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August 12, 2014

Lanny Wadkins


LANNY WADKINS:テつ The funny thing is I think the guys that once they play on one team, they want to be there.テつ I was fortunate when I won the PGA Championship at Pebble Beach, we're standing on the first tee, Gene Littler and I, for the playoff, and right before we teed off, Don Padgett, president of the PGA, said, oh, by the way, guys, whichever one of you wins this playoff is on the Ryder Cup team, and we didn't need any more pressure, and that kind of went over our heads at the time, but it was kind of cool.
He said you're going to knock Al Geiberger off the team.テつ So Geiberger was in the 10th spot.テつ There was only 10 people on the team and there was no captain's picks back then.テつ So whoever won bumped Geiberger off and we were on the team.
So when I won, I was on my first Ryder Cup team in '77.テつ Had there been today's rules I would have made at least one more, the '73 team for sure because you had to be on two or three to five years to be a Class A pro to even make a Ryder Cup team back then.テつ So a lot of us missed‑‑ I was 10th on the Money List in '72 and fifth in '73, I would have for sure been on the '73 team, but that wasn't the case.
Once you make one team, you always want to be on another one.テつ I look back at my record over the years, and the odd‑numbered years, which were Ryder Cups then for me, because everything changed after 9/11, were always my biggest money years because those were the years I grinded to make top 10s.テつ Otherwise if I wasn't going to win, I'd slough it off a little bit, but I'd grind to make top 10s to make Ryder Cup points.テつ I ended up having my best years.テつ I should have played with that attitude more often.

Q.テつ You said you were unfazed when you first played on the TOUR.テつ Why was that, and is it easier or harder now for you to play‑‑
LANNY WADKINS:テつ I didn't understand what you said.

Q.テつ You said you were unfazed when you first played in a TOUR event.テつ Why do you think that was, and is it easier or more difficult now for younger players to kind of fit in?
LANNY WADKINS:テつ It's just attitude, just how you're brought up and what you think and how much confidence you have in your own ability.テつ I always had supreme confidence in what I could do and how I could play.テつ I had won at every level I played at starting when I was 10 years old.テつ So to me it was just a natural progression growing up.
I also won the Southern Amateur, which is one of the biggest amateur tournaments they have, the Southern Western with the U.S.Amateur.テつ I won that when I was 18 before I actually came to Wake Forest, so I had beaten all the bigger names in amateur golf, Giles and Melnick and people who'd go on to be U.S.Amateur champions I beat when I was 18 years old before I got to Wake.テつ I had won at every level, and I just expected to continue on.
And as far as the guys today, it's just‑‑ it's an individual thing.テつ I mean, some people react differently.テつ Some people get on the first tee and hit it perfect, some people get up there scared to death and can't get it back.テつ Who knows.

Q.テつ Do you still have an uncashed check from Ben Hogan for $4?
LANNY WADKINS:テつ Yeah, it's in my Hall of Fame exhibit in Ponte Vedra.テつ Yeah, still with the letter.テつ The cool thing is to read the letter because then everything else comes to light.テつ That was the cool thing.

