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Golf Talk Live - Gene Sarazen Transcript Segment 1

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GENE SARAZEN WAS THE FIRST GREAT AMERICAN PLAYER BORN IN THE 20TH CENTURY. HE WAS FOLLOWED A FEW WEEK LATER BY BOBBY JONES, HIS LIFE LONG FRIEND AND ON COURSE RIVAL. WHEN GENE WON THE 1922 U.S. OPEN AS A 20 YEAR OLD FOR HIS FIRST MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIP, IT WAS JONES WHO TIED FOR SECOND PLACE.

IN 1973 GENE BID FAREWELL TO TOURNAMENT GOLF AS DRAMATICALLY AS HE HAD ENTERED IT WITH A HOLE IN ONE AT THE SO CALLED POSTAGE STAMP. THE 126 YARD 8TH HOLE AT TROON THAT WAS WITNESSED BY ALL ON TELEVISION DURING THE BRITISH OPEN. IN BETWEEN THESE BOOK ENDS OF BRILLIANCE, GENE SARAZEN, ONE OF THE GREATEST AND GRIDIEST COMPETITORS IN THE HISTORY OF THE GAME TREATED US TO HIS GENIUS AND CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE GREAT GAME.

HE WAS THE FIRST TO WIN THE PROFESSIONAL CAREER GRAND SLAM. THE U.S. AND BRITISH OPENS. THE PGA AND THE MASTERS. HIS HOLED FOUR WOOD FOR A DOUBLE EAGLE TWO AT THE 15TH HOLE IN THE FINAL ROUND OF THE 1935 MASTERS, WHICH ENABLED HIM TO EARN AND WIN A PLAY OFF FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP IS PROBABLY THE MOST FAMOUS SINGLE SHOT IN THE 600 YEAR HISTORY OF GOLF. HE WAS THE FIRST GREAT AMERICAN PLAYER TO MAKE A SCIENCE OF HITTING PRACTICE SHOTS AND HONING HIS SHORT GAME THROUGH GRUELING SEVEN HOUR SESSIONS FROM EVERY IMAGINABLE POSITION.

HE WAS TOUGH, COLORFUL AND NOT AFRAID OF HARD WORK. HE PLAYED HIS BEST GOLF AT A TIME WHEN BOBBY JONES AND WALTER HAGEN WERE ALSO PLAYING THEIR BEST GOLF. HE PLAYED WHEN BABE RUTH WAS IN HIS PRIME, WHEN TALKING PICTURES BECAME A NEW RAGE, WHEN HICKORY SHAFTS FINALLY GAVE WAY TO STEEL. IN THE WONDERFUL BOOK `THE MASTERS OF GOLF' THE AUTHORS CONCLUDED THEIR CHAPTER ON GENE WITH THIS PERFECT QUOTE FROM GOLDEN AGE GOLF WRITER, OBIE KEELER 'HIS CONFIDENCE IS AGGRESSIVE. WHEN CONFRONTED BY A TOUGH AND TESTING SHOT, HE APPEARS TREMENDOUSLY EAGER TO GET AT IT WITH A FIERCE INSPIRATION TO CONQUER, WITH A CERTAIN JOY OF BATTLE AND A GRIM DELIGHT. A CHANCE TO EXTEND HIS POWERS.

MEET THE 94 YEAR OLD GRAND ELDER STATESMAN OF GOLF, GENE SARAZEN, TONIGHT ON GOLF TALK LIVE.

PETER KESSLER

WELCOME TO GOLF TALK LIVE. I'M PETER KESSLER. OUR SHOW IS ORIGINATING TONIGHT FROM THE SIGHT OF THE SARAZEN WORLD OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP IN BROSSELTON, GEORGIA JUST NORTH OF ATLANTA. WE ARE IN THE CLUBHOUSE OF CHATEAU ELAN AND WE ARE SITTING WITH AN AMERICAN INSTITUTION, GENE SARAZEN. WHAT A GREAT HONOR SIR.

GENE SARAZEN

THANK YOU. NICE MEETING YOU PETER.

PETER KESSLER

IT'S GREAT TO BE HERE WITH YOU. WHAT WOULD YOUR MARY THINK OF THE SARAZEN WORLD OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP?

