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September 21, 2005

Nick Price


JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, Nick, for joining us for a few minutes. Did you have an opportunity to play yesterday?

NICK PRICE: I played nine holes.

JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: So this is the first time for you to play here at the TPC, but you've had a lot of great success here at this tournament. Why don't you just talk about coming back and being back here again.

NICK PRICE: Well, it's been a little tough. Obviously The Presidents Cup has been opposite this event for half of the years that I've been away, and then I've been in Japan a lot of times in September, I'll go to Japan, so that was contractual because of my association with Bridgestone and Sonartec. So it's all about scheduling for us. I've always played so well in Texas, and any time I miss an event in Texas, I feel like I've left something behind. I've got great memories here.

Obviously back in I guess it was '92, having won the PGA Championship and coming here and winning the Texas Open, to have a multiple win season, was huge for me. You know, I loved Oak Hills, it was a great golf course, but from what I saw yesterday, I really enjoyed this golf course, too. There's a couple of walks out there, but generally speaking, the holes that I saw yesterday, I really liked.

Q. Can you talk about this golf course? We talked on the phone the other day and you talked about Oak Hills, and this is an entirely different type of course obviously. What kind of advance screening have you given the course? I'm sure you've talked about Justin Leonard loves it.

NICK PRICE: I've heard mixed reviews, but generally speaking I've heard more positive things about the golf course than negative. I heard it was a good driving golf course, which is always good for me, and certainly what I saw yesterday of the front nine was no exception. You know, you really have to drive the ball and put it in position, especially with the rough the way it is.

The rough is not excessively deep, but it's certainly going to impede your approach shots to the green dramatically. You can get it up there, but a lot of times you're going to be on the defensive and trying to get it up there on the front edge of the green or miss the green to the right, wherever the pin may be. To hit the ball on the green out of this rough is not easy.

Q. Last two years Tommy Armour and of course Bart Bryant last year. Peter Lonard told me last year it's a course that can be had.

NICK PRICE: It is. It's not particularly long, so if your iron game is in good shape these greens were so beautiful yesterday, my hats off to the superintendent because he's done an incredible job. These greens are really beautiful. I mean, they're rolling so nicely.

So if you get them rolling on the greens with the putter, the sky is the limit. I think Tommy Armour told me not long after he won here two years ago that it's probably the best he'd ever putted in his life, and when you shoot that kind of shore you've obviously got to make a lot of 15 , 20 footers. That's what the winner will do this week.

Q. Have you gotten any advance warning regarding the heat and the hike as far as this course being

NICK PRICE: Well, it's always hot in Texas, really. The only time it isn't is maybe May, but even May at the Byron Nelson Houston can be cool obviously at times, but it's something you learn to expect, and just make sure you drink plenty of water and stay well hydrated. Pace of play will slow down according to the heat, there's no doubt, and also with the hills and stuff, the guys who aren't fit, it's going to take its toll.

Q. It's funny you mention that because the guys who have won recently here are in their 40s. It's one of the dynamics where the caddies suffer quite a bit, we had four went down last year, but the older golfers seem to fare well here.

NICK PRICE: I don't know, I think everything in golf is cyclical, and everything we went through that period in the early '90s where the international players dominated golf, and then now we've swung back to the American players dominating golf with a smattering of international. In fact, it's probably 50/50 with Phil and Tiger and Ernie and Vijay sort of being pretty much the top four, and Goose, you can throw him in there. Everything to me is cyclical, and it'll come back.

This is a great opportunity for someone who's played really well, one of the young guys who's played really well to come along here and take the bull by the horns and win.

Anything happens on the PGA TOUR nowadays, and on a golf course like this, I mean, this is the kind of length golf course that I've always felt is adequate, instead of having to go to 7,400 or 7,500 yards, which immediately puts the advantage to the longer hitters.

You know, I think we have a great tournament this week.

Q. You won Colonial, the Byron Nelson this year you had a sensational performance, you've won the Texas Open. What is it about this state?

NICK PRICE: I think of all the states that we play golf in, it's the closest one to my home. It's the same sort of grass as I grew up on, Bermuda, and similar sort of heat. When the humidity gets up we have really dry heat at home where I'm from, so very similar to today, I suppose. I guess the humidity might be a little higher than what I'm used to, but having lived in Florida I have to take that back, because I've been there for 23 years and I'm adjusted to the humidity.

