Your parents are schoolteachers. Was that a blessing, a curse or both?
A blessing. They were always doing the right thing, and they taught me to be a good person first, and it kept me on the straight and narrow. My dad played college football and baseball for Indiana State. He told me how to be passionate and aggressive for things. He always said you've got to have three things: the passion, the opportunity and the talent.
You managed to get through all three stages of Q-School in your first attempt, in 2005. Was there a close call?
Well, I was right on the bubble in my first stage, and I almost puked before I teed off on the last day. I was tied for 19th [going into that round]. I said, 'All right, I'm going to make some putts.' I went out and shot 30 on the front nine and ended up finishing in the top three.
You had an emergency appendectomy the week of the 2008 Frys.com Open. Were you close to dying?
I went to bed Sunday night feeling kind of weird. When I woke up the next morning my stomach really hurt, I was having sweats, but I thought I had some kind of flu or something. I took a plane, which I didn't know I shouldn't be doing, to Arizona, and I kept getting shooting pains.
You played nine holes of a practice round before onsite medical personnel suggested you see a doctor, which led to the operation that night. Was it tough playing the Ginn sur Mer Classic the next week, or did you have to since you were 126th on the money list?
I tried to get a medical [exemption] for the last couple events and [the Tour] wouldn't give me one. I wore a little pain patch on my belly for some extra support, and the last couple of courses really set up well for my game. I was able to secure my card at the Disney. It was nerve-wracking. If I'd missed the cut there I probably wouldn't be in the position I am today.
What surprised you most about your first Ryder Cup, last year in Wales?
The fans over there were great. I was overwhelmed by how many people came out in such bad conditions. They cheered us on, they really cheered on the other side, but that was awesome. It showed a lot of class.
You were two down in your match against Europe's Ross Fisher when Bernard Gallacher, a former European captain who was working for BBC radio, called you a "typical American" when you said something about Fisher's free drop from a muddy area on 11. Did you hear the comment?
I thought it was somebody in the crowd. I was curious what the drop was because it enabled him to pull out a wood and get a good lie and hit the green in two. I walked over because I was curious about what was going on. He said he was taking casual-water relief, and I said, 'Okay, are you sure? I don't really see any water.'
Then the official came over and said, 'No, it's unusual-crowd-damage relief.' I was curious why he was dropping like 20, 25 feet away from where the crowd had been.
You'll probably always be remembered for your "Boom, baby!" reaction to holing out from the fairway at the Ryder Cup. Do people come up to you and say "Boom, baby" out of the blue?
Yeah, around Indiana it happens quite frequently. There was a saying back in the day — every time Reggie Miller hit a 3-pointer, the announcer would just go crazy and say, 'Boom, Baby!' My friend and I used to laugh about that all the time in high school. You'd make a putt or whatever and say, 'Boom, baby' just to rub it in. So it was the first thing that came to my mind, and then you had Bubba over there saying, 'Yeah, I can cheer, too!'
You had the 54-hole lead at Greenbrier last year and were the victim of Stuart Appleby's Sunday 59. What's it like to be on the wrong end of a historic round?
Well, it stings a bit, but at the same time, knowing he won with that, it's a game. I played my heart out. I played as good as I could. I just didn't make any putts the final round.
Are you recognized more after your five top-3 finishes and your Ryder Cup appearance last year?
Yeah, at the basketball games I am. It's kind of cool — sometimes they start chanting my name when the other team is shooting free throws or something. It's kind of goofy. That happened yesterday at the game. Probably 10 or 15 kids saw me, and the next thing you know they're yelling it just to be goofy.