PGA TOUR pro and University Place native Andrew Putnam joins to talk about the U.S. Open, his record-breaking 2018-19 season, and life as a new dad.
Announcer: The Golf Show on 710 ESPN Seattle. Shon Crewe (00:05): With three professional wins, including one PGA Tour win and currently 44th in the World Golf Rankings, Andrew Putnam joins us now on the Golf Show with Jim Moore and Shon Crewe. Andrew, so great to have you on with us. Andrew Putnam (00:16): Yeah, thanks for having me. Pleasure to be on. Shon Crewe (00:18): A lot has happened since we had you on a year ago. You had another great season, which I definitely want to get into. But you and your wife, Tawny, also had a daughter, Pepper, who is, what, six months now? Andrew Putnam (00:29): She’s, yeah, six months old, almost seven. A lot’s happened the last year. Shon Crewe (00:34): I have to say, she’s one cute baby, and I don’t subscribe to the theory that all babies are cute, so I’m not just saying that, but… (laughs) Andrew Putnam (00:40): Yeah, I don’t either. I said it myself; if she comes out and she’s not cute, I’m not gonna be the person who tries to tell everyone she is if she isn’t. But yeah, we got lucky. We think she’s cute. Shon Crewe (00:55): Is she always as happy as she looks or does she just know how to work a camera? Andrew Putnam (00:59): She is a happy baby. We got lucky. She seems to always be smiling and not crying too much. I know our next one could be different, but we’re definitely enjoying her being so happy and easy to travel with. Makes our life a lot easier. Jim Moore (01:14): What’s it like being a father for you, Andrew? Andrew Putnam (01:17): I mean, it’s pretty surreal, to be honest. You know, the first few months was a whirl when you’re not getting much sleep, and I’m sure most people know a lot better than I do, but the best thing in the world that’s ever happened to me. Makes it harder to be on the road, I’ll tell you that much. I mean London was last week and, you know, getting FaceTime sessions with my wife and seeing Pepper playing around and smiling, and it’s harder to leave, but you know, it makes everything so much sweeter. Jim Moore (01:48): How did you come up with the name Pepper? Andrew Putnam (01:52): I don’t know. Me and my wife were looking for a key name and she’s pretty outside the box as to what she wanted. We were pretty much opposites on the spectrum, but our agent actually mentioned the name to us in Hawaii, and I don’t know, we somehow just stuck with it and we thought it had a good ring to it and my wife is pretty fiery, so we felt like she was gonna come out and add some spice to our life so (laughs) that’s how we came up with Pepper. Shon Crewe (02:26): Well, Andrew, I wanna talk a little bit about this past season. I thought you had a great season and just a little bit of a recap here. So three top-ten finishes. You shot a career-low round 62 at the Sony Open, where you also had your best finish of the season, a tie for second. You played in three of the four majors, where you made the cut in all three. Finished 44th in the World Golf Rankings, and you had your biggest money year so far – over $2.4 million. That’s just incredible. That’s gotta be a lot to feel good about. Andrew Putnam (02:56): Yeah, no, it was a great season for sure. I mean, you know, in golf, there’s always something to look ahead to and try to achieve. But you know, looking back, obviously, I thought it was a great year. I played very consistently. I think the only tough stretch I had was kinda right around when we had Pepper. I mean, I think five out of my six missed cuts were kinda in those two months, around then, and I think that’s kind of to be expected. I had a driver break on me and then just anticipating her coming and all that, made a little tougher to focus, but overall, yeah, it still was a great year. Shon Crewe (03:35): Looking back on this season, is there something that stands out or means most to you? Andrew Putnam (03:40): You know, I feel like my World Ranking is something that kinda shows how my game has been progressing the whole year like that gives a clear picture of how you’ve been playing for the last actually two years. So you know, getting it high enough to be able to be exempt for some of these majors was a huge goal of mine, and it was so fun to play overseas, you know, at the British Open and the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, and thus paid for the PGA. Still have the Masters on my radar; I haven’t played that one yet. But you know, to play so consistent to be able to be exempt for those other majors was, you know, it was a huge relief and as a golfer, I mean it’s always a highlight to play in the biggest tournaments of the year. Jim Moore (04:26): Yeah, I think it’s really cool. Like every once in a while, I would think to myself, boy, if I was the 44th best sports talk show host in the world, I’d think wow, that’s pretty cool. So there’s only 43 golfers that are better than Andrew Putnam, who we’re talking to on The Golf Show with Jim Moore and Shon Crewe here today. So what’s that like? I mean when you think about it, you’re number 44; that’s way up there. Andrew Putnam (04:51): Yeah, no, it’s great. I mean, it’s