DULUTH, GA (April 4, 2017) -- With the 2017 Arnold Palmer Cup Matches just over two months away we had a chance to talk with Team USA captain John Fields.
During the conversation we talked about the fast approaching matches (June 9-11) at the Atlanta Athletic Club and also about his Arnold Palmer story.
Currently, Fields is in the midst of his 20th year as the head coach of Texas and he is well positioned to make the NCAA Tournament for the 16th time. In 2012 Fields led Texas to its first national title since 1972.
Over the years Fields has coaches 21 All-Americans; Beau Hossler, Matt Bortis, Matt Brost, Brad Elder, Dylan Frittelli, Doug Ghim, David Gossett, Cody Gribble, Toni Hakula, Gavin Hall, Jason Hartwick, Charlie Holland, Bobby Hudson, John Klauk, Lance Lopez, Matthew Rosenfeld, Scottie Scheffler, Jordan Spieth, Brandon Stone, Julio Vegas and J.J. Wall.
Sam Dostaler: What does it mean to you to be able to represent the United States and be the captain of the Palmer Cup team?
John Fields: It’s a thrill for sure. It is a very prideful moment for me and my wife Pearl to be selected as the Palmer Cup captain and it is absolutely an honor. Going forward to have an opportunity to be mentioned with anything that is associated with Arnold Palmer’s name is likewise a huge honor. But to represent the United States and to also be also being associated with Arnold Palmer is kind of a career dream.
SD: Do you have any Arnold Palmer stories?
JF: Everybody says that they have a story with Arnold Palmer and I do. When I was 24 or 25, I was a young Assistant Golf Professional in southern Arizona at a course called Mesa del Sol Golf Course in Yuma and anyways he had designed that golf course so it was a really incredible deal to be associated with that.
But what was really cool was that on one particular day by boss, a guy named Dick Walters, came in and said to me, 'Do you want to come down with me, we are going to go down to the airport and pick up Arnold Palmer because he is coming in to look at the golf course?'
And I was like, 'Yeah I do; yeah I want to do that.' So [Palmer] came in and it was very cool and he flew in sitting in the left seat, flying the aircraft and not only that he was coming from a particular golf tournament.
He had played in Hawaii and it was one of his last regular tour events so this was in the early 1980’s, I want to say '84 or '85 and he got in the back seat of a little Honda car with us and we carried on a conversation and he was very interested in what we did and who I was and who my boss was and he made us feel very important that day and it was really incredible moment.
He certainly didn’t big time and he made us feel special that day and I thought that was really neat because he didn’t have to do that. He didn’t have to at all make us feel that way but he did.
SD: Now that the team is set what comes next?
JF: Watch them compete heading into the National Championship and then from there kind of formulate in our minds what might be some good match ups and have a that in our mind for when we get to the matches.
Then go through the practice rounds and give ourselves an opportunity to win because I want to win and I know they do too.
I won’t have a lot of preconceived notions before getting to the matches, although I know all of these players, having recruited probably half of them so I know them and I am excited about the opportunity to coach them.
SD: What will tournament week be like?
JF: The practice rounds will be important, we will talk about what is important to them and get a feel for their games at that moment and on the course that we are going to be playing. Atlanta Athletic Club is obliviously is a great place and a fantastic venue for the event.
I think the excitement that Europe is going to have will need to be at least matched by us, if not more. We are on our home turf so it is going to be important to generate a lot of enthusiasm and be excited about being there and appreciative about being there.
I know these players fairly well and I am looking forward to it.
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