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WENDY'S CHAMPIONS SKINS GAME MEDIA CONFERENCE
January 31, 2008
THE MODERATOR: Thank you all for joining us on this call. We are fortunate to have Mr. Jack Nicklaus join us for a little while to discuss the 2008 Wendy's Champion Skins Game which is going to be televised on ESPN February 23rd and 24th. Saturday and Sunday, nine holes each day from the beautiful Royal Kaanapali Golf Course, in Kaanapali, Maui. It is the first year that Royal Kaanapali is hosting the event after 7 years at the Wailea Golf Club's gold course.
Jack is one of the defending champions of our event. He and Tom Watson last year teamed to win nine skins, and $320,000. They held off a furious rally from Gary Player and Jay Haas who had won $290,000 on a four-hole span on the back nine. It was Jack's third victory in a Wendy's Champion Skins Game. He's also won in 1991 and 2005. And it boosted his record total of skins in the event in 17 years to a remarkable 96 skins.
He's also won the most money lifetime in a Wendy's Champion Skins Game at $2.295 million. And his 96 skins in 17 years is nearly 30 ahead of his closest pursuer, Raymond Floyd.
Quite a remarkable record in the event, Jack, and why don't you tell us about what you're looking for this year and kind of how your game is right now?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I never know what I'm looking forward to really I haven't yet hit a golf ball this year. So you're asking me how my game is? I won't know until I get there. I don't play a whole lot of golf anymore. I didn't play a lot last year going into the skins game. I hit is about the same as I did. And I started playing four or five days before the event, and I actually played some of the best golf I'd played in a long time there last year.
Tom and I played well, and did a pretty good job of getting a few birdies on the right holes. And, particularly, I believe, we made it two on the 11th hole, which I hit it in and Tom made the putt, if I'm not mistaken.
THE MODERATOR: You're correct.
JACK NICKLAUS: That was worth a $260,000 skin which actually along with what we won on the front nine, it was enough to win the event.
You might ask me why do I play, actually I don't play much golf anymore. I haven't had a golf score of 18 holes since I walked off the 18th green at St. Andrew's in 2005. I played in several events but they've all been alternate shots, scrambles, better balls, things like that. And I've had fun playing those.
It's been great to play those kind of games. It's been fun to play them. It's been fun to go to Hawaii and see the guys that I haven't played with in a long time. I always love kidding around with Arnold Palmer and Gary and Peter and my partner, Tom, and the other guys. We just have a great time. It's good fun.
So I'm looking forward to it. You know, I probably will sneak out and cheat on him and probably hit a few practice balls in the next couple of weeks so I get myself a little bit ready. But hopefully I'll be ready to play decently and have some fun and I'm looking forward to it.
Q. Talk about the camaraderie you and Tom have. You guys possess a mutual respect there that's come through the last two years that you've played in this format. I know about the interchange you guys had last year when Tom was kind of struggling with his putter, and you basically told him I'm going to hit this ball on 18 so close that you're not going to have the chance to miss it, and you hit it to like six inches. Is that kind of an example of the relationship that you guys had? And how does it come out in this event?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, the idea is to have a good time. And Tom and I have had a relationship for a long time. So we can kid each other and give each other a hard time and not either one of us can get upset about it. So that's good.
Tom is obviously playing a lot more golf than I am. He plays a lot better than I do now. So I sort of kid him that I'm going to carry him along. Well, obviously, he's going to carry me along. I couldn't carry anybody anymore. But we get competitive. We'll probably be competitive again this year. We'll have a great time.
But I have a great respect for Tom. I have a great respect for his golf game. He got me a few times when we were in our careers I probably could have added three more majors if it wasn't for Tom Watson. I think you'll go back and look at those three pretty easily. At the Masters, the British Open, and the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. Those three events were three events that Tom got me. I think I got him a couple of times. I was real lucky.
But he's a good player. He's a good competitor, and he's been a great friend. So I'm looking forward to it.
Q. Have you played Royal Kaanapali? And if you have or if you have some familiarity, can you talk a little bit about that?
