The 2005 Senior PGA Championship
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An Interview With R.W. Eaks

May 26, 2005

JULIUS MASON: R. W. Eaks, ladies and gentlemen, a top the leaderboard currently at the 66th Senior PGA Championship. You're playing in your second?

R.W. EAKS: This is my second.

JULIUS MASON: Second championship. Nice round today. Some general comments and then we'll go through your card and go to Q&A, please.

R.W. EAKS: Okay. Well, let's start on the back nine. I started there. And I bogeyed my first hole. Hit an awful second shot with a 6 iron. Hit a 3 wood off the tee. Didn't get up and down. Missed about a five footer.

Then what did I do? I made par at 11.

Nothing special on 12, 13, 14 just average pars.

And 15, I tried to hit a 3 wood around the corner. There's a little like there. And I snap hooked it in the water. Hit a 7 iron out about 12 feet, missed the putt but it was a great, just a wonderful bogey. That could have been a 7 or an 8 there. But that was fortunate.

16, 17, not much happened.

And 18 I hit a very nice drive there and a 6 iron about 12 feet and made that for eagle. And that got me kick started right there.

First hole, bad drive, in the right rough. I couldn't get it on the green. I hit a sand wedge short of the bunker and chipped it in. Out of a divot. And that was a wonderful golf shot.

Now 3, I hit another good drive and I laid up short of the bunker with a 4 iron. About five yards short of the green. Chipped it up about three feet. Made that.

4, I hit an excellent drive there and hit a wedge from 135 yards that went right over the top of the hole and it was only about six inches away. Probably should have gone in, but it didn't. But we made up for that later.

Birdied 6, the par 5. I hit a driver over the bunkers. It's about a 295 carry and I hit it about 310 there. Hit a 4 iron just off the side of the green and chipped that to about a half inch. That one had possibilities, but it didn't go in.

7, I missed a, hit a driver or a 3 iron, 6 iron to that hole. About 12 feet behind the hole and just lipped that one out.

And number 8 I got the best break of the day. I hit a 4 iron, pulled it left of the green and it hit a tree and bounced back on the green about 12 feet from the hole. I didn't make it, but that definitely saved me at least one or two shots.

18, and then the last hole, No. 9, I hit a nice 3 wood off the tee and just blocked a 7 iron awful from 175 yards and 3 putted. But all in all it was a good day.

JULIUS MASON: Questions?

Q. How far did you have in on 18? You said you hit 6 iron?

R.W. EAKS: I hit 6 iron. I had 182. A little bit into the breeze. I was caught between a 7 and 6. And decided to cut a 6 iron in there.

Q. So how far did you figure off the tee then for you?

R.W. EAKS: I didn't gauge that one. Because we didn't have to hit it over any bunkers or anything. So I hit it pretty solid though.

Q. Was the wind starting to pick up later in the round? Will that make much of a difference today?

R.W. EAKS: The wind started on us on 17. Which was my front nine. Actually, I think it's going to help the guys this afternoon.

It's going to dry the golf course out a little bit. Not that it's wet, but it's going to play a little bit shorter. And I think it will help them a little bit.

Q. According to your bio you were a high school All American basketball player. One, did you pursue that after high school and two, what do you say to people who maintain golf does not require the athleticism of other sports?

R.W. EAKS: Well, I went to college and played basketball for four years. Couple knee operations here and there, but I had a great time. I didn't go to major university, I went to the University of Northern Colorado. But I had a great time doing that.

As far as golf being athletic? There's some of the best athletes in the world right here over 50 years old. I don't agree with that at all. It's not the easiest thing to go out and walk 18 holes under the gun. Might not be able to run very fast and you might not be able to jump very high, but you got to have eye/hand coordination, and it's a difficult game. It's one of the hardest games I've ever played. And I played them all. But I think that you got to be in pretty good shape to play this game.

Q. You had a run at Caves Valley, a good run there, do you feel comfortable in these big events out here?

R.W. EAKS: Well, the bigger events are a little different than the regular Champions Tour. The golf courses are a little longer, rough's a little longer. And right now at my age it suits my game because I can still hit it out there a little bit further. Caves Valley I had a great time there, I just hurt my back on the 16th hole of the second day or who knows what would have happened there. If I would have listened to my son and chipped that ball out instead of trying to hit it on the green I probably would have been okay. I had back trouble the week before that in Baltimore at the TOUR event there. So it was something that was lingering, just happened to come back at the wrong time.

Q. You won at the Quicksilver about 15 years ago. What do you remember about that and pretty much kind of went from the Nike, Hogan whatever that was, and a little stop on the PGA TOUR and now here.

