home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


July 6, 2004

Nick Price


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: We'd like to welcome World Golf Hall-of-Famer Nick Price. Nick, thank you for joining us. Your first trip to the Quad Cities and the John Deere Classic since 1990. Maybe we could start with some opening comments about coming back here. I'm sure the fans are going to be happy to see you this week.

NICK PRICE: Sure. I came I guess it was about '90 to Coal Valley was the last time, and I didn't really like that golf course the last time and that's probably why I didn't come back (laughter). It was just one of those golf courses I just didn't feel comfortable on. I mean, I know a lot of guys had good success on there, Scott Hoch and other guys, but over the past couple of years I've heard this golf course is exceptionally good, and I just played the back nine and I can see why everyone likes this golf course, because I think D.A. has done a fantastic job from what I've seen so far. I'm sure the front nine is not going to be disappointing. You can see it's been designed by a golfer.

Anyway, what happened with me the last couple of months, my family and I went off on a river rafting trip for six days in Idaho, which started the Friday of the Booz Allen Classic and went through to Wednesday of last week, so it kind of took two weeks out of my schedule, and last year we went to the Bahamas around the same time, and I just said to my wife about two months ago, I'm going to go up and play in Moline because I've heard the golf course is really good and I want to play obviously the week before the British Open.

So I committed I guess it was back two and a half months ago, and I'm just happy to be here, I really am. Greg Norman's caddie fixed me up with some accommodations to stay with some friends just around the corner from his house, so I feel like I've been well-spoiled here. More than anything else, I feel like what brought me here was the quality, what I'd heard on Tour about the quality of the golf course, and as I said, I'm not disappointed. This is really a wonderful golf course, and I was saying to my caddie as we were walking up 18, "I just wish we played more like this because it's a breath of fresh air."

Q. Speaking of that whole grapevine thing, are there people that talk about this tournament is at that tough date right after the British Open and so forth, and yet they've been trying to get the word out, and everything I hear is oh, we heard this. What sort of things did you hear and how did it build up in your mind?

NICK PRICE: Obviously I watched a little bit on TV the last couple of years and the commentators and a lot of the players were saying how good the golf course is and how much they enjoyed playing it, and then I spoke to a couple of guys. I spoke to some guys earlier in the year who had come up and played here and they had said it was well worth a visit.

You know, as they switched the dates, it made good sense for me to come this year, so everything sort of fell into place. As I said, more than anything else, it was the golf course that got me back here because, like most guys on Tour, I like to play good golf courses, and you can see it's been designed by a golfer, which is -- he's done a great job, he really has.

Q. Following up on that, what in particular has most impressed you about what you've seen so far on the course?

NICK PRICE: The strategy of the golf course is -- every hole I played on the back nine was really good. There's no goofiness to the golf course. There's no tricks, there's no frills to the golf course. It looks very good, it played very good. It was a little soft obviously because of the rain you guys had yesterday, but the guys who I spoke to this morning say the course normally plays a little faster than it is at the moment, which I'm looking forward to because I always like a little bit of roll on the ball.

But it's straightforward, and in that I'm not saying -- it's not a derogatory term, it's right there in front of you, and that's what we all like. There's no tricks to this golf course. You have to play well and you have to drive the ball well and you have to be precise with your irons. You want to -- when these greens get up to speed a little bit, which I'm sure they will be on the weekend, you want to be sure you leave yourself on the right side or the proper side of the hole so you can putt up because you can get a couple of really tough putts on these greens.

You know, I haven't played any of D.A.'s other golf courses, but this one I'm really impressed with.

Q. You said you like to play golf before the British Open. A lot of guys don't necessarily like to play it in the States. Why are you here and how does that balance out?

NICK PRICE: Well, if I hadn't played this week, I would have had three weeks between U.S. Open to British Open, and I obviously didn't want to do that. I've toyed with the idea of going over to play in Scotland the week before, but the problem is that if the weather is poor, it really ruins your practice going in there, and there's really no better practice than playing a week before I don't think.

You know, I know what to expect next week. Sometimes like the week before Augusta, I haven't played for about five or six years, I've been sort of both, and I've had some success with the three major championships that I did win not playing the week before and playing the week before, so there's no really golden rule for me. I don't think it's good to set anything in stone or cast anything in stone. You've just got to go with what you feel best, and the way my scheduling worked out this year, it was a perfect fit for me.

I sort of balk at going to play overseas this time of year because if the weather conditions -- we're almost guaranteed good weather here. We may have a few rain delays, but that's not anything uncommon this time of year to play in the States. But I want to get a good solid four rounds in. There's nothing better than getting a win under your belt and going to the British Open.

