EVANS SCHOLARS INVITATIONAL MEDIA CONFERENCE
May 7, 2019
VINCE PELLEGRINO: Nice job. That's what it's all about. It's really hosting championships for scholarships. I probably should have mentioned I did myself receive the Evans Scholarship. Caddied here locally at Riverside Golf Club and received the scholarship to attend Indiana University.
It's a life-changing scholarship. I think everyone could be very proud by supporting the championship. Whether you're pursing hospitality or coming out to any of our championships, we're giving back to the game of golf with the scholarships.
So that's why we call it the Evans Scholars Invitational, and that's really what the week will be all about, except Thursday through Sunday seeing some exceptional players like my next guest up here.
Doing a little Q and A, fireside chat without the fireside, with Dylan Meyer. For many of you here today, our next guest needs no introduction. You've been covering his golf career since he first began making a name for himself at the University the Illinois.
For all of us at the WGA, Dylan seems more like family. He's enjoyed great success in our other amateur events, beginning in 2013 when he finished runner-up in the Western Junior at Meridian Hills, Indianapolis.
In 2016, Dylan matched the biggest win of his amateur career win the Western Amateur at Knollwood Club in Lake Forest.
Defeated another local Doug Ghim, Vanderbilt all-American, Will Gordon, and medalist Sam Horsfield in match play, to become the first golfer from the University of Illinois ever to win the Western Amateur.
That same year, Dylan advanced to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Amateur at Oakland Hills. Just an exceptional summer of amateur golf.
During his career at the University of Illinois, Dylan was a three-time all-American; a 2017 Big 10 Player of the Year; 2017 Ben Hogan Award finalist; three-time all Big 10.
Dylan turned pro in 2018. In that year, he finished tied for 20th at the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock. Hopefully can hear a little bit more about that experience. He made six cuts out of ten on the PGA TOUR in 2018, which is great.
At this point in time, I would like to introduce Dylan Meyer. Dylan, come on up. (Applause.)
We're going to do a little bit of Q&A, with you but first and foremost, why don't you tell us about this year interest kind of what you been up to on tour.
DYLAN MEYER: So this year I've been on the Web.com Tour. It's been kind of a rough start for me this year. Last couple weeks I been finally playing some really good golf. The scores really haven't caught up yet, but I'm really excited for this week in Kansas City. I'm playing in the Web.com event there this week, and I'm ready to get after it and ready to play some good golf and put my name on a leaderboard.
VINCE PELLEGRINO: Excellent. So you've had success on the North Shore of Chicago at the Western Amateur at Knollwood. What's it going to be like teeing up her at the North Shore and being from the University of Illinois and teeing it up in inaugural Evans Scholars Invitational.
DYLAN MEYER: You know, Chicago has been great to me, especially the North Side. I've played a lot of good golf here. There is a ton of Illini fans, which is great. I feed off a good crowd.
I think my play in the NCAAs at Rich Harvest, at the Western Am, the Western Junior also, I mean, just having people that are there to follow me, I've been able to play my best golf.
So being up here for this tournament at the Glen Club is going to be fantastic for myself and family and friends.
VINCE PELLEGRINO: So you obviously turned professional in 2018. What's that transition been like from amateur to professional? You've had some good success in the amateur ranks, but turning professional did anything surprise you? What's different about it?
DYLAN MEYER: Well, in amateur golf to professional golf you're an individual. I mean, that never changes, but it's the team aspect and playing for the University of Illinois. That was different, because you had coach there every single day telling you how to practice, what to do, and you had basically six or seven other guys that truly cared about what you were doing and how you do it.
Now as a professional, you're the only one that cares, really the only one that matters to you. So that's kind of hard. It's lonely. Being a professional golfer is a very lonely sport. It's a very lonely job.
But that's been the one hard thing in the transition because you don't really have a team there. I'm starting to learn how to go about that, how to practice, use the things I've learned at school to make myself better.
VINCE PELLEGRINO: But you've got your caddie, right?
DYLAN MEYER: Do have a caddie, yes.
VINCE PELLEGRINO: That's what we're all about here at the Western Golf Association. What's been your favorite moment so far your professional career?
DYLAN MEYER: It had to be an 18 on the final round of Shinnecock at the U.S. Open. I had a two-footer for birdie to get me into the top 20; nailed it. I think there was like 3,000 people right there in the stands watching, and that was a pretty cool moment, pretty incredible.
