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June 6, 2010
DUSTIN ROBERTS: Good morning, everyone. Thanks for being here. I'd like to welcome you to the Jack Nicklaus award presentations.
Our five Nicklaus Award present winners this year are Eugene Wong from Oregon, Brett Munson from north Alabama, Tain Lee from Claremont McKenna, Justin Lower from Malone, and Abraham Ancer from Odessa College.
We have some special guests here in the audience. We have Linda Munson, who is Brett's mother, and his coach Stewart Clark. We have Spencer Lee, Cara Lee, and Hannah Lee, Tain Lee's family. We have Paul Chavez, who is Abraham Ancer's coach at Odessa. And we have Justin Lower's head coach Ken Hyland and his coach Martha Hyland.
Eugene Wong is a sophomore from North Vancouver, British Columbia, he's previously been named to the PING All- America First-Team. He's a Pac-10 Co-Golfer of the Year and first team All Pac-10. He captured medalist honors twice this season at the USC Collegiate Invitational in the 64th Annual Western Intercollegiate. He also had a pair of runner-up finishes and placed third twice. He also had three other showings in the top 10 and only finished outside of the top 20 twice. Most recently, he tied for ninth at the NCAA Championships and helped Oregon advance to the semifinals at NCAAs.
Justin is unable to join us this morning. He is back in Eugene preparing to take a final exam tomorrow morning.
Justin Lower was a first team PING All-America selection and capped a remarkable junior year by capturing medalist honors at the NAIA National Championships, joining current Pioneer head coach Ken Hyland as the only individual men's golf national champion in Malone history. In addition to claiming the NAIA title, he won seven other tournaments during the year and shattered the Pioneer school record for lowest individual round after shooting a 6-under 64 on the second day of Muskingum University Spring Invitational. A native of Canal Fulton, Ohio, Lower has claimed All-America honors in each of his first three seasons at Malone.
Justin is currently representing the United States at the World University Championships in Spain, and Ken Hyland is here to accept his award on his behalf.
Would you come forward, please, Ken?
(Hyland accepts the award)
DUSTIN ROBERTS: Our next recipient, Abraham Ancer, claimed medalist honors six times during his freshman campaign, including a stretch of 5 of 6 events late in the season. A member of the PING NJCA Division I All-America First-Team, Ancer picked up his first individual title while helping the Wranglers to the team championship at the Odessa College Invitational. He would again enter the winner's circle after his victory at The Wrangler. The Mission, Texas native closed out his first year at Odessa by winning his last four events of the season leading up to the NJCAA Division I Championship. He also tied for second at the NJCAA Division I Championship. Abraham?
(Abraham Ancer accepts award)
DUSTIN ROBERTS: Next we have Tain Lee, a PING Division III All America First-Team honoree, and the SCIAC Player of the Year. He won five times this year, including the NCAA Championship, the SCIAC Championships, the CLU Kingsmen Invitational, the CMS Invitational, and a dual match with Cal State Fullerton. He also had three runner-up finishes and two additional top fives. In 13 events, Lee only placed outside the top five three times with his worst finish being a tie for 13th. Lee led the Division III championships wire-to-wire and birdied 3 of the last 7 holes to secure his victory. Tain is a sophomore from San Juan Capistrano, California. Tain?
(Tain Lee accepts the award)
DUSTIN ROBERTS: Finally, Brett Munson. As part of a stellar 2010 campaign, Munson, who was previously selected to the PING Division II All-America First-Team and First-Team All-Gulf South Conference. The senior from Louisville, Kentucky, won medalist honors at the GSC tournament with the lowest 54-hole score in tournament history. In addition to his record-setting conference victory, Munson won four other times: The Derrall Foreman Invitational, the North Alabama Fall Classic, the Indian Bayou Classic, and Natural State Golf Classic. He also collected five additional top 10 finishes and only finished out of the top 10 twice. Munson's worst finish of the season was tied for 15th. Brett?
(Brett Munson accepts the award)
DUSTIN ROBERTS: Now I'd like to open up to any questions that anyone might have for Mr. Nicklaus or any one of our three recipients in attendance.
Q. I wonder if each of you guys could tell me about the most memorable shot you played this season, good record, whatever was the most memorable. Appreciate it.
TAIN LEE: I'm Tain Lee. My most memorable shot at the Oak National Championship a few weeks ago in Hershey, Pennsylvania. We had a rain delay, and I had five holes to go with, I think, one-shot lead.
