Sea Island, Georgia
THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, members of media, thank you so much for joining us for today’s special Web.com Tour announcement.
Joining me to my right we’d like to welcome president chairman, CEO, David Brown.
Web.com Tour president Bill Calfee, and current PGA TOUR member Patton Kizzire.
Turn it over to Bill Calfee for a few opening remarks.
BILL CALFEE: Thanks, Stuart, and thanks everyone for being here. Pretty exciting moment for me personally, and I know for you, Patton. Being here in your home town, certainly very fitting to give you that Player the Year Award.
Your family is here and your new bride. Life is good, huh?
PATTON KIZZIRE: It is. It is.
BILL CALFEE: We’ll hear from you in a few minutes on that. Looking back on the season in 2015 on the Web you had a great year. You had 12 top-10 finishes; you won twice. A little late getting that first win in Utah and second win in Knoxville.
Then ended up winning $567,000 and a little bit of change on the official Money List. Obviously got your card.
So it was a great year for you. Second most money won buy anybody in the history of this tour. That was a good way to finish of your Web.com Tour career and begin your PGA TOUR career.
You certainly have gotten off to a great start. You have two top-5 finishes in the fall so far this year, a second in Las Vegas, and currently 13th on the FedExCup points list.
So I would say that you’re certainly the perfect example of what this tour is all about. You proved, like many others before you, that you guys are ready to be successful on the PGA TOUR. You’re having an impact, and you have certainly shown that right out of the gate.
I know you’ll be off to a great career on the PGA TOUR. Wish you much success.
PATTON KIZZIRE: Thank you.
BILL CALFEE: This wouldn’t be possible certainly without David Brown being here as part of this ceremony. You’re such a part of the Web.com tour as the as CEO and president of Web.com and a great sponsor. We’re certainly glad you’re with us to enjoy this.
I know you’re committed to this tour and you love seeing players like Patton have such success on the Web.com Tour and then go to PGA TOUR and have an immediate impact like he is having.
So if you could share a few thoughts with us, that would be great.
DAVID BROWN: Absolutely. I’ve been watching Patton since he was a young kid as a junior golfer. Watched him play through college, in the amateur, and then the pro circuits, and knew that there needed to be a place for people that had his talent level and commitment to reaching their goals and getting that opportunity.
The Web.Com tour is all about that. Bill and the Web.com Tour staff have built a great place for Patton and a bunch of guys like him. I mean, this year alone our graduates are dominating the PGA TOUR in these early tournaments.
That shows you when that they come off the Web.com Tour they are ready to compete and win.
I would tell you one other thing about Patton that you didn’t necessarily know. Not only is he a great golfer, but he epitomizes character. He is a great young man. I’ve watched him over the years befriend so many other golfers.
He’s extremely well liked on the Web.Com Tour. He will be a leader on the PGA TOUR because of his character. I’m really happy to see him having such great success.
That’s what you hope for. You hope for leaders to be born and get an opportunity. With Patton and some of the other young players, I think there are good things ahead.
I would just say one other thing: Watch out, because there is a whole ‘nother generation coming right behind you. It’s not going to get any easier.
PATTON KIZZIRE: Never is.
THE MODERATOR: All right. Flanking Patton to his right is the ever-familiar Jack Nicklaus Award given annually to the Web.com Tour player of the year.
Bill Calfee, would you please announce Patton Kizzire.
BILL CALFEE: Patton, it’s my great privilege and honor to present you with the Jack Nicklaus Award as player of the year on the 2015 Web.com Tour.
Great playing, and good luck as your career continues to improve and get better. I’d pick it up for you, but it’s too darn heavy.
PATTON KIZZIRE: Thank you very much. (Applause).
Well, I would like to thank these guys sitting next to me. Mr. Brown and Calfee have done so much for the tour, the Web.com Tour. It’s been great to me, and I could never give back enough, as much as they’ve given me. The opportunity to compete all year has been awesome.
Learned so much this past season, and I think us guys coming out and playing well early in the year has shown how much we’ve learned and how much it’s helped us.
So I want to thank them. It’s been so nice to spend a lot time with them. They were very generous with their time and always helpful. They know how to put on a golf tournament, and the Web.com Tour has been my home for the last year.
I would like it still be there, but PGA TOUR is where I’ve always wanted to be.
Q. You commented a few times throughout this year that your move to Sea Island and now your wife Kari were the two big influences. How special is this award?
PATTON KIZZIRE: Pretty special. This is a dream come true to be on the PGA TOUR and to graduate through the Web.com Tour. Sea Island has a special place in my heart.
My wife — almost called her my fiancee. My wife, Kari, grew up here and her parents live here now and I grew up coming here. It’s such a cool place.
It’s a perfect venue for a PGA TOUR event. I’ve got so much support, so many friends here. My coach, my trainer, management group, friends. I have family here now, which is cool.
My in laws, the Hodsons, live here. It’s just a great place to call home, and I’m glad to be competing in the RSM Classic this week and receiving such a great award.
It is very, very fitting.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Congratulations. Yesterday Davis talked about the qualification process by which you got into the field here this year. Similar to what Dru had to go through. Patton, did this and look what happened. That was Davis’ comment. You got in and made the cut; pretty good first round. How much did playing here last year go into your confidence level and what you were able to do on the Web.Com?