R.W. EAKS: Right. Yeah, the Quicksilver was, at that time it was our biggest event out there. And it was the year we played it was set up like a U.S. Open. It was hard, the rough was deep. I think that's just a great golf course over there. So it fit my game. Because the lower the scores are, as far as to par, instead of going 17, 18 under par, it's better for me if the tournament's somewhere around 5, 6, 7 under par. Because I'm not the greatest putter in the world. So I can hit it around, but I don't make a lot of putts sometimes. If we can keep the scores close to par it's better for me.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about the role luck plays in this game. Hitting a tree and having a putt at birdie. Obviously you can't count on that. But why does it bounce that way and not the other way?

R.W. EAKS: You know what? It was time for me to get a good one. I've had some real bad ones in the last year and a half. And but that's how the game is. I might have good breaks for the next year and a half. You just got to roll with the punches. I mean I was shocked when I walked up to the green and saw the ball there. You kind of forget about the bad ones, really quick, when you get a good break like that.

Q. Was the course significantly different from earlier in the week? It had been wet. Has it started to dry at all?

R.W. EAKS: As it gets warmer, the moisture is coming out of the ground real quick. The fairways are actually getting a little softer. But they're in great shape. It's nothing like you're walking around a quagmire or anything. I think the golf course is going to get better and better. Even if we get more rain, I think that this golf course drains so well. It's outstanding the job they're doing.

Q. What kind of career did you have as a college basketball player?

R.W. EAKS: Well, I was referred to on my team as the black hole. If I got it, they weren't getting it back, I was shooting it. Because I thought maybe I could do better than they could. We just we were so close that we didn't win a lot of games, but we had a lot of fun and we still all stay in touch.

Q. Were you a starter?

R.W. EAKS: Oh, yeah. I had fun.

Q. What position did you play?

R.W. EAKS: I played guard. Ballhog. I did it all. Those are some fun days.

Q. Most golfers start at an early age, were you golfing while you were playing basketball? Which was are primary sport?

R.W. EAKS: I played a little bit when I was in high school, mostly because I caddied for a living during the summer. My younger years, ninth, 10th, 11th grade. When I got to college, we had kind of a really wasn't a golf team, it was more of a golf club. Kind of everybody just got together and played. And we went to a few tournaments, but not much of a golf team. I probably went thereto play basketball. So golf was more of a fun thing for me to do.

Q. How did you evolve into a professional golfer then?

R.W. EAKS: I didn't want to go to work. I got out of college and I just didn't like to I wanted to be a college basketball coach and I didn't like the politics that these guys were having to go through. And I didn't think with my personality that I could have somebody put their thumb on me. So I wanted to do something that I could be my own boss and golf was a great way. I haven't had much of a career, but my wife and I have seen a lot of things, met some great people, and we have done okay.

Q. You say playing basketball you had the approach that you thought you could do it better than anybody else, does that carry out on the course sometimes where you have to have that competition against the field and the mentality. You know they're not all going to go in but to keep going no matter what happens?

R.W. EAKS: I think that on the golf course hurts me. Because I always think that I can hit the shot as good as you can hit it. And sometimes you just can't go at the pins. And that's why I make a lot of doubles and bogeys and triples and quads. I made a quad last week that killed me. But I just can't settle back and not go for the pins. We have been trying to work on that this year and hopefully we'll get better at it. But I still get carried away at times.

Q. The forecast for the weekend is supposed to turn a little rainy. I think rain is supposed to come in tomorrow. Does that change your strategy at all and does the bad wet they are bother you?

R.W. EAKS: Man, I got a new rain suit, I can't wait to try it out. No, bad weather is just I grew up in Colorado, we played in bad weather all the time. It was just something that you go back to your memory banks and I think it will be fine. Major championship without bad weather, man, that's no fun, is it?

JULIUS MASON: Questions? Yes, sir.

Q. Your early golf career seems to be so different than most of the guys who are on the TOUR, would you say the fact that you were such a good athlete enabled you to pick it up later in life, whereas most guys are doing it when they're, nine, 10, 11, 12 years old?

R.W. EAKS: Yeah, probably. You know, if I wouldn't have been so stubborn and got lessons back when I first started. I never had any lessons, I taught myself. And there's a lot of things I do wrong that I can't correct now. It's just built to my body. But being maybe a better athlete than some of the guys were, I think it's still helped me. Because I can still hit it further than they can, I'm still a little stronger than they are. And I've just been blessed with a little extra strength, I think.

Q. Give us one of those things that you do wrong that you can't change.

R.W. EAKS: I have very bad leg action through the ball. Some of that is because I've had a few knee operations and they're very weak. But it would be nice if I could get somebody to help me more with my leg action. Because I collapse a little bit going through the ball.

JULIUS MASON: Thank you very much, folks.

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