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July 3, 2002

Scott Hoch


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: I'd like to have you welcome defending champion Scott Hock back to the Advil Western Open. Scott, thanks for coming in after a hot Pro Am. You're back in good health playing well. If you could just talk about coming back to Cog Hill defending your championship.

SCOTT HOCH: Well, it feels good. The rough is a little thick, a little higher, which if I'm playing good it will help me, but it looks great. I've got good memories. I seem to be playing pretty good right now. Hopefully, it will continue.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: We'll take some questions.

Q. While you were here a couple weeks ago, Scott, you were talking about the eye and the hand. Obviously you're a lot better. Is that a relief to you?

SCOTT HOCH: Well, yeah. I've gotten to where I'm feeling pretty good and -- I'm feeling fine. It was more of a nuisance to get it to where it didn't bother me, but now it doesn't bother me. It's not even a concern.

Q. Scott, do we see a week here where the winner will get two 67s again?

SCOTT HOCH: Two 67s? Is that what I was?

Q. I think so.

SCOTT HOCH: It will be pretty tough, but I would say it would be pretty tough to get down that low last year. If you just have two guys playing pretty well, separating themselves from the field. Obviously, it can happen any time. The course is playing pretty tough out there. It's going to be tough this year for that to happen, but who knows? If we get a little rain in one of the evenings and it softens up the greens, you know, that's the key. If we get a little rain and the greens soften up, it will be easier to play. I don't know if that's supposed to come or not, but it's supposed to be pretty warm. Actually, it's low 90s. That's not that warm. It's just nice.

Q. You like it like that?

SCOTT HOCH: Yeah. It was nice playing today. It would be nicer if we didn't take five hours but, you know, I don't mind it low to mid 90s.

Q. Scott, obviously, there's been a lot of talk about Tiger not playing here this week.

SCOTT HOCH: Only amongst you guys.

Q. Maybe to take that one step further, what does that say to -- obviously the quality of players playing in the Tour is very deep, but (inaudible).

SCOTT HOCH: Well, see, that's what we like to see him do more often, commit to tournaments and back out because it helps sell tickets and so it's actually a ploy. We'll see if it works or not. No. I'm sure if he's not coming up here, there's a good reason because he likes the course, it's a good course for him.

You know, all we're concerned with here is how the course is and how we're playing. We don't worry about who is here and who isn't. Golf is an individual sport, and we're just trying to shoot as low a score that we can and hope it's the lowest. If the best player isn't here, best two players aren't here, we still have a good tournament, have good players and it's a good venue.

Q. How aware are you week to week of who is going to be at a tournament?

SCOTT HOCH: Not at all. Don't care. I don't care who is there. I'm the only one that I'm concerned with. I'm the only one I've got control over and, you know, we're just here to do the best we can. Obviously, if you knew anything about my career, I play where I like to play and don't play where I don't want to play, so it doesn't matter who is there and what tournament it is. The tournaments I go to now I like. I've been out here long enough that I'm not going to go to any I don't like, or at least not many anyway.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about the depth of the field these days and how deep they go as far as, you know, there's a lot of talent out there, we're seeing a lot of first-time winners this year?

SCOTT HOCH: Well, look at last week. You had a lot of good players that the public maybe don't know much about. They played really well last week. We have a lot of good players, and the thing is we have more players that can win tournaments than ever before because the quality is so deep and we got guys that, you know, you're going to have a lot of tournaments where guys play well that you haven't ever heard of. If somebody lights it up that week, you know, anybody could do it. It's just more likely that the top players are going to be the ones up there more often, but each week you've got players that can come out and -- you know, that can come out that you haven't heard of. I haven't even heard of some of the guys or don't know some of the guys that have played well because I haven't been paired with them, so there's really no way I would know them, but there are a lot of good players out there. Just because they're not some of the named ones doesn't mean they can't do well in a tournament.

Q. Scott, at Bethpage going in and even into the week there was a lot of talk about the length of the course and all and obviously the top two guys were long hitters, but after that, you had a lot of guys keeping it in the fairway like yourself.

SCOTT HOCH: I didn't keep it in the fairway that week, but normally I do.

Q. Do you think that's a sign that really the rough is a great equalizer out here? I think you said that last month, that that's the fairest way to challenge you guys and have a mix in the leader board.

SCOTT HOCH: Well, what I believe is a variety. Sure, it would be beneficial to me if we played every week with deep rough. Just like long hitters, I mean, I know they don't ever say this, but they say, well, I don't think we ought to keep playing these courses with the rough so low, that gives me too much advantage, so I think you ought to go with a longer rough to make it an equalizer. You won't hear that. But I would just like to see a lot of variety on Tour. That means some rough, some short courses, some long courses, some courses without much rough. As long as they're consistent and don't take courses that normally have rough and cut it all down.

I mean, I think this is going to be good. It's a little more rough than usual. It's pretty severe. I know it was tough on my amateur partners today, and I hit it in there a couple times and it is rough. Like you said about an equalizer, the Open in the past is for the guys that hit it straight. There aren't many tournaments on Tour for those guys so we or they have to take advantage of them when they can, but even when you go play courses like we just had for the Open, the top two players in the world still finish one and two. And maybe after that, you know, there was the Punch and Judy guys, but still it made it tough for the Punch and Judy guys to play there because it's tough getting it in the fairways. I was fortunate I hit solid tee balls on all of those holes you have to because I didn't not get it to the fairway, I might have missed it left or right, but I didn't not get it there. It doesn't make it fair when you can't get it to the fairway.

