2012 PGA Championship Interview Transcript -- Dave Stockton, Dave Stockton Jr. and Ronnie Stockton
KELLY ELBIN: It is the distinct pleasure of the PGA of America to welcome Dave Stockton, the recipient of the 2012 PGA Distinguished Service Award here to the 94th PGA Championship.
Dave is joined on the dais this afternoon by his older son, Dave, Junior and his younger son, Ronnie. Dave, two time PGA Champion, Captain of the Ryder Cup Team here, and now being honored tomorrow night with the PGA Distinguished Service Award.
First off, I would imagine coming back here to Kiawah has to ignite some wonderful memories.
DAVE STOCKTON: Well, it's great memories, obviously. Looks a little different than it did at that time, obviously.
But my life and our lives have been so tied into The PGA of America; that to be able to come back and get this award tomorrow night, to receive it, is going to be really special.
To have our new ventures that we've gone into as far as all of us teaching together and collaborating with all these different players, it's a different sensation for me at my age to be able to walk in and talk to different fellows and feel like I'm still part of the action at age 70.
But as far as coming back here to Kiawah, the PGA has got to be very, very proud of it. I'll tell you what, as a captain in '91, I was so glad to wish everybody good luck and leave it on the first tee knowing that I didn't have to go out and hit a shot.
I still feel the exact same way. That sucker does not look easy.
KELLY ELBIN: Dave, I want to get thoughts from your son, Dave, Junior, and also from Ron, who were the two youngest Ryder Cup assistant captains in the history of that prestigious event in 1991.
Dave, first of all, I'm sure great pride in being here with your dad and thoughts also about looking back 21 years ago to that role and an event that really shaped the Ryder Cup.
DAVE STOCKTON, JR.: Yeah, I was 22 years old. I had just turned pro. And this golf course was so unique to anything the Tour players played. My dad had the guys come in the week before and played a couple rounds on it to get familiar with the course, and he said: Junior, go out there and play with them.
I had been a pro for about six months, and I thought that was pretty cool. But I had to keep on eye on them being the assistant.
But there was a lot of pranks going on between Zinger and Payne, and memories that seem like it was last week. Still remember them very clear. It was just a special week. It was a family atmosphere, the whole thing with my mom and my dad and bringing Ronnie and I in. It was a magical week and a half. We had a blast.
KELLY ELBIN: And Ronnie, obviously your dad is still very active as a putting instructor to many elite players, but I would think being the son of someone who's being honored with this award tomorrow night and for really some great lifetime achievements has got to be very special.
RON STOCKTON: Absolutely. We're really proud of him, and it's kind of that time of your life where you start being recognized for the things you've accomplished, and he certainly accomplished a lot.
It's fun being back here. My job as the assistant captain, my most important job, I think, that happened is I actually kept myself between Paul Azinger and Seve, and I became part of the sandwich as they were poking at each other saying one side you cheated and the other side it almost came to blows.
I just remember the radio to my chin, saying, "Dad, you really need to get here quickly."
No, it's fun to be back. It's a really neat treat to be able to be here, to watch my dad receive the award, and I think he's really deserving. I'm really proud of him.
Q. Dave, obviously you were here for the '07 Senior PGA. Was that the first time you had come back since 1991, and if not, what was the first occasion when you returned?
DAVE STOCKTON: I've been back four or five times for corporate outings and such, but that was my first try as I recall. I played 36 holes, but it didn't play any easier than I remember it in '91.
It's just a golf course that I think the wind is going to affect you, and it never seemed to blow the same way twice. But I've been back four or five times.
If we were from the East Coast, we would have ended up buying a house down here, because this is one special piece. Pete Dye built an unbelievable golf course, and I don't think anybody, either spectators or players, they're going to get a wonderful feeling playing this golf course. Some of them may get a little upset with what they shoot, but it is one heck of a track.
KELLY ELBIN: Dave, if you would go back to 1970 winning your first PGA Championship at Southern Hills in Tulsa and holding off Bob Murphy and Arnold, reflections on that and how that began to change your golfing career.
DAVE STOCKTON: Well, it was a huge moment, obviously, for myself and Cathy. She actually I know the day that I won it because it was August 16th because Ronnie was born September 16th, 30 days later.
Cathy was very pregnant. Never could leave the Southern Hills clubhouse. And all I've got to do is get paired with Arnold Palmer and go out there in the 95 to 100 degree heat and humidity and she's listening to everybody in the clubhouse rooting for Arnold; and rightly so, because that could have completed his Grand Slam. I tended to need it a little bit more than he did.