obviously a big accomplishment. Being in the top 50, it opens up a lot of doors. You know, you get exempt into all these majors, and you’re basically in all the world golf championships and can set your schedule. So that’s kinda the goal for everyone on the tours and to stay inside that number, there’s a little bit of a net for you. You get in these tournaments where there’s no cuts and it makes life a little easier with planning. But you know, at the same time, you know, as a golfer, you’re having to prove and earn it every single week so you can’t really rest on your laurels too much. You gotta get out and get after it and stay sharp and you can never really relax too much. Shon Crewe (05:32): Well, your first time competing the U.S. Open was in 2010 as an amateur at Pebble Beach. I know that every year since then, you’ve tried qualifying through sectionals, but this year, your ranking earned you an exemption. What was it like competing in this year’s U.S. Open as a pro and back at Pebble Beach, of all places? Andrew Putnam (05:48): Yeah, I guess I just… you know, I only qualify for the U.S. Open every ten years and got Pebble Beach. (laughs) I guess that’s my memo. It’s pretty hard to get into, going to the sectional qualifiers, the competition’s pretty stiff. But I mean it’s hard to compare the two really ‘cause the first time I was there, I was a junior in college, and that was my first ever professional tournament, and the lights were bright and I was feeling it. And I was so nervous, I could hardly feel my hands, you know, while I was teeing off. And yeah, I was just so happy to be there, I wasn’t really there to try to win per se, you know, I was just happy to qualify. And this year, I mean it was just crazy how different I felt. You know, I felt really comfortable on the first tee, never really felt those jitters. But you know, I was able to kind of soak up the whole atmosphere and play really well. Not as well as I felt like I could’ve, but you know, playing in that kind of atmosphere, I feel like it takes a lot of experience, and I’ve had a lot of that since my first time being there at Pebble. But you know, incredible place to be able to play a major tournament. I mean those views in the distance are so special, and obviously, it’s a special place to golf. Shon Crewe (07:05): I think you’ve said that Pebble Beach is one of your top three courses. I’m curious though, what are the other two? Andrew Putnam (07:10): Another one is right next to it, called Cypress Point, and honestly, the course you played over for the Open this year, Port Rush, was probably one of my all-time favorite tournaments. But yeah, that area in Monterey Peninsula has some incredible golf courses. I don’t know if you guys have had the chance to go, but it’s one of my favorite places on earth, and I always enjoy getting together and spending some time. Jim Moore (07:35): Hey Andrew, you grew up near Chambers Bay there in University Place, holding the U.S. Open there a few years back, and it didn’t really get the great reviews ‘cause of the greens. Do you think now that they’ve changed the greens there that the U.S. Open will come back? Andrew Putnam (07:52): You know, I really hope it does. I think this area needs and could support a great tournament like that. You know, I think the viewership was extremely high for that tournament. If you look at the leader board, you know, it produced a really great finish, and all the top players were in the top of the leader board that week. So obviously, it was sad to get a bad rap at the greens but I’ve been down there a decent amount since then, and I feel like the new grass they have there is gonna be great for the course and, you know, they’re hopefully gonna be getting the hotel there soon that can help support a big event. And I’m hopeful that, you know, they’ll get a good, big championship. I don’t know about a U.S. Open. I mean there’s a lot of politics that go into that. I know they have a system of doing things, and obviously, the outspoken criticism, you know, doesn’t help with them going back. I feel like the USGA would be fighting to keep some of the negative comments from the players if they did choose to go back to Chambers. But you know, if the greens come in great and they have a lot of great reviews, I mean people might be open to coming. I mean everyone I talk to says the views out there, you know, are some of the best they’ve ever seen. So the views in this area at this time, the time of year that they have the U.S. Open, is a pretty killer combo. Shon Crewe (09:13): They made changes to the playoff format this season, and coming into it all, it seemed as though the rumblings were pretty optimistic, but I think the bottom line for many people was, you know, let’s wait and see, let’s see how it plays out. From a player’s perspective, what were your thoughts about the changes? Did they get it right? Andrew Putnam (09:28): Yeah, I think they got a lot more right than they did in the past, you know. They’re getting closer and closer to figuring out the perfect formula. You know, I felt like for the fans, you know, I think it’s the best scenario they’ve had so far because, you know, I’d say if multiple people had a chance