Golf Talk Live - Byron Nelson Transcript Segment 3
WHAT WERE YOUR IMPRESSIONS OF JONES, BEFORE YOU KNEW HIM, AND WHAT WAS YOUR RELATIONSHIP LIKE WHEN OF COURSE YOU DID?
WELL, MY FIRST IMPRESSION OF (??) JONES, I'D READ A LITTLE BIT ABOUT HIM IN THE LATE 20'S BECAUSE RIGHT IN THE LATE 20'S AND 30'S WHEN HE WAS THE GREATEST, EVEN THOUGH HE WAS GREAT FROM 30 TO, FROM 20 TO 30 BUT WHEN I
STARTED READING ABOUT HIM, WELL THEN, I NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT TRYING TO COPY HIM OR EMULATING HIM IN ANYWAY BECAUSE HE WAS AN AMATEUR AND HE WAS A BUSINESS MAN, HE WAS A GREAT ATTORNEY AND STUFF, SO, BUT UH, AND HE PLAYED GOLF IN A FASHION,
I SAW SOME PICTURES THEN IN THE MOVIES, YOU KNOW YOU GO MOVIE THEATRE, AND SEE THEM AND HE MADE A PIC... HE MADE A FILM, YOU KNOW, AND HE PLAYED DIFFERENTLY THEN I FELT I
COULD PLAY AND LIKED TO PLAY. NOW HE WAS FREE AND EASY AND HIS SWING WAS ALMOST LOOSE AT THE TOP AND HE HAD A GREAT LONG RHYTHM THAT MOVED A LOT, THROUGH THE BALL LIKE THAT, AND I NEVER DID PLAY QUITE LIKE THAT, BUT I WASN'T CRITICIZING THE
WAY HE WAS PLAYING BUT THAT, THAT PART I DIDN'T HAVE WITH HIM, BUT, THEN WHEN I WENT TO AUGUSTA AND GOT INVITED THERE FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 1935 AND MET HIM, WHY I HAD NEVER MET HIM BEFORE AND I WAS VERY MUCH IMPRESSED WITH HIM BECAUSE HIS
MANNERISM AND THE AUTHORITY IN WHICH HE SPOKE ABOUT THE GAME, ABOUT HOW HE PLAYED AND STUFF. I, I WAS AMAZED HOW MUCH THE, JUST BEING AROUND AND HEARING HIM TALK. NOT TALKING TO ME, BUT HEARING HIM TALK,
CONVERSATION OF HOW SMART I THOUGHT HE WAS AND ABOUT THE GAME AND OF COURSE HE WAS, AND THEN OF COURSE, HE, HE, OF COURSE AFTER 1930 THE ONLY PLACE HE EVER PLAYED ANYMORE HE PLAYED AT AUGUSTA AND I, I PLAYED WITH HIM A FEW TIMES DOWN
THERE AND BECAME VERY CLOSE TO HIM AND AVERY GOOD FRIEND OF HIS AND ADMIRED HIM TREMENDOUSLY AND HE HAD SUCH A GREAT COMMAND OF THE, OF GRAMMAR, OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE. THAT, REMARKABLE TO ME BECAUSE
I JUST TALK TEXAS TALK, YOU KNOW, AND UH, BUT UH, I, I ADMIRE HIM TREMENDOUSLY. I DON'T KNOW ANYBODY THAT, IN MY GROWING UP DAYS, I DON'T THINK THERE'S ANYBODY IN GOLF, THAT I ADMIRED ANYMORE THAN I DID BOB JONES, AND THEN WHEN I GOT
TO PLAY WITH HIM SOME AT AUGUSTA AND I KNOW I PLAYED WITH HIM AND I THINK IT'S 1942, IN A PRACTICE ROUND, AND HE AND I WERE PARTNERS AGAINST A COUPLE OF PLAYERS I'LL NOT MENTION AND THOSE COUPLE PLAYERS STARTED
BIRDING THE 7TH HOLE AND BIRDIED CLEAR THROUGH FOR 7 STRAIGHT HOLES, AND WE'RE PLAYING AGAINS... PLAYING WITH THEM AND THEY NEVER WON A HOLE. JONES SHOT THE LAST NINE IN 32. SO THAT'S MY IMPRESSION OF JONES.
