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May 8, 2003

Nick Price


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Nick, for joining us for a few minutes. Great round today, 6-under par 66. 20 putts, I think 11 1-putts. You had a great day out there.

NICK PRICE: Funny, this game, I go through a period where I don't make anything on the greens and all of a sudden it all happens at once.

Just to give you a brief -- why I think I'm putting well, on Monday of the World Golf Championship in Carlsbad, I went to see Scottie Cameron right after L.A. I had been putting well last year and a little bit of this year, and I went to see him and I stayed about three hours. He helped me so much in that two hours basically with my alignment and whatever; he made me a putter for basically what he felt suited my stroke and wrist position. I was a bit apprehensive to use it because I had been putting with the other one for the whole of last year.

Anyway I didn't putt very well at Augusta or Hilton Head so I brought it outlast two weeks at home and I putted really well last two weeks and today was almost like a carryover on the last two weeks. Even though I have not played a competitive round the last two weeks, I played a lot with some friends of mine back in Florida, and so I feel like I'm on the right track with this putter.

There's two things you have to do with putting; that is get the ball on-line and hit the right pace. When one of them is a given, it makes it a lot easier to putt and that's what I feel, I'm not worried about getting the ball on-line, I'm just worried on the pace and that's when you put your best.

But I did hit a lot of fringes today, I must say. I looked at my stats when I was up at TV and I hit ten greens, I think I hit more like 15, but five were just off the fringe here. So if you want to count those -- I normally count those at two-putts but the way the stats work, those were one-putts when you put them down there six inches away. Realistically, I probably had 24, 25 putts. But I holed some beautiful 10-, 15-footers out there today and then one bomb on No. 5, I think it was, for birdie much.

Q. After the Hall of Fame, from a frame of mind standpoint -- inaudible--

NICK PRICE: Three or four weeks ago I knew I was until the Hall of Fame, so it was just nice for everyone to know. It made me feel really good this week, all of the guys have been coming up and congratulating me. That probably had something to do with it, made me feel really strong. As I say, I've known for about a month now and it's nice that I can tell everyone.

Q. Seems like guys in the afternoon are shooting lower scores. Obviously, you found it to your liking.

NICK PRICE: Well, I looked at that. Normally, generally speaking, lower scores come in the morning because the greens are better.

First of all these greens have held up really well. There were no spike marks at all, very few anyway. But I think the fairways are drying out and we are getting a little more run on the fairways. This afternoon, I was probably hitting one club less into some of the greens than someone who hits the ball of equal length to me this morning. It was a little bit shorter I think this afternoon, but that also can work against you because sometimes when a ball does start releasing, the fairways get a little narrower.

But the rough is -- there's no moisture in the rough now, so if you do hit it in the rough, you have a pretty good chance of advancing it up to the green, where yesterday and the day before, there was so much moisture in there.

The course is drying out beautifully. I should imagine if we don't get any rain by Saturday afternoon and Sunday, this golf course is going to be playing very difficult, very slippery and it's going to be a wonderful test of golf on the weekend. You're going to have to manipulate the ball come Saturday, Sunday because a lot of the doglegs you are going to have to shape the ball on whichever dogleg you are playing, left-to-right, right-to-left, otherwise you are going to run out of fairway.

These fairways, I just cannot tell you how impressed I am with how quickly this course has drained. From Tuesday afternoon to Wednesday after morning, I thought we would be playing lift, clean and place today and we didn't need to, that's for sure.

Q. What is it about the course that brought out a good score today?

NICK PRICE: I suppose the best way to say this is that it's a straightforward, honest golf course. There is no, for use of a better word, goofiness to it. It is a straightforward, honest golf course and you get what you play here. I think that's what we all look for on a great golf course. There are very few forced carries.

I don't mind playing a par 4 that's 490 yards long if you allow me to run the ball up to the green. So many golf courses nowadays, they will build a bunker, you play a 480-yard hole and there will be a bunker cut into the fairways face of the green. So there's no way for my length, average length to run the ball on the green. That's huge. I think that's one of the great things about this golf course.

If you have a look at the topography, there's probably 80, 90, 100 feet of elevation change on the property and lends itself to a beautiful, rolling -- these beautiful, rolling holes, downhill shots, uphill shots. There's just such a variety out here. You never really get bored because you don't go through -- there's not one hole that's a bad hole out there. A couple of greens, I don't particularly like No. 17 green or that long par 3, No. 5 or 6 I think it is. Those greens don't really fit the style of the golf course for some reason. I just didn't think they were that great. But that's really, you know, nitpicking as far as I'm concerned.

The golf course is a wonderful test and I would not be surprised that in the future there would be either a U.S. Open or a PGA on this golf course because they can make this golf course as hard as they want to. If they grow these fairways in and firm these greens up, even par is a great score on this golf course. And I think we will see that on Saturday, Sunday if, we don't get any rain.

We just don't play enough golf courses like this, unfortunately. I don't think you'll hear a negative comment from any of the players this week about the golf course. There's just no way you can criticize it. They have done a phenomenal job. You know, there's a lot of 450-yard, 460-yard par 4s, but they are fair. They are not ridiculous where you have to carry the ball 290 yards off the tee or they are growing the rough in on the approach 30 yards short and the rough is six inches deep. This golf course, you can play. And it doesn't matter if you're a long- or medium-length hitter.

I played with Vijay today and he hit, I think, three par 5s in two, and I didn't feel like he had an advantage on me today, though, because you do have to shape the ball.

