The 2005 Senior PGA Championship
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An Interview With Jerry Pate

May 27, 2005

JULIUS MASON: Jerry Pate, ladies and gentlemen, playing in his second Senior PGA Championship and a top the board of the 66th Senior PGA Championship. Jerry, how about some opening thoughts on your round today.

JERRY PATE: I thought starting out we started at 1 o'clock on the back nine, it seemed like it was a little more difficult start on the back. Just right out of the bat I 3‑putted the 12th hole. And so that kind of got me unsettled a bit.

But as a whole, the golf course played difficult if you didn't hit good shots and if you hit good shots, it, there were holes you could make birdies on.

JULIUS MASON: Let's talk about your birdies and your bogeys. Go ahead start with No. 12.

JERRY PATE: I don't have any glasses on. How am I going to see? You got to realize this is the SENIOR Tour here. I bogeyed 12? Yeah, I 3‑putted 12. I hit a good drive and hit a poor 8‑iron shot. The wind was kind of into our fairways there and I had it on the collar some 45 feet or so from the hole. Putted down to about six feet and missed the putt.

13, 14, 15.

15, I hit a poor tee shot with 3‑wood in the bunker. Hit a 7‑iron on the green to probably 60 feet and holed the putt there. It was kind of funny, that was one of the longest putts I've had this week and the day before I had along one on about the fifth hole or fourth hole that I holed a long putt about a 40 footer. And I'm thinking this is about a 40 footer and this is a 60 footer and I said I think I'm going to make this putt. I knocked it right in.

Get on the next hole hit a good drive and a 7‑iron. I switched balls this week I'm playing a little harder ball, so the ball is going farther for me. So I hadn't really logged it in my computer that I have got to hit less club. I'm hitting a lot of shots long. And so I hit on the next hole, hit it uphill into the wind, I hit a 7‑iron about probably I would say I was a good 45 feet past the hole there. Right over the hole. And I holed that one. For birdie.

And let's see, next hole was 17. I hit a good putt for birdie, missed it.

18, I had a 5‑iron to the green, right out of the fairway, had a pretty good lie, downhill. Decided to hit four, which was a mistake. Only had 175 to the front but it's into the wind so it's a little bit dicey shot. Purtzer had the same distance and I had to hit first. And in fact Ben Crenshaw had already hit a shot from say 10 yards back over the water. And I hit a fat 4‑iron, it was absolutely the worst shot I think I've ever hit in my professional career, bar none. Other than once whiffing a ball. I hit it so fat trying to cut it on a downhill slope that I came up short of the like in the rough. I wedged across the lake, rolled through the green into the rough, pitched out, missed the putt and made 6.

So I'm sitting there thinking, I got a pretty good chance to make three, absolutely hit the wrong club in the wrong shot and made six.

Ironically Ben Crenshaw did the same thing, he hit a very poor pitch and made six. It was kind of a funny ‑‑ it was really kind of a crazy day. It's really hard not to play well when you play with guys like Tom Purtzer and Ben Crenshaw, they're just terrific gentlemen, fun to play with, good guys. You can carry on a good conversation, it's not brain surgery out there. Some of these guys that you play with are so stiff you think that there's is somebody in the hospital dying of cancer. And nobody wants to talk.

And I enjoy talking and if I'm going to spend four hours playing golf, I don't have any ‑‑ how many of you guys play golf? Any of you all play golf? Do you ever talk on the golf course? Is that kind of a novel thing to do? Talk on the golf course? But ‑‑ so I enjoy talking on the golf course. So Ben and I both bogeyed 18. Purtzer birdies and Purtzer is looking like he's shooting a million and Ben is not playing that well and the next thing you know we all shot low on the front nine. Ben had 32, I think I had 32, and I think Tom had about 32. So we all sort of played off each other.

I missed a short putt on one. Probably about eight footer for birdie. Really hit a good putt.

2, I would say it was about 25 footer. Missed that for birdie.

3, I wedged to about let's say eight, 10 feet and made that for birdie.

4, I 3‑putted for a par.

