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April 16, 2008

Joey Sindelar


PHIL STAMBAUGH: Joey, thank you for joining us. Your thoughts on being out here on the Champions Tour?
JOEY SINDELAR: Remember this is just my first week out, and most of what I've experienced so far is brilliant flashes of some very funny stories of some characters out here, so it's been like a class reunion so far for me. It's easily going to be an amazing place to spend the next several years, health and God willing that I have the health to keep going, like all of us wish.
You know, I have eligibility. It's a strange thing to sit there and think, they can't me out for not making the cut except for a few times and they can't make me lose my job for at least a bunch of years. It's a different thing than I've been doing these last few years.
I'm just -- I don't know the right word. I'm still not -- it's still strange to me, you know, that this is what I'm doing to be doing. Strange in a very fun way because it's so different, so I look forward to it a lot. You'll learn that I'm a long-winded answer guy.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: This week's event is almost like the old AT&T or Crosby; your thoughts on playing with an amateur for a few days and hopefully making the cut with him and going on to Sunday. Any good stories from the AT&T in this kind of a format?
JOEY SINDELAR: Yes, but you know, at Pebble, I'm not going to bore you with the story, yes, I've already spent way too much time.
I might rather say that generally, a lot of guys, it's a Pro-Am this week, we'll get through it, do our best. I find that time after time that this is a chance to meet people that will flabbergast you; whether they are really interesting business people or running corporations that you all knew about, or whether they are just salt-of-the-earth, really cool people. It teaches me over and over again that there's just some awesome people running around, and we get a great chance to meet them. There is not a negative to me about a Pro-Am at all.
If I was to say I would have ten experiences, five of them were, oh my gosh, do you believe the amount of fun we had and the other five -- yeah, never below average on any of them. Some of it is the attitude that you take with you, but my experiences have been awesome and I look forward to that here.

Q. Aside from yourself, of course, who do you think are some of the 50-year-old young guys just coming out that could make a big impact in the next five, ten years on this tour?
JOEY SINDELAR: I'm fitting right into the category, because that would be the list. My rememberizer is not the greatest.
Right after the bat, I'm waiting for Slu to bubble and happen, because he's got way too much game to not be an impact player out here. I'm sure he feels like me; I don't know what it is, but you feel like you're on ice. My feet are not under me yet. I don't know why. Maybe because I've talked about it and wanted it so bad for several years, and he's probably feeling those same things.
Bernhard, obviously. Come on, he's got a short game straight from heaven and he's hitting the ball probably as long or longer than he ever did, and he's healthy.
Funkster, you know, vicious competitor, great guy for the game. You guys and ladies must love visiting with him when he's here. He's just full of it and funny and he's going to win a lot of tournaments.
Let's see, John Cook is again I think very interested in golf, where you know, it's just an interesting thing we do, because we raise our families during this whole process, and there's times when the kids are -- hey, am I missing out at home; I've been on the TOUR 15, 18 years, and look, it's one of the coolest jobs you could ever have in the world. But that doesn't mean at times you don't go, what is this, and we all hit that.
And I don't know Davis Love's predicament right now, but it wouldn't surprise me if he said there are things more important than me winning my 16th Harbour Town Championship, but then they find it again and that's what you'll find is guys getting excited again. I would put John in that category. This is his first time through I guess for all of these events so that's good.
Who are the others? Ian Woosnam, you know, was always one of my favorite golf swings, ever. Is he coming off an injury?
PHIL STAMBAUGH: He had chronic fatigue, so he was real excited to get out here.
JOEY SINDELAR: Yeah, and there's a guy who is capable. Sandy Lyle seems very interested.
It's fun for me to see us all be kids again. This is what it feels like. You know, Mike Hulbert is a very capable player. You know, he and I grew up together and he's not had his card for five or six years, and he can't wait to start this week. I just think it's awesome stuff. Are there others you wanted to ask specifically about -- Hal Sutton. Hal has been away from the game a bit, so I don't know whether he's been away from our game or still interested or whether he's been away from our game and gone good-bye and now has to start over. You start stepping away from a year or two, and it's hard to get back; not that you can't but it takes a while. I don't know where he's been, but he could come right out and kick our rear ends all over the place. He's obviously capable, but I just don't know where he's been lately.

