Golf Talk Live - Chi Chi Rodriguez Transcript Segment 2

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 10, 1997, 5:00 pm
PETER KESSLER

WHAT A TIME IT WAS. THE 1960'S, ARNIE AND JACK, GARY AND BILLY. CHI CHI STILL FOUND A WAY TO WIN AGAINST FOUR OF THE GREATEST TO EVER PLAY THE GAME. HE FOUND A WAY TO BECOME A BRILLIANT STROKE PLAYER. HE PLAYED WEDGES AS WELL AS ANYONE OF HIS ERA. HIS BUNKER PLAY WAS SENSATIONAL. HE TURNED 5'S INTO 4'S AND 4'S INTO 3'S WITH STUNNING REGULARITY. HE ALSO PROVIDED A NEEDED SENSE OF LEVITY, OF ENTERTAINMENT, OF SHOWMANSHIP. HE ALWAYS FOUND A WAY IN LIFE TO GET IT DONE, EVEN AGAINST ARNIE AND JACK AND GARY AND BILLY.

PETER KESSLER

YOUR COMMENTS ABOUT ROBERTO CLEMENTE AND JOSH GIBSON MADE ME THINK DURING THE BREAK THAT IN THE VERY EARLY 60'S, AND OF COURSE YOU JOINED THE TOUR IN '60, WAS THE TIME THAT CHARLIE SIFFORD BROKE THE CAUCASIAN ONLY CODE IN 1962. WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION, GIVEN WHERE YOU CAME FROM, TO THAT WHOLE TIME AND WHAT CHARLIE WAS TRYING TO DO?

CHI CHI RODRIGUEZ

WELL IN, IN, IN... I NEVER, YOU KNOW IN PUERTO RICO WE DON'T HAVE ANY PROBLEM. WE'RE ALL THE SAME. PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE. SO I NEVER KNEW WHAT, WHAT IT MEANT TO, I WAS A PGA MEMBER, I DON'T KNOW WHAT IT, WHY I WAS A PGA MEM... I'M, I'M A PUERTO RICAN BUT UH I, I, I DIDN'T KNOW, I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT RACISM WAS. I REALLY DON'T UH I WENT IN THE ARMY WHEN I WAS 19 UH I, I NEVER KNEW THAT STUFF LIKE THAT HAPPENED. YOU KNOW I WAS BROUGHT UP WHERE EVERYBODY WAS THE SAME SO BUT I THINK CHARLIE SIFFORD IS THE, THE BIGGEST LEGEND THAT GOLF EVER HAD.

PETER KESSLER

WHY?

CHI CHI RODRIGUEZ

WELL HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO UH TO SPEND ALL YOUR LIFE ACCOMPLISHING GREAT THINGS LIKE HE DID AND YOU KNOW THE BIGGEST THRILL THAT ANY PROFESSIONAL CAN HAVE IS TO PLAY THE MASTERS. I WOULD LOVE TO PLAY THE MASTERS ONE MORE TIME, I'M NOT GOING TO QUALIFY FOR IT BUT CHARLIE NEVER PLAYED THE MASTERS. HE NEVER WALKED THOSE FAIRWAYS LIKE TIGER WOODS AND LEE ELDER DID AND UH AND UH OTHER, OTHER PLAYERS, AF.. AFRICAN AMERICANS UH. THEY NEVER, HE, CHARLIE NEVER WALKED THOSE FAIRWAYS. IMAGINE TO WALK THE FAIRWAYS AT AUGUSTA IS ONE OF THE GREATEST THRILL. IT'S LIKE, IT'S LIKE HITTING THE GRAND SLAM. IT'S LIKE WATCHING BABE RUTH HIT. BABE RUTH WAS MY IDOL. I MEAN BABE RUTH COULD HIT MAN. BABE RUTH, ONE YEAR HE HIT MORE HOME RUNS THAN ANY TEAM IN THE LEAGUE. THEY TALK ABOUT GREAT HITTERS, TED WILLIAMS AND ALL THESE GUYS. BABE RUTH WAS THE GREATEST HITTER OF ALL TIME. 342 LIFE TIME BATTING AVERAGE AND CHARLIE WOULD HAVE FELT JUST LIKE BABE RUTH FELT WHEN HE TOLD THAT KID IN THAT HOSPITAL `KID PUT THE RADIO ON. TURN THE GAME ON. I'M GOING TO HIT THIS BALL OVER', THAT KID WAS VERY SICK YOU KNOW AND BABE RUTH SAYS `I'M GOING TO HIT IT OUT FOR YOU AND HE POINTED IT OUT AND HE GAVE THE PITCHER TWO STRIKES. I STILL CRY WHEN I SEE THAT SCENE AND THEN HE POINTED IT OUT AND HE HIT THE BALL OUT AND THAT KID GOT WELL.

