The Grillroom : Steve Elkington – golfer – Interview – Brief Article

Bob Verdi

Where is Wagga Wagga, your birthplace? A town near the Australian outback. It’s not the end of the world, but you can see it from there on a clear day. And not a lot of direct flights in there.

Where did you play golf? At the Wagga Country Club. Wagga Wagga Country Club to you, but if you’re from there, you drop one Wagga.

Are you the most famous Wagga Waggan? Not really. Lots of good sportsmen from there. Rugby, cricket players. I’m the best golfer from there. My brother, Robert, is second.

If you weren’t a golfer, you’d be an artist? I turned down a scholarship from the University of Sydney. I could paint. I can still draw. I can draw anything. Cartoons and caricatures, preferably. I could draw you.

Are you creative on course? I think so. I play my best when I just visualize shots, and not worry about exact yardage. When you’re standing over a ball, it’s either one club or another. That’s why I make a lot of pressure putts. I don’t think mechanics.

Are you a perfectionist? Because I’m creative? No. I’ve got children. I believe it’s good to have one part of your life be in complete disarray. Hopefully it’s not my golf game. Or my garden.

You’re a gardener with sinus problems. Yeah, growing up, we grew a lot of our own vegetables. I have a nice garden at our house in Houston. I have maybe 500 different species of flowers and plants. Beets are my favorite. I don’t grow them for ornaments. I’m not allergic to them, only grass. And only American grass. I never had a problem in Australia.

That’s why you had an advantage in the PGA Championship you won at Riviera. There was no grass on the greens. You said that.

Do Australians think Americans are too tightly wrapped?

In a way. You rush, you worry. We’re more easy-going. But my dad comes over here and is amazed how fat you are. He thinks you’re too much like spectators. You build your Sunday afternoon around watching football on TV. In Australia, we’re outdoors as much as possible. But we love Americans, whatever size you are.

Tell the Colin Montgomerie custard story.

A few years ago at the World Match Play, we’re at lunch in the clubhouse. He had eight people at his table and he got up to get a big bowl of custard from the buffet table. I thought he was getting it for his guests, you know, eight different spoons. He polished it off himself. Is this going in your article?

You have an I.Q. of 141, and you’re playing golf? Where else am I going to make this kind of money? I was intimidated when I left home for college in Houston, but college over here is a four-year day-care center for late teens looking for a husband or wife.

Talk about Greg Norman.

Bruce Devlin was my guy as a kid, but Greg is Australian golf. He’s a complex person, very intense, shy at the start. He took elocution lessons. I think he’s a happy man, not bitter about not winning 10 majors like people think he should. Very loyal, and what a player. Great.

You’ve got the tour’s best swing.

I don’t know about that. I wasn’t born with it, like curly hair. I’m flexible. I’m like rubber. My swing is simple, compact, not a lot of moving parts. My arms are real long, 3911/44 inches. I guess that helps. Don’t think about it, really.

What do you think of Tiger Woods?

I’m afraid he’s a very one-dimensional golfer. He wins all the time.

COPYRIGHT 2000 New York Times Company Magazine Group, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group

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