Guess that's why they don't have a Champions NFL
I don't know that I would have even made it (in
the NFL). I'd like to say, sure, I would have.
I like to be very positive because that's what
I am, but just being realistic, it would have
been a long shot. But I think it's a long shot
for a lot of guys.
You did pretty well right out of the box on the
Well, I was a Monday qualifier. I stayed that
way for two years. I started in May of 1968 and
I gained exempt status the first of the year in
1971. I lost one event in a playoff to Billy Casper
in the early part of 1970, so I felt, well, I
can do it, even if I've got a lot of things to
learn. I tried to be a sponge; I tried to see
what all the great players did around me, how
they played and what I could do that they did
and what I couldn't do. Just trying to formulate
a plan for success.
Bankrate: You were a family man by then.
Oh, yeah. I was married and our first child came
in December of 1971. I won the Heritage in November
of 1971 and our daughter was born in December
Bankrate: Was it hard financially during those early years?
Oh, sure. I didn't have two nickels to rub together.
My folks didn't have a lot of money and I had
to have sponsors. Both gentlemen were from Colorado
and they helped me through 2½ years until
I felt I was ready to go at it on my own. In those
days, you had to show to the PGA, which rarely
ran the tour in those days, financial support
of at least $20,000 a year, so that's what I borrowed
from my sponsors, and that's what we lived on.
We pinched pennies. We stayed in efficiency units,
we didn't dine at all the greatest places, we
drove everywhere and I didn't pay a lot of caddie
fees. I just had to watch what I spent.
Bankrate: Did your family travel with you on the tour?
Sally traveled with me the entire time until our
first child came along, when there was a break
there. But as soon as Becky was old enough to
travel, yes, they traveled. Then Stephen was born
in '74, we all traveled together until school
started. Then that kind of put an end to the family
travels. I found that it was a lot easier on my
family for them to have a life away from the tour,
for me to go home each week. So, when I would
finish a tournament on Sunday, I would fly home,
even if it was just for a few days, a day and
a half, just to be with my family, to be the assistant
baseball coach and take my daughter to soccer
and try to attend what school events I could and
just be a dad. We lived in St. Louis.