Golf Talk Live - Lanny Wadkins Transcript Segment 5
WHEN YOU THINK BACK TO THIS, WHAT GOES THROUGH YOUR HEAD TODAY?
OH, THE JUST EXCITEMENT OF THE WHOLE THING. UH, IT WAS . THAT WAS ACTUALLY THE FIRST MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIP EVER DECIDED AT SUDDEN DEATH.
SO UM, GENE AND I WERE OUT THERE. THE PGA DIDN'T . I DON'T THINK THEY WERE READY FOR IT. WE WENT TO THE FIRST HOLE.
UM, LIT' (LITTLER) WASN'T EVEN AWARE THERE WAS A PLAYOFF. HE THOUGHT IT WAS AN 18-HOLE PLAYOFF THE NEXT DAY WHEN IT FIRST HAPPENED.
UM, WE GOT OUT THERE AND GOT READY TO PLAY. AND UH, THEY HAD NO GALLERY ROPES. THE GALLERIES CAME DOWN THE EIGHT - DOWN THE FIRST FAIRWAY, THE SECOND FAIRWAY, YOU KNOW, AT PEBBLE BEACH BEHIND US.
UH, THEY SWAMPED US. IT WAS OUT OF CONTROL, JUST KIND OF LIKE THE 18TH HOLE AT THE BRITISH OPEN WHERE EVERYBODY COMES IN. YOU - GUYS POPPED THROUGH. WE DID THAT ON THE SECOND HOLE
UH, SO IT WAS - IT WAS A LITTLE HAIRY A COUPLE TIMES. BUT UH, THERE WERE A LOT OF PEOPLE WATCHING IT. UH, I LIKE - I LIKE THE LITTLE DEAL THAT I SAW.
A PICTURE OF MY CADDY THERE, RALPH COFFEY (SPELLING-???), WHO UH HAD CADDIED FOR DEANE BEMAN FOR A WHILE, AND RALPH WAS CADDYING FOR ME AT THE TIME. WE GOT ON THE FIRST HOLE IN THE PLAYOFF. AND UH,
RALPH TENDED TO GET EXCITED AND NOT GET OUT WHAT HE WANTED TO SAY. SO I SAID, 'WHAT WE GOT HERE, RALPH, ON THE SECOND SHOT?' AND HE STARTED STUTTERING AND I SAID, 'JUST WRITE IT DOWN, RALPH.' (CHUCKLE)
WHAT DID YOUR DAD THINK WHEN YOU WON?
OH, HE WAS EXCITED. UH, MY DAD WAS MY BIGGEST FAN. AND UM, I REMEMBER WHEN I MADE THE PUTT TO WIN THE U.S. AMATEUR, HE - MY MOTHER SAID HE JUMPED OVER THE COFFEE TABLE IN THE - IN THE LIVING ROOM. SO UM .
I'M - I'M SURE THAT THEY WERE GOING CRAZY AT THIS POINT IN TIME WATCHING THIS. IT WAS UH . UM, JUST AN AMAZING TIME FOR ME. I WAS ACTUALLY A NON-EXEMPT PLAYER WHEN I - WHEN I WON THE PGA.
I HAD UH . HAD SOME SURGERIES IN '74 AND SOME PROBLEMS AND I WAS NON-EXEMPT IN '77. I HAD MADE ENOUGH MONEY BY PLAYING WELL THAT YEAR TO GET IN THE PGA
AND THEN ACTUALLY STARTED THE LAST ROUND WITH THE GOAL TO FINISH IN THE TOP-8 TO GET BACK IN THE MASTERS, WAS MY GOAL LAST ROUND. AND AS THINGS GOT CLOSER AND CLOSER, I UH . I REALIZED I HAD A CHANCE.
AND ONCE I . YOU KNOW, SAW I HAD A CHANCE, I HIT SOME GREAT SHOTS AT 17 AND 18.
SOME PEOPLE SAY THAT WHEN YOU BECOME FAMOUS THAT YOU DON'T CHANGE, BUT THE PEOPLE AROUND YOU AND YOUR FRIENDS DO. DO YOU FIND THAT TO BE TRUE?
HMM, YES AND NO. UH, MY FRIENDS HAVE BEEN GREAT. UH, ONE THING THAT UH MY CAREER HAS AFFORDED ME, BECAUSE OF ITS UPS AND DOWNS, IS I FIND OUT WHO MY TRUE FRIENDS ARE.
I'VE GOT GUYS THAT HAVE STAYED MY FRIEND THROUGH THICK AND THIN THAT UH . I MEAN, I'VE GOT UH FRIENDS THAT CALL ME NOT WHEN I'M PLAYING GOOD BUT WHEN I'M PLAYING BAD TO MAKE SURE I'M OKAY.
