Hurricane Golf's Jason Hiland got a chance to interview PGA Tour player William McGirt recently. They talked about his career, his confidence, and of course, what's in the bag.
HG: Well first of all, congratulations on the win last year. I think a lot of golf fans have followed your career and it started from the mini tours and guys love that story and you sort of grinded your way on to the PGA tour and you took the next step on winning an absolute world class tournament. How was it to win the memorial tournament?
William: It’s a pretty good one…
You know, to win any tournament’s awesome but to win the memorial from Mr. Nicklaus on the golf course that he built, it’s hard to describe. Honestly, I still have a hard time remembering what happened. A lot of the stuff I remember I’ve seen video clips on Facebook or highlights on TV and you get so wrapped up in what you’re doing that you kind of forget what’s going on.
HG: Is the focus--you’re so focused on what’s going on and you’ve been there before close to winning--was there a difference this time? Did it feel slower? Did it kind of come to you?
William: Everything was super slow this time. I looked up early on and I was 50-60 yards ahead of Kuch and Gary (Woodland) walking on the fairway and I knew I had to slow down at that point, but the back 9 it was like everything was in slow motion. It was borderline scary looking back at just how calm I was going through that. I had people asking me how nervous were you to be able to putt to win? Honestly if you put a heart rate monitor on me, you would have wondered if I was alive. I felt no nerves whatsoever. And I remember reading the putt and looking at my caddy and he said, “Do you have it?” and I said, “I got it.”
HG: So is it confidence?…and is that what the years on tour, where you’ve got to that level now? Where, let’s say you look at yourself from ten years ago to now. Is it more on the mental side that you’re a better player today than you were ten years ago? Is that the difference where you’re comfortable in the situation?
William: I think it’s a combination of fundamentally I’m better now. Mentally, I’m more prepared. I think having the close calls you kinda learn each time you get in that position that you don’t win. And if you don’t learn, then you obviously haven’t paid attention. I feel like the two runner up finishes in Canada and finishing runner up in Mississippi last year as well I felt like, ok, I know I’m close enough to win, it’s just one little thing to get me over the hump and honestly I was nervous at the other times and it’s scary just how calm I was. You may not necessarily learn something about how to play the shot or something about the course, you learn something about yourself. But for me everything I do when I get under the gun is to speed up so I learned and I had to force myself to slow down and look what it did for me.
HG: My follow-up question to this is, I don’t know if it’s urban legend or not, but there’s the story out there that Tiger Woods talked to you after a round and kind of gave you some pro to pro insight that he thought you should probably know. I don’t know if that story is fully true, but…
William: It was 2012, it was Monday morning at the PGA championship in Kiawah and my teacher, my caddy and I were out on the putting green bright and early at 8:30 and Tiger and Joe LaCava were out there and Joe came over and told Brandon my caddy, hey great playing in Canada, this and that, he came over and told me the same thing. And I said, “I only really have one regret, I never looked at the leaderboard didn’t know where I stood.” And Tiger’s standing over a putt and he looks up and he says “What?” And he walks over to me and we’re literally about nose to nose and he says, “OK, spill the beans.” So I tell him the first time I didn’t want to get caught up leaderboard watching and screw it up that way. And he says, “You think Kobe doesn’t look at the scoreboard with a minute to go in the game?” I said, “Point taken. I get where you’re going with this, but my first time on tour in that situation I didn’t want to mess it up by leaderboard watching.” And he says, “You’re an idiot.” And I said, “OK, we agree on something.” But yeah it was 100% true. And if you’ve got arguably if not the greatest of all time, one of the two best of all time, saying something like that to you, you might need to pay a little bit of attention.
HG: Equipment this year, obviously great year last year, you were obviously very comfortable with the equipment. What new changes are in the bag? Are you playing the new Srixon Z-Star golf ball? Have you been testing it a while? What are you seeing in new improvements? If you are making equipment changes, what’s in there this year that you’re excited about?
William: I’ve been playing the fifth generation Z-Star since 2016 Firestone/Bridgestone Invitational. First week with the ball in the bag I finished 7th! So that was a really easy switch. We’ve been testing the Srixon 765 irons. They’re probably going in the bag next week in Phoenix.
HG: Shaft change as well with the new irons or the same shaft?
William: Same shaft. We’ve tested different shafts, but I know what I’m getting with the current (shaft and blade) it may be something we back go to down the road because we’ve been looking for stuff that launches a little bit higher and knocks the spin off and right now I know what I’m getting with the shafts I’ve been playing for 3 years. So I’m pretty comfortable with those.
HG: And the ball’s stayed in, once that switch was made last summer it’s been in the whole time, the newest Z-Star generation?
William: I wanted to take the prototypes that I tested in January 2016 and just start playing them then! I couldn’t wait for the golf ball to be given to me. And in fact, we got them Monday in Akron and I never even hit anything else after that. I loved it.
HG: Which is hard for a pro to do, that usually takes some time for the new ball to go in, so that says a lot about the ball too.
William: But with what I saw when I tested that golf ball, I knew what I was getting and it didn’t take very long to adjust.
HG: My final question is, I was in Charleston last summer and had the pleasure of playing the Country Club of Charleston and there is also heard you’re out there as an honorary member. So my question is, I loved the golf course, I loved the whole facility, the people were great, what a great old school layout. How often do you get to go play down there? Do you do a lot of practicing there when you’re in town?
William: I get down there two three times a year. It’s one of my favorite places to hang out. I mean I could go stand on that range, playing that golf course never gets old, period. It’s the kind of place that can play really easy in a 25 mile an hour wind as long as it’s coming from the right direction, it can play really tough with 10 miles an hour from the wrong direction. It plays different every day it’s something I love about it. And the members out there are awesome. I’ve been going down there for the better part of 15 years. When I got my tour card, they were nice enough to give me an honorary membership.
HG: It’s a great golf course that’s why I love it as well! Thank you so much for your time. Congratulations--it was great to see that win last year. Thanks for the interview, greatly appreciated.