PETER KESSLER

IS ARNOLD PALMER THE BABE RUTH OF GOLF?

CHI CHI RODRIGUEZ

ARNOLD PALMER, IS UH HE'S MORE THAN THAT. ARNOLD PALMER IS THE KING OF GOLF. ARNOLD PALMER WAS THE ROCKY MARCIANO... OF GOLF. ROCKY CAME INTO BOXING, YOU KNOW, AND MADE IT A REAL INTERESTING THING. MOHAMMED ALLI CAME IN AND REALLY GAVE IT A LIFT. ARNOLD PALMER'S THE, EVERYBODY THAT PLAYS GOLF AND MAKES ALL THE MONEY THAT THEY MAKE NOW SHOULD KISS THE FOOTSTEPS OF ARNOLD PALMER BECAUSE ARNIE WAS THE MAN THAT BROUGHT UP THE PURSES. HIM AND DEAN BEAMAN. DEAN BEAMAN, SOME OF THE PROS TALK BAD ABOUT DEAN BEAMAN. DEAN BEAMAN DID MORE FOR GOLF, BESIDES ARNOLD PALMER THAN ANYBODY.

PETER KESSLER

BECAUSE HE GOT THE PURSES GOING AND MADE SURE THAT, THAT THE PEOPLE BEYOND JUST THE SUPER STARS COULD MAKE A LIVING. IS THAT THE SENSE THAT YOU MEAN IT IN?

CHI CHI RODRIGUEZ

ABSOLUTELY. ABSOLUTELY. HE WAS LIKE A PROMOTER. LIKE DON KING IS IN BOXING. YOU KNOW THEY CAN TALK, WHATEVER THEY SAY ABOUT HIM, HE PUTS GREAT SHOWS, THEY MAKE GREAT MONEY, THE BOXERS MAKE GREAT MONEY BECAUSE OF PEOPLE LIKE DON KING AND BOB AIRO (???).

PETER KESSLER

NOW SOME PEOPLE WOULD SAY THAT DEAN BEAMAN DID SOMETHING THAT HE OUGHT NOT TO HAVE DONE WHICH WAS CHAMPIONING THE CAUSE OF THE MARGINAL PLAYER BY ALLOWING TOO MANY PLAYERS TO BECOME EXEMPT FOR THE NEXT YEAR, BUT BEFORE WE GET INTO THAT, LET'S LET OUR VIEWERS PARTICIPATE. I JUST WANTED TO THROW THAT ONE AT YOU AND LET'S GO AHEAD AND TALK TO VITO IN NEW YORK. HELLO VITO.

VITO - CALLER FROM NEW YORK

HI YA PETER HOW ARE YOU?

PETER KESSLER

VERY WELL SIR, AND YOU?

VITO - CALLER FROM NEW YORK

I'M SO GLAD I GOT THROUGH.

PETER KESSLER

SO GLAD YOU GOT THROUGH TOO THEN.

VITO - CALLER FROM NEW YORK

CHI CHI HI HOW ARE YOU?

