Press Conference - Tuesday, January 19, 2016
THE MODERATOR: Like to welcome to the interview room at the CareerBuilder challenge for 2016 defending champion Bill Haas. 2-time winner. And this is your 12th appearance in the desert? You've had a pretty good record here. I think you also had a second one year in 2011, maybe, and one missed cut out of those 11 starts previously. So, maybe you could just talk about coming back here to defend again and the state of your game, how would you assess it right now.
BILL HAAS: Yeah, I'm always excited to get back in the desert. I usually use the desert as may place to kind of start the year and practice and I spent a decent amount of time here, other than just this week. So just enjoy it here, and been lucky a few times and it's one of those weeks you got to play well because everybody else seems to go low and make a lot of birdies. So, that's kind of your motivation starting out and been fortunate to putt well a couple weeks.
THE MODERATOR: And you played at Kapalua a couple weeks ago. How was your form? What were you experiencing with your game?
BILL HAAS: The game feels okay. Last year before this tournament I was really struggling, I felt like, and ended up winning. So you just never know. One day something clicks. I would say it's not where it should be, but I don't know that it ever is. On a week to week basis you're always looking for that one thing that's going to add a few yards off the tee or hit your irons or little straighter or putt a little better. So right now there's a few areas of my game I wish were a little better but come Thursday anything can happen.
THE MODERATOR: Before we open up for questions, just a comment on the TPC Stadium Course. I guess you played here in a qualifying school first year that you got out on TOUR. What's it going to be like for you to be playing this tournament on this course again?
BILL HAAS: I've said a few times already that, selfishly, I'm disappointed that it's changed courses, just because I had success on the other courses. But with that said, if this is where the desert wants us to have it, and therefore meaning that allows us to have a tournament, CareerBuilder coming on board and joining, doing it for, setting up for a few years, that's good for me. I enjoy coming here, certainly didn't want to see this tournament disappear or come off the schedule, so if the Stadium Course is where they want it, then I'm happy it's there. I think it's a little more challenging. That's it. I think you still will see guys shoot 65s out there. You might just have to play a little better than you do over at the other ones.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. Questions?
Q. When I talked to you last week you said you might sneak over here on the weekend and get in a round. Have you played both of the courses?
BILL HAAS: Played both the courses. There's a lot of holes -- I thought I would remember every hole from QSchool, but I didn't. On the Nicklaus. I remember the holes on the Stadium. With no wind, like it usually is here, then usually guys will still get the course. But they're definitely longer I felt like on the stadium I'm hitting more mid irons into greens, part of that is I'm getting old, but the other part, I think the Palmer over on the -- they're all the names, I don't know -- but the Palmer where we used to play, the finishing course, I felt like if I hit a good drive, I always had the 8- or 9-iron in, and here I think I have 6- or 7-irons in. Which changes a little bit. You can't be as aggressive sometimes.
Q. I think everybody's focused on the Stadium Course coming back into the event. What's your opinion of the other course over here, the Nicklaus Tournament?
BILL HAAS: I think it's really good. Greens are exceptional. All three courses the greens are firm. So therefore I think you have to drive it in the fairway and I think that's the key for the week. I think the guys that hit a lot of fairways will do well, just because with the surfaces being so pure and there's some shorter holes that you'll be able to take advantage if you're playing from the fairway.
Q. So, not drastic changes from one course to the next, just learning them.
BILL HAAS: I think so. I think most of the players in the field probably played them, I don't think anything's new for anybody. It's still the desert. The ball still flies similar over there. Greens are perfect, just like normal. I don't know, there's definitely a few more, there's a little bit more trouble, I would say. But I don't think it's -- I would be interested to see what the scoring averages are from last year to this year, I don't think they will be drastically different.
Q. How does 17 at Stadium compare to the other 17 Stadium. Seems like a smaller target from a longer yardage. But what's your take on it?
BILL HAAS: I feel like when I played it yesterday, again, and you get on the tee and I guess I remember hitting wedges there or something when I played it. Now it could be a 7-iron with a little bit of breeze in your face, which, if I was designing it, I would say it's a little too long. But it's just, all it is, is you got to hit a good iron shot. So it's going to reward the guy that plays the best and hits good shots. So that's what you want. I think it would be just as good as a hole as a shorter iron, but then again, from 170 yards, that's not an overly long hole. It's like you said, the other Stadium Course is never more than a 9-iron and I enjoy that a little more, I think that's a better design. But I'm not knocking that hole, it's a good hole. No wind, guys will still be hitting, you'll see some of the longer hitters hitting 9-iron there.
Q. Any good stories from that first Q-School experience here?
BILL HAAS: I don't have a good memory here.
