home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


January 23, 2012

Aaron Baddeley

Bob Graziano

Andy Walker

Jerry West

MIKE BONE:¬† Welcome, everybody, here to our media day for the 2012 Northern Trust Open.¬† My name is Mike Bone.¬† I'm the general manager of the tournament, and this is our third tournament here with the Northern Trust Open under current leadership and structure.¬† We have a few announcements today.¬† I want to acknowledge, mention a few people here that are key to our success.¬† From the PGA TOUR office we have with us today Charlie Zink, who is co‑chief operating officer of the PGA TOUR.¬† Also in the back here, our host here at Riviera Country Club, the general manager of Riviera Country Club Michael Yamaki is here with us today, and we thank Michael for your hospitality.
A few people we're going to be hearing from.  We couldn't do this, of course, without a great and supportive title sponsor in the Northern Trust Corporation.  We have Bob Graziano, the managing director of the Los Angeles office, and we're excited to have with us also our defending champion, Aaron Baddeley.  Thank you for being here.  I know you have a commitment down south to get to, so we appreciate you taking the time to come up here.
Thank you to all the media that have been coming out here.  This tournament has been going on for decades, as we know, and gone through different incarnations, different generations, and we think we are on a good path here, and we certainly appreciate your support and all the coverage that we do get from the local Los Angeles media and those abroad.
And as I mentioned before, one of the great cornerstones of this tournament that we want to continue to recognize and the relationship just continues to deepen and develop is with the Riviera Country Club, and I know many of you are going to go out today and play golf I understand here shortly, so we'll get you out there.  It's a great course and I know a privilege to play out there, and there's not a professional player that we talk to that doesn't appreciate the recognition and recognize the attributes of the course.  I understand Michael was just voted the third best course or preferred course by the PGA TOUR pros, so congratulations to you and your staff for everything that we have here at Riviera.
Last year when all was said and done after the tournament, we tallied up what we're here to support, which is the charities.  We are pleased to announce that the 2011 Northern Trust Open generated $1.6 million for local charities.  Much of that came from the results of the tournament, the sales, the recognition, the fans that are out here, as well as our Legends Club organization, which Jerry started three years ago, and actually we're heading into our third year, but two years at the time, which distributed $100,000 to local charities.  That's inclusive in that $1.6 million.  So it's come a long ways in three years.  We have high goals that we set for our charity donations and contributions that we hope to keep working towards and we will keep working towards, but we are very pleased with that development.
As part of that, also, in the economic impact report that was done a couple years ago that continues to develop and progress, the Northern Trust Open generates the equivalent of 201 full‑time jobs in the Los Angeles market to the tune of approximately $7.4 million annually.¬† So when we talk to people outside of the golf industry and people in Los Angeles, it's important to recall that, I think, particularly given the economic times that the country has faced and that California has faced, that this is a significant business here in LosAngeles, not only contributing to charity but also generating and helping the economic engine of Los Angeles.
Our executive director will talk to us in a few minutes about some of the initiatives that are ongoing with the Northern Trust Open, some of our Legends Club initiatives, our military initiatives, but before we go any further, we have a special announcement, and I want to bring up to the stage here real quick Bob Graziano, managing partner of the Northern Trust.
BOB GRAZIANO:  Thanks, Mike, and welcome to all of you.  It's great to see you here.  As Mike said, I'm Bob Graziano, managing partner with Northern Trust in Los Angeles.  Today I'm going to tell you a little bit about Northern Trust and why we sponsor this tournament.  I'm going to also introduce you to the 2012 Northern Trust Open exemption winner.
But before I begin, I'd like to say how happy we are at Northern Trust that we've extended our sponsorship to the Northern Trust Open through 2016.  As Mike noted, since the tournament's inception, the event has raised $53.5 million for LA charities, and we're looking forward to another strong year.
Many of you may know Northern Trust as a leading global financial services firm.  Founded in Chicago more than 120 years ago, we have more than 13,000 employees that work for Northern Trust around the world.  We work with some of the largest, most sophisticated investors.  They include corporations, sovereign wealth funds and wealthy families in more than 40 countries.  What you may not know about Northern is that giving back is at the core of our company.
In 2010 our employees volunteered nearly 200,000 hours to organizations globally, doing things like painting shelters and preparing meals for the hungry.  In the last five years, Northern Trust has contributed more than $75 million in support to nonprofit groups worldwide.
We support charities focused on education, the arts and social welfare.  Our aim is to improve the quality of life wherever we have a business presence.
