Five most revealing responses from Masters interview room

Rory McIlroy spoke to reporters on Tuesday April 6 at the Masters and he talked about his quest for a "Grand Slam" as well as his visit with Tiger.

Tuesday at the Masters is always a big day for golf writers, with a stream of players making their way into the interview room in the media center at the far end of the driving range at Augusta National.

A lot of questions are asked.

Some of the answers actually are interesting.

Here are the five more revealing responses from this Tuesday’s press conferences.

• Bryson DeChambeau was asked about where the revolution of golf – a revolution he’s leading by virtue of his desire to scientifically maximize his distance – currently stands. His response revealed that while DeChambeau is the big dog now, even he knows his time at the top will one day end.

DeCHAMBEAU: “I’ve had numerous college kids DM [direct message] me on Instagram and ask me, ‘How do I get stronger? How do I get faster?’ So you’re already starting to see it through, from collegiate level all the way to junior golf level.

Bryson DeChambeau reflects on what he learned from his first appearance at Augusta National and discusses the technology side of golf club manufacturing.

“I think as time goes on, there’s not much more to gain from the technology side of golf club manufacturing, building. There are little things we can do, but where the massive gains will be is in athletes. Once you get somebody out here that’s a 7-foot-tall human being and they are able to swing a golf club at 145 miles an hour effortlessly, that’s when things get a little interesting.

“That’s when I’m going to become obsolete …

“Look, there’s still a chipping aspect and there’s still a putting aspect to it, but from a driving aspect, that’s where the gains will be had, is with these athletes coming out in the future. And it won’t stop. There’s just no way it will stop.

“I think it’s good for the game, too. I don’t think it’s a bad thing you’re bringing in and making it more inclusive to everybody when you’re doing that. The athletes are the ones that are going to in the end move the needle in any sport you play, and I think that’s pretty amazing.”

• Rory McIlroy, who could complete the career Grand Slam with a win this week, was asked about peaking for majors. His response included an interesting story about Tiger Woods, still rehabbing from his near-fatal auto accident.

McILROY: “I went over to Tiger’s house a few weeks ago to see him, and in his family room, he’s got his trophy cabinet and it’s his 15 major trophies, I said, ‘That’s really cool. Where are all the others?’

“He said, ‘I don’t know.’

“I go, ‘What?’

“He said, ‘Yeah, my mom has some, and a few are in the office and a few are wherever.’

“I was driving home, and I was thinking — I mean, he talked — that’s all he cared about, all he cared about. So how easy that must have felt for him to win all the others. That was just always in my mind, he talked about these are the four weeks that matter. So the weeks that didn’t matter, you know, he racked them up at a pretty fast clip.
“But I’m just thinking to myself, how easy must that have felt for him if all he cared about were four weeks a year. The other stuff must have been like practice. So that’s like a really — that’s a cool perspective to have, right.

“Yeah, that’s all I could think about on the way home.”

And then McIlroy added with a smile, “And I was glad he was OK, too.”

In other words, 15 majors (three shy of Jack Nicklaus) > 82 career wins (tied with Sam Snead for most in PGA Tour history).

In each of the previous four years, Justin Thomas played practice rounds at Augusta National Golf Club with two former Masters champions — Fred Couples and Tiger Woods.

• Justin Thomas, who has played several practice rounds with Masters champions Tiger Woods and Fred Couples the last few years, was asked whether the Champions Dinner ever came up in conversation – especially as a way for Woods and Couples to needle Thomas, who has not won a Masters and thus not invited to the traditional Tuesday dinner.

THOMAS: “I’m trying to think of a nice way to describe them that I can say on the microphone here.

“As needling as they can be towards me, they have been nice enough to not bring that up. I think they know that I know and that hurts me enough that they don’t need to continuously remind me.

“I would say subconsciously they kind of — in our practice rounds on Tuesdays, you know, it’s like, well, where are you going tonight or whatever? And I’m just like, whatever, I’m done. I get it. You guys are going to the Champions Dinner and I’m eating at my house.

“They have been nice to me and not needled me about that. I was fortunate enough to do a Champions Dinner at the PGA. It was a really, really cool experience and something that you’re a part of forever. Feels like a fraternity. It’s definitely a fraternity I would love to join.

“In terms of a meal, I mean, I don’t think — you don’t care. You could serve water and I would be pleased as long as I’m there because that means that I’ve won the Masters.”

• Speaking of the Champions Dinner, Phil Mickelson was teed up with a question about the dinner. Although the story has been told before, it never gets old hearing it from the three-time Masters champ.

MICKELSON: “I’ll share with you a little funny story from Adam Scott’s victory [in 2013].

“He had this wonderful meal, Australian-themed, and out comes dessert, and it’s pavlova. It’s meringue with some fruit and so forth. … I said, ‘Oh, pavlova, that’s inspired by the great Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, who was touring through New Zealand, Australia, and an Australian chef so inspired by her beautiful movement and tutu, he made a dessert after her.’

Phil Mickelson talks to reporters and dishes on a hilarious Champions Dinner story.

“Chairman Payne looked at me like, what kind of stuff are you spewing here, you know?

“And, no, no, this is true.

“Zach Johnson looks at me, says, ‘I’ve got a hundred dollars that says that’s not right.’

“So everybody is calling me out on my BS. And a lot of times, I am BSing. However, my daughter was a dancer, and she wrote a biography on Anna Pavlova, and I made 32 pavlovas for her class when she was a little girl, and I knew this. And I ended up, you know, being right — which is not often, but I was right on that particular moment.
“Some of these moments that go down in Champions Dinner are special, and that was cuisine-inspired.”

• Oh, and speaking of Mickelson … Webb Simpson was asked about the best advice he received to successfully navigate Augusta National.

SIMPSON: “I actually didn’t get it directly. It was indirectly from Phil Mickelson. He said every hole here gives you a bail-out. Every hole, there’s a safe side of the hole, where that’s not typically thought of at Augusta. Everyone thinks of Augusta as, you miss the green, you’re going to have a really tough chip.

“If you know where to miss it — for example, No. 9. Anywhere left to a left pin is pretty much dead, but if you miss it right of the green, and you got 20 yards over there right of the green — hopefully, you don’t hit any people — but it’s an easy up-and-down.

“So when I took that mentality a few years ago, it really changed the way my bad rounds started becoming even par, 1-over, and my good rounds, I was starting to shoot in the 60s more just because I was playing smarter and missing it where I needed to.”

While Simpson has yet to win the Masters, his results have indeed improved. He missed the cut in three of his first six starts, but in his last three trips to Augusta National, he’s finished T-20, T-5 and T-10.

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