Aaron Barber and Dean Wilson Press Conf Transcript
Bank of America Colonial
Fort Worth, Texas
May 20, 2003
An Interview With:
AARON BARBER and DEAN WILSON
TODD BUDNICK: Thank you all for joining us today. We have Aaron Barber and Dean Wilson who happen to be paired with Annika Sorenstam this week. Aaron Barber is 106th on the Money List, one top-10. T-4 at the Chrysler Classic of Tucson. Dean Wilson is 65th, with two top-10s this year. Also his best finish is at the Chrysler Classic in Tucson. We thank them for joining us. And we'll start with a comment from each on the unique situation of getting to play with Annika this week. Aaron, why don't you start.
AARON BARBER: I think it's a tremendous opportunity to play in front of a huge crowd, which I haven't been in contention much this year so I haven't had a chance to get real nervous in front of a lot of people yet. But I think it's a chance to really see where your game's at when you're nervous in front of a lot of people with media and all the excitement that goes with it. I'm looking forward to the opportunity and I'm going to learn something from it one way or the other.
DEAN WILSON: Also. I'm excited to be here. My first time at Colonial Country Club. Great to be a part of this tournament. And also to be a part of this experience of being paired with Annika first time what, 58 years? A woman's been in the PGA TOUR event so I'm glad to be a part of the group. And hopefully looking forward to a good week.
TODD BUDNICK: We'll take some questions if you please.
Q. Dean or both of you, obviously, you know a lot of your colleagues have been critical of her playing, for a number of reasons, what are your own opinions? Mr. Wilson first.
DEAN WILSON: I think it's great. I think having her be here to test her skills against the players in the PGA TOUR is a great opportunity for her. I'm excited to be a part of it. I hope she does well.
AARON BARBER: I think it's really exciting for her. She's super competitive. She's very dominant on the LPGA TOUR and I think it's a way for her to test herself at a higher level. She's earned this opportunity. She got an unrestricted sponsor exemption. She didn't a take a spot. She's earned this based on her resume. And that's how you get sponsor exemptions. So I think she is going to do well.
Q. But I'm sure you've heard some men have said women have their own TOUR they don't belong to be playing here. Your thoughts and reaction to those kinds of comments?
TODD BUDNICK: I think they answered it the first time.
Q. Knowing this was a possibility were you dreading it or looking forward to it?
DEAN WILSON: I was looking forward to it actually. It's a unique experience to be able to play with her in a tournament atmosphere like this. And I've been a big fan of hers for many years in her career watching her. I think it will be great to be alongside her and watch how someone like her handles herself in this situation in this tournament which is so unique. And again to see her playing it just is great.
Q. Any of you worried about her shooting a lower score?
DEAN WILSON: No. If she plays well and I play bad, anybody can beat me when I play bad.
AARON BARBER: She's going to beat some people, there's no doubt. And I'm worried about 113 people beating me every week. So it's like Dean said, I mean it's a great opportunity for us to be part of history here. This is something we should look forward to. When I first got the call this morning I was like, oh, boy, I was nervous. And then I quickly turned that into excitement. And have you to make it a positive. This is a great learning experience for both of us. It's just fun to be part of history.
Q. Would you feel more pressure will be on her?
AARON BARBER: I think she will feel probably more pressure and maybe be more nervous. After all the spotlight's on her. I was surprised that we even had to do a press conference. We're just the two guys playing with her. There's 113 people playing against her. So I'm sure she's going to feel more pressure. And I'm sure she's been under a lot of pressure before, maybe not to this degree but I'm sure she will handle it well.
Q. What about all the distractions that come with this. It happens a lot with Tiger that everybody playing before him or after him has got to deal with cameras going off, camera men moving around, it's tough to stay focused?
AARON BARBER: Yeah it, is. I had the opportunity this year to play in the group in front of Tiger. His first tournament back at the Buick. And that might be the toughest group to be in because the gallery doesn't really care about the group in front of Tiger, they're just getting in a position to see him. So this week it will probably be the same way. There's just going to be a lot of people on just a couple of holes trying to watch the group. It's just going to be something that I'm going to have to -- the first few holes when you're nervous that's going to be a little tricky to get used to, but I'm sure we'll settle down and hopefully all play well early on, make some birdies and I'm sure we'll have a fun group.
