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May 31, 2006

Kevin Hall


TODD BUDNICK: We welcome Kevin Hall to the 2006 Memorial Tournament. A former Ohio State University player, and former Big 10 champion. Playing in his 5th PGA TOUR event, this week. We'd like to ask Kevin some comments on where his golf game is and how he is looking forward to playing The Memorial this week.

KEVIN HALL: I'm excited to be here this week, compared to three months ago when I played in the Pebble Beach tournament at AT&T, my game has come a long way. It's a different game since then. I'm more comfortable playing out here now. It's normal to play in a TOUR event. It's a different experience now compared to before. I didn't know where my game was before, now I'm ready.

Q. How has your game improved?

KEVIN HALL: Everything it's improved mentally, more confidence in myself.

Q. The confidence, how does that happen, where did that happen?

KEVIN HALL: Practicing more than before. I've seen more good shots, so it's helped my confidence in those terms. My father kicked my butt (laughter).

Q. Which books have you been reading?

KEVIN HALL: I've been reading Feel Golf, it's a very good book, and I've learned a lot from it and it's helped me to look at the game differently. And I'm playing one shot at a time and I'm focused on what I've got to do. I'm not worried about loose situations, things that are going on around me now. I'm focused on what I've got to do, and how I can improve. Just a little bit at a time, gradual steps to get better every tournament is a building block that I work on to get better.

Q. How much is going on around you with all your friends and being here in Columbus once again, how much distraction is there for you?

KEVIN HALL: Because I'm deaf, I'm more visual, and it used to bother me before. But now I've learned how to block it out and not see it. I'm better at that now than what I was before.

Q. Is that the kind of thing that will help you this weekend? You've played this course when you were at Ohio State, but now he's going to play it with thousands of people watching?

KEVIN HALL: I like it now, because there's many pretty girls in the gallery.

Q. How often had you played on this course before?

KEVIN HALL: About ten, 15 times I've played here before, with the team, eight or nine times I've played.

Q. What was your best score?

KEVIN HALL: Even, even par.

Q. How difficult was golf for you to learn? You seem to be such a natural. Did the game just come naturally?

KEVIN HALL: I had an easy time learning it, because my teacher was very visual in how he taught me, and taught me using body language and I copied him to learn the swing, so it came real easy. Not the technical part, it was a natural thing and it took a long time for the technical, to learn the technical parts, it took me a long time to learn those technical parts, but learning naturally, because it was visual, that was the easy way to learn.

Q. Who was your inspiration as you were learning the game?

KEVIN HALL: Most of my inspirations were from my parents, my mom and my dad. I was inspired by Tiger Woods, by Fred Couples, those are the people that inspired me. All different personalities, and I learned from each of them.

Q. Your parents are golfers?

KEVIN HALL: My dad golfs, but my mom has tried. She keeps quitting and coming back for more. The best thing they can do now is play with me the best thing they do now is pick on me.

Q. What has been the highlight of your career since leaving OSU? And what's been the low point, besides being in here (laughter)?

KEVIN HALL: The highlight of things so far was winning first stage of the qualifying tournament last year, and that was in Georgia at Jennings Mill. That's a normal first stage tournament. And then low point was finishing last at second stage (laughter) it's a stupid game. The first hole of the second stage, I hit a house, hit the water, 3 putt, 4 putt, 5 putt, second stage. My dad wanted to leave after the first day (laughter).

Q. You talked about your mom quitting the game and then coming back to it. In all these years that you've played have you ever thought about quitting the game, was that ever an option for you?

KEVIN HALL: When I was two and I was fighting for my life, I didn't quit. And quitting golf isn't a choice. Golf is my passion. Whether it's hard or easy, it doesn't matter, it's inside me and something I want to keep every day is a new day for me, and I just wake up and practice and play hard, that's all you can do.

Q. Could you talk about the first time you met Tiger, and were you disappointed when you learned he wasn't playing this year?

