What they said: Matt Bettencourt

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August 03, 2011
PGA TOUR staff

MORE INTERVIEWS: Reno-Tahoe Open transcript archive

THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Matt Bettencourt to the interview room here at the Reno-Tahoe Open, our defending champion.

.att, I know you've got to have a lot of nice memories coming back this year. Just talk about that and give us a few quick thoughts on being back here in Reno.

MATT BETTENCOURT: Yeah, I'm looking forward to it. Obviously I love this city. Growing up in Northern California, used to come here a lot. So I just have so many great memories from childhood, and, you know, through amateur golf. I've played Montreux several times, probably 50 or 60 times at least other than tournament rounds.

So I feel comfortable out here. It's just a beautiful place and a great walk. I love everything about this property.

THE MODERATOR: I know you made eagle on No. 9 last year in the final round; now the new 18th hole with the routing, just any thoughts on switching the nines.

MATT BETTENCOURT: Yeah, I think it's definitely going to provide a great finish on 18. So much can happen. You can see a 3-6 combination, where last year's 18 it was pretty tough to have more than a shot- or possibly a two-shot swing - although that was possible.

There are just so many more options that can happen. If you hit it left, you can make a 7 on that hole real quick. A lot of guys will be able to reach it, and I imagine they'll probably play the tee up a little bit on Sunday to give guys the opportunity, everybody in the field -- to reach it and bring the water into play. So it's just a great risk/reward hole.

Q. (Question regarding what will now be No. 17.)

MATT BETTENCOURT: Yeah.

Q. You talked last year about that's not a real fun tee shot.

MATT BETTENCOURT: Yeah, 17 is probably one of the most intimidating tee shots we play all year on TOUR. For me personally, it would be 17 and then 18 at Quail Hollow.

So I think you have to hit it -- you have to just be very precise. You don't want to have a long iron into the green, so most guys will hit a hybrid or even a 3-wood off the tee. Sometimes a 3-iron.

But Jack, when he built the hole, he basically said, If you want to have a short iron if you need to hit it further off the tee; if you want to hit a 6-iron or 5-iron off the tee or the wide part of the fairway, you're going to be left with a 7- or 8-iron. Well, the green's not set up for that, so...

It's just a great hole. Going back a step further, 16 is a phenomenal par-3. You know, last year No. 16, it was a much shorter hole, so you were hitting anywhere from a 9-iron to a wedge. This year it's gonna be anywhere from a 4-iron to a 6-iron.

So a lot more can happen on these last three finishing holes. You can see a 3- to 5-shot swing without a question.

Q. Could you elaborate a little bit about how much time you spent here as a kid and why your family would come to Reno.

MATT BETTENCOURT: Yeah, I mean, we just loved the place, loved Tahoe, loved Reno. We would go up to Tahoe, play golf -- I've probably played 20 golf courses here in this area.

We had some family friends up here, so we absolutely just loved coming up here. It's just beautiful.

Q. You would play with your dad then??

MATT BETTENCOURT: Yeah, played with my dad. My sister doesn't play, but played with a father and a bunch of friends; played some amateur tournaments up here. I have a bunch buddies that live in the area, so it's kind of like coming home.

From Modesto it's like a three and a half hour drive, and it's a beautiful drive, whichever route you come, 88 or 80, even 50.

Just Reno-Tahoe area is just so beautiful. Love everything about it. I remember it was kind of cool, because I was maybe 15 or 16 and went out and played Northgate Golf Course, or what used to be Northgate here. I was like, Man, I felt like I was in Scotland, you know, it was a links course.

So I used to love coming up and playing there, and then go over to LakeRidge. They've got the island green par-3. You just always look forward to that.

Arrow Creek. Rosewood. I've played a lot of courses here. Montreux. Then you go up to Tahoe, Incline is just so awesome. Just a beautiful place. Edgewood, and then some of the newer ones, Lahontan, Martis Camp.

So this area is just so golf rich and just great golf courses.

Q. You know the courses like you live here, so...

MATT BETTENCOURT: Yeah. I mean, I've played 'em all, so it's pretty cool. I love how far the ball flies, you know, with the thin air and the challenge of figuring out how far the ball is going to fly.

Every week it just seems like 7-iron goes 170 yards; well up here it may go 190, or if you have wind it may go 155. So there's just much variance, and it's really cool to figure that out.

Q. Talk about how much the win here changed anything for you. I know guys said it didn't really change me, but what did it change??

