Senior PGA Championship

Interview with Bobby Wadkins
Sunday, June 9, 2002

JULIUS MASON: Bobby Wadkins, ladies and gentlemen, after the fourth and final round at the Senior PGA Championship, finishes at 280, total. Some thoughts on your round today.

BOBBY WADKINS: The front nine was probably the weirdest nine holes I've had since I was on the Senior Tour. I don't think I made two consecutive pars or birdies in a row. It was a birdie and then a birdie and then a par, and then a bogey and a par. I hit four tee shots, two of them were ugly and two of them were pretty good where I just couldn't get the ball on the green. And I had a solid back nine.

JULIUS MASON: Can we go through your card very quickly?

BOBBY WADKINS: I bogeyed one where I drove it into the right rough, had to chip it out, hit a sand wedge, 15 feet and missed it. 2, I made birdie, 4-wood just off the edge of the green, chipped it up, 6 feet, and made it. Drove it into the edge of the rough on 3, trying to play smart and not take a chance of hitting over the lake, chipped it out 20 feet and missed it.

The par 3, hit it over the back of the green, hit a decent shot there, it wasn't as ugly as my score in the thick stuff, chipped it by six feet and missed it. The next hole, I hit a really good drive, 8-iron to six feet and made it. Then three-putted the par 3. And then 9, I came back and birdied 8. I hit a good drive and a little 9-iron to about 10 feet there and made birdie, and then drove it in the right rough on nine, just short of the green, chipped it by about eight feet and missed it.

Back side, 11, I hit a sand wedge about 15 feet and made it, 12. I hit an 8-iron about three feet and made it. And then 17, which was probably the turning point for Fuzzy and I, he hit a beautiful shot there and I pulled a 3-iron left of the green and just had an ugly lie, and chipped it by about 20 feet and two-putted.

Q. When did you realize it was going to be Fuzzy's day?

BOBBY WADKINS: I really felt like I had a putt over there on 15, he hit it in the back bunker -- or on 14 he hit it in the back bunker. I had a 10-footer for birdie. If he doesn't get it up and down and I make mine, I have a one-shot lead again, or if he gets it up and down and I make mine, we're still tied. I realized from yesterday, Fuzzy was driving the ball well, which is what you need to do on this golf course, and I think he'll probably be pretty close to leading fairways hit this week or the last two days he will be anyway.

I knew that he was playing well and just -- after what happened yesterday with him making a double somewhere and then me doubling 18, I just felt I've been out there long enough now to know we're not done until we get done. And sure enough he misses the green on 17. I got a 15-footer for birdie. He gets his up and down. I don't make it, so I didn't concede anything until he two-putted the last hole.

He played well. It looked like the Fuzzy of old. I don't mean that in a bad term. He played well, and if I couldn't have won or Lanny couldn't have won. I can't think of any better person for the Senior Tour to win.

It was kind of funny in a way, all day long, the crowds were -- we had some decent crowds following us and they were 99 percent behind Fuzzy. All you heard all day long was "Go Fuzzy." Finally on 15, Fuzzy's wife hollered "Go Bobby." The only one who yelled for me was his own wife. It was fun to see people get behind the Senior Tour like that and root for him. I'm sorry I couldn't disappoint.

Q. Isn't that what you needed on this tour?

BOBBY WADKINS: I don't know if this course needed it, it's what the Senior Tour needed. Like I said, I was pulling for one person, I was pulling for myself, trying to beat everybody that was here this week. I came here for one reason, to win a golf tournament. But like I said, if we could take a poll of what needed to be done on the Senior Tour, this is one of the things that we needed to have happen right here.

We needed our stars, those who just got out here, to play good, we need to get the fans and TV excited about our golf again and get some more live TV. It would do nothing but help all of us. It's a whole lot more fun for the players when you're playing good, to go out there and show off in front of thousands of people instead of six. It's fun playing in front of people, and Fuzzy brings the people out.

Q. Bobby, can you talk about how things are going for you this year before this tournament?

BOBBY WADKINS: I'm 10th on the senior money list, I think going into this week. I don't know. I've made $650,000 or something. It's been good. I've played in 20 something tournaments. Won over a million bucks on the Senior Tour already. It's been fun. We've played two majors. I have two top 10s. I'm up on the list on the Charles Schwab points. I love to check stats. I'm at the top of all our stats, greens, fairways, and all that kind of stuff, and I just love playing.

Q. Bobby, can you comment on the way Vucinich played and hung in there, under the conditions where he's playing with two hardened guys?

BOBBY WADKINS: I really thought coming down like 13 or 14 he hit a couple of drives that he wasn't happy with, and then he made a great up-and-down and then made two long putts and stuff. He played extremely well. I mean I'm sure it was tough out there for him. We've done this our whole lives. Fuzzy has got a U.S. Open championship. I've got a fourth in a U.S. Open. I've got a top 10 in The Masters. I was leading the regular PGA this year. Lanny got beat by Larry Nelson down in Florida. We've been there. And as nervous as we get, I can imagine that he was feeling the same thing. He played extremely well. He almost made a great par on 18. He had a great week. He should be very pleased.

