Q&A: Dominic Bozzelli
September 27, 2016
By Adam Stanley , PGATOUR.COM
- September 27, 2016
- Dominic Bozzelli, 25, locked up his PGA TOUR card with a second-place finish at the LECOM Health Challenge. (Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
You wouldn’t think Rochester, New York would be able to produce many world-class golfers considering its climate and the fact that golf can only be played for over half the year.
But Dominic Bozzelli, the winner of the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship on the Web.com Tour in 2016 (Bozzelli would go on to finish No. 7 on the money list and earn a PGA TOUR card) bucks that trend.
The 25-year-old, born-and-raised in Rochester, lost in a playoff a few weeks after his victory at, essentially, a ‘hometown’ event (the LECOM Health Challenge was also in Western New York, just two-and-a-half hours from Rochester) and locked up his TOUR card thanks to that finish.
Bozzelli battled a shoulder injury for the balance of the summer but has recently returned to action with his eye on the TOUR in a few weeks.
Here, Bozzelli spent a few minutes with PGA TOUR Digital talking about hitting balls in his grandparents’ basement during the winter, bouncing ideas off Jason Dufner, and why his caddie can’t stand the color red.
The middle part of your season was awesome, and then you got hurt. Has that been tough?
I started from scratch a little bit, didn’t touch a club for four weeks, just doing rehab. But these last couple of weeks, I’ve finally rounded back into form and peaking at the right time.
During those weeks that you were playing so well, what was clicking for you?
I’m not really sure. It’s funny how it seems to click like that. Sometimes you think you’re going to play great and it doesn’t happen. Other weeks you’re scraping it around and those are your best weeks. I just tried to do the same stuff, stick to my routine and work hard all season. If I did that, my good weeks would show up.
Did you feel any extra pressure that week at the LECOM Health Challenge considering how close to home it was?
Not really, you always like to play well in front of family and friends but I didn’t really do anything different. I think it kind of helped me focus when you have people out there. It helped me lock in a little bit but it was a nice week. Would have been nice to get it done there, but I definitely enjoyed my time.
Even though you lost in the playoff, you locked up your TOUR card, so a nice consolation prize regardless?
Playing out on the PGA TOUR is something I’ve wanted to do my whole life and to finally see that become a reality was pretty cool.
What are you most looking forward to on the PGA TOUR?
It’s tough to find a bad week out there on the schedule (laughs). Honestly I haven’t thought about it a whole lot, just been locked in on the Web.com Tour season and taking care of my business out here. But I’m sure it’s going to be awesome and I’m looking forward to it.
You wouldn’t think a place like Rochester would produce such great golfers, given its climate, but it certainly has. What was it like for you growing up there?
Rochester was a great place to grow up. I still love getting back and seeing family and friends when I can. As a kid I was playing a bunch of sports, I loved competing. I played basketball, football, baseball, even dabbled in some cross-country and soccer. I realized in freshman year of high school that it wasn’t in the cards to make a career out of any of those.
What was it about golf that drew you to it?
The individual aspect of golf always appealed to me. You don’t have to be on a good team or rely on teammates; the ball is always in your hand. After freshman year I just focused on golf. Summers are great up there, great golf community and a lot of good Donald Ross courses, but those winters are less than ideal (laughs). It’s like a forced shutdown for 4-5 months of the year.
What did you do during the winter?
My grandfather lived a half-mile down the road from me, and he’s got high ceilings in his basement so we’d set up a 12 x 12 x 12 net, had a little putting green down there, and he’d set up mats all around the basement and I’d be chipping over the treadmill, trying to get creative down there. It was pretty cool. And anytime the weather broke and spring came around, I was hungry to get back at it.
There are actually a handful of really nice courses in Rochester. Do you have a favorite?
Oak Hill is one of the best I’ve played for sure. I played at a public course called Webster Golf Course, and my grandfather was a member out at Locust Hill; they were nice enough to let me play there. They hosted the LPGA Tour event out there for a bunch of years. There are six or seven real strong courses up there. It was a good place.
Now, there’s a major champion who is from Rochester, Jeff Sluman (1988 PGA Championship). Have you ever talked to him?
Actually I’ve not, I’ve never talked to Jeff Sluman! I played high school golf with his nephew Trevor, though.
You were supposed to head to the University of Central Florida (UCF) but you ended up going to Auburn. How did that come to be?
My senior year of high school, Coach (Nick) Clinard got the job at Auburn and I didn’t know who the new coach was going to be at UCF. I never actually started classes there. I transferred to Auburn that summer. I lost my first year of eligibility due to my letter of intent, and I didn’t get released by the Academic Director (at UCF). It’s a tough deal how the NCAA finds you. It’s such a big part of the whole process. A decision like that for an 18-year-old kid is unfortunate, but I made the best of it.
But you enjoyed yourself at Auburn?
Auburn was great. I was never really a highly-touted recruit coming out of high school. I had some decent success in New York state, but I wasn’t a world-beater by any means. Once I got to Auburn that’s where my game started to mature and reach new heights. I still work with the head coach there, and the facilities there are second-to-none.
Jason Dufner is probably the most vocal of Auburn alums on TOUR. Do you ever chat with him?
For sure. Whenever he’s in town, he’s back there; he’d come out to our facility. He’s always been super helpful. Anything I needed, any questions I had, especially when I turned pro. If I had anything, he’s been there if I needed to reach out.
And he won the PGA Championship at Oak Hill, so there’s a Rochester connection.
Yeah he did! He had a hell of a week, just driving it on a rope.
You kind of got pulled into the Auburn/Alabama rivalry. Can you describe what that’s like?
It was a new experience for me for sure. Being a kid from New York, I kind of got brought into the rivalry by association. They (Alabama) are definitely not my favorite team and usually I’m pulling for whomever they’re playing. It’s funny, though, my caddie takes it to another level. He won’t even wear the color red. Early in the year he was always fussing when we got stuck with the red caddie bib, so after we got the win it was nice to lock up the yellow bib and put that to rest (laughs).