Golf Talk Live - Payne Stewart Transcript Segment 1
PAYNE STEWART HAS BEEN WORKING HARD. ON HIS GAME, ON RESPONDING SUCCESSFULLY TO THE PRESSURE OF CONTENDING, ON SOLIDIFYING HIS PLACE AS ONE OF THE BEST PLAYERS OF HIS GENERATION. MEET PAYNE STEWART, NOW ON GOLF TALK LIVE.
BECAUSE OF THE WAY HE LOOKS AND CARRIES HIMSELF. PEOPLE UNDERSTANDABLY ASSUME THAT EVERYTHING COMES EASILY TO PAYNE STEWART. IT'S TRUE THAT HE WAS BORN TO BE A GREAT ATHLETE. BUT HE DIDN'T
JUST FALL OUT OF BED WITH THAT GLORIOUS, DELICIOUS GOLF SWING. HE
HAD THE TALENT TO PLAY BUT HE ALSO HAD THE DISCIPLINE, THE PERSEVERANCE AND WORK ETHIC TO BUILD THAT MAGNIFICENT SWING AND REFINE IT OVER THE LAST 25 YEARS. HIS FATHER TAUGHT
PAYNE TO PLAY AT HOME IN SPRINGFIELD MISSOURI. WHERE PAYNE COMPETED WITH SUCCESS IN JUNIOR AND HIGH SCHOOL GOLF. HE WAS AN ALL AMERICAN AT SOUTHERN METHODIST UNIVERSITY. AND WON THE MISSOURI STATE AMATEUR AND THEN HE WENT TO WORK. HE DIDN'T
QUALIFY FOR THE PGA TOUR AS EXPECTED IN 1979. SO HE LEARNED THE REALITIES OF PRO GOLF, ON THE ASIAN TOUR. HE PLAYED THERE FOR 2 YEARS, WON TWICE. AND MET TRACY FERGUSON, WHO WOULD BECOME HIS WIFE AND PARTNER. HE'S
KNOCKED FOR NOT WINNING ENOUGH. FOR NOT DOMINATING THE GAME EVEN THOUGH NO ONES DONE THAT SINCE THE TOM WATSON ERA. WITH 9 PGA TOUR WINS, INCLUDING THE US OPEN AND PGA CHAMPIONSHIP. HE'S PROVEN HE CAN PLAY CONSISTENTLY AT WORLD CLASS
LEVELS. BUT HE'S TIRED OF THE CRITICISM THAT HE DOESN'T WIN ENOUGH, THAT HE LETS TOO MANY TOURNAMENTS SLIP FROM HIS GRASP. SOMETIMES HIS ATTITUDE HAS GOTTEN IN HIS WAY. HE'S MADE GREAT STRIDES ON CURBING THE TENDENCY TOWARDS IMPATIENCE. PAYNE
IS A FEEL PLAYER, LIKE BOBBY JONES. PAYNE'S SWING IS ALSO REMINISCENT OF JONES' MOVE. BOTH EMPLOY FULL AND FREE TURNS OF THE BODY, AWAY AND
THROUGH THE BALL. THEY ALSO SHARE A SIMILAR TASTE IN TROUSERS. PAYNE WANTS MORE FROM HIS GAME, MORE WINS, MORE CHAMPIONSHIPS. IT'S CLEAR FROM RECENT PERFORMANCES THAT HE'S PUTTING IN THE TIME, THAT HE FOCUSED ON THE PROCESS OF WINNING. AND AS PAYNE WOULD BE HAPPY TO TELL YOU.
HARD WORK HAS BEEN PAYING OFF, AND THAT'S WHY IT LOOKS SO EASY.
WELCOME TO GOLF TALK LIVE, I'M PETER KESSLER. GREAT PLEASURE TO INTRODUCE YOU TO TONIGHT, PAYNE STEWART, GREAT TO SEE YOU HERE BUDDY.
THANKS PETER, THANK YOU, NICE TO BE BACK.
WELL THANK YOU VERY MUCH. NOW TELL ME YOUR TOUGHEST CRITIC OF COURSE IS YOUR WIFE TRACY DOES SHE THINK YOUR A GREAT PLAYER YET?
