July 10, 2018
THE MODERATOR: We will go ahead and get started. We'd like to welcome Doug Ghim and Nick Hardy here to the interview room prior to the start of the 2018 John Deere Classic.
Thank you guys for joining us. The tournament is obviously unique in that it offers sponsor invites. (Audio problem.)
Doug, can you talk about how special it is to be here this week?
DOUG GHIM: Incredibly special. You know, it's a blessing to be able to have these opportunities on the PGA Tour, the grandest stage. And to have it so early in my career close to home, means a lot to me.
There has been incredible tournaments here and a lot of people that I looked up to that won this event, whether it was from my school - Jordan Spieth - and Steve Stricker, who is also a local.
It means a lot to me to be able to tee it up this week with some of the best players in the world. Just looking forward to the week.
THE MODERATOR: With that said, Nick, you're making a return here to the John Deere Classic. Jut some comments on being here this week.
NICK HARDY: Yeah, it's always nice coming back here. This is such a great event. So many great people run this event. Mr. Peterson for giving me another opportunity to play here, so honored, grateful.
Awesome, awesome golf course. Great facilities. You know, being in Illinois is definitely close to my heart.
THE MODERATOR: Go ahead and get started with questions.
Q. You played here last year. What mistake did you make last year that you're not going to make this year?
NICK HARDY: Honestly, probably got to make sure I keep up with my eating on the golf course and hydration. Last year I remember it being pretty hot.
I don't know, I don't think I kept up well enough with making sure I'm well fed and hydrated.
Q. You guys are in a little different situation, pro, amateur. Talk about what it is you want to get out of this event, how you approach it...
DOUG GHIM: Sorry, are you saying that I'm an amateur?
Q. Both pros.
DOUG GHIM: Okay.
Q. What would make this a successful week for you guys?
DOUG GHIM: You know, it's kind of a dicey topic because obviously I would love to contend this week and be in contention. Obviously everyone comes here to try and win. These are the best players in the world and I'm testing my game against them. I've only had a couple opportunities to be able to put my game against theirs. It's difficult and very hard.
If anything, I'm just trying to learn as much as I can. I know that if I can get comfortable and play the way that I know that I can play, then I could potentially contend.
I guess it's just me trying to learn as much as I can as fast as I can. If I can do that, maybe I'll be late on Sunday with a chance.
NICK HARDY: Yeah, I think like Doug said, trying to get in contention on the weekend, get into one of those final group on Saturday and Sunday, would be a great experience I think.
Obviously making the cut, but getting into one of final those groups is another animal I think and getting to showcase it against the best in the world and lay it out Saturday and Sunday, it's special.
Q. Doug, what specifically have you learned from your experience at Travelers Quicken Loans? As you said, you've got a couple chances out here. What have you taken from the last couple tournaments here?
DOUG GHIM: Just that it's not that different than college golf. In college we play a lot of tour courses, whether they're like major championship courses -- only difference really is the competition is a little bit steeper.
You know, the leaderboards are a bit more bunched up. You make a bogey, instead of falling five or six spots could be 15, and in some cases 20 depending where you are on the leaderboard.
You know, just to be able to put my head down and play good golf and worry about what the next shot is going to be instead of the significance of each shot or how different everything is. It's the same game. There is just maybe a couple more people watching.
But, you know, you really just kind of have to stay in the present as much as you can and just worry about leaving your ball in the best position and posting a number.
I think if you can take out the significance of each shot and just focus on that, I would be able to have success.
NICK HARDY: Yeah, I think you got to put it aside for sure, find a way to put it aside. Obviously out here you're playing for a lot at stake. I think everyone realizes that, but you got to focus shot by shot for sure. Try to make the best shot you can at any given time.
DOUG GHIM: Yeah, I was talking to Andrew Landry yesterday about how tough it is out here and just some of the things he said about just like getting status, priority number, and the web.com finals and all that stuff.
At the end of it all he looked at me and said, Winning takes care of everything. Playing good golf takes care of everything. I think as long as you kind of narrow your focus each week and try to get in contention and play well and set aside everything else, those things come to you if you're playing well.
It's already hard enough to win out here. Why add all these other variables to it? Just trying to go out there and play the best you can and post a number through four days; maybe it will be enough, maybe it won't. Just try and do the best we can.
Q. (Regarding hiring a professional caddie/taking his dad off the bag.)
DOUG GHIM: It was a tough decision. It was a tough conversation. He's been there every step of the way, and I feel like when I had turned professional it was just -- during Travelers it was a difficult week for me because there were so many different things changing.
