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October 10, 2010

Heath Slocum


ADAM WALLACE: Heath, congratulations on your first win of the year. It's never too late. If you could, just tell us about your feelings. Obviously your fourth career win. Just tell us about how the day went. Maybe that putt on 16 as well.
HEATH SLOCUM: Obviously getting my fourth win, I mean getting any win, first and foremost, it's been wonderful. I mean I think that's why we play golf is to win. I mean there's just no other feeling like it.
So today I knew it was probably going to be a struggle, not a struggle as in golf, but I knew it was going to be kind of hard fought, the emotions, making some birdies, hit some good shots. You know, kind of making a few mistakes off the back. I got off to a great start.
Thought I hit a better shot on 9 than it turned out to be. Thought I didn't hit it that far, but I bogeyed there. But pars on 10 and 11 and 12 might have been -- the par-3 might have been the most solid iron shot I hit all day. I never thought it was short. If anything, I thought it was long, but I didn't hit a very good pitch and made a bogey.
But obviously the putt on 16, I mean that's the tournament winner. I mean it goes from you could three-putt just as easily than for sure more times you're going to make it. When that went in, that was -- I'd say that was huge. I was glad to see that go in.
Then just having that kind of -- really I knew what I had to do on the last two holes. I knew I had a couple-shot lead and I still would have liked to knock one in and had a three-shot lead on the last.
It was a great week. I played solid four rounds of golf, and it was good to be on the good end of that.

Q. You kind of threw your arms in the air when the putt went in on 16. And that would mean what?
HEATH SLOCUM: I was excited. (Laughs).

Q. Relief?
HEATH SLOCUM: Probably a little bit of both, to be honest. I told -- the funny thing is, my very first win on the Nationwide, 2001, was in Cleveland, I think it was Quail Hollow maybe. I made the turn and I went to the 10th, and I had a very, very similar putt, and I made it.
And funny thing is I was walking around there, and I was like God, this is so similar, and how about if this goes in; and seriously, and it did. And it was kind of eery there, but obviously there was some relief in that, no doubt about it, because I knew how tight it was. I knew it was going to be tight, and I knew I didn't want to have to try to birdie the last two holes to get the win.

Q. You have memories from the Nationwide Tour years ago?
HEATH SLOCUM: I did. It's funny how you remember good shots. I guess that was a while ago. But yeah, that was one that's forever etched in my mind, I hope, just because it's my very first win, and I think that was kind of the shot in the arm I needed on that back nine to get it done, and it seemed to -- obviously it was huge for today.

Q. Did you ever consider chipping on that? What was the process?
HEATH SLOCUM: Oh, on 16?

Q. No.
HEATH SLOCUM: No. I was putting regardless.

Q. When you were walking up to it, you knew right away you were going to --
HEATH SLOCUM: Oh, yeah. I think on some of these things if you can get a putter on it, you'd rather get a putter. I saw Troy Merritt use a putter on it on the greens and I think David Toms used the putter the few times that I've played with him. That was the first time that I'd missed the green and used the putter. Everything else I kind of either I had a bump-and-run or I could hit somewhat of a flop shot to try to get it close, but yeah, I was putting it.

Q. Were you aiming at a particular spot on the green?
HEATH SLOCUM: I tried to play it about four cups -- it wasn't a huge break to it outside on the right. And I mean, to be honest, more importantly, I was just trying to get the speed right.

Q. How far off the green were you?
HEATH SLOCUM: Two inches, an inch. I mean it wasn't far at all. Maybe three inches.

Q. How does it sort of compare to Barclays? Obviously bigger field there, different situation at the end.
HEATH SLOCUM: Yeah. That's what I was saying yesterday. Every win is -- regardless of the field, I mean, trust me, I went out there today wanting to win just as badly as I did at The Barclays.
Again, I'd say the only difference is just -- I want to say the attention to it. The people that are there, the media, the spectators. You know, I mean that was New Jersey with New York right there and this is Sea Island. So I mean, but they're both fantastic tournaments, and regardless, I think any tournament you enter you want to win, and when you do, again, there's just no other feel like it.

Q. Were you as calm today as you were then?
HEATH SLOCUM: I was. Again, I was in a good spot, and I kind of felt like that all week, same as Barclays. Doesn't always pan out that way. I mean I've felt that way and not gotten the job done. But more times than not, that's when I play my best golf, and I think I allow myself to just kind of hit good golf shots, you know, kind of let the bad shots just roll off of you and just say, I'm just going to get it up-and-down and it's no big deal if you make a couple bogeys, and you know, just allow myself to play good golf.

