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March 21, 2002

Scott Hoch


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Scott for joining us. I know you want to get out of here. Why don't you just talk about the round and coming back at 7:50 tomorrow for the first round, and the second round will resume at 8:50. Why don't you make a couple of comments and we'll go into questions.

SCOTT HOCH: Obviously, I didn't start out well. Bogeyed the 10th hole, which was my first hole. I hit a fairway bunker, actually hit a good shot out. I was pleased with it. I had about 35, 40 feet, putting over a hill and 3-putted. Misread both of them. So neither one of them were even close.

Then, obviously, well, the next hole, I hit a good driver and a 3-wood to about 20 feet and made it for eagle. That's a quick bounce-back, I guess they would say in the stats. And I hit a good shot on the next hole and made birdie from about five feet.

The par 3, I hit a real good shot and hit a good putt there but misread it.

I really hit the ball well and the other birdies came on -- came on 16.

I felt like Tiger on the par 5's. I hit 11 with a 3-wood -- but he's not going to hit 3-wood there. I hit 6-iron on the middle of the green on 16th; so that's when I felt like Tiger, for one shot, anyway, on one hole. I don't know what happened to my tee ball there, but I caught one.

The next hole, I did the hurry-up; the quick hit. I didn't think about it too much, because I had been thinking about it for four hours while watching it on TV and watching the carnage happen earlier on TV and I said, "This does not look hard let's just not overthink it. Just hit it." I hit a good 8-iron and it sucked back to three feet and made it for birdie.

Very good up-and-down, just through the fairway on 18 and I had to get pretty much a three-quarter wedge up-and-down for par there.

Then I hit a 5-wood on the second hole. It probably landed about ten feet from the hole and then caught the ridge and rolled down. And I had about a 25-footer and 2-putt for birdie.

The other holes were pars. Pretty basic pars. And then I had a 3-footer for par on No. 4. That's where we stopped.

JOAN vT. ALEXANDER: Questions?

Q. Would you say this course agrees with you? Over the years, you pretty much play well.

SCOTT HOCH: Over the last few years, if you check my record -- well, if people think that course setups don't make a difference, check my record here at this tournament.

For years, they didn't have any -- they didn't have much rough, hit anywhere, putting contest, whatever. I don't think I made a check for ten years. Then I skipped it a year and I came back -- actually, I can't remember it was so long. It was Deane or Tim who called me and tried to convince me to come back and play and said, "We have rough this year," and I said "Okay." And I finished second that year and have been playing well ever since. They made the conditions more conducive to my game before, you hit anywhere other than the water and you would be all right, and that's definitely not my game. I mean, obviously, that's an exaggeration, but I don't think I made a check for ten years here. And then I finished second, and I think I finished in the Top-10 every year but one since then. I don't know for certain, but I think even that time, I was like 13th or 14th or something. I think my record has been pretty good since I finished second here.

A lot of that has to do -- not just course setup, but confidence, because before my confidence, obviously, had to be low since I haven't done anything for years.

Q. How come all of the other guys your age are walking around talking about starting another tour, and here you are hanging with the young pups?

SCOTT HOCH: I guess because a lot of those guys don't want to play competitively anymore. They don't want to actually have to play anybody.

I'm not agreeing with that tour. Even if I had not won a major, even if they went by career money, throw that in there, too. Not to be a hypocrite, I still would not be in favor, because I think it would hurt the Senior Tour because it would probably draw the best guys out of that, and it would -- can't help our tour. So what purpose would it serve? Other than guys that don't want to play much and don't want to play competitive golf. They want to play a lot of other guys with -- I wouldn't say less talent, but their skills are not where they were. And mine aren't where they were, but I'm holding up. I've figured out a few things over the years that I can get by.

Q. The oldest winner of this thing, do you want to guess?

SCOTT HOCH: I don't care. (Laughs) I don't care.

Q. Hal, when he was 41, a couple of years ago.

SCOTT HOCH: This is a major tournament. In my mind, it's a major tournament. You've got the best field of any. Got a quality course. All it lacks is, I guess, years and tradition.

But I think you ask most of the players, obviously, they want to win one of the other four more than this, but as far as field goes and everything else, this is -- this is about as good as it gets.

Q. Do you ever watch it on television? Did it strike you at all as a little bit of a bizarre day with Kite having a ball stuck in a palm tree, Calc almost having one hit him fall out of a tree, and people having trouble at 17, did it seem like it was weird?

SCOTT HOCH: If I had heard of it I would have thought it was bizarre but it's the first I heard of it. I just saw Kite playing 3-under, that's pretty impressive, for a guy 52, that's quite impressive.

You know, TV, it seems to be focused mostly on 17. Rightfully so, when the wind changed -- or I don't know about changed but when the wind came up, that hole is brutal and it proved itself today.

