What's your take on the PGA Tour's decision to make Q-school only qualify players for the Nationwide Tour and also starting the season in with the Fall Series beginning in 2013?
I think it's great, honestly. I think I may be the only player I've heard say that, but I'm generally not afraid of change. Things have to be changed to keep moving and progressing, and I think that they may be addressing a problem early rather than trying to fix it later down the road in two or three years. They're actually finding a solution before it becomes a problem.
Can you elaborate on that?
By getting more starts. The whole Fall Series now being included in the FedExCup. It's hard to keep sponsors interested in tournaments that don't matter as much. And if we start losing Fall Series events, then people who get on the Tour with lower categories are going to only get to play 10 events a year. They want to keep it so those guys are at least getting 18 starts so they get a legitimate shot at keeping their cards. I think they're addressing that problem early rather than all of a sudden getting to a point where a guy gets on the Tour who finished 25th on Nationwide money list and 25th at Q-school, and his priority ranking will be low, so he would only get to play seven tournaments a year. They're looking at that and saying, "Okay, we need to make those tournaments matter more." And the reality is if you just look at the numbers and the statistics, more people keep their card that go through the Nationwide Tour.
You are one of the handful of players in the last three decades who bypassed Q-school and got your card by finishing top 125 on the PGA Tour money list via sponsor exemptions. Do you think this new system will cause more college players to leave school early and try to earn their cards the way you did?
Yeah, it's not going to stop somebody from doing exactly what I did. If you get out here, you get your sponsor exemptions and you do well enough, then you'll get into that final three-event playoff series at the end of the year, Nos. 126 to 200 on the PGA Tour money list, where you get a really fair shot at getting your card. I like the system. Obviously it's not perfect, but everybody complained about the FedEx Cup at first, too, and that's taken off pretty well, and nobody complains about it now. They're not trying to damage us in any way, they're trying to make this Tour better.
At the start of the year you signed an endorsement deal to wear the new Arnie clothing line, which is inspired by the clothes Arnold Palmer wore in his prime. How did that happen?
It came about at the end of last year. I had known [Arnie clothes designers] Geoff Tait and Bobbie Pasternak for a while, and they told me their concept and what they wanted to do this year, and they were just looking for one or two guys to wear the line and get it out there, and they instantly thought of me and wanted me to wear it. I liked the concept and I liked everything they showed me. It was just a great fit.
How do you like being associated with Arnold Palmer and to be the brand representative of his signature style?
He's done so much for the game, along with golf style, so it’s an honor just to be affiliated with that.
Do you remember the first time you shook Arnold Palmer's hand?
Yeah, I played a practice round with him at the 2003 Masters, and then I actually played the first two rounds with him during the actual tournament.
That must have been pretty special.
I got to play one of my first majors with one of the greatest players this game has ever known, so just seeing the appreciation of the fans for him and standing ovations every green and every tee box for 36 straight holes, it was great to be around that and obviously something to aspire to.
Earlier this week it was announced that TaylorMade was acquiring Adams Golf. As an Adams staffer, what are thoughts on the deal?
Obviously for a while we've known that Adams Golf was looking around in the market. They wanted to be sold. The funny thing is they've actually been profitable, one of the only golf club companies that had been profitable for the last two years. They're doing really well. I think they just saw the need to expand. They needed a bigger partner to help them grow their branding, and obviously there were quite a few companies in the mix that thought they were worth buying. I think [TaylorMade] will do great things with it. It's a great brand extension for them. I just hope they do it the right way. So many of these companies get bought by bigger companies and just kind of fizzle out in two or three years, so it'll be nice to just see them keep the brand true to what it is. Adams Golf specializes in game-improvement stuff, and I think TaylorMade really wants to reach that market, and I think it's great for them.
Is earning a trip to Augusta something that's been on your mind in recent weeks?
Obviously I'm not in [the Masters], so I need to play well to somehow get in it. Good golf takes care of everything. That's all I try to focus on.
You got married last October. How is married life?
Married life is great, and I couldn't be happier with. It's been obviously nice having [my wife Nikki] out here with me every week — she’s my best friend, so it makes it a lot easier.