Golf Talk Live - Chi Chi Rodriguez Transcript Segment 1
CHI CHI RODRIGUEZ HAS EARNED 30 TOUR TITLES ON THE PGA AND SENIOR PGA TOURS AND WE'RE STILL COUNTING. HE'S ONE OF GOLF'S MOST VERSATILE AND COURAGEOUS SHOT MAKERS AND ONE OF THE GAME'S GREATEST AND CREATIVE ENTERTAINERS BUT HE'LL BE REMEMBERED BEST AND MOST LOVED FOR HIS GIFTS OF TIME AND COMMITMENT TO YOUNG PEOPLE WHO WOULD HAVE NEVER KNOWN THE GAME'S PLEASURES IF NOT FOR THE GENEROSITY OF HEART AND SPIRIT OF CHI CHI RODRIGUEZ. HE FOUGHT HIS WAY PAST THE SUGAR CANE FIELDS OF PUERTO RICO WHERE HE HELPED HIS FATHER PUT FOOD ON THE FAMILY TABLE. HE SHOT 67 AS A 12 YEAR OLD AND LEARNED TO USE HIS GIFT OF HAND EYE COORDINATION AND HIS DEEPLY DEVELOPED WORK ETHIC TO TRANSFORM HIMSELF INTO A WORLD CLASS PLAYER. HE'S WON TOURNAMENTS AND HEARTS WHERE EVER THE GAME IS PLAYED. HE'S BEEN HONORED FOR GIVING, HE'S BEEN HONORED FOR PLAYING. THE CHI CHI RODRIGUEZ YOUTH FOUNDATION IS HIS LEGACY THAT CHANGES THE FUTURE BY INTRODUCING OPTIMISM AND OPPORTUNITY INTO THE HEARTS OF LIFE'S UNCHOSEN ONES. JACK NICKLAUS CONSIDERS CHI CHI THE GAME'S FINEST AMBASSADOR OF GOOD WILL. HE MAY ONLY BE FIVE FOOT SEVEN AND A HUNDRED AND THIRTY-FIVE POUNDS BUT IT'S FIVE FOOT SEVEN AND A HUNDRED AND THIRTY-FIVE POUNDS OF HEART AND GOODNESS.
WELCOME TO GOLF TALK LIVE. I'M PETER KESSLER. GREAT PLEASURE AND HONOR TO INTRODUCE YOU TO ONE OF THE REALLY NICE MEN IN GOLF, ONE OF IT'S GREATEST SHOT MAKERS, ONE OF IT'S NICEST PEOPLE, CHI CHI RODRIGUEZ. WHAT A PLEASURE TO HAVE YOU HERE SIR.
CHI CHI RODRIGUEZ
PETER IT'S AWFULLY NICE UH BEING ON YOUR SHOW. I REALLY APPRECIATE YOU, YOU UH INVITING ME TO IT.
I THINK THAT PEOPLE KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE DONE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE ON AN INTERNATIONAL BASIS BUT I THINK WHAT PEOPLE DON'T KNOW ABOUT YOU IS WHAT A GREAT SON YOU WERE TO YOUR PARENTS. FOR YOUR DAD, FOR EXAMPLE, WHEN HE WOULD COME IN IN THE EVENING IN PUERTO RICO, YOU WOULD TAKE OFF HIS SHOES, YOU WOULD WASH AND YOU WOULD RUB HIS FEET FOR HIM WOULDN'T YOU?
