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February 21, 2002

Nick Price


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Nick, thank you for joining us for a few minutes and congratulations that was a great win.

NICK PRICE: Good day today. I played -- I played very well the front nine, with the exception of a mistake on No. 8, but then Peter also bogeyed No. 8 and he kind of let me off the hook a little bit.

I birdied 2. Got ahead early in the match. Then he drove one in the water on No. 5 and gave me that hole.

And then we both birdied 6, which, I think was a bit of a turning point because we hit pretty good iron shots in there. He was probably 15 feet and I was about 13 -- 12 or 13 feet, about a few feet in front of him and he rolled it in and I made it in on top of him.

Then I holed a bomb on No. 7 to go 3-up. You know, once you go 3-up in this game, you can play conservatively and if you don't make any mistakes, it's really hard for your opponent to get back.

But the back nine, I got a little unsteady there, because I wasn't sure which way the wind direction was going, how strong the wind -- how much the wind was going to affect the ball and I just wasn't decisive enough. I hit a poor tee shot on 10 and a poor tee shot on 11 and a poor tee shot on 14 and managed to make two pars out of the three bad tee shots, which really saved me.

But he birdied 13 -- he made a great birdie on 13 and then parred 14; I missed a short putt there. It ended up closer; one hole in it with four to go.

I holed a putt at the end and that's basically, I think the difference. When it comes down the wire, it's the guy who makes the one putt that counts, and I made a really good one on 17 from about 25 feet.

I don't know if he played as well as he did yesterday. If you take the double-bogey out of the equation, he actually played pretty well today. But I think he only made two -- three birdies, which I probably made more birdies than he did.

Q. Did you prepare any differently to --?

NICK PRICE: No, but I thought about that. We both won our matches about the same, within ten minutes of each other yesterday, so, I still wasn't sure who I was going to play.

Q. Not many of the higher seeds have won today and of the Top-12, only two are left; why do you think that is?

NICK PRICE: That's easy. 18 hole match-play. That sums it all up. It's so unpredictable. I mean, it is. 18-hole match-play always favors the underdog. You know, Presidents Cup, whatever you want to call, all 18-hole match-play events that I've played in, I don't think I have a very good track record. I know my Presidents Cup record is very mediocre. That's the nature of match-play. I wish I could say this is why, but I can't.

18-hole match-play, it's very apparent now -- but I still always say, this is such a great event. Really, I think it's found it's niche in the World Golf Championship/Tours, whatever. I've looked forward to coming here this week, very much, just as a change away from the four-round, make-the-cut. I think it stimulates a lot of interest this time of year. But unfortunately, match-play, you can end up in the last 4 or 8 without a marquis player, and that hurts a lot.

I think when the PGA Championship switched from match-play to stroke-play, I think it was a good move. People have always said it should revert back to match-play, but I don't believe for one minute that a major championship should be decided on match-play.

Q. Were you relieved when you found out that you were not going to play Tiger?

NICK PRICE: I was happy because I didn't have to put up with the entourage that goes with him. I'll play Tiger any time, if I'm playing well. Obviously he's always going to have the edge on me.

But, you know, I was just happy because of the fact like I could go out today and have a decent match with Peter. You know, it was fun today. I think when you play with Tiger, it's really hard for him -- or playing with him, because most of the other folks the galleries, the spectators are really not that interested in what you're doing; and I've had my fair share of that, believe me, over the years. Obviously, a lot happier to play Peter.

Q. Jose Maria had a big lead and he said he tried to attack them the rest of the way, you said with your lead you just tried to hold on, do you approach it completely different with match-play than stroke-play?

NICK PRICE: Well, not too much. You keep an eye on what your opponent is doing, but you don't even want to short-side yourself. You don't want to miss the greens on the wrong side if you play first, particularly if you put the ball in the middle of the fairway, the middle of the green and you make your opponent do all the hard work and you wait for him to make a mistake.

