|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
CHARLES SCHWAB CUP CHAMPIONSHIP MEDIA DAY
August 26, 2008
MILLER BRADY: Thank you for having me here today. I appreciate all of the support from Charles Schwab and PWC and Sonoma Golf Club, and what David Grieve does to allow us to play here every year.
For Loren Roberts and Jim Thorpe and for the rest of the guys, it's probably the perfect way to end the season here in Sonoma at Sonoma Golf Club. Couldn't be a better venue for the guys, it's a great test and they look forward to being here every year. One year ago we were pretty much in the same place here with Jay Haas and Thorpe, with Thorpe having to make a good run at the end of the year to get back here. So we look forward to watching him over the next six events to make sure he comes back.
JIM THORPE: If not, I'll just take an invite. (Laughter).
MILLER BRADY: I spoke last year about how great the Champions Tour season was going, and it's almost even better this year. We feel very strongly that the Champions Tour has the most recognizable names in golf playing week-in and week-out.
When you look at the field, you have Jim Thorpe and Loren Roberts and Jay Haas and Craig Stadler and Bernhard Langer and Tom Watson and Irwin and Mark O'Meara and Fred Funk; and you can just keep on going down and down the line with the names of players that are out there every week. And these are the guys that are playing in the Pro-Ams every week, they are walking the fairways with our corporate clients and our title sponsors and going to the social functions, the pairings parties. So it could not be better for us and the way we like to showcase our tour.
So far this year, we have had 15 winners in 22 events, a couple of guys have won twice, Funk, Langer, Haas, Denis Watson and Tom Watson. Our attendance is up across the board. Our ratings are up on the GOLF CHANNEL and our household deliveries are up, as well. Our charitable giving this year is up 20 percent which is a great testament to the PGA TOUR and Champions Tour, especially considering the economic climate. So to be able to show that we are still giving money to charities in the markets where we play every week is really a great story.
Our rookies continue to play, which is important for us. Langer is playing week-in and week-out. John Cook is playing week-in and week-out. Jeff Sluman is out there, Joey Sindelar and a lot of these guys will be first-time participants here at the end of October.
I do want to tell you one thing about the Champions Tour. If you look at this week, Pebble Beach, we're going to have seven U.S. Open Champions playing, six Masters Champions playing, four British Open Champions playing, five Ryder Cup Captains and seven World Golf Hall of Fame members. It's pretty impressive. And that's week-in and week-out for us right now, the Champions Tour. So it's a testament to our players, and their passion for the game, competition to play week-in and week-out.
We look forward to releasing our 2009 schedule hopefully in the next few weeks. We were fortunate last year to be able to release our schedule in June. We're working through a few events to find new replacements for next year that we hope to be able to release our 2009 schedule in a few weeks.
And then really coming down to the six final events, once again it's a great race. We have almost ten players that really have a strong opportunity to win the Charles Schwab Cup, especially with Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship with double points which is where Loren won last year that really vaulted him to the top of the leaderboard and he held on for the rest of the year.
We look forward to being back here in just over two months. Thank you.
LEON GILMORE: What I'll do is turn it over to Derek Benbow, who is our partner from the Charles Schwab Cup and let him say a few words about their partnership, their sponsorship of the Champions Tour, and what it means for this event and the growth of this event.
DEREK BENBOW: Actually I just wanted to thank you guys for coming out today and hearing a little bit about what's coming up for the tournament this year and the race for the Charles Schwab Cup, as well.
The PGA TOUR has been a great partner since 1997, not does the TOUR relationship provide a great marketing platform for us in terms of reaching golf fans throughout the country, but more importantly it's a relationship of shared values. And the TOUR firmly believes in the idea giving back to the communities that we serve.
This championship helps a lot of local charities including the Boys and Girls Club and The First Tee, which makes charity the true winner of the event. We do have a really great race this year for the Schwab Cup. You have Jay Haas and Bernhard Longer, and Fred Funk in a dogfight all along, and with the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship, double points, it really could be anybody's race, and you never know what's going to happen. It's a great relationship and we're looking forward to a great tournament. Thanks for coming out and spending the day for us.
LEON GILMORE: This year's event, we talk about growth, 2008 just shows a great growth from not only the structure of the event where we've done a lot for volunteers and grown our volunteers but we have some new fan features for the fan event. We have a Jumbotron on 18 which will show live action on the golf course which is wonderful. We have wine and food festival, with 30 wineries and restaurants on the back lawn; so what we are doing is the people that love to be outdoors, love wine country, but may not have a strong connection to golf, we are finding ways to draw them in so they can they can experience the excitement of the Champions Tour and these incredible celebrities.
This year's date is October 28 through November 2 here at Sonoma Golf Club. I'll open it to Jim and Loren and get their thoughts on not only last year's event, but how their wins last year catapulted them to this year and how their seasons have gone this year. I'll open it up to Loren as 2007 Charles Schwab Cup champion.