Q.テつ Story, briefly?
LANNY WADKINS:テつ Yeah, we were playing‑‑ I got to where I was playing‑‑ probably played about 15 times with Hogan early '80s, and we were playing at Shady Oaks in Fort Worth, which is where he played.テつ I'd drive over and we'd play.テつ Usually we had a foursome.テつ One of the guys didn't make it this day, so we played a threesome playing a skins game.テつ So we were on about 14 or 15 and this guy drives up in a cart and he had two things going on that Hogan didn't like on the golf course:テつ He had on shorts and he had a beard.テつ Ben didn't think very‑‑ and the guy just said, I'm joining you guys the rest of the way in.テつ Didn't even ask.テつ You drive up to Hogan and say I'm joining you, I'm not even asking.
So Ben looked at me and said, are you ready to go?テつ I said, I'm with you.テつ So we got in our cart and drove off and left him sitting there, got back to the clubhouse, he was apologizing the whole time because this is his club.テつ I mean, I'm at Preston Trail in Dallas; I can't imagine someone driving up and saying I'm going to join you the rest of the way if I'm playing with some friends of mine.テつ I can't even fathom it.
But when they did it to Ben‑‑ so he was apologizing the whole time.テつ Getting back to the clubhouse, we always had to have a clear drink and, it wasn't water, before we left to go back to Dallas.
A couple days later I get a letter in the mail.テつ I see Ben Hogan.テつ What the hell is Ben sending me a letter for?テつ And it's a letter apologizing for everything that happened, which if you‑‑ the letter is in the exhibit, so if you read the letter you kind of understand everything that goes on, and a check for $4.テつ I was up two skins at the time, so that was the deal.テつ His secretary wore me out every month for good six months, are you going to cash Mr.Hogan's check so I can balance his account?テつ I said, no, I'm not, just forget about it, it's not going to happen.テつ But that was always pretty cool.
You know, we were good friends.テつ We had‑‑ I know when I was Player of the Year in '85, Preston Trail had a day for me, it was pretty cool at the luncheon when I had Byron Nelson and Ben Hogan both at the luncheon, so that was pretty cool.テつ We stayed pretty close.テつ I played his equipment from '82 through about '90 or so.テつ I won about 13 times, 12 times or so with Hogan equipment, so we‑‑ even won here with Hogan equipment in '83.テつ That would have been a while back.テつ But it was a lot of fun.テつ It was really neat.
The fact that I got to play with, as I've said several times, my heroes, which you don't get to do in most sports.テつ I've played on Tour with Sam Snead a bunch, I played with Hogan 15 times and with Arnold and Jack more times than I can count and Trevino and going head‑to‑head.テつ My first tournament win on TOUR I beat Palmer by a shot.テつ He was really pissed because I was still supposed to be at Wake Forest.テつ No.1, he didn't like the fact that I left, and then I robbed him of another win.テつ He didn't like that, either.

Q.テつ Were you on a Palmer scholarship?
LANNY WADKINS:テつ Yes, I was.テつ It was actually the Buddy Worsham Memorial Scholarship, which Arnold named after his roommate that was killed in an automobile accident.

Q.テつ You're part of the history of this tournament and they're celebrating history this year.テつ What do you remember most about the year that you won?
LANNY WADKINS:テつ Well, I won on a Monday.テつ We had a rain‑out.テつ I remember winning on Monday, thinking, gosh, I want to play here because we're heading to the Masters next week.テつ So I remember winning on a Monday, and several things I remember about that week is I was really kind of fighting my swing, number one.テつ I was fighting my putter.テつ I remember I was leading or right at the lead after two rounds, and I changed putters, went back to an old putter that I had used to win the Amateur and the PGA, so it was one I'd had around a while.
And was still fighting my swing, had a one‑shot lead going into the last round, and one‑shot lead going into 10, and then the thing I remember is I had eight putts the last nine holes and bogeyed 18 to win by five, so I kind of blitzed them on the back nine at Forest Oaks.テつ I think I had the greatest break of the day.テつ I hit it‑‑ the pin was in the back right of 10 and I pushed my 7‑iron second shot just to the right, and it hit a lady's purse.テつ It was probably from me to you off the green, and it kicked down to about six feet and I made for birdie, and that was all I needed, and after that here we go, just the floodgates opened.
Good break, and you know, you get those breaks when you win.テつ It happens.テつ But it was pretty neat.テつ Ended up being a nice comfortable walk.テつ Y'all probably around here remember how noisy 17 was back in those days.テつ Well, I had just missed 17 just on the edge, and I think I had a three‑shot lead at the time I walked up and chipped it in.テつ It was maybe the loudest noise I've ever heard in my life when I chipped it in on 17, ended up with a six‑shot lead playing 18.