Q. At what age did you get involved with golf?

NICK PRICE: Well, I started really caddying for my brother back in 1965. I was eight years old, and he's seven years older than I am, and he figured that a great caddie would be your eight year old brother, so off we went to the golf course and I carried the bag for a couple of holes.

I threw the bag down on the one hole and started hitting the ball myself. You know, that's how I basically got started, and then we would sneak onto this golf course at home during our school holidays and play in the morning, which is when there seemed to not be many of the members. There were like four holes, and one guy would keep a lookout for the members coming, and when they came we'd just run off into the bush. That's how I started.

Then we had a phenomenal junior golf program at home. Golf was very cheap where I grew up, but obviously buying clubs and getting equipment was the most expensive thing. My family didn't have much money, so when we got golf clubs you looked after them and you kept them for a long time.

As I say, golf was relatively cheap, and access to golf courses for youngsters was very easy.

Q. What's the biggest obstacle you had to maybe overcome in your career?

NICK PRICE: Getting used to the travel. I think that was the hardest thing. Growing up in a small little town and being a homebody and just loving my home and the security of being around my family and having my friends close by, my first three or four years on Tour when I started, that was very difficult for me, being away from them.

Once you overcome that and you put in a lot of hard work into the game and you've spent time on the practice tee and you've traveled around the world and you realize that you have a talent, a God given talent and you must try and maximize that to its full potential, and that's what I did. I just kept going and getting better and better and better.

I was very fortunate throughout my career that I've had a lot of good help from good people.

Q. What would you tell the youth maybe watching to encourage them?

NICK PRICE: You know, the most important thing for me is I always say to youngsters, you play hard, you practice hard, but have fun because if you're not having fun, then you're not going to enjoy the game. Obviously you've got to find a way for some people it's practicing eight hours a day. They get fun from that, like Vijay Singh. And then other guys like Carlos Franco, he doesn't like practicing at all, but he still loves the game. Who's right and who wrong? All players who make the game fun for themselves, that's what the kids have to do. It's very, very important.

Q. The hurricane, obviously that's kind of a little backdrop now suddenly. The 100 degree heat tomorrow, 100 degree heat on Friday, and all of a sudden ten inches of rain

NICK PRICE: Well, we went through this twice last year where I live, and that was the first sort of exposure. We had a small sort of hurricane that was basically a tropical storm come through in '97 or '98 which actually came back from the Gulf and came back

Q. Where is Hope Sound?

NICK PRICE: It's in between Stuart and West Palm Beach. We're right in the middle of the south, just sort of south of the middle of the state. Last year we had both of those hurricanes, Francis and Jean, that came right over the top of our houses. They weren't really that strong relatively speaking compared to what Katrina did.

You know, it's just the strangest thing. You know, you leave your home, you pack it all up and then you lock everything down and you come back, and it's just a mess, and we had fortunately very little structural damage to our house, but the vegetation and the external fittings, the light fittings, the air conditioning units, anything that was attached to the outside of the house basically got blown away, unless it was on the lee side.

We had trees that seemed like a quarter of the size of this room in diameter blown over. The force and the magnitude of a hurricane, I just don't understand how people can stay. I'll tell you, I always say to my friends, lock your house, it's strong. Think about it, what if one of your kids gets hurt in the early part of a hurricane; what do you do? You can't just jump in the car and drive to the hospital. The hospital is probably not functional, either. So whatever pain they're in, you've got to endure for the duration of the hurricane.

You know, I really don't understand. I know some people had to stay and some people had no option, but I think there were an awful lot of people over the years that have stayed during hurricanes and have suffered the consequences, and you only have to go through it once to see what it does before you run away.

Q. Obviously up here if the hurricane hits Port Lavaca, which is down the coast, we're going to get a little mess here.

NICK PRICE: How far inland are we?

Q. We're a good 150 miles. It'll be just a lot of wind and rain. But the idea of playing, a lot of guys from Houston golf is just a focus game anyway. How do you play with that kind of thing bearing down?

