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April 10, 2008

Heath Slocum


RONALD TOWNSEND: Good afternoon. We'd like to welcome Heath Slocum. He's a two-time winner on the PGA TOUR, capturing the 2004 Chrysler Classic and the 2005 Southern Farm Bureau Classic. This is his first Masters appearance and shot a 1-under par 71 today, and we invite your questions.

Q. Just the general reaction about as well as you started early, you're up on the board as the early leader of the Masters in your first Masters; what was that like?
HEATH SLOCUM: It was nice, but I did realize it was Thursday, and there's a long way to go. But I wanted to get off to a good start. I got off to a good start. Bogeying 9 and 10 kind of righted the ship. Hit two really good shots into 11 and parred, and overall, I was pleased.
I put myself under par, and that's where I wanted to end the day. 3-putting the last didn't sit real well, but right now, I'll take it. I'm happy with anything under par today, and you know, hopefully I can just continue to play well, maybe better that every day.

Q. Just any other emotional part about it that you're leading?
HEATH SLOCUM: It's early, but if you get caught up in that kind of thing, especially you know, in a tournament as hard to win as this golf tournament, you're just asking for trouble.
So I was trying to stay grounded. It is Thursday. So I was just actually trying to hit the next fairway, knock it on the right part of the green and take advantage of some of the birdie opportunities when you have them.

Q. Everybody says you have to play here a few years, the subtle breaks in the greens, etc., in playing this course a few practice rounds and today, do you say, "I can play it,"or do you have to absorb it over a few years?
HEATH SLOCUM: I definitely think experience. No doubt about it, when you play this course, the times I've played it, it is very handy. Because I played with Fuzzy today and there was even a few shots where, I mean, necessarily he was hitting away from the hole and hitting to the proper spot just to hit a chip to make a par.
You can see he's been here before and I know he knows the greens better than I do. I played well today and made some good reads. Some of it was from homework and some of it was from outside help in the practice rounds, and you just have to trust it sometimes.
The first putt on 18, I knew it was going to be slow. I hit that putt on countless times, and still, I mean, you try to hit it in the tournament, and I know it's going to be slow, just don't hit it hard enough.

Q. How short were you?
HEATH SLOCUM: Probably ten feet. But the putt on 17, my first putt, I hit the same putt, and I knew it was really fast once it got on top of that hill, and hit it to six inches there. I hit a nice putt and had the proper speed on it.
18, I just know it's slow, but it's just hard to hit it sometimes.

Q. Talk about your birdie on 4. That's not exactly a typical birdie hole.
HEATH SLOCUM: It's not. I hit 3-wood in. I was just trying to hit it really not hard, just solid, and I pushed it a little farther than I wanted and it caught that slope and was going to the left, and left and I was, all right, keep going. I knew how fast that putt was going to be and again just happened to be one of the putts I hit in the practice round and knew it was going to break quite a bit and it was going to be fast, and if it doesn't go in, it's probably six or seven feet by the hole. It was moving pretty good when it went in. I was glad to see it.

Q. Can you talk about your putter change; none of your four birdies were tap-ins by any means. Seemed like all of them were outside 15 to 20 feet; can you talk about getting that putter in competition?
HEATH SLOCUM: Yeah, I've had the same putter really since '93, the PING Pal 4 that I've used primarily throughout that whole time. I have never used another putter over three weeks.
It felt good in the weeks leading up. I've putted with the belly putter before and had a little bit of success. I was working on mechanics. I was struggling with mechanics earlier this year and it was one of those things where my mechanics are better with it and I feel I have enough to deal with without worrying about mechanics on these greens, so anything that made it simple.
Turned out so far, I've putted well today and I was happy today.

Q. You needed a Top-10 finish at Disney just to qualify for the Money List for the Masters; can you talk about that journey and how rewarding it is to be here now and soak it up?
HEATH SLOCUM: I finished in the Top-30 on the FedEx, so I knew that I was in the Masters. But I was really, still, a Top-30 was still a priority for me and one of my goals. I played really well last year. It had been a while, my first year -- my first time on TOUR to have a really good, consistent year, which is what I was looking for. But it was very gratifying. I think we were in Chicago for the BMW, and I didn't play great the last round, and finished 29th on the list, and at that point knew I was into the Masters.
It was one of those days where you don't have a very good day, you don't have a very good tournament, but at the end of the day you find good news; it puts a smile on your face after a pretty rough week.

Q. 3-under par after eight holes in your first Masters and playing with Fuzzy, the last guy to win here his first time, did that thought ever flash through your mind maybe just for an instant? I know you're in the moment but did that irony hit you?
HEATH SLOCUM: Not yet. It really didn't. I knew that he won his first time but I mean, honestly, it is such a long way -- so far ahead of me. It's so far ahead that it doesn't even pop in my head really. That's a long way to go.
Honestly, I was doing everything I could out there just grinding, just to shoot what I shot. I mean, it's a very demanding course and it's a very demanding course for me, just because of my length. I've got to be on my game to shoot good numbers here, and so it was total, 100% focus out there for me just to get to the 71 today.

