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September 20, 2001

Nick Price


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: We'd like to thank Nick Price for joining us here for a few minutes. Great round today. 6-under par 66.

NICK PRICE: You know, I got off to a good start, birdieing the first and the third hole and then the heavens opened and when we got back out there, the course was really wet still. A lot of us were taking relief and then when we got to the back nine, actually, it was dry, so it dried up pretty quickly. Obviously, the greens are a little softer; allowed you to be a little more aggressive with your irons. And also, the pace of the greens was slower than they were yesterday, so it allowed you to be a little more aggressive with your putts. And I holed a couple of bombs today. I putted really well, with the exception of 17; I 3-putted there. But other than that, I felt like I had a very good putting day, and that's always been the key to me scoring well, or to anyone scoring well, but particularly me. I don't feel like my tee-to-green game has changed that much. It's solid. I'm driving the ball well. I'm putting the ball in the fairway and hitting a lot of good iron shots, but the real key today was -- I think I made three putts over 20 feet -- four over 20 feet, which really got me going. I started working on something in Canada over the weekend, and reviewed a couple of tapes over the last two months of when I was putting really well, and one of the things that I noticed I was doing was I kept the lower half, from the hips down, very, very still and steady when I putted well back in the early 90s. And I've tried very hard over the past two and a half weeks, or two weeks, to keep that lower half steady. It comes and goes a little bit, but as a rule, I've putted very well since I've tried to do that. So, you know, I hope I haven't put the kiss of death on myself by telling you guys what I've done doing -- (laughter) -- that often happens. But I really feel the times, the rounds that I have played and the way I've putted that I'm onto something that's going to improve my putting, which it's exciting. When you get to 44, there's not much to look forward to in golf, except the Senior Tour. But I'm looking forward to playing now. As you guys know, if I putt well, you know, I've always felt like I have a chance to win, and I think my -- because of my inconsistent putting -- I won't say poor putting because you don't finish in the Top-30 out here by putting poorly year to year. But because the inconsistency of my putting, I think my long game has gotten stronger over the last two or three years. I'm excited about playing again.

Q. Do you think it's really keeping the lower half of your body still or thinking about something -- forgetting about everything else?

NICK PRICE: It's definitely that. It's definitely that. I've convinced myself. Because as soon as the lower half moves, the putter either decelerates or accelerates. When you control the speed of the putt with your shoulders and your arms, you can have a consistent stroke. It's a lot easier to maintain the same rhythm in a stroke when you keep the lower half, but as soon as your hips or your legs move, it's very easy to decelerate or accelerate on it, and you just have no consistency in the pace of your stroke. Every now and then, it feels a little weird, but if I trust it and I go out there -- it's one of those things. It's like everything. I feel like I build on it. So even though I may putt poorly tomorrow -- or I may putt well, I don't know -- it's something that I think over the period of the next month or so and keep continually working on it, it will get better.

Q. Did you spot that yourself or did somebody point it out to you?

NICK PRICE: Yeah, I was at my witt's end after the World Series (NEC). Because after the World Series, I tell you, my putting just went all the way through my game, and I got so down on myself and depressed about the way I was putting. I mean, I had the feeling every time I went out, especially like a course like Akron, Firestone, where you stand on the first tee and you've got this big huge golf course in front of you, and I know I'm going to hit 14 or 15 greens, but if I don't putt well, I'm going to shoot 72. That's the stage I got to. Of course, you miss a couple putts early on in the round and you're 1- or 2-over after four or five holes, which is not difficult to do there, and there's no light at the end of the tunnel. It was awful. The weekend was about as down as I had ever been. But sometimes, you have to reach those depths before you start coming up, and it wasn't much fun there at the World Series, or NEC.

Q. Which tape did you pull out?

NICK PRICE: A few of them. A few of them. British Open '94 and a couple of others. Hartford '93, TPC '93. I looked at those and just tried to -- what I noticed more than anything else was just that my right knee was so still when I putted well, going through the ball. There's always that thing: Well, you're peaking; you have a look. But you can have a look and keep your lower half still. You can, and still putt well. I watched over the last two weeks, a lot of the good putters, and watching them on the putting green, and that's one thing that I think that I didn't do consistently enough that they do. Does that make sense?

Q. I still can't putt, but it makes sense.

NICK PRICE: Anyone that's been through the putting wars, it's me. And I refuse to go to the long putter. I'm keeping that in reserve for the Senior Tour (Laughs).

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Let's go through your round.