Q. Langer does seem like one of those guys that's dangerous, he was competitive last year on the big tour, he could really do some damage.
JOEY SINDELAR: Without a list, and I wouldn't want to offend anybody, but without a list, those are the two that come to mind, he and Funkster. As Stadler went back and won on the regular tour after being out here one year. That's incredible stuff.
Those would be most of them for me.

Q. If you look at the history of the Champions Tour and could divide it up into periods, eras, there always seem to be two or three guys that became the flag bearers, sort of the face of that time. I guess the latest would have been Irwin and maybe Gil Morgan.
JOEY SINDELAR: Irwin, how about that, yeah.

Q. As you list all of the people that are coming out, do you think that time, when there's going to be just a couple of faces that become the dominant two or three, that's gone, or do you think that Langer, he's the new Hale Irwin?
JOEY SINDELAR: You know what, I'm going to say exactly what I said 25 years ago when I stuck my foot in my mouth, which is when Johnny Miller won his three in a row in however, many four or five a year, and for three or four years, I would go around doing these clinics and I said: You're not going to see that anymore, because our competition went from maybe a couple of the guys could win back in the mid 80s of a 150-man field to all of a sudden three quarters are very comparable, and then soon after that, all 150. "You're not going to see that again."
Well, what am I doing? Tiger wins, how many, nine in one year, and Vijay wins eight or whatever it was? So you're asking the wrong guy, is the answer to the question.
I would say with absolutely no offense intended to the guys who preceded us, but it seems as though the competition is going to be very stiff, but I say for a reason, and you guys can do the math, I think we're the first generation, or maybe that started a couple years ago, who knew this was waiting for us.
You know, the Trevino group, when you talk about carrying the banner, the first group was Trevino, and who with him, when he was dominating back then -- that was kind of the beginning right?
PHIL STAMBAUGH: It was pretty much Lee's show and Nicklaus when he played.
JOEY SINDELAR: But those guys didn't even know about this. So if they quit golfing in their late 30s, what were they doing for ten years? Whereas, our generation has been staring at this, going, wow, if I can keep playing golf, I have that waiting for me, no cuts, are you kidding me? I have a job no matter how I play? There's a lot of guys that are focused on that.
I would absolutely put Bernhard on top of that list with Freddie, but also it will be interesting to see who is motivated. And I don't know if it's by the will to win or dollars, but some guys may be perfectly capable, but, you know, it not what I do anymore.
So this is an interesting time in life for all of us, because you have guys who couldn't do it and now have their chance and they are going to be drooling ready to go at it.

Q. Some very great regular TOUR players came out here and, well, not a big deal. Regular, hard-working journeyman as we know that come to the Champions Tour and become stars, does that go directly back just to the motivation factor and how hard you want to work?
JOEY SINDELAR: Coupled with ability, of course, you look at guy like Fleisher, that's an awesome story. And I played with him several times when he was 48, 49, going man; this guy is going to kill them. He was driving the ball so well, and he wanted it and he was excited about it. I'm sure he had not quite met his expectations on the regular TOUR, and all of a sudden there's this beautiful chance where you're the youngest guy on the block and the rookie and happy, so, yeah, he would be the guy I'm talking about, the motivation side.
Obviously I'm not going to name names on the unmotivated side, and I don't even think it's a bad thing. I don't care who that guy is, isn't out here for life or death. I find the stories very interesting. Why are we here; what are we trying to accomplish.

Q. Where are you on that?
JOEY SINDELAR: I'm looking squarely at this that I have a chance, and at least right now, to play very hard for four or five years and hopefully prove to my kids that I can win golf tournaments. I'd love to try to win a couple, and so I want to go hard at it, I really do.
You know, this is a chance for me to say, wait a minute, if I was a rookie -- I've actually said this to myself. If I was a rookie again, what would I do different; would I focus more energy somewhere, would I focus lessen energy somewhere, it's fun to say, hey, we are starting over here.
As a matter of fact, on the commitment side -- please remind me. I'm not going to play Wachovia this year, to go to Texas, because this is where I am. And I'm still eligible at Wachovia, and as you know, it's a magnificent tournament. This is where I am with my old buddies, so I want to make my world here.

