Winner's Q&A: Rico Hoey
Hear from the final Mackenzie Tour winner of 2017, Rico Hoey
September 21, 2017
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
- Rico Hoey captured the Freedom 55 Financial Championship by one shot (Claus Andersen/PGA TOUR)
There was only one way for Rico Hoey to earn his way into The Five during the week of the Freedom 55 Financial Championship.
He had to win.
Hoey, who was a star on the University of Southern California’s golf team before turning professional and notching five top-10s throughout the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada season up until that point, had nearly earned his way to Final Stage of the Web.com Tour’s Q-School and some status on the Web.com Tour in 2018.
But he wanted more, and after a Saturday 62 (talk about Moving Day) he was in prime position to do just that.
Hoey, despite a three-putt bogey on No. 16 at Highland Country Club, would birdie the next hole and would go on to win by one. He jumped from No. 11 on the money list to No. 5, and for the first time all season, was part of The Five.
It was the most important time of the year to make that leap.
Hoey spent a few minutes with PGATOUR.com chatting about his win coming down the stretch, his support system, and how much he’s learned in his first year as a professional.
Has it finally set in, the victory?
Looking back and seeing what I did it still amazes me that I pulled it off. It still hasn’t really sunk in yet. I feel like I’m riding on a high right now… I can’t stop smiling! I’m just really excited at what the future has in store for me. I can’t thank the Mackenzie Tour enough for providing us an opportunity to achieve our dreams and get on the Web.com Tour and PGA TOUR.
How was your adjustment from college golf to professional golf?
Collegiate career was three rounds and you’re like, ‘Well I played bad so we’ll get back to the basics and see what happens.’ But in professional golf I feel like every shot mattered. It was up to me if I wanted to play good golf or miss the cut. I had to go out there and it was whether I wanted to get to the Web.com Tour or not. It was a mindset thing to push myself to be a better golfer and I felt like I was doing that every week.
What did you learn the most about yourself this year?
I think this summer it was more just getting used to playing in tough conditions and getting tougher out there mentally and physically. In college I’d see the rain or the wind and say, ‘Oh man it’ll be a tough day’ but playing this summer in a lot of wind and rain it built me stronger in a way that each round I thought I could post a good score and set myself up.
You were so consistent this year with your finishes: lots of top 10s and solid golf all year long. But, did you feel like you had a win in you?
This whole year was very consistent and each week I wanted to go out and try to win. But most importantly I wanted to try to keep getting better and learn from other players, like Kramer Hickok and Johnny Ruiz… guys who were winning on Tour. Watching them I learned from them and what they did. I really wanted to win but I kept telling myself to keep playing good golf because good things will happen. The third round really set me up and I really believed that I could come through with the win.
How important was it to have some close friends on the Tour during the summer to help show you the ropes a little bit?
I was travelling a lot with another rookie Nahum Mendoza and throughout the season we would meet up with T.J. Vogel and he was one of those guys that would sit us down and say, ‘hey look, this is how it goes in professional golf’ and he really helped us out in planning out what we needed to do and how we should think out there. It really helped me out there, having a guy like T.J. out there taking me under his wing really helped me to believe in myself and having the confidence to know I belonged out there and I can’t thank him enough for that.
When you were coming down the stretch Sunday you made a bogey on 16, but what helped you to turn it around with a birdie on the next hole and eventually get the win?
I saw the leaderboard there on No. 16 and I felt pretty nervous. Going into 17 I told myself, ‘Look, you can be nervous now and be happy later’ and that’s what I did. I sacked up (laughs) and went and got a birdie. I birdied 17 and then I was like, ‘Alright!’ I had a two shot cushion and didn’t want to screw it up. Still made bogey on 18, but yeah (laughs) the rest is history.
You were pretty emotional after the win was confirmed. How much of an impact did your family and your support system have on you to get to that point?
My family sacrificed a lot for me to be where I am today, and I can’t thank them enough. Them believing in me and them telling me that I can do it and for me to come out with the win means a lot. I’m just the type of player that goes along each and every week and I let them ride the high and they tell me I can do it. I just listen to them.