MORE: AT&T National transcript archive
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: We'd like to welcome Nick Watney, the defending champion here at the AT&T National. Nick, different golf course but certainly good memories about the tournament. Maybe some opening comments about winning last year and then maybe some comments, you just finished in the pro-am, about playing here at Congressional.
NICK WATNEY: Yeah, obviously last year I have some great memories from this event. Even though it's not at the same golf course, it's nice to be back defending. This course is in great shape, I think maybe even better than last year for the U.S. Open. Should be a good test, and looking forward to the week.
Q. How did you do here last year??
NICK WATNEY: I missed the cut last year. Not much to draw on from the U.S. Open.
Q. What did you think of it the two days you were here??
NICK WATNEY: I think it is playing harder this time. The greens were-- the thing I took from last year here was the greens were soft, much, much softer than we expect for a U.S. Open. Rory obviously broke a ton of records, but second place was 8-under, I believe. It was not typical of what we usually see for a U.S. Open.
Q. What did you learn from the pro-am today as far as the rough and--
NICK WATNEY: Yeah, the rough is pretty healthy I would say, and the greens are pretty firm, and I assume they'll get firmer as the week goes on. Playing from the fairway will be a huge key just to try to have as much control as you can get.
Q. What do you get out of the relationship you have with Butch Harmon? Is it something to fall back on? How does it work as far as the back and forth?
NICK WATNEY: Well, I'm really close with Butch. We live very close to each other, and if we're both off, then I'll see him almost every day. It's not super serious, which I think would be maybe too much. But he's seen-- besides Walter Hagen, he's seen pretty much every great player that's ever played this game, so he's a very valuable asset. I have a great relationship with Butch.
Q. Is it important for you to have someone coach you that knows your game inside out??
NICK WATNEY: Yeah, definitely. It's definitely important to have another set of eyes, and I feel fortunate to work with him. I think if you look at the world rank or whatever, everybody has a coach. Butch, I think, is one of the best of all time, so it's a good thing.
Q. Walter Hagen??
NICK WATNEY: He's seen Bobby Jones, his dad, yeah, at Augusta. It's really incredible how many players he's seen up close.
Q. After the widespread success of the field at last year's U.S. Open, they attempted to make some adjustment to the course here. Have you noticed any new challenges or any adjustments that you think you'll have to make in order to repeat??
NICK WATNEY: Well, what have they done? I haven't noticed anything they've done to the golf course as far as the routing, but I have definitely noticed it's a lot firmer than it was last year. So that definitely makes it challenging. That brings-- when you hit it in the rough, you know the ball is not going to stop. If you short-side yourself coming into greens, it's much harder to get the ball close.
You know, I think I've heard guys say that maybe the membership here was a little embarrassed about their course was the one where a bunch of records were set, so they're out for some revenge this year.
Q. In this day and age where most of us are tethered to our PDAs and cell phones, I wanted to get your thoughts on fans bringing their cell phones in. Is it possible to police that policy correctly??
NICK WATNEY: I mean, I think it's inevitable. I think it's kind of-- I think it's much more productive to give-- let people bring their phones and give them areas where they're supposed to talk than it is to try to keep all phones out because that's not going to happen. I think also, too, it allows more people to come to events. I mean, that's what we would like, and if we have a strict no-phone policy, people do so much business on their phones these days that it would maybe not let some people come out.
I mean, pictures and stuff like that, I don't have to deal with that too often, but I'm sure the big-time guys do. It can definitely be a hindrance. But at the same time, I don't think it's a-- it's not that big of a deal, really. The caddies are usually really good about spotting someone if they're going to be a distraction, but as far as people having their phones, I don't really see a problem with it.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Nick Watney, thank you. Good luck this week.