GENE SARAZEN

OH SHE'D BE THRILLED TO DEATH. YOU KNOW I OFTEN UH SIT BACK AND THINK, WHO EVER THOUGHT 72 YEARS AGO THAT I'D BE HOSTING THE WORLD OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP AND WHO'D EVER THOUGHT THAT I'D RUN INTO A MAN LIKE DONALD PANOS, WHOSE BEEN SO GRACIOUS. YOU KNOW I'M NOT A YOUNG FELLOW. I'M PRETTY OLD FELLA.

PETER KESSLER

WHY DO THEY WAIT SO LONG IN EVERY GREAT MAN'S LIFE TO GIVE HIM THE AWARDS THAT HE WAS ENTITLED TO YEARS BEFORE? THE BOB JONES AWARD IN 1992. WHAT ABOUT 1952?

GENE SARAZEN

YEAH BUT I RECEIVED ALL THE AWARDS AFTER I WAS 90. I DON'T WHERE I'VE BEEN FOR THE LAST 7O YEARS.

PETER KESSLER

THE SAME THING WITH BYRON NELSON.

GENE SARAZEN

THAT'S RIGHT.

PETER KESSLER

HE WON ALL THOSE TOURNAMENTS IN '45 AND THEY WAITED 50 YEARS FOR SOMEBODY TO SAY SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

GENE SARAZEN

YEAH WELL THEY'RE JUST WAKING UP. THAT'S ALL.

PETER KESSLER

OKAY WELL AT LEAST THEY'VE FIGURED OUT HOW GREAT OUR GAME IS. WHAT WOULD YOUR MOM AND DAD THINK ABOUT THIS NOW? I MEAN HERE YOU ARE AN AMERICAN INSTITUTION. YOU'VE PLAYED WITH MORE GREAT PLAYERS IN THE HISTORY OF THE GAME THAN ANYONE ELSE. YOU'VE GIVEN AS MUCH TO THE GAME, MUCH MORE THAN YOU HAVE TAKEN. WHAT WOULD THEY THINK NOW?

GENE SARAZEN

WELL THEY WOULDN'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT GOLF BUT THEY'D BE TICKLED TO DEATH THAT I'D BE WHERE I WAS.

PETER KESSLER

YOUR DAD MOVED BACK TO ITALY THE YEAR THAT YOU WON BOTH OPENS, DIDN'T HE, IN '32?

GENE SARAZEN

'32 HE WENT BACK TO ITALY, THAT'S RIGHT.

PETER KESSLER

DID YOU SPEAK TO HIM AFTER THAT?. DID YOU SEE HIM?

GENE SARAZEN

YES I WENT TO ROME SEVERAL TIMES TO UH DO THE SHELL SHOWS AND UH I WAS ABLE TO SEE HIM. HE WAS LIVING WITH MY WIFE'S UH, MY MOTHER'S SISTER. HE WAS OVER 90 YEARS OLD AND HE DIED WHEN HE WAS 94.

PETER KESSLER

WELL GENE THEY HAVE GREAT GENES IN YOUR FAMILY, DON'T THEY?
WHEN YOU WERE A KID LIVING IN NEW YORK, WHEN FRANCES WEEMET, IN 1913, WHEN YOU WERE ELEVEN YEARS OLD, WHEN HE WAS 21 AND WON THE U.S. OPEN A PLAYOFF WITH ARGUABLY THE GREATEST PLAYER OF THAT TIME, HARRY VARDON, AND A VERY WONDERFUL PLAYER IN TED RAY, DID THAT CONVINCE YOU THAT YOU COULD WIN THE OPEN?

GENE SARAZEN

WELL I WAS CADDYING WITH ED SULLIVAN AT OPAWAMIS GOING TO THE 18TH HOLE AND UH THE FELLOW THAT I WAS CADDYING FOR WAS A BANKER FROM NEW YORK AND HE LOOKED AT ME, HE SAYS YOU KNOW A CADDIE WON THE OPEN TODAY. I SAYS WHAT CADDIE? HE SAYS A FELLOW BY THE NAME OF FRANCIS WAYMEN. OHH, I SAYS I WONDER HOW HE GRIPPED THE CLUB, I SAID INTERLOCKING GRIP? SO I STARTED USING THE INTERLOCKING GRIP AND I'VE BEEN USING IT FOR, SINCE 1920.

PETER KESSLER

YOU KNOW WHO TOOK THE INTERLOCKING GRIP FROM YOU?

GENE SARAZEN


WHO?

PETER KESSLER

JACK NICKLAUS.