That brings me back to why we're all gathered here today, a few short weeks before the start of the Northern Trust Open.  This tournament attracts some of the world's best golfers and golf enthusiasts to one of LA's finest courses, but as Mike noted, the event has another key purpose, to raise money for local charities, and right now we all know there are many people in need across our city.
That's why all the net proceeds of this tournament are donated to groups that help those in need.  Along with the tournament proceeds, we've also introduced the Tickets Fore Charity program, a unique fundraising program that gives local nonprofits a chance to raise money by selling tickets to the Northern Trust Open.  As an added incentive, Norther Trust provides $50,000 in bonus funds to top earning charities.  So far two out of three winners have been announced, and congratulations to the Notre Dame Academy and the Boys and Girls Club of Los Angeles County Alliance.  The winner of the final round will be announced on February 6.
Now some thanks are in order.  I'd like to thank Jerry West, our executive director and chief fundraiser.  In Jerry's three years with the tournament he has boosted its profile, even among those who'd rather shoot hoops than hit the links, and he has inspired many to contribute to the charitable efforts at heart of this great event.
Thank you, Michael Yamaki and the entire Riviera Country Club team for their partnership.  Also, congratulations, as Mike noted, the course was just ranked in the top three most liked golf courses on the PGA TOUR in the Golf Digest poll.
And finally, I'd like to thank the PGA TOUR.  The core values of Northern Trust, brand, service, expertise and integrity, are really the same core values of the PGA TOUR.  The TOUR shares those vital attributes, and we look forward to looking together for years to come.
Now I'd like to introduce this year's recipient of the Northern Trust Open exemption.  The exemption was created in 2008 to increase the advancement of diversity in golf.  It provides an opportunity for a top golfer who understands the importance of promoting diversity and wouldn't otherwise be eligible to compete in the tournament.  Now I'd like to welcome our 2012 exemption winner, Andy Walker.
Andy has won tournaments all over the world in the past 12 years in his pro golfing career.  He was recruited to play golf at Pepperdine by his friend Jason Gore, who also received a sponsor's exemption to play in this year's tournament.  Andy's achievements in advancing diversity in golf are impressive, and I'd like to highlight a few.
Andy is the first African American ever on the NCAA championship golf team.¬† Throughout his collegiate and professional career, Andy has conducted numerous free clinics for inner city children.¬† When he applied for the exemption, Andy wrote about his desire to help improve access to high‑quality golf lessons for people with limited resources, such as clinics for kids in need.
Andy hopes to inspire future TOUR players from his community, and I believe he will do just that.  Andy, congratulations on your achievement to date.  We look forward to seeing you in action at the Northern Trust Open, and please take a moment to tell people about yourself.  Thank you.
ANDY WALKER:  Thanks, everybody.  First I'd like to thank Bob from Northern Trust, the whole staff here at Riviera Country Club, everyone from the PGA TOUR, Andy who's worked with me the last week in preparing for this, Jerry West for being such a great host of this event and raising the profile of this event.
I guess a little bit about myself.  I'm from Phoenix, Arizona.  I'm 36 years old.  I did play college golf at Pepperdine University with Jason Gore, who was a major reason why I went there.  Jason and I had played in some events before, before going to college, and we had a special bond together, and so him along with the golf coach recruited me to play there, and it was a great time culminating in an NCAA championship in 1997.
This is very special.  I've played golf around the world, played with the champion Aaron Baddeley, played the Nationwide Tour together, been paired together, so it's great to see my peers do well in this game, and Aaron has been a great champion and a world ambassador for this game, so congratulations for everything you've done in this game.
For me advancing diversity in golf is very special.¬† I know Tiger Woods has done a lot to open up doors to play this game, but there is very limited access to people like Tiger, and there's a lot of access to people like me to go out to a public course around Phoenix and see me out there playing and grinding and Monday qualifying and play mini‑Tour events around the world and playing up in Canada and Gateway and anywhere they'll take me.¬† This exemption means a lot.¬† It means a lot to me.¬† It means a lot to the people that have supported me my whole career, my parents, my friends, people that believed in me.
This will be my first PGA TOUR start, so this is‑‑ what greater venue than playing at Riviera, the Northern Trust Open, to play the PGA TOUR.
I cherish this a lot.¬† I was sharing a story earlier about when they called and told me I got the exemption, and the emotions that went through me, this is‑‑ I've been playing competitively for over 30 years, since I was five years old, and for my life‑‑ my lifelong dream is to play on the PGA TOUR and play with, quote‑unquote, the big boys, so now I'm here, and I cherish everything that has come so far.¬† I look forward to playing the event, and I look forward to competing in the event.¬† I'm not here just to play, show up and play Thursday and Friday and go home.¬† I'd like to kind of share in Aaron's accolades and hopefully be holding this trophy come Sunday afternoon.
