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May 26, 2021

Cary Cozby

Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA

Press Conference

Southern Hills Country Club

JOHN DEVER: Good afternoon, welcome back to the 2021 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship here at Southern Hills. Pleased to be joined by Cary Cozby, who is the 2016 PGA Professional of the Year, but more importantly he's from Tulsa, he is the director of golf here at Southern Hills. Cary, how special is this week for you to be at home, to play on this golf course, to play a major championship.

CARY COZBY: Surreal. To be candid. My first tournament I ever went to as a kid was the 1977 U.S. Open and I came here with my parents and some kids that I was same age and friends with and in fact one of my best friends, he's here, we came here in '77 he's here following today and tomorrow, but so Southern Hills has had a special place in my heart and my family forever. So to be just the head professional here is pretty cool deal for me and just to drive in here every day to take care of a great membership like this. But then to play in a major championship in front of the membership and my home state and with my son on the bag, I'm not sure I even know how to describe it. It really, it's, other than maybe him being born it's the coolest thing I've done. So it's really neat and walking down the fairways a few days before everybody got here, just the two of us, he said, dad, this is so cool. So I realize, I said you haven't seen anything, wait until Thursday happens, that's going to be really cool. And then to play today with Ken and Kirk and Willie and then I've known willy a long time and start seeing fans out here and all the stuff going on, it's just, it's beyond words really.

JOHN DEVER: Sounds wonderful. Let's start off with questions.

Q. In the practice round today what are you working on, what are you -- are you still learning things about the course?

CARY COZBY: Well you're always learning in golf. I think today was good for me just because I'm not used to cameras and all this going on, so for me to be uncomfortable is really good. When I could narrow my focus a little bit I hit good shots and when I kind of wavered and if I wasn't thinking about what I should be thinking I hit loose shots. So that will probably be the biggest challenge for me. Obviously I know where to hit it.

Q. What are your expectations for this?

CARY COZBY: Well, I think if I can handle that piece of it, I think I can play well. I hit the ball far enough to, from where we're going to be playing from, for sure. So I think it will be how comfortable I can get myself and be able to zone in, narrow my focus a little bit. Still be myself. Today I was good and all of a sudden on 7 everybody was yelling and hooting and hollering from the member pavilion and I hit a bunch of loose shots around that time. So I need to just acknowledge it and then just say, okay, get back to what you're trying to do. So I want to play well and I want to see -- I think it's a cool opportunity. I don't want to just go out and wave to everybody and go play terrible golf, I want to play good golf and just like everyone of these guys that are here. So I think it's just going to be the challenge of can I handle it. Sometimes you just done play good, right? But the other times it's -- so it's definitely good to have some awkward rounds, uncomfortable rounds and those guys are the nicest guys ever, but just all the other stuff going on around that's good for me to have to feel that.

Q. I don't want to put any pressure on you, your boy's right here. How did he do today?

CARY COZBY: He's awesome. He does get the clubs in the wrong spot every once in a while in the bag, but he's gotten a lot better at cleaning clubs, because he's not great at cleaning his. When I caddie for him they're spotless. So while he's hitting balls, I'm cleaning clubs and they look like they should downstairs. But no, it's the coolest thing. I've got the best deal going, I promise.

Q. In terms of press conferences, is this your first?

CARY COZBY: Yeah, I've done a few with Julius I think maybe for other non-golf stuff or golf stuff but not maybe PGA stuff but yeah so everything's kind of -- a lot of firsts this week, which is cool. Just seeing all these guys you walking through the shop and on the fairways and everybody's so nice and our staff and the fellow club professionals that qualified through the national, it's neat to see those guys too, because I see them at tournaments when you're playing around the country.

Q. How old is your son and is he supposed to be in school right now?

CARY COZBY: Today was the last day of school. So he played hooky. We figured he may learn more doing this -- nobody does much the last day -- he was going to go nine today and then go back and finish sixth grade with a couple of his buddies, yesterday he sent a text dad, today's my last day I'll be out there all day tomorrow. So he made the call himself. He just turned 13 last week and sixth grade ended today. We start seventh grade tomorrow, so to speak.

Q. How are you feeling?


Q. Who is more nervous you or Banks?

CARY COZBY: I'm sure I am. No, I mean it's good to have nerves, right? I tried to practice a little bit so that the nerves would turn to excitement. And I'm playing with two legends in our game, so I got the parings yesterday and clicked on it it's like, okay. You know? Which it's incredible. So I was able to see those guys last night at the dinner that honored Ken and obviously admired them forever. I saw Tom win the '96 TOUR Championship here and watched both those guys my entire life. So it's, it will be surreal playing with two -- and two of the finest gentlemen to ever play the game.

Q. We have been talking about this for a couple months now and now we're on the eve of round one. How is that feeling?

CARY COZBY: Better. I'm ready -- I -- I'm ready to get its first tee ball going tomorrow. So hopefully I'll get a little sleep tonight. I usually don't have much problem sleeping, I could fall asleep right here if I needed to. But maybe tonight it will be a little different. I need to save some energy, not practice too much this afternoon.

Q. I may have told him wrong. Were you 2-under on Amen Corner or 4-under on Amen Corner? Five years ago?

CARY COZBY: 4-under.

Q. That's what I thought. Okay. As you've always got the business of Southern Hills to consider, obviously. So as Phil Mickelson did what he did Sunday, and really the weekend as a whole, were you thinking, holy crap, to have Phil Mickelson here as the defending champ potentially, were you thinking about the impact of that for next year?

