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March 4, 2000

Nick Price


PGA TOUR: Nick Price with us. Nick, great round today got yourself into contention.

NICK PRICE: That was my prime motive today to go out, obviously get myself in contention. Frank Langham playing so well I think he has gone to 17. I played such a good front nine and then I continued to hit the ball well the back nine, but 13 and 14, those two bogeys really hurt and they weren't easy holes today. But the three holes that I bogeyed, I really only hit one poor shoot which was my tee shot on 14. 13 out of the par 3 played I had 220 to the front just trying to get my ball onto the front of the green and then try and make four -- three making two long putts and I actually hit a pretty good chip. It pitched right in a ball mark, old ball mark, ball just popped straight up, chipped it with 8-iron and came up like it was chipped with a sand wedge. So I made bogey there and then the one on 14 I had a poor tee shot on 14, just didn't commit myself and I made bogey there and then on 17 totally misread the wind. I hit 8-iron from 158 and I normally hit my 8-iron about 150. I figured the wind was a little right-to-left in helping, but it was actually right-to-left in hurting. I think that is what makes that little finish there. You are going to probably see a lot of guys dropping shots on those holes because it is difficult to read the wind. And then I missed an opportunity on 18. But all and all, I think I am really happy. I am starting to find some form again and if I had putted well yesterday, I probably would be right around the 17 or 18-under mark, but hey, it is nothing new (laughs).

Q. What about yesterday since you brought it up; did you have some legitimate birdie chance?

NICK PRICE: I had 34 putts yesterday. I 1-putted two greens yesterday and I wasn't putting badly. I couldn't make anything. I just kept hitting the edges. I mean, it was actually a toss up as to whether I hit the ball better on the front nine today or better yesterday on the front nine. I hit the ball so good yesterday on the front 9 I shot 34. Then I missed a couple of putts. I got a little down on myself and bogeyed a couple coming in. But I am really hitting the ball well and it is fun to play well again. I feel pretty confident, it is just a question of making a couple of good bonus putts for me. If I had made one of those for par coming if I think it might have helped. But anyway...

Q. On TV they kind of replayed some of the chances you had on the back side. On every one it just seemed like the last six inches of the putt it kept tailing off?

NICK PRICE: Underreading sometimes and then just not starting it on the right line, it seems to be a mixture that -- yesterday I definitely didn't start the ball on line properly. I was hitting the ball sort of trying to hit a ball outside right and I'd start it on the right slip, ball would just turn, just sort of curl off. But to be honest with you since August last year I have putted really solidly and you can't shoot 13-under par by not putting reasonably well. First day I putted really solidly and today through the first 12 holes I holed some very good putts although I hit it close, I did hole my fair share of putts so it is just -- it comes in stages for me. It goes good then it sort of levels off for a while and --

Q. As long as you keep it that close, they are going to fall in?

NICK PRICE: I have been doing this for three years, it is just one of those things. There is no doubt in my mind I am hitting the ball better than I did through 1991, '2, '3 and '4. I am just not -- my short game is just not as good as it was then. I am not making as many longish putts as I did then. But it always evens out in the end. You make your fair share then -- I am very happy because I still obviously have the desire to play well and I want to win and I felt very comfortable out there today, just I think I had the run of the ball, I probably could have shot 64, 63 today which would have been a great score, I think.

Q. Your iron-play seems great. Is the putting really the only thing that is bothering you?

NICK PRICE: Yeah, only thing that -- I hit a couple of loose tee shots yesterday, but today I sorted that out. I went to hit balls last night and I drove the ball very well today and my iron-play has been extremely solid the last three days, so it is just a question of making the putts. If I make some putts early tomorrow and I get my tail in the air, then I think I will have a chance.

Q. What is the difference between when you are putting well like you did in '90, '94 and when you are putting badly, why is it that you are?

NICK PRICE: Could you tell me? (laughs) if you could tell me, it will be worth a fortune--

Q. Any one --

NICK PRICE: I can't tell. I look at my putting, my stroke on video and I look at those -- that run that I went through then and my stroke feels the same. I feel like I am working on the same things. Just the ball doesn't go in the hole sometimes. I think once you get a little bit of confidence, momentum and confidence is everything in this game. And once you get a bit of confidence and that momentum going then the hole gets bigger. That is what happens. I just -- I suppose if anything, I need to try and not try -- try not as hard and just let the stroke happen. I think sometimes I get out there -- because I know that if I make the putts I am going to have a chance. That is the thing that is frustrating.

Q. But it is easy to press a little bit when you are in --

NICK PRICE: That is what happens. The hole kind of shrinks, you kind of guide the ball on line so often. There is a very fine line there. I mean, just look back at Tiger, a year ago to where he is now and a year ago all the putts were sliding by and then the last five months everything has been going in. So that is the difference for us. When you see someone who is out there making those 15- to 20-footers, that is the person who is really, you know, will be able to get to be able to win.