You know, without further ado, again, I'd like to thank everybody here who's made this possible.  This is a dream come true, not only for me but for my family, friends and supporters that have stuck with me for 30 years of golf.  Again, thanks, everybody.
MIKE BONE:  Thank you, Andy.  Aaron, when I said something to him earlier about looking forward to seeing him, he said he had much higher goals than to just be competing on Saturday and Sundays, so you have your hands full.
At this time I want to bring up the person that's really been our leader and the person setting out the goals and the objectives and showing us the way.  It's been a true pleasure to have worked with Jerry these past several years and see the accomplishments and see the improvements through his eyes and hopefully help him along that way.  He's been a great leader and somebody that we all are familiar with, but to have the privilege to work with him and see the passion that he brings to charities and to the nonprofit world through the Northern Trust Open is quite inspiring.  Our executive director, Jerry West.
JERRY WEST:¬† Thank you, Mike.¬† I hope everyone noticed the wonderful weather we have here today.¬† We hope this will be‑‑ you all remember last year how beautiful it was.¬† Aaron, we're going to get rid of this for you so you can win again next year.¬† Thank you, everyone, for coming.
Hopefully this is a kickoff of what will be hopefully a continuing growing event with some of the greatest names in golf playing on a magnificent golf course.¬† There's a lot of thank yous to go around, and I think I would be ill‑advised not to mention our staff, a few people that we have working for us here, and I think everyone is very familiar with them.¬† They've done such a wonderful job here.
In a very, very difficult market, to grow this tournament over the last three years, I'm very proud of our accomplishments in this period of time.¬† There's some things I would like to point out.¬† Riviera Country Club is a magnificent golf course obviously, and I think it's a venue that probably all the players‑‑ with the exception of a couple, don't come and play.¬† We would like to get those couple here, by the way, but no luck so far.
But Aaron, I think you can attest to the greatness of this golf course.¬† Your play year in the final round last year was just phenomenal.¬† I know we mentioned before it was kind of a stepping‑stone to a great year for you last year, and I'm hopeful that you'll come back and perform well.
But there are some things that make this course really special.  My God, the incredible vistas, to be able to walk around on a golf course where a lot of golf courses are not really walkable.  You can see everything on this golf course and not have to go very far, just the way it's laid out.  Riviera Country Club, Michael Yamaki, what an incredible job they've done here by maintaining this course and trying to improve it and making it an even better golf course.  I don't know how you do that, Michael, but how you improve on perfection I'm not sure.
But there's some things I would like to talk about that you'd much rather hear Aaron than me that I'm really proud of.  Obviously one of the things that's been nearest and dearest to my heart, as I mentioned before, I lost a brother in Korea and I know how devastating it is for families, and every time that I see now, I think if you go to other events, I think that they've taken a lead from the PGA TOUR in now honoring their veterans.
It's amazing how people copy each other, okay, in particular‑‑ which is something that's very significant, and I think more importantly, something where everyone has a special place in their heart for our military.¬† It's very gratifying to me.¬† My thanks to Ann and her foundation for their continuous sponsorship.
What we've tried to do here is to really, I guess, get reengaged with the military so we can attract more and more people out here and ask them to come out here and be part of our recognition, showing them our appreciation, but more importantly to see that the greatest golfers in the world‑‑ this is an awful game, by the way, I'll just say that.¬† This is an awful game, particularly to a hacker.¬† I think it can be pretty agonizing for even the professional players when you've got a one‑stroke lead and play the last hole perfectly and some guys chips it in from out of bounds and wins the hole and you miss a very easy birdie putt.
I so admire golfers and what they have to go through to get where they go.¬† And also, they're out there by themselves, folks.¬† They don't have anyone else out there.¬† You hear fans in the stands saying, oh, my God, how can he three‑putt that?¬† Well, I'd like to see that fan in the stands; they'd probably four‑putt it with all the pressure on these guys.
We have a couple of exciting things that we initiated here.¬† We have a group of about 800 young kids that are going to come out here on behalf of ‑‑ some of our people involved with our golf tournament have chosen to give some money to bring these 800 kids out here, and they'll all be given a hat, a program, something to eat, and also I believe a tee shirt; is that correct?¬† So they can be recognized out here.¬† If you see these kids all walking around together, it's a special day at the golf course, and it's for many of them an opportunity they probably wouldn't have. ¬†So for the other people who have contributed to these kids coming out here, I say thank you.¬† I did it myself, so if anyone else wants to do it, it'll cost you $5,000.¬† But I'm very happy about that.
And then last but not least, we're having a concert this year.  Aaron, do you guys like country and western music down in Australia or not?
