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GOLF Magazine Interview: Paul Goydos

Paul Goydos, January 2009
Simon Bruty/SI
Mr. Mom: Goydos with his two daughters, Courtney, 16 (left), and Chelsea, 18.
Well, you're now a gang member. And if you don't raise your hand next time, they might beat you to death. Every person would make the same choice, including you, me, and Tom Watson. You say that's a bad kid? You're insane. That's a smart kid who's been sucked into the vortex —

(Goydos' cell phone rings. He assails his keypad.)

It's my daughter. [Still texting.] My oldest wants to go to her boyfriend's. Now that's a good feeling. It's great having teenage daughters.

After your divorce four years ago, you took custody of your teenagers, Chelsea and Courtney, who live with you, a Tour pro. That sounds like a sitcom.
Golf is my job. Being a father is what I am. Comparing the two is like comparing the sun and Earth. I think back to my first year on the Hogan [now Nationwide] Tour 17 years ago, in South Carolina. Chelsea was six months old. She was teething really bad, and I gave her an ice cream sandwich in the hotel room, and she just devoured it, trying to feel better. I couldn't tell you what I finished in any tournaments that year, but I'll never forget that day.

If you could give advice to your 20-year-old self, what would it be?
Know who you are and perfect who you are, through learning. When you're 20, you think you know everything. In reality, you're an idiot. How I became a better golfer at 44 than 24 wasn't through hitting balls. It's through learning. I approached golf the wrong way. I said, "Show me how to do this," when I should have said, "Teach me what you know."

Then, instead of copying someone, take that information and apply it. Make it yours. I'd learn more [from a teacher] sitting here eating wings than on the driving range. This translates to life. There's a quantum amount of information out there. But at 20, you're too caught up with drinking beer, watching baseball, trying to get laid.

The best way to become a better person is to learn what's important. What's important is not that you won Bay Hill or Sony. Those things are lost in the fire. Knowledge is not. You have a degree? So what? You don't know sh-t unless you learn something.

What are you learning now?
I would never have taken literature in college. Now I read a lot. I read Atlas Shrugged. It's about the producers of the world going on strike.

You're supposed to read the money list, not Ayn Rand.
She's a Nazi. It's the Republican transfer- of-wealth idea taken to an extreme. It's an idea that could be told in 300 pages, and she tells it in 1,500, in small type, and beats you over the head with a lead pipe.

Back to golf. What was your shot of the year from '08?
My tee shot on 17, in the [Players] playoff. For better or worse, that shot defined my season.

Your shot of the year is the one that lost you the Players?
[Smiles.] They do call me "Sunshine."

Pop quiz, Goydos! (And no peeking.)

The actor who should play you in The Paul Goydos Story is...
"Tom Cruise. Give me some brown hair, lose some weight, and he looks just like me. And I might be kookier than a Scientologist."

Your house is on fire. All people and pets are safe. You're allowed to run in and save one item. It is...
"My laptop, which has my poker game on it."

One thing you're great at besides golf is...
"I'm not even very good at golf. [Several seconds of silence] I'm not great at anything. I enjoy playing gin. I'm not very good at it, but I enjoy it."

The one talent you wish you had is...
"Playing the piano. That would be cool. Classical. I'd like to walk into a bar and play the piano, like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. If you can't get girls doing that, you're never gonna get girls."

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