LOREN ROBERTS: I'd like to say thank you to Charles Schwab and PricewaterhouseCoopers for involvement in this event. If I can be so bold as to say, the is a Schwab Cup really has set kind of a precedent for year long competition for the Champions Tour, but I think you can directly correlate what the actual PGA TOUR is trying to do now with the FedExCup.
I think the parameters were set and the goal was set by Charles Schwab and the Charles Schwab Cub with what they are doing on the Champions Tour, and they saw it was a pretty dog-gone good thing and they are trying to piggyback off us. So I love it when we can say that the young guys are trying to piggyback off of us.
Last year was for me, as far as this event, was a culmination of redemption, I guess you can say. You know, for 2006, for me, to come down, a yearlong race between Jay Haas and myself, and for it to absolutely come down to the last shot on last hole, the last putt of the year, with everything riding on it; obviously it didn't go my way.
But then to come back the next year and I just relayed the story last night -- we did a little interview about any particular shot you remember in golf. The short putt that I missed, you know, in 2006, to lose the Cup, I actually made a putt of the exact same length last year to make a par on the last hole, and to end up winning the Cup.
It was a story of redemption for me really last year because I really put a lot of stock in trying to win the Cup and like I say, as Leon pointed out, I really wasn't in the race until I won the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship. So it's never over until it's over, and the last two years kind of proved that for me.
LEON GILMORE: Jim, last year someone asked why you play so well here, and you said, "Well, I drink a lot of wine." I'll leave it to Jim.
JIM THORPE: It is the wine. It's great to be back, my second home. The Sonoma Golf and Country Club here has been great to me. But first of all let me thank Charles Schwab and PricewaterhouseCoopers and the members here at this beautiful golf course for the role that you guys play in having us here; and Charles Schwab and PricewaterhouseCoopers for writing the checks; and Leon and his staff coordinate everybody and get everything together with the volunteers, including charities that does benefit from this golf event.
So many people think that we come to the town to play for the money and pack our bags and leave, but there are a lot of charities, like the Boys and Girls Club and First Tee program that benefit from this golf tournament, and it's just great being back here.
This year for me, yes, I'm kind of in the same predicament this year that I was last year, but you know, I like the challenge. I like to push myself. You know, kind of like I push my wife; I push her right to the edge. (Laughter). So this year, I'm kind of reversing that and going to push myself to the edge.
Yeah, I'm not one to complain. I've had a wonderful run out here. I think I have the longest winning streak on the Champions Tour. I think of the 13 events I've won out here, six has been in California, so the State of California has been great. If you could lower the taxes a little bit, this would be absolutely the perfect place to come play golf.
Speaking of my game, you know, it goes and comes. This year I started the year off very, very good, but I got hit with some back problems and knee problems late on, and I'm really starting to feel like 100% again. My buddy here to the right of me, David is going to give me some lessons today. We're going to play at Pebble Beach today and I'll get some lessons and I think my game will fall right back into form.
The Charles Schwab Cup has brought a lot of excitement to the Champions Tour. Guys like Loren and Jay, and let's just say the younger guys; it's a fight to the end. We start the second week of January and it runs through the last week of October, and these guys, they are very, very tough.
I think the one thing that a lot of the younger players see when they come on the Champions Tour, these guys might have a lot of snow on the roof, but still a lot of fire in the furnace. These guys can still play. The level of competition is getting stronger and stronger.
You know, the runs that my friends Dana Quigley and Allen Doyle and so many guys had in the past, I don't think you'll see those runs anymore, because the Freddie Couples will be here in a year and a half or two. We've got, Kenny Perry will be here in a few years. It's just getting stronger and stronger.
So the Champions Tour is really becoming like the old regular TOUR used to be, and it's a cycle that when I came out earlier, some ten years ago, we chased the Trevinos and the Chi Chi Rodriguez and the Miller Barbers; we chased them away and now the younger crew is coming in to chase me away. So it's continuing to just go and go and go and go.
Guys that started strike the ball well and putt the ball well, the Jay and Bernhard Langers and those guys, those guys are going to be around 12, 15 years before anyone will notice the difference of the young guys coming.
But I think it's great for the TOUR that these guys want to come out and be a part of the Champions Tour. Let's face it, years and years ago, back in the days of the Miller Barbers, when these guys turned 50 years old, they pretty much set their golf clubs in the corner and says, okay, now what are we going to do; so they looked for corporate outings.
I think that's what the Senior Tour brought those guys back in 1981, what we call upscale corporate outings; guys that put their talents on display to entertain corporate America. And we had no clue. If someone had told me in 1999 that you would join the Champions Tour and pocket $13 or $14 million, I would have said, yeah, I'm going to rob a bank, too.
Once again, it's just not the money that we compete for out here. I think it's the competition. We still enjoy playing and we still enjoy beating one another. It's funny, Loren talked about the 2006 putt. I was playing with him on Sunday when he had that putt. I think his first putt was probably about 30 feet, and knowing Loren and the golf that I played with him, it was just one of those things. I guess I probably took it for granted, ahh, it's a simple routine 2-putt, but this is locked up.
