An Interview With: Ben Kohles

MARK STEVENS:  We’d like to welcome
Ben Kohles.  Ben, this is kind of a home one for you.  You grew up in Cary.  Do you want to talk about your thoughts making your first start in a PGA TOUR event coming off wins in your first two TOUR events, then we’ll take a few questions.

BEN KOHLES:  Sure.  Yeah, really looking forward to it.  Obviously a dream come true to play on the TOUR, so looks like I’ll kind of wrap that up and have my card for next year.  Yeah, really looking forward to coming out here, and yeah, ready to get it rolling.

Q.  Is it maybe sweeter that it’s in your home state?

BEN KOHLES:  Yeah, definitely.  You know, only an hour away from home.  I was able to stay at home last night and the night before, so I didn’t have to come straight here, which was nice.  Yeah, it’s definitely great, and a lot of fans, I think, are going to come out.  So looking forward to it.

Q.  No one has ever done what you did.  What kind of confidence does that give you?

BEN KOHLES:  Yeah, it definitely gives you a lot of confidence.  Yeah, still playing well, so ready to get it going, and can’t wait to get started.

Q.  Have you gotten support from the community?  What’s that been like?

BEN KOHLES:  Yeah, it’s been great, a lot of support.  Yeah, talked to a bunch of people that I’ve gotten to know over the four years I spent there, so it’s been great.  They’ve shown a lot of support, and looking forward to it.

Q.  What have the last few months been like for you, those two big wins, graduating from college?

BEN KOHLES:  Yeah, it’s definitely been a whirlwind.  It feels like it’s been a year, but it’s only been a few months.  Obviously the last month has been pretty crazy.  Yeah, just really excited obviously.  That’s something you want to do but obviously no one has really done before, so yeah, just very fortunate.

Q.  Any highlights that stick out?

BEN KOHLES:  Obviously the two wins.  The second win, definitely the last round, I think that was the best round I’ve ever played.  So to do that on Sunday was pretty special.

Q.  Any expectations for yourself heading into the weekend?

BEN KOHLES:  Yeah, yeah, just looking forward to it, obviously playing well, just hoping I can compete and get into contention on Friday and Saturday and hopefully give myself a chance on Sunday.

Q.  What’s the thought process?  Why did you decide, okay, I’m getting in this thing, might as well go ahead and turn?

BEN KOHLES:  Yeah, I was going to wait until after the U.S. Amateur, but once I got that opportunity ‑‑ I wasn’t sure before.  My mind was set on playing the U.S. Amateur, I wasn’t sure if I was getting into that or not, so once I got in, it was kind of no doubt in my mind to turn pro after I got that opportunity.

Q.  How did you get in?

BEN KOHLES:  I was in on kind of a sponsor exemption.  They let in all the First Team All‑Americans and I was Second Team, so a lot of times all the First Teamers aren’t able to get in, they can’t come for whatever reason.  So I sent in a letter and was able to get in.

Q.  What’s it been like since you’ve been here?  Is there anybody in particular you’ve wanted to meet?  Are you playing practice rounds with guys?  What’s it been like?

BEN KOHLES:  Yeah, it’s been awesome.  No, I haven’t really met anyone.  You know, just got here yesterday and played in the pro‑am, and then just kind of went home and got out here midday today.  Just going to go play a practice round later at 2:00.  Not sure, it’s kind of go whenever you want, so I’m not sure who will be around or if anyone wants to play, but happy to play with anyone.

Q.  Is there anybody in particular you want to meet when you’re here or anybody that you looked up to?

BEN KOHLES:  Yeah, I mean, I saw Sergio earlier.  It’s pretty cool.  I watched him for the last eight years since I’ve been playing the game of golf.  Pretty cool to see him; Bill Haas, he’s with the same agency that I’m under, so hopefully I’ll get a chance to meet him later.

Q.  These are big jumps from college to to winning twice, and now describe this last jump.

BEN KOHLES:  Yeah, obviously the margin of talent is very small between each Tour, but obviously there’s a difference, and that’s why they’re out here.  But yeah, just obviously I was able to win twice out there, so looking forward to this opportunity and hopefully can make the most of it.

Q.  Do you think about how big a steps these are?  Is it daunting to think?

BEN KOHLES:  Yeah, like I was saying earlier, it’s kind of been a whirlwind and haven’t had much time to think about it, which I think is a good thing, but yeah, obviously I know a lot of guys, tons of golfers are trying to make it out here, and obviously what I was able to do take a lot of the variables out of play and make a very big jump very early, so obviously I was very fortunate and really blessed.

Q.  Going back to the start of the season once you left school, what was your plan in your mind at that point as to how things might evolve?

BEN KOHLES:  When I started amateur golf?

Q.  No, when you left UVA and you started your career.  What was your plan?

BEN KOHLES:  Yeah, I was going to stay amateur throughout the summer, like I said, through the U.S. Am, just kind of get ‑‑ I mean, the tournaments that I’ve played in in amateur golf, very, very good fields, very good courses.  The courses are probably a little better than some of the mini‑Tours.  Just wanted to kind of ‑‑ not take a break really, but it’s not back‑to‑back every week, every week.  Kind of make a little transition to get ready for the pro career.  So yeah.

Q.  This was the transition?

BEN KOHLES:  Yeah, that was the transition (laughing).  Once I got into the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, I was able to get it going.

MARK STEVENS:  Thanks a lot, Ben.  Good luck this week.


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