That was one of my satisfactions. I flat won that tournament, and I'm very proud of the way I played and on that hard of a golf course. We can go over the bicentennial in 1976, my second win at Congressional. I didn't have anywhere near the same feelings there.
Obviously the kids are now old enough, we spent all day Monday thanks to President Ford in the White House; didn't play a practice round; did play on Tuesday and Wednesday with no intentions or any thought of winning. And if they hadn't have rained out Sunday, I would have been a one time PGA Champion.
But as it was, I hit I played to well, I hit two fairways the last nine holes, No. 11 and No. 18 when I laid up with a 3 wood, and then realized I realistically better not try to go for this green from about 220.
These kids today would have hit 7 irons, and that wasn't in my arsenal. It was interesting, because they rained it out on Sunday. I'd been 3 over par the first five holes when I stopped. We restarted on the first hole and I was 2 under, so I was five shots lower the next day.
My thought leaving, two things: One, I knew that I had a chance to be a Ryder Cup Captain since I had now won my second PGA, which was very important, because my good buddy, Al Geiberger, had it once; Bobby Nichols had it once; a lot of people won with one time and never got to be a Ryder Cup Captain. So I had that thought.
And the other thought was there must be 20 guys ready to shoot themselves tonight because they had to have played better than I did. You win some and you get some given to you or something, but I was standing at the end. It meant so much to me that I knew I had cemented a good chance to become a Ryder Cup Captain in '76.
KELLY ELBIN: You mentioned that your boys were quite young in 1970 and you remember that well. We have a couple of pictures we want to show the audience here right in front of you of your boys. One of Dave, Junior by the trophy, and then your youngest, Ronnie, inside the trophy.
DAVE STOCKTON: Yeah, Ronnie is in the trophy.
RON STOCKTON: Looking a little concerned.
DAVE STOCKTON: He wasn't quite sure what that was. Too bad I couldn't have a few more of them. Yeah, good stuff. Too bad Cathy is not better looking.
KELLY ELBIN: What's it meant to you to have two sons who have grown up to be golf professionals, teachers, instructors, involved in the game that I know has meant so much to you?
DAVE STOCKTON: Well, golf it's all about our sport, and that's going to be part of what I speak of tomorrow night.
We're just so fortunate to be a part of this, and the core values that you get from playing golf and the people you meet and the people you affect. This is a special treat.
I didn't try to drive my kids to do it. David was into it from the word go. Ronnie was ready to be if I would have been a plumber, Ronnie probably would not have played golf because Ronnie is into everything; has to live near us because I can't fix anything and he can fix everything.
What we're looking at now, I've got to tell you I'm very proud of where we are right now in our lives, is that we're collaborating with the best players in the world.
You know, I started on Tour in '65, did corporate outings starting in '68. Got as many as the high 80s at one point. And then the Senior Tour after I finished up basically every time I won the PGA, I started looking at my schedule around the corporate outings knowing that I'd cost myself wins, but I felt wonderful doing it.
Now after we've gone through my Champions Tour career, now when I had the rotator cuff surgery in '09, I realize I'm probably not going to play anymore. But what do golfers do? They keep playing.
And that's where Phil Mickelson came in when Dave and I worked with him for two days, Thursday and Friday prior to the TOUR Championship, which he promptly goes down and wins.
He said something to me at that time about how valuable my instruction was and that I shouldn't sell it cheaply. And I'm thinking on my left here with Ronnie, Ronnie had been teaching well over a quarter of a century, and he himself has had with Yani Tseng's five major wins; my two majors he caddied for me on the TPC; he's had seven major wins, and between us in 2010 and 2011 we've had over 60 wins worldwide.
So now I'm looking at the fact that Stockton golf stands for something. It started here at Kiawah, where like they say they were the youngest Ryder Cup assistant captains in history, and it's likely to stay that way because that's how I do things, I do things with family.
Now for us to be able to collaborate and go out there and teach, Ronnie and I, we've well, we just swap back and forth.
It's interesting I can tell you a cute story, I was driving down to help Mickelson before Akron, the weekend before Firestone. Ronnie and I already talked about what we saw on television at the British Open, but my phone rings on the way down to Delmar, and Junior says, "You're going down to work with Phil today?"
He said, "Don't tell him anything physical."
Well, Ronnie and I have already talked about that but Junior doesn't know it; and I'm smiling because he saw the exact same thing we had seen.
And I reiterated it to Phil. I said, I'm not allowed to tell you anything physical, and that's from the two bosses I've got. So show me what you've got, because most of it's mental.
