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May 17, 2003

Nick Price


TODD BUDNICK: We thank Nick Price for joining us today after his 4-under 66.

Nick, you have been playing very well this year it looks like continued success this week so far.

NICK PRICE: Yesterday was a little disappointing. I didn't hit the ball very well and then that wind was a little upsetting, but today I bounced back.

Last week I had my peaks and troughs, and I spent Tuesday and Wednesday with Dave Leadbetter out here and we just refined a couple of things and got me working on a slight change. But got out of position in my back swing.

And today I played well again. I hit the ball solidly and hit a lot of greens. A lot of iron shots and I drove the ball well.

So a little disappointed with a bogey on 17 because I felt with 18 downwind I could realistically get to 10 or maybe 11-under and have a chance.

But I should I imagine that Slu or Vij will get to 13 or 14-under downwind as soon as they turn down 13. It's all downwind and the holes are a lot easier, obviously, and I should imagine they will make some birdies, so four or five behind it's a tall order tomorrow. But, hey, you never know.

TODD BUDNICK: Questions?

Q. You want to run through 7. It looked like you hit the shot the way you wanted to hit it?

NICK PRICE: Yes. Actually from where I was aiming the ball, started about 2 yards left, of where I was aiming because I was trying to get it pin-high up there about, you know, maybe 15 feet right of the hole, and I pulled it and it got on the wind a little bit. When it gets on the wind like that you think it's going to carry further. It was 6 inches from being, you know, in the hole. I mean it was deep, too. That ball was well buried. I hit a good putt, too. I thought I made 3. I hit a really good putt, maybe just a smidge harder. But I didn't make too many mistakes today.

Q. What was the club off the tee?

NICK PRICE: 7-iron.

Q. You mentioned working with Leadbetter and it seems like you are working very hard, can you imagine a decade ago putting (Inaudible)?

NICK PRICE: I wouldn't say I'm working hard. There is a difference between -- compared to how much I worked 15 years ago, I'm just playing enough golf. I tell you my normal day at home, when I am at home, when I have a week off, I take my kids to school. I drop them off and go to the golf course anywhere from 2 to 3, 4 hours, hit balls, go practice and that, and then I go home, or go and do something else in the afternoon.

So I feel like I'm doing just enough to keep in touch. I am working I suppose relatively hard but not anything like I used to. I just enjoy it. Still playing. They still desire me to try to win.

Did I imagine 10 years ago that I would still be playing? Uh-huh. I might say in two or three years time you might ask me the same question. I am still playing well and I still have a chance, and I am going to keep going. Until such time that I go through a period of 3 or four months where, you know, golf is terrible, and I am not hitting the ball and I can't make cuts, them I'm going fishing. But until that happens I will keep playing. I'm enjoying it. What more can you say? It's not something out of necessity that I have to be out here. I just love playing the game. It still as much of a challenge to me now than it ever was. Probably more of a challenge because as you get older your nerves aren't quite as good and you run the full gauntlet of every golf emotion that's mentally possible.

So, you know, you got negative thoughts, lots of positive thoughts, all sorts of things going. But it's still a challenge.

Q. There is so many reasons to think that guys in their 40's should not be able to compete with the young guys who are coming up. Do you have any explanation or any thought as to why you are able to compete still?

NICK PRICE: I've thought about that. I am not going to put myself in the same category as these guys, Jack Nicklaus, Raymond Floyd, Hale Irwin, you name any of those names, had if they wanted to, and had they kept playing through their 40's, I think they would have kept doing really well. And probably they kept winning.

But none of those guys actually played as much as Jay Haas is playing now. Or as much as Jeff Sluman plays now. There is no reason. If you can hit the ball a certain distance, you can stay competitive. Time has gone by. I don't think hitting the ball the distance was a prerequisite. It's more of a prerequisite now to be able to contend.

But shot making, you learn shot making, and I think that's one of the things that we may have an edge still on some of the younger guys, we have the ability to manipulate the ball a little more. Of course when you have been out here 20 years you know the golf courses better than most guys.

There are a lot of reasons but I still think if a person has got a desire, I think your body can only start giving out when you get to the mid 50's in golf.

We seen that on the Champion's Tour. If Hale Irwin wanted to come out here three of four years ago when he was playing great, he still could have done what I'm doing because at 150 yards in, he was probably one of the best players in the world at that stage. He just liked being on the Senior Tour so much and winning.

But that's a decision -- I was thinking about Jay Hass wondering as much money as he had made this year and see what the leading money on the Champion's Tour is making, he is going to have a rough decision to make next year. I think he has made 1.5 or so this year.

What's leading the Champion's Tour about 700? So he has made twice as much as the guy winning on the Champion's Tour. It's a nice problem to have or dilemma whatever you want to call it.

Q. Nick, at this stage in your career do you enjoy things in a different way than you may have in the mid 90's? You are obviously a little bit of a different player.

NICK PRICE: What's really nice about now, and I am not complaining what it was like in the mid '90's. I have more time now. My life is more my own now. And I certainly dictate, you know, what I want to do in my life. My family comes first, obviously. And then you know my golf. But I have such a wonderful balance in my life now and that's thanks to my wife and family because they don't mind me going away for two weeks at a time. But I'm home an awful lot. I think they are quite happy when I ago way, too, especially my kids. They don't have any discipline. When I come back I got to start all over again. But it's definitely a great time for me right now. I would never envisioned playing at 46 and still being fairly competitive, but I'm going to keep going.

Q. In that vain, obviously, the Hall of Fame, that's a nice honor, a lot of people kind of consider that an end of the career honor. Is there a part of you that said, well, you can put me in there but I would like to do a few more thing here?

NICK PRICE: I just told them not to put a permanent plaque up there with all of my victories because I might contribute to that in the next couple of years. I'm hoping so anyways. It's going to be strange there. It's going to be really strange going in there and, you know, seeing my play stick. I haven't been to the new Hall of Fame, I have been to the old one. It will be really weird.

Q. If you did work at it like you did 10 or 15 years ago, would that be counterproductive for you?

NICK PRICE: Yes. I would probably -- in the late '80's and 90's, I was driven. I was focussed and I was driven. I needed to prove things to myself. And now I go out and practice and I hit half the balls in an hour that I used to, and I will bounce around from bunkers to chipping and enjoy trying to perfect things. It's strange, it's an on going thing for me. Every year I feel like my swing is getting a little better, a little better, a little better, more refined and polished. I just want to see how good I can get it I suppose. It's something that is imperfectable that idiots like me try to perfect.

Q. Can you talk about your short game a little bit, when you focussed in the early 90's, looking at it again, you are No. 1 in the scrambling stat, have you put more time in that part of the game now?

NICK PRICE: A little bit. I worked really hard on my putting I suppose more than ever before in my career. The last four or five years. I have worked real hard on my putting. First of all, Leadbetter, he says, you are never going to hit the ball any better, go practice your putting.

Has get's on my case, you know. There is all sorts of little thing. One of my good buddies at home, his son is five years old, every time I phone him, he tells Bruce, speak to Nick. Hey, Nick Price, the world's worst putter. They got on me like that for a while. But I suppose I made a little more of a science about it. The scrambling stats, I don't know how good those are because I hit an awful lot of fringes. I know my short game is strong. But it's not in the Brad Faxon league. He is the kind of guy that should be leading at scrambling stats.

Q. What did you learn about your putting technique-wise that made you better? Have you learned some mechanics that are permanent now?

NICK PRICE: Yes, I started about 3 years ago working the pace of my stroke which is something that I never really given that much thought to. But then I went to see Scott Cameron on the Monday of the Match Play and I learned more in 2 hours about putting than I learned in my entire career. He helped me an awful lot. It was I suppose an amalgamation of a lot of things that I have been working on the last couple of years. And what he said to me that really got me going, which is why I putted so well the last couple of weeks, in fact, it's been a month now, that I have putted really well, although two weeks I was at home. And, you know, when you putt well, you know this, it takes so much pressure off your long game. That's been huge for me.

Jay Hass if you speak to him, or ask him why he played well this year because he putted so solid. You know, you always go back and say I wish I knew then what I know now. If I known about my putting, what I know now, I probably would have won a couple of more majors at least.