Q. Have you seen Annika today? Spoke with her yet?
DEAN WILSON: No. Haven't seen her yet, today. No.
Q. Have you ever met her before?
DEAN WILSON: No, I have never met her.
AARON BARBER: I haven't either.
Q. Who called you with the news and what time did they call you? Were you in your hotel or how did you find out?
DEAN WILSON: I got a phone call from my agent that got the call from someone else. And just told me to give him a call and let him know when I was coming out.
AARON BARBER: I actually got a phone call from my clothing company and they gave me a call at 8 o'clock and said, the media here in Minneapolis is trying to get ahold of you because you're paired with Annika. And I said, no, the pairings haven't come out yet. And they got a word of it and then I got a call from the TOUR 15 minutes later. So it was either a good guess.
Q. In your hotel room?
AARON BARBER: Yeah.
Q. You're here on a sponsor's exemption also. Could you talk about the process of how you went about getting that and for Dean, could you explain wearing the pin today. Each of you, please.
AARON BARBER: The sponsor exemption, my agent and I we have sent letters out to every tournament that -- all the invitationals and other tournaments that I wasn't sure I was going to get into and this is the first one that I've received, so I'm just excited, like Dean said, to be part of this tournament, it's a tournament that you grew up watching on TV and outside of the Majors it's one of the best, so I'm just really excited to be here and to be part of this is pretty cool and something I won't forget.
DEAN WILSON: I'm just excited to be involved in the tournament paired with Annika. I feel that she has every right to be in this tournament and I'm all for her playing well and hopefully that she can play to her best of her ability and play well.
Q. Did you have to buy that?
DEAN WILSON: Yup, three bucks.
Q. You mentioned that this is your first sponsor's exemption this year. If Annika would have received the exemption that she did and you didn't, would you have felt like you were robbed?
AARON BARBER: No, because I haven't gotten into any other tournaments, this is the first one that I've received. You never know if you were the player that didn't get the sponsor exemption because she played and it's such a small group of people that even apply for these or really have a chance to get them that I don't think -- I don't think that's an issue. I don't feel personally that she's taking a spot away. I think her resume is so good I think it's such good publicity for this event and the Tour, and for her personally, to challenge herself like this, I just, I don't see anything but positive from it.
Q. You mentioned that you aren't worried about losing to her. There seems to be a lot of talk from others that they really don't want to lose to her, do you sense that out there?
AARON BARBER: I don't know. Dean?
DEAN WILSON: I don't know. I'm sure there's not one guy I want to lose out to here. So I'm working as hard as I can to beat every one that I can. And if Annika beats me, if Aaron beats me, it's still something I aspire to try to move ahead and beat him next time. So.
AARON BARBER: It's golf. Anyone can beat anyone. She's obviously got a lot of game. People when they say, are you afraid she's going to beat you, it's, they make her sound like she's an inferior player. I think her skills are very good and they stack up really good on this golf course. This golf course is not super long. And even if it was she doesn't hit it short she hits it almost as far as us, so I just done see -- I think she can beat anybody. And like Dean said, we're always afraid to get beat by everybody, so.
Q. The situation, do you feel an obligation to maybe talk more or make her feel more comfortable than you might with a male partner?
DEAN WILSON: I personally don't. I'm going to treat her just like another competitor as we always do. And I'll have as much conversation with her as I do with everyone else. I'm just looking forward to the experience. It will be great.
AARON BARBER: Same for me. It's not going to change any of that. And I'm sure we're all going to get along just fine. And we'll get every one gets off to a good start and we just relax it will be fun.
Q. How good do you think you're going to be in not getting caught up in watching her game, watching what she's doing, trying to play your own game?
AARON BARBER: I usually don't watch the other players that I'm playing with that much. If anything I try to learn from them and that won't be any different. I mean maybe out of a curiosity standpoint. I always watch the players that I'm playing with. So I just don't think it's going to be that much different. Maybe it's easy to say now, but I don't know.
