Winner's Q&A: Kramer Hickok
A blistering weekend of 64-64 guaranteed the 25-year old a spot in The Five
September 13, 2017
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
- Kramer Hickok has a strong grip on the No. 1 spot on the Order of Merit this week (Claus Andersen/PGA TOUR)
If you could compare Kramer Hickok’s weekend at last week’s Ontario Championship hosted at National Pines Golf Club, where he shot 64-64 and eventually won in a playoff to that of one of the world’s best golfers, you probably could think of only a few names that could fire 16-under par over two days and run down the best of the best on Tour.
Jordan Spieth might be a name you’d come up with.
No surprise on that comparison, as Hickok and Spieth are roommates and they grew up together in Texas.
But away from all the ‘good buddy’ rhetoric, you have a golfer who now sits atop The Five on the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada, has two wins under his belt on the season, and can mathematically only be caught by one other golfer to usurp him from the No. 1 spot on the money list.
Before the season-ending Freedom 55 Financial Championship, Hickok spent a few minutes with PGATOUR.com chatting about his dream weekend in Barrie, his thoughts on this week in London, and the celebration he and Spieth have planned for when they meet up again later this year at home.
You didn’t have a great start to the tournament on Thursday, but almost a record-setting weekend. How did you manage to refocus after Thursday’s opener?
It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish! Thursday I was hitting the ball well… I just wasn’t putting well, even in the Pro-Am. I went and did a lot of work with my putting (on Wednesday) and I expected it to show up Thursday and Friday and it didn’t. I thought the conditions were pretty tough as compared to the morning. I probably left seven shots out there with the putter on Thursday, it was just one of those rounds where if I needed to make a putt, I would lip out, or I would need to get up and down and I didn’t… it was just one of those rounds… probably the most frustrating round of the year for me. I knew my game was in good form I just needed to fix the putting. The game plan going into Friday was how can I score as well as I’m hitting it. How can I get the most out of my rounds going forward and give myself a chance to win. I spent an hour putting on Thursday night and then Friday it still didn’t show up. It was maybe a little bit better but I left a ton of shots out. Frankly, I was battling to make the cut for a little bit. In my mind I just thought it wasn’t my week. I had a ton of bad breaks, I lipped out like 20 times, and maybe it just wasn’t going to happen for me this week.
Friday you were hovering around the cut line for a little while, so how did you manage to keep your wits about you after you finished?
Friday night I was thinking, well, I had a short fuse this week. I was getting frustrated pretty easily and I just wasn’t getting the results I needed and I wanted to take a step away from golf. Usually that’s what fishing does for me but I stayed at Liam Mucklow’s house (a PGA of Canada instructor) and he had some dirt bikes, and I hadn’t ridden a dirt bike since I was a kid so we just went riding back in the trees for a couple hours and I think that really took my focus off the golf. After I made the cut I realized, well, I was up against a tall order and I think if I shot 16-under on the weekend and got to 19-under I would have a chance, I’d at least be in a playoff.
And then what happened?
I just started to fill it up. Next thing you know (on Saturday) I’m 8-under through 16 and after that the plan was to go shoot 8-under again. I got off to a good start and I picked up where I left things the day before.
The power of positive thinking?
Exactly. I stayed positive and I just kept my mind focused on how I could get to shooting lower scores and what I was doing wrong, I focused on how I could do better.
This was one of the more stacked leaderboards of the year, with all of the guys in The Five finishing in the top-5, so on Sunday were you watching the leaderboard and seeing who you had to catch?
Yeah, and it’s always pretty tough to follow-up a good round with another one, but that’s probably what led me to shoot 8-under again, because I was still chasing. I was chasing four guys that are in The Five and potentially a good amount of them could jump me with good events. I was incredibly motivated. I wanted to give them something to think about. I wanted to go out the first nine, post a low one, and put pressure on them. I wanted all those guys to see my name climbing the leaderboard and give them something to think about. I was able to birdie the first three holes and went 5-under on the front. As I was making the turn I was looking at the leaderboard and saw that those other guys were struggling. At the time I was maybe two back, so I knew when they made the turn they were going to see my name… so I went out to birdie 10 and then 11 (laughs). Next thing you know I’m tied for the lead, so I kept tried to keep the pedal down and kept going lower and lower and make them get a bit aggressive. I wanted them to know it wasn’t a footrace between the three of them (McCoy, Shelton, Ruiz) in the group. I wanted them to know that I was playing as well and I was going to contend and win as well.I wanted to give them something to think about. I wanted to go out the first nine, post a low one, and put pressure on them.
Had you ever shot that low in back-to-back rounds ever?
No. Never (laughs). Typically if you’re going to shoot 8-under on Saturday, then you’re going to be somewhere near the lead group on Sunday, but I was still seven back, which was the crazy thing. I think it made shooting 8-under on Sunday a lot easier because I was chasing and I was so far behind. I had no choice but to shoot a low one. I don’t think the difference between me finishing 15th or 50th was a big deal, but I wanted to shoot a low one and finish in the top-5 and gain some ground.
This week there is only one guy who can mathematically catch you at the No. 1 spot on the money list, so are you going out there trying to win again, or just try to keep your position on top?
It’s a good question because I’ve caught myself thinking that I just need to finish 19th or better, but I know, and I’ve quickly made sure, that I don’t want to think that way again. That’s the wrong mindset for me. I’m going to go out there and try to win the golf tournament. It’s the 60 best players on the Mackenzie Tour here. Every other golf tournament I’ve played in I’ve just gone out there and tried to play the best golf I possibly can, and I’m going to keep that same mindset and try to shoot as low as I can and limit the mistakes and play the best golf I can and see where I end up at the end of the week.
Did Spieth text you again Sunday, as he did the last time you won?
Yeah, he did. He said ‘atta boy, that was awesome.’
Maybe time for a celebration when you both get home?
Exactly. He’s got three wins this year and I’ve got two so I have to make sure I try to catch him, so that’s another goal (laughs). He’s leading the race into the Tour Championship, so hopefully we can both finish No. 1 and No. 1 in our respective tournaments and have a little celebration at the end of the year.