WORLD CUP OF GOLF MEDIA DAY
August 22, 2013INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
CHRIS REIMER: We are thrilled to have our World Cup of Golf defending champion, Matt Kuchar on the line with us.
I'm Chris Reimer, Director of Communications for the PGA TOUR. When I first learned this event was headed to Royal Melbourne, I was just thrilled. Having been part of the 2011 Presidents Cup, I got a firsthand understanding that Royal Melbourne is truly sacred ground in the world of golf. I have a true appreciation for Melbourne and Victoria's love of sports. It has to be one of the top sports cities in the world, the way that Victoria and the entire country came together to support that event, the great passion and the great class is an experience I won't forget.
The World Cup of Golf is truly one of the diamonds of the game. Having worked that event for several years, as well, it's fun to see players from across the globe come together for an opportunity to represent their country in an event with great history and a fantastic list of champions.
With that, I'll quickly turn it over to the Vice President and Director of Golf for IMG, Australia, David Rollo, for a few comments.
DAVID ROLLO: Thanks, Chris. Obviously from an IMG perspective, it's a great privilege for us to be involved in the 2013 World Cup of Golf, and thanks to the Victorian Major Events Company who made it possible to bring the event here from 21 to 24 of November. Obviously the heroes of this event will be the players and I think it's always special to bring back the defending champions to any event.
So we are thrilled to have Matt Kuchar coming down to Melbourne for two weeks and obviously defending his World Cup title. I think this year will be a fascinating event with the changing format, mirroring the format of golf in the Olympics when it returns to the program in 2016 in Rio.
We appreciate Matt taking the time. We know this is a busy time for him and we wish him all the best at the FedExCup Playoffs and starting this week at The Barclays.
With that, Chris, we'll obviously have tickets on sale this week. We went live on Tuesday and we had a great initial reaction to ticket sales, which is really encouraging and we really expect the people of Victoria, Australia to support this event in droves, and hopefully see in the region of 60,000 to 70,000 patrons at this event over the four days, so we are excited about this event in November.
CHRIS REIMER: Matt joins us in great form, having won twice on TOUR, ranked six in the World Ranking and No.2 in our FedExCup standings.
Matt, maybe some opening thoughts as you look back on your victory with Gary Woodland in 2011, and now you look forward to the 2013 World Cup of Golf.
MATT KUCHAR: I have to say back in 2011, I got the opportunity, I was looking at the list of potential guys to be part of the World Cup, and I was ready to kind of sell myself as a guy's potential partner. It was something I was really excited and really interested in being a part of when I was the top?ranked American that was ready to go play, I got the opportunity to pick my partner.
I thought, well, of the guys I could choose, looked at the golf course, the setup of the golf course and thought Gary Woodland was great for that type of format. It was an event that I wanted to go there and I wanted to win the World Cup title. I knew what a great honor it was and what a great list of champions it had.
It was just a real thrill to partner up with Gary Woodland to win the title. It was something I look back at and it's a real highlight for me. It's one of the things in my career that I'm glad to have been a part of and glad to have won it. Any time you get to represent your country; and to represent your country in a team of two is a really special opportunity.
But now to go back as a defending champion albeit in a new format will be interesting. I actually just spoke with Gary Woodland about it and he said it will be a great test to see how great of a player I am without a partner to kind of keep him going; however, there will be a team format, as well as the individual this year.
It's exciting, and the format of the Olympics its looking to follow; I know a lot of us have our eyes on the Olympics in 2016 as something we would like to make. I know I can't believe that I could possibly have the opportunity to play in the Olympics.
And to play the World Cup; to go back to Royal Melbourne where we were two years ago for The Presidents Cup, had a great experience there. I actually spent part of my honeymoon in Melbourne, so I'm quite fond of the area. Got to take part in the Melbourne Cup during our honeymoon down in Melbourne, which is just a sporting spectacle, a horse race, that I'll never forget with just a great time to dress up and to see how much fun and how passionate Australians are about all sports, and really got to see how passionate Australians were towards golf when we were down for The Presidents Cup two years ago.
So it's something that has been on my calendar that I've circled and really look forward to getting down and being part of the World Cup.
