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June 10, 1999

Nick Price


NICK PRICE: St. Jude is supposed to be cooler here?

JAMES CRAMER: We have Nick Price with us this afternoon, 7-under par, 64. And we're looking up, and it's your 14th consecutive subpar round here at the TPC, and 20th out of the last 21, you've played here. Why don't we get a general comment and then go over birdies.

NICK PRICE: I think I only missed two greens today, so I hit ball really solidly. I drove the ball well. And the greens were a lot softer this morning than they were yesterday afternoon. And I think the main reason being is that with this heat, if the greenskeeper doesn't water them, he may lose them. So there's no fault of anyone's other than the heat that the scores are low. But yesterday afternoon, the greens were very firm, and they were a little faster than they were this morning. Just that little bit of a softness and a little bit of slower speed let's us play a little more aggressively. And that's why guys are making so many birdies out there. Like I say, I've been playing well. I played the par 5s well; really, all the par 5s. And I holed a couple of good putts on my 1st hole, which was the 10th, from about maybe 12 feet. And No. 2, which was my 11th hole, also from about 12 feet. And No. 5, I was just short and pitched up to about 10 or 12 feet and made that. So my 12 feet, and in putting today was really good. Birdies, I started on 10. A 3-wood and an 8-iron to 12 feet. 16, I hit a drive and a 3-wood just over the back, and I chipped up to about a foot. 17, a drive and a 7-iron to about, oh, five, six feet behind the hole. Par, 12 feet, and I hit a pitching wedge off the tee. Next hole, par 5, I hit a 4-wood for my second shot and hit it up there about, oh, probably about 30 feet on the green. 2-putted for birdie. And then No. 5, I hit a good drive. And I tried to hit a 4-wood underneath a tree, and it came up and hit the tree, and it finished about 25 yards short of the green. And I pitched up about 8, 10 feet there. I'm not very good at these distances. And the last hole, I hit a drive and 8-iron to about two feet. So I started with a birdie and finished with a birdie. That's always a good way to work your day.

Q. Yesterday you said 20 to 25 would win the tournament. Do you think that was a little bit conservative?

NICK PRICE: Not me. I didn't say that. I said 12- to 15-under, if the greens stayed the same. But it's going to be higher than that. I mean, 8-under, I think we're probably looking at 18 to 20 now if the greens stay the same. You know, what's happening now is the wind is picking up a little bit. When you've got a little bit of wind, it sucks all the moisture out of the greens, especially with the bright sunshine. And the greens will firm up a little bit as the afternoon goes on, and they will water them again tonight, and then probably tomorrow morning a little bit. And it will probably be a carbon copy -- tomorrow will be a carbon copy of today. So I think you will probably see the scores go up slightly as the afternoon progresses. Also, a lot of guys walking on the greens and a few more spike marks. But normally this time of year, the good scores will show up in the morning.

Q. Given those factors, do you like seeing that you get that early tee time on Thursday?

NICK PRICE: I always like playing later than early. I just think you have more continuity. I've got to wait 24 hours now to play. And it doesn't seem that much, but I've always preferred playing late than early. Because to go on the practice tee Thursday night, hit a few balls, and you wake up the next morning, and you're ready to go. But I'm happy I scored low in the first round. I've got the attitude I can play 3:00 or 4:00 tomorrow afternoon.

Q. (Inaudible.)

NICK PRICE: You know, the first three rounds, all you're trying to do is stay in position. And if I shot 4- or 5-under today, I would still be happy, because I would feel that I would still be in touch. You know, I'll tell you, the target is going to be around 18- to 20-under. How you get there, whether you do it all in the first two or three rounds, or you do it in the last three rounds, because that's basically what I'm going to try and set my target on this week.

Q. You talked about the greens and the conditions. Would you like to see it this way? Is this what you'd like to play?

NICK PRICE: I'd like to see the greens a little firmer. If the greens were a little firmer like they were yesterday afternoon, it rewards the guys for -- the shot-makers a little more. These greens have a lot of humps and hollows, and also some cloverleaves where they hide the pins and you have to manipulate the ball from the fattest part of the green into the pin, whether that's left or right. But when you get a little bit of release on the ball, it rewards the guys who are hitting their irons a little more crisply and hitting it out in the fairway. Whereas, here you can get in the first cut of rough, you can just basically go and play aggressively at the pin. The ball is going to stop with a 7-iron, probably within about four or five yards of where he pitches. And once you have that, your target becomes much bigger. Your margin for error is greater. I'd like to see the greens a little firmer, but I don't think the superintendent can do anything about it right now because of this heat. He could lose his greens if he doesn't cut them down too much and he doesn't water them with the right amount.

Q. You mentioned that you like the way you're able to start with a birdie in and out. Is there anything in particular about that No. 9 or No. 10 hole that you feel a lot more confidence on?

NICK PRICE: The pin position on No. 9 today was probably one of the easiest on the greens. You didn't have to go over any water, and it was right in the middle of the right-hand section, and I had a perfect yardage. I think I had 152. I normally hit my 8-iron about 150; so it was a perfect 8-iron for me, and much same at No. 10. The pin was on the front part of the green, and I think I had a 150 yards, a little bit uphill, and it was a little cooler when we started this morning. It wasn't quite as hot. It was humid, but it wasn't quite as hot. Anyway, I hit a good 8-iron there to about 10 or 12 feet, just underneath the hole. It's so important on this golf course to keep the ball underneath the hole because you do have some slope behind the hole, and you can obviously putt a lot more aggressively if you leave the ball short of the hole. It was easier to do that today than it was yesterday afternoon because the greens are softer.

Q. What about 16? You just own the hole.

NICK PRICE: I hit another good 3-wood today. Pitched it up over the back. I chipped it up about six inches. That hole has been awfully good to me. It's long par 5 for me, too. It requires -- unless you get a little bit of a wind behind, like what's picking up now, it's a good drive and a 3-wood for me. I hit a really good drive. I think I had 256 or 257 yards to the pin. That's a stout 3-wood.

Q. The week before a major, do you use this and prepare differently in this tournament because you're coming up towards this major? Do you do anything different?

NICK PRICE: It's very difficult. Next week is a totally different ball game. It's a different golf course. Different conditions. And it requires -- if you're playing well, you should be able to take your game anywhere and play well. I think there are certain courses that people feel more comfortable on, but there are not very much shots around the green that you have to play here this week that you're going to take next week. But you've still got to drive the ball straight. You've got to hit your irons solidly. That's what I'm paying attention to this week. If I play well this week, I'll try and take that game to next week. I think that's it. I don't think there are very many guys out here who are not thinking about next week, but I think most of us are professional enough to give it our best and make sure -- this is another important tournament for all of us. You win this tournament going into next week, it's going to give you a lot of confidence.

Q. What does a cricket fan do to watch the game?

NICK PRICE: Done. They finished an hour ago, unfortunately.

Q. Do you know who won?

NICK PRICE: I think I heard one of the Australian caddies -- I think it was 40 runs; Australia beat Zimbabwe. 44? Thanks.

Q. That was a pretty good effort for you?

NICK PRICE: We've got three farmers, two doctors and a lawyer on our team. (Laughs.)

JAMES CRAMER: Thank you, sir.

End of FastScripts....

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