I could feel the disappointment that he wasn't caddying. Kind of weighed on me a little bit. Felt like I wanted to play well that much more to make him feel better.
It just wasn't a great mindset to be in going into that week. It's been tough, but it's definitely better now. Just looking forward to having these opportunities and hopefully having a good week this week.
Q. Was it just trying to kind of further yourself? How did that come about?
DOUG GHIM: Well, playing in the Masters kind of opened my eyes to what professional caddying was like. I just wanted to try it. I know that down the line if I ever need my dad to be on the bag he would be there in a heartbeat.
I was notified that Lance was available. Hearing his credentials, where he's been, who he's caddied for, felt like it would be a good opportunity to get a taste of what professional caddying is like.
It's difficult. And for my dad to be there, you know, there are so many nuances that are difficult to pick up. Like if a player is hitting out of a bunker and he's still away, then his caddie won't rake the bunker and my caddie will have to step in and rake the bunker. Small nuances you have to pick up.
I was picking them up and notifying him. Hey, dad, you got to go wash this guy's ball. You know, just like that added thing to it. It's tough. It's tough for anybody.
So I also didn't like the feeling of having my dad kind of in this like laboring position. It's tough on him. During the Masters it was like he had to take off the jumpsuit to get into the clubhouse and then put it back on if you wanted to be on the range.
I felt like it would have just been better for him to be my coach and my father and be able to step every way with me. You know, unfortunately can't be there on the course with me, but I know he's always out there on the sidelines rooting for me.
DOUG GHIM: Yes.
DOUG GHIM: There is just not a whole lot of room. I mean, the rough is kind of thicker this year. I wasn't here last year. I don't know how thick the rough was.
But for someone like me who doesn't bomb it, it's tough to get through the rough if you don't get a good lie.
But it's just kind of the angle. If you're on the right side it opens up the green, but the thing is there are trees in the way, so you can't really curve the ball much out of rough being as thick as it is. So then you're just basically laying up because the water would be in play.
But then if you're on the left side the water sticks out, so from the rough you can't stop the ball quick enough if you land it on the green. It might go through the green, because if you try to run it up, the fairway is only like six or seven yards wide and it brings the water into play.
So a lot of it is there is just not a lot of bailout. If you miss the green right the whole green slopes towards the water. You just have to get up there and hit a really good tee ball.
Even if you're in the fairway, again, it's not an easy shot. You're trying to hit it in the center of the green and give yourself as outside look for birdie and a good look for par.
I guess my plan is just trying to do that: hit as good of a tee ball as I can, and if I'm not in a good position, I'm just going to have to take my medicine and leave it in a spot where I think I can make par.
Q. Nick, same question for you.
NICK HARDY: Yeah, like Greg said, I think you got to hit a good tee shot. Depending on where the pin is, I think you got to kind of curve a 9-iron or an 8-iron in there. That's the only way to get it close.
The back left pin on Sunday I think there is a top ridge back there. I think it's tough to get it and squeeze it back there because you got long in play, too.
So like Doug said, there is not too much room. If you're in the right rough you got to hope you got an opening to get on the green. Left bunker is not easy either.
Q. Can each you of talk about the other and when you encountered each other, any matches you might have had.
NICK HARDY: Yeah, I think we were like ten years old, right?
DOUG GHIM: I believe it was 12.
NICK HARDY: 12?
DOUG GHIM: It was at Glenview Park.
NICK HARDY: Yeah.
DOUG GHIM: Yeah, I remember that.
NICK HARDY: No, I actually remember that, too.
DOUG GHIM: He was legitimately wearing his baseball like uniform coming from a baseball game or something. He's got his golf shoes on and I was like, Who is this guy? (Laughter.)
Believe it or not, I was way bigger than he was at the time and I hit it way further than he does, and now it's kind of the other way around.
NICK HARDY: I remember Doug didn't come play Illinois Junior Golf until kind of later. I think I started a little before him, you know, in the IJGA.
Honestly, I was like winning a lot of these tournaments and Doug came along and stole some of my trophies. I'm like, What, is this?
DOUG GHIM: Yeah, we've had some really good battles over the years. I mean, I guess one of them was the Chick Evans final. Oh, my gosh.
NICK HARDY: Yeah.
DOUG GHIM: I think I got off to a super -- we were in a final and I think I got --
NICK HARDY: We were also like 14 years old with 18 year olds.
DOUG GHIM: It was like the youngest final.
NICK HARDY: We were both about five feet tall and hitting it 220 off the tee.
DOUG GHIM: Yeah. I was like 3-up through 8 and then I made like five birdies in a row to go 2-up or something.
Then I think I made like two or three birdies coming down the stretch. Then we got to the last hole...
