Golf Talk Live - Freddie Haas Transcript Segment 2
IN THE 1930'S, BEN HOGAN WAS PROFESSIONAL FOR TEN YEARS BEFORE HE ACTUALLY WON HIS FIRST TOUR EVENT IN NORTH AND SOUTH AT PINEHURST IN 1940. WHAT WAS HIS SWING LIKE AND WHAT WAS HIS PERSONALITY LIKE BEFORE HE WAS THE WINNING BEN HOGAN?
WELL BEN ALWAYS WAS, YOU COULDN'T SAY HE WAS A LONER BECAUSE HE REALLY WASN'T. HE TALKED TO YOU IF YOU WANTED TO BUT NOT TOO MUCH, BUT
DON'T ASK HIM TOO MANY QUESTIONS, BUT WHEN HE CAME OUT ON THE TOUR SAM SNEAD WAS DOMINATING THE TOUR AND HE WAS FINISHING SECOND AND I ASKED THE PEOPLE IN NEW ORLEANS, I SAID, WE GOING TO PLAY THE NEW ORLEANS OPEN? YEAH HOW 'BOUT LETTING ME
PLAY WITH BEN HOGAN. I'D LIKE TO SEE WHY HE'S FINISHING SECOND AND I SAW IT ON THE FIRST TEE. WE GOT UP THERE AND HE HIT A LOW DUCKING RUNNING HOOK THAT WENT ABOUT 155 YARDS... IN THE ROUGH.
SO, HE CAN'T REACH THE GREEN SO HE TAKES OUT AN IRON AND HE HITS THE SAME TYPE OF A SHOT. HE'S STILL IN THE ROUGH. WELL NOW HE'S ABOUT 150
YARDS FROM THE GREEN AND, WITHOUT CHOOSING ANOTHER CLUB HE JUST HITS THAT CLUB, TOPS THE BALL, RUNS UP THERE 25 FEET FROM THE CUP AND HE HOLED THE PUTT FOR A FOUR.
NOW WHEN YOU LOOK AT THAT FOUR THAT HE MADE AND THE ONE THAT HENRY PICKET (?) AND SAM SNEAD MADE LOOKS THE SAME DOESN'T IT?
ON THE CARD.
BUT FOR SOME REASON OR ANOTHER YOU CAN'T PLAY GOLF THAT WAY AND I DIDN'T SEE BEN FOR BETWEEN NINE MONTHS AND MAYBE A YEAR AND WHEN I SAW HIM HE HAD A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT SWING
AND I SAID TO BEN, I SAID BEN YOU'VE CHANGED YOUR SWING. OH YEAH HE SAID. I SAID WHY? HE SAID I JUST DECIDED THAT YOU WOULD NEVER WIN A NATIONAL OPEN MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIP HITTING A DUCK HOOK. HE SAID I HAVE CHANGED SO THAT I'M COMING IN THIS
WAY. HE SAID I DON'T WANT ANYMORE OF THIS. HE SAID, YOU SAW WHAT HAPPENED TO ME WHEN I PLAYED WITH YOU IN NEW ORLEANS. I SAID YEAH BUT I'M LOOKING AT YOU NOW AND YOU LOOK
LIKE A DIFFERENT MAN TO ME. HE SAID WELL I HOPE SO.
AFTER THE WAR WAS OVER OR CERTAINLY WINDING DOWN IN THE PACIFIC IN THE SUMMER OF '45, THE SUMMER OF THE NELSON STREAK, THE ONE THAT YOU BROKE BY WINNING IN MEMPHIS, THERE'S
BEEN CRITICISM THAT NELSON IN THAT YEAR THAT HE WON ELEVEN IN A ROW AND EIGHTEEN OUT OF THE THIRTY EVENTS THAT HE PLAYED IN INCLUDING SEVEN SECOND PLACE FINISHES
THAT THERE WASN'T ANYBODY THERE FOR HIM TO BEAT. COULD YOU SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT ON THAT?
