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April 1, 2009

Rees Jones


MARK WILLIAMS: Rees Jones, we'd like to welcome you to the Shell Houston Open Media Center Thank you for coming. First of all, some comments about the golf course that you designed, and obviously there's been some great feedback from the players, but particularly about the course set-up the week before Augusta National.
REES JONES: Well, it was David Shindeldecker's half the week before the Majors. The Tour granted us that. Once that occurred, we both decided along with all the Redstone executives to set it up for Augusta. I think that was achieved three years ago, and the word has gotten around the Tour that this is a great prep for the Masters as well as a wonderful golf course set-up the way the pros like it, and that's what David Toms and I really wanted when we designed the course.
MARK WILLIAMS: The 18th hole here is an interesting hole, gets a lot of comments, and it was the third most difficult finishing hole on Tour last year and is the Kodak challenge hole this week. There's been a lot of interesting remarks about the number of balls in the water and the fewest amount of birdies, et cetera. Can you tell us about your philosophy with that hole?
REES JONES: Well, I think a really great golf course should have a great 18th hole. That's what we have here at Redstone. We also knew this was going to be the Tournament golf course, so we really wanted to have a great finale.
Seventeen is a long par 4, hard green to hit, especially with the hole location right rear. Sixteen is a great par 3, and then 18 is truly a challenge hole.
Two years ago Adam Scott, Stuart Appleby and Jeff Maggert all hit it in the water in the final group.
If the event is close coming down the 18th hole, the muscles will tighten on that hole because there's a bunker on the right that's hard to hit out of and hold the green and then water goes all along the left side.
MARK WILLIAMS: Open it up for questions.

Q. Just so I'm clear, when you were routing this course and designing even the subtle features, did you have Augusta National in mind in trying to mimic the conditions of Augusta?
REES JONES: Actually we didn't have Augusta National in mind. Although to some degree my training from my father, Robert Trent Jones, he always had Augusta National in mind, and I think I learned a lot about green contours and Bobby Jone's philosophy.

I was fortunate enough to meet with Bobby Jones several times when my dad took me down to Augusta. My dad did the 16th hole and the 11th hole and 13th green at Augusta. Then he built Peach Tree with Bobby Jones, which is much like Redstone.
So to some degree, it was good fortune maybe that they hired me because I sort of had that philosophy, the strategic layout of Augusta National.

Q. Rees, just as a quick follow-up, the course opened what in 2005 or something. This was before this tournament had gotten the pre-Masters week, correct?
REES JONES: That's correct.

Q. With that, I wonder, when -- you didn't design the course thinking it was going to be Masters. How nervous were you the first year, wondering how it was going to play with virtually no rough, which obviously is one of the main defenses most people have on golf courses, and what was your thought -- what were you thinking then?
REES JONES: Well, our philosophy wasn't really necessarily to design it as hard as possible. We wanted the players around the Tour, the good players to want to play here. So we have reachable par-5s. We've got a couple real finesse par-4s in 10 and 12, good birdie opportunities. Then we have some tough par-4s in 5 and 6 and 17 and 18.
So there's a great ebb and flow here, and there be will be some red numbers, and that's that we intended. I think to some degree a lot of these courses that are set-up for Tour events or even for the Major Championships are setting them almost too hard, so there's a limited number of players that have an opportunity to win.
I think just about half the field here could win the Shell Houston Open, and that's that we wanted.

Q. Could you talk about your involvement with the Kodak Challenge and having 18 as one of the toughest holes? It's got of like mean something that you pick to be a part of this and one of your holes is the toughest ones to play like this.
REES JONES: I'm on the selection committee for the Kodak Challenge. I'm very pleased to do that because actually I wouldn't be in the business without George Eastman of Eastman Kodak, because my father caddied for George Eastman, who is the best tipper at the Country Club of Rochester. My dad thought maybe golf was a good industry to get into.
When Kodak asked me to be part of their selection committee for the holes, I was very pleased and it meant a lot to me because of my background.
We picked some really great holes around the country. The 18th was obviously the pick because it has been so difficult. I think 154 balls have gone in the water over past three years. It's going to be very rewarding to make a birdie there. The Kodak Challenge is based on number of -- the total number under par, and it's going to be a tough birdie and obviously not a eagle hole.

Q. Rees, people always think about a golf course taking time to mature. Why has this one able to mature so quickly?
REES JONES: I think Redstone has put a lot of money into this event. They overseeded for the Shell Houston Open, which is exactly what Augusta National does. So they have a very good superintendent, and they really spend the money the make sure it's a tremendous venue. It's been complimented by the Tour players as being one of the best maintained golf courses, if not the best greens in the year. So I think that's a real tribute to the Redstone group.

Q. Rees, giving your 18th hole here, let's call it the toughest 18th hole on the PGA Tour. Off the top of your head, what's the second toughest finishing hole on Tour?
REES JONES: Well, I'm not into that, but I think most finishing holes are tough if it comes down the stretch. I guess last week at Bay Hill, that's a tough finishing hole. Doral's 18th is a tough finishing hole. I think this is very much similar to both of those because there is the factor of the ultimate penalty, water. So I think the tougher finishing holes are the ones that have water.
Now, Torrey Pines is not the toughest, but it's got the water in it and it's got -- it's a risk/reward hole. You have to make a choice. So you can get in a lot of trouble or make an eagle. That's a great finishing hole, but not the toughest.
MARK WILLIAMS: More questions? We appreciate you coming in, Mr. Jones. Thank you for your time.

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