NICK HARDY: He was 1-up, I think.
DOUG GHIM: Yeah. I hit like a huge drive, he in the rough, and laid it up across the fairway into the rough again. Had like 180 from the rough, terrible lie, and he hits it to like two feet.
His dad starts running up and down the cart path like, I can't believe it. I hit my wedge to like ten feet, and unfortunately I dropped a bagger.
NICK HARDY: Yeah.
DOUG GHIM: But it was a lot of fun. Actually, a lot of my success I attribute to our battles. It was nice to have someone to compete with day in and day out. Seemed like every junior tournament, if there was more than one round and they start pairing it by score, Nick and I were always in the final group together and it was always me or him winning.
It taught me a lot about handling pressure and just trying to win tournaments. I still credit it to that.
NICK HARDY: Yeah, I mean, Doug and I kind of have gone up through the ranks together everywhere. I mean, first college golf tournament, you know, high school golf, ever since we were nine, like we said.
But having a familiar face like Doug definitely kind of makes it feel like, Oh, yeah. We're going through this again and again.
Yeah, so I mean, we've competed against each other everywhere we go. It's not really a surprise now that we see each another at these tournaments.
Q. (Regarding golf in Illinois.)
DOUG GHIM: Yeah. It's pretty crazy to think that there hasn't been any because we have such good golf. Obviously don't have a lot of time to play it depending on the weather.
I think with me and Nick doing the stuff that we've done through college, high school, and then now...
I think in a sense there was like this bubble of maybe we're not a golf town or whatever, we don't produce many. I think the fact that now we're starting to, and there are a lot of guys -- even guys like Brian Bullington who Monday qualified yesterday. We've got some good players. Tee-K Kelly doing really well.
We're good golfers, and we've got to start believing in that. Hopefully a lot of the high school kids in Illinois and junior golfers are starting to taking it a little bit more seriously and we'll see a lot more.
NICK HARDY: I agree. I think with all the great golf courses we have and great country clubs you would think there would be more great young talent coming out of there.
Maybe someday Doug and I can do better to grow the game in Chicago. We've had our careers set, and maybe give back to IJGA, Illinois Junior Golf Association, help grow the game more in Chicago.
Q. (Regarding the learning curve when you're first on TOUR.)
DOUG GHIM: I mean, I think time management, energy, just trying to make sure that you don't overwork yourself throughout the week. There is a lot more going on during tour events. You got pro-ams; sometimes you have to make an appearance for sponsors or whatever it may be. Just making sure that you conserve energy when you can and you work very efficiently.
Yeah, in college or junior golf I felt like it was a lot easier to freewheel it because you know like, I'm working towards being a PGA Tour golfer, but if I mess up it's like in my head, That's why I'm not on TOUR yet. I got a lot of work to do.
But when we're teeing it up this week it's like, No, this is the real thing. (Laughter.) There is nowhere to hide. It's just a little bit tougher, but, again, just trying to focus on playing good golf and the golf that I know how to play.
As long as I play to my standards, I know I'll have a good week.
NICK HARDY: Yeah, I think every mistake is just a little bit more identified out here. I think you got to kind of bring your level up because the competition is so much higher. You got to be prepared with everything you do, like Doug said. Rest, hydration, and every shot really matters out here.
Obviously, like we said earlier, out here you move down the leaderboard, up the leaderboard really quick, so I think you really got to be on top of your stuff.
DOUG GHIM: Yeah, I was telling Mr. Peterson earlier that on Sunday I was playing a practice round and I don't think the yardage books are printed yet. So I was out there blindly playing the golf course.
All of a sudden my dad pulls out this yardage book. I was like, Where did you get that? He was like, Remember when we came here in 2011? In 2011 there was an AJGA tournament in Short Hills, just down the street.
We came a bit early so weren't allowed to practice on the course yet. We were just trying to find out things to do, just kind of waste some time. And my dad was like, Well, TPC Deere Run is down there. Want to go see if we can play? I said, Okay, and so we drove down there.
Just coincidentally, it was the media day for the John Deere, and it was Steve Stricker, and I can't remember if it was after his second -- did he win three years in a row? I think it might have been like after his third year in a row.
I was standing there and watching his interviews and thought that was pretty cool. In the player dining room I stepped in and watched the whole interview. My dad bought a yardage book from that day. He said, One day you're going to play here. I was like, I hope so.
I missed the cut that week at the AJGA tournament so didn't feel very good about myself leaving. It's pretty cool to be back seven years later and actually know I'm playing in the John Deere this week.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you guys for coming in. Wish you both the best of luck this week.
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