PATTON KIZZIRE: It was huge. I was carrying some confidence into this tournament last year, and for Davis to provide this opportunity for somebody that is just champing at the bit…
I know Dru is excited it play, and I’m proud him. It was definitely a springboard to my Q-School. I was going through Q-School then. To play fairly well and get and experience, it’s impossible to replace experience. I got this last year and carried it into the Web.Com Q-School season.
The players here are really good, but the Web.Com players are pretty solid, too. I’ve been able to carry all the confidence from all my experiences. Last year getting this was huge. I know Dru will be able to take this experience and take it into his college events and hopefully use it to his advantage.
Q. I’m sure you’ve been asked this before, but what put you over the top this year from being a guy who was out here competing to a guy out here winning and being No. 1 on the tour?
PATTON KIZZIRE: I have been asked that question. I wish I could put my finger on it. It’s a lot of small things.
The move down here if Sea Island was a big player in that. Started butting heads — in a good way — with some players down here. Davis Love, Zach Johnson, Johnson Bird, Matt Kuchar, Harris English, Brian Harman, Hudson Swafford. I could go on and on. We have such a stable of really good players with Crown Sports Management/Lagardère. I still call it Crown Sports.
I think that and my personal life was starting to come together. My wife Kari Hodson, Kari Kizzire, she was a big player in that. Just a lot of stability and comfort and support. It just started adding up.
The confidence came with some results. I like to try to let the confidence snowball as much as I can and try to stay as humble as I can.
That’s what I did, and here I am. I didn’t think I would be right here this time last year, but I am. I’m excited. There is a long, long way to go, so there is no complacency in me.
Q. You said this morning that you didn’t really put yourself on the same level as Justin Thomas when you first turned pro. Was there an epiphany moment when you thought, I can do this? I can compete with them?
PATTON KIZZIRE: It came gradually. I think Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth and some of those guys, I mean, I would put them in a Tiger Woods-ish category. Just at a young age, boom, here I am. This is what I got. They were so good right out of the gate.
Took me a little white to figure it out. So it’s been gradual. I’ve learned by trial and error. So there are different strokes for different folks, different learning curve for everybody. I wouldn’t change my journey for anything.
Q. Wondering so far this fall, Emiliano Grillo won the Web.com Tour Championship. Smiley won an event. Peter. Justin has already been on the PGA TOUR. Do you and Dave feel like proud papas or something like that when things like this happen in such a hurry?
BILL CALFEE: Yeah, absolutely. I think we’ve been kind of in life step on this stuff. This tour is 26 years old. When we started it, it certainly was minor league, developmental. You look at it today and it’s clearly not that.
It’s easy to still call it that because it’s not the PGA TOUR. I would challenge anybody that this is the PGA TOUR. This is really our form of expansion. It’s all in the performance of the players, like Patton and the players we’ve just named. They have the game.
There are a lot of others on the Web.com players right now that we’ll be hearing about in the future. They have the game but don’t have the room for them on the PGA TOUR.
When they get there, we know they’re going to be successful, they’re going to have impact, like Patton is having, and we know he’s going to win.
Yeah, we feel very — I don’t know if “proud” is the right word, but we feel like we’ve accomplished a lot to see these players go on. We’re sad when they leave in one way, but very happy.
It’s funny, because we say, We hope you don’t come back, but don’t forget us.
These guys prove every single year they deserve to be out there. The stature of this tour continues to be elevated as a result of their great play.
Q. David, you guys could have maybe sponsored one tournament or a PGA TOUR event. That was a while back. What went into the decision to sponsor an entire tour than maybe one showcase event somewhere?
DAVID BROWN: I think when we sat back and thought about it, just exactly what’s happening today: the opportunity to see someone like Patton and several of the other names mentioned today get an opportunity to play at a high level.
It takes that. It takes time. It takes competition. It takes mental toughness. They got to get it somewhere. We sponsor a tour that provides that opportunity.
That’s a good day at the office when you can help someone have an opportunity and they achieve more of their dream. So that’s why we picked an entire tour rather than just one tournament where people have already made it and they’re playing for a paycheck and honor.
We’re playing for a dream on this tour, the dream of getting to the next level.
PATTON KIZZIRE: I wanted to take the opportunity to obviously thank these guys. Like Mr. Brown says, I’ve known him for a long time. I’ve been playing junior golf with Tyler Brown, his son, who’s a great player as well.
But I wanted to thank my parents, because that’s how he knows us. He was with Tyler; my parents were with me. My mom is here tonight. She deserves a lot of credit. She knows a lot about golf but doesn’t play. She knows as much as probably any of us.
But there was a big sacrifice that my parents made and they were a huge part of my success, so I definitely couldn’t leave here without thanking them.
Q. Patton, you said this is a journey. Certainly is. You make that journey and get your PGA TOUR card. You’re newly married. First event. You put the tee in the ground, first tee, what was going through your mind? What were you feeling?
BILL CALFEE: Well, I was trying to figure out quite where to put my ring, how to finagle it in there. Had to learn to swing with that.
But I was anxious. I was excited. It was almost a good distraction to have my wedding there before the tournament, because I was so dialed in on that and so excited about that, and then, boom, I’m at PGA TOUR event and I’m on the first tee.
But I was excited. It was something I been looking forward to for a long time, being a member of the PGA TOUR.