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August 28, 1999

Nick Price


JAMES CRAMER: We have Nick Price with us. Tied for second at 9, minus 6 after a 68 today. Why don't we get right into it and go over your card, if we could.

NICK PRICE: Bit of an up-and-down start for me today. Birdie on 2, then bogey on 3. And did well to make bogey on 3, because I holed about a 15-, 16-footer. Then birdied 6. Sorry -- birdied 5, bogeyed 6, birdied 7 and 8. You know, it was an up-and-down start. And I just tried to play a little bit more consistently coming in. Trying to hit a few more greens and play a little less aggressively. When I got to the last four or five holes and I saw Tiger at 11 (-under), I was trying to make a few more birdies so I wouldn't have a five-shot deficit going into tomorrow. Good ball-striking day; couple of poor tee shots, which cost me the bogeys I made. But I played pretty much the same all week. I'm starting to putt solidly again. I think the PGA, the way I played in the PGA, showed that. I was starting to -- I'm not putting great, but I'm not putting -- I'm putting above average. Which, most of the year, I've been putting average. So it's nice to go in and make the odd 20-footer, which I have been doing this week. But the course conditions are -- they are soft. And that allows you to be aggressive with your approach shots to the green. And I think Tiger has taken advantage of the fact that, where most of us are hitting maybe 3- and 4-irons to a lot of these par 4s, he's hitting in 6- and 7-irons, even 8-irons. He can really play aggressively, more aggressively than the rest of us can. And he took advantage of that today. When I look up there and I see 62 posted there on the board, I've got to make a lot of 20- or 25-footers to shoot that here. That's a phenomenal round of golf. To compare that to Jose's 61 -- I don't think you can compare it to Jose's 61 or Fulton Allem's 62. The course is probably 200 yards longer than when they shot those scores. The course is still a little wet. It's taken a little time to dry out. I was surprised. But shows the amount of rain we had on Wednesday night.

Q. Two out of the last three weeks, you've played some great golf. And this guy Tiger Woods -- is that a little deflating to play as well as you have and knowing you're going into Sunday's round five shots back?

NICK PRICE: No. I've made some mistakes. I feel like four years ago, I probably would be right about 10- or 11-under now myself. But I've just made, you know, some mistakes. Whether it's -- I don't know, lack of concentration or -- it just seems to be I'm making some dumb mistakes this week. I made a double-bogey yesterday. I haven't made a double-bogey on a par 5 or anything when I'm playing well. The big thing for me is I've got to clean up the errors. And if I can do that, I can shoot a good round tomorrow. But, you know, if he shoots even par tomorrow, Fred or myself, we're going to have to shoot 65. And that's not out of the picture. Nobody wants to give Tiger Woods a five-shot start, but it can be done. He's got to stay on his toes. He's got to play well tomorrow. But it's not deflating, to answer your question. It's very hard playing with him sometimes, because he just -- he has the ability to overpower a golf course, where most of us, especially a golf course of this length, where, you know, I'm maybe an above-average-in-length hitter of the ball, and I can't hold a candle to him. He just hits it so far, and carries the ball such a long way. You know, you sort of -- sort of like a David and Goliath out there with the normal guys playing with him because he's just so strong and he hits it so far. But he showed he can make some mistakes, at the PGA, and he's got to play well tomorrow.

Q. How difficult is it to -- you said you are sort of playing fairly conservatively, and then you saw what he was doing. How hard is it to jump-start yourself to get back?

NICK PRICE: It's just a mindset change. That's all you do. Instead of maybe aiming for the middle of the green every now and then, you start looking at the flags, and I did that coming in. I tried to start hitting the ball closer from about 14 onwards. I birdied 14, and, you know, it's hard to get aggressive on 16 when you've got a 3-iron in your hand. You're more than happy to hit it on the green with a 3-iron, try to force the pace, and I pushed my 3-iron in the bunker. And I had a close save on 17 and 18 for birdie. I wouldn't mind being one or two behind, but five is a tall order. I'm not saying you can't do it.