MATT BETTENCOURT: Ah, it changed everything. You know, security of being a lifetime member of the PGA Tour and having an exemption, you know, not so much stress this year as far as retaining a card. I'm guaranteed.

So it's done everything for me. It's opened so many doors. The Hyundai Tournament of Champions was fantastic in Kapalua. I mean, what a great way to start the year. It's a goal to get back there again.

Just so many more opportunities, some invitationals. It's been an awesome ride. I love being the Reno-Tahoe Open champion.

Q. One of the other things I think from last year is you dominated the par-5s like no one else did, or I think has in this tournament's history.

MATT BETTENCOURT: Yeah.

Q. How important is that to go after the par-5s??

MATT BETTENCOURT: You know, it is, because they're reachable. You have to play them smart as well. You don't want to short-side yourself on any of 'em.

13, you know, a pretty good dog leg right, par-5. You got to be careful what you hit off the tee. You don't want to hit it too far because then you have trees overhanging on the left. It's just about angles on that hole, so you have to think. Takes two huge shots to get there. I was fortunate it pitch it in from about 20 yards one round last year for eagle.

So you know, you have to think about it. 17 -- excuse me 8 is a long par-5, so... And 18, it takes two really premium shots to get to these par-5s. Everybody can pretty much reach No. 13, but other than that, you got to hit the ball pretty long to reach them. That plays into my game.

Q. Talk a little bit about the course, how it's playing this year compared to last year. I understand it may be a little bit softer right now.

MATT BETTENCOURT: Yeah, you know, honestly I haven't been out here to play yet. I'm going to play the pro-am here in just a little bit. I just flew in yesterday. I spoke to a few guys and they said it was in great shape.

With the forecast it's going to be drying out. Obviously had to keep water on it with the dry, warm weather. They will cut the water off, and I'm sure it's going to be absolutely perfect.

Q. (No microphone.)

MATT BETTENCOURT: Yeah.

Q. How do you explain those??

MATT BETTENCOURT: Well, you know, altitude obviously plays a little bit because guys are a little bit off on their distance control. The greens here tend to get pretty darn firm, and there is quite a bit of undulations in 'em.

There are some holes that come to mind. No. 3, for instance were -- excuse me, 4, the shorter par-4. You're hitting 3-wood or hybrid off the tee, but the green is elevated and slopes away from you, so it's tough. Some of the greens are elevated. They don't all slope back to front.

You can go to No. 14, that green is just -- for the guys playing it for the first time, they're going to land it on the middle of the green and there's no chance of holding the green. It's a 4-iron off the tee and a wedge into the green, and you have to hand it just shorter on the front edge.

So it's a lot local knowledge as far as that's concerned, where to hit the ball. So I would say you just don't see the birdies, because, like I said, the altitude and the slope on the greens. It's tough to get the ball close to hole sometimes with the firmness.

Q. Do you have a set formula you use, 10% or does it vary??

MATT BETTENCOURT: In the mornings I play about 4% to 5%. When it gets over 75 degrees I'll start adjusting. Doesn't go as far in the morning. It's closer to -- and it's not sea level, but it's a lot less.

Then in the afternoons, when it gets up to 85 or 90, it's 10%. As far as I'm concerned, that's what I play it at generally.

Q. You borrowed a caddie last year.

MATT BETTENCOURT: Yeah.

Q. Are you back with the same guy??

MATT BETTENCOURT: Pretty interesting. Yeah, last year my caddie couldn't make it, and Rocco Mediate is one of my good buddies -- we're actually paired together this week -- I used his caddie, Matthew, last week. We're really good friends.

About a month ago, Rocco has been battling a few injuries here and there, and he decided, you know, he's going to make a caddie change here and there. So Matthew has been with me for the last three weeks or so. So he's back on the bag. He's with me full time. We're looking forward to coming back here.

Ironically we're paired with Rocco this week, so we're going to have a blast out there. It's going to be a lot of fun.

Q. In your play, you're coming off a couple pretty good weeks.

MATT BETTENCOURT: Yeah, I've struggled a little bit. I had a couple driver issues, which I've gotten worked out. I battled a couple little injuries. I had some bursitis earlier, you know, a couple months ago.

But for the first time in the last few weeks I've felt really healthy and really excited about my game. It's coming around. I'm seeing some putts fall, which is important. Just really looking forward to having a great week here.

THE MODERATOR: Great. Matt, thanks so much. Good luck this week.

MATT BETTENCOURT: Thank you guys. Have a great day.

Transcript courtesy of ASAP Sports.

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