CHI CHI RODRIGUEZ
ALL THE BROTHERS AND SISTERS WE DID THAT. WE HAD THE UH, MY FATHER WAS A VERY POOR MAN FINANCIALLY UH BUT HE WAS SPIRITUALLY VERY, VERY WEALTHY. MY FATHER HAD THE LOVE OF ALL THE KIDS AND THE RESPECT THAT HE NEEDED AND WHEN HE USED TO GET FROM WORK, HE WORKED SOMETIMES 16 HOURS A DAY, SOMETIMES 18 HOURS. NEVER MADE OVER $18.00 A WEEK. AFTER 30 YEARS, HE NEVER MISSED A DAY OF WORK, HE GOT A HEART ATTACK AND THE GUY FIRED HIM, BUT WE FORGIVE AND MY DAD WHEN HE USED TO COME FROM WORK, ALL THE KIDS WERE USED TO WORK, WAIT FOR HIM AT THE DOOR LIKE AMISH PEOPLE YOU KNOW. THE RESPECT AND ADMIRATION FOR THAT MAN. HE USED TO SIT ON HIS ROCKING CHAIR, WE'D TAKE OFF HIS SHOES. WELL NOT SHOES HE WORE BOOTS. WE PULLED THE BOOTS OUT AND SOCKS. WE'D GET SOME HOT WATER, PUT HIS FEET IN, GET THE SOAP, WASH HIS FEET UH ANOTHER BROTHER WOULD DRY HIM OUT, JULIO, UH JESUS WOULD MASSAGE HIM. MY SISTER WOULD CUT HIS CORNS. I MEAN UH ALL OF US TOOK CARE OF OUR DAD.
NOW HE DIED RELATIVELY EARLY IN YOUR PLAYING CAREER, 1963. WHAT WOULD HE HAVE THOUGHT OF THE MAN THAT YOU BECAME?
CHI CHI RODRIGUEZ
HE WOULD HAVE THOUGHT THAT I WAS UH DOING WHAT HE WOULD HAVE LIKED TO DO HAD HE HAD ANY MONEY BECAUSE MY DADDY, HE, HE AND MY MOTHER, THEY SH..., THEY SHARE EVERYTHING THAT THEY HAVE WITH THE KIDS.
YOUR MOM, HER PROUDEST MOMENT OR PERHAPS YOUR PROUDEST MOMENT WAS WHEN YOU WON I GUESS THE DENVER OPEN IN 1963 AND WERE ABLE TO, FOR THE FIRST TIME, BUY HER A HOME OUT OF YOUR OWN POCKET.
CHI CHI RODRIGUEZ
YES MY MOTHER WAS LIVING IN THE BRONX IN NEW YORK AND I, I THOUGHT THAT SHE WAS RICH BECAUSE ALL THE PUERTO RICANS USED TO GO DOWN THERE WITH A NICE SUIT AND TIE YOU KNOW AND UH AND, AND SOME MONEY YOU KNOW AND I THOUGHT, I WAS NAIVE YOU KNOW AND I WAS IN THE ARMY AND I CAME TO SEE HER IN NEW YORK FROM, FROM OKLAHOMA. I CAME TO SPEND 14 DAYS WITH HER AND UH WHEN I GOT TO HER APARTMENT I SAID MOTHER WHERE DO YOU LIVE? AND SHE SAYS HERE. I SAID YOU CAN'T LIVE HERE. SHE SAYS THIS IS WHERE I LIVE SON. I SAID I'M GOING BACK TO OKLAHOMA TOMORROW. SHE SAYS YOU CAME TO SPEND UH CHRISTMAS, AND NEW YEARS WITH ME. I SAID NO I'M GOING BACK AND UH SHE SAYS OKAY. I SAID I'M GOING TO GO BACK AND I'M GOING TO PRACTICE GOLF SO I CAN WIN A GOLF TOURNAMENT SOME DAY AND GET YOU OUT OF HERE AND I RODE A TRAIN FROM GRAND CENT..., GRAND CENTRAL STATION ALL THE WAY TO FORCILE (???) OKLAHOMA AND WHEN I GOT THERE UH A GUY THAT I USED TO CADDIE FOR NAMED GIM BISSUM BAKKA SENT ME A SET, A SET OF CLUBS THAT I LIKED AND EVERY BALL THAT I HIT ON THAT RANGE I WAS BUYING MY MOTHER THAT HOME AND UH WHEN I WON THE DENVER OPEN I GOT FIFTY THREE HUNDRED BUCKS. I GOT HER OUT OF THE BRONX AND SHE WENT TO PUERTO RICO AND SHE LIVED THE REST OF HER LIFE VERY, VERY HAPPY. OF COURSE MY SISTERS AND BROTHERS, THEY CHIPPED IN TOO TO HELP BUY, BUY HER THAT HOME.
