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March 3, 2004

Scott Hoch


JOHN BUSH: We'd like to welcome Scott Hoch, our defending champion at the Ford championship at Doral. Tee time I'm sure today won't take too long. Thanks again for coming. You're 11th victory here last year on TOUR, if you can comment a little bit about last year and also coming back to the Doral.

SCOTT HOCH: I guess last year is pretty much old news but it feels good to come back the way the weather is. I saw last night it's going to be in the 80s and getting warmer through the week. It's going to be breezy, from what I gather, the first couple of days. I'm sure all of the players are happy to get off the West Coast just weather wise. I'm sure this is nice to be playing in compared to the rain and I guess they had fairly decent weather once it stopped raining in the different venues. It's good to be back here.

Obviously, last year was great for me. Some people tried to make it a little bit of a negative but actually, I did not get much about that last year being a negative going to Monday. I think I got maybe two letters of all of the correspondence I did get two letters condemning me for doing that.

Actually, they weren't too bad. One guy said, that was like the third worst sportsmanship thing he had ever seen. One of them was Tiger moving the boulder at 1, and then somebody else I can't remember what the other instance was, but I remember when I read it, I said I was in pretty good company. (Laughter.)

Some people tried to make it as a type of gamesmanship but it wasn't that at all. Especially, to do it to Jim, everybody likes Jim. He's a great guy and he's one of my partners that we team up with in the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup. Matter of fact, one year, we had scheduled to play with each other at the Shark Shootout. But I think he was bothered by his wrist again that year and had to pull out at the last minute. You know, it's always good to win, especially when you get a little older. You don't know when your last win is going to be. So that definitely made it a little unusual.

But, yeah, they have a very good field here and I had to played really well to do it, especially going back in overtime. The next day that's not anything that I really wanted to do is comeback the next day. Because when I saw his putt, he had probably about a four and a half footer and I had about nine and a half feet. When I saw his four and a half footer, I said, "there's no way he could miss this." The night before he could have. I pretty much felt I had to make mine and luckily I did. I hit three perfect shots on the last hole to make birdie to win. It's always the way that you like to win, by hitting really good shots.

Q. Are you still maintaining the same workout routine that you were talking about last year, and can you say it has definitely helped you play more effective golf into your later 40s?

SCOTT HOCH: Well, I was working out pretty good, and this year I started working out, too. Then I had some difficulties with my hand again. I don't know if the workout helped cause the problems or not. But obviously when you are working out and working with weights and stuff like that, there's a lot of strain on your hands. My hand, when I started back practicing, which was three weeks or so after I started working out, then it started coming back on again. So then I had to stop my workouts. So I haven't been working out this year. I worked out for about three or four weeks and then that was it.

Q. But do you think overall it's helped you stay effective?

SCOTT HOCH: Yes, it, has to. I've been doing it the last four or five years. And I think you have to. Actually my chiropractor showed me an article years ago, showing once a man turns 40 or 45, if they don't do anything to replenish their muscle, they start losing muscle mass, and I can't remember exactly how much it is per year. I guess the key age, it's not for everybody, but usually around 40 or 45, if you don't do anything extra, then you're going to start losing your muscle mass. If you continue to just do the same stuff you normally do, you're going to get weaker, because your body starts to lose muscle mass, and so you have to do more to try to keep your strength. That's the norm, anyway, unless you play baseball, I guess.

Q. What is the deal with the left wrist now? What's the status? You've only been playing intermittently so far?

SCOTT HOCH: That's not because of my hand; that was choice. The West Coast is the bomber's paradise and I choose not to go out there. I went out the first couple of weeks because my family wanted to go out. Normally, I don't start till the last two weeks of last two weeks of the West Coast, and this year I played the first two weeks in Hawaii and then The Match Play.

Actually, health wise, I'm in good shape right now.

Q. Most players are usually complimentary to golf courses you're playing on currently, but how does Doral compare now after the two sessions they have done on it to when it originally was the Blue Monster?

SCOTT HOCH: What people don't seem to understand nowadays is, it was the Blue Monster. Sure, the ball and equipment, it makes it a little easier. But what made it tough before is we had six inch bermudarough before. We had high rough here. If you miss the rough, most likely, you could not get it to the green.

God, last eight, ten years, we haven't had any rough here. Matter of fact, one year, I got on John Brendel because we had no rough here, none and that was about three or four years ago. That's all you need to do to toughen up what everybody is doing now is making all of these courses longer. Shoot, there are a lot of different ways to do it and probably a lot easier, just grow some rough.

