Golf Talk Live - Jan Stephenson Transcript Segment 6
JIMMY, WHAT'S YOUR QUESTION TONIGHT FOR JAN?
JIM FROM FLORIDA
HI UM, THAT'S FOR TAKING THE CALL AGAIN.
JIM FROM FLORIDA
I'VE BEEN ENJOYING TRAVELING AND PLAYING DIFFERENT COURSES BY DIFFERENT DESIGNERS SUCH AS DYE, FAZIO AND NICKLAUS OVER THE YEARS. AND MY QUESTION TO YOU IS:
WHAT SPECIAL CHARACTERISTICS UM, HAVE YOU HAD IN MIND NOW AS A DESIGNER? AND WHAT WILL WE EXPECT FROM SOME OF THE WORK THAT YOU'RE PLANNING ON DOING IN THE NEAR FUTURE?
WELL, MY PARTNER IS PERRY DYE, WHO IS PETE DYE'S SON. AND UH, HE'S TAUGHT ME A LOT. I'VE DONE QUITE A FEW COURSES WITH - WITH THE DYES. AND UM,
I'VE ACTUALLY WATCHED PETE DYE DO GOLF COURSES FROM THE TIME I WAS A ROOKIE IN 1974. AND FROM HIM AND ALICE, UH ALICE IS BRILLIANT TOO. SO I'VE LEARNED A LOT. I HAVE A LOT OF THEIR PHILOSOPHIES ALSO.
BUT I THINK THE MAIN ONE IS THAT I'M REALLY TRYING TO GET BACK TO NATURE. I MEAN, I DON'T WANT THE GOLF COURSE TO LOOK LIKE IT'S MANMADE. I - I REALLY WANT TO TRY TO NOT PUT PESTICIDES AND HERBICIDES ON THE GOLF COURSE
BECAUSE OF THE ECOLOGY ANYMORE. THE - THAT THOUGHT, I'M REALLY, REALLY TRYING TO GET BACK TO UH - TO NATURE. BUT THE PROBLEM IS THAT PEOPLE LIKE MYSELF, IF WE DON'T HAVE A GOLF COURSE PERFECT WHEN WE GO PLAY A TOURNAMENT,
I MEAN, IT'S BECAUSE OF PEOPLE LIKE US, THAT WE'RE RUINING GOLF BECAUSE IT JUST COSTS SO MUCH FOR MAINTENANCE. AND NOW THAT I'M IN CHARGE OF A BUDGET, IT'S LIKE, ' WHY DO WE HAVE TO TRIPLE CUT THE GREENS?'
IT'S LIKE 'WHOOPS.' SO I'VE REALLY, REALLY TRIED NOW TO HAVE LOTS OF OPTIONS. I MEAN, MY TEES PROBABLY AVERAGE A HUNDRED YARDS. I MEAN, I HAVE 2 TEES FOR WOMEN
OR FOR JUNIORS BECAUSE WE ARE GONNA HAVE A LOT OF KIDS. AND WE'RE GONNA HAVE A LOT OF WOMEN PLAY. AND I WANT TO HAVE THEM TO HAVE 2 CHOICES. AND YET, I WANT THEM ALWAYS TO HAVE GOOD CONDITIONS
BECAUSE WOMEN SOMETIMES ARE LEFT ALONE. AND - AND THE CONDITIONS OF THE TEES, BECAUSE THEY'RE SO SMALL, ARE NOT GOOD. SO I WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT ALL OF THE TEES ARE IN GREAT SHAPE.
AND THE GREENS ARE PLENTY BIG ENOUGH FOR LOTS OF PINS. BECAUSE SOMETIMES YOU GET ALL THESE REALLY MODERN, PRETTY POTATO CHIP LOOKING GREENS, BUT THERE'S ONLY ABOUT 2 OR 3 GOOD PIN PLACEMENTS.
AND I'VE NOTICED ON - ON SOME - WHEN WE PLAY SOME BAD GOLF COURSES IN THE TOURNAMENTS THAT SOMETIMES THE PINS WILL BE RIGHT BACK WHERE THEY WERE ON THURSDAY.
AND I YELL AND SCREAM AT OUR OFFICIALS AND THEY GO, 'WELL, WHERE ELSE CAN WE PUT IT?' AND IT'S LIKE, YOU KNOW THAT'S INCREDIBLE TO HAVE A 5,000 SQUARE FOOT GREEN AND NOWHERE TO PUT THE PIN.