THE, YOU WERE NOT THE ONLY TALENTED YOUNG MAN IN PUERTO RICO BUT YOU WERE ONE OF THE FEW TO MAKE IT OUT AND BECOME A WORLD CLASS SUCCESS. WHAT DOES TALENT MEAN IF YOU DON'T HAVE THE PERSEVERANCE TO BACK IT UP AND MAKE IT HAPPEN?
CHI CHI RODRIGUEZ
WELL PETER YOU HAVE TO HI, TO HAVE THE RIGHT BREAKS IN LIFE. YOU KNOW I HAD, I HAD ALL THE, THE GOOD BREAKS. I WORKED HARD FOR IT BUT I HAD A LOT OF GOOD BREAKS. THERE WERE GUYS FOR EXAMPLE, WE HAD A CADDIE CALLED CARMER... CARMELLO Y SALLES UH CARMELLO USED TO SHOOT IN THE 20'S PLAYING NINE HOLES. I MEAN HE, HE MIGHT HAVE BEEN UH AS GOOD A PLAYER AS I EVER SAW. HE COULD CARRY THE BALL OVER 300 YARDS IN THE AIR AND HE WOULD HAVE BEEN A CINCH TO MAKE IT AS A BIG NAME PRO AND HE WENT TO KOREA AND HE GOT HURT AND UH CARMELLO IS PROBABLY LIVING I THINK IN SAN DIEGO NOW AND HE'S GOT TO BE ABOUT 73 YEARS OLD BUT WHEN HE CAME BACK YOU KNOW HE WASN'T THE SAME MAN. HE GOT HURT IN THE WAR SO HE COULDN'T PLAY UH UH ANY MORE GOLF. HE COULDN'T PLAY GOOD ENOUGH BUT WE HAVE UH, JESUS CARMONA, WHO, ERACIO CARMONA WHO USED TO BEAT ME ALL THE TIME AND THE WAY HE MANAGED, ACTUALLY I WAS NOT IN THE TOP TEN PLAYERS OF THAT CLUB BUT I PERSEVERED. YOU KNOW WHEN, WHEN THEY UH WIN THEY, THEY TAKE IT EASY. WHEN I LOST I WANT TO WORK HARD TO TRY AND BEAT THEM AND I NEVER DID BEAT THEM. I NEVER WON THE CADDIE CHAMPIONSHIP SO THOSE, THOSE GUYS WERE GREAT, GREAT PLAYERS.
HOW IMPORTANT WAS IT TO YOUR DEVELOPMENT AS A PLAYER AND TO YOUR HAND IRON COORDINATION THAT, YOU WERE FORCED TO NOT USE GOLF CLUBS AS A KID, BUT YOUR FIRST GOLF CLUB WAS REALLY THE LIMB OF A GUAVA TREE WAS IT NOT?
CHI CHI RODRIGUEZ
YEAH I USED TO PUT THE, TAKE THE UH THE LIMB AND PUT A, PUT A PIPE THROUGH IT YOU KNOW AND THEN TAKE A NAIL AND NAIL IT AT THE END. THEN I'D TAKE A TIN CAN. THEY USED TO BE, BE MADE OUT OF LEAD IN THOSE DAYS. I'D TAKE A, A LEAD BALL AND PUT IT RIGHT ON THE CAN. THEN I'D TAKE A HAMMER, I'D HAMMER IT AROUND. MAKE IT PERFECTLY ROUND. THEN I'D GO TO THE BASEBALL PARK AND I'D PLAY FROM HOME PLATE TO SECOND BASE AND I GOT SO I COULD GET THAT BALL, THAT UH CAN IN, IN THREE STROKES UH FROM HOME PLATE TO SECOND BASE INTO, INTO A LITTLE HOLE SO SOMETIMES IT'S BETTER TO, TO BE BORN THE HARD WAY BECAUSE WHEN YOU'RE BORN THE HARD WAY LIKE I WAS, AND LEE TREVINO AND ARNOLD PALMER, UH YOU DON'T HAVE ANYTHING TO PROVE. WHEN YOU'RE BORN WITH EVERYTHING YOU HAVE TO PROVE YOURSELF ALL THE TIME THAT'S WHY I THINK THAT JACK NICKLAUS IS SO GREAT BECAUSE HE WAS, HE WAS BORN WITH IT. HE HAD TO PROVE THAT HE COULD DO IT. JACK HAD PROVED THIS THROUGH OUT THE YEAR, HOW GREAT HE IS.