WHEN PLAYERS TODAY FIND OUT THAT YOU REALLY DIDN'T CHANGE YOUR SWING AFTER 1936 AND YOU COULD LITERALLY PUT YOUR CLUBS AWAY FOR A FEW WEEKS AND COME BACK OUT AND MAKE THE SAME SWING YOU HAD MADE
UP THE 18TH HOLE OF A TOURNAMENT YOU WON, WHAT DO THEY MAKE OF THAT?
WELL I THINK, I HAVE BEEN TOLD BY SOME PRETTY GOOD PLAYERS, QUITE GOOD PLAYERS, THAT I PLAYED, I PLAYED ALRIGHT BUT I SHOULD HAVE PRACTICED MORE... AND ONE, ONE PERSON THAT DID THAT, ONE TIME WE WERE, BEN HOGAN AND I TIED FOR THE TEXAS OPEN AT SAN ANTONIO AND BELIEVE IT OR NOT, THINGS
HAVE CHANGED SO MUCH THAT WE HAD TO GO DOWN TOWN TO W-O-A-I TO GO ON THE RADIO, NO TV OF COURSE IN 1930 UH 1940, SO, WE WERE BEING INTERVIEWED AND THEY INTERVIEWED ME ABOUT BEN AND I SAID SOME THINGS ABOUT HIM, NICE THINGS AND SO THEY SAID, WELL, AND
THEN ASKED HIM ABOUT ME AND HE SAID WELL, BYRON'S GOOD, PRETTY GOOD PLAYER BUT HE'D GET BETTER IF HE'D PRACTICE.
WELL, I, I, I WON THE NEXT DAY SO I DON'T WHETHER I PRACTICED OR NOT BUT ANYWAY, I LOOK BACK
(CLEARS HIS THROAT) EXCUSE ME. I LOOK BACK ON IT AND REALIZE THAT, AND THE REASON I REALIZED IT MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE IS BECAUSE OF TIGER. NOT WHAT, NOT NECESSARILY THAT HE'S THE BEST PLAYER IN THE WORLD. I'M NOT SAYING THAT, BUT I DIDN'T THINK ABOUT
BEING THE BEST PLAYER IN THE WORLD. I LOVED TO PLAY THE WAY I PLAYED. IT WAS COMFORTABLE AND THAT'S, THAT'S WHAT I DID, BUT I REALIZE THAT HE DOES THINGS, WE WERE GOING TO DISCUSS TIGER SO WE'LL JUST GO IN AND TALK OF TIGER SO, I, I, I'VE WATCHED HIM AND KNOW HIM SO WELL SINCE HE WAS 14, THAT HE STILL IS
WORKING ON HIS GOLF GAME TO GET BETTER AND BETTER AND BETTER AND HE'S THE NUMBER ONE PLAYER IN THE WORLD TODAY AND HERE'S THE NUMBER WORLD PLAYER IN, IN THE GAME STILL TOLD ME TO MY FACE JUST IN OUR OWN PERSONAL CONVERSATION THAT I'M STILL
MISS TOO MANY SHOTS ESPECIALLY FROM 150 YARDS AND IN. I MISS TOO MANY SHOTS. HE DIDN'T TALK ABOUT AROUND THE GREEN BECAUSE HE'S GOOD THERE, BUT, SO I, I HAD A FEELING ABOUT MY OWN GAME, SPEAKING OF TIGER AND JONES. NOW, I DIDN'T NECESSARILY THEN, BUT I LOOK BACK NOW AND KNOW I DID
NOT PUTT WELL. I DIDN'T PUTT BADLY, BUT ON ONE AREA, THE CIRCLE ABOUT 12 TO 15 FEET, THAT'S CALLED THE SCORING AREA.... WHEN YOU PLAY. YOU KIND OF NEED TO MAKE A LOT OF THOSE, AND I DIDN'T MAKE MANY OF THOSE.
