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

Credits

Starring: Ron Sirak and Dan Jenkins

Transcript

00:01
(dramatic music)
00:15
This tournament, the Opens here have produced
00:17
several of the most memorable single shots
00:20
in the history of the game.
00:21
You think of Watson chipping in, you think of
00:24
Jack with the one iron on 17.
00:29
It's almost like,
00:31
it provides the venues that demand those kind of shots.
00:34
You know, the shot I remember,
00:36
of course Jack's shot on 17,
00:39
in '72.
00:42
Tiger's second shot to 14 in 2000,
00:46
the last day, was some kind of a long iron,
00:49
but it was a absolute, you know, just a streak.
00:55
It had something to it that,
00:57
you've never seen.
01:00
What is that?
01:00
I've never seen that before.
01:02
You know, that kind of thing.
01:03
He doesn't seem to have that right now, or anymore really.
01:07
After all, he's a little older,
01:10
and he's finally hit the putting wall, I think.
01:12
They all do.
01:14
I guess Jack hit more, made more putts
01:16
over a longer period of time than anybody,
01:19
more putts that he had to make.
01:21
He made them for 20 years.
01:23
Most guys have about an eight-year window,
01:25
we've talked about that before.
01:27
Arnold made everything for eight years.
01:29
Watson made everything for eight years.
01:30
And then all of a sudden, there's a wall there.
01:33
And when you get to that point where they start
01:36
not going on, it's hard to not have that thought
01:39
in the back of your mind that they're just not going in.
01:41
You know, the interesting to me about the change in golf
01:45
is that there's been a mental change in golf.
01:49
Anybody who's played the game well,
01:51
at some point in their career,
01:54
whether it's guys like me or local amateurs or something
01:58
like that, they know that certain things were impossible.
02:01
Guys now, kids now, these aliens, wherever they came from,
02:05
they're not afraid to shoot 62.
02:07
I don't care how easy the course is.
02:09
You could put a guy on the easiest course in the world,
02:11
and he knows that you're not supposed to shoot 62.
02:14
God will not allow that, you know.
02:17
They do it now.
02:18
They shoot 61, 62, 63.
02:21
They can shoot 58 like what's his name did.
02:24
[Ron] Ishikawa.
02:25
Ishikawa, yeah.
02:26
So then you think it's a question
02:27
of what you think is possible?
02:28
Yeah.
02:29
Hogan always said somebody's gonna,
02:31
one day's gonna birdie all 18 holes.
02:33
He thought that was possible.
02:35
He thought it'd be him, but, you know.
02:39
He thought it was possible.
02:41
I think they don't think about things like that anymore.
02:44
I think they think, now here's a golf hole,
02:46
if I play well I'll birdie it,
02:48
and it doesn't matter if I birdie eight, nine, 10 holes
02:50
in a row or even 18 or 20.
02:53
You know, why not?
02:54
They got the equipment.
02:57
Let me ask you this.
02:58
I think it's probably, based on everything
03:00
that you're saying, and what we've seen,
03:02
it's probably true that number 156 in the field this week
03:06
is a better player than number 156 was in the field
03:09
when Jack was winning major championships.
03:12
[Dan] No question.
03:13
But is number 10 better?
03:14
No, number 10 is nowhere near as good.
03:17
Tell me something about it.
03:19
Well, because,
03:21
Jack said it himself that sometimes it's easier
03:23
to win majors because there are fewer people
03:26
who think they are capable
03:28
and there are fewer people who want to
03:31
and there are fewer people who want the burden.
03:35
Who don't even think they belong in that category.
03:38
They don't mind shooting 62,
03:41
but they don't think that has anything to do with winning.
03:46
It's a strange thing,
03:48
but you know, everybody grew up at one time in their life,
03:51
back when the scores were higher and all that,
03:53
I'm sure that in Bobby Jones's day,
03:57
if anybody shot a 69 they didn't think that was possible.
04:00
They shoot 66, it was unbelievable.
04:02
It was otherworldly.
04:06
65 was the magic number when I was a kid.
04:09
If anybody shot a 65, whether it was five under
04:11
or four under or six under,
04:14
that was the cutoff point.
04:16
There's no cutoff point now.
04:18
Does that mean they're stupid?
04:20
I don't know, maybe.
04:22
[Ron] Well sometimes you just don't learn
04:23
what you can't do until later, you know.
04:25
Yeah.
04:26