WELL ALL I KNOW IS THE SCORES THAT HE SHOT WERE JUST PHENOMENAL. AND I KNOW THAT HE HAD TO PLAY 36 HOLES TO BEAT SNEAD IN CHARLOTTE (?) IN ONE OF THE TOURNAMENTS THAT HE WON. I DON'T KNOW WHETHER IT'S SECOND, THIRD, FORTH, OF FIFTH. DIDN'T MATTER.
BUT HE HAD SHOT SUCH PHENOMENALLY LOW SCORES. I PLAYED WITH HIM MANY TIMES AND HE WOULD SHOOT 65 OR 66 AND HOW WOULD HE SHOOT IT? SOME OF THEM WERE DIFFICULT AND SOME OF
THEM WERE EASY. HE WOULD HIT EITHER THREE OR FOUR PAR 5'S IN TWO. THAT'S THREE TO FOUR UNDER PAR. I HAVE NEVER PLAYED A ROUND OF GOLF WITH BYRON NELSON WHEN HE DIDN'T HIT TWO
SHOTS LIKE THIS, NOW YOU'RE FIVE OR SIX UNDER PAR. THE NEXT TIME YOU SEE HIM HE'S PEPPERING THIS THING AROUND TEN, TWELVE, NO MORE THAN FIFTEEN FEET FROM THE HOLE AND HE'D MAKE ONE OR TWO AND THAT 65 OR 66. I WOULD SAY
THAT THAT'S A RATHER GOOD ROUND OF GOLF.
WHEN HE WON THE FIRST OF HIS ELEVEN IN A ROW, THAT WAS A BEST BALL EVENT WITH JUG MCSPADEN AS HIS PARTNER.
AND A LOT OF PEOPLE SAY WELL HOW CAN YOU COUNT THAT TEAM WIN IN THE STREAK? DO YOU COUNT IT?
OH ABSOLUTELY BECAUSE THEY, THEY PLAYED SOME PRETTY TOUGH CUSTOMERS BACK THERE AND THEY HAD NO CINCH TO WIN AND NELSON ACTUALLY, HE WAS (LAUGHS) HE WAS A LITTLE BETTER THAN,
THAN MCSPADEN BUT DON'T THINK MCSPADEN COULDN'T PLAY AND MCSPADEN THROW AN EAGLE AT YOU HERE AND THERE AND EVERYWHERE
BECAUSE HE COULD WOP THAT BALL OUT THERE A LONG WAY AND IT WAS A VERY GOOD TEAM BUT THEY HAD SOME VERY GOOD MATCHES AND THEY PLAYED SOME
VERY GOOD PLAYERS.
NOW OF COURSE IN THAT YEAR, SNEAD ENDED UP PLAYING 26 TIMES, HOGAN PLAYED 18 TIMES, HOGAN SET THE SCORING RECORD AT 261 THAT YEAR.
THAT NELSON ENDED UP BREAKING JUST A COUPLE OF WEEKS LATER BY SHOOTING 259 FOR 72 HOLES. WHEN THE WAR ENDED ON AUGUST 14TH OF 1945 AS JAPAN SURRENDERED, THE FIRST POST WAR TIME PROFESSIONAL TOURNAMENT WAS THE
ONE THAT YOU WON THAT WEEK IN MEMPHIS. HOW AWARE WERE YOU AS YOU WENT INTO THE FINAL ROUND WITH A BIG LEAD AND BEING PAIRED WITH NELSON OF A SENSE OF PRESSURE TO WIN THE GOLF TOURNAMENT.