KEVIN HALL: I understand with his father dying, so I understand. I'm disappointed, but he needs more time. He's doing a clinic at his home course, which is Cincinnati, about 25 kids, and I got a private lesson from him. Tiger came over and looked at my swing and said, "Let me help you." And he wanted Tiger told me to get more extension on the swing, I tried. I swung and I gained 30 years. I smiled big, from ear to ear and beyond. He was cool. It was a great experience. I really got a lot out of it.

Q. How old were you?

KEVIN HALL: 16 years old, I was 16.

Q. What is your expectation for the tournament?

KEVIN HALL: I expect to play like Kevin Hall this week, which means I'm going to hit it straight, on the green, 2 putts. I hope to just play solid golf, no stupid mistakes. I'm not going to say a prediction on making the cut, if I play one shot at a time, then the outcome is going to take care of itself, and I'll have a good week.

Q. Along the Tiger thing, is it true that he told you, "I'll see you on Tour some day"?

KEVIN HALL: Yes, the exact words. Mom interpreted for me, so those are his exact words.

Q. Because mom would never lie, right?

KEVIN HALL: No comment (laughter).

Q. Did you believe him when he said it?

KEVIN HALL: If he if Tiger says something, he means it, so I believed him.

Q. That was when you were 16?

KEVIN HALL: 16 or 17 16, yes.

Q. Coach Brown at Ohio State a couple of years ago mentioned that Kevin was actually behind his other four Ohio State teammates bombing the ball behind the tee, and sometimes he'd get out of himself. How can you handle yourself on this Tour when there are guys that can hit it ridiculous lengths?

KEVIN HALL: I'm just going to say, "Good for them." If you hit it far, it's fine with me. That's not my game. My game is straight and control. If I got out of my element, I'm not going to play good. I learned my lesson a long time ago.

Q. Coach Brown also made a reference to John Cook, who is the same type of player, and I wonder if you've come to see how he might be a good role model for you, as far as his game?

KEVIN HALL: If I see John and play with him, which I have played two practice days with him, and so when I played with John, I see a ball straight down the fairway, straight on the greens, putts going in the hole, inspires me and it helps me to play good.

Q. I'm curious, do you feel like you inspire people in golf, the people you come across?

KEVIN HALL: I can't speak for other people. All I can do is do what I need to do, play good golf, be a good model person out there and if people want to follow me and follow my lead and are inspired by the way I play golf, or me as a person, then following is fine with me. Not only on the golf course, but when I'm off the golf course.

Q. Behaving like an adult, right?

KEVIN HALL: Not all the time.

Q. What's the worst you've ever lost your temper on the golf course?

KEVIN HALL: On the putting green I'm not going to tell the story.

Q. You won't tell anybody?

KEVIN HALL: Off the record I get angry on the golf course. The times I get most angry is on the putting green. Sometimes I look when I see the water, I threaten my putter, I'm going to throw it, but calm down and hold on to my temper and

Q. Just put it right back in the bag, right?


Q. Guys on the Tour talk about how important it is to hear the ball, how do you overcome that?

KEVIN HALL: I lost my hearing and I learned to feel and see with my eyes. And so I overcame that. So I can see it visually. If I hit the ball bad, it comes off the club slow, and that's kind of the way I hear it is with my eyes. And so I can see a poor hit, because the ball comes off slow, and a good hit, if it comes off, it will come off fast and normal.

Q. Other than golf, what did you study in college?

KEVIN HALL: Journalism.

Q. Where does this opportunity rank for you, being here, playing this tournament?

KEVIN HALL: At the top, top opportunity, because it's the Jack Nicklaus tournament and it's my hometown and it's big. This is OSU town and I'm an OSU graduate. And I'm really happy to be here and be part of it.

Q. Are you the coach, the interpreter?

THE INTERPRETER: How much time I'm the Executive Director of the United States Deaf Golf Association. I played for 15 years full time, and that's where within that story of all that is how God kind of put the two of us together.

Q. Your name?

THE INTERPRETER: Rob Strano, S t r a n o.

Q. You're Executive Director of the U.S.

THE INTERPRETER: United States Deaf Golf Association.