I THINK SHE, I THINK SHE DOES. NOW MY KIDS ARE MY CRITICS, YOU KNOW THEY'VE GOTTEN TO THE STAGE WHERE THEIR OLD ENOUGH TO SAY. DAD WHY AREN'T YOU WINNING ANY MORE.
WELL PARTICULARLY TRUE SINCE YOU LOST THE FIRST LITTLE LEAGUE GAME THAT YOU WERE THE MANAGER OF JUST A COUPLE OF DAYS AGO.
I KNOW AND I DO HAVE TO APOLOGIZE TO THE INDIANS, THAT'S THE NAME OF OUR TEAM. I'M ONE OF THE ASSISTANT COACHES AND YOU KNOW WHEN WE LOSE IT'S ALWAYS THE COACHES FAULT, IT'S NEVER THE PLAYERS FAULT. SO I APOLOGIZE GUYS, I'LL BE THERE FOR YOU THIS WEEKEND. NOW WE'VE GOT 2 GAMES
ONE ON FRIDAY, ONE ON SATURDAY WERE GOING TO GET THEM BOTH, GO INDIANS.
DO YOU THINK THAT PEOPLE TAKE YOU LESS SERIOUSLY THAN YOU WOULD LIKE THEM TOO BECAUSE OF THE WAY THAT YOU LOOK AND PROJECT YOURSELF.
WELL PETER I HAVE A LOT OF FUN WITH LIFE. I ENJOY LAUGHING, I ENJOY PRACTICAL JOKES. UM, IT PEOPLE DON'T TAKE ME SERIOUSLY BECAUSE OF THAT, THEN THAT'S ALL RIGHT, I DON'T MIND THAT AT ALL. I HOPE THAT THEY THINK THAT I'M SERIOUS ABOUT MY GOLF BECAUSE EVERYBODY ALWAYS SAYS
WELL WHY DON'T YOU SMILE MORE ON THE GOLF COURSE, WHY DON'T YOU DO THIS, WHY DON'T YOU DO THAT. WELL I GUESS IT'S NOT MY NATURE. MY DAD
ALWAYS USE TO SAY, YOU NEED TO SMILE MORE ON THE GOLF COURSE. WELL, YOU KNOW I'M FOCUSING AND NOT EVERYBODY CAN BE A FUZZY ZELLER AND SMILE AND LAUGH THEIR WAY AROUND THE GOLF COURSE. I DO SMILE AT TIMES
OUT THERE BUT NOT ALL THE TIME.
YOU KNOW WHEN TIGER WOODS JOINED THE TOUR HE CAUGHT THE ATTENTION OF A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO WORKED A LITTLE HARDER ON THEIR GAME TO MAKE SURE THEY KEPT PACE. BUT IN YOUR CASE, I'M THINKING THAT THE GUYS THAT HAVE
YOUR ATTENTION ARE THE GUYS IN THEIR
EARLY 40'S, LIKE O'MEARA, AND LIKE FALDO, AND PRICE. AND IF WE GO BACK TO 1991, AFTER YOU WON THE US OPEN AND YOU LOOK AT ALL THE GUYS WHO WERE THEN YOUR AGE, AND YOUR
THEY STILL ARE MY AGE
AND STILL ARE YOUR AGE, AND YOU COMPARE THE RECORDS YOUR RIGHT THERE. BUT IN THE LAST FEW YEARS HAVE YOU, YOU HAVE ONLY WON 1 TIME. SEEN O'MEARA WIN A COUPLE OF MAJORS. FALDO ADD TO HIS RECORD, ARE THOSE THE GUYS WHO CAUGHT YOUR ATTENTION?
WELL, PROBABLY MORE SO MARK THAN ANYBODY. UM, TO SEE WHAT HE'S DONE THIS YEAR, HE'S YOU KNOW, WHAT A PHENOMENAL YEAR AND IT COULDN'T HAPPEN TO A NICER PERSON. I MEAN FOR HIM TO WIN THE MASTERS AND THE BRITISH OPEN. IF THERE'S EVER A PLAYER
THAT DESERVED TO WIN A MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIP, PROBABLY MARK O'MEARA BECAUSE HE'S A GENTLEMEN. HE CONDUCTS HIMSELF VERY WELL ON THE GOLF COURSE AND HE'S A CLASS PROFESSIONAL, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER AND WE NEED MORE PEOPLE LIKE MARK O'MEARA OUT ON OUR TOUR.