Q. With the advent of the last 10, 20 years of the TPC-style courses, a lot of golfers are upset with, I guess you call it, stadium golf or target golf. Based on what you've seen, what has D.A. learned from that that he has not put into this course? Is this a course with a human face or however you want to put it?

NICK PRICE: It's got all the TPC traits, but it's not unfair, and at times I think some of the TPC courses -- not all of them but some of them, certainly the early ones, tend to have too much elevation change, and some of the greens were -- the greens complexes were very poor, and I think the best one we play obviously is the one at Sawgrass, and that one has been refined over the years. At Avonale, they're going to redo that, which is good. I think all the great golf courses, including Augusta, they've refined over the years.

That's something that the golf courses that I get to design, I always try and tell people, it's hard to build a masterpiece at first go. What you do is once you play and you go back out there and you change and refine things and you slide tees over, you move bunkers, you reposition them. That's how you end up with a great golf course.

But this golf course, you can see it's been designed by a player, and I'm really impressed with his work. It's hard to sort of describe --

Q. Does it favor any particular type of golfer?


Q. You can use all the clubs in your bag?

NICK PRICE: No. I mean, I hit short irons, medium irons and long irons on the back nine today. There's a good mix of distance. The thing that I really like about it is that I've always felt like golf is a game that's harsh on penalties, and in that I mean if you get out of position it increases the difficulty of your next shot, but it still allows you to semi-bail out.

The 18th hole is a great example. If you're left, you're forced to go right, and so your degree of difficulty stays pretty high as you play the hole if you're out of position, whereas if you get it down the throat of the fairway and down the right side, it allows you to attack and be a little more aggressive, and that's pretty much what he's done on every hole that I saw.

There's nice run-ups onto the greens; not everything is forced carries. You don't have water that comes straight up to the edge of the green where it goes green, wood tie into the water. I think in the 80s a lot of architects overused the wood ties were you can miss an iron shot from 175 yards by two yards and you end up having to redrop 160 yards back, and you get a two-shot penalty in essence going out of bounds. Whereas look at the 18th hole here, pitch it on the bank, it runs in the water, lateral hazard, you can play it.

Just in that, the thought in how he built this golf course, I think he did a great job. How you define a great golf course, this one will stand the test of time because it's not going to favor any particular player. You can draw the ball, cut the ball, you can hit it straight. It's not going to make any difference. It just depends on which holes you're going to attack where you draw the ball.

But there's a good balance out there, a few doglegs left and a couple of approach shots into the greens where you need to draw it and a couple on the back nine where you need to cut it. But straight is good here.

I think if you have a look, not necessarily power hitters have won here. Vijay was the first one last year who was a power hitter to have won. But I think as the years progress, the quality of the field, the date is obviously something really important, but when word really gets out that this is a wonderful golf course, the field will get stronger and stronger.

Q. Will that override the date problem, the quality of the course, as time goes on?

NICK PRICE: To a certain extent I think so. Scheduling is such a tough thing for everyone. You know, if you look at the guys, Mickelson and Woods and Ernie and those guys, you know, each one of them plays totally different schedules. Vijay plays as many tournaments as he can, so does Ernie, but Ernie, I think if he spends two weeks in one continent he gets itchy feet and he's got to move on to another one, and then of course Tiger is always going to go over to Ireland the week before and go and play over there with O'Meara. They've done that religiously for the last five or six years.

It's so hard so say. All I can say is I wish we played more golf courses like this. I had a word with Finchem, when we do another TPC I'd like to do it, or if I don't do it, get D.A. to do it because he's done a great job here.

Q. You told me once a long time ago that for American players, the U.S. Open or the Masters is the thing, but for everyone else, when they say the Open, they think about England. Talk about what that tournament means to people from the Commonwealth countries or Europe and so forth and what stature that tournament has relative to -- is that the No. 1 --

NICK PRICE: Well, it's the oldest championship in the world, played on the oldest golf courses in the world where golf originated. I don't think you can get any better than that. You know, Augusta has done a great job over the years, and the USGA, you know, they seem to stand on their own feet every now and then because of the way they try and set up the U.S. Opens.

But the U.S. Open is very important. We all know that. For some reason I think being that most of us, the Australians, the Southern Africans and even the Asians to a certain degree, the first major championship I ever saw televised was the British Open, and even before there was television, live TV, we used to get promotional videos or promotional 16-millimeter films that used to come around to our clubs and it was always the British Open. Occasionally we'd get Augusta but hardly ever the U.S. Open. That's why I think it's kind of special to us.