Q. When is the last time either of you two guys went around 18 holes with a woman in your group?
DEAN WILSON: Last time I was home playing at the country club. I have a good friend that plays on the Futures TOUR and I played lots of golf with her. And lots of golf with her friends. So I've always played with a lot of women and it's just as much fun.
AARON BARBER: My wife played college golf too and just last week I rode around 18 holes with her and a three day old baby. So I think that's enough of a distraction for anyone.
Q. Who won between you all?
DEAN WILSON: No, they didn't beat me.
AARON BARBER: My wife will say she beat me, but.
Q. Dean you live in Vegas what are the odds that you guys could put up a better score than Annika?
DEAN WILSON: I have no idea what the odds are.
AARON BARBER: Actually there are odds, but I haven't seen them.
DEAN WILSON: Are you asking me what the odds are in Vegas?
Q. What would you put the odds of you guys putting up a better score?
DEAN WILSON: Geez, I don't know. I have no idea. I couldn't answer that question.
AARON BARBER: I don't think it's a question you want to answer.
Q. What was your friend's name, please on the future's TOUR?
DEAN WILSON: Her name is Christel Tomori.
Q. Can you spell it?
DEAN WILSON: Christel. C H R I S T E L. T O M O R I.
Q. Are you comfortable being part of a trivia question?
DEAN WILSON: Yeah that would be pretty good.
AARON BARBER: I hope we get paid if we are.
DEAN WILSON: Hopefully someone will remember and get the answer right.
Q. Aaron, could you clarify you said you played with your wife with your baby was three days old?
AARON BARBER: Yeah, just last week .
Q. And your wife was out there?
AARON BARBER: No, she wasn't playing. She was just out there. Doing a lot of other things, but it was fun to just get outside. We didn't even play 18 holes. We just went around and got out of the house a little bit. It's pretty on a cool, so.
Q. Boy or a girl?
AARON BARBER: Little boy. Putts things in perspective in a hurry. Nicholas James is his name.
TODD BUDNICK: We thank Dean and Aaron for joining us today and we wish them well this week.
Stock Watch: Spieth searching for putting form
Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.
Patton Kizzire (+8%): By today’s accelerated standards, he’s a late bloomer, having reached the Tour at age 29. Well, he seems right at home now, with two wins in his last four starts.
Rory (+7%): Coming off the longest break of his career, McIlroy should have no excuses this year. He’s healthy. Focused. Motivated. It’s go time.
Chris Paisley (+5%): The best part about his breakthrough European Tour title that netted him $192,000? With his wife, Keri, on the bag, he doesn’t have to cut 10 percent to his caddie – she gets the whole thing.
Brooke Henderson (+3%): A seventh-place finish at the Diamond Resorts Invitational doesn’t sound like much for a five-time winner, but this came against the men – on a cold, wet, windy, 6,700-yard track. She might be the most fun player to watch on the LPGA.
New European Ryder Cuppers (+2%): In something of a Ryder Cup dress rehearsal, newcomers Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton each went undefeated in leading Europe to a come-from-behind victory at the EurAsia Cup. The competition come September will be, um, a bit stiffer.
Jordan’s putting (-1%): You can sense his frustration in interviews, and why not? In two starts he leads the Tour in greens in regulation … and ranks 201st (!) in putting. Here’s guessing he doesn’t finish the year there.
Brian Harman’s 2018 Sundays (-2%): The diminutive left-hander now has five consecutive top-10s, and he’s rocketing up the Ryder Cup standings, but you can’t help but wonder how much better the start to his year might have been. In the final pairing each of the past two weeks, he’s a combined 1 under in those rounds and wasn’t much of a factor.
Tom Hoge (-3%): Leading by one and on the brink of a life-changing victory – he hadn’t been able to keep his card each of the past three years – Hoge made an absolute mess of the 16th, taking double bogey despite having just 156 yards for his approach. At least now he’s on track to make the playoffs for the first time.
Predicting James Hahn’s form (-4%): OK, we give up: He’d gone 17 events without a top-15 before his win at Riviera; 12 before his win at Quail Hollow; and seven before he lost on the sixth playoff hole at Waialae. The margins between mediocre play and winning apparently are THAT small.
