May 26, 2004
Note: The news conference was moderated by Julius Mason, the Director of Public Relations and Media Relations of the PGA of America
JULIUS MASON: Like to welcome John Jacobs to the interview room here at the 65th the Senior PGA Championship. John, welcome to Louisville and to Valhalla. Defending Senior PGA Championship John Jacobs, ladies and gentlemen. He joins us at Valhalla Golf Club. John, welcome once again to Valhalla. Some opening thoughts and we'll go to Q and A, if you don't mind.
JOHN JACOBS: Well, I'm excited to be here. It looks to me like everything's kind of the same weather and conditions as last year. So maybe it will be two in a row. Because I think the wet conditions are going to favor the longer hitters. If we hit it straight. But it's a great golf course. I'm looking forward to it. I got a great pairing the first two days, so hopefully things will work out good.
JULIUS MASON: Questions, folks.
Q. First of all just talk about the dinner last night and being a defending champion and having, being able to pick that menu at a Champion's dinner and then also go into — I know you pulled out at Austin, how is the injury now? Do you feel better?
JOHN JACOBS: Well, as far as picking out the menu, I didn't have much to do with that, my wife kind of did that. It's like I say last night, and the little keepsake gift we gave everybody, you know, if it was up to me it would have been a box of cigars and a bottle of scotch, but my wife kind of got involved and it was a Faberge egg. But the dinner was funny for me I got up and I usually don't have a problem talking and I kind of looked at Nicklaus and Palmer and I thought, God damn, you know, I said, I said, shit, what am I doing up here? And it was kind of a special feeling, but my mind was kind of wandering. It was a happy feeling. I was excited. But to be in a room — in my life time and even a few years before when I started, these are the cream of the crop in the history of golf. And here I'm up there hosting the PGA Championship Dinner. It was pretty special for me.
JULIUS MASON: Question on the injury? Is that one?
Q. What was your injury and is it better now?
JOHN JACOBS: My ankle?
Q. Was it your ankle?
JOHN JACOBS: Yeah. Last — well, I went to the PGA Championship last year and after I won you get invited to play with the kids. Tim Herron and I were out playing a practice round and the marshals, they tripped myself, a little girl and her mother. And I fell, Christ, my nose hit the ground I fell so hard. No, my ankle is still wrapped, it still hurts. I tried to play a little bit right after — is that what you're talking about?
Q. Did you pull out of Austin?
JOHN JACOBS: Oh, you're talking about Austin. I thought you were talking about last year. You probably don't know about what happened last year at the PGA when they flipped me and every one. My back hurts. It still hurts. I stretch all the time and I just stretch it a little more. You get to thinking you're infallible sometimes. You stretch and you feel good and you think, I don't need quite that much this week and it comes back and haunts you. And then I'm stretching a little more now. It is my lower, right on the belt line that gets me. It changes my swing a little bit and when my swing changes then it goes up to my right shoulder blade, so I feel a little better.
Q. I saw a story where one of your friend in assessing your earlier career say you weren't thinking about winning golf tournaments you were thinking about winning the third at Santa Anita, is that accurate?
JOHN JACOBS: Yeah, that's still accurate. I'm still that way. I just practice a little bit now. Yeah, everybody's — it's thrilling to win a horse race? Are you kidding? You feel like a genius when you win a horse race. You got nine chances out there. In a round of golf you got one. At least on a racetrack you can make eight mistakes and get even in the ninth.
Q. Can you beat Smarty Jones?
JOHN JACOBS: I hope not. I think it would be great for racing. He runs like a horse that knows how to run. It's like — I remember — what's the distance runner that used to hurdle?
JULIUS MASON: Edwin Moses.
JOHN JACOBS: Edwin Moses. He kind of paced himself and then he kind of, in the corner of his eye, he caught the competition turning for home and says good?bye. He knows how to win. But I hope the hell he doesn't lose.
Q. Could you talk about what winning this event last year meant to you confidence?wise and just coming back here as a defending champion how you get treated?
JOHN JACOBS: The other guys that have won Majors, they were friends of mine. And I have always had friends out here. But after winning the tournament you feel a little more accepted. It's like you can talk on their level a little bit. I think before it's like whatever I say didn't have a whole lot of importance. Now that I've won something of significance what I say maybe might mean something. There's a little kick in your step and there's like a little fulfillment in your thoughts. I know that most of my friends think my IQ went up that I won. I'm no different now, even the guys at the racetrack they used to say, "Who does Jacobs like? Well, throw that out." Now they're like, well, you know maybe this son of a bitch knows something. Anyway, it's a wonderful feeling. Christ, I, just a feeling of fulfillment. I always figured I had a good enough game to win, it's just that putting it all together.
Q. Coming back here as defending champion are there certain little things that you get treated to?
JOHN JACOBS: Yeah, there's a lot of things. It's like I said last night, last year when my brother and I went to the Aronimink, the lot was a little full, we got there Monday afternoon and the guy says, the parking annex is down around the corner. I went in the locker room, I couldn't, it took me 20 minutes to find my locker, they're yelling, "Hey, J.J., where's J.J.'s locker?" I come here, I pull into valet and it, "That's Mr. Jacobs, his spot is right over there." Go in the locker room, "Oh, there's Mr. Jacobs, tell him where the champion's locker room area is there." A lot of things are different. It's a great feeling.
