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September 9, 2004

Joey Sindelar


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Joey Sindelar, thank you for joining us. Good first round for you, 5-under 66. You've been a long-time supporter of this tournament, playing it for your 20th time in your career. Maybe just talk about your day today, a great one for you.

JOEY SINDELAR: I'd love to. Thank you. Thanks for having me in.

It took me 20 years to get into this building. I've had other good finishes here, but just seem to sneak in late, never making myself obvious. Today was fun. This is my sixth in a row of six, and I promised my caddie this morning before we teed off that I would be on my best behavior. You've all visited with enough TOUR players enough to know this: If you get past three or four out here, your patience level goes. I like to call it, 'being under the influence of golf' and that's when you see the club starts banging the bag and feet kicking stuff. I promised him patience, and I promised my wife patience today and it paid off.

You play Glen Abbey, I love it here, I always have. And when you come here, you know that especially if the breeze blows a little bit, you're in for some tough shots. And then complicated with high wind, of course, the rain does a couple of things. It makes the course play a lot longer, but it also makes a lot of things easier. When the ball lands in the fairway, it stays in the fairway for the most part. The ball is not running away yet. I'm sure tomorrow we'll start seeing that; the greens were soft. You'll certainly see some good scores. I don't even know what the other scores are. I wasn't looking around, but as the wind calms down and maybe tomorrow morning if it's not as windy, you'll probably see some pretty decent scores. But until it firms up then it will go the other way on us.

But I'm very happy. Through this whole five weeks I haven't done well Money List-wise, but my swing feels very, very good. I'm hitting a lot of shots right at it, which tells me my swing plane okay.

Anyway, to get to your question, I drove the ball well, stayed out of trouble and hit a lot of greens. I missed a couple easy little putts. Missed a short eagle putt on 18, but for the most part, everything pretty well went as I hoped it would.

Q. You said you love it here. This is a course that doesn't suit everyone. Can you tell us what it is you like about the course, and maybe react to why other players perhaps don't care for it?

JOEY SINDELAR: Well, you know, it's been so many things. First of all, a Nicklaus course says a lot to a lot of players. It's generally long-ball, high-ball hitters do well on Nicklaus courses. So the lowball guys and the shorter hitters, by definition, probably they would not be as pleased.

I was always disappointed that we played here all those years and then we left right when the course matured, all of those little bitty oak trees, defining things, the homes that give definition. They made some subtle changes. They made some larger changes most of which I like. I still would be far happier, although nobody asked me, I still wish 16 was a 5 and 18 was a 4; given my choice I would do it the other way around. It suits my eye for some reason, and I think any time you've had success some where, you like coming back. It's close to home. This is the kind of grass I'm used to. It just feels good. I like the people. Very, very awesome, friendly people here.

Q. Is it the friendly people that keeps you come back to Canada, the 20 times that you've played?

JOEY SINDELAR: And I would have been here all 21, but broke my hand one year and couldn't make it.

It's a large part. I think the TOUR, you would know the answer better than I would. They ask us: Why do you go to golf tournaments? Is it the purse? Is it the golf course? Is it the easiness of the week? Of course, the QEW sits out there and it can be a bit of an issue. But there are some cities that you can miss your tee time at the blink of an eye. I would consider this a pretty easy week. You can stay relatively close.

I don't know, for all of those reasons. I like the golf course. The purse is always good. Bill Paul (ph) and the RCGA and Bell (Canadian) treat us so well. And for me it's 3 1/2 hours from home. It's all of those things for me.

Q. What year did you miss?

JOEY SINDELAR: '93, I think it was.

Q. Earlier this year you won. What's that done for your game and what's that done for your confidence?

JOEY SINDELAR: Winning has done everything. You know, and it wasn't even the money to be honest with you. It's knowing I have a job for a couple years after. I can now take six weeks off in a row and miss the next five cuts and show up the next week and they have got to take me. It's pretty cool. I haven't experienced that in a long time.

You know we have always -- we haven't done the family vacation. My kids are at that age, 14 and 11, we have always wanted to plan trips and it's like every time we plan a trip, jeepers, dad hasn't got the job for next year, we'd better pay attention. Just being able to plan my life for a couple of years.

