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May 9, 2004

Joey Sindelar


JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Congratulations on the 2004 Wachovia Championship. It's been 13 years, eight months, and a span of 370 events. That's pretty incredible to come out here and do what you did today. Share with us your emotions.

JOEY SINDELAR: Sure. Without slobbering. I mean, I just tried to tell my wife that Gary Planos, who runs the Tournament of Champions and the Mercedes, he just called and invited us. It was the furthest thing from my mind. I forgot. I wasn't even in the invitational, starting today, so here we go. It's a huge thrill.

14 years, my oldest son is just under that amount. He was a couple of months old -- he was born in February, I won in the summer, and I was telling the media people out front, they think those trophies in my case are replicas, things I picked up in a local sporting goods store to fool them. Now we have a real one to show them.

It's incredible, my nerves are tender now and you're welcome to fire any questions of any scope you want. I didn't do any leaderboard watching today. I did ask my caddie John, with three or four to go, actually I asked him walking to the 16 green, I had a makable birdie putt, do we have a chance to win. I didn't want to get looking. You get on these golf courses where the last few holes are so hard, and I'm in the building block stage, as Ogilvy talked about last week and before that. It wasn't necessary for me to win to come out of here with great feelings. I needed to just get the ship going in the right direction, which to me meant short game, making some putts, making some key chips and bunker shots at the right time.

When I would get up to 8 or 9 -- a double bogey on 10, it doesn't upset me and it didn't shock me, but there are better holes to double bogey than No. 10. Occasionally when I'm daydreaming you can't help but see the boards, they're big and they're everywhere, and I saw that 6 was still on the board or four in the top 20, and I would say, look, the guys aren't going anywhere, it's a tough day, but I didn't want to get into staring at it. I didn't want to know, because even if I needed a birdie 17, I'm not in Tiger's world, I'm not in Vijay's word or even Davis's or Phil's where I'm going at that pin at all costs. I'm still laying the groundwork and making sure that college is paid for for the kids and all that stuff, and I don't want to go fishing for $150,000 over there to the left of 17. I would much rather spend 50 to the right (laughter), because then you've still got to do it on 18.

Believe it or not, these are real thoughts. This is going to be just like Cops when you're done watching this. You're going to wonder what is this pro thinking about.

This is an incredibly demanding golf course. The one thing I forgot to say to the media out front is, the wind -- we did talk the wind didn't blow and the greens didn't get hard. Think about that. If the wind had blown a little bit and dried these greens a little bit, we would be down in the 5, 6 range pretty quick, I'm betting, if it had started on Friday. You can still hit a 5-iron in there and expect it to stop. Playing 9, you could still expect it to stop at a reasonable distance. If it was a front pin, you could burn a high 6-iron in there, you could stop and still get a birdie putt, but if these greens would have gotten firm, it would not have been impossible.

Also I have to give the grounds crew a huge hug, the superintendent, because if he can make fringe areas so good that I can chip off them, they're good, because I can't do any of that skinny-minny stuff. I have to have that nice cushion up there to flip it up there, and they were perfect. And I hit several through the week that came off just like the big guys do it. It was fun. So those are my wanderings.

I still do not believe it's happening. I never thought that I couldn't. I still, every year when I start, I say, you know what, tee-to-green, I know I could be a Top-30 guy. I'm not going to say I know I'm a Top-30 guy, I'm not that kind of statement maker, but tee-to-green has never been my downfall. I mean we all have bad weeks, but I've been getting beat in the short games. Even against the best ball strikers, I still think they beat me with their superior short game, and that's the mission I'm on.

If any of the Tour players were here right now, they would be having a big smile on their face, because I've been on an odyssey for over two years now of trying to learn to pitch. How long have we got here, like until tomorrow?

Just for reference sake, I grew up playing public golf in the center of New York state, and the fairways were this tall and the rough was this tall. I come out here and the rough -- the fairways are this tall and the rough is this tall, I can do the deep thing, that's not troublesome, but because the ball was always up in the air when I learned to chip, I never had to know where the bottom of my swing was on a chip shot, so I got away with murder.

