What they said: Tim Jackson

July 31, 2009
PGA TOUR staff

U.S. SENIOR OPEN: Transcript archive

THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Tim Jackson to the interview area. Tim is currently the leader of the Championship at 11-under par at 133; 67 today, 5-under par. Tim you played a lot of USGA Championships, you are a two-time champion. Where does this week rank so far in your USGA career?

TIM JACKSON: I would have to say it's the best. Just having my son caddying and the family here, it's been very special, regardless of what happens the rest of the week. These memories of the last couple of days and the fans pulling for you is just wonderful.

Q. Tim, started this morning out with a birdie, what, nine pars after that? Just talk about the front nine, if you would please. I'm sure you probably had some other opportunities for birdie. I know you had the opportunity on nine.

TIM JACKSON: Well, I told you what I was thinking, you know, last night, that first hole is a little awkward four me. That tree on the right bothers me just a little bit. So yesterday afternoon I hit a hybrid club and kind of stayed back. And today with that wind beating us right in the face, I talked to -- Austin said I just need to hit a driver.

I just need to step up here and rip it and fry to get it past that tree and luckily hit a good solid drive to start the day. And, you know, I think I haven't counted my putts, but haven't been -- but the one thing that I've done consistently is I've adopted a routine, and I have not deviated. And it just totally has freed me up to not be too concerned about the line. And I've just been focusing more or less on the pace. And I putted really nicely this week.

But it was nice to get that first one right out of the box.

Q. Coming into this week, you know, I know it's a cliche question but what were your expect stations and did you expect to be in this position after the second round??

TIM JACKSON: Well, realistically, I've been playing the last come of months fairly steady golf. And I entered a couple of National Amateur tournaments, the Southern Amateur and the Porter Cup. And if I'm qualified for the Senior Open then I would play those, if not, I probably wasn't going to play those. But as it turned out, this is my third week in a row to be out, which has got to be a record for me.

You know, realistically, I was shooting to make the cut, you know, just -- you don't expect to come into this tournament with these guys and say, you know, I want to go win the tournament. You know, I've got guys at home saying, you know, if you played your game you can win. I'm thinking yeah right. Yeah, I can beat Greg Norman. But, you know, tomorrow I know I'm going to be nervous. I know there will be rough patches. It's been all popsicles and lollipops so far. But I expect there to be some tough spots. Hopefully we can keep a level head and work through them.

Q. Did you ever considerate any point in your amateur career becoming a Greg Norman or going pro and, you know, trying that??

TIM JACKSON: Well, my path to the game is a lot different than most. I didn't grow up playing golf. I grew up -- I was a competitive baseball player. And I actually took the game up seriously when I was 16. So a lot of what I did in those early years was self-taught.

And so, you know, when I was 26, 27 years old, that's when I really started. I played my first amateur somewhere around that age. So I'm sort of a different bird when it comes to how I got started in the game of golf.

I wouldn't take anything from my baseball background, because I think it's helped toughen me, you know, to some degree. But I've -- to answer your question, you know, I thought about the Senior Tour, giving that a whirl. I actually printed the application off last summer, because I could have gone to the school last fall.

But it sat on the corner of my desk for three months and picked it up the day before it was due, read the first page and threw it in the garbage can. I don't think it's for me.

Q. Tim, your bio says you are a real estate developer at present. Could you talk a little about your professional life through the years and the things have done??

TIM JACKSON: Yeah. I started out I was accounting manager and got my CPA certification and practiced, worked for one of the big eight firms right out of college. Did that for a few years, then had my own local CPA practice for about 15 years. In the context of that, we got involved with raising equity and doing real estate, primarily real estate-type investing in projects. So got out of the accounting business ten years ago and that's what I been focus on since.

Haven't been doing much in the last couple of years, but maybe there's -- maybe we're about to see a bottom and some opportunity present itself in that arena.

Q. You just commented about the last two days and tomorrow, possibly focusing, roller coaster rides and stuff like that. You've got your son Austin with you. You talked about what you like best. You commented he picked a spot out for you on 18. It's a heck of a father-son outing here at Crooked Stick. Kind of talk about that if you would please.

TIM JACKSON: Well, you are going to choke me up when I get to talking about him. He's my youngest. He's something else. He's a character. He keeps it light. And he's fairly low key, but he has an amazing wit. He is very funny. And he got mad at me yesterday because he said, "You went for eight holes and didn't say a word to me." I said, "Well I'm sorry," you know. He said, "I know you were in that zone or whatever."

I think he's really enjoying it. I think he's seeing a side of championship golf. And hopefully he really takes to this and understands what it takes for what these guys do, if this is what he wants to do. Because he's got a lot of talent. He's got a great feel for the game. He's a wonderful chipper and putter. And if he starts working at it I think he'll be up here one of these days, if he put his mind to it.

Q. Tim, I'm wondering about the putting routine that you mentioned. Is that something you've not used before in competition, or the last two weeks were you working on it??

TIM JACKSON: Well, as you know, it takes awhile to develop a routine that, one, that you trust and one that's effective. And I've been bouncing around back and forth -- the last four or five years, I've putted terribly.

I've gone to the belly, I've tried three or four different putters. There is a guy I work with back home at the club. He suggested that I give cross-handed putting a try. I tried that, but he wanted me to really commit to it. He said, "If you will just do it and commit to it for a season," so ever since then I've been sort of trying to find a routine. And for me it's pretty simple. I get behind it, I take one look, and I get firmly committed to the line.

Then I do a little breathing, and I step in there and go. I'm not dillydallying and working on my stroke. I'm really not thinking about the mechanics of my stroke at all. I'm only thinking about, you know, the pace. This week I'm just -- I've got a really good feel. And you can sort of see some of the hot spots on these greens and you can get a feel for some of the slope spots. And I've been able to see that pretty well. But my routine has really been flawless.

Q. What kind of putter are you using??

TIM JACKSON: I'm using an old Scotty Cameron Newport II putter.

Q. How much baseball did you play in and what is it about that experience that you value so much??

TIM JACKSON: Well, I started playing competitive baseball when I was seven and I played through till I was 17. I was a pitcher and a shortstop, and I just think the focus that you have to have as a pitcher, you know, to locate your pitches and, you know, to pitch to the batter the correct way, the way he needs to be pitched to, I think you can take a lot of that to playing a golf hole.

You know, like the first hole, some days that's a hybrid and a wedge for me. And today it had to be a driver. I was not real comfortable standing there with a driver, but I knew that's the club I needed to get up there on the tee and be positive and aggressive after yesterday's round. I didn't want to be passive and swing and hoping and wishing. You know, you've got to commit and you just got to get up there and let it go and whatever happens.

So I think the competitiveness and the focus in baseball really has helped me.

Q. How much does the cross-handed helped and was there any flaw in your stroke that's eliminated??

TIM JACKSON: The problem that I was having with conventional grip was my alignment. For some reason my shoulders were getting too open. My right arm was getting, you know, too long down the shaft. And the cross-handed has just getting more squared.

It's just squared my shoulders up, and I just don't have to think too much about am I lined up, You know, I just feel like I'm more naturally -- you know to change to something at 50 years old, you know, when you've done something a certain way your whole life, I was pretty uncomfortable with it the first part of the season. But I'm pretty comfortable right now.

Q. How much have you had to fight off looking ahead? I mean, has it slipped into your head, God, I could win the Senior Open?

TIM JACKSON: I'm sorry?

Q. Wonder how much you have had to set aside the tendency to think ahead and have you thought, God, I could win this thing??

TIM JACKSON: I haven't thought about that. My biggest, you know, just a couple points there today I felt a little emotion building up, you know, with the crowd. I really felt a big connection with the crowd. And I got a little -- I don't know the term, maybe swelled up sort of or, you know, I just had to kind of step off and clear my head and, you know, think about what I got to do next.

