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March 6, 2008

Scott Hoch


DAVE SENKO: Scott, welcome. Coming off -- you made the cut last week at Honda, and then two consecutive wins in Florida. Maybe just talk about that. Everything seems to be falling into place. I know you talked in Florida about struggling a little bit. Why?
SCOTT HOCH: Struggling a little bit like how can I play so bad and feel so good? It was. I didn't think I could play that badly when actually I felt pretty good physically.
Yeah, things turned around. Funny part about this game. You want me to go into it?
DAVE SENKO: Yeah, maybe what things have fallen into place for you. Anything in particular?
SCOTT HOCH: I guess the main thing was I played in Hawaii. I was pretty depressed about my game because I didn't understand how I could play that poorly. It was a combination of things. Ended up going to Leadbetter's Academy and saw Sean Hogan.
It wasn't so much hitting the ball. We worked on a few little things, but it wasn't that far off, so that was a good thing about it. But one thing we did find out, we got -- I putted so poorly out in there in Hawaii. Part of -- putting is three parts: Reading, being able to read the greens, speed, and the lie. I wasn't doing any of those very good. It wasn't good for me out there.
And then when you don't putt good it puts pressure on the other part of your game, so I think that had a lot to do with why I didn't play very well. Anyway, I saw Sean and it helped a little bit on just hitting the ball. Then we went in, and they got a machine there, did some putting. It's not really a machine, but just videotaped and computerized stuff, and it gets you more crap than you'd ever even want to know about it.
But what it came out to as far as what concerned me, the putter I was using, the way I was stroking it, at that point, at that time, which I'm sure it was the same way in Hawaii, that was not a good putter for me at that time.
Then I had another putter with me I wanted to try because I putted with it well a few times before, and I got on the same -- took a video of that, and it showed that that was, by far, a better putter for me to use at that time the way I was stroking it than the other one was, which had been my starter.
So I started using that one. I came down and practiced with it the first tournament. I was still debating whether to use it our not. Actually between that and another putter. Luckily I picked the right putter and practiced with it the next couple weeks.
Really putted well the first week. Second week pretty decent, but I didn't make that much kind of until the end. It's good to make some when you need to and that was the main thing, but I had a couple other opportunities before that that I didn't make.
It's the same -- from what I played with in Hawaii? No, one was -- two totally different brands. One happened to be -- the one I won with, I switched, was a center-shafted putter, which means the toe doesn't fan open as much. The other one was a heel-shafted putter that's usually my starter that I ended up benching.
That was more much a heel-shafted putter where the toe goes open and to closed more than the other one, whereas the center-shafted, or a face-balanced putter, it just stayed square longer to the ball.
DAVE SENKO: That's the one you won with?
SCOTT HOCH: That's the one I won with, the face-balanced putter. It's a Scotty Cameron. It's a Futura. But I found out since that they don't make that anymore. So people out there that can get some, it's a very good putter. Get the ones that are out there.
They said they might have a few in the back there if I need anymore, but I've got a couple of them at home, different variations. No, it's one that worked very well for me for those weeks.
DAVE SENKO: You mentioned last week that Fred Funk kind of advised or talked you into playing the Honda.
SCOTT HOCH: I'm going to kill him.
DAVE SENKO: That's what I was going to ask you. Have you reminded him that he didn't make the cut and you did?
SCOTT HOCH: No, I didn't. I didn't know that he hadn't. I saw him on the course and he was 6 over at one time. Tough to bring it back when I knew the cut was 4.
I should have played the one in Mexico, but when I was playing Naples I felt a little something in my hand on Friday of the tournament. I was waiting to see how Friday went before I committed to it. So I felt that and said, Well, I'm not going to commit, because the Tour kind of frowns on committing at the last minute and also pulling out right after.
So I didn't commit. I should have though. Because that's the one I should have played, because I found out it was just a sharp seam -- a sharp spot on the seam of my glove that was actually irritating my hand.
I knew it wasn't anything normally bothers me, but I was like, Hey, I got to be careful with all the problems I've gone through on my left hand and all the surgeries and everything else. I got to be careful of every little different feeling I have.
So I decided -- well, a couple of other factors why I played Honda is because it's about two hours if you drive real fast to get. And back in '87 I finished one shot out of the playoff for the PGA, so obviously I liked it at the time. I hardly had to drive it straight there.
I don't mind long courses, as long as there's a -- I mean, especially out there if there's a penalty for not driving it well. Unfortunately, I went down there and drove it as poor as I've driven it in a while, so it was a struggle.
But, you know, after the first round I did make the cut. Three of the four days I hit some bad -- I had some bad stretches where I either bogeyed four holes in a row or four out of five or five out of six on three of the four days.
Other than the bad streaks I played pretty decent. Hey, golf's 18 holes each day so you got to play good every hole and not let them get away from you. If you're not driving it good and it's that long, when I hit it in the rough I can't reach the green it made a difficult for me.

