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July 26, 2005

Peter Jacobsen


RAND JERRIS: It's our pleasure to welcome the 2004 United States Senior Open champion Peter Jacobsen to the media center this afternoon.

For the past year you've been introduced as the Senior Open champion everywhere you've been. Can you tell us what that's meant to you.

PETER JACOBSEN: Well, it means a lot. I said last year after the championship at Belle Rive that I've played in championships my whole golfing career back when I was a junior player, and for me to have won a USGA championship at the age of 50, I feel very honored to be introduced as the U.S. Senior Open champion. I've always felt a part of the USGA family because of all the events I've played in, so for me to now rep the USGA somewhat with a championship, as I said, I feel very honored.

RAND JERRIS: Talk to us a little bit about the golf course this week. How does it compare with Belle Rive and how does it fit your game?

PETER JACOBSEN: It's pretty similar to Belle Rive well, it's in lush condition. It's in perfect shape. I played this morning and was very, very impressed. The golf course is in perfect shape so you'll have no complaints about any bad lies in the fairway or bad putting surfaces because they're perfect.

I think it's interesting, as I was playing the golf course, it's pretty fair. It's right in front of you. There's no tricks. But the golf tournament is going to be won or lost on and around the greens. You've got to be very, very smart and very strategic with where you place the ball on the greens.

I played with Ben Crenshaw the first two rounds, which is going to be a great thrill for me not only because he's a great champion but because of his putting ability and to watch him putt his way around this golf course is going to be interesting.

The golf course is old style, very undulating. When I was here for the media day, we were discussing how important it is for the USGA to maintain the proper speeds. Whenever you come to a golf course like NCR that has a great history but is an older style course, it's important to remember that the architect who designed the course put those kinds of slopes into the greens because that's the way the golf was designed back then. Greens technology wasn't as it is today. So slopes back then, you could cut the greens at 5, 6 or 7 or the stimp meter so your ball would hold on the slopes. We can all attest to the fact that the greens, mother technology has gotten to the greens to where they can roll 15 or 16 on a flat surface, so you can imagine what it can be on an undulating surface or a sloped surface like here at the NCR.

I think the USGA has their hands full with proper pin positions and balancing it with proper green speeds. I don't envy them because it's a very, very hard thing to do because you know how players like to criticize. It's a very, very hard job to be able to balance the proper speeds and the proper pin positions when you're trying to run a national championship. I don't envy them.

Q. With all due respect to the late, great Payne Stewart, will we see a senior version of Jake Trout and the Flounders?

PETER JACOBSEN: Probably not, unless Payne gives us his blessing.

Q. I spoke to you at media day and you talked about how hard it was to win this last year. Can you go through that again, about how hard it is to win a major, whether it's the PGA TOUR or the Champions Tour?

PETER JACOBSEN: Well, it's the type of there's so many good players on the Champions Tour. There's so many good players in the game of golf, number one, and when they gather at a great site like NCR or Belle Rive last year, you really have to be at the best that you can be to win a major championship on all aspects of the game. You've got to drive the ball well. You can't fake your way around the golf course.

This week I think is going to be the premium is going to be more on short game than it was last year at Belle Rive. We had a lot of wet weather. As you know, the Friday round was postponed because of weather and we had 36 on Sunday, so we had fairly soft conditions.

It doesn't look like it's going to be soft this year. The heat is obviously here, so they're going to have a real challenge to keep the greens soft well, I won't say soft, but just keep them from dying because we've seen some times when you get this heat that you can lose the greens like that.

But I think more than anything, I've always believed that it's an attitude, it's a perseverance. You don't win the tournament on the 3rd hole or the 12th hole or the 30th hole, although you can lose a tournament on those holes. You've got to keep your head around you while others are losing theirs, and I think that's why you see a lot of the players that have had great careers win the major championships, and you look at Jack Nicklaus, look at Watson. Watson won the senior British last week. Is there a better American player who can tackle the European golf better than Tom Watson? I don't think there is. I don't think Tiger, I don't think Nicklaus. I think Tom Watson would be the guy to throw out there on a match against a European on a links golf course. You've got to be really smart. You've got to take what the course gives you. You can't be stupid.

There are some holes out here you can birdie, there are some you don't even want to try to birdie. You've got to make your par and go on. You've got to be calculating, strategic and smart, and more than anything, you've got to be patient.

RAND JERRIS: You had a good event a couple weeks ago back at the senior players championship. With all due respect, you struggled a little bit at Royal Aberdeen last week

PETER JACOBSEN: Actually I struggled I played pretty good, just didn't score very well. I played great at Ford when I won the Senior Players Championship, and then I went over to Royal Aberdeen and played well, but links golf, I was just totally unprepared for the weather that we had. We had 30 to 40 miles an hour winds the first couple days and it was cold and I wasn't prepared to play.

I shot 83 the first round and 74, 75, 71. I enjoyed it a great deal. I love playing links golf. I just couldn't score. My hats off to Tom Watson for the way he got it in. I think he and Des Smith and Norman were the only three under par. That's some great golf.