I come out here and all of a sudden I'm at Muirfield Village and it's rained for six days, I feel like I could take a swing and the club could stop before I even got to the ball. That's how bad it looks for me, because I never learned what the West Texas guys learned and Florida guys learned playing on super tight stuff.

Getting further into the story, you find out that there's 85 fabulous chippers out there and there's 84 methods, so which one applies. So I've been on this journey, and I take all this time to say, the guys are so giving. These Tour players will tell you, it's not my secret, at least nobody I know would say, no, that's my secret, it's for me to know, watch me on film and maybe you'll figure it out, but that's not the attitude. Tom Pernice has spent hours with me, all kind of other guys have chipped in, Mike Hulbert, Davis. The problem is, for you as golfers, which one of these methods fits me. That's what you have got to sift out, sort through, all that stuff. It took me two years and 30,000 chips just to get so I felt like I could chip it on the green like a pro off from a good lie. I'm not even into the bad lie stuff yet. I just wish we could have done a documentary on it. It was a fabulous learning experience and the generosity of the guys is incredible.

I'm ready for questions. I said it out front and I've got to say it again, Kym told us that we were going to have a tournament here that was something special and we trusted him and we came and he did it. And then he made it even better this year. They didn't just rest on it, they came back and they got together with Wachovia and clearly the whole town, the whole city, and it's a fabulous thing, and they're already talking about what's better for next year. I think that's a formula that can only serve them incredibly well. I just think this tournament is going to fly and I'm proud to be the champ.

Q. Do you remember a point during the 14 years you lost the faith and thought, well, maybe I'll win again when I get to the Senior Tour? Did you always believe you were going to win again?

JOEY SINDELAR: My biggest swing slump was in the late '80s. Unfortunately, my last wind came just after that at Quad Cities, Oakwood. I don't mean this in any sort of way, but nobody has ever played that bad and won a golf tournament. It's wide open and the greens are crowned in the middle, and if you were hitting the fairways, the ball would spin off. But when you're playing from the rough, you could dribble it in there pretty nice. It was pitiful.

I came to the 18th hole, which is the only narrow hole on the golf course, and it looked like a bowling alley to me. I couldn't even breathe. But I got away from it. After that, I really -- I've understood my swing for 12 or 14 years now. When the lug nuts get loose, I'm able to tighten them up pretty quickly. I might burn a week or two but never worse than that.

The problem is the competition out here has gotten so good. It's so different than when I was in my hey day. Think about the guys who weren't here when I won last. Davis was a spring chicken, there was no Vijay, there was no Tiger, there was no Ernie. None of these Top-30 guys were even out -- we used to joke through the 80s that the first half of the field, if anybody was on the leaderboard that wasn't kind of in the first half of the field, that you really didn't think they were going to win and usually they didn't. Now every week -- not every week, every three or four months somebody wins here and I don't even know who they are. I wouldn't know them if they walked in here. And they come out here so good, so well-rehearsed. So the competition thing gets scary, and that's why I badly wanted to win.

So the answer is no, I never gave it up. This is too good of a thing, and I don't have any other skills. I had to keep plugging. You know, Jay Haas doing so well, and Peter doing so well. How about Tway, I mean there are a lot of guys paving the way for us. So no, I never did give up hope.

Q. You talked about you seem to be worried about college and stuff, you've won more money today than any single year.

JOEY SINDELAR: There's no thinking about it, 813,000 in 1988, and I was third on the money list. I don't even know what I won. What was it

Q. 1,008,000?

JOEY SINDELAR: That's wild. I really want to know what my parents are thinking right now. Because my dad delivered mail for 35 years and my mom drove a school bus. That's a stupid amount of money no matter what you do, let alone that. We'll have a lot of laughs about that. It's bizarre.

I can remember when I made Tour School in the fall of 83, you know, the school part of it, you go out and beat your brains in for 6 or 7 rounds and you have your meeting if you make it. And I can remember them plain as day, Mike Shea or some Tour official saying, boys, we've had unprecedented growth on the Tour the last few years. We're going to be playing for $19.2 million. We don't know how long it's going to last. Corporate America has endorsed us. We're thrilled. Whatever you do, do the right thing, because this is bizarre how much we're playing for. 19.2 million for all of the purses put together for the whole year. 22 years later I can't even imagine, it's awesome.

