The 28-year-old Californian looks back on a season of silverware and promise, and ahead to another run at that maiden major.
1 You ended 2017 strongly, winning the Hero Challenge, finishing 2nd in the OHL Classic and T2 in the BMW. Were you almost disappointed to see the back of 2017 and have a break?
Kind of, in the sense I was building good momentum. But statistically, 2017 as a whole was my best year. I put myself in a lot of positions to win, getting the win at Honda then coming off the five-week break after the Presidents Cup and going to Mexico and finishing second after putting myself in contention there. I wasn’t necessarily in contention going into Sunday but to make something happen, that was a nice way to end the golf season for me and gives me a lot of confidence for this year.
2 How do you assess last year – two victories, three runner-up finishes and up to 7th in the world rankings?
I didn’t win as much as I would have liked to. But that being said, the two events that I’ve played through what I guess is my mini off-season have been positive. In Mayakoba I finished second and put myself in a position to win, and then [in the Bahamas] having not necessarily been in contention but going out there and putting myself in a position to win, I ended the season strongly. I think it was a very solid year across the board, and what we’re going to work on going forward is just picking up a few of the little things that could have made that difference to put us in the winner’s circle more on a Sunday, because we gave ourselves a lot of chances.
3 Some of the credit for your strong end to 2017 has to go to Tiger Woods…
Yeah, I played two rounds with him before I went down to Mexico, and then we played two or three times before Thanksgiving and then two rounds before The Hero and before the OHL. I think he sharpened me up a little bit. I’ve gotten a little scared of how good he was playing at home (in Jupiter), I thought I needed to start playing a little bit better (laughs).
4 Tiger’s talked about how playing with you guys helped his recovery and return to competition. Do you deserve credit for his comeback?
The thing is, living in Jupiter, being able to play with Tiger now that he’s back playing and the other guys who live there, it’s a big advantage to all of us, just being able to play and to practise with them. It’s the real deal when you’re playing against some of the best players in the world and arguably one of the best players who’s ever played our game, especially when it comes to winning, so that can only help all of us guys.
5 And finally, inevitably, the majors question. Some of your best friends like Justin, Jordan Spieth, even Dustin Johnson and Sergio have landed a major. How much does that play on your mind?
Yeah, it does. We only get four chances a year, so there’s four big weeks that we always think about it. But I put myself in position to be in contention at majors, so we’re just going to keep knocking at the door.