Q. I had the pleasure of meeting you and Jack Lemmon at the AT & T last year. You were all alone on the Poppy Hills putting green. You had signed an autograph for me and you convinced Jack to sign an autograph for me. I think one of the rare autographs he's ever signed. Can you tell me what was it like playing the Jack Lemmon all those years?

PETER JACOBSEN: Jack was a very special individual. Jack did not want to sign autographs on the golf course because he didn't think he was worthy as a golfer to sign autographs, obviously being one of the greatest actors in American history puts him in the category where he should sign anytime in his life. But I learned a lot from Jack about people. He really appreciated everybody that would know who he was because they were the ones that came to watch his movies, and therefore they made him.

So many times he and I would go walking, whether it was downtown LA going to lunch, not at a tournament, or walking around a golf course at Pebble Beach or Poppy Hills or anywhere, people would come up and talk and he would stop and talk back. Jack was the rare individual. He never stiff armed the public, as we see a lot of sporting individuals do today. Jack would almost reach out and pull you into his world, which makes him special, which makes him rare.

Q. I read an interview that you recently gave to "Golf Magazine" and you were retelling a little story about how Arnold Palmer chastised you earlier in your career about signing autographs.

PETER JACOBSEN: Yeah, we were playing I used to do an exhibition with Arnold at Annandale Country Club in Los Angeles. It was Arnold and I, Pat Riley, former president of the PGA of America and an LPGA player, Nancy Lopez, Jan Stephenson, Juli Inkster. So we're signing autographs, and at one point I signed a hat and handed it to Arnold and he shoved it back in my face, and he said what is that? I said, "That's my autograph." He said, "I can't read it." He said, "That scribble may be okay on a check because your banker is not going to look at it, but if somebody wants you to sign a piece of memorabilia, you'd better be able to sign it so he can read it." So from that day on I always try to sign my signature so I can read it.

Today I signed a hat for a kid and I asked him, "Do you know who any of those are?" He said no. I said, "What does that tell you?" He said, "When I get famous I should scribble my name." I said, "You don't want to join the crowd, stand out in the crowd." I always try to do that. I owe a lot to Mr. Palmer.

Q. Ray was talking about winning here in '69. You were a young guy at that point. What do you remember about the summer of '69 and what were you doing then?

PETER JACOBSEN: Wasn't that a Bryan Adams song? I did buy my first six string, bought it at the five and dime. I did play it until my fingers bled. It was the summer of '69 (laughter).

I was 15 years old. I remember one of my first golf memories was 1970. I was on the grounds crew at Waverly Country Club at the U.S. Amateur when Kite and Wadkins battled down the stretch and Lanny holed about a 40 footer to beat Kite by one. I remember replacing difficulties and raking bunkers and following the players around. That was really my first brush with championship golf.

In 1969 I really wasn't that into golf. I started playing by caddying for my father and his friends, played a little bit, but I really wasn't that into golf in terms of watching tournaments. I obviously knew who Raymond Floyd and Jack and Arnold and all the great players, and I knew of the major championships, but the one thing that I loved mostly at that time in my life was the "Shell's Wonderful World of Golf" and the CBS "World Golf Classic" because the players were miked. To me, whether it's Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal or Lance Armstrong or Tiger Woods, it's easy to relate to these athletes when they do what they do. I know how Shaquille does it and Lance and Tiger do it, but I've always been interested in getting a peek into their personalities. I want to hear them talk. Like that "Battle of the Bridges" last night, boy, that was just a talk fest, wasn't it? Boy, that was really exciting (making snoring sound).

So when I would watch the shows the "Wonderful World of Golf" and the "World Golf Classic" I would love to watch Jimmy Demerit or Gene Sarazen interview the players or when Jack and Arnold were playing and Gary would grab the mike. I've always been fascinated with what goes on inside a player. I think what goes on inside the players is what makes the player great and what makes the player a champion.

Q. Your attitude stands out. I mean, you seem to love the game, you seem to love to play, and I don't always get that feeling from a lot of some of the players I see out there. It is your business, but you seem to really love your business.

PETER JACOBSEN: I do. And I appreciate the fact that it comes through and you recognize that. I started playing golf when I was a kid, and when I started playing competitive golf, I did it because I loved it. I worked

When I was at the University of Oregon, I had a summer job which allowed me to work to make enough money to go play the U.S. Amateur and the Western Amateur. Those were the only two amateurs I played in the summers when I was in school because I loved it.

I remember one year Curtis Strange and I went to the British Amateur, 1976. I saved up about 1,800 bucks and flew over and actually I sat in a jump seat or served drinks or whatever, I got the cheapest seat on the plane, went over and played at St. Andrews in the British Amateur because I loved the game, and for me to be able to be I'm 51 now and I'm still playing golf. I had a great career on the PGA TOUR. I didn't win every week, but I didn't miss every cut. I was a contributor and a fairly solid player. So for me to continue to do this, I have a great appreciation for what the PGA TOUR has done for me, what the Champions Tour does for me, what the USGA does. They stage a great championship like this and allow 50 year olds to go out and play golf, and I enjoy it.