Q. Will you make a trip to Churchill this week?
JOHN JACOBS: No, but you know, you want — my wife she doesn't like gambling all that much. And she doesn't go to the horse races. And she said, "Do me a favor, promise you won't go out to the races this week and try to play golf." I says, "Okay, that's fine." So this morning — why I didn't even know this until this morning, she got up and she asked me, she says, "If we have to bet some races, what do I look for?" I said, "You're kidding?" The women's outing is at Churchill Downs. I said this is pretty good. I said, she's going to Churchill Downs and I'm playing golf. I was going to tell her to look for something with a mud mark, but I'm sure she couldn't figure that out.
Q. Talk about the setup here at Valhalla and now with all this rain how it's going to play.
JOHN JACOBS: Well, the course is going to play hard without the rain. But it's going to play a lot harder. You're going to have to drive your ball out here. Because when it gets wet, if the rough's hard, it just doubles in the hardness of it. You can't — if Monday you could hit the ball 120 dollars yards out of the rough you probably hit it 90 yards the way the weather is. So you're going to put a premium on driving the ball. And that's just part of it. The greens are really, really tricky out here. No. 1 is, it's very difficult to even though you know the pin placement from the front edge of the green, a lot of the holes you're hitting up at them and they're hard to tell visually where the pin is. So it's going to be — I would hate to see what — on Monday I would think a couple under would win. With this rain, I'm not so sure under par, anybody is going to shoot under par. It depends where they put the tees. If they keep the tees where they had them Monday, I don't think under par is a feasible score.
Q. You and Jim Awtrey go way back, I believe you all were roommates, was it Oklahoma City?
JOHN JACOBS: Oklahoma City. I just got out of the Army, that was my first job and only job I ever had. I worked for Ernie Vossler and I met — I needed a roommate when I got there. And Ernie suggested there was a nice kid in town, a Jim Awtrey, he works for a friend of mine, maybe you can room with him. So a friend of mine, Buzz Gill and Jim Awtrey and I lived together. I must have been a good influence on him.
Q. Where were you working then?
JOHN JACOBS: I worked at Quail Creek. I think — I'm not sure, I think Jim worked at Lake Heaffner, maybe? I'm not sure. I can't remember. But we — those times are great. I should have said something about it last night. I didn't. But I can remember us going to Tulsa a couple times and whoever was driving, the co?pilot was adding up the 1s and 5s and 10s and trying to get enough money what we knew we could play for that day. I remember we went down there one day, Titanic Thompson had a kid named I think it was Jimmy Walker or Jimmy Wright and we were playing him and Jimmy says, "Well, God damn, we got to play good, I don't know if we got enough money to cover our losses." I said, "Well that's the beauty of this game, it makes you play harder, don't worry about it." Jimmy was the worrier, I was the just let's go for it.
Q. Could you have imagined back then that 35 years later you would be on a trophy presentation handing you the Senior PGA Championship championship trophy?
JOHN JACOBS: No, it's pretty amazing. It's pretty exciting. Those old — well, the reminiscing and stuff, it's fabulous. Fabulous. Jimmy was always the serious one, I was kind of all the happy go lucky. I think it's probably still that way, he's very serious and in his job and I mean he's a great guy. And here I'm still kind of kind of happy go lucky and we both succeeded.
Q. Who won most of the time?
JOHN JACOBS: Well, we played partners a lot. So Jimmy was always a straight driver and I was always the hit it and go find it. So we ham and egged pretty good.
Q. How important is working out and staying fit on the Champions Tour for players and is it more so than it maybe used to be earlier in your career?
JOHN JACOBS: Oh, yeah, big time now. They have the trailers out here on the TOUR. I don't go into the trailers, but I know a lot of the other guys do. There's probably three or four fitness trainers out here. I know my wife goes to one that — I mean Colbert, and I can go down the list. There's tons of them that have their own fitness person. But I have my brother and Roger Fredricks started, in fact we were on the Golf Channel together, but Roger Fredricks got this program and I just, I have it in my room and I do it before I come out to the course. I never exercised before this year. And I can see — I can see a big difference. The biggest difference is I can not play for a week or two weeks and go out and hit balls and I don't really have to warm?up that much. I kind of, you have to practice a little bit to hit it straight and everything, but as far as hitting the ball I don't feel stiff any more. I can — I never believed in that stuff I figured if you got stiff you take some Advil. But it works. And it's — that's why the guys are playing as good as they are now because of the stretching. It's no other reason, other than they're stretching and they're staying flexible. And you can tell by the scores. Our courses aren't that much — I mean, if any of you were here during the PGA, these courses don't play much easier than what the kids play on. The only advantage they have is that they're younger, they can play better week after week where we can play good one week, two weeks and then we slough off and then we come back and play good again. But if this course is much easier than when they played the PGA, I tell you, I would tip my hat to them.
JULIUS MASON: Questions? John Jacobs, folks. Thanks very much.
JOHN JACOBS: Thank you.
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