Humana Challenge interview: Scott Stallings

January 19, 2013

MORE INTERVIEWS: Humana Challenge transcripts archive

DOUG MILNE:  Scott Stallings is joining us in the interview room.
After a 9 under 63 on the Nicklaus Course today in the Humana Challenge, that puts you in pretty good position heading into the final round tomorrow.  Just some thoughts on the round today and how you're feeling and then we'll take some questions.

I feel good.  Obviously, I played well.  I stayed aggressive.  But as I said in my other interviews, playing with John was a huge help.  He's a good guy and he was an easy guy to club off of.  He played well just like I did.  We made a lot of birdies the last couple days, and so we kind of fed off each other, and that's definitely what you need to try to do in this format.

DOUG MILNE:  You had mentioned that you enjoyed seeing me, especially early.  This time year, this hadn't been very well for you in the past.

Yeah, the West Coast hasn't been very good to me at all.  And my rookie year, I missed my first five cuts, and last year I got hurt at this event.  I was out.  I was hurt until Memorial.
And so this is my first made cut on the West Coast, I guess.  So I did a pretty good job, I guess.

DOUG MILNE:  With that, we'll open it up and take some questions. Q.  Stewart Cink was in and said he shot 66 and called it just kind of a routine round.  How do you feel about your 63?


I made a couple eagles, which obviously helped.  But I missed a lot of 10 footers, I had an 8 , 10 footer on nine that I missed.  You have a lot of opportunities, so you, yeah, when you get them, you got to take advantage of them.  And I can very much    did Stewart play Palmer Course today?

Q.  Yeah.

And I shot 66 at the Palmer the first day, and I kind of felt the same way and felt like I kind of let a low one get away from me.
But, you know, you got to consistently be aggressive every day you're out there.

Q.  Did you play the Nicklaus Course last year or were you gone by that time?

I was gone.  I played La Quinta for one round and I played with Carl Pettersson, and the first round after nine holes he said, "Either you're going to withdraw or I'm going to withdraw.  I can't watch this anymore" (Laughter).

Q.  And the injury specifically was what?

I tore cartilage in five of my ribs.

Q.  He hit you with a club or something?

  No, I was getting some therapy and kind of a comedy of errors happened.  And the next thing you know, cartilage was torn.  It was not good.

Q.  Were you getting therapy at this event last year?

  Um hum.

Q.  You have a five shot lead.  Somebody probably told you that by now.  Five shots, some of the guys in here were saying, well, maybe you could catch up five shots, but that's a lot to come back from on these golf courses, as opposed to maybe some other golf courses.  How does five shots change your outlook at the Palmer tomorrow?

Go do the same thing I've done for the last three days.  I've been aggressive.  I've been smart when I got out of position.  Just because I played really good, doesn't mean that I've hit it perfect on every single hole.  I scrambled a little bit, but when I got out of position off the tee, I played smart.  I hit it in the middle of the green and just kind of accepted par and moved on and was really aggressive when I had the opportunity.
The same thing goes tomorrow.  Obviously, a lot can happen coming down the back nine, especially with all the birdie holes coming in, but it is what it is, and go out there and try to be aggressive early and go from there.

Q.  Can you detail the comedy of errors during therapy?

  I don't really want to talk about it very much.  It was a good attempt to try to make a sore back feel better, and it did not go well.  I felt really good for about an hour, and then I woke up the next day, and I could barely swing.
I tried to play and tried to play and I ended up doing more damage than I thought just because I kept being told I couldn't make it worse.  Finally I tried to play a couple on the West Coast, and I got to Riviera in the pro am, and I hit it in the left rough on 11, and I tried to lay up across.  It was some pretty deep, wet rough, and I hit it and I went down to my knees.  My caddie was like, "We're done.  We're not trying anymore."
Went home and had a bone scan and come to find out the doctor is like, "Man, you shouldn't have been playing at all.  There's not really anything you can do.  It's more or less time."
I come back and I was out of shape and couldn't really play very well, and it is what it is.  I'm happy that's over.

