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TRAVELERS CHAMPIONSHIP MEDIA DAY
April 29, 2014
NATHAN GRUBE:¬† Good morning, everyone.¬† My name is Nathan Grube.¬† I'm the tournament director for the Travelers Championship.¬† Welcome to our media day for 2014.¬† We are very excited to be 48 days away.¬† My allergies say that it is spring, but outside does not say that it is spring, but we're going to ignore that and have a good day on the golf course, so it's going to be a lot of fun.
Before we get started we are going to see a little video.¬† Some of you have seen this, where we recap 2013 and it really is a springboard to what we're doing in 2014, so I always love to get this day started off reminding us where we've come from this year and what we celebrated for 2013.
Thank you to everybody in this room for making that happen.¬† We're excited about what our video is going to be for this year.¬† But I do want to say thank you for telling those stories, digging deeper into the tournament to see that it's obviously more than a golf tournament, and you help us tell those stories.¬† You care about all aspects of this event, what it means to our region, what it means to our state, and when we look at what's happened to our charity dollars, I was talking about this earlier when Travelers took over the last year of Buick, we had generated $350,000 for charity.¬† Nothing to be ashamed of, great number, a lot of people were helped with that money.¬† We just reached over $1.2 million last year, and you look at that charity growth from '07, '08, '09, '10 through the tournament, that's because you help us tell the stories about what else is happening out here besides the golf tournament:¬† A baby shower, military appreciation, the concerts, things like that.
So thank you for being a partner with us.¬† You've made us better.¬† You've challenged us.¬† You've called us out, asked us questions, made sure we knew why we were doing things, so I thank you for doing your jobs, and I think this tournament is better because of it.
There's a few people I want to thank before we get started.¬† The board of directors for the tournament, the charity that actually owns the rights to Connecticut's PGA TOUR event, the greater Hartford Community Foundation.¬† There's a few board members in the room.¬† Thank you very much for your hours of support and commitment to this event.¬† A lot of behind‑the‑scenes work, and you have to put up with me, and I apologize for that publicly.
And I also do want to say, Joe D., I've owed you an apology for about 10 months.¬† Joe shared some choice words with me, and as many of you know, he doesn't mince words at all, but I was supposed to do an interview.¬† Joe called and said, hey, Sunday night after the Open come on the show and we'll talk about some stuff for the tournament.¬† I said, Joe, thank you so much for the support, happy to be on there.
He calls me about 10 minutes before we're supposed to go on, and I'm at Bradley International Airport welcoming the charter in because it had been delayed and I got completely flustered with the flight coming in.¬† I said, Joe, I am so sorry, and he said a few nice words to me and he hung up the phone.
And I saw him later in the week, and I said, hey, are we still friends, he said, we're still friends.¬† So publicly I want to apologize for completely, completely letting you down that night, so hopefully you'll forgive me.
Andy Bessette is going to come up and say a few words, and I have the privilege of being able to introduce Andy a handful of times during the year, and I never get tired of doing it.¬† I hear other people introduce him, and it just reinforces‑‑ many of you know him.¬† He is committed, he's genuine, he loves this event, but he's an advocate for us, and what I mean by that is this:¬† He's going to talk about the extension that they announced in February with the tournament.¬† When he went in with the PGA TOUR and was negotiating this deal, and the PGA TOUR is a good partner, but Andy went in with the concerns of this community, the concerns of our volunteers, the concerns of our players, the concerns of our sponsors, the concerns of our fans.¬† He carried all that with him into those negotiations and came out with an unbelievable deal that we are going to benefit from for more than a decade.¬† I mean, you look at that $30 million economic impact number annually, that's more than $300 million that's going to go back to this community and this state over the next decade from an economic impact standpoint, and I commend his vision for not just looking at it from a title sponsor standpoint but from all of our standpoints.
And he did that, and he came back with something that we are all very, very proud of and we're going to benefit from.¬† So very proud to welcome to the mic, Andy Bessette, chief administrative officer and executive vice president of Travelers.
ANDY BESSETTE:¬† Thanks, Nathan.¬† First I have to start and say thank you to you and your staff because you really are the best on the PGA TOUR.¬† I meet a lot of title sponsors every year, and I meet a lot of tournament directors every year, and the work that you and your staff does is second to none.¬† You're just phenomenal, and we should give you an ovation for that.
I don't know how many of you are here, but I have to ask because people have asked me this morning, how many of you were here last year?¬† So do you remember my moose story?¬† I can report there were no moose sightings last night in West Hartford, so we're cool.
But on behalf of Jay Fishman and everybody else at Travelers, I'd like to thank you for joining us this morning and to help us kick off our countdown to the 2014 Travelers Championship.
We're so pleased to have with us today our defending champion Ken Duke.¬† Ken is a caring man.¬† I always look for simple one words to describe people, and he's such a caring guy.¬† He's a tough competitor, but you care about everything; you care about your family, you care about your charity, you care about the life and the world around us.¬† I think it's a privilege, an honor to have you as our defending champion.
Some of our long‑term board members said to me before, I think he's the best champion we've ever had, and they know enough to have many more decades of insight than I do, and that says a mouthful.¬† I really do think you're the best champion we've had, and we've had a lot of great champions.¬† Having you here means a lot to us, so thank you.
Every time I watch that video, Ken leans over and says it never gets old, does it?¬† I said, every time I watch that, I get chills up my spine, and I've seen it 100 times because every time they recut it we relook at it.¬† But when you watch it and you just kind of focus on it, it's just so special.
We're excited to have Ken here, excited to see Ken defend this year.¬† We've got Bubba coming back and we've got Hunter playing and we've got Matt Kuchar and Nathan is going to announce some other players today.¬† Already we've got six of the top 20 in the world playing the Travelers Championship this year.
What else can you ask for?¬† I think of where we started back in 2006 when we negotiated the first title sponsorship and where we've come from '07, the 2007 tournament and where we are now heading into 2014, eight years later, and we've had great champions, we've had great fields, but I don't think we've ever had six of the top 20 in the world coming, and I think that makes it very important.
Now, Nathan referenced a little bit about our extension I want to just share with you.¬† We never give up and we never stop improving.¬† That's what we're about here.¬† One of the cool things we did this year is we were able to negotiate some terms to make it better for the players and better for their families, and as you know, our clubhouse is a little small, and so what we've done is we're going to have a double‑decker, a two‑story structure in the back of the clubhouse this year which is going to be player dedicated, player dining, player and family dining, registration, and it's really it's going to be spectacular, and it'll really help us add to the functionality of the clubhouse.¬† Just so you don't think that we ever stop trying to improve, that was one little piece, and there are other things that we'll describe later that are making this a better tournament, better for the players, better for the families, a better experience while you're here.¬† Nothing was more discouraging for Nathan and I than to come in and see players look into the bar and the little area where they would eat and turn around and go out, and that's not a good thing.