Q. If you were explaining or describing Royal Melbourne to a friend over there, say, in the States or wherever, someone who has not seen the course, what would you say? How would you describe it?
MATT KUCHAR: I would describe it as a links golf course that you're typically going to get good weather, firm, fast conditions, and very much links style. Somewhere where the ball is going to run 20, 30, 40, 50 yards down the fairway. Greens are firm. You've got to land short of the greens or just front of the green.
But the best way to describe it is links golf with typical nice, warm weather down in Australia.
Q. What sort of a team?? obviously you've committed to the American Team for the World Cup, and some other big names in there, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson. What sort of team?? because I know you can bring up to four I think.
MATT KUCHAR: Right.
Q. What do you expect?
MATT KUCHAR: I really don't know. That's a good question. I'm not sure whether the likes of Tiger or Phil will make the trip to Australia to play. You know, the list?? I haven't looked at the list. I think it's guys in the Top 15 can go, I'm not sure who would come next after Tiger, Phil and myself in the Top 15 World Rankings. I hope we get a full four guys going, I think would be great, but just don't know the World Rankings list. Not sure who will be?? who will be making the trip down. Haven't spoken to Tiger and haven't spoken to Phil to get any sort of inclination of whether they are thinking of making the trip or not.
Q. Is it something that when you are playing?? I know you have The Barclays coming up and the FedExCup Playoffs and The Presidents Cup, how much of a toss?up or a difficult decision is it for you to then say, yes, definitely, I want to extend my season, I want to go and play some more overseas, World Cup, Australian Masters, etc. Do you sit and home and think, it's 50/50, I can really do with some time off?
MATT KUCHAR: I've had a couple of those opportunities where I've chose to do time off instead. The idea of kind of back?to?back Aussie Masters/World Cup, both at Royal Melbourne seemed like it would be a lot of fun. I know my experience in Melbourne has been fantastic. Not having to travel between weeks is such a luxury, it kind of almost feels like a home week when you get to stay somewhere and not have to get on a plane and go somewhere.
For me, as well, being defending champion, having the World Cup as a past title is I know something that means so much, and looking forward to the Olympics coming up and having this be kind of a warm?up towards the Olympics, there's just a lot of things that?? it makes a lot of sense and something that I want to do. So this is one that wasn't much of a toss?up for me. This is one that I was really keen to go down to Australia and play a couple of events at Royal Melbourne.
Q. You're obviously an established Top?10 player now, wonderful few years now at the top of the game. Is it something that you embrace, that high?profile nature now of being one of the best?known golfers in the world?
MATT KUCHAR: I look at it more like, I really just love playing the game of golf. I love the challenge. And you know, regardless if people call my name out when I'm out on the golf course or not, I'm addicted to playing the game of golf. I think there's so many great challenges, whether it's presented by opponents or not; I can go out by myself and find enough challenges to completely keep me satisfied and hungry and wanting to get better.
But I also get to test myself against the best in the world, and I think that it's a great opportunity and it's great to see my game continuing to get better. That's one of the things that essentially attracts me to the game of golf is there's no limit to how good you can get. So you become No. 1 in the world, and you look what Tiger continues to do, to tweak and refine; and I feel like I've gotten better year after year and continue to play to get better, continue to try to make changes in order to get better.
It's been a nice progression in my game the last five or six years. I feel like every year has gotten better, which is a tough thing to do, but really, I'm proud of the progress that my game has made.
Q. There's great excitement around obviously the way Adam Scott has played this year and the success that he's had; how would you?? aside from the obvious of putting on a green jacket, but how would you encapsulate his year and where he now stands in the game?
MATT KUCHAR: I tell you, we all knew that he was immensely talented and one of the greats in the game, even before having won a major, but it's certainly solidified. His performance in the Masters, and his performance in the Majors afterwards, he's been right there in every big tournament. You see his name at the top with a real chance to win. He's just proving himself as one of the true greats in the game of golf.
Q. Going back further to your answer to Tiger and Phil, you're No. 6 in the world, can you sort of lean on a few blokes to come down?
MATT KUCHAR: I don't have as good of power ?? at least not Tiger or Phil. I think certainly?? and you may help me out with telling me who is next on the list of guys that would potentially be in the Top 15 to qualify.
