Harris English and Matt Kuchar combined for a 28-under par to win the 2016 Franklin Templeton Shootout at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples.
Afterwards, the twosome took questions from the media, with Dave Senko, the PGA Tour’s Communications Director, acting as the press avail moderator.
Here’s the full transcript:
DAVE SENKO: Harris and Matt, congratulations, win number two in the last four years. Exciting finish. Maybe just some thoughts on your day, especially making the eagle at 17.
HARRIS ENGLISH: Yeah, we got off to a good start. Kuch made some nice birdies on 1 and 2. Jerry and Strick, we knew they were coming in hot. Jerry made eagle on the first hole and it was like, all right, game on. We kind of knew they’re the ones that were kind of right on our heels and we kind of had to play them match play and it was back and forth all day. We had some good action there and it kind of came down to the last couple holes and kind of set up perfect 17 for me. Really reachable par 5 and hit a really good drive off the tee and knew Kuch was in really good position so I could play really aggressive and hit a really good 8iron right where I wanted to and made about a 12footer. So it was good timing.
MATT KUCHAR: That’s the difference in these events. Pulling out some shots like that, getting an eagle, getting that twoshot swing, that’s a big deal. This event comes down to you need to make birdies, you need to make some scores under par, and to do it on the 17th hole today and the position and the situation we were in, it was a battle. We weren’t making a huge number of birdies. It’s not like we were just battling with birdies, it was a fairly challenging day. But for Harris to come through and eagle 17 and give us that oneshot lead, that was it, that was the difference in this week.
MEDIA QUESTION: Were you guys aware that Charley and Billy got to 26?
KUCHAR: Yeah, 26 was never going to scare us. It was a great round, but that was never going to scare. By the time they got to 26, we were basically already at 26 with holes to play, and knowing that, that was never going to affect us. It was an impressive round. I certainly looked up at it and thought, wow, there weren’t a whole lot of really gettable pins. There’s certainly a handful of holes where you’ve got short irons and you think you can make birdie, but there were a lot of holes where I didn’t see a birdie coming.
MEDIA QUESTION: Weather today, a little bit of wind again, much of a factor as much as yesterday?
KUCHAR: Similar to yesterday, similar. It was not an easy day, and with the greens being firm, with the greens being new, some of the pins in some areas where hard to get a ball really close.
MEDIA QUESTION: How’s it feel to end the year with a victory, especially after coming in second the last two years?
KUCHAR: It’s a thrilling event to come out with a win, amazing feeling. I think it’s just such a fun partnership we’ve had. We’ve had such a good run. To have our last four events together, to have our track record be first, second, second, first is quite amazing. It’s really been a great partnership. The seconds are nice, they make for an awfully nice payday, but there’s nothing like claiming that trophy. It’s a great feeling and awfully fun today to play just well enough to claim the trophy.
MEDIA QUESTION: Harris, your thoughts on that?
ENGLISH: Yeah, I feel like winning tournaments like these, I’m coming in a little rusty, but it’s still a golf tournament. You still come out, we’re trying to win this thing. It’s good to have a little momentum going into the offseason. Even though it’s a team event, you still feel pressure, you still feel nerves, you still feel butterflies coming down the stretch. I know I love that feeling, I know Kuch does. It’s awesome to get that. And the more you get that, the better off you are. That’s why I play this game. That’s why I want to play this tournament, to get that. It’s a lot of fun and it’s good to get that momentum going in the offseason. Winning any tournament, it gives you a lot of positive things.
MEDIA QUESTION: A little more interesting on 18 than you guys probably wanted. Just your thoughts on how that played out and with Jerry having the last chance there?
KUCHAR: Yeah, for sure. It’s no fun when somebody is kind of in control and you don’t have control of the situation. They made some amazing plays. For them to save par on 16 was huge. They saved a great par on, I think it was is 13 the par 3? Or 12, 12 made a great save. And so we kind of thought we had a couple chances to maybe sneak another shot ahead and they made some great saves. But then what Jerry did on 16, we knew he was putting well, so to watch his ball roll on 18 on a good line, he started kind of running around like it really had a chance. And a little less speed, it would have forced some extra holes.
