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Golf Talk Live - Lanny Wadkins Transcript Segment 1

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TEASE
WHEN LANNY WADKINS WAS A ROOKIE, HE SEEMED A FEISTY COMBINATION OF GUNSLINGER AND COCKY KID. WELL, THE GUNSLINGER IS BACK AND HE'S A ROOKIE AGAIN.

AS HARVEY PENICK SAID, HE'S TAKING DEAD AIM. THIS TIME, AT THE TROPHIES AND GOLD ON THE SENIOR PGA TOUR.

(GTL MUSIC/INTRO BEGINS)

HE'S ALWAYS BEEN A FIERCE AND FEISTY COMPETITOR, HANDLED THE BULLIES ON THE WAY HOME FROM GRADE SCHOOL. AND LATER, HE HANDLED THE BEST PLAYERS IN THE WORLD.

AFTER WINNING THE UNITED STATES AMATEUR IN 1970, HE JOINED AS GREAT A COLLECTION OF PLAYERS AS HAS EVER EXISTED ON THE PGA TOUR.

DESPITE ALL THE NOISE THAT TODAY'S FIELDS ARE GREATER AND DEEPER THAN EVER BEFORE, THINK ABOUT THE GREAT PLAYERS WHO WERE AT OR NEAR THEIR PEAK WHEN WADKINS PLAYED IN HIS FIRST PROFESSIONAL TOURNAMENT IN 1971.

ARNIE WAS STILL WINNING ON TOUR. BILLY CASPER HAD JUST WON HIS THIRD MAJOR. TREVINO, 6-TIME MAJOR CHAMPION, WAS AT HIS VERY BEST. JOHNNY MILLER WAS ENTERING HIS FINEST SEASONS.

CRENSHAW AND KITE WERE KIDS ABOUT TO MAKE THEIR MARK ON THE PROFESSIONAL SCENE. TOM WEISKOPF WAS AT THE PEAK OF HIS GAME, AND SO WERE RAY FLOYD AND 9-TIME MAJOR CHAMPION GARY PLAYER.

HALE IRWIN WAS STARTING HIS BRILLIANT CAREER. AND JACK NICKLAUS, WINNER OF 20 MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIPS, WAS BY HIS OWN ADMISSION BEGINNING A 5 YEAR STRETCH OF GOLF THAT HE CHARACTERIZED AS THE BEST OF HIS CAREER. TOM WATSON HADN'T YET WON HIS FIRST OF 39 TOUR EVENTS INCLUDING 8 MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIPS.

IT WAS INTO THIS SCENE THAT LANNY WADKINS WAS TO SUCCESSFULLY TEST HIS CONSIDERABLE POWERS. AND HE WON 21 TOUR EVENTS OVER THE NEXT 21 YEARS INCLUDING THE 1977 PGA CHAMPIONSHIP.

HE REPRESENTED HIS COUNTRY ON 2 WALKER CUP AND 8 RYDER CUP TEAMS AS A PLAYER, WAS RYDER CUP CAPTAIN IN 1995. HE NEVER BABIES A SHOT. HE NEVER PULLS A PUNCH.

HE HAS AN UNWAVERING BELIEF IN HIS GAME, IN HIS ABILITY TO CLOSE, IN HIS ABILITY TO CHARGE FROM BEHIND. AND NOW, HE GETS TO START AGAIN, AT THE BEGINNING, TO BE THE NEW COCKY KID ON THE BLOCK AGAIN, A ROLE HE WAS BORN TO PLAY, A ROLE HE ACCEPTS AS QUICKLY AND HAPPILY AS THE WINNER'S CHECK, WHICH HE NATURALLY ASSUMES WILL BE MADE PAYABLE TO ONE LANNY WADKINS.

PETER KESSLER
WELCOME TO GOLF TALK LIVE, I'M PETER KESSLER. GREAT PLEASURE TO INTRODUCE YOU TO THE NEW KID IN TOWN, LANNY WADKINS. GREAT TO SEE YOU HERE, BUDDY.

LANNY WADKINS
THANK YOU, PETER. IT'S NICE TO BE HERE.

PETER KESSLER
HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY AND CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR FIRST SENIOR TOUR WIN.