You know, when the Big 3 were talking, talking about the old Big 3, talking about nobody challenging Tiger, I mean, I got a lot of respect for Gary Player, but there's got to be six or seven holes out there he couldn't get it to the fairway in his prime. So, I mean, a lot of those guys I don't think they know what they're talking about. I believe more what Ernie said than what those three said, if you know what Ernie said the next week when he was asked that question.

Q. Do you think there's too much focus in the set-up on length, especially in the majors it seems they're trying to outdo itself. I mean, Hazeltine had a 636-yard par 5.

SCOTT HOCH: Well, who is it an advantage for to keep making courses longer? Is that what you want to do, just create a Tour where only the -- where the tournaments are mostly all won by long hitters except every now and then somebody pops in there that just has an outstanding putting week?

No, I don't think that's the way it should go, but that's the way it seems to be going. What they're doing by longer and tougher, it's making it easier for longer hitters, especially Tiger. It's making it so the winning score might be worse than normal, but still, you're separating the longer hitters more from the rest of the field. So if you want an equity, it's not necessarily length. I said, well, let's just wait and see about Augusta. And what they did, they lengthened it, but they didn't make it easier for the longer hitter, they made it an advantage for a longer, straighter hitter. You couldn't just hit it anywhere anymore.

So I gave them credit for that, that by increasing it they also made it to where the long hitter had to hit it straight. And who was one of the longest, straightest drivers out here? So there it goes back to when you putt length in the equation, you're helping Tiger, but he's one of the best longest, straightest hitters we have, but at least it made to where even the long hitters had to hit it straight.

Q. Don't you feel those Big 3 weren't giving Tiger the credit he deserves that for winning these tournaments, that he's trying to diminish him or diminish you and the rest of the field for --

SCOTT HOCH: Sounds like it to me. Obviously, Jack is considered the best player in the world or best player ever by a lot of people, and I think a lot of people think Tiger might be now, but he's got to do this -- keep on doing what he's been doing to take over Jack's spot that way. I think Tiger is probably the best player that's ever played the game. He's done more at this age than anybody else has ever done, but longevity has a lot to do with it too. Look what Nicklaus did for a long time.

But those guys, they'd win tournaments by a few. Tiger sometimes he'll just lap up the field, and that wasn't ever done before. I mean, he has all the records. You could say, well, equipment helped that, but not totally. He owns pretty much all the records in the majors, so like Ernie said, I think if Tiger played those guys in their prime, Tiger would beat their butt. I would use a different word there, but he'd beat their butt too.

Q. This motion then that Jack said everyone else was buffaloed, Tiger had everyone buffaloed out here.

SCOTT HOCH: Well, I think what happens is -- the way I see it, Jack was a great player, but a lot of times he waited around for people to make mistakes. He'd win by one or two shots or whatever and finish 2nd a lot. Maybe those guys didn't make all of these mistakes. But Tiger, how many 2nds, 3rds and 4ths does he have? He doesn't have many 2nds, I don't know how many 3rds and 4ths he has. When you end up battling against Tiger, you feel as a player you're going to have to do something extra, something you don't normally do, take more chances, whatever, to beat him.

Look at the Open. He played poorly and just hung in there, and all the of a sudden, the light switch came on and he birdied the last 3 or 4 holes and he's got a 3-stroke lead or whatever it was. He's got a switch I've never seen where he can just hang in there and just all of a sudden turn it on. I mean, eventually it happens. I think that's why people feel they have to take more chances and do better than they normally would have to do if they were going against somebody else. So I think he might make people do more mistakes than the guys during Jack's era because you probably felt you could beat Jack but you couldn't miss any shots and still play your game, whereas with Tiger you might be forced to play outside your game to beat him. Anyway, he's not here so we don't need to worry about him.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: We'll take a couple more questions.

Q. Scott, what's your British Open mind-set this year?

SCOTT HOCH: Well, my mind-set is for this tournament this week and Milwaukee next week and when I get over to the British, play my practice round and play it like any other tournaments just like all of these. I don't treat Augusta, Western, British Open, any different. I don't have different games for different places. I'm not that good. I just take my game I have and do the best I can on whatever style course we play. But I do like Muirfield, the times I've played it, and I'm looking forward to going over there. If the weather is not very good, then my chances aren't going to be very good.

Q. How much time have you spent reminiscing about last year's Sunday here?

SCOTT HOCH: Not much. That's in the past. That's in the past. I mean, it's good to look back and to see it. When I had my first break after this tournament, I went and watched the tape and realized really how good play it was between Davis and I, and probably if the names were different, they'd say it was one of the best shoot-outs that they've ever had or that the PGA has ever had.

But the next day in the paper, the articles read that were sent to me, not that I won but why can't Davis win? He's leading, he shoots the second lowest score of the day and the lambast him, why didn't he win? If the guy shoots a low score on Sunday and he wins the tournament, give him some credit.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Anything else? Thank you very much.

SCOTT HOCH: That's only select writers. I don't know who did it or what, but that was some of them.

End of FastScripts....

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