CHI CHI RODRIGUEZ

BON ASERE (???) VITO.

VITO - CALLER FROM NEW YORK

CHI CHI WE WERE AT THE NORTHVILLE THIS YEAR. I DON'T KNOW IF YOU REM.... YOU SHOULD REMEMBER, MY SON STEVEN MET YOU ON THE 7TH UH GREEN UM HE'S UH PHYSICALLY CHALLENGED, HE'S MISSING A LEFT HAND AND YOU SAID MEET US AT THE 10TH AFTER THE ROUND AND WE WENT, MET YOU THERE AMONGST ALL THE KIDS AND YOU, WE LOOKED AT, YOU, YOU SAW MY SON, YOU AUTOGRAPHED THE, YOUR UH GLOVE THAT YOU WERE WEARING AND YOU GAVE IT TO HIM. I JUST CAN'T TELL YOU HOW MUCH THAT MADE HIS DAY AND MY LITTLE SON PLAYS GOLF ALL THE TIME. HITS THE BALL 150 YARDS. I WISH I COULD HIT IT AS STRAIGHT AS HE DOES AND I JUST WANT TO TELL YOU WHAT A GREAT INSPIRATION YOU ARE AND HE'S RIGHT HERE, HE'S 9 YEARS OLD AND HE WANTS TO THANK YOU AND I'M JUST SO GLAD I WAS ABLE TO GET THROUGH TO YOU.

CHI CHI RODRIGUEZ

THANK YOU VITO AND I, I

VITO - CALLER FROM NEW YORK

DO YOU REMEMBER CHICH? I KNOW YOU SEE THOUSANDS OF KIDS AND YOUR SO HELPFUL BUT, IT WAS AT THE NORTHVILLE HERE ON LONG ISLAND.

CHI CHI RODRIGUEZ

WELL VITO I, I USUALLY DON'T REMEMBER STUFF THAT I DO BUT I, I'M GOING TO TELL YOU SOMETHING, I GAVE THAT KID MY GLOVE

VITO - CALLER FROM NEW YORK

YUP

CHI CHI RODRIGUEZ

BUT THAT KID, THAT KID GAVE ME HIS HEART.

VITO - CALLER FROM NEW YORK

HE SURE DID

CHI CHI RODRIGUEZ

THAT'S A GREAT TRADE FOR ME.

VITO - CALLER FROM NEW YORK

OH MAN. CAN I ASK, CAN I HAVE HIM THANK YOU? HE'S RIGHT HERE.

PETER KESSLER

ABSOLUTELY.

CHI CHI RODRIGUEZ

ABSOLUTELY.

VITO - CALLER FROM NEW YORK

THANK YOU

PETER KESSLER

PLEASE DO.

VITO - CALLER FROM NEW YORK

HOLD ON CHICH

VITO'S SON:

THANK YOU CHI CHI

PETER KESSLER

AW.... WHAT'S YOUR NAME?

STEVEN - VITO'S SON

STEVEN

PETER KESSLER

HOW YOU DOING STEVEN?

STEVEN - VITO'S SON

GOOD.

PETER KESSLER

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF CHI CHI?

STEVEN - VITO'S SON

HE'S GREAT!

PETER KESSLER

TELL

CHI CHI RODRIGUEZ

(?????)

PETER KESSLER

GO AHEAD CHICH

CHI CHI RODRIGUEZ

STEVE I, I, I LOVE YOU AND YOU'RE A GOOD YOUNG MAN AND UH UH I'M VERY PROUD OF YOU AND REMEMBER UH IN ITALIAN BUENO FORTUNA PISAN.

PETER KESSLER

TELL HIM A LITTLE BIT ABOUT OVERCOMING THE HARDSHIPS OF LIFE THAT EVERYBODY DOESN'T GET EVERYTHING TO BEGIN WITH. HE INCLUDED. WHAT KIND OF ATTITUDE DO YOU NEED TO PERSEVERE, TO OVERCOME LIFE'S OBSTACLES, CHI CHI?

