On The Hot Seat: Peter Jacobsen
The phone rings, and the voice on the other end is friendly and familiar. "Hi," he says. "This is Peter Jacobsen from the Champions Tour."
First reaction? Interesting. It's not "Peter Jacobsen, professional golfer." Or "Peter Jacobsen, star of stage and screen."
Perhaps no one has embraced life as a senior player more than Jake, who has two victories -- both at major championships -- since turning 50 two years ago. For a guy who has been there, done that in golf, he's an ideal subject for ESPN.com's Hot Seat, and I interrogated him with queries about the upcoming U.S. Open, Casey Martin and his ideal PGA Tour rock band.
Q: You contended for the U.S. Open title last year at Pinehurst, finishing with a share of 15th place. Describe that feeling.
A: For me to be in the mix there at the age of 51 was incredible. I was playing a couple of groups ahead of Tiger [Woods], who was in the mix and ended up finishing second to Michael Campbell. It brought back a lot of great memories of having a chance to win the Open when I was in my 20s and 30s, so it was almost an indescribable feeling.
Q: How much did you think about Payne Stewart during the week?
A: I thought a lot about Payne Stewart during the week at the U.S. Open in Pinehurst. His statue is right there off the 18th green. It's hard to miss. And Payne Stewart was the kind of guy that you just don't replace -- his character, his charisma, his style, his sense of humor is something that I miss every day, especially when I'm playing practice rounds where I knew I would be teamed up with Payne in a tournament. He would have been of the age to join the Champions Tour; I know the fun would have continued.
Q: I heard a story that one of the first things you did when you got to Pinehurst last year was visit the statue behind the 18th green, correct?
A: Yeah, I went to see the statue. I'd seen it before, I'd been to Pinehurst and done some pro-am golf down there, but I wanted to see the statue and almost feel like I was in the moment with Payne right then, during the Open, thinking back to when he beat [Phil] Mickelson on that 18th green.
Q: Entering the 2004 season, you had competed in 55 career major championships without a victory. Then in your first senior major, you win. Just a coincidence?
A: Well, I think it goes to show you I probably wasn't good enough as a PGA Tour player to win a major championship. I had my chances. Then for me to win my first senior major was, maybe it was my time.
Q: Did you finally lose the stigma of Best Player To Win Only One Major in a Kevin Costner Film?
A: [Laughs] For me to have a chance to beat Kevin Costner and Don Johnson for my first Open title, that was nothing. Those guys are both about 9-handicaps. That was easy.
Q: Trivia time: Who is the oldest player to win the U.S. Open?
A: That's a great question. Johnny Goodman?
Q: It's actually Hale Irwin; he was 45 years old. And how old are you?
A: I am 52.
Q: I think you see what I'm getting at.
A: I see what you're getting at. If I have a chance to win this year at Winged Foot, that would be a great story.
Q: And if you don't win, whose name do you see sitting atop the leaderboard come Sunday night?
A: I'm going to go with Tiger, simply because he's the best player in the world, No. 1. And No. 2, I think he's going to be coming back to golf after his father's death. I think Tiger will be fired-up, he'll be ready to win for his dad and he will be atop the leaderboard.
Q: Any dark-horse names to look out for?
A: Wow. The guy that I love right now in the world of golf who's contended is Chad Campbell. Chad Campbell has not won a major championship, but I think he's poised to win a major championship. I think he's got the game, he's got the style. And another two players that I love: Adam Scott and Trevor Immelman. They're both young players. Trevor's from South Africa, Adam's from Australia. They've both knocked on the door, they've been close. But I would say between those three, they would be a breath of fresh air.
Q: You've always been as much entertainer as golfer. Any current guys on the PGA Tour who can carry that mantle for the current generation?
A: Well, that's the one thing I worry about. I obviously took my cue from players like [Arnold] Palmer and [Lee] Trevino and Chi Chi [Rodriguez] and Fuzzy [Zoeller]. I don't really see anybody right now that is going to be able to step into that role, although I'm hoping that there is somebody to do that. I know Billy Andrade is pretty funny. He's a guy that can carry the room in the same way that a Trevino or a Fuzzy can carry a room. I'm hoping that there's going to be some kids that come along and can do that.
Q: In general, should players show more personality on the course?
A: I think players should show as much personality as they can, keeping in mind that they've got to play and act however they need to to win. You look at someone like Tiger Woods, he doesn't show a lot of gregarious behavior on the golf course because he needs to be intense to win. And that's fine with me, because no one's won at a higher rate and a quicker rate than Tiger Woods in our game. But after the round, when they're in front of the press, I think that players should show a little bit more personality. And I think our players on the PGA Tour, for the most part, do. When you see Tiger in an interview, he's always engaging and very affable and very giving of his time and of his thoughts. But on the golf course, if a guy has to have a killer attitude to win, then that's fine with me.
Q: Your alma mater, University of Oregon, recently hired Casey Martin as its head coach. Good move?
A: That's a great move. Casey Martin is one of the most inspirational athletes in recent history. I think he and Lance Armstrong have really raised the bar in terms of challenging themselves and overcoming an obstacle in their way. So for Casey now to take his talents to the University of Oregon and help their golf team there is going to be fantastic.
Q: You're a musician and author of two books. Do you consider yourself more Hendrix or Hemingway?
A: Oh my gosh. Definitely more Hendrix because when I sit around at night, I'm always playing my guitar. I'm not writing. I may be writing golf songs and writing musical notes, so I'm definitely more Hendrix than Hemingway.
Q: Finish this phrase: If Tiger Woods were a musician, he would be ...
A: He'd definitely be a lead singer because he controls the show. He'd probably be Freddie Mercury with Queen because he's dynamic and he's got flair and he would control the room.
Q: OK, a few more. Phil Mickelson?
A: Phil Mickelson would be a percussionist. He'd be the guy sitting next to the drummer, back behind the guitar player, playing the keyboards, playing the wind instruments, playing the bongos, playing the chimes, running the smoke machine. He'd be doing everything because he's the most versatile player I've ever met. He would be a versatile musician.
Q: Retief Goosen?
A: Retief Goosen would be the road manager because he'd be the guy standing behind the scenes with his arms crossed, nodding and making sure that the shrimp was chilled.
Q: John Daly is a musician, but if he were, you know, a good one?
A: John Daly would be the drummer. John Daly, if he were a musician -- he does play guitar, he and I have played guitar together -- he'd be the drummer because John would be the one controlling the beat and the flow of the song. He'd be unbelievable sitting there banging away.
Q: And lastly, since we're putting together our PGA Tour band, Peter Jacobsen?
A: My dream would be the lead guitarist, so I'll put myself in there, because I do play guitar and I love playing guitar. So, since I've got the pride of authorship here, I'm going to put myself in as lead guitarist.
Jason Sobel is ESPN.com's golf editor. He can be reached at Jason.Sobel@espn3.com.
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Where: Winged Foot Golf Club (West)
Yardage/Par: 7,264 yards; par 70
2006 champion: Geoff Ogilvy
Purse: $6.8 million (Winner: $1.225 million)
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