You know, the first putt, he passed the hole maybe four and a half, five feet. And I don't know whether I had a one-shot lead or a two-shot lead, and I was dying to putt to try to get this thing over with. And I could say Jay in the back there, he wasn't pulling for Loren to make that putt. He was saying, push it, leave it short, do something, just don't make it.
Actually I thought he put a good stroke on the putt. But some days they fall and some days they don't fall. But all in all, it's been a magnificent run.
This golf course has been great. It's been a great golf course for me. Matter of fact, my wife loved the course a lot more than I do. (Laughter) It's like Christmas coming early. So I'm going to work very, very hard in the next five or six weeks to get back here, and the game is starting to show some sparks.
I've been lucky enough to win 13 times out here, and I think this is the only golf course I've played that I've still won on; I've won on the past on. We've played in some new venues, I've been out here for ten years now, I think we play some golf courses that - well every golf course you play doesn't suit your style of play.
I'm probably the only guy in the field that walks on The First Tee and hits a driver above the trees to the left. I wouldn't say it takes a lot of balls to do that, but that's the way I play the hole. The 18th hole, the guys from the GOLF CHANNEL, whoever was doing the telecast said, well, just hit a 3-wood short of the bunker and put it on the green. I grabbed my driver and hit it across the bunker. I'm kind of a daredevil out there and that's probably why I'm in the predicament I'm in with my back this year after I left Hawaii; versus taking some time off, I continued to play. And when that happens and you're hurt, you start making more mistakes and you add to the problem that you already have.
But now, you know what, I'm pretty much 100% and I can tell by my baseball picture last night -- that thing was dropping fast. It hit in the dirt and bounced before it got there. (Laughter).
That's the excitement that we have. Yes, we enjoy playing and we enjoy the competition and the money that we compete for. But we also enjoy the venues and people we meet and the things we do for charities.
Yesterday, Leon and David and another friend of his, we played over at Old Del Monte down in Monterey, and there was some young kids I signed a few autographs for, and we started talking and just to see the excitement on these kids' faces when you stand there talking to them about, you know, overcoming problems and dedicating yourself and working hard and believing what you're doing and that sort of stuff. And you stand there, you plan on talking for five minutes and next thing you know, 30 minutes have passed, and these kids are looking at you like -- you know, that's the excitement I get from it, you know what I mean. So.
It's not just coming to town and taking the money and the checks or whatever. It's the thing that we give back to the game. I think Arnold Palmer years ago kind of set the stage for that. I think Arnie played the game probably a little bit longer than he should have, but it was a game that gave him a lot that made him what he is today, and he stayed and he gave something back. So I think he set major standards for a lot of us, that says, if I can go out like Arnie, then my career will be completed. Those are the type of things that you find out here.
I think golf is the only sport left out here that you don't have a lot of controversy.
But this is something we are looking forward to. This is the icing that you've worked on all year to bake. Sonoma is a beautiful venue. The members are wonderful to give up the golf course. Charles Schwab and PricewaterhouseCoopers that write the checks and Leon Gilmore and the staff have done a magnificent job. And the Mission at Sonoma is a beautiful venue to stay. The food is great. Of course, I'm not a drinker; I joke a lot about the wine, and I have a lot of wine at home. I just don't drink it. But yes, we do look forward to getting back here.
This year the race is going to be super tight. We have Bernhard Langer, Jay Haas, Loren Roberts is in third position I think at this point, Loren. And these guys will play the last five or six events, and once again, it's going to be a nail-biting finish.
And I just hope I can get here and let them bite the nail and I sneak in and take the trophy again. So thank you guys for being here. And Leon, I'll turn it back over to you.
LEON GILMORE: We'll open it up for Jim and Loren. Jim referred to the kid we talked to yesterday. It's a neat program, The First Tee. I bring it up because Loren and Jim have done a lot of charity in their time in the game but in particular, The First Tee, Loren has done a tremendous job in Memphis.
In another life, I worked for The First Tee and got a chance to meet Loren and saw the kinds of things that he does, and I think both Jim and Loren do it very quietly, but they do it very impactfully, and the way they do it is through their celebrity in the towns, through the outings they do and through the interaction with the kids. I'd love to get Loren's take on charity, get his take on The First Tee, and then we can up for questions on the Charles Schwab Cup.
LOREN ROBERTS: This goes back a long ways to really 1995 when I lived in Memphis for about three years, and I was just at one of the local golf courses there, talking to the head professional and we are talking about junior golf. We have this group of juniors called the Mid-South Junior Golf Association in Memphis. Most of them are inner city kids, and they come out and they play our par-3 golf course once a week and they go around to other golf courses and we put on junior clinics for them; and they said, they are the nicest, most well-mannered kids of any of the junior programs that come out.