I went to the 17th hole with a two-shot lead at that time. And I thought one more wouldn't hurt. On 17, I made a 30-foot birdie putt, kind of sealed the deal.
ABRAHAM ANCER: I guess mine will be Split Drill Invitational. We hosted that tournament. It was 32 degrees, raining. I tied for first in that tournament, went into a playoff, sudden death, against a Baylor guy, plays for Baylor. And had like 55-foot for eagle to win the tournament and it fell in. So it was pretty awesome. That would be it.
BRETT MUNSON: My name's Brett Munson. I'd have to say my most memorable shot this year would be probably a four-foot putt to win the Gulf South Conference. We've only won the last two years, and it was the last year. It was important to me because I was a senior, and it was second to last tournament of the year.
Q. Did it go right in the middle, or did you shake it in?
BRETT MUNSON: I think it was left center. It was a little slider.
Q. How did you get to Odessa? Where do you plan to go?
ABRAHAM ANCER: I didn't play in a lot of Junior tournaments. I didn't have like a standing resume. I was looking at D-1 schools, but they didn't really want me. They gave me like 5 percent, 10 percent scholarship. It was getting late in the summer. I was like, oh, God, where am I going? What am I going to do?
I got a call from coach, and he offered me a full ride at Odessa, and I looked at the place, and it looked amazing. New facilities and everything. I was like, yeah. I didn't even think about it, just went.
The play there for this year was amazing. Couldn't ask for more. I'm planning to go play D-I, I'm looking at some schools. I may go to OU, but I haven't decided yet. May decide this week or maybe next week.
JACK NICKLAUS: You don't have any wind out there, do you?
ABRAHAM ANCER: A lot. A lot of wind. Yes, sir.
Q. Seeing that 21-year-old Rickie Fowler is doing pretty well so far, what does that mean to you guys?
BRETT MUNSON: He's a big inspiration to all of us. He gives us a chance to see what we're capable of doing, you know, at a young age. It's just really impressive, you know, some of these kids come out only spending two years in college and competing at this level. You really have to have your head on straight, confident.
That's the main thing, confidence out there.
TAIN LEE: I think, obviously, it's pretty amazing the way he's just come out here on his first year. He's almost about to win one of the biggest PGA Tour events out here.
I actually played with him once in high school golf in southern California. So having played with him in high school and watching him on this stage kind of makes me feel like maybe it is possible. He obviously beat me in high school by a few strokes. He was a great player then. Maybe even better now.
But that does put it in perspective for me. Maybe it is possible.
Q. Do you remember what he was wearing that day?
TAIN LEE: I don't, but I remember exactly what his putter looked like then. Made a good putt or two.
Q. What memories of your generation do you have of Jack Nicklaus, just out of curiosity? Any of you can answer it. I'm just curious, when you think of Jack Nicklaus, what do you think?
ABRAHAM ANCER: Well, when I think about Jack Nicklaus, just plain and simple the greatest player in history. Just can't beat him and hasn't beat him right now.
A lot of people want to go and beat that record, but it's going to be very, very tough. I believe so.
BRETT MUNSON: Like he said, the greatest of all time. You see on the Golf Channel mostly, that's where we find out our information about Mr. Nicklaus, and you just see him draining those 20-foot putts the last hole to win the tournament, win the majors. That's our -- I think that's for the younger generation, that's our memories of Mr. Nicklaus.
JACK NICKLAUS: Guys, I didn't hole them all. They just showed you the ones I did.
I think it's, in some ways, a pretty good question because I think that most of these guys -- let's see, you guys are, what, 19, 20, 21.
BRETT MUNSON: 21.
ABRAHAM ANCER: 19.
JACK NICKLAUS: Let's see. When I won my last major, they were like 4 or 5 years old. So, obviously, they never really saw me play. I don't know. That's 25 years ago, isn't it? You weren't even born yet.
I guess the last tournament I won, they were 4 or 5 years old because that was at Tradition in '96, which is the last actual tournament I won.
It's much the same as Bobby Jones for me. I grew up, and Jones won at Scioto, guys, which is down the street, and he won in 1926, and I never saw him play a lot. I was born in '40. But there were many members there that knew -- saw Bob Jones win. And all I heard as I grew up was Bob Jones hit it here and hit it there and this is how he won.
But I never actually saw him hit a shot. So you ask the question today, and I'm sure it's the same situations. These guys will never see me hit a shot, other than on television.
The Golf Channel covers a little bit more today than they did when Jones played.
Q. I'd be curious, Jack, what kind of -- how full your summer was as a college player?
JACK NICKLAUS: As a college player?