to win the tournament, going into the back nine, and I think that’s what, you know, Jay Monahan is… that’s his whole goal is to create as much excitement and buzz around that, the final event, and you know, I could see in the future, there could be, you know, ten guys that could have a chance at winning, you know, back then on Sunday, which you know, I think for what the Tour is trying to create, that adds a lot of excitement for the fans and the people watching. Shon Crewe (10:10): How did it feel having the season end a month earlier? Andrew Putnam (10:14): Yeah, it was pretty weird. Typically used to having the season stretch a little bit longer, and now the fall season is like, I don’t know, ten or eleven events now, so it’s kinda strange how it ends so early in the summer, and then we start up pretty quickly thereafter. But yeah, I get it, you know, they’re trying to not compete with the NFL, which you know, they obviously have a huge following, and they’re trying to add some more importance to some of these who follow them. So I get where they’re coming from, but you know, from a player’s perspective, it makes for a long year ‘cause you feel like you gotta get out and play again right after the season ends ‘cause you don’t wanna fall behind on the FedEx Cup. So there’s much of a break any more, and I think nowadays, you see guys taking a lot of time off kinda in the middle of a season; they’ll take a couple of weeks here and there ‘cause they know they gotta stay fresh for the end and the fall and, you know, it’s a year-round sport now. Shon Crewe (11:11): Andrew Putnam with us on the Golf Show with Jim Moore and Shon Crewe. Andrew, speaking of the fall season, do you think there’s something there about trying to take advantage of the fall event, especially in terms of FedEx Cup points? Andrew Putnam (11:22): Yeah, no, I think there is. I mean I felt like I’ve always, you know, when I’ve gotten on to a good start, I’ve been able to have a free run at the season and feel like some of the pressure was off, and so there’s some great events they have overseas, and now they’re in the fall, we’re gonna be in a pretty big Asia swing where we go to, let’s see, Seoul or Jeju Island, Korea, and then we go to Japan and then China, so they’re all pretty big events The limited fields, and can really help you get off to a great start and help sustain the season. Jim Moore (11:56): All right, Andrew, I was looking at your Twitter timeline. Is that what you call it, Shon? Is it someone’s Twitter page? Shon Crewe (12:02): You’re welcome to call it whatever you’d like. Jim Moore (12:04): Okay. It’s @AndrewPutnam1 if you wanna follow Andrew on Twitter. And I don’t even know how to put this but in September, I mean come on, Andrew, I know you’re a professional, you’re on Tour, you’re 44th in the world, but you really have had 11 holes in one? Come on, man. Andrew Putnam (12:23): (laughs) I know. Jim Moore (12:25): Seriously? You just had your 11th in September? Andrew Putnam (12:29): (laughs) I just caught my oldest brother, Joel. He was leading the pack with 11. I think he likes golf more than me and Michael do. But yeah, 11 hole in ones. I’ve only had one in a… since, yeah, two in a tournament. Two in a tournament. Everything else has been in practice. Jim Moore (12:47): Do you still get just as excited over number 11 as you did over number one? Andrew Putnam (12:53): No, probably not. My first one was in Washington State tournament for a high school, on my back nine, and ending up winning by one. So I would say that’s hard to beat right there. Jim Moore (13:10): All right, and then you know, another thing I learned about you on Twitter is that you were like soliciting, you were trying to find tickets to a Husky football game against Eastern Washington. Did that come through? Did that happen for you? Andrew Putnam (13:21): Yeah, no, it actually worked out. I was surprised. There was quite a few people who reached out. I know one guy was giving me grief because he was looking into how much I’d made this year and said, “You can easily afford to get some tickets.” (laughs) I was looking for good tickets, you know. Sometimes those are hard to find. You can’t always buy those ones, so I ended up getting a couple that I probably couldn’t have bought myself. Jim Moore (13:46): Well, okay then. This is the obvious follow-up question here, Andrew. We’re talking to Andrew Putnam here. Golf Show, Jim Moore, Shon Crewe. You ever want Cougar tickets? Andrew Putnam (13:56): No, you can keep those ones. (laughs) Jim Moore (13:59): Come on, Andrew. You don’t wanna go to Martin Stadium? That’s God’s country over there. Andrew Putnam (14:03): I mean if they’d play just like they did last week, I’d be okay to watch that every time. Jim Moore (14:07): (laughs) Oh no. Andrew Putnam (14:10): (laughs) I’m sorry. Jim Moore (14:11): Andrew’s referring to the UCLA game in which the Cougars had a 49 to 17 lead and somehow managed to blow that, losing to UCLA, allowing the Bruins to score 50 points in the second half. Shon Crewe (14:22): You gotta be in pain still, yeah. Jim Moore (14:22): So you’re that much of a Husky fan, you like seeing the Cougs lose, huh? Andrew Putnam (14:26): I