January 11, 2017
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us today. We're very excited for the 2017 Diamond Resorts Invitational, and this afternoon we're joined by three of the players this week.
First off, I'd like to introduce Mr. Jack Wagner. He finished tied for sixth here last year at the 2016 Diamond Resorts Invitational.
Next, three‑time winner on the LPGA Tour and currently No. 8 in the Rolex rankings, Ms. Brooke Henderson.
At the end, we've got two‑time MLB All‑Star and two‑time defending champion of American Century Championship celebrity tournament at Lake Tahoe, Mr. Mark Mulder. Thank you guys for joining us today.
First I'll start with Jack and Mark. You guys are used to performing on big stages in front of crowds. This week, it's a little different. The crowds are on a golf course. You've got Golf Channel cameras. How does the pressure differ from what you're used to?
JACK WAGNER: I'll rely to Mark because he doesn't feel pressure.
MARK MULDER: You know what, he's lying. The first few years I played in Tahoe, I was never shaken that much on a golf course in my life. So it was definitely an adjustment. I've gotten more and more used to it over the years.
It's become a little bit more normal, I guess, the more and more of these tournaments I play in.
It's still not a great feeling on the tee. It's something‑‑ it's different. Baseball is what I did, and now it's kind of turned into golf. I was never nervous on the baseball field, but this isn't technically what I do. When I'm on this golf course, it's still a little uncomfortable. It's just that I'm getting better with it and learning how to handle that.
JACK WAGNER: This is really a test for guys like Mark, athletes, and myself, an actor. I have an advantage over them in my career because I get to do two takes if I blow the first one. But the great part of celebrity golf, I think‑‑ and Mark can attest to this, as well as any of the other celebrities that you interview‑‑ this just isn't what we do for a living. And golf, I'm sure Brooke can attest to, is one of those games that can embarrass you so badly.
So I think there's that ingrained fear in all of us, God, please don't embarrass myself. I think, once you get past that, you can start to compete actually. That's where Mark's gotten. He's won a few times, and I've won a few times out here. That's really the goal for us is to try to relax out there and to hold your nerve when you're trying to make a 4‑footer or drive a ball over the water and not hit the bunker.
So once we get into the round, I think we all have a chance of playing as good as we play when we're at our own club. That's what we have to battle out here as celebrities playing real golf.
THE MODERATOR: Conversely, Brooke, you're used to this atmosphere, but you're not used to playing with such accomplished athletes and actors. What's this environment like for you? Playing with these celebrities.
BROOKE HENDERSON: You know, it's very different, but it's really exciting to meet actors like Jack and get to meet awesome athletes and people that are always around sports. It's kind of eye‑opening for me to see the different talent and how they can go from their careers and go to golf, which is secondary to them, but they're really, really good.
I'm excited for the week. I'm looking forward to it. I'm just going to have fun. I think it's a great tournament. And it's benefitting Florida Hospital for Children, which is really important to me. So to be a part of it, it's an honor.
Q. Jack, I'm wondering if you could talk briefly about your introduction to the game, but more importantly, what was it about the game that kept you coming back?
JACK WAGNER: I'm from a small town in Missouri, so I sort of picked the game up. My dad played a little nine‑hole course. I never was on a golf team, and I never had a lesson. So I just sort of felt my way through it, started caddying.
What attracted me to the game, I guess, it's such a challenge. The game in itself is so challenging every day. I can get a great night's sleep, eat well, work out, feel great, and shoot 80. Or I can have insomnia, not eat at all, and maybe shoot 68. I think that's why we all show up every day that don't do it for a living. And people that do it for a living like Brooke, something's clearly wrong with their mind, and I'm sure she'll work through that in her young career. But that's really what it is with golf is to do that.
I think Mark knows also that, as celebrities, that we don't do this for a living, a lot of our golf is charity oriented. So being down here for the Florida Children's Hospital. So to have some laughs‑‑ because we played a lot together, and we really are pretty loose out there and needling, but at the same time, trying to be competitive.
Really when we're on television, we try to make it as much fun for the audience as well as hopefully have them say, wow, they can really play.
I'm an actor, I can continue to talk about myself if you like.
Q. Mark, talk a little bit about your last two wins out in Lake Tahoe and memorable experiences from that week and obviously how that parlays into this week.