I said, that's interesting. So I kind of investigated a little and got involved with the Mid-South Junior Golf Association before it was The First Tee. They were actual really a model of The First Tee because they were a year-round program at that particular time. That's kind of when I got involved with them and I just really enjoyed the association with them.
You know, we're talking about junior golf, we're talking about, you know, participation in the game. We're trying to get more people into the game of golf right now, and I think after probably about 12 years time since then, we are actually having kids that are coming out of that program that I originally got involved with that have gone on to have golf scholarships that have gone on to get other academic scholarships at universities in the south and throughout the country.
We are really starting to see fruition of these programs with The First Tee in Memphis where I am that I never thought would have happened when I originally got involved in 1995. It's amazing. We are seeing a lot of kids that are coming out of the program that really, as Jim had said, kids that really have dealt with a lot of things that you would have said maybe had no chance and all of a sudden now they are seeing a future and they are seeing a chance to go to college. Through the programs there, we have made scholarships available for these kids to go to college, so I think it's just a wonderful program.
And how many First Tee facilities do we have in the country Leon?
LEON GILMORE: When I left in 2003, it would have been somewhere in the neighborhood of 200. So I imagine the number has grown significantly.
LOREN ROBERTS: That's something that golf can really do positive there, just because of the nature of the game.
JIM THORPE: Yeah, it's a program we needed and a program I wish we had years and years ago. Like Loren, I support a lot of programs, in a very, very quiet way. One of my favorite programs is the Boys and Girls Club. The First Tee Program does have a lot of major, major help. I got involved in one of the Boys and Girls Clubs as my daughter lives in Baltimore. The Boys and Girls Club was truly, truly an inner city program where kids between say, four and six o'clock, or four and seven o'clock, really need guidance and needed help.
So I got involved with those programs and tried to raise money to do computers and to have high-profile celebrities come in and speak to these kids about drugs and education and that sort of stuff. The last 13 years, I've seen a major, major impact in these kids, just ghetto kids, kids that was born on the wrong side of the street that feel they didn't have a chance to accomplish anything in life. And now they find themselves in some university or some community college someplace through the Boys and Girls Club, and the Boys and Girls Club offers the kids a place to go, and not just teaching them a lot about themselves but a lot about society and other people. And to let those kids know that they have a choice.
You know, there's the right choice and there's the wrong choice. If you choose to do the wrong choice then later on in life you're going to pay the penalty for it. But as an organization, I think the money that we raise for them and the money that they spent for summer programs and to get these kids for the next level in life is money very, very well spent, and for those people that take the time, like my oldest daughter, that take their time; and I call her at 7:00 in the morning and she's in the office at the Boys and Girls Club, I call her at night and she's waiting for the kids to finish playing basketball or swim or whatever so she can go home. It's an organization where especially that within the inner cities that we need.
To give you a good example, I talked to Leon about this several times before, my daughters, they was born and raised on the golf course, all right. The First Tee Program for them was an option but they really didn't need it. I felt that The First Tee Program was a program for those kids that really needed to know what the other side of the street looked like, and the one thing I feel that The First Tee is doing that we didn't do a long, long time ago is introduce kids to the game on the administration side. Everybody is not going to play golf. Everybody is not going to have a Charles Barkley winning and go out there and make it happen.
But there is another side where you can be involved in golf where you can make a lot of money. And the program with the PGA TOUR, of course everybody here knows, and I want to say it anyway, the PGA TOUR has donated more than $1 billion to charities throughout the country since 1981. That's a lot of money and more than all of the other sports organizations together have donated. And to be part of an organization that is willing to give back to the community and to the towns and cities makes us very, very proud, not just to come out and make some money, but to be able to give something back and leave something behind.
I think with The First Tee and Boys and Girls Club, and what some of the other organizations are doing in golf, it's really starting to make an effect in this country.
Q. We have a golf course outside of San Jose, Inquisition, it's 8,000 yards; and Sonoma is 7,111, and Nicklaus has spoken several times on the length of gore golf courses, it needs to be addressed. Owners of golf courses are explaining it costs too much; greenskeepers have to buy more fertilizer, more equipment to take care of these monster golf courses. Early on in your professional life, you probably never played a golf course over 7,000 yards. Today you probably don't play a golf course under 7,000 yards. Would you share your thoughts on the length of these golf courses? Is it ever going to end? Any idea what they can do?
LOREN ROBERTS: Well, I think it's an equipment issue. You know, I kind of chuckle to myself when I see the latest possible ruling from the USGA on the groove issue, taking the spin rate off the ball out of the rough with the square grooves. And I do know the PGA TOUR is involved in that sort of decision. From the professional side, we noticed this was a problem back in 1986, I don't know why it's taken 22 years to get the decision that it was a problem, but it has.
