Forsman excited for Champions Tour debut

July 17, 2008
PGA TOUR staff

Dan Forsman turned 50 on July 15 and now celebrates his birthday week by participating in the 3M Championship. Forsman, a five-time winner on the PGA TOUR, met with members of the media before his Friday debut.

When he checked into the tournament, Forsman felt like a "freshman in college in some respects", as he took in the unfamiliar course and tournament. But as the week progressed, he began to recognize those familiar faces he'd played with during a PGA TOUR career that spanned three decades. "When I came here I looked at the names on the player parking spaces and it was a stroll down memory lane and a walk of hall of fame, really," Forsman said. "So I realize what a great opportunity it is to be out here, competing against these great players. And my work is cut out for me. I'll have to play extremely well to succeed out here."

Read more about Forsman and what he expects to get out of the Champions Tour.

MODERATOR: We welcome Dan Forsman into the media center, who just turned 50 yesterday and is making his Champions Tour debut this week at the 3M Championship. Dan won five times on the PGA TOUR and made the cut last week at the John Deere Classic. Dan, welcome to the Champions Tour, could we get your thoughts about starting this new chapter of your career.

DAN FORSMAN: Thank you all for coming today. It's indeed an honor to be here. Earlier this week when I registered at the event, I felt like a freshman in college in some respects. I looked around, don't know the golf course, don't know the people, but everyone was very welcoming to me. I played in the pro-am yesterday and today, I'm playing in again tomorrow. So, I guess it's like welcome to the Champions Tour. But I'm thrilled to be here. In many ways, I'm on the threshold of a new start.

I did tell the guys last week and a number of them came up to me and wished me luck and said we'll miss you, you've had a great career and we're pulling for you. I said I'll probably be back at least one or two more times, for the Legends Reno-Tahoe Open and maybe an outside chance of playing in Canada, though it's looking slim at the moment.

Bottom line is I turned 50 yesterday, my son and I had a nice dinner and talked a little about what it means to turn 50. I saw that Tony Snow from FOX News, who I've been a fan of through the years, died at 53 from cancer. It made me realize that when you get to 50, these are blessed birthdays. Some would say, I wish I was 40, but life is fragile and I'm thrilled to be here at 50 and have good health and be able to go out and play golf for a living on the Champions Tour.

So, I'm excited about the opportunity. When I came here I looked at the names on the player parking spaces and it was a stroll down memory lane and a walk of hall of fame, really. So I realize what a great opportunity it is to be out here, competing against these great players. And my work is cut out for me. I'll have to play extremely well to succeed out here.

MODERATOR: Have you had a chance to talk to any of the guys that turned 50 this past year or any other players out here??

FORSMAN: I did speak to Loren Roberts about 6 months ago, after he had been out here about a year and a half. He told me that I'm going to really enjoy it and that it's a bit of an adjustment certainly, since it's a little more laid back out here, although it's very competitive. These guys can really shoot lights out scores, which was evident yesterday when Wayne Levi shot 63. I saw Wayne in the locker room later that day and said is this what I'm up against? I mean, 63? That's some mighty fine shooting. He looked at me and said, well yeah, that's what we're going to do out here. My eyes were pretty wide open at that point. I'm going to have to play well to compete and have a chance to win.

I talked to Jeff Sluman, of course he had his first win recently. And John Cook who won out here last year in Texas. All of them have enjoyed the transition to the Champions Tour. They think it's a little more relaxed, as far as-- with an exception of the majors-- not having to make a cut every week to get paid. That's a big step. I can tell you that last week, as I was coming down the stretch, my son Richard was caddying for me and I said to him don't hold anything I did or said in the last four days against me. It's just a matter of being in the heat of battle on the PGA TOUR. It's not that I'm a split personality, it just gets very competitive out there and you're also hyper-aware of all the things you need to have happen in order to be successful. Having said that, I'm sure that will be the case out here too, but maybe a little bit less in regards to the cut situation you face week in and out on the PGA TOUR.

MODERATOR: OK, any questions??

Q. What's it like to start something new at 50??

FORSMAN: You know, that's a good question. I'm a little bit anxious, to be perfectly candid. I know that the opportunity is great, I have good health, as I mentioned earlier. My game feels sound, my putting stroke is coming back, so I feel better with a putter. All the elements are in place for me to have an optimistic start on the Champions Tour. Having said that, it will be an adjustment playing with guys I haven't seen in a while who are still very, very competitive and want to prove that each week, as I do. So it's very exciting, on the other hand a little daunting perhaps. Not in a negative sense, but in the sense of saying that my work is cut out for me. People are expecting a lot of things from me, saying it's a home game, you're going to go out and win. But I said wait a minute, I'm going to take it one day at a time, one week at a time. I'll do the best that I can and see what happens.

