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June 1, 2004

Joey Sindelar


TODD BUDNICK: We welcome Joey Sindelar to the 2004 Memorial tournament. Joey, of course, picked up your first victory in -- was it 13 years?

JOEY SINDELAR: I'm calling it 14 years, since 90.

TODD BUDNICK: At the Wachovia Championship earlier this year. Let's talk about that victory.

JOEY SINDELAR: Well, it's been the absolute ride of a lifetime ever since. I've said it several times locally since but never to my faithfuls out here, but I thought that winning the tournament was the big thing, and of course it is. I mean, none of what has happened since would have happened, but the ride I've been on for three weeks since then is just unimaginable. The calls from just the entire spectrum of people that I knew way back when to new friends to tournament people, you know, a lot of times we bump into administrators at tournaments or people that you don't get to -- you see them year after year, but you don't get to know them a lot or you see them in passing, and those people called. Just from everywhere. It's just been a fabulous whirlwind, and if I would have known that it was this much fun, I would have been really mad for not doing it for 14 years.

TODD BUDNICK: Last year we saw 11 players in their 40s win 15 times out there. Is that something that you said to yourself, hey, I have enough game to continue to win out here.

JOEY SINDELAR: Well, it's a very good confirmation. You're referring to -- I couldn't begin to name all, but the Bob Tways and the Kenny Perrys and -- it's definitely confirmation. The question has been asked a lot, what's with this 40-something group. It's funny, a lot of times you bump into college coaches that knew us from way back when, and they say that was a really interesting crop of players that came through there. For me, again, 77 to 81, that was here at Ohio State. That was the Hal Sutton, Bobby Clampett, Gary Hallberg, and Curtis Strange and Jay Haas just ahead of us, and several of those coaches have said to me that that was really an interesting crop of players.

Plus there's a lot more to stay out on the Tour for these days. This isn't $500,000 purses anymore, this is million dollar first place. So for those of us who don't have a lot of skills otherwise, it's worth sticking around for.

Q. It must be nice to return to your college town with a victory.

JOEY SINDELAR: Awesome to be back in town. I can still remember how nervous we were just coming out to watch because, keep in mind, again, 77 to 81, the course was very new, maybe five or six years, I don't quite know when it was built, but it was very, very new and incredibly exclusive, and The Memorial tournament itself was very new. We'd run out here and get all excited and watch our favorites play, always the Buckeyes, and then zip over to our course and try to mimic everything we saw. So fabulous memories then.

Of course I've been able to play here a bunch of times and fabulous memories there, as well.

Q. Any non-golfers that might have called you in this spectrum, maybe ex-Buckeyes that kind of blew you away?

JOEY SINDELAR: The list is endless, and as soon as I walk out I'm going to be mad that I forgot some. Probably the most vocal would be Chris Berman. We stumbled upon each other at Shinnecock. I say that because I hope to go there in a month, later this month, I guess, and we met there during an interview. We are friends, we play the Hartford Pro-Am together always, and you wouldn't know it, but I know that when he's around -- he hasn't done Sports Center a lot in recent years, but whenever he's in town, you know the notables, I'm always in the notables when he's in town. For no reason except for that I'm his pal. He's just one example of so many that I have. He would probably be my chief cheerleader in that regard.

Bob Murphy called me, not for an interview, just for announcer, player. Vern Lundquist called me, guys who -- again, people you mix with and you know you have a cordial relationship with and you like to talk to them, but you don't realize how much they're in your corner until something like this happens and they take the time, and it's just part of the whole experience.

Q. What do these people say to you?

JOEY SINDELAR: Mostly things that I'm very uncomfortable repeating. This nice guy stuff is getting a little carried away for me. I could haul my caddie John in here and you could get the real story. He's only about 100 yards away. We knew you could do it again, we admire the way you hung in there, just so happy it happened for you, all that kind of stuff. Even my Bird's Eye people, of course, one of the first calls, and Taylor Made, as well, both saying we're calling -- it's not about the win, it's about the guy, and that makes -- when you're struggling to do the right thing with you're kids, I force-fed some of these letters down their throat and made them listen to some of these calls, not to tell them what a great guy I was, because I'm not on that band wagon, I'm just a golfer out here, but to try to show them what turns people on, what makes people happy. We tried to use that as a lesson.

Q. What's their reaction, your kids?

JOEY SINDELAR: Very low key. You know, my kids are funny. When they were old enough to start doing the video game thing, I was on a couple of them, and they didn't react. The whole time I'm thinking wait until they see dad on the video. "Hey, mom, I beat dad on the video," not "What's dad doing there?" Like all dads are on video games. So that was deflating for me. They've always been low key, but of course they glow. We had a lot of fun with the first couple of days, we took Tiger down, we took Vijay down, we yucked it up a bunch. I made them call me champ for a couple days. We just had fun with it and say this is what we've been banging our head against the wall for, but now we've got to move forward.

Q. Do you remember the first time you played here? Not the tournament because you probably played here in college, right?

