Golf Talk Live - Byron Nelson Transcript Segment 1
JAN. 26, 2001
BYRON NELSON IS THE FATHER OF THE MODERN SWING. HE WAS THE FIRST PLAYER TO FIND THE IDEAL SWING WITH WHICH TO PLAY STEEL SHAFTED CLUBS. IT'S A SWING THAT OTHER PLAYERS HAVE BEEN TRYING TO COPY THE ESSENTIAL FEATURES OF SINCE THE MID 1930'S.
MEET BYRON NELSON, NOW, ON GOLF TALK LIVE.
BYRON NELSON WAS THE FIRST PLAYER TO WORK OUT A SWING IN THE EARLY 1930'S THAT MAXIMIZED THE EFFECTIVENESS AND POTENTIAL OF THE NEWLY INTRODUCED STEEL SHAFTED CLUBS. MORE UPRIGHT. LESS AROUND. LESS
HANDSY. MORE ONE PIECE. WITH ACTIVE FEET AND LEGS AND A LATERAL MOVE THROUGH THE BALL WITH THE CLUB AND HANDS AHEAD AND HIS HEAD BACK. HE TURNED PRO FOR A $5 ENTRY FEE AND
WON $75 FOR FINISHING THIRD IN HIS FIRST EVENT IN 1932. AS A PLAYING ASSISTANT IN 1935 AT RIDGEWOOD COUNTRY CLUB IN NEW JERSEY, HE WON THE NEW JERSEY OPEN AND THE NEW JERSEY PGA AND THE
METROPOLITAN OPEN AT QUAKER RIDGE, HIS FIRST IMPORTANT VICTORY. AND HE BEGAN TO BEAT THE PLAYERS HE WOULD CONTINUE TO BEAT UNTIL HE RETIRED IN 1946 AT THE AGE OF 34. PLAYERS LIKE,
CRAIG WOOD, PAUL RUNYAN, HARRY COOPER, DENNY SCHUTE, HENRY PICKARD, SAM SNEAD, BEN HOGAN, JUG MCSPADEN, JOHNNY BULLA, RALPH GOUDAL.
HE WON THE MASTERS IN 1937 AND 1942.
THE U.S. OPEN IN 1939.
THE PGA CHAMPIONSHIP IN 1940 AND 1945. HIS 18 WIN, 11 IN A ROW SEASON IN 1945 WAS SET UP BY HIS GREAT YEAR IN 1944 WHEN HE WON SIX TIMES WITH A SCORING AVERAGE OF 69.67. HE HIT IT SO PURE, SO OFTEN, SO CONSISTENTLY, THAT HE OCCASIONALLY BECAME BORED.
HE DETERMINED AFTER THE '44 SEASON THAT HE WOULD WORK ON HIS CHIPPING AND REDUCE CARELESS SHOTS IN 1945. HE WON MONEY IN 113 CONSECUTIVE EVENTS AT A TIME WHEN ONLY 15 OR 20 PLACES EARNED MONEY. HE SET A SINGLE SEASON
SCORING RECORD OF 68.33 IN 1945 WHICH STOOD UNTIL TIGER BROKE IT IN 2000. HE PASSED ON HIS KNOWLEDGE TO PLAYERS FROM KEN VENTURI TO TOM WATSON
AND TODAY AT 88, WHEN HE SEES A PLAYER ON TELEVISION LIKE JUSTIN LEONARD, WITH THE WAGGLE THAT BYRON DEEMS TOO HANDSY, HE PICKS UP THE PHONE, ASKS TO SEE JUSTIN AND MAKES THE SEVERAL HOUR DRIVE TO DEMONSTRATE HOW IT'S DONE. JUST LIKE HE'S BEEN DOING SINCE 1932.
WELCOME TO GOLF TALK LIVE. I'M PETER KESSLER. GREAT PLEASURE TO INTRODUCE YOU TO ONE OF THE FINEST PLAYERS, ONE OF THE FINEST PEOPLE TO EVER PLAY THE GAME, BYRON NELSON. AN HONOR TO SEE YOU, SIR.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH, PETER. I LOVE TO BE HERE AND TO ENJOY BEING ON THE... TELLY WITH YOU.
THANK YOU, SIR. PRE-MATURE HAPPY BIRTHDAY, IF I MIGHT.