Q.テつ Your thoughts on the PGA TOUR moving forward.テつ A lot of our guys, our American stars are getting older, body parts falling apart.テつ Your thoughts on the TOUR moving forward?
LANNY WADKINS:テつ Well, you know, I think the TOUR is very healthy in a lot of ways.テつ It looks like to me they have a lot of sponsors sewed up, a lot of youngsters coming along.テつ I still watch a lot of college golf.テつ I've still got a son that plays college golf, and my other son Travis‑‑ so I've seen, I pay attention to the amateur ranks and what's going on.テつ We've got a kid coming to Wake this year from my club in Dallas that's on the Palmer Scholarship, Will Zalatoris.テつ He just won as an 18‑year‑old the Texas State Amateur, he won the Trans Miss, and he just won the USGA Junior Championship, and he can really, really play, and he just shot 3‑under yesterday in the first round of the U.S.Amateur qualifying.
He's going to be a stud up here for Jerry at Wake Forest.テつ I'm watching even back that far, and I can see how good the kids are.テつ I was fortunate enough in Golf Channel that we did the NCAA this year, and I was the lead analyst for the NCAA, so I got to go watch these kids up close and personal in college playing.テつ They can really, really play, a lot of quality players, good swings, really well behaved, nice gentlemen.テつ It's great to see.テつ Coaches I think are doing a wonderful job with a majority of the kids, and it's really good to see.
That part looks really, really healthy.テつ I'm not a fan of the Q‑school.テつ I don't like what's happened with not being able to play, qualify to come right out on the TOUR.テつ I think you're depriving some of these kids the opportunity to be out here.テつ Jordan Spieth was one of the fortunate ones that got to play his way on, had an opportunity and took advantage of it and played really well to get here.テつ Well, there's some guys that may be able to play just as well and you've got to send them to the minor leagues.
I would have been in that situation.テつ In what would have been my senior year at Wake Forest, I finished 10th on the Money List out here.テつ If it's today's version I'd be playing in the minor leagues somewhere, and I don't like that.テつ I think that personally the first 10 years I was on TOUR it was the top 60 money leaders was exempt and then they went to 125, they more than doubled it.テつ I think the whole process would be better served if it was‑‑ I don't know, find a number, 85, 90 that's exempt and have more turnover.テつ Turnover is good and I think it keeps the competitive juices up.テつ You give the youngsters a chance to be out here, and it's not supposed to be a place for guys who just want to finish 120th every year.
You know, being back in the old days, I remember Hogan saying, all the money you should be putting with the top five money winners.テつ That was the thinking years ago was promote the winners, make it where winning is worthwhile, and I think that's‑‑ I think that would be more the case instead of guys just trying to make a check.
I think the better the competition is to win, the healthier the tournaments are.テつ You look at last week when you had that many people going head‑to‑head down the stretch, it makes it more exciting.テつ That's really what we all want to see is great competition, great battles compared to guys winning by eight shots.
I won plenty by five, six, seven shots, so it's fun when you do it, but the ones that I remember a lot of times are the ones where I eked it out, too.

Q.テつ You were here to help celebrate the 50th and you're here now for the 75th.テつ Have you marked your calendar for the 100th?
LANNY WADKINS:テつ I'm not counting on that one.テつ I'm too old.テつ Yeah, who knows.テつ I hope it's all here and healthy and everything is doing well.テつ You know, I mean, I love the move back to Sedgefield here number one.テつ I think it's wonderful, kind of like this tournament has‑‑ the Wyndham has come back to its roots, which is really neat to see.テつ I think it really seems to be well‑embraced in this whole community, and I think it shows well on TV.
Would I like to be around for 100?テつ Sure, but I'm not going to hold my breath, I can tell you that.
MARK STEVENS:テつ Thank you for your time, and thanks for all you've done this week.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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