YOU KNOW I, WE GOT TO SPEND SOME TIME WITH JACK RECENTLY AND HE WAS TELLING US OFF CAMERA THAT THE SPORT THAT HE WAS REALLY GREAT AT, FORGET GOLF, THE ONE THAT HE WAS REALLY GOOD AT WAS BASEBALL. THAT HE WAS A SWITCH HITTING CATCHER, AND THAT WAS REALLY YOUR FIRST LOVE TOO AND REALLY THE WAY YOU GOT YOUR NICK NAME WASN'T IT?
CHI CHI RODRIGUEZ
YEAH I USED TO IDOLIZE A GUY WHEN I WAS A KID, I, I, I WATCH A, THEY, THEY TALK ABOUT GREAT BALL PLAYERS, BUT I, I WATCHED A GUY NAMED JOSH GIBSON WHEN I WAS A KID
CHI CHI RODRIGUEZ
CATCHER AND I NEVER SAW A PLAYER LIKE JOSH GIBSON. I, I THINK HE HIT LIKE 900 AND 74 HOME RUNS IN THE, IN THE
IN THE NEGRO LEAGUES
CHI CHI RODRIGUEZ
AFRO AMERICAN UH LEAGUE
CHI CHI RODRIGUEZ
AND HE, HE DIED WHEN HE WAS 34 BUT I PLAYED BASEBALL WITH ROBERTO CLEMENTE. YOU KNOW WE HAD A MANAGER, WHAT A GENIUS HE WAS. ROBERTO CLEMENTE IN CLASS `A' BALL IN PUERTO RICO WAS OUR PINCH RUNNER AND HIS NAME WAS DAVID AND IF HE'S WATCHING THIS SHOW I WANT HIM TO KNOW THAT, WHAT A GENIUS HE WAS, ROBERTO CLEMENTE, PINCH RUNNING FOR CHI CHI RODRIQUEZ. I MEAN WHAT A GENIUS HE WAS, AND ROBERTO OF COURSE, YOU KNOW IS ONE OF THE GREATEST BALL PLAYERS UH OF ALL TIME. I PLAYED WITH ORLANDO SEPETA, I PLAYED WITH UH WITH ROMAND HERNANDEZ, YOU KNOW HE USED TO BE, RE, RELIEF PITCHER FOR THE PITTSBURGH PIRATES. I PLAYED WITH ALL THOSE GUYS, AND THE OLDER I GET, I GET I'M LIKE JACK, I'M LIKE JACK WITH BASEBALL. THE OLDER I GET THE BETTER I USED TO BE.
WHEN A GUY WHO GOT 3000 HITS LIKE ROBERTO CLEMENTE, AS YOUR PINCH RUNNER, YOU MUST HAVE BEEN PRETTY GOOD. NO WONDER YOU LIKE BASEBALL. WE'RE GOING TO TAKE A VERY SHORT BREAK. WE WILL BE RIGHT BACK WITH CHI CHI AND YOU RIGHT AFTER THIS DON'T GO AWAY.
After Further Review: Nelson lost in the shuffle?
Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.
On the Nelson's future ...
If the goal was “different” by bringing the AT&T Byron Nelson to Trinity Forest, consider it achieved. But bringing a world-class field south of Dallas could still be tricky.
Yes, the tournament can always rely on local resident and AT&T spokesman Jordan Spieth to throw his hat in the ring. But even with Spieth strolling the fairways this week, the field strength was among the worst all season for a full-point event.
