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October 12, 2011

Heath Slocum


JOHN BUSH: We'd like to welcome Heath Slocum into the interview room, our defending champion here at the McGladrey Classic. First of all, just take us back to last year and your win here at Sea Island.
HEATH SLOCUM: Obviously great to be back, good memories from last year. I had a good Sunday. I had a good whole week, but Sunday I guess in particular coming in and fending off some runs by some people, obviously any time you feel like you can win a golf tournament and have success on Sundays, it's a good feeling. But I played solid. I think I got off to a real good start and kind of built up a lead and then made a bogey on 12, I think, and then I think that's when I looked up at the board and there were a bunch of birdies being made.
But the putt I made on 16 kind of gave me a little bit of cushion to allow for the bogey on 18 to win by one. I would take the same exact circumstances this year.
JOHN BUSH: And that two-year exemption relieved a little bit of the stress that you may have been feeling. Talk a little bit about your year up to this point.
HEATH SLOCUM: It's been slow. You know, I keep telling myself, I guess this is as deep as I've ever been in a year this far back. But it'll definitely make you appreciate the good ones a little better. But at the same time, I think I'm going to be a better golfer for it. I've tried some things, tried to get better, and it's taken a little longer than I anticipated. But at the same time, I think everything is starting to round out.
In a way I feel like I'm in a pretty good spot not only this week, but regardless of what I do this week I'm playing next week for my fifth or sixth major, however you want to call it. I've got two kids now, so I'm there.

Q. After this tournament being here one year and you're the first winner, there's 14 or 15 major championship winners in here. You've got Cabrera and Singh and Graeme McDowell. Is it the course? Is it the time of year? Is it the area in general? Is it guys kind of responding to Davis being the host here and wanting to play here? Is there any easy answer for why this tournament seems to have taken off after just a couple years?
HEATH SLOCUM: I think you just hit on every one of those, and I think that makes it easy. From obviously the first year, there's going to be some guys that because it was in the fall -- because it's any time of year, they probably are going to wait a year not to come. After the first year, and if you're just watching it on TV and you didn't play, you went, wow, it looks incredible. Then you look and say, yeah, Davis Love, his foundation is involved, it's in Sea Island this time of year, beautiful. Word of mouth spread. Great venue, great sponsor, great host. I mean, everything came together for -- it's a wonderful event.
I'm not even being biased because I won it last year. They do a fantastic job here, and like I said, guys appreciate that and guys appreciate -- we're treated like kings every week, but there's a few tournaments that seems like they go above and beyond, and they did last year, and they have continued to do it this year, and guys appreciate that and guys will come out and play. It proved it this year. Look at the field they've got.

Q. Obviously Tiger played last week for his own reasons, but that tournament also had Ernie and Angel Cabrera. Disney usually gets a good field because guys like to take their families there. The Fall Series hasn't turned out just to be four or five throw-away events. Guys like to go play in Vegas for that matter. Do you think it's because they took these tournaments to pretty good courses in pretty good areas, Vegas, Sea Island, Orlando?
HEATH SLOCUM: It definitely helps. I mean, I think obviously you've got guys fighting for a card, but let's just take my case: I played one Playoff event, I had four weeks off. I'm a golfer. This is what I do. This is what I enjoy to do. So after four weeks in the middle of when I'm usually playing golf, I'm ready to go play golf, regardless of where I am on the Money List or FedEx or whatever. I think guys are probably -- some of the guys you're getting in the fields because of that, they're just ready to go play. They had one or two weeks off. But yeah, it always helps to have good venues, good tournaments, and I think you're just going to -- the fields are going to be good. They're getting so deep these days that you just have more good golfers, and the names are always going to follow.

