|Charley Hoffman-Adam Scott-Stuart Appleby-Steve Stricker - March 28, 2007
An interview with: Charley Hoffman:
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: We'd like to welcome Charley Hoffman to the interview room here at the Shell Houston Open.
Charley, you won your first PGA Tour early this year at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic in a playoff. I'm sure it was an exciting week for you. You've had a great season so far. Make some opening comments about coming to Houston for this week's Shell Houston Open.
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: Yeah, I'm excited to come back to Houston after last year. I have some good experiences after last year, playing alright after the first two rounds.
Hopefully be able to play a little better on the weekend. Like the golf course, like the town. I usually play good in Texas and hopefully keep it running.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: What types of things have changed for you since winning? I think so that was your first start of the year. Obviously, great way to start your year. What's changed on and off the golf course for you?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: Lot of new opportunities have come up. One this week we're going to be going with Waste Management, going to be a great family to be along with, and I'm excited to be with them, and I can't wait to see where it expands to and where it goes to.
It's to save the planet and the way they think, and I go along from being from San Diego along with where I come from the environment and keeping it beautiful for everybody.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: As far as your goals on the golf course, obviously you have the two‑year exemption now and a lot of perks that go with it. What have you looked at as far as other goals this season and in the future?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: One of the big goals is getting in the Masters. That one fell a little bit short after last week ‑‑ hopefully get in the majors and try to contend in the majors every year, what your career is based off of. That's what I want to have my career based off playing good in the Majors.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: We'll take some questions now.
Q. Did you do any splurging or do anything cool after you won?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: I had a pool going in. I had that sort of planned before I was going into the Bob Hope. It definitely made a little easier. Those things aren't very cheap to deal with. They keep adding up. It's amazing you get a call from the contractor every day, they hit rock. It's a little more expensive.
This barbeque is a little more expensive. Everything keeps adding up. It's nice ‑‑ that's about the only thing I really splurged on.
Q. Do you line it with diamonds or anything?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: No. Just rock. Just natural rock, which I guess is a diamond but not ‑‑ maybe we'll find some diamonds in those rocks.
Q. You break through for something like that kind of a big life‑changing event, how long did the feeling or has that feeling lasted the few euphoria?
Do you still have the goal? Has it faded?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: You're always going to have that memory of winning. You can't really ever lose that.
Obviously the next week is a new week and you start all over again. You're back at level one, so you want to keep it going.
It was nice to go back to San Diego where I grew up right after the week in Palm Springs. So it was nice to have some family and friends around when I won and then go back to that, which is pretty unusual on tour. You usually win in a state or country where you have no friends or family around. It's pretty unique to have that.
I mean, I've come down off of it a little bit, but hopefully after this week, I'll be back on top.
Q. How do you think you've handled the aftermath? You obviously haven't had the results you'd want since then.
Has there been any sort of hangover?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: Not really. I played decent in California afterwards. Florida has never been my biggest swing of where I make my money. I usually make money traditionally in Texas, so can't wait for the Nelson and this week, and I like the warm weather and the grasses they have around here.
So hopefully we'll get it going again this week.
Q. What is it about Texas courses, if anything, for you? Is there a comfort level with the grasses or the weather?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: It must be the weather and the grasses because I won my first Nationwide event in Midland a few years back. I played good at Colonial and Nelson last year and just one of those things and played pretty good the first couple rounds here. I guess it's the weather and the grass, and I really can't pinpoint anything on that, but, hey, if I keep playing good, that's a good thing, right?
Q. If it's in your head, that helps, too.
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: Positive vibes about Texas, and it's a good thing. I like warm weather, and I think that's one of the most important things.
Q. What do you make of the differences with the course here set up from last year to now?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: I think it's great. I think the run‑off areas in the water are a great addition to the golf course, and obviously the rough around the fairways is preparing the guys who are going to Augusta.
