July 12, 2013
Flash interview with:
MODERATOR: Next on flash, Gary Koch. 2 under par, 68 today, 1 under for the Championship.
GARY KOCH: Thank you very much. Great to be here. It's going to be really good to not have to work too much tomorrow, I hope. We'll see what my boss thinks.
But hopefully, my tee time will be late enough that I may be able to just get up there at the very end of the telecast. That would be all right, and I think all my buddies at NBC are happy with it as well.
Q. Does your pay decrease incrementally?
GARY KOCH: No, fortunately, I have a per event pay scale. Even if I work just a few minutes, that will be included as an event. So very fortunate.
Q. After climbing hills, you don't mind climbing the tower?
GARY KOCH: Well, the tower is air conditioned. Once you get up in there, it's not bad at all. I had probably the best of all worlds here going in. If I didn't make it, I was going to be sitting in an air conditioned tower over the weekend talking about these guys. If I did make it, I get to play some more, kind of the ideal situation.
I think that probably helped a lot. The expectations were not too great.
Q. Did you surprise yourself?
GARY KOCH: I shouldn't say I've surprised myself because I have been playing well when I've played. I haven't played much. I've played some golf at home. I was actually in Ireland last week with some buddies on a little guys' golf trip, and I got to play four rounds over there. We flew into Dublin and stayed in Dublin and went out from Dublin every day and played a course.
So it's not like I come in here not having played some. I just haven't played competitively, and I can promise you there's a big difference between just playing and playing competitively. That was the thing I knew I was going to have to fight was, you know, was I going to get too anxious? Was I going to try too hard?
Certainly, the first few holes yesterday, I could sense that. I was not very comfortable. As the round went on, I seemed to get a little more comfortable. Today, I got into a very nice groove after kind of a little bit of a shaky start.
And really the last, probably, 11 holes or so, I really played well. So something I know I'm capable of doing. I just don't know if I'm capable of doing it in this environment on this type of golf course.
Q. Are you shocked by the numbers looking at the leaderboard?
GARY KOCH: I'm shocked at somebody 10 under par, yes. I did play a practice round the other day with Michael Allen, and Michael Allen is very long and flights the ball low. So I'm sure this wind is not causing him many problems.
Still, 10 under par, I guess, is what he is now, something like that last I saw. I kind of was thinking that 8 under par for 72 holes was probably going to be a pretty good score. So, obviously, the analyst in me isn't very good because some guy's already 10 under.
Q. Did you have any side bets with your NBC buddies on making the cut?
GARY KOCH: No. I think they were all really pulling for me. They really were. They were out there early today when I was getting started. I saw Johnny out there. Dan Hicks was out there. Mark Rolfing was out there. I still haven't seen my buddy, Roger Maltbie out there yet. It's a little hot for Rog, but the rest of the guys were out there.
It was great just to know they were out there kind of watching and rooting me on. So it makes me feel good that they're encouraging me as well.
Q. Been in USGA events for six decades now.
GARY KOCH: Just means I'm old.
Q. You also had to go through the qualifying as well. What does that mean to you?
GARY KOCH: Well, you know, you mentioned a lot of USGA events, a lot of decades. My first one was 1968. I was 15 years old when I played in the USGA Junior at Brookline. They're just special events. They're National Championships. I was fortunate enough to win the USGA Junior in 1970. So they mean a lot.
If you play this game and the game means anything to you, these events mean a lot. So it really kind of became an ideal situation for me that Johnny ended up coming back to do the Senior Open. For many years, I was actually in the 18th tower with Dan Hicks. So it really prohibited me from even trying to qualify because that was my role and that was what I was going to be doing.
But starting last year, Johnny stopped doing the Women's Open, started doing the Senior Open again. So that kind of gave me the opportunity to, with the blessing of my boss, Tommy Roy, to give it a shot.
And I was fortunate, I played well in a qualifier. I was on a little golf course that I had played some in my youth, and Bermuda grass has always been my friend. That's where I learned how to play.
So I was fortunate to get through. I was in a playoff, four guys for two spots. Very, very happy when I made it and a lot of pride. A lot of pride in 45 years between the first one and making it again.
Q. Is this course starting to take your eye a little bit?
GARY KOCH: Well, if it weren't quite so hilly, it might. I'm a Florida guy, you know, used to pretty flat terrain. Certainly, the more you play it, the more you have an idea of where you need to go, where you can't go, what clubs you need to be thinking about hitting off the tee.
I think one of the tough parts of this week, especially certainly for myself, and I know in talking to a lot of the other guys, they didn't play a lot of practice rounds. A lot of it was just nine holes each day because it was so hot and everybody's trying to conserve energy and stamina for the four days when you're hopefully playing and going up and down these hills.
So it wasn't like, I think, anybody really had a chance to learn the golf course as well as they possibly could have. I played with Bernhard Langer in a practice round. Even he only played nine holes one day. So that tells me a lot. It was plenty hot.
Thank you, guys.
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