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September 23, 2009

Heath Slocum


CHRIS REIMER: We want to welcome Heath Slocum here to the media center at the TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola. Heath, obviously coming in in the Top 5 you control your own destiny but it's pretty special that it's in your own backyard. Maybe start with some opening comments.
HEATH SLOCUM: Obviously it's very special just to be here, obviously how the year was unfolding, but obviously the Barclays changed that, and it put me in a really good position that like you said, I control my own destiny here. If I were to get a second win in the Playoffs, a chance to win the FedExCup, which is obviously a really nice thing. But you know, again, getting to play here, you know, in my new hometown, been here for three years, it's really special. It's nice to sleep in your own bed.

Q. Just talk about, you said getting here from where you were. The Playoffs were set up to be more volatile this year. Obviously I would think you're in favor of that, but there seems to be a little more excitement factor because of that this year.
HEATH SLOCUM: Yeah, I think so, and I think the volatility, I could be a little mistaken, but last year it seemed like if you were to miss a cut you were penalized pretty badly. I think that the biggest jumps made out here is for a win, which in my opinion, regardless if I won or not, I think is important. I think that a win on the PGA TOUR is hard enough. You get a field of 125 of some of the world's best in the field and you win, I think that in my opinion you should jump. Should it have been to No. 3, I'm not 100 percent, but a substantial jump I think was necessary.
Again, I'll take advantage of it this year and hopefully use some of that momentum going into this week.

Q. This question has been asked to a lot of different players about the money this week, and Tiger made $100 million last year. It probably doesn't matter so much to him. You've been on the TOUR for a little while now, but really how much does $10 million matter?
HEATH SLOCUM: Well, it's hard to grasp, honestly. You can't even -- never in all honesty ever thought about exactly winning $10 million to be honest, in one sum or whatever.
So I mean, it's obviously a great -- I don't want to say advertisement, but it gets a lot of interest. But obviously $10 million is a lot of money. I can't even get my head around it. But from the fact that I'm playing in this tournament because it's our TOUR championship on East Lake, a course that's got all this history, in Atlanta, absolutely is what matters to me. I'm going out to try to win this week, not for $10 million, but because of the elite field and what it means to me and the TOUR, not for the money.

Q. We've seen other players, unfortunately the pressure and nerves, and they miss a putt here or there. Do you suspect that that creeps into your mind at all if you were in that scenario of a putt worth that much?
HEATH SLOCUM: I mean, I would be stupid not to think that I wouldn't be thinking somewhat about it. But I mean, the pressure that I felt at the Barclays was pressure that was kind of imposed on myself. I had never once thought about the purse or what I was going to win, what I had potential to win.
I'll be honest, it was pride. I'm coming out on the PGA TOUR to try to win tournaments, and especially a tournament of that magnitude on that kind of stage, money never came into my head. It was simply wanting to beat the best at what we all do. The money just never entered into my mind. If I was nervous, it was because of just trying to win a golf tournament.

Q. Talk a little bit about the perks that you get from winning the FedExCup tournament. You're guaranteed a Top 30 and all that stuff, but for a player of your stature, who's a good player but haven't really been at the elite level, how big a deal is it to know you're going to be in the Masters and the U.S. Open and some of the World Golf Championship events, and what does this mean for somebody at your level to know they're going to have a shot at some of those events next year?
HEATH SLOCUM: Obviously those events are special, and those are the ones you're trying to get into, not only for the money aspect but because it climbs you up points lists and Money List and other benefits. But those are the tournaments you're trying to play in. Those are the tournaments that you want, that mark how you -- I don't want to say grade your career, but not a lot of people remember winning -- I don't want to say smaller events, but you try to measure yourself with the majors.
You see Tiger chasing down Nicklaus' record. But what I hope to do is --the Barclays is two years down the road. Everybody in this room goes, yep, we saw it coming. I don't want to say see it coming, but you're not so surprised in two years that hopefully I'm climbing that ladder and trying to get my game to where it potentially can be.
I've worked very, very hard, and I'm hoping that I'm just scratching the surface of where I can take my game. I've got all the confidence in the world. I've surrounded myself with very bright people, from golf to the mental aspect to the physical. So I feel like I'm moving in the right direction.
At the beginning of this year I struggled. I was playing better than my results, but I still truly feel like I'm still just climbing that ladder. And then a couple years down the road that I'm a contender in majors and for a lot more titles. I don't know if you'd call me an elite player or whatever kind of player, but I want to be a more consistent player at the top level.

