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January 13, 2009

Parker McLachlin


JOHN BUSH: We'd like to welcome Parker McLachlin to the interview room here at the Sony Open in Hawaii. First of all, let's get you to comment on your play last week, and how you're feeling heading into this week's tournament.
PARKER McLACHLIN: Yeah, last week was obviously a fun experience for me, being able to play on Maui at the Mercedes with the tournament champions-only.
You know, I felt a little rusty coming out of the gates. Thursday was a bit of a rough day. I was a little bit under the weather, and just kind of my golf game was a little bit in hibernation, as well, from the time off.
But came out Friday, Saturday, Sunday and played really well. I didn't make a whole lot of putts, but the stuff I had been working on in my golf swing was really exceptional to me, and made some great progress. I hit 18 greens on Friday, 16 on Saturday and was just really pleased with the way that things are going in that direction.
So looking forward to this week, I think there's some big things in store. I'm excited about the upcoming week and knowing these greens a little bit better. That was where I struggled last week, so hopefully it will be a big, solid week for me.
JOHN BUSH: Your fifth start year and last year you finished tied for 10th, so a lot of confidence that you can carry into this week's tournament.
PARKER McLACHLIN: Yeah, and just knowing the golf course so well, that's a big thing for me. And then maybe getting some of the hometown jitters out of the way last week. I know I started off real poorly last year, going like 4- or 5-over par through ten holes, and then last week was 6-over par through 14 holes.
So maybe got the jitters out of the way last week, and I can just basically roll into continuing my good play into this week. So hopefully I'll start on an upward trend rather than having to work my way out of a hole like I did last year.
JOHN BUSH: I'm sure you'll get some questions, but just some big comments, but next week is a big week for your family. Talk about the personal ties there with your dad and President-elect Obama.
PARKER McLACHLIN: Yeah, next week will be interesting, next Tuesday, watching that historic event. It's just to me, I know President-elect Obama means a lot to the state; but just the fact that he's a part of our family sort of connection, is really something quite special and unique.
So I think it will be interesting to watch the inauguration, and just knowing the fact that my dad has had a part in his sort of upbringing and that he's influenced him in some way, I think is something pretty special.

Q. Before we get to the golf, I wouldn't mind hearing about the basketball.
PARKER McLACHLIN: The basketball game? Well, he guarded me and I guarded him. It was his choice. I think he wanted to have an easy game on defence. He said he wanted to guard the golfer. (Laughter).

Q. How did that come about?
PARKER McLACHLIN: The game itself?

Q. Yeah.
PARKER McLACHLIN: Well, he was getting together basically a group of his classmates from 1979, and obviously with my dad as a coach, they decided to include him and have him sort of be a part of the gathering.
Typical-of-my-dad fashion, he finagled a way for myself and my brother to be a part of the game (laughing) even though they had already had ten players. We were sort of the two extras in case somebody got injured or tired. You know, they are getting up there in their late 40s. A couple of them ended up getting tired and we ended up subbing in for them in one of the games.

Q. And I heard when he drives the lane, it's a pretty easy path for him.
PARKER McLACHLIN: Yeah, I think there's not too many people willing to get in his way or take that charge or stick a hand out. He is the President-elect, you know.
The funny thing was, it seemed to me like some of his classmates, they still look at him as Barry, and so they were a little bit more willing to sort of, you know, maybe not make a hard foul, but a little bit harder than probably somebody just meeting him for the first time would.

Q. And I would be curious, and just one last one on this, from the time you first came out on TOUR, your first tournament, and the presence of a Tiger, Vijay, Ernie and the guys you had seen on TV, any differences of that experience to being on the court with the President-elect?
PARKER McLACHLIN: Yeah, well, that's an interesting question. You know, I think to me there's still a little bit more of an air with like a Tiger. I actually haven't even met Tiger. You know, just sort of seeing Tiger, just because it's what I do and it's something that I aspire to be in Tiger's shoes. To me that seems a little bit more -- there's sort of a little bit more of an air there; more of like unattainability.
Obviously the presidency is very unattainable, as well. (Laughter) maybe it's just the way that Barack was. He was very genuine and very interested in what I was doing and everyone else that was there, as well. He made a genuine effort with everyone there to really connect, and to me, that was something that really made you feel at ease with him.

Q. So what's our headline here: Parker is or is not running for office?
PARKER McLACHLIN: Is not, at the time. (Laughter) Maybe later.
You know, I'm not -- I think to me that he just made you feel so welcome. I do remember shooting the basketball before he got there, and I was shooting it great and making tons of shots. It's kind of like the second he walked in the gym, it was like I couldn't make a shot to save my life. I'm sure that's the way a lot of people feel when they play with Tiger; you make putts and hit drives down the fairway and the second you get paired with Tiger, it's like where did my golf game go?
I've yet to experience that, so all I can say is that my shot went in the tank when he walked in the room. (Laughter).

Q. So you did or did not score on him?
PARKER McLACHLIN: I did not. Did to the score on him. He only scored on me once and he was averaging about four baskets a game in the previous games. It went to 21 by two. I felt like I did a pretty good defensive job on him, so I was pretty proud of that, holding him to one basket.

Q. Did you hand-check him?
PARKER McLACHLIN: Yeah, he was trying to back me down and I'm like giving him an elbow to the kidney, and I'm sure the Secret Service are like, "Get your hands off of him."
He was backing me down and I had to belly up and play a little hard-nosed defense. Looking back on it, I'm like: I can't believe I was like elbowing him, you know. But that's what you've got to do. I'm sure he would have not been happy if I would have just kind of let him go. He's wanting that sort of hard-nosed type of basketball.