So s having that as my final putt as my first professional event just kind of gave me a lot of confidence moving forward. I played well the rest of that summer based off what I did there.
VINCE PELLEGRINO: So tell us a little bit more about Shinnecock and your experience. You said it was your first professional event. Talk about just jumping into the deep end at a U.S. Open. Tell us all about Shinnecock and your experience there at the U.S. Open.
DYLAN MEYER: Well, many of you know I love a good challenge. I love jumping in there; I love being able to compete against the best in the world. I'm not shy of competition by any means. I got to play a practice round with Dustin Johnson, nine holes; played with Stricker; played with Jason Day.
So I put myself in positions to be playing with guys that have won a lot of golf tournaments in their professional career. That way when I stepped up on the first tee and if I got to the weekend, I'm not going to be nervous because I played with the best in the world. What's the difference? Now it's just another round of golf.
Man, Shinnecock was great. It's a really good layout, a really good track. I was very nervous on the first tee shot, but after that I was all about having fun. It was a great moment. To be in a major championship for my first professional event was eye opening. I didn't realize how tired I would be after that one.
I was just really enjoying the people more than anything.
VINCE PELLEGRINO: So does that style of golf course, and maybe with the setup at a U.S. Open, suit your game versus what you would see week in and week out on the Web.com or PGA TOUR?
DYLAN MEYER: Absolutely, yeah. Hard, firm, and fast. When I won the Western Am at Knollwood, that's exactly what it was.
VINCE PELLEGRINO: Pretty sure we killed the greens that week.
DYLAN MEYER: Thank you, it benefited me. Yeah, no, hard, firm, and fast. I love that. It eliminates half the field and they're all complaining. If you heard the guys on Saturday, they would talk about how hard it was, how tough it was. I knew I had the upper hand going into Sunday just because of that of.
It's a really good feeling knowing I can have confidence going into events like. Out here on the Web it's a little different. You have to shoot at least 20-under to have a chance to win, so that's been a little bit of a different change for me to get used to. I'm definitely getting the hang of it. Definitely have to be a touch more aggressive than I have been the past, but I am definitely ready for this challenge in my life.
VINCE PELLEGRINO: So you talk a little bit about having the confidence, you know, really going into a U.S. Open or Web.com event based on the style of golf course. How does play into your confidence level knowing at maybe a U.S. Open, Hey, if I shoot -- 1-over this year won the championship at Shinnecock versus the Web.com. The mentality has to be different going into each specific event based on the golf course. How do you prepare for that? And really, I mean, there is all the talent in the world out there on the Web.com, but confidence and your mentality means a lot.
DYLAN MEYER: Yeah, confidence is the No. 1 thing, especially the Web.com. You have to have confidence to shoot 20-under. There is no question, no way around it. You can't comment just be like, I don't know if I can hit this shot, because you're then you're going to hit the shot.
But, yeah, confidence is everything. If you know you can do it you're going to do it. That's the main thing. Everyone -- you're out there for a reason. We're professional golfers. Guys like Doug Ghim, Scottie Scheffler, Nick Hardy, I mean, we're all out there, we're all playing. We competed against each other in college and now we're at this level.
We know we can play golf. It's just a matter of who has the confidence to put themself at the top of the leaderboard day in and day out. That's what I'm finding out and trying to keep building off.
VINCE PELLEGRINO: So you've had some great support from the Illinois golf fans. You mentioned the NCAA at Rich Harvest Farms, and there was a lot of orange and blue out there; there was a lot of orange and blue at Exmoor when we had the Constellation Senior Players Championship last year when Coach Small played.
What are you expecting to see out here at the Glen Club with the Illini?
DYLAN MEYER: I'm hoping see a lot of fans. I am hoping to see a lot of people in orange and blue. I know it's not going to be quite as much as Rich Harvest Farms because that was a national championship. The whole thing with NCAA, that's just a little bit different part of fandom.
But just the die-hard loyals. Those are the people that are gate. They come out and watch every single sport of Illini athletics: baseball, to us in golf, to tennis, to track, I mean, they view everything. Those people are the ones that go unseen because they don't really go to all the big sporting events all the time, but it's those unsung heros like that that truly mean a lot to myself, and how I've furthered my career as a professional golfer.
VINCE PELLEGRINO: It's got to mean a lot, especially if you have a big crowd and you've got them all in the orange and blue out here. Does that help with your mentality or confidence? Just nice to have people cheering you on?