5, I hit 5‑iron and hit it in the green side front left bunker. Had a very difficult shot. Probably one of the best shots I hit all day. I hit it to about a foot. And it really hit a soft little high shot. This sand you can't spin the ball. The sand is sort of manufactured granite and it's real, I would call sharp sand. And it's tough to spin the ball. You can hit it out, don't see any balls hitting and checking. They just kind of hit and release. So I was proud of that have shot. It was probably the best shot I hit all day.

On 6, is sixth next hole? The par‑5? I hit a big drive there and hit a 4‑wood to about 30 feet. Again, Purtzer and I were side by side, literally about a foot apart. And he putted first and hung it on the right edge and missed it and I hit the same exact putt, hung it on the right edge and then Ben knocks his in for birdie, so we all three birdie there.

7, I hit 3‑wood 9‑iron to about 20 feet uphill. Had it right below the hole, made birdie.

8, all three of us hit it wasn't 10 feet. With four irons. Ben hit I think a rescue club. And we all three birdied.

8. Which 8 is a tough hole. Plays about 220 something and we all three birdied that.

Then 9, all three of us hit good shots and Ben makes his putt first from like 17 feet, I miss it from 15 and Purtzer makes it from 10. So we almost finished birdie, birdie, all three of us, the last two holes. But so it was getting kind of comical. We were looking for more holes to play because we were all having fun, we were all hitting good shots and sinking putts. And even the ninth hole, my last hole I had like 155‑up hill into the wind and I'm thinking, well it's a little 6 ‑‑ with the other ball I would have hit 6. But I hit a 7 and flew it 15 feet on the fly past the hole. So that was the hardest part for me was to adjust for the wind and the golf ball today.

JULIUS MASON: Beautiful. Thank you. Questions, folks?

Q. Why did you switch to the harder ball and did it make any difference other than the fact it went in on those long putts? Did you have to adjust to putting with it?

JERRY PATE: I actually think that ball putts better. For me it's not as good a ball at times, if I'm really hitting the ball well, and hitting the ball hard, it will spin. I like to hit a lot of funny little shots. I like to work the ball at times and the other ball spins for me better. Hitting it easy it stops easier. I think Irwin, a lot of guys use the all black Titleist, the red and black is a little harder. Some of the guys who hit it longer use the red and black. I hit harder with my drives and long irons, but my short irons I like to play a lot of little soft shots. So as long as the greens are soft enough to spin it, I'll use the Pro V X. The reason why I changed was because the golf course was playing ‑‑ we got here on Sunday night, lord of mercy it was wet and cold and the ball wasn't going anywhere. So I thought it would be an advantage to hit a ball where I could hit it longer.

Q. You normally use the Pro V‑1?

JERRY PATE: No, I swap back and forth. Last year I used about 50/50 I know the Jeld‑Wen we played it was cold and rainy and I used the X and drove the ball well, drove it long. And it's an advantage if you can keep it, spin it, because we can hit it farther. It definitely goes farther than the black, there's no question. And it will sometimes go really, really long.

Q. Was it hard to erase that ugly iron out of your head?

JERRY PATE: You know, not really. I just hit a bad shot. I think that's the difference in this year and maybe last year. It was probably the worst golf shot that I have hit as a professional. I'm not kidding you. And I don't even know what I was thinking. But I knew it wasn't the right club. And I'm sitting there trying in my mind to manufacture this shot and hit this big old ‑‑ I was going to come down on top of it and hit just alike hit down and hit a high cut and I mean I must have hit two inches behind it. I hit the biggest fat shot, that ball went a hundred yards. It didn't even get to the like. It was ugly. That's part of it. I should have made par. It was pitiful I didn't make par.

Q. You talked about using the Pro V 1 at Jeld‑Wen. You had a great finish there as well. Is there something about the confidence of just changing, just making any kind of a change or do you think it was the ball itself?

