Hoss is back for his 24th appearance in the Twin City Tournament, which tees off today at Champaign Country Club and concludes Sunday at Lincolnshire Fields Country Club in Champaign. N-G sports copy editor JOE VOZZELLI caught up with the six-time winner:
What do you remember most about last year's title?
I remember having a three-shot lead with a hole and a half to play and then blowing it. I remember feeling sick to my stomach, but in decent spirits as I sat by myself in the locker room to regroup. There must have been over 100 people gathered on the 18th green waiting to see who was going to win. I remember an ugly playoff hole and somehow willing in a six-foot par putt. It was special. I am looking forward to playing this year. It will be fun.
Why is this event so special to you?
I grew up around this event. I watched the event as a youngster and always wanted to be walking down that 18th fairway in front of the crowds on the final day. I caddied in it when I was 9, 10 and 11 and then played in my first one when I was 12. This year will be my 24th event. Each year has similarities, but each year is always new. It's a great event.
What clubs do you have in the bag? Anything unique? Maybe a good luck charm of sorts?
My clubs are just standard issue clubs but my putter is probably most special. I found it in a resale shop. It used to belong to a close friend who passed away last year. I'm sure he would be happy to know it's in good hands.
How much has your 3-year-old son TJ gotten into the game of golf? What have those father-son moments been like?
Seeing TJ hit the ball and putt it into the hole is a dream come true. I don't push golf on him. In fact, we play other sports together, but golf is and will always be the one sport he and I can play as we get older. TJ is more of a football bruiser type of kid. He wants to play football for the Illini, but maybe he will double letter. Who knows.