WELL THANK YOU. I HOPE THE GOOD LORD WILL LET ME LIVE TILL NEXT WEEK FOR IT.
YOU'RE THE ONLY GUY I KNOW, WHO'S BEEN RETIRED FOR 55 YEARS. YOU RETIRED AT AGE 34, HOW'S THE RETIREMENT GOING?
WELL THAT'S STILL GOING THANK GOODNESS. (LAUGHS). BUT IT'S GOING BUSY, I STAY VERY BUSY AND I STILL AM VERY ACTIVE IN GOLF. I DON'T PLAY VERY MUCH GOLF, VERY SELDOM BUT I MAKE ABOUT 8 OR 9 APPEARANCES TO A TOURNAMENT OR THE RYDER CUP OR A
PRESIDENT'S CUP OR THE PLAYER'S CHAMPIONSHIP OR A SENIOR TOURNAMENT EACH YEAR AND SO I STILL STAY VERY CLOSE TO GOLF AND THE, ONE OF THE NICE THINGS IS THAT THE PLAYERS, BECAUSE I'M AN OLD SENIOR OUT THERE WALKING AROUND AND
LOOKING AND WATCHING THEM, WHY THEY DO APPRECIATE ME BEING OUT THERE.
EVERY TIME SOMEONE HAS, AND IT'S ONLY HAPPENED A FEW TIMES IN THE LAST HUNDRED YEARS, A YEAR TO REMEMBER FOREVER ON THE GOLF COURSE, IT ALWAYS EVOKES COMPARISONS WITH YOU AND I'M
WONDERING BETWEEN JONES' 1930
YOUR 1945, HOGAN'S '53 AND TIGER'S 2000. HOW DO YOU RANK THEM?
WELL I KIND OF RANK THEM IN THE WAY THAT YOU JUST STARTED BECAUSE ACTUALLY, SEE, JONES' HAS BEEN KIND OF PLAYED DOWN, HIS GRAND SLAM, IN 1930 AND THE REASON FOR IT WAS, SEE, PEOPLE NOW FEEL THAT AMATEURS DON'T PLAY LIKE THE PROFESSIONALS BUT SEE
THERE WAS SO LITTLE MONEY IN GOLF IN THOSE DAYS THAT THE FINE AMATEURS STAYED AMATEURS BECAUSE THEY WENT INTO BUSINESS AND MADE A LIVING IN A BUSINESS AND SO THE, THE TOP AMATEURS IN THOSE DAYS, YOU TAKE JONES, WAMETT (??06:38), CHICK EVANS, THOSE THREE PLAYERS TO MENTION, NOT MENTION MANY MORE, PLAYED WONDERFULLY WELL
AND BEAT THE PROS BUT, AND NOW THEN THE PROS HAVE SOME... IT'S A COMPLETE DIFFERENT GAME. THE YOUNG KID NOW SEES THAT TIGER WOODS OR WHOEVER WINS A THOUSAND DOLLARS OR TEN, A MILLION DOLLARS OR 400 THOUSAND, THEY WANT TO START
PLAYING GOLF. THEY SEE THEM, PLAYING A LITTLE BIT, WELL NOW THEN THEY WANT TO GO OUT AND PLAY AND THEY, THEY CAN PICTURE THEMSELVES TRYING TO BEAT TIGER WOOD OR, OR BEATING DAVID DUVAL OR TOM LAYMAN OR ALL
THESE FINE PLAYERS, THINKING TO, HOW MUCH FUN JUST TO PLAY GOLF AND TO MAKE THAT MONEY. WELL IT WASN'T SO IN THOSE DAYS. THEY PLAYED GOLF, YOU PLAYED GOLF THEN FOR FUN ALMOST.
HOW QUICKLY, AFTER STEEL SHAFTS WERE INTRODUCED, DID THEY REALLY CATCH ON IN THE VERY EARLY 1930'S?
(LAUGHS) WELL IT'S A FUNNY THING. WHEN THEY FIRST CAME OUT, THE UH, I WAS AMAZED BECAUSE I LIKED THEM RIGHT AWAY, AND, OF COURSE I'D STARTED PLAYING WITH THE HICKORY
SHAFT AND NATURALLY I PLAYED THE ROLLING THE, PRONATION OF THE OLD (???UNINTELLIGIBLE) WHICH
YOU HAD TO DO TO USE THE HICKORY SHAFT AND THERE'S A LOT OF GREAT GOLF PLAYED THAT WAY, BUT I LOVED THEM RIGHT AWAY, BUT IT'S A FUNNY THING,
MANY, MANY PEOPLE SAID IT'LL NEVER CATCH ON. IT'LL NEVER REPLACE STEEL.
