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May 9, 2003

Nick Price


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Nick, thank you for joining us. A second round 71 puts you at 7-under for the event. I don't know what your thoughts were when you went out on the course, but you're still in the lead.

NICK PRICE: It was a scruffy day for me today, really the best way to describe it. I hit my tee shots solidly today but I just didn't have the accuracy that I had yesterday. I think maybe the wind may have had a little bit to do with that, but I did hit a lot of good tee shots that hit just off the edge of the fairway. I went through a period in the beginning of the back nine where I could not even hit a green in regulation, mainly because I couldn't stop the ball in the fairway and my putter saved me on three or four occasions on the back nine.

But all in all, the way I played today, I'm very happy to be under par. My short game kept me in good stead today. The wind is very tricky. It's blowing hard, it's blowing from one direction, which is good. It's consistently blowing from one direction. The way some of these pins are placed, you really have to be careful, and a lot of times, I tried to keep the ball underneath the hole, particularly the front nine. But you just have to drive the ball in the fairway here if you're going to break par.

If I drive the ball better on the weekend, I'm going to still struggle. Hopefully my putting will stay the same, but tomorrow I'm going to be very focused on trying to drive the ball in the fairway. As well as I'm putting from 30 feet, I don't have to play aggressively with my irons, and I don't really have to take any pins on that I don't feel comfortable going at.

This is a great test of golf. This weekend is going to be a great strategy weekend for anyone who has a chance. If you do try to take a couple of pins on and you miscue, you're going to make bogey. So you're going to see a lot of guys I think playing cautiously and keeping the ball underneath the hole.

One of the great things about this golf course is the fact that the greens slope from back to front and anything past pin-high, you always have a lot of break and a lot more speed, and if you hit it in the rough that makes it that much more difficult. So you are tempted when you are in between clubs to go for the longer one and fly it all the way to the flag and if you don't pull the shot off, you're struggling to make par.

That's probably the thing I'll try to do tomorrow, drive the ball in the fairway and play a little conservatively with my irons.

Q. Could you talk about the putt on 17?

NICK PRICE: It had probably 15 feet of break in it. I was actually quite fortunate because when I walked behind the hole to have a look from the back, there was a little -- some sand. They left a little sand on the green there and that was a perfect line for me. I knew if I could follow that line at the right speed -- start it right on line, and then it was a question if it had the right speed and it just kept turning and turning and went almost at a dead pace. I wasn't trying to hole that, no way. I was trying to get it inside three feet and make my par.

That's two bombs in two days I've holed. I holed one yesterday from 35 feet and I guess that one was close to 40.

It's unusual, I hit a very good 6-iron there that stopped very quickly. I thought both Vijay's ball and my ball would release a little more, but mine stopped within about four paces of where it pitched.

Q. Guys have talked about this being a U.S. Open quality course, is that why guys like yourself and some of the better players are thriving on a course like this?

NICK PRICE: There's a lot of strategy and you have to play good golf here. Today I got away with not hitting the ball very well, and the reason I shot under par is because I'm putting as well as I could possibly putt. If my putting goes off a little bit and I play like I did today, I'm going to shoot 74, 75.

So it has a U.S. Open type feel. It has that classic golf course type feel to it. You have to shape a lot of your tee shots, especially the way the wind is blowing today, to keep the ball in the fairway.

And if I have one wish on the weekend, it's to hit 24, 26 fairways. If I can do that on the weekend, I think I'll have a chance. But that's going to be very important.

Q. (Inaudible.)

NICK PRICE: I have a 56 and a 60 (wedge), and with Texas coming up, Colonial and also the U.S. Open not too far away I thought I would start breaking them in now, and this was the wrong week. I've got my two old ones which I'm going to put back in tomorrow. Fresh grooves, that's what happens, I get to that 90-yard shot which is normally a bread-and-butter shot for me and I'm spinning the ball back 30 feet. That one shot I had on that short par 4, I'm trying to pitch the ball up to the hole and not spin it too much and I just went dead blade. That's what happens. These greens, they feel pretty soft, but once the ball stops spinning with the slope, especially when you have the wind, I was powerless today from that distance. And 18, I had to lay-up so I would have a pitching wedge instead of a sand wedge.

Q. (Inaudible.)

NICK PRICE: I had such I terrible lie. Same old story, six inches left, six inches right, I would have had a 6-iron, 5-iron. But I was dead. That was such a bad lie. Bad break but I had a lot of good breaks.

Q. Was the course set up harder today than it was on the first day?

NICK PRICE: Probably about the same. I don't think it was that much harder. The wind is up at a speed that makes it difficult to get the ball close to the hole. Probably half of the birdie holes out there than there were yesterday. Some of the pins are just very difficult to get to.

