2013 Senior PGA Championship

An Interview with: JIM WOODWARD

May 22, 2013

BOB DENNEY: We would like to welcome Jim Woodward to the interview room here at the Senior PGA Championship Presented by KitchenAid. We're joined today by our reigning Southworth Senior PGA Professional National Champion.

Jim, just before we get started, we do know that it's a solemn day as well for those recovering from a storm in the area that you live some 20 minutes or so away.

JIM WOODWARD: Yeah, Oklahoma, you don't want to sound like we're used to it, but Moore, Oklahoma is actually about 30 miles from my home in Edmond. And that's about the fourth time I think they've been hit in the last six, seven years.

So we were very fortunate in Edmond, we didn't have any damage to speak of. We had one small tornado on Sunday it was.

So our heart goes out to those people, you always, you got to be so unlucky to be hit by one of those, believe it or not. As you can look in the reports, you'll see a house that's not even touched and across the street one's just blown away.

So it's something that we become almost numb in Oklahoma, because we're used to them, but when you lose children, you lose that many lives, it's tough.

BOB DENNEY: Our hearts and prayers go out to those in your section as well.


BOB DENNEY: Jim probably uncorked one of the greatest shots of 2012 and those who saw it on video will remember it. That was a shot that helped him tap in for eagle and win the Southworth Senior PGA National at Creighton farms last October in Aldie, Virginia.

Jim is making his fifth appearance in this championship, he's made four previous trips, and he is also the first South Central PGA member to win either a PGA or a Senior PGA National Championship.

Tomorrow at 8:45 a.m. Jim tees it up with defending Senior PGA champion Roger Chapman and 2009 champion Michael Allen.

Jim's other accomplishments, he's competed in 10 national championships and making the cut in seven. His best finish was tied for 8th in 1986 and 2000. The latter at Oat Tree National where Jim is the teaching professional.

And also as mentioned, his great career, we're very proud to have him with us. He tied for 11th in the 2007 U.S. Senior Open and tied for 17th in 1987 at the U.S. Open at Olympic Club. So, Jim, welcome to the championship and maybe just give us initial impressions, first of all, about Bellerive.

JIM WOODWARD: I got to play it about 20 years ago, so my mind isn't that sharp any more, so I probably forgot most of it.

But as I played it these last couple days it came back to me. You got to drive the ball well here. If you're not driving it in the fairway it's going to be a long week.

The greens are huge. Good news is there's not a whole bunch of undulation to them. So your iron shots are going to be kind of be misleading. You might hit a lot of greens and not play that well.

So you're going to have to keep the ball in about a 30 foot radius if you really want to be able to attack this golf course.

The rain has helped us, because it's softened everything. The fairways are extremely wide, because the ball's not rolling out of them.

So I look for a good championship. I think there will be a lot of birdies made and I'm guessing 10 under maybe will win this thing. Maybe more.

BOB DENNEY: Questions for Jim?

Q. Talk about what it's like to be at Oak Tree. Obviously a lot of Tour guys call that their home course. Just the competitive nature out there, does that help you at all when you get prepared for big events like this?

JIM WOODWARD: I've been very fortunate. I went to Oak Tree in 2006, right before I turned 50. And the Senior Open's going there next year, so we'll get an idea how hard that golf course is.

And lots of good players, Verplank, Tway, Gil Morgan, Willie Wood, the list goes on and on. So to say that that golf course doesn't make you a better player and that group of people doesn't make you a better player, I would be lying to you. It does.

There's no golf course that I go to  I got, when I went to Whistling Straits in 2007 for my first Major as a senior, that golf course didn't scare me. It terrifies most people, but it looked just kind of like a baby Oak Tree to me. So I thought, well, I play at home like this all the time, just keep going. So I think it's a big advantage for me, yes.

Q. Could you retell the situation from your win last year at the Senior PGA Professional. Was the 18th hole a very reachable five? Did you try to go for it in two early in the week? Were you leading at the time or going to the 72nd hole?

JIM WOODWARD: Right. Well, gosh, I would like to tell you I expected that, but I would be lying. I hadn't played the hole very good since I'd been in Virginia. It wasn't just that year, it was the year before, I missed the cut at the same golf course.

I think that the best score I made on the hole before that Sunday round was a bogey. I might have made one par. But I hated the hole.

But we got lucky on that last round. I thought I was tied. We don't have big leaderboards or anything like that, so I thought I was tied. And the wind had shifted kind of in our back and across. And any time I'm choking like a rat I like to fade the golf ball. So that set me up perfect to hit a what I call a controlled slice.

And it came off like better than I could imagine and it rolls down there and then I got 245 yards and I hit what we call a Rocketballz four rescue club, a TaylorMade, and I never hit it 245 yards in my life.