Q. In terms of tournament play. And I'd be curious from them what they've got lined up this summer.
JACK NICKLAUS: Let's see. As a college player, because I played my first year -- we couldn't play as freshmen back in those days, and I didn't play as a sophomore because I made the Walker Cup team.
You got some coaches out here that will tell you this story. I made the Walker Cup team as a sophomore. So I went to my coach the first year I was eligible to play with Bob Kepler down here at Ohio State. I said, Kep -- he said, "I know you made the Walker Cup team. That's great."
I said, "What do I do?"
He said, "What do you mean what do you do? It's quite obvious to me. You're not going to school this spring. You're going to go play golf. You're going to go play the Masters. You're going to play North-South. You're going to play a couple of other tournaments. You're going to play the British Amateur, the Walker Cup matches. You've got two more years to play college golf. This is a great experience for you."
Could you imagine a college coach doing that today? Anyway, that's what he did.
So I came back, I played two years for Ohio State for Kepler.
But my summers when I was -- after my sophomore year, which is the year I won the Walker Cup, I spent playing the North-South and the Trans-Miss, and I played Amateur tournaments all summer, and I played probably -- I probably played half a dozen pro tournaments. And I did that every summer.
I played -- the tournaments that I would normally play that were Amateur tournaments -- there wasn't any college carryover, obviously, in the summertime. And I played the U.S. Open every year, and I played the Masters every year.
Like I said, I won the Trans-Miss when I was 18 and 19. I didn't play after that. I won the Western when I was -- what year did I win the Western? I think maybe I was 21 then, 20 maybe, I don't know. But I played the summer tournaments.
But I also played different than you guys. I don't know how many pro tournaments you guys can get in or qualify for, but in those days there wasn't a qualifier. My first pro tournament was the Rubber City Open, which is now the Firestone. And it was a different golf course. I went up. I was 18 years old. You guys might be interested in this story. It the kind of fun.
I was 18 years old, and they had invited me to play in the tournament. So I went up and shot 66, 67 first two rounds, and I was one shot out of the lead. Art Wall was leading the tournament, 132. I was 133, and Tommy Bolt was 134. Bolt was U.S. Open champion at the time.
So we went out in the -- the first two rounds I played for Charlie Sifford. Charlie Sifford was a great, great pioneer in the game, great, great guy. As a matter of fact, Charlie was here this week. And following Jerry McGee from Canada. Third round, I played with Art and Tommy Bolt.
I'll never forget Bolt. Bolt was kind of tough to play with. He put his arm around my shoulders on the first hole and walked down the fairway. He said, "Jack, don't worry about a thing. Old Tommy will take care of you." Of course, Tommy took care of me real good.
Those guys in that day, they didn't want any kid coming along and beating them. I had a little needle in them all the time. I managed to miss six putts inside about four feet the front nine, and he didn't bother me on the back nine. I shot 76 and then I came back and shot 68 the last round and I finished 12th the first tournament that I played in.
I think the last year before I turned pro, 1961, that summer I played -- I think I played six Tour tournaments that fall and I had made the cut in all six tournaments and finished -- let's see. I finished fourth at Milwaukee, and I finished seventh in the Masters. I finished -- I finished fourth in the U.S. Open that year, too. But anyway, that was -- so Rickie Fowler coming along is great.
Seeing a young guy coming along, I often wondered why the young guys can't come along and jump in a little bit earlier. But I guess I had a little bit of pro experience when I was your age, playing before I got there.
So when I got to the Tour, I'd really played three or four years of seven or eight tournaments. And many of those tournaments you can get in, try, because, boy, I'll tell you, it really makes a difference when you get there, knowing what's been.
Fowler's played quite a few tournaments, hasn't he? He played summer tournaments. I think he did. He's played beautifully this week. He's absolutely just played well within himself. He hasn't tried to do anything that he shouldn't try to do. He's laid up when he should lay up. He's taken his chances when he should take his chances.
Of course, you know, he's been able to do the things -- he's been a performer. He hasn't gotten there, taken a chance, and made a mistake. He's done very, very well, obviously.
Q. Tell us what you three fellas have planned this summer.
TAIN LEE: For myself, I'm not sure I have as many major championships on the professional level. But I have been fortunate enough to get into quite a few major Amateur events.
From here in a couple of hours, I'll be heading to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, actually, and playing the Sunnehanna Amateur. Then I'll be going to the Southern Am, the Sahalee Amateur, the Western Amateur, Porter Cup, Scratch Players, and I think that may be it.
