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February 4, 2020

Patrick Cantlay

Pebble Beach, California

JOHN BUSH: We'll get started. We would like to welcome Patrick Cantlay into the interview room. He's making his fourth career start at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Patrick, if we can get some thoughts on being back here at Pebble Beach.

PATRICK CANTLAY: Yeah, I like it here. It was my first top-10 finish as a pro here, I think in 2013, and then came back here and started my, I guess comeback, you would say, here and made the cut, which was an accomplishment for me at the time. So I really like the golf courses this week and it's always nice to play in California, so I'm excited to be here.

JOHN BUSH: All right. We haven't seen you since a 4th place finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Just talk a little bit about what you've been up to since that point, the state of your game, and how things are going.

PATRICK CANTLAY: Yeah, so went over to Abu Dhabi and played there and have been in California practicing. Got some new sponsors and everything's going good. Just getting ready for the new year. I love playing on the West Coast, so play this week and play L.A. next week, and everything's gearing up for the Majors and once the season starts to get going in April. So game feels good, played well in Hawaii, and I like it in California, so I'm excited for the next two weeks here.

THE MODERATOR: All right. Let's go into questions.

Q. Can you talk a little bit more about that first event back after being away so long, playing here and what that felt like and why here. I mean, it's cold, it's not exactly the most conducive place for a guy with a, coming back from a back problem.
PATRICK CANTLAY: Well, the reason to come back here, I think it was, one, I was coming back on a medical and didn't obviously have great priority to get into events, so it was one of the few events that I was going to get into on the West Coast. But I had had some success here before and I like the golf courses, so that kind of outweighed the cold weather. And it was actually, it was brutal weather that year. It was rainy and there were delays. But it feels like once every three years the weather's really nice, once every three years the weather's really bad, and one of the other years it's kind of marginal. So it looks like it's going to be sunny and pretty here this week. So I just like the golf courses. I think they suit my game. And Pebble Beach is one of my favorites, whether it's in competition or just practice rounds.

Q. Did you play here very much at all before you turned professional? Was this a place you came to and played much?
PATRICK CANTLAY: I didn't. I played one round with my dad here maybe when I was about 12. But I would hear stories about all the guys that were older than me play the California Amateur here, but by the time I was old enough to play it, it wasn't here anymore, so...

Q. Nice timing, right?
PATRICK CANTLAY: Yeah, that would have been great.

Q. Anything you remember about that round with your dad that sticks out?
PATRICK CANTLAY: I remember it being really foggy. And I was probably too young, my dad probably still beat up on me that day. He was a good player.

Q. I would have been curious when you came back here in 2017 what your expectations were in terms of how long it would take you to get back to where you thought you should be, and that led to kind of a different kind of thinking of what do expectations even mean? Is there a difference between practical expectations and far out expectations?
PATRICK CANTLAY: In a weird way it was an accomplishment to finish a golf tournament, just because I hadn't played in one for so long. So on one hand, I was just happy to have played a whole golf tournament and not had any serious pain. And then on the other hand, I was happy to have made the cut just because when you're out for that long, of course it's reasonable to have doubts about your game or how you're going to hold up. It had been over three years since I had played an actual tournament. I think I played a U.S. Open qualifier, but not, like, a four-round tournament. So coming away from the week I was happy to have made the cut. I think I finished around 45th or 50th or something like that.

Q. 48th.
PATRICK CANTLAY: Yeah, it wasn't exactly what I wanted and I felt like I could have played better, but I was happy about making the cut and playing as well as I did and it gave me confidence going forward that I hadn't really lost much and I was still the player that I used to be.