So right now, I have probably more fun I know mom and dad are looking down, especially my father, in the fact that he was my only teacher. And I learned to play golf in the mid '40s, learned to putt at any rate, but that was '46, '47, '48, in there, I never had to change anything all those years.
So what we have now is a signature approach to teaching. We're going basically worldwide and having the success, and we're doing it together. So it's just I can't tell you how excited I am to be doing it and to be relevant at the age of 70.
I've gone from being the best player in the family to being the third best teacher, but I have no problem with it because it's just the ride is a hoot, and I am still on one, so it's good.
Q. Obviously there were controversial elements to the '91 Ryder Cup, but given the overall result, how important was it in terms of the later development of the tournament?
DAVE STOCKTON: Well, first of all, most of the controversies were in Bernhard Gallagher's mind, okay. He saw suspicious happenings around every single frigging corner.
Two things I didn't like: It would have helped if the PGA hadn't called it the 'War By the Shore,' and it would have helped if I hadn't have been a hunter. And I decided I was going to have some camouflage hats because we were just coming out of Desert Storm, and I was going to be able to use those hunting hats later on.
My time on the Ryder Cup is totally different than everybody else's. Yes, I wanted to get it back. No, not at all costs, but I did want to, and I'll take full blame for this: Stop doing some 50 some corporate outings a year to go to zero, so I could go around the United States publicizing to anybody that wanted me to speak to different groups that they ought to understand what The Ryder Cup means to the players and they ought to support us.
So near as I could tell I remember the first tee at Kiawah to me was two guys, one in the Union Jack, and one with the Spanish flag yelling like crazy when the Europeans teed off and when we teed off they were clapping and they were very polite. I never set foot in the tent.
Junior told me now how many beers he had in the tent. I guess he wanted to make sure that we were covering all our bases.
But to me it was great. From the Tuesday cookout where there were no PGA of America officials, and I wouldn't allow either on either side. But both teams could bring any of their immediately family and come, but no officials, because I wanted just to meet.
Two, the final going to the last dinner when they have two buses, the American bus and the European bus, right. Except for Woosie, he comes up to me and said, "Stock, we can get everybody on, we're only two people shy." And with that he picks up Corey Pavin and carries him on the bus so he counts as one person.
So I mean, I understand. And everybody I appreciated Watson following me, saying he was going to try to get some civility back into it and all that. That's fine. I'm all for that. That's part of the core values of this game we play.
But I'll tell you what, I stirred up a hornet's nest, but I don't care, because there will be hornets out there at Medinah this year. And it's good to have; we tend to get complacent. We can't sing as good as the Europeans. We've got no chance to sing as good. As long as our clubs play better, I don't care.
But the controversy with Gallagher, poor guy. He was I mean, what did I do, sabotage the radios? I obviously killed Steve Pate and kept David Guilford from playing the last day, all these different things. It was interesting.
Q. Dave, you've got major championships, you have your Ryder Cup captaincy, now this prestigious award. Is it possible for you to compare what these mean to you in a hierarchical or priority order, and is that different than how you want to be remembered or your legacy in the game?
DAVE STOCKTON: That's a heck of a question. I think I enjoy where we're at now because we're doing it as a team. I think when you're an individual and you win major championships, you have to be self centered to a great extent. Cathy and I always did it as a team. I mean, that's just what it was about.
But the biggest thing for me was the Ryder Cup because when the flag goes up and you're playing for your country, we're an individual sport, and yet that's why I enjoy watching the Olympics. That's what it's about is watching to see the stars and stripes and wanting to be out there and play for your country.
There was one of my fellow seniors last week when I was up at Minnesota commented that he won a Gold Medal at the U.S. Amateur and he won a Gold Medal for winning the Masters and got his Claret Jug. He didn't really think being in the Olympics would mean anything, and I'm thinking to myself, he's got it completely backwards.
So my priorities, number one, anything that I can do that I leave a legacy. So what I'm looking at is Stockton golf, which I'm going to include my father in it, we've been in the business basically for 73 years right now. And I know for a fact that when I get through with giving enough time, we're going to end up I say we, because we're working together, but I'm going to end up being more famous as a teacher than I was as a player, and I had a good record or I wouldn't be sitting here.
But I think my best is still ahead of me just by who wins. If you don't think I had a hoot last year, McIlroy blows up at the Masters, and two weeks later, I work with him; Ronnie and I work with him at Charlotte, at Quail Hollow, took us 15 minutes and maybe 10 minutes on the chipping green and off he goes. And I see him at Wentworth three weeks later and I work with him less than five minutes and I said, "You've got it." Now where is he going? He's going to Congressional, where I won my second one. Although the way he played Congressional is no relationship to how he played Congressional.