Q. There is a little bit more breeze out there today; wasn't there?


Q. But it doesn't -- some of it was cross and quartering, all that kind of stuff. Was it hard to find a hole that was downwind or directly into the wind?

NICK PRICE: The back nine played harder than the front nine. And it always does with any wind that blows from sort of southwest, west or northwest. And today is usual because it is, I guess, almost due west which we are normally get a little bit of the northwest or little bit out of southwest but today it is due west. I can't remember having played this golf course with that wind. It fooled me on a couple of club selections today. But it normally doesn't blow that strong from that direction. Normally from the opposite direction. It is a different golf course. Every time the wind switches, you know, this golf course changes its character. I just think they have done such a great job of the golf course. It is just the fact we have had such benign conditions the last two days that guys have shot lights out but if the wind picks up normally like it does you are going to see a better test.

Q. What would you like tomorrow?


Q. Why?

NICK PRICE: Because then I don't have to make as many putts (laughs). I think if it's really windy it plays into ball-striker's hands. I have always felt that.

Q. With all the talk this week about the low scores do you feel it's become something of fashionable for tournament or nicer to want and feel like they need, I mean, just barely breaking par they don't want, you know, bird?

NICK PRICE: Look at how many people are out there today. I think -- when you get to the golf course in condition like this, and you have no wind, it doesn't matter the golf course could be 7,600 yards guys are still going to shoot low.

Q. Do you think tournament organizers are embarrassed when that happens?

NICK PRICE: I don't think so. I think some people who, maybe the people who own the clubs sometimes feel that the guys are taking advantage of the course, but I think it is always a compliment because you can't shoot the low score on a badly-conditioned golf course. And particularly badly-conditioned greens. When you go out there and you see guys making putts from all over the place it is just really, it is a compliment I think to the greenkeeper and the grounds crew. This golf course needs wind. There is no doubt about it. It is like a Links-type golf course in many respects in that you have to have wind to make it a tough test. 90% of the time this time of year it is going to blow pretty hard, we just got a freaky last two days.

Q. Does this help the future of the tournament because you guys are always happier when you are shooting low numbers, get people back here?

NICK PRICE: I think guys are happier when they get rewarded for good play and whether that relates to low numbers or not, that remains to be seen. I just like to go out there when I play well, I want to know that I can shoot, you know, be rewarded. You can hit good irons out there and the ball gets close to the hole. You can position yourself off the tee as to where the pin is on the green, so that it gives you optimum line in so there is a lot of strategy in this course. If you are not driving the ball well, you are going to have a tough time because those bunkers -- still a lot of bunkers out there. But I think a lot of guys will come back next year.

Q. Were they a little more generous there and before -- before Raymond made the changes, was it this wide and was the rough up maybe a little bit more or narrower?

NICK PRICE: No, the rough hasn't -- we have had such little rain down here that the rough is just not where it normally is. I mean, probably got in places two, three inches, but sometimes we have four inches of rough here. Very few golf courses have sprinkler heads in the rough, that is what makes the rough grow, the rain. So I don't think -- I don't think this golf course is as tough a shape as it could be. But they can grow the fairways in a little bit more too. But I think all intense and purposes they have gone - as far as I am concerned - in the right direction. I think a lot of guys are happier.

Q. Do you think that the courses where the majors are played and perhaps even the THE PLAYERS Championship, that you all would accept those conditions and those course are going to be difficult and other events and other tournaments should just let the original design characteristics come into play and not really try to trick those courses up?

