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May 9, 2002

Nick Price


TODD BUDNICK: Welcome, Nick Price, 6-under, 64, his low round of the season. Nick, having a great year so far. Made 8 of 8 cuts. Let's go ahead through your round first looks like you started with birdies --

NICK PRICE: Got off to a really good start. I knew today with the wind switching from where it had been the last two days that the start was really important. No. 3 was a particularly difficult hole today. I made a good birdie on one. Then I chipped in from just short of the front edge on 2, and then birdied 3. So that was -- you couldn't ask for a better start. Made a good par on 4 too. Hit a drive, 2-iron short of the green, chipped it about four, five feet, made that.

Really good start. I gave one back right away on No. 5. I 3-putted -- pulled my 7-iron a little bit second shot to about 30 feet, and hit it about five feet by and missed that, so I gave one back right away.

Then I just really played smart golf from there on in. I tried not to take any chances, and tried to attack the downwind holes and there were quite a few holes. 9 and 10 were difficult today because we played those straight into the wind. Then 13 was a good -- I hit 5-iron, probably 4-iron shot for me. The holes that were relatively short yesterday; had some length to them today. But then as soon as I got the downwind stretch, I holed a good putt for birdie on 14 and then hit a 5-iron to about a foot away on 15 and eagled 16. So everything happened at the end for me, good solid start and I don't think I missed -- I may have missed two, three greens today. But I hit the ball down the middle of the fairway and on the green and I converted some good putts. But as I say, everything really happened for me today, the last five holes.

TODD BUDNICK: Questions.

Q. Talk about your eagle on 16.

NICK PRICE: Just birdied 14 and 15, so I had my tail in the air. It was straight downwind. I just -- I hit a really good tee shot for me. I had about 203 yards to the front, pin was on about 15 yards, I think, 218, I hit this 4-iron, pitched it right a yard from the front edge, ran up there maybe 12, 14 feet from around the hole, knocked that one in. Actually it's been strange because I didn't make an eagle all year up until Hilton Head and I made 4 in the last three weeks. That's kind of weird. Made four in the last three -- my last three tournaments which has been a bit of ar turnaround. I am not one that makes a lot of eagles. Certainly contribute to some good scores.

Q. Steve Flesch came in here a couple of minutes ago, he's saying he felt like No. 3 was playing like a par 5 today, with you getting birdie there is almost like an eagle.

NICK PRICE: I hit a really good tee shot and had 205 yards to the front. And hit a 2-iron just pushed it a little bit caught up in the rough just short of the green. If it had been a yard or two left probably would have run onto the first, third of the green. It got hung up in the rough, popped out about maybe two yards short of the green. It was -- I mean, that is a very daunting hole into a right-to-left crosswind as we had it today because you always feel like you have got to start the ball out toward the water, you don't really want to cut one because it's not going to go anywhere which is really the ideal shot. You actually want to start one from the edge of the water and turn it so it releases otherwise you are going to have a 3-wood in there. It is a very fair hole because you can run the ball in on the green. It's very good in that respect.

Q. What do you attribute the way you have played in the last this whole season, but in particular last few weeks?

NICK PRICE: I think it's just an accumulation of maybe three or four things. I have been driving the ball very well this year. I have hit a lot of fairways. I have worked on a couple of things with Dave Leadbetter in my swing, which seem to have -- they work really -- from Augusta, anyway, I hit the ball exceptionally well for a couple of days at Augusta and I had two sort of marginal days. Hilton Head I played well. Last week I played well. You know, you can't actually pinpoint one particular thing. Probably more than anything else my putting is more consistent now than it's been for a long time. But that contributes to some of the good scoring. But certainly my ball-striking is as good now and I think my game management has been good as it's ever been. I just lack about 15 yards off the tee. If I could hit the ball 15 yards further I will be able to compete with these young guys. There's certain courses that I can compete on and I feel like this is one of them. There's only two par 5s, so I don't feel like there's a huge disadvantage for me where some of the other par 5 golf courses we play where the par 5s are driver and a wood for me, the other guys are hitting drives and long irons. It's hard to compete at that level; especially when they are making 12, 13 birdies on 6 par 5s in the tournament, so -- but this is a good golf course to me. I have got -- I have a lot of wonderful memories here, and I played well here last year, so hopefully I can just keep it going for another three days.

