'The Golf Channel did a piece and it was the most quotable golf quote ever'

Golf News

Mark Townsend sat down with three former Players champions to reminisce about their victories and the iconic Sawgrass

You were three clear of Tiger on the Sunday night when it got rained off. Did you have a plan for the Monday?

Sutton: On Sunday we were playing it hard and fast and then it was soft. Hard and fast was more into my game, softer suited him more as he was longer than me.

I had one thought and that was to get to 16 with a three-shot lead. I might not go for the green at the par 5, and he would, which brought an eagle three into play for him and five into play for me. If that happened, and it actually did play out like that, then it would come down to who hit the best shots on the last two holes.

Hal Sutton

And your approach to the 18th featured the now famous ‘Be the right club today’ commentary from yourself?

Sutton: I had never said it before. We are splitting hairs out here and you can hit the best shot of your life and it might not work.

Look at Tom Watson at Turnberry in 2009 – he hit a good shot which should have been on the green but it wasn’t.

I knew I had hit the right club right at the flag and, when it was in the air, I thought ‘don’t surprise me’.

Be the right club today was literally don’t surprise me, just be what I’m looking at. And it was. We’re a puff of wind away from disaster at times.

He was pretty unstoppable that year and I was just happy to get in his way that one time.

I get reminded of those words every day. The Golf Channel did a piece and it was the most quotable golf quote ever. I didn’t intend it to be that way, it was just a moment of passion. It was just emotion coming out.

You used your putter just once over the closing three holes, finishing eagle-birdie-par?

Perks: I’m not sure that finish has ever really sunk in. I think about it on a daily basis. I was two shots behind going into Sunday the following year and I then realised how difficult it was to actually win this event.

I have embraced it but I haven’t actually sat down and enjoyed it. My mentality when I won was, which I told my wife when I was getting ready to accept the trophy from Tiger, are you ready for Augusta?

I never took a moment to stop and think about what I’d accomplished. The goal leaving New Zealand was to play on the PGA Tour, now I had won one of its biggest events.

I hadn’t even played in a major to that point, I had tried to qualify for the US Open. People look at me a bit cock-eyed when I say the pressure of being at the Players wasn’t too overbearing. I was always around the cut on a Friday – that was always more nerve-wracking.

I was in the final group on the Sunday and had a comfortable pairing with Carl Paulson who had come up through the ranks of the Nationwide Tour and we were just in a little bubble.

We didn’t have a huge gallery until we reached the little amphitheatre of the last three holes.

Craig Perks

You played with Tiger earlier in the season, how much did that contribute towards your win?

Perks: I played with Tiger at Doral and that really helped. Going back in time I was less than a 50 per cent cut guy for my career on the PGA Tour and that season I made all four cuts on the West Coast on the poa annua greens, which was unusual for me, and I played reasonably well at Doral.

I played with Tiger on the Sunday, it was a phenomenal experience, it was chaotic to be in that rock concert sort of atmosphere and I handled myself well and learned a lot from it.

I vividly remember missing a short putt on 18 but ended up fifth and felt comfortable in that environment. I then made the cut at Bay Hill and went to Sawgrass expecting to play well.

Sutton: It was crucial for me. I wanted to know that I could play with him. I knew that I would have to do it somewhere down the road and I needed to be able to do that.

I played good with him that week (Sutton shot 69-67 to Woods’ 68-70 at Riviera) and that really gave me the confidence for The Players the following month.

There is a lot going but you have to get into your own self. You have worked all your life to be able to showcase your own game. Some can do it at an early age and some learn the process.

We had a bit of small talk. He was into his game pattern, I was into mine. We got rained out on 12 on the Sunday, we both went in separately and then shared a buggy back out on the Monday.

Read on for how a win at Sawgrass doesn’t necessarily guarantee further successes…

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