But this being a resort course, I understand, you grow rough beforehand, get it where it needs to, then the people that play here are going to have difficulty before the tournament gets here. The people, the guests that come here and play. But that's the way it used to be before.

I remember in particular, I got a 7 wood while I was here just to play out of this course. I got it when I got down here. I saw how the rough was and I got a 7 wood just so I could use it to hit it out of the rough. And that's all the key it was.

And then the first redo was horrible. And I think now it's kind of it's kind of back to the way it was well, last year was kind of back to the way it was, except we just have a little gratuitous rough out there. It's not much at all. But if you really want to get back, that's the way it used to be.

Give you an example of how it makes things change. You know, you guys can look it up. But for about ten years at TPC, they didn't have any rough there. Scores were pretty low. I didn't make a check there for ten years. One year, I didn't even play. I said, I wasn't going to play and they tried to talk me into coming back to play. I can't remember if it was Finchem or before that. But I said, hey, 100% of zero is still zero, so no sense going there and be frustrated. I think that was the year that Norman shot the record.

They called me next year, you've got to come back, we want to have you, we want the strongest field, and we have rough this year. So I went back. I think I've played it maybe eight years since that time and I've played seven last year I didn't play because I was hurt. Maybe of those seven tournaments that I have played since they have had rough there, I have not finished out of the Top 10 but once and that was a 13th or 14th finish and I had a couple of chances to win.

So, that in itself shows sure, it has to do with the perception of how I feel playing a course that has some rough or takes into account that you have to hit it somewhat straight or be in position with the ball to play. But now it's just knowing that I have a chance and I feel better about playing the course. When you don't have rough, like this one didn't for years, then you lose the teeth on it and that's why it's not a Blue Monster. The courses could just go to growing the rough or pinching it in a little bit, if you do some rough, just making the fairways not so wide and get back to the way we used play a lot of courses in the old days.

Matter of fact, from what I gather, they just had a TOUR meeting with our representatives, and found out that 15 years ago, correlation between distance you hit it off the tee and Money List, it ran all over the place. It wasn't a set deal. But now, they run that same graph, all the long hitters are up here for money win. So that tells it for one thing. Length definitely makes it different now than before; why is that? Maybe less trouble on the golf courses. Maybe bigger fairways, not as much rough. But, sure, it has something to do with it. But even the shorter ones are hitting it longer, so that shouldn't be that big difference in the graph.

This is what I was told. I don't know this personally but this is what I've been told by one of the reps, is that they discussed it and that explains it.

We do have our top players, which would be our top players even if we had rough. In fact, Tiger would probably welcome it, or he did before the last couple of years since he has not driven it so well but before that he would love to have tight fairways, long courses and everything else because he drove it well and did everything well.

Q. Continuing on setup, have you been over to Arnold's lately and has he changed the mix of concrete in the off season? Has it softened up at all? Are you playing?

SCOTT HOCH: I've been there and the rain seems to be the same. Actually, Robert Damron, he plays a lot there and I practice a lot with him. He says, yes, it's so much more receptive than it was during tournament time. But then, he also premised it with, it was that way last year until it got to tournament time. That's one tournament where I don't think our field staff has that much say so in it. They do, she should and all of the other ones, but I think when Palmer they ultimately know who pays their checks, the superintendent and everything else. So I think they set it up the way Palmer wants it. This is kind of what I've heard through the grapevine.

Q. Speaking of the long hitters and stuff, Phil is playing pretty decent so far this year, and talking to a couple of players, they seem to be expressing surprise that Phil has actually toned it down and is hitting fairways. And, oh, boy the way he's

SCOTT HOCH: Amazing. Amazing. (Laughter.)

Q. Got a few Top 10s and a win. Do you think this is something Phil probably should have done a long time ago and is the reason he's playing well so far this year is because he's hitting fairways?

SCOTT HOCH: I'm sure it's a combination but I'm sure it has a lot to do with it. I was telling his caddie, I was so thrilled for him watching him the first time he won, how straight he was hitting it. He's backing off and found a club instead of hitting driver all the time; found a club that he can get in the fairway and still get it out there.

Then I think the next tournament he started out really well, too, but probably didn't finish as well, but I guess he's had pretty much all top 5s or something. That's some awfully good playing. It's not just that, but I'm sure it has a lot to do with it. It's a lot easier to play when you're playing from inside the ropes.

Q. Do you think one of the situations with Phil in the past is that with all of the ability he had, do you think he still made too many demands of that ability, especially around the greens? He put himself in situations where he had to hit a shot that only he or Tiger could execute half the time, anyway?