JOEY SINDELAR: I think the answer is no. I think we got to play here once during college, but I can't remember. I remember coming to the event and seeing that and what's on the wall there. You know, that was -- I remember coming here like maybe for a U.S. Amateur qualifier or something, like maybe in the summer between those college years and being so nervous. U.S. AM qualifying, but we were just stunned -- I remember we teed off on the 10th tee. This course, for a Buckeye growing up in that era, this is it.

Q. How did you end up at Ohio State in the first place?

JOEY SINDELAR: At the time, Mark Bailen grew up in Buffalo, New York. He was a very good amateur and had a nice career at Ohio State. I knew of Rod Spittle, who was here ahead of him, was a senior when I was a freshman, who had won the Ontario Amateur, Mr. Everything in Canada, and the big work was that John Cook was coming, and John arrived the year -- Mark Bailen in Buffalo kind of funneled me this way, and then with John Cook coming, that kind of lit the program on fire for the modern -- well, not modern anymore, but the post-Nicklaus days, I guess.

Q. 13 years since you won on the the Tour, but does it seem like 25 years since that NCAA Championship?

JOEY SINDELAR: No, I can't even say that. I saw the cover of Golf World and it said "Grand Old Man," and I thought they were poking some fun. I said no, they're 46, and when I was 35 that was an old man. They weren't kidding about age. Just like all you guys, you can't even understand it. It's not possible. I can remember being at Ohio State looking at those pictures of those old guys in a tavern. Now I'm one of those old guys.

Q. You brought up Shinnecock. Do you have a favorite U.S. Open memory, either your own or a moment that you saw?

JOEY SINDELAR: Well, my infamous Open memory and probably my favorite open was at Baltusrol. I think it was my first -- I can't remember if it was my first, but I do know that I'm the only -- I think I'm the only person who led and I missed the cut, so I've got that working for me (laughter). I also remember my first Open was the Nicklaus-Aoki year at Baltusrol --

Q. 80.

JOEY SINDELAR: Yeah, so I was still an amateur. I can remember being so nervous on that first tee that I hit it about 360 with a wooden club and an old-time golf ball. I did have the one day course record at Shinnecock. I shot 81 the first day, kind of the precursor to the failure -- you know, the weather out there can turn very Pebble Beach-like in a hurry, and it did, and I didn't understand the art of keeping the ball low and straight, and I shot 81, and I came back with a 66, which I think for one day was a record, and then the next day they clipped it by one and then it's been clipped once more since then, so those are all good memories.

Well, Pebble Beach, the year Kite won playing in that windstorm, I'll never forget playing No. 7 -- I've heard all the 3-iron stories. I just don't understand how a 3-iron tossed a ball on No. 7, a par 3 down the hill. I know when I was paired next to last group with Faldo, I ended up finishing 6th or 7th, but he hit first and tried to punch a 6-iron. The guys on the 8th tee, which is right there, they're giving it one of these on the way by, and actually it went over the back but stayed. So I punched this little 7-iron and the pin is back right and my ball is on the front left, not a great golf shot, and the crowd went wild. I guess I was the first person in 25 people to hit the green from 100 yards. So that was just an incredible, brutal day of golf.

Q. I know you talked about this before, but go over it again. What's the arrangement you have with your kids in the British Open this year? You want them to go there with you?

JOEY SINDELAR: Since one of my IMG friends is back there we've been not very good about getting our passports organized. I love the British Open. I'm not one of these guys that said, I don't want to go. I do want to go. We're not settled in passport-wise. Last year it hit us in a hurry. I got in at the last second. We just weren't prepared to go. The difficulty is that it eats up three of my favorite tournaments, Quad Cities that I've won before, the BC Open, which is kind of my home tournament that I won twice, and Milwaukee afterwards, that I just love it and have done well there. Also, last year for the first time my son caddied for me at the BC, my older son Jamie, and he's going to caddie this year if we don't go to the British. There's a lot going on there for me personally, what I would have to miss to go, and now I'm sitting here thinking, well, we're still going to have the kids at home, I'm on the Senior Tour, we can go to the Senior British Open. Even if I was exempt today it would still be 51/49 whether I'd do it or not. It's just a hard one for me.

Q. Are you still riding the glow of this victory or was that over quickly?

JOEY SINDELAR: Not even close, no. This is going to last for a while. I haven't seen a lot of guys. By the time you win a tournament on the day you win the tournament everybody is gone, of course, and then keeping in mind when I did that, I was expecting -- I wasn't going to play the Byron but I was thinking I had to, and I was going to play FedEx because I wasn't in Colonial or here. So that's just a small, small part of what's changed for me. I had to get out of two to get into two, and now here we are at an invitational again. Colonial is a small field and here, so I still haven't seen a lot of my buddies that have called me. So no, this is -- as I've told a few people, this is still downloading and it's downloading by way of dial-up because it's taking a long time. I still don't believe it and it's still very apparent.

Every time I try to make a decision, it's different than the way I looked at it a month ago, in terms of planning events, in terms of being able to play next year and playing the year after that. The kids are getting to the age, "Jeepers, we haven't done that cool Montana trip." Where I was for a dozen years, I was always on the edge, and boy, if I took two weeks off then -- golf owns you when you're on the edge. All that has changed. I'm still living the changes every day. That's why it hasn't gone away.