Just because it's the roots of the game and the fact that we play on the golf courses that are so different -- you know, links golf is where it originated from obviously, but we just don't play enough links golf anymore. I'd love to play five or six tournaments a year on links courses. You can see the old U.S. Opens like Shinnecock that were designed by the old English architects all have got that links-type feel to them, where the architects, even though they're in America and they've got a different piece of property with the sand dunes right next to the ocean, they still try to copy some of the design features that were on some of the old golf courses. Shinnecock is no different.

Even Marion, it's inland, but you can see that that was -- there was a lot of links style architecture that went into that and the style of the bunkering and so forth. We're getting away from that slowly because I think the parkland courses like this, it's very difficult to build a links golf course on property like this. But you can still include the traits of a links course which allow the person to run the ball onto the green, which I think is an integral part of the game.

When you take the bounce of the ball out of the game it becomes relatively easy, but when you've got a ball that's going to release with a 5-iron and say I'm hitting it 185 yards and it's going to run 15 yards you bring a whole new aspect into the game, and then having the ability to control the softness with which that ball lands or the firmness that it lands by drawing it or cutting it, that's what shot-making and golf is all about to me.

Standing there from 195 yards with a 4-iron and pitching it and having it stop within two, three feet, that part of the game, it's not difficult to get down pat. I certainly would love to see more roll in the ball, and that's -- when you look at the way D.A. has done some of the pitching and the rolling on the fairway, if you hit it on the right line, you can get a forward bounce. If you miss it on the wrong line, you get a kick to the left or the right and you end up in the rough.

So it rewards the guy that has the ability to maneuver the ball and also the guy who hits it solidly.

Q. How far is your game from where it was when you were on top of the world?

NICK PRICE: Oh, it's somewhere there (laughter). You know, it's frustrating for me because I felt like I've played pretty well this year, and I've only had one opportunity to win, which was at the Byron Nelson, but to be honest, on a scale of 1 to 10 when I was playing my best, which was 9 and a half, I'm probably around a 7 now, and I just don't practice as much as I used to. I still love playing the game and I still practice just about every day, but I just don't put the work in that I used to.

You know, I've got a lot of priorities in my life now. Obviously my family is extremely important and spending as much time as I can with them. Being a good father is probably more important to me right now than winning any major championship or any tournament.

But I still feel deep down inside, if I play well, I can win any week. You know, I finished 12 over at Shinnecock and was 16 out of the lead, but let me tell you, it wasn't that far off for me. I actually played pretty darn good. You know, Augusta I finished 6th this year on a golf course that really is very difficult for me to play well on, but I played very well on the weekend.

So it's just a question of everything falling into place, and if I played a little more, you know, I look at Jay Haas, who's three years older than I am, and his kids have all basically grown up and gone, and he and Jan, his wife, they travel together like when he was a rookie on Tour and he can play as much as he wants. My kids are still relatively young because my wife and I started late. I wish I could play that much, but I just can't. It's too important for me to spend time with my kids. I'm juggling about three balls at the moment, but the ball I'm holding onto the hardest is my family.

Q. You talked about shifting priorities. Is it the travel that grinds on you the most? Is that the thing that -- having to be away more than anything else?

NICK PRICE: Being away from my family. The traveling is the same. In fact, traveling is much easier for me than it's ever been the last ten years. I stay in nice hotels, I stay with people, and I have my own airplane, so the traveling is not that much of a problem, it's just being away from my family. In the summertime, since my kids have been on holiday now since the end of May, I've played twice. So I just don't play that much. I don't know how much I'm going to play the rest of the summer, but when they go back to school I'll crank it up again.

Q. How old are your kids?

NICK PRICE: 13, 11 and 8, so busy times.

Q. Having been on that mountaintop, what is your perspective of the discussions about Tiger Woods and his motivation and how his fiancee plays into his cast in number one?

A. It's pure and simple, he can't drive the ball in the fairway. From all I've seen now the last five months, his off-the-tee game is so erratic, and there's no pattern to it because he's losing it right and left. It just shows you how talented he is that he can still, with all his skills, hit four fairways a round and manage to shoot 2-over par like he did at the U.S. Open. Until such time as he starts getting the ball in the fairway he's going to struggle. However he's going to do that, I think everyone has their own theories on what he's doing with his swing, but it just looks like he's getting stuck on the way down, and when you get stuck you either hold on and the ball goes way right or you release the club early and the ball goes way left.