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE IN MARK, AND WHAT IS HE DOING RIGHT NOW THAT YOU AREN'T DOING RIGHT NOW?
HE'S PLAYING A LOT MORE GOLF WITH TIGER THAN I AM. TRULY, I ASK HIM, I ASK MARK I SAID DO YOU REALLY THINK I MEAN DO YOU THINK THAT YOUR GAME INCREASED AND GOT BETTER IN THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS BECAUSE YOU'VE BEEN PLAYING WITH TIGER SO MUCH. AND HE SAID, DEFINITELY HE SAID BECAUSE I
WASN'T GOING TO LET THAT KID KICK MY ASS SO YOU KNOW HERE HE GOES. HE RAISED HIS GAME TO A LEVEL TO COMPETE WITH TIGER. EVEN THOUGH HE DOESN'T HIT IT AS FAR AS TIGER, HE LEARNED HOW TO COMPETE WITH TIGER
AND BEAT TIGER , YOU KNOW OUT AT ISLEWORTH AND IN THESE TOURNAMENTS THAT WE PLAY. I MEAN LINK THIS INTO EVERYTHING IN THE GAME OF GOLF AND I CAN'T HIT IT AS FAR AS TIGER BUT I LIKE TO COMPETE WITH HIM.
YOU KNOW IF WE THINK ABOUT THE KIND OF CLOSURE HE'S BECOME FOR EXAMPLE AT THE MASTERS HE BIRDIES 3 OF THE LAST 4, AT THE BRITISH OPEN HE DID ABOUT THE SAME THING. WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE IN HIS GOLF DOWN THE STRETCH?
WELL I THINK THAT, I DON'T KNOW THAT HE EVER WORRIES ABOUT OUT COME, YOU
KNOW. HE JUST, HE GETS IN THERE, HE GETS HIMSELF IN POSITION, HE RELIES ON HIS MECHANICS, HE RELIES ON HIS ABILITY AND LETS IT HAPPEN. HE DOESN'T WORRY ABOUT YOU KNOW, WHAT HAPPENS IF I DO THIS, WHAT HAPPENS IF I DO THAT. HE JUST PLAYS ONE SHOT AT A TIME AND FOCUSES ON THAT SHOT AND DOES THE BEST THAT HE CAN ON EACH SHOT.
YOUR YEAR REMINDS ME A LITTLE BIT LIKE A GREAT ROUND OF GOLF, WHERE YOU CAN FIND 2 OR 3 SHOTS THAT YOU COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER AND OF COURSE FORGET THE 2 CHIP INS AND THE 2 FORTY FOOTERS AND THE HOLE OUT FROM THE BUNKER, BUT YOUR YEAR HAS BEEN
A LITTLE LIKE THAT. IT'S BEEN A GREAT YEAR AND IT'S BEEN A DISAPPOINTING
YEAR HASN'T IT?