(Laughter.) I missed, I think I missed by two at this QSchool. That's all I remember, really. I think that was, I felt like a failure, even though I got my status on the Nationwide Tour and then I was able to get on the PGA TOUR it was a good stepping stone for me, but when you come somewhere to make a cut or to do well, and you don't do it, you have a bad taste in your mouth. But I remember doing good things some holes, I hit some good shots, and hopefully I can change my memory of these courses this week.
Q. When you practiced did you climb down in that bunker on 16?
BILL HAAS: I did. It's just not a place you want to go. I think if you, depending upon your yardage if you can get there then missing a little short and right then you make four from there nine times out of 10. I think you'll see a lot of players hitting it over there right of that green. Because left it, I think guys can get out of it, but you're bringing making a five and a six as opposed to you probably won't be able to get up-and-down.
THE MODERATOR: I think your first year here at this tournament was 2005 and that may have been the last year that your dad played and so do you have any recollection of that event in 2005 when you guys were in the field together? Is there anything that you remember or recall from that episode.
BILL HAAS: Not really. We played a handful of tournaments together when he was still on TOUR. And I was trying to make it out here. We played a dozen or so. I don't remember anything specific. I remember we played practice rounds together and stuff like that, but I can't take much away from that week. But I wish he was here this week.
Q. He's got other tournaments to play in.
BILL HAAS: Yeah.
Q. You did spend some time last week with your coach over at Toscana, Bill Harmon. Is that, was that after the long layoff, was that to maybe change anything or was it just to try and sharpen what you're coming in with?
BILL HAAS: I think every year, this year in December in South Carolina we had pretty warm weather, so I was able to play when I wanted to play. But a lot of times it's cold and you don't get out, I don't get out as much. So I use Toscana and I use the desert as my warm-up for the season. And it's not necessarily to change anything, I mean if I wish I could get 40 yards longer, but you just, you can't just do that.
Q. For guys like you, you're not going to find 40 yards.
BILL HAAS: Right. I don't think, you can't really reinvent anything. I'm just trying to continue what I've always done and always refine just a little bit. What can you do better. It's usually the little things, it's not necessarily a full swing tweak here or there that's going to change your year, but it might be something small that you shave a half a shot around off.
Q. The putt at the Presidents Cup, did that do anything for you or that experience of making a big putt or do you feel like you gained anything from that or was that just one shot a few months ago now?
BILL HAAS: No, that was as much pressure as I've felt on me and my dad and the whole team watching you playing the last hole. That was about as much pressure as I've ever felt. So, to hit a good shot under that gun, I don't think it helps me hit the first tee shot here this week, but let's say I'm one back playing 18 this week, which is a pretty tough tee shot, I can say -- and I may not pull it off -- but at least I can say, well, you've done this before. I think things like that can only help you. I don't think it changed who I was as a player or it's not going to mean, oh, now he's going to win three or four times this year. Hopefully I can, but I don't think it did that for my game. But if anything for me mentally, it made me a little bit stronger of a player. At least I hope so.
Q. Much adieu has been made about the new Stadium Course -- and I apologize for being a couple minutes late -- but what do you think of the new Stadium Course being added to this event and as the defending champ, how do you plan to attack this particular course to defend your title?
BILL HAAS: As I said just a little earlier, the courses I don't think matter a whole lot. You still got to go beat the other guys. I don't think I'm going to, I don't think there's a theory or a game plan that's going to make you do better than the next guy. You just got to execute golf shots. The Stadium Course is a beautiful golf course. 16, 17, 18 are great finishing holes for the tournament. No disappointment amongst all the players. I said personally I was a little disappointed, just because I had success on the other ones. But that's just selfishly talking. It has nothing to do with the tournament itself or the state of the tournament. This is a great venue, the range is perfect, you got two courses right here, with one clubhouse. Great for the fans. I'm glad they're having it here.
Q. How much conversation goes on on TOUR, here in the Coachella Valley we talk a lot about title sponsors changing and things like that and changes to a tournament layout, do the Tour players talk much about that as well and does it matter to you guys if it's the CareerBuilder challenge or the Humana Challenge or any of those details stick out in your mind?
BILL HAAS: No, I don't think the players mind which sponsor, but we certainly enjoy the events and being able to play golf for a living, and without those sponsors, we can't do that. So, it's something that we discussed when it comes to, what can we do to lure these sponsors in or what's holding CareerBuilder back from become a sponsor and now once they have, what can we do to keep them on board. Because without them you can't have the tournament. So, CareerBuilder stepped up and we're happy to be playing here underneath their name and their sponsorship.
THE MODERATOR: Anything further? Bill, we appreciate you coming in and good luck this week.
BILL HAAS: Thanks, guys.