CHRIS REIMER: Sure, in the Top 15 right now for the U.S. you've got Tiger, Phil, yourself and then 7th is Snedeker,8th is Dufner, 12th is Keegan, 13th is Steve Stricker. So that would be the top guys from the Top 15 in the world.
MATT KUCHAR: Right. I would hope that the next highest guys all say yes. As far as a teammate, I don't get to pick, but any of those guys, it's kind of like making a Presidents Cup Team or Ryder Cup Team, you don't get to pick your guys, but you really are glad to be a part of that team and you know you're going to be with great players.
So any one of those guys I would love to see. It's a big trip during the off?season. But, I don't know, who doesn't look forward to a trip like going down to Australia? That's something that I've had such a great experience, I love the culture, I love the people, I love the climate, and it's one of those things where you just?? how could I possibly say no to.
I'm assuming the other guys feel that way, but I know time at home is pretty valuable, as well. It's just that balancing act of needing some time off and wanting to play and wanting to go to new places in the world.
So I'd love to see some of those guys commit, say yes, and I may start trying to lean on them as we get near the tournament.
Q. You had good success with Dustin Johnson in The Ryder Cup last year; did you play with him at Royal Melbourne, as well?
MATT KUCHAR: Yeah, I did.
Q. Is there a chemistry between you guys, or what makes a good team? What will make the American Team successful again?
MATT KUCHAR: It's a good question, I feel like I can pair pretty well with most guys. My game is pretty steady, I'm going to hit a lot of fairways, a lot of greens. I won't get too high or low; if a bad shot occurs, I'm going to go out and see how I can get up?and?down from whatever situation I'm in and I'm going to try to make the most of it. I feel like most guys, I can partner up pretty well with.
To have a guy like Dustin Johnson's horsepower and the power that he possesses, he's fun to play with. I feel like when we play alternate?shot or better?ball, you've got a guy that's got so much potential, he can make a bunch of birdies, or, just use his drive and be able to use my wedges to hit close, I love having that opportunity.
Q. Us Victorians are pretty proud of the sand belt courses, but you having played Royal Melbourne previously, where does a course like Royal Melbourne rate for you on the world golfing circuit?
MATT KUCHAR: It's got to be one of my favorites in the world. It's a special place. The way it was set up during The Presidents Cup was?? I had not seen many courses that came close to its firmness and fastness, and I think some of the Australians had an advantage having grown up there and played there, but I don't think anybody had played there in conditions quite like that. It was just so fast that it was different than anything I had seen. Most recently we had the British Open at Muirfield, and that was kind of reminiscent of the firmness and fastness that Royal Melbourne presented during The Presidents Cup.
But the course is just a fantastic layout. It's stood the test of time being a great layout for a long time, so it's one that?? to have back?to?back tournaments on a great course like that, is just I think a great idea.
Q. For you personally, ranked sixth in the world at the moment, been on the TOUR more than a decade now, do you still enjoy it as much as when you first stepped out on the PGA TOUR?
MATT KUCHAR: Yeah, I look at it like that?? still in love with the game, and now I feel like I'm comfortable with the different places we go. I'm comfortable at the different tournament sites, knowing my way around. I think we went somewhere new, maybe it was Oak Hill for the PGA, I had not been there since I was an amateur, and I kind of had to ask where the players parked and where the dining room was. It's nice not having to ask that; to now know all these places and know where to go and know where to go for dinner.
I'm quite enjoying where I am with my career on the PGA TOUR and the comfort that I have out there, but still with the love for the game and the love to compete. The great thing is not having?? I have a job that continually challenges myself. I think you'd be pretty stale on a job that wasn't challenging that you didn't try to grow and get better at. I love what I do and hope I continue to do it for a long time.
Q. You spoke about Tiger Woods and the possibility of him coming out here later in the year. Was there ever a time when you thought he would return to the world No. 1 ranking, or did you know all along he's going to come back bigger and better? Obviously we would love to see him back out here in Melbourne in November. For you personally was there a time where you doubted he would get back to that No. 1 ranking, or in the back of your mind, did you think he would come back bigger and better?
