An Interview With Champion George "Buddy" Marucci
DAVE FANUCCHI: We are here with Buddy Marucci. Today Buddy Marucci of Villanova, Pennsylvania defeated George Zahringer of New York, New York, 2‑up at Shady Oaks Country Club here in Fort Worth, Texas. We are here with Buddy, first name George, Buddy Marucci, and first off, Buddy, please give us just an opening statement about how you feel about winning this championship today.
GEORGE "BUDDY" MARUCCI: Well, it's kind of overwhelming at this point, when I've been playing in these for so long, it's finally nice to get one.
I'm not sure it's totally sunk in yet, but I'm thrilled and thrilled to beat a great champion like George.
Q. What did it mean to have Trip Kuehne in the gallery, after coaching him last year?
GEORGE "BUDDY" MARUCCI: Well, obviously it meant a lot to me for Trip to come out and watch. Trip and I were teammates in the Walker Cup, as well as I had the opportunity to be the captain when he played again. And then last year when he won at Prairie Dunes, I was with him up until the last day. Pretty excited.
We have kind of a little fraternity of those of us who lost to Tiger, so it's nice for us to finally get our gold medal, as it were.
Q. Did you know he was coming?
GEORGE "BUDDY" MARUCCI: He e-mailed me last night and said he was coming out, so that was really nice.
DAVE FANUCCHI: It should be noted that Buddy is our 2009 Walker Cup Captain for the Championship that will be played at Merion Country Club in Pennsylvania. Also, he was our 2007 Walker Cup captain for the team that was victorious, the United States Team over Great Britain and Ireland last summer.
So he becomes the first current Walker Cup captain to win a USGA Championship as the captain since Jay Sigel in 1983.
Q. I want to putt like you.
GEORGE "BUDDY" MARUCCI: Yeah, that's a new putter. I just started putting with that putter this year. I've been putting with the same putter for 35 years. I've been using a T.P. Mills putter since 1969, I started, so it's almost 40 years.
Q. Did you go visit Scotty?
GEORGE "BUDDY" MARUCCI: No. It's off the shop right, out of the rack. Went in one day and liked the way it looked. I was having some problems with my eyes and it just seemed like I could see the ball a little better with that putter.
Q. What model is that?
GEORGE "BUDDY" MARUCCI: I think it's just a Newport, straight Newport.
Q. When did you start using it?
GEORGE "BUDDY" MARUCCI: Beginning of the year back in March.
Q. At Merion?
GEORGE "BUDDY" MARUCCI: Actually I was down at Seminole in March and got it.
DAVE FANUCCHI: What was the best part of your game this week that carried you through and got you to this point?
GEORGE "BUDDY" MARUCCI: Actually at the beginning I didn't hit the ball very well. That got me through some of the matches, and then at the end, I kind of went back to my short game philosophy which has always been good for me and I chipped and putted pretty well. Hit a couple good bunker shots.
But you know, putting is always the key in these things. To win all those matches, you have to putt pretty well. I was erratic, but also pretty good.
DAVE FANUCCHI: You made four birdies today, I believe, is that right.
GEORGE "BUDDY" MARUCCI: I think. I think so. I don't know what happened on the back. I can't remember frankly.
DAVE FANUCCHI: And talk us through the 18th hole to win the championship, you were standing on the tee 1 up, but George drove it a little left. What's going through your head?
GEORGE "BUDDY" MARUCCI: Well, I don't really -- my strategy was always been not to worry about what the other fellow is doing. I was just trying to hit the ball in the fairway. In the beginning of the week, I had trouble getting it in the fairway and then the last two matches, I was able to get it down that fairway.
So really, I didn't even see George hit his shot. I didn't really pay much attention to it. I knew I was 1 up and I knew if I kept the ball in the fairway, I knew he was going to have to make three, which unfortunately I hit it down the fairway.
DAVE FANUCCHI: You were first up on the approach, I believe 158 out with a 7-iron?
GEORGE "BUDDY" MARUCCI: Right. Yeah, I was 158. I had a good experience yesterday from 148 with an 8-iron where I hit in there close. 158 is a good yard age. I was really worried about not hitting over the green, which was 168 yards over, so I didn't think I would get a 7-iron over, and I wanted to clear that bunker. So that's why I hit 7 and it came off pretty nicely and hit a good shot.
Q. About 10 or 12 feet from the pin, George was maybe twice that much, 25, and he conceded his match.
GEORGE "BUDDY" MARUCCI: That wouldn't bother me at all if he would have -- that's not a problem. He was pretty gracious about it, but I don't think that would have been too much trouble from there.
Q. Buddy, obviously you guys were at two different stations in your life but did you think that might be your only shot when you lost to Tiger?
GEORGE "BUDDY" MARUCCI: You know, I certainly thought it was my only chance to win the Amateur but a lot of people have never gotten there, so I wasn't that disappointed, especially losing to Tiger.
But I don't look at it that way. I love to play and to get through all those matches is kind of fun. Even this morning on the first tee, George and I were pretty melancholy about it. We both were very happy we had gotten to the first tee and that's pretty neat. You have to win a lot of matches to get there and whatever happens, happens from that point and you sure want to win but takes a lot to get there.
DAVE FANUCCHI: And your picture will go on the wall as the champion.
GEORGE "BUDDY" MARUCCI: A lot of my friends are up on that wall, that wall of champions, so it will be nice to be up there with some of those fellas.
Q. You've played in the Senior Open?
GEORGE "BUDDY" MARUCCI: Yes, I played in the Senior Open at Prairie Dunes.
Q. So playing in the Senior Open next year, will that change your schedule or preparation?
GEORGE "BUDDY" MARUCCI: Well, I think I will definitely play in that. Unfortunately the senior amateur next year is the weekend of the Walker Cup. I won't be able to defend. But I'll go the next year, I'll be all right. I'll postpone it for a year but I won't be able to, no. And that's okay. Being captain of the Walker Cup, that's kind of ...
DAVE FANUCCHI: Pretty good three-year run, you won the Walker Cup last year and you won the senior am this year and now trying to win it at Merion.
GEORGE "BUDDY" MARUCCI: Yeah, my home course, that will be neat. It's going to be very special.
DAVE FANUCCHI: The Senior Open next year is at Crooked Stick. Have you ever played there?
GEORGE "BUDDY" MARUCCI: I played the Mid-Amateur there, I think in the late 80s when Chip Taylor beat Billy Hadden. Years go so fast now about but I played in that, and that is a hard golf course. Boy, is that a hard golf course. But it will be fun so I'm looking forward to that.
And you know, I don't know about the exemption, because I think I can now go to the amateur. I think I get to go to the amateur. I certainly get to go to the Mid-Amateur.
So I'll get to play at Southern Hills and I'll get to play at the Mid, and I can't remember where the Mid is next year. But the Mid will be after the matches. But the Amateur will be nice because I'll get to watch and that will be the last.
Q. Did you know a lot about Ben Hogan's relationship with this club when you came here?
GEORGE "BUDDY" MARUCCI: It's funny, you always heard of Shady Oaks and I always knew this was where he played his golf and practiced. But I didn't know about his involvement in the administration of the club and being a founder of the club.
So that was an education. Certainly everybody who loves golf has heard about Ben Hogan practicing at Shady Oaks under the tree and that kind of thing. But I didn't realize that he and Mr.Leonard kind of put this thing together and then he was on the board and spent a lot of time there, so I didn't know that part. Quite impressive, actually.
DAVE FANUCCHI: Buddy Marucci wins the USGA Senior Amateur Championship in his first attempt. Again, congratulations, Buddy, and thanks for joining us.