I DIDN'T THREE PUTT VERY OFTEN AND I WAS A GOOD LAG PUTTER AND I WAS A GOOD SHORT PUTTER BUT I DIDN'T MAKE AS MANY OF THOSE AS I FELT THAT I SHOULD AND TIGER WHEN, KNOWS WHEN HE'S NOT PUTTING WELL HE DON'T SAY
I DIDN'T PUTT WELL. I'M NOT ROLLING THE BALL RIGHT AND I THINK THAT'S A BETTER EXPRESSION.
WHEN WE COME BACK, LET'S TAKE A LONG LOOK AT HIS GOLF GAME AND WE'LL ALSO COMPARE, YOU'LL COMPARE HIS SWING TO YOURS AND WE'LL DO ALL OF THAT IN JUST A MOMENT. AS WE LEAVE YOU LET'S TAKE A LOOK AT A GRAPHIC THAT SHOWS JUST HOW DOMINANT BYRON
WAS FROM A SPECIAL PERIOD REALLY, FROM 1939 THROUGH 1946. WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK.
Berger more than ready to rebound at Travelers
CROMWELL, Conn. – Daniel Berger hopes that this year he gets to be on the other end of a viral moment at the Travelers Championship.
Berger was a hard-luck runner-up last year at TPC River Highlands, a spectator as Jordan Spieth holed a bunker shot to defeat him in a playoff. It was the second straight year that the 25-year-old came up just short outside Hartford, as he carried a three-shot lead into the 2016 event before fading to a tie for fifth.
While he wasn’t lacking any motivation after last year’s close call, Berger got another dose last week at the U.S. Open when he joined Tony Finau as a surprise participant in the final group Sunday, only to shoot a 73 and drift to a T-6 finish.
“It was one of the best experiences of my professional golf career so far. I feel like I’m going to be in such a better place next time I’m in that position, having felt those emotions and kind of gone through it,” Berger said. “There was a lot of reflection after that because I felt like I played good enough to get it done Sunday. I didn’t make as many putts as I wanted to, but I hit a lot of really good putts. And that’s really all you can do.”
Berger missed the cut earlier this month to end his quest for three straight titles in Memphis, but his otherwise consistent season has now included six top-20 finishes since January. After working his way into contention last week and still with a score to settle at TPC River Highlands, he’s eager to get back to work against another star-studded field.
“I think all these experiences you just learn from,” Berger said. “I think last week, having learned from that, I think that’s even going to make me a little better this week. So I’m excited to get going.”
Rory tired of the near-misses, determined to close
CROMWELL, Conn. – Rory McIlroy has returned to the Travelers Championship with an eye on bumping up his winning percentage.
McIlroy stormed from the back of the pack to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, but that remains his lone worldwide win since the 2016 Tour Championship. It speaks to McIlroy’s considerable ability and lofty expectations that, even with a number of other high finishes this season, he is left unsatisfied.
“I feel like I’ve had five realistic chances to win this year, and I’ve been able to close out one of them. That’s a bit disappointing, I guess,” McIlroy said. “But at least I’ve given myself five chances to win golf tournaments, which is much more than I did last year.”
The most memorable of McIlroy’s near-misses is likely the Masters, when he played alongside Patrick Reed in Sunday’s final group but struggled en route to a T-5 finish. But more frustrating in the Ulsterman’s eyes were his runner-up at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, when he led by two shots with eight holes to go, and a second-place showing behind Francesco Molinari at the BMW PGA Championship in May.
“There’s been some good golf in there,” he said. “I feel like I let Dubai and Wentworth get away a little bit.”
He’ll have a chance to rectify that trend this week at TPC River Highlands, where he finished T-17 last year in his tournament debut and liked the course and the tournament enough to keep it on his schedule. It comes on the heels of a missed cut at the U.S. Open, when he was 10 over through 11 holes and never got on track. McIlroy views that result as more of an aberration during a season in which he has had plenty of chances to contend on the weekend.
