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August 10, 2016
THE MODERATOR: All right, ladies and gentlemen. It's my pleasure to welcome a quartet of Buckeyes here into the Media Center. All of these four gentlemen, from my left to right, we have Brian Mogg, John Cook, Rod Spittle, and Joey Sindelar, were all members of Ohio State University's golf team in the early '70s and 1980s.
Mogg earned Second Team All-American honors in 1983 and was a two-time All Big Ten selection and is competing in his first U.S. Senior Open this year.
John Cook was a three-time First Team All-American. He won 11 PGA Tour titles and has played in eight U.S. Senior Opens. A year after finishing runner-up to Mark O'Meara, Cook claimed the 1978 U.S. Amateur, defeating Scott Koch 5 and 4.
Rod Spittle played on three consecutive Big Ten Conference Championship teams from 1976 to 1978 and has played in six U.S. Senior Opens.
And Joey Sindelar is a two-time First Team All-American and has captured seven PGA Tour titles and competed in seven U.S. Senior Opens.
Cook and Sindelar are both members of the Buckeyes 1979 NCAA Championship team. I think I'm using the right color microphone here for this group.
Just want to ask all of you, how often do you come back to Columbus, and what are one or two of the things that you have to do or see when you're back here? Brian, we'll start with you. We can just go down the line.
BRIAN MOGG: I usually come back once or twice a year. We've got a lot of good friends here. Over the last ten years, I've brought each of my kids to a football game. So you kind of try to make a good excuse to come back to Columbus, usually on a home weekend.
JOHN COOK: I get back about once or twice a year. My parents still live south of town, down in Ashville. So we try to get -- if the schedule permits, get back to a game or two. I have a nephew that played football at Ohio State. So when we get a chance to come to a game, schedule permitting from our Tour, we try to get back.
Any time we can get back into Columbus and visit or see family, that's great, but the one thing you have to see is the shoe. You've got to see the horseshoe. It's big. It's historic.
ROD SPITTLE: And it keeps getting bigger, as we know. Mike, I've lived in Dublin for 30 years. That's why it's so cool to be able to come home and play here this summer, obviously. Like John said, we've got family. We have two of our three grown kids are here with four grandkids.
The tradition in our house is Tommy's Pizza in Dublin. So we've been there a couple times this week already.
JOEY SINDELAR: And for me, it seems like it's been about once every other year, except for the handful of years son Jamie played on the Ohio State golf team. Won one of those years for Coach Brown, and I got to be here more often then. It's just spectacular to be back and always seemed like it included football.
It seems like it would also always include the gyro shop up on Henderson because they blew up the one down by campus, which they've blown up everything by campus.
JOHN COOK: I took Jason by there yesterday, and it's gone. It's a Buffalo Wild Wings now.
JOEY SINDELAR: It sure is, which tastes nothing like a gyro.
JOHN COOK: Old George there at the Gyro Palace.
THE MODERATOR: How much golf have you played over the years at Scioto? And assuming you played a little bit in college, how much has it changed in the past 30-plus years? Brian, we'll start with you.
BRIAN MOGG: We got to play here three or four times a year in college and hadn't played until a few weeks ago when I came back up. I mean, it's still the same basic layout, but there's been nuances and changes. Much of the willow trees are gone. The greens are a little more contoured, but it's modestly still the same quality awesome golf course as it was when we were back in school.
JOHN COOK: We've played three or four times a year or maybe once a month during the season. When we had that opportunity to come over here, we did. It just was a great place to play, you know, with the historical significance of Jack being around here. Now we know why he hits such nice high cuts and hits it the way he does. It was really no mystery.
To get back here, I probably played -- I had some friends that were members here so I would get back maybe a couple other times since then, maybe done some U.S. Open qualifiers here.
Then we all got together a couple years ago and played a couple summers ago. So I've probably played four or five times since college.
ROD SPITTLE: We don't have to tell anybody else this, but for the last 30 days, I think I played 29 times and kind of wore out my welcome. But, again, like the other two said, this was always a very special place to come while we were in school, absolutely.
JOEY SINDELAR: And for the rest of this interview, the disclaimer for me is the definition of our job is that we're old and my memory might not be quite what it's supposed to be, but I never came here during college. So clearly, I was studying. That had to be what was going on.
This is all brand new to me. I knew this as the legendary, fabulous place that Nicklaus played at, and it is all that.