Q. How big was it, Nick, to get a good score in today with the wind and with Cottonwood tomorrow?

NICK PRICE: I think what I am happy about the most is that the wind switched. Even though the wind switched I still managed to play this golf course well because yesterday and the day before we played a totally different golf course. The wind was howling downwind on No. 1. Today we got up there and it's left-to-right into your face. So I guess there's a little bit of experience there knowing although, I cannot tell you how many times I have played in this northwind, maybe only a handful in all the Byron Nelsons I have been to, but you know, going over to Cottonwood.

Cottonwood is the kind of golf course that everyone expects to play well on, and coming off a good round today, I want to just make sure that I play like I did today and don't get ahead of myself and think I am going to automatically shoot a good round because it's very easy so to shoot over par on that golf course. If the wind does pick up, I don't know that golf course can play a little trickier when the wind blows hard because some of the greens are smaller.

Q. As someone who has played on this Tour for a long time and also played a lot in Europe, do you think the gap is closing between -- (inaudible)

NICK PRICE: I think the Europeans, they just don't have the same amount of depth of good players as we have. But certainly their top 12 players as we have seen in Ryder Cups gone by can compete at any time, you know, they just haven't had anyone of recent -- well, Sergio obviously is playing very well, but they haven't had a sort of a Faldo-esque -type player or a Seve-type player for a while. He is certainly -- I think Sergio is going to fill those shoes but you have got so many other good players Darren Clarke and Harrington, you know, Monty is still effective when he putts well, but they just don't have as much depth as we have. That's the difference, I think. If they have say 12 or 15 really good players, we have got 30 over here. I just think we have got a bigger pool to draw from here, than they have. They certainly have got some and have produced some great players.

Q. Have you always considered yourself a good wind player and if so would you like to see it keep up?

NICK PRICE: Yeah, I think you know, what is good for me is the wind normally keeps the scores up and when I have putted at my best, I can shoot some low numbers, but generally speaking, if you have a look over the years, most of the tournaments I have won have been between like 6 and about 14-under par and that seems to be my comfort range when I play well. Obviously I have obviously shot lower scores than that but generally speaking I would say 80% of the tournaments I have won are in that range. So if the wind stays -- keeps going, then the scores will stay up and that certainly makes me feel a little more comfortable.

Q. I am sure you heard the R&A and USGA came together today or yesterday on the driver issue.

NICK PRICE: They did?

Q. (Inaudible) I wondered is that a good thing for the game from your point of view?

NICK PRICE: Sure. I am just a little disappointed because the manufacturers are certainly had the upperhand in the last, say, eight to ten years. I have been saying this for a while now, I really feel it's up to the players now on the PGA TOUR for us to initiate rules on equipment limitations, restrictions. I don't care what it is, whether we draw the line in the sand right now, saying this is it, no further, or whether we go retroactive and start pulling some of the clubs that are out there, but I don't know how you go backwards, I really don't, without getting into a lot of trouble with the manufacturers because they have obviously spent lots of money on R&D for producing this equipment.

But if everything had to stay where it is now, fine, but we just got to be careful. We don't want to make the great golf courses of the world, you know, redundant or obsolete. We don't want to make them obsolete. I think when you look certainly at a great golf course, what is the one up in New Jersey where -- Merion, can't play there anymore and that was a great Open venue for 80 years.

Q. Did you hear what the ruling was? 2003, through 2007 the COR will be .86 for everybody, but highly skilled players, Tours and Opens and they will remain at .83 which it is now, by the USGA. Then from 2008 onward, it will be .83 for all levels of play.

NICK PRICE: So .86 is acceptable until 208.