JACK NICKLAUS: Last time I played royal Kaanapali, I won. Come on now. You should know that, you're the press man. I haven't been to Royal Kaanapali since 1964. I won the individual in the Canada Cup there. Arnold Palmer and I were on the team, which is now the World Cup.
Q. Obviously good memories there that you'll have no trouble taking into this event on February 23rd and 24th. With that, let's turn things over for questions.
JACK NICKLAUS: I remember the course like it was yesterday, it was only 44 years ago.
Q. It's been going on 35 years since you've been at the top of the heap on the list of major winners. I guess you tied Bobby Jones in 1972. Some of your South Florida brethren, the Dolphins have been going just as long with their record. How do you handle the fact that people talk about Tiger trying to break earmarks? And what do you think about that? Would you like to see him do it? The Dolphins have been outspoken about hoping to be the only ones.
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't really think a whole lot about it, to be honest. The only time I think about it is when somebody asks me a question about it from the press.
I don't know why the Dolphins would worry about somebody else. I think they had a great record. They were a great team in 1972. They had 17-0. They did what they did in their time, and it was great. I think I did what I did in my time, and I think my record is what it is. Could it have been better? Probably. Could it have been worse? Absolutely. But it is what it is.
I haven't really thought much about Tiger breaking my record or not breaking my record. It does get asked quite a bit. He's obviously, a marvelous player. I think he's certainly young and probably will and probably should break my record. If he does, then it's more power to him.
I don't think it makes any difference. Just like I don't think it makes any difference if the Patriots win this weekend, and the Dolphins still have their 17-0 record. It is their record. And my record is my record, and it will stand for whatever it is. If somebody breaks it and does better, then, you know, I think that's great. We'll just have to wait and see and see what happens this weekend, and we'll see what happens with Tiger over the next few years.
Q. 1972 was a pretty good year for you, too. Going into Muirfield, you had a chance to go for the Grand Slam. Can you compare, maybe, in that era what kind of attention you got after winning the first two majors in the season to what kind of attention the Dolphins got at the end of that year going for a perfect NFL record?
JACK NICKLAUS: You know, in '72, actually, I held the PGA Championship because it was played earlier. It was played in early '71. So I held the PGA, the Masters and the U.S. Open. And last the British Open by a shot. So I came that close to holding all four of them, which is the same thing Tiger's done.
Q. Compare it to sort of the attention you got for that and the attention the Dolphins got?
JACK NICKLAUS: I remember I lost the British Open by a shot. And the people at Oakland Hills said you saved us a lot of money. Obviously we wouldn't mind spending it because we had plans to put a 12-foot fence around the property, and we knew it was going to be absolutely impossible. Of course, I didn't win. And then I ended up finishing 12th at Oakland Hills. But there was quite a bit of conversation about it. But I never got as close as Tiger's gotten, but it was fun trying.
Q. I'm wondering since you basically don't hit balls anymore, when you do pick up your clubs, how does your swing feel? And how long does it take to start hitting the ball reasonably well? Are you just relying on muscle memory?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I haven't practiced for two and a half years so when I pick up the clubs, they feel like strangers. Usually if I play golf for a couple of days I hit reasonably well. I play, let's see, I guess I played twice over the Christmas holidays and that's the last time I played. I think I shot 74 one day, and I think I shot 71 the other day. It wasn't terrible.
I never had a score, I haven't had one that I completely putted out. That's a pretty generous 71. But anyway, I don't think it will take me very long. I'll probably hit balls. Go out and play nine holes or something here in the next couple of weeks. Then I'm going to go to Palm Springs on the way out, work on a golf course and play a couple of days there, then I'll come to Hawaii and play the Pro-Am and play the event.
So I'll be playing golf four, five days in a row. So hopefully I won't stumble all over the place too badly.
Q. I have a question about the Masters. When they switched to bentgrass in 1981, and I wonder if you can recall what the difference was that first year? How tough it was getting used to it? And then I have a follow-up.
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't remember, to be honest with you. I think the reason I don't think the greens were that much different. What really happened was in the previous years you relied an awful lot on the overseed, and the quality of the overseed and what happened, what kind of a winter you had going into the season. Because sometimes the Bermuda would be growing, and sometimes you couldn't get them fast. Sometimes it would be bumpy. And the conditions were just varying conditions.