Q. As you pointed out, you can't stumble in a big tournament with big names like a Nick Price that's there and you can take advantage. He showed it, you mentioned at the PGA. Do you think as young as he is and as well as he's playing, he may have a few thoughts that way?

NICK PRICE: You know, the guy is human, and that's one thing you've got to understand about this game. It doesn't matter. If you look over the years, all the great players made mistakes. Arnold Palmer lost the Masters make a triple on the last hole. Jack Nicklaus lost his fair share of tournaments. Ben Hogan did. Everybody did. That's one thing I suppose most of us are looking at tomorrow is the guy is human and he can make mistakes. But how old is he now? 22?

Q. 23.

NICK PRICE: He's getting old. When you're 23, you don't really look to the negatives too much. You look to the positives especially the way he's played this summer. I don't think he played as well as he has this summer. I think he feels disappointed that he only one won major. Since Muirfield, his short game has been so strong. You've heard him talk about how good his long game is, but the reality is his short game is just very strong. I know yesterday he was a little upset because didn't make as many putts as he thought, but he didn't shoot himself out of contention; and today came right back. That's the sign of a real champion.

Q. By the same token, you are playing so well again nowadays that you've got to be -- have a lot of confidence, and you're playing like what you call steady golf. By the same token, you guys always say it's hard to follow up a super round with another good round?

NICK PRICE: That's true. It is hard to follow up a round of 62 out there, because you know, everything obviously went his way today. And tomorrow he may have a little bit of adversity, and it will be interesting to see how he handles it. The way he handled himself at the PGA, I think was not the Tiger Woods of a year ago, or 18 months ago. I think his caddie, Steve Williams, has had a great effect and has been a great support -- supporter of his on the bag. I think that's one thing. He's kind of calmed him a little bit and known when to pull in the reins a little bit, and known when to give him the whip a little bit. They have really done well together since he's been on the bag. I think that's an important thing. But it is hard to shoot a great round, two great rounds back-to-back. You know, he's not going to have it all his own way tomorrow, I don't think. Because Freddie obviously played really well today, and Carlos Franco is another guy who can really overpower a golf course and hits it a long way. If I can get my putter going, one of us is going to do something for sure.

Q. You are pleased with your game now?

NICK PRICE: Oh, sure. I always look at the top half of my game, which is still very strong. It's the bottom half when some of the shots that I've been hitting, little loose shots here and there. It just seems to me like more lapses of concentration than anything. If I can keep my game nice and tight tomorrow, I should be able to shoot a good one.

Q. Tiger's game was good when he was 20 and 21. Is it discouraging to see how much he has improved in the last two years?

NICK PRICE: A lot. You know, you can't really pick on one specific thing. I think if you look at where he was -- I played with him in the U.S. Open in '95 at Shinnecock, and there was a lot of raw talent there. Over the last two or three years, I've played numerous occasions with him. Every time I've played with him, it seems like he's just rounding off an edge here or there. It seems like that's what he's doing now. He's going about very astutely rounding off the edges of his game, improving and just own honing. I think he's going to continue to improve, too. The big thing for me is that he mustn't lose the desire to go out there and win, because by the time he gets to 25 or 26, he's going to have conquered a lot of mountains. That's a difficult thing. He'll have all the money in the world. He'll probably have won more majors in the next three years. It's just a question of can he keep going like Nicklaus did. The way he looks right now, he will be able to. The guy, my hat's off to him. With all the publicity and the attention that he gets, he still goes out there and plays golf, and that's not an easy thing to do when you're faced with the kind of life that he's leading right now, which is very high-profile and very difficult for him to go anywhere without just being able to be -- to have a nice, quiet dinner without a hundred people bugging him.

Q. If Tiger wins tomorrow, it will be his 5th of the year, and I guess that's the most since -- might be the most since you did and you won five. Can you tell us what that's like?