AARON BADDELEY:  Not usually.
JERRY WEST:  Well, we're going to make you go to a concert.  We have one of America's brightest young country and western singers.  They're really crossover singers today.  Martina McBride, she's going to perform down at the Nokia Center on the 14th of February.  We're delighted to have her here.  All the Legends Club members will be there.  We'll have dinner before featuring Jeb Bush, and then we'll walk over and see the concert, and that money was also to benefit our charities.
If anyone has any interest in seeing Martina McBride‑‑ and actually she's not very hard on the eyes, either.¬† She looks pretty good.¬† For all you men in here, if you like to look at pretty women, come out and see the tremendous talent.
We're excited about the tournament here, the growth of the tournament.  I think it's been really pretty spectacular.  I've had little to do with it except where they send me to speak to all these charity groups, and I would love for you guys to look at my schedule sometimes.  Katie, thank you for all the places you send me.
But it's really been fun for me.  Being able to give back is probably the greatest feeling in the world.  I just love how it makes me feel to be able to do something for someone that is less fortunate than myself and also the Northern Trust for your participation.  They're is a great company, and they've been around a couple years.  I can tell you've been fairly conservative, by the way.
We have some new exciting people that are going to be out here this year participating with us in terms of hospitality, so we're excited about that.
As I mentioned before, giving is the best thing in the world.¬† It's a word I use all the time.¬† It's probably the greatest word.¬† I would suggest everyone look up that in the dictionary and read about it a little bit, and to me it's the essence of what people really are, people who care more about doing things for others and giving themselves.¬† We're not going to have this rain this year.¬† I talked to the rain gods.¬† Sometimes in California‑‑ West Virginia they listen but not here in California.
But again, thank you for coming today.  This is going to be a great golf tournament this year with another tremendous year, and Aaron, we're happy to have you back.  Thank you, folks, very much.
MIKE BONE:¬† We've heard from Andy, and before we bring Aaron up, we have announced a few of the exemptions or extended offers to a few of the exemptions, and I think this is a pretty interesting field that's shaping up.¬† We always get one of the top fields on TOUR here, and I'm sure Aaron would agree one of the most competitive fields year in and year out.¬† With the exemption side, in addition to Andy, we will also have Fred Couples returning, which we're excited about; local standout and I believe No.1 amateur player in the world right now with Patrick Cantlay here from UCLA that will be here; our Twitter expert, Jason Gore, who started his own‑‑ I've now learned more about Twitter in the last two weeks than I knew before, but it was fun.¬† I'm sure you guys know, but he said on Twitter I want to play in the Northern Trust Open, and the next thing you knew it had gone viral and was being re‑Tweeted and it was pretty exciting and fun and cute, and we're excited to bring him out here because he's also a local player, of course, that lives up in Santa Clarita and went to Pepperdine, so we're hoping between the two of you we have every Pepperdine alumni around coming out to cheer you guys on.¬† We also have the rising international star K.T. Kim that will be joining us out here on TOUR.¬† It's shaping up to be a great field as it always is.
So I know that in addition to what we're doing here that, Aaron, you have someplace to be down at the Farmers Insurance Open, but we're excited about our defending champion last year.  We've had such a great line of champions at this tournament year in and year out.  We had such an exciting field.  The leaders of the two groups that were leading that went off last year was just fantastic.  It was a sunny day, beautiful day, and it's always exciting on 18 when the winner comes up.  But last year I thought was particularly so when Aaron was coming up there and his entire family, I think, everybody you guys knew were there supporting, which was fun, and your wife and daughters, I believe.  So it was a lot of fun.
But at this point we want to call up our defending champion, who got off to a great start with the win here, and we're looking forward to seeing what he can do this year, Aaron Baddeley.  If you could just give us a few words about this what win meant to your season.  It had to be exciting and building a lot of confidence finishing like you did on this course with this field.
AARON BADDELEY:¬† Definitely.¬† This win here last year was special.¬† Playing here has always been one of my favorite events.¬† I haven't missed it since being on the PGA TOUR.¬† I remember watching the '95 PGA when Elk won.¬† I could tell you every shot that he hit on the back nine.¬† Coming here, when I play here on a golf course that has so much history and playing such a great event was special, just to be able to play in it, and then let alone‑‑ I definitely had dreams of winning here, and then to do it last year, to come here and play as well as I did and to get the win here was extremely special.
It really catapulted the year.  It was good because I had switched coaches a couple years ago back to my old coach, Dale Lynch, and to play well here really set the tone for the year and played quite well the rest of the year and really had a chance there at the end to win the FedExCup.  It was a great start to the year with winning here, so I'm excited to get back.

