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March 4, 2009
PALM BEACH GARDENS, FLORIDA
GARY FERMAN: We have Kenny G here with us today, and as know, he's playing the Honda Classic on a sponsor's exemption in the Pro-Am, as the new title sponsor of what is now called the Kenny G Gold Pro-Am at Honda Classic.
And obviously the tournament is happy to have Kenny as sort of the celebrity of tournament now, and we are going to start off letting him make an opening statement about his involvement and how he sees this developing going forward, and then we'll open up the floor to questions.
KENNY G: Thank you. I've been talking to Ken Kennerly about this for a couple of years just trying to figure out how it's all going to work out. And we came up with a nice itinerary, because you know, at first it was just come down and play in the Pro-Am. I thought, well, you know, if you're going to have me come down there, let's make it more important; I should do more things.
So we are going to work with the Child Life Institute, we'll be going there with Barbara Nicklaus tomorrow and create some goodwill down there and play for the kids. We have a benefit concert tomorrow night. I'll be around. I've got a booth of my own, and I'll be signing stuff during the tournament.
We want to just make it a little bit more fun, for me, as well as everybody. I just didn't want to come down and be part of the Pro-Am only. I'm pretty excited about it. We made a commitment to do it for the next few years, and we'll see where it goes. This is our week to kind of use me in different places and see how successful certain things are and we'll grow it from there.
I'm very excited to have my name associated with the tournament. And I love golf so much, so I've been pretty proud that I have got lots of calls from my friend this week to say, "We hear you're hosting the tournament." So I just leave it at that.
So that's kind of the overview of it. It's been a few years talking about it, and I'm just glad that we got to finally make it happen.
GARY FERMAN: For those of you who don't know, Kenny is also a scratch golfer, so obviously he's a very serious player. Maybe if you would talk a little bit about how long you've been playing golf and how you became so proficient at the game.
KENNY G: I started when I was a kid. I was on my high school golf team, and I don't know, I got serious about ten years ago after not playing for a while. I just thought, you know, I really like golf.
I found great teachers and was lucky enough that if I called Butch Harmon, he would return my call. Right now I have a coach called Craig Koy, who is Bob Estes's teacher, and I started at about a 10 or 11 handicap, and he's got me down to a zero now.
I love golf so much. I love the idea of it. I love practicing it. It's like music, you can never master, but you always get excited about learning.
Q. How do the nerves of playing in a Pro-Am, whether it's people lining in the fairway, compare to a packed arena?
KENNY G: The golf is a lot tougher, way tougher. I mean, on the saxophone, you know, if you practice -- here is the thing about golf. You can practice and not get better. (Laughter) You really can. If you practice a musical instrument, you're going to get better. It almost doesn't matter how you practice, but just practice. But golf, if you practice golf incorrectly, you can make yourself worse.
So when I step up on a stage in front of a crowd, and I grab my saxophone, I kind of know that if I put my fingers like this, I'm going to hit an E. It's going to happen. If I hold a golf club and try to hit I draw starting on the right side of the fairway and bring it to the middle, I don't know if it's really going to happen.
. But that's the difference. So you're a little more nervous playing golf. I am, anyway.
Q. What's your most memorable day of golf?
KENNY G: The most memorable day of golf was being in the last group at Pebble Beach in 2001 with Phil Mickelson. Standing next to him when he pulled driver out of his bag to get on to the green in two, when all we, as a team, needed was a par to win the Pro-Am. (Laughter).
And I'm thinking: You just drove it 380 yards, 3-wood is going to get you close enough and your short game is so good, you're going to make your birdie. But he pulled the driver, not that he asked me for my opinion, by the way. When I watched it go into the ocean, that's still part of my memorable day.
Then I remember having a wedge to the green and knocking it into that bunker and making a bogey, and he made a double-bogey. And we still tied for the first place at Pebble Beach.