That's what happens in match-play, you get two or three ahead, you put a lot of pressure on your opponent if you keep hitting the ball in the middle of the green and the middle of the fairway because he has to do something special to beat you. You try not to give him any openings, but sometimes that's just playing conservatively and knocking it up there 20, 25 feet on the green, and if you hole a putt in from that distance, so be it, but if you keep making those par, you force him to make birdies. When you have the wind like it was today, you've got to play some pretty good golf to make birdies.

Especially the greens -- I don't know if you've seen on TV, they are in great shape, but poa annua has a habit of, later on in the afternoon, of getting bouncy and as warm as it was this morning with the winds, that grass was growing. The greens were firming up and the greens were a little bumpy. That's no criticism of the greenskeeper, because the greenskeeper has done a wonderful job; that's just the nature of poa annua. The later you play in the day, the more prone you are to missing short putts and the more prone you are to missing 12- and 15-footers for birdie.

Q. Are you in favor of The Match Play staying here at La Costa or would you like to see it alternate between Europe or Australia and here? How do you feel about it?

NICK PRICE: I don't think it's going to work outside of America very well, I really don't. I think that was evident last year. The guys just -- well, I would have played last year if it had not been the first week in January. I think the time of the year, if they do move it overseas, is very important. Having it, say, the week before or the week after the British Open, which I'm sure nobody would want to have it that week, that would not be a bad time to have it because everyone is there anyway.

I would have had to last year, I would have had to have left home on New Year's Eve to get home and I wanted to spend the New Year with my family, so I didn't go.

I think if they choose the right places, I mean, it just seems that there's more interest globally when it's played in America, for some reason, I think that.

Q. How about this venue?

NICK PRICE: It is a good venue.

Q. With what's happened the first two days here, do you say, great, I don't have to beat all of these people, or do you look at all of these upsets and say, "am I next?"

NICK PRICE: I look at my next match. I was surprised like everyone else that the Top 3 seeds went south yesterday.

I always look at who I have to play. Right now, I'm going to play either Verplank or Estes tomorrow. After that, I have no idea who I'm going to play and I really don't worry too much about that. It's a day-to-day event. If you get ahead of yourself, you're going to get into trouble, I think.

Q. Did you have to learn how to play match-play, as far as strategy goes, and does that come with experience?

NICK PRICE: No. When I was an amateur and junior golfer, all of our tournaments were match-play. Most of them with were; we had very few stroke-play events. I've been fortunate because over the year, I've played the World Match-play in England. I've probably played there about eight or nine times. And that's a great event. It's 36 holes, but unfortunately with 64 players, you could not have 36-hole matches otherwise, we would start in the middle of February and end in the beginning of March.

Q. Where does that rank in terms of something you would like to play?

NICK PRICE: You know, for me, the fact I have not won since '98, it's important for me to win any event. I won in Japan in 2000, in South Africa in '99. But it's very important -- well two, thousand I think was the last time I won. Sun City, I think.

Anyway, it's important for me to win again. I'm really not looking at any particular event. If it's a major or if it's this week or if it's Doral next week or THE PLAYERS Championship, I'm really not picky right now. I want that win. 45 years old, my clock is running out.

Yeah, you laugh. (Laughter.)

Q. Winning a million bucks would help.

NICK PRICE: I'm sure I'd find a way to spend it.

Q. Has there ever been any talk about having this event in South Africa in January or February to your knowledge?

NICK PRICE: I haven't heard. I'm just thrilled that they have taken the Presidents Cup there. I think that's important. But this event, this is a great time of year for this event, and just trying to think of where else you could play at this time of year, it's either Florida or here. So, we don't have a lot of options. I think if we took this event to Florida, it might hurt the four Florida swing tournaments, I don't know.

But this is a perfect time, I think, because a lot of the guys who come over for Europe will play Doral or maybe play Honda, Bay Hill and TPC. It might be a good sort of two weeks before TPC might be a good date, too. That way -- but then I think that's Honda week, so I don't know what would happen there.

End of FastScripts....

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