I’m glad I played when I did – absolutely. I had a great time, the money is all relative. In the 80s we had six golfers in Europe who were as good as anyone. They helped all of us to raise our games. Seve was the king and we got on fantastically. I miss him a lot.
In 1983 I played in the Southern Open as a warm-up for the Ryder Cup which was the following week. I lost in the play-off and, had I won it, I would have had a three-year exemption for the PGA Tour and I would have gone for it.
I never went to PGA Tour Q School, only for the Senior Tour.
I came back in 1984, won three times and was second on the Money List so maybe it was meant to be.
It was maybe in 1986 when my putting went; I had the twitches, I couldn’t get it in from a foot. Simple as that.
In 1972 I was going from the 9th green to the 10th tee at the Open Championship and there was a guy putting called Mr Lu and he had finished second the year before. He hit this putt from about six feet and, honestly, I thought he had this live snake in his hands. It was the worst looking thing I had ever seen.
I don’t know if that was when the seed was planted and it took 15 years to realise itself. I’m a very positive person, it’s nothing to do with that. I can’t explain it. I tried everything before building my own long putter.
I don’t know if Tom Watson is going to be good or bad as the Ryder Cup captain, there is no question that he is a legend and they need to do something different. I finished fifth in my first event with the long putter in Jersey and birdied the last five holes with it after one week’s practice.
I have taken a normal putter out twice since 1986, once in a tournament at the Lancome. I holed a 15-footer at the 1st, a 10-footer at the next, 12-footer at the 3rd and then a 20-footer. And I thought ‘what have I been doing with this bloody long thing?’
Then I got round to 15 and I had a two footer. It was a horrible twitch and didn’t even get close to the hole, I just thought I can’t contend with a normal putter, it could come at any point and you just build it up in your mind to do it.
There’s no such thing as ‘should have’ but if an American had had the same career as I’ve had then it would be different in terms of playing in more Majors.
I played in 31 consecutive Opens, four Masters, three US Opens and six PGAs and he would have played in them all.
I’m not bitter about it, I never came close to winning a Major and I put too much emphasis on the Open as it’s the only one you’re playing in. I just wasn’t good enough at the time and wasn’t playing well enough. Maybe I would have got closer had I played in more.
I don’t know if Tom Watson is going to be good or bad as the Ryder Cup captain, there is no question that he is a legend and they need to do something different.
To me I’m not sure if it’s the right or wrong thing, he could almost intimidate the players as he is that big a man and that big a legend.