DUBLIN, Ohio ' Hooks and Cuts celebrates the great Jack Burke, Jr., one of this years Memorial Tournament honorees. Burke is old school to the core and dispenses wisdom like Tiger Woods drills 4-footers, so pay attention as we go along. Burkes best players ever: (Sam) Snead was probably the most creative ball striker, (Ben) Hogan the most consistent, (Jack) Nicklaus and Tiger the two best putters. If Tiger starts hitting fairways as routinely as he does those must make 10-footers or outrageous chip-ins, then well be looking at, in the words of colleague Dave Shedloski, a Category 5 force with 8-, 10- and 12-shot wins.
Three time Masters champion Jimmy Demaret once worked as a club maker for Burkes dad at River Oaks and actually used to baby sit Jack, Jr. What did the kid learn from the legend? How not to drink bourbon, he said.
Jack Nicklaus played high school basketball for the Upper Arlington Golden Bears. Seriously, thats the nickname. He averaged 18 points a game and shot 90 percent from the charity stripe. Its not surprising that he was able to focus at the free throw line.
Burke spent a lot of time around Hogan. They dont realize how generous he was. People just think Hogan was this guy that nobody really knew. They even did a book, The Hogan Mystique. Ben watched his dad kill himself. He had a tough life. It wasnt easy. He was a very insecure person. Thats why he practiced so much. He wasnt secure with the way he was playing. Even if he shot 66, that wasnt good enough. So he went from insecure to secure and back to insecure every day.
Sift through the muck and mire of money and personality in sports and all fans really want to see is a guy produce in the clutch. Jack did it. Tiger does it ' almost every damn time. Zach Johnson on Tiger: If it needs to be made, its made. Bedrock fundamental Burke learned from his father: If you cant come to the dinner table and tell everybody what you did last night you probably shouldnt be doin it.
Jim Furyk jokingly chided the media, saying of the microscopic critiques of Tigers swing, I wish you guys would quit ticking him off.
Burke on his double major 1956 season: I dont pay much attention to what happened 50 years ago.'
Burke on how he got it done: I just trusted my swing. All I got is me. You cant be somebody else out here or Id have been Sam Snead.
After a mild meltdown Friday, then a ridiculous 63 Saturday, then a quadruple bogey-8 on the 14th Sunday that took him out of contention, Geoff Ogilvys a candidate for HBOs psychiatrist-driven In Treatment.
Burke on the modern players reliance on swing gurus: We were all teachers so we could teach ourselves. I didnt have Vincent Lombardi sittin behind me, coachin me to go play. You cant look for the coach.
At what point do the chip-ins like the one Tiger made at 11 stop blowing the mind?
Bedrock fundamentals of the golf swing Jackie learned from his old man: Make the head of the club point at your target, the shaft finish on your neck and try to hit the inside of the ball. Thats about all you need to know.
If its Tiger and Phil down the stretch at Bethpage itll rock like Giants Stadium in late December. Given the affection New Yorkers have had for Phil and given whats happening with Amy, Phil will be the Giants in that scenario and Tiger the Eagles. Itll make the Tiger/Rocco epic by the Pacific sound like a quiet church service.
The modern game could use a Jimmy Demaret. If you were around Demaret, Burke said, you were going to have a good time. He was a singer, you know. He didnt know if he wanted to sing or play golf. But he could do both.
Burke owns Champions Golf Club in Houston and even now, well into his 80s, he walks the ground picking up paper. If you can pick up paper, he says, you can always get a job. In fact, when they run you off this announcer thing youll have a job. Call me if they run you off, will you?
Unofficial survey of Golf Channel producers and staff says the Memorial is the best non-major tournament of the year. Its played on a phenomenal golf course in a town that embraces the event with good restaurants and good winners. Quail Hollows right there for all the same reasons.
Finally this absolute pearl from Burke: Muirfield has an identity and Jacks very well aware of that. Augusta has an identity. You can lose your identity over night. Lehman Brothers did. Just do the wrong thing or get on the wrong side of the law and youre history. The game teaches you that. There are white stakes. Just keep the ball between the white stakes and youll have no problem. If the USGA rule book was put on the tables of all the boards in this country we wouldnt have anybody going to jail. Those rules keep this game alive. No what if meetings out here. If youre out, youre out. Just play; whatever lie youre in, whatever weather youre in.
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