Interview With Senior Amateur Champion Douglas Hanzel

September 26, 2013

JEFF ALTSTADTER:  Please welcome 2013 USGA Senior Amateur Champion Doug Hanzel. Congratulations. How did you feel out there today?

DOUGLAS HANZEL:  This morning I knew Chip was going to be a great match.  Chip is a great player.  Got a couple birdies.  Birdied 8 and 9.

USGA did a little number on us, they moved the tees way up on 8.  I didn't know what to hit.  I guessed.  I hit a 5‑iron off the green.  Didn't want to go for the green.  Hit a nice wedge up there, made the birdie.

That was really good because I went the three up.  Then I hit a really good shot on 9, made a birdie on 9, went to four up.  We were kind of cruising at that point.

After that, I just made a lot of pars.  Really only made one bogey.  Made a bad swing on 12.  Club slipped, hit it in the trees.  Chip made par.

But I just played steady.  Hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens.

Q.  Talk about what it means to be a USGA champion.

DOUGLAS HANZEL:  I'm dumbfounded.  Really I couldn't say I envisioned being a USGA champion, it's just an unbelievable feeling.  You know, you play in so many USGA events, because I think this is the 20th or 21st I qualified for, so you play in a lot of events, but realistically do you think you're going to win?

Probably not the other ones.  The Senior Amateur I thought I could win.  I thought I had enough game to win.  But to do it is something else because you got to win six matches.  That's hard.

We don't play much match play.  One time you're not going to play too good or catch a guy who's playing really good.  But you have to win six matches and that's tough.

I'm numb.

Q.  Chip was seven shots ahead of everybody until he gets to you today.  Doesn't have a great day on the greens, you knock him off.

DOUGLAS HANZEL:  Yes, match play is tough.  It's what happens that day.

My match against Chip, I got early momentum.  I think he was back on his heels a little bit.  When you're up, you're a lot looser.  When you're down, you're worried about hitting a loose shot, worried about making a bogey.

I think it was important that I got up early, and I did.

Q.  Talk about the shot on 15.

DOUGLAS HANZEL:  Well, it was obviously a phenomenal shot.  I was a little guessing on the yardage because there were no sprinklers over there.  It's a little uphill.  I hit a 7‑iron from a few yards up further.  So I figured the yardage from that, figured I needed probably two more clubs.

I hit it, I would say, a three‑quarter shot, almost a full shot.  Just had to hit it a little low.  I just hit it perfect.  Came off perfect.  The line was perfect.  I had to keep it down under the trees.  It was just perfect.  That was essentially it.

Q.  Do you remember the yardage?

DOUGLAS HANZEL:  I thought I was about 180 to 185.  So, you know, again, when you're off the fairway, you don't know sometimes.  So I guessed right.

Sometimes you need that luck, guessing right.  I've hit plenty of shots in my career I thought were good, but the yardage wasn't right, the ball didn't fly or didn't end up the distance I thought.

Q.  You made match play last year in three tournaments.  You almost beat the guy who won it in the Senior Amateur.  How much of that experience paid off today do you think or this week?

DOUGLAS HANZEL:  I think it definitely helped.  You know, I've learned not to get ahead of myself with the match play, still be fairly aggressive at times.  Sometimes you get passive in match play, afraid to go after pins because you're afraid to make a bogey.  You don't make any birdies, you don't win any holes.

So I think the match play, particularly last year's Senior Amateur match play, I made it to the semis.  I got pretty far.  I kind of know how aggressive to be at times.  So I think, yeah, the more you play match play the better you're going to be at it, so...

Q.  You've been chasing this since 1978, that was your first U.S. Amateur.  That's 35 years of chasing this stuff.

DOUGLAS HANZEL:  Yeah, I mean, again, your goal is to win the best tournaments.  For a senior, to me, this is the best tournament.  Again, I'm dumbfounded.  Not that I didn't think I could, it's just doing it is something else.

Again, you know who the best senior players are.  Chip Lutz is one of the best senior players.  To go out and take him down in match play, I feel pretty good about myself.

Q.  He's won two British Senior Amateurs and two Canadian Senior Amateurs.


Q.  You went to the British this year.  How did you do there?

DOUGLAS HANZEL:  First amateur event I ever missed the cut.  How about that (laughter)?

I shot 78, really played pretty good.  A double, a triple, you know, you blink your eyes over there and make a triple.  So it was a learning experience.

I'll probably go back.  I don't think I'll go back next year.  Golf is so different over there.  It is so different over there.  I hit some good shots that turned out so bad, it's hard to take.  You hit a good shot and you make a double or a triple.

I think I'll go back in two years.  Royal County Down in Ireland.  I hear that's pretty special, so I think I might go there.

