We’re drinking a Japanese beer today: Sapporo.
Most Australians like beer. And I guess as I’ve gotten older I’ve also found a taste for beer. I didn’t really like it much when I was younger, but now I do. And Japanese beer is really nice. I think it’s a really refined beer—whether it’s Asahi or Sapporo or Kirin. They’re all very nice.
You’re one of the game’s most renowned players. We’re tucked away in a New York City photo studio today, but how much anonymity do you have these days?
There are golf fans everywhere now, so I get recognized occasionally. But it’s just a fun part of the job. It’s nice that there are people who enjoy watching me play, and who support me. We need that, in general.
You’ve been competing on the PGA Tour for nearly two decades, but you’re only 37! Do you feel like one of the old guys sometimes?
Definitely. It’s horrible, because I’ve hit that point where—I played with Jon Rahm a few weeks ago, and he told me he was in high school when I won the Masters. It wasn’t that long ago. It’s awful, stuff like that. [Laughs]
Have you taken on a mentor role with anyone?
Not really. But certainly as you get a bit older and have experience, guys like to play practice rounds and pick your brain. I tell most of them, “You’re not going to really learn that much from me.” They’re all so good. They’re 23, and they’re playing in majors and ranked in the top 20 or top 10 in the world. They need to not get cluttered with all this great advice from others—just let their games evolve naturally. That’s what I’d push on anyone.
Does it seem harder to win now than it did at the start of your career?
Maybe. There are so many guys who have the ability to play at an exceptional level every week. But at the beginning of my career there was this guy, Tiger Woods, who was in his prime. For a decade or so, he won one of every three tournaments he played. So he was really exceptional. I feel lucky that I got to watch that and play against him. But the expectation that these young guys can live up to that is not realistic at all.
Today, everyone is in a slump if they haven’t won in six months.
Absolutely. It’s so reactive. And it’s very hard to deal with that, to push the noise aside.
You’re still over a decade away from the Champions Tour. What are your immediate goals on Tour?
Well, you’ve got to be a little realistic, but I wouldn’t give myself a cutoff date. I’ll play as long as I can compete and I love it. If you look at the way it’s trending, it’s getting harder and harder for the over-40s to consistently compete at the top level. Of course, there are exceptions, and hopefully I’ll fall into that category. But I really look at it as a five-year window for me to achieve everything I want, to win all the tournaments I want, and to get what I want out of the game. And that’s not really a long time. So I’d better get cracking on that.