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April 9, 2015

Jack Nicklaus

Arnold Palmer

Gary Player


MODERATOR:  Well, good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to another historic and memorable morning at Augusta National Golf Club, and it is really a true honor and privilege to introduce to you three gentlemen who have been so vital and so essential to the growth of this game, and whose iconic legacies will live forever in the memories of those who are fortunate enough to see them play during their career.
Augusta National will always be grateful for the emphatic mark these men have made on the Masters Tournament.
In an astounding collective 147 appearances, these great champions won 13 green jackets, including seven consecutive years from 1960 to 1966.  These legends are truly golf's greatest ambassadors and have always and consistently displayed the highest levels of integrity, character and dedication to the growth of this game we love so much.
On another note, this is also a special week, because 60 years ago this week, Mr.Palmer made his first appearance at the Masters, 1955, tied for 10th, with Byron Nelson, and I understand he came down Magnolia in a little two‑door, pink coral Ford.
JACK NICKLAUS:  (Laughter).
MODERATOR:  Ladies and gentlemen, Mr.Arnold Palmer, Mr. Jack Nicklaus and Mr. Gary Player.  We would be delighted to open it up to some questions.

Q.  I believe 50 years ago this week, the three of you were tied for the lead after two rounds.  Wondering what you remember about that now?
JACK NICKLAUS:  What year was that, 1965?  I remember what the third round was (laughter).
GARY PLAYER:  I remember it; the wrong man won.
ARNOLD PALMER:  I don't remember anything (laughter).

Q.  It's such a special tournament, as you all know, and the challenge, I imagine on Sunday, is unlike any other.  I wonder if each of you could talk us through the biggest challenge you face and the emotions you go through on the back nine when you're in contention on a Sunday.
JACK NICKLAUS:  Go on, Gary.
GARY PLAYER:  Well, I think Rory McIlroy could be experiencing that to a great degree this week because he obviously has a chance to win the Grand Slam which would be a marvelous thing for golf to enhance the Grand Slam.
He's such a wonderful golfer and such a wonderful young man.  I think he's prepared, and I think his story is the answer.  He's worked out extremely hard.  He's very fit.  Because when you play every day, you don't realize what a difficult golf course this is to walk until you go and walk it yourself, and walk it from the back tees.  It is very strenuous.  Practice rounds and the tournament fitness is a great asset.
Rory has had his adversity on the golf course having led, so now he's got a big challenge.  So he's going to feel that stretch, but he's ready to tackle it and very, very fit.  I think fitness and patience.  I think Jack exemplifies the patience side.
JACK NICKLAUS:  Thanks a lot.  The fitness side I didn't represent, okay.  (Laughter).
No, I think that basically, you're coming down the stretch, I don't think you're worried‑‑ I never thought about it.  If I was in contention, I figured I knew what I had to do and just tried to do it.  If you're not confident and you're not prepared, you won't be ready to do it.  If you are prepared and you're happy with what you're doing, then you don't have a chance to get nervous or worry about it or even think about it.  You just go play, and that's what I always did.
When we got down to the end, if I had a shot at winning, then that was when I had to really make sure that I focused properly to do what I had to do.  And I think the young guys still have that same situation.

Q.  Jack, as the youngest of the three young men‑‑
JACK NICKLAUS:  Arnold hasn't finished the question.
He wants you to answer the question, too.
ARNOLD PALMER:  Well, basic fundamentals, that's the way I played most of my life.  In this championship, coming to the end, wherever I was, I tried to practice the things I learned from my father in Latrobe.

Q.  Jack, as the youngest of the three young men on the podium‑‑
JACK NICKLAUS:  Thank you.

Q.  I'm wondering because you guys see each other here and I'm sure other places, if you find through the two of them, windows into your own futureaging?
JACK NICKLAUS:  Windows into what?