The confidence, all of us out here perceive this differently. There's so many ways to skin the cat out here. When you win, it verifies so much; that you were on the right path. And whatever path you chose, hey, it works for me and may not work for the other guys, but I got there. So that verification is huge to me and to know I was on the right path.

Q. Talking about patience with your caddie earlier, you've been through some pretty rough times, you must have had the patience of Job at times.

JOEY SINDELAR: Well, anyone who plays golf knows that it gets in your blood. You know, one of my friends, Steve Stricker, he's suffering. I hate it. We've all felt those feelings. We all go through it, when you're stuck. We call it "stuck" a lot. When you're stuck with golf, you can't just leave it at the golf course; it goes home with you. It's hard. But you've got to look at the big picture and fight through and trust that you're on the right path. Somehow, you know, figure it out to get those lug nuts tightened backup.

I've been lucky enough to do it -- ever since the early 90s, I've kind of really -- I went through a bad slump in the late 80s and early 90s where I just hit the ball very poorly. And then the light bulb went on. I understood my swing, and when it goes bad, I'm able to repair it, within if not a couple of days, a week or two. I don't get lost. That's been huge for me, to never be too far from home base.

But it's easy to get lost out here. It's hard. It's a hard -- and then you're under the gun every week, and all of the sudden the cut becomes the big thing. You know, you can make it all you want, but unless you're making the cut, you can't play on the weekend. But you need to get to the weekend because even though that's where the money; you would think that's the pressure, for a lot of guys depending where you're, it's playing without having to make the cut, with a bit of freedom. So you're right, it's tough.

John, my caddie has been incredibly loyal to me for all of these years, all but three months of my first year. We have a great relationship because we're opposites. He's always early; I'm always late. He's hyper; I'm slower than a turtle. It's been a good match. We are both incredibly slow learners because we have not gone anywhere else in 21 years.

Q. What's his name?

JOEY SINDELAR: John Buchna. Heart of gold. Great character and lucky to have him.

Q. Just a couple of questions about the day. What time did you get here, and what was it like having to wait until, what, 3:30 or whatever to tee off?

JOEY SINDELAR: Well, I'm going to have to go with a long answer on that. You know me. (Laughs).

We played late yesterday and it was kind of drizzly all day and I could see on the bottom holes that there were three or four greens, even at that level of rain that were casual water that would have been squeegeed if we'd have been in the event.

So an when the alarm went off before 6:00 this morning and I saw it raining, I knew. I didn't even get in the shower. I just knew those greens were not going to be playable. Shortly after my caddie called me -- and he called me every two hours as he heard the announcements; he called me.

And then I was late. You know, I can be late for anything. I didn't pull in the parking lot until probably 12:15 to play at 12:55, and I had not eaten anything. But I function better, just one of those retards that -- excuse me, bad word. One of those goofballs; I do better when it's a mess. If I'm standing around with a lot of time to burn, I go crazy.

Q. To recap your round, how good was that, with the wind gusting at times to what felt like 25, 30, and pins I imagine had to have been high because of the drainage to get that kind of score.

JOEY SINDELAR: You mean with my ball striking? Very, very happy. Really, I would call today A-plus for ball-striking and it's been that way.

It's kind of weird, I look back and wonder how I've wasted these last five weeks because I've really played very, very nicely. I just have not done any of the little things well. But, when the wind is blowing this hard, and you're out of sync, it's miserable. Days like today are days for the guys who are in control to have a big advantage because the guys who are out of control can get in some funny places. So, I would definitely call today's ball-striking A-plus for me.

And by the way, it's educated guesses. Golf is that anyway. You know you're always -- nobody knows for sure exactly, but as the conditions worsen, it's like throwing a Frisbee out there. What are you going to do? You do your best. I missed a little eagle putt on 18, come around to 2 and stripe two shots right at it. Great drive, great 7-iron over the green, dead bogey.

And then three holes later I chop No. 5 apart, the par 5. The drive was okay. I drop-kicked my 3-wood, I skulled my bunker shot and make a putt from off the green for birdie. So, three good shots for bogey, four bad shots for birdie.

I was in the front right bunker skulled it to the back middle. So I had about a 40-footer from just off and it went in. After 20 years, you would think I understand that about golf, but I can't get it in there.

Q. Just want to make sure, just made me think when you talk about your struggles and winning and all of that stuff like that, what's the difference between the way you're playing when you're struggling to get 125, etc., and now? Is it that big of a difference or is it just a matter of --

JOEY SINDELAR: Once again, here we go with the volume.

