On occasion, he can still bring home a trophy. It happened Sunday at the PGA Senior Championship. Nobody did anything particularly outstanding, and thats including Zoeller. But he grabbed the lead and hung on for dear life, and nobody was as good at it Sunday as ol Fuz. And lo and behold, he won himself a Senior major!
Is there anything to dislike about the guy? Maybe to his closest friends, he does something irritating. But to the rest of the world, he just goes about his business, whistling some silly tune while he strolls along. Does he realize the serious of the game hes playing? Probably. But it doesnt make any difference.
Ive watched him up close since his U.S. Open win at Winged Foot in 1984. I cant say I really know Fuzzy Zoeller. I dont know if anybody in the press does. But I dont know if I have ever met anyone in this game who is more pleasant. Now, that doesnt mean he is always funny. Sometimes he doesnt even try to answer your question. But still he smiles. Its the most courteous turn-down youve ever seen. Some guys look gruff even when they are answering.
If hes not a laugh-a-minute guy in the interview room, he certainly is one on the golf course. He chatters incessantly. I wonder what it is like when he is paired with Lee Trevino? And he isnt just yapping to make noise. He reduces golf down to what it was meant to be in the first place ' a game.
Maybe, some think, its just a game because he never had to worry about three squares a day. His family was upper middle class as a youth, and his marriage simply solidified that status. What if golf were his ticket to a meal, some have wondered? Would he have the same slap-happy attitude? Good question. The fact remains, some players who were born with a silver spoon in their mouth are still grouchy. So being well-to-do isnt the answer.
Its just the mans nature. Hes always had a beautiful sense of humor.
Thank God! said Zoeller earlier this year. Have you seen me play golf lately?
Yuks were forthcoming around the room ' isnt there always a lot of yuks when Fuz is present? But Zoeller turned serious for a moment.
If I didnt have a sense of humor, I would not have a club left in that bag out there (meaning that he would have flung every one.) Ive been blessed, Ive had great parents and both of them have great sense of humors. They were very easygoing, and thats kind of the way my life has been. Every once in a while I do get a little fired up. But not the golf course, he said.
Zoeller is a 50-year-old rookie on the Senior Tour, experiencing for the first time the double pro-am. The Seniors often play two pro-ams when they play a three-day tournament. Fuzzy never has a problem with that, unlike a few others.
Ill play three, he volunteered. The regular tour members are required to devote only one day per week to the pro-am.
I enjoy the pro-ams, said Zoeller. I enjoy getting corporate America out of their office and showing them a day of fun. There will be some razzing, yeah. I want them to have a day they will remember, and not necessarily on their golf.
But on the first hole, it is a little weird for an amateur golfer, all of the people standing around. They are thinking, My God, they came out to see me. I always try to make it clear to my amateur golfers ' These people are not here to see you. Just enjoy your game. They know youre worth a damn, so dont worry about it.
In other words, they should emulate Fuzzy. He just doesnt sweat it, and it doesnt matter where it is or what the competition. Before the final day of that 84 U.S. Open, he warmed up for the four-hour round of golfing hell by playing a game of catch with his caddie.
One, its a fastball. Two, its a curveball. Three, its a ' oops, duck!! Its a beanball!!
Now hes on the elder gents tour, where the stories flow like fine wine and the old gaffers relax and spin yarn after yarn. This is so much more Fuzzy. Hes in his element, and if he happens to look up and win one every now and then, well bless em all, anyway.
Everybody else kind of enjoys that 50-yard marker when you get out here, he said. All of a sudden, the ball starts going in the hole again. Like what Ben Crenshaw said - the one thing he really enjoys about the Senior Tour is making the cut.
Meaning, naturally, that EVERYBODY makes the cut at most of the tours events. Not everybody is like Fuzzy, though. Golf - heck, sports as a whole - would be so much better if it were.