That's just one enhancement we're going to put together this year as a part of our title sponsor extension.
Back in 2007 we promised to deliver a new era and a new experience for the PGA TOUR or for Connecticut's PGA TOUR event, and seven years later I can tell you that Jay and I have talked at Travelers that it's exceeded all of our expectations, and I hope, and I mean this sincerely, I hope it's exceeded all of your expectations, as well, because you're as big a part of what we do here.¬† We can do about half of it, but we can't do the other half as far as sponsorships and partners.¬† We can't do the media piece of it.¬† We need your help to get this word out on all the improvements that we've made here and how good a tournament this is, and that's important to us.
People said, well, why did you extend for that long a period of time.¬† Why did you extend, and it's quite easy because it's about charity, it's about our community and it's about our business and our brand.¬† But we're one of five, five, hometown sponsors on the PGA TOUR.¬† Five out of how many, 45 events?¬† So this is more than just a golf tournament to us.¬† This is our community.¬† This is our home.¬† These are our friends.¬† Ken Duke is part of our family.
When I saw him wearing his red trousers and umbrella jacket this morning, I said, you know what, we need to just hire him.¬† Don't take that the wrong way, Ken.¬† You should keep doing what you're doing because you're very good at that.¬† But it's just great to see what's happened here, and so that's why we extend.
100 percent of all the net proceeds go to charity, and we've helped over 500 charities in the seven years that we've been the Travelers Championship, and the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, and I won't talk a lot about it because each and every one of you know how much it means to Travelers and to myself.¬† We have the Duffy family with us here today and you'll hear more about it, but you know what, there are a lot of children with life‑threatening illnesses that the camp just gives a whole different experience to, and for a week during the summer or the hospital program, you can just kind of get it out of your head and have some fun, and as Paul Newman said be a kid again and stay a kid.
The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp means the world to us and what they've done out at the camp, if you haven't been out there you've got to see this because it's really second to nothing.¬† It's spectacular.¬† I want to go back and play.¬† I want to fish in that pond, actually.¬† Have you ever caught a fish in the pond?¬† So there's really fish out there.¬† So this summer I'm going to go fish.
But we did the extension for actually a couple of important reasons, but one was that we wanted to make sure we sent the right message to the players, to our sponsors, to our fans that we're not going anywhere, that the Travelers Championship is here, this is our home, we're here for many, many years to come, and I think we're seeing it with the players this year.¬† To have six of the top 10 in the world, have Ken coming back, and the list when you see our full list of players who will be playing, I think they recognize it.
I will tell you this long story, but Henrik Stenson, Nathan and I had a conversation at Doral, and we walked up to him and we just said hi, and he said, wow, you extended for 10 years?¬† He said, I'm embarrassed I haven't played the Travelers Championship.¬† I'll play the Travelers Championship either this year or next year.¬† I don't think he can make it this year so I'm counting on him for next year.¬† That's how impressed he was, and I think Henrik is still ranked 3rd in the world or whatever.
That's the kind of response this has had on the PGA TOUR.¬† The players get it, the players want to be here, and you'll hear that from Ken.¬† That's what we try to create.¬† We can't do good for charity, we can't do good for our community without having a good player field, and that's very important to us.
And to celebrate our extension also on Wednesday, June 18, we're going to have fan appreciation day, and the first 2024, go figure that out, fans that come in the gate will get red Travelers umbrellas.¬† We're trying to do things throughout the week, and there will be chances to see players.¬† We're going to have surprise player appearances, we're going to have player autograph sessions around the miniature golf celebrity tournament on Wednesday morning, which is still‑‑ after one year it's like my favorite thing.¬† It's really good because everybody can play mini‑golf, right, but everybody can't play big person golf and be comfortable and not kill some spectators with golf balls and whatever.
So that's an important part of what we do.
There's going to be a lot of other special events.¬† Women's day will continue.¬† The concert series we didn't announce yet but Nathan will announce later, have some great concerts, great bands, and then of course military appreciation.
Military appreciation since we launched it in 2010 is an integral part of what we do here, and what Chris Dadlez and St.Francis Care have done as our presenting sponsor, you can't under‑appreciate, under‑talk about it.¬† Every time I do this, and I probably embarrass you, Chris, I apologize but the leadership you took around that initiative, and it's so important so us and to you and to the community that it's really excellent, and it gives us that opportunity to honor and say thank you to all the brave men and women who served and are serving our nation in the military and protecting our freedom and what the United States is all about.¬† So thank you for your partnership and your sponsorship.
I want to take just a minute to announce this morning that we've got six Travelers employees who will share the duties‑‑ that sounds kind of military, share the duties‑‑ of being our military honorary co‑chairs for the 2014 Travelers Championship.¬† Each of their stories is extraordinary, and I'm just going to give you a quick sentence on each of them as they stand up and you'll be hearing more about them in the coming weeks.
Lauren Chellis, U.S. Navy.¬† She attended the U.S. Naval Academy and served on active duty and is now in the U.S. Navy Reserves.¬† Thanks, Lauren.
Greg Lockwood, he's like my hero because you'll understand in a minute.¬† He's a U.S. Coast Guard.¬† He served on active duty on Martha's Vineyard.¬† I'm a boater on Cape Cod, so it's like, Menemsha, right, anybody could be stationed at Menemsha and Martha's Vineyard.¬† It's a serious job, so I'm not making light of it.¬† But after that he transferred to the Reserves and immediately deployed to Kuwait in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, so thank you, Greg, for all you're doing.
Casey Neff is U.S. Army, and Casey plays a special role at Travelers.¬† He heads up our military network, which is an opportunity for all of our military, former veterans and military, to come together working at Travelers, and he's a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy as well as the U.S. Army Airborne Air Assault and Ranger schools.¬† He served on active duty in Korea, Hawai'i and Germany and has had assignments in Russia, Afghanistan and the Pentagon.¬† Casey, thanks for all you do, coordinating all of our efforts at Travelers.
Joe Stanford is U.S. Air Force and has served on active duty for 10 years, stationed in Russia, Japan and Qatar, and currently serves in the Connecticut Air National Guard.¬† Joe, thank you for being here.
Lori Thomas, and Lori has a very interesting‑‑ it's a sentence but you can imagine what was in between the ends.¬† Lori was U.S. Army and started as a private straight out of high school and ultimately retired as a major after 30 years in the service, so I thought that was just tremendous.¬† What's in between there is phenomenal.
And our last honorary military co‑chair is Sebastian Wisniewski, U.S. Marines, and is currently a reservist after two years in active duty.¬† Sebastian was born in Ecuador to political refugees from Poland, and Sebastian became a U.S. citizen on board the U.S.S. Green Bay in San Francisco at the age of 27.¬† So I think that's just phenomenal.¬† What a great story, Sebastian.¬† Thank you for being here.
