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March 6, 2003

Scott Hoch


JOHN BUSH: Scott, thanks for coming back, 6-under par, 66. A great round this morning.

SCOTT HOCH: Yes, sir. I feel good, especially considering yesterday I didn't know if I was going to be able to play, and I didn't notice I was going to be able to play until about 10 balls from the end of practicing. I had -- something in my hand kind of locked up yesterday and I had a problem and it got worse as the day went on. I couldn't hit it in a 10-acre field. I couldn't release on it. I had a lot of trouble hitting the driver. He worked on it in the trailer and taped it up and he said keep the tape on it all night. He wanted to keep it stable since he didn't have any type of brace. He cut the tape off this morning, I tried hitting balls, it didn't hurt me but it felt really weak. It loosened up, I hit some good shots and said we'll give it a try. The alternate was hovering around, he said, are you sure you are feeling all right, looks like you are coming up on it, favoring it a little bit.

Q. Who was that?

SCOTT HOCH: Vance Veazey. The guy that's the next alternate. When I first got there day Monday told me it looks like we might not go, that's my caddy.

Q. Did he actually say those things?

SCOTT HOCH: No, he was kidding. He said he just signed up with the MasterCard deal that they had on the thing and he got a $50 certificate towards -- he said he would give that to me and he would buy me a nice bottle of wine, a nice bottle of wine there could be two or three hundred bucks, he said how about a nice glass then. (Laughter).

Q. This is the left wrist?

SCOTT HOCH: Yes, this was different, not the same that I had the last couple of -- this is more in here, what happened, I thought it almost felt like a tendon or ligament, it was swollen yesterday. He said, no, because there wasn't any movement in there, I guess things were rubbing.

JOHN BUSH: Not the size of that watch that you are wearing?

SCOTT HOCH: I couldn't even get that on before. No, it's light. Just with my eyes, I have to have a big dial to see.

JOHN BUSH: Get you take us through your round. Started with birdie on 1.

SCOTT HOCH: I used a new putter today. I used one of those futuristic putters from Scotty Cameron, a Futura, because when I was out there at his test facility last week he said here, try this, because I want to see something and boy, I started rolling on camera and that thing rolled better than my putter. Mine was rolling good. I would make a bad stroke and it would roll good, I said, great, fix me up a couple. I never thought I would use it. I'm more of a conventional-type guy. I can't see using something like that. When I was home this weekend and Monday when I was putting it felt really good. I figured I would try. That's the key to my round today. But starting on one, I didn't hit in the fairway. I had to lay up. I hit a sand wedge to about eight feet, birdie.

5, I hit a wedge about eight feet again, made that for birdie.

JOHN BUSH: 7 and 8.

SCOTT HOCH: I actually missed the fairway, hit a real good shot out of the rough up until about twelve feet and made that for birdie. I can remember here. They didn't flip the sides on me this week.

And then on 8 I hit a sand wedge up about 8 or ten feet, made that for birdie. I guess that put me 4-under. Then I had two good birdie putts on 11 and 12. I hit a 3-wood well right of the green on 10. That wasn't a good spot to have it. I had to hit it on the green and 2-putt for par.

I hit two good shots on 11 and 12, left them short, that was about the only putts I could miss with that putter just by hitting it short.

Next green I missed was the long par-3 which was kind of rude today, and it is always rude for me, can't ever keep the ball on the green. I had to make an eight-footer for par. Then I hit it about eight feet on the next hole with an 8-iron and made that for birdie.

And then 16 I hit it with a wedge up about ten feet, made that for birdie.

Q. Do you ever remember being in Vance's situation?

SCOTT HOCH: I don't think I ever was an alternate. I understand, you love to play. Hopefully he got in.

Q. So is this round somewhat of an unattended benefit to losing to Tiger because you got a chance to go home and play around with that putter?