When they put the bent in, and the bent in the first year or two had varying conditions, but they learned how to do it, and Augusta has increasing gotten better every year.
So the greens obviously got a little faster. In the end, they had to take some of the greens and reduce the pitches and make a few adjustments in the golf course. But I think it was a very good move for them, and it's made it a better golf course.
Q. I'm curious your thoughts since we're coming up on 10 years since they've had the first cut or the second cut whatever it's called, rough. If you think that makes the course play easy or tougher. And what it would be like if they just shave it all down? I guess the way it used to be?
JACK NICKLAUS: I'm one of the proponents of no rough. I think the rough has done what they wanted it to do from the standpoint of making it so they can't spin the ball as easily into the green. That's what they've accomplished. But I'm a proponent of the no rough, because now I think they put trees in such a location that if the fairways were quick, I think the rough only stops the ball from getting to the trees. And I think if they took the rough out, you'd find the course play a little bit more difficult, because I think the ball would run through to the trees easier.
I think the beauty of Augusta has been that Augusta was different from everybody else in that it was a tournament with no rough, and they put the rough in, and it makes it a lot like everybody else. Even though it's not a deep rough. That rough is not that easy. It's pretty thick.
So my feeling is now with all the new trees and all the new bunkers, I don't think the rough is really necessary. Frankly, I think it will play tougher if they didn't have it.
Q. As we go back to Torrey Pines this year for the U.S. Open, it will go as a par 71. If a course like Torrey or Pebble Beach has been at 72 since it opened, why does it need to be anything less than that just because the U.S. Open's in town? Any thoughts on that?
JACK NICKLAUS: The USGA seems to do that with every golf course. I don't know why they do it. They seem to do it. And I don't know if it makes it 18 under par, you get 10 under par with the same golf course if you make it a par 70. I suppose it takes 10 under, so it looks better and sounds better.
Frankly it doesn't make a hill of beans to me one way or the other which way they do it; you still play the same golf course. They've made changes at Torrey Pines, and I don't really know what they've done, and I don't really remember the golf course that well. But the thing that would be different for the guys is that Torrey Pines will more than likely not have any rain after probably March or maybe even February. And the golf course will have a chance to get fast and hard.
The rough will be probably pretty high. My guess is the ball will run off. There's a lot of pitch in those fairways. Run off the fairways pretty easily. It will certainly be a different golf course than they played a week ago.
I haven't seen it at all since they made changes in the golf course.
Q. It's longer.
JACK NICKLAUS: I'm sure it is. It's probably tougher, but it didn't play tougher for Tiger last week.
Q. I'm wondering the people that you play with in this event, the Wendy's Champions Skins Game, do you really care where you play?
JACK NICKLAUS: To answer it, it doesn't really make any difference. I think it's nice to actually change venues ever once in a while. I think we all like the Gold Course at Wailea. It was a nice golf course. I think we enjoyed Mauna Lani prior to that. But I think we'll enjoy Kaanapali. The guys are not too concerned, as long as it's a good test of golf, and as long as the people and organizers of the event set it up so that we have a golf tournament, rather than just a show-up event.
Q. The second one is can I ask you to pick out your two or three best memories?
JACK NICKLAUS: Probably the three times I won. Those are obviously my best memories. The rest of them I've already forgotten.
Q. If I'm not mistaken, you never won the Par-3 tournament (at the Masters), and I was curious if you bought into the whole idea of the jinx. If you ever went out of your way to not win it. If you even recall thinking those thoughts as you were playing it. I know you probably didn't play every year, but in the years that you did?
JACK NICKLAUS: I never played it in the years that I had a chance to win. Two reasons: I suppose one, I'm a little superstitious like everybody else, though I wouldn't think that would make much difference. I don't buy into that, really. The real reason that I didn't play a lot was that I think you play a practice round on Wednesday preparing yourself for a golf tournament. And you go out and play on another golf course another set of greens -- the greens are not the same -and you're spending energy when you should be resting for the start of the tournament.