Q. How is your game right now, and do you feel the same way that you felt going into Barclays?
HEATH SLOCUM: Really close. It's one of the things where the week before Barclays I felt like I was really close to playing well, and I ended up missing the cut. Barclays, again, everything came together, and I had some breaks go my way, holing out, chipping in. But the putters felt good.
The putters continued to feel good at the Deutsche Bank, where I missed the cut, and BMW. I feel like I'm right on the edge, on that teeter right now. Everything is really close to gelling.
I'm in the same boat this week. To have a few things go my way, I'm going to have to hole some putts, but hopefully the feeling kind of comes to me tomorrow and just kind of build on it each and every day and peak on Sunday.

Q. Do you think -- when the day is over, will you look at scenarios as far as who's ahead of you, who's behind you? Will you look at it like that each day?
HEATH SLOCUM: If I'm thinking -- I think if I'm in a good frame of mind, no, I won't. I can only control what I do. There's so many scenarios, obviously, if the Top 5 win, automatically win.
But at the end of the day, I'm sure that you'll glance at the board and you see what your projected position is. It's hard to miss those. But I won't put much thought into it. Honestly, I can only control what I'm doing. And if I do get caught up in that, then I feel like I'm going to probably lose sight of what I'm trying to do and probably play worse.

Q. When you talk about making the climb and getting into a new echelon, when you look at that, is it harder to make that climb physically or is it the mental things and the confidence that get you to another level?
HEATH SLOCUM: Well, I think one determines the other sometimes. You can be full of confidence, good mentally, prepared for everything, and if your body does not allow you to do it or if you're physically not doing it, it's going to wear on your mind, just an endless circle. It's a good point, so you have to have them kind of meshing at the same time. I think I'm better mentally most of the time than I have been physically. But the physical part, I feel like my swing is getting more consistent, I'm getting more confident in it. The same with the putting. I felt like I just wasn't making anything, my mechanics had gotten a little off, and just all the hard work going into that has -- it gets the ball rolling, and then all of a sudden you start believing in yourself, you're a little more confident, putts are going in the hole, and before you know it you kind of get both of them rolling together and that's when you can do some damage out there.
Saying that, that's when you have to do it the next week. That's what's tough about this game, you can be on one week, not on another. The great players out here I feel like do it on a better consistent level. They keep a roll going for two, three, four weeks, months, and that's what I'm trying to work on is being more consistent at a higher level.
In '07 I finished -- was my best year in terms of consistency. I felt like I was in the Top 25 a lot, putting myself in position to have good events, and I felt like I was building.
Last year started out pretty strong, but I kind of Petered out toward the end. And this year has just been kind of slow all year, and hopefully I'm building on some of that '07 mentality of just getting everything better and tighter and just a more consistent, good golfer, instead of up-and-down good week, bad week, good week, bad week. That's a challenge for me, and that's what I'm working hard on.

Q. The weekend you were back here in Atlanta after missing the cut at Greensboro and you were right on the bubble, had you kind of resigned yourself to having to salvage your season in the Fall Series, and what was your mental approach not knowing your status was going to be?
HEATH SLOCUM: I was trying to prepare for that. I was trying to be realistic, and what would happen if I didn't get in the Playoffs? What was I going to do, maintaining some kind of hope that I would still get one more shot at Barclays. But I was trying to prepare myself for, yeah, maybe the end of the season I was going to have to make a run. I was going to have five events to play in. I was looking into maybe going to one or two in Europe if I had a lot of time off. So I was trying to prepare myself for whatever came my way.

Q. Let's say you have a six-footer on the 72nd hole for the FedExCup. Could you take us through what might be your focus at that point and how you'd approach it?
HEATH SLOCUM: What I'd like to say is I'd walk up, stay in my routine and absolutely just try to hit a good putt.
What would be going through your head would probably be a million things. But what I can draw from is when I walked up to the 18th green at Barclays, I knew what I had in front of me. I knew if that putt goes in, what happens, that there's a chance. I knew if I missed it what was the chance of happening. So I had already put in my head when I was walking up on that green that I'm going to make this putt. I had a good feeling. I felt good all day, but I just prepared myself for that ball going in the hole.
So I'd like to say that I'd walk up to that six-footer prepared for it to go in and hope I could still feel my hands when I was making the stroke. (Laughter.)