MATT KUCHAR: You kind of thought he would come back?? I wasn't sure he would come back and win five tournaments in a year. There was definitely that window where his game was off, and you kind of thought, geez, golf's just a whole different ballgame when it comes to confidence and being able to hit good?quality golf shots time and time again.
Yeah, I think there was a window where we all knew he was still great, but maybe not as great as the couple years he had where he was just so dominating. He's gotten back on fantastic form again.
Q. With events such as the World Cup of Golf, The Presidents Cup, The Ryder Cup, the PGA TOUR itself, is the Olympics a step too far, or all of a sudden do you realize, hey, this is a new opportunity for us golfers?
MATT KUCHAR: I think all of us golfers love sport, and an opportunity to be a sport in the Olympics is just awesome. I know I certainly feel that way. My wife was a tennis player in college and had those dreams and can't believe that it could be possible for me to compete in the Olympics.
I think it's one of the just fantastic opportunities; come 2016, I think you'll see a lot of guys putting in a whole lot of extra time trying to qualify.
Q. I was just going to ask you how much of an advantage it is to be able to play at Royal Melbourne two weeks in a row from the perspective the learning the course.
MATT KUCHAR: I think it's definitely an advantage. I think that getting a feel for a place is really handy. You've got to be on good form for course knowledge to pay dividends. You've got to know where you're hitting it.
But knowing where you can miss it and where you cannot miss it, I think are crucial things. And then just having the great feel?? for me, playing different courses every week, the rough and the fringes and the different grasses are things that I really try to get used to, chipping balls out of the different rough we go to every week and hitting balls from the fringes, whether they be grainy or not grainy; the softness of the greens, if they check up a lot or not.
But when you get that feel on a course, it comes in very handy. So I think two weeks, the second week, you'll see some guys playing both weeks that the guys that played that first week, I think will have a nice advantage and a great feel for the golf course.
Q. It's been, I think the Sony Open in Hawaii in 2010, you've missed three cuts since then, how do you do that?
MATT KUCHAR: That's a stat I'm really proud of. I low a lot of credit to my instructor, Chris O'Connell, we have tried to take a lot of timing out of my golf swing and tried to take a lot of excess clubface throughout impact out of the equation to eliminate the need for timing. He's been a huge help with what we've done on my golf swing, and he's turned me into a consistent player.
I tell you, there's not many less fun things than missing a cut and having to pack up Friday afternoon and kind of do the walk of shame out of the locker room with all your bags packed, is not much fun.
But my progression in the game of golf, being consistent, not missing many cuts, having a lot of Top?10s?? it's the golfer I want to be, and it's made life easier and it's certainly made golf a lot more fun when you're in contention. It's not a lot of fun when you're making cuts but finishing 50th or 60th. You just really get the juices going when you're up there contending for a title.
Q. It sort of feeds on itself?
MATT KUCHAR: You know, it certainly helps, but I think good play just breeds more good play. The best way to get used to winning is by winning. Yeah, it absolutely kind of breeds on itself.
Q. And does it seem like a light year away since ten years ago almost to the day when you were sort of missing a lot of cuts; could you imagine sitting in this position right now?
MATT KUCHAR: It's the golfer I always wanted to be, so I certainly had the dreams of playing this type of golf; still have the dreams about winning major championships. But there were times when I was pretty low thinking, gosh, I've just played some pretty good golf but I missed the cut by four or five shots.
It seems like a long time ago, but I still can remember.
I talk to some of the younger guys who struggle with their game and missing cuts and just kind of that attitude of hoping to make cuts and I think the attitude that you need to have is to go trying to win golf tournaments and set your sights high, and hopefully if you don't quite get in contention, hopefully you make the cut by three or four shots instead of being right on the cut line and continue that progression and try to get better and try to get yourself further up the leaderboard.
CHRIS REIMER: Want to again thank Matt for joining us, really look forward to being down there with him and to seeing all our friends in Melbourne and Australia again. David, I don't know if you had any closing comments you wanted to make?
DAVID ROLLO: Thanks, Matt, for making the time from Barclays, and we look forward to welcoming you down in Melbourne in November.
MATT KUCHAR: I look forward to it. Thanks so much.