I would like to see it a little higher, just probably make the course play a little tougher, but the run‑off areas, you miss a green around the water hazards, most likely going to go in the water or really close or near the water. I think it's going to be a little more challenging hitting your shots into the greens this year.
Q. So do you think it's kind of ripe for the taking? Are guys going to have to really put the pedal to the metal to stay in contention?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: I don't recollect what the score that Stuart shot last year was. I know he destroyed the field by quite a few.
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: Yes. What was he? 20 ‑‑
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: The scores were pretty low. I think the scores will be similar to what they were last year. I assume a few more guys are going to get more under because the second‑year guys have come to the course and a little more familiar with the golf course. Usually that plays along with lower scores.
Q. All Florida swing, it was like week after week guys were a little more beat up by the courses?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: It's the toughest stretch of four golf courses we play all year. PGA National and Major Championship venue. Tampa you could play a major championship there. Bay Hill the rough was as long as the U.S. Open, and last year at Doral was the World Golf Championship. Golf course setup‑wise, I think those four you won't get a tougher four in a row maybe until the FedExCup starts.
Q. So how does that play ‑‑ such a contrast in setups and style this week. Is it going to make ‑‑ does it make things feel ‑‑ I know it's never easy but relatively easy? Are you guys so acclimated to the other style of golf going to be ‑‑
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: I'm happy to get off Florida. I'm real excited to play. I have a tendency to hit it in the rough more than most people, so I like not seeing the rough up that high this week and give me the opportunity to attack the golf course a little more, I think.
Q. Charley, after a win, do you look at yourself any different, or do you perceive that others out here, peers, kind of view you a little differently now that you're in the winner's circle?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: Personally I'm the same person. I haven't changed any. Still the same old kid from San Diego. Like to relax and pretty low key.
I think peers‑wise, I think there's an acceptance little more now that you've one a PGA Tour event, you might have more acceptance by all the players and champions that are out here, which is pretty much everybody. There's so many great players playing the PGA Tour.
It's nice to have a win underneath your belt and say you have succeeded and won on the PGA Tour. That's obviously growing up one of your goals in life, one of my goals in life was to win on the PGA Tour. I have succeeded in doing that.
Q. Any particular interesting reaction you've gotten from a fellow pro out here that you're willing to share? Any e‑mail or a note in your locker, something that surprised you that somebody took note of that and went out of their way to say something to you?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: I take this as a compliment. They say I can't believe it took this long for you to get your first PGA Tour victory, which obviously I always thought I could win, but it's nice to hear it from other people that they thought I could win, too, and it finally happened.
Q. Do you have any good or interesting stories about being recognized by people you didn't before?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: It's a little different now. I guess the hair thing sort of sticks out a little bit. When you're in the airport, people coming up to you. That never really ever happened before. You can't go to a bar and watch the game without maybe someone tapping you on the shoulder and asking you a question, but that's good things that come along with winning on the PGA Tour.
Q. You could shave your head.
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: I could. No one would recognize me.
Q. Ball that up in a ponytail.
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: I don't think the ponytail would work for me.
Q. Charley, it's kind of unusual to hear a player say they would like to see the course play tougher, the rough longer especially like you said, you kind of hit it in the rough sometimes.
Could you explain your thinking behind that?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: I think the players want to see the golf course play as hard as it can every week in and week out, because obviously the best player will most likely come out on top more because they won't hit it in the rough as much.
I think as a competitive person you want to see the course play as hard as it can.
I think last year the rough was a little longer and obviously played ‑‑ it would have played a little harder, shots into the green than it is this week, but they also changed around the greens. You might not be able to attack the pins as much anymore because the ball is going to run off into the water.
Q. Do you find ‑‑ in mapping out how you plan to play this course, do you feel like you're going to need to take a little bit different approach because of the run‑off areas?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: You've got a pin last year on 18. We'll say, for example, that's back left. If you miss to the left 90 percent chance, it's going to stay on that bank while this year, there's maybe 1 percent chance that you'll stay on that bank if you get lucky.