Q.  What you might be like at 79 or 85, as you watch two people you're close to age?
JACK NICKLAUS:  I'm trying to figure out what I'm doing at 75.  Nine holes on the Par 3 yesterday darn near killed me (laughter).
GARY PLAYER:  He's not going to get to 85 (laughter).
JACK NICKLAUS:  That would be a nice goal.
Gary, he works hard on his body and, rightfully so, he gets good results.  I work very hard, but I don't get much results out of it.  If you look at my back, it looks like a pretzel, if you saw the MRI of it, but that's the way it goes.
We do the best we can with what we've got.  We all enjoy getting older; nobody enjoys the alternative.  So we go out and do the best we can and play.

Q.  Could you tell us what went through your mind when you were hitting that tee shot this morning?
ARNOLD PALMER:  On the tee or‑‑

Q.  On the tee, yeah.
ARNOLD PALMER:  What was going through my mind?

Q.  Before you went to hit it.
ARNOLD PALMER:  Before I went to do this‑‑ which one are you talking about?

Q.  Before you went to hit your tee shot this morning, what you were thinking?
ARNOLD PALMER:  I said, "Don't fan it."  (Laughter).
JACK NICKLAUS:  I don't think he's kidding.  He said exactly the same thing to me.

Q.  Rickie Fowler was on the tee and I think he's teeing off last, but he came out to watch you guys hit.  What does that mean to you?
GARY PLAYER:  Phil Mickelson really impressed me a couple years ago.  He was also off towards the end of the field, and he was I think the only one that was out there, which I appreciated.  I think Phil is just the real PR man for golf.  And to see Rickie and there were several out there on the first tee, Bubba Watson, defending champion.  And who elsewas out there?
JACK NICKLAUS:  Keegan Bradley.
GARY PLAYER:  Keegan Bradley.  Whoever it was there, I can tell you that as a competitor that's played in it a lot of times, I appreciated it very much indeed.  It shows that they have respect for the game.  I remember when Jock Hutchison used to tee off here, I used to go watch him, always.
JACK NICKLAUS:  I never got up that early (laughter).
I think it was nice to see the young guys out there.  You know, I think some people like to get up early and some like to, I sort of geared around what I had to do that day.
I think that's a nice gesture to do what they did and come out, but I think the important thing for them today is play well, and that should be their focus.  It shouldn't be us, but I think it's a nice gesture on their part.

Q.  Yesterday you had a hole‑in‑one on the Par 3 course and I think a lot of people were surprised when you said that's your first hole‑in‑one at Augusta.  What was that moment like, and really, in all the years that you played here, not one hole‑in‑one?
JACK NICKLAUS:  That's what I said, yeah, because I can't remember back that far.  It was really kind of funny, because on television before, we were sort of kidding about what you were going to do today.
I said, well, first thing to do is go out and see if you can win Par 3 Tournament and then maybe you can justify it and they'll invite us back into the golf tournament, or make a hole‑in‑one.  Somebody back‑‑ who was it, Scott?  One of the kids?  I don't know, somebody said something, I said, "We'll make a hole‑in‑one for you today."  Anyway, it went in.
I played here a lot of times and hit a lot of shots close but never made it.  I made a couple shots at 5 one year on the second shot and made one at 7 one year, but never a par 3.  Every year I came here to the Par 3 Tournament, I said, I've got to get another hole‑in‑one.
Arnold and I have been tied for I don't know how many years on 20.  Gary was tied with us as 20, but he goes and plays a lot of par 3 courses (laughter).
GARY PLAYER:  Well, you're counting yours, I notice (laughter).
JACK NICKLAUS:  But he's got a course at home that he's got a lot of 40‑ and 50‑yard holes.
GARY PLAYER:  Big cups.
JACK NICKLAUS:  And they count.  But still, any time you make on a par 3, I told my grandson, Steve, was caddying; I said, well, you obviously must be the best caddie of all.
GARY PLAYER:  Ben Hogan, the greatest hitter that ever lived, I think only had one if I'm not mistaken.  And I think Ballesteros only had one.  So you can spend your entire life without having one.
JACK NICKLAUS:  I didn't know that Hogan ever made one.
GARY PLAYER:  That's why I said, I think he had one.
JACK NICKLAUS:  I heard he didn't have any, but I don't know.  And then somebody told me, well, he always played under the hole (laughter) (rolling eyes).  That's a little much.