SO I'M TRYING GIVE MYSELF ABOUT 14 OPTIONS ON PINS SO THAT THEY'RE ALWAYS IN GOOD SHAPE WITHOUT HAVING TO WORK REALLY HARD AT KEEPING THEM THAT WAY.
HAVE THEY STRETCHED OUT ON TOUR THE LENGTH OF THE COURSES? AND HAVE THEY CHANGED THE PINS FROM SORT OF CENTER POSITIONS TO HIDE THEM OVER THE YEARS THAT YOU'VE PLAYED ON TOUR?
WELL, THEY HAVE TO, YES. I MEAN, THEY DEFINITELY HAVE TO TOUGHEN UP THE PINS BECAUSE OF THE EQUIPMENT. I MEAN, THE EQUIPMENT'S SO MUCH BETTER. UM, YOU CAN JUST DO SO MUCH MORE WITH THE GOLF BALL.
AND - AND POWER IS A VERY, VERY IMPORTANT PART OF GOLF. I MEAN, IT'S GETTING MORE AND MORE SO. AND EVEN THOUGH SHORT GAME IS INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT, BUT IT'S - IT'S DEFINITELY A POWER GAME.
SO YEAH, THEY'VE - THEY'VE DEFINITELY LENGTHENED THE COURSES.
ARE THEY FAIR SETUPS NOW? I MEAN, NOW LAURA DAVIES WILL COMPLAIN THAT SHE HITS WEDGE INTO EVERY GREEN AND THAT THAT'S NO FUN TO HAVE ALL OF THE HOLES BE 380 YARDS.
IS IT A FAIR MIX OF TOUGH VERSUS NOT SO TOUGH VERSUS INTERESTING? ARE THEY DOING THAT?
I THINK THE LPGA HAS REALLY CHANGED THEIR PHILOSOPHIES TO BE MORE LIKE THE PGA AND THE SENIORS. I MEAN, AT FIRST, WE WERE JUST TRYING TO HAVE EVERYTHING LONG. AND SOMEBODY, WELL, LIKE LAURA, WOULD SAY THE COURSES ARE TOO SHORT.
BUT YOU NEVER HEAR TIGER SAY THE COURSES ARE TOO SHORT EVEN IF HE DOESN'T EVEN HIT DRIVER OFF THE TEE. SO IT'S JUST, AGAIN, IT'S AN EDUCATIONAL PROCESS.
IT'S LIKE THE AVERAGE WOMAN. THEY DON'T UNDER - PEOPLE KEEP SAYING TO ME, 'WOMEN PLAY SO SLOW. WHAT AM I GONNA DO WHEN YOU HAVE WOMEN ON THE GOLF COURSES?'
IT'S LIKE, THEY DON'T PLAY SLOW AT ALL. I PLAY WITH THEM ALL THE TIME. IT'S BECAUSE THEY CAN'T REACH THE GREENS IN REGULATION. I MEAN, I'VE NEVER PLAYED - ANY OF MY LADY MEMBERS OR MY FRIENDS I PLAY WITH,
THEY CAN NEVER REACH ANY OF THE PAR-3'S OR THE 4'S IN REGULATION. AND SO WHEN I MOVE THESE TEES UP WHERE THERE THEY CAN, THEY'RE GONNA PROBABLY THINK THE COURSE IS TOO SHORT BECAUSE THEY'RE NOT USED TO IT.
AND IT'S AGAIN, IT'S AN EDUCATIONAL PROCESS.
WHAT'S THE FEELING ON TOUR AMONG THE WOMEN ABOUT THE GOLF COURSES? ARE THEY LIKE THE REST OF US AND COMPLAIN - LIKE YOU CAN FIND THE THINGS TO COMPLAIN ABOUT -
OR DO THEY THINK 'YEAH, THIS IS A FAIR SETUP. AND IT LETS A SHORT HITTER WITH A GREAT SHORT GAME WIN. BUT IT ALSO ALLOWS A LAURA DAVIES TO WIN ON THE SAME GOLF COURSE'?
IS THERE A SENSE THAT THAT'S BEING DONE FAIRLY?
OH NO, THERE'S ALWAYS COMPLAINTS ABOUT IT ONE WAY OR ANOTHER. BUT AGAIN, WE HAVE - WE HAVE 30 DIFFERENT GOLF COURSES EVERY WEEK.