NICK PRICE: First hole, a drive and a sand wedge to about six feet. Third hole, drive, 3-wood just short of the green. I chipped up about 12 feet. 6, up the hill, driver and a 3-wood just short of the green and I chipped up to about 18 inches. 7, got a really good break on 7. I pushed my 3-wood in the trees and I turned a 7-iron around about 30 feet up the hole and I made it up the hill. Next hole, 3-iron to about 25 feet. Maybe 30 feet. 11, I laid up with a 3-iron for my second shot. Hit a sand wedge to about probably 16, somewhere around there, 16 feet. Next hole, I hit a 9-iron, second shot to about probably eight, ten feet. I holed a bomb on the par 3. I hit a 4-iron probably to about 33 feet, 32 feet again. Then my bogey, that was 15. I pushed my 1-iron in the rough on the right. I had sort of like a marginal lie. Got the ball up on to the front edge of the green. I had -- I think it was 28 yards, and hit the first putt about six-foot by, left myself with a downhill left-to-right and I missed it. Not a very good putt. Then 17, a good 3-iron to about 25 feet and left the first putt about three and a half feet short. And again, another left-to-right, slippery one. Just the ones -- I missed it. Some good, some bad, but a lot of good today.

Q. Your thoughts now on the changes in the Presidents Cup and how that might impact you?

NICK PRICE: It will affect me a lot, I think. Next year, I'm on a little bit of a slide on the World Ranking, but there's a lot of reasons. Haven't played that much, and I haven't played well when I have played this year. I'm going to be 46 when that Presidents Cup rolls around, so I'm hoping -- I was hoping to make that team next year, which was one of my sort of like final goals on the Tour. Because I really felt going to play -- I wanted to play in that Presidents Cup in South Africa. So now I've just got to shove my year back. You've got to go back a year. And I think it will be a little bit harder for my to sustain playing through 2003 -- I'm going to try, believe me. But, you know, there's Adam Scott, there's Baddeley. There's so many of these young guys who are coming up, and if I make that team, I'll be a very happy camper.

Q. Might be it a goal for you that keeps you motivated moving into the Senior Tour?

NICK PRICE: I would say more than anything else, as long as I've got the desire to come out here and keep playing, I think, you know, making the Presidents Cup team will -- I don't think that's going to be my prime motivator. My prime motivator is always, if I play well, I feel like I have a chance to win. When that disappears all together, which seems to happen to most guys when they get into their late 40s, you know, that's when I'll go fishing for a few years and wait to be a rookie again.

Q. Well, it seems to happen to most everybody, but I don't fully understand. Obviously, you're older. Maybe you lose a little bit of physical ability, but your situation, you just said you are striking the ball better than ever, but everyone seems to have a problem?

NICK PRICE: I think what happens when you get a little bit older, your tolerance level of substandard play diminishes. When you're young and you get out there, you'll chop it around for nine, ten holes and try your tail off; in fact, for four rounds. But when you get a little bit older, it's so much harder to do that. And a lot of times, you would turn tournaments around by almost gutting it through that period. But when you've been doing that for 25 years, it gets a little old. I think that's what's probably the hardest thing. But I still go to the practice tee as frequently as I used to do in the early 90s, but I just don't spend as much time on the practice tee as I used to. So there were times I'd go for five or six hours, and now it's just two hours and chip-and-putt and it go home. I find it really hard to spend really long hours on the practice tee.

Q. When do you think you were playing your best golf?

NICK PRICE: Well, there's so many facets to the game, as far as I'm concerned. There's the tee-to-green game, the short game. Obviously, when you've got it all together -- I think from the PGA in '92 through to probably May of '95, although I don't think I won anything in '95, I played much the same. But that was undoubtedly my strongest period. The two months, three months, the summer of '94, June, July and August, and September, for that matter, because I won the Canadian Open, I think in September, I just felt like if I played well, I was going to win. That's probably how Tiger feels all the time, but for me, it was three months.

Q. You and Tiger are the only guys who won 15 events in the decades of the 90s, of course he did his probably in half of that?

NICK PRICE: Well, he did his in four years, I think.

Q. 15 events in ten years.

NICK PRICE: If you look at mine, I did mine in about 3 1/2 years, too, because I only won twice in the 90s, after '94, which was Hilton Head and the Memphis, the FedEx. So mine was also in a compressed period.

Q. Did today start to finally feel like a golf tournament again, a little more return to normal after last week's events?