MEDIA QUESTION: I know it’s an unofficial event, a small, short field, but how good does it feel to win again. Neither of you guys had a win this season.
KUCHAR: It’s always exciting. The PGA Tour is deep with good players. This field may not have many guys in the top10, but it’s got a lot of good players. To come out and outduel all these guys here, it’s a great feeling. Certainly winning on the PGA Tour is amazing, but to have a partner to play in a fun event to kind of there’s something extra sweet about winning a team event. Ryder Cup, Presidents Cups are always so special playing with partners. Take a lot from this and it’s certainly sweet to have somebody to share the victory. I think that always makes winning more fun. Whether it’s your wife, your kids or if you’ve got a teammate, having them around to share in the victory is a great feeling.
MEDIA QUESTION: I only heard a piece of this on the telecast, did you have a backup set of clubs this week?
KUCHAR: It’s from a long time ago. They’re not my new set. They’ll be with me next year.
MEDIA QUESTION: Talk a little bit about what do you think just seeing the way he played late in that round coming up with the big eagle, what do you see for him in the year to come?
KUCHAR: I know there’s a whole lot of talent there. He can make the game of golf look easy when it’s going well. Certainly for the first two rounds, loved being able to cherry pick on his drives and get to play from where he can hit the ball. The game can seem very easy when he’s driving it well. Watching him roll it, it’s been nice to see the evolution of his game. His short game has tightened up hugely in the last three or four years now. To watch things continue to evolve and get better and I keep watching the game of Harris’ get better and better, it’s fun to see.
MEDIA QUESTION: And Harris, you mentioned that you learned a lot of things from Matt. Can you give an example of that?
ENGLISH: Yeah, I like to bounce a lot of questions off of him about how to hit certain shots. He’s very open to how he does it and kind of helping me to figure out how the best way to hit the shot, especially with short game. He’s probably one of the best on Tour and makes it look very easy. I mean, the chip he hit on 16 was pretty amazing. Very difficult chip, very difficult lie and hits it to two feet. But it’s been fun. I mean, he’s had a lot more experience in this game than me and knows how to play this game, how to troubleshoot and it’s been very good. Not a whole lot of people will give that advice or help guys out, but he’s been extremely nice to me and kind of been a big brothertype figure of helping me out and helping me with my game.
KUCHAR: Some of those little chips are just how to use the bounce around the greens. I think a lot of people are taught to hinge and hold and kind of forward lean and shaft lean and kind of pinching down on the ball. I go about it almost the opposite way. I kind of showed him a few different ways that I almost backwards lean the shaft to hitting the chips. Bunker shots, the same. And then a handful of talking long game, I mostly fade the ball, Harris likes to fade the ball. Just kind of how I see fades happening. They’re fades that start left, they’re not kind of aim left and hit a block fade. I like to hit a fade, I like to think of it as a pull cut. I try to get the ball started left. Some of the little discussions about how I see different shots and how I play different shots, I’ve seen some rub off. And some of the chipping in particular, he’s gotten a whole lot better.
MEDIA QUESTION: Matt, those birdies on 10 and 14, who made those?
KUCHAR: Harris birdied 10. 14’s the par 4, that’s the one I birdied. So Harris hit driver off the tee. We were hoping he could sneak one up real close to the green and put it in the fairway bunker 40 yards out. I hit an amazing long bunker shot to eight feet, certainly not an easy play at all, convert on the birdie. And I was able to put it just on the front edge of 14 in two shots and just a twoputt from there.
MEDIA QUESTION: And then on 10, Harris, you made the birdie on 10?
MEDIA QUESTION: Where will they be celebrating in Sea Island?
KUCHAR: Harris has got a little trip with Helen Marie down south and I’m heading home and I have to make a quick turnaround to L.A. for a Sketchers photo shoot. There’s not too much. I think there’ll be a little celebration here in the next 20 minutes here at Tiburón, but then it will certainly be a merry Christmas around our house. Maybe a few extra presents under the tree.
MEDIA QUESTION: He was really listening to that (referring to Matt’s son.)
KUCHAR: Maybe for mommy.