Q. You're definitely in the running for the Olympics, you're definitely in the running for the Ryder Cup. Is it too early for you to be thinking about those or are they on your mind?
PATRICK CANTLAY: There's so many big events between now and those two events, and I think the way to get there is to focus on all of the events between now and then. And those would be big honors and they're definitely big things that I would like to do and they're goals of mine, to make those teams. I think Olympics would be really fun. And after Presidents Cup I can't wait to play a Ryder Cup because I'm sure it will be -- all the great things about the Presidents Cup will be even more amplified during a Ryder Cup, so I'm very much looking forward to that. But it's not, because the way you qualify is through playing well in the big tournaments, just makes sense to have all your emphasis on those and look at the Olympics or look at the Ryder Cup as a potential bonus or reward for playing well.

Q. How would you describe your level of satisfaction with what you've accomplished since your comeback?
PATRICK CANTLAY: I think after the first year I was very satisfied with making the TOUR Championship with a limited schedule and making a TOUR Championship with really, no really goals or expectations to make the TOUR Championship at the start of the year. Like, I wanted to play really well and obviously get my real card after coming back from a medical, that was a goal, and competing at tournaments to win. But it didn't really occur to me to have a goal to make the TOUR Championship or something like that. So after that week, after finishing the year as well as I did, looking back, I was pretty satisfied. And then I would say since then I don't really associate the rest of the two years of golf after that with a comeback. That first year felt like kind of a comeback and then after that I felt really confident and comfortable playing out on TOUR and I didn't really associate the next two years with a comeback, more a resumption of just me playing tournament golf.

So with that being said, looking back on it, I've played really well the last three years since I've come back, really consistently, had some chances to win, won a couple events, and qualified for the Presidents Cup team and played well there and that was really fun and really exciting. So I would say all in all, it's been good. And I feel like now I've seen all the golf courses multiple times in multiple weather conditions for two or three years now, which I think is an advantage, and I'm excited to go back to all those places that I like to play with the experience that I have now and the confidence that I have now and see what I can do.

Q. How important do you think distance is in your success?
PATRICK CANTLAY: Well I think it would be ignorant not to look at people that play well and say distance isn't a big issue or a big component of all the good players' games. So, yeah, it's definitely a huge component of me playing well. And I'm hitting it a lot farther than I did when came back and probably hitting it farther relative to other players than when I first turned pro. And I think part of that is putting an emphasis on it and part of that is just maturing and getting older. But, yeah, I mean, it's a huge part of the game and to ignore that or to say it's not that big of a deal, I think would be a mistake because guys are hitting it farther and the golf courses are suited for that.

Q. Do you think distance is a problem in golf?
PATRICK CANTLAY: Not for the amateur player. I think all the equipment and all the stuff is great for the amateur golfer and can't get any, it can't, the ball can't go too far for a 10 handicap. So in general I would say no, some golf courses on TOUR, yes, but most golf courses on TOUR, no. If I were to play Cypress Point this week, yeah, it would be a problem at Cypress point because there's a lot of holes that you can't hit driver or a lot of holes that other guys would hit driver, 7-iron and I'm hitting driver and a sand wedge or driver and a gap wedge. But for the majority of golf courses we play out here on TOUR I would say no.

Q. You mentioned all the big events that you're going to play before the Olympics or Ryder Cup and of course first major's two months away. Wondering what your mindset is going into Augusta this year, given the fact that you came close last year, you had a chance and does that change your mindset I guess about how you now look at the tournament knowing that you got your self in the lead and at least gave yourself a chance?
PATRICK CANTLAY: Right, well, until I played the weekend last year I hadn't shot any really low scores at Augusta and then I shot pretty two good scores on the weekend, especially on Saturday. So I think any time you put in good rounds like that at a golf course that you're going to come back to it shows you that you can do it and it shows you kind of how to do it and gives you confirmation that your game plan or the shots that you see on that particular golf course work. I really like the golf course and I think it is obvious that you need some rounds out there and some experience out there to play it as best as possible. So having success there last year and knowing that I can play the golf course really well and liking the golf course, I like the golf course, I think it suits my game, I think will only bode well for me in the future, especially this year.