So that could possibly do two things. I think if they make the ball spin a little more so the guys can control it; if they change the grooves, then I think that will probably do two things. It will also slow the ball down a little bit. Obviously we realize that a ball that spins more, doesn't quite go as far, so I'm hoping that -- I saw the first decision in the rollback of the game in 80-some years from the USGA, it might make a difference.
But I think we need to go back the other way. Of course, you're talking to guys who are old school who curve it both ways and play all those kind of shape and play it 85 percent of the game. Now these young guys, they are swinging 100% at every shot so they know that the ball goes straighter; they can hit it in the rough and they can still put it on the green and don't care.
So I would like to see the game go back a little the other way. And I think that might bring back some of the shorter golf courses. It is interesting, some of the shortest courses on the TOUR, when I was late in my career on the regular TOUR, some of the shortest golf courses we played were the toughest, because they played them first and fast with a lot of rough. I don't know why they don't do that all the time now.
JIM THORPE: I totally agree with you. I think the difference I've seen in the game today is that one of the things I'm going to pay close attention to, because years ago, might not notice it now, I used to work out quite a bit and keep my body in good shape. And 25, 30 years ago, you didn't have a lot of athletes on the PGA TOUR. You had guys come out with their beer bellies and drink the brandy and the wine and this sort of stuff and they go out shoot 65, go to the bar and talk about it.
Today, the young kids go out, shoot a 65 and go to the fitness trailer to work out for an hour and a half or two, and hit another four or five hundred golf balls. I meet Tiger Woods sometimes to play golf in the mornings and I say, "Oh, see you at 8:30." He's in the gym at 5:00. We play 27 holes of golf and he leaves the course and goes back to the gym. The changes in the equipment, the golf ball goes a lot further, a lot straighter.
Probably the steel-headed drivers has made a major impact in the game. But I totally agree with Loren. 25 years ago when we played on the regular TOUR and missed a fairway, you had to really golf your ball to try to hustle par. Today these young guys miss a fairway, because they are so physically strong and the equipment is so good, they can go in there with an 8-iron from 185, 190 yards and put on the green. I've seen Tiger do it a thousand times.
I just played the CVS tournament that Brad Faxon and Billy Andrade up in Rhode Island, playing with Bubba Watson, standing on the green, 370 yards away, we're on the green, and he's waiting for us to get out of the way. And then here comes his ball. It's just unheard of today.
So basically what you're seeing today, you're seeing these 6-2, 6-3 guys coming out and they are very solid athletes. They are very, very strong. And I think this year on the PGA TOUR, I think you can answer this question a lot better than I, but I think it's like 100 millionaires at this point already, guys that made over $1 million this year. So these guys are keeping themselves in tip-top shape. The equipment is, I think the USGA, when they let the golf ball get out of control, I think the PGA TOUR -- we all should probably play the same golf ball, that one golf ball, whether it's 80 compression, the 90 compression, 100 compression, I think that would kind of bring the scores back to reality.
And I've been at a lot of great golf courses. I just did an outing at Meridian Country Club where the U.S. Open is going to be in a few years, and they have changed the golf course. Years ago when we played the U.S. Open there, you could not mess a fairway. The golf course was only about 6,600 yards long, but could you not miss a fairway. And that of course is going to play probably 7,100, and I think you'll see a major difference there. You'll see another U.S. Open where over par is going to win because the rough is probably knee-high. The greens are very, very small. They didn't change the greens very much.
But to answer your question, I think the equipment is changing. I think the other golf course is will continue to get longer. Pinehurst No. 2 years ago was one of the greatest golf courses in the United States, but they have changed that golf course so much and now they made it like a Mickey Mouse course, a golf course where you could can't chip it on the green. I think John Daly proved of it a few years ago when he kept going back and forward back and forward, and golf to me shouldn't be stupid. There should be a lot of skills in the game.
Today by making a golf course 7,500 yards long, it's taking the average golfer out of the game. I mean, we couldn't play with those young guys on TOUR today. Back when I started in 1975, I noticed I'm one of the longer hitters, and now I'm not even close to being a long hitter to those guys. It's amazing and it's funny, because guys I played with years ago like the tomorrow kits and Fred Funks, those guys, I used to out drive those guys 25 or 30 yards, now they outdrive me 25 or 30 yards. Yeah I'm getting older but not that old. I think the equipment has made a major change in the game.
Q. Larry Nelson and Tom Kite some of these other guys have passed their window for Ryder Cup Captaincies. There's a lot of wisdom that apparently we'll not be able to avail ourselves of.
JIM THORPE: I don't really understand the procedure for Ryder Cup Captains. I know past PGA Champions has been appointed as captain. Larry Nelson has a magnificent Ryder Cup record. He's a U.S. Open, PGA Champion. I have no idea why he was passed by. I don't know why the Tom Kites of the world; I think both of these it guys would be great captains. Yeah, we are getting our ass kicked so much, man, we need something. I don't know what it is, but I tell you what, I'm betting on The European Team this year, you know. (Laughter).