The debut of the sprawling, links-like layout likely did little to sway the undecideds, with only the third round offering the challenging conditions that course co-designer Ben Crenshaw had envisioned. And the schedule won’t do them any favors next year, as a revamped itinerary likely puts the Nelson right before the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black.
The course will inevitably get better with age, and Spieth expects positive word of mouth to spread. But it might be a while before the stars truly align for an event that, for the moment, feels lost in the shuffle of a hectic schedule. – Will Gray
On Jordan Spieth's putting ...
Jordan Spieth’s putting is plainly bad right now, but it isn’t going to stay this bad forever.
He is the second ranked player on Tour in strokes gained: tee-to-green, just like he was last year. This putting slump has lingered, but it’s unfathomable to think this guy just forgot how to putt.
Sooner rather than later he’s going to remember he’s Jordan Spieth and the 40-footers are going to start pouring in. He’ll be telling Greller to go get the ball because he’s too far away and the tee is in the other direction.
Bottom line, the ball striking is for real and the putting slump will pass. He’ll win soon – maybe even as soon as this week. – Nick Menta
On golf and gambling ...
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court over tuned a federal ban on sports betting in most states, a move the PGA Tour and many professional sports leagues embraced as a tool to both build fan interest and grow revenue.
Experts estimate sports betting could become a $150-$200 billion annual industry, and even a small piece of that could be significant for golf, but there will be risks.
Unlike any other sport, golf is played on multiple fields simultaneously, which inherently creates risks when gambling is introduced to the equation. Although the Tour has gone to great pains to head off any potential problems, like all bets gambling comes with great rewards, and great risks. – Rex Hoggard
Wise continues whirlwind ascent with first win
DALLAS – Still shy of his 22nd birthday, Aaron Wise continues to prove himself to be a quick learner.
Wise went from unheralded prospect to NCAA individual champ seemingly in the blink of an eye while at the University of Oregon. After eschewing his final two years of eligibility in Eugene, he won in Canada on the Mackenzie Tour in his third start as a professional.
He continued a quick learning curve with a win last year on the Web.com Tour to propel him to the big leagues, and he didn’t flinch while going toe-to-toe with Jason Day two weeks ago, even though the result didn’t go his way.
Faced with another opportunity to take down a top-ranked Aussie, Wise made sure he got the job done Sunday at the AT&T Byron Nelson – even though it took until dark.
With mid-day rains turning a firm and fast layout into a birdie barrage, Wise seamlessly switched gears and put his first PGA Tour title on ice in impressive fashion with a bogey-free 65. Deadlocked with Marc Leishman to start the day, Wise made six birdies in his first 10 holes and coasted to a three-shot win as the leaders barely beat the setting sun to avoid an anticlimactic Monday finish at Trinity Forest Golf Club.
As it turned out, the hardest part of the day was enduring the four-hour weather delay alongside his mother, Karla, as his afternoon tee time turned into a twilight affair.
“She was talking to me in the hotel about what a win could mean, what a second could mean, kind of taking me through all that,” Wise said. “I was like, I’ve got to calm down. I can’t just sit here. I said, ‘You’ve got to go.’ I kind of made her leave the room.”
Wise displayed some jitters right out of the gates, with a nervy three-putt par on the opening hole. But with several players going on birdie runs to turn what seemed like a two-man race into a much more wide-open affair, Wise went on a tear of his own with four birdies in a row on Nos. 7-10.
That gave him a window over Leishman and the rest of the chase pack, and he never looked back.
“I talked to myself and kind of made myself trust my putting,” Wise said. “These greens out here are really tricky, and for me to roll those putts in on 8 and 9 really kind of separated things.”
Leishman had held at least a share of the lead after each round, and the 34-year-old veteran was looking for his third win in the last 14 months. But a bogey on No. 10 coincided with a Wise birdie to boost the rookie’s advantage from two shots to four, and Leishman never got closer than three shots the rest of the way.
“He holed putts he needed to hole, and I didn’t,” Leishman said. “Hit a couple loose shots where I could have probably put a bit of pressure on him, and didn’t. And that’s probably the difference in the end.”