Q. Mark was talking that you guys have been working on trying to make your swing more efficient.

Q. What was not -- what was wrong with it before, and what does he mean by making it more efficient?
HEATH SLOCUM: Well, everybody that has ever played golf understands that you can have bad habits and fall into bad patterns that cause you to hit bad shots. From an early age I've always had patterns, from when I was really small, of taking it pretty much inside and keeping it inside and trying to hit draws just to go farther.
But over the last three years, we've tried to just -- not necessarily shorten up my swing but make it a little more compact, a little more powerful, because I lose -- I lost not a lot of power but some power with my legwork, so just trying to make it more efficient, not only for power but for accuracy and to hold up under pressure.
I mean, it's been a long journey and I'm sure we have a lot ahead of us. Seems like we all work every single day sometimes just to maintain what we have, much less get any better.

Q. And to see where it got you early in this round, obviously it's working but was that the light bulb moment to say, "All of the stuff that we have been doing fits"?
HEATH SLOCUM: Well, last year was a pretty good indicator that I was a lot more consistent. I putted very well last year, as well, but I would say last year, probably was a better barometer than just one round.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about what led you to Mark?
HEATH SLOCUM: Well, my sophomore year in college at South Alabama he was at Mobile College and we hung around the same friends. I met him there. D.J. who caddies for me, and Mark, they are best men at each other's wedding. They played mini-tour tours together and I was struggling and my caddie, D.J. suggested that maybe I go see Mark. I knew he was teaching. He actually drove down to Pensacola right before New Orleans of, I guess that's 05, and we had just an afternoon of kind of getting just him watching.
I liked what he had to say. I liked the way he approached it. He continued with me to New Orleans, and we've had a great relationship from that point on.
I mean, we were friends before we started to work together, and, you know, we continue to have a great relationship, not only as teacher/student, if you want to say, but just as friends.

Q. Follow along the lines of Mark, you hear about the Butch Harmons and David Leadbetters, Mark has three guys in the Masters.

Q. Is he one of the up-and-coming teachers?
HEATH SLOCUM: I believe he is. He's very smart. He knows not only the golf swing -- I don't want to say teach it, but he does know how to teach it and can teach a variety of different players. Robert Karlsson is 6-6 and hits it a mile; I'm 5-8 and don't. Two different body types. Boo is in there.
He knows how to teach and knows what he's looking at. He can be mechanical and he can be not mechanical. I know I'm that way. He thinks mechanically about his own golf swing I think, but he can also teach not.
So I think he's brilliant. He's very good at what he does. He's helped me tremendously, and yeah, it says a lot that he does have three guys here that he's worked with.

Q. What would you say your best shot today was?
HEATH SLOCUM: Well, probably my 3-iron on 17 I pulled my drive, hit the trees, came down and had a long way in, and it's a really narrow gap on the left side. I was just trying to think of where I can hit this ball to make four.
I hit a really solid shot. It came out just like I had pictured it, landed just on the front of the green and just kind of rolled there and at least gave me an opportunity to 2-putt. Just kept kind of a -- not really momentum at the end, but yeah, it kept the round going, and that's what you need sometimes.

Q. The putt that got away from you on 9, as soon as you hit it, it looked like you barely tapped it. Did it surprise you?
HEATH SLOCUM: As soon as I hit it, I knew it was going, as soon as I hit it.
I'm just trying to tickle it down there, and I mean, as soon as I hit it, I just started trying to watch to see if I could get any kind of what it's going to do on the way back. Honestly, I just stood there going, oh, no, here it goes, stay on the other level, don't go all the way down the front.
So, yeah, as soon as I hit it, I knew.

Q. You have endorsements with Calvin Klein. Your pal, if I may describe him that, Boo, is about as opposite Calvin Klein as you can think. I wonder your relationship with him. You played with him in the World Cup and had a great finish. Are you guys opposite attracts, or what do you think of him?
HEATH SLOCUM: He's one of the greatest people that I know. He's big heart -- we are truly opposites personality-wise. We both enjoy the same thing and love to play golf and have common interests, but personality-wise, we are salt and pepper and could not be any more different. We mesh well together. We have plenty to talk about. He enjoys life, and he actually -- I mean, when you're around him, everybody in here has probably been around him at some point. He just puts a smile on your face, and people like that, you want around you in my opinion.

Q. Not everybody wears camouflage shirts.
HEATH SLOCUM: Not everybody. There's plenty of country people around there that love to hunt and fish. I've put on the camouflage as well when I hunt; I don't generally play golf in it. (Laughter).
But he is such a good guy and he is truly one of my best friends and we just enjoy each other's company.

Q. Just to follow on that, when you talk with him this week, what are his impressions about all of this? We were all amused with his comments at the British Open last year. What does he make of all this?
HEATH SLOCUM: It's golf to him. Honestly, he sees the course; he loves the golf course. He's not a real shy guy, so all of the people, that doesn't bother him at all.
Don't let anything fool you that he loves to compete. He loves to play golf. He loves the pressure. We had a blast in China, and it was pretty pressure-packed. He was really playing well. I was so proud of him that, you know, five, six years ago, I think he got ahead of himself and sometimes let -- I don't want to say the pressure get to him but he just got ahead of himself.
He handled himself beautifully there. He was carrying me around that place. He's here this week and I assure you he's going to have fun. He's going to act exactly the same way and he's going to talk to the people on every tee box, no matter who they are, and I would not be surprised if he played really, really good golf.
RONALD TOWNSEND: Thank you, and good luck the rest of the week.

End of FastScripts

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