UM, I KNEW A LOT OF PEOPLE THAT WERE MY - WERE BACK SLAPPING BUDDIES IN MY FIRST 2 YEARS ON TOUR, THEN I HAD A FEW BAD YEARS, I'D WALK BY AND SAY `HI' AND THEY DIDN'T KNOW WHO I WAS. SO UM,
THE ONE THING I DO HAVE IS A MEMORY LIKE AN ELEPHANT SO I REMEMBER WHO THOSE PEOPLE WERE. SO UM, I CAN, YOU KNOW, TURN THE TABLES PRETTY QUICK.
BUT I DO REMEMBER WHO MY FRIENDS ARE AND THEY MEAN A LOT TO ME, AN AWFUL LOT. I'VE GOT A LOT OF GUYS THAT LIKE TO COME WATCH ME PLAY AND I - AND I CAN'T TELL YOU HOW IMPORTANT THAT IS ME THAT THEY .
THEY WORRY MORE ABOUT MY GOLF GAME THAN I DO SOMETIMES.
I'M SURE THAT'S TRUE. MICHAEL IN WISCONSIN, WHAT'S YOUR QUESTION TONIGHT FOR LANNY?
MICHAEL FROM WISCONSIN
MR. KESSLER, MR. WADKINS . UH, GOOD EVENING.
GOOD EVENING, MICHAEL.
MICHAEL FROM WISCONSIN
I ENJOY YOU VERY, VERY MUCH, MR. KESSLER. JUST WANTED TO LET YOU KNOW YOU'RE TOP SHELF MAN.
MICHAEL FROM WISCONSIN
MR. WADKINS, ARE . CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR WIN. UH, THE QUESTION IS: GOOD PLAYERS HAVE A VARIETY OF UH SWING TEMPOS . ELS, COUPLES, SLOWER TEMPOS, AND THEN WHEN THEY TALK ABOUT QUICKER TEMPOS, PRICE, OLAZABAL AND YOURSELF SEEM TO UH COME INTO DISCUSSION THERE.
QUESTION IS, MR. WADKINS, IN YOUR OPINION, HOW DOES ONE FIND THEIR BEST INTERNAL SWING TEMPO? THANK YOU.
I THINK JUST SWING WITH WHAT'S COMFORTABLE. UM, I DON'T THINK YOU GO AND TRY AND DEVELOP A TEMPO. I THINK IT'S JUST SOMETHING THAT'S NATURAL THAT YOU DO.
I UH . I MEAN, I'M NOT TRYING TO SWING FAST. I'M NOT TRYING TO SWING SLOW. I'M JUST SWINGING WHATEVER'S ME. UH, I MEAN, IF YOU WATCH A GUY LIKE HALE IRWIN, HE WALKS FAST. HIS TEMPO'S FAST.
I MEAN, YOU KNOW, HE SWINGS THE WAY HE DOES EVERYTHING ELSE. I MEAN, MY SWING UH . IS FAST AT TIMES, SLOWER AT TIMES. I THINK IT DEPENDS ON, YOU KNOW, THE SITUATION.
IT'S - IT'S ALWAYS BEEN A LITTLE QUICK, BUT THE MAIN THING IS TO KEEP THE CLUB ACCELERATING.
TELL US - YOU KNOW, HALE IRWIN IS ONE OF THE GREAT, GREAT COMPETITORS, 3 U.S. OPENS, 20 TOUR WINS, IF I'M NOT MISTAKEN. YOU WOULD PROBABLY KNOW THAT NUMBER BETTER THAN I DO. I BET YOU KEEP TABS ON EVERYBODY JUST ABOVE .
YOU'RE PRETTY GOOD OF A GUY. YOU'RE PRETTY MUCH RIGHT ON THERE. (CHUCKLE)
ABOVE AND BELOW, RIGHT? BUT TELL US THE STORY ABOUT, THE 2 STORIES, ABOUT YOU AND HALE AS PARTNERS IN THE RYDER CUP AND HE WASN'T SO SURE HE WANTED TO HIT THE FIRST TEE SHOT ON THE FIRST HOLE.
OH MY GOODNESS, OH YEAH. WELL, I HOPE HALE'S NOT WATCHING RIGHT NOW BUT . YEAH, THIS WAS UH, THE FIRST TIME WE WERE PAIRED TOGETHER WAS 1977 AT UH,
LYTHAM, ST. ANNES. IT WAS MY FIRST RYDER CUP AND FIRST HOLE'S A PAR-3. AND UH, WE WALKED ON THE FIRST TEE. AND WHEN YOU PLAY AN ALTERNATE SHOT, YOU DECIDE WHO'S GONNA HIT OFF ONE `CAUSE IF YOU HIT OFF ONE, YOU HIT ON ALL THE ODD HOLES.