Q. But you never actually hacked him, like a foul or anything?

Q. Calling your own fouls, I assume?
PARKER McLACHLIN: Yeah, calling your own fouls. There were not too many hard fouls on him. There were a lot of hard fouls that other people were calling on each other, but when it was him, it was kind of the white gloves.

Q. Except for you.
PARKER McLACHLIN: Yeah, because I was the one physically guarding him at that point and he was trying to back me down and I was like, I'm going to hold my ground.
So I had to, you know, I gave him the little Duke slap; let's go.

Q. What was the state of junior golf on Oahu when you were a junior compared to what it is now?
PARKER McLACHLIN: I think it's a lot more organized now. I think when I was a juror, each island had their own organization and it wasn't one cohesive unit.
I think now there's some great leadership, and I think that the leadership is seeing the potential of the juniors that are coming through the ranks: Myself, Dean Wilson, Michelle Wie, just to name a few, that have come through the ranks, and it's like, you know, there are some kids here with a lot of talent and a lot of potential.
So I think the people that are in the leadership positions are now recognizing that and they are really taking it upon themselves to give these types of kids a fair shot and a shot at national competition. So I think it's been really great to have a unified organization.

Q. Was the Governor's Cup around when you were a kid?

Q. And what do you think of the idea of that competition giving a spot to someone in this field?
PARKER McLACHLIN: Yeah, I got a spot in 2000.

Q. By winning the Cup?
PARKER McLACHLIN: Yeah, I won the one-day sort of playoff sort of a deal. For me, I was a sophomore in college, and that was a huge thing for me. It was a way to give me a taste of what life on the -- not life on the TOUR, but give me a taste of the TOUR, the level of play on TOUR.
That to me was something completely invaluable. You couldn't put a price tag on that. It's obviously, you know, catapulted Tadd Fujikawa, and I'm going to play nine holes today with Lorens Chan; and at 14, I've seen his swing. It's a great golf swing. It seems like -- obviously he shot 5-under to get into a playoff to get into it. Obviously a good player.
I think it's really cool. I think it's a really unique way to showcase the amateur talent here in Hawaii, and I hope that they continue to have that spot available.

Q. It's amazing more tournaments don't do that locally.
PARKER McLACHLIN: Yeah, I think it really provides a unique local flavor to the event. And you know, I think when you've got some local junior talent the way that we have got it here in Hawaii, I think it's a special thing to have that spot available.

Q. With so much talk about the future of some of the PGA events that take place here in Hawaii and a possible change in location, can you just talk about your experience and your thoughts about, obviously these mean a lot to you being in Hawaii and maybe your concerns?
PARKER McLACHLIN: Yeah, I was talking to the Commissioner the other day, and I said, "You know, Commish, we need to just have a Hawaii swing. Just have five or six events in Hawaii and just bounce to each island." I said, "That would be a great start to the year. You have the Texas Swing and Florida Swing and West Coast Swing, let's do a Hawaii Swing."
He said, "Hey, if you can find me the sponsor, we'll do it."
I said, "Well, that might be a little more challenging."
I love these events over here. I know that economic times are tough, and especially here in Hawaii. I think to me, it's an important part of Hawaii, and it's an important part of the TOUR. When people are freezing cold in the Midwest and back east, it showcases what Hawaii has to offer as a great destination spot, and it gets the TOUR kicked off in an exciting, but laid-back kind of a way, with the tournament champions-only last week. That's a very laid back event because there's only 33 guys.
And this week, it's a full-field event, but guys are not out on the practice green grinding until six or seven o'clock at night. People are still enjoying their time here in Hawaii. I think it's an important part of the beginning of the PGA TOUR season and I think it does a lot of good to showcase what Hawaii has in January, the weather that we have got, it's just perfect out. I think people across the country are going to be watching the telecast, saying, man, we need to book a trip to Hawaii.

Q. I don't know if this will happen, so hypothetically, if you were going to give some advice to Lorens, and also to Tadd, what would you tell each of those guys?
PARKER McLACHLIN: I think those are two pretty different cases. I think Lorens, I think that he has got, it seems like a bright future in front of him.
Obviously he's pretty young. I'll see him today and play nine with him, and sort of see what kind of game he's got. But I would advise him to just keep working hard on his game and kind of see what opportunities lay in front of him.
But he's got his whole life in front of him. He doesn't need to make -- if he finishes 15th or 20th this week, he doesn't need to make a life-altering decision. Guys on TOUR have their best years historically in their mid 30s.
So it's not something -- you can play golf the rest of your life. It's not like football or basketball where you need to take advantage of your youth at a young age. Take advantage of sort of your best playing days at 18, 19, 20. You're going to be playing really high-quality golf into your mid 30s and late 30s. To me, my advice to him would be, hey, just enjoy your time right now. Continue to get better. See if you can find a great education and a place to play golf over the next four years.
My advice to Tadd, I guess I wish I could have given him advice prior to his decision to turn pro. But I think that as far as what he's got right now, make the most of your opportunities. Play well when it really counts. Obviously he played well yesterday, and so this week is a great opportunity for him; play well when it counts. You know, Q-School next year, play well when it counts. That would be my advice, take advantage of the opportunities that you do get and play really well.

Q. Can you just talk about having your dad there last week, and this week, obviously he's going to be following you the entire length of the way. You had obviously a scare with him; just how important it is to have him supporting you the way that he does.
PARKER McLACHLIN: Yeah, my dad's been a huge part of my life and my golf career.
Yeah, it was a scare last year for him having a stroke and pretty cool that he's back to almost 100% now after almost exactly a year later. I have great memories, he caddied for me here back in 2000, and just we shared a lot of great memories on the golf course together. It will be fun having him being one of the many that are out here this week and being able to look outside the ropes and see him, will be pretty special.
JOHN BUSH: Parker, thanks for coming by and play well this week.

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