Do you spend a lot of energy? No, you don't. Is it too much to ask the players to play? No, it's not too much. But in the days when I was competitive and felt like I had a chance, I had so much energy focused on wanting to win that golf tournament that it was a distraction for me and not something I wanted to do.
As time went on, and I'm not a serious competitor anymore, I didn't spend all that energy. So it was fun to go play it and enjoy it.
Q. I guess that means you wouldn't have played it in 1986?
JACK NICKLAUS: I would venture to say I did not.
Q. Curious if you are going to do it this year? And would you -- have you given any thought to joining Arnie as an honorary starter for the regular tournament?
JACK NICKLAUS: I think that first of all I have to be asked to do that. And I think that I've been told that I would be welcome whenever I wanted to. And I think that Arnold Palmer should have his day for a while. Hopefully, I'll have time to have mine at a later date.
Q. I wondered if you'd participate in the Par 3 this year?
JACK NICKLAUS: I am going to play in the Par 3. I got into that a couple of years ago. And my son, Jack, said, 'Oh, dad, you're going to play in the Par 3. I know you're not playing in the tournament. How about having Charlie caddie for you it would be a big thrill.' I said 'Okay.' Once I had one grandchild, and I had 19 more, and I'll have 20 more in another month. I'll tell you in the next 20 years.
Q. I had a rules question for you. I was wondering in all your years of golf is there one rules incident that stands out? Something that was just very complicated or something that was just memorable?
JACK NICKLAUS: Not really. I think most of the time I knew most of the rules. Occasionally I would just blank out and I would just ask. But I never really had a rules question that I can think of that was of any significance that I can think of right now.
I suppose the most penalizing one was 1960. That's a long time ago. We were then playing in what was called the America's Cup matches which was the United States, Canada, Mexico amateur. And I was playing with Deane Beman as my partner, and we were playing alternate shot. We got to the fifth hole and I hit my second shot in front of the green. And Beman looked down and saw the pitch to the green. He said 'Do you think I ought to play my wedge or Charlie Coe's?' Obviously we went 5 down, and 5 down very quickly.
We ended up getting back and ended up losing one match one down and tied the other one. So we made a pretty good come back after being 5 down after 5 holes. But that's the only time I can think that I had real rules (incident) that penalized me.
I had one incident that I always wondered about myself. It's the only time I've ever wondered if I got the rules correctly or not. It was in the British Open at Lytham. I don't know what year it was. But I was coming down in the last round. It must have been in contention because Joe Dey was my referee.
It was on the 15th hole. I hit it in the bunker about I don't know, 60 or 80 yards short of the green, whatever it is. I was sort of up against the fence, and I had to dig it out. And I dug it out and dirt, sand, everything flew. And a bunch of stuff came down and hit me. I thought maybe it was the ball, and I don't know whether it was the ball.
I turned to Joe, I said, 'Joe, did that ball hit me?' He said 'No, the ball did not hit you.' But to this day I wonder whether it did or not. That is the only rule I could say I wasn't sure of.
Q. You don't remember what year that was?
JACK NICKLAUS: No, but I didn't win, and it didn't matter to the outcome of the tournament, thank goodness, because I would still wonder about it. I don't think the ball did hit me. But when you feel like a cloud of dirt hits you and it could have been a ball, I often wondered whether it did or not. But Joe said no. It may have been year '71, well, it was probably '79, maybe. I'm guessing. It could have been '89. I don't know. It was in that area somewhere. That's the only issues I can think of on the rules.
Q. I have two questions you probably will recognize the Kaanapali North course as it used to be called because they took it out of service and to bring it back to the Robert Trent Jones, Senior originally designed it. So it's going to be a fabulous round for you. Your involvement in the development of golf in China is what leads me to this question. The Japanese got so involved in golf in the '80s and '90s, really in Hawaii in particular. We benefited hugely from their desire to travel the world, much like the American tourists started in the '50s. And I was wondering, do you think the Chinese will travel about the world as they get more involved in golf to explore different golf courses? Or are they looking to bring the tourists to them?
JACK NICKLAUS: I think, probably, number one would be probably send tourists to them, and probably ex-pats. But I think if you look at China and you look at Japan, I don't know what the population of Japan is. I'm guessing -- what is the population of Japan, 90, 100 million? And the population of China is about a billion three, something like that. The middle class of China with spendable income of about 300 million people. Probably the middle class of Japan is probably what would you guess?
