Humana Challenge interview: Jason Kokrak

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January 17, 2013

MORE INTERVIEWS: Humana Challenge transcripts archive

MARK STEVENS:  Like to welcome Jason Kokrak.  Jason, got it to 9‑under over on La Quinta Country Club.  Do you want to talk about the course today and about your round and then we'll have a few questions for you.

JASON KOKRAK:  Yeah, the course over at La Quinta is in great shape.  Greens are not overly fast, so you can be somewhat aggressive out there.  The greens are holding.  So you can be aggressive with the iron shots out there.
But overall I just got off to a good solid start.  Couple of birdies on the front side and then an eagle kind of got my round started and then I made the turn at 5‑under.
Chip‑in on I think 3.
Birdied 4.
And then threw in another eagle there on the back nine.  So it got me to 9‑under and I just tried to play solid from tee to green, put it in the right spots, put it in the fairways.  And out there that's key.  They're tighter fairways and if you can be in the fairway you'll have a good opportunity for birdie.

MARK STEVENS:  Questions?

Q.  These courses have not always been the kindest to guys who hit the ball a long, long way.  In some instances guys just stay away if they're bombers, because they haven't liked the golf courses.  What is it about these that maybe work for you or do you have to change your philosophy coming in a little?
JASON KOKRAK:  No, I think that it's just more of a game plan for each individual course.  I don't think it's a bomber's golf course by any means.  You got to hit fairways, but a lot of the holes that are right around 400 yards I can just put a 3‑iron out in the fairway, 250‑260 out there and it leaves me a wedge at most, a 9‑iron into the green.
So you can still be aggressive with those clubs.  So take advantage of the par‑5s if you can and put yourself in good positions on the par‑4s and make pars on the par‑3s and you're going to have a good round.

Q.  How many times would you have hit driver today?
JASON KOKRAK:  I think I hit them on every par‑5 and probably two or three other times.  Other than that it was a lot of 3‑irons.  I don't think I hit one 3‑wood all day.  It was either a driver or a 3‑iron.

Q.  Would that be the same philosophy coming over to these two courses next two days or are they different enough to where the game plan has to be different?
JASON KOKRAK:  There's holes out on both Nicklaus and Palmer Courses where I can hit the driver and be aggressive, but coming up 8, 8 and 9 are somewhat long holes, but you have to be in the fairway to have a scoring opportunity there.  So where I hit the driver that necks up pretty good at about 315, 320, so I'll probably hit 3‑iron off of 8 and 3‑wood off of 9.  But other than that it's more of a game plan, individual shots.
I mean, if the wind kicks up, it will be a little bit different, but overall it will‑‑ yeah, you never know.  You never know.  Last year was crazy.  But this year it's going to be beautiful.  Today couldn't have been a better day.

Q.  Is there a par‑5 on this rotation that you can't reach in two?
JASON KOKRAK:  On these three golf courses?  I don't think so.  As I said, the wind has to be up for me not to be able to reach the par‑5s.  So, I mean, I think in the practice rounds I hit a 5‑iron about 30 yards over the pin on 18 on the Palmer Course, so probably was a 6‑iron but, you know, that's one of the longer ones.  But, no, I can reach 15 maybe?  Is 15 a par‑5?

Q.  14?
JASON KOKRAK:  14 is probably the longest one out there.  It's really not worth it to go for it.  But I had about 260 to the middle of the green in the practice round, so I could have gone for it, but it was really not worth it for that green.  You miss it left, you're in the water.  You miss it right, you're in the rocks.  So put yourself in a good position with a wedge and try to make birdie the old fashioned way.

Q.  So is that where you concentrate your scoring efforts, knowing that in essence they're long par‑4s?
JASON KOKRAK:  Well, yeah, when I was growing up I used to want to hit the ball as far as possible, but now I have the length with my irons especially that if I get it in the fairway I'm going to have a short iron in to pretty much every par‑4 or par‑5 out here.
So if I get in bad position I'm a good enough wedge player that I can normally wedge it close enough that I'll have a great opportunity for birdie.  But that's something that I need to sharpen up this year and we'll go from there.  But right now I'm just trying to put myself in the middle of the greens and make birdies.

Q.  Is that a Panera logo on your shirt?
JASON KOKRAK:  Yes, it is.

Q.  So Panera is one of your sponsors?
JASON KOKRAK:  It is.  It's a franchisee from my hometown, Covelli Enterprises, that we got something worked out this year.  So I'm happy to support my hometown of Warren, Ohio, he's a great supporter of that area and I look forward to working with them in the future.

Q.  So are you probably the only guy on TOUR with a Panera logo?
JASON KOKRAK:  I think that, yeah, I got a couple of comments so far about the Panera Bread, so, yeah, I ink I'm the only guy out here.

Q.  Stock's going up, right?
JASON KOKRAK:  I think so.  His franchises are just growing.  I think he's got tons of them already and he's just putting more in.

Q.  You mentioned sharpening some things up from last year.  What, how are you a different player than when you showed up here last year?
JASON KOKRAK:  Well as a rookie out here last year I didn't know any of the golf courses, came out here a few days early and played them before I went out to Sony.  But I didn't play both the courses at Torrey Pines.  And there's a couple golf courses in this rotation that I've never played any of these places before.
So I played Jack's golf course, I played Muirfield Village growing up as a kid, but I never really played any of the PGA TOUR courses.  So coming out here it's a little bit more relaxed, it's easier for me to get into a little bit of a routine, because I already know the golf course, I don't have to go out there and learn every little detail about the course.  So I can come out here and just concentrate on my game and what I need to work on instead of learning the golf course.

MARK STEVENS:  Okay.  Well, thanks a lot, Jason.  Good luck tomorrow.

JASON KOKRAK:  Thank you.

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