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July 30, 2008
COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO
RAND JERRIS: It is a pleasure to welcome R.W. Eaks to the interview room this morning. R. W. is a native of Colorado Springs and he is playing in his seventh United States Senior Open Championship this week.
Can you just start off by talking about what it means to play such a significant event in your hometown?
R.W. EAKS: Well, I hate to say this, but it's kind of undescribable.
I know you don't want to hear that, but to see all my friends and family and come and play where I used to work, where it was hard to get in the clubhouse, and just to see -- I probably saw 40 people I went to high school with, and all I could think yesterday was just that I was here.
So, I mean it's great. I hope I play well, and what a treat that would be to win something like this.
RAND JERRIS: Are you expecting a lot of friends and family this week?
R.W. EAKS: Probably not more than a hundred. I've got friends coming all the way from South Carolina, Oregon, New York. We used to live here and be pals together. Of course, they're coming back to see their families and to see me, too, but it's quite a pleasure to have people with that much interest in what I'm doing.
RAND JERRIS: You mentioned that you caddied here, which I think you did for four years as a teenager. I saw one report that you probably played as many as a hundred rounds here in the past. Is it a real advantage to come to a golf course that you know that well?
R.W. EAKS: I think so. These greens here are so tough that I think it takes a lot of experience to putt them and a lot of patience.
And I've got so many holes on these greens I probably know every stretch of these things. They improved the greens. They're a lot bigger than they were. I think they expanded them out a bit to where they were probably 50 years ago. They've done a great job with this golf course, and they should be very proud of what's going on here.
RAND JERRIS: Thank you. We'll take some questions, please.
Q. Not to bring up a painful subject, but how do you deal with your knees? I know you have a bit of a knee problem. How much does it affect you out there? I guess more so, how does it affect you mentally?
R.W. EAKS: Well, I've really gotten a lot better. The physician/therapist people in the trailers on our tour have done a great job with me. I've got a doctor at home, a naturalist that we've been doing more stuff, and he's been doing some pain control with the mind control with the pain and stuff. It's really helped a lot.
Plus, I have acquired two new knee braces that I wear at night. They send electrostimulation through my body, or through my legs, and I tell you what, just in the last few days I've noticed a big difference.
Q. Is it just part of the growing-old process to have to deal with it?
R.W. EAKS: I don't think so. You know, I've had so many injuries when I was in high school and college that I think that the scar tissue and the arthritis has just got the best of me. But I want to play four more years, and we're going to do the best we can so I don't have to have surgery, and I'm trying everything I can to get better.
I'm basically a pretty lazy person. I don't like to do exercise. I don't think I ever exercised in my life until this year, and it's opened my eyes.
Q. Very quickly, did you get somebody from Watson to carry your clothes?
R.W. EAKS: No. Actually, my manager is here this week. (Laughs). I can't trust anybody from Watson. Except for maybe Carl Roberts; that's the only guy I probably can trust from there.
Q. Are they asking you about the altitude thing?
R.W. EAKS: See, I'm used to the altitude. I live in Arizona, but we've got another cabin up in the mountains. It's 7,400 feet, and we probably spend more time there than we do at our house in Arizona.
To me this is just a breath of fresh air because it's 107, 108 at home; and these guys are complaining about being 95, 96. Shoot, this is like October for me. This is great.
Q. What are some of the places that you plan on visiting this week now that you're back in Colorado Springs?
R.W. EAKS: I want to play skee-ball in Manitou. Love to do that. We went up there and ate last night at a Mexican restaurant we've always enjoyed.
Went up on the Gold Camp Road a little bit last night and Cheyenne Canyon, and we're going to work ourselves back east this afternoon and just drive around.
I'm going to go driving the driveway for Patty Jewett. I miss going down those trees, and just hit some of the highlights.
Q. R. W., is there pressure on you, just knowing so many people here and coming back to a place that is familiar? I mean, does it bring more pressure on you than there would be at any other tour stop?
R.W. EAKS: I don't think so. I've had so much fun for the last three days, signing more autographs and seeing friends, like I said, that I haven't seen in a long that I'm just drawing energy from these people.
I feel rejuvenated this week. I just can't wait till this tournament starts.
Q. Could you go through the detail about the significance of the putts breaking away from Cheyenne Mountain?
R.W. EAKS: Well, you got the shrine up there, okay, and you kind of have to triangulate where the shrine is and where you're putting. I know it sounds funny, but it really works. It just takes time to get used to it, but shoot, it took me a while to try and figure that out.
I don't know if I'm going to make all my putts or not, but at least I know what direction they're going.
There's two greens out here that are a little different. 17 is definitely different. It breaks more into the mountain.
Gosh, which other one is it? I don't remember. It's oldness, you know. I forgot. Mental. One of those old things.
I played with Andy Bean and Jim Thorpe and Brad Bryant today, and they pretty well got it figured out. But guys like Loren Roberts, Ben Crenshaw, guys that are having some imagination on these greens are going to play and they're going to putt very well on these greens. You'll be surprised.
RAND JERRIS: With all the rounds you've played here in the past, is there any particular round that stands out, a record-low score for you here?
R.W. EAKS: I made a hole-in-one once nobody saw but me. (Laughs). Not really.
Q. What hole was that?
R.W. EAKS: You talking about the hundred legal ones or hundred illegal ones I played? (Laughs).
Gosh, I had so much fun when I worked here because they kind of let me go, gave me the reins with what I wanted to do when I changed cups here, that I think when I worked here, I think I really, really got interested in golf.