Obviously you're going to be a little more conservative and play a little more to the middle of the green than you were before, which is good.
Q. Did it play hard enough for you Sunday at Hope?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: There was enough wind out there to surprise anybody who was even out there. Everybody got blown away.
Q. You talk about a Nationwide win in Texas. Did you play well in this state as a college guy? Did you play that much here?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: For some reason I have played alright here at the college events in Austin. I think I played alright.
I just have always played pretty well in Texas. I really can't pinpoint a reason why or anything, but the track record speaks.
Q. It goes back that far. You felt good when you went ‑‑
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: I think I like firm golf courses. The majority of times they are pretty firm.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Any more questions? Okay. At this time I'd like to introduce Dave Steiner who is the chief executive officer of Waste Management.
MR. STEINER: Obviously we have a lot of employees here. We got a round of applause for that. You know, Waste Management is headquartered here in Houston, Texas. A company that is the leading environmental services company in the United States, about $14 billion in revenue, 50,000 people throughout the United States, and so people say why is an environmental services company getting involved in golf and getting involved with Charley Hoffman?
Well, a couple things. As an environmental services company, our tag line is "Think green," and so when you look at us, we're the largest recycler in the world. We're by far the largest recycler in North America. We don't just recycle cardboard and paper and bottles and cans. We also recycle land. We have over 300 landfills and former landfills in the United States, and when we take those landfills and put waste into them, we'll able to use the methane gas that's created to power homes. We're able to take that methane gas and create green power.
So an example of us thinking green: When we're finished with the landfill, we cover it with natural grasses, give back to the community as green space. We give it back as hiking trails, as parks. We have 70,000 acres throughout the United States that are designated wildlife habitat areas.
So we give back the green space to the communities. Oddly enough, we've given back numerous landfills as golf courses. So our association with golf is not just a passion for our company, it's actually also a part of our business.
So our association with golf is a natural. Then when you look at Charley, we've got 50,000 employees throughout the United States and Canada. We look at them all at winners. We want to all be associated with winners. Who better to be associated with than someone who has every level from his college career at UNLV to the recent win at the Bob Hope Desert Classic, who better to be associated with than a winner like Charley?
But, you know, we can be associated with a lot of different winners. It's nice also to be associated with a winner that wants to give something back.
I think that's what makes Charley unique for Waste Management is that we're glad that we're going to be involved with Charley and Charley Hoffman Foundation, Waste Management. We're goint to sponsor so what we call a "Green Glove Charity." We're going to give money back to our communities. We've got 50,000 employees that are giving back to our communities every day. We're going to take that and turn it into dollars to give back to Keep America Beautiful.
In the local communities where the PGA has golf events. We're going to work with Charley to make sure we give back to the communities and we're proud to have Charley not only join the Waste Management team but join the Waste Management family.
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: I'm excited to be a part of you guys family. It's a big day for me and I think Waste Management.
I can't ‑‑ I know we're going to do some charitable contributions with the green glove on Thursdays, I'm going to be wearing a green glove for "Think Green." Sort of goes along with their trucks they drive around and they're green. Tie in golf courses are green. So I'm going to wear a green glove and going to get some birdies or come up with an idea that's going to give back to the community with some sort of contribution of some sort of amount of dollars to the charity of our choice.
MR. STEINER: Being from Las Vegas, they think green, too. Different type of green.
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: They take your green.
MR. STEINER: You think you had green when you went there, right?
Q. Will you have to wear a green glove to the British Open?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: We're going to really stand out there because we'll have a green glove on. No, it's going to be fun. Keep America Beautiful. I think that's the main thing. Like you said, it's going to be a great family and hopefully keep it going.
MR. STEINER: You know, being able to announce in conjunction with the Shell Houston Open for us is a great thing. We're headquartered here in Houston. We have over a thousand people that work with us here in Houston. So to give them a chance to see the newest member of the Waste Management family, hopefully see him Sunday not hitting that bank on 18 but sinking that.