But no, they seem to have, speaking of captains, their captains have a way of uniting their team. They bring a lot of excitement. They want to play. You can see the hugs and the laughs and high-fives and chest-pumping and bumping. The American players don't seem to have that. They seem to be more laid back. My buddy, Phil here, he makes statements like, maybe I don't want to play today. If you don't want to play, just sit down, because we do have guys that want to play.
I think from a captain's pick, I think Paul Azinger will do a great job this year because he's going to handpick some guys probably who is not playing that well. But if I was ever a captain picks, especially today with the excitement and everything that happens in golf, I would go to a guy like a John Daly, six months in advance and say: John, you know what, this year, I'm the captain for The Ryder Cup this year, and I'd consider having you on the team. Like to see you work on your game, tighten up your act, because we need you. John brings that excitement that we are missing.
I think that's the one thing that's missing with the American Team and doesn't have to do with the captain. I just think players as a whole, they don't have that excitement. And there's probably four or five players, Jim Furyks and Tiger Woods, these guys are going to get whatever they get anyway. I think it's probably the fourth or fifth guy down, these are the guys that you really need to draw together and just let those guys know. I remember Tiger played with a rookie a couple years ago (Chris Riley), I think at The Ryder Cup in Michigan. This kid was so excited, playing with Tiger Woods, in the Ryder Cup, and his game just completely stepped up to another level.
I think that's the type of excitement that we need. But Paul Azinger has done the right thing. He has a couple of great could captains with Raymond Floyd and Dave Stockton. I think he's making the right moves, the right decisions there, and so I think he'll unit the team and the American players can bring the Cup back.
Q. You talked about the length of golf courses, with seems to be generally agreed that the industry right now is in tough shape because courses are too long, it's too hard and it takes too long to play and expensive, and, of course, the game is hard. Now the USGA comes out with a ruling that kind of separates the TOUR from the weekend player, the amateur player, and the courses are being separated from the TOUR. What about rules for the TOUR and for the average player?
LOREN ROBERTS: I am strongly against that. My reasoning for that, is that the great thing about golf is that even an 18-handicapper once a round can go out and hit a shot as the best TOUR pro. I mean, it happens, and that's the allure of the game. And it's also the fact that we all play by the same rules.
I would hate to see that sort of separation. It's like the difference between metal bats in college or little league and wood bats in professional baseball. It separates us too much from the rest of the game, from the majority of the game. I would hate to see that separation in rules for us.
And I think we need to go back to the public golf course. So what if it only has two bunkers on the golf course and you go out and play and hit it around. If you have got a tee on the green and some grass out there; you have to go back to the $20 round of golf for the average guy to play golf. We're going to have to do that somehow.
Q. Will the USGA rules separate --
LOREN ROBERTS: I haven't read exactly how it's going to go down yet for the rule. Why not just apply it across the board? What's the difference? I know they are going to grandfather some of the other clubs that have already been purchased, I think, what is it, 2012 and then 2014 -- unfortunately this could have been addressed years ago. I would hate to see a divergence between the pro players and the average player. I don't think it's good for the game.
Q. We keep moving conversation in terms of technology these days from grooves to clubs. The long putter and the belly putter, and I figure there's no better putter to ask than you; the PGA TOUR and everybody seem to have backed off of changing that, but I was at the PGA a couple of weeks ago and saw Vijay working with a long putter, side-saddle putting. Can I get some perspective from you on the advantages or disadvantages of those putters?
LOREN ROBERTS: I've never even wanted to try it, so it's hard for me to comment on it. (Laughing).
There is a feeling out there that, you know, you shouldn't have one end of the club attached to your body in that particular manner. That's a feeling out there amongst a lot of players. But you know, until you get to the point where you're struggling with the putting, you know, it's going to be an issue. And I think they are going to move on the other direction.
I think you're talking about what they are going to go do with the grooves. I think that change has been put on the side, I really do and obviously I don't know what the USGA thinks or not, but putting is a real -- it's the real touchy part of the game.
I did a clinic yesterday with Ben Crenshaw, and that's one of the things he said. It's such an individual part of golf because it's all about feel and it's all about personality. It's not, grip a club, swing it back as far as you can go and hit it as hard as you can on every shot. That's not what the short game is about.
You know, there's so many different ways to do it. I just think that golf and putting being such an intricate part of the game, I mean, you take half the shots of a round, chipping and putting, that's half the game, versus all of the other clubs in your bag. I don't see really any kind of a change in the rule coming there. That's just my personal feeling.
Q. As a quick follow-up to that, you do tend to see a lot of guys as they get older begin to have some fears on the greens, how do you as you get older maintain your putting stroke? What do you attribute that to?
LOREN ROBERTS: Well, I'm just thankful I can do one part of the game pretty good, because obviously, I'll be quite honest with you, that's the one reason I've been able to play the TOUR. I've had a nice career on the Tour, and I'm just glad I was able to have something like that, I really am. I'm just lucky that way.