But that day, I don't know, those two shots came back to back as good as I could possibly hit them. And the only bad thing is I can't see 245 yards any more, so I didn't really know how good that shot was. I heard a few sparse claps from the people up there and I thought, well it's, on the green, I can 2 putt and win this thing.

And then as I got closer I could see how close the ball was and luckily they told me then that Mike Miles had birdied, so I really needed to make that putt to win. And that's when that 18 inch putt turns into about six feet, if you keep staring at it.

So I just kept my back turned to it. When it was my turn to putt, I put it down and hit it as fast as I could. It went in so now, lo and behold.

But it's a great, great honor to win your national championship. I tried like heck when I was younger to win that CPC, the younger version, and I'm going back there to Sun River in three weeks, who knows, might sting them still.

But to win your national title is a great honor. And to come here and represent the PGA of America and the chance to play with Roger Chapman, the defending champion and Michael Allen, that's thrilling. That's why we still play the game. At least I do.

Q. Having played the course already, did you see any stretch of holes that might be considered scoring holes? You talked about how tight it is. It's a driver's golf course.

JIM WOODWARD: Well, there's a lot of birdie opportunities on this golf course. The par 5s are pretty obtainable. You're going to either be able to  you can reach 4 if you happen to catch two real good ones.

The other two are going to be a shorter iron, as long as you drive it well.

There's a stretch of holes though, 5 and 6 are going to be a big part of this golf tournament. You play just a brutal long par 4 and then a really difficult par 3.

So those two holes jumped at me right off the bat. If you go through there 4, 3 all week, you'll make up ground on the field for sure.

The back nine is the same kind of thing. You start off on 10 with a pretty good par 4 and then you hit a stretch there where 15's a really good hole. And 16. Again a par 4 and par 3 right back to back, that are long, long holes.

So you got to be patient I think this week. You're going to make some birdies, but you're also going to probably make a bogey or two. So I look at it as I could have been in Moore, Oklahoma two days ago, there's nothing on that scorecard that really scares me. I mean, it's golf is all it is. You got to go out and whack it and do the best you can and do the best you can.

BOB DENNEY: Jim is one of 41 club pros in the field this week. 35 of which went with you from Virginia.

JIM WOODWARD: Yeah, yeah. I think that's so cool that we still, that's our chance to come out and compete. It's kind of funny, when you see the guys from the younger version of the younger CPC, the national championship and they go to the PGA, very rarely does even one make the cut.

But you'll watch our group of 35 and I would be shocked if we didn't have 10, 11 guys make the cut. And I think it might the age. By then everybody is kind of decrepit and we're all getting old and we all get back to each other pretty good, so you're not getting waylaid by the kids.

Q. As somebody whose played on the PGA TOUR and also been in the club professional side of the industry, where do you come down on the anchored putting controversy and what do you think is best for the game?

JIM WOODWARD: I never even  I tried a belly putter one time and I guess I was too uncoordinated to figure it out.

The only regret I had is, we like to improve and better the game. And I've had good friend of mine, that have gone to long putters or belly putters, that had the yips so bad that it kept them in the game. And it worries me that we might lose some players because of it.

I hope that the local clubs and those kind of places don't adopt the same rule. I really do. I hope that for their club championships or whatever it is, they let them keep using the bellies and the long putters, because, really, we want to grow the game and I think it's important that people enjoy the game and if that helps you putt better, you'll enjoy the game.

So I understand where the PGA TOUR is and the R and A and the USGA and I think we're going to be kind of trapped as a PGA of America association. It's hard to have an event, let's say the U.S. Open and you can't use them and then they come to the PGA and they can.

I just, we're all going to have to get on the same page. And those two organizations kind of drew the line in the dirt, so to speak. And we're, I feel bad for us, but I think we're going to have to go along.

BOB DENNEY: Jim, I think you made the cut every time you've been in this championship.

JIM WOODWARD: I knew you were going to black cloud me with that one.

I have. I played pretty well last year at Valhalla or two years ago at Valhalla. I have stretches where I seem like I play like I used to play as a kind of a TOUR pro and then I revert back to a teaching pro at times.

So it's just always a thrill to get to do it and every time I come to a Major I just get that excitement again. It's like a little kid at Christmas. So I'm told I'm 55, but I act like I'm 12. So I fit in perfect here.

BOB DENNEY: Is the Rocketballz rescue club still in the bag.

JIM WOODWARD: Yes, it is. That one didn't get changed. That one's still there. Yeah.

BOB DENNEY: Any further questions? Jim Woodward, thank you for joining us.

JIM WOODWARD: Great. Thank you, guys.

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