LANNY WADKINS
WELL, THANK YOU. YES, IT'S BEEN A VERY EXCITING WEEKEND FOR ME., UM, GETTING STARTED OUT THERE PLAYING WITH UM, A LOT OF GUYS I HAVEN'T SEEN IN A LONG TIME. AND UH, MAKING IT SUCCESSFUL WAS - WAS , YOU KNOW, VERY REWARDING.

PETER KESSLER
NICE BELATED BIRTHDAY PRESENT YOU GAVE YOURSELF.

LANNY WADKINS
YEAH, I MEAN, I HAD KIND OF GOTTEN OVER THE BIRTHDAY THING. UH, IT DIDN'T HURT ANYMORE `CAUSE IT WAS, YOU KNOW, BACK TO DECEMBER 5TH, SO I'VE KIND OF STRUGGLED THROUGH THAT.

BUT UH .. UH IT - IT'S NICE. I KIND OF DON'T KNOW WHAT TO SAY. IT'S BEEN A - A VERY HECTIC LAST COUPLE OF DAYS.

PETER KESSLER
IS IT DISORIENTING A LITTLE BIT TO LOOK UP AT A LEADER BOARD AND SEE TOM WATSON'S NAME AND YOU EXPECT TO SEE IT AGAIN AS YOU DID IN THE PAST?

LANNY WADKINS
YEAH, I MEAN - AND SEEING THE OTHER NAMES UP THERE, I FEEL LIKE I'D KIND OF GONE INTO A TIME WARP. UH, YOU KNOW, ALL OF A SUDDEN THERE ARE NAMES THAT I PLAYED WITH, YOU KNOW, 20 YEARS AGO.

I MEAN, SEEING GUYS UP THERE AND ON THE PRACTICE TEE AND UH, THEY DON'T HAVE THE SAME BODIES THEY HAD, YOU KNOW, YEARS AGO. BUT THEY . WELL, THE SWINGS WERE VERY FAMILIAR. AND UH,

IT'S - IT'S NEAT TO BE OUT THERE. IT'S JUST A WHOLE NEAT SCENE FOR ME. IT REALLY WAS.

PETER KESSLER
DID YOU GET THE SAME FEELING IN YOUR STOMACH THAT YOU DID WHEN YOU FIRST WENT OUT TO PLAY GOLF PROFESSIONALLY? DID YOU FEEL THAT TINGLE AGAIN?

LANNY WADKINS
YEAH, I WAS VERY EXCITED THE FIRST ROUND. UH, THE FIRST ROUND I PROBABLY HAD AS MANY BUTTERFLIES AS I'VE HAD IN A LONG TIME. UH, I'VE ALWAYS TRIED MY BEST TO CONCEAL THAT.

THAT'S JUST, YOU KNOW, PART OF WHAT I LIKE TO DO. UH, BUT I FELT UH . I FELT VERY EXCITED THE FIRST DAY. FIRST TEE WAS UH . UH, NOT ONE OF MY BETTER SWINGS.

UH, BUT I MANAGED TO GET PAR AND GET ROLLING AND GET THE FIRST 2 HOLES UNDER MY BELT. AND I KIND OF FELT OKAY AFTER THAT. BUT UH, IT WAS AN EXCITING TIME. IT REALLY WAS. UM .

AND TO OPEN WITH A ROUND AND - AND KEEP IT GOING UH THE WAY I DID THE FIRST DAY WAS - WAS . IT FELT VERY GOOD.

PETER KESSLER
AND THE SWING THAT THEY SAID 30 YEARS AGO WOULDN'T HOLD UP SEEMS TO BE DOING JUST FINE.

LANNY WADKINS
IT'S CREAKING ALONG OKAY, GETTING BETTER - ACTUALLY IT'S GETTING BETTER. I THINK UH - I'VE DONE A LOT OF WORK ON IT IN THE LAST 6 MONTHS. UH,

VERY PLEASED WITH WHAT I'VE DONE. I ACTUALLY GO BACK AND . I CARRY SOME SEQUENCE PHOTOS THAT WERE TAKEN ABOUT '72 OR '73, AND UH WORKING WITH A GUY, CHRIS WALKEY (SPELLING-???), WHO'S REALLY HELPED ME PUT IT BACK THERE.