Q.  What is it about Riviera and the field from a golfer's perspective, from a professional, and you come out here and you see the great names that have won here and the great names lined up, it has to be a little awe inspiring if not overwhelming when you see who's in the field before you ever hit the first shot?
AARON BADDELEY:  For sure.  I mean, I always enjoy playing against the best in the world.  Growing up as a kid, I would write letters to all the pros, Nick Faldo, Greg Norman, Nick Price, especially Greg obviously being Australian, always asked him for a practice round.  So we used to play practice rounds together all the time when I was a junior growing up when he'd come down to Australia because I wanted to play with the best in the world.  I always enjoyed the challenge of playing against the best.
But like I said, the history here is one of my favorite things.  Every year I always look at the photos in the men's locker room.  I look at them every year.  I look at those photos over and over.  It's just so great just to see the pictures of Hogan, the pictures of past champions, and yeah, just seeing old pictures is so awesome.

Q.  Jerry, you've often said in the years we worked together that PGA TOUR players are some of the most well respected, competitive and respected athletes on TOUR, and you've played with a lot of athletes in a lot of situations.  Can you say a few words about that, and I think we'd all agree that Aaron is a great example of your feelings and sentiments about that.
JERRY WEST:¬† I think being an athlete in a team sport is probably‑‑ it brings the depths and the heights.¬† The depths is when you lose, particularly something you really don't want to lose.¬† I guess, Aaron, it would be like you coming to the last hole with a two‑stroke lead in a major tournament and you make a bogey and some guy makes a birdie to win.¬† I've gone through a lot of the same as an athlete and I've got to tell you they're not a whole lot of fun.¬† You can play your very best in a team sport and your team may not win.¬† It's one of the most difficult things out there to cope with.
But I think the thing that I most admire and probably the question I have never asked and obviously I know a lot of professional golfers and‑‑ a lot of them have real blond hair today.¬† But one question I've never asked that I wanted to ask.¬† Standing in the locker room before a game like me was like being in a cage, you sit there and water just dripping off your hands, you can't wait to go out there and compete.¬† But that was the physical side, and that was the mental side waiting on the physical side to kick in.
I've often wondered before a round of golf, and particularly before something important, do you feel nervous?¬† Do you like that if you feel nervous?¬† Or do you feel calm, and until you get behind the ropes‑‑ I'm assuming everyone thinks‑‑ people think you pay attention to people in the stands.¬† As a professional basketball player I never looked in the stands, not once, not running down the court or off the court.¬† I always ask people that are so close and personal, would you be nervous?¬† I know you're supposed to be courteous, but in the heat of the action, how does that work in terms of your concentration?
AARON BADDELEY:¬† Sunday morning, yeah, coming here with the lead, it was the first time I had the lead for a couple years coming into the last day.¬† I definitely remember warming up that morning and feeling quite a bit nervous, really just excited for the round.¬† Obviously my game felt good at the time.¬† I was definitely nervous, but just as I warmed up and went through my routine, because I try and stick to the same routine, which helps a lot to just calm your nerves because you try and do the same thing over and over again.¬† By just sticking to my routine, by the time I got to the first tee, I was a little nervous on the first tee, especially because someone made‑‑ I was about to hit it and someone crumbled a water bottle, so I had to back off.
So I was quite nervous, but I hit a really good tee shot down the first, which calmed me down.¬† But the fans being up close and personal, you've just got to try and be courteous, really just‑‑ you really have to treat them with respect because they're out there supporting you and they're not trying to put you off or anything like that.¬† They're trying to be supportive.¬† I always try and remember that and just try and be respectful.

Q.  You mentioned playing with Greg as a youngster.  How old would you have been the first time you played with him, and what was it like for somebody at that age to be playing with him?  What were your emotions?
AARON BADDELEY:¬† I can still the remember the first time I met him was at the Australian Open in 1998, met him on the practice fairway before his pro‑am time, which was on Tuesday, and I was still nervous about an hour and a half after I met him.¬† He had that sort of presence about him.
We played a practice round in '98 at the Australian Open together.  At the time I was 17.  It was awesome.  You know, that's the guy you watched on TV growing up.  He was the guy you got up to watch play the U.S. Masters, the U.S. Opens, all the majors, you watched him hoping for him to win.  Unfortunately he didn't win the '96 Masters, and it was devastating for the country and everybody because everyone was just looking forward to him winning there.
Greg has been great to me over the years, and he reallytook me under his wing there for a while.