Q. Can you talk about how shot making has helped yourself and other veterans? Are there courses now or tournaments that you are at a disadvantage?

NICK PRICE: Yes, there are some. Not so much the golf courses. Some of the golf courses. But it also depends on the conditions. So if you get a lot of rain, the grass is soft, Muirfield is a good example. Furyk, he won there last year, the ball was running and the ball was releasing. You look back from there, it's all launches. Guys, when they hit it soft and wet. I know Jack would like to have it dry and firm, but unfortunately they always seem to get a lot of rain there. There are a lot of courses that we are playing now that if you don't hit the ball 295 yards off the tee, you are at a disadvantage. I mean John Rollins, I played with him today. He is 28 or 27 years old. He and I hit the ball the same length. I was thinking to myself, this guy is going to have to start selecting his courses like I have done over the last few years, or get some more length. But I don't know. The TOUR is doing a good job of not putting on 30 yards on every hole. What you really want to see is a mix. You don't want to see too much of one or too much of the other. You want to see some long courses and you want to see some shot maker goal courses. There is no doubt people want to see guys hit their drivers as far as they can, hit the ball 330 yards off the tee. But not every week. We can't play golf like that every week. You just take so many great players, talented players out of the equation if you do that.

There is 2 guys out there now Trevor and Luke Donald, who I played with, these guys are not big guys but they got beautiful golf games. You can't, just because they are not 6 foot, 2 and hit the ball 300 yards, you can't take them out of the chance of winning a major championship. However, I know both of those guys will have a tough time winning at Augusta which is kind of sad. They are both extremely talented players. There is probably a hole lot more out there now coming in, who hopefully -- guys who are artists, you know, they are not just guys that will not stand over the ball and just smash it.

As I said, the TOUR has done a good job of it balancing it up now.

Q. When you were Player of the Year 10 years ago you were long, you were like 6th on this TOUR in driving?


Q. How did it change so fast?

NICK PRICE: Medium. Everyone just came past me. What I maintain is that when we hit wooden drivers, there was no way you could swing as hard at a wooden driver as can you with the new drivers. The margin for error was too great in a wooden driver. So you had a very small sweet spot and if you miscued that ball, it will go across 2 fairways. We grew up using 130 gram shafts, wooden clubs that were 43 inches long. I would say that my whole life -- when I would swing hard, swinging normally with a driver, was about 83, 84 percent of my strength.

If you look at the guys today, these guys are running at 94, 95, 96. Mickelson goes flat out, way up in the 90's. I think a lot of it has to do with the forgiveness of the driver. The ball goes straight now obviously. But have you a shaft that weights 60 or 70 grams. A club that is 45, 46 inches long. There is no way you would be able to add that length onto an old wooden driver and expect to hit it straight. So I think that's the big difference. The younger guys go at it so much harder.

Q. When you were Player of the Year, did you use Persimmon both of those years?

NICK PRICE: No, the small metal woods. The small metal woods probably had the biggest sweet spot than the old wooden clubs not the same as these are now. Someone was asking me, don't you think the young guys are a lot stronger and a lot fitter. Greg Norman, when I came out in '78 or '79, he was about the strongest person that I ever seen. I don't think strength and fitness is contributing to the length. I think it might be a little bit of that. But there were a lot of strong guys when I was around.

Q. Nick, how much did winning at Colonial last year contribute to the enthusiasm from the game that you still have?

NICK PRICE: Well, it's a month to month thing because if you are playing poorly, there is nothing worse than being in a hotel room on your own away from your family. So as the months progress you keep playing well and you just need to put a good round together and it gives you hope and encouragement. I know about enough about my swing now and my game that it's basically about management.

Q. Is it that fragile in a month's time, it will change your frame of mind?

NICK PRICE: Could do it. Miss the cut next week, and two weeks after that the whole summer is off for me. You don't know. If something started happening to me with my swing or my putting stroke that was really going to hurt me and I couldn't compete and shoot decent scores then I would definitely think about quitting.

End of FastScripts....

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