Q.  How big was the bar tab last night?
JACK NICKLAUS:  Did you see the party out here?  There were a couple hundred people out here.  I guess I must have bought it, I don't know (laughter).

Q.  Could you tell us something about your driver, such as the model and loft, and is that your regular driver?
GARY PLAYER:  That is, and I still use an extra stiff shaft, an inch longer than standard, and 8.5 loft, and two degrees flat.
That's a good question, because I would say that 40 percent of golfers, plus/minus, don't use the right ingredients, the lies, the lofts, the flex, the size grip.
Would you agree with that, Jack, that most people‑‑
JACK NICKLAUS:  I just use whatever they give me.  I've been using the same driver for ten, 12 years.
GARY PLAYER:  No, but I'm saying the average golfer playing.
JACK NICKLAUS:  Oh, the average golfer?
GARY PLAYER:  He doesn't have the right lies.
JACK NICKLAUS:  Well, he has the opportunity to do so today, but most golfers don't really‑‑ a lot of golfers who are series about golf have the ability to be fitted for golf clubs today, which we never had the opportunity.  Ours was always a hit and miss.
If you would have seen Arnold carve away on drivers when we first started playing on the Tour, I mean, he would get a driver and first thing you would see him do is get out a file and he would start carving away, and each tee he would be changing the grip.  He would get in and change the shaft, bend the shaft around, and it was all hit and miss.  It was all guesswork by all of us in those days.  And if you found one, then you try and stay with it.
I played 1966, I had a driver that I really like and I broke it playing with Gary in South Africa in 1966, and that was the one I played the first five or six years on Tour with; and then I used a driver from then until 1978.  That was a 42 and three‑quarter inch driver with 11 and a half degrees of loft and made in 1945.  That's what I used to play.
GARY PLAYER:  Arnold used to play and Arnold definitely had the strongest hands I've ever seen on a golfer in my life.  Jack had the strongest legs, he had the strongest hands and he'd be standing there and would always take the driver and bend the shaft in his hands.  I never knew anything about lies and lofts and things, and here is Arnold bending it like this and filing it like this, and filing his driver, and he must have had, what did you have, a thousand clubs in your house or more?
ARNOLD PALMER:  More than that.
GARY PLAYER:  Had to learn about these things‑‑
JACK NICKLAUS:  They were cheap then (laughter).
GARY PLAYER:  But I've got to tell you a story.  He comes to South Africa, and we go down the gold mine.  We watched them mining at 8,000 feet in those days, and now it's 15,000.  We go into a room an equivalent of this size and there must be a billion dollars worth of gold in there, and they bring out one of the gold bars that we watched them pouring.
And the man puts it on the table with two hands, and he says, about 20 of us there, he says, "Anybody that can pick this up can have it."
Arnie says, "Ask him if I can try."
I said, "I've got a friend here from America, can he try?"
He goes, "Sure."
And Arnold goes(indicating lifting effortlessly) and picks it up, and these guys' eyes went this big (eyes large in shock).  He says, "I only work here."
Arnold says, "You did work here."
Part of that is he's got deep pockets and short arms and never bought me a lunch (laughter).
ARNOLD PALMER:  You wouldn't give the ducks a drink if you owned Lake Okeechobee (laughter).

Q.  I was wondering if you could talk about the influence Wake Forest had on you during your early years?
ARNOLD PALMER:  Oh, my.  Well, you know the story, probably as well as everybody here, but that's a story that I'm very pleased and saddened at the same time; about the Worsham family who influenced my decision to go to Wake Forest, and I went with what was then known as Bubby Worsham, and I changed his name to Buddy, because it was easier.
Wake Forest has had an influence on my life almost as much as anybody in my life, other than my father.  And my attendance there, and the school and the people, I learned to be a southerner when I went to Wake Forest, and that sort of solves the whole problem.

Q.  Who hit the longest drive this morning?
JACK NICKLAUS:  (Pointing to Gary.)
JACK NICKLAUS:  After Arnold, Gary (laughter).