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: I did hit that bank last year. It didn't stay up. I know it won't stay up this year.
MR. STEINER: We're going to watch him sink the winning putt on Sunday. You can bet you'll have a lot of people thinking green and thinking win on Sunday when Charley knocks in the winning putt. Wear the green glove every round.
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: Thursday for now. We'll figure out what we can do.
MR. STEINER: When he goes out and shoots 64.
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: I'll sleep with the glove. No, we'll have some green gloves for charities that I'll sign and give away. It's going to be a good association.
MR. STEINER: Keep America Beautiful, obviously Keep America Beautiful is a national charity but also has local chapters. With what we raise here for the Shell Houston Open, we're going to dedicate that here to the Houston community and then as the PGA Tour goes through the various communities in the United States, we're going to be giving back.
Look, we're in all those communities. We're a part of the PGA. Another natural fit for us. But you know we're going to give back to all the communities as we follow Charley throughout the Tour stops.
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: Be fun meeting all the people in all the different chapters in the communities that we're going to go to. It's going to be a good team. That's great. It's great to sponsor me but Waste Management to sponsor the PGA Tour.
MR. STEINER: I was born in California. You don't play well in California?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: I won in California. Florida is where I didn't play well.
MR. STEINER: We'd rather be in Texas.
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: I'd rather be here.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Anything else?
Okay, gentlemen. Thank you very much.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
An interview with Adam Scott
JOE CHEMYCZ: We welcome Adam Scott. Adam, your first start here since 2003.
The initial year we were at Redstone. You had a chance to play the golf course today. Maybe you can talk a little bit what you saw out there, and we'll open it up for some questions.
ADAM SCOTT: Well, it's quite a long golf course out here. They tried to set it up as similar as possible to Augusta, so they've done that. They've kept the rough short, few run‑off areas out there and the course is in fantastic condition.
I doubt we'll be play better all year. It's really up to them how firm and fast they want to get it now.
JOE CHEMYCZ: Questions?
Q. Adam, they've done this with the idea of drawing more people here to get ready for the Masters.
Do you think something ‑‑ can they do anything that will get people to change their schedules?
ADAM SCOTT: I really don't think so. I think if a guy likes to take a week off before Augusta, he's going to take a week off and prepare, and if the guy feels like he wants to play into it, then he'll come and play no matter what the course is.
Certainly if you're going to play, then it's nice that the course is somewhat similar condition‑wise to Augusta.
This is, you know, coverage of grass out there is beautiful. The greens are rolling great. So, you know, I'm very happy that I'm here and playing because it is somewhat similar.
Q. We are seeing an increase in the international field even though a lot of people live in the States, most of the time anyway.
Is that ‑‑ do you see that as continuing to improve? I know two ‑‑ what was it? About two decades before we have Seve and Woosie and people like that playing.
Do you think this is some kind of an international‑type look to this field because of that?
ADAM SCOTT: Yes. This particular week, you mean?
Q. Yes, this week?
ADAM SCOTT: I've seen a lot of European Tour players here this week. Probably most of those guys were at Doral last week, but maybe some came in this week to just kind of warm up for Augusta, also, to have some golf in America before playing a Augusta.
You know, certainly I think it's the same for me when I'm over here, I like to be playing over here and getting some rounds in rather than sitting around having a practice week, and, you know, doing that back at home is not going to be really good and making the long trip over, the start of the week at Augusta.
I see these guys, you know, using this as preparation week, getting the work done they need to and hopefully getting some, you know, good competition playing.
Q. Adam, you're the highest ranked player here. Is that pressure a burden, or how do you approach that?
ADAM SCOTT: Well, not really. I mean, couple times in the past I've been the highest ranked player at a tournament, but, you know, it doesn't really mean much because the fields are so strong and so deep that a guy on any given week, you know, can beat Tiger, too. So it doesn't really mean much, but it's an important week for me.
I'd like to get myself into contention this week. That's for sure.