Q. What's been your overall impression of this week?

NICK PRICE: If you just look at everything -- it would be really hard to find anything to criticize about this week. They have done such a phenomenal job. It's hard to believe it's a first-time event here. The guys who put everything together here have done such a great job. They have thought of just about everything, from the valet parking, which is always nice to have, just the whole production is outstanding.

I think as soon as word spreads among the other guys, guys that are not here, how good a golf course and how good an event this is, this is probably going to be one of our better events on the Tour.

Q. Besides valet parking, anything else that other tournaments don't necessarily have? I know the Pro-Am was big.

NICK PRICE: I think for us, the range, everything is close here. The hotels are close, we've got a great golf course obviously, but the range is close. We have great dining facilities, huge locker room, great practice area, good putting green. From a golfer's perspective, from our professional perspective, it's wonderful.

But then all of the other things they do on top of that, which is valet parking is no big deal. Dry cleaning for us in the locker room; in the family dining room they have a section for the kids where they can have their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. They have put so much thought into the event, it's almost like they went around to all of the other tournaments and asked what do you do, to try to do everything here.

Johnny Harris, I take my hat off to him. You can never predict the future but I'm sure the USGA and the PGA of America are going to be looking at this course as a venue, I really do. It's long, can be very slippery. When these greens are dry and firm, and if the rough was a little longer than it is, it would be just a perfect U.S. Open golf course. The greens -- inaudible --they wouldn't water them for about three months, that's what they would do. (Laughter.)

Q. (Inaudible.)

NICK PRICE: Absolutely. It's a classic. There's nothing tricked up to the golf course. There's no goofiness. It's right there in front of you. You've the doglegs right-to-left and you have to shape the ball.

Vijay was complaining today because he kept driving it through the dogleg. I said, "Well, you've got to shape it." You've got to have a little turn on it or cut it or hold it up and that seems like what you always try to do on these golf courses. You don't have to do it, but it certainly makes the fairway a little wider when you can shape it.

Q. (Inaudible.)

NICK PRICE: I haven't played Olympia Fields, but I don't know. Courses like Congressional or Bellerive or Medinah, this course is right up there. I don't know how many of those we are going to play this year. This is definitely will be in the top 5 of the year, definitely. I'm kind of partial to Colonial and Hilton Head -- I don't think of it as a great golf course although that is a links style. Oak Hill , this is the same sort of golf course as an Oak Hill. It's in that league.

Q. Are you playing the next two and skipping the Memorial?

NICK PRICE: Yeah. I haven't decided whether I'm going to play at Avenel and then the U.S. Open or if I take two weeks open. It really depends on how many weather-affected days we have in the next three weeks. Texas is notorious for us having two or three rain delays in those few weeks.

Q. Memorial always gets a stellar field, but do you think it's too long?

NICK PRICE: I can't play that golf course, period. I've tried and I've finished in the Top-10 a couple of times there, but I just can't play that golf course. It's a bomber's paradise now. The par 5 there is, I have a tough time reaching the par 5s, at that length where most of the time I hit a driver into a slope and I can't get enough height on the ball to get to those par 5s in two. It's always been a difficult golf course for me.

Q. Yet Furyk won and he's not a long hitter.

NICK PRICE: I know. If you could tell me that it was going to be firm, fast, nice and dry, I would go play there every year, but we all know what happens with the rain. And I've spent many, many hours in the locker room like some of the other guys and I just got tired of setting in the locker room and then going out and having a foot of run with your driver.

But it's a beautiful golf course if it would play firm and fast. If it was like Colonial then I would have a chance there. But I can't see it. Something about that Indian burial ground there. (Laughter.)

That's a great tournament. Jack always says, "Why don't you come to my tournament?" I tried to explain, "Jack, you've got a great tournament and you have a right to be very proud of it." But my low ball flight just doesn't work there very well.

Q. How ready are you for the media circus in two weeks' time?

NICK PRICE: I'm trying to plan my strategy as to what's going to happen that week. I probably won't answer any Annika questions that week. I think everything that's been said and enough has been done, let's just see what happens. I think I've answered so many questions about that, but I'll have my press conference on Tuesday, everybody will be looking at Annika. She's the one that everybody is going to be asking questions. She's a brave girl. She's very brave.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Let's go through your score card. You had a bogey on No. 4.

NICK PRICE: I drove it in the right hand bunker and then short of the green, chipped up about 8 feet and missed it.

Then driver and a 3-wood on the green on No. 7, about 35 feet and two putts.

Next, hit it to about 12 feet.

Birdie on 17, 6-iron to about 40, 45 feet.

18, a driver on the right edge of the right-hand rough, lay-up with a wedge, hit on the green about 50 feet and 2-putted.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Nick Price, thank you.

End of FastScripts....

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