SCOTT HOCH: Actually I didn't putt with it until Monday. I didn't do anything. I just took a break maybe Saturday morning when I got home. Couldn't do anything Sunday. I had a lesson with Leadbetter on Monday, just kind of overlook what I'm doing, see if I'm doing things pretty well and I was, so we didn't really make changes. I just hit Monday and my hand started bothering me then. Maybe when you take off as long as I did and you start playing, all of a sudden you play for two straight weeks it might take its toll, I don't know. I'm going to go back down there today and have him work with it. It's moving a lot better than it did yesterday.

Q. Obviously you played well on the West Coast --

SCOTT HOCH: I played L.A. and there I did play good in my matches. I only started playing good when the matches started out there.

Q. What drove you to change putters?

SCOTT HOCH: Because this one on camera, and on the putting green, that ball was rolling so good that, you know, all you have to do is pick a line and hit it hard enough and it's going to go in. The ball was rolling so well. I don't change putters. The putter I am using now I probably use the last four or five years with just a few weeks -- every now and then I might try something just to show that putter that it doesn't have a permanent home. But you know, I always go back to it. It felt good today. I missed a couple of putts, makeable birdie putts that I left short dead in the middle from ten feet. That's the one thing I got to get used to, speed, with that thing. I hit a lot of good putts and the balls were rolling well. I know these greens are better than out there to make the ball roll. I was able to start on line and roll it well. And what better time right now than try when you are not really sure with how you are playing or your hand or anything else, I said, sure, let's just go with it today. I putted good with it yesterday, the practice round and the pro-am yesterday.

Q. Did you see Sports Illustrated last week?


Q. Is that a compliment or a criticism?

SCOTT HOCH: For what? Which one, ranked No. 2 or 3? The one where I was 2nd or the question I was third?

Q. Which one were you third in?

SCOTT HOCH: I was behind Loren -- Loren is the biggest one on the course but they got me for whining off the course and complaining about the setups, that was my baggage of courage there because I was speaking out for the other short guys.

Q. I meant more for the underrated category, do you take that as positive, a compliment?

SCOTT HOCH: Well, that's what I have heard all of my career, even as of the second year. So it really hasn't changed. You know, you just go out there and play and it's nice that people feel that you are underrated. David Toms I think, I don't know if he was first or not, but he was ahead of me. I'm not sure how the players consider him to be underrated, because we all think he is pretty damn good, I do, any way. Chris Smith, I don't even know if I played with him so I can't really assess his game.

Q. How good is it for you to have such a low maintenance swing at this point in your career when you don't want to be out there beating balls?

SCOTT HOCH: It's been one that hasn't changed much over the years. There is only a couple of things that usually gone wrong with it and once you go over -- once you think about those couple of things, if that doesn't correct it, then I have a problem but usually I will ask somebody and they can find out -- see something in it that I might be doing that I didn't realize I was doing. It's good to have a swing that's fairly repeatable. I told people this for years that if you really want to be good, you need to be a mechanical player. But if you want to be consistent, but you might not have reached the highs and lows that the mechanical player does, then be a field player and that's really what I am. I wouldn't be able to play this game if I became involved too much with mechanics. So I mean that's why -- I don't have the lows that a lot of people have and probably don't get to the highs that many of the people do like for six weeks or eight weeks when they get hot and all of a sudden they fall off the earth and come back again in another two or three months.

Q. How many rounds did you play from last season to the start?

SCOTT HOCH: SHARK Shootout, middle of November, I did not play until four days before L.A. I played 3 out of the four days before I left to go to L.A. to play my first tournament. I didn't play a single hole other than that.

Q. Three months, two months?

SCOTT HOCH: Probably two and a half months. Wait a minute, almost three months probably playing around. But I probably hit balls two and a half weeks before I went out to the West Coast. It would help if I played but it just takes too much time to play.

Q. Did you get your other eye examined, I can't remember?

SCOTT HOCH: I got rid of half of my double vision so now it's very manageable. Now I wear a contact on it to flatten out my cornea so I don't see double. Before it was too much. I had a bad astigmatism and I had to wear a torque soft contact that was supposed to be waited properly so it fit my particular astigmatism but I never could get it just right last year so I had difficulty that. Then I had the surgery and that one eye just didn't heal the way the computer says it's supposed to, but it got rid of half of the astigmatism, so now I put a hard contact on it to flatten it out. See, what an astigmatism is, is like you a waffle on your cornea, it's not smooth or rounded. It's wavy see. So by putting a contact on it then it just evens it out so now I have a nice smooth cornea with a cornea. I see 20/10 in my left eye and a little better than 20/15 in my right. My vision is very good straight ahead, but if I peripherate on my right eye, it's still a little double.

Q. That's three times in the last 12 months?

SCOTT HOCH: Three times total, but I got the best guy in country doing it. My optometrist which he is a very good guy in Orlando, he looks at it and says it's amazing, to do that you can't even see the flap. He said he seen people do their eyes one time and the flap is a lot more noticeable than mine. It's not something that you want to keep doing. Like I said, right now mine is very manageable and I see very well out of it. That's not a problem. The problem is getting used to having one contact in and not having one in the other. That was tough getting used to. It does change your death perception a bit. Now that we have had our medical conference here, we can get on.

Q. I wanted to ask you about the course set up, a lot has been made --

SCOTT HOCH: We already talked about that.

Q. I will check the sheet then.

SCOTT HOCH: (Laughter.)

Q. A lot has been made for courses being set up too much for bombers, how does this one set up?

SCOTT HOCH: I think it's a pretty fair course for everybody. They seem to have pinched in the fairways some. They have some rough out there. Sure, you can hit some shots in the rough and have a decent lie and be able to get it on the green but yet even if your decent lie is in the rough, I'm talking about out of the first cut into the main rough, it's still tough to get the ball closer to keep the ball on the green. I mean, I think this is a very fair course because there are a lot of holes here that are slight dog-legs and with the winds coming across, the guys just can't bomb it out there. The wind is going to move it. Actually, a lot of the holes are crosswind. So I mean you have to hit good shots to keep the ball in the fairway and I think to score you have to keep the ball in the fairway here, and if you miss the greens, whether you are hitting out of the rough or hitting out of the fairway to miss the greens you get some pretty gnarly lies out there around the greens. They got some good rough.

What most people think that I complain about is I want to play short courses with rough. That's not true. You can get an 8,000 yard course if you want to, as long as it has rough or penalty for errant shots. I think that's another thing that Nick Price was talking about in L.A. It's getting to where it is a bomber's course, a bomber's TOUR. But they would run the TOUR. That's what the people are drawn to. It's always been that way.

I mean other than Gary Player what short hitter has really gotten a whole lot of notoriety since those days. The long hitters are the ones that have carried the TOUR. The longer I have been out here the more they have given them the benefit, and because every time they tee up they seemed to be favored because of the way the courses are set up. And I think a lot of us would like to just see more variety. I mean I love to see all of the courses fit my game but I know that's not fair. Just like the long hitters, they shouldn't all fit their game. And for the last couple of years -- not so much last year but 2001 -- 2000, 2001, it seems like the courses were really set up easy for the long hitters. Last year seemed to be better and what I have seen this year it seems like the setup has been good. Except on the West Coast. That's why I don't go to the West Coast. You have pro-ams there. You can't have much rough. So you can't play the courses as tough as they can play. You have to play them easy, that's why I don't go. I can't compete now with the long hitters out on the West Coast. But I think they are doing a better job from what I have seen the last two or three weeks as far as setting things up.

And I heard that they had a tour meeting and that is one of the things they said they want to do, without making all of these courses so much longer, as far as making them more difficult, let's figure other ways to make them more difficult. About the only way you do that is rough or hard greens.

Q. Pins?

SCOTT HOCH: But even if you have hard greens that still favors the long hitter if you don't have rough.