MR. NICKLAUS: Sunnehanna was the first Amateur tournament I got in. I was 15 years old when I played in it.
TAIN LEE: That's the first comparison I can make with Mr. Nicklaus.
ABRAHAM ANCER: My plans are not that big. Trying to play some Collegiate Tour events and U.S. Am qualifier. But I'm not sure if I'm going to go because my uncle got very, very sick, and he's very close to me. So all my family is down in San Antonio and taking care of him. I don't know how I'm going to manage. I mean, try to find some friends that play too so I can go with them to tournaments and try to figure something out.
But that's kind of the thing going on with my family right now. It's kind of hard to play some tournaments and just go by yourself and everything. I mean, I'll do it, but it's kind of hard. Just trying to figure things out. I mean, I'll try to play as many tournaments as I can.
BRETT MUNSON: As for me, I just turned professional last week. I just joined the eGolf Tour. I'll be playing that throughout the whole summer and a couple of fall tournaments.
When I have a week off, I may try to qualify for a couple of Nationwide Tour events. That's my plans for summer.
JACK NICKLAUS: And when I was playing, we did not have the Amateur events. We had one or two. I was just saying here that the Sunnehanna was the first one I played in when I was 15. That was with Bill Campbell. Remember our Captains Cup. Bill was former national Amateur champion.
And Bill told the committee at Sunnehanna, he said, "I saw a young kid play that plays pretty well." He said, "I think you ought to give him a chance to play." So I got a chance to play Sunnehanna when I was 15.
Q. You only played one Trans-Miss, right?
JACK NICKLAUS: Two.
Q. How did you do?
JACK NICKLAUS: Where?
JACK NICKLAUS: I finished fifth.
Q. What year was that?
JACK NICKLAUS: 1955.
Q. Jack, obviously, Brett's already turned pro, and I'm sure these guys have aspirations. If they're good enough in the field, they're good enough to turn pro. Times were different when you were obviously on the cusp in 1961. Was there one point, one thing that happened in '61 that tipped it over? I know it was kind of a tough decision.
JACK NICKLAUS: For me, in those days, I was married. I married when I was 20. We had our first child 14 months later, after I won the National Am -- about a week after I won the National Amateur for the second time.
You about I was selling insurance. I was making a pretty good living. In those days, it was not financial to turn pro. It was because I felt I could make as much money being an Amateur in those days. And I'm selling insurance.
But the whole desire was, I'm sure the same desire as these fellas have. I wanted to be the best. The only way you're going to be the best is to compete against the best. That's why I keep saying to these guys get as many tournaments as you can, and particularly the tournaments, if you can get into the pro tournaments, where you're actually competing to see what you have to do and see how well they play, your game will progress a lot faster.
I mean, you'll be amazed, if you get in three or four tournaments, if you can qualify or get in where the pros are playing, Nationwide events or wherever they are, and you go back and play your college golf next year, you'll be a lot better college golfer, because you'll have seen how the other guys play. You'll understand what you have to do.
You know, the comparisons and difference between amateur golf and professional golf are great. Because the guys that are out there playing professional golf are the best, and they're the ones that do it.
The opportunity today -- I mean, you've got many tours. You've got Nationwide Tour. You've got regular tour. You've got international tours. There's always -- there's a pro tournament somewhere that you can try to get into. But they have great amateur tournaments, too. We had two or three amateur tournaments to play in outside of the National Amateur. So the only events that we were going to play in were some of the pro events. You could get to them within the local area.
I played the ones around the central Ohio -- or the Midwest area, which is what I did. I went and played the Buick Open, which is up in Warwick. I went and played the Cleveland Open. I played the Firestone. Let's see. Where else did I go? I went a few other places. I can't remember where. But they were all basically in this area. So we had the opportunity to do that.
In those days -- today you've got to go through two qualifiers to get in there. Those days they didn't have a full field. If you could get invited in, you could just go play. Big difference. Big difference. I had access. They have tough access. Much more difficult for a young guy today.
DUSTIN ROBERTS: Thank you for coming.
JACK NICKLAUS: Let me just say to these young men that every year, guys, we've had award winners from college come in here and receive their awards, and there's quite a few of them playing in this tournament here this year.
Through the years, those guys have developed, become good players, good citizens, and really carried the game of golf and carried it the right way. So congratulations to you. We wish you much luck.
I want you to go, along with that luck, play some good golf. And we'll be watching your career. Good luck to you.
End of FastScripts