MARK MULDER: Well, the experience of it. Both years, the last two years, I was down going into the final round. I think both years were by five points. Both years got off to blazing hot starts on the front nine, which especially 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, that whole run. This year I birdied all of them. So it kind of flipped that score real quick.
You can make a lot of points out here real fast if you start throwing in some birdies and even an eagle here or there, which I haven't really done that often considering that I'm‑‑ as far as I'll hit it at times and as close as I'll be, I don't seem to make many eagles in these tournaments.
You've got to make birdies. You've got to find a way‑‑ Alfonso Ribeiro actually told me a few years ago, 18 pars is 18 points, and 9 birdies and 9 bogeys is 27 points. When he said that, it made a whole lot of sense all of a sudden. I started kind of going after everything as opposed to playing a little bit more safe off some of the tees. I'm going to take that same approach in this tournament.
I feel like I'm going to go after any par 5 or short par 4s. I'm kind of‑‑ my game, I don't mind having a 30 to 70 to 100‑yard chip shot. Some guys lay back because they don't like that, at least the celebrities anyway. I love that stuff. So I'm going to hit a lot of drivers, and I feel like my driver can be as straight as any of them when I'm playing well.
Q. Brooke, I'm wondering whether your level of optimism and your level of expectations is greater entering a season as a Major Champion.
BROOKE HENDERSON: You know, it was definitely really exciting last year getting my first Major Championship, and it kind of gave me that little bit of extra confidence moving forward. I think this is a great event to start my season off, and hopefully I can improve before my actual season starts in two weeks.
I'm kind of in this tournament for personal growth and to also learn from some of these guys and be more aggressive.
Q. For Mark, there's a lot of baseball guys in the field. Is there something that correlates between the two sports that leads to a lot of baseball guys really enjoying golf?
MARK MULDER: We have nothing else to do, I don't know. I know there's a lot of pitchers here and a lot of starting pitchers. When you have those four days off in between starts‑‑ I know for me I never played the day I pitched or the day before I pitched, but those other three days, if we were on the road, I brought my clubs on all the road trips, and I've been fortunate enough that I played a lot of great courses around the country. Any city that has a team, I pretty much played a lot of those courses.
It's one luxury for the starting pitcher. Guys get on us all the time, the position players who like to golf, but it's not my problem they've got to play every day.
Q. For you and Jack, you guys play a lot of celebrity golf here. There's obviously professionals. Do you find yourselves maybe mentally raising your level a little bit when you get to go up against guys that do it for a living?
MARK MULDER: I'm fortunate. Where I'm at in Arizona, the course, I play with a lot of Tour players. We have 15 to 25 Tour and Mini Tour guys that are there, so I play with them all the time. I'm such a competitive person that, yeah, I do try to beat them, and I know I can't.
I think that's going to be a challenge for me is, no matter what pro I'm playing with each day, is to try to ignore what they're doing because as good as they are and as talented as they are, I'm not competing with them. It's going to be fun to watch, but I can't try to match them. I think that's the way. I've just got to play my game and see what happens after the three days. But it's certainly a different element to it.
JACK WAGNER: I have a lot of good friends out here on the Champions Tour. John Cook and I won the AT&T in 1991, and Tommy Armour was our playing partner. We played yesterday, and we're playing again today.
I kind of feed off these guys because their tempo and the way they swing the golf club, I just somehow swing better when I'm around and playing with golf pros. So that's kind of what I try to do is to just kind of observe their position, their tempo. It's sort of like an actor knowing their lines and hitting their mark and giving a performance. You really don't want to see us working at it. You know, I don't see these guys really working at it. I have a tendency to move a little too much in my golf swing.
For me, I just always look at it as a real blessing of a day when I'm on a course with a golf pro because their name's on their bag for a reason. So even though I'm not competing with them at all, I try to draw off them.
So I can't wait to see you on the range. I told Brooke I've been working in Vancouver for the last three or four years, and I've watched her career, and just so complimentary the way you handle yourself and what you've done for Canada because they're just such a great group of people. The crews up there are so kind and loving, and I've just found that the Canadians in general are just really friendly people. It's nice to meet their new young icon.