Q. Were you aware what was going around you? I know you got like a three-shot lead on the front nine and then Toms caught you, and then there was a bunch of guys kind of even going in and all of those guys started falling back. Did you have any clue what was going on around you or were you not paying much attention?
HEATH SLOCUM: No. I'll be honest, not until 16. I typically go out -- I'm not opposed to scoreboard watching, but I knew what my job was today, I knew what I wanted to accomplish. I wanted to go out and play the golf course, play my game, try to shoot as many under par as I could, and I'll be honest, with a one-shot lead, I really did figure if I shot 5 or 6, it was going to be tough to catch me.
That being said, obviously when I started -- when I made the bogey on 9 and bogey on 12, I mean I knew I was just letting everybody that closer, but at the same time my caddy, DJ, was just like, you know, you got two more left in you. It's just our banter. You kind of know where you stand, and if anything's going nuts, he'll say, hey, we need some birdies or something.
But whenever he's real calm, he'll just say, hey, you got a couple more in you, you kind of know you're in a good spot and a couple more is going to be good. So I just played golf today, and when I saw the putt go in on 16, when I was walking off, I just happened to see the leaderboard and it said I had a two-shot lead.

Q. How exciting is it just to finally have the -- be the inaugural champion?
HEATH SLOCUM: Whether the inaugural or, you know, it's been around for 100 years. Again, I think it is somewhat special being the first year of the tournament and to win, because you -- you know, the community here was so supportive. McGladrey stepped up and, you know, three-year deal. Davis Love and his foundation coming in and putting his name on it and fantastic event, so yeah, I'll be absolutely honored to be the inaugural champion.

Q. The pin on 16, did you consider DJ having him tend it?
HEATH SLOCUM: I did only because it was just an extra shadow up there, and again, if it goes in, great. I was absolutely just trying to get the speed. You know, I'm not looking to try to make 3 there. I mean obviously if it goes in, great, but I was just trying to get a 4 and leave myself still hopefully an opportunity. Obviously I was doing whatever I could to just two-putt. I knew that I needed par or better. No bogeys at that point. So.

Q. There was a lot of -- you're only aware of what's going on with you, but there were a lot of disasters at 18. You know, Robert had a chance and he doubled. Bo had a chance and he doubled. And on the tee, why was that hole playing so tough today, and what were you trying to accomplish from the tee shot on in?
HEATH SLOCUM: I think it's just a difficult hole. The wind was up today. It was up a little bit yesterday, but even when I played yesterday, it wasn't nearly as much as it was today.
And I'll be honest, my goal was just to hit the fairway, and I hit a really solid drive. It was just a fraction in front of it, it got a little bit right and it just kind of rode the wind just a little bit, and I knew it was going to matter on the next one -- I think it was Friday I hit it almost the exact same spot, but I was in the fairway about an inch. And I'll be honest, I caught a pretty good lie, and all I was trying to do was just get a 5-iron and just hit it solid. And if I hit it solid, I'd hit it to the front of the green, maybe first third.
And I just caught it a little bit heavy on the face, a little high on the face just because it was sitting up so much, and it just obviously came out a little bit fluffy, didn't go nearly as far as I wanted.
But I didn't want to catch a flier and knock it over that green. That was my first -- that's what I was not going to do. I was going to definitely leave it short, leave myself somewhat of a chip and putt.

Q. If you're on the fairway, is that a pretty easy 5?
HEATH SLOCUM: I would think so. I would think it's definitely a lot easier. I wouldn't say easy by any means. It's still going to be probably a 4-iron, but it would have been a lot easier had I been, you know, in the fairway. Much easier.

Q. Being a Georgia guy, how important is it to get a win here in the state?
HEATH SLOCUM: It's awesome. Sometimes you forget that this is Georgia, from where I live. I mean it's not even close. But you know, you have the fans out there really all week. You know, "the Georgia boy." I was like, that's right. We are in Georgia.
So yeah, it felt great. We had some guys even today on 18 "keep it in Georgia, keep it in Georgia." So yeah, my wife, I guess saw on pgatour.com last night, it said like "Georgia Bulldog" on the thing, and she's obviously a Bulldog fan. And I'm really not. I am a Tigers fan, so she was pretty pumped about that.

Q. Given your background, you can basically win any tournament in the South and you've got ties to whatever tournament is there.
HEATH SLOCUM: That's right. I've been all over. So that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Q. Where does four wins stack up for you in your career?
HEATH SLOCUM: Where? I don't know. I'll be honest. I've never really thought about how many or kind of which tournaments yet. It's been a goal every single year to win, every single year, and I haven't done that out here.
But you know, I think, more importantly, I think that I'm hoping that I'm starting to climb a few of those little steps, trying to get myself into contention more often.
So you know, I can -- if I play well on Sunday, I can win. Can I get myself into contention in some of the majors, some of the bigger events and pull those out.
All these are just -- all are experiences, but they are, they're learning experiences. I mean I've failed miserably in some that I've led and been around the lead and I've pulled a few of them out.
So I'm trying to create as many good memories and actually getting the job done, getting in the winner's circle when I have a chance. And like I said, I'm holding onto memories from 2001. So all those positive things can only help down the road.

