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An Interview with: J.B. HOLMES
KELLY ELBIN: The third native Kentuckian to represent the Commonwealth of Kentucky, J.B. Holmes joining us at the 37th Ryder Cup. This is J.B.'s debut in Ryder Cup competition. Sounds like it was quite a day out there for golf fans and you guys for the State of Kentucky. Can you talk a little bit about it, please?
J.B. HOLMES: Yeah, we had a great time out there today. Being my first Ryder Cup I was a little surprised to see how many people were there for the first practice round. But it was nice to see the state come out and support us and the fans were great and we had a great time with them. We were just looking forward to this week.
KELLY ELBIN: By the way, Bobby Nichols and Kenny Perry are the other two native Kentuckians.
Q. Kenny has been in here telling us what it was like going down the fairways. Jim Furyk says he thinks he's running for office. How many tickets do you have circulating? How many close fans did you have out there today?
J.B. HOLMES: You know, I had a couple of my good friends were out there today. My family is coming up this week. I don't know exactly what day they're coming up, but they'll definitely be up here for most of the week. I had several friends out there today.
Q. Describe your feelings as you were going down the fairways. You were bombing them and you had them all just crazy, I guess. How did it feel?
J.B. HOLMES: It felt amazing. I mean, what else would you expect? I mean, you're going out there and you've got thousands of people cheering for you. It feels awesome.
I mean, there's really no way to describe it unless you've felt that before. We were playing a practice round and it felt like we were in the final group of a tournament. So it was a lot of fun.
Q. On 8, it looked ... on the par 3, it looked like either you or ... I'm not sure if it was you or it was Boo hurt his hand hitting a shot or something. Was there something there, or was I misreading something?
J.B. HOLMES: No. Boo said he think he got a blister on his hand from signing so many autographs (laughter).
Q. It looked like he couldn't hold onto the club.
J.B. HOLMES: No, he was ... no.
Q. Would you talk about golf in the State of Kentucky and how much ... I mean, growing up you watched other guys that did it, whether it was Bobby or Kenny even, and what it means to you really to be in this thing? Kenny has talked about the legacy a little bit about what this means for him now and future Kentucky golfers. What does it mean for you and future UK golfers and Kentuckians in general?
J.B. HOLMES: First of all, it's unbelievable just to make the Ryder Cup Team, and I'm so honored to be able to represent my country.
But it shows ... I came from a small town, and it shows the people in Kentucky and in small towns that you don't have to be in a big city, you don't have to have the nicest golf course; you don't have to have the nicest stuff; you don't have to have everything be perfect to be able to be successful. You can just go out, work hard, do your best and be committed and good things can happen to you.
I wasn't highly recruited coming out of high school. I mostly played my golf in Kentucky. I went to a Kentucky school and had a lot of SEC schools say I wasn't good enough to play for them. I was SEC Player of the Year my last year.
So, a lot of hard work. It's not given to you or anything like that, so you have to work your butt off. That's what it takes to get here. It's not just wake up and here it is; you've really got to work hard to get to this position.
Q. That said now, talk about how you go into this thing, maybe why you think team USA hasn't done as well in the past and what you guys maybe have to do to win because right now you're a definitive favorite, and does that work to your advantage because you guys are considered the underdogs?
J.B. HOLMES: I like our team. Like I said, I've never played in the Ryder Cup, but I look around that room at our guys, and I'm like, wow, we've got a really good team here. I'm not worried about what happened in the past or whatever, and that has no effect on this year.
I mean, somebody making a putt two years ago is not going to affect any shot this year, so I'm not even focused on that. I'm just focused on this week. I feel like I like our team. We're playing well, and I think we've got a chance.
Q. I made a side trip over to Campbellsville Country Club last week. Just kind of wondering what your memories are growing up there and kind of the group of guys you ran around with and how much that maybe formed who you are today?
J.B. HOLMES: My caddie was one of them. I played ... when we were younger, my parents didn't get babysitters, they just dropped us off at the golf course, and we played 54 holes a day. We'd start in the morning and play 36, go swimming and then go back out and play another 18. That was my summer. We just played golf all the time.