Q.  There's still a day left, but a win would be three in a short period of time.  Can you talk about what it would mean to get those three this quickly?
Obviously, being on the outside looking in at this point last year, you learn a lot.  I'm not really a golf watcher, but a lot of my friends played really well.  Watched Mark Wilson win, watch Brandt Snedeker win.  And you get an opportunity to appreciate how to win and put yourself in that position to be able to take advantage of it when you do.  Because those come so far and few between.  And just getting yourself in a situation to where when you do have opportunity, how to capitalize and how to learn from your mistakes and go from there.
But we set some goals this offseason.  I hired a new caddie, Frank Williams, who worked for Stewart for about 14 years, and it's gone unbelievable as far as having a guy like that with his experience on my bag.  I mean, he's helped me leaps and bounds.
And my other caddie, he was incredible.  There's no question about it, but Frank's been a huge asset and a huge shot in the arm as far as to help me get where I am today.

Q.  Playing aggressive like you said, are you surprised that you're bogey free through 54 holes?
I guess you can say it's conservatively aggressive.  Like number 8 today, I hit a really good drive and had 8 iron.  But just because I had 8 iron to a par 5, I fired it in the middle of the green, had a 20 footer and was happy to make it.  Obviously you got to kind of weigh the options, but we have hit a lot of clubs off the tee.  We laid back some, and then to give ourselves an opportunity, hit aggressive second shot in.
But I've hit a lot of greens.  I don't know what my greens in regulation is or whatever, and when I've had opportunities to make putts, I made some.

Q.  What did you do on the early eagle, on 13?  Walk us through that.
I hit driver to the edge of the water and I had like 201, and I hit 6 iron to about eight feet.  Made it for eagle.

Q.  What was your health like at Augusta last year?
Not good.  Augusta was the only week of the whole injury that I took pain medicine.  I took a painkiller.  I mean nothing illegal or anything like that.  It was prescribed, but no doping or anything like that, but I took Celebrex every day.  But that was the only week I took pain medicine and my doctor is, "Man, I really don't know if you need to play or this or that."
And I said, "Man, you put me in a body cast, I'm going to play Augusta."
And I said, "Tomorrow is not promised.  That could be my one and only opportunity to play in the tournament."
And I didn't feel any pain, but the next two weeks, you saw my finishes, I think I shot 80 both at Hilton Head and New Orleans.  And I mean, I took it for one week and it was over.  But I did a lot of damage that week.  At the end of the day, it was worth it.  You never know if you're ever going to get an opportunity walk down Magnolia Lane again.

Q.  Fully healthy now, I assume.  What were some of the goals that you set for yourself at the start of the year?

  First of all, being healthy was big.  I came back, I wasn't in very good shape.  I gained some weight, and I wasn't really able to do much because there's not a lot you can do to recover from a rib injury.  Got in the gym, got smart as far as nutrition on and off the course.
You watch Robert Garrigus and kind of the transformation of his body to see how the transformation of his game, he had the best year of his career.  Talked to him a lot about how he started taking it serious.  He was always a guy with a lot of talent, but never really took it serious off the course.  And to see the transformation of his game, next Top 50 in the world and kind of going from there, and I saw a lot from that.
    Seeing how much better I feel now that I've done the work in the offseason, it's kind of got me to where I am today.

DOUG MILNE:  Lastly, last year when you won in Madison, you announced to the world the imminent birth of your first child.  And here we are just couple of week away.  Just an update on how that's going.

Jen's doing great.  She was here Monday.  She went to Maui and Sony.  She's due Riviera week, and she's home and she's doing great.
We're having a baby boy, and it was kind of funny.  She was laughing because we were trying to figure out how we are going to tell people what we were going to do as far as how were we going to announce that we're having a baby.  I said, "Well, if I win, I'm going to tell everybody."  And sure enough, I won the tournament.
Everybody thought she came, because she surprised me at the tournament and told me on green, but I already knew and that kind of got confusing there.
But she's doing great and obviously we're excited to have our first coming here in a couple weeks.

DOUG MILNE:  Great.  All right.  Well, Scott, keep it up.  We appreciate your time.

  Thank you.