SO WE SHOULD BE ABLE TO HAVE SOME THAT - THAT FAVOR THE LONG HITTERS AND SOME THAT FAVOR THE SHORT. THEN WE CAN CHOSE WHERE WE WANT TO PLAY.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THIS BUSINESS OF IT BEING OKAY IN THE RULES OF GOLF TO BE LINED UP BY YOUR CADDIE UNTIL YOU PULL THE TRIGGER?
WHAT HAPPENED TO THIS GAME BEING PLAYED ON YOUR OWN? AND ALIGNMENT'S ONE OF THE TOUGHEST THINGS FOR A - A GREAT NUMBER OF PLAYERS.
IT IS. I - I DON'T EVER HAVE ANYBODY LINE ME UP BECAUSE I - I'M KIND OF FROM THE OLD SCHOOL. BUT WHEN YOU THINK OF HOW IMPORTANT ONE SHOT CAN BE, I MEAN, NOW IT'S - IT -- EVERYTHING IS SO TECHNICAL.
I MEAN, FROM SPORTS PSYCHOLOGISTS TO . EVERY SINGLE LITTLE THING IS IMPORTANT. I MEAN, OUR YARDAGE BOOKS . I MEAN, I CAN REMEMBER WATCHING BEN HOGAN PLAY AND HE DIDN'T HAVE A YARDAGE BOOK. AND I CAN'T PLAY WITHOUT ONE.
SO IT'S PRETTY AMAZING HOW MUCH WITH - THAT THIS GAME HAS BECOME SO TECHNICAL AND SO IMPORTANT, EVERY LITTLE SHOT COUNTS. BUT I STILL DON'T LIKE THE LINING UP PART.
HOW GOOD IS THE - A JOB IS THE LPGA DOING IN STARTING TO RECOGNIZE OR AT LEAST THINK ABOUT SOME OF THE PLAYERS WHO FORMED THE TOUR WHO DON'T REALLY HAVE A DIME?
I MEAN, THERE ARE A LOT OF MEN WHO PLAYED IN THE 40'S, IN THE 50'S AND 60'S BEFORE THE PURSES GOT VERY INTERESTING WHO DON'T HAVE A SUFFICIENT INCOME.
WHAT'S BEING DONE? AND IF NOTHING, WHAT SHOULD BE DONE?
WELL, THERE'S DEFINITELY NOT ENOUGH DONE. I MEAN, I KNOW THAT WE HAVE A CATASTROPHIC FUND. AND I REALLY BELIEVE THAT THAT FUND SHOULD GO TO THESE GIRLS THAT HAVE - THAT PUT THE TOUR AND FORMED THE TOUR AND FOUND THE TOUR.
I MEAN, WE PLAY EVERY WEEK FOR - IN A PRO - FOR A PRO-AM PURSE, BUT WE DON'T TAKE IT. WE GIVE IT TO CHARITY END OF THE - OF THE YEAR. AND I TRULY BELIEVE CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME.
THAT SHOULD GO TO THOSE GIRLS THAT FORMED THE TOUR BECAUSE THERE'S NOT ENOUGH HISTORY IN THIS GAME. AND IT - YOU KNOW, IT'S NOT JUST IN GOLF IN A WAY. I MEAN, PEOPLE ALWAYS TALK ABOUT GOLF DOES HAVE HISTORY.
BUT WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT IT . I MEAN, I'VE ACTUALLY HEARD THAT CHARLES BARCLAY AND MICHAEL JORDAN, SEE THESE YOUNG BASKETBALL PLAYERS DON'T HAVE ENOUGH HISTORY EITHER BECAUSE THEY THINK THEY SHOULD COME OUT AND EARN AS MUCH.
SO IT'S NOT JUST IN GOLF. BUT I TRULY BELIEVE THAT THE - ONE OF THE REASONS THAT KARRIE DIDN'T KNOW THAT I'D WON IS BECAUSE WE REALLY DON'T SUPPORT WHAT HAPPENED FOR US TO BE HERE PLAYING FOR ALL THIS MONEY.
EARLIER IN THE SHOW, YOU TOLD ME WHAT HARD WORK IT WAS FOR YOU TO DO THE MARILYN MONROE POSE. AND SO WE'LL TAKE A LOOK AT A SHOT FROM SPORTS ILLUSTRATED FROM THAT TIME
SHOWING HOW DIFFICULT THAT PARTICULAR DAY WAS AS YOU WERE POSING. A ROUGH SCHEDULE . THAT'S PART OF THAT - THAT WAS PART OF HER 6 MONTHS OFF IS THIS PARTICULAR SHOT.
WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK AND SPEND A FEW MORE MINUTES WITH JAN.
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.