So I think that definitely helped my game. I never really had a swing instructor until I turned pro, so it was basically just I taught myself and I was out on the golf course, and if I was hitting it bad, I had to figure it out. I think that kind of helped what kind of player I am, I'm more of a feel player, and if something goes wrong, I can usually fix it for a little while or get the ball in the hole when I need to.
It was great being able to grow up and play with your friends and be that ... and Brandon (Parsons), to be able to be on my bag now, it's kind of a sense of being home all the time when he's around, so it's good.
Q. Kenny has been lobbying for a pairing with you, and Azinger is apparently kicking around the idea of sending you guys first off Friday morning to set the tone and obviously try to engage the crowd as much as possible. I'm wondering what you think of that idea and whether you've been in his ear at all or felt comfortable enough to express that opinion to try to make that happen because I think it's obviously the pairing everybody in Kentucky wants to see and probably well beyond the borders of the state.
J.B. HOLMES: I'd love to play with Kenny. Me and Kenny has kind of been talking all year, it would be great if we could get on the Ryder Cup team and play together. I'd love to play with Kenny. We have mentioned that to Paul.
Definitely Paul's decision, though. He's the captain, and he's going to do what he thinks is right, and if that's sending us off first on Friday, that's great with me. I'd love to go out there and start it off with a bang. That would be awesome.
But if that's not in the cards, then whenever I get my chance, I'm going to go out there and play the best I can.
Q. I was just kind of curious, could you take me back to maybe that first ... making the high school team when you were in third or fourth grade?
J.B. HOLMES: I don't know if I can remember that far.
Q. You were eight, nine years old and you were with kids 15, 16, 17 years old. What was that like?
J.B. HOLMES: It was rough, being in third grade and everything, everybody being older than me. I got picked on for a little while. In fifth and sixth grade when I started beating them, they stopped picking on me. The easiest way to get somebody to be quiet is just beat them.
Q. Has that allowed you to, I guess, have so much success at this level, knowing that really what happens when you're a kid kind of sticks with you for the rest of your life for better or worse? Did that kind of prepare you for what you're encountered out here?
J.B. HOLMES: I think so because when you're in third grade playing against a guy that's a junior or senior in high school you've got to get over the fact that he's older than you. You've just got to go out and play. I learned at a young age, especially when I started beating them, that they're older than me, they're supposed to be better than me, and I still beat them.
I've learned to go into it and it doesn't really matter who you're playing. If you play well and do the best of your ability, you can win.
Q. Everybody has been talking today about No. 13. What was your yardage, and had you done that before playing this course as many times as you have?
J.B. HOLMES: I think it was like 338 to the front. I mean, I've messed around with it a little bit. That was just for fun. I was just having fun with the crowd. They wanted me to hit a driver, so I hit my first shot down there, then I hit a driver and happened to hit a good one, and it ended up on the green.
Q. Also, I was talking to Steve Flesch. He said he thought he could also drive No. 1 if you tried. Have you ever tried that?
J.B. HOLMES: Sometimes I've played here, it's been wet. It was into the wind today, and I hit it to about ... I think it was around 100 yards or 110 yards. If it got downwind, I could probably get close. It would really take a good shot from thatangle for the ball to ... I can't fly it there, but for the ball to roll up on the green, it would take a pretty incredible shot. I could get close, but I don't know about getting it on the green.
Q. You talked a lot before this about the moment and about being young and maybe not sinking in. What was it like out there today, and did you feel in the moment and maybe get a sense of what Friday will be like with all the fans that were there today?
J.B. HOLMES: Yeah, like I said, I was a little surprised to see how many people were here for a practice round, this first one. It's going to be unbelievable on Friday. I love playing in front of people, especially in front of my home state. It's going to be great. I'm excited to get this thing started, and a couple more practice rounds and then we're ready to go.
KELLY ELBIN: Kentucky's own J.B. Holmes, thank you very much.
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