Q. We remember you coming to Houston as a young kid. Give me some of your thoughts on the city. Do you like coming here? Is that one of your favorite places to go?
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah. I was lucky, I was given an invite from Steve back in 2001 was the first time I came over at the Woodlands, which I love playing over there and, you know, so I came back the next year and gave me another invite, which was nice. And I came and played Redstone. I don't know if I got an invite for that the first year it was here. Maybe I did.
Certainly they've been fantastic and very welcoming to me here in Houston. So it's nice that it will fit in with my schedule this year to get back and have a look at the new course.
Q. Adam, you haven't played a lot anywhere this year. I'm kind of wondering where you are with your game, where your head is, just kind of how you feel here with the run up to the Masters.
ADAM SCOTT: I'm feeling pretty fresh, obviously. I haven't played a lot, but it was kind of intentional. You know, I feel like coming into the summer and toward the end of the summer, it's going to be a lot of golf in a short space of time, and, you know, that was kind of the reason for the slow start.
Really, very happy with how my game is looking. I'd just like to have a week in contention before I got to Augusta. I was really hoping that it would be last week. I didn't do it.
This week would be really great to get there and get in the mix and just have that ‑‑ the competitive juices flowing a little bit and sort of the nerves out before Augusta.
Q. What did you do on your six‑week break that you took, and how does that affect your game when you came back?
ADAM SCOTT: I was pretty rusty. I didn't hit a shot for five weeks, so I was very rusty but, you know, I needed to do it. I felt ‑‑ I don't think it's necessarily hurt me, but I've been ‑‑ I just haven't quite got back into a rhythm on the course yet, which is a little frustrating, but I'm trying to keep the bigger picture in mind, and everything I've done so far this year is kind of working towards next week and making sure that's going to be the week that I peak.
Q. What did you do with those five weeks you were off?
ADAM SCOTT: I was in Switzerland for a bit, up in the snow, and I was in the UK for a little bit, and I was not doing a hell of a lot.
Q. What did that do for your mind to get away for that long? Because that's kind of a nice ‑‑
ADAM SCOTT: It's a good break. I've never had that long off before.
You know, I didn't ‑‑ when I picked the clubs up again, it didn't feel like I had five weeks off. I still felt like I had been playing, but obviously I was a bit scrappy with the swing.
Q. You talk about the world rankings. Having dropped a spot back to No. 5, has that sort of added incentive this week?
ADAM SCOTT: No. I've said before the word rankings don't matter unless you're around the 50th or the 1st, so you know, sure I'd like to stay in the Top‑5 or Top‑10 or whatever it is, but I'm not really paying attention to world rankings.
Q. Did you ski? Were you skiing in Switzerland?
ADAM SCOTT: No, I didn't ski.
Q. Snow boarding, just hanging out in the snow, throwing snowballs?
A Threw a few snowballs, sure.
Q. Was this something that somebody suggested to you, or did you just come up with the idea that you needed to get away for a little while?
ADAM SCOTT: I just felt like, you know, if I kept playing and ‑‑ I don't know. I felt like I maybe hit a wall in the summertime, which is not the time to be doing it because there's a lot riding on it, everything, from, you know, next week through till the last week in September, pretty much when everything winds up. It's going to be a lot of golf played in between now and then, and, you know, I didn't feel like getting into July and feeling like I'm done. So I played right through, finished up at Tiger's event the 15th of December, played a couple in Australia. I didn't have the break at the end of the last year.
Q. I looked back, though, and this is kind of a place that you start hitting your stride, you know, right in this timeframe, whether it was Players or whatever.
You seem to kind of hit that and then take off?
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah. I just need to hit it. Hopefully ‑‑ I'm actually excited about this week. You know, I think this course with the rough down is kind of nice because it's forgiving. It's not going to punish you like the last four, five weeks we've seen on Tour and, you know, a couple errant shots they hit, you might not get so severely punished and might be able to keep something going, good for the confidence.