Q. Until 203 through 2007, .86 is acceptable but not for the Opens and the Tour it will remain .83?

NICK PRICE: You know what I find difficult about that is how do you measure that. If you are making 40,000 or 100,000 drivers a year, and they are all on the edge at .83 COR, surely some of them are going to be over the limit. That's what -- I don't know how you measure that. Are they going to do a test on my driver after I win or anyone's driver when they do the Masters and find out it is .84 and then disqualify the guy. I mean, I don't know how that's going to work.

Q. NASCAR does that.

NICK PRICE: Yeah, you can have your clubs tested before. That's probably what we should do now before you start a tournament have your club tested. But who is going to do that?

Q. Do you find it odd, Nick, that essentially we'll have two sets of rules?

NICK PRICE: No, I have always believed that we should have two sets of rules for PGA TOUR events, USGA events and then let the average guy use whatever he wants to, but when he tees it up in a tournament, he's going to have to use something that conforms to everyone. I have always felt that way. I mean, one-ball rule -- PGA TOUR instigated the one-ball rule, and that was a great rule. But you can go and play average club thing now and use four different balls if you want to. I mean, it's no big deal.

Q. What about the guy, the average Joe giving up his hot driver starting in 208, he might play for five years ---

NICK PRICE: Anything to help that guy play golf better. I am all for that.

Q. He's going to have to give it up and go back to .83 in 2008?

NICK PRICE: Yeah, well, you know, that goes back to the square groove issue as well, how can you pass one thing and then recall it and then the club is gone. I don't know. The restrictions on the clubs you can right encyclopedias on them right now. If we did do a blanket kind of rule for tournament play, I think it would help a lot -- restrict the size of the head. If you restrict the size of the head of the driver, and the material that it's made out of, it's hard to get that COR that high. I think the bigger the head, the finer or the thinner the face, the easier it is to get that COR up really high. But if you put a face thickness, like 3 millimeters or something like that on the face, then you probably only max out at about .80. So depends which way you look at it, it is 6 of one, half dozen of the other. How are you going to test the COR? I don't know how they test it. They hit the ball against it and then they see how much it rebounds, I know. But how are you going to get someone who is making 100,000 drivers a year like Callaway to say that every single driver that they manufacturer is within the legal limit?

Q. Are they doing it now? They are testing COR aren't they?

NICK PRICE: I bet they don't test every single one that goes out the factory. They probably test that model from that casting. But when they spot weld the face on the driver, there's the other thing, spot -- when the driver comes out of the cast, doesn't have a face on it, then they weld the face on it. Depending on the thickness of the weld you could have the whole face, have a trampoline effect. Instead of the face doing -- just concaving like this, the whole face actually goes back against the weld. If the weld is thin enough. That's why, there's 15 different drivers out there or same drivers and you find you hit all 15 of them differently because one might have a little trampoline effect on it. How do you test that? It's difficult. But I am sure that -- that's why I said at the Tour meeting this year that we should poll the players and see how the players feel about initiating some kind of restriction on the clubs or drawing the line in the sand. I got the shot down in flames so I shut my mouth. I am not going to get involved in this anymore.

I feel quite passionate about it because I think if you look back ten years ago Greg Norman and myself and guys like Sluman, we were amongst best drivers of the ball in the game. Now we're very average. And okay, I am 45, but I know give me one of those old small headed drivers, boy, I will take on anyone.

(Switching GEARS)....

Q. Could you just talk quickly about how well you played today; what went right for you?

NICK PRICE: I drove the ball very well. I hit a lot of greens today. I got off to a good start. I birdied 1, 2 and 4. And then I bogeyed 5 with a 3-putt and then just sort of played very solidly all the way through until I got to 14. Then as soon as we turned downwind I had a very good finish. I birdied 14, 15 and eagled 16. So my round all happened at the end of the day.

Q. Does the TPC layout good for you normally?

NICK PRICE: Always has been.

Q. Thoughts going into tomorrow's round?

NICK PRICE: Just keep doing what I am doing. Try not to get ahead of myself. Drive the ball in the fairway, very important on both golf courses, I am -- trying to make sure I drive the ball well tomorrow and just keep doing the same things, you know.

