Golf Talk Live - Gene Sarazen Transcript Segment 2

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 28, 1996, 5:00 pm
PETER KESSLER

WELCOME BACK TO GOLF TALK LIVE. WE'RE OF COURSE SITTING WITH THE FIRST MAN TO EVER WIN THE CAREER GRAND SLAM, GENE SARAZEN. WHEN YOU WERE 2O YEARS OLD AND WON YOUR FIRST U.S. OPEN OVER BOB JONES AND JOHN BLACK, DID YOU LATER THINK THAT IT CAME TOO EASILY OR TOO EARLY?

GENE SARAZEN

WELL AS I RECALL I WASN'T SO SURE THAT I WON THAT OPEN UNTIL I SAW A FELLOW RUNNING UP THE 18TH FAIRWAY TO TELL ME THAT, THAT JONES HAD PUT ONE IN THE WOODS AND MISSED THE SHOT AND THAT I HAD WON THE OPEN. THEN I GOT A GREAT THRILL OUT OF IT BUT UH I'LL NEVER FORGET WHEN I WAS ON MY WAY TO PITTSBURGH AND I HAD THE CUP AND I WAS AT THE RAILROAD STATION AND I RAN INTO BOBBY JONES AND OBIE KEELER AND I HAD THE CUP UNDER MY ARMS AND HE LOOKED AT IT AND HE SAYS I SHOULD, I SHOULD BE PLAYING OFF WITH YOU TOMORROW BUT I LOST TODAY SO HE CONGRATULATED ME.

PETER KESSLER

AND WITH GOOD REASON AND YOU TWO HAD PLENTY OF BATTLES DOWN THROUGH THE YEARS. THAT WAS ALSO THE YEAR YOU WON YOUR FIRST PGA CHAMPIONSHIP. I MEAN THAT'S A PRETTY HEADY START FOR A 20 YEAR OLD.

GENE SARAZEN

WELL I WAS VERY LUCKY TO WIN THE PGA. I'LL NEVER FORGET I'D WON THE OPEN AND OF COURSE IN ORDER TO MAKE A FEW DOLLARS YOU HAD TO GO ON A TOUR BY YOURSELF AND PICK UP $150 OR $200. I WAS AT COLUMBUS, OHIO AND I GOT THROUGH AND I COLLECTED MY FEE AND I WENT DOWN TOWN TO HAVE DINNER AND I'M SITTING OUTSIDE ON THE SIDEWALK AND A COUPLE WENT BY AND LOOKED AT ME, HE SAYS YOU'RE SARAZEN AREN'T YOU? I SAID YEAH. HE SAYS YOU'RE PLAYING IN THE PGA TOMORROW. I SAYS NO IT'S A WEEK FROM TOMORROW. HE SAYS NO IT'S TOMORROW. HE SAYS PICK UP YOUR BAG AND TRY TO MAKE THAT 7:00 TRAIN. WELL I PICKED UP MY BAG AND RAN DOWN THE RAILROAD STATION. THE TRAIN WAS JUST PULLING OUT AND I THREW THE BAG ON THE PLATFORM, RAN UPSTAIRS AND GOT INTO THE CAR AND THE TRAIN ARRIVED ABOUT TWO HOURS LATE, BUT THE PGA ALLOWED ME TO PLAY MY FIRST MATCH AND I WENT THROUGH THE WHOLE WEEK AND WON THE PGA. THAT'S HOW CLOSE I'D COME FROM LOSING IT.

PETER KESSLER

IF YOU SHOW UP LATE TODAY THEY WOULDN'T LET YOU PLAY PROBABLY.

GENE SARAZEN

OH NO NO. SEE I HAD TO PLAY TWO MATCHES THAT DAY. I'LL NEVER FORGET THE FIRST ONE WAS WILLIE HAUGE (????). DO YOU REMEMBER WILLIE HAUGE?

PETER KESSLER

I DO BUT NOT VERY WELL. TELL ME ABOUT HIM.

GENE SARAZEN

WELL THEY ALL THOUGHT THAT HE BEAT ME BECAUSE I WAS LATE AND I'D BEEN PLAYING A LOT OF EXHIBITIONS BUT I JUST MANAGED TO BEAT HIM ONE UP.