Instead of sitting next to a trophy in Dallas, Wise could have been closing out his senior season next week with an NCAA appearance at Karsten Creek. But the roots of his quick climb trace back to the Master of the Amateurs in Australia in December 2015, a tournament he won and one that gave him confidence that he could hold his own against the best in the world. He returned to Eugene and promptly told his coach, Casey Martin, that he planned to turn pro in the spring.
The same dogged confidence that drove that decision has been the guiding force behind a whirlwind ascent through every rung of the professional ladder.
“I just have a lot of belief in myself. I didn’t come from a lot. A lot of people don’t know that. I didn’t get to travel a bunch when I played junior golf,” Wise said. “Kind of all along it’s been very, very few moments to shine and I have had to take advantage of them.”
Despite that belief, even Wise admits that he’s “shocked” to turn only his second real chance to contend at this level into a maiden victory. But fueled by the memories of a close call two weeks ago, he put the lessons learned at Quail Hollow to quick use while taking the next step in an increasingly promising career arc.
“It was awesome, everything I dreamed of,” Wise said. “To walk up 18, knowing I kind of had it locked up, was pretty cool.”
Grace celebrates birthday with final-round 62
DALLAS – Branden Grace celebrated his 30th birthday in style, making the biggest charge of the final round at the AT&T Byron Nelson.
Grace closed out a 9-under 62 as the sun began to set at Trinity Forest Golf Club, moving from outside the top 10 into a share of third place, four shots behind Aaron Wise. It equaled Grace’s career low on the PGA Tour, which he originally set last summer at The Open, and it was one shot off Marc Leishman’s course-record 61 from the opening round.
“Good birthday present. It was fun,” Grace said. “Little bit of imagination, little bit of luck here and there. You get more luck on the links golf course than maybe on a normal golf course.”
Weeks after Grace’s wife gave birth to the couple’s first child, he now has his best result on the PGA Tour since winning the RBC Heritage more than two years ago. As a world traveler and former Presidents Cup participant, the South African embraced an opportunity this week to go off the beaten path on an unconventional layout.
“It feels like a breath of fresh air coming to something different. Really is nice. I really enjoyed the golf course,” he said. “Obviously I think we got really lucky with the weather, and that’s why the scores are so low. It can bite you if it settles in a little bit in the next couple years.”
Scott barely misses qualifying for U.S. Open
DALLAS – A birdie on the 72nd hole gave Adam Scott a glimmer of hope, but in the end even a closing 65 at the AT&T Byron Nelson wasn’t enough to earn an exemption into next month’s U.S. Open.
Scott entered the week ranked No. 65 in the world, and the top 60 in next week’s rankings automatically qualify for Shinnecock Hills. The cutoff was a big reason why the 2008 tournament champ returned for Trinity Forest’s debut, and midway through the final round it seemed like the Aussie had a shot at snagging a bid at the 11th hour.
Scott needed at least a solo ninth-place finish to pass an idle Chesson Hadley at No. 60, and while his 5-footer on the 18th green gave him a share of sixth place when he completed play, he ultimately ended up in a three-way tie for ninth at 15 under – barely short of a spot in the top 60.
“I tried to make the most of really favorable conditions today, and I did a pretty good job of it. Just never really got a hot run going,” Scott said. “I feel like I struggled on the weekend reading the greens well enough to really get it going, but I think everyone but the leaders did that, too. They’re not the easiest greens to read.”
Scott has played each of the last three weeks in an effort to earn a U.S. Open exemption, and he’ll make it four in a row next week when he returns to the Fort Worth Invitational on a course where he won in 2013. Scott still has another chance to avoid sectional qualifying by earning a top-60 spot at the second and final cutoff on June 11 following the FedEx St. Jude Classic.
Scott has played 67 majors in a row, a streak that dates back to 2001 and is second only to Sergio Garcia among active players. While he’s prepared to play each of the next three weeks in a last-ditch effort to make the field, he’s taking his schedule one event at a time with the hope that one more good result might take care of business.
“I’ll play next week and hopefully play really well, and give myself a bit of cushion so I can take a week or so off and try to prepare the best I can for the U.S. Open,” Scott said.