Q. You said before that you're depressed.
SCOTT HOCH: About my game. Not depressed.

Q. (No microphone.)
SCOTT HOCH: No, not really. I mean, one thing about my game is in the past -- it hasn't reached the levels that some people have, but it also had reached the depth that other people have, too. When I don't play well I don't completely lose it and I don't go down for long.
That's one thing I characterize with my game. Doesn't reach the pinnacle that a lot of the other guys do, but also doesn't hit the lows. This particular time was low, and I don't really recall any other time with the PGA where I actually felt good and played that poorly.
I mean, you got to figure I've played poorly before, but when I'm playing on the Champions' Tour and finishing 30th or 40th in a limited field, that's bad.
That's what I was comparing it to. Lots of times you can play -- in the past I could play fairly decent on the regular tour and still not do anything any good, but this was probably, in comparison for the competition, as poor as I could play.
DAVE SENKO: You and Funk are the only ones that will, on occasion, go back and forth. You think that can help you in terms of playing a very, very difficult course and then coming back here next week? Like Funk played on the tour in Hawaii and then won out there. That seemed to help him. Just wondering if the degree of difficulty helps.
SCOTT HOCH: Well, it's sure going to make it easier. Let's just say if I played well at Honda, I mean, I had driven it well, then I would have something to go on. But I didn't really drive it well. It really helped my short game because I had to do that a lot, more so than any time I can remember.
So, you know, I don't know if it helped me. If anything, it helped me decide that I need to pick, if I go on the regular Tour, I need to pick courses more contusive to my play. At the time, I thought that might be a pretty good one to play.
I wanted to pick a hard one to decide, Hey, should I be doing this more or not? The way I look back it I say, Hey, if I had driven it much better I could have played much better. So that doesn't really deter me that way. When I come here I think, oh, yeah, this is going to play much easier.
Especially this one. This is probably the shortest course we play all year. Doesn't mean it's the easiest, by any means. It's an old-style golf course, so it's the kind of course I like.
I like when you don't have condos all around the side and you go back and forth. You just don't go out nine and then come back in. They're just back and forth and around. It's just 18 holes on a very small area here. That's just what I enjoy.

Q. Have you played this course before? What's your history here, and how does it set up for your game as your game is right now?
SCOTT HOCH: Last year I enjoyed playing it. At the beginning of last year, this was maybe -- or I had played a few in Florida and then here. I had pretty much been off for two and a half years, so I was encouraged by playing here.
I had played -- it was somewhere between 9th and 12th maybe. I don't know. You'll have to check it. But I enjoyed playing here, and I remember I putted very poorly. Combination didn't read the greens very well plus I didn't putt very well. I didn't hit the lines I wanted to that often and they were tougher for me to read.
Looking back, if I correct some of that stuff, I might be lucky to be in the mix come Sunday. But I do like the course. When you have a tree-lined course and stuff like that you have to drive it well.
Also, you don't have to drive it on every hole. Some of them are position holes. I still like to drive it on those position holes, but, you know, I enjoy playing the course. I'm looking forward to it.