While you're going to be hearing more about them in the coming weeks, I just want to make sure that you had a chance to meet them this morning and join us in saying thank you and recognizing their service and dedication to what they do to help us all keep the American dream alive and what we try to did in the United States every day.¬† We couldn't do it without any of you, and you are all representing all the military during tournament week, and so we appreciate you taking the time and agreeing to do this.
I'd like to thank all the sponsors, volunteers, the players, the media, state officials and fans who make this partnership a success, the Travelers Championship, and we're looking forward to another memorable week from June 16 to the 22nd, and I can't say this enough, we couldn't do it without you.¬† This is a partnership.¬† We can do part of it as a title sponsorship, and yes, we have a long extension, so now we can all play in the same sandbox for many, many years to come, but we can't do it without you.¬† We need you from every angle and every aspect because we need to every year make this better than it was the year before.¬† Continuous improvement is what we're about.
When Nathan and I talk with our teams, and Jennifer Wislocki, who's a key part of my team, wherever you are, Jennifer, in back, pulling this together is just beyond a circus.¬† It's beyond‑‑ it's a thousand‑ring circus of everything going on.¬† You just can't imagine what it takes to make this happen.¬† And again, without the media coverage and all of your coverage we can't tell our story, and you report it and you let people know what we're trying to do here, and the players read it, everybody reads it, and it just is very, very helpful, so thank you to all of you for making this happen, and let's have 10 more years of a lot of fun together.¬† Thank you.
NATHAN GRUBE:¬† He mentioned the tournament team.¬† I do need to publicly say thank you to a team that there's 10 of us that work on this tournament year‑round.¬† That's all we do, and my brother says I have the best job in America.¬† I take 51 weeks off, and I just nod my head, and say yep, that's exactly what we do.
But there are 10 of us, and they are committed to it.¬† I would put them up against any tournament team in the country.¬† So thank you very much.¬† I think half of them are in here and the other half are doing work outside in the tent, and our interns who have started, as well.¬† It's going to be a fun ride over the next few months, so hopefully you still like the event business when you're done.
I get to announce or introduce Chris next who's going to say a few words, Chris Dadlez from St.Francis.¬† Just so you know, St. Francis, they are one of our partners that does things on multiple levels.¬† They are a sponsor, they're obviously our presenting sponsor that comes with a significant commitment to the tournament, what we're doing, the vision for where we're going with the event.
Also they provide a lot of volunteers for the tournament, and they provide our medical care for the tournament.¬† So they wear different hats with the tournament all week and all year, and they do a phenomenal job.
We're very fortunate to have them as a partner with the event, and Chris is going to come up and say a few words.
CHRIS DADLEZ:¬† Thank you, Nathan.¬† It's my distinct honor to share this podium with today's speakers and to be here on behalf of St.Francis Care.¬† The rewards of the Travelers Championship to Connecticut are many, and we're justifiably very proud to call this gem of an event ours to share.¬† At St.Francis, we understand and appreciate this key role, and we're proud to have extended our volunteer support to the championship for the last 26 years.
This year for the 16th year in a row, we will be providing free care, on‑course medical service for players, their families, their friends, the fans and volunteers.¬† This is an incredible honor that we take great pride in the safety and care for the hundreds of thousands of individuals who will be in attendance at this year's event.
In addition, hundreds of our employees will volunteer at the food concession tent in the Fan Zone and in the Patriots Outpost.¬† This year we once again share the great enthusiasm for our involvement in the week‑long Military Appreciation Salute for armed service personnel.¬† This initiative is our special way of saying thank you to those who served our country and serve it still today, so thank you so much.¬† Our support of Military Appreciation Salute which has significantly grown over the years includes complimentary admission to the event for all active, reserve and retired military service members and their dependents, as well as discounts for U.S. veterans; a climate‑controlled Patriots Outpost, which serves as a gathering place for the military personnel and their families that also offers complimentary refreshments; a military caddie program, which gives active duty military an opportunity to carry the TOUR players' bags during the Travelers celebrity pro‑am; and an opportunity for three Birdies for the Brave warriors to play a threesome in the Travelers celebrity pro‑am.
This year through our partnership with the Travelers Championship and Birdies for the Brave, we are also pleased to present our wounded warriors with specially fitted Callaway golf clubs which they will use during the pro‑am.¬† In fact, all three of our Birdies for the Brave warriors were fitted by Callaway on the practice facility earlier today.
We are thrilled to support these efforts, and we hope our military service members share our enthusiasm for this special salute and tribute.
But today is an especially special day for us because it is also my privilege to announce that we're taking the lead from Travelers and the St.Francis Care has committed to extending our involvement as a presenting sponsor through 2020.¬† St.Francis will also be the official medical provider for the Travelers Championship through 2020, so in closing I'd like to extend my sincere gratitude to the Travelers Championship board of directors, Nathan Grube and his stellar staff, Andy Bessette and the Travelers team, the PGA TOUR, the entire St.Francis team, and the countless other volunteers who make this local event a national showcase.¬† Thank you very much.
NATHAN GRUBE:¬† Chris, thank you very much.¬† When you start to lay the foundation like that, you can do some pretty special things with the tournament, with the title and other partners who are supporting it at that length.¬† It's a special place.¬† It's not happening everywhere around the country.¬† We are in a unique spot, and we are going to do some fun things with this tournament over the next few years.
I now have the privilege of introducing a family.¬† One of the beneficiaries of the tournament is as many of you know is the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp and it is a camp here in Connecticut that does some absolutely magical, magical things.¬† You've heard me say things, heard people talk about the camp, and we've said this, we are fortunate to be able to partner with them.¬† There's no better way to put it, the magic and the healing power of what takes place at Camp in our state is something that will move you.¬† If you haven't been there, you need to go.¬† If you haven't met somebody from Camp, you need to meet them and talk to them and it will change your perspective just on life and what's happening.
We have a family here this afternoon who's going to speak about it, their experience with Camp and kind of the full circle of what happens when somebody in your family is diagnosed with something that could be something that‑‑ well, it will change your life, but how are you going to handle it as a family, and Camp reaches out to not only the children but also the parents and the siblings and the family and we've never had a family really come up and speak about the whole scope of what it means, but I never want us to forget, at the end of the day this is what it's about.¬† We are able to do things like this because we get the support from our community, the support from our sponsors, and Camp provides all this for free to these families and to these kids.¬† So when we help fund things at Camp, those are more families and more kids that are getting a phone call saying, guess what, you can come to Camp.¬† So the more money we raise and the better we do our job and the better our team and our volunteers, the more money we can make, the more families are getting those calls where their lives are changed.
I'd like to welcome up the Duffys to share their story.
LISA DUFFY:¬† Thank you, Nathan.¬† That was a wonderful introduction, and magic is certainly the right word to use when you're talking about Hole in the Wall Camp.¬† My name is Lisa Duffy.¬† Thank you so much to everyone for being here today.