But the satisfaction of seeing him win that was unbelievable; as was watching Mickelson win, and for Ronnie having Yani Tseng be a five time major champion.
I haven't listed the PGAs. Yeah, they were important I'll tell you how brilliant I am. I was one of the ones that spearheaded in July of 1970 to make sure this idiotic rule of having lifetime exemptions for PGA Champions would continue. Boy, am I smart. I win it and I get 10 years. First PGA Champion not to get lifetime.
Now, to confound the thing, I won it six years later. Now I'm going, well, okay, do I get 20 years, my first? No. So I win it twice and get 16 years. I don't do very much good under protest, I guess.
RON STOCKTON: You should have paced it out a little bit.
Q. I know you've told the story before, but could you run through exactly how you came up with the Sunday pairings in '91? And then secondly, before Langer's putt on 18, were you thinking about the first two days, second guessing anything you'd done?
DAVE STOCKTON: Sunday pairings, I followed script, which of course Gallagher didn't, by trying to put most of my strength in the first part and last part and protecting the ones that weren't playing particularly good in the middle. Gallagher put all his good ones in the middle.
For instance, we had Seve playing against Wayne Levi, who at the time was the weakest one off our team, and he almost beat him. I think Seve won 2 & 1.
My thought with the pairings, I wanted Lanny to go out first. But Lanny told me that he was tired and he wanted to go later.
I just read the article in Golf Digest where Floyd was still kind of ticked at me that I didn't send him off later. I honestly don't remember him asking that because he would have been one that I totally respected.
I'm surprised not that anything wouldn't have flown over my head at that time. But I put Payne Stewart and Raymond out first, and then I had obviously the controversial one was Calcavecchia, who was the key to us winning.
It still blows me away that I go from the first tee to the eighth tee and on the first tee the guys are getting buried. And Calc is going 2 up, 3 up, 4 up, and these guys to a man they're ignoring that Stewart and Floyd are getting beat, and Calc is drowning his guy and saying if he can do that, we can do that. He had already helped the team by the time he started folding on the back side.
It wasn't pretty to watch, but that's what happens basically. Now we won by half a point. I'm glad he didn't start the decline one hole shy.
You asked me about Langer. The thing that really ticked me off is that on Tuesday night at our get together with the other team, I find out that Langer's daughter, who was then right around two, had a possible terminal illness. I mean, what do you say to somebody?
I'll tell you one thing you do is you don't put him off dead last the last day. I was absolutely flabbergasted when I saw that pairing. As I'm out there by 18th green I know he's going to make the putt, because I don't want him not to make the putt, which means we're going to tie, and that's I had given it my best shot.
I was so mad, and I felt I don't know. Obviously I'm glad we won. I felt terrible that it came down to him. I was mad at Gallagher for putting him last. But I really didn't second guess any of the stuff that I did.
The other point Gallagher brought out was that the one thing at Kiawah I would change was that darned limo wreck that really hurt Steve Pate, because Pate and Pavin would have played together in every match, and he gets whacked in this limo wreck. And I put him out Saturday afternoon because I still didn't think it was going to be close, but I wanted to give him a chance to play. But he stiffened up so bad he couldn't even move Sunday morning. And of course Gallagher found that to be just amazing that I pulled this unsportsmanlike move of pulling him off the course. Whatever.
DAVE STOCKTON, JR.: And Pate was playing better than anybody on the team.
DAVE STOCKTON: Yeah, Pate had never had a practice round over 67. The problem was I had all my guys, which during the year, San Diego, Colonial, they had Tuesday shootouts in those days. And I went to each of those tournaments and I said: I want you to make your shootouts Ryder Cup formats. I want one best ball, the next time I want it alternate shot; and I told them who I wanted to have on Tuesday afternoon, and they did that.
So these guys were all used to playing with each other. But I never paired Pavin with anybody else but Pate.
So it was one of those things. It was obviously just a thrill. I step foot here and I'm just very proud of everything that happened. I just happened to have a little different take than some of the people.
Q. Dave, in medical terms, collaborative observations work really well at the Mayo Clinic, when a patient comes in they have a team of doctors that meet him and they finally arrive at their decision. You have in some ways that collaborative teamwork to making a decision before you get back to your pupil. You find it's working well for the world class players. How is it working for the players that are not world class players, that team effort?