It's really a great week for me to go out and do well and put my head down and get in the mix.
Q. You had a lot of kind of trial and error in terms of how to prepare for Majors. You finished last year with two really strong Majors. I'm wondering, what have you learned in your approach and just what do you think you understand or ‑‑
ADAM SCOTT: You got to try and just feel comfortable with the game. It's hard work if you're getting ‑‑ you're on the range on Tuesday or Wednesday, you know, trying to rebuild your swing.
It's a matter of working with what you've got, and then the Majors are just about hanging in there, really. You know, the chances that you're going to be firing on all cylinders that week are not particularly good, considering there's only probably three, four weeks of the year that you actually do, so it's about, you know, encouraging your game to be in good shape and it's all about preparation.
So, I think preparation goes beyond just the week before. It's the months leading into it.
Q. How well prepared do you feeling right now? You sound a little, I don't know, little uncertain or iffy?
ADAM SCOTT: I'm very well prepared. Like I said, the only thing I feel like I'm lacking is competition, being in the mix. I was there in Kapalua, but that was a long time ago now. I'd like to throw myself back up the top of the leaderboard and get those, you know, butterflies in the stomach a little bit feeling for next week, but I feel great. I think my preparation is going really well.
Q. Adam, how do you think the shaved‑down rough is going to affect scoring? Do you think it's going to be a birdie fest or around the greens it will maybe keep the scores a little higher?
ADAM SCOTT: I think there's going to be a lot of birdies this week. The wind is the only thing I can see, you know, preventing it. But still, I think even if it's windy, it's going to be, you know, 20 under, something like that.
Q. You talked a little bit about this setup here being beneficial for you for next week.
Any particular holes, or what attributes did you see on this course that you think you can carry over to Augusta?
ADAM SCOTT: The greens, you know, they're not quite as severe as Augusta, but they're certainly running well, and there are some slopes on the greens or, you know, spots on the greens that are quite severe.
I just think the condition of the course, it seems ‑‑ I was at Augusta on Monday. The rough seems about the same length. You know, the fairways, it's all playing sort of similar, so it's nice to have two weeks in a row on the same kind of grass.
Q. You played with a guy named Kevin Coffee (phonetic) this morning. What did you think of his attire?
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, he was Ian Poulter‑esque. Just nice. He matched up nicely in the lilac today.
Q. Have you ever asked to borrow any of Ian's clothes?
ADAM SCOTT: No. They look good on him.
Q. Did anything surprise you at Augusta when you played? Was there anything that just stuck out at you that is a change there?
ADAM SCOTT: No. I mean, obviously the pine straw down the right of 11, but I didn't really see anything that different.
Q. Adam, how was it playing? Or do we need to ask?
ADAM SCOTT: No, was playing great. Actually I thought it was in the best condition I've ever seen it, which is nice because they obviously had a good growing season. Sometimes it's a little thin around there so ‑‑ it was in really good shape.
Q. Were you keeping score?
ADAM SCOTT: No, we played a Skins game.
Q. Who did you play with?
ADAM SCOTT: Jeff and Paul Casey.
Q. How much of their money did you take?
ADAM SCOTT: I managed to get a couple of Skins, but Jeff got most of them and Paul went home with no Skins.
Q. Were there a lot of people over there on Monday?
ADAM SCOTT: I saw Stewart Cink was over there. That was about it. We met the new chairman.
ADAM SCOTT: Billy. Those were the only three groups I saw on the course.
Q. Billy was out playing?
ADAM SCOTT: It was a fantastic day. It was beautiful.
Q. Adam, you said last year that you thought in the past, maybe you had sort of a defensive approach to playing in Majors.
Is that one of the things did you differently last year?
ADAM SCOTT: I just played. I just didn't think about that it's so difficult or the consequences of bad shot. I just played it like a normal tournament and certainly much improved last year.
Q. What are your thoughts on Southern Hills for the PGA?
ADAM SCOTT: I don't know. I've never been there. I don't know anything about it.