We are excited to be here and are grateful to the Travelers Championship and its title sponsor, Travelers, for their generosity and long‑standing support of the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp.
My son Luke was diagnosed with ALL leukemia at 18 months old.¬† In one brief moment, our life changed.¬† Having a child who spent a better part of his life sick, infused with IVs and doused with medication has not been easy.
Living with fear and uncertainty can make the quality of life for an average family of five very disconcerting.
Other children his age were playing with friends and playing sports.¬† We were at the hospital and scared.¬† There were times when his two older siblings were forced to sleep at friends' and relatives' houses because we were staying in the hospital with Luke.¬† Their lives were anything but normal.
We got through it, and Luke's fighting spirit kept us going.¬† We had a long reprieve where Luke was well and enjoying life as a kid.¬† Then two years ago came another life‑threatening illness.
We knew we would get through it.¬† We had an amazing support system.¬† It's called the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp.
LUKE DUFFY:¬† Hello, my name is Luke Duffy, and not only did I have ALL, my other life‑threatening disease is a rare immune system disease.¬† I was very ill.¬† I had sores all over my body.¬† My mouth was white, my lips were black.¬† I could not walk nor eat.¬† But when I learned about the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp I was so happy.
Spending a whole week of the summer to spend with kids that have gone through the same thing that you have, now that is awesome.¬† I went to camp and I did things like boating, fishing, swimming, woodwork, meeting new friends and counselors, and my favorite thing, eating.
Camp also helped me when I was undergoing treatment in hospital.¬† My hospital outreach program came to my room when I was sick and helped me express what I was feeling with this poem:
My body:¬† My pain is prickly like a cactus on a hot day.¬† I feel it morning, noon and night.¬† My body shudders like a bedbug at night.¬† I'm angry like a hungry bear.¬† I would like to bite into bravery.¬† I feel hardened like a bunch of people stepping on sidewalk pavement.
I want to speak to God in heaven to know more about the afterlife.¬† I want to give love and care to my family.¬† I want to transform my pain into a meal and eat it.
CLAY DUFFY:¬† Hello, my name is Clay Duffy and I've been going to the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp for the past three summers as a sibling.¬† Going to camp my first year, I was a little hesitant but was welcomed in by the supporting staff and counselors as well as veteran campers who reassured me that I was going to have the best time of my life.
To say the truth, it was nothing short of that.¬† Getting the time to know other siblings was a great experience, and so was sharing the same pain of seeing our brothers or sisters go through so much to get to where they are today.
I was fortunate enough to be in the same cabin for the past three years with a great friend, Paul.¬† His friendship is a gift due to his brother being the same age as Luke and are many similarities that brought us closer together.¬† In that first week, I also got to interact with my older brother Trent, which made me want to continue to share similar memories with the rest of my family.
LISA DUFFY:¬† Our lives are better because we have experienced the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp.¬† We transitioned from the cancer community to becoming part of the most wonderful community that there is:¬† One that is filled with hope.¬† After our boys raved about their time and adventures while staying at camp and the people they connected with, we were fortunate to be chosen for a family weekend so that we could experience a small piece of, like Nathan said, the magic that is Hole in the Wall Gang Camp.
We went, and upon our arrival, we were enveloped in the unique power of Camp.¬† We climbed the tower ‑ well, most of us.¬† We shot arrows and bows, we did some arts and crafts projects, and most of all, we danced and we laughed, as we experienced the post‑dinner fun that follows every dinner at camp.
We came home that weekend in total awe of the quality of not only the camp and the facilities but of the people who make Camp the most incredible experience that it is.¬† We felt close as a family because we were together.
Last summer my husband and I, Mike, saved every penny we had and took the family to Yellowstone National Forest.¬† We spent five days hiking incredible trails, seeing all types of animals and breathtaking landscape, but when we asked the boys what was the best week of the summer, Trent, Clay and Luke, they replied, without hesitation:¬† Hole in the Wall Gang Camp.
Thank you for helping make Camp possible for our family.
NATHAN GRUBE:¬† First rule of public speaking:¬† Never follow Camp or Camp parent or Camp family.
Thank you for letting us be a part of that story.¬† This isn't part of a PR campaign for the tournament.¬† This is our DNA.¬† This is who we are.¬† We're about charity, and at the end of the day we get to say the better we do our jobs, the more people like this we can actually help, so thank you and thank you.¬† And for those betting that I was going to cry, you just lost money because I didn't.
I want to introduce Chris and Ken to come up and talk about it because, again, I say this, for those of you that think this is a golf tournament, you haven't been paying attention.¬† This is about so much more.¬† But what it does, the golf tournament gives us a platform to do so many incredible things in our community, and being able to have Ken in town and highlight our champion and have Chris Berman here to be able to interview and tell stories, we are so fortunate to have Chris be a partner and a member of the team, and I said this earlier, Chris is Chi‑Chi Rodriguez, and what I mean by that is for those of you that ever spent any time with Chi‑Chi when he played, everybody was Chi‑Chi's best friend in the tournament, and the kids would line up for six miles to get autographs from Chi‑Chi, and he would sit there and sign every one because he cared, and he did it as long as he played, and Chris is the same way.
His commitment to us and what we're doing here and the vision for the tournament, he's all in, and he is a part of it.¬† He loves it.¬† He talks about this tournament when he's out and around, all around the world, and we're very, very fortunate to have him be a part of it.
And Ken, like Andy said, Ken has worked his way into our event in a way that we didn't expect.¬† We love our champions but we have come to love Ken in a very different way because Ken is lovable.¬† He is very genuine, he is very sincere and he cares, and he will call out things about TOUR guys going, man, we should be doing more here, we should be doing more here, and if you spend two minutes with Ken, you're going to love him, too, because his vision for what the TOUR is about and giving back, he has an incredible story, and we're actually going to‑‑ don't get up yet.¬† We're going to show a little video about Ken and then I'm going to have Andy and Ken come back up for a little gift that Andy and Travelers got him.¬† We've got a little Ken Duke video we're going to show.
Ladies and gentlemen, our 2013 champion, Mr.Ken Duke.¬† Come on up.
ANDY BESSETTE:¬† Everybody knows what Wheaties boxes are.¬† Well, we decided for the Travelers Championship that we were going to go with M&M's, so this year we actually had Ken's face on M&M's, right?¬† We ordered like tons of them.¬† We gave Ken a whole bunch of them, so that's going to be a tradition now.¬† From now on whoever wins the Travelers Championship is going to be on an M&M.¬† You're our first champion to be on M&M candies.