I'M NOT TRYING TO BUILD A NEW SWING. I JUST WANT MY OLD ONE BACK `CAUSE THE OLD ONE WORKED FINE. SO . UH, AND I'M - AND I'M GETTING THERE.

I DON'T THINK IT'S AS GOOD YET AS IT'S GONNA BE. AND MY WHOLE GOAL, SENIOR TOUR WISE, IS TO GET MY SWING WHERE I WANT IT. AND I THINK WHEN I DO THAT, EVERYTHING ELSE WILL TAKE CARE OF ITSELF.

PETER KESSLER
YOU HAD TO HAVE BEEN THINKING THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS HOW NEAT IT WOULD BE TO WIN ON THE SENIOR TOUR BECAUSE YOUR BOYS WOULD GET TO SEE YOU WIN FOR THE FIRST TIME.

LANNY WADKINS
YEAH, MY BOYS ARE, YOU KNOW, 12 AND 7, UH, TRAVIS AND TUCKER. AND UH, THEY'RE JUST GREAT, GREAT KIDS. AND UH, IT'S TOUGH BEING AWAY FROM THEM PLAYING AS MUCH AS I DO.

BUT I'VE GOT A 26 YEAR OLD DAUGHTER, JESSICA. AND JESSICA'S BEEN TO, YOU KNOW, 2 OR 3 TOURNAMENTS WHEN I'VE WON. AND I THINK I ACTUALLY WON DISNEY ON HER 12TH BIRTHDAY AND THEY, YOU KNOW,

HAD THE WHOLE MARCHING BAND PLAYING `HAPPY BIRTHDAY' TO HER ON THE 18TH GREEN AT DISNEY. SO THAT WAS KIND OF COOL. SHE'S BEEN TO RYDER CUPS I'VE PLAYED IN AND - AND BEEN INVOLVED IN A LOT OF WHAT I'VE DONE.

WELL, THE BOYS HAVE NEVER SEEN ME WIN `CAUSE MY LAST WIN WAS IN '92. SO UH, I WOULD HAVE GIVEN ANYTHING TO HAVE BEEN A FLY ON THE WALL WITH THEM WATCHING TV YESTERDAY. SO THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN .

THAT'S PRETTY COOL. AND UH, HOPEFULLY THEY'LL GET A CHANCE TO BE AT ONE THAT I WIN SOMETIME.

PETER KESSLER
HOW DID THEY REACT WHEN YOU SPOKE TO THEM?

LANNY WADKINS
THEY WERE EXCITED. THEY WERE VERY EXCITED, ALMOST A LITTLE . LITTLE SHY. I WAS KIND OF SURPRISED `CAUSE THEY - YEAH, THEY WERE EXCITED BUT, YOU KNOW, KIND OF DIDN'T KNOW WHAT TO SAY A LITTLE BIT.

SO I THINK IT'S UH . BUT IT'S NEAT FOR THEM. UM . I'M REAL PLEASED. IT'S JUST UH - IT WAS ACTUALLY ONE OF MY MAIN GOALS, GOING ON THE SENIOR TOUR, WAS TO WIN SO THAT THEY COULD SEE ME WIN. AND THAT'S - THAT'S VERY IMPORTANT.

PETER KESSLER
WHEN IT WAS JUST YOU AND JOSE MARIA CANIZARES LEFT IN THE PLAYOFF AFTER WATSON AND HALL DROPPED OUT, DID YOU AT ANY POINT THINK 'MAN, THE BEST SHOT I EVER HIT MAYBE IN MY WHOLE LIFE UNDER PRESSURE

WAS AGAINST THIS GUY IN THE '83 RYDER CUP ON THE LAST HOLE TO MAKE SURE THAT THE U.S. GOT THE CUP' ?

LANNY WADKINS
IT WAS PROBABLY AS MUCH PRESSURE AS I'VE EVER FELT HITTING ANY ONE SHOT, NO QUESTION. UM,

AND I'VE OFTEN LOOKED BACK AT THAT SHOT UH, WHEN I'VE . YOU KNOW, AND IN MY MIND AND I - AND I OFTEN FELT THAT IF I COULD HIT THAT GOOD A SHOT WITH THAT MUCH PRESSURE, THEN I CAN HANDLE ANYTHING.