Might I say, if we don't get to it because there's a bunch of us up here, this whole coming back to town, and it's Ohio State and it's my pals. And on top of that, it's Scioto. And on top of that, it's the Senior U.S. Open. I just don't know how it could possibly be any better. Despite all the pain that will be dispensed out there, we will have tremendous memories from this week.
THE MODERATOR: And I think, John, you especially alluded to it, that it is Jack's place where he grew up playing. How much, when you were at Ohio State, where he played as well, and you get on the grounds here at Scioto, do you feel the Nicklaus aura around? Brian, again, we'll start with you.
BRIAN MOGG: I mean, everywhere we went at school, you walk in the locker room, and there was Jack's picture above it and how many titles he won and how many amateur events he'd won. As soon as you walked in the door at Ohio State, you're like, well, there's the gold standard.
THE MODERATOR: Did any of that draw you into Ohio State or inspire you?
BRIAN MOGG: Absolutely. And John was my inspiration for what John accomplished at school in amateur golf. You put Jack's record and John's record right there, and it was a huge pull for why I wanted to come here.
JOHN COOK: Yeah, definitely, Jack had a big influence on me coming back here. My father was All Ohio in everything down in Circleville; went to Dennison, coached football here. So the ties were there.
And then when Jack was part of the recruiting process, when you could actually help recruit, getting a letter from Jack, and you'd see him out at tournaments, it was a big influence, no question.
Like Brian said, when you walked into the clubhouse at Scarlet, man, you saw -- that was the gold standard, and that's something that was very motivating.
ROD SPITTLE: It's hard to believe sometime, Mike, that we were at school 40 years ago. And as Joey said in one of our other interviews yesterday, and folks in the room surely understand, everything was so much different back then, and I think the common thread, the bond that we all had back then and still today is that we came to Ohio State because of Jack Nicklaus, and we showed up as kids being kind of good players, junior players, and not really knowing, obviously, what the future had in store for any of us.
But, again, the fact that Jack played here and set the bar, I think, is why we all landed here.
JOEY SINDELAR: Yeah, and I'm afraid I'm finding out some things up here on this podium that I'm a little disappointed about. I didn't get the letter from Jack. So I didn't play Scioto, and I didn't get the letter from Jack. I don't know what's going on.
I will say let us not forget that it doesn't stop with Jack. You know, Weiskopf, Ed Snead, Jerry McGee, guys before that, plenty since then. Chris Perry was collegiate player of the year, I think, won a ton of tournaments, Ryder Cup player.
There was a span -- of course, the span we know as Coach Brown's span, and it was just awesome, and I think it's going to be awesome again. It's been fun to relive it. It really is.
THE MODERATOR: You referenced Coach Brown several times. Coach Jim Brown coached from 1973 up through 2009, so coached all four of these gentlemen at school. What I was amazed at, looking at the stats between 1976 and 1990, won the Big Ten every year except for two, '81 and '88, and finished runner-up those two years. So really a great team led by a great coach.
Just maybe a story you have either about Coach Brown or about your experience, your time on the Ohio State University golf team.
BRIAN MOGG: Coach Brown was with us today. He walked around and played the practice round with us, and I think we've all got great memories.
I know what specifically Coach was awesome about is he put qualifiers in place. A lot of times in college golf right now, there aren't qualifiers. These modern coaches are just picking who gets to go to tournaments, and Coach was unbelievably fair and unbelievably competitive, and he would put us it in positions where three or four of you for one spot or five for two, or whatever the math was, and you had to go out there, and you had to compete like crazy if you wanted to go to the next tournament. And you knew if you didn't play well at the next tournament, you go right back in the same qualifying.
As we get to the PGA Tour, everybody had to go through Q school. Everybody had to do some form of advancing through Q school or Monday qualifiers or whatever they were. And Coach Brown, 30, 40 years ago, had the formula right, and he still has the formula right, and it's really not going on today in much of modern college golf.
JOHN COOK: And we bought in early about the team concept. We came to represent the Ohio State University as a golf team, not as individuals. We took care of things individually because we knew that if we did our job, we were going to win.
None of us -- we all grew up playing other team sports and were successful at those, and we just didn't like losing. When we all got here to play golf and represent the school, we didn't like losing. That Big Ten Championship was huge to us.
It was, again, big motivation for us to qualify each week, to play as well as we could to win tournaments against the best teams in the country. What northern school could ever win NCAAs? Well, we did because we were the best team for a lot of reasons because of Coach Brown.
