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February 6, 2008

Joey Sindelar


STEWART MOORE: We'd like to welcome seven-time PGA TOUR winner Joey Sindelar to the interview room here at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Fun week for you. You're staying at a house down the road with I believe Davis Love and Mike Hulbert. Talk about the difference in this tournament. Obviously a regular PGA TOUR event 72 holes, a little more stress this week, a little more of a party, so to speak.
JOEY SINDELAR: Yeah, different environment altogether. But even beyond the golf stuff for us, just a ton of fun stories. Jim Griggs, the fellow we stay with, which is exactly right between here and the range, Daniel Crosby and I played college golf against each other, with each other, against, amateur tournaments, all that stuff, way back when. When I turned pro he said, hey, come on out to the tournament, and I had missed my card that year. I come out and meet my amateur partner, a fellow named M.J. from Denver, and we played a round of golf, and he said hey, I'm staying right up the hill with this guy, come on up and have a hamburger. We did. Hung out during the week. The fellow was Jim Griggs. He said, if you ever need anything, let me know, it's been fun to get to know you. And sure enough, with my dad delivering mail and my mom driving a school bus, a sponsor was in order. I called him up and he met us in New York and he sponsored me for, gosh, two or three years.
The great parts of that story are endless, but the key parts are that he started me with all the enthusiasm and was just right from the start an awesome relationship.
And then so fast forward on, we played in this tournament a number of times. And then Davis got in the loop, Mike Hulbert, of course, with me and then Davis got in the loop. And then shortly after Griggsy and Davis got to know each other is when the horrible thing with Davis' dad happened. And Davis was in Hawai'i and flew back and Jim Griggs, this very same Jim Griggs, picked him up in a plane and flew with him all night to get him back to Jacksonville and obviously spent some real meaningful time with him then.
So an incredibly special friend with many of us on the TOUR, and I got to play with him 16 times.
I say all that to say after three or four years off, I'm now doing my very last trip here with Jim's son Chris, and we thought that would be just a really cool way because when I started here and when I first met Jim, Chris was just a little squeaker, and now, gosh, he went to Berkeley, he's a really intelligent kid with a great family, and we get to end it this way. For so many of us, that's a very long way of saying that for so many of us here, that's what this event is about is having an incredibly special experience with people you really enjoy being with.
Certainly there are a lot of strangers being married up, but for a lot of us it's a story like that, and that's what feels really good.
STEWART MOORE: And as you alluded to, this week takes on a little more special meaning, March 30th coming up, 50 years old, debut on the Champions Tour. Talk a little bit about that.
JOEY SINDELAR: Yeah, it's time to go. It's a very weird thing, still. I suppose I'm over the eye-watering sad scary part that occurred most of last year, all the visions of all the great things that I got to experience through all that 25 years or whatever it was, and kind of saying goodbye each week. And Disney was particularly tough because it was the end of the season.
Admittedly I'm back here because they couldn't get rid of me. But it was an awesome ending to a long time of fun, and now it's on and forward.
The part that makes that fun is Peter Jacobsen running up yesterday and going, you're just not going to believe how much fun you're going to have out here. It's fun, it's laid-back, it's just a totally different environment than this. And that happens often.
I've never had a guy come up and go, this is not what you want to do, stay where you are. All of them say it's going to be cool. So I look forward to it very much.
And also back to the original story, my running mate Mike Hulbert, we grew up together, we've known each other probably since we were 11 or 12, and he turns 50 two weeks after me. So we kid to be kids again in a lot of respects.
STEWART MOORE: You get the head start on the Money List.
JOEY SINDELAR: I do, I get the two-week advantage, exactly right. But seven weeks behind those guys -- I mean, I'm telling you, I can remember when we kept saying it's Stadler, and Stadler got sick of it when he turned 50. You're going to kill them out there. And a lot of guys have been saying that to me, but look at the golf they're playing out there. It's pretty amazing stuff. And look at some of the guys that have gone out there recently. John Cook won right off the back, had pretty instant success, but Slu is yet to do it, so there's a golf yet to be played.

Q. Did Mr. Griggs sponsor you for your first couple years on Tour?
JOEY SINDELAR: Yes, he did, and actually even before I had my card because I didn't make it until the third time through school.

Q. School was twice a year, right?
JOEY SINDELAR: No, once a year. I made the school fall of '83 when it was at TPC Sawgrass. And there's something -- talk about things you'll take to the grave, I had a 66 there in the third round that got rained out, done, posted, rain, locked it up, rained out. So I'll never forget that.
Sorry. It's all this flashing. I'm still elderly. I'm still bitter about that. My memory stinks but I can remember that.
So yeah, he helped me. I think it was probably 18 months in advance of that when he made it possible for me to go do -- actually that made it possible for me to play the Asian Tour. That was kind of what we did. Back when we were doing this, it was either like the Space Coast who were in Florida, the original mini, or at that time the Asian Tour had come on board and it allowed me to do that.
And then there were some of those TPS events which is the TOUR was loosely affiliated with. But yeah, he made that all possible.
Again, it's a book to tell you the kind things that guy has done for everyone in his life and for so many people in his life. Fabulous person.