Q. What have you heard about the course?
ADAM SCOTT: I haven't heard anything about it, actually.
JOE CHEMYCZ: Okay. Adam, thank you. Play well this week.
ADAM SCOTT: Okay.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
An interview with Stuart Appleby
DOUG MILNE: Okay. We'd like to welcome back our defending champion, Stuart Appleby. He won the event in 1999 at TPC Woodlands. Got a round in. Couple comments.
STUART APPLEBY: It's good to get back on the golf course. The course is in beautiful, beautiful condition. Hopefully we can get some ‑‑ or keep the rain away and keep it firm. That's probably more susceptible this year to lower scoring with the lower rough, with the rough being cut down, whatever you want to call it.
I don't know. It's like an extended immediate rough, which will make it a lot easier for us. If we can get the greens fast and firm ‑‑ they're fast now, but if we get them firm, that will certainly make the players a little more cautious on even hitting it into the light rough. But it's in great shape.
Hopefully the course firms up, the wind plays the normal Texas roll, it is will be very difficult.
DOUG MILNE: Okay. Open it up.
Q. Your thinking is they are trying to Master‑rize the course to get guys to maybe show up in the future because it will be a good preparation for Augusta.
Do you see it that way?
STUART APPLEBY: It's not as hilly, so it's certainly not going ‑‑ what Augusta is really known for is it's unseasonably hilly knees. You hear about it, but you really can't. Here you're not going to get anything like that. The only real way they can make this somewhat Augusta‑esque is to shave around the greens a lot more, no rough. They can make some course change to make it more difficult, to make it more penal and make you get a bit more weary about whether I should go for the pin.
It tempts you at Augusta. If this course stays soft, it will be very easy, which is not Augusta, if it plays firm, fast and windy, it will make us think more like Augusta thoughts, but that's ‑‑ Augusta is much ‑‑ there's millions and millions of dollars of sucking water out of greens and draining, this, that, and the other, but I would say if we can keep it windy and dried out, it can get close. It will be a flat version of Augusta, I guess.
Q. Do you think it will change anybody's mind as to changing ‑‑
STUART APPLEBY: First thing that changes the mind, if the player says the course is a good test and great shape, it's a good golf course, then you can get players. That's the first thing. If you hear players go "It's a terrible golf course," whatever, in any tournament, then the players ‑‑ you won't see them. I could never say that here. I've won here. It's a good test of golf. I'd like to think that's my number this year, too, as last year.
The course is in good condition. It's fair. There's nothing Mickey Mouse about it. The greens are beautiful to putt on. Simple solid green design.
So, you play proper golf, you'll get rewarded. It's a tough one to prepare. Sugar Loaf was probably an interesting test for Augusta, but it's hilly and ‑‑ but what do you do for the U.S. Open?
Tell your green guys to not mow the grass for a week and hack it out of 6 inches and ‑‑ it takes no skill to hit out of the rough at the U.S. Open. Absolutely zero skill. Will it attract better players? It's totally up to the players' mental thoughts, and it helps to hear us say positive things, but it's very difficult when you don't have the topographical viewpoint of what Augusta has. That is the critical part of Augusta.
These greens are quicker than Augusta. If you took Augusta's greens and put them on a big flat piece of land, it would be no quicker than 50 percent of greens we play on Tour. Being they have a hundred percent more slope, they can get phenomenal.
Q. This is at least drawing an international field because of the timing of it.
STUART APPLEBY: It will. It will be a little more favor.
Q. Maybe the fact that there's a lot of international winners here, too?
STUART APPLEBY: Yeah. It's really ‑‑ like Doral they had predominantly foreign players in the Top 10. It was really a foreign event. Hardly any Americans in there when you look at it. It should be more than half, but it wasn't even close to half. That's the way it was the whole week.
That might have been the conditions little bit played in the Euro's hands a little bit with that much wind. You're going to get a bit more international flavor this week. You're not going to get Tiger Woods play. No one ever does. I don't wish, but you might wish that he's here playing every week, but ‑‑ you don't because you would have too many questions for him.