NICK PRICE: I don't think so. Because in the locker room, we are all watching the TV. We all know that something's going to happen. What's going to happen is anyone's guess. So there's -- I think in the back of all our mind's, we know that something's going to happen, and there's that apprehension as to how far it's going to go, how much is it going to affect all of us. I think a lot of talk about guys who, if they knew people who were affected by it in the building, the World Trade Center, it's very difficult now, I think. Once we get on the golf course, I think most of us forget about it because we're professional enough to do it. But certainly, when you walk off the golf course, you've got a TV on, CNN is on and you're watching. You're watching what's going on. There's a lot of talk still going on as to what the reaction is going to be.

Q. I heard you did a lot of driving from Birmingham to --

NICK PRICE: Birmingham, St. Louis, St. Louis, back. But I don't think it's a big deal compared to what a lot of other people went through last week. I didn't even think about that. The hardest thing is when you're away from your family and there's a tragedy, especially of such massive proportion, you always want to be back with your family. You want to be with your group and just to make sure that everything is okay. Certainly, for a period of time after the two planes and when the towers collapsed, I didn't know how far these people had gone. Was this just a start, a precursor to something, or was this it? Your mind runs amuck when that happens. I think most of us who have lived if other part of the world have been affected by terrorism more than you guys have here, and so we know what these people can do. And that was really a worry for me, because I didn't want to be stuck with manage happening to my family in Florida and I'm here, or I was in St. Louis.

Q. You had said at the World Series that you were not coming here. What changed?

NICK PRICE: Well, I wanted to keep playing, because I played well in Canada, and I was going to play last week, and if I plaid well last week, Thursday, Friday, I would have committed for here, because I felt that -- pretty much, my November, I've got nothing to play in November. I don't have any plans to play anything, so I want to see if I can get on a roll and play well enough, maybe make the Top 30. I'm about 45 or 46 on the Money List, so I've got about $500,000 or 600,000 to make to get in there, and that's a mini-goal of mine for this year. When you play well, you want to get out there. You don't want to be sitting at home watching it on TV.

Q. It seems like your mind is 100% on golf. Did you notice any difference in the atmosphere, maybe less banter, less joking?

NICK PRICE: No, not really. But you notice it everywhere, whether you're at the hotel or whether you're talking to the people -- you hear the people in the gallery. You hear -- everybody where you good, I'm sure you guys are aware of it, as well. I mean, you hear people talking about what's going to happen next. This is a very uncertain time for this country, and for the Western world, because I think whatever action is taken now, could affect us for the next eight, ten, 15, 20 years. I mean, as it is, I don't think we're going to see the freedom that we've enjoyed in this country for so many years. I don't think that's going to continue. I think we are already seeing that in airports. Spot checks, people going through your bags five times. How long is that going to last for? I think it's pretty scary time right now. I heard Colin Powell, Secretary of State, talk the other day, and after I heard him talk, I was so impressed with the way he spoke about it, and it made me feel a lot move comfortable; that he wasn't just there, "Let's go." He talk spoke very concisely and answered the questions that were asked of him. He's a very smart man. That's what you need up there, now, I think.

Q. Were you surprised that the tribute that was supposed to go on at noon was cancelled?

NICK PRICE: I think maybe they should do it tomorrow or one of the other days. Maybe on Saturday or Sunday, just stop play and do it. They could have done it at 12 o'clock, but, I don't know, was there lightening around still at that time? There may have been lightening around still. I don't know what the reasons for that, but, you know, most of us thought it was going to go here.

Q. Did you pay much attention to the flags today?

NICK PRICE: Yeah, it's great. One thing I tell but this country is the patriotism is phenomenal, the way that people can -- I think that's one thing that -- I've lived here, I don't feel like a foreigner anymore. I've been here for 21 years and my kids are American citizens. One of the things I've always admired is in times of stress or in times of need, how patriotic you Americans are, and it's something that you all should be very proud of. It's a very special thing. If there's one good thing that's going to come out of all this is the fact it's going to bring this country together a lot closer than it was six months ago. And sometimes, it takes things like this to happen. But I think the whole of the Western world is a lot closer than they were three weeks ago.

Q. Birdieing 8 of the first 14, and then -- are you discouraged?

NICK PRICE: No, I'm happy. If you think back to the beginning of the round if you said I was going to shoot 66, I could have bogeyed two of the first four and finished strongly. Any time you shoot that kind of score on this golf course, you've got to be happy. Especially for a period there I was four shots ahead of everyone else. I was aware of that but I was not trying to protect what I had. It's too early in the tournament to do that. I was trying to keep going. That's basically -- but I didn't want to make any foolish mistakes, like hitting the ball in the water or making unnecessary bogeys. It's just that I hit a poor tee shot on No. 15 and then 3-putted 17.

End of FastScripts....

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