If I win the tournament this week or I miss the cut, I'm going to still leave that gate at the NCR at the front having had a great time.

Q. When you come to a USGA championship course and play your practice rounds, what are you looking for out there?

PETER JACOBSEN: It's funny you say that. I played with a couple of friends of mine from Portland, Bruce Stewart, Louie Runge and John Wells. John Wells is actually the head pro at my home country club in Portland. It's kind of a misnomer, "practice round". It's kind of a course analysis is what it is. A lot of times the USGA championships are set up so they want you to hit it in the rough, and here at NCR country club there's a lot of doglegs, so what I was looking for today was trying to hit it into the areas that's going to give you the widest margin of error if I happen to hit a bad shot. A lot of times these holes are not drivers or 3 woods, they're long irons to hit to the fat of the fairway to give yourself a shot at the green. The idea is to be able to reduce every hole to a par 3. I want to hit my tee shots into the fairway, so my second shot is an iron and two putts. When you start to get into trouble is if you start being too aggressive with your driver and start getting wild and start making double bogeys and it slips away awfully quickly.

Q. Taking you back to the AT & T again, for years I used to go out there and one of the things I enjoyed was taking pictures all the way until the last putt dropped, but as a fan, not as media. Then as the fans came along and the PGA TOUR came along and said no longer could you as a fan take pictures during the championship rounds, could you give me your opinion on that?

PETER JACOBSEN: Well, I have my own theories and opinions on that, and I think that's a mistake. I also think it's a mistake that the Tour has done away with the Tuesday afternoon shoot outs. On the Tour we used to do a shoot out almost every week, whether it was past champions or selected individuals going out and playing a six hole rotation, and we still do it at Pebble, thank God, and I used to play a lot with Payne. Payne and I would team up and go out, we might be playing Crenshaw and Lanny Wadkins and it would be a best ball competition, and it was for the fans. It wasn't for the players because normally we would play, we'd win a couple thousand bucks and it would go to charity, so it was for the fans.

I think we in golf have to be careful not to take ourselves too seriously, whether it's with cameras or fans or whether it's with juniors or charities. I think we've done a fantastic job on the PGA TOUR. We're on our way to a billion dollars in charitable giving, which is a phenomenal thing when you stop and think about it. What golf does on the PGA TOUR, Champions Tour and the LPGA Tour, what golf does in these communities around the country is fantastic. It raises money and brings awareness to people that they can do, they can chase their dream.

Think of what happened with Casey Martin when he was on Tour and still playing the Nationwide Tour. Look at what Lance Armstrong has done coming back from a cancer scare to win 7 Tour de Frances. Those are the things we need to embrace and we need to reach out and grab the fan and grab the junior player and pull them inside the ropes rather than stiff arm them. They would go on and on about that. I've got my own opinions about that. It would probably get me in trouble.

Q. Winning a major or any tournament, is it all golf all the time, or do you just go back to your hotel or try to find a restaurant or what's that like during the week?

PETER JACOBSEN: First of all, joining the Championships Tour is fun because we go to a lot of new cities. I like to go out and go to the top spots, the fun spots, the great places to eat, whether there's a sporting event, baseball team, movie theater, whatever, I like to get out.

But one of the things that we were talking about driving in this morning was the USGA does a great job in two aspects: Number one, they always find a great golf course for us to play, NCR, Belle Rive, Shinnecock, Winged Foot, Prairie Dunes next year, those are fantastic golf courses, number one. But number two, they go to communities that really love their golf. You think about 1969 here was the last time they had the men the men had a major championship here, so we're going back to an area that really is rolling up the red carpet. So we have a chance to read the media guide and also read the information that the committee provides with all the hot spots and all the fun places to go.

I don't take my golf home with me. If I shoot an 83 or a 63, I get done, I enjoy it or I kick my bag or whatever with the 83, but when I'm done I pretty much leave it there.

One thing that's important to know, and this is how I believe, what I shoot is my score. What I shoot isn't me. And unfortunately somebody said a lot of guys don't look like they enjoy their golf. I think too many guys identify with their score. They shoot a 63 they're awesome, they're a great guy; if they shoot an 80, they're a bum. That isn't true.

Q. I was just noticing that there were several players who chose not to go to the Senior British last week. What's your take on back to back majors?

PETER JACOBSEN: Well, it's obviously tough. I went because I love playing links golf. It's a major championship. You can't win it unless you enter it. I felt an obligation because I was the Senior Open champ and also the senior players champion, as well, so I felt an obligation to go.

Links golf and that golf over there has always baffled me, and that's why I have such great respect for Tom Watson and what he's done over there. It's so difficult to play. You're dealing with wind, you're dealing with rain, you're dealing with cold, you're dealing with firm fairways, odd angles off the tee. It's really a mind game. It's a mind game. It's a real mind game. It's tough. But I will continue to go to the Senior British because it's a major championship, and as long as I'm exempt, I like to go because I said, unless you're in it, you can't win it.

But back to back majors is really tough. It makes it all that much more satisfying.

RAND JERRIS: Peter, thanks very much for your time. We wish you luck this week.


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