Q.  Who's the best golfer in the world right now, and then sort of an extension to that, in a playoff, who's the one golfer you would not like to go against?
AARON BADDELEY:  Luke Donald is the best player in the world right now.  I think that's pretty easy to see his record.  He doesn't finish outside the top 5 whenever he tees it up basically, so I'd say he's the best player in the world.
Not go against in a playoff?  That's a good question.  I mean, obviously Tiger has got a good record in playoffs.  He's made a few putts when it counted.  Robert Allenby is very good in playoffs, I think.  I think he's lost maybe one playoff or two playoffs his whole career.  I don't know.  I'll take my chances against anybody.

Q.  Have you received any letters or I guess in this world it would be Tweets or Facebook requests from little kids who look up to you like you once looked up to Greg and wanting to pick your brain and play with you, and what was that like?
AARON BADDELEY:  Yeah, absolutely.  Quite often guys are just Tweeting and asking questions about your routine or what you think for a certain shot, putting advice, what you're doing with your swing.  And then I've got a junior tournament in China, a national junior championship, so I'm talking to the kids there.  They always ask questions around there and playing some holes with them.  I enjoy it.
I was definitely the annoying junior that asked a million questions because I wanted to learn.  That's how you learn.  So I enjoy it when kids ask questions and want to find out about stuff because that's what I did as a kid and that's how you learn to become a good golfer.

Q.  Jerry, you mentioned that you hadn't been successful in encouraging a couple golfers to play this tournament.  I'm just curious, why is it that Tiger doesn't play here?
JERRY WEST:  Aaron, would you care to answer that?  (Laughter.)
JERRY WEST:  I've known Tiger since he was 16 years old.  His father, on a couple of occasions we talked about his success and what he thought he was going to be, imminent success.  We really talked about interaction with the press and what he felt was important.  To me the press is not always going to be complimentary to you, okay, but I think it's important that they're not, to be honest with you.  That makes that balance.
I think if somebody writes something negative about you, that doesn't mean that they don't like you.¬† It's part of their job description.¬† But I always felt the press is a balance, and he's going to focus ‑‑ with his stature as a player and everything that goes on in his life, I'm not so sure that any of us know‑‑ I know a little bit, how many demands you have on your life by people that sometimes you'd like to say, look, I've got three things I've got to do this day, and if you don't, you might be a real horse's behind, okay.
He's really‑‑ any professional golfer is like their own enterprise.¬† You're running your own business, you're doing things to try and incorporate what your family might want and when you need time away.¬† I'm sure that's exactly what he does.
But to say it's not disappointing, oh, it's always disappointing that he wouldn't show up at any event, particularly here in Los Angeles, because we did give him the first time‑‑ but I completely understand, I completely do.¬† It would be wonderful to have him because of his Southern California roots and the enormous success he's had in golf right now.
He's trying to kind of reinvent himself as a golfer.¬† I've always known him‑‑ talking about this one teacher you had and what you were doing, I've always said to myself, why in the heck would a guy that can putt and chip like this and hit the ball really well want to change what he's doing, and the answer obviously is to get better.¬† There's something there that intrigues you.¬† I think he's had now three swing coaches, and I used to think how in the hell can you improve on perfection.
And I think the greatest swing I've ever seen in golf, and you never saw him in person, Aaron, you're much too young, was Sam Snead.¬† It was the most natural‑looking swing.¬† He never had a teacher.¬† But he was an incredible ball striker, and just to watch him hit the golf ball, I could just go out and‑‑ I'd rather not watch golfers play to be honest with you except trying to win a tournament.¬† Just to watch him hit golf balls was the most amazing thing I ever seen in my life.¬† It was amazing to watch him hit golf balls.¬† There wasn't that information around, there wasn't all the cameras, all the teaching aids, but I've often felt that a player himself knows as he goes along in time, and he's had a number of injuries, was it time for him to change.¬† But I think it's just his curiosity, and he's brilliantly smart, just wanting to get better and be better as a golfer.
That tells me something, what kind of a competitor he really is.  But for us to have him out here would be wonderful.  But whether that happens or not, I'm not aware of that.  But I would hope he would come here and play someday.  He hasn't won here.  I'm not sure where he hasn't won, but this would be a great place for him to start, I know that.  We'd love to have him, but we wish him the best as he tries to get out there and reestablish his game the way it was in the past.  I don't think he had a moment of free time.  You probably have all the young women coming around and chasing you, and your wife's job is to keep them away from you.
But anyway, he would be a great player to have in our field.  We don't know if that's going to happen.