Q. Course conditions, obviously, you look at the scores between the guys who went out in the morning and you guys still playing right now, do you feel like you have a little of the golf gods smiling on you, having the later tee time today?

SCOTT HOCH: Well, anytime you play close to when Tiger goes, you know you're going to get a good draw. (Laughter.)

That's the way we think. That's the way we talk in the clubhouse. (Laughter.) Kind of the way Arnold used to be and Jack used to be.

I was paired behind Arnold one time at Bay Hill and it just started sprinkling and they called it. And it really rained about ten minutes later.

That's kind of what happened. The guys that run the Tour, they get the breaks. Rightfully so. (Laughter.)

Q. Colin Montgomerie was making some news earlier with us today?

SCOTT HOCH: He always does, doesn't he?

Q. What's your take on the fact that he's back here playing in America after staying away? You want guys to be -- you like competitive fields and you like top names to be out there?

SCOTT HOCH: Sure, but I don't think he didn't really stay away. He only skipped one tournament. He probably was going to play was Bay Hill, which they were disappointed that they did not get him.

Sure I like to see the best players. And honestly, over the last seven, eight years, he's been one of the best players in the world.

He's had a tough go of it over here, and I can sympathize with him because I'm not real big in England. (Laughter.) As if I am here.

But over there, like I said, I can sympathize with him. But I haven't got to the extent that he has, but then I don't say stuff -- well, let's just say some of the crowds have been very rude to him over here, and that's unfortunate because he's too good of a player for that to happen. Hey, it's tough if everybody is rooting against you and whatever else, I imagine it would be tough. I'm glad to see him over here and hope he does well and hope he doesn't say anything else to aggravate anymore hostility.

Q. I think it was Tim Finchem that got you back here in '96. How hard a sales job did he have to putt on you?

SCOTT HOCH: He had to give me a guarantee. Promised me a guarantee. A around tee, money. He did. He guaranteed me a thousand dollars if I missed the cut just like everybody else. Or something like that. (Laughter.)

He just said he thought it was to my liking. I remember he said that -- I said, "Look there's no sense in coming here. 100% of zero is still zero."

So he said -- well, talking about all this money we are playing for, look if you don't make the cut, what difference does it make? They can play for whatever. If you don't play well, no sense in wasting your time.

Whether it be Augusta or some of the British Open courses, if they don't fit your game, you know, why go? And Augusta might be a lot like that if they use the whole courses for me. I'm curious to see how they are going to set it up this year.

But this course is just, you know, when I did come back, finish second, I played really well under tough conditions and it's been tough ever since. The setup has been tough.

Obviously, today with the rain -- well, the fairways were already soft. I don't know why the fairways were soft coming into today. But the greens, I can see where they are soft, because with the hot weather, they had to keep them alive. But I thought it was playing too soft before. Because it plays harder when it plays faster and tougher to keep the ball in the fairway; the ball goes in the rough.

But without a whole lot of wind, any course is going to be defenseless when you have a big rain like this and it's soft and the greens are soft.

Q. How would you feel if you had either the rain delay or an overnight deal and you had to come back tomorrow and the first shot you had to hit was 17?

SCOTT HOCH: You know, I probably wouldn't worry about it. So far, somebody's got some time to waste, check back on my record what I've done on 17. All of the years I've been here, I don't recall hitting a ball in the water, and I might hit three in the water the rest of the week.

But that's just one that's not, you know, bothering me as much as some of the others because I've really been pretty successful there. I've birdied there a number of times on Sunday to improve my position. It still is a pucker-up hole, though. (Laughter.) But I've been fortunate to hit good shots there. It's one of the toughest ones, especially the other year when it was really hard and just about anywhere, if you hit it all of one spot, it's going to bounce in the water one place or another; or today, when the wind is really blowing. You only have an 8-iron and if the wind is blowing maybe a 7-iron, just knocking it down. But still, it's tough.

Q. Do you consider it a good golf hole?

SCOTT HOCH: You've got to hit a good shot. There's not a bail-out.

Yeah, I don't have a problem with it as a hole. What I have a problem is like at Bay Hill, the second hole when you can't play it, when you can't hit the green. Something like that, the way the conditions were, that's when it's a bad hole. But this one, if you hit a good shot, you get a good result. And you don't have to go for the pin. It's a pretty big green, if you're just trying to hit the middle of the green but these guys are so good out here, and you know ego gets the best of a lot of us, and sometimes we don't try to hit the middle of the green. We try to hit the right side when the pins over there or the back part of the green when the pin is there, or the front of the green like it was today. I don't think guys would have had all that problem if they went to the middle of the green. But, as the commercials say, these guys are good so they don't feel they should be playing in the middle of the green.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Scott for joining us. Appreciate your time.

End of FastScripts....

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