Q. Ten minutes or less

JOEY SINDELAR: 17 was a 4-iron. I hit I think it was 193 to clear, and 210 to the pin, something like that, right to left and in. There was a bag laying on the right fringe, watching the guys putt, and that's right where I was going, hoping to pull it. Our brain plays tricks with us, if it's functioning at all, and usually if we aim to the right, a it still sees the pin to the left, so a lot of times there is a pull. I hit it just a little high in the face, I didn't want to smoke it, so it was high in the face and a little soft. I promise you, I wasn't thinking winning, I was thinking same ball, same ball, and it did. It got over the front bunker and I quit looking.

I don't know the course. I didn't realize quite where the hook was on the green, and it must have just cleared the slope just right and got down there right in gag range.

Q. Are you thinking same ball, same ball, or are you thinking (Inaudible)?

JOEY SINDELAR: Because on 16, John said, my caddie, that I would need at least a couple of birdies and a possible accident to win. So again, I'm back to the building block thing. I'm just trying to -- I'm back to college and all that sort of stuff, because I've still got the same ball issue on 18. That creek is over there.

Luckily today, although my driver has been -- I've got this 510 driver, it's a dream club for me, but downwind it's just too much club, and my other go-to baby is my 1-iron. Whenever I'm sick in my stomach nervous, my 1-iron comes out, especially when I can't hit the driver. You saw where Arron's ball went. You can't play left. If that wasn't a creek, if that was just deep rough, you could send it down the left side and play that, but with a penalty over there. I was able to hit my 1-iron which is one of my go-to clubs.

Q. Final three holes today, how did you manage to get through that stretch in 2-under today?

JOEY SINDELAR: Golf. I mean, you doubling bogey No. 10, you birdie 16 and 17, how do you figure that out. You make your best swing. You've got a swing key maybe or maybe you're even playing better than that, you're just looking at the shot. I don't know. It's educated guesses.

When it's this hard of a golf course, when it's this hot and the ball will almost go as far as you want to hit it, you're saying, okay, it feels like one of these and you give it a whirl. I was having trouble feeling my hands those last few holes. I wanted to be Top-5, Top 10, Top 3 pretty bad. Even on 18, I purposely didn't look at the boards on the right. I heard the "oh, no" when Arron hit his shot, and I've already guessed my putt low left. I got good speed on it, but left it three and a half, four feet, and that's when I heard the gasp. I was trying not to let that putt become important.

That's one of the key things sport psychologists talk about that I tell my amateur partners all the time, don't let it get more important than any other shot. I was trying to ignore the fact that I was in a tournament and all those people were standing there and it went in.

And by the way, I do profusely apologize for my first putt in the playoff hole. That was a bad putt. That was not having been there in 14 years, but it would have missed left anyway, so don't worry about it.

Q. Were you watching Arron when he was on 18? Were you watching the TV monitor seeing him or were you insulated from that?

JOEY SINDELAR: Half and half. I heard that he drove it into the right trees, and I thought that isn't going to be good for him, you have to be clear whose side we're on here. Then he was in the matted down grass from the people and I saw his ball land on the green, and he kind of had the putt I had, so I thought it's very 2-puttable from there. I went to the range and talking to my wife, and she said he hit it four or five feet by. And I'm thinking, okay, but then Brendle said it was two and a half or three feet so I started hitting balls.

I would have loved to have watched, but it happen so quickly from the time he's done, signed, the card got to go, and I was sweating as much as I do, I starting cramping up a little bit, so I needed to do some work.

Q. (Inaudible)?

JOEY SINDELAR: Well, no, I didn't feel any bad vibes. I just didn't want to sound presumptuous. Back to the earlier conversation, 90 percent of these guys out here are genius ability with their short game. Unless he just hit that second shot somewhere where he couldn't make par, I wasn't going to consider it over with.

Peter was already joining the party, and I'm glad he was. He and I have known each other a long time, and he was clearly thrilled for me, maybe a little early, yes.