PETER KESSLER

NOW OAKMONT TODAY IS CONSIDERED ONE OF THE TOUGHEST COURSES THAT THE TOUR PLAYERS PLAY. IT MUST HAVE BEEN, WITH EQUIPMENT THAT DIDN'T ALLOW THE BALL TO GO AS FAR IN 1922, TO HAVE BEEN AN EXTREMELY DIFFICULT GOLF COURSE.

GENE SARAZEN

IT WAS A VERY HARD COURSE AND THAT WAS THE YEAR THAT THEY HAD THE RIDGES IN THE TRAPS. THE FURROWS.

PETER KESSLER

THEY HAD THOSE SPECIAL RAKES, WITH THE TEETH.

GENE SARAZEN

MR. FOUNS (???) WHO WAS THE PRESIDENT OF THE USGA . HE'S THE ONE WHO PUT THEM IN THERE BUT WHEN THE BRITISH RYDER CUP TEAM CAME OVER AND THEY WERE PRACTICING AND THEY LOOKED, LOOKED AT THOSE TRAPS AND ONE OF THEM, WHOSE NAME IS ROBINSON, HE SAYS WHEN ARE THEY GOING TO PLANT THE POTATOES HERE?

PETER KESSLER

NEVER I THINK IS THE ANSWER. MR. FOUNS (???) USED TO STAND BEHIND THE 2ND GREEN BEFORE A TOURNAMENT AND DROP A BALL AND IF IT DIDN'T ROLL ALL THE WAY TO FRONT OF THE GREEN BACK INTO THE FAIRWAY, HE WANTED THOSE GREENS FASTER. THEY WERE VERY QUICK IN THOSE DAYS WEREN'T THEY?

GENE SARAZEN

WELL HE WAS THE LORD MASTER. HE, HE HAD TO HAVE THEM THE WAY HE WANTED THEM. BUT THEY UH THEY KEEP THEM PRETTY FAST EVEN TODAY.

PETER KESSLER

LET'S TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT MARY. YOU MET HER IN THE EARLY 20'S AND OF COURSE MARRIED HER IN 1924. THAT WAS SOMETHING THAT YOU HAVE DEFINED AS THE GREATEST CHAMPIONSHIP YOU EVER WON. YOUR, YOUR MARRIAGE AND YOUR LIFE LONG TIME WITH MARY.

GENE SARAZEN

HOW DID YOU KNOW THAT PETER?

PETER KESSLER

BECAUSE I TRIED TO DO MY HOMEWORK FOR YOU. I'M A BIG FAN.

GENE SARAZEN

YES. I WAS ON AN EXHIBITION TOUR WITH JACQUE (???) HUTCHINSON AND WE'RE PLAYING A MATCH AT HOLLYWOOD, FLORIDA, AND THAT NIGHT THEY WERE HAVING A DINNER AT THE CLUB AND I WAS THERE AND I LOOKED OVER AND I SAW THIS PRETTY BLOND. I HAD A WEAKNESS FOR BLONDES SO UH I SAID TO THE UH HOSTESS, I SAYS, WHOSE THAT GIRL OVER THERE? SHE SAYS, HER NAME IS MARY PEGG. I SAID WOULD YOU MIND TAKING ME OVER AND INTRODUCE ME TO HER? SHE'S SAYS I'D BE DELIGHTED! SO I WENT OVER THERE AND MET HER AND, AND I INVITED HER TO SIT, TO WATCH US PLAY THE MIAMI COUNTRY CLUB THE NEXT DAY AND SHE CAME OVER AND FROM THEN ON THE ROMANCE STARTED.

PETER KESSLER

DID YOU PLAY GOOD?

GENE SARAZEN

OH I DON'T REMEMBER HOW I PLAYED. I WAS THINKING OF HER TOO MUCH.

PETER KESSLER

YEAH THAT'S WHAT I'M WONDERING YOU KNOW HOW GOOD WAS THE GAME THAT DAY. WHAT ABOUT THAT OTHER STORY AND THE BEAUTIFUL BLOND ON THE TRACKS, ON THE, ON THE PLATFORM AT PELHAM WHEN YOU USED TO PARK THE CAR AND TAKE THE TRAIN INTO THE CITY.