Q. I see him just enough.
Stuart, you played a couple events in the Middle East?
STUART APPLEBY: We already talked about that.
Q. Has that benefited your game?
STUART APPLEBY: Not directly, no. It was really a breakout, something different. It wasn't really changing my game, just was a fresh feature for me in playing golf, and I won't make that a regular occurrence, but something different, you know, and I recommend that that's something a lot of American players that really never got out of America should do every two, three years and mix it up a bit.
It's good fun.
Q. Has this been a heavier run up than you expect the to the Masters?
STUART APPLEBY: I've played a bit, yeah. This is my fourth event. More than normal.
Q. Why is that?
STUART APPLEBY: I just needed to play. I haven't played any good all year, haven't done anything. I haven't performed ‑‑ haven't moved with the herd, you know. Stuck out of the back of the dog nipping at heels at the back of the herd, and I got to get moving some. I'm going to try to work my way into form and play my way into form and I'll put my bag down Sunday at Augusta at the end of that and take a couple weeks off.
Q. So you close or how far do you feel like you're catching up with the herd?
STUART APPLEBY: I've got a long way to go. But I know the quality of my game when it gets on a run is going to be very competitive. You look at how Charley Howell has played. You asked him six months ago or a year ago, "Did you think this was going to happen?" He'll say no. I'd like it to happen but ‑‑ some great names this year, really good players that have come up and out of nowhere out of the blocks early, so you've got your traditional guys as well.
But it's a long run to the finish line and I'll be right ‑‑ the recipe is there. I've got to get the right mixes right.
Q. It's got to be good to come back to some place you played so well last year and to a city you played well in, period?
STUART APPLEBY: Yeah. It's nice to know my form has been here before, and that's just nice on itself. That means something, especially when you come to a course you've played well on before. You know that you know how to hit the shots, pick the shots. You hit the right club like I did at Kapalua.
I know how to read the greens. The course is more wintery in condition than it has been last year because it was three weeks later, but that in itself is enough to scare people into a better performance.
Q. Will your decision‑making process change on the course any this year with the different ‑‑ do you have to not go at certain pins now?
STUART APPLEBY: If the greens get firm, that will probably keep you cautious with the way ‑‑ where you aim it. Make you aim away from the flag. Lot of shaved‑off areas from last year as well. That's the extra bit there as well.
If there can be some wind, that will make it interesting. If you don't have wind, any golf course ‑‑ St Andrews is probably the most vulnerable golf course in the world. It's critical. Houston typically brings up some wind, and that will add two shots to the day, but the course is ‑‑ it's as good as it can get.
DOUG MILNE: Anybody else? Okay. Stuart, thank you.
STUART APPLEBY: Thanks.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
An interview with Steve Stricker
DOUG MILNE: Steve Stricker, welcome.
STEVE STRICKER: Thank you.
DOUG MILNE: Third place finished last year, helped earn you Comeback Player of the Year honors.
Just a couple comments. You come right out of the gate tied for fourth the first event of the year, Sony, and tied for fifth at Honda. Just couple of general comments on being back here in‑house.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah. Seems like yesterday since I've finished third here last year and got great memories from here, and, you know, a lot of things fell into place for me last year. This was one of them.
I really didn't ‑‑ wasn't expecting to get a sponsor spot in here and Steve Timms called me kind of last minute and I think ‑‑ I want to say this Saturday before the tournament week, and ended up getting a spot and took advantage of it, and it really kind of jump‑started and kick‑started my year and rolled with a lot of confidence out of here and was a start to a good year.
DOUG MILNE: Okay. Anybody want to throw a few questions out him?
Q. Is Comeback Player of the Year a good thing to win? Or how did you look at that when you got to the end of it?
STEVE STRICKER: Every year when I hadn't had my card at the end of year, my wife would say "Next year, let's see if we can't be Comeback Pl