SO THAT'S .AND THAT'S REALLY WHAT I FEEL SOMETIMES. I KIND OF - I'LL - I'VE THOUGHT BACK TO THAT SHOT MANY TIMES AND SAID IF I COULD DO THAT THEN WITH AS MUCH PRESSURE AS I FELT AT THAT POINT IN TIME, THEN I CAN HANDLE WHATEVER I NEED TO.

PETER KESSLER
AND IT'S ALL WORTH IT TO SEE JACK NICKLAUS KISS YOUR DIVOT.

LANNY WADKINS
YEAH, IT WAS PRETTY COOL, I MEAN, HAVING JACK OUT THERE, HAVING ALL THOSE GUYS. THE . THE AMAZING THING, YOU SAW TOM KITE SLAP ME ON THE BACK WHEN I WALKED UP ON THE GREEN AND UH,

YOU KNOW, SAID 'WAY TO GO'. AND I TURNED TO HIM TO SAY SOMETHING AND NOTHING CAME OUT. IT WAS - I THINK IT'S THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE I'VE EVER BEEN SPEECHLESS.

PETER KESSLER
I'M SURE THAT'S TRUE. JUST DON'T LET IT HAPPEN FOR THE NEXT 55 MINUTES.

LANNY WADKINS
UH, OKAY. (CHUCKLE)

PETER KESSLER
LET'S TAKE A LOOK, AND I DON'T KNOW IF YOU'VE SEEN IT YET, LET'S TAKE A LOOK AT THE THIRD PLAYOFF HOLE, THE FINAL PLAYOFF HOLE, WATSON AND HALL HAD ALREADY DROPPED OUT.

YOU HAD BOTH HALVED THE SECOND PLAYOFF HOLE. AND HERE'S JOSE MARIA CANIZARES .

LANNY WADKINS
YEAH .

PETER KESSLER
AND OF COURSE, HE'S GONNA PUT THIS INTO THE FAIRWAY BUNKER ON THE LEFT, ISN'T HE?

LANNY WADKINS
YEAH, JOSE - UH, IT WAS INTERESTING. THE FIRST TEE SHOT IN THE FIRST PLAYOFF HOLE, HE REALLY KIND OF MADE A SMOOTH SWING TO GET IT IN PLAY. THE SECOND PLAYOFF HOLE, HE REALLY WENT AFTER IT AND HAMMERED IT.

AND IT LOOKED LIKE HE WAS TRYING TO HERE. AND HE JUST GOT A LITTLE QUICK AND PUT IT IN THE BUNKER. UH, I HIT 3 DRIVES IN THE PLAYOFF ON THE SAME HOLE THAT WERE WITHIN 6 YARDS OF EACH OTHER, UH,

JUST COULD HAVE PUT A BLANKET OVER ALL 3 OF THEM. AND UH . UH, THIS DIDN'T FEEL LIKE .

PETER KESSLER
I'M SURE YOU GAVE A LOT OF THOUGHT TO YOUR 3-WOOD AT THIS POINT, RIGHT?

LANNY WADKINS
NO, NOT AT ALL. UH, THE HOLE WAS TOO LONG FOR THAT. I MEAN, I HIT - I HIT A GOOD DRIVE HERE AND STILL HAD TO HIT 5-IRON IN THERE. SO I MEAN, THE HOLE WAS PLAYING UH, WITH A LOT OF LENGTH.

THIS WAS A TOUCH LEFT OF UH THE OTHER 2. BUT I GOT IT OUT THERE PRETTY GOOD WHERE I HAD A GREAT ANGLE. AND UH . THEN ONE THING I DID, I GOT READY TO HIT MY SECOND SHOT.

UH, JOSE HAS HIT THIS ONE UH, LOOKED LIKE A PRETTY GOOD SHOT, BUT IT WAS SKIDDING RIGHT THE WHOLE TIME AND UH, FOUND THE WATER.

AND WHEN I GOT READY TO HIT MY SECOND SHOT, I'D . I HAD JUST HIT 4-IRON ON THE PREVIOUS PLAYOFF HOLE THAT FLEW A FOOT FROM THE HOLE AND WENT TO THE BACK FRINGE.