Q. Do you think that obviously confidence and all that can last for months, years?

JOEY SINDELAR: Yeah. Well, who knows the answer to those questions. I've always been -- I've always considered myself a slow-to-get-there and a slow-to-leave kind of a person. I don't do this very well. I don't know why I like to build confidence and then play through it and then it fades out after time. The things that got me there haven't changed. Who knows why a win happens. You'll go dizzy if you look back and say, if I didn't do that and that and that and I won a playoff, I could have lost by seven just on the last round. But you can't. I've always tried to look at golf as averages, the putts you make, the shots you hit, everything over time has to even out. If you don't look at it like that, I think you're going to go goofy.

I feel like I stay -- I don't mean stay a winner, but stay at a different -- hopefully the level I was at or better because we're about to find out whether I'm better with pressure or better relaxed, I don't know. A lot of my friends have said I'm much better with pressure on me. The last few years I didn't do something, came through and did it. Now I get to be relaxed.

Q. Won't there be some pressure being here?

JOEY SINDELAR: Oh, yes, of course. Again, another reason I can't forget what happened is I'm in the winners' pairings now. As a matter of fact, I'm playing with Tiger and Vijay. I didn't need that (laughter). I was home, I was lazy for a week, and a week off for a Tour player is like two months off for you guys. There won't be any nap this afternoon. I've got to go to the range (laughter). They're throwing me right in the pot. But that's the thrill of it.

Q. What did the kids say about the pairing?

JOEY SINDELAR: They don't know yet, but they're going to laugh. They know me. They know it's the last thing I needed. I was able to play with Vijay Saturday of Charlotte, and Vijay and I have known each other for a long, long time, and he's friends with my caddie John. John lives near him in Jacksonville Beach, and Vijay was very easy to play with.

I have tremendous respect for his golf game, and he made it easy. He had to know I was out of my element. I mean, I hadn't done anything since Westchester the year before. There were more people at Charlotte. There was like six people both sides of the fairway every hole, standing ovations every green, every tee for him. That pressure cooker clearly helped me on Sunday, there's no question about it.

I'll go through this thing for a couple days, and it'll be torturous, but it'll be exciting and there will be a lot to be learned from it.

Q. Speaking of 46-year-old guys who win tournaments, Jack was in before talking about what the rest of his career is going to be. What influence has he been on you and your golf?

JOEY SINDELAR: Well, he's just been the foundation of everything I've known in golf because as I started, before I even knew anything about Ohio State, he was part of that Big 3, Arnie, Jack and Gary thing that we all grew up watching, and of course dominated golf through my earliest years, and then as I became a Buckeye the influence was incredible. So through those years we looked at his records and his face, and he was kind of phasing out of competitive Tour stuff at that time, but then he built Muirfield and the event and The Memorial.

As a Buckeye, he's just been the foundation the whole way through, for sure.

Q. I just wanted to ask you about the pairing, the gallery that you're going to have. You were talking about playing with Vijay and what that was like. Does your mindset change when you have that many people that are no doubt going to be following you?

JOEY SINDELAR: To me it's all about comfort zones. This is not where I am. Charlotte helped incredibly. I've only played with Tiger once and that was in what was supposed to be the third round at Westchester last year, ended up being the third and fourth rounds with the weather and everything, and that was a huge learning experience.

Without naming names, I've been through -- think of the superstars I've played with in my 20-some years, and some of them make a big event about everything, and others are very low key about it, and Tiger was awesome. Before that round I asked several of my friends, Chris Smith being one of them, from here, what was it like playing with Tiger the first time because I'm doing it tomorrow, and he said, you know, he was awesome. He would say, good shot. He didn't try to be anything. I think that's nice.

But others, there have been others through the years that veins are popping and smoke is flying. So I'm happy that it's those two guys that are fun guys to be around, but also both of them, the best there is today. I will be uncomfortable and excited, and it's going to have to come down to muscle memory for a while until I get comfortable, especially after a week off. I really wish this wasn't happening after a week off, but I've still got a couple days to get the lug nuts tightened up.

Q. Some people are anxious to see a Tiger-Vijay show down. Are you going to be, like, what am I doing here?

JOEY SINDELAR: Except that they're going to be yelling Buckeyes. This is the Buckeye city. I don't mind it. Hey, listen, they can both beat me every week and put money in my pocket. Those are the two guys that pay the bills out here. I'm happy they're here and I respect their talent.

Both of them, there are things that they do that I'll be watching. Vijay in my opinion is one of the most fabulous ball-strikers ever, and Tiger, of course he can hit the ball great, but he's got an incredible short game that he doesn't get anywhere near the credit for, and his golf instinct is just awesome. It's a learning experience for me and that's the way I'll try to approach it.

You know what? I can shoot a pair of 85s and I've still got a job through 2000-whatever.

TODD BUDNICK: Thank you, Joey.

End of FastScripts.

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