Q. I know you played in a couple Masters. Did you ever play in a U.S. Open, a regular U.S. Open??

TIM JACKSON: I never made the U.S. Open. I lost in play-offs by one shot and that was a big disappointment, yep.

Q. Can you tell us -- you got a long time between now and tomorrow afternoon. Can you kind of take us through what's going to go through your mind and what you are going to do leading up to tomorrow afternoon??

TIM JACKSON: I couldn't tell you what's going to go through my mind. It would be a horror story probably, you know. No, you know, I was very nervous yesterday before I teed off at 2:20 in the afternoon. I don't eat very well. But once I get the first couple of holes by, then I kind of get into it and everything's fine.

I'm just going to try to do a little work this afternoon. Going to try to take a nap, do a little practice, have a nice dinner and take it slow tomorrow. I guess the times will be late tomorrow. So just take it slow.

Q. Tim, could you talk a little bit about the -- I was reading you are a member of -- you've been inducted into the Tennessee -- is it the Golf Hall-of-Fame or the State's Hall-of-Fame? For a guy who didn't get serious about golf till 26 or 27, what kind of honor is that?

TIM JACKSON: I am actually going in this fall. And that -- I'm very supportive of my state golf association. We have a fantastic group of people that run Tennessee Golf Association, and I've been associated with that association for probably 22 or 23 years now as director. I'm actually going in as President next year.

So it means a lot to me, my state. And when I got that call, it was a big thrill. That's going be a wonderful night. I'm really looking forward to that.

Q. Is there anyone in particular you would like to be paired with besides the leader, of course, someone that you could look and say, boy my golf life would be complete if I could play a round of golf with, fill in the blank??

TIM JACKSON: I've been lucky. I've played with a lot of really good players. Gary Player, and Bernhard Langer, and Loren Roberts lives right there in town. We've played some golf together. You know, not really. You know, I get more enjoyment taking Austin down, and he and I playing nine holes than I do anything, really.

That's kind of where I'm at -- don't play a lot of games, you know. Don't have a lot of guys, a regular group. I don't have a regular group of guy that's I play with on a consistent basis.

I've coached his golf team the last couple years. So we get out there at 2:30 and do some, you know, some schedule, some structure practice or play nine holes or play a little match of some kind. I enjoy that really as much as anything. Can he play tomorrow? Can we get him in the field? I'd like to play with him tomorrow if you can put him in there.

Q. By any chance, do you remember where were you in August of 1991 when another guy with Memphis ties won here at Crooked Stick, the PGA Championship??

TIM JACKSON: I was watching him on television, I know that. Yeah.

Actually, I played golf with him. I met him in the fall of the year before when he was playing the -- which was then the Nike Tour, or whatever that Tour was called, and we played -- I had came back and said "I just played with the greatest golfer in the world that does not have a PGA Tour card." "Well, who is he?" "John Daly." I said, "This guy is phenomenal." Of course six, seven months later, he comes up here and rolls through this course like it's nothing. I was watching it.

Q. Tell us about your emotions, even from the first day to today and no doubt what it might be like the next two days and being out there with the gallery. I've heard people say the typical, "I hope that guy doesn't wake up till Monday morning, because he pinched himself."

TIM JACKSON: They should say that.

Q. And watching the crowds from around you, Greg, Tom, no doubt they'll be with you, and they're going to be cheering you on. How do you control your emotions then??

TIM JACKSON: You know, it's -- I have to say it's different this week. I can't explain it, you know, playing in the Masters twice, you know, the crowds were, you know, much bigger there than they are here. And, you know, I'll never forget the first time when I won my first Mid-Am and somebody sent me the book, you know "The Masters" they publish that publication.

I opened that thing up, and there's thousands of people sitting on that bank. And I said, oh my gosh, I'm going to be hitting that shot. All these people are going to be watching me.

But, you know, I'm just not -- I don't know, it's just not affected me as much this week as it has in the past. It's hard to say. Maybe it will tomorrow, you know, I don't know.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you for your time, you've been great.