Four of your five professional wins have come in playoffs, including this year at Torrey Pines. Aren't there less dramatic ways to win?
I guess I have a flair for coming from behind or for screwing up when I should have won already. I don't know what it is. I think the reason I have success in those situations is that I'm able to slow myself down and really focus on what I need to do and not worry too much about the situation.
Being a playoff veteran, how do you maintain that focus?
My mantra the last year and a half has been "I'm not giving up." Whether I'm eight under par or eight over, I try to have the same mindset on every shot: The last shot is just as important as the first one. I've learned that not doing that can really cost you in the course of a year and in your career. You can't turn it off and on — you have to have it on the whole time.
You were PGA Tour Rookie of the Year in 2007 but didn't win again until 2011. What happened in between?
Out here on Tour you get to a certain level and you want to improve even more. You want to change things in order to get better, instead of just doing what got you there. You do a lot of soul searching trying to figure out what you're doing. You don't win for a long time and you doubt yourself. You wonder if you're really as good as you think you are. Now I'm on a really good path and look back at that as a learning process.
You've had two top-10 finishes in the last four U.S. Opens. Why do you enjoy that event so much?
Because it's such a grind. You're not going to hit 14 fairways and 18 greens. There's no way to do that in a U.S. Open. You have to know you're going to get beat up. You have to scramble a bit, which I feel is one of the strenghts of my game. By no means amd I a fairways-and-greens kind of player, so my finishes there are a surprise for me. But I embrace the U.S. Open. It's a marathon. I think that's why I play better there than in the other majors.
You're only 31 years old but you've already had surgery on both hips in the past two years.
There was degenerative problems I was born with that led to torn labrums in both hips. I got the left hip done in 2010 and the right hip last year. I feel good going forward and shouldn't have any issues. In 2010 I was playing with a bad hip that definitely affected my swing. I've got a little more speed now in my swing, since I wasn't able to fire my hips through impact as much as I can now. I picked up about 5 to 10 yards after the first surgery and about 5 more yards after the second one.
You grew up and still live in Nashville. You must be a country music fan.
I am. I don't look at that as a bad thing, despite what most people think. Growing up in Nashville, you really don't have a choice. We have so much good music come through town. I'm a fan of the Zac Brown Band and Lady Antebellum, and you really can't go wrong with new guys like Luke Bryan or Eric Church.
Any particular country song sum up the state of your game right now?
I can't think of one, but my game right now is not too great, so it would have to be a depressing country song. And there's quite a few to choose from.
You're a big fan of sports at your alma mater [Vanderbilt University]. Which of your Tour wins would you trade for a national championship in basketball or football?
I'd trade any of my Tour wins for a national championship in either sport. I'm that big a fan. Growing up in town I've been going to games since I was five years old. We have struggled, especially in football, over the last 15 to 20 years, but we're getting better. It's a great time to be a Vanderbilt fan.
Would you trade a major in for a national championship?
I would not. I think the school would understand that.