CHI CHI RODRIGUEZ

WELL I BELIEVE THAT UH THAT WHEN YOU'RE BORN WITH NOTHING YOU WORK HARDER AND WHEN YOU WORK HARDER YOU BECOME STRONGER. SEE? LIFE IS FUNNY. WHEN YOU, WHEN YOU'RE POOR AND YOU CAN'T AFFORD NO FOOD YOU EAT ALL THE FOOD YOU CAN, THEN YOU FINALLY CAN AFFORD FOOD AND THEN THEY PUT YOU ON DIETS. THEY TELL YOU NOT TO EAT THAT FOOD. IT'S BAD FOR YOU. WELL THE SAME THING HAPPENS WITH LIFE. YOU WORK HARDER, YOU RELAX ABOUT IT AND, AND GIVE IT YOUR BEST SHOT BECAUSE I TELL YOU IF YOU GIVE IT YOUR BEST SHOT YOU WILL NEVER LOSE IN ANYTHING THAT YOU DO. YOU'RE A LOSER WHEN YOU GIVE UP. SOMEBODY ELSE MIGHT BEAT YOU BECAUSE THEY MIGHT DO BETTER BUT YOU NEVER LOSE. GIVE IT YOUR BEST SHOT. GO TO SCHOOL. GET A DIPLOMA. THEY CAN TAKE AWAY YOUR CITIZENSHIP, THEY CAN TAKE AWAY YOUR DIGNITY, THEY CAN TAKE AWAY YOUR MONEY. THEY CAN NEVER TAKE AWAY YOUR DIPLOMA. GO TO SCHOOL AND I'LL SEE YOU IN LONG ISLAND NEXT YEAR. I'LL BE THERE.

PETER KESSLER

AS WE, AS WE LEAVE FOR A MOMENT LETS TAKE A LOOK AT SOMETHING THAT SOMETIMES YOU DO HAVE AND SOMETIMES YOU DON'T HAVE WHICH IS YOUR PUTTING STROKE. WE'LL GO AHEAD AND SEE WHAT JACK NICKLAUS HAD TO SAY TO YOU MANY YEARS AGO AS YOU TOOK A LESSON FROM HIM. WE'LL TAKE A LOOK AT THAT AS WE LEAVE YOU FOR JUST A MOMENT.

JACK NICKLAUS

DON'T YOU THINK THIS SHOULD BE OVER A LITTLE BIT MORE THIS WAY AND THIS SHOULD BE UNDER A LITTLE BIT MORE THIS WAY. ISN'T THAT... ISN'T THAT MUCH BETTER? HUH?

CHI CHI RODRIGUEZ

YOU KNOW WHAT I'M THINKING? IT MAKES YOU KEEP YOUR ELBOWS TOGETHER. I WAS THINKING IT'S A GOOD IDEA BUT

JACK NICKLAUS

OF COURSE YOU'VE GOT TO HAVE THE KNEES TOGETHER TOO.
CHICH... MY LEFT EYE RIGHT?
CHI CHI I THINK YOU'RE READY.
THEY'RE JUST CALLING YOU TO THE FIRST TEE.

CHI CHI RODRIGUEZ

OH THANK YOU

JACK NICKLAUS

GOOD LUCK GUY

CHI CHI RODRIGUEZ

THANK YOU VERY MUCH

JACK NICKLAUS

GOOD LUCK TO YOU

BREAK
 
NEXT SEGMENT
Getty Images

Berger more than ready to rebound at Travelers

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:54 pm

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.


Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


“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.”

Getty Images

Rory tired of the near-misses, determined to close

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:46 pm

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.”


Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


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.”

Getty Images

Sunday run at Shinnecock gave Reed even more confidence

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:08 pm

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.


Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


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.”

Getty Images

Koepka back to work, looking to add to trophy collection

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 8:53 pm

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.”


Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


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.”