Barnrat (-5%): Coming in hot with four consecutive top-10s, and one of only two team members ranked inside the top 50 in the world, Kiradech Aphibarnrat didn’t show up at the EurAsia Cup, going 0-3 for the week. In hindsight, the Asian team had no chance without his contributions.
Langer not playing to pass Irwin, but he just might
Bernhard Langer goes back out on tour this week to chase down more than Hale Irwin’s PGA Tour Champions record of 45 career victories. His chase is against himself.
“I’m not playing to beat Hale Irwin’s record,” Langer told me before heading to Hawaii to defend his title at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. “I play golf to play the best I can, to be a good role model, and to enjoy a few more years that are left.”
Langer turned 60 on Aug. 27 and was presented a massage chair by his family as a birthday gift. Instead of reclining (which he does to watch golf and football), he won three more times to close out a seven-win campaign that included three major championships. A year prior, coming off a four-victory season, Langer told me after winning his fourth Charles Schwab Cup that surpassing Irwin’s record was possible but not probable. With 36 career victories and 11 in his last two years, he has changed his tone to making up the nine-tournament difference as “probable.”
“If I could continue a few more years on that ratio, I could get close or pass him,” Langer told me from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. “It will get harder. I’m 60 now. It’s a big challenge but I don’t shy away from challenges.”
Bernhard Langer, Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)
Langer spent his off-season playing the PNC Father/Son, taking his family on a ski vacation at Big Sky in Yellowstone, Montana, and to New York for New Year’s. He ranks himself as a scratch skier, having skied since he was four years old in Germany. The risk of injury is worth it, considering how much he loves “the scenery, the gravity and the speed.”
Since returning from New York, Langer has immersed himself into preparing for the 2018 season. Swing coach Willy Hoffman, who he has worked with since his boyhood days as an as assistant pro in Germany, flew to Florida for their 43rd year of training.
“He’s a straight shooter,” Hoffman told me. “He says, 'Willy, every hour is an hour off my life and we have 24 hours every day.'"
As for Irwin, they have maintained a respectful relationship that goes back to their deciding singles match in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Last year they were brought back to Kiawah Island for a corporate appearance where they reminisced and shared the thought that nobody should ever have to bear what Langer went through, missing a 6-footer on the 18th green. That was 27 years ago. Both are in the Hall of Fame.
"I enjoy hanging out with Hale," Langer says.
Langer’s chase of Irwin’s record is not going to change their legacies. As Hoffman pointed out, “Yes, (Bernhard) is a rich man compared to his younger days. He had no money, no nothing. But today you don’t feel a difference when you talk to him. He’s always on the ground.”
McIlroy: Ryder Cup won't be as easy as USA thinks
The Americans have won their past two international team competitions by a combined score of 38-22, but Rory McIlroy isn’t expecting another pushover at the Ryder Cup in September.
McIlroy admitted that the U.S. team will be strong, and that its core of young players (including Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler) will be a force for the next decade. But he told reporters Tuesday at the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship that course setup will play a significant role.
“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said, referring to the Americans’ 17-11 victory in 2016. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”
At every Ryder Cup, the home team has the final say on course setup. Justin Rose was the most outspoken about the setup at Hazeltine, saying afterward that it was “incredibly weak” and had a “pro-am feel.”
And so this year’s French Open figures to be a popular stop for European Tour players – it’s being held once again at Le Golf National, site of the matches in September. Tommy Fleetwood won last year’s event at 12 under.
“I’m confident,” McIlroy said. “Everything being all well and good, I’ll be on that team and I feel like we’ll have a really good chance.
“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that. The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”
Floodlights may be used at Dubai Desert Classic
No round at next week’s Dubai Desert Classic will be suspended because of darkness.
Tournament officials have installed state-of-the-art floodlighting around the ninth and 18th greens to ensure that all 132 players can finish their round.
With the event being moved up a week in the schedule, the European Tour was initially concerned about the amount of daylight and trimmed the field to 126 players. Playing under the lights fixed that dilemma.
“This is a wonderful idea and fits perfectly with our desire to bring innovation to our sport,” European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said. “No professional golfer ever wants to come back the following morning to complete a round due to lack of daylight, and this intervention, should it be required, will rule out that necessity.”
Next week’s headliners include Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson.