Prior to the 2012 Greenbrier Classic, Tom Watson meets with the media and talks about The Greenbrier.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- Tom Watson knows a little something about history.
He won 39 times on the PGA TOUR, including eight major championships, and another 14 times on the Champions Tour.
Given that resume, there are few players who can assess the careers of Tiger Woods an the late Sam Snead better than the man who’s played with and against both.
Woods has 14 career major championships, which puts him four shy of Jack NIcklaus’ record. Woods also has 74 career wins on the PGA TOUR, second all-time to Snead’s 82.
So which is the more impressive record?
“They're two separate animals,” Watson said. "The importance you put on the majors make that record probably the most important record, but the way I look at it, how many times have you won and have you won majors.”
Woods has won three times this season. None of those were majors, however. His last victory in a major came at the 2008 U.S. Open.
The last time Woods won at Bay Hill, Muirfield Village and Congressional in the same year, 2009, he went on to record six victories that season. Again, however, none at a major championship.
“It's how many tournaments you win,” Watson said. “Look at the majors, the last nine majors won by first-timers. Golf goes through cycles. You had the dominance of Woods for all these years, the resurgence of Woods now. When I look back at somebody's record, I'll say, first of all, how many tournaments did they win. That's number one. Did they win more than 20 tournaments? Then I'll say how many majors did they win, did they win more than three or four majors? Then that puts them up in the great category.”
Woods, of course, has done both, and if he keeps playing the way he has this season, he might surpass both records, too.
The host of the Memorial meets the media during his traditional Wednesday news conference.
DUBLIN, Ohio -- As he does prior to every Memorial Tournament, Jack Nicklaus held an engaging interview session for the media on Wednesday. Among the topics were clip-on ties, the 1962 U.S. Open, Bubba Watson, slow play and family. Here are some of the highlights.
ON BUBBA WATSON: "He's got, to put it mildly, a rather unique golf swing, and I think that's to his credit, which is to me what the game is all about, is learning who you are and what you are and what you do. You know, people criticize Furyk for his golf swing, but Jim knows what he does and how he does it. You look at some other golf swings and you see what you think is a perfect golf swing, but sometimes they don't know what they're doing with it. Bubba knows what he's doing with his golf club. He had to learn that. He had to learn how to do that. I think that's what's so unique about it and what's so good about it.’
ON SWING INSTRUCTORS: "When I was 19, Bobby Jones invited me down to his cabin at the Masters. My father and I went down. ... He said I had my seven lean years, and he said, every time I'd play, I'd run back to Stewart Maiden, who was his teacher, and get a lesson for the problems I was having, and so forth and so on. He said, it wasn't until I learned that I didn't need to run back to Sterling or didn't want to run back to Sterling that I became a golfer. ... Jack Grout taught me from the start. He said I need to be responsible for my own swing and understand when I have problems on the golf course how I can correct those problems on the golf course myself without having to run back to somebody. And during the years that I was playing most of my competitive golf, I saw Jack Grout maybe once or twice a year for maybe an hour. If I was in the Miami area or something, I'd run down and see Jack and we'd spend about an hour and we'd spend five minutes on the golf swing and an hour catching up. But he taught me young the fundamentals of the game. He taught me how to assess what I was doing. When I made a mistake, when I was doing things, how do you on the golf course fix that without putting yourself out of a golf tournament and then teaching yourself. You've heard me say in many press conferences, I'm not hesitant to change my golf swing in the fourth round of the U.S. Open or the Masters midway in the round if I didn't like what I was doing, because I felt like if I didn't like what I was doing, pretty soon it was going to get me."
ON TIGER WOODS' SWING: "I sat with Arnold over here and I had Tiger over here at the Masters dinner this year, and Arnold and I, I can't remember what we were talking about because Arnold couldn't hear me, I guess, but we had a great time. We kid each other constantly, so we have a good time. And then Tiger over here ... I was asking him, Why do you need somebody to watch you all the time? He said, I really don't. He said, I go to Sean and I get some ideas, but then I really go work on it myself and try to learn what I want to do and how I want to do it, which I think is the right way. I said, If you're doing that, you're on the right track, but all I read in the papers is how Sean is making a swing change on you. He said, That's not what I'm doing. I said, Okay, that's fine then, because he's trying to be responsible for himself."
ON THE 1962 U.S. OPEN AT OAKMONT: “Going to Oakmont it sounds funny, may sound ridiculous to all of you, but I didn't know who Arnold Palmer was for all intents and purposes. I didn't mean it that way, but what I mean is that all I had to do was worry about myself. I wasn't worried about Arnold or Gary or whoever might be there. I was interested because I felt like I really had the chance to win those two previous (Opens), and I had just finished second the week before to (Gene) Littler at Thunderbird and I was really playing well and I was charged up to play, and that was my sole thought was that this was my week. All of a sudden I found out I was in Arnold Palmer's backyard, but I found that out a couple weeks later after the tournament was over because I didn't pay attention to it while I was there. I don't know if you understand that, but that's what a 22-year-old kid thinks like. Maybe even a 16-year-old kid."
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
All it took was a little green to bring the hottest pink club to the public.
Bubba Watson’s all-pink Ping G20 debuted in January as a part of a fundraising initiative in which Ping donates $300 for every 300-yard drive Watson unlaunches – and considering he’s the PGA TOUR’s longest driver at 313.1 yards on average, the donations are adding up quick.
As the pink club got more face time during the season, Ping heard from plenty of fans who wanted to buy their own pink G20 (Watson’s driver last year had a pink shaft but a standard black clubhead). But the word was no, special for Bubba only.
Then he won a Green Jacket.
Tuesday, Ping announced the sale of 5,000 limited-edition pink G20s similar to Watson’s, at $430 each (available June 1). The company will donate 5 percent of proceeds to Watson’s chosen charities.
The drivers will be offered in 9.5-, 10.5-, and 12-degree lofts for righthanded players; 10.5 degrees for lefthanded – alas, no 7.5-degree lefties like Bubba’s gameday model. A women’s model will be 12 degrees with a ladies flex shaft. All come with a matching pink headcover and “Bubba Long in Pink. Driven by PING. Limited Edition 2012” script on the shaft.
BIG THREE: Think there’s still competition between Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus? The living legends – owners of a combined 13 Green Jackets -- kicked off the Masters on Thursday with the ceremonial first tee shots, and Player used a tuned Callaway Razr Fit to hit the long drive in the trio.
Player and a Callaway rep switched to a higher loft and adjusted the weights to dial in a draw, and the result was a 236-yard drive to outpace Palmer (another Razr Fit player) and Nicklaus, who used a driver from his self-named line.
MORE COLORS: Callaway is upping the ante in the increasingly popular customizing trend at udesign.callawaygolf.com, where players can build a Razr Fit driver in eight different colors (there’s red, but no pink), with dozens of grip options and more than 100 custom shaft options. Callaway says more than 70,000 combinations are possible. At the very least, it’s a fun site to click through.
NUMBERS GAME: Titleist is offering its industry-leading Pro V1 and Pro V1x in special double-digit numbers. Players may choose numbers 00 or anything from 10 to 99 (six dozen minimum) through custom orders at Titleist-authorized dealers.
WINNER’S BAG: Watson at the Masters:
Driver: Ping G20, 7.5 degrees with a Grafalloy Bi-Matrix shaft
Fairway Wood: Ping G20, 16.5 degrees with a Project X 8A1 shaft
Irons: Ping S59 (3-PW) with True Temper Dynamic Gold shafts
Wedges: Ping Tour-W (52, 56 degrees) Ping Tour-S Rustique (64 degrees)
Putter: Ping Redwood Anser
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Between them, they’ve played in 147 Masters and won a combined 13 Green Jackets.
Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player got things started at Augusta National when the three honorary starters teed off early Thursday morning. They did so to a large gallery that included three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson, who was dressed in his own Green Jacket.
“I've been wanting to do that every year and this worked out great because I had the last tee time,” Mickelson said after his round. “I think that it's an experience that I really enjoyed watching those guys hit it, what they have meant to the game of golf. They are what this game is all about.”
Said Player: “I thought it was remarkable.”
The three tee shots were just as remarkable. All three found the fairway on the first hole -- not that any of them could tell who drove it the farthest.
“I don't think any of us can see that far,” Nicklaus cracked. “We can hear them all land, though.”
Palmer led off, hitting his tee shot down the middle before grinning and saying "How'd I do that" to the delight of an army of fans surrounding the tee box.
Just two weeks ago, the 82-year-old was hospitalized because of a blood pressure scare.
“They switched some medicine on me,” Palmer said. “I got a little reaction with the pressure going up, and they just wanted to be cautious. That's normal when you have that kind of a situation.”
Player teed off next, followed by Nicklaus.