Q. Was this your plan all along, when you saw you were turning 50 and this event started three days later? Did you say I want to go play in this tournament?

FORSMAN: Yes. In fact, this started last fall when I called the Champions Tour to get a sense of where I would be when I turned 50. They were very informative and explained what my exemptions looked like and so forth. Basically the target date was this week, at the 3M Championship. So, here we are on the doorstep of a new beginning.

Q. You talked about the big names here. Given how you've been playing lately, do you have good expectations for this weekend??

FORSMAN: Reasonable expectations. I'm not going to say that I'm going to go out and win the tournament, but I think if I play like I've been playing recently I should be competitive. And I'm encouraged by that. As I've said, these guys again Wayne Levi's score yesterday is an example of how good they are are very talented players.

I've watched Joey Sindelar with interest when he came out this year. He started out pretty well, then he kind of hymned and hawed a little bit, then he got his confidence and now he's playing great. So I would imagine there is a little period of adjustment out here, so we'll see.

Q. How has your perception of the Champions Tour changed over the years??

FORSMAN: Well, I was talking to someone recently about my career and how blessed I was to play with Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, Johnny Miller, Hale Irwin, Lee Trevino and on and on. Then seeing the transition over to Tiger Woods and having the chance to play him and Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson and some other stars that you think of like Retief Goosen and the rest. So I've had this great opportunity to see a little bit of the older generation, the great older generation players -- I didn't get a chance to play with Ben Hogan or Bobby Jones or Sam Snead -- but for the most part, I've seen this great collection of talent play at the highest level and that's really been impressive to me. To have been able to keep on playing through to the age of 50 on the PGA TOUR and then to be able to come out here has been very rewarding to me. Having said all of that, I forgot your original question.

Q. How has your perception of the Champions Tour changed over the years??

FORSMAN: Yes -- that was it. I was getting there. Thank you. I think when I was young and on the PGA TOUR, watching the Champions Tour, I watched Jack (Nicklaus) and (Lee) Trevino keep that battle alive in majors and such, and then Gary Player and Hale Irwin. These guys are all great champions. I'm a little disappointed, I wish Greg Norman would play more. I think he would be a tremendous asset to us all. Maybe he will now that he's married to Chris Evert and she says he's got a lot of game left. I hope he will come out here more, he's such a great star.

But I think the Champions Tour has evolved into what I think Commissioner Finchem had hoped it would be, a chance for the guys who have distinguished themselves out on the PGA TOUR to have a chance to come out here and perform at a high level and create a product that the fans would endorse, get behind and support. I think they've done that. I find myself tuning into the Champions Tour, I don't know if it's because of turning 50 and I want to see who I'm playing against or that it's pretty darn entertaining. I really enjoy it. I love golf and I love the LPGA just as much. I'm a fan of the game, always have been and it's been meaningful to me watch the young talent come along as well as watching the older players try to turn back the clock and still be very competitive at the highest level.

Q. (Inaudible) FORSMAN: Yeah, I did struggle early and my putting has been a problem. I hate to think at the doorstep of 50 that your nerves are going, but I always think back to guys like Jack Nicklaus who have putted so well in their 50s and 60s. I had a chance to visit with the Golden Bear, I was invited down to a pro-am at Lost Tree Village that he hosts every year after Bay Hill. He was on the putting green and I was struggling with my putting and not feeling very confident about it, I thought here is an opportunity to chat with the game's greatest putter that's ever lived. And I say with (inaudible) to Tiger, who's probably in his camp in terms of who is better. I went up to him and said Jack is there any way I can ask you a couple of questions about your putting? He said sure. I said you're arguably one of the best putters that's ever lived, you've done it throughout your career and under the most extreme of pressures, what did you do whenever it went awry? He said just keep your head still. It was just so simple and so sublime that I said, is that it? And he said yeah, just keep your head still. He had three balls he was putting to this eight foot cup, rolls the first one right in and said yeah, just keep your head still. I said but you're releasing the right hand and he said, well I always release the right hand. I said OK so keep your head still and release the right hand and was gathering all these little tidbits. I asked him are you a tap putter or a release putter? He said well, I've always been kind of a tap putter, it's always been my style. So I sort of mixed this into my formula and went out right away and tried it out, with mixed results I might add. But as I stayed with it, this idea of keeping your head still really seemed to bear some fruit and I started to make some putts. That helped me gain some confidence and I've been playing a little bit better MODERATOR: Thanks a lot, Dan. Good luck this week.