do, yeah. Yeah, we got UW in our blood so. Jim Moore (14:31): Well, we’re just about done with you, Andrew. I think this interview’s gone on just long enough. Okay, I got a couple more golf questions though. Andrew Putnam (14:40): Hey, you know what though, I do like the coach over there at UCLA, Mike Leach. He’s actually a Pepperdine alumni, if you believe it. He attended their law school, so I have a little bit of a connection with him. Jim Moore (14:51): Okay, well, nice try on the comeback there. When you’re standing over a tee shot, what are you thinking about? Andrew Putnam (15:01): That’s a good question. It depends on which tee shot, but. I hope to not be thinking of anything other than the ride down the metal. If I’m starting to think about, you know, the out of bounds ride or the water left, then that’s trouble. I’ve been there. Jim Moore (15:14): But you don’t think anything about your swing, mechanical? Like I’ve had lessons recently and my backswing, I’m thinking okay, I gotta get the butt end of the club kinda facing toward the ball and then, you know, my move down, I gotta make sure I do this, and I do that and finish on my left foot and all this stuff. None of that stuff goes through your mind? Andrew Putnam (15:34): No, that’s not. I’ve been there before, and typically, the ball goes sideways when I’m thinking that. I would say the one thing I do think about is just having a smooth takeaway. That’s my key, and it’s actually been my key for the last two years is keeping that takeaway nice and smooth and not being quick with that. So there is one pointer. My one nugget. Jim Moore (15:56): Why are you guys so good out of bunkers? I mean you guys get in there and it’s almost like it’s a putt because you’re up and down percentage, I don’t even know what is but I’m gonna guess it’s what, like 60/70 percent, or maybe better? Andrew Putnam (16:10): Yeah, probably something like that, yeah. Honestly, on the Tour, the bunkers are so good. They keep them really consistent. They’re not like the bunkers you go see if you’re going out and playing at, you know, just the typical course that you’d find. The caddies are raking them perfectly so there’s no blemishes. You know, if you just go out to your normal country club, the general public leave them a little bit straggled, you know. And we hit out of them all the time, so I don’t know, we’re in them all the time, so we get good at it. Repetition. Shon Crewe (16:47): It’s the quality of the courses you’re playing, Jim, that’s the problem. Jim Moore (16:50): It’s crazy. Every time I’m watching you guys on TV, I’m going… you end up three feet. It’s almost like you’re sitting there in the bunker and you’re thinking I might make… do you feel like you’re gonna make it when you take the shot? Andrew Putnam (17:02): Yeah. No, yeah. I think we’d rather be in the bunker than we would in the rough, because it’s easier to control, you know. I mean the ball’s sitting there pretty nice, and we can control the spin on it, and we don’t have to judge a lie and judge how the grass is gonna affect the shot. So for us, I mean, it’s pretty simple. I think mostly amateurs. They have a problem with them because they don’t open up the clubface enough and they don’t swing hard enough. The reason why it’s so easy for us is ‘cause we have swing speed that allows the ball to come out with some spin, with some speed. If you decel in a bunker, you’re toast, and I feel like a lot of amateurs, that’s their problem. They get in there, and they get scared ‘cause they’ve skulled a couple outta there before, and so they’re trying to avoid catching them too clean, and so they stop their swing, and the ball just doesn’t come out. So you know, the pros are pretty confident, so they’re able to swing it pretty fast, and that’s how you get the ball up and out of them really quickly. Shon Crewe (18:00): One more question for you, Andrew, before we let you go. You just finished playing at the BMW PGA Championship in Surrey last week. This was your first time playing in the tournament. What was the experience like, especially with those fans over there who obviously really love the event? Andrew Putnam (18:15): Yeah, no, it was special. You know, they call it their flagship event over there on the European Tour, and you could sense that when you’re over there, the vibe and the atmosphere, it felt like a major championship, to be honest. I mean the crowds were incredible and the people over there love golf. You know, they’ve seen it for so long, and it was a pretty special tournament and venue, playing at Wentworth. So much history there and it was fun to go over, you know, play under pressure and have those crowds cheer you on. They’re real supportive of every player, and it was a great event. The European Tour did a great job. Shon Crewe (18:53) Well, Andrew, thank you so much for taking the time. Best of luck at Shriners next week. Andrew Putnam (18:58): Yeah, thanks, Shon. Thanks, Jim. Shon Crewe (19:00): That was Andrew Putnam. For more information on his schedule along with the latest happening on Team Putnam, you can check out his new website at PutnamPGA.com. Thanks for joining us. It’s The Golf Show with Jim Moore and Shon Crewe on 710 ESPN Seattle.