Q. Was the wind any problem?

NICK PRICE: Oh, sure. It's probably 10 to 15 which is a good club and at times a club and a half when you are straight into it. But the course is in just phenomenal condition. I mean with all the rain that you have had here over the last three weeks, I mean, the fairways -- I have never seen the fairways looks so good. The greens are at a pace certainly today because we didn't have sun come out at a pace where you could be aggressive and you don't feel like you are going to run the ball six, seven feet by. They will probably dry up by the time the weekend comes I am sure.

Q. How long was your chip-in on 2?

NICK PRICE: 5-iron right on line and it was the way that green angles it was probably about 12 yards, so only about a yard short of the green.

Q. Please don't take this the wrong way, are you at the stage of your career where one more victory would be tremendously meaningful?

NICK PRICE: Sure, absolutely, but after I have had that one, I want another one. That's the way life goes. The thing that has been frustrating for me is I have been awfully close the last three years, seems like you know, something seems to happen either I make a mistake or start putting badly or something like that, but you know, I am carrying some momentum over the last -- from June, July last year I have played really well and consistently, so to win again, out here, especially at 45, I mean, it is difficult at any age, but I still enjoy practicing. I enjoy going out there competing. I just can't do it as much and as often as I used to.

Q. Do you know enough about spring-like effects to quantify the distance between .83 and .86?

NICK PRICE: Well as I understand it, COR means that if you fire something up against something perfect, comes back at 1 and that's impossible. So it's the amount of drag or the amount of energy that it absorbs, that's what Frank Thomas explained it to me as. He told me about this ten years ago. He said the drivers were getting increasingly - efficiency. But I don't know, I'd like to know what my old Taylor Made driver and my wooden driver before that was because looking at these drivers I would say my driver my wooden driver was probably about .68 or .70, you know, I mean that's the difference. It is. That's what I have been telling you buys for ten years now these big headed drivers are really hurting the game a lot. They can't be hurting the game too much because we have got more people coming out to watch. They are hurting the old golf courses, that's what I mean.

Q. How much farther can the -- a skilled player hit a .86 to .83; do you have any feel for that?

NICK PRICE: The big difference, when we grew up playing wooden drivers, okay, there was a point of where if you miscued that wooden driver, let's say you swung it at 85 percent, I can always swing it 98%, but I knew there was a point that if I went to that driver too hard and miscued it, I'd miss the adjacent fairway. It would snaphook so bad, so we learned to swing the club at one speed at like 85 percent of our strength. You look at the young guys today. The margin for error is greater, the shots, a lot more consistent; heads are more consistent, more stable, and the ball flies straighter off it. These guys are learning to swing at 95 and 96 percent. Now why over a 100-year period, would you find guys -- Bobby Jones probably swung at 85 percent, Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, swung at 85 percent. Why all of a sudden in ten years, can you go from 85 percent to 93, 94 percent. And it's the -- the guys hit the drivers harder and there's less margin for error with them and that's the big difference. I remember when guys -- four-knuckle grip. If you played against a guy with a four-knuckle grip with a wooden driver you knew somewhere along the back nine on Sunday there was going to come a snaphook. Have a look at the number of guys that have a four-knuckle grip now. I remember I first started playing like this - oh, no, you won't be able to play golf anymore not if you have got that four-knuckle grip, no no, so it's changed but I am not concerned about what's been. I am trying to figure out where we are going to stop it. So that's a good move the fact that they have decided to do something about it.

Q. You go across the street play Cottonwood tomorrow, consider that a little easier course. How much of an advantage was it, this course so well on the TPC course?

NICK PRICE: Big advantage. The big great thing was playing early on this course because the greens were better. And I have still got to go out and play well there tomorrow. It can work both ways because psychologically you are saying to yourself, well, I am going to obviously play well tomorrow if I played well here but it doesn't always work that way. I have got to go out there and take it one step at a time tomorrow. And hopefully I will add up the scores and they will be low.

TODD BUDNICK: Thank you, Nick.

End of FastScripts....

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