GENE SARAZEN

YEAH YOU SEE WE DIDN'T GO, WE DIDN'T DARE TO DRIVE INTO NEW YORK CITY BECAUSE YOU HAD TO GO THROUGH HARLEM AND IT WAS A VERY DANGEROUS PLACE, AND SO I'D DRIVE TO THE RAILROAD STATION, PARK MY CAR, AND UH WAIT FOR THAT 8:OO TRAIN AND I'D WALK UP AND DOWN THE PLATFORM AND I'D LOOK THE GIRLS OVER, THEY WERE CHORUS GIRLS GOING INTO REHEARSAL FOR THE ZIEGFIELD FOLLIES AND I SAW ONE BLOND, OH SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL AND I KEPT LOOKING AT HER, BUT SHE DIDN'T GIVE ME A TUMBLE. SO IT'S JUST MINE, IT'S 1922 OR 1920.. 1980 I'M OUT IN PALM SPRINGS, FLORIDA, PLAYING IN THE SENIOR TOURNAMENT AND I'M COMING UP THE 18TH FAIRWAY AND A FELLOW COMES AROUND THE FAIRWAY AND SAYS THERE'S A WOMAN UP THE CLUBHOUSE WANTS TO SEE YOU. I SAYS WHAT WOMAN WANTS TO SEE AN 88. 81 YEAR OLD MAN. SO I WENT UP THERE AND SHE CAME OUT AND I SHOOK HANDS AND SHE SAYS YOU REMEMBER ME? I LOOKED HER OVER. I COULDN'T QUITE PLACE HER. SHE SAYS YOU REMEMBER THAT BLOND YOU USED TO FLIRT WITH AT THE PELHAM PLATFORM? YEAH. SHE SAYS THAT'S ME. SHE'S SAYS. SHE SHOOK HANDS.. SHE SAID I'M MRS. BOB HOPE.

PETER KESSLER

UNBELIEVABLE.

GENE SARAZEN

UNBELIEVABLE IS RIGHT.

PETER KESSLER

HOW DID, IN THE EARLY 20'S, ALL OF YOU PUT TOGETHER THE CLUBS THAT YOU ENDED UP WINNING THE CHAMPIONSHIPS WITH? IT'S NOT LIKE TODAY. HOW DID YOU GET THE RIGHT HICKORY AND HOW DID YOU GET THE WEIGHT RIGHT AND THE HEADS RIGHT AND THE GRIPS RIGHT?

GENE SARAZEN

WELL YOU HAD TO BUILD YOUR OWN CLUBS PRACTICALLY AND YOU HAD TO GET STIFF SHAFTS FOR THE IRONS AND UH PRETTY GOOD SHAFTS FOR THE WOODS BUT THE THING THAT I DIDN'T LIKE ABOUT THEM IS THAT EVERY TIME THAT YOU GOT CAUGHT IN THE RAIN, YOU HAD TO GO IN THE PRO SHOP AND GET SAND PAPER AND SAND PAPER THE SHAFTS AND SHELLAC THEM.

PETER KESSLER

WHY BECAUSE THEY GOT SWOLLEN FROM THE MOISTURE?

GENE SARAZEN

THAT'S RIGHT.

PETER KESSLER

THAT'S A PRETTY TOUGH WAY TO GO ABOUT YOUR JOB.

GENE SARAZEN

YEAH BUT THE GAME CHANGED WHEN THE STEEL SHAFTS CAME IN. NOW EVERYTHING IS SHAFTS. TITANIUM SHAFTS.

PETER KESSLER

THE AMAZING THING IS YOU WON JUST ABOUT AS MANY CHAMPIONSHIPS WITH HICKORY AS YOU DID WITH STEEL.

GENE SARAZEN

YEAH IT DIDN'T MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE.

PETER KESSLER

NO PROBLEM FOR YOU. WE'RE GOING TO TAKE ANOTHER SHORT BREAK, GENE. WE WILL BE RIGHT BACK WITH MR. GENE SARAZEN RIGHT AFTER THIS. DON'T GO AWAY.

BREAK

NEXT SEGMENT
Photo by Enrique Berardi/LAAC

Top-ranked amateur Niemann one back at LAAC in Chile

By Nick MentaJanuary 21, 2018, 8:44 pm

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).


Click here for full-field scores from the Latin America Amateur Championship


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.

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McIlroy gets back on track

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 21, 2018, 3:10 pm

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.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


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.

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Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

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.


Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


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.

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Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

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.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


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.