The star of one of golf's funniest ad campaigns reminisces
__What was the audition for Sign Boy like?
__There were 300 guys up for the part. I just came in and started riffing on [David] Duval and making fun of how he wasn't looking at the ball. They told me later they knew when I started breaking apart guys' swings and their quirks that I was right for the part.
What was the basic idea for the character?
A lot of it was about trying to get a reaction out of them. To get things so awkward but not too much. Just enough so that the player doesn't haul off and take my knee out with his 6-iron.
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__How did you walk the fine line between awkward and stalker? __
The essence of Sign Boy was that he really didn't mean anybody harm. He just had such a passion for golf and for FootJoy that he became a standard-bearer just so he could be around the game every week. I've often said that Sign Boy is really just Matt Griesser turned up about three notches.
__Which players were the best actors?
__Justin Leonard, Jesper Parnevik, Ernie Els, Lumpy [Tim Herron] and Peter Jacobsen, of course, were all great. Adam Scott got it as well as anybody because he figured out, like a lot of guys, that the ads could show a side of their personality they might not show on the course. (See video below.) We heard it got to the point that when they signed their deals, some players had it written in the contract to be in a Sign Boy ad.
__The campaign ran for four years. How tough was it when the spots ended? __
The ad agency and I were genuinely surprised. We had talked about many, many more ideas. I would have done it for 10 more years, easily. You know what, I'm not Robert De Niro. If somebody said to me no matter what you do with the rest of your career, you're going to be called Sign Boy for the rest of your life, I'm totally fine with that.