Q.  You have such great memories; can each of you pick out one shot that the other two played that still stands out in your mind?
GARY PLAYER:  The shots that we played or that they played?

Q.  That you saw that still stands out in your mind.
GARY PLAYER:  The biggest disappointment I ever had in my life, because we all have these things, I was two shots ahead of Arnold with three holes to play in 1962, an opportunity to be the first player to win the tournament in success.
I hit first at No. 16, and I put it about 12‑foot from the hole.  Arnold missed the green, the putting surface to the right, and the flag was bottom‑left.  Nobody has ever 2‑putted from there in the history of the tournament.  They all lost when they missed that flag to the right and I said to my caddie, I said, "Can you believe it?  We've won!"  Because there's no way you can get down in two.
And he hit this putt coming down there, around the bend, down like this and hit the flag and went in.  So I still had one shot, and last night, or at the dinner this year, they gave us a piece of the old Eisenhower Tree.
Well, I hated that tree‑‑ don't tell Billy Payne that.  But Arnold hits it in the tree, it wraps in the tree, I was hoping it would stick in the tree, it came down and it he then takes a 5‑iron and he knocks it on about 25 feet‑‑
ARNOLD PALMER:  It was a 4‑iron.
GARY PLAYER:  I'm trying to make you feel better.  He hits it on about 25 foot and slots that.
And so we tied the tournament, and I got him by three shots.  I shoot 33 on the front nine, he shoots 36; but he comes back in a magnificent 31 and beats me.  So I've never forgotten that shot, ever, in my life.  Just before I die, I'll say, (grumbling) "Arnold, you S‑O‑B. " (Laughter).
JACK NICKLAUS:  I frankly don't remember.  I remember a chip by Watson and a chip by Trevino (laughter).

Q.  Given your history with the club, have you ever thought about going to the first tee and hitting a 1‑iron?
JACK NICKLAUS:  Have I ever thought about it?  I think it's over there in the case over there.  I can't get it out.
No, I haven't thought about it.  Why would I hit a 1‑iron?  I can't out‑drive Gary with a driver.

Q.  When is the last time you hit it?
JACK NICKLAUS:  1‑iron?  Oh, I've got 1‑irons.  I've carried one in the bag for years, just for show.  I never use it.
ARNOLD PALMER:  One of the best 1‑iron players in the world, he was.
JACK NICKLAUS:  1‑irons don't exist anymore.  1‑irons today are basically 2‑irons.  It said 2 on the bottom but it's the same loft we had on our 1.  If you played a 1‑iron with the lofts of today, I don't think would get it off the ground.
GARY PLAYER:  Arnold, you hit that fantastic‑‑
ARNOLD PALMER:  I took it to the bathroomwith me (laughter).
JACK NICKLAUS:  I think if you go back, 1‑irons, I try to pick the best shot I ever hit, all three of them were 1‑irons.  That's how much I like the golf club.

Q.  They have been doing the green jacket ceremony in Butler Cabin for years.  What are your thoughts on that and any funny stories about being there?
JACK NICKLAUS:  Did you get your green jacket in Butler Cabin or did you get your green jacket before they built Butler Cabin?  I'm not sure if I did, either.  I don't know.

Q.  Arnold wasn't in Butler Cabin but you and Gary‑‑
JACK NICKLAUS:  I don't know if I got mine in Butler Cabin.
ARNOLD PALMER:  I got mine in Butler Cabin, way back.
JACK NICKLAUS:  How long has Butler Cabin been there?
GARY PLAYER:  What was your question in regards to that?

Q.  Just the ceremony and how special it is.
GARY PLAYER:  Well, it is very significant and means an awful lot, particularly when it was the first time, and we are all trying to win the four majors.
And to win that is another foot in the door, and also, on a golf course that you have the privilege of meeting people like President Eisenhower and other dignitaries and other golfers.
And this beautiful place‑‑ I had a man caddie for me this morning from the Berenberg Bank in Switzerland.  He just went out there on the practice tee at 6:30 this morning, and everybody is in awe of this place and it just gets better and better.
JACK NICKLAUS:  How much did he pay you for that?  (Laughter).
ARNOLD PALMER:  I think the green jacket was best known for being put on at the ceremonies on the 18th hole.
GARY PLAYER:  Yes, that's right.
JACK NICKLAUS:  On the putting green.
ARNOLD PALMER:  Yes, right.  Putting green, right.
GARY PLAYER:  That's correct.
ARNOLD PALMER:  Okay.  I'm ready to go home.
JACK NICKLAUS:  Time for breakfast.

