El Camaleón Golf Club - Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, México
First Round Interview: Tom Hoge
Q. Really good start on the back nine, which most players feel is a little bit tougher. What was the key to your early great start?
TOM HOGE: Yeah, you know, I really hit a few nice iron shots in there; 11, 12 I had real short birdie putts, was able to make those, then was right by the green in two on 13. So three nice birdies in a row right off the bat there kind of freed me up a little bit for some of the tougher holes and the wind coming up.
Q. And the wind at times died down, but most of the day was up. With the golf course being soft and all the wind, it's a golf course obviously you need to carry the ball a decent ways. How big of a challenge is that for not only you but for all the players out there this week?
TOM HOGE: Yeah, you know, like you said, the greens are very soft and receptive, which can help with some chipping when you get out of position around the greens.
But more than anything, I feel like the difficulty's a lot of crosswinds off the tee. Getting the ball in the fairway and avoiding some of the penalty shots is big this week.
Q. You had a really good start last season in the fall. Players are really learning how important it is to have good finishes. Does that add pressure to you before you get to the break?
TOM HOGE: A little bit. I don't think it's pressure because we're so early into the season, we've got so many events ahead next year, so you know that you've always got tournaments ahead and it only takes one week in this game.
But, you know, like you said, I got off to a good start last year and it was nice to kind of free myself up for the rest of the year and make things a little bit easier, so hopefully take care of that this week.
Q. You're playing preferred lies out there, but how was the condition of the golf course despite all the rain?
TOM HOGE: Yeah, you know, you've really got to get it in the fairway because there's some mud balls, for sure. Hole 7, my third-to-last hole of the day, I was in the first cut with both my second shot and third shot. I would have hit a 3-wood going for the green and just try to lay it up, get it in the fairway and clean that thing off, but it presents a challenge when you get out of the fairway and you've got some mud to deal with, for sure.
Q. What went well for you out there?
TOM HOGE: Yeah, it was a really good start for me. I birdied 11, 12, 13 right off the bat, hit some nice iron shots in, had some close birdie putts and just kind of freed me up for the rest of the way.
Q. Obviously conditions are going to be a big factor this week. The wind kind of laid down this afternoon, but how were they -- how was it playing out there?
TOM HOGE: The tee shots are pretty difficult with a lot of crosswinds, so getting the ball in play in between the hazards with the wind is tough to negotiate. Then we've got the rain off and on here. It really is a hole by hole, shot by shot sort of deal with the rain, never knowing what we're going to get in. We're fortunate today that it was relatively dry for us the whole day.
Q. Looking ahead to tomorrow, obviously playing in the morning, a lot more of a chance for that wind to pick up, how do you mentally prepare for the challenge of (inaudible)?
TOM HOGE: Yeah, just kind of embrace it, I would say. This is my sixth or seventh year down here now playing and every year seems like the same sort of challenge with rain and wind. Not too many days are calm here on the beach. You kind of know what you're in for. Like I said, I have the more so the approach that it's kind of shot by shot here because you never know when the rain's going to come up and be called off the course, so just try to make the most out of each shot.
Q. Speaking of that what difference (inaudible) schedule change with this tournament not being in November?
TOM HOGE: Yeah, for me personally, that incentive to practice was a little bit harder last week with the holiday, Thanksgiving. I didn't really feel like I was that prepared here coming in this week. Sometimes a little bit lower expectation can be good here, but what a great way to end the year here on the beach in Mexico. A nice send-off, for sure, before the break.