JERRY PATE: No, I got a new putter. And I didn't start putting with this putter until Wednesday. I used two different putters last week. I've been changing putters all TOUR long, last year and this year. And I say, ‑‑ I putted with one Scotty Cameron a pretty good while. But I just hadn't had the confidence in my putting. And I tell you what, this putter, I mean I promise you I did not, I had two three putts but I didn't hit bad putts and poa annua greens you can hit good putts and miss them, believe me. They will do funny things at times. But, and Ben Crenshaw was sort of an, I guess he's my mentor of putting, teaching. And interesting to play with him for two days. And when I'm going around there hitting good putts and he's going, man, that's a great putt. I mean, he's the best there is. And he knows if I was putting like a dog and I played with him in the practice rounds, for two days, I played Tuesday and Wednesday with him, so we played the last four days together. And he's one of my closest friends. So it's kind of nice. I mean, you know, you're relaxed playing with somebody that you enjoy. I'm putting well. And that's hard ‑‑ that's been a long time. And the crazy thing is I'm a good putter. Heck, I won the putting stats on the PGA TOUR one year. You're not a bad putter if you win the putting stats. But I just had no confidence. It's all right here (Indicating).

Q. You had mentioned you enjoyed playing with Ben and Tom just as individuals does it also help when they're kind of getting on a roll, do you feel any difference in your game in kind of playing with players who are kind of also hot?

JERRY PATE: I like to see people play well. I don't like to play with someone that plays poorly. I don't care if we're in the last group on the last day of the last tournament you're ever going to play. You want somebody to play their best and you want to play one shot better. That's part of the game. And they played well and I enjoyed it. It makes me feel good that ‑‑ I like to see people succeed. And that's just ‑‑ I'm just that way. And it was nice to see them play well and have fun. I mean, again, like my caddy told me, after I 3‑putt the 12th hole and I'm moping going off the green and he says, you know, you haven't got cancer out here, you're playing golf. Have fun. And I think as professionals we're so driven to be perfect we take our self too seriously. And it's best summed up by Bob Rotella, it is not a game of perfect. You just go play, have fun and hit the next one and go on. And the guys that win, day in, day out, the guys you see like Stadler has been playing well, Kite plays well and I think sometimes it hurts Tom Kite to a degree, Watson, in his hey day, look at Hale Irwin, I mean, you think Hale Irwin couldn't care less when he hits a bad shot. He just hits it and goes and find it. I'm sure it's burning him up inside. And that's what you have to learn how to do. And I'm having to re‑learn. You know I haven't played in 20 years. I haven't been in competition in almost 20 years until last year. That's a long time. George had hair back then.

(Laughter.)

Q. Your thoughts on being the leader off two round and also your thoughts heading into the weekend?

JERRY PATE: My thoughts as being the leader? I didn't know I was the leader. Oh, gosh. Um, you know, there's 36 holes, we're ‑‑ I've been the leader in enough tournaments to know you got to play one shot at a time. And although I haven't been in the lead in a long time it's still the same game. It's the same process. Just have to play your game. And for me I have to be patient and calm and swing slow. I have a, you know, a bit of tempo in my swing and if I coop my tempo, like anyone, no matter what your rhythm is, if you stay calm and focused, you'll play well. So you just have to rely on your talent.

Q. It seemed like the putter was what kind of what held you back last year, you changed putters a lot, have you changed anything else, any technique or any stroke thoughts or have you done anything else that or did you stick with ‑‑

JERRY PATE: Wasn't it Tampa we played together?

Q. Yeah.

JERRY PATE: I think that's when my putting started going down.

(Laughter.) No. You know, to be honest, I haven't changed anything. I'm telling you, this is the honest to God truth, Jim Andrews whose operated on me three times, he's operated on everybody, from Bo Jackson to every baseball pitcher, you know, Michael Jordan. He's my good friend. He told me when I was in rehab and in the summer of 2003, when I was supposed to play, come out on the TOUR, I didn't because I was having my fourth surgery. I stayed at his house for about five months. And I stayed in Birmingham rehabbed every day. He said you're never going to get well, Jerry, this is your last chance. You got to get your shoulder and work out so strong. In fact Lietzke was pounding me this week saying, you mean just playing golf, that's just not enough? I said no, golf is what has hurt my shoulder, it's what wears it down. But Andrews was pounding me there three years ago he said, if you get a two ball putter you're going to beat everybody. That's what he kept telling me. I never had a two ball putter until Wednesday of this week. It's a two ball Odyssey putter. And I don't know if it's just between my ears or it really is that good of a putter, but there's an interesting parallel about it and he says it's a better putter. The mallet head putter. And I putted with some mallets, I putted with the Fat Lady, remember when Nick Price was putting and beating everybody with that putter. And I putted well with that. But I've always been the traditional, either the Wilson Palmer, the 8802 or the T P Mills, blade putter, heel shafted. And this putter lines up extremely well for me. It is a, just a terrific putter. And that's been the difference. I haven't changed my stroke, I haven't changed any thought process, I just changed putters.