(LAUGHS) I SAID TO MYSELF, WHAT AM I GOING TO HAVE TO SHOOT TO WIN THIS TOURNAMENT? I'M LEADING NELSON BY FOUR STROKES AND MY REASONING WAS
THIS. I BELIEVE THAT IF I KEEP MY HEAD ABOUT ME I MIGHT BE ABLE TO MAKE 18
STRAIGHT PARS. THAT MEANS HE'S GOT TO SHOOT 5 UNDER PAR TO BEAT ME. I SAID I KNOW HE CAN DO THAT BUT I SAID THAT'S MY GOAL. SO I PLAYED THE FIRST
FIVE HOLES IN EVEN PAR AND I'VE LOST TWO STROKES. WELL I CAN ASSURE YOU, TWO STROKES IS NOT ENOUGH TO BE PLAYING BYRON NELSON WHEN HE WAS PLAYING AS HE WAS. AND HE GOT THE TOUGHEST BREAK I'VE EVER HEARD OF,
ON THE 6TH HOLE. IT WAS A HOLE, HE'D HIT A 7 IRON AND HE HIT THIS BALL WAY UP IN THE AIR AND IT'S GOING IN THE HOLE. JUST SURE AND SHOOTING IT'S GOING IN THE HOLE, BUT IT HITS THE FLAG ABOUT THIS FAR ABOVE THE CUP AND THAT BALL
SHWOOT! OFF THE GREEN. ALL THE WAY OFF THE GREEN. A GOOD 40 OR 50 FEET. HOO! I SAID HE DIDN'T MAKE A HOLE IN ONE, LET'S SEE WHAT I CAN DO.
I CAUGHT A SIX IRON UP THERE. HAD IT, GOT IT ABOUT SIX FEET. NOW HE'S GOT TO CHIP THE BALL FROM SHORT OF THE GREEN AND HE HITS THE RIM OF THE CUP AND IT GOES FIVE FEET BY AND NOW HE'S
HIT THE CUP TWICE AND HE'S LYING THREE AND I'VE GOT A SIX FOOT PUTT FROM ME TO YOU AND I DON'T KNOW HOW THE BALL WENT IN BUT IT DID, AND THEN HE LIPPED OUT AGAIN AND HE MAKES FOUR, NOW I'VE PICKED UP TWO STROKES
I'M FOUR STROKES UP AND SOME HOW OR ANOTHER, THE GAME GOT A LITTLE EASIER AND I WENT ON TO SHOOT 68 WHICH I THOUGHT WAS A PRETTY DECENT ROUND.
NOW, BEING AN AMATEUR AT THE TIME, YOU COULD WEAR SHORTS ALL FOUR DAYS AND DID, RIGHT?
AND THE PROS COULDN'T
I HAD A BIG ADVANTAGE.
SO BYRON GOT BEAT BY A GUY WEARING BERMUDA SHORTS.
YEAH, THAT'S RIGHT
WE'LL TAKE A SHORT BREAK. WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK AND KEEP THIS GOING.
Top-ranked amateur Niemann one back at LAAC in Chile
Argentina’s Jaime Lopez Rivarola leads the Latin America Amateur Championship at 5 under par following a round of 3-under 68 Saturday in Chile.
The former Georgia Bulldog is now 36 holes from what would be a return trip to Augusta National but his first Masters.
"The truth is that I crossed off on my bucket list playing Augusta [National], because I happened to play there," Rivarola said. "I've played every year with my university. But playing in the Masters is a completely different thing. I have been to the Masters, and I've watched the players play during the practice rounds. But [competing would be] a completely different thing."
He is followed on the leaderboard by the three players who competed in the playoff that decided last year’s LAAC in Panama: Joaquin Niemann (-4), Toto Gana (-4), and Alvaro Ortiz (-3).
Chile’s Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who currently holds conditional status on the Web.com Tour and is poised to begin his career as a professional, unless of course he takes the title this week. After a disappointing 74 in Round 1, Niemann was 10 shots better in Round 2, rocketing up the leaderboard with a 7-under 64.
“Today, I had a completely different mentality, and that's usually what happens in my case," Niemann said. "When I shoot a bad round, the following day I have extra motivation. I realize and I feel that I have to play my best golf. The key to being a good golfer is to find those thoughts and to transfer them into good golf."
Niemann’s fellow Chilean and best friend Gana is the defending champion who missed the cut at the Masters last year and is now a freshman at Lynn University. His second-round 70 was a roller coaster, complete with six birdies, three eagles and a double.
Mexico’s Ortiz, the brother of three-time Web.com Tour winner Carlos, was 6 under for the week before three back-nine bogeys dropped him off the pace.
Two past champions, Matias Dominguez and Paul Chaplet, sit 5 over and 7 over, respectively.
The winner of the Latin America Amateur Championship earns an invite to this year’s Masters. He is also exempt into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Open sectional qualifying, and Open Championship final qualifying.
McIlroy gets back on track
There’s only one way to view Rory McIlroy’s performance at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship:
He is well ahead of schedule.
Sure, McIlroy is probably disappointed that he couldn’t chase down Ross Fisher (and then Tommy Fleetwood) on the final day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. But against a recent backdrop of injuries and apathy, his tie for third was a resounding success. He reasserted himself, quickly, and emerged 100 percent healthy.
“Overall, I’m happy,” he said after finishing at 18-under 270, four back of Fleetwood. “I saw some really, really positive signs. My attitude, patience and comfort level were really good all week.”
To fully appreciate McIlroy’s auspicious 2018 debut, consider his state of disarray just four months ago. He was newly married. Nursing a rib injury. Breaking in new equipment. Testing another caddie. His only constant was change. “Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place,” he said, “and that was because of where I was physically.”
And so he hit the reset button, taking the longest sabbatical of his career, a three-and-a-half-month break that was as much psychological as physical. He healed his body and met with a dietician, packing five pounds of muscle onto his already cut frame. He dialed in his TaylorMade equipment, shoring up a putting stroke and wedge game that was shockingly poor for a player of his caliber. Perhaps most importantly, he cleared his cluttered mind, cruising around Italy with wife Erica in a 1950s Mercedes convertible.
After an intense buildup to his season debut, McIlroy was curious about the true state of his game, about how he’d stack up when he finally put a scorecard in his hand. It didn’t take him long to find out.
Playing the first two rounds alongside Dustin Johnson – the undisputed world No. 1 who was fresh off a blowout victory at Kapalua – McIlroy beat him by a shot. Despite a 103-day competitive layoff, he played bogey-free for 52 holes. And he put himself in position to win, trailing by one heading into the final round. Though Fleetwood blew away the field with a back-nine 30 to defend his title, McIlroy collected his eighth top-5 in his last nine appearances in Abu Dhabi.
“I know it’s only three months,” he said, “but things change, and I felt like maybe I needed a couple of weeks to get back into the thought process that you need to get into for competitive golf. I got into that pretty quickly this week, so that was the most pleasing thing.”
The sense of relief afterward was palpable. McIlroy is entering his 11th full year as a pro, and deep down he likely realizes 2018 is shaping up as his most important yet.
The former Boy Wonder is all grown up, and his main challengers now are a freakish athlete (DJ) and a trio of players under 25 (Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm) who don’t lack for motivation or confidence. The landscape has changed significantly since McIlroy’s last major victory, in August 2014, and the only way he’ll be able to return to world No. 1 is to produce a sustained period of exceptional golf, like the rest of the game’s elite. (Based on average points, McIlroy, now ranked 11th, is closer to the bottom of the rankings, No. 1928, than to Johnson.)
But after years of near-constant turmoil, McIlroy, 28, finally seems ready to pursue that goal again. He is planning the heaviest workload of his career – as many as 30 events, including seven more starts before the Masters – and appears refreshed and reenergized, perhaps because this year, for the first time in a while, he is playing without distractions.
Not his relationships or his health. Not his equipment or his caddie or his off-course dealings.
Everything in his life is lined up.
Drama tends to follow one of the sport’s most captivating characters, but for now he can just play golf – lots and lots of golf. How liberating.
Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore
Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.
Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.
There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.
Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.
The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.
Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again
Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.
Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.
It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.
Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.
While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.