Secondly, we know you like something to do with bass fishing, so we went out and bought you a bass rod and reel, and we figure, you know what, you can use this‑‑ you can actually go fishing and hunt.¬† I know there's fish in that pond down there.¬† That's what we have for you, and we have a great case for the reel that says Travelers Championship, Ken Duke, 2013 champion, and then I'm not going to pick that up, but that's your rod case.¬† It can fit multiple rods, and everyone knows when you go fishing that you won the Travelers Championship in 2013.
KEN DUKE:¬† Thank you.¬† Wow, I didn't expect this.¬† I definitely didn't expect that.¬† I just want to say thank you guys for all being here and thanks to Andy and Nathan and everyone at Travelers.¬† This is what I like to do. ¬†Golf is what I have to do for a living, but I'd like to go out to the Hole in the Wall Gang and let you guys take me fishing.¬† I know my wife and kids are coming up and we'll definitely be out there during the tournament, but this is what I like to do.¬† I'm better at this than I am at that golf game sometimes.
I didn't expect this, but this is a special‑‑ I promise you this rod will never be used.¬† They will be in my house for a keepsake, just to say thank you guys for giving me this.¬† It's a wonderful gift, unexpected, but thank you again.
CHRIS BERMAN:¬† Welcome home.
KEN DUKE:¬† Thank you, Chris.
CHRIS BERMAN:¬† A young man from hope, Arkansas, this is your second home.¬† We can keep your rod here, you know.¬† Does it catch golf balls in that pond, because there's a few.
NATHAN GRUBE:¬† Definitely.
CHRIS BERMAN:¬† Yes, it sunk in that night, etcetera, but was there a moment maybe when all of a sudden you're playing all these other events that you're hoping to get in, FedEx, almost all the way through, etcetera, maybe it sunk in that night, maybe it was the next day, but a dream to win on the PGA TOUR which has taken you halfway around the world, some tournaments that I'd actually like to hear about sometime on the South American Tour.¬† I can't imagine the Falkland Island Open or whatever they have.¬† But when did it hit you all of a sudden, as you said, I'm a real member of the club now?
KEN DUKE:¬† I think being here today, no question.¬† One of the reporters asked me what did you expect about today. ¬†I've never done this.¬† I've never defended.¬† I've won on the Web.com, but I always went to the TOUR the next year, so I didn't know what to expect.
Just seeing clips like this and being announced on the first tee as a PGA TOUR winner, not just a PGA TOUR winner, the Travelers Championship winner, the first tournament in Maui, that was my wife's whole joke between her and I, she said, we get to go to Maui now.¬† I'm like, okay, I want to go to Augusta.¬† So we got to do both.
But no question, just all the friends and family and the pro‑am players that I've played with over the years and all the emails and text messages and phone calls, that's what it's all about.¬† I think I have a lot more people pulling for me than I even know, to be honest with you.¬† That's me, and it's just meeting new people and welcoming them in and just having fun with it.
Will it sink in?¬† It has a little bit, but it would be nice to keep doing it every year.¬† It would be nice.
CHRIS BERMAN:¬† There's no law against it.
KEN DUKE:¬† No, I know that.¬† It's exciting, to be here at the Travelers and to win the Travelers, I feel like it's a special place for me from when my teacher Bob Toski won this in 1953, and 60 years later his student wins it.¬† That's a special moment.¬† Just a special moment with the Travelers.¬† They feel like a family.¬† Some tournaments don't feel like a family to me, they just feel like another event.¬† This place makes you feel like that with all the charity work that they do, which is priceless.¬† I try to do as much as I can, and I don't think I do enough, and I still do a lot.
But what they do and all the people with Travelers, it feels like home.
CHRIS BERMAN:¬† Will you get a chance‑‑ you probably have because you've been outside just to gaze down at 18, of course you played that hole enough times on that Sunday afternoon to see it in your sleep for the next three years, right?
KEN DUKE:¬† I can see it from the clubhouse, usually they have the grandstands and stuff, so it probably looks totally different between now and then, but I took a peek out there a little bit earlier, I sure did.
CHRIS BERMAN:¬† Many of you guys covered the event, so we don't have to go through it all, but after all these years at 44 you hadn't won, and we talked about this this morning, and then you're in the scorer's tent and then Chris Stroud rolls in a 50‑footer, and I have to play some more golf, like I finally thought after all this‑‑ we all try to play, it doesn't matter what level.¬† How did you get yourself in those 10 minutes or whatever time you had, did you have a chance to putt, hit balls?¬† I don't really remember.
KEN DUKE:¬† I don't, either.¬† You always think about, as I was growing up, your first tournament, you're just going to win.¬† There was no playoff, there was no one chasing you, you were just going to run away with it.¬† Well, that was not the case.¬† Chris did what he had to do trying to win the golf tournament just like I am.
I think that week was my week.¬† I had a lot of great things happen.¬† Obviously Mr.Toski won here before.¬† I had a lot of friends up here from Boston, and my wife's aunt and uncle and some of their friends from town in the Tampa area, they come up here in the summertime.¬† I just think there was a lot of people pulling for me that week, being older.¬† Chris was a little younger.¬† I just think it all worked out.
When you're coming down the stretch, you hope you have a good yardage or I guess we would say a good number into the green, and I did, and to pull that shot off and be as close as it was, I wish it was a little bit closer, but I made the putt, and just a relief on your shoulders.¬† I feel like I'm not just another player on the PGA TOUR now.¬† I feel like I belong, to be in the family.¬† Guys respect me.¬† A lot of guys know who I am, and that makes me feel good, just all the hard work that I've put in over the years.
CHRIS BERMAN:¬† I'm going to break off a little bit because we have the Duffy family here that was wonderful in sharing your story.¬† It's hard enough ‑‑ we all think we've had a bad day, for you guys to be so upbeat and everything, and you saw Ken's story or you've heard about it, and at 14, 15, 16, the steel plate which is still there, 16, 17 inches in your back.¬† A message that these guys have learned I guess is a message that you have given, whether they have the same spinal problem or just anything, to whatever age, you can deal with it.¬† Your swing can't be normal, right?
KEN DUKE:¬† No.
CHRIS BERMAN:¬† But you knew that a long time ago.
KEN DUKE:¬† Yeah, that's the beauty of golf.¬† Everyone swings different.¬† Everyone putts different.¬† Everyone swings different, and everyone hits it differently.¬† That's just the way the golf game is.
But it's not about us out there playing on the PGA TOUR now.¬† It's just about helping charities like this and families like this to give back, and that's why my wife and I donated to the Hole in the Wall Gang and didn't know anything about it honestly until we did that, and now we can't wait to get out there and take a tour of it and let these guys teach me how to fish a little bit.¬† I can't wait for that.
My youngest daughter is a big fisherman, too, so we're going to have fun with it.¬† That's what it's about.¬† We're out relaying the message and helping other people in their bumps in the road, as well.