Q.  Jerry, have you reached out to Tiger at all since your initial attempts to?
JERRY WEST:  Well, I obviously have.  I try never to do anything publicly that would be misconstrued the wrong way.  To me there's ways of doing things privately, and particularly people of his stature and his name and everything, that everywhere his life has been here in the last year and a half, injuries, personal things, obviously not playing as well as he would like.  I try never to do that because it's not my place.  My place is just to tell him he's welcome.  I talked to his agent, Mark Steinberg, at length, and we discussed a number of things, but I think he's very aware that we want him to play, there's no question about that.

Q.  Aaron, you were talking about crowds earlier.  It's been a year now since you've dueled with Fred Couples, and he's such a fan favorite here.  Can you talk a little bit about kind of thinking about what that added to the pressure of the day and actually winning here, because he obviously got off to a great start as I recall that final round.  It was pretty exciting stuff and probably made your job a little bit tougher.
AARON BADDELEY:¬† Yeah, definitely.¬† He was definitely the fan favorite.¬† I mean, Freddie‑‑ wherever Freddie goes he's a fan favorite.¬† He's such a likable guy.¬† He's one who I really enjoy playing with because he's always encouraging, he's never‑‑ he's always a good sportsman.¬† And when he got off to a birdie‑birdie‑birdie start, I was like, okay, I've got my hands full right here.¬† But then like on 7, he hit a poor tee shot and made double, I made birdie, and that really turned the tables a little bit, and the momentum was on my side.
Obviously the day worked out well for me, but I always enjoy playing with Freddie.  I've played with him quite a few times.  Yeah, that was a good day.  Just playing with Freddie and stuff was good.

Q.  Your win here last year was kind of the start of an upswing from Australian golfers.  You obviously played well and Jason Day came on, Adam had a good run last year.  Can you talk a little bit about the upswing in Australian golf and just the response down back home about that?
AARON BADDELEY:  Yeah, definitely.  I think having five guys, as well, on the Presidents Cup was huge for Australia.  But I think it's definitely sort of the snowball effect.  In other words, you see someone else playing well, you think, if he plays well, I can play well, so it's sort of the snowball effect.  I think Australia has a lot of great talent, obviously Jason being the youngest of the bunch right now, and he's a great player and a great guy, too.  Got his head on straight.
I played with him four matches at the Presidents Cup and loved every minute of it playing with him.  I hope the next Presidents Cup we get paired together, as well.  I really like Jason a lot.
I think Australian golf is in pretty good stead.¬† Back home when we went down for the Presidents Cup and Aussie Open and Aussie PGA there was a big buzz about it because you had the great fields down there and then the Aussie Open and the Presidents Cup and the Aussie PGA, it was just a great summer in Australia for Australian golf.¬† Hopefully we can kick‑start it for Australia for a few years, for the golf down there as well as getting some more young stars coming out of there.

Q.  Jerry, wanted to know if you've thought about Jason Gore's Twitter campaign and social media, as well.  Has he inspired you to maybe get a Twitter account?
JERRY WEST:  Me?  Oh, my God.  I think I'll pass on that.  No, it really is interesting, the enormous amount of excitement, all this media stuff has made out of particularly athletes today and actors and stuff like that, people prominently in the news.  I would never do that.  I would never have a bodyguard, I wouldn't have anything like that.  I would want to try to be normal, be who I am, not change the face of who I am, someone that people would approach and say hello without any barriers being there and/or predetermine what kind of person I was.  I'd let them find that out for themselves.
But I think it's remarkable the effect it's had on a lot of people worldwide and their ability to communicate with me, particularly someone that people might think is a little bit different, a little bit more special.  But Aaron, I'll leave that to you.  In West Virginia we communicate by smoke signals (laughter), but as I say, I don't think I would be very good at that.

Q.  Aaron, were you familiar with the Twitter campaign that Jason had?
AARON BADDELEY:¬† I wasn't.¬† I don't follow Jason on Twitter.¬† I didn't get any re‑Tweets, so I didn't see it.

Q.  Would both of you gentlemen mind commenting on the impact that golf has had on your life and how it's helped you grow as a person?
AARON BADDELEY:  I think golf is a great game.  Like growing up as a youngster, you've really got to act older than your age.  You're out there, you're playing with gentlemen that are two, three, four times your age when you're 12 years old, so you can't act like a hooligan, and you've got to grow up quick and you've got to act responsibly and keep your emotions in check.
I think golf is a great game in that sense, that it really helps shape and mold young guys and young women into great people.
JERRY WEST:  I didn't start playing golf until I was about 24, and I think team sports you have to play with an edge, a real edge.  I didn't say anything to anyone.  I wasn't trying to knock somebody's head off, but I played with an edge, and golf you can't do that.  I got to the point where I was a very good golfer, was shooting a lot of low scores, but I didn't know what the heck I was doing.  I didn't start until I was 24, and I thought you could birdie every hole on a golf course.  In basketball sometimes you might shoot 20 free throws in a row and make them all in a game and you might miss one shot from the field.  That's pretty close to perfection as you can get as an athlete.  But in golf do you think we'll ever have anyone make 18 birdies?  I don't think it's going to happen, and I thought you could do that.
But with basketball it was a completely different element for me.  But I will tell you, it brought out the very worst in me, and at the end, it brought out the very best in me.  I got to be pretty good, okay, and I was a plus handicap and I'd shoot in the 60s.  If I would miss a few shots here or there, I had a club maker who used to be over in West LA over here.  I used to break so many clubs that I'd just leave the clubs on his doorstep and he would fix them and they'd be ready the next day.  He knew they were mine.  So I thought that was a pretty good challenge for someone who should be growing up.  I'm not sure (indiscernible), by the way.
But it brought out the best and the worst in me, and I think at the end of the day, the people I admire the most are the people that play professional golf.  It is, without a doubt, a game that the devil invented for sure.  It can permeate all aspects of you physically, mentally, and I think particularly mentally.  When it gets to you there, then as a golfer you'd better really be tough.
I know you're a magnificent putter, but you go out there sometimes and you have four or five really simple putts and you don't make any of them, you'll throw your putter in a lake somewhere.  I would anyway.  But you guys have a lot more control, and that's why I do admire professional golfers so much.  I think it's the most difficult game played in the most difficult circumstances.  You don't have anyone to blame but yourself.  Your success can come from here and particularly from your heart.  If you don't have a heart out there, it's going to show, and particularly when times get tough.
It's an incredible game.  I could go watch these guys hit golf balls all day.  To me it's mesmerizing to watch them hit golf balls.  I wish I would have started when I was really young.  I didn't start until I was 24.  There were no facilities for that.  But I look at your success, and I know Jason Day from saying hello to him, I think he's an incredible golfer and I think this year is going to be the year for him, and he's going to win.
But I'm not going to ask that question to him because it made me completely crazy.

Q.  You asked Aaron earlier if he looked in the stands, if it made him nervous to look in the stands at fans watching the game, and you mentioned that you never looked at anybody in the stands coming off and on the court.  Why is that?
JERRY WEST:¬† Well, everyone has a different personality, and days of games were special for me.¬† I had a routine.¬† I did it for ten years of my life as a professional, four years in college.¬† I did the same thing for 18 years of my life, except later in the day, you guys‑‑ I don't know your eating habits.¬† I couldn't eat.¬† I literally could not eat.¬† I'd get sick, just from the adrenaline in your body.¬† I was mad all the time, I was mad at everybody, and people say you can't play when you're mad.¬† Well, I could play when I was mad.¬† If I didn't feel that way, I didn't think I could play very well.
But it was just‑‑ my personality‑‑ other people go out and eat hot dogs in the locker room, popcorn.¬† I used to see their face in the bathroom, to be honest with you.¬† I couldn't believe they could do that with all the adrenaline running through your body.¬† That's what makes golfers remarkable.¬† I know you have to be nervous, but how in the world do you get it under control when you maybe have a particularly difficult shot, not a hard shot, and how do you keep that under control and how are you able to mask it if you can?
But I think looking in the stands, it wasn't something‑‑ have you ever been in any arenas?¬† What is it?¬† It's almost like a gladiator pit, that's what it is, and little did I know until 1960 in Rome until I played and won a gold medal in basketball, as a gladiator, that's what you sort of felt like after a while because of the way that the arenas are constructed; they're down, people are looking at you.¬† I remember being in Rome walking that old building over there which you still see the ruins of, and you can almost hear people screaming and hollering at you, and that's the first time I came to realize that you're much more like a gladiator than an athlete.
THE MODERATOR:  Well, thank you, Jerry and Aaron, for spending some time with us today and answering some questions.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297