CARY COZBY: Absolutely. Well first it's him winning is great for golf. To see what, at 50, to compete against the younger generation and beat 'em, not surprising, he's one of the all time great players, but then you think interest from a Tulsa standpoint, Southern Hills standpoint in 2022 him -- I'm not sure he could have it be better -- maybe the guy that's sitting on his couch in Florida healing up from the car wreck. But I mean Phil's, he's a rock star. So him to come in here -- I wish he was playing this week, but just as an incredible second, not even second place, probably better is him being the defending champion here next year. So he knew what he was doing all along.

Q. I wonder how many times do you -- how frequently do you ever really get to play Southern Hills? Turn your phone off and just play the course?

CARY COZBY: That doesn't happen very often I usually have a radio. I'm on 6 with a group of members I see the play, we got a little slow play over there, I'm always kind of working on that. I don't have to worry about that this week, that's Kerry Haigh's issue with the pace of play, I don't have to worry about it. But I try to play with the membership weekly, if I can. I'm always outgoing between here and the practice range or on the first tee or I play a few holes in the evening with my son or some of the kids that are around or so I always try to keep a club in my hand. I would play golf all day if I could. I play, practice and I still love it more than ever. That happens when you get older, you know your skills are going to start diminishing or they diminish and you want to --

Q. I think they change.

CARY COZBY: Yeah, certainly, and it's just knowing you can't play golf forever at a higher level, it's, you don't want to, you want to do what you can. So I enjoy playing, I enjoy playing in tournaments and competing and trying to get better all the time. More than I ever have.

Q. Did you actually train for this tournament? Was there a point in the last sixty days where you said?

CARY COZBY: I practiced. No, I had a plan, a little more organized than I normally would, just because when I received the invitation, it's like, I mean are you kidding and then it was like, oh, wow, this is really cool and this is a great opportunity it's like, oh, man, I need to practice more than I normally do. Which is kind of loosely hit some shots here and there. So I've had a little more structure with how I practice and try to get a few tournament reps in between, since that happened. I mean not a lot, there's not a lot of tournaments that I can play in around here, section stuff, we kind of get that fired up in the summer. But played in the U.S. Open qualifier, the Senior Open qualifier and then again trying to play with some of the guys coming playing practice rounds they're in checking the golf course out I'm in trying to test myself.

Q. But you'll be disappointed if you don't make the cut?

CARY COZBY: I'll be disappointed if I don't handle or if I just don't -- if I don't play well. I mean there's a lot of great players here but I want to, I think I can play well and I don't know what disappointment would be. It would be tough to be disappointed this week, really. To get to play in the tournament, to do it with my son, to do it with the membership, obviously I wouldn't be in the tournament, because I didn't qualify, if it wasn't here, so it's a special invitation, so there won't be anything disappointing about the week at all. I just hope it's really good. Maybe better way of saying it.

Q. Can you give us the Senior Open and what it was like when you got the call and got the invitation?

CARY COZBY: I remember vividly obviously because it wasn't that long ago I got an e-mail and I was going to go caddie for Banks that afternoon, I forgot where, in a U.S. Kids event and I read it and I was like, because there's a lot of e-mails, you get this time of the year when you're hosting a tournament and I was like okay, kind of clicking seeing what was going on and I read that and so I tried to call Nick and he didn't answer, so I didn't think to call Russ and I know he had a big hand in kind of getting the ball rolling on that and then I called one of our board members Sanjay Meshri, and I said, Hey, he's like, Well -- he kind of gave me kind of the back story on how it happened and so yeah, I mean it was really unbelievable. I went out and caddied for Banks and I kept thinking I was like, holy cow, I can't believe I got an e-mail and an invitation to play and then I talked to Nick that night and he was great he said hey, listen, the staff's incredible, we'll take care of everything, you go practice and play and have fun with this, we're proud and happy that you're going to get to play and so they, you know, it's been easy. I know there's work and all the other things, everybody all these guys will tell you. At the end of the day, not really, everything's done and the PGA does so many things before they get here and their staff that's on here and then the staff that I work with and the shop and outside services, they're all, they don't need me around that much actually when it gets down to it.

Q. A lot of us come here ones a decade or so and you feel the history of this place. You have the keys to the place. What's it like to live it every day?

CARY COZBY: I've said this before, as an Oklahoma guy, it's a -- and I'm a Dodgers fan but it's a New York Yankees job for me. To drive in here every day, I was an assistant for five years and it was emotional leaving here for the last time, even though I was leaving to quit being an assistant to go be the head professional at Wichita Country Club and you should be excited, hey, I get rid of some things as assistant, but it has an effect on you, the place, it's a special place in the game, it's a very special place in the state in this part of the country with its history but the membership and the way they take care and treat our staff is, nobody has it better than me, I can promise you.

Q. Chance and Craig all will be here?

CARY COZBY: Yeah, so Craig's driving down from Kansas City. Chance is flying in. Chance is the TikTok star as we know. He's coming in as a VIP from KitchenAid, so I'm not sure I'll get to see him. I won't have access to see him, but he and his son who does all the filming for Three Pieces of Pecan are flying in right now. And then my mom and Craig and his family are coming down from Kansas City. And Stacy's family's coming over from Stillwater and friends that are coming in as well. As I mentioned, the guy that came to the U.S. Open with in 1977, he drove up from Dallas this morning, so he's here this afternoon, going to be here tomorrow and then he's got to head back.

Q. How much of this week leading up have you spent thinking about what your dad would have, how much he would have enjoyed this?

CARY COZBY: Yeah, a lot. He would love it. (Crying.)

JOHN DEVER: Kind of says it without words. Cary, thanks so much.

CARY COZBY: You bet. Sorry. No, Ken has been a dear friend to our family and he and my dad were so close and he kept Ken on his toes like he did everybody else too, so he would be over the moon and I know he'll be looking down and he'll be happy that all of us are here together.

JOHN DEVER: That's a great way to leave it. Thanks, Cary for finding some time for us of the best of luck.

CARY COZBY: You bet.

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