Q. Two-parter here. What did you do those last four or five weeks? And secondly, what's different for you this year compared to last year in terms of your game? Did you sort of try to take a step back? Did you change anything, that sort of thing?
HEATH SLOCUM: Well, the first part of the question, I had four weeks off. I took the first kind of two weeks pretty much off and just kind of decompressed, relaxed, tried to just get my head clear, kind of reevaluate kind of where the year is going, what my game was and what we were trying to work on. Then I got back to work the last two.
What I tried to do early in the year, I did try to change a few things just to get better, and I actually didn't get better. So saying that, my putting has been -- my putting and chipping, but mostly the putting, has been very below average for me this year. It seems like I've almost neglected it trying to get my ball-striking early in the year back to form, and it's just been like a little cycle. Every time I would hit it bad, I putted bad, and then it just seems like now the work from all the putting is trying to catch back up, getting to where -- usually I'm a pretty good putter. Even if I'm streaky, I am at least good sometimes. I haven't been good at any time this year at all.

Q. We've seen where guys win or they win a bunch and they kind of step back and they change things in an effort to get better. Why is that?
HEATH SLOCUM: Well, I think if you're not trying to -- I guess when I say change things, we're not talking drastic. It's still a process of where -- the same road I was on, but sometimes if you -- things go a little bit astray with your body or whatever I was having with my ball-striking, was having to put a little bit more effort and time into trying to get that back to -- so I can make a putt, so there's just enough time in the day that I wasn't putting as much effort into the putting as I would have liked in trying to get better.
I've since switched that around. The ball-striking is starting to come around, get the effort, get the feel on the greens and start making some putts.
And some of it, too, is just -- if you've played golf before, you just know that sometimes it doesn't matter what you do, the ball just doesn't go in the hole. It's been a crazy year in that way, just things that -- miss a cut here, miss a cut there, shots. I mean, it's just weird. Been one of those years where -- I mean, I guess there's a handful of guys or more than that every year where they can say it's been one of those years, and it just has been.

Q. You mentioned FedEx, and we all kind of still have that in our heads. Would you like to see the Fall Series be a jump start to the next year with some FedEx points involved? Would that be something that would interest you or interest maybe the other guys and maybe put a little extra zing into the Fall Series?
HEATH SLOCUM: I've heard that kicked around, that the TOUR could do that. This would be the start of like the 2012 season or whatever. But I mean, as of right now, I don't -- I don't know. It's still 2011. We're still fighting for a spot in Maui.

Q. That's enough for you?
HEATH SLOCUM: It is. I'm still trying to win a golf tournament. I was here last year, a year ago, and they were saying something about winning another fall event or winning a fall event. But it's still a golf tournament. You can only -- we want to win. I don't care if we're playing putt-putt, we want to win. I'm here to try to win a golf tournament, try to get into Maui next year and just get some confidence back in my game to kind of get back on track and eventually start competing in more tournaments and majors.

Q. How well do you know Bryce, and any particular thoughts on him after ten years of slugging it out and having some ups and downs?
HEATH SLOCUM: I obviously just know him from just out here, but I mean, you follow his story and what his career was like out of college and the lumps he's had coming out, it was awesome to see. You feel sorry for Briny because he's -- the most starts without a win; is that right? But I didn't get to see the playoff because I was traveling. But two great guys battling it out. I was happy for him.

Q. This is kind of a funny season because guys have either come out and had some success like a Bud Cauley, or guys are still -- as amateurs here, or come off the Nationwide Tour to the PGA TOUR and have had some success. Is there any answer for why those guys have had success so quick, and do they kind of have to be cautious and know that eventually there's going to be some rough spots in their career?
HEATH SLOCUM: Well, yeah, I think that's true of anybody. I don't know what the easy answer is there, if there is an easy answer. I was just talking about it, like sometimes -- years are good or bad for any reason, but it is golf. I think that the talent level is deeper than it's ever been.
I was hearing a lot earlier in the last couple years about American golf, where is American golf going with the young people. There's plenty of it. It's just so deep. I'm not surprised at these kids I'll say, these younger guys that are coming out on fire and playing great golf.
I think they would understand, too, I'd be optimistic at that age, and there's probably going to be some pitfalls. Look at Bryce, he can tell you. He was probably one of those young guys that had the world by the tail. But yeah, there might be some ups and downs, but I think that's just life, especially with golf. They're great players for a reason, so they know how to handle adversity it seems, and they can obviously probably handle some success, too.
JOHN BUSH: Heath, we appreciate your time. Thank you, sir.

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