Q. When you're out and about the last few years and you hear people talk about the schedule and when it gets to Pebble, they mention six-hour rounds and bumpy greens and rain. Does that affect at all the way you look at this week?
JOEY SINDELAR: No, it doesn't, because those things are true. They can be bumpy greens and it does take six hours and the practice rounds take all of that, and it is a very -- it's a long week. I mean, at the end of this, you know you've been somewhere. But the good news is those personalities need to recognize that and stay away. You're only going to play 25 or 30 out of 44 anyway, so you need to pick and choose, and if you come here defeated it's probably not going to turn the corner.
For me and for -- again, back to some of the other story, you know, there are a million other reasons to be in this tournament, besides that it's Pebble Beach and there's the friendships and there's the history and if you can take the weather tongue in cheek and say, oh, my gosh, this is what they were talking about.
Probably my best tournament here was the Open in '92. Kite won that Open. I think I ended up 5th or 6th. And although we never got to the 3-iron into No. 7 range, although we heard those stories, I can't quite fathom that, I hit driver, 4-iron, 9-iron into No. 10. It was starting to blow rather nicely.
But on 7, I was playing with Faldo, and he hit a little 6-iron over the -- didn't know what to do. 100 yards downhill, what are you supposed to do when the wind is blowing? He tried to bunt a 6-iron and hit it over the 8th tee almost into the ocean. So I kind of chinked a 7-iron up there on the front of the green and the crowd went nuts. First person to hit the green in 22 people from 100 yards.
So this place, you're always aware of that and you know what can happen. So if you can turn the miserable part into the fun part, it's an amazing place. Let's face it. But it is not for everybody, clearly.

Q. Talk about your experience on the TOUR and how things have changed and how big the money is now. When you were in your 20s and 30s everybody was focused on winning tournaments. Do you think the younger generation has lost some of their competitive fire because they know paycheck to paycheck they can live comfortably without having a win?
JOEY SINDELAR: We're going to be here for hours (laughter). No, I don't see that, because -- well, I mean, what you say is true, absolutely. You can be comfortable without winning. I've done it and I did it for 14 years and then Wachovia got in the way.
But that's not untrue. I mean, not everybody can -- I mean, there's guys that just don't mentally win, that will never win, but are very good players. There's a place for a lot of different people out there. Look what Johnny Miller was doing back then. It seems like there was a superstar every four or five years back then. So I don't think that.
But the game has changed enormously, of course of the so we go from Johnny Miller to -- I start with him because I saw the end of him when I came out here and won three in a row, and it was pretty amazing stuff back then. And then who was next? Then we had maybe Watson, Norman, Faldo, you can throw Couples in there, and then we got to John Daly who brought an entirely different crowd of people for the first time, in a big, big way. And these are, of course, after all the prior superstars, Arnold and Jack and Trevino, and now Tiger.
It's scary. The difference in the game is -- I can remember in the '80s it seemed like you were either a bomber or a short gamer. You're either a ball striker or a short gamer, and there's still both those, but now the bombers are the short gamers. They hit it nine miles and they can put it in the hole from anywhere.
What was that a few years ago, did Vijay win nine and Tiger win ten? What were the victories that year when they both won so many? Whatever it was, I don't know.
And I'm back there giving clinics. This is how far off I was. I love telling this story. Johnny Miller had just won three in a row and dominated, and I'm giving these clinics going, you know, this is five years later. The strength of this TOUR, this isn't just 60 guys anymore that can win the tournament. We're at 125 and soon we'll be to 150 very capable guys that are playing tournaments every week. You're not going to see that anymore.
Look what we're watching. It's unbelievable. I couldn't even -- it's such a shocker to think about what's changed. The way the game is played, the conditions of the courses we play -- I can remember in the '80s we used to hit fliers all the time. You'd get in the wispy rough and hit a 7-iron that went 210. Now most weeks it's knee-deep rough and the game has changed incredibly.

Q. Do you have any other plans or are you going to make a clean break?
JOEY SINDELAR: My inability to keep my card last year makes it a clean break anyway. But I don't think I would anyway. I had my 25 years, and although I still felt -- I had a handful of tournaments last year where I felt like I played well enough to win, and it's funny to hear young guys whisper to my caddie that it was always fun -- I'm not sure I want you to print it, "he can still hit the ball." That's fun because when it hurts it doesn't feel like that. Now, if I can win a senior major that gets me into a regular major, of course I would do that. It would be a thrill. But for the most part I'll be gone. It's time.

Q. Tell us about the charity event that you played in yesterday.
JOEY SINDELAR: Yeah, I'd love to, but you have to tell me the exact words of the name of the charity. It was the rescue group for dogs and cats, but that's not nice enough to say. Do you have it?
I'll tell you what, I will absolutely address that, but I don't want to say it wrong. But it was the coolest thing because we were out there and we're pre-paired with these groups and we didn't get to choose who the beneficiary was.
For our group when we made that skin, when we made that one with a par on 17, they were so excited. And I hadn't paid much attention because the groups were kind of all -- the people who were going to benefit were all over the place, and then I kind of realized we ended up making $40,000 for a group that rescues animals. Now, that's got to be meaningful. I don't know what part of the world this is, but where I'm from they have negative dollars, those kinds of groups, and they were so happy.
That's the fun part of it, to get out there and share their joy. I'm dumbfounded, I chipped my first ball in the cup in five years and ended up making them a ton of money. It was so much fun because they loved every second of it. Elk and I got a big kick out of that.
Sorry about that. I'm terrible. I can remember the 66 that got washed out but I can't remember yesterday.

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