WELL, THE LAST THING I WANTED WAS TO PUT IT OVER THE GREEN IN PLAY. SO I HAD . I HAD LIKE 183 (YARDS) TO THE HOLE, INTO THE WIND. AND I ASKED MY CADDIE, 'IS THERE ANY WAY I CAN HIT 5-IRON OVER THIS GREEN?'

AND HE SAID, 'NOPE.' I SAID, 'WELL, I'M RIPPING IT THEN.' SO I JUST TOOK - AND I'M GONNA - AND I - AND I WAS DETERMINED TO AIM AT THE PIN `CAUSE THE LAST THING I WANTED TO DO WAS PLAY AWAY FROM WATER,

AWAY - THE LEFT SIDE OF THE GREEN, MAKE BOGEY AND PUT HIM BACK IN IT. SO . I KNEW THE BEST WAY TO END THIS THING AT THIS POINT IN TIME WAS JUST - AND YOU CAN SEE,

I'M WOUND UP RIGHT AT THE PIN. I MEAN, THAT'S WHERE THIS . THAT'S WHERE THIS SUCKER WAS GOING.

PETER KESSLER
HAVE YOU EVER HIT TO A FAT SIDE OF A GREEN? AND HAVE YOU EVER TRADED IN THE 3-WOOD FOR A DRIVER ON THE TEE? I DON'T SO.

LANNY WADKINS
OH, I HAVE. YEAH, I'M - I'M SURE I HAVE AT CERTAIN TIMES. BUT UH .

UH, I WAS VERY PROUD OF THAT SHOT RIGHT THERE. THAT FELT GOOD. I EVEN JUST PUT A NICE LITTLE SLIDE TO IT AND GOT IT RIGHT IN THERE. BUT UH, I PLAY SMART SOMETIMES, PETER, NOT THAT OFTEN, BUT . BUT SOMETIMES.

PETER KESSLER
NOW I REMEMBER BACK IN THE `60'S, AND ARNIE AND JACK WOULD GET TO PLAY IN THOSE TEAM EVENTS TOGETHER. EVERYBODY'D SAY, 'THAT'S NOT FAIR.'

I UNDERSTAND YOU AND WATSON, AS WE GET READY TO WATCH YOU 2-PUTT FOR YOUR WIN HERE, ARE GONNA PLAY IN THE LEGENDS TOGETHER. SOME PEOPLE WILL SAY, 'THAT'S NOT FAIR.'

LANNY WADKINS
I THINK IT'S VERY FAIR. I LIKE - I LIKE HAVING TOM AS A PARTNER. HE'S UH ... WE'VE BEEN GOOD FRIENDS FOR A LONG TIME. WE WERE ORIGINALLY SUPPOSED TO PLAY AS PARTNERS.

UH, BILLY CASPER HAD COME TO US IN '79 AND UH, SAID WE WERE SUPPOSED TO PLAY AS PARTNERS IN THE '79 RYDER CUP, ALL 4 DAYS AND UH . I MEAN, ALL 4 ROUNDS THE FIRST 2 DAYS.

AND UH, WATSON HAD TO LEAVE, GO HOME FOR THE BIRTH OF HIS DAUGHTER, MEG. SO I GOT PAIRED WITH LARRY NELSON. AND LARRY AND I WON ALL 4 MATCHES THE FIRST 2 DAYS. UH,

SO TOM AND I HAVE ALWAYS LOOKED FOR SOMETHING TO PLAY IN SINCE THEN. WE'VE BEEN PARTNERS IN A LOT OF MONEY GAMES AND DONE OKAY. AND UM, WE'RE REALLY EXCITED ABOUT THIS, BOTH OF US ARE.

SO UH - IT WAS ACTUALLY TOM'S IDEA FOR US TO PLAY. SO UM . UM, THAT - THAT PLEASED ME THAT HE WANTED TO PLAY WITH ME. AND UH, I DON'T MIND PLAYING WITH HIM AT ALL.

PETER KESSLER
WHEN WE COME BACK, MAYBE WE'LL TALK ABOUT A COUPLE OF THE MONEY GAMES THAT YOU AND ARNIE PLAYED AGAINST EACH OTHER IN PRACTICE ROUNDS ON TUESDAYS AND WEDNESDAYS .

20 SOME ODD YEARS AGO. WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK.

(BREAK)

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