Q. You had a good finish at tradition. Have you sort of been itching to get here at the next Major after that performance?

JERRY PATE: We got so many Majors out here I can't keep up with them. I haven't thought of it that way. But it's kind of funny, I hadn't played as well as I would have thought I would have played this week striking the ball. I really have been ‑‑ Dave Marr can tell you, he does the Golf Channel every week and I don't know if you guys follow the Champions Tour every week, but I'm ‑‑ when I'm on, I'm a pretty good ball‑striker. And that hasn't held me up. I have not hit the ball as well this week as I have in probably the 20 tournaments last year. So it's a crazy game. It really is. But I think because it is a Major, I think maybe I stay focused better and that's probably my struggle sometimes on the Champions Tour is you go out therefore three days and it's like a horse race and you got to just jump out there, you know you have to shoot ‑‑ I mean, lord, Dana Quigley and Irwin are going to shoot 67 every single round. And Allen Doyle, I never seen anything like it. Gil Morgan. Same old guys. Thorpe. You know, it's just unbelievable. This is a little slower to, to bake this event. It takes a little longer. So you have to be a little more patient. And I think it ‑‑ for me, I'm not a 63 shooter. I've always been pretty steady, but you know, not a lot of high rounds but I can shoot around par or under par and I think in a Major that's what you try to do, just keep it a couple under par each day. Four 70's would probably win the golf tournament this week. I said that earlier in the week.

Q. What do you try to do mentally when you're out there on the course with someone who is really not enjoying themselves? Is that ‑‑ what do you have to do it to keep yourself having a good time?

JERRY PATE: What do I do mentally? I try to go and talk to my caddy and just try to ‑‑ or talk to ‑‑ you know believe it or not last week in Birmingham, lord of mercy I was talking to the spectators and I had a lot of friends there and I enjoyed it. I mean gosh, this is ‑‑ we're 50 something years old, give me a break. This is a game. We're supposed to have fun. I enjoy playing with guys like Fuzzy or Chi Chi and Peter Jacobsen and guys that want to entertain the customers. We are entertainers and we're supposed to have fun and bring pleasure to the spectators that are paying to watch us play. And well maybe not, I mean some people go to the races to watch the crashes or the rest wrestling match to see a guy get the blood come out of his nose. But I think people really want to see you do well and have fun. I think. Unless I got the wrong message. And I like to have fun. It's fun to go out and talk to people in the gallery. So that's what I do. Just have a good time.

Q. You talked about how Major championships in terms of being a Major, helps you focus on the goal of winning a trophy. Major championships setups, you've won a U.S. Open, a PLAYERS Championship, why do you play difficult courses and difficult course setups so well?

JERRY PATE: I think that just the word patience. I had, you know, an Open I could have won, other than the one I open. I finished second in the Open at Inverness when Hale won. I lost in a playoff at Oakmont in the Open ‑‑ at the PGA, excuse me, in '78. I had a couple other good finishes in the PGA. I think in the PGA, my first five times I was like in the top‑5 or first four times I'm pretty sure I was in the top‑5 my first four PGA Championships. And I just like to play more difficult golf courses. You rely on your ball striking and you rely on your patience. You hit the ball from A to B to C in the hole and when you make a four that's okay. When you're playing a golf course that's wide open and guys are shooting 26 under. I mean, gosh, I'm out this like panicking because I'm not birdieing every hole and that's probably a short coming that I have. I'm a pretty tenacious, impatient person. Does that make sense? I want to do it now. I mean, when I have a problem, I want to fix it now. And that's probably to my detriment at times and some of the events that I play but I think at a Major I just realize you got to be patient. You got to take your time.

JULIUS MASON: Thank you very much for coming down.

JERRY PATE: Thank you.

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