Q. A million dollar winners check, in this stage of your career what's the best part of winning?

JOEY SINDELAR: Job security for two years to almost get me to the Senior Tour. That's what I wanted badly, because I notice that guys who are current on this Tour when they go to that Tour do way better. Duh. That's because they're good enough to be here. But I think it multiplies. When you're not here, it's way easy to fall off the cliff and be out of the mix and forgetting how good you've got to be, and I badly wanted to be eligible until that time. The security is the biggest thing for me.

Q. Oddly enough, this is your second win in North Carolina. You won in Greensboro.

JOEY SINDELAR: I didn't think of that until through the presentation. I'm thinking back of how great this feels and somebody said, rather than Charlotte, somebody said North Carolina. Yes. None of you I would expect to know that, but I won the week before the Masters, when you were able to get into the Masters with a win, so it was a very exciting time and the beginning of a lot of fun stuff. Great memories in this state for me.

Q. Who is your caddie?

JOEY SINDELAR: John Buchna has been with me starting this year of my previous 20 before this year 21st, all but three months of my career, so that proves that we're both incredibly slow learners. Neither one of us knowing better to dump the other one. He's good for me because we're opposites. I'm sleep apnea, ADD, late for everything, and he's hyper to the max. I've only beaten him to the golf course once in 20 years, and that's because his cab was 20 minutes late picking him up and I beat him by 5 minutes.

I think the greatest thing about a player/caddie relationship is that the caddie knows when to say what to the player. In other words, when is it time to say come on, stiffen up, let's do something or when is it time to say, you know what -- because to me it's okay to say, you know what, it isn't working. That doesn't mean give up, it just means let it go, loosen up, it isn't happening this week, let's play it in, do our best. And John knows that for me.

When is it time to see if there are any big bass in the pond or when it is time to study the putt extra hard. It's a great relationship. I need someone who knows me. A lot of the very good players on the Tour through the years have been good at having musical caddies. I couldn't even begin to do that. Mark Calcavecchia, another one of our very good players, uses my caddie John when I'm not playing, as one of his stableist caddies. Calc has been successful. You see more steadiness now, but there's a bunch of them, if they get a guy for more than 2 or 3 weeks, that's enough, so it's an individual set of choices.

But John is more than everything that I've needed out there. Trust, you know, I could give him this whole million dollars and he loves alcohol and he loves casinos, and I could give him this whole million dollars in a pot and send him to Las Vegas to hold it for me, and it would be there when he came back. That's the kind of guy he is.

Q. (Inaudible)?

JOEY SINDELAR: It ran the full spectrum. Yesterday was very good for me because I played in front of Vijay's crowd, which is out of my element from where I've been this year. It was six to ten people deep the entire way, screaming and yelling, fabulous, high intensity. Today felt more like a Thursday, Friday round for me in terms of exterior intensity. I tried not to make it important. I tried to just play. I hate to boil it down to do your best, but in the end it comes down to that, do your best.

As I mentioned before, I started -- it was hard out there because I'm a little on edge anyway, whether it's this hot and this still and I'm this sweaty, it's hard to hold -- it's so still, you don't feel you can grab the club sometimes. Around 16 I was starting to get a little anxious, difficult feeling the speed of the putt. My brain knew what I had to do but it wasn't talking to my hands. That's when all the practice comes in and that's why my putts were nursing in there a little tidier than earlier on.

But yes, I felt all those things. I was most relaxed in the playoff. For those of you who I bored with this earlier, sorry, but it was huge important to me, but where I've been in the last ten years, not always fighting for my top 125, but never clearly in front of it and putting this cut thing on myself, as poorly as I was putting, as -- it proves what Tom Kite said, I heard him say a long time ago, a great ball-striking round can take you to 70 or 69, but you have to putt to shoot 65. I've proven it. I've been blistering the ball, playing 14, 15 great holes a day and coming up with 70s and 71s, always on the edge, always feeling pressure.

When I got past that and it was the playoff and nobody was going to beat me, nobody was going to come from behind, I was relaxed, versus the pressure I've been putting on myself for 5 years. On a Friday or end of the year, I need three more cuts to do this, and that's absolute torture. This was good torture, that was horrible torture.

