Ron Sirak in Conversation with Dan Jenkins: Part 3
Ron Sirak sits down with Writer-at-Large Dan Jenkins at Pebble Beach's legendary Club XIX to look back on the 57 U.S. Open Championships that Jenkins covered.
Released on 6/21/2010
|Starring:||Ron Sirak and Dan Jenkins|
This tournament, the Opens here have produced
several of the most memorable single shots
in the history of the game.
You think of Watson chipping in, you think of
Jack with the one iron on 17.
It's almost like,
it provides the venues that demand those kind of shots.
You know, the shot I remember,
of course Jack's shot on 17,
Tiger's second shot to 14 in 2000,
the last day, was some kind of a long iron,
but it was a absolute, you know, just a streak.
It had something to it that,
you've never seen.
What is that?
I've never seen that before.
You know, that kind of thing.
He doesn't seem to have that right now, or anymore really.
After all, he's a little older,
and he's finally hit the putting wall, I think.
They all do.
I guess Jack hit more, made more putts
over a longer period of time than anybody,
more putts that he had to make.
He made them for 20 years.
Most guys have about an eight-year window,
we've talked about that before.
Arnold made everything for eight years.
Watson made everything for eight years.
And then all of a sudden, there's a wall there.
And when you get to that point where they start
not going on, it's hard to not have that thought
in the back of your mind that they're just not going in.
You know, the interesting to me about the change in golf
is that there's been a mental change in golf.
Anybody who's played the game well,
at some point in their career,
whether it's guys like me or local amateurs or something
like that, they know that certain things were impossible.
Guys now, kids now, these aliens, wherever they came from,
they're not afraid to shoot 62.
I don't care how easy the course is.
You could put a guy on the easiest course in the world,
and he knows that you're not supposed to shoot 62.
God will not allow that, you know.
They do it now.
They shoot 61, 62, 63.
They can shoot 58 like what's his name did.
So then you think it's a question
of what you think is possible?
Hogan always said somebody's gonna,
one day's gonna birdie all 18 holes.
He thought that was possible.
He thought it'd be him, but, you know.
He thought it was possible.
I think they don't think about things like that anymore.
I think they think, now here's a golf hole,
if I play well I'll birdie it,
and it doesn't matter if I birdie eight, nine, 10 holes
in a row or even 18 or 20.
You know, why not?
They got the equipment.
Let me ask you this.
I think it's probably, based on everything
that you're saying, and what we've seen,
it's probably true that number 156 in the field this week
is a better player than number 156 was in the field
when Jack was winning major championships.
[Dan] No question.
But is number 10 better?
No, number 10 is nowhere near as good.
Tell me something about it.
Jack said it himself that sometimes it's easier
to win majors because there are fewer people
who think they are capable
and there are fewer people who want to
and there are fewer people who want the burden.
Who don't even think they belong in that category.
They don't mind shooting 62,
but they don't think that has anything to do with winning.
It's a strange thing,
but you know, everybody grew up at one time in their life,
back when the scores were higher and all that,
I'm sure that in Bobby Jones's day,
if anybody shot a 69 they didn't think that was possible.
They shoot 66, it was unbelievable.
It was otherworldly.
65 was the magic number when I was a kid.
If anybody shot a 65, whether it was five under
or four under or six under,
that was the cutoff point.
There's no cutoff point now.
Does that mean they're stupid?
I don't know, maybe.
[Ron] Well sometimes you just don't learn
what you can't do until later, you know.
You know, there were certainly a whole handful
of players who were great players
who knew that Jack was better than them,
but at the same time they weren't afraid
of going against Jack on Sunday afternoons.
Did you see that changing in the Tiger Woods era?
All I can say is I thought Tiger
had fewer good players to beat.
Maybe it's partly because he put them there
by winning so much.
But I thought Jack had an awful lot of good guys to beat.
I thought Hogan had a tremendous amount
of good guys to beat.
Same with Arnold, Arnold and Jack and Player and those guys
in the Big Three days and all that.
I mean, right now, who sells tickets?
Tiger Woods sells tickets, Phil Mickelson sells tickets.
Who's the third best player in the world?
That's a good question.
[Ron] That's a great question.
Who do you wanna say, Ernie Els?
He hasn't done it lately.
He's won three majors, though.
You know, we said in '86 when Jack won at Augusta,
and we sort of knew that that was probably gonna be it
for him, that he probably wasn't, at 46,
not gonna get any more majors.
And the conversation was, we're never gonna see
anybody again as dominant as Jack Nicklaus.
10 years later, we have Tiger Woods.
[Dan] Always happens.
It always happens, the game always produces.
So there will be,
there's more greatness ahead waiting for us.
There'll be a guy.
He may not have been born yet, but,
or he may not be outta high school yet,
but there will be a guy.
Getting back to this particular bar,
it was at this bar that Dave Marr had one
of the great lines in history.
and I'm getting prepared
to write Nicklaus.
This is the night before the final round, Saturday night.
But Bruce Crampton's lurking.
He's right there, he could win.
I don't know anything about Bruce Crampton.
I know that I want Jack Nicklaus to win the tournament.
And I said, David, Bruce is not very popular
out on the tour, I know the players don't get along
with him, most of the press doesn't even know him.
I said, If Bruce wins tomorrow, I'm gonna,
I'm gonna be a little late for dinner.
And I said, What are the three worst things
Bruce Crampton ever did to make the players not like him.
David just thought for one second and said,
Got born, came to America, stayed.
While we're back in the bar,
let's talk more about that.
One of the things I've known from being around you
for a long time, and I figured this out
after I had been in a couple of bars with you,
and then I realized one of your techniques is,
you try lines out.
And you put ideas out there
and you see how people react to them.
I mean, it's that one of the things that you would do?
Sure, everybody did.
It was top banana, trading back and forth
and stuff like that.
It was great, you know.
I used to get all of them to try tell me
things about other people that were,
you know, you couldn't print.
I love stuff you can't print.
Because you can use it in a novel.
But in a family magazine, a little different deal.
Yeah, it was fun.
I mean, it was part of the fun.
What am I gonna do, talk about five irons or something?
First of all, you know, I played well
when I was in high school.
I played well in college.
I was a scratch golfer, 100 years ago.
I don't need anybody to tell me how to play golf.
I know it's all mental.
It's 90 percent mental once you know how to hold the club.
So I don't need to sit around and talk about,
you know, five irons and six irons
and moving my left hand over or something.
I don't care about any of that.
I never have cared about it.
I care about the humans,
the non-humans and the wit,
and what's funny about it, yeah.
And that's what you always got into your writing,
that's for sure.
Now, none of them are here,
so let's be honest, who'd close the place up?
Last man out.