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February 24, 2000

Scott Hoch


LEE PATTERSON: Well, excellent second day at this year's World Golf Championships - Andersen Consulting Match Play Championship. Maybe a couple of thoughts about the match and heading into tomorrow.

SCOTT HOCH: Well, it's always a tough match when you play one of the best players in the world. And Lee has proven that he is. And especially under these conditions. These aren't exactly my perfect conditions, and with it wet and not exactly warm and stuff. I feel fortunate. I hit a lot of good shots and just wasn't quite as sharp as yesterday, though, although I drove it better today. I had a number of good shots, but I let my mind wander a few holes. And when I thought I would win the hole, I ended up losing it. That's the way match play is.

Q. Scott, 9 through 13 was pretty wild. There were a lot of different things that happened there. What stands out?

SCOTT HOCH: Did you see it, or are you looking at the card?

Q. Looking at the card.

SCOTT HOCH: Yeah, it was. 9, I didn't think any of you guys were out there. You didn't look like any of the six people that were out there. Well, 9, I hit a 9-iron, I hit about 4 inches from the hole and bounced past the pin. Came back to just be about two feet or a foot and a half. And I was conceded the putt. So I birdied there. Then the next hole, he hits in the bunker; I hit it left side of the green. I'm just trying to 2-putt. I lip out my first one, and I have about 3 and a half feet. And -- but in the meantime, he had hit a poor sand shot, and he had about 15 feet. That's why I was trying to 2-putt. I lipped it out, and then he made his, and then I missed mine. So that was one of the ones I was talking about where it was a two-hole swing, when I think I'm going to win and he wins. And I was ticked off enough that the pins cut a little bit to the right, and I probably aimed more at it to get it back. Once you lose the hole, I want to try to get it back within reason. And I landed it about 2 to 3 inches from the hole there. And it was conceded. And then the next hole, a par-5, where I hit a sand wedge that landed about an inch from the hole, and for whatever reason it skipped forward. But fortunate for me, I was able to make it for birdie. So like you say, it was kind of a wild ride there. I felt I should have won every hole. And I won -- I guess I won 3 and lost one. But after that, the holes get tougher, and it's more or less just trying to hold on. When you get a two-shot lead in conditions like this, you figure all you need to do, at least for the time being, hit fairways and hit greens, and then make pars. It's going to be very difficult to make birdies. He's going to have to do something. And obviously if he makes a birdie or two, then my strategy has to change. But for a while there, that's all I was trying to do. And I was doing it well, except 15, I hit it about two inches into the thick rough. And it was thick, and I thought I could get it over the creek, and I couldn't get it over the creek. And he goes and hits a tree. And fortunately for him it didn't go in the water. And then I laid back and hit a real good wedge up there about five feet right above the hole, and I misread it, probably mis-putted it, too, after he made his bogey. So I ended up losing that hole. Then my strategy had to change. And then I hit really good shots the last three holes. Although 16, I didn't carry the bunker; it just played long, and I just held on.

Q. Did you have any inkling coming into this week of what it would be like, given what you've done previously this year?

SCOTT HOCH: Well, I haven't been playing too well. But I really started playing well last week, and I started making some putts. Although -- and I just did some no- brainers on the greens, too. But I think these greens lend themselves to that. It's very tough putting. Well, actually from what I heard, San Diego last week and this week, because of the spongy greens and poa annua and everything in it, it's tough playing. I happened to make some putts and hit some good shots, so I was encouraged by how it was going. When it started raining here, all that encouragement left, because that just meant it played really long and I'll probably be the shortest player left in the field after this. Matter of fact, I might have been one of the shortest starting the field. But especially under these conditions with it being so soft. But then again, as long as it's playing a little longer and the guys can't really hit the par-5s, I figure I might have the advantage. Because if I look over, I've done really well on the par-5s in my matches against the long hitters, because my wedge game has really been good. I birdied the first three today to win those.

Q. What surprised you or otherwise about Lee Westwood today?

SCOTT HOCH: What do you mean surprised me?

Q. What were you expecting from him?

SCOTT HOCH: I was expecting a tough match, and I was hoping I'd give him a good match. And he's a good player. It's more or less his type of conditions than mine. He's a strong player. I've played with him before. I've played against him in the Ryder Cup. And just look at what his record has been the last few years. He finished second to Monty last year in the Order of Merit. So he's a good player, especially under these conditions. And honestly he wasn't on the top of his game. He was playing well, driving it well, and then he let a few slide through the middle of the round, and then he started hitting some good shots again. But one thing he did do well, he made a lot of 10 -, 12-foot putts, except for the one on 17. But I figured he was going to miss that one. He had a putt on 17 from probably about 8 feet to tie the match up, and that's a very tough putt. I think everybody that's been here has missed that one, at least the first couple of times they've had it, just because it doesn't break like it looks. You almost have to have local knowledge to do that. And even my putt there, I knew what it was going to do, even though it didn't look like it, and I still couldn't play mine in the right place.

