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Q&A + + +

gonna shoot a 76 in there, and he is still going to shoot a 69. When I beat him, I’m going to shoot 69 and he’s going to shoot 70. There’s a vast dif- ference between a golfer like myself— a scratch or plus-1—and these guys that are plus-4, plus-5.

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You made All-County in Santa Cruz as a quarterback, safety and punter, but you also were the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League Player of the Year in basketball and golf. Was it difficult to choose to play football in college at Fresno State? I played baseball until my sophomore year, but I hurt my shoulder. I played golf and would also compete in track events. I would have stayed with baseball, and golf would have been a hobby, but I hurt my shoulder and had surgery, and they kind of said, pick between base- ball and football. Basketball was my favorite sport growing up. I was more recruited as a basketball player than any other sport. I’m glad I didn’t go play basketball at Santa Clara. That’s what I was thinking about doing.

How competitive were you in golf in high school? I was about a 4-handicap. I won our league one year, and I was one of the better golfers in Santa Cruz, but when we would go play Stevenson in Pebble Beach, your 76 didn’t match up very well with their 68. I struggled when it became real golf. I hit a giant cut back then, swung as hard as I could. I could always putt and chip, so that helped, but I had 84 in my bag, as well as 72. But my short game was always my thing. + + +

Any reason for that? I started playing golf because a buddy of mine and I were getting into trouble a lot, just goofing around when we were 12. So my mom and his mom kind of came up with this plan that they would drive us out to Spring Hills in Wat- sonville, drop us off with $5—which in 1982 could get you lunch—and my grandma’s Wilson irons and persim- mon woods. We’d have to find our own golf balls because we couldn’t afford them, so we’d hunt through the

38 / NCGA.ORG / SUMMER 2015

holes for golf balls, and chip and putt. When everyone was off the course, the pro would let us go out for free, and I was always Tom Watson, and he was always Jack Nicklaus. We shared this bag of clubs, we couldn’t hit it out of our shadow, but the Wilson wedge was heavy enough that it felt like a man’s club. The rest of the bag were my grandma’s clubs. The wood felt like a whip, all the irons felt off, but the wedge felt right. So I’d hit that wedge from 130 yards to 30 yards. I think I just got really good hitting this wedge, getting up and down out of crappy lies. We did that all summer. Ever since, I’ve always felt comfortable with my wedges and

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putting. Don’t get me wrong—I’ve had atrocious putting weeks out here, but at the end of the day, I am the player I am because of my short game.

Is it true that John Brodie gave you a lesson in football and golf on a practice green one afternoon? It was awesome. We were playing at a tournament at Black Diamond in Ocala, Fla. We were staying offsite, and I had stayed after the round at the golf course, and I practiced and practiced. I pulled into the hotel resort we were staying at, and he’s up on the hotel deck smoking a cigarette and having a drink. He says, “Why are you practicing so hard?” I said, “I’m trying to get better.” And he

Dilfer has twice finished second in the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship at Edgewood Tahoe.


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