DAVE STOCKTON, JR.: Well, I mean, I think it's like last week when you were we were at Firestone, having all three of us on the exact same page and teaching the same concepts and you are getting the question from the text from Lexi Thompson. I get a little whistle; he's got a distinctive whistle, you always know when he's trying to get a hold of you. And I looked over and he's hiding in the shade underneath the tree because it was hot last week.
He called me over. And I didn't know what I had done this time. I thought I was in trouble again. And he had gotten a text from her and asking a question, and he had written something to her and said, "What do you think? Do you like what I wrote here?"
Absolutely. It was perfect. I mean, and I mentioned one little thing, which he put in, and he said, "Yeah, that's it."
So that's kind of when we're working we really can touch a lot of people, and the fact that we have 61 plus wins in the last couple years proves that we're doing something good for the game and we're having a blast doing it together.
DAVE STOCKTON: I'll let Ronnie speak here in a second, but Dave had the youngest player at the U.S. Women's Open this year, a girl from Portland, Oregon; Ronnie had the youngest the year before out at the Broadmoor.
You don't understand, the pros really make some of the same mistakes as the amateurs do. Amateurs think they must be worse, and yet you watch on television we call it our signature approach, which simply starts by having you sign your own signature, and then right below it try to duplicate it.
And believe me, a person has never played golf is not going to be able to do it any better than somebody that's played golf all their life, and you learn that you can't try to get better in our part of the game, and yet everybody is into all these technical things and making it difficult, and this is Ronnie's forte and why he's done so good there on the LPGA is he was a psychology major in college, and there's a lot more to it just than the physical part. Wouldn't you say?
RON STOCKTON: Yeah, I think what's unique about what we do is we're able to we're very consistent in what we see in individual players, but at the same time we don't really have a method. We're not going to tell player A one thing and tell player B the same thing right off the mat, just like the signature approach implies. Everybody has their own signature, so I think that's what's unique is our unique ability to actually work with each and every player individually, and we're able to see what the truth is. We kind of know what we're doing. We know what's important, and we help them focus on those things.
Q. The background, the history of the PGA was match play. I don't know what year that changed, but it's gone back quite a few years
KELLY ELBIN: It changed in 1958 to stroke play.
Q. For the popularity of that format, of course it's a little bit of a different situation with the Ryder Cup, do you think match play would ever come back into consideration for a major or the PGA, whatever, in any kind of a it's so exciting in some ways, but of course for television it adds a
DAVE STOCKTON: Personally I don't think it can. I don't see how it can. Sponsor wants to put all the money up, and Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and everybody goes out in the first round. You just can't do it. You really can't do it. I mean, it's nice to have a different look. In fact it was fun to see the PGA TOUR last week in Tahoe, they played the Stableford like they used to do in Denver for years at Castle Pines. I'm all for having something different, but a major championship that's very difficult.
In fact, it's interesting, and I'll speak about it tomorrow night, but tonight, I'm going to be surrounded by fellow gentlemen that have won this championship. It's amazing how many have impacted my career basically, Julius Boros is probably the first, Don January, Geiberger, right on through the list, to Mickelson being the latest who pointed me in the directions of why don't you join the kids and what they're doing and enjoy this teaching, which is the the thing you have to understand, and I mentioned it earlier about being self centered, but when you see the satisfaction of helping somebody and turn them onto the game, I've had a couple of unbelievable stories.
I mean, the last couple months, one, a girl that never won a tournament came and worked with Ronnie and I, went back and won the Rhode Island Amateur the next week. My best was a guy at Charlotte, I came back and the kids will tell you, I pick on anybody that gets on the range. I don't like to hit balls because I'm not very good at it, so if I see somebody that I can try to get after them and improve their game, I'll get myself there. This kid was practicing for his high school championship, I told him one thing, and then later he went to the green, I showed him something there, he went out the next day, Charlotte High School Championship from Myers Park, and I didn't know how they did, and Tuesday morning I looked in the paper and they won but his name wasn't there.
I'm out helping McIlroy, and Jordan comes up with two of his buddies and I congratulated him, and he said, yeah, it was really good. I said, I didn't see your score. He said, I shot 76 and that's the best score I've had this year, and we've qualified for state. I said, that's great. Two weeks later he led them to state shooting 71.
I mean, how much better is that than doing it yourself? So we can. That's what I don't know what's going to be next. I don't know who we're going to help next. But it's really fun. It's fun to collaborate with the boys. And like I say, it all started right here at Kiawah, and they understand the game as good or better than I do, and I know my dad is very proud, for sure.
KELLY ELBIN: Dave, we'll be honored tomorrow night, Wednesday, August 8, at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center beginning at 7:00 p.m., 2012 Distinguished Service Award, Dave Stockton.
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