Q. Brooke, is there a certain celebrity on the list or a certain number of celebrities you're looking forward to meeting with and getting to talk to this week?
JACK WAGNER: Well, me now after that. Hello.
BROOKE HENDERSON: I was going to say these two right here. I think just everybody you see on the range or on the course or even in the clubhouse, it's definitely pretty cool to see people that are so talented in so many different ways.
I'm just looking forward to the week and crossing paths with these many talented people.
Q. For the celebrities, do you look at the list of all the other guys that are going to be competing this week and say, I've got to beat that guy? And who is that for you on that list?
MARK MULDER: No. No, I don't think so. There might be some individual bets with some of the guys that we have, you know, friends of mine. But I don't think I really look at it that way. I just try to take the‑‑ the first couple years with Tahoe, I used to try so hard, and now I'm coming here, and whether it's Tahoe or here, it doesn't matter. I'm just going to come here trying to play my best, and that's it. I'm not going to really put too much into it other than that.
To say that I want to beat somebody, last year on the range, Josh Donaldson, we both wore No.20 in Oakland. So he made a bet with me. Okay, whoever wins is the real No.20. As bad as I played last year, I knew I really wasn't going to have a problem getting that.
So to win that one, that's all fine and dandy. That's more for a little radio clip since we were on the radio talking about it. Other than that, no, I just want to come here and have fun.
Q. And then for Brooke, do you approach this differently, where it's a charity event, it's not a Tour event. Are you able to relax a little bit more, or is winning still so important to you as a competitor?
BROOKE HENDERSON: I think it's a little bit of both. It's for fun. It's for charity. It's a little bit different atmosphere with celebrities and the Champions Tour pros that I don't see every day. So I'm definitely going to have fun with it, but at the end of the day, every competition‑‑ and these guys will agree to that‑‑ you're always trying to be number one and be the best that you can be, and hopefully that means the top of the leaderboard.
Q. Brooke, I'll just ask a question about the length of the course. I think that's about 6,600. How does that compare to the LPGA Tournaments?
BROOKE HENDERSON: It's right around where we normally play. Our Majors are around 6,700. Some holes, because it's a little bit softer this year on the fairways, they might play a little bit longer. But for the most part, it's right around where we play every single week.
Q. I'm sure you've noticed the giant billboard out there with Arnold Palmer's picture on it. First tournament in Central Florida since he passed away. What does his legacy mean to you and being able to play in this tournament in his hometown?
JACK WAGNER: Well, I'll go with that one. I've watched the Arnie's on Golf Channel and all the tributes that have been paid to him, as well as the memorial. Everybody has one of those in their craft, their sport, or whatever, and now today with all the social media and attention‑‑ he at the time, when you put it in perspective, had really broken through in terms of television and sports.
When he won the Athlete of the Year, I think it was in '62, he was in an elevator with‑‑ who's the guy‑‑ Roger Maris. And he said, who are you? Anyway, he wound up winning the award, and they were up there together, and as he went up to accept it, he said, who are you? To him, Roger Maris.
I think that Arnold Palmer, as I saw so many golfers really touched by his passing and what he meant to the game. You know, me as a golfer and having played on television now that kind of correlates professional golf or whatever, it's just so amazing to put in perspective how famous and popular he was and what he did for the sport of golf.
So it's cool to see the tribute paid to him everywhere around the world as far as golf goes.
BROOKE HENDERSON: Yeah, he was the king of golf. I was really happy when I walked out on the range yesterday and saw his big photo right there. He did so much for the game of golf. We shared the same birthday, September 10th. The years are a little bit different, but I was always really proud of that, and hopefully I'll be able to follow in his footsteps.
MARK MULDER: Kind of like what Jack said. I think watching the tributes, watching that kind of stuff‑‑ obviously, I wasn't born when he was that popular or when he was younger and still playing all the time. Getting to watch all that stuff, it's incredible. He was worldwide. It wasn't just a U.S. thing. It was worldwide.
And it was amazing to see just how much he traveled and how much he did and how much he did for kids and how much he did for different charities when he wasn't golfing. That's what says everything. That's your time. That's your time at home. It's one thing when you're technically working and doing your craft, but in your off time when you're doing the charity stuff, that's pretty amazing.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much and good luck this week, guys.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports