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April 18, 2008

Scott Hoch


PHIL STAMBAUGH: Scott, 34-33-67, 4-under, a couple general thoughts about the round.
SCOTT HOCH: I left a bunch out there. Three out of the first four holes, I had it three feet on one of the holes and I had it less than a foot on the other two holes, so I made it pretty easy.
And then after that just couldn't seem to get anything going. I made a really bad swing on 17 and made bogey, and then luckily I came back and made a good shot at 18 and then made about a 10-foot birdie putt there. Really that was it as far as making them.
I had a bunch of opportunities on the other side, a bunch of putts between 8 and 12 feet; nothing. And then I hit one in the bunker on 8 and made it from the bunker, so that kind of made up for some of the other ones.
A lot of the putts I hit pretty good. Two of them I left right dead in the middle short. I thought they were going to be faster. O'Meara burned them over the edges all day today so it must not have been that easy putting because he's an excellent putter.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: Would you go through your three birdies starting out, 10, 12 and 13?
SCOTT HOCH: I had a 9-iron within a foot on the first hole.
12th is the par-5, hit it in the rough so I had to lay up, and then I hit a sand wedge up about three feet and made that for birdie.
Then the next hole, I hit it about six inches and made that one.
I actually hit good shots the rest of the day. It wasn't as if I was scrambling after that. I actually hit some pretty good shots except for 17.

Q. (No microphone.)
SCOTT HOCH: I definitely did, yeah.

Q. (No microphone.)
SCOTT HOCH: Well, it was one of those rounds that lots of times you shoot 4-under, you're happy to do it. Other times you feel like you left a good bit out there. 4-under is a good score, especially at the start of the tournament. But when three of those birdies are just tap-ins, then it wasn't as if you played that -- I mean, you scored that well, for how you played. I had a good score, but I felt I left a number of shots out there. Like I said, three of the five birdies I made were just tap-ins or very close putts. And I hit a lot of other good shots, I just didn't make any of those putts.

Q. So do you go from here to the putting green?
SCOTT HOCH: I'm going to go from here to lunch. You're holding up my lunch.
No, when it's over, it's over. If you go and practice now -- for me, if I go practice now, how do I know it's going to be anything like that tomorrow? I'm talking about the way my stroke is. I show up tomorrow, see what's going with it and then work on a little bit then or while I'm playing. I've never done much or found much good in practicing after I played.
As a matter of fact, my old caddie, he just reminded me when I won, Damon Green, who caddies for Zach Johnson now, he was a caddie for me for about four years, he said we hit balls maybe six or seven times afterwards. I must have really been playing poorly. But that's what we shot the next day was still 74, of all the times we practiced. So he said, you've probably got the right idea. It doesn't do me much good to practice afterwards.

Q. You played here last year and did well. Is this a different course?
SCOTT HOCH: Totally.

Q. How so?
SCOTT HOCH: Well, last year I think they had the overseed and it played much longer, and it was cold, cold and windy. Today we just had a little wind out there just to make it interesting, just to make it to where you had to think about what it's doing and playing, and anything less you really wouldn't even be concerned about anything more than you really would after figuring it out. But when it's blowing this speed, sometimes it's tough to figure out it doesn't always blow in one direction. We found it to be swirling out there a little bit today.

Q. What's the deal with you and Florida golf courses? Are you simply better in Florida?
SCOTT HOCH: Better in warmer weather. If it is something that works in Florida now, why does it have to start now (laughter)? Why couldn't it start much earlier? Looking back on my record, I've done much better on bentgrass greens at other courses. I've probably never started off that quick. I won out on the West Coast one time; that was at Bob Hope. And as far as Florida on the regular Tour, I won Miami, but that was more of a -- that wasn't really Bermudagrass they had back then. It was like overseeded or something.
I've just never had as much success on Bermuda greens, but I have been lately. I do like the weather. I like playing in warm weather. That does make a big difference for me.

Q. Last year you were not healthy 100 percent. You had some issues, right?
SCOTT HOCH: I was healthy for parts of the year. The last third of the year I wasn't. The beginning of the year I was pretty healthy.

Q. And you won early?
SCOTT HOCH: Beginning of the year I was pretty healthy but I hadn't played in three years, so I was very stale. I had some decent tournaments but never did contend or anything. The first time I contended was when I won, and I guess was that in April or the 1st of May, I guess?
And then actually for about two weeks my hand started bothering me the next week, and then by two weeks after that it really bothered me. I had to get a shot to continue playing. But it wasn't -- it was due to arthritis. The surgery that I had, that's been great. That doesn't bother me at all. I'd like to make it stronger, my tendons stronger and my hand stronger, but by doing that it causes me to get arthritis in my hands because anytime you strengthen your forearms or your wrists or your hands, it involves gripping, and when your thumb really hurts you due to arthritis, then you can't do it.

Q. So now you're healthy, you come out this season, you've already got two wins, playing good. Do you think, you know, I can be the dominant player out here? Does that cross your mind?
SCOTT HOCH: I feel like I play as good as anybody when I'm healthy. Not every week; not everybody is going to do that. Jay and Loren have left a pretty high standard out here the last two years. And then you have Ernie this year. Just looking at it, he'll probably be the strongest player out here. But any given week when I'm healthy, I feel I've got as good a chance of winning as anybody.

Q. Does what you do out here --
SCOTT HOCH: But getting back, do I think I can dominate out here? I think it would be very tough to dominate out here. Ernie started off awfully well, but as far as dominate, that might be tougher than in years past.
We've had some really good players come out recently; look at Wiebe. Nobody has even said anything about him, and he's won two out of 12 events; that's pretty strong. And he's playing good here again. So it's not all just name players from the past that can be really good players out here. And we've got new players coming on all the time. It's going to be probably a little tougher to dominate than what it used to be.

Q. What you eventually do out here, will it affect in any way how you'll look at your golf career, plus or minus --
SCOTT HOCH: I don't think so, because I don't think the press would and I don't think the public would. I think pretty much how you're remembered as a player is pretty much what you did on the regular Tour because that's where they compare it. And then the other ones that are really golf knowledgeable fans, yes, they will see. And if you do well out here, that will be extra kudos, just like most of the people that are golf knowledgeable know how impressive Hale Irwin has been since he's been out here. I mean, he played great, did great on the regular Tour. But that's one guy that's really dominated out here.
You can win a bunch of majors here, but it doesn't ring -- it doesn't change your overall record that much compared to winning majors and stuff on the regular Tour.

Q. That said, though, I believe at Ginn just a couple of weeks ago, you said that you don't -- as you approach a tournament and prepare for it and look at a tournament, it's still the same way you always did.
SCOTT HOCH: Exactly, do the same thing. I feel that that's why I was a lot stronger from my early 40s -- from 40 to 47 when I had to quit because of my injury. That's when I thought I could still play, when not many people before me between 40 and 47 could play, and I think I won a tournament at 47. Not just winning tournaments, but also did fairly well in many of the other tournaments.
But I think more and more people are playing better longer now, just because of the Champions Tour. If I didn't play from 45 to 50, I'd probably have a divorce. When I was hurt, my wife had to change her whole plans around. That was tough for her to get used to. She'd say, "Can't you find something else to do other than sit around the house?" Or I'd wake up in the morning and say, "When are we going to eat lunch today?" When are we going to eat lunch, when are we going to eat dinner, those were the two biggest questions when I was off all that time.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: Scott, thanks.

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