SCOTT HOCH: Well, with Phil, I've seen him hit some of the best chip shots of anybody and some that nobody would even try. I mean, one in particular, I remember at Augusta, I was playing with him, but nobody else would even try that shot. He tried it and pulled it off.

But then again, I've also seen him hit some of the absolute worst chip shots of anybody, trying to make something trying to make such a spectacular shot that he didn't even pull it off and it wasn't that hard of a shot to just try to hit a regular one. Maybe that is because he just has so much talent and thinks that he can do it.

That probably was part of his problem, not so much chipping, but around the golf courses, he thought he had so much confidence in his ability, that sometimes the mechanism upstairs that says, no, no, that's not the right shot, that mechanism wasn't working sometimes.

Perfect example was Bay Hill. I've been there and seen where he tried to hit that shot, I guess two years ago, when all he had to do he's such a good wedge player, all he has to do is hit out, wedge to the green and still make his birdie. It very well could have cost him the tournament.

Sometimes you've got to calm down. You've to figure out the percentages. Not that you play safe all the time but you have to know when to go for it. And after a while, you've got to look back and say, hey, maybe I am too aggressive or it doesn't pay off that often.

I was flipping through the channels last night and somebody asked him that question on the Golf Channel. He said he's won some golf tournaments that way and he's also lost some golf tournaments that way. I feel like he's lost more tournaments than he has won that way and I am sure a lot of the other players feel the same way. We all know he's got tremendous ability and he's a great player, but sometimes I think he has more confidence in hitting certain shots than is prudent for him to try.

JOHN BUSH: Scott, thank you for coming by again and play well this week.

SCOTT HOCH: Oh, y'all didn't ask me, I'm very surprised. I'm very disappointed in not asking me about the changes in the course. Come on, guys.

Q. So what do you think about the changes in the course? Did you play 18 yet?

SCOTT HOCH: Well, 18 sucks. (Laughter.)

But the thing is, all of the other additions are fine. 18 is probably fine, too, depending on how our field staff treats it. We don't need to play it all the way back. They at least have a tee they don't have it to where we have it all the way back or we have to play it up front. It's not like they added a tee that you don't have anything in between. They have a long tee there and we can play it up, depending on conditions.

I'm playing yesterday, the wind is a little into us, left to right. It's blowing decent but it's supposed to be pretty breezy this week. I killed a drive and hit a 3 iron. I mean, I could not get it to the to the neck. I mean, I didn't even get it to the neck. Kenny Perry, he nailed it, and I think he hit 4 iron.

Last year, I know I hit 9 irons, it was a little down, left to right, but I nailed three drives in a row and had to hit 9 iron the last three times I played 18.

I also remember back when I finished second behind Andy Bean that this is 12 years ago or whatever, I hit 9 iron into that hole the last day; the pin is back left. So it just depends on how the wind is going.

It definitely played a little easier because of the way the wind was blowing, but then again, back before, we had the rough and if you hit it in the rough, it was pretty severe. And if you put rough down the left side instead of where that bunker was, then that would have made it a lot harder, too. But just adding 40 yards or whatever they did if they put it back and had some wind against that would be a bear of a hole, plus, and it doesn't give you very much place to hit it. Where most of them should be hitting it is in the narrow part of the fairway where the neck is and a lot of the long hitters with the wind against can still carry it past the neck.

Q. Does it matter about the fairway bunker on left that's now grass? Does that change the way anybody plays it now?

SCOTT HOCH: No. Before if you had a high rough there instead of the bunker, yes, it would make it difficult and you probably would not have been able to go for the green. I think the bunker made it much easier, you just had to carry the water.

It's a lot easier hitting out of the bunker than it is rough. But to get this course back to the way it used to play, just get that four inch, six inch rough here, like it used to be. That's what made it really tough.

But overall the changes are fine. They made some good changes here except for 18, and that could be fine, as long as our field staff understands and doesn't try to make it too hard just and not use the very back of the tee just because it's there.

Q. Who is your caddie this week?

SCOTT HOCH: TJ; Tom Janice. Actually he worked for me one week in the past and I won. Nobody else would caddie for me.

Q. Which one?

SCOTT HOCH: Milwaukee years ago. I was taking time off and I just called the tournament and tried to find some caddies. I can't remember what happened with mine that week. It was the week after the World Series and everybody had their pockets full and nobody was interested in caddying. They said, call this guy, he's been out of caddying for a while, but he'd be glad to come back and caddie and he used to caddie for O'Meara. He was with me the last two weeks. We're just trying it out, trying different things out. He's with me actually he was with me last week; that's the only week I played. And then he's with me this week and Bay Hill and we'll just go from there.

JOHN BUSH: Thank you, Scott.

End of FastScripts.

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