CHRIS BERMAN:¬† I know you've had a chance to look at the names.¬† You know them maybe by heart by now, but Arnold Palmer a couple times, Billy Casper four times, Sam Snead.¬† I mean, Sam Snead won this thing.¬† Bob Toski, who told you that morning just shoot a 66 and you'll be all set.¬† He didn't know you'd have to shoot a 66 and then play more, but he was close.¬† Mickelson twice, Greg Norman, Nick Price, Lanny Wadkins, Zinger a couple times, Bubba Watson, oh by the way his career has done okay since he won here.¬† Ken Duke.¬† So not only an event, an event that's been around since the '50s with those names.¬† Lee Trevino.¬† What does that mean to you?
KEN DUKE:¬† It means a lot.¬† Obviously it just shows you what Travelers has done here.¬† It makes the guys come back, not just another golf tournament, and that just shows what Andy and Jay and Nathan and all their teams, what they do to get guys here.¬† To be affiliated with all the names there, that's pretty good stuff.¬† You don't really know until you look at it and see who's been there and all the stuff that Arnold Palmer has done and Sam Snead, Mr.Toski used to play with Sam Snead and obviously Mr.Toski winning here and Mr.Jacobsen and Mr.Murphy and the list goes on.¬† You can talk about each one of them.¬† And I'm good friends with a lot of those guys, which is really neat.¬† It's been really, really special for me and my family.
CHRIS BERMAN:¬† Bob Murphy, as many of the old timers know, gave a lot of his, maybe all of his winnings back in 1970.¬† He's endeared.¬† He can show up in this area, and anybody in the golf community 40 years later, that's a magic name.¬† What you did is the same thing.¬† You've got to know that.¬† You can come back here at 80 and we're going to know.¬† Don't you worry.
Have you felt, not even in the results, we didn't talk about this this morning, a different player?¬† Maybe the next week when you teed it up, okay, you're still on the adrenaline, but even going into this year, playing at Maui, maybe not so much what you achieved, you got to Maui, you got to the Masters for the second time, but is there a difference even to start this year?¬† Did you feel you're a different player having won once?
KEN DUKE:¬† No question.¬† Going back to AT&T after I played here, I've never made the cut at Congressional, and I made the cut there.¬† It's too long for me.¬† But my wife and kids were there, my mom and dad were there.¬† They'd never been there.¬† My kids are at an age now that they want to know about D.C., so we did that.¬† But no question, you feel like you belong out here.¬† You feel like your confidence level is up.¬† You're a TOUR winner, not just a player.¬† Guys know who you are, and I feel like I can play a little more aggressive.
I think instead of just playing week to week and trying to get a check and hope you don't miss this putt, hope you don't hit it in the water, hope this, hope that, that's just so much negative in your mind, and being a winner, now you can just feel like you can just go at it, and you never know, it might happen again.
CHRIS BERMAN:¬† Have you been playing okay?
KEN DUKE:¬† Not bad.¬† Nothing spectacular.¬† I think I've missed three out of 14 cuts.¬† I'm a consistent player and always have been, but I'm not a fast starter.¬† I'm always that older guy that slips in down there toward the end.¬† I play good in the summertime and I know that, and you have to be patient with this game and take it as it comes.¬† I'm looking forward to this next stretch coming up and looking forward to coming back here.
But I've been very consistent, and hopefully I can get going.
CHRIS BERMAN:¬† I didn't ask you this before:¬† Did you have a golfer or two growing up that was your guy?
KEN DUKE:¬† Well, I had a golfer, but he was not my guy.¬† I had another guy that was‑‑ not pushed me, but I guess watched what he did pushed me.¬† It was Larry Bird, who plays for the Celtics.¬† He was my guy.¬† He didn't grow up with a lot, small town, parents had to work as much as they could to put food on the table, and that's kind of the way we were.
But I just always watched him go the extra mile, and I remember I used to work‑‑ in high school I used to work through the graveyard shifts just so I could play golf on the weekend, just where I had the day off, practiced before I went to school or practiced at night during the lights, and the list goes on.¬† Golf‑wise Jack Nicklaus was my guy to watch.
I'm very lucky that I get a chance to see him a lot because I live close to him, and him and his wife are good friends of mine now.¬† It's kind of like sitting here with you, you kind of get chills sometime.
CHRIS BERMAN:¬† Stop it.
KEN DUKE:¬† It's part of it.
CHRIS BERMAN:¬† Stop it.
KEN DUKE:¬† It's great.¬† That's the beauty of being out there.¬† I've met a lot of really nice people, a lot of the pro‑am people and just a lot of celebrities.¬† It's really special.
CHRIS BERMAN:¬† Well, they all want to know you.¬† The people that befriended you in the parking lot, you have some folks, and I ran into them a couple times, and I know it's true because they came up to me during the week just before you won, he's going to win, and they had hats made or‑‑ tell that story.¬† If Arnie had an army, Duke's division?¬† With apologies to the military.¬† I can do better than that.¬† Ken's‑‑ it's coming.¬† You'll have it before you leave today, okay?
KEN DUKE:¬† To be continued.
CHRIS BERMAN:¬† But all of a sudden they befriended you just on happenstance or you turned around and said something on a par‑3 to them and all of a sudden you're their hero?
KEN DUKE:¬† Yeah.¬† Well, like I said earlier, you don't get too many people up in this area that roots for a Duke.¬† You know that.¬† I'm lucky in that stage.¬† But I met a guy up in Boston at Fenway Park, him and his dad and his brothers were at the game, and my wife and kids were trying to get out of a parking spot, and they were like, you don't know how to paahk the caah and all that kind of stuff, and he said who are you, why do you got this on your car, and I said, I play golf for a living, Deutsche Bank and all that kind of stuff, and I've just become friends.
A few of them showed up here with shirts on, Team Duke, and I ran into them on Thursday and said this guy is going to win.¬† So they were here Thursday, Friday, then on Saturday they said we can't, we have to do some things at home up in Boston, or Lowell is where he's from, so they said we're going to give you a day off but we'll be back on Sunday if you're in contention, and here they come back, and we end up winning.¬† It was a special time for me just to have let those guys experience that, as well.
CHRIS BERMAN:¬† New England is now a home game for you.
KEN DUKE:¬† For sure.
CHRIS BERMAN:¬† Fishing rod you can leave here, you've got fans all over.¬† We'll open it up to questions.
Q.¬† This year the golf writers gave you a very nice award.¬† Would you just tell the people about that?
KEN DUKE:¬† Yeah, it was a special time.¬† The golf writers have an award for someone overcomes an illness or a condition, perseverance, and I didn't even know I was nominated to be honest with you.¬† I didn't even know about the award.¬† I was out in Maui and one of the golf writers says did you know that you're nominated for the Ben Hogan Award.¬† I said, what is the Ben Hogan Award.¬† I didn't know.¬† He said, by the way you're going to win it; they're going to announce it this weekend.¬† That's what it is:¬† It's someone that overcomes an illness and perseveres over the years.
I received it this year Wednesday at Augusta.¬† A lot of people said, has winning changed your life?¬† You're never going to change my life.¬† My life is going to be the same.¬† I'm the same old guy to people who have known me for a long time.¬† But what has changed is a lot of people know who I am now, which is pretty cool.¬† I'm from Arkansas originally, and in October I got inducted into the Arkansas Golf Hall of Fame.¬† February I got inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, then I get the Ben Hogan Award.¬† I need to win again.¬† (Laughter.)
But the Ben Hogan Award was a very special time.¬† Sure was.
Q.¬† Can you just talk a little bit more about your scoliosis and how it affected you, and when it was affecting you did you have any thought of ever becoming a professional golfer and did you think I'm going to have to do something where I can't be physical?
KEN DUKE:¬† I was in seventh grade.¬† We were bending over and checking backs, the doctors were, the nurses were, and they said your curve is pretty humped over there.¬† You need to get it checked out.¬† So we went to a specialist in Little Rock at Children's Hospital, and they took X‑rays and all that stuff.¬† This was seventh grade, so it was about a 35‑degree curve, 38‑degree curve, something like that at the time.¬† There's different kinds of curves.¬† Now, the one I have is a C‑curve which is just the one curve on your right side or your left side, whichever way.¬† But there's some that's an S‑curve, so it curves at the top and then it curves at the bottom, so it's kind of like this in other words or vice versa.¬† And I just have a C‑curve, which was just on my right side.
So my doctor said we can put you in a body brace and you can watch it over the next couple years and see if it can straighten you up as you wear it.¬† Well, I'm a teenage boy, and I play baseball, football, basketball, golf.¬† I'm playing all sports, and I have to wear that thing every hour, every minute, until I take a shower or something like that.¬† I had to sleep in it and everything.
Well, I would take it off and do my sports, then put it back on, take it off, do all that stuff over and over again, and I guess I was growing so quick that it wasn't helping.
So in October, I think the 5th, my doctor, we had another X‑ray.¬† It was 52 degrees.¬† So over two years it's already gone almost 20 degrees as I was growing in the teenage years, and he said, you've got to have surgery.¬† I said, what's that consist.¬† Well, my parents did.¬† I was so shy I couldn't even sit and talk to you guys right now.
So he says, you've got to have surgery, they're going to put a steel rod in your back, it's a 16‑inch rod, it will stay in your back.¬† It will decrease the curve and will stabilize it.¬† The curve is not cutting off to your lungs so you're not going to be as winded as you have been.
Okay, fine.¬† So February 25th, I had the surgery, and I'm 72 degrees, so 20 degrees over four or five months.¬† That's how quick I was growing and how it was turning.
So we had the surgery, and we're in a body cast for six months.¬† Felt like five years.¬† About four months after the surgery, I asked him, can I maybe hit some golf balls or maybe do something.¬† So I started hitting some golf balls, going down on one knee, teeing the ball up, and I never had hit a driver.¬† I had an old 4‑wood, at least I think that's what gets the ball up in the air a little bit.¬† That's the reason I used it.¬† Didn't hit it very far at all.
So just kept fighting through all that, and then six months my brace came off and just kept rocking and rolling since then.¬† But it's okay.¬† I have my life.¬† I didn't really care about any sports.¬† I wanted my life, and I wanted to be just an average person and just growing up and having a family.¬† I didn't really care about sports, and if anyone would have asked me if you're going to be a professional athlete, I'd have said no chance.¬† I have a back condition, there's no chance.
So as I went on, I went to golf because I couldn't play the contact sports.¬† I couldn't condition in baseball and football and basketball like the other ones, and even obviously now you've got to condition in golf because everyone is doing it now.¬† So that's what I chose to do, and if I didn't make it, I'd maybe go into business or something, and at least I could play a little golf, and most of the time that helps out in business.
Just kept fighting and kept fighting, and here we are.¬† To be a winner, that's even better.¬† It's even better.
But I have no problem talking about my back, and that's what I love to do, and I love to talk to younger kids and let them ask me questions about this and that.¬† I get emails all the time from kids that‑‑ what happens when I have my surgery, can I do this, can I do that, and I'm trying to explain to them, just wait a second.¬† Let's get through this part first before we go to the next step.¬† I think that really helps out.
It's not about me out here getting golf balls.¬† It's about talking to those guys, the younger kids, and just saying, it's okay.¬† Everything is going to be okay because I didn't want to take my shirt off and have a scar on my back when I'm going swimming.¬† I didn't want to be seen like that.¬† But that's just part of life, and I'm thankful that I have my life.
CHRIS BERMAN:¬† A little more story than we might have thought coming in here today with the Duffys and our champ and the military ladies and gentlemen.¬† Pretty good stuff.
Q.¬† Ken, you and Chris have both touched on this.¬† I'm kind of looking for a little bit more to set it up.¬† In the "Paper Chase," in his Harvard Law Journal, Professor Kingswood wrote about the responsibilities of being a living extension of history.¬† Winning on the PGA TOUR puts you at a different level.¬† You now have extended the history of the TOUR.¬† You talked a little bit about how people now recognize you.¬† Do you feel a different responsibility?¬† Do you feel like you have to carry that responsibility in a different way or just show them who Ken Duke is?
KEN DUKE:¬† I think just show them who I am.¬† There's no added pressure on me to do it again.¬† I've done it one time.¬† There's so many guys that's never won before, but it is pretty neat that you walk through an airport, especially the week of a tournament, or if you're going out to dinner and you hear people whisper, oh, that's Ken Duke.¬† That's pretty neat.
My daughter always gives me a hard time because I wear a hat around the house a lot.¬† We're out somewhere, and if I don't have a hat on, somebody might say, hey, Ken, how's it going.¬† She says, dad, you should have wore that hat.¬† The paparazzi is around.¬† She jokes with me quite a bit.
It's all about just showing people who I am.¬† I have no expectations from here on out.¬† I have a job, and that's to play on the PGA TOUR and support my family, and that's what I try to do.¬† I try to meet people along the way to share it with.
Q.¬† Could you talk a little bit about your relationship with Bob Toski?¬† Specifically I know you brought him to Augusta I think in 2009.¬† He came back again this spring.¬† And also I don't know if you're aware of this, I went back in the archives and he kind of guaranteed he was going to win this event the night before he did win it.¬† I don't know if he ever brought that up to you.¬† Could you talk a little bit about those things?
KEN DUKE:¬† Well, he's a special guy in my life, obviously.¬† He's touched more people than just myself.¬† Every event I go to, someone says that they used to work with Bob Toski or he used to teach them.¬† I met him in 2006 at just a charity event, a bunch of club pros talking, and he's holding court at his table like he always does if you know him, and one of the club pros said, hey, Ken, why don't you go see Bob sometime.¬† I said, sure, I'd love to.¬† I'd never had lessons before, self‑taught, my dad was a weekend golfer, 10, 12 handicap, nothing spectacular, he just would read the Golf Digest, Golfweek, all that stuff, and relay the message to me.¬† That's the way we did it.
So I went down and met him.¬† Didn't know what to expect, and he's an in‑your‑face kind of guy, and if you don't do it right, he's in your face, and that's just the way it is.¬† There's no warm‑up.¬† There's no getting loose.¬† Grab a 4‑iron, grab a 3‑wood, grab whatever club, let's get going.
So I showed up down on his range down in Boca Raton.¬† He has a public range right by a community college, and he says, hey, Ken.¬† Most of the time there's 20 to 30 club pros down there teaching, just watching him teach other people.¬† So he said grab a 6‑iron and hit a few shots at that tree right there.¬† So I hit a draw.¬† That's the way I always played.¬† I've never hit a fade and I always hit a draw.¬† So I hit three beautiful shots right at the tree, and I didn't hit the tree.¬† He said, okay, so I'm going to show you how to do‑‑ just hit it the way I want you to hit it and hit three shots for me, and we'll see the difference.
The second shot I hit the tree.¬† And what he did was, the way I have to set up my stance is open.¬† If any of you are golfers, your stance is open, because of my back.¬† So my right side of my back sticks out, so I'm always‑‑ my right side is always going forward.¬† What I was trying to do, I was closed‑‑ I was an open stance and swinging like a hook.¬† I couldn't do it.¬† So I was hitting it way right or I was hitting a big draw or I'd hit a snap hook.¬† I was no good.¬† So he was trying to teach me if you have an open stance, get the club face where you're aimed and swing where you're aimed, not where you want it to end up, and no one has ever told me that, and that was over 10 minutes.¬† So I started hitting shots just straight, straight, and I said, man, this is pretty good.¬† He said, well, you're a quick learner.¬† That's what he said.
But the special guy he is, I mean, that's kind of the‑‑ how quick I responded to it.¬† I've been a lot more consistent since 2006.¬† I've won some tournaments since then.¬† I feel like I can trust my swing now.¬† Before I had no chance of trusting my swing.
But he never takes a penny from me.¬† He never lets me do anything for him.¬† I played really well in 2008, so in 2009 I got into all the majors, so I said, can I do something for you, he said, sure.¬† I said, well, I've got a friend that we want to go take you to Augusta and play a practice round, and he was silent.¬† He said, I'll let you do that.
So him and I and another guy, we flew up there, we're driving down Magnolia Lane, and he said, boys, you know, I haven't been back here since 1955.¬† He's never been back.¬† That was the last time he quit playing.¬† He played for 10 years, so he hadn't been back.¬† He had some invitations to go, but he had no reason to go back.
So I'm getting chills already.¬† So we go out there playing, and we play a few holes, and he's 82 at the time, and he's still as sharp as a tack.¬† He's 87 now, so he's still pretty sharp.
We're walking down No.10 fairway, the other guys we're with are in front of us and the caddies, and he stops about 200 yards off the tee and starts looking up in the sky, and he says, Ben, Jimmy, Sam, all these guys that he used to play with, look where I'm standing.¬† And all I'm thinking is, I finally did something for him.
CHRIS BERMAN:¬† That's awesome.
KEN DUKE:¬† He's that kind of guy.¬† A special, special guy.¬† He's touched everybody's life, not just mine.
And I did get a chance to bring him up the whole week this year.¬† We saw Billy Casper, we saw Gary Player, we saw Palmer, Nicklaus.¬† It was great.¬† They were talking about in the '50s and the '40s when they were playing, and I said, boys, I don't even want to hear that.¬† I wasn't even around at that time.¬† You can talk about this guy all day.¬† He's just that kind of guy.
CHRIS BERMAN:¬† Well, we learned a couple things with that answer.¬† We learned that we aim at a tree so we don't hit it.¬† It's impossible to hit it if you aim at it.¬† And second we learned to win here at the Travelers, apparently you've got to be self‑taught:¬† You, Bubba‑‑ that's it, right?¬† So the field is now really limited.¬† Everybody has 18 coaches now, right?
KEN DUKE:¬† It's unbelievable.
CHRIS BERMAN:¬† Get Andy North going on that sometime.
Any other questions?¬† We've got Travelers with us for 10 years, which is unbelievable, Andy and you guys.¬† It's unbelievable.¬† And Chris, what you guys announced today, that's awesome.
We have one little note.¬† I always try to throw this in just because we're‑‑ last year the Open was at Merion in Philly the week before us.¬† But now that it's back to‑‑ it's in Pinehurst, so my point is until late August, we're the only event on the PGA TOUR in about a 300‑mile radius.¬† Washington D.C. is wherever it is.¬† Until Barclays and Deutsche Bank, there's nothing else in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Albany, New York City.¬† We can go all around.
So this has become more and more and more of a bigger thing.¬† We hope that‑‑ I know that this is our little thing here in Connecticut and the Pioneer Valley, but we're proud of where Travelers and Nathan and his staff have taken it, and winners like Ken, you do nothing but just be here and help expand us.¬† It'll warm up by June 18th.¬† I feel it and I'm going to predict it.¬† Toski going to predict that?
KEN DUKE:¬† He'll be here.
CHRIS BERMAN:¬† Thanks for coming.¬† Have fun today, and Ken will be around.¬† Do you have a couple more announcements?
NATHAN GRUBE:¬† Just a couple.¬† Chris Berman, Ken Duke, thank you.
KEN DUKE:¬† I just want to say thanks to Andy and Nathan and Jay and everyone here at Travelers.¬† Thank you for all you've done, as well. ¬†I know that they have this thing every month called the player of the month, Avis Player of the Month, and I ended up winning that over Kuchar and Bill Haas and Justin Rose, and I just want to thank everyone that voted for me, and the $50,000 that I won for that, I didn't receive it.¬† I sent to straight to my doctor at UAMS, which is the University of Arkansas, Stephens Spine Institute in Little Rock for him to go do research about scoliosis and not‑‑ just thank you for voting for us to do that to pass it on.¬† I really, really appreciate that.
NATHAN GRUBE:¬† How easy is it to root for that guy?
We thought it would be fun to announce both of our bands for the power stations concert series.¬† Our first one:¬† Little River Band is our Friday night band.¬† It's going to be a lot of fun.¬† And then our Saturday night band:¬† Jefferson Starship.¬† That's going to be a lot of fun for that concert series.
And players we're announcing today:¬† Jason Day, Keegan Bradley, Zach Johnson and Jonas Blixt have committed.¬† For those of you keeping track, we now have four, five and six in the world committed to Travelers Championship in April, so we thank you very much.¬† Enjoy the course and enjoy the day.¬† Thanks for being here.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports