Top 10s, does that change your schedule the next couple of tournaments?

SCOTT HOCH: No, I'm going to try to get through the next few weeks. My hand started bothering me a little bit this week. I don't know if it's the change in the weather all the time, but it bothered me. It didn't bother me playing, so I could go to the range and work it out to where it didn't bother me when I was playing. I hit a bunch of balls on the range and loosened up and I was fine.

I always was planning to play New Orleans because my wife and I love to go there and eat our way through the city. The next week is Wachovia, which is close to Charlotte, where I grew up, and I want to go up there and play close to home. Then I'll have time off because then I'm going fishing for one week and then the next week my daughter graduates from high school, and then we'll be empty nesters.

CHRIS REIMER: Real quickly just run through your club selections on the birdies.

SCOTT HOCH: Well, first hole you already know I didn't hit the fairway, and then I hit a wood out of the short rough, then sand wedge say seven feet, made it for birdie.

2, I hit a 4-iron about two feet, made it for birdie -- actually, no, it was about a foot.

3, I hit a 6-iron about 15 feet, made it for birdie.

Next one, I told you I hit about six feet, missed it, stopped my momentum.

12 I hit a sand wedge up about five feet, made it for birdie.

Then 15, hit a sand wedge about six feet, made that for birdie.

And I made a few good up-and-downs along the way.

End of FastScripts.

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