Q. Several million, oh, yeah?
JACK NICKLAUS: So there are ten times as many people in China who once they learn you how to play golf will probably want to travel and play. And I sort of look at it that way. We've done, I don't know what we've done, we've probably finished 15 courses in China. We've got some other golf courses under construction. As a company I've got a couple myself.
We have the ability for the Chinese to learn the game, which will happen. We'll obviously over time increase their ability to travel and play golf all over the world. Just as the Japanese did. Of course the Japanese got more courses now, and the Chinese will catch up.
Q. And their enthusiasm for the game seems to be improving as their players become more popular and more able?
JACK NICKLAUS: Oh, absolutely. It's the same as sort of an interesting story. I was in Russia not very long ago. I know this is a little off the beat. But you mention the things they do in China. In Russia I met with the mayor of Moscow. He wants to put 15 golf courses in Moscow. There are only a couple of golf courses in Russia, period. He wants to put 15 around Moscow and he wants to make them all public. Because he wants to do in golf what they did in tennis.
Well, the Chinese did the same thing. The state and the government encourages sport. So they're going to bring young players along. And when young players come along and they start playing the game and start being successful in the game, that will increase the popularity among the middle class in China. And the middle class in China will play a lot more golf as a result of that. I think much of that same thing will happen. It's just time.
Q. With Taiwan and India's growing popularity, it is just interesting to see the development and how golf is expanding. It's wonderful. A follow-up question on a completely different topic. What advice do you have for golfers who have back problems, and maybe even those who haven't developed them yet? Maybe you could start there? What would you do differently? Is?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I had back problems since I was a young kid. In the old days they used to use injections. By the time I was 19 years old I had my back injected in nine different places. That's just what they did then.
I'm sure that's why my hip got destroyed. I had 25 injections in my hip in a 10-week period. But that's what the university doctors used to do. So, anyway, obviously, if they did that today they would understand what they were doing.
But I think part of my back problems stemmed from that. But in my time even the football players didn't lift weights in those days. So I'm not sure what I would have done differently if I were today, and understand what happens today, I would be in the gym getting myself and my back and my muscles and ambiguous as strong as I can get them to combat that situation. Even that sometimes doesn't help.
I use a fella named Peter Egoscue and the Egoscue Method. I've been doing his exercises now for 20 years. And I've only missed one day in 20 years -- the day I had my back operated on. But he has kept me out of trouble, and basically a posture exercise. There in Hawaii I'm sure Pete has a clinic. He's based out of Delaware, and he's got clinics all over the country and books all over the world that he's written. He's been the best person I know for helping somebody with the back.
I'm sure there are a lot of other people with perfectly good remedies and things that they do. But myself, and I know a lot of golfers who have gone on Egoscue's program who have kept their backs in pretty good shape while they were playing.
Q. We're coming up to the 50th anniversary of the naming of Amen Corner at Augusta National. I was just wondering if you could give me a couple of your past memories from Amen Corner from the times that you've been there?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, Amen Corner has been, I guess Herb Wind named Amen Corner. And, Herb, obviously, is a good friend. I think it was probably aptly named, too. Herb saw golf growing up.
My experiences at Amen Corner probably started the first year that I played when I watched a guy I was playing with, he hit a 6-iron to number 12. Got halfway across the water, and I hit 7-iron and almost knocked it into Augusta Country Club. That stood out with me.
Now year after year you get down, and it's probably the second shot at 11, and the shot at 12. Not so much 13, even though 13 falls in the category of being in Amen Corner. The shot at 11, and the shot at 12 are probably two of the scariest shots that you play in golf competition, and they're back-to-back. So I've had times where I've hit it in the water, I've watched other fellas hit it in the water. I've watched the tournament change hands dramatically.
I've even gone there one time when Bobby Jones or Cliff Roberts came out to watch me in 1964. I was trying to chase Arnold Palmer. I shanked one right over their heads. So there are a lot of things that happen at Amen Corner. I've played 13 many times very well. But also I've had trouble with it, too.
