What are the things that are holding you back from becoming better?
I've probably tinkered too much with my swing. I've been working on trying to find the right feel. I think my ability to change my golf swing in just a few days is a good thing when I have a bad habit I need to break, but a bad thing when I have good habits. It seems like the bad habits creep back in, but the good habits get sent away with all the tweaking.
You smile a lot and seem genuinely happy, but there must be something that makes your engine run hot. What is it out on the course?
Sometimes the fan interaction. Some of it can be fun but when they start heckling it gets annoying, and I can't go out into the gallery and take care of it, you know?
What's the worst heckle you've heard?
Well, it's usually about a golf shot. Or my size. And I try to stay professional. I'd love to go out there and say, "OK, let's go!" [Laughs] But we're not supposed to do that because we're professionals, you know? I want to be treated like I treat other people, but when the fans get drunk and too rowdy, it makes you mad. There are some cruel remarks, and fans need to understand we're trying to make a living out there. It's a fine line between having fun and being rude, and it's just important to keep golf a gentleman's game, as it was meant to be.
What gets you steamed away from the course, outside of golf?
I have a tiny bit of road rage. [Laughs]
Even in rural Minnesota?
Yeah, not so much out here. Not out in the country. But in cities and stuff. And it's mainly when I see people hanging out in the left lane, when they could be hanging out in the right lane. If someone wants to go fast, they should be able to do that in the left lane, and people shouldn't just be hanging out there doing the speed limit. Like in New York, the traffic jams! That's a pet peeve. And I travel a lot, so service is another pet peeve.
Well, when you go to a nice restaurant, for example. When you're out on the road, you want to treat yourself to a nice meal. But sometimes fancy places just over do it. I want to be out of there in an hour, not h ave a two-and-a-half-hour meal, and they bring over the meat cart, and all the rest, and no matter what I say they go through all the motions.
Speaking of food, what's your favorite meal?
Probably split between a nice filet mignon and a good New York pizza pie. I like a nice thin crust, I don't like it Sicilian style.
You have a fairly uncommon hobby for a golfer in ice fishing. How much time do you spend on a frozen lake in the off-season?
I try to get out ice fishing, when the season starts and it gets cold enough in January, about two to three times a season. That's enough.
What's it like? Do you really sit in a little hut like in Grumpy Old Men?
It's almost exactly like Grumpy Old Men. It's a colony. And you can't go and chase the fish around, so you have to know about the most strategic place to put your ice house; you've got to know where the fish are. It's usually on a ledge, or a drop-off from the lake. You take the ice house out there with a four-wheeler or a car, and, yeah, it's totally OK to do that on the ice. They snowplow it off, so there are actually roads out on the lake.
What sort of comforts are in your ice house?
Well there's always a plentiful amount of beer. That's important.
Icehouse beer? [Laughs.] Nah, whatever, just cans of beer. I like Amstel Light, so I usually have those. And then there's the heater, which is important because it keeps the ice hole open; the area is so cold that there's a danger of freezing up the hole you made, so the heater helps keep it open.
What do you love about it?
It's just more of a being-out-there-with-the-guys thing. Being out there with friends. Growing up in Minnesota, it was hard in the long cold winters to find stuff to do. It gets depressing to sit in the house every single day. So you have to find something to do if you don't want to just hibernate. But I think it's important to get out with your friends and just do something that Minnesota sets up great for, like ice fishing.
Which tournaments do you find the most fun to play in?
Muirfield Village [site of the Memorial] is one of the great golf tournaments, and of course the Colonial. I like playing Milwaukee [U.S. Bank Championship] because it's one of the closest to me, and a lot of my friends come down to watch. And that's about it. I wouldn't call the majors "fun."
Is there anyone on Tour that when you're paired with them you say, 'Man, this is going to be a long day.'
The really, really slow players.
But anybody you just don't like?
Not really. I'm just not someone who dislikes people.
What about pro-ams? Is it possible for a player to actually like playing in them? Do you?
Pro-ams are long, and I think they're long for the amateurs, too, but I do enjoy it, and I've met a lot of great people in pro-ams. It's really important for us to do because it's the only sport where amateurs can actually play with the pros and get on the same playing field, and that's what makes our game so unique. Plus, it really helps us generate the revenue for the money that we play for. The only advice I can give to the younger guys coming up is: Don't take pro-ams for granted. That's why golf's so attractive, because they can play with us and spend a lot of money, and that's why our purses go way up.
So you're out here, in a decidedly un-golfy place. Why, after living in sunny, golf-mad Arizona, did you decide to move back home to Minnesota?
For family, mainly. So my wife could have some support with the three kids. She's from here, too. I figure that we play so much golf that it's nice to take time off away from golf, and there's no better place than home for that. To be honest, when you asked before what comes first, it's just so clearly family. I know everyone says that, but I really mean it. You certainly don't move to Minnesota for golf.