Q. So when you won Wachovia, you were 46 or 47, you were in that spot where you still had four or five years to get here, and that gave you two years for sure.
JOEY SINDELAR: In my list of incredible things that happened that week, the million dollars was third or fourth, believe it or not. It was the bridge. It was absolutely the bridge was first to get to the Champions Tour. Because that got me age 47, and, you know, you get the year you're in plus two, so that got me 47 and 48, and then I had to earn my 49, my '07 season, and I did and that got me to here, and I didn't keep it last year, and that hurt. I wanted to go out on, you know, saying hey, I kept it the whole time and all that sort of stuff. That was something that was important to me but didn't work out and I tried.
Yeah, that is exactly right. That victory was No. 1, the bridge, and No. 2, the confidence, and the ability to again, show the kids that dad's trophies were real. We joked about that. Yeah, that's what that was all about.

Q. Talk about the timing of you turning 50 and the Senior PGA is coming to Oak Hill a month later. That's got to be pretty cool for you.
JOEY SINDELAR: Big stuff. Big stuff that I'm going to be trying very hard to make little stuff, because as soon as you make it important, the job becomes more difficult.
You know, as soon as you make that putt important, the cup shrinks, and same thing. I would love to do well there, for $100 million reasons. My whole childhood, I can still remember being young and travelling with Mike Hulbert and going to Rochester to play golf and we would go U.S. Open qualifier the couple of times it was in Oak Hill, didn't matter which course, it was Oak Hill and we would go there -- we didn't care about qualifying for the Open. We got to play Oak Hill. That's how cool that stuff is, for Michael and I and Slu, and Thorpey, I would imagine in, too. So that's big stuff for us.

Q. You played the '03 PGA?
JOEY SINDELAR: No, I was first alternate in the end.

Q. So it's been a long time since you've played competitively there.
JOEY SINDELAR: Competitively, yeah. I actually had a good first round the year that Curtis won but kind of finished and it's such a beast, and now they have made it even more of a beast. I'll try to get up there once or twice this spring just to see. It just such a classic, bloody-nose kind of a golf course. The guys are going to love it.

Q. Talk about your decision to not move down here and stay based -- you look at pro golfers, there are not many guys who do that. What drove that decision to keep the kid back at home where you grew up and you just go out and come home when you could?
JOEY SINDELAR: A couple of answers. No. 1, it's interesting to me, a lot of guys from the north went south and then went back north again, and we've had that happen with several guys in my age group and that's fun.
For Sue and I, it was fairly easy. Neither of us came from transient families. Both of us had three and four and five generations that never left the county. We had relatives and friends and high school yearbooks from since there was paper, you know. Our families never went anywhere.
So I never felt like it was important for Jaime. I keep pointing back to him. It was never important in my golf life or his -- and I wanted to try to be as good as he could be as a golfer but it was always about 12 months, and I thought the break was great, and I always loved northern golf better. That was my perception as a kid. Now of course I've traveled around and seen that there are magnificent courses wherever you go.
But I think there's all you need up there, if you do it right and I think stepping away from it is fine. You know, early in my career as a TOUR player, I used to do the 12-month thing. You know, the TOUR season would end end of October and I would go do overseas and all of a sudden you get a week off and you're back at it at the Bob Hope, and that was fine for a while.
But even after that, I would stop, after the second half of my career, at the beginning of the second half, it occurred to me that, you know, staying home for that time, yeah, I'll be behind the 8-ball when I start up to let your brain unfrazzle and any little thing you have, shoulder, knees, let it heal, and just step away and get fresh again.
It's been funny to see through the years that I always was behind the 8-ball starting the first six months of the year, but to watch the guys hit the ball in June is a very funny thing. If you watched on the regular TOUR the amount of guys who were out chipping and putting every single night, January, February, March, April, there's no room to chip-and-putt at night. All of a sudden, June comes and there's, where did everybody go.
So there's room for all. It's a long year.
What hurt me and what hurt guys like me is the new FedEx schedule because it's now front-end loaded, and I had a month off right in my primetime last year. So it's kind of good that I'm not on that tour anymore, because I wasn't built -- my world doesn't work, because it's all condensed, fast-forward over there.
We love the golf, we love the people, and the only place we ever considered moving was -- you might laugh -- Dublin, Ohio. Why not? I went to Ohio State and anybody who has been to Muirfield Village knows what a magnificent place -- oh, wrong. East Rochester, the only two places we ever talked about, wow, would it be cool to live there; and we stayed home.