ROD SPITTLE: The best memory I have, again, since I'm a couple years older than everybody else sitting at the table here, I was part of Coach's first class in the fall of 1974, and there were some great guys from here in town who are still here who are great friends of ours -- Dave Leggett, Tom Means, Ralph Guarasci.
And hopefully, just everybody sitting in the tent just understand that there's an amazing bond, like Joey said, no matter if we happened to play 35, 40 years ago or something more recently than that.
But, again, being part of that first class was very cool.
JOEY SINDELAR: And totally agree with all of that stuff. And on top of that, for me, Coach was the most awesome blend of being there for you. He's a really good golfer; was, is. Today you do not want to mess with him on short game. He'll take you every time. And totally qualified but not in your face about your game. He didn't want to make you swing like him or what he thought it was all about. John could be John. Brian could be Brian. Same thing for Rod. But yet he would learn who you were, and you'd say, Coach, I'm a little stuck, and he would always relate it to you. It wasn't like you were chasing -- so many coaches today, you're entering a system, and you're marching down that path, and it just doesn't seem right.
He was the best food for all of us. It was great stuff, and I think a big part of why we're successful.
Q. Obvious first question is who has aged the best? And second, I know when guys get together, we talk the official stories. Guys get together from teams, and they swap stories and memories of maybe some of the funny things. Do you guys have any behind-the-scenes stories that are printable that you talk about?
JOHN COOK: I still, on some of those drives in the vans with Coach Brown at the helm, he'd put his hat on -- he had this hat, like a bucket hat, and he would for 6 hours or 6 1/2 hours up to East Lansing or to Champaign or somewhere, he just -- he never took his eyes off the road. He would be this way for 6 1/2 hours. Man, talk about motivation. Whew.
JOEY SINDELAR: On the printable side? You know, we were a pretty no-frills travel team. We were very legal in that regard in the money spending.
JOHN COOK: Yeah, we were very --
JOEY SINDELAR: We did Knights Inn. We did Golden Corral if we won everything, and we laughed and giggled the whole time and thought we were the kings of the world. It was just a great bond.
As I said in an earlier interview that you guys weren't privy to, we were a band of misfits. We were all from different walks of life and different golf skill sets, and it all just came together in the coolest way. I wish Rick Borg and Rocky Miller and Mark Balen were here and Ralph because it just was a crew you couldn't believe. We will all go to our graves with those memories.
BRIAN MOGG: I told Joey a funny story this morning. I was a freshman in February, so we're leaving Ohio in February to play the University of Florida tournament. We're excited. We've got, whatever, four days in much better weather. We played our practice round. And after 18 years, Rick Borg and I decided to hang out and putt and chip and practice and whatnot, while Coach went with the other three guys back out on the course.
So Rick and I goofed around. We were having contests, whatever we were doing. And Rick just kept going, it doesn't feel right. So next thing you know, he's taking a tee and he's chipping away at his grip. Ten minutes later, there's no grip. All he had was the shaft, and he always used to putt old style with his finger down the shaft, and that was Rick. No grip on his putter. And he won the tournament.
JOHN COOK: That was moon unit.
JOEY SINDELAR: It was just a cool group. It's just fun to come back, and all those things fire in your brain. It's great stuff.
Q. So who aged the best?
ROD SPITTLE: Age? What's age?
JOHN COOK: Brian.
ROD SPITTLE: Yeah, probably.
JOEY SINDELAR: Coach Brown, I think, in the end.
JOHN COOK: Coach was out there. He looks the same.
Q. For us in the local media, if one of you are in contention or a few of you are in contention as the week goes on, it would be a big story. Would it mean anything more for you guys to be in contention here back where you played your college golf? Is that something that's crossed your mind?
BRIAN MOGG: Absolutely.
JOHN COOK: Yeah, absolutely.
JOEY SINDELAR: The problem with everything that you just said is that it's true and that every sports psychologist alive would say, as soon as it becomes more important or bigger, we're going to fail.
JOHN COOK: Yeah.
JOEY SINDELAR: So we're trying our best not to go there. But of course, I mean, we're human, and this was a huge part of our lives and a successful part of our lives. Of course it would be spectacular, but we're not going to talk about it. I'm not.