DYLAN MEYER: Definitely helps with the confidence. You know, I've always played a little bit better with a bigger crowd. It's always been my thing, is just like, What am I going to do for them right here? I am about to stuff it to like three feet and just make this birdie and go to the next hole and do it all over again.
Yeah, it's just one of those things where I'm really excited to have Illini fans come out and support not only myself, but this event and the Evans Scholars and Western Golf Association. I think what you guys do is fantastic, and I think they'll see that once they come out here.
VINCE PELLEGRINO: Really, we've seen you in your junior career at the Western Junior, obviously the success you had at the Western Amateur. What's it mean to play in another WGA event? Maybe just talk a little bit about your experience with Western Golf Association.
DYLAN MEYER: It means a lot, because really the Western Junior at Meridian Hills was really my first big time event. Being able to get in through the exemption was huge for me, because finishing in runner-up, that opened up so many doors for me to play in the rest of the events, the big time junior events at that time.
At that point in time I was committed to Illinois beforehand, so being able to hit the scene committed and going Illinois really gave me a lot of confidence. Being able to play in that type of event, the Western Junior, just gave me a lot of confidence. Playing in the Western Am obviously did the same thing for me. It put me in the position I am today.
WGA has been a place for me to springboard my career and I'll never forget that. I mean, this is my second home. WGA, Evans Scholars, Chicagolands, definitely my second spot to Evansville.
I'm really happy and excited to get this opportunity, and hopefully this is another springboard for my professional career.
VINCE PELLEGRINO: And then we'll see you at the BMW Championship.
DYLAN MEYER: That's correct, yeah.
VINCE PELLEGRINO: So have you played the Glen Club before? Do you know much about it? Do you feel like a Tom Fazio designed golf course suits your game.
DYLAN MEYER: I've never played here. Practiced out her a few times with Nick Hardy. I know there is a lot of history behind this golf course. Having Mike Small's plaque downstairs is pretty cool to see when you walk in through the hallways, because you know he's a pretty big legend around the state of Illinois when it comes to golf. So that was cool to see that.
And, yeah, I just heard it's a really good track, really good golf course. Like I said, there is going to be obviously a ton of birdies out here. I hope that we set it up a little bit tougher than just a bunch of birdies, but that's just me.
VINCE PELLEGRINO: I'm sure we can talk to a few people about that. No, it'll be a great venue for the best players on the Web.com. You talked a little bit about really golf being an individual sport. Obviously you've got your team and instructors and caddie, et cetera. Obviously this event is all about caddying and raising money for the scholarship. Can you just describe the relationship between the player and the caddie and on the PGA TOUR?
DYLAN MEYER: You know, it's a unique one because you're spending five hours or more a day with one another, and then sometimes in practice rounds it's seven. This is the person you're with pretty well seven days a week. You have to really become best friends with this person, really get to know one another.
And recently I've been kind of doing some local caddies because I just now got my buddy that was on the bag for me at the Western Am, he is now going to be caddying for me full time. We have a pretty special bond going back to high school golf, so we're best friends.
It's a matter of who you want to spend a lot of your time with. It's definitely a unique relationship because you get to talk about each and every aspect of life out there on the course, and they're there to battle with you. I mean, that's just a reality of it.
Not many two people are inside the ropes seeing what you do as a professional and what's the thought process behind it. The caddie is truly the one person that knows how you tick. I mean, over the course of time they understand what gets to you play good, what are the right things to say.
It's ease just a bond that's hard to top. People don't realize that. That's why your guys' program is so great, is because it also propels kids, the Evans scholars, to go to college and develop relationships with the people that they caddie for in an 18-hole round of golf.
I mean, you develop so many relationships through that, and that's awesome.
VINCE PELLEGRINO: That's what the program, our program is all about. We just appreciate you being here today. We look forward to a great championship in a couple weeks.
I think we can open it up for a few questions out to Dylan. If anybody has any questions, we can pass a mic around or you can scream them out and I can repeat them for you.
VINCE PELLEGRINO: Yeah, and I think the setup is always going to be based on the weather. You can sell the set the golf course up, and I think the goal every week is to set it up fast, firm. But if you get weather like we've had, and especially early in the year, it's going to be soft conditions.
So when you get a golf course like this where off the tee it's pretty generous, and these guys are good. I think it is entertainment. At the end of the day, it's entertainment. I think the idea is to have a good, competitive golf course that is set up firm and fast, like Dylan likes it.
But at the end of the day, if you get any rain -- and it's going to be early. It's going to be May 20th through the 26th, so it's not going to get that opportunity to be like a mid-August championship.