GENE SARAZEN

DID HE?

PETER KESSLER

YEAH HE TOO HAD, HAD REASONABLY SMALL HANDS FOR A BIG MAN AND HE'S ALWAYS USED THE INTERLOCKING GRIP.

GENE SARAZEN

WELL HE DOESN'T PUT HIS THUMB AROUND THE, AROUND THE GRIP THOUGH, HE PUTS HIS THUMB HERE.

PETER KESSLER

THAT'S RIGHT. YOURS WAS SORT OF HANGING OFF A LITTLE BIT, RIGHT?

GENE SARAZEN

IT WAS INSIDE THERE.

PETER KESSLER

RIGHT. HIS WAS, HIS WAS, HIS HAND WAS MORE ON TOP OF THE CLUB WITH HIS HAND.

GENE SARAZEN

BUT HE'S MORE SUCCESSFUL THAN I WAS THOUGH. HE'S WON 20 MAJORS. I ONLY WON SEVEN.

PETER KESSLER

WELL LOOK AT THE COMPETITION OF THE TWO TIMES TOO I MEAN THE BOTH OF YOU WERE PLAYING AGAINST SOME OF THE GREATEST NAMES IN THE HISTORY OF GOLF. I THINK OF 1920 FOR EXAMPLE WHEN YOU PLAYED IN YOUR FIRST U.S. OPEN WHEN BOBBY JONES PLAYED IN HIS FIRST U.S. OPEN AND HARRY VARDON, WHO SHOULD HAVE WON WAS PLAYING IN HIS LAST.

GENE SARAZEN

WELL HARRY VARDON SHOULD HAVE WON THAT OPEN BUT THERE WAS A LIKE A HURRICANE CAME ON IN THE LAST 9 HOLES AND TED RAY WAS IN AND HE WON BY ONE STROKE AND HARRY VARDON WAS 2ND. HE HAD A BAD NINE BUT UH HARRY VARDON WAS A MUCH SUPERIOR PLAYER THAN TED RAY.

PETER KESSLER

I KNOW THAT, GO AHEAD, GO AHEAD I DIDN'T MEAN TO INTERRUPT. HARRY WAS SEVEN OVER I THINK ON THAT LAST NINE HOLES.

GENE SARAZEN

THAT'S RIGHT.

PETER KESSLER

IN A FIERCE GALE TO LOSE BY A SHOT AT THE AGE OF 50.

GENE SARAZEN

YEAH I REMEMBER THAT AND UH, I DIDN'T, I WAS UH, I PLAYED VERY WELL IN THE QUALIFYING ROUND. IN THOSE DAYS YOU HAD TO QUALIFY AT THE SCENE OF THE CHAMPIONSHIP AND I WAS 2ND IN THE QUALIFYING AND JACK, JACKIE BURKE'S FATHER WAS 1ST AND EVERYBODY THOUGHT THAT THIS KID FROM FORTWEIGHT (???), INDIANA WAS GOING TO WIN THE OPEN AND ONE OF MY BEST BACKERS WAS GRANTLYN RICE (???) AND PAUL GALICO. THEY THOUGHT I'D WIN THE OPEN BUT I FALTERED AND LOST.

PETER KESSLER

NOW FOR PEOPLE WHO DON'T KNOW GRANTLYN RICE AND PAUL GALICO WERE TWO OF THE REALLY GREAT SPORTS WRITERS OF THE 20'S AND 30'S. GRANTLYN WAS A GREAT FRIEND OF YOURS THOUGH WASN'T HE?

GENE SARAZEN

YEAH LIFE LONG FRIEND. HE WAS A GREAT FELLOW. I'LL NEVER FORGET WHEN I WAS CADDYING AT OPAWANIS, WE HAD TO STAY IN A SHED ABOUT 150 YARDS FROM THE CADDIE HOUSE AND TWO BAGS CAME UP. ONE WAS A SUNDAY BAG. IT HAD `G-A-R' ON IT. ANOTHER ONE WAS A BIG BRAND NEW BAG WITH A BRAND NEW SET OF CLUBS AND THAT WAS THE POLICE COMMISSIONER OF NEW YORK. WELL ED SULLIVAN, YOU KNOW, HE COULD RUN LIKE PERVERT NORMY (????) AND HE BEAT ME TO IT AND HE TOOK THE BIG BAG BECAUSE HE THOUGHT THE BIG BAG WAS A BIG TIP. WELL I HAD TO TAKE THIS LITTLE SUNDAY BAG WITH A LOT OF RUSTY CLUBS AND HICKORY SHAFTS AND I SEE THEM COMING UP FROM THE LOCKER ROOM AND THIS BIG FAT FELLOW WAS THE POLICE COMMISSIONER AND THE VERY ATTRACTIVE LOOKING MAN WAS GRANTLYN (???) RICE AND I FELL IN LOVE WITH HIM. I REMEMBER HE HAD WHITE FLANNEL SLACKS ON AND HE HAD A GOLD CHAIN AND WHEN WE GOT THROUGH I GOT THE BIG TIP AND SULLIVAN DIDN'T GET AS BIG A TIP.

