After the conclusion of the 2015 PGA Tour playoffs David Hearn stopped in Toronto to do an outing for sponsor Dunning Golf at the St. George’s Golf & Country Club. We caught up with him to get his thoughts on 2015 and the year ahead that will be marked by a significant change in his equipment.
This Q&A appeared in the Fall/Winter Edition of our sister publication, Ontario Golf News. You can see the issue at this link.
OGN: We talked earlier this year (February) at the Northern Trust in Los Angeles about your goals for the season; how did the year play out for you?
DH: When you look at a year it’s interesting because you certainly go through so many peaks and valleys. You know I think when I talked to you in L.A. I’d come off a good Fall series; I hadn’t played great on the west coast yet, at that point in time. It’s just sort of the way the year goes. I think you have to measure your year as you set your broader goals and my goal starting the season was to be in the Tour Championship at the end of the year. I came close this year; I played well but I just didn’t play quite well enough in the playoffs when I needed to. So overall I think it was a successful year and I definitely got better. (It was) a highlight this year at the RBC Canadian Open playing as well as I did; I had a chance to win the Greenbrier. So I definitely put myself in contention more often which was another one of my goals. Overall a successful year but I still think there is plenty of room for me to improve and continue to get better.
OGN: With the year you had and with Mike (Weir) stepping away from the game recently are you feeling more like an ambassador of Canadian golf perhaps more now than ever?
DH: You know I think as I get a little bit older and mature I definitely think I am becoming more of that veteran player on tour. I think this will be my seventh year on the PGA so I think the numbers speak for themselves. It definitely feels good to see some of the younger guys come on tour. Adam (Hadwin) and Nick (Taylor) were on tour this year and I played a number of practice rounds with both of them. I wouldn’t say I feel like I am mentoring these younger guys but it’s nice to see the talent coming on to the tour. I remember when I was a rookie out there asking so many questions; I hear a lot of the same questions from these guys so I don’t feel that way (being an ambassador for Canadian golf) but maybe that is the kind of role that changes as you get a little bit older.
OGN: There has been a lot talk about the style of golf changing a bit with these young players being more aggressive, do you see that out there?
DH: I think so. I’m not a golf historian but I’d have to imagine that when Nicklaus and Palmer were winning on tour that they were the longest hitters on tour; probably some of the most aggressive players as well. Despite the fact that Nicklaus used to analyze his way around the golf course better than anybody he was still incredibly powerful and I would say he had that advantage. The same when Tiger came on to the Tour and a guy like Vijay and even Phil Mickelson, they tend to overpower golf courses so I think as much as you think it’s a current thing to see these guys overpowering golf courses and playing aggressive I think that has always been a part of great players. It’s kind of the one thing I really enjoy about watching Jordan Spieth’s game is that he is longer than average but he is certainly not in the category of these really long hitters on tour. It’s amazing to watch a guy like that compete and be #1 in the world; I think you learn a lot by watching him play more than these other bombers.
OGN: We’re heading into 2016, obviously it is a significant year from a rules side of things, what are your plans when it comes to putting? (Hearn has used an anchored style putting technique for many years)
DH: I’ve been practicing at home a lot and obviously I’ve known it’s been coming for years and everyone on tour that has anchored has known it’s been coming. Everyone has dealt with the change in a different way – some guys have switched already. I switch when I go home; I practice with it (the short putter). Fortunately for me I was on tour at one point in time with an unanchored style. I’m very confident that come January 1st I’m going to still be competitive and my game will be good. That’s not to say it’s going to be perfect right away; you know I think the way I putt now isn’t perfect everyday either. I’m very confident that the transition won’t be too long and we’ll see what happens, won’t we?
OGN: I know the Olympics have been in the back of your mind for years but now it is less than a year away; is it starting to become more of a focus for you?
DH: Absolutely. I’ve been reached out to by the Canadian Olympic Committee and all that so it’s definitely becoming a reality at this point in time. I wouldn’t say it has been on the back of my head, it’s definitely been more on the front of my mind. To have that opportunity to represent Canada would be a pretty special thing and to do it at the Olympic Games would be even more special. For me it’s been one of my goals since they announced it and it is getting a lot closer but they are a lot of good young players on tour right now so I have to keep playing well to be a representative. If I keep doing what I am I’m excited about being on that team but there is a lot time (between now and team selection).