Q. (Inaudible)? Do you think they were thinking about Joey Sindelar?

JOEY SINDELAR: I thought the same thing this morning. And no, I wasn't thinking about me. But that's only because I didn't think I was that far back. I definitely thought when I saw the wind wasn't blowing, I thought for sure we would get somebody shooting 7 or 8-under today, just doing one of those rounds where they got in the groove and kept on going. I really thought someone would get to 12 or 13 and put it back on the guys who were out in front, because that changes everything in those last three holes. When somebody does that, you have to -- if you're thinking about winning, which we've already talked about that I wasn't, but those who were, they would have to go to offense on those last two holes, which is a different mindset than protecting. The end guys were able to protect, because no one jumped out in front. Yes, I was quite surprised. That's a short answer for me.

Q. You mentioned your kids earlier (Inaudible)?

JOEY SINDELAR: In their eyes, I'm not any cooler, but maybe in their friends' eyes. This is a wild existence. I was on a couple of the golf video games a few years back, and I'm thinking, I'm wondering what the boys are going to say when dad is on the game. They didn't care. The other kids thought it was pretty cool, my kids thought that's what dad's did, got on video games.

They're great boys, they've been cheering long and hard for this and suffering with me through the downs and enjoying the goods. Maybe their friends, they'll be the cool kids in class maybe on Monday, I don't know.

Q. (Inaudible)?

JOEY SINDELAR: They're so loyal. It's just one of those little valleys where people take ownership, you know, of their people. We're not so transient there like the rest of the world, and they've always been awesome to me, they've always been there. They know I'm a party dud. I will personally be doing absolutely except glowing, but they're going to have a good time on my behalf.

Q. (Inaudible)?

JOEY SINDELAR: Always. I rarely go two weeks in a row on the road. I always go home Sunday nights, hopefully, I've been going home a lot of Friday nights, and back on Tuesdays.

Q. When was the last time you've been to Kapalua?

JOEY SINDELAR: Gary Planos reminded me, of course as a champion it was La Costa when I won. When I won the Lincoln Mercury, they had the remnants of the old Mark Rolfing/Kapalua thing they had at the end of the year, I got invited to that eight years ago and won it after coming from a broken foot. I thought that was huge. I considered it was an official victory, even though there were 16 pros there. The fifth Major, for sure, and that was seven or eight years ago. I can't even believe it.

Q. (Inaudible)?

JOEY SINDELAR: Top 3 in any event?

Q. Yes.

JOEY SINDELAR: Short game, it's absolutely short game. I don't know why it took me that long to understand that. I'm guilty like the armatures that I play with in my group. They want to hit the ball like Vijay, and rightly so, but that's not what brings the score down. Dave Peltz said it perfectly on TV a couple of weeks ago, when I came home from Houston complaining about my short game, my family said, Dave Peltz is on The Golf Channel and maybe we ought to be watching this. He was on there and he said, you know, you make a bad drive, it might be out-of-bounds or in the water, but chances are you're going to be able to find it and probably be able to play from there and something good might still come out of it. If you make a bad putt, add a shot, you missed and you have to make the next one.

I know that sounds dumb simple, but it is that simple. Putting is not everything, but it solves a whale of a lot of problems, it really does. And then of course it goes into chipping around the greens. The guys who win are playing -- if they miss five greens in the last round, they're playing those even par, even 1-under, maybe 2-under, chipping a couple of in, and that's not just the two strokes you save, but the momentum that goes with it and the deflation for me that goes with it when I didn't do it.

My kids are going to hate me, but from 75 yards and in, they're going to be whipped for the next seven or eight years when they're home with me, because you have to have it.

Q. (Inaudible)?

JOEY SINDELAR: I'm a slob, so dusting anything off doesn't fall in the category. We kind of have an office and they're on the shelves in there. This one might have to stay somewhere prominent at least for a little well.

JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: On that note, again, congratulations.

THE WITNESS: I can't tell you how thrilled I am. Thank you Wachovia and Charlotte

End of FastScripts.

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