When I first came on the TOUR and I was winning in the 80s, most of the guys were either great ball-strikers and great short gamers and very few did both. Nicklaus did both. Miller did both. Watson did both -- I'm thinking JC, he can hit the ball pretty good, and I relied on my ball-striking and guys just flew by me.

As the old guys were replaced with the new guys, the new guys could all hit it pretty good and they were ingenious-ability short gamers. All of a sudden it dawned on me a couple of years ago, Vijay Singh and Tiger and Ernie, as great as they play tee-to-green, they don't pummel me. They don't smear me every week because of tee-to-green differences. I'm not saying I'm as good as them. That's not the huge gap.

The huge gap is they can hit the ball great and they have fabulous short games, and I didn't. Putting okay, short putts, fine. But pitching, chipping, sand shots, trouble shots around the green, these guys are knocking it -- they will miss four greens and play them under par. I miss four greens and make one par and three bogeys. It took me ten years to understand that.

So I've been on a two-year journey short game, quizzing these guys. The guys are incredibly generous, the TOUR players. They will help if you go to them.

The problem is, for the 50 genius short-game players there are out there, there's 45 methods for the 50. You have to figure out what matches you. So it took a long, long time. I finally have it. Back early in the year, I started doing the little things, make a bunker shot once in awhile or at least get up-and-down four out of five, or hit a tough chip shots close, because sometimes those are more valuable than the birdies. It's still just a shot, but it means so much more when you save one instead of jeepers, I played four perfect holes and one bad one, I'm 1-over. That gets in your brain and it bleeds; it kills you. So I'm doing all of those things now.

Q. Some say the game is all about power nowadays --

JOEY SINDELAR: Bob Tway and I had that same discussion about playing last week. We played together today and we talked about Boston, and he said, "Well, I didn't go, it's such a long-hitter's course."

I said, "Well, Jay Williamson was kind of a medium hitter that did well." But other guys were long hitters and I went with that, but then I realized look at the World Ranking. I don't know beyond the first four or five, but there's some bombers right at the top. The thing is, it used to be that the boxers were gorillas around the greens. That's not the case anymore. Our boxers, a lot of them are very, very good short game -- Tiger is one of the best in the world, Ernie is unbelievable, Vijay is fabulous, Daly is incredible. So we now have guys that can do both.

So length is always a huge advantage, always. One of the big differences I notice is the guys drive the ball so much better, the best players. They used to be just a few. You pick them out every year, Watson drove the ball great, Nicklaus grove drove the ball great, Trevino. But look at those Top 15 or 20. They are taking the driver and they are hitting fairways with it at 300, at 310 and they are not -- you know they are not three fairways over. On the bad weeks they are, but for most of the time the guys drive the ball incredibly well. That's what I've noticed in my 20 years.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Let's go through your card real quick. You started on the back side, birdie on the par-3, 12.

JOEY SINDELAR: Really thrilled with that shot. A 4-iron off the right foot, 12 feet behind the pin, birdie into the wind, 205. 4-iron.

16, 3-putts, drive just in the right semi, short rough. Hit a 6-iron right at it, came up just short and it trickled down that bank, if you know the green. I had one of those squigglies and knocked it eight, ten feet by and missed it.

Great drive on 17. A 5-iron again off the right foot into that strong winds to about 12 feet. Made that.

18, I missed a -- hit a good drive. 6-iron, I kind of skulled my 6-iron. I had a perfect 6-iron and skulled it. Just got over the water and rolled up to about 3 1/2 feet and missed it but I did get the birdie.

Then birdied 1 with a really nice drive and a sand wedge to about six feet.

2, good drive and 7-iron. Talked about 5, chopped it all up.

6, very good drive, pitching wedge to about 12 feet.

9, a really nice drive and a pitching wedge to about receive, eight feet.

Q. What happened on No. 2?

JOEY SINDELAR: I was in the spaghetti and I hit a very nice shot, but it was straight downhill to about eight or nine feet and I missed it.

But again, I'm walking away thinking, two years ago, I couldn't have even done what I did. I didn't have the technique to do what I did. So even the bogey was worth it, you know. It was like, "Wow, I had a chance."


JOEY SINDELAR: Thank you for having me.

End of FastScripts.

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