Walking off the green, my cell phone rings and it's Tiger Woods, who is sitting on an airplane. I know this from what he told me on the telephone call. I didn't know he was there when he called. We had tied for the first place with Tiger Woods and Jerry Chang and he calls me up and he says, "Hey, Kenny, it's Tiger." I'm thinking, how do you have my phone number, for one thing. Happy to get call. He says, "God, you really choked coming down 18, didn't you."
So I said something to him that I can't repeat, which he enjoys that kind of talk. But seriously, he said, "Congratulations, I'm proud to share the trophy with you, and great playing." I'll never forget that.
Q. He didn't say anything about what Phil did?
KENNY G: Well, he may have, but I'm not going to tell you. (Laughter) In some ways, it couldn't have been a better scenario, because Jerry Chang and I are now friends, because we share that trophy. We've played golf together and become friends. I probably wouldn't have any type of dialogue with Tiger Woods had that not happened. As much as I wanted to play my best and win, I did the best I could. I'm not a professional.
Q. Was that a world premiere event story? I don't know if I've heard that story before.
KENNY G: I think I told it once at AT&T when Tiger was getting one of his many awards, the Vardon award, and CBS had a thing and they wanted me to come in. I actually played a couple of songs during the afternoon and reminded him of that story. It was pretty cool.
Q. You just had a great thing playing for figure skating. Was that different for you in any way than what you normally do?
KENNY G: Yeah, it was a lot colder. (Laughter).
Yeah, it was actually pretty cool, because normally when I play, I look at an audience and now I'm looking at a lot of action going on; people doing stuff, so it actually took my mind off of anything that I might have been thinking. You know, like when they say, you want to get into some sort of zone.
So I was just watching these beautiful figure skaters while I'm playing, and really, it was nice. I enjoyed that a lot.
I actually suggested we take the show on the road, but I guess it's really expensive to do that.
Q. Your portion is expensive. The ice skating is cheap. (Laughter).
KENNY G: I think to rent the arena and get all of the ice skaters and do whatever they need, the zamboni machine and all that, it's a lot of money.
Q. Do you have a couple favorites to win the Honda Classic this week? Are there a couple of guys on TOUR that you're particularly close with?
KENNY G: I was just on the elevator with Scott Verplank, so I just had to wish him luck, because I met him. And, of course, Ernie Els, we all want Ernie to win. He's always a favorite for everybody.
But I have to say that I vote No. 1 for Bob Estes. I just played the AT&T a couple weeks ago, and as a zero handicap, I would have bet there's no chance to make the cut, and we made the cut. It was really amazing.
He played so good. I have played with a lot of great players and I have never seen anybody hit the ball -- the way Bob Estes was hitting it, every shot looked like it was going to the hole. He was No. 1 for greens in regulation for the tournament, but I could have sworn, every shot looked like it was going in, from whatever. It was amazing. Best ball-striking I've ever seen that week.
I was proud to be a partner, and to make the cut as a zero; and of course, the Sunday was cancelled. But I got an umbrella. An I-made-the-cut-umbrella; that's what you work the whole week to get. It's the most expensive umbrella in golf.
Q. Obviously you knew Tiger before he called you. Can you just tell us how you met him?
KENNY G: I met him at what was called the Williams World Challenge at the time, the first one that he had at Sherwood. Now it's called the Chevron World Challenge, and was the Target World Challenge.
Williams, for some reason, I got talking to Williams and they said, listen, we are doing this thing, and we would love for you to perform for us. I said, sure, give me a spot with Tiger. They did, and that's how I met him.
So that was the first time we met. And yeah, he's actually really, really cool. You'll be on a putting green and if he's on putting green, he'll come over and give you a putting lesson. He's very gracious with his golf. You can ask him any question, like during the Pro-Am when I played with him, I said, look, "I'm going to ask you a million question."
He goes, "Go ahead." I'm saying he's the No. 1 golfer in the world, but he's probably not the No. 1 teacher. (Laughter) He was trying to tell me to do something and I said, "Bro, I'm not 6-3, what can I do?"
He says, "You've got to let it go."