You know, there were certainly a whole handful
04:29
of players who were great players
04:32
who knew that Jack was better than them,
04:34
but at the same time they weren't afraid
04:36
of going against Jack on Sunday afternoons.
04:40
Did you see that changing in the Tiger Woods era?
04:45
All I can say is I thought Tiger
04:46
had fewer good players to beat.
04:49
Maybe it's partly because he put them there
04:52
by winning so much.
04:54
But I thought Jack had an awful lot of good guys to beat.
04:56
I thought Hogan had a tremendous amount
04:58
of good guys to beat.
05:00
Same with Arnold, Arnold and Jack and Player and those guys
05:03
in the Big Three days and all that.
05:06
I mean, right now, who sells tickets?
05:09
Tiger Woods sells tickets, Phil Mickelson sells tickets.
05:14
Who's the third best player in the world?
05:15
That's a good question.
05:16
[Ron] That's a great question.
05:17
Who do you wanna say, Ernie Els?
05:20
He hasn't done it lately.
05:21
He's won three majors, though.
05:23
You know, we said in '86 when Jack won at Augusta,
05:26
and we sort of knew that that was probably gonna be it
05:29
for him, that he probably wasn't, at 46,
05:31
not gonna get any more majors.
05:33
And the conversation was, we're never gonna see
05:35
anybody again as dominant as Jack Nicklaus.
05:38
10 years later, we have Tiger Woods.
05:39
[Dan] Always happens.
05:40
It always happens, the game always produces.
05:43
So there will be,
05:44
there's more greatness ahead waiting for us.
05:47
There'll be a guy.
05:48
He may not have been born yet, but,
05:50
or he may not be outta high school yet,
05:51
but there will be a guy.
05:53
Getting back to this particular bar,
05:55
it was at this bar that Dave Marr had one
05:57
of the great lines in history.
05:59
For 1972,
06:03
and I'm getting prepared
06:05
to write Nicklaus.
06:06
This is the night before the final round, Saturday night.
06:09
But Bruce Crampton's lurking.
06:12
He's right there, he could win.
06:15
I don't know anything about Bruce Crampton.
06:18
I know that I want Jack Nicklaus to win the tournament.
06:21
And I said, David, Bruce is not very popular
06:23
out on the tour, I know the players don't get along
06:25
with him, most of the press doesn't even know him.
06:27
I said, If Bruce wins tomorrow, I'm gonna,
06:32
I'm gonna be a little late for dinner.
06:35
And I said, What are the three worst things
06:37
Bruce Crampton ever did to make the players not like him.
06:40
David just thought for one second and said,
06:43
Got born, came to America, stayed.
06:46
(laughter)
06:52
While we're back in the bar,
06:54
let's talk more about that.
06:55
One of the things I've known from being around you
06:56
for a long time, and I figured this out
06:58
after I had been in a couple of bars with you,
07:02
and then I realized one of your techniques is,
07:05
you try lines out.
07:06
And you put ideas out there
07:08
and you see how people react to them.
07:11
I mean, it's that one of the things that you would do?
07:13
Sure, everybody did.
07:14
It was top banana, trading back and forth
07:16
and stuff like that.
07:17
It was great, you know.
07:19
I used to get all of them to try tell me
07:20
things about other people that were,
07:24
you know, you couldn't print.
07:27
I love stuff you can't print.
07:29
Because you can use it in a novel.
07:31
(laughter)
07:36
But in a family magazine, a little different deal.
07:39
Yeah, it was fun.
07:40
I mean, it was part of the fun.
07:41
What am I gonna do, talk about five irons or something?
07:43
Come on.
07:44
First of all, you know, I played well
07:46
when I was in high school.
07:47
I played well in college.
07:48
I was a scratch golfer, 100 years ago.
07:52
I don't need anybody to tell me how to play golf.
07:54
I know it's all mental.
07:56
It's 90 percent mental once you know how to hold the club.
07:58
So I don't need to sit around and talk about,
08:01
you know, five irons and six irons
08:03
and moving my left hand over or something.
08:06
I don't care about any of that.
08:07
I never have cared about it.
08:08
I care about the humans,
08:11
the non-humans and the wit,
08:15
and what's funny about it, yeah.
08:17
And that's what you always got into your writing,
08:19
that's for sure.
08:20
Now, none of them are here,
08:21
so let's be honest, who'd close the place up?
08:25
Me.
08:26
[Ron] You?
08:27
(laughter)
08:28
Last man out.
08:29
(dramatic music)
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