Dow was wonderful to me, and I think he kind of spurred me on a little bit, maybe I should try to be professional one day. And also he told me I was too short to play basketball. (Laughs). But Dow's been a wonderful tutelage for me.
Q. Is he someone you've maintained relationship throughout your career?
R.W. EAKS: I've seen him a lot. He comes out and plays some of the Legends tournaments and some of the other tournaments, and it's always nice to see him. Plus, if he's here, I get to talk to Arnie, too, more, because they're buddies.
Q. R. W., how often do you get back here to Colorado Springs?
R.W. EAKS: I have not been back here since - I'm trying to remember when I got inducted to the University of Colorado Hal of Fame. I think it was 2000, I think. That was the last time I was here.
Our family's been coming down to visit us more. Imagine that, trying to get out of the snow and the cold. So we really didn't have a reason to come back, because we've been having a lot of company and stuff.
But it's always nice to come back. It's a beautiful spot, and one day we might just come back and live again. You just never know.
Q. Go ahead and tell the story about the hole-in-one nobody saw.
R.W. EAKS: It was a beautiful day... (Laughs). I'm out changing cups - and well, they changed the golf course a little bit.
So it was -- well, I guess it was still the same. It was never eight. You know, I got dirty hands, dirt under my fingernails and everything. And I didn't hit it very far back then. I hit a 6-iron, hit about 30 yards right up on the top of the hill, big slope on the green. It just kind of kept going and going, and it just disappeared and went in the hole.
It was kind of like that commercial. I was looking around to see if anybody was watching, and I was the only one out there. It was too late at night. I think that was one of my first hole-in-ones I ever made.
Q. What time of day was it?
R.W. EAKS: April. I was working on my 45th hole of changing cups that day, so it was probably about 7:30 at night. Because I was actually pretty fast changing cups. I could change 36 holes in an afternoon.
The gentleman that let me do that, his name was Games. And it was a great deal.
Q. What are some of the notable changes that you've seen in Colorado Springs since you last visited?
R.W. EAKS: It's a lot bigger. They got the potholes fixed for the most part I can see. The potholes were huge out here the last time I was here.
I don't think the town has changed that much. Colorado Springs is a town where it kind of sets its own pace, you know. It's kind of behind times a little bit.
I think that's great. Nobody's in a hurry here, and you know, everybody here, I think, is very proud of Colorado Springs when they live here, and they just kind of keep to themselves. Denver is up here and Pueblo is down here and we've got our own town, and we've got everything we need right here.
Q. I apologize if I missed this, but what are some of your fondest memories Greely and some of the highlights is that stand out just from your years growing up here?
R.W. EAKS: Probably the fondest time I've ever had was playing basketball in high school. Still to this day probably one of the proudest moments I had was when we went to State, only because the five starters, we played basketball together for at least five years.
We would spend summers, we would meet in the afternoon in the summers out there and we'd go play out at the Air Force Base, and we'd play against those guys that were 22, 23, 24 years old. And we just got tougher, and we learned how -- you appreciate each other. You respected each other. And gosh, to this day I still see those guys, and it was like yesterday we won that championship. That was probably my best time as far as sports.
The other is that I met my wife there when I was a junior, and that's probably my prize possession right there. I definitely over-married because she's just a wonderful person. I mean without her I probably wouldn't be playing golf.
When I was out trying to play, she was bringing up the kids and taking care of the family and doing all this.
I still don't know how to pay a bill. I don't even know how to write a check. I don't even know where they come from. I've never seen them. So she's basically the whole backbone of our family.
Q. You had mentioned the nastalgia, you wanted to drive over to Patty Jewett Golf Club and see the double row of trees and so forth. As you may or may not know, the Pike's Peak Invitational was there last week. Did you play in that in your youth?
R.W. EAKS: I played it a few times. I lost -- I think I got beat by one shot one year. Larry Novack. And the only reason I got beat because there was another guy, and he was probably one of the best players I've ever seen. His name was Mark Weatherwax. Caddied for him that year, and he made every putt there was on the back nine.
Larry tried to play professionally for a while. I think Mark did too, but yeah, just a couple times.
I didn't get back here that much, especially when I was up at Greely. I stayed up there, and I just played up there and practiced up there and stuff.
But no, that was a great tournament. I don't know if it's still like this, but back then people came from all over the United States to play in that tournament and it was very hard to get into, because back when I was in high school, Patty Jewett probably was one of the best golf courses west of the Mississippi, and everybody enjoyed playing here.
I think back then they kind of - didn't they have the Broadmoor Invitational close? So we had a lot of people that played in both back then.
Yeah, I missed it. I'm kind of lucky because I would get put on invitation. We had a starter there when I grew up there. What was Milt? What was Milt's name? I can't remember his last name. But his whole thing was -- there was five of us that played there all the time -- see who could be on vacation the most that summer. That was his deal.
Patty Jewett is a great place, and Art Severson was there when I was there. He was the head pro. He was one of Hogan's best friends. So he had a lot of stuff from Hogan, and Hogan called him a lot. And I think Paul Ransom took after him. And I'm sorry to hear that Paul is very sick. I'm going to try to get ahold of him, say hi to him. But it's just a great place. It's got a lot of memories there, and it's good to be back.
RAND JERRIS: R. W., thanks for your time this morning. We wish you lots of luck this week.
R.W. EAKS: Thank you.
End of FastScripts