I said, "That's it, your big golf tip, 'let it go'? Okay."
Q. Anything you did learn that's helped your game?
KENNY G: Not really. I mean, I don't say that with any disrespect. Every golfer has got their own things that they are working on. If I try to do what Tiger Woods does, I would probably break my body.
I just liked his demeanor. I love the fact that he's competitive. I like that. But he does it in a way that's not offensive. He's not mean. He's tough, but in a good way. I liked it.
Q. Being born and raised in the, area when I saw your name associated with the tournament, and with Jack and Barbara, I had goose pimples of happiness, because a number of our kids are associated with the hospital. Getting off this Tiger thing, and getting to the basics of your being here, I just want to say to you, we appreciate you coming and associating with the hospital.
KENNY G: Thank you.
Q. And the efforts of Barbara and Jack Nicklaus with regard to the hospital.
KENNY G: Thanks. I'm looking forward to tomorrow. It will be really nice.
We are going to set up and play a couple songs, I don't know how long we are playing, whatever. It should be really nice, a really nice moment. I mean, that's what it's all about, anyway.
Q. If some of the media persons had an opportunity to go and see?
GARY FERMAN: Yes, you can go.
Q. I'm associating with that effort, some of the media persons would really find it really, it's sort of Barbara's baby, but it takes care of children.
GARY FERMAN: Just so you guys know, one of the kids that's going to be at hospital tomorrow when Kenny goes, has some type of lung disorder where his doctors recently told him that he should take up a wind instrument as part of his therapy, and he is very much looking forward to meeting Kenny tomorrow and hearing him play, and maybe developing an interest in the saxophone.
KENNY G: How old is he?
GARY FERMAN: He's 14.
KENNY G: Do you know who he is?
Q. You know, I would have had his name for you if I knew, because he's 14 and anxious. Last week I got a chance to meet him?
KENNY G: Do you know if he has a musical instrument yet?
Q. I don't think he does.
KENNY G: Maybe I'll bring him one of my saxophones.
Q. That would be outstanding.
KENNY G: Yeah, I make my own saxophones now, I have my own brand. Okay. Let's do that. That's good. All right.
GARY FERMAN: Just in closing, we talked a little bit yesterday that now that your name is on this Pro-Am, and you're actually here experiencing it and looking forward to future years, you talked about wanting to get more of your celebrity friends involved and possibly coming down with you in future years.
KENNY G: If you think that's a good idea.
GARY FERMAN: That's Ken Kennerly's department.
KENNY G: Sure. I mean, I'm sure this is going to be a great week. So if that's what you would like me to do, then I can go back and talk to some of my friends that I play golf with a lot. I know George Lopez is an avid golfer. We play a lot together. Maybe we can figure out, get some other guys to come down and be part of the week. I think that would be great. Is that what you're looking for?
GARY FERMAN: I was just relaying the conversation you and I had, I thought was kind of interesting.
Q. I just have one thing, trying to relate music to golf, and I know you're a big fan of golf and you watch a lot of golf, and you kind of know those guys' swings. When you watch these guys, do you ever think in your mind of music that goes with a certain guy's swing, and if so, or an instrument that goes with a certain guy's swing, and if so, maybe Tiger or Sergio or even Rory, what comes into your head, if anything, musically, when you watch those guys?
KENNY G: Gosh, I wish I was a comedian right now, because you're setting it up perfectly. I just don't have the lines. (Laughter).
Well, I notice tempo. I notice tempo. I tell you who I've always noticed, Jim McGovern, he's got the most beautiful pause at the top of his swing. I always look and think that he's just got this very flowing golf, swing and every time I get to a range and if I can hit balls next to him, I always try to go hit balls next to him.
Mainly I notice tempo. Obviously Ernie Els would be one of my slow ballads. Rory would probably not be -- my little Songbird would probably not be the song for him. I don't know what else to say, good question.
I'm going to work on that for the next time, and I'll have a good answer for you.
GARY FERMAN: Kenny, thank you.
End of FastScripts