Q.  Next year the U.S. Amateur is in Georgia at The Atlanta Athletic Club.

DOUGLAS HANZEL:  I guess I'm exempt for that.

Q.  For the next two. 

DOUGLAS HANZEL:  All right.  Well, that's good.  That's a short drive then.  I always like to not have to fly.  I'm going to Birmingham next week [for the U.S. Mid-Amateur].  I like that.

Q.  Can you talk a little bit about the area, the golf club here.

DOUGLAS HANZEL:  It's just been phenomenal.  This area, I have not been up before.  I've heard so many things.  We're staying in a friend's house who is a member here.  I've played golf with him for many years.  He offered his house up when I found out I qualified.  I said, That would be wonderful.  Boy, I didn't realize how wonderful it is.

It is really special here.  I can see why a lot of people gravitate up here who are golfers.  Also for the climate.  You know, we had some rain this week, but temperatures were nice.  Back home in Savannah I'm sure it's 85, 90, hot.  Here it's so comfortable.

The golf course, even though we got a lot of rain, really was very playable.  There were really no bad spots out there.  The greens were perfect.

I'm sure the staff worked not overtime but triple overtime to keep it in shape.  I can see why there's a lot of courses up here.  I can see why a lot of people gravitate here, whether it's their primary or secondary residence.

Q.  Were you able to get out and about in the community some this week?

DOUGLAS HANZEL:  Not much.  We had such long days with the rain.  We were always waiting.  It wasn't like you played and you were done.  So there were some long days here.

My medal play round, I played 31 holes one day, then two matches some days.  It's a grueling week.  I told my wife this morning, I said, Boy, I'm about ready to go home.  We've been gone a week.  Even for someone who plays tournaments, that's a long time.  Tournaments for us are three or four days at the most.  U.S. Senior Open is the most I ever play.  That's a full week, plus a couple practice rounds.  That's a big week.

Q.  Who is the member you stayed with?

DOUGLAS HANZEL:  Richard Moore.

Q.  Known him for a long time?

DOUGLAS HANZEL:  Yeah.  He's a Landings resident.  He lived on my island.  He actually moved off our island, to downtown Savannah.  He's a part‑time resident here in the summers.  He's got the resources and gets out of the heat.  Savannah can be pretty brutal in the summer.

I'm not really thinking about retirement yet.  But maybe in the next five years, I probably will find somewhere else to spend a month or two or three in the summer.

Q.  Landings is not a bad place.

DOUGLAS HANZEL:  No, it's a nice place to play golf, no doubt about that.

Q.  Any reason for the red shirt today?

DOUGLAS HANZEL:  No.  I'm not a Tiger red man or anything.  I actually brought a short sleeve out this afternoon, but it got kind of cool.  I left the red on.

Q.  How is your diabetes this week?

DOUGLAS HANZEL:  It was okay.  I had one little issue yesterday morning for the matches.  I was a little low.  I didn't feel well.  It was kind of good that the matches got delayed yesterday, so we got things under control.

Just a bump in the road.

Q.  You've been dealing with it for 15 years.

DOUGLAS HANZEL:  Yeah, but more so the last six or seven have been insulin‑requiring.  You just learn to deal with it.  You just learn to deal with it.

Q.  You mentioned you carry stuff with you, like bars.

DOUGLAS HANZEL:  I got sugar tablets in my pocket right now.  I was sucking on some Gatorade.  I can play when my sugar is high.  I can't play when it's low.  Even my wife, when she's out there, she keeps asking me, ‘Is your sugar okay?’  Again, if it goes low, you've got issues.

Q.  What is low, 70, 60?

DOUGLAS HANZEL:  In the 30s or 40s.  I woke up the other morning, it was 42.

Q.  That is low.

DOUGLAS HANZEL:  Fortunately, it's easy to get it up, but it takes a while, 10, 15, 20 minutes.  That's a problem when you're playing.

I usually can tell, so...  Just got to deal with it.

Q.  You mentioned last year you were going to get a sensor for it.

DOUGLAS HANZEL:  I have a sensor.  Actually drives me nuts.  The correlation is not as good as it should be between the blood level, because the sensor monitors interstitial fluid, which is delayed from the blood.  My sensor alarms low and my sugar is okay.  Your sensor is alarming you're low, telling you to take something, but you probably don't need to.  It happens when I sleep a lot.  It wakes you up every hour or two or every 15 minutes, it will keep alarming.  It's like oh, no, I can't do this.

I haven't been using it as much as I would like.  I think the technology is not as good as it should be, so...

JEFF ALTSTADTER:  We'll see you in Newport Beach for next year’s Senior Amateur at Big Canyon.  Congratulations.


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