Q. Scott, on the subject of length, if you go back in the history of match play, even a long time ago, Paul Runyan didn't hit the ball very far. But he was quoted many times as saying he didn't mind being away because he liked to hit the iron first into the green. And now if you go farther down or more recently, Corey, that's been the situation with Corey. My question is: Can there be an advantage? Particularly if you're hitting your irons well, can there be an advantage of being away in the fairway in match play?

SCOTT HOCH: When you're hitting your irons, yes, it is an advantage. That's what I was telling the guys outside that were interviewing me, that it was fortunate for me that by hitting first you can put pressure on the other guy by hitting it close, and that's what I was doing. I hit it within three or four inches of the hole, or the ball landed three or four inches from the hole, three out of four holes. And so that's kind of where the match changed. And that puts a lot of pressure on the guy. If the first player hits and hits it close, then he's got to change his strategy. And if he's not right on his game, it might hurt the shot. And he might not hit it nearly as well or hit a poor shot. So it helps. But then again, if you're not hitting your irons really close, then, no, it's not an advantage, and actually you're behind, because then the guy sees that you're hitting it 20, 25 feet, and he's not worried about it. So then it gives him a little freer hand to go at the pin and not worry about you making your birdie. And it's all dictated by how close the shorter player hits it, hits his approach shot to the pin. That's what dictates a longer hitter, what he has to do and the strategy that he's got to take. It's all dictated by what happens before him.

Q. Is that the main reason you've always been a pretty good match play player, just your iron game?

SCOTT HOCH: Well, I've always thought I was a pretty good match player. But given the captains of the Ryder Cup teams, I might be the only one that might think. I was never chosen even though I was next in line a number of years. No, it's something that I like. And unfortunately we did not have -- didn't have a venue to prove -- I didn't have a venue to prove that I liked and that I played match play well. And ever since I guess they've had this tournament and the Ryder Cup and The Presidents Cup, I guess I've shown that my record's pretty good in match play. And I enjoy it. I was saying outside that I guess it's because I don't need to worry about looking over my shoulder and seeing a Tiger shooting seven or eight under or anybody shooting a low score to pass you and beat you. Here you're just playing the course somewhat, but that's dictated by what the player, your competitor is doing. And if I can just focus on just the one guy that I'm playing and my game, maybe that's what's best for me instead of all these other -- thinking about all these other players or -- I'm trying -- I don't really consciously think about anybody coming up from behind in a medal tournament, but lots of times that seems to happen. And maybe my mind is so small that I can't think of too many things at one time and this makes it easier, I don't know. Or narrow minded or whatever.

Q. Has there been a Ryder Cup or two in particular that you thought you should have been picked?

SCOTT HOCH: Yes, definitely.

Q. Which ones would those be?

SCOTT HOCH: Probably a couple of them, but I'm not going to say. You can probably look back and see I was next in line twice in I think the point list, and second in line twice. So that's four Ryder Cups whatever the format was at that time. It might not have been 10, I'm not sure exactly what it was. But it's all -- the guy has to pick -- not necessarily who he thinks might be the best player, but who might be the best for the team. And if nobody -- if you're on the edge and nobody really knows that you're good in match play, what do they have to go on? I'm not blaming them, because we didn't have a format -- I didn't play in the format that showed that I played match play well. So I don't blame them, I just felt a couple times I would have liked to have been on it and maybe should have been on it and possibly helped the team.

Q. Scott, you talked outside about having the image of being a grinder, does that play into it at all, that you just don't have a glamorous image?

SCOTT HOCH: That's for sure.

Q. How does that play into it, do you think?

SCOTT HOCH: Play into what?

Q. Into being chosen for a Ryder Cup team?

SCOTT HOCH: That shouldn't make any difference. I don't think the guys picked -- they don't care about that. They want to pick whoever is going to win the tournament. I don't think they'd shy away from them if they would help them win a point or two more than the other guy they choose. They pick who they think is best for the team. I'm not sure -- that shouldn't have any place in the overall pick.

Q. How about just the image of being a grinder, does that bother you at all?

SCOTT HOCH: No, actually it's -- I think that's good. I don't have a game that's flashy. That's all I've got. I just try to hold in there and hit some good shots and play. And also I'm 44, so I know a lot of my best days are behind me, of consistent playing. And it's tougher under these conditions. Giving 10 or 12 years ago I wouldn't have thought about any of these conditions, and I wouldn't have been far behind a lot longer hitters. As you get older, maybe like a football player or basketball player, you can't physically compete against the guys you're playing against, you have to try to out smart them or for me use my mind a little more than I used to when I was a lot younger. And I have to manage my game better than I did before. I think that might be a way to -- when you consider yourself a grinder, like when Corey was playing so well and as short as he hits it, that was tremendous for as short as he was hitting it. He was a true grinder. And a grinder with results. I can grind, but my results haven't been as good. But I'm a lot higher than most people think I would as far as career money and stuff like that. But I'm just trying to do the best I can.

End of FastScripts...

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