You have to be a great driver of the ball in this game to win major championships, and that's what he did so well when he was playing well. He'll get it back, it's just that I think it's very frustrating for him now because last week to see him make two birdies in the last four or five holes, to make the cut and then end up finishing 7th or 8th or wherever it was, it shows you how powerful and how strong a game he really has and how strong he is between the ears.

Q. It's mechanics, not motivation?

NICK PRICE: I don't think it has anything to do with motivation. If it was motivation he wouldn't be playing. You'd be able to see that. He's still trying his guts out there.

That 75 he shot at the U.S. Open I think on Friday or Saturday, I think he hit like six greens. If he wasn't motivated he would have been down the road. But he's trying, but he's frustrated. We've all been there before when your mechanics break down. It's a struggle. It's awful. But you try your hardest, and he is.

It's so easy for a person in his situation, like on Friday last week, just to make a couple of bogeys coming in, miss the cut and go home for the weekend. Not Tiger. He doesn't want to miss the cut. You can see that. I've got a lot of respect for him.

I want to see him get his mechanics back because we've got four guys playing great golf right now, Ernie, Vijay, Mickelson and -- well, I'd like to see the top four in the world all playing well, going head-to-head in major championships. I think that's what we all want to see.

Q. You talked a little bit about mechanics. When you're not playing as much, is it tough to keep your mechanics together?

NICK PRICE: You know, what happens is that when you don't have a lot of continuity, you sort of fall into the same traps time and time and time again, and then it takes you a week or two of playing and practicing to get them back up again, and then I'm playing only two weeks in a row, so by the time I get it right, I've got another two weeks at home with my family.

I know that what's going to make me play better is to play more, and that's something that I'm sort of toying with now is when my kids go back to school, and I need to spend a bit more time if I want to do that, but right now I'm very happy with what's going on. I'd obviously like to be playing a little better, but I just feel that my priorities -- I want my priorities to be with my family.

Q. When you got to that level that you were at in 92, 93, 94, a little bit beyond that, when you were just constantly in the hunt, and if you didn't win you were always there, do the demands on your time start of kind of creep in just enough? Is it difficult to --

NICK PRICE: If you look at where I have been in my career through the 80s where I had limited success and I had been a journeyman, maybe just one step up from a journeyman because I had won probably 12 or 14 times around the world before I went on that three- or four-year winning spree of mine, it took a lot of adjustment where I had my own time and I had everything.

You know, you know when you start playing well what's ahead. You absolutely know that. You know because you've seen it happen to the guys around you and the guys who have been successful, the demands on their time.

I think a lot of players sort of get to a point where they start winning and then they say, "hey, this is not for me," and then they start cruising. There are a lot of guys out here capable of winning more tournaments but sort of find their comfort level and stay underneath the limelight or out of the limelight. When I started playing well in '91, I put the foot flat down, and I said, "whatever comes, I'm going to deal with," and it was hard because had it been now with the family that I have now, I don't think I could have done it because it just would have been too much. Even my time at home in that period, I was doing phone interviews and doing Golf Digest articles and --

Q. Is it a self-limiting thing where the more success you have, the more it bounces back? For the golf fans, we love that kind of streak of Fred Couples for a while, you for a while. Does it kind of --

NICK PRICE: You know that when you're playing well, you're taking everything and you've got to give something. You can't just keep taking. There's very few people who have done that in the world and gotten away with it, and in that I mean that you have all this attention showered on you and people want your time. People are tugging at you from all four corners and sort of saying, well, I was probably for a while there a little too accommodating because I tried to do as much as I physically could, whereas if I look at Tiger where he's done such a great job, he says -- like with his press conferences, he comes in Wednesday and he does it or whenever it is, and then he gives a few interviews with the TV guys and then he's done. He goes to the practice range and if the TV guy stops him, he just says, "I've been in the pressroom for two hours." Tiger is Tiger, he can get away with it. If I had done that in '93 that cameraman would have never come back to me for the rest of my life. You've got to balance it.

For me it was difficult. As I say, had it been now and I'd had the success that I had in '93, '94, '95 now, it would have been very difficult for me, because going home, I want to go out and watch my son play hockey or whatever it is. I would have been just running to and from. I would have had no private life whatsoever. You know, I had a great time in that period. I wouldn't change anything if I had the opportunity to go back. I would just keep it exactly the same.

Q. You said that you were golfing at about a 6 or a 7 right now --


Q. Sorry, I didn't mean to short-change you there. What do you think that you need to improve to step up right now?

NICK PRICE: Play more.