Jimmy is the best wedge player I've seen. Everybody talks about Trevino and stuff, I've played in the Schwab Cup a couple of times, both times when you won, and he gets more wedge shots four or five feet from the hole than anybody I've ever seen. He's a great wedge player and great driver of the golf ball, and that's probably why he loves the golf course.
JIM THORPE: It's an individual thing when it comes to the putter. Guys that are great drivers and ball-strikers are always kind of weak putters.
I think guys like Loren and Ben Crenshaw who to me are just born with that smoothness and that sort of stuff; to be a good putter you must have two things. You must be able to read greens and you must have great speed, all right. Your best putters have that. They have great speed. If you read it right and don't have the speed you're not going to make it. If you have the speed don't read it right, you're not going to make it. It's a combination of having great speed and able to read the putts.
I think over the past, what happened to me here at this golf course here, is that I had the chance to learn the greens. I come in and play on Monday, I play on Tuesday, maybe Pro-Am on Wednesday if they have one. And so it gives me a chance to hit a lot of putts to watch the ball roll and keep little notes.
You see yourself on the golf course, we might go down to No. 1, and the pin might be sitting on left side or something and you look at your yardage book here and you have paths going maybe southeast or something, slope going northwest, and so that gives you a great idea of how the ball is going to roll. When you get greens that are as slopey as these greens are, when you find the line, the speed, you don't have to worry about the speed quite as much here because the greens are rolling probably 12, 12.5 on the Stimpmeter, which is very, very fast. So if you get it on-line you're going to make it.
The long putter to me is like years ago, we tee it up with a Titleist golf ball, but get to a 200-yard par 3, we put down a Top-Flite, because we can stand there with a 6-iron with a Top-Flite and hit it; if you hit a Titleist, you have to hit a 3-iron. To me that's the what the long putter has involved to in the game.
I played with Bruce Lietzke last Sunday with the long putter, he has it stuck in his chest and the putter basically swings itself, you know what I mean. I don't know if it's right or wrong, and the USGA doesn't seem to think nothing is wrong with it, and they allow it to happen. Most of us have a 35- or 36-inch putter, but if you can go to a 50-inch putter and you think it can make you putt better and make more putts, I would change.
It's just that a lot of us have streaky putting rounds. You have one day that you can make them and one day that you can't make them. I just haven't thought about changing yet. You know, years and years ago when I learned how to play the game of golf, the putter was the shortest putter in your golf bag, and today a lot of cases, you look in Bruce Lietzke's bag, and you see all the clubs down here and a putter two or three feet taller. He says it works for him and it changed the way he putts.
If I was going to really take putting lessons today, I would definitely talk to a Loren Roberts or Ben Crenshaw and find out what they are thinking when comes to the stroke and to the reading of the greens; what are you looking for; are you looking for dead grass, live grass, sloping. These guys have done it great for a long, long time, and these are the guys that you would definitely go to for putting advice.
Q. Providing you can get back, because I'm to understand correct, defending champion is not automatically getting to come back -- let's say you did work hard enough to get back here and you shot 20-under to win it last year; will 20-under win it this year?
JIM THORPE: I think it will be based on the condition of the golf course. If we have fast greens and soft greens, you can shoot 20-under.
The golf course are wider than we normally play and they don't have nice rough here so if you keep the ball on the fairway -- and the one thing you have here, you don't have probably, of the 18 holes, you've only got like three or four greens with a lot of undulation to them. I think 9 has a lot of undulation and 11 has a lot of undulation, and everything is pretty much not flat, but to the point where putts are not going to get away from you.
When you get the greens running about 12 on the Stimpmeter with as smooth as the greens are here, the guys are going to make a lot of putts. And I don't know, 20-under is pretty low. I got lucky to do that. I hit a lot of great shots and I just had it in the perfect place on the greens. I wouldn't say -- but you know, I just said that 20-under, they would shoot it, but weather conditions plays a major role. Company of the golf course plays a major role.
If you get the greens firm here, tabletop firm, we won't shoot 20-under because it will be difficult getting it close. But when you stand on a hole like 18 and grab a 9-iron with the flag back left or right, and it can land and not go forward, then the guys are going to shoot low.
Q. We've been talking about old school, talking about the days of balata balls and Persimmon heads and this happens to be an old-school golf course, that's what I like to call it. How unique is this golf course compared to the others you see during the year on TOUR?
LOREN ROBERTS: I think that's why everybody likes this golf course and probably say it's one of the best we play all year.
I think the Champions Tour, I think we play a nice combination of new designs, old designs. You talk about here, you talk about Baltimore Country Club; we play Pebble Beach next week, here this coming week and we play a great cross-section and we also play some TPC golf courses which are new style, new designs. So we play a good cross-section.
But I think if you were to ask all of the guys in this field, obviously everybody, the Top-30 guys are happy to be here, but I think it's a real bonus that guys really work hard to get here because of this golf course. They know the reputation it has, and it is old school.
