I'm sure I sound harsh, but I'm not really condemning them. They've got what we all want. They've got financial independence. They've got prestige. They've got power. I don't know anybody who wouldn't like to have his own airplane and his own secretaries and his own companies. There are many days I wish I had their singleness of purpose. But I don't. I don't mean I'm too nice a guy. I mean it's not my way. If I tried it, I'd fail. I couldn't survive that constant intensity, that constant burning. I admire—hell, I envy—their ability to burn and burn and burn.
At breakfast a few of us were talking about an article Player's just written. It's called Jog Now and Win Later or something like that. Gary's a physical-fitness bug, and I asked Harold Henning if all that exercising really helped his fellow South African's game.
"When I'm playing Gary head to head in a tournament," said Harold, "I'll walk up to him on the tee and say, 'Gary, you don't look well. Do you feel all right? Have you lost some weight? Have you been ill?'
"Immediately, Gary starts worrying. 'Do you really think so?' he says. 'Do I look ill?'
"From then on, he's mine. Just make a reference to his health, and that'll take care of him every time."
In my opinion, Hogan is far and away the greatest golfer who ever lived, and there isn't even anybody in second place. A couple of years ago I played an exhibition with Ben and spent an evening talking with him, and I found that the image I had of him, the image that had been built up by the press and by the players, too, was all wrong. He was full of warmth and humor, eager to talk about his days on the tour, easy to listen to. I've got my own theory about Hogan. I think that one day, when he was in his 20s, he flat decided he was going to be the greatest golfer ever, and for the next 20 years he shut everything out of his life except golf. I don't think it was his natural way, but he put himself in a box and nobody and nothing could penetrate that box.
Hogan paid a big price to be the best—he gave up social life, friendships, everything; he dehumanized himself—and I think he always knew how big the price was. Now, with everything proven and competition behind him, I think he's trying to make up for all the years he lost. He's returned to his natural, friendly ways. He was my biggest hero in golf, and he still is.