Q. What about winning this tournament?

NICK PRICE: Well, I mean, when I look at the way that I played the last two months, my driving has been a bit of a problem. I got a new driver at the Memorial tournament and I drove the ball very well at Memorial and I drove the ball really well at the U.S. Open, but my iron game -- particularly my putting at Memorial wasn't very good, which has been my strongest point all year, and at the Open it was really just poor management. I tried to play a little too aggressively sometimes.

Every part of my game has been good this year but never at one time, and that's what happens. When you're finishing 15th, 20th, 25th, around there, there's always some part of your game that's not in good shape, and for most of this year it's been my driving. Now I'm driving the ball really well. I'm just looking forward to getting into a nice run here the next two weeks, and then August and September are going to be busy for me. I've got three weeks off between the British Open and the PGA and I'll be on holiday with my family, but once that's over, I've got a lot of golf to play at the end of the year.

What's hard for me now is that summertime, which was always my best -- where I performed the best of my career, if you look at my record, it's now the slowest time of the year for me because I'm spending so much time with my kids, and when I get back in August, I'll crank it up again.

The golf courses in the summer, I always just played really well in the heat for some reason. I feel if I play well here, I can win. I have no reservation about that, it's just getting all my ducks in a row.

Q. This is a little bit off the track, but I seem to have noticed there's a few players who have not won a major, played very well, we talked about the streak you had for two or three years, Mark O'Meara finally broke through and won two major, Duval finally broke through and won, they both kind of went, "hah," and then afterwards they fell off. Is there a syndrome where if you keep going at a high level and you break some barrier, there's almost kind of an internal letdown, or did you run into that yourself?

NICK PRICE: Well, I never did. I felt like throughout the '90s, even though I wasn't playing at quite the level I was in '91 through '95, I still had the chance to win a major if I played well. You know, I never -- my game just didn't have the consistency that it had through that period, and for some reason, I don't know why, the other guys, I can't speak for them, but -- well, David is a mystery. I mean, everyone knows that. Mark O'Meara, he won his two majors, and he slowed down a lot. I mean, he hardly played at all the last two or three years.

But for me, I just didn't play as well. It wasn't a question of not trying or not practicing as much because I still practiced hard in '96, '97 and '98, but it just didn't -- it wasn't there.

Q. Does coming out to a tournament like this, the John Deere, and playing a course like this, is this going to be fun?

NICK PRICE: Oh, yeah. I told my wife three years ago, when golf is no longer fun for me, then I'm going to quit playing. The thing is there are times when you grind, but that's any job, you're going to grind and you've got to go through those periods where there's a lot of hard work involved, but for me I play golf at my schedule now and at my pace, and I'm still playing pretty well and I'm still enjoying it, and until such time as I feel that I can't make cuts and not play -- you've got to shift your focus. When you go from playing really well and then you have a chance, maybe one in every two, three weeks of winning and then all of a sudden that goes to four or five weeks and then that shifts to about every six, seven weeks, and that's probably where I am now. I feel like if I play really well once every six or seven weeks, six or seven tournaments, and I have a chance to win. That's what still inspires me because I don't know where that week is (laughter). I wish I could tell you.

I had a really good week in Dallas and I had a great chance to win there. If I birdied the last hole, I would have gone into a playoff, and I bogeyed it, ended up finishing 7th. But Doral I played really well, finished 11th, made some stupid mistakes coming down the stretch, but I had an outside chance to finish in the top 3 there.

I get up on a Sunday morning, and if I'm lying 20th, I want to finish in the top 10 or top 5. If I can't win, I'm trying to refocus and reset my goals because I enjoy playing the game. There's nothing else -- I can go fishing for three weeks and I get bored to tears. I can go fish as much as I want to and gee bored and come back and play golf and have fun, spend time with my kids, and when they get tired of me I come and play golf again. Everyone is happy.

I spend a lot of time with my kids, but I've still got a sense of purpose in life. I think if I stopped playing I wouldn't know what to do. I love the game so much, and I look at Arnold, and I see Arnold still whacking away at the ball at 70 whatever he is now, and I admire that. I wish Arnold had more outside interests, but he just loves golf so much.

I love fishing and I know that I'll be able to balance my life with lots of things, do a little more flying when I start slowing down in golf, but right now, people often say, when would you like your life to stop. 47 is pretty good right now. I don't want to be 35 again, I don't want to be 50. I don't want to hurry to get to the Champions Tour. I'm really enjoying this now.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Nick Price, thank you.

End of FastScripts.

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297