NICK PRICE: You know, there's nothing more gratifying than when you're playing well and you win. That is the ultimate high, I guess, for any athlete. There was a period for me, about 28 months there from about the middle of 1992 to the tail end of 1994 where I felt if I played well, I was going to win, or I was going to have a really good chance of winning. It's a wonderful feeling. It just -- you just feel like you've done all your homework and you're reaping the rewards at your exams. It's very hard to describe. And you feel like it's never going to come to an end. Unfortunately it does for all of us.

Q. Is that a different feeling from let's say when you get in a hot streak for a short time, he's in the position you were in, he's done his homework and built it slowly and he knows it's not about to go away any time soon, as opposed to just a short streak?

NICK PRICE: Arnold Palmer -- put it into perspective here. He came to me in 1994 at Bay Hill and he said to me: Don't change what you're doing. And that was probably the wisest statement anyone said to me during that period. Obviously, everything I was doing was right. And he said: Don't change it. If I had, you know, to say something to Tiger, it would be to echo on Palmer's words and say: Tiger, don't change what you're doing now. Keep honing and keep refining, but keep the recipe there, because it's the recipe on the golf course, off the golf course, how it's working, the whole recipe makes him feel comfortable, what he's doing with his life. I think the biggest drawback he faces or the biggest hurdle is just to make sure that he doesn't overextend himself playingwise, and he doesn't bite off too much. And he seems this year, I think he's only played -- this is his 18th or 19th tournament. He's done a good job of that, of being able to not overplay.

Q. Without going into the whole thing of at the end of the career as you look back and see what a guy has accomplished, you were a No. 1 for a period; Norman went through a long period, Nicklaus. Is it possible to compare how good the guys were when they are at the top of their game to how Tiger is now? Is one fellow better?

NICK PRICE: That's the $64,000 question. If you can get Hogan and Nelson all of us together, I think when you look at certain generation of golfer and you see how Nicklaus overpowered the game in the 60s and the 70s. You know, I always think back to what Bobby Jones said. He walked around with Nicklaus at Augusta, he says: "This guy plays a game that I'm not familiar with." If you take Hale Irwin out and he played with Tiger, I'm sure he'd probably say the same thing. Out of every generation, there's always one maybe two guys who stick ahead of the race, stick their head out. It just seems that in the fast-paced world we live in now, there's more than one. There's more and more of these young guys coming out. There are so many guys who are in college who are really inspired by Tiger, and he's probably got another two or three years before the next Tiger Woods comes out. There's probably another one or two coming out, believe me. I think when I look at the younger crop of players, certainly the 23-year-olds, I don't think there's anyone even close to him right now. David is 28, isn't it? You can't really compare 28 to 23. But he certainly -- I think he's head and shoulders above all the other 23 year olds right now. Sergio, if he keeps improving his game like Tiger has over the last two or three years he's going to be a huge factor, too, but I think he's a little immature. And I don't say that in a negative way. He's just very new to the professional game, and he's learning every day how to improve. And he's certainly got that look in his eye that he wants to be a champion.

Q. You mentioned your putting has gotten better. Have you put in that same amount of work as you did --

NICK PRICE: I've started to work a lot harder on my putting through the summer. I've had little bit of a bad wrist the last three or four weeks; so I've pull actually spent more time on the putting green. That has also helped.

JAMES CRAMER: Quickly go over your birdies.

NICK PRICE: No. 2, driver and 4-wood to about 50 feet, two putts. Hooked my driver on No. 3 in the left-hand rough. Laid up; pitched it on the green. Came back, screwed back off the green, and chipped up about 15 feet and made that for bogey. No. 5, 6-iron to about eight feet. Number No. 6, drive in the middle of the fairway and hit my second shot a little heavy, and came up about five yards short and chipped and 2-putted. 7, 4-iron to about 35 feet and made that. No. 8, 7-iron for my second shot to about probably 20 feet. 10, I hit a 3-wood in the right-hand rough came up short and I chipped up short about 10 feet and missed it. Birdie I think on No. 14. Hit driver and 8-iron to about 12, 13 feet.

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