Q. When something like that's over, how much do you think back on the tee shot on 16, after the tournament's over.
PATRICK CANTLAY: I mean obviously I think about it, any tournament you would play and you hit a shot that you wouldn't have rather hit, you think about it. I think what's interesting about that hole in particular is it's just the opposite of what you see. So you would rather be short sided in the bunker or you would rather be rather even pull it long left of the green than you would hit it where I hit it, even though it doesn't look like that. And I think I knew that, I just made a bad swing. But the fact that I know it and I still did it makes it maybe a little bit more painful, but that's kind of the nature of the golf course. So, yeah, I mean of course I would have liked to have hit it to this far (Indicating) and gone to the 17th tee. But there will be plenty more years for that.

Q. I'm sure you would have. I think what I'm curious about is, when you've come close to winning a tournament, how often do certain shots linger once the tournament's over and did you find that Augusta that it maybe lasted longer or stronger, just because what have it is?
PATRICK CANTLAY: Yeah, I think that inherently playing a big event like that you think about what would have, what would have, could have happened more than say another regular tournament. But looking back on it, if I would have played halfway decent Thursday, Friday, and had the weekend that I had, I would have won by a lot. So I played really well on the weekend, I played really well Saturday and the first 15 holes of Sunday to give myself an opportunity and sitting at home at dinner on Friday night no one would have thought I even had a chance at all and so the experience that I gained from it is invaluable going forward and as long as you draw on the positives from it and don't linger too long on the negatives but learn from them, I think you're best off going forward.

Q. So do you think more about 16 and 17 or Thursday and Friday?
PATRICK CANTLAY: Well, brain-wise it's really hard to think of all of the mistakes you made Thursday and Friday because there were so many, but it's easy to say, yeah, that's the easiest hole location on 16, you should make a birdie and go to the 17th hole and that maybe might have put me in a playoff or something. Yeah, it's easy to say that because all the work that it took to get there Saturday and the first part of Sunday makes you think like that. But it's hard to think of it in terms of pieces of the tournament. I think all the shots I hit over four days, it added up to like whatever it added up to, 11-under or 10-under or whatever it added up to. You got to look at it as a whole instead of focusing on little bits and pieces because you can drive yourself crazy one way or the other. You wouldn't talk to somebody who made eagle on 15 on Friday but missed the cut by two and say, Did you really, like did you when, coming away from the tournament, did you think about how good you played the 15th hole if you eagled it Thursday and Friday, but you missed the cut. So I don't think you should do that the other way if you mess up a hole or hit a bad shot on Sunday.

Q. Have you ever surfed and if not why not?
PATRICK CANTLAY: I have surfed. I try everything once, twice if you like it. But I didn't like it, I wasn't very good at it and for me to keep doing things that I'm not very good at takes a lot of will power. And surfing-wise, just the whole process of it, you got to buy the board, find somebody that knows how to surf, go out there, the California water's really cold, put your wet suit on, wax your surf board up, go out there, maybe you don't catch any waves, for me I could try to catch as many waves as possible, I'll keep falling over, maybe not even get up. So I never got into it. My dad played golf, he never surfed.

Q. So you went and chipped and putted instead?
PATRICK CANTLAY: Chipped and putted, yeah.

Q. Did you do any other sports as a kid?
PATRICK CANTLAY: Basketball and baseball.

Q. Were you any good?
PATRICK CANTLAY: I was good enough to make the all star team and pitch and play short stop when I was about eight or 10 and by the time I was 13 I was playing right field, so I figured it was my time to exit.

Q. What happened?
PATRICK CANTLAY: I wasn't getting bigger or faster, I was probably biggest compared to everybody else when I was about 10 years old. By the time I was 13 or 14 I was one of the smallest kids, and the kids were a lot bigger and stronger and growing mustaches. And I was like 5'-3" and instead of hitting doubles, I was lining it out to the second baseman, and I didn't have a chance. I was slow -- and basketball was even worse. I could shoot and that was about it.

JOHN BUSH: But the golf thing has worked out pretty well for you. Patrick, thanks for your time.


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