"Now let's get out of the way," Nicklaus said, smiling.
There was a time when the honorary starters here played nine holes. That was a long time ago, though, and Nicklaus is fine with keeping it that way.
“We all would love to still be able to play,” Nicklaus said. “ But if you go out and look at where our tee shots were, I think you would understand why we aren't.”
AUGUSTA, Ga. – During his pre-tournament news conference on Tuesday, Tiger Woods told the story of playing Augusta National’s Par 3 course with Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus in 1995, when Tiger – still an amateur – made his first start in the Masters. Here’s Tiger’s account:
“I said, ‘Well, I don't have any cash.’ He says, ‘Don't worry about it. Just play hard.’
‘I said, all right, here we go.
“We go and play. We have a great time. I'm pretty chatty out there. I'm trying to gain as much intel as I possibly can, and I'm asking them on every hole, what do you do here, what do you do here, what do you do here, and I'm pretty sure they got sick and tired of me.
“We get to 18, and Arnold makes a nice putt for birdie on 18 for all the skins, basically. And I could see Jack is over there, a little ticked about it. He says, ‘Enough of this. Why don't we go get him on the par 3 course?’
“I said, ‘Well, Jack, I don't have ‑‑ my tee time is much later.
"Just come with me.
"Yes, sir. How are we going to get on there?
“He says, ‘Don't worry about it." We walk over there, we are on deck, just out of the blue. OK, this is nice. We get around and play the par 3 course, and probably the most nervous I think I had ever been was the last hole on the par 3 course.
“You think it's just a simple 9-iron shot, no big deal. Arnold almost holed it, Jack almost holed it, and now it's my turn. I was just trying to go for dry land, and somehow I was able to hit on dry land and I was pretty stoked about it.”
Editor's Note: Duke Butler, who now serves as president of The Frys.com Open, shares a memory from this week’s tournament in Houston. He can still shoot 76 on occasion, if he's not too nervous.
Nobody loves PGA TOUR tournaments more than me. This is my 38th year of involvement, having competed in 28 events during the 1970s, directed the Houston Open from 1978 through 1991 and mentored many other events while serving as senior vice president of tournament relations from 1992 to 2007. My most cherished memory of a TOUR event dates 50 years ago when I attended my first pro tournament at what was then called the Houston Classic.
It was April 23, 1962 and my junior high golf team from College Station, Texas, played in an early morning shotgun start. I posted 79 and finished second. Afterwards, our coach, B.B. Holland, drove us to Memorial Park Golf Course to watch the 18-hole playoff between Bobby Nichols, Dan Sikes and a heralded rookie seeking his first title.
Nichols and Sikes shot 71, while the rookie staggered home in 76. On the 91st hole, Nichols, a Texas A&M alum and idol of mine, eagled to win. A teammate of mine rushed onto the green, grabbed Sikes' ball and snatched the cap off the champion's head. I thought we were going to jail. At that point, it was the greatest day of my life.
Experiencing that playoff in Houston might have been a break for the rookie. Seven weeks later, he won the U.S. Open at Oakmont in a playoff over Arnold Palmer. His name is Jack W. Nicklaus, and great things were in store for him.
Inspired, I played for Texas A&M, worked on my game, became a PGA member, and was paired with Jack for the third round of the 1977 Atlanta Classic. You wouldn't know it, but I was nervous. We shot the same numbers, Jack scoring 67 to my 76.
Fast forward to 2000 at THE TOUR Championship in Atlanta. Nicklaus was in attendance. All these years later, I told Jack that I had watched him nearly win his first pro title. Next thing I knew, he was telling me his sad story of why he didn't win that day in Houston.
"You know that par three on the front nine, No. 7, which plays about 230 yards?" Nicklaus asked.
As if only yesterday, he recounted how he poked a long iron to the front right of the green in Saturday's third round. With his ball about 35 feet from the hole, he asked his caddie to tend the flagstick.
"The putt rolled straight for the cup but my caddie panicked," Nicklaus said. "He couldn't get the flagstick out of the hole, and jerked it upwards, pulling the cup liner above ground."
His ball struck the liner, bouncing 18 inches away. Tournament director Joe Black ruled a two-stroke penalty. Instead of a birdie 2, Nicklaus tapped in for 5.
Knowing his misfortune pre-dated Angelo Argea, I asked if he remembered the name of his caddie. "The hell I can't," Nicklaus said. "It was Robert Ford."
Some things one never forgets.