If you look at a stretch on the front nine of four, five and six, people never talk about it. That stretch for the average for the field is higher over par than the other stretch at Amen Corner. But it doesn't have the excitement of Amen Corner. Amen Corner is a place where I guess you better get religion to play it. I think that's sort of what it means.
Q. Can you talk about a shot that really propelled you at Amen Corner?
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know. I've played a couple over the years. I don't know. I've always looked at it. I don't think it's any one shot. I've always looked at it if I can play number 11, and no worse than one over par, I'm doing pretty well. I feel like you should play number 12 in one-under- par for the week. And you should play number 13 no worse than three-under. That was sort of my goal every year I played.
Any time that I found myself getting too far off of that, I found myself out of contention.
Q. About the Grand Slam that Tiger's been talking about this year, did you ever go into a season thinking it was "easily within reach." And do you think that he's got -- the way he's playing right now, that maybe it is more reasonable than it has been in the past?
JACK NICKLAUS: When I went into every season, that was my goal. About 1965 on, I felt that I had the ability I felt like my year was shot. It was gone. I got over that a couple of times because I knew there were a lot more tournaments to be played. And more realistically the Grand Slam that was possible but not likely.
It was always my goal to start every year. Every time I started preparing in January for the Masters, that's what I looked at. I think Tiger looks at it much the same way; Tiger's probably even more because he has held all four of them at one time. So that's a pretty lofty goal. But for a guy like Tiger, I wouldn't put it past him.
Q. If I can follow-up with a question, it sounded like you were more open to the idea of being on that first tee as an honorary starter in the future at some point at Augusta than maybe you have been in the past. Have you softened a little bit?
JACK NICKLAUS: I never was hard about it. I just said that I'm not now, and I'm not really. Who says what's going to be in five or ten years from now. I have no idea. I'm a member at Augusta. I love the golf course. I love the tournament. I've always been treated nicely at Augusta. And if Billy Payne asked me, 'Jack, we'd really like you to do it,' I would probably say yes. He's told me, 'Jack, I know you don't want to do it now, but some time in the future we'd like you to. And I said we'll certainly discuss it.'
Q. I wanted to follow up on the Grand Slam stuff. You sort of answered part of it. But the whole idea of putting so much into it and then maybe suffering a letdown. And you said it took you a little while maybe to get past that. I'm just wondering how real that was. I mean, you're obviously putting so much into winning one particular event and you can't do it if you don't win the first one. How hard was that to get over in the years that you didn't?
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't remember what year it was that I sort of kicked myself in the rear end because I sort of wasted a couple of other majors. I didn't win the Masters, and I sort of didn't prepare properly for the others. And I went in and said that's a bad attitude. That's kind of an unrealistic way to approach what you're doing.
Then I realized if you didn't win, you do the best you can and win as much as you can. I wish I could remember what year it was, but it was in the '60s, late '60s some time.
I was down for a long time because I won '63, '65 and '66. I missed the cut in '67. And it was probably '68 or '69 that I probably felt that way. It was probably that time that I look back on it and thought how ridiculous it was.
Q. Saying that then I'm just wondering in '72 when you put together the good run and you came up a shot short in the third leg, was that harder to get over than the years that you didn't win the first one being that close?
JACK NICKLAUS: Absolutely. That year and in '75 I missed it by three shots. I lost the British Open by one shot, and lost the U.S. Open by two shots. Any time you get close to something and I suppose my disappointment would be as great as Tiger's in that Tiger has won all four of them in a row.
So I never had that experience. I mean that was what my goal was, but I never reached that goal. I don't know what his thought was. My mental thought was that in '72 when I won the first two and actually almost got there, but didn't quite, I was pretty disappointed. I would have loved to have gone to Oakland Hills with a chance to do it.
Q. My questions are Maui based mostly. First one, you've been through Mauna Lani, and Wailea and Kaanapali. When there's a new course introduced, does it reenergize this event a little bit?
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't think it makes a whole lot of difference. It probably reenergizes a bit from the new sponsors. I mean Wendy's is still sponsoring the event. From Wendy's standpoint, they reenergize their people. It's not the same old thing. It gives them an opportunity to entertain their guests in a different place and different venue from different things and different excitements.