Q. When you get to Oak Hill, you and Slu will be the hometown favorite there. Will there be a need to do something extra there?
JOEY SINDELAR: Oh, sure, how could you not? Yeah, it's fun stuff. For me it's like the B.C. Open but magnified. Because I asked Jay -- I asked all of the guys who have won the senior majors, was it cool or was it a senior major, and every one of them go: "It was cool." Having heard it from their mouths, it's great stuff, and the fact that it's home. That's why I said earlier, I'm trying to dampen the expectations, because we are all going to want to be all churned up and dribble coming down our chin when we stand on the first tee just waiting to get at it, and I think that will make it harder.
Some guys do well, and some guys don't. I've done well at the B.C. Open with those same expectations. It's been good to me, but I also know that that rubber band can snap and it could be hard, so I'm trying to just mosey in there -- as a matter of fact, Jaime qualified at the Country Club of Rochester for the Open, and again, for the same reason, because it's the Country Club of Rochester. And I'll be with him that day, even though it's Monday of the PGA week, so I'm going to try to just mosey in there and not incognito, but I'm going to try to low-key it as much as I can.

Q. Coming out here now do you feel like you've come home because all your buddies are out here?
JOEY SINDELAR: It's more than I thought I would actually. It was weird. When people talk about an event like this, and I'm sorry this is all self-feelings here, but people have been talking about, you're going to be 50 in three years, two years, one year; we talked about it. But actually being out and seeing the look on the guys faces and every one of them going, you are going to love it out here so much because the guys get it. You know, even the guys who you didn't think would get it, get it; why are we here, what are we trying to accomplish, and then again, reliving the stories, the Jim Thorpe stories alone, we could tell stories. That's endless right there.
And then Mike Sullivan is now an official. You know, Sully was one of the funniest guys on the golf course because he could go from jokes to shredding a 36-inch oak tree in half back to jokes so fast that you didn't know what hit you.
So that was my life, these guys, so it's fun. Just talked to Hubert Green for the first time. That's fun stuff.

Q. Why do you think the guys on the junior tour may not get it? Because you said out here, guys do get it.
JOEY SINDELAR: You know, all I can say is -- I love to tell the story. I can remember plain as day standing at pleasant valley one year, I don't know if you ever experienced, but one of the fun, old tournaments on TOUR and it was back at a time where we were paying for range balls. And I was playing bad, I just hit the ball horrible. And I remember reaching in my pocket for three bucks, and my caddie was there and I go, "Give me another bucket." Three bucks, and every 20 minutes it was three bucks, three bucks.
I don't know why, but I hope that they all take time to understand that it wasn't always what it is right now. Again, my original purses were $300,000, $400,000, $500,000, just in my lifetime, and that's forgetting the guys who have been out here ten years ahead of me.
I can remember being at TOUR School fall of '83 for the '84 season, and I remember Slugger White or somebody was there giving us the lecture after we qualified: "Boys, there's been unprecedented growth, we are playing for $19.5 million next year, the whole year." That's 2 1/2 purses this year on the regular tour.
So I hope, I just hope that they take time to look back and understand and that it grew and why did it grow and what do we have to do to keep it here.
Look, I also understand, No. 1, everybody is not Fuzzy. You can't ask Mr. Quiet to be Fuzzy Zoeller, and I think there's a great place for everybody out there. And it's very, very hard. You folks all play golf. When golf fails, it's miserable. At our level, I can't tell you, I've played golf for 46 out of 50 years of my life, and that's what I can do today? You know, it's a humbling deal.
So guys get grinding and the season is a blur. You miss four cuts, how about a kid who is out of the TOUR School and back in the pack and he gets in the tournaments and it's already April and missing cuts, and you're going, "How am I going to make $600,000?" It's a tough balance, because you can't tell a kid what to do, and he's got to do what makes him work.
I just hope that they continue to be well-rounded. I know the TOUR is on it. I know the TOUR understands that the message needs to be delivered and help educate the guys a little bit, and I guess that's the best that we can hope for.

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