Q. You talk about this golf course being very special. I want to ask you this twofold. Is it the history that makes it special, and what effect do you think how the course is playing right now relative to what has happened this week in terms of the floods?
HEATH SLOCUM: Yeah, it's a lot of the history that makes this place special. Anytime you put Bobby Jones' name on anything, I think it's pretty special, especially if you're a golfer and love golf.
With the weather and how the golf course is playing, it's in remarkable shape. I'm absolutely stunned. I played nine holes yesterday, and I get on the first green, and it took a nice big hop, and they were fast. I'm surprised.
The greens were fantastic. The fairways were a hundred times better than I thought they were going to be. I thought we were going to be out there sloshing around. The course is in great shape. If we still have rain, I think it's going to be in great shape. The course is in fantastic shape. They've done a wonderful job here. And if we don't have any substantial rain, I think the guys are going to -- not only the players are going to enjoy it, but I think the fans are going to see a good show this week. I think that the greens aren't outrageously firm, so you can hit good shots and they're receptive. They'll take a good shot. You're going to see some birdies, and with the rough being pretty good height right now, very penalizing if you miss fairways and miss some greens.
So I think it's going to be a good week, and I think the course is going to maintain its shape, as long as nothing crazy happens.

Q. Before that last putt at Barclays, what was your biggest stroke, most important shot you've played on TOUR, most memorable, leading up to that?
HEATH SLOCUM: I would have to say it was probably 2005, it was the Southern Farm then, 17th hole. I mean, it was probably a 12-footer for birdie that gave me a one-shot lead. I say simply because -- but that gave me the one-shot lead to end up for the win. I think any putt you make in contention in terms of the tournament winners, yeah, it's my biggest putt, before that 20-footer.

Q. Did they feel the same?
HEATH SLOCUM: No. I would say honestly, I knew the importance of the one on 17, but anything could have happened on 18. The win I had in Tucson was actually -- I probably missed a 15-footer and just like tapped it in, and then Aaron Baddeley missed a putt. For that putt to go in -- I knew at that point it still wasn't necessarily a winning putt, but I knew -- I mean, it didn't matter who was hitting a 10-footer, best putter -- Stricker is a great putter, wonderful. But I knew there was a chance he wasn't going to make it and that I could potentially be a tournament winner. Yeah, that was a different kind of feeling, I will say. I don't typically scream too much on golf courses out of joy, but I think that just came out of nowhere. I'm not even sure. It was fun.
CHRIS REIMER: We know you have a special announcement to make. If you'd like to go ahead and let these folks know about the contribution you're going to make here locally.
HEATH SLOCUM: Well, my wife and I, Vicky, have donated $40,000 to a couple of the charities here with the TOUR Championship.
CHRIS REIMER: It's the Tickets for Charity, which benefits the East Lake Foundation, the Children's Health Care of Atlanta and the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America.
HEATH SLOCUM: Obviously the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America, obviously with me having colitis, it's obviously very near and dear to me because I'm obviously affected by it. Children's Health Care of Atlanta, wonderful organization. They've helped so much in this community. We have a child, expecting a second, but I know with us losing the other event in Atlanta, they were definitely a beneficiary of that, so we were happy to help out. And then obviously with the East Lake Foundation, the community here that East Lake is in the middle of, obviously any kind of help that they can get to help better that community, I'm just glad that we can help out a little bit.
Again, we're in a good position to help out. I mean, this is something that we've been talking about for a while, and I'm glad that we could do that this week and just help out any. We were talking about it, but I am, I'm really -- so many just great organizations that help so many people, and like I said, I'm just glad that we could even just be a small part of it.
CHRIS REIMER: We have some guests, Madeline Adams from the East Lake Foundation is here, Shelton Stevens from the Children's Health Care of Atlanta, and Marcie Greenwood from the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America, just obviously recognize all that your organizations do. So congratulations on that part, and they're also available for comment if anybody in the media wants to talk to them.
Heath, that's wonderful, and congratulations, not only on the victory at Barclays but also the donation and helping out with what the PGA TOUR does for charity.

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