Q.  Could you compare the nerves you felt when you were in competition to the nerves you felt when you watched your children or your grandchildren compete in something important, and to that end, your grandson, Nick, is a pretty decent prospect as a tight end, and he's getting ready for the NFL Draft.  Can you kept up with where he might be drafted and what teams might be interested in him?
JACK NICKLAUS:  The latter part of that question is definitely yes, but there's nothing I can, you know‑‑ he interviews with everybody and works out for everybody.  I think he worked out for Tampa Bay yesterday and Miami maybe today, I don't know.
But when you're playing yourself, I don't believe that you really worry too much about what's going on.  You just go do what you have to do.  When you get your kids or your grand kids playing, you can't do anything about it and you're far more nervous for them than you are for yourself.
I was never nervous for myself, but you always want your kids‑‑ I think the most nervous I've been in a long time was when Jackie spoke in Washington last week.
ARNOLD PALMER:  Did a good job.
JACK NICKLAUS:  He did a really nice job.  From a father's standpoint to sit there and listen to your son speak as nicely as he spoke, and from the heart, was something that‑‑ you know, I didn't care what happened after that from my standpoint in the ceremony.  To me, Jackie was just so good, it just made me so proud.
And that's what you want to do; you want your kids and your grand kids, you want them to succeed.  You don't care about yourself.  We've gone through it.

Q.  I wanted to ask Gary, there's so much that has been written and said about the rivalry between Jack and Arnold, but I was wondering if you could talk about your rivalry with each of them and your feelings towards them and your friendship over the years.
GARY PLAYER:  First of all, I think of people that are involved in an ambassadorial role, and I think Arnold and Jack are two of the greatest ambassadors that America has ever had; and it was not just only in the United States, they travelled the entire globe on many occasions.
You know, you can take the highest echelon in politics, they are there for four years, eight years, but these fellas have been representing America, if you had to work it out in coverage and what they have done, for 50, 60 years; there's no comparison with politicians and what these two people have done.  They have been remarkable.  They have behaved unbelievably well.  They have been adored all around the world.
My friendship with them has been fantastic.  We always wanted to beat the living hell out of each other.  We made that very clear.  But when we did lose, we said, "Well done and congratulations, maybe we'll get you next week"; but a friendship.
Nick Faldo said something to me the other day when I went on his radio show, he said, you know, I played with Seve, and there was some other fellow in his time; we would have liked to have a big three and we did have a big three.  But we didn't live together.
They have been to my farm; we have been down gold mines; I've slept at Arnold's house; slept at Jack's house, food was lousy(laughter).  But we have travelled and been together all around the world for a long, long time.
JACK NICKLAUS:  I'll tell Barbara that.
GARY PLAYER:  It's been unique, really.  Nick Faldo really got me thinking:  Never in history of golf have there been three people that have basically lived with each other all years and have such respect and love for each other.
In conclusion, I'll just say, when I was playing with Jack in the PGA, and we were tied I think going into the last round at McArthur in those days.  And I was staying at Jack's house.  Now Barbara is giving the breakfast, and I'm thinking, hell, I'm a bit worried about this, we're tied.
So when she put the eggs on the table and she went to the kitchen, I swapped them around (laughter).  But it didn't help because he beat me anyway (laughter).
But words can't express; you can have love for a woman and you can have love for a friend and I think the greatest word that exists in any book of note is love and I think this is what we've had for each other.
THE MODERATOR:  Join me in giving a big round of applause to three very special champions.  Thank you for all the thrills and memories you've given us starting back in 1955.  Thank you.

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