Press Conference - Tuesday, January 12, 2016
DOUG MILNE: Good afternoon, everybody. My name is Doug Milne. I'm with the communications department of the PGA TOUR, and I'm joined today by defending champion of the Career Builder Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation, Bill Haas. Bill, you also broke through into the winner's circle for the first time on the PGA TOUR in 2010 right there in Palm Springs where you are, and already, one thing I noticed when I was looking through a note, just awfully impressive. Of the 50 competitive rounds you've played in the event, 47 of them have been sub-par scores and two of the three which weren't were even pars. 50 rounds you've only had one over par score there.
So obviously the area means a lot to you with two wins. With that, I'll turn it over to you for a quick comment about being back to defend your title.
BILL HAAS: Yes, Doug. Yeah, I didn't even realize that stat, but it certainly speaks of how comfortable I am out here in the desert, and I use this part of the country as my time to practice and kind of get ready for the year. I guess I say knock rust off, even though we didn't have much of an off-season this year. But it's certainly a place I always look forward to coming and certainly competing.
Like you said, having my first win here and my most recent certainly La Quinta, Indian Wells and Palm Desert, this area is very special to me.
Q. Good weather for you to be out here. In addition to the two wins, you've got a playoff loss and a tie for sixth here in the last five years. Is there something just about the first part of the season or the golf courses or something has you turned on when you come out here?
BILL HAAS: I don't know exactly because if it was something that I was doing or something that I thought I was working on that was working better than other weeks, I certainly would apply that to more than just this tournament, because I'd love to compete in every event like I seem to do out here. But it might have something to do with just being comfortable in Palm Springs or Palm Desert or La Quinta. This area, I've just always enjoyed coming. I've said if I could have a second home anywhere, it would probably be out here.
Also, the way my game is, maybe the lack of wind, which is usually the case here, the type of grass which is overseeded rye and the greens are always perfect, that must have all catered to my game, because, like you said, I certainly have enjoyed playing here and enjoyed some success. That doesn't take anything away from this year. I'd really love to play well again this year.
Q. As a quick follow-up, how much of it might have to do with the fact that you spent a little time with Bill Harmon just before this tournament opened?
BILL HAAS: Absolutely. I'm out here. We rented a place this year, we're out here at Toscana Country Club, and Billy, the guy I work with and he's worked with my dad for so many years. My dad's actually out here as well. So today we were practicing together, and tomorrow we're going to do the same.
So just having that comfort level. My great uncle, Bob Goalby, he's on the range today. Having those guys, the guys that I look up to the most in this game, probably, more than anyone else that plays golf, these are the people that I look up to the most, having them here has got to be a big part of the reason I have success for sure.
Q. I wanted to ask, if you could talk in general about your 2015 season, and then again, looking ahead to 2016?
BILL HAAS: 2015 meaning ending at the TOUR Championship?
BILL HAAS: Yeah, I was pleased. The goal for me the last few years is to make it to the TOUR Championship and certainly winning here last year makes that goal fairly attainable just by getting off to such a good start. But it also keeps you focused on staying in that top 30 and making it to the TOUR Championship. That final 30 does a whole lot for your year and for your game, and you're playing against the best players week-in and week-out, so that was a goal achieved. Then obviously making the Presidents Cup team that my dad captained, ended up having to get picked by my dad, but that was a huge goal of mine all year was to make that team. So to be a part of that team, and for all of us to win it for my dad, that's not something that my family will ever forget. That was a very special week for us.
Q. This year, any particular goals in mind?
BILL HAAS: Yeah, 2016, certainly I didn't play it -- after the Presidents Cup, I took a little break just because I don't want to say worn out. I still feel somewhat youthful that I can still compete with these young guys, but I just wanted to take a little break from the travel, going over to Korea and all that. And I hadn't played much, and I had seen my ranking drop a little bit. So that's kind of firing me up right now to go out and try to get that back up into the top 25 in the world. And certainly my goal is to win. Then the TOUR Championship and Ryder Cup being the ultimate goal for the year.
I've yet to make a Ryder Cup team, and I'd really like to do that and put that on my resume.
Q. Speaking of the young guys, you were just in Hawaii. Some guy named Spieth just keeps rolling along out there. Can you talk a little bit about the young guys and how it portends for what we're looking for on the TOUR in 2016?
BILL HAAS: Yeah, I mean, the TOUR is full of young guys, it seems. Young guys that are dominating, I guess. Jason Day certainly Rory McIlroy, obviously, Jordan Spieth. Then I played with Brooks Koepka one of the rounds last week. He strikes it as good as anyone on the TOUR. I played with another kid on Sunday, Smylie Kaufman, another young winner who is just now scratching the surface out there, but has already won. So when you see young talent like that come out winning and just not even being scared of winning multiple times, it's exciting for the game. Certainly it motivates me to try to keep hanging in there with those guys.
I think it's going to be great. I mean, Jason Day is so fun to watch. Rory McIlroy is one of the best ever. Jordan Spieth. He's probably already a Hall of Famer. I mean, it's a fun time to be a golf fan, and certainly even much more fun to be playing against those guys right now.
Q. I just wanted to follow up on what you mentioned about motivation from the younger guys and also, too, you had talked about the Ryder Cup being a goal. Man, just with the history of that event and what it represents, what would a Ryder Cup or potential Ryder Cup berth mean to you if it comes about for you?
BILL HAAS: For me it just means those team events are just a reward for great play, and you get to represent your country in the sport that you play that you love to play. What it would mean is you don't just get picked. You don't just make the team because of anyone's name or anything like that, you earn it, and it validates hard work and being successful.
That's kind of my goal is I feel like I've knocked on that door a couple times and just kind of haven't quite made the team. They're hard to make. You've got to be top 12 player in the country. Like we were just talking about the youth in the game and how good it is, which is great, it's great for the game, it's great for our country, it's great for the growth of the game. I'm just looking forward to trying to make that team.
For me personally, it's just that would be a stepping stone for me to show that I'm still improving.
Q. There are two new courses at the tournament this year, the TPC Stadium Course and the Nicklaus Tournament course. Don't know how much you've had a chance to play those, but can you comment on having those in the rotation this year?
BILL HAAS: Yeah, well, first, I meant to mention that obviously for me, this being a place that I enjoy coming to and have had success, I can't be happier that Career Builder has stepped up and being the sponsor, the title sponsor, here for at least another five or six years. So that's great for this event.
I remember watching my dad compete here all of those years, and certainly I don't want to see this tournament go anywhere, so I'm pumped that Career Builder jumped on board. Also, those two new courses, I played Q-school there, I think, in 2004. So I do know there are two courses and I have not played -- I think I played the Stadium Course one time since then, but have not played either course since then.
So this weekend I plan on getting out there and getting a couple rounds in before the amateurs get out there and take the course over earlier in the week.