Q. Where is your home, Rob?


Q. You're with him when he plays?

THE INTERPRETER: I will be from now on. I actually apologized to Kevin, because I wasn't at Pebble or Zurich, because I was still thinking as a player. And I thought I'm not in the field that week, I'm not there for Kevin. And it wasn't until after Zurich that I realized my job wasn't as a player, but the executive director, and I am the figurehead for Deaf golf. I need to be there when he's playing, to be his liaison, anything I can help him with, whether it's being in the pressroom or out on the range with players and fans, helping him, make things easier during tournament week.

Q. Did you play on the PGA TOUR?

THE INTERPRETER: I was a career rabbit. I Monday qualified on the big Tour, and mostly Nationwide stuff, though.

Q. Did do you ever dream of winning on Tour and what's that like?

KEVIN HALL: Of course I dream about it. The dream is I dream about winning the tournament, Tiger is there, and it's much like the pictures on the wall, here, with the thousands of people watching me and making the putt on the last hole to win. That's how the dream kind of unfolds and inspiring more people by my win. I don't know

Q. It's not something you've thought about, right?

KEVIN HALL: Right. I'm too busy doing my thing.

Q. Because you're so visual, as you learn the golf swing, are you influenced a lot by the swings you like, and do you try to copy them in a way?

KEVIN HALL: When I grew up, I watched Fred Couples, Tiger, Phil, watched them on TV, the golf swings again and again and again, and they'd get in my mind. And I'd go outside, I'd remember what I saw, and then I'd try to input it into my swing, and it would help.

Q. How about Charles Barkley, did that help you?


Q. How about Fred Couples swing?

KEVIN HALL: It's very slow, easy going, relaxed, it's just a simple swing, back and forth, the timing is smooth. It's very easy to watch. And it's how I swing. I swing smooth, and there's no jerking movements, whatsoever. And then if I swing smooth, the same as Couples, I hit good shots and get good results.

Q. What's the most important lesson your parents have taught you about life and have you been able to apply any of that to golf?

KEVIN HALL: That's a big question. Many, many lessons, but the most important lesson is I have to work twice as hard, because I'm deaf. And if I work twice as hard, I can get what I want, especially if I put my mind to it. And with golf, I want to be a successful, professional golfer, I need to work twice as hard to get the job done. Continually take it one day at a time and I'll be fine. And then maybe one day, the dream will come true, and the most important lesson is never give up, and continue to work twice as hard as everybody else.

Q. You have such an easy disposition, you smile so much, what are you like on the golf course?

KEVIN HALL: I'm not the same. I want to go out there and I want to strangle every hole and attack it, I want to win and I want to play good, so it's a different feeling. If you want to win, you've got that competitive nature inside of you, and you have to want to do good, and that's how I feel out there is I'm competitive and I want to do good.

Q. When did it become a realistic goal to become a pro?

KEVIN HALL: When I won the big 10. My confidence was not sky high before the tournament. Then I arrived at the tournament and I won by 11 shots. And if I can go there and have that experience, I can go ahead and play professional golf.

Q. Why do you wear the Lance Armstrong, Live Strong Bracelet?

KEVIN HALL: First time I put it on I shot 5 under (laughter) it's my good luck charm.

Q. What's your favorite color?


Q. How old were you when you first picked up a club, and what was it about the game of golf that appealed to you?

KEVIN HALL: I was nine. I enjoyed the feeling of hitting good shots, when I first picked up a club. And when I first played golf, my mom picked me up from school and drove me to the driving range, and I got out and walked up and didn't know anything, and I just picked up a club and grabbed it with a split handed grip and started hitting balls. And I hit a beautiful draw, and I was addicted from there.

I really love the challenge of the game and hitting a good golf shot is my favorite part of the game.

Q. Kevin was a good reporter for the school newspaper, do you ever wish you were us?

KEVIN HALL: No. I want to play golf and sign autographs I don't want your job, meeting the deadlines and the pay is not that well either (laughter).

TODD BUDNICK: Thank you, Kevin, and good luck this week.

End of FastScripts.

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