Q. I asked Joe yesterday as he was leaving, given his shelf-stocking days at the golf store, insurance and all that, if anyone who thought they were struggling had ever sought him out for advice, and he mentioned you and your health. Do you remember that?
HEATH SLOCUM: I don't remember specifically ever asking exact questions, but he was a guy obviously in Pensacola when he was on TOUR, he was a guy that I very much looked up to, and anybody that's ever met Joe, nicest guy in the world, so approachable. So sure, I'm going to pick his brain.
I think I've tried to do that with as many people that I consider smarter than me in everything they do. I think the people that I try to surround myself with, from my management to my instruction to, you know, physio to everything, I think they're the brightest in they're field and I'm trying to learn from them. And that was what I was doing with Joe is saying, what does it take to be successful? How did you get out there, all the things you do?
And from like a health standpoint, I didn't ever know if I'd make it. I had no idea. That's what I wanted to do, but I wanted to see how he kind of handled it. I don't remember specifically the questions I asked, but definitely along those lines.

Q. What was the specific nature of the health?
HEATH SLOCUM: With mine?

Q. Yeah.
HEATH SLOCUM: I mean ulcerative colitis. I mean it was a year and a half straight of just -- of diarrhea, arthritis, lost lots of weight. I mean just -- I ran a fever, for about a year straight. Low grade, but still, anybody who's ever had a fever kind of zaps all your energy.

Q. What stage of the career is this?
HEATH SLOCUM: This was in from 1997 to '99. So I started trying to play again summer of '99.

Q. Did you ever think of quitting?
HEATH SLOCUM: No, not without giving it another shot. My whole goal -- and that's what kept me I want to say going through the sickness is that's what I want to do. I don't care if I ever get there again, I'm not taking my health for granted and I'm going to give it more an even better shot than I tried to give it the first time, and I can't say I even gave it -- I gave it my all, but I was bound and determined to do whatever I could to fulfill my dream.
If I failed, at least I tried. But I never knew. And luckily my game actually got better from the time that I was playing before when I had Nike Tour status, and I'll be honest, I think it was just mental. I just kind of had a different attitude about it. I didn't get upset nearly as much. I appreciated what I had. And it made me enjoy myself on the golf course. All of a sudden it lowered my scores and from there I just started riding that wave and kept improving and improving.

Q. Your status was with the Nike Tour?
HEATH SLOCUM: I was on the Nike Tour in '97. Really I think I made five cuts. I went to TOUR school, and I was at Second Stage at TOUR school, and I knew something just wasn't right. I just chalked it up to just being tired, but I knew something wasn't right.
Then around Thanksgiving of '97 I got sick. So I really had no status anyway going into until I went back to Q-School in 2000 and got my Nationwide status.

Q. As far as the perks for this, I think you get into Tournament of Champions next year. What are your thoughts -- I guess this gets you pretty close to Top 30 for the Masters. Is that something you think about this time of year knowing you have to finish somewhere on the Money List to get into Augusta?
HEATH SLOCUM: Sure. It was something I had coming into the three tournaments I was going to play in the fall I knew my goal was to win and hopefully make still enough money to get inside the Top 30.
And as of right now, I've won and I think I'm 29th I was told. So I'm sure I'll lose a spot or two maybe, maybe more, but I've got Disney left. So again, I'm going to probably have to play well there. But again, I'm in a lot better position today than I was yesterday.

Q. How much does this change the way you look at your season?
HEATH SLOCUM: I've felt very, very good about my season without a win going in. This definitely is icing on the cake. I mean winning trumps all. I mean I won very, very late last year, and I'll be honest, it was not a good year up to that point. And all of a sudden you call it a great year and my best on TOUR. So it's funny how winning just takes care of everything. And yeah, to have the kind of consistency I had this year still wasn't up to where I'd like it to be and I didn't contend as many times as I'd like, but I contended today, and I won. And like I said it is, it's icing on the cake. I can mark it off from the goal I had and I got myself into Maui next year.

Q. And Malaysia, are you going there?
HEATH SLOCUM: And I'm going to Malaysia, too.

Q. Because?
HEATH SLOCUM: I think it's going to be a good experience. 40 guys.

Q. Free money?
HEATH SLOCUM: Free money. I mean to be honest, it's nothing simpler than a tournament that I can win, and 40 guys there you're trying to beat. And you don't have to pay for a thing. It's ideal.

Q. And what's your travel record? Do you travel much?
HEATH SLOCUM: I don't. I've been to the British a couple times. This year I went to the French, Scottish and then the British. And before that I've been to China for the World Cup. And that's really about it. So I'm just kind of making this my traveling year.

Q. Went to the French?
HEATH SLOCUM: Yeah. It was fun. Didn't play very well but it was fun. Great golf course. They're trying to get the Ryder Cup there in 2018.

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