WHAT DID IT SAY ABOUT GENE SARAZON THAT HE COULD WIN MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIPS IN THE 20'S WITH HICKORY AND WIN MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIPS IN THE 30'S WITH STEEL, ABOUT HIS ADAPTABILITY, ABOUT HIS ABILITY TO PLAY NO MATTER WHAT?
WELL, THE SARAZON HAD AN UNUSUAL ATTITUDE ABOUT THE GAME. HE WAS ALWAYS VERY VOCAL ABOUT IT AND SOMETIMES VERY CRITICAL OF THINGS THAT WERE GOING ON, AND, BUT GENE HAD A TYPE OF SWING THAT WOULD WIN REGARDLESS OF WHAT HE WAS USING, BECAUSE HIS SWING, YOU KNOW, I, I
STARTED SEEING GENE PLAY, AND THEN I STARTED PLAYING WITH GENE IN THE MID, MID LATE 30'S AND I PLAYED GENE TWICE IN THE PGA CHAMPIONSHIP WHEN HE WAS STILL PLAYING GREAT AND I WAS FORCED INTO (??) ON HIM BOTH TIMES, AND UH, SO HIS SWING WAS SO REPEATABLE, HE
DIDN'T HAVE ANY FALSE MOTIONS IN IT. HE WAS FAIRLY SHORT AND STALKY AND HE'D, HE'D JUST TURNED TO COME BACK AND HIT IT AND HE SET THE CLUB EXACTLY IN THE SAME POSITION. NATURALLY WHEN HE USING A HICKORY HE'D PRONATE A LITTLE BIT, WELL HE
QUIT PRONATING WHEN THE, WHEN THE STEEL CAME OUT BECAUSE YOU DIDN'T, AND THAT'S THE ONLY THING HE HAD CHANGED. HE STARTED TAKING IT AWAY THIS WAY INSTEAD OF OPENING THE FACE
OF THE CLUB AND CLOSE IT BACK BECAUSE OF THE TORQUE IN THE WOODEN SHAFT, SO THAT'S WHY HIS GAME, HE COULD, GENE SARAZON COULD HAVE PLAYED WITH A SHINNY STICK.
NOW I'M TELLING YOU. HE WAS SO GOOD. I, YOU KNOW, I WAS THINKING BECAUSE GENE AND I, YOU KNOW, FOR A LONG TIME, GENE AND I AND SNEAD PLAYED NINE HOLES AT THE MASTERS STARTING THE TOURNAMENT AND THEN WE GOT TOO OLD TO PLAY THE NINE SO WE STARTED HITTING BALLS OFF THE FIRST TEE.
I DON'T, AND I PLAYED GENE TWICE IN THE PGA CHAMPIONSHIP, ONE IN 1941 AND AGAIN IN 1945 AND I NEVER SAW HIM HIT A, I DON'T SAY HE HIT EVERY SHOT PERFECT AND I DON'T MEAN THAT, BUT I NEVER SAW HIM HIT A SHOT LIKE YOU SEE SOME PLAYERS NOW KNOCKING OFF THE WOODS HERE
AND KNOCK IT OFF HERE. NOW HE MISSED SOME SHOTS. THEY VARIED SOME, BUT HE WAS
(MAKES SOUND WITH HIS MOUTH, 4 TIMES, REPRESENTING THE SOUND OF A GOLF CLUB SWINGING)
YOU, YOU KNEW YOU WAS GOING TO PLAY GOOD TO BEAT HIM BECAUSE HE DIDN'T MAKE MANY MISTAKES.
THAT'S WHAT HE SAID ABOUT YOU.
WELL, OF COURSE, COURSE I BEAT HIM TWICE.
WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK WITH BYRON NELSON.
Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88
Hailed as a hero to some and as golf royalty to others, Peter Thomson, a five-time winner of The Open and the only player in the 20th century to win the championship for three straight years, died Wednesday. He was 88.
Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members, Golf Australia said.
The first Australian to win The Open, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by American Tom Watson.
The Australian's wins came in 1954, '55, '56, again in 1958 and lastly in 1965 against a field that included Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.
Only Harry Vardon, with six titles between 1896 and 1914, won more.
Thomson also tied for fourth at the 1956 U.S. Open and placed fifth in the 1957 Masters. He never played the PGA Championship.
In 1998, he captained the International side to its only win over the United States at the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne.
Asked by The Associated Press in 2011 how he'd like to be remembered, Thomson replied: ''A guy who always said what he thought.''
Veteran Australian golfer Karrie Webb was among the first to tweet her condolences, saying she was ''saddened to hear of the passing of our Aussie legend and true gentleman of the game .... so honored to have been able to call Peter my friend. RIP Peter.''
Former PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said Thomson was ''a champion in every sense of the word, both on the course and in life.''
''Many know him as a five-time champion golfer of the year or as a three-time captain of the Presidents Cup International team.'' Finchem added. ''But he was also a great friend, father, grandfather and husband. He was golfing royalty, and our sport is a better one because of his presence.''
Former golfer and now broadcaster Ian Baker-Finch, the 1991 Open champion, called Thomson his ''hero'' - ''Peter - my friend and mentor R.I.P. Australian golf thanks you for your iconic presence and valuable guidance over the years.''
From Britain, R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers praised Thomson's plans for the game's future.
''Peter gave me a number of very interesting and valuable thoughts on the game, how it has developed and where it is going, which demonstrated his genuine interest and love of golf,'' Slumbers said. ''He was one of the most decorated and celebrated champion golfers in the history of The Open.''
Born in the Melbourne inner-city suburb of Brunswick on Aug. 23, 1929, Thomson was a promising cricketer. He scored an unbeaten 150 runs for the Carlton club against a men's side as a 15-year-old.
But golf became his passion, and he turned professional in 1947.
He won the national championships of 10 countries, including the New Zealand Open nine times and Australian Open three times. He first played on the PGA Tour in the U.S. in 1953 and 1954, finishing 44th and 25th on the money list, respectively. He won the Texas International in 1956.
Thomson won nine times on the Senior PGA tour in the U.S. in 1985, topping the money list. His last tournament victory came at the 1988 British PGA Seniors Championship, the same year he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Overall, he won 26 European Tour events, 34 times on the Australasian PGA tour and 11 on the seniors tour in the U.S, as well as once in Japan.
In later years, Thomson wrote articles for many publications and daily newspapers, was club professional at Royal Melbourne and designed more than 100 golf courses. In the 2011 Presidents Cup program, Thomson provided an insightful hole-by-hole analysis of the composite course at Royal Melbourne.
Thomson was always reluctant to compare his wins with anyone else's.
''All records are qualified in that they were made at a certain time in history,'' Thomson told golf historian and author Brendan Moloney for a story on his 80th birthday.
''The circumstances change so much, and so do the players' attitudes. In golf, only in the last 30 years or so has there been a professional attitude to playing for money. The professionals in the USA and Britain and anywhere else all had club jobs as a backstop to their income.
''When they did play and make records, you have to understand that they were taking time off from the pro shop,'' he said. ''So the records that were set were pretty remarkable.''
Thomson always had stories to tell, and told them well. With a full head of hair and a lineless face that belied his age, the Australian wasn't afraid to let everyone know his feelings on any subject.
That was true as far back as 1966. As president of the Australian PGA, Thomson was indignant that Arnold Palmer's prize for winning the Australian Open was only $1,600, out of a total purse of $6,000, one of the smallest in golf.
''Golf Stars Play for Peanuts,'' blared the headline of a story he wrote. ''Never before has such a field of top golfers played for what $6,000 is worth today. Canada offers 19 times that. I know 19 other countries who give more.''
But he was always happy on the golf course.
''I've had a very joyful life, playing a game that I loved to play for the sheer pleasure of it,'' Thomson said. ''I don't think I did a real day's work in the whole of my life.''
Thomson served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years and worked behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.
In 1979, he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf, and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.
Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas A&M
In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.
This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.
Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.
Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.
The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.
Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout
CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.
Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.
Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.
“Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”
Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.
“There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”
Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break
Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.
Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.
Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.
“Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”
Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.
“Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”
Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.