Media Center Interviews

March 29, 2023

Pre-Tournament Interview with Cole Hammer

CARL PAULSON: Cole Hammer is the man that is sitting down with Dennis and we are excited to see what is happening in his world right now. Played eight events on the PGA TOUR, one top-10, that was at the RSM. He's missed four cuts, he's made four cuts and he's getting ready to play in his ninth event.

Hey, there's a big carrot at the end of this racetrack here this week and that is a green envelope with an invitation to the Masters tournament with a win this week, so we'll see how Cole does.

Cole, how are you? It's good to see you, buddy.

COLE HAMMER: Doing great, guys. How are y'all?

CARL PAULSON: Fantastic. It's that time of year, man, we're getting right into the first major championship and all eyes are on San Antonio and the Valero Texas Open to see if somebody's going to claim that last spot, DP.

DENNIS PAULSON: You had 19 starts so far now, so there should be that comfort level a little bit. You've played with enough guys out here and that part of it. Is that part of it kind of behind you now, that comfort level out here and how to travel the Tour and all that stuff, because that's part of it really, isn't it, coming from college?

COLE HAMMER: Yeah, there's no question. I was just saying to someone earlier that the biggest adjustment was time management and learning how to travel on my own and whatnot.

I would hope after 20 starts that I figured it out by now and I think I have. I don't know if I'm 100 percent there yet, but I'm close and I've definitely learned my lessons the hard way. You know, it's been a fun journey, but I've definitely gotten to the point where I know most of the guys out here and they've been great to me. So there is a comfortability just going through check-in and registration and figuring out where to go and who to talk to and whatnot because you're kind of thrust out into a wild world of trying to figure all that out as a rookie.

DENNIS PAULSON: Yeah, you don't have, "Hey, Coach, where's my hotel, what room am I in, where's my airline ticket," right? There's none of that stuff now, it's on you or your agent or whoever's doing it.

That is the part that I thought was the most difficult when I started traveling, because I was playing in Asia and everybody took care of everything for the big travel. I played odd tournaments where I'd fly occasionally, but they were planned way in advance, knew what was going on. And last-minute stuff like you've been doing, getting sponsors exemptions and things like that, it's got to turn around pretty quick and learning that part of it is a much different animal.

COLE HAMMER: Incredibly quick. I remember y'all mentioned my finish at Sea Island. I got into the tournament late Sunday night so I had to scramble together and figure out plans and whatnot. You know, that can be a distraction, but then once the gun goes off on Thursday, you have to channel or switch your focus to just playing golf and sometimes that was hard to do early on. I like to think I'm getting better at that as time goes on now.

DENNIS PAULSON: Well, you've put yourself through the gamut of golf courses on the last three starts on the PGA TOUR, for crying out loud. Playing at Torrey Pines, playing at Bay Hill and then Valspar, three very, very difficult golf courses, and that doesn't change this week, especially with the little bit of wind in the forecast.

Is there a game plan for playing tougher courses? Is it a little bit different than maybe having the mindset of going out to an AmEx and feeling like you've got to birdie every third hole to be in contention?

COLE HAMMER: Yeah, no kidding. I prefer harder golf courses. I just think I typically put the ball in play off the tee and if I go to a place like AmEx and feel forced to make a million birdies, that's typically not my cup of tea.

When there's a little bit of wind and a little bit of strategy, I feel like I focus better and play my best golf. So that is why -- obviously I can't pick and choose every tournament I play as a nonmember begging for exemptions, but I thought Torrey Pines and Bay Hill and Innisbrook were great courses for me. Unfortunately, I didn't play well at Torrey or Innisbrook. I was close at Torrey and kind of got blown away in the second round by the wind. And then played well at Bay Hill for the most part.

Playing well on these harder golf courses is definitely a confidence builder and this week is no different. I've played this course a couple times in college and I've really enjoyed it. It's definitely a driver's paradise. If you can put it in play, then you can really attack it. I'm looking forward to that challenge.

DENNIS PAULSON: I think when you say it's a driver's paradise, but it's still a second-shot golf course, but you have to have a second shot because the greens are pretty technical. I mean, this is probably as technical as the course you played a lot in college there in Austin where they had the Match Play last week. You've got to hit your areas on the green where you can work the ball, get it close to the hole, and if you miss those spots -- I think the toughest part of this golf course, I just moved into town here from California and this is kind of my hang now and you've got to know where -- thanks, yeah, welcome to Texas from California, it's awesome, so happy For all the right reasons. But you've got to know where the wind's at here because two or three yards could mean 30 feet on how close you're going to get it to the hole if you don't carry a ridge and things like that.

COLE HAMMER: There's no question. I was walking around with my caddie on Monday and Tuesday just mapping out all the greens and figuring out where to be and where to miss because, I mean, most greens have quadrants and these greens really don't. There's like, you know --

DENNIS PAULSON: Eight of them?

COLE HAMMER: Eight of them and they all move in different directions and each green seems to fall off on both sides, upside down saucers.

Yeah, there's a lot of strategy that goes into where you're hitting your second shot. A lot of times even with short wedges you're not going directly at the hole, you just want to leave yourself a nice uphill look from somewhere. Luckily, I think the greens I don't think will be too fast this week just to protect from the wind. I was looking at the player advance sheet and I don't think they're going to try to get them over like 11 and a half, which is a little slower than what they typically do on Tour, especially after playing Bay Hill or something like that.

But like I was saying earlier, you can't really get close to any of these pins or play strategically if you're not in the fairway here.

DENNIS PAULSON: Cole, this is the only golf course that I've ever laid up on a putt. I was on the front tier at No. 8, I flew one back to there and it rolled back down to three tiers into the front, and that was back when they had the back of the 8th green shaved all the way down to the 9th tee. And I'm looking at my caddie and I go, I could literally putt this 60 yards over the green onto the 9th tee if I hit this too hard. So I laid up to the second tier and then two-putted from there.

COLE HAMMER: No, you did not.

DENNIS PAULSON: I have never laid up on a putt until that happened. Now, that was 12

years ago, but yeah --

CARL PAULSON: When it first opened.

DENNIS PAULSON: Yeah, I thought they were a tough set of greens.