I like it because you have to drive it both ways off the tee. You know, you have to hit it both ways off the tee. It's just not stand out there and hit every tee shot straight and try to fly it on the green.
JIM THORPE: I agree with you, Loren. You have to shape the golf ball here. Shaping the ball is something that we learned to do a long, long time ago. Holes like No. 1, you have to hit it high over the trees. And like No. 9, there are guys that keep it short of the bunker; there are guys that hit it over the bunker. For me, over the bunker is the shot because I want to get a wedge in my hand.
But then again you also have holes like 4 where you have to back off. No. 4, the par 3 to me is probably the toughest hole opponent this golf course, because if you miss the green left, you are dead. So we try to bring in from right-to-left with a little draw action on the ball. It's a golf course that makes you think a little bit out there. You don't just stand there and go gung ho. You have to think a little bit.
I think what happens to a hole like 16, to me it's a very exciting stretch the last six holes out there. You have two par 5s, if you hit a nice tee shot you can reach them. I think the good thing about it is we can chase the ball in, just in case you do hit it in the rough or something, you can actually chase the ball in and get a decent birdie putt.
And 17, when they put the pin to the right just over the bunker, the things that makes the hole play easy for us because the green has been soft, if the green was firm it would be a tough 8-iron to carve it in to the right a little bit but you get the ball down here left or south from there.
So it's a golf course that we look forward to playing and it's a golf course that we know that they shape the ball in. It's a golf course where I don't think a short hitter or long hitter has the advantage. I think the guy that works the ball, that keeps it on the fairways, the guy that if he putts good, he's got a good chance to win it.
LEON GILMORE: With six events left, what are you thinking as you go through these last six events? Obviously you have to play well but what are you thinking each day; whether it's a course that you can catch up some points.
JIM THORPE: The courses we played this week, Old Del Monte to me is a putting contest. If you get it going there, you can shoot a low number. Pebble Beach is a golf course, the greens are not as smooth as Del Monte. So that's good for me. That's actually good. I've always had pretty good -- played pretty well there. It's going to be a tough test, because the rest of competition is very strong here.
I look at it, end of the day, position on the Money List and people say well don't think about it, nothing you can do about it all that sort of stuff. But still it doesn't hurt to take a look and take a peak, because this is a venue and tournament that I definitely want to get back to. I don't have any more chances, you know what I mean, because I'm getting a little bit older. I just have to go out and play solid golf. I can't control what the other players do. I can only control my destiny. If I go out there and put my nose to the grinding stone and don't make no stupid bogeys, no stupid mistakes, you just never know when the door is going to open or somebody is going to slip a little bit to let you in.
Last week in Seattle, a very good friend of mine, Jack Perrins (ph), was playing very, very well and Jack had struggled, he had some problems and that sort of stuff and started playing halfway decent. I was checking the scoreboard and Jack had turned, I guess after 45 holes, he was like 7-under par for the golf tournament and I'm saying, good, maybe they can old on and make a good check. Well he proceeded to go to the back nine and shoot 8-over par. So you can't allow that to happen because we can control that.
So basically what I need to do is go out there and focus on the golf course, shooting low numbers and everything else will take care of itself.
LEON GILMORE: Loren, from you, obviously where you stand, mathematically are you looking at the Charles Schwab Cup to say that you have a chance to get in?
LOREN ROBERTS: Right now, obviously looking at the numbers and how the numbers are going to work out and just seeing how all of the other guys are ahead of me are playing so well this year, I basically have decided I've got to win the Constellation Energy tournament event, double points, and win one more time. I have to pull a rabbit out of my hat.
We just take it one week at a time. You just have to go out and try to play. I'm focused at Pebble Beach this next week. It would be great to win there. I'm playing with another young man from our First Tee in Memphis this year and I'm just looking forward to that. So we'll go out and hopefully we can kind of push each other along and both come up with a W next week and go from there.
JIM THORPE: Plus, the good thing about the Champions Tour, the one good thing about a guy like Loren Roberts, we come down the stretch him and I just battling for the tournament victory -- (laughter) -- go ahead, Bubby.
But it's going to be an exciting race. You know, got thing about it, whether you're in the race or not, we always play close attention to see who is in the race and see their reaction, how they are going to proceed, last three events, and Loren won on the golf course last year that a lot of us thought was very difficult, the Baltimore Country Club. The greens have some undulations, unbelievable, man, and they must have bent those greens at night and when they was drinking. (Laughter). Half of the greens on the golf course, you can putt the ball off of the green back down the fairway. I just don't care for a golf course where you're putting from 20 feet and chipping it from 30 yards. (Laughter).
LEON GILMORE: We've referenced this a couple of times, we had 13 major champions in the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, so the field is getting better and better every year. If you look at this year's list, the tournament has another amazing list, Nick Price new to the field this year and Bernhard Langer and the names are getting better and better.
Thanks again to everyone for joining us and we look forward to seeing you again in late October.
End of FastScripts