I think maybe Dylan can talk about this a little bit. Going into a round he's talked about how on the Web.com you have to go low to claim the title. Based on the golf course condition, I think you'll probably have a different mentality going into the round.
From a Web.com perspective, they're going to set it up tough but fair. At the end of the day, give the golf fans of Chicago really some excitement out there.
Dylan, I don't know if you want to comment on that at all.
DYLAN MEYER: Right. Like you said, it's all depending on weather. That's one of the main things they really focused on. They can make it really hard if they wanted to, but they don't want to do that because they know the survival of the Web.com is really the attraction of people making birdies and the guys showcasing their abilities.
That's what people want to see. People want to see birdies. They don't want to see people grinding out pars each and every day. That was kind of like the criticism at the U.S. Open. It was really difficult and the viewers didn't like it too much.
They are starting to see more tournaments trend more towards the birdies, and it's good for the game of golf I believe because it's opening up a whole new demographic and viewership.
VINCE PELLEGRINO: I imagine this week in Kansas City it's going to be a little bit -- there is rain this week and you're going to have to fire at the pins this week when you're playing down there.
DYLAN MEYER: Yep, that's the forecast for the next couple days.
Q. Dylan, so how did you setup the practice rounds at the U.S. Open? Is it literally just signing something up, and do you have any stories from playing with DJ, Stricker, J. Day?
DYLAN MEYER: Well, there is a signup sheet that you go through at registration, and you just kind of put your name down. I saw that DJ had nobody next to him and it wasn't blocked off, so I just kind of put my name there.
I was just randomly playing on the Sunday like before the Monday of the week to start the event, and one random guy was coming up behind me; it was Jason Day. I was watching. I was like, All right. See if you wants to join up.
Joined up, played like six holes, so it was really cool to tap into their knowledge of professional golf, how they go about practice rounds.
DJ was pretty interesting because he does a lot more than you think he does. He's smarter than what you think. Let's just go with that. He goes about his practice rounds like a true professional. That's why he wins a lot and is in contention all the time. He knows exactly what he wants to do on a golf course because he plans it out Monday through Wednesday.
That was honestly impressive, and the one thing I took away from playing a practice round with those guys.
Q. Dylan, first off how much pride is there in seeing the streak of Big 10 conference championship victories continue even after you moved on? And second of all, if you have any great stories you can tell us about winning the Western Amateur and that week was like at Knollwood.
DYLAN MEYER: It's great seeing those guys win the fifth one in a row. That's just our tradition. We win Big 10 titles. That is just plain and simple. That's all I'm going to say about that one.
And then the Western Am, you know, winning that event was incredible, because standing on 17 being 1-up with two to play, hit a really good shot into the hole. Hit a 4-iron. I remember that.
I had like a 30-foot putt. You know, watching Horsfield I wish would've came town 18 because would've been a little bit more fun, more exhilarating.
I hated seeing him struggle chipping it back and forth. You don't want to see someone lose that way. It was really heartbreaking, but when he took off that hat and we didn't finish the hole, didn't let me putt, I was like, This is real. Like it's happening right now. I just won the Western.
Didn't really sink in until a couple days later heading up to the U.S. Am. I was like, Wow, I just won a really top-notch amateur event. This is really going to propel myself and give me a lot of confidence going into the U.S. Am, which is another stroke play/match play format, which I did play well.
Yeah, that was -- definitely that No. 17 was a big moment for myself, yeah.
Q. How much do you stay in touch and Coach Small, and what kind of guidance, if you do? What kind of pep talk would you expect for this event from him?
DYLAN MEYER: I talk to coach frequently. He's the reason I'm here today. You know, he offered me a scholarship. Took me into the Illini culture. I came into the Illini culture after one year. I was stubborn. I didn't want it listen, but I'm very happy that I did.
So staying in contact with him is very important. He's part of my team for success. If coach was here right now he would tell me that nobody cares, only you. Just go get it done. And then if you go get it done, nobody will care tomorrow. Go get them next week. That's exactly what he would do, and that's the one thing I always loved about coach. He kept it real all the time. Never fluffed anything up. Told you exactly how was it, and that's exactly how I expect him to tell me now.
VINCE PELLEGRINO: Any other questions for Dylan? Everybody is eager to get on the golf course. Dylan, thanks so much for being here and your time. We look forward to a great championship week. Thanks.
DYLAN MEYER: Thank you.
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