NICK PRICE: It depends on where your priorities are. For me, if there was a hurricane bearing down on Florida, I'd jump in a plane and go home because I'd have to get the shudders put up. There's a lot of preparation. Last time it took us about two and a half days. We've got it down to maybe a day, day and a half now. The way these storms are popping up in the Bahamas, if they're coming toward Florida, one thing is they're not going to be strong enough because they've only come out of a tropical storm and turning into a hurricane 1.

For the guys in Houston, if their families are there, I'd pack up and go. There's always another tournament. I don't mean that to belittle this event, but there's always another golf tournament, but there's only one home and you've only got one family. You don't mess with these things. The power is just look at the catastrophe.

Q. In general, I guess, whenever you're playing a golf tournament, I guess as a golfer, if there's ever distractions like that, when you tee up that first ball on Thursday morning or whatever time, you do kind of have to switch off that light, don't you, and concentrate?

NICK PRICE: I think there's not one of us that will tee it up this week that won't think about the hurricane, whether you live there or not. The way that Katrina and the images that I saw and I'm sure that millions of Americans saw will stay with me forever. You know, it's just imprinted in my brain. There isn't one guy out here that won't be thinking about it. It doesn't have happened to, unfortunately, a place that was more vulnerable than New Orleans. Other places, without the water damage, can recover. But that was a nightmare.

Q. Getting away from that then and asking just about golf, one final question about this tournament playing tomorrow, this course from what you've seen and what you've heard about it, how does it fit your eye?

NICK PRICE: You know, pretty good. I mean, I like the fact that you have to have the ability to maneuver the ball a little bit. It does help if you can draw it and cut it a little. You know, it's the kind of course that when I was playing really well, this would be the kind of course that I felt I could really win on. I haven't played a lot during the summer, but you never know. It doesn't take much for things to slot in.

Q. It's been kind of a reclamation tournament for a lot of guys.

NICK PRICE: Yeah, when you look at Bart Bryant

Q. And Tommy, too.


Q. Has that ever back dropped into discussion regarding the Texas Open, people have gone in there and taken

NICK PRICE: Sure. I mean, this tournament has its niche, there's no doubt about it.

People sometimes feel that their tournaments aren't as important as other tournaments, but I always disagree because a win on the PGA TOUR, it doesn't matter whichever stop you have, entitles you to a privilege that for the following year which everybody wants that privilege, Mercedes, getting into all the great events, it's really a steppingstone, and it was for me when I won in '91, no doubt about it, and having come close in those years before, I think I finished 2nd and 3rd a couple of times and then when we had the Nabisco event at Oak Hills, I think I finished 3rd or 4th to Tom Watson, I don't remember, but I think I put in a good showing. All those things add up, and they're confidence builders. That's what a lot of the young guys will take away from this week; even if they don't win, they'll use it as a stepping stone to the next level.

Or the Top 125, Top 70, Top 30; Olin Browne, he's trying to get in the Top 30, so this is a critical time of year for the guys because they're running out of tournaments.

Q. Will you play Senior Tour in a couple years?

NICK PRICE: I don't know, I'll definitely go out there, but if I enjoy it, I'll play it. If I don't enjoy it, then I won't. Really it's up to me it's up to my perception of it when I go out there, and if I'm having a good time, then I'll keep playing, but if not, I've got so many other things in my life that I want to do. Basically I've played golf for 29 years professionally, so I will want to enjoy some things. I'm getting a little taste of it in the summers with my kids.

Q. Doing some course design?

NICK PRICE: Doing quite a lot of course design, which I'm thoroughly enjoying and that's really easy because I go away for two, three days and then I'm home. I think I do a pretty good job. I've got a good group of guys working with me, and it's a lot of fun.

Q. As similar as this area is to where you grew up, I'm surprised we haven't seen you come in here and take over. Nicklaus came in

NICK PRICE: Time will tell. I'm in the early stages. I'm in the front nine of my career in terms of golf course design. When I get a few more products that people are aware of, that's where it snowballs on you. You go through this period where you're selling yourself, you build two or three courses, and then all of a sudden you get 50 courses a year, and it's hard because I really only want to build four or five a year. I feel for an operation of our size, I don't really want to get huge and be a slave to the business in 12 years' time, but just as a retirement or an off career career.

Q. Like Hal Sutton, playing here because he has Boot Ranch over in Fredericksburg.

NICK PRICE: Is that right? Maybe I'll shoot some birds at this place.

End of FastScripts.

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