KAPALUA, Hawaii – Rich Lerner caught up with 2009 British Open champion Stewart Cink at the SBS Championship. Here are snippets of that interview:
How often do you look at the claret jug?
Well it’s right in the middle of my house so I can’t really avoid it, not that I would try to. It’s beautiful. Actually I’ve got the original and now I’ve got my replica and they look almost identical so I’ve got two in the house, which is really great. It’s just a pleasure to see it every day and it brings back memories.
The original goes back?
The original I take back to St. Andrews this year and it’s actually on display right now at TPC Sugarloaf, which is my neighborhood in Atlanta. I’m going to let it stay on display at the four golf clubs I belong to, Sugarloaf, River Club, Berkeley Hills and East Lake so during the year they’re all going to get a chance to let their members see it.
If you’ve been invited to someone’s house for dinner, do you ever take the replica with you?
I took the real jug out on the town a couple times just to revel in it. It attracts a lot of attention when it goes to public places. So it’s now been retired to privacy.
Hold on a second. You’re going to Outback and you ask for a table for five, my wife and two children and the jug?
One of my favorite places to eat in Atlanta is New York Prime. The owner wanted to have a celebration dinner for us and we had about 30-40 people come down, brought the jug and everybody got to pass it around and have a sip or two out of it including all of the patrons who were already at the bar, we didn’t shut down the place.
What was in the jug?
Guinness was the first thing. That was my choice. I reserve the right to be the first one to put anything in it.
Is it possible to have a better beer buzz than to drink Guinness out of the freakin’ claret jug, honestly?
I love Guinness out of anything but out of the claret jug, I didn’t even rinse it out first I wanted to get some of that rust and dust out of the bottom of it. (laughs)
Prior to winning the British, you had said through the years that you could be doing more. The word underachieving is kind of harsh but…
No I actually did say that, underachieving.
Well I felt you sort of represented the generation that had won big money without winning big tournaments. Is that fair?
I’d say that’s fair because I labeled myself as an underachiever for several years because I felt that I had not won as many times as I thought I might. There was always just part of my game that was just sort of not there. Even now I won the major it sort of erases a lot of those memories of tournaments that I lost and gaps in years where I didn’t win tournaments but still it only adds one to the total and I still think I could’ve won more. But I’m 36 and I’m really in the prime of my career and you know I think I’ve got a lot of good golf ahead of me.
What would you like to see happen in the next few months that would help to move the PGA Tour in a positive direction while Tiger’s gone?
I would just like for some of the personalities on the PGA Tour to come out and to be shown to the people that want to see golf. Fans out there like to see golf shots but they also want to know the golfers and it’s hard for the personalities to come through the cameras into the living rooms. It just doesn’t always translate because 95 percent of us play better golf when we keep everything bottled in emotionally.
I hear from fans quite a bit that players are robots. Where are the Lee Trevinos and Chi Chi Rodriqguez? Is that fair?
Yeah because you know it’s a lot deeper out here than it ever was so to be successful it takes a certain level of seriousness to be honest. It’s a rare player that can show his emotions and still retain that focus level. So that’s our responsibility to sort of loosen up a little bit.
Back to the British Open, people forget you birdied four of the last nine holes, you had one of the only birdies at 18, and you handled the playoff like a guy who’d won 10 majors and yet it’s still recalled as the Tom Watson British Open.
That’s OK. Even though I won he was the bigger story. There are exponents to describe how big the story was so I have no problem with that at all. I mean, I still remember it as the Tom Watson British Open, too, it’s just that I got the claret jug at the end. It was surreal. I just never dreamed that I would be playing against Tom Watson for my first major.
It really was bizarre but he played well. Once we got to the playoff I had to remind myself that this guy has played better than anybody else in the field except you so far so age matters not.
Bump into Tom after you left the golf course?
We saw each other in the hotel, my wife and me and Tom and his wife on the stairs in the Turnberry Hotel. He shared a quick trip with me about a fishing trip he took where he took the jug. That was a nice moment, just shared between two people who now have something in common. I’m glad that the name Tom Watson will always be attached to me and my Open Championship.
What’s on your IPOD?
Cold Play, Dave Matthews Band, Beck, Pixies, Indigo Girls to name a few.
Is there a song which describes you best?
Probably “Loser” from Beck! (laughs) Actually I love those artists because they’re all writers, they write poetic music. I’m a lyric guy.
If you weren’t playing golf what would you like to be doing?
There’s your green screen right behind you.
Snow in the northwest moving down through the Rockies, cold in the Southeast again. I’ve done it actually.
You’re kidding me?
Yeah when I hosted “Inside the PGA Tour” I did the green screen at the Weather Channel with Paul Goodlow. It’s hard.
So is winning the British. Who would play you in the movie?
All my friends at home say Will Ferrell.
Alright a few quick hitters. You need a 295 yard drive, has to be in play. Who do you hand the club to?
Lucas Glover, really good driver, solid, long.
185, maybe a baby 6-iron, needs to be finessed with the pin back right?
Back right, Mike Weir because he can draw it. You thought I was going to give you a fade guy.
Back left it’s Zach (Johnson) because he can draw it.
25 yard shot deep rough 71st hole of a major, must get it to within 6 feet, who gets the call?
Padraig (Harrington). After playing against him in so many matches the guy has one heck of a short game.
15 feet, must make?
Who’s a player that could open some eyes that isn’t getting a lot of pub right now?
Who’s the funniest guy on Tour?
Todd Hamilton. He’s one of those guys who goes on the Internet and gets material before he comes to the golf course and just lays it on you.
Who’s the smartest guy on Tour?