AND THE OTHER GUY HITS ON THE EVEN HOLES. AND . I WAS GONNA HIT ON THE ODD HOLES - ON THE EVEN HOLES AND HALE ON THE ODD HOLES SO HE WAS GONNA TEE OFF FIRST ON . AT LYTHAM.
SO WE WALKED ON THE FIRST TEE. WE'RE THE FIRST MATCH OUT. UM . HE GETS ON THE FIRST TEE, DOESN'T LIKE THE LOOK OF SOMETHING, AND SAYS 'YOU HIT HERE.'
I SAID, 'WELL.' WE'D, YOU KNOW, PLANNED TO DO SOMETHING THE OTHER WAY SO 'OKAY, I'LL HIT HERE'. SO I HIT . I HIT THERE. AND I MEAN, WE GOT ON LIKE THE THIRD OR FOURTH HOLE. IT WAS A TIGHT PAR-4 WITH RAILROAD TRACKS TO THE RIGHT. AND UH,
I PULL OUT DRIVER TO TEE OFF ON THIS HOLE AND HALE SAYS, YOU KNOW, 'WHAT ARE YOU DOING?' I SAID, 'I'M HITTING DRIVER.' HE SAYS, 'WHAT ABOUT THOSE RAILROAD TRACKS TO THE RIGHT?' I SAID, 'HADN'T NOTICED THEM.'
BUT I GOT THERE AND PUT HIM RIGHT IN THE RAILROAD TRACKS. SO, I MEAN, IT WAS KIND OF ONE OF THOSE DAYS. BUT WE ENDED UP UH WINNING OUR MATCH. WE BEAT BERNARD GALLACHER AND BRIAN BARNES.
IT WAS MY FIRST RYDER CUP MATCH UH, BEAT THEM 2 AND 1. WELL, HALE AND I PLAYED ON SOME RYDER CUP TEAMS TOGETHER BETWEEN '77 AND '91. WE DON'T PLAY TOGETHER, YOU KNOW, AS PARTNERS.
UH, WE WON A MATCH THAT WEEK IN '91. STOCKTON HAD US GOING OUT FIRST AS HIS FIRST GROUP. HE WANTED A TOUGH GROUP, AND I GUESS HALE AND I FIT THAT BILL. SO WE'RE PLAYING UH FIRST OFF THE FIRST DAY.
AND HERE AGAIN, WE'D DECIDED HE WAS GONNA TEE OFF FIRST ON THE FIRST HOLE. AND UH, I WAS GONNA HIT ON THE EVEN HOLES. SO WE WALK TO THE FIRST TEE AND .
I MEAN, THE CONDITIONS, YOU KNOW, ON HALE'S BEHALF, THE CONDITIONS HAD CHANGED DRASTICALLY FROM PRACTICE. SO THE WIND WAS NOW BLOWING INTO US FROM THE LEFT PRETTY HARD.
IT'S ABOUT 55 DEGREES AND COLD AND NOT A NICE DAY. AND UH, WE GET ON THE FIRST TEE. I'M KIND OVER THERE TALKING TO MY CADDIE AND THE OFFICIALS `CAUSE I'M .
YOU KNOW, I HAVEN'T GOT TO DO ANYTHING EXCEPT JUST WATCH HALE HIT IT HERE. AND HE SAYS, 'WHY DON'T YOU HIT HERE. I DON'T LIKE THE WIND'S . I DON'T LIKE THE WAY THE WIND'S BLOWING. I - THERE'S NO WAY I CAN PUT IT IN THE FAIRWAY HERE.'
NOT WHAT YOU WANT TO HEAR YOUR PARTNER SAY. SO I . I SAID, 'THIS A LITTLE `DE JA VU' ALL OVER AGAIN, HALE?' SO .
14 YEARS LATER.
14 YEARS LATER SO . BUT, I MEAN . HE MUST BE BRILLIANT `CAUSE IT WORKED PERFECTLY. I GOT UP THERE AND RIPPED IT DOWN THE MIDDLE. WE BIRDIE THE FIRST 3 HOLES. WE SHOT 5-UNDER ALTERNATE SHOT ON THE FRONT-9 AT KIAWAH, WHICH WAS UNHEARD OF
AND WON UH THAT DAY. AND WE PLAYED TOGETHER THE NEXT MORNING AND WON AGAIN. SO UM, I LOVE HAVING HALE AS A PARTNER. HE IS ONE HECK OF A COMPETITOR. AND UM, I'LL TAKE HIM ANY TIME.
ESPECIALLY WHEN HE MAKES YOU HIT FIRST. WE'LL TAKE A SHORT BREAK.
YEAH, LET HIM HIT THE IRONS TOO.
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.”