Q. I notice that and you Cookie played the U.S. Amateur that year and now how many years later you're here.
SCOTT HOCH: Yeah, not here but on the east coast, yeah. Now he's a rookie on the Champions' Tour. Head-to-head with 77 other guys, yeah. It's kind of come full circle. He beat me in the finals of the U.S. Amateur playing field in New Jersey. I played pretty good, but he played outstanding. He missed one -- he probably doesn't know this, but when you lose you kind of look back. He only missed one putt inside the 15 feet all day. He played great. I had a hard time beating him that day.
Both of us played pretty well, both of us have had some injuries along the way and we're still competitive, and we're still going after everybody. It's fun to see how golf, you can keep it going from the very beginning, which that was probably when we were 21, 22 years old. Now I'm 52 and he's 50. It's good to be able to play competitively that long.

Q. What are your goals?
SCOTT HOCH: You mean higher than the goals I set before this year? I'm not the type -- I'm going out there trying to do the best that I can. I'm not sure what having a goal would do for me. I'm just trying to do the best I can.
Sure, it's not really a goal, but sure you would like to win at least one tournament every year you play. After you win one then you try to work on the next one.
But before the year, no, I don't set up and say, Hey, I want to be top 10 or leading the Money List or leading the Schwabby Cup. I just try to do the best I can. That's why I was disappointed the first two weeks I played. I knew I could do better.
DAVE SENKO: Now you're coming off back to back. Have you thought about the possibility of doing something that doesn't happen very often in history? Jay did it, I think, didn't he, three in a row?
SCOTT HOCH: Loren Roberts did two years ago. He won the first three events. No, it's not going to happen that often unless your name starts with a T and end with an R.
No, hopefully when I got out there I won't put any pressure on myself to do that. I'll just go out there and do the best I can. I got a great pairing, which, if anything, will help me play better. Always good to play with some of the top players. Those that haven't checked, I'm playing with Haas and Bernie Langer the first day, so I'm looking forward to that.

Q. To me, not covering a lot of Champions' Tour events, it seems like a more relaxed atmosphere. Does it make it any more comfortable being on a Champions' Tour event than PGA event?
SCOTT HOCH: Well, the fact that I got there on Tuesday about lunchtime at the Honda and went in to get something to eat and didn't know a soul. All I saw was young wives and kids. Eventually some other people came in that I did know.
No, it's a lot different out there. I mean, it's -- I might know a quarter of them. I might recognize a few more and not know the name, and some I have no clue.
One thing I found out is they can all hit the ball long. They are long. I said, This is crazy. I mean, I hit a good shot and sometimes they'll be 40 yards ahead of me.

Q. Who were you playing with?
SCOTT HOCH: John Senden hits it long, and Eric Axley. He's not as long as the other guys, but he's a lot longer than me. Every day I play I play with somebody long. I played Senden the other time, too. I played with him twice.

Q. I guess part of what I was asking is out here on the Champions' Tour it's a little more relaxed.
SCOTT HOCH: It was too long a question. I get lost. I'm old and my attention span is not that long. No, it's a lot more relaxed here. It's fun.
Some people say, Well, is it an entertainment tour or a competitive tour? I just think it's a combination of both. It'll hopefully continue to be entertaining.
But on the other hand, it's getting more competitive ever year. More and more better players are coming out. Just look at the list. Cook at the end of last year, Sandy Lyle coming here. He won more than one major, didn't he? He won Augusta, right?
SCOTT HOCH: Langer. A lot of people have come out and will come out the rest of this year, really good players, and I think it's probably just going to continue. So the competition is going to be fierce. I mean, it's not like winning tournaments like before. It's going to be a lot harder to win tournaments than say the Morgans and the Irwins did with regularity when they came out before.
You have a lot more top players that you are beating your head against. Definitely the competition is going to be getting better and better every year. Let's just hope it still stays very entertaining for the fans.
DAVE SENKO: Okay, thank you.
SCOTT HOCH: I think one of the things is I think the fans should, and can, relate to us a lot more than they can the guys on the other regular tour. Especially after me being out there and seeing how far they hit it. They can't relate to that.
They can relate to how far some of us hit it, but you'd just be amazed how far some of those guys are, and how crooked some can with. But they good find it and hit it again and not even worry about it.

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