NICK PRICE: I suppose that is -- that is a tough question because if you have a look at the evolution of the game over the last sort of 40 years, the golf courses have definitely got longer. But they have got in better condition. You have seen the greens faster. So greens like Oakmont that, you know, maybe in the '50s used to run at about a 10 on the stimpmeter are now running at 14s and 15s. People say the ball goes further. I don't think the ball goes much further, but I think it flies straighter. I know that the equipment, the new drivers hit the ball straighter. So I would like to see our golf courses not necessarily get any longer, but maybe get a little more severe off the tee and as in the major Championships, except for Augusta, but where you have to drive the ball a lot straighter or hit -- there is more of a premium of hitting it in the fairway. But I think the USGA, they will go to any lengths and sometimes over the top, as far as I am concerned, to make sure that we don't break par, where sometimes you can stand in the middle of the fairway and hit 10, 5-irons and you wouldn't be -- I will pitch all ten of them on the green and not one of them will stay on the green. I remember Olympia where on the 4th hole there we were hitting 4-irons off of a 440 yard par 4 to try and keep the ball -- 4-irons off the tee to try and keep the ball in the fairway. That is the extreme. But I have actually been speaking to the Tour and I think what we really need to do is make sure that the medium -- longer hitters have the same width fairway as the medium hitters. I think our golf courses -- we are seeing a new generation of players come along now who hit the ball 280 yards carry off the tee and they are carrying all the hazards that have been in these golf courses 15, 20 years ago. We need to put more hazards, be it bunkers or water hazards so that there is equal playing ground and they can't just stand there and fly it 20 yards over all the trouble into the widest part of the fairway. I think that is what you are going to see happen, the fairways will tighten up a bit. Kind of hoping at Augusta they would do that because the second -- first hole second hole, 8th hole, where is the other one, couple of other ones, the further you go, the wider the fairway is. So last year they decided to put the new tee on No. 2. I thought they should have put some more bunkers behind that bunker, so that the longer hitters would have had the same area as we had to hit. It is the same golf course. It is hard because you are trying to compare one's stats today and everyone's performances today to the Jack Nicklauss and the Byron Nelsons and those guys. In baseball and other games you can say, yes, you can do that but in golf you can't -- it is very difficult to do that because the equipment has changed so much and the conditioning of the golf course.

Q. You are saying you have got to put more bunkers further down the fairway?

NICK PRICE: Right. If you could equate it to tennis, it is like a really hard server would have a bigger service line, that would be like a guy like Ivanisevic having another three feet on the service line over a guy who is just a medium hitter and he has got a shorter one, so it is not really an equal playing ground right now, I don't think. I think it is something we need to pay attention to on our golf course.

Q. Didn't they do that at Congressional in 1997?

NICK PRICE: I think they did a great job at Congressional. I think -- fairways were the same width all the way up, so if you hit it 300 yards you still had 27 yards of fairways, if you hit the 260.

Q. By making those changes does it level the playing field rather than giving the advantage to the long hitters by lengthening the course?

NICK PRICE: Right. Everyone seems to think that to make a course tougher just lengthen the golf course. Well, that is not always true because you are playing into the hands of the longer hitters. We got so many really good players out there who when they get on courses that are little longer have very little chance to win, so you got the bombers out there who are just going to smash and it is a much easier golf course for them.

Q. How receptive has the Tour been to your suggestions?

NICK PRICE: I think they have been pretty receptive. I think we have had discussions about it. As I say, it is not to particularly single out any particular player, although I sound like I am talk -- but just to make sure that we all have an equal playing field.

Q. Getting back to your game do you feel, I guess the urgency of time now, what is your mindset, Greg was in here talking about two years left, eight majors --

NICK PRICE: He is two years older than I am,. No urgency here (laughs).

Q. Tiger out there, I mean, where do you think you can be?

NICK PRICE: Tiger is not going to win everything. There is plenty of room out there for everyone else, plenty of tournaments out there for everyone else. He had .330 winning average last year, that means another 66 percent out there and there are certain courses where he is going to have a distinct advantage; Augusta being one, and -- but Pebble Beach I don't think he is going to have a huge advantage there. I don't know about Valhalla, but he will definitely have an advantage at St. Andrews, I guarantee we are going to have a long hitter. They lengthened the golf course by 300 yards or 400 yards. It's played right in the hands of all the long hitters. I mean, there is probably five or six other bunkers that come into play now that they have lengthened it for players like me, but it hasn't affected the Dalys and the Mickelsons and the Tigers and the Duvals. They have not even seen those bunkers.

Q. You said Thursday somebody asked you the same thing about time running out. You said you had a lot of good golf left in you. Does a day like today repump you up; reaffirm that?

NICK PRICE: It does. I mean, obviously I would like to have not made the mistakes I did coming in because I think they were -- just took the sting out of the day for me. If I had managed to shoot 64, 63 I would have been really proud of myself today. But I think as certainly as you get older you know more about your swing and you know the experience that you have had in the game. Just makes it a little easier mentally. It gets a little tougher physically, but I mean, I can't go and hit as many balls as I did when I was in my 20s. I think my body would probably wear out if I did. But I don't need to. It is still fun for me. As long as it is still fun and I can go out and get a little charged up when I play well like I did today, I will keep going.

Q. How good is that 66 when you have three bogeys and you par 1 and 10; does that make it even better?

NICK PRICE: I am embarrassed I parred 1. I hit a good second shot. And 10 was kind of -- the wind was unsettling today. It was -- it was a little tough.

Q. You didn't get the push you normally --

NICK PRICE: I hit a good drive and 3-wood on one. 10 I was just short with a 3-wood, so, I am -- I made a whole heap of birdies other places, so I can't complain.

End of FastScripts….

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