Q. Freddie is going to be up near the lead, too. Do you think people put too much emphasis on age this year? Are people paying more attention to it than normal?

NICK PRICE: You know, I don't feel, from my point, I don't feel as strong as I did in the early 90s. Your body doesn't -- for me, it doesn't react as quickly as it used to. So if I'm not swinging well, it's harder to recover in the swing. It just means that I have to work hard on refining my golf swing. But apart from that, you know, knock on wood, I've still got desire. I think Freddie's found a bit of desire, and if you could do that, if you can go out there -- I can't think of a reason why .

Jay Haas is 49 years old and when I look at him, I know he's 49 but he still plays great. Freddie is two years younger than I am and he's 44. Nicklaus and Floyd and those guys who all won early, if they had played as much as I'm playing or as much as Freddie is playing and practicing and they had done that through, I think they still would have been able to compete.

I don't think what else I can say on it. As you get older, you get smarter, hopefully. You don't make as many mistakes. When you make mistakes on the golf course, you try not to beat yourself.

It's a good question. There's just certain courses that I think we can still compete on and there's some courses we can't compete on. I think when you get us on the right golf course, the Rivieras and this one, for example, or the new one, even though that course in Houston that Freddie won on was long yardage, it didn't play that long. It only played about 7,100. So given the right golf course, I think that we can still compete.

Q. Can you talk specifically about No. 18 as a closing hole and what makes it good?

NICK PRICE: The fairway, it's an elevated tee shot. You hit down and go all the way up the left. Anything left you're going to lose a shot. In fact, if you hit it left there it's a double-bogey. You're going to have to make a great pitch and putt to make a bogey on there because the ball is going to run in the water, and then you have to drop it in the rough and you probably won't be able to advance it up close to the green. So, you know left is double-bogey.

Then you've got a bunker which is just the perfect distance off the tee. I mean, I'm going to run the thing into the bunkers about 275 off the tee and it pinches the fairway. You've got to hit a really good tee shot there. And you have the option, you can hit a cut down the left side or you can draw it or hit it straight, whichever way you want to, but it does give you a few options.

And your second shot is all uphill. I had, I think, 203. I had a really good drive and I had 203 to a frontish pin position today and we played that hole into the wind. I hit a 3-iron and I hit it probably about 30 feet behind the hole and took my 4. It's one of those holes that if you play it at even par for the whole week, you'll feel like you played it at 2-under because it's more like a par 4 and 3/8ths. It's a tough hole. If you're not on your game, you can make a big number there.

Q. What do you remember hear about Olympia Fields about how it might compare with the setup last year at Bethpage where some of the fairways were hard to reach?

NICK PRICE: Hopefully the USGA learned something from last year because they certainly made big mistakes on three of those par 4 holes on the back nine. You know, I don't know, I I've heard the course is like 7,200 which is not excessively long. But I think you will see a trend as time goes by that they will come back a little bit on what they did at Bethpage.

But, who knows, the USGA are always prone to doing unusual things. (Laughing). But I've heard it's a good course. The caddie Cook (phonetic) for Jesper, he's played it 50, 60 times, he loves it. He says it's a great test of golf. I'm sure it's a classic golf course.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Can we go through your birdies and bogeys, starting on 10.

NICK PRICE: Started on 10. My third shot was from about 80 yards and I hit about 12 feet left of the hole, made that.

Second hole I pulled my tee shot in the rough over the green, chipped up about 12 feet again, maybe 14 feet past the hole and made that for par.

The next birdie was 13. I hit a 6-iron from about 189, I think it was, downhill with the wind to about four feet.

Then the next one, birdie on 1. I hit a drive and an 8-iron from 139 to about six feet.

Next hole, I got a little aggressive with my tee shot there. Actually I got suckered in, beautiful pin on the left-hand side and I tried to turn a 9-iron in and I hit it in the bunker. Missed the green. Got it up about probably eight, ten feet from the hole, ten feet and missed it.

Then came back and birdied the next hole. Hit a 7-iron in there to about 20 feet,22 feet and made that.

Parred the next, the par 5. Laid up to about 90 yards and got a new sand wedge, two new sand wedges this week which have got fresh grooves, and I'm spinning the ball more than I've ever done for a long time. Anyway, I hit my sand wedge up there about five feet from the hole and sucked it back about 35 feet and holed it for birdie.

Then the par -5 7, I hit a driver, 2-iron a poor 2-iron second shot left and chipped it up about four feet and made that for birdie.

Next hole, sand wedge just over the back of the green, because I'm worried about spinning the ball off the front of the green and I played it a little too aggressively. Popped it over the back edge of the green and I holed it from about 25, 28 feet.

Q. What have they done right in this first-year tournament? They have obviously tried to cover all their bases; have they done that and what has impressed you about it?

NICK PRICE: We were talking in the locker room, there were a group of us, I won't mention any names, but a good cross-section of guys and we were all -- we couldn't sing enough praises about what has been done this week. For a first-time event, it certainly ranks up with all of the good ones that we play on TOUR.

I'm not going to blow smoke up anyone here, but I can honestly tell you, whoever put this all together has done their homework because they have not left out anything. Ty Tryon might tell you different with his car story, but I can tell you, it's great. They even have a family dining area and one guy was saying there's a certain section for kids where they can have peanut better, jelly and hot dogs. Just everything, the proximity of the holes to the golf course, driving range, facilities here. There's enough space on this golf course that you can have 30,000 people and it's not a problem.

This is a great venue. I hope it stays here for a long time. I'm sure it will.

End of FastScripts....

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