“I didn’t necessarily play that badly last week. I feel like if I play similarly this week, I might have a good chance to win,” McIlroy said. “I think when you play in conditions like that, it magnifies parts of your game that maybe don’t stack up quite as good as the rest of your game, and it magnified a couple of things for me that I worked on over the weekend.”
Sunday run at Shinnecock gave Reed even more confidence
CROMWELL, Conn. – While many big names are just coming around to the notion that the Travelers Championship is worth adding to the schedule, Patrick Reed has been making TPC River Highlands one of his favorite haunts for years.
Reed will make his seventh straight appearance outside Hartford, where he tied for fifth last year and was T-11 the year before that. He is eager to get back to the grind after a stressful week at the U.S. Open, both because of his past success here and because it will offer him a chance to build on a near-miss at Shinnecock Hills.
Reed started the final round three shots off the lead, but he quickly stormed toward the top of the leaderboard and became one of Brooks Koepka’s chief threats after birdies on five of his first seven holes. Reed couldn’t maintain the momentum in the middle of the round, carding three subsequent bogeys, and ultimately tied for fourth.
It was a bittersweet result, but Reed is focusing on the positives after taking a couple days to reflect.
“If you would have told me that I had a chance to win coming down Sunday, I would have been pleased,” Reed said. “I felt like I just made too many careless mistakes towards the end, and because of that, you’re not going to win at any major making careless mistakes, especially on Sunday.”
Reed broke through for his first major title at the Masters, and he has now finished fourth or better in three straight majors dating back to a runner-up at the PGA last summer. With another chance to add to that record next month in Scotland, he hopes to carry the energy from last week’s close call into this week’s event on a course where he feels right at home.
“It just gives me confidence, more than anything,” Reed said. “Of course I would have loved to have closed it out and win, but it was a great week all in all, and there’s a lot of stuff I can take from it moving forward. That’s how I’m looking at it.”
Koepka back to work, looking to add to trophy collection
CROMWELL, Conn. – Days after ensuring the U.S. Open trophy remained in his possession for another year, Brooks Koepka went back to work.
Koepka flew home to Florida after successfully defending his title at Shinnecock Hills, celebrating the victory Monday night with Dustin Johnson, Paulina Gretzky, swing coach Claude Harmon III and a handful of close friends. But he didn’t fully unwind because of a decision to honor his commitment to the Travelers Championship, becoming the first player to tee it up the week after a U.S. Open win since Justin Rose in 2013.
Koepka withdrew from the Travelers pro-am, but he flew north to Connecticut on Wednesday and arrived to TPC River Highlands around 3 p.m., quickly heading to the driving range to get in a light practice session.
“It still hasn’t sunk in, to be honest with you,” Koepka said. “I’m still focused on this week. It was just like, ‘All right, if I can get through this week, then I’m going to be hanging with my buddies next week.’ I know then maybe it’ll sink in, and I’ll get to reflect on it a little bit more.”
Koepka’s plans next week with friends in Boston meant this week’s event outside Hartford made logistical sense. But he was also motivated to play this week because, plainly, he hasn’t had that many playing opportunities this year after missing nearly four months with a wrist injury.
“I’ve had so many months at home being on the couch. I don’t need to spend any more time on the couch,” Koepka said. “As far as skipping, it never crossed my mind.”
Koepka’s legacy was undoubtedly bolstered by his win at Shinnecock, as he became the first player in nearly 30 years to successfully defend a U.S. Open title. But he has only one other PGA Tour win to his credit, that being the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open, and his goal for the rest of the season is to make 2018 his first year with multiple trophies on the mantle.
“If you’re out here for more than probably 15 events, it gives you a little better chance to win a couple times. Being on the sidelines isn’t fun,” Koepka said. “Keep doing what we’re doing and just try to win multiple times every year. I feel like I have the talent. I just never did it for whatever reason. Always felt like we ran into a buzzsaw. So just keep plugging away.”