Q. Scott, what was the putter you were using before you went to the Futura?

SCOTT HOCH: A Scotty Cameron. That's just a basic design, my design, the one that works good for me.

Q. Is this one the same style?

SCOTT HOCH: No, you have to see it. It looks like a potato masher with holes in it. I don't know. It looks very different, that's the thing you got to get past, is how it looks. I go for how a club looks. I'm very traditional as far as how clubs look. This one does not fit the traditional pattern at all so it's taking some getting used to as far as looking down at it. The proof is in the pudding. It rolls so good. If you can look past that, how it looks, and you can get used to it. I hope I do get used to it. That means I will continue to putt well with it and still use it.

Q. You can take it to the British Open this year.

SCOTT HOCH: I probably can.

Q. Are you going to the Open this year?

SCOTT HOCH: Yes. What? (Laughter) That's yet to be decided.

Q. It's a little early for that?

SCOTT HOCH: Are we playing one of the Saint courses?

Q. Yes. It's the one where they did Goldfinger, Royal St. George's?

SCOTT HOCH: That's the Saint course. I have a tough time with the Saint courses over there. Anything with the Saint courses has been tough on me.

Q. Which irons are you using this week?

SCOTT HOCH: The Unix, (phonetic) the same ones that I played last week when I first got them in L.A. or started playing with them in L.A. I was swinging back for a few days then I started hitting it better on Sunday at L.A., then I really started hitting it good. During my first 3 matches I was really hitting my irons really well. It's back like the old days. I was really hitting it right at the pin. New ball, new clubs, they were on line, but sometimes I didn't quite get the yardages right. I was really hitting them good and then we had to play it down when I played Tiger, that put me behind the 8 ball right there. All of a sudden I'm hitting 5 irons for the first 7, 8 holes, and with dirt and mud and water on them, there is dew, and how wet the fairways were, and all of a sudden now I couldn't hit my shots in there in birdie range. So that made a difference for me, then I started playing better. But he already put the vice on me and wouldn't let go.

Q. Are the old irons still in Japan or at home?

SCOTT HOCH: No, they were at home when I got there. As a matter of fact, I brought them here. I got a couple of other sets, too. We will see, they got a new model they want me to try. I'm off this next week I might -- they do look really good. That's one thing about it. Their clubs are by far the best irons that I ever played with. That's why I have been able to stay with them for all of these years. They make great clubs.

Q. You threatened to maybe not go back to Augusta last year, you said I don't know if I'm coming back?

SCOTT HOCH: After I played it?

Q. Yes, after you played a couple of rounds.

SCOTT HOCH: I don't know where you got that.

Q. I believe it was from you.

SCOTT HOCH: No, no after I played it -- I said beforehand, I said I can't see going back if the course is playing like they are talking about, all of these long -- after I played it, I thought, man, it doesn't fit my game, but I like it better. It's more of a challenge now than it was before. It was a long hitter's course. It didn't matter where they hit it. Now the long hitter has to govern his ball, has to position his ball, has to be able to control his ball. So that takes a lot of long hitters that aren't very accurate out of the equation. So I think in that respect it has eliminated a number of people. Unfortunately, it made it tougher for me with the length. But it wasn't just the length that they added. They added the position where they put the trouble. They did such a good job with that of throttling all of the long hitters's back unless they wanted to hit it between the bunker and trees or something like that and still hit a driver. I was much more pleased with the additions when I got there and played than when I hurt about it beforehand. But, no, after I played I didn't say I wouldn't go back. I didn't know if I qualified to go back. That might have been the thing but not because I thought it was unfair or unjust. It's a unique tournament. It's tough for me to play well there now the way they have it but it's a unique tournament that I always like to qualify for and play in.

Q. I would hate to see you miss it in year, because there is not going to be much going on now.

SCOTT HOCH: I just don't know which picket line to get in. You got so many good groups that are going to be there.

JOHN BUSH: Scott, thanks for coming in and good luck the rest of the week.

End of FastScripts....

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