Q. Was it special to have this tournament at this course?

BOBBY WADKINS: As far as the course goes, yes. I think when we have a senior major, we need to be on the great venues of where we play golf, and obviously Firestone, with the tradition behind this, it's fantastic. I think they may need to cut the rough a little bit, or you let it grow so high so it makes no difference. It was great. I hope -- I read this morning's paper. We might be back here in three years or something like that. With this tournament that would be fantastic.

Q. What makes this course special?

BOBBY WADKINS: If they take the greens back to the way it used to be, it's one of the best golf courses in the world. You're playing a golf course that you have to hit the ball great every hole. Firestone does not have a let-up hole on it. You have to play 18 good holes and that's what I think the majority of the good players want to see.

Q. With the experience you talked about having, what do you tell yourself in the midst a wacky front nine?

BOBBY WADKINS: "What the hell are you doing?" It's hard to explain when you're playing bad and you know you're playing bad, you kind of get down on yourself because realize you can't correct what you're trying to do. But I wasn't making bad swings, just not making the results that I felt my swings warranted.

So I felt just hang in there, I've seen it before where I've been playing good for the first 10 or 11 holes and the guy I was playing with didn't play good, and then he played the last 6, 7 holes good and I played so-so and he ends up beating me or ties me, and with this golf course I knew we had to hang in there somehow, and luckily I made a bogey and I came back to made a birdie. I made more birdies today than I did in the first three rounds. I never gave myself a chance to shoot myself. I came back with a birdie quicker than I expected.

Q. Fuzzy had lots of opportunities. He could have made bogey down the stretch and he kept saving par out of the rough. You were watching all this. What were you seeing?

BOBBY WADKINS: I was seeing somebody doing his job. He managed his golf ball pretty well. The putt that was big for him was the same thing I did the last two days, it was probably on 13. He hit a bad drive and then hit a bad second shot and got a pretty good break.

It caught the trees and dropped on the right-hand side and then made a beautiful up-and-down 80 yards short of the green. And not having won in a while, if he happens to make a double there and gets behind for the first time, since the 1st hole, it's a different ball game, but Fuzzy is a competitor. He has no quit in him.

Q. You mentioned about nerves coming into play. A lot of fans might think you play in so many tournaments and all that, why would there be nerves.

BOBBY WADKINS: I asked Bruce Lietzke, I've asked Bill Rogers, I've asked Lanny, I've asked everybody who I think is a pretty good friend, do you get nervous on the first tee and they say yes. I wonder why am I nervous, am I the only person that can't see that fairways, overnight the trees have covered it up or something.

You want to do so good and you've practiced so hard that it's just a funny feeling. It's a great feeling, because when you play a great round of golf under pressure or have a good shot, I hate to brag, but the shot I hit to win my first tournament, I had 170 with a white pin placement and I hit the prettiest high cut 7-iron that I practiced all my life, and to do it under pressure when you had to do it, that's the greatest feeling in the world.

The pressure obviously is the pressure that you put on yourself, but I think everybody that plays that's any good is a pretty good athlete, and if you're a good athlete you hate to fail. And if you hate to fail you put pressure on yourself.

Q. So even like today you had that fear, with the hate to fail, the nerves were there, in other words?

BOBBY WADKINS: I'm a firm believer, if you're scared to take a risk then you're not very good. I was going to do whatever I thought I had to do. If I was behind Fuzzy coming down the last four or five holes to win a golf tournament. I had played well enough last year and this year that I can play for the first time in my career like most of the superstars out here, I can play for trophies. The money is great, but you never have enough, but it's starting to pile up pretty nice where you don't have to worry about par, par, par, the last three holes to make sure you make 100 grand or 200 grand or whatever that might be. You can play for championships and that's what I think I'm going to enjoy the most about the Senior Tour.

Q. You mentioned about TV, and how this was good for the senior --

BOBBY WADKINS: If we could get Johnny Miller off the TV that would be great, yes.

Q. For which reason?

BOBBY WADKINS: Pick one. We all wish he would come back here. He's never hit a bad shot. We would like to see him come back here and play.

Q. I'm not saying that it's true, but that when people watch golf on TV they want to see a lot of birdies. This week there wasn't a lot of birdies. Was this a great championship, in your mind?

BOBBY WADKINS: Yes, I felt like the guy who played the best won the golf tournament. How can you argue about that? I think it eliminates the people who aren't playing good. You aren't going to go to a U.S. Open or a tournament like this and have a chance to win if you aren't playing good. We have some tournaments on the regular Senior Tour, and the regular PGA, if you play a couple of holes like you're supposed to, the other 14 or 15, you can hit it anywhere and still play the golf course. This one you can't.

Q. Does the fact that it was, in your opinion, a great championship lessen at all the disappointment that you may have about the way things turned out?

BOBBY WADKINS: I'm disappointed and I don't care if we've been playing out there in the road, if we're playing a major championship on the Senior Tour, then I wanted to win. I'm disappointed I didn't win the golf tournament, but I also felt Fuzzy played well enough to win. I looked at the leader board and there is only one person under par and two of us at even par, so I don't think I did a bad job.

Quite frankly, I don't have an A Game, B Game or C Game like Tiger, but I wasn't playing as well as I've played most of the time on the Senior Tour and to finish this good, I'm pleased with myself for hanging in there.

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