IT HAS, PETER I UM, YOU KNOW WHEN I WENT OUT TO THE US OPEN THIS YEAR I, WASN'T A BIG FAN OF THE OLYMPIC CLUB BUT I WAS GOING OUT THERE TO PLAY THE US OPEN. AND I WENT OUT THERE WITH THE IDEA OKAY, YOU HAVE TO LEARN HOW TO PLAY THIS GOLF COURSE AND
THESE PRACTICE ROUNDS. DEVELOP A GAME PLAN AND STICK TO IT. BECAUSE PAR'S GOING TO BE A HELL OF A SCORE COME THE END OF 72 HOLES. AND HOW ARE YOU GOING TO COME UP WITH PAR AT THE END OF 72 HOLES. I DIDN'T, I CAME UP 1 OVER PAR, SO UM ANYWAY. BUT I DEVELOPED THIS GAME PLAN AND I STUCK
TO IT AND I WAS VERY PROUD OF THAT I WAS PROUD OF THE WAY I CONDUCTED MYSELF. I WAS DISAPPOINTED THAT I DIDN'T WIN THE GOLF TOURNAMENT I JUST WASN'T FAR ENOUGH AHEAD GOING INTO SUNDAY OBVIOUSLY. BECAUSE I DIDN'T PLAY WELL ENOUGH ON SUNDAY
TO WIN THE GOLF TOURNAMENT. AND LEE JANZEN DID, AND HE PLAYED A WONDERFUL ROUND OF GOLF. OUT OF THE GUYS UP AT THE TOP HE WAS THE ONLY PERSON TO SHOOT UNDER PAR AND ALL THE CREDITS GOT TO BE GIVEN TO LEE, ON WHAT HE DID TO WIN THE US OPEN, THAT
WAS PHENOMENAL ROUND OF GOLF, I DIDN'T GET THE JOB DONE. I'M GOING TO SIT HERE AND I'M GOING TO TELL YOU, I
DIDN'T GET THE JOB DONE, IT'S NOBODY'S FAULT BUT MY OWN.
WHAT DID IT MEAN TO YOU TO BE AT THE SAME GOLF COURSE WHERE YOUR DAD QUALIFIED AND PLAYED IN THE US OPEN, OF COURSE THE ONE WHERE FLECK BEAT HOGAN.
I UM, PETER I ASKED MY MOM SHE WAS OUT THERE WITH ME AND I SAID WHAT DID DAD SHOOT OUT HERE? SHE SAYS, I DON'T KNOW BUT I REMEMBER ALL HE WAS SAYING WAS, MAN THIS ROUGH IS HIGH.
AND SHE SAID, THE ROUGH WAS HIGHER WHEN YOUR FATHER PLAYED OUT HERE, THAN WHEN YOUR PLAYING. AND SO I HAD THEM LOOK IT UP, AND I SAID OOO, THOSE WEREN'T VERY GOOD SCORES BUT YOU KNOW JUST THE FACT THAT HE QUALIFIED AS AN AMATEUR AND PLAYED IN THE UNITED STATES OPEN OUT AT THE OLYMPIC CLUB. THERE WAS SOME
SPECIAL MAGIC, THAT I THINK RUBBED OFF ON ME THAT WEEK OUT THERE.
IF YOU TALK TO A GREAT BASEBALL HITTER, AND ASK THEM ABOUT HITTING
THEY'LL SAY WELL BASEBALL'S MY SPORT AND HITTING COMES EASY TO ME. DO YOU AT ALL FEEL THAT WAY ABOUT GOLF?
I DO I, GOLF'S COME VERY NATURALLY TO ME. MY SWING HAS COME VERY NATURALLY AND WHEN AFTER I WON THE US OPEN IN 91 I WAS I DIDN'T REALIZE , THAT I WAS AT THE PEAK OF MY PROFESSION, I WANTED TO GET BETTER AND I ASKED MY SWING COACH, WHO I
TRUST WITH, WITH EVERYTHING CHUCK COOK AND I SAID CHUCK WHAT CAN I DO TO GET BETTER? AND HE SAYS WELL I THINK FOR YOU TO BECOME MORE CONSISTENT YOU NEED TO TAKE THE LOOP
OUT OF YOUR SWING. THAT WAS MY FEEL YOU KNOW AND SO IN WANTING TO GET BETTER, OKAY I AGREED TO TRY THIS AND IT DIDN'T WORK FOR ME AND WE BOTH REALIZED THAT AND WERE BACK TO SWINGING THE WAY THAT PAYNE STEWART SWUNG BACK IN THE LATE 80'S
AND EARLY 90'S AND HIS WHOLE LIFE, AND I'M PRODUCING AGAIN YOU KNOW AND IT'S A LOT OF FUN TO BE IN, IN THE HEAT OF THE BATTLE AGAIN.
WHEN WE COME BACK WE'LL REVISIT THE 89 PGA AND WE'LL REVISIT BRIEFLY THE 91 US OPEN AND WE WILL DO THAT RIGHT AFTER THIS DON'T GO AWAY.
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.”