PETER KESSLER

MAYBE IT WAS ED SULLIVAN THEN WHO SAID AFTER THAT YOU CAN'T JUDGE A BOOK BY IT'S COVER AFTER PICKING THE BIG BAG, RIGHT?

GENE SARAZEN

THAT'S RIGHT.

PETER KESSLER

NOW YOU PLAYED WITH, A COUPLE OF YEARS AFTER THAT TWENTY OPEN AND, AND WE'LL COME BACK AND TALK ABOUT 1921 AND '2 BUT WITH HARRY VARDON YOU WENT OVER TO PLAY IN THE BRITISH OPEN IN '23 AND HE CALLED YOU A CHICKEN FOR NOT SHOWING UP FOR A LITTLE TOURNAMENT BEFORE, SO YOU SHOWED UP AND WHO DID THEY PAIR YOU WITH?

GENE SARAZEN

OH I'LL NEVER FORGET THAT. YOU KNOW I WENT OVER WITH HAGEN AND A, A CREW FROM UH, AMERICA AND UH I WAS DETERMINED I WAS GOING TO STAY AT TROON. I WASN'T GOING TO GO OUT PLAYING OTHER TOURNAMENTS SO THEY WENT DOWN AND PLAYED LITHEM IN ST. ANNE'S WHERE THEY HAD THE NORTH BRITISH CHAMPIONSHIP. WELL I WOULDN'T GO SO THEY GOT ON THE PHONE AND THEY GOT THE COMMITTEE. THEY CALLED ME EVERY NAME UNDER THE SUN. AND THEY GOT ME ALL RILED UP SO I WENT DOWN STAIRS AND SAW THE PORTER. I SAYS HOW DO I GET TO LITHEM IN ST. ANNE'S? `OH MR. SARAZEN YOU HAVE TO GO TO EDINBURGH AND TAKE THE TRAIN OVER NIGHT AND, AND GET, GO TO LIVERPOOL. I SAID DO THEY HAVE SLEEPERS? HE SAID NO YOU'LL HAVE TO SIT UP ALL NIGHT. OH BOY. SO I PACKED MY BAG AND I WENT DOWN AND WENT OUT TO, TOOK A TAXI FROM LIVERPOOL TO LITHEM AT ST. ANNE'S AND UH WHEN I GOT THERE I WENT TO THE PRACTICE TEE AND HIT ABOUT SIX BALLS AND I HEARD THE STARTER SAYING, MR. GENE SARAZEN AND MR. HARRY VARDON, NEXT. OOH I WAS THRILLED TO DEATH. SO I GOT ON THE TEE AND THERE WAS OLD HARRY WAITING FOR ME AND HE HIT A SHOT CALLED A BAFFIE. PUT IT ABOUT TEN FEET FROM THE HOLE. I TOOK AN IRON AND TRIED TO PLAY A BALL RIGHT TO LEFT AND THE WIND TOOK IT INTO THE TRAP, SO WALKING OFF THE TEE I SAID TO HIM, WHAT KIND OF WIND DO YOU HAVE OVER HERE? THAT BALL SHOULD NEVER HAVE GONE IN THE TRAP AND HE PUT HIS ARM AROUND ME, HE SAYS SON, THE WAY YOU HIT THE BALL THE WIND HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH IT.

PETER KESSLER

THAT'S GOOD ADVICE BECAUSE YOU COULD TEAR THAT BALL THROUGH THE WIND, COULDN'T YOU? WE'RE GOING TO TAKE A SHORT BREAK, GENE. WE'LL COME RIGHT BACK. WE'LL PICK UP THIS CONVERSATION RIGHT AFTER THIS. DON'T GO AWAY.

BREAK

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