JOHN COOK: Yeah, it certainly would be. To come back and compete -- Joey and I have played in The Memorial a number of times. I haven't played since 2006 so I haven't really competed here in Columbus since then.
I know Rod touched on it earlier. We might be from slightly different eras, but we're all a team. If one of these great players were in contention, we'd be pulling for them just as hard as anybody. I would like to see nothing better than having somebody, maybe hopefully all four of us right up there on Sunday afternoon with a chance to win.
That's why we do this is to have that thrill and that chance and to do it in front of a place and people that are so special to you in a community that loves their sports, loves their athletes, loves their alumni. It couldn't get better.
Q. What's the biggest thing you all miss about being students at Ohio State?
JOHN COOK: Everything. I want to go back to college. I want to be on that commercial that says, you can go back to college. I want to be that guy. I loved it.
ROD SPITTLE: Probably getting football tickets.
JOHN COOK: Those $2 tickets up there in the C Deck.
BRIAN MOGG: $5 tickets.
JOHN COOK: They raised it when Brian was in school. It was $2 for us.
ROD SPITTLE: You know, as you've heard everybody say, it was all good, and it's just nice to be able to have great memories of the time that we were together.
Q. What's been the balance of being back in Columbus just down the street from Ohio State and then getting ready to play in a Major?
JOHN COOK: Well, I still have family. I mean, my mom and dad are here. It's their 60th wedding anniversary today so we have a party to go to this evening. And then I haven't played golf in two months or so, competed. So I'm trying to see if my game can travel onto the golf course. So I've been busy this week.
Q. Guys, it's a blast to listen to you talk and reminisce. Been over at Scarlet. I think I can feel your vibe when I'm over there too. But I'm curious, when we watch the PGA, we watch the Champions Tour, like the vibe you have right now, it seems to really kind of permeate this whole circuit. All the guys seem like you get along a little better. It's a little more relaxed. Is that a facade, or is that really the way it is?
JOEY SINDELAR: Well, so we're all a little bit farther down the conveyor belt than the guys on the regular Tour. So kids are grown. We're looking at life a little differently. Some of us actually come to consciousness and realize that we're, as John said in an earlier interview and I've said often, I can go up and down this range and find guys I competed against since I was 13, and I'm still competing with and against them. It's the coolest thing ever.
So the answer to your question is yes, it's everything -- I think whatever commercials are playing are true. It's still golf, and it's still very, very hard, and we still get under the influence of it very often, but we're very lucky. This just happens to be the icing on the cake for the four of us this week.
JOHN COOK: Very little drama on our Tour early in the week. But when Thursday comes around, it's the same old thing. It's tee it up and sign your name at the end of the day and the end of the week and see where you are. The competitive juices just don't stop flowing. The desire to be ready to play and the work ethic is still there.
But the drama early in the week is zero. Well, John Daly's out here now, so there might be a little bit of drama, but not much. Not like that other Tour.
Q. You guys have played all the around the country and beyond. How does Columbus and Ohio stack up as a golf destination for the pros?
BRIAN MOGG: There's got to be more high quality golf courses in Columbus per square inch or per number of golfers than in the world. We've got five of the top 50. I don't think any other big city could say that. So this is not, if not the premier golf city, not to mention it's Jack's hometown, this is one special place for the game of golf.
JOHN COOK: The hidden gems too, the Hickory Hills and the Brooksides and the Columbus Country Clubs, they're just -- you know of the Muirfield and Scioto and Scarlet and Golf Club and Double Eagle. I mean, you just go up and down the line. Public golf is fantastic. You could spend a week here and not get it all done.
Q. Brian, I think, if I'm not mistaken, you're going to hit the first tee shot tomorrow.
BRIAN MOGG: I'm first off the 1st tee the first day.
Q. How does that feel?
BRIAN MOGG: Cool. An honor, I guess. I don't know how it happened, but ready for it.
Q. I don't know if there's a mystery for that.
JOHN COOK: Very fitting for Brian. We're happy to have him here, out playing with us. Wish he could play more, but he's too good at what he does.
JOEY SINDELAR: I don't wish he could play more. He's pretty good.
JOHN COOK: You're right about that.
THE MODERATOR: As Dave mentioned, Brian will hit the first tee ball at 7:30 off the 1st tee tomorrow morning. John, Rod, and Joey are all grouped together and will be in the 1:31 p.m. tee time off the 1st tee on Thursday. Gentlemen, thanks for coming in. Best of luck.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports