Friday, February 26, 2021

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Q&A with Harry Hall at The American Express

Currently ranking 68th on the 2020-21 Korn Ferry Tour Points List in his first full season as a professional, England’s Harry Hall is in the field this week on a sponsor’s exemption at The American Express for his second career PGA TOUR start.

Hall won’t be hard to miss this week either. At 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, Hall wears a Ben Hogan-style cap befitting of his throwback style game.

After a morning practice nine with fellow UNLV Rebel Charley Hoffman and an afternoon nine with Brooks Koepka and Abraham Ancer, Hall spent a few minutes with PGATOUR.COM to discuss his expectations for this week, his path to the game, and

PGATOUR.COM: How are you feeling heading into your second career PGA TOUR start this week at The American Express?

HALL: It’s strange because I haven’t played a tournament since 2020, which was early October. It’ll be nice to get back to playing some tournament golf. I worked hard on my game over the last couple of months. 2020 was strong year for me in my first full year as a pro, and I’m happy with how it went. I’ve got full status on the Korn Ferry Tour, and I’m in every event, so I’ve got a great chance to get my card in September. I’ve got a lovely opportunity that has arisen this week to play here this week at The American Express, so hopefully I can start the year strong and pick up where I left off the end of last year and play some good golf.

PGATOUR.COM: How did you get into the game?

HALL: My dad started to play when he was in his early 30s, and my granddad grew up caddying at West Cornwall Golf Club in St Ives. Between both of those, they’d take me to the club growing up since I could walk really. My dad worked away from home a lot, so he’d be back every other weekend and we’d play sports together. I think golf was just the only one that I could do on my own. Since I could walk, I’d always chip and putt in the garden, and we had a pretty decent sized garden growing up and so I did that. Then every Saturday morning, I’d go to the West Cormell Golf Club and Mom would pay one pound and drop me off for the whole day and that involved a lesson with the pro and playing nine holes. Then, I’d stay there all day Saturday.

PGATOUR.COM: What did you learn from your first PGA TOUR start (MC) at the 2020 Farmers Insurance Open?

HALL: The first one was a big learning experience because I qualified on the Monday. So, on Tuesday, I thought I had Tuesday and Wednesday to prep, but I didn’t because of the Pro-Am on Wednesday. At Torrey Pines, it was over two courses, and I only played one of them before the tournament; That was a downside to that event. A lot of things I did off the course I’ve learned from. I feel like after a year on the Korn Ferry Tour, I feel pretty confident about this week. Although I haven’t played in a couple of months, I’m sure I’ll be fine. There’s lots to look forward to, so I think ultimately being in contention on Sunday afternoon would be nice.

PGATOUR.COM: You’ve only been a professional for a little over a year. Did you have any welcome to professional golf type moments?

HALL: My biggest introduction to the TOUR was my first event as a pro after the Walker Cup, I teed it up at the Alfred Dunhill Links. I made the cut, and I got paired with Rory McIlroy that Sunday at St. Andrews. I think that was my introduction to that sort of life and playing in front of 1,000 people a hole watching Rory and me. I played great, and I had my first good finish as a pro in my first event. But going to Torrey, it was a different level, ya know? Seeing Tiger was cool, the crowds, and I think it was the crowds at Torrey. I think that was my biggest introduction to the TOUR, not as much seeing the players, that wasn’t that intimidating because I feel like I belong out here. It’s just the crowds. I love the crowds. At the Walker Cup, we had 3,000 people a hole, which was awesome, and I loved it. At Torrey, you’re walking down the fairway and you could tell which hole Tiger was on. That was nice. I love to play in front of people, and hopefully I’ll do more of that in the future when fans are allowed back out on the course. That was the biggest introduction was just the hype that week at Torrey and the amount of people there.

PGATOUR.COM: Who were your favorite players growing up?

HALL: That’s a tough question really, because growing up we didn’t have SkySports. Back at home, you have to have SkySports to watch any golf, so I never really watched golf growing up. I’d always see Tiger Woods videos on YouTube when he chipped in at the 16th at Augusta, and so chipping with some friends at home, I’d be Phil Mickelson and they’d be Tiger and we’d chip against each other and pretending to be those two guys. But I never really had a favorite golfer. Now that I’m getting into the game a little more and figuring it all out, I like certain aspects of a lot of the guys in the past. I like the swing of Sam Snead, the personality of Arnold Palmer and the artistic nature of Seve Ballesteros. There’s certain aspects from everyone that I’d like to take a little piece of it.

PGATOUR.COM: How’d you learn how to play growing up? Are you more self-taught or did you have a coach?

HALL: I never watched golf growing up, but I’d go the local driving range and hit some balls there three or four times a week, but I never had a coach. We grew up at a course, West Cornwall Golf Club, that was five thousand and a half yards long, and all you had to learn was to get up and down out of a sandy divot. When I came over to the U.S. at 18 and played golf at UNLV, I had to learn how to strike the ball because I was already good at my short game. My putting was great, but I swung it very slow and I didn’t hit it very far. I think that’s a product of growing up on a course where you don’t need to.

PGATOUR.COM: How did you end up at UNLV from England and how did you start wearing the old school cap like Ben Hogan?

HALL: Well, there’s three people to come out of West Cornwall Golf Club in St Ives in Cormell, and one of those guys was Philip Rowe. Philip Rowe played in the Walker Cup, and turned pro, spent six or seven years as a pro and then was the assistant coach at Stanford under Conrad Ray for multiple years. I was just about 16 or 17 and was coming to America to play golf, and I knew Phil because he was a local celebrity at West Cornwall. Every time I’d have lunch, I’d be looking over at his trophies and looking at his resume and trying to check that off as the years went. He moved from Stanford to UNLV in 2014, a year before I was going to come to the States, and he said, ‘Hey, you should come to UNLV.’ At the time, UNLV was the best school I’d been speaking to, and I went on a visit, went to Shadow Creek and loved it. Phil gave me a scholarship and there I went in 2015.

Going back to the other one person, though, there’s Phil Rowe, and then there’s Long Jim Barnes. Jim Barnes won the U.S. PGA Championship in 1915 and 1919, which was consecutive years they didn’t play it because of World War I, and he’s from West Cormell Golf Club, too, so that’s why I wear the old school hat and look a little bit old school. It’s a Jim Barnes tribute. He won The Open in 1925, too and the U.S. Open. He’s not actually won the Masters because it was never on back in the early 20th century, so I’d like to win the Masters, so West Cormell Golf Club has all four majors. But Jim Barnes grew up at West Cornwall, too. So, at the clubhouse, there’s a lot of Jim Barnes memorabilia, and Phil Rowe, and now mine with the Walker Cup bag, and hopefully I’ll put a lot of Ryder Cup bags in there one day.

PGATOUR.COM: What’s left on your bucket list? What’s the tops there?

HALL: A couple of Green Jackets, for sure. There’s lots on that bucket list. I don’t think I’m too far down the road yet. I’m only getting started. That’s a tough question. I think every year I’ll add to that bucket list, but for now, a couple Green Jackets and World No. 1. I want to achieve a lot in the game, and I’m just getting started.

PGATOUR.COM: I know you mentioned that you have some goals away from the golf course that you’re hoping to accomplish as you gain more success on the course. Can you tell us what those are?

HALL: Yeah, I’m always thinking of some things off the golf course of what I can do outside of the golf course. I’d like to have some sort of foundation, and I’d definitely like to pay off my sister’s student loans. That’s probably priority No. 1 for me, paying off my sister’s student loans. She’s four years older than me. She’s always been a role model for me. She’s an assistant principal back home, which is pretty young for an assistant principal, and she’s always looked after me.

PGATOUR.COM: What are your favorite courses you’ve ever played?

HALL: Shadow Creek, where I get to go every day in Las Vegas, is my favorite. I go out there every day. A lot of people would think it would get a little bit boring, but it never does for me. Shadow Creek is my favorite place. Then, I played the U.S. Amateur at Pebble, so Pebble Beach and Shadow Creek would be tied No. 1 for me. No. 3 would be Royal Liverpool, where I played the Ryder Cup because I have a little bit of a history there. I played the British Boys there in 2013, and that was the first moment to my U.S. career when American college coaches came over and watched me and I did pretty well. That’s where I finished my amateur career, too, so it’s where I started when I was 16 and where I finished it when I was 21 or 22. It’s very pretty for my eye, and lots of 2 irons. Those would be my top three. Oh, I’ve got a fourth for you: The UNLV team did a trip to Australia back in January 2018 and we went to Sydney for three days, Tasmania for two days and then Melbourne for three days. We played Barnbougle in Tasmania, and they’ve got two courses there – The Dunes and the Lost Farm – and the Lost Farm would be No. 4. It’s exactly the same type of course I grew up on, but only if you were to put it on the sand dunes, overlooking the water. It was gorgeous.

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