For the players, those who did not play well at Wailea, it probably opens up a new avenue for them. Thinking that maybe this is their course there's a lot of things to be said for a new venue. Then again, there's a lot of things to be said for the old venue and that they know how to do things. The new one certainly does energize it. I don't think there's any question about that.
Q. How much longer do you see Arnie doing this event? To go along with when he's done with this event, you will be done with this event as well?
JACK NICKLAUS: I can't answer that for Arnold Palmer. But I talked to him last night. He says I was so close to not going to Hawaii this year and I just laughed. Arnold Palmer said that for 20 years. I said I'm sure that Arnold Palmer will go as long as he can stand up I don't think what Arnold Palmer does will have any basis whatsoever on what I do.
I enjoy having Arnold Palmer there. Always enjoy being in his company and playing with him. But I have to do what works for me, not what works for Arnold Palmer, too.
Q. Two quick questions on various subjects. I don't know if anybody asked you anything about the Ryder Cup, it is obviously at one of your courses. I spoke to Arnold Palmer earlier this week. He gave great kudos on what you've been able to do with the President's Cup and your captaincy. How can Paul Azinger, perhaps, translate some of the things you've done President's Cup to what he'd like to accomplish this year? Have you been able to give him any advice or has he asked?
JACK NICKLAUS: Paul called me on a Tuesday after the President's Cup, and we talked for about an hour and a half on the phone. I gave him my thoughts. I think that Paul accepted those thoughts very well. Whether he uses them, I think he's the captain, he should make that choice. I don't think it's my position to impose on him, what I do on him. I think that I could tell him what I did and he can use what he wants. And I'm more than happy to help Paul and everybody else if I could be of help.
Q. Is there anything that Paul can take from what you've been able to do? Arnold Palmer gave you great credit for sort of the leadership that you've shown, and how you've gotten the guys to maybe respond to what they needed to do. Just wondering how that can translate over to the Ryder Cup.
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know. That's a pretty hard question for me to answer. I think that I appreciate Arnold Palmer's kind remarks. But I think that the guys -- what I did was I tried to be their friend. I tried to be one of them. I tried to not impose myself on them. I tried to take advice from them. Then I tried to fit it together into what I thought would be the right thing for a team. I was thinking so far that it worked quite well.
And I think Paul could probably use some of that, but we'll see. I think you're going to find the Ryder Cup team, I think, probably pretty well energized from last year's President's Cup. And I think it will have a carry over. I think they'll play a lot better than they've been playing.
Q. Switching gears, and I apologize for throwing a different subject at you. But the Memorial coming up, I'm wondering as this tournament goes along and Arnold Palmer was talking to me earlier this week as well about his 30th anniversary at Bay Hill and what it means to him. As you go forward with the Memorial, are there any goals left to make that tournament better? Are they little things? Are they big things? What do you want to do with the tournament as it goes along?
JACK NICKLAUS: We work every year to try to make it better. With the growth of the PGA TOUR and the growth of the major championships and the elevation of status, the World Championships, the Tour Championships, now the FedEx year-end thing, the Players' Championship. It's harder and harder for a tournament to put its best foot forward and to get recognition in the golfing world.
So we've been working with the Tour to do just that, trying to put our best foot forward. To try to do some other things to help make the Memorial Tournament better. We'll continue to do those things.
Specifically, it's hard for me to mention them to you now because I don't remember all what was done. But you want to stay in the top level as it relates to field, and how the course is played and different things that we think ultimately make a better event.
We are part of the PGA TOUR, so part of our goal is to help continue to not try to make the memorial tournament something that is not part of the PGA TOUR, but how to grow the tournament with the PGA TOUR. I think that is a goal that the Tour has, and a goal that we have. So that's what we're trying to do.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Jack, for your time and taking time out for us from your incredibly busy schedule. A reminder, the Wendy's Champions Skins Game is Feb. 23 and 24 from the Royal Kaanapali Golf Course in Maui. ESPN will televise the event on a same-day, tape-delayed basis from 4-6 p.m. ET, 1-3 p.m. here on the West Coast and from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Hawaii.
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