February 24, 1999
JAMES CRAMER: We have Nick Price, winner of the first match 4-3 over Frankie Minoza. And Nick, if we can get started, maybe give us a comment about your play today.
NICK PRICE: Sure. I played pretty solidly all day. I drove the ball well. Greens were absolutely perfect when we got out there this morning; first group out. So rolled in a couple good putts. It was a bit of momentum swing in our match. I eagled the second hole. I chipped in from just pitched in from maybe five, six yards short of the green. And then we both I birdied No. 4 to go 2-up, and then we both bogeyed 5. Then he birdied 6 and 7; so we went back to even. And then I came right back with a birdie on 8. And then he made two mistakes on 10 and 11. He 3-putted 11 and made bogey on 10 and that got me 3-up. Birdied 12 which pretty much, you know, he was then 4-down; and with about 6 to play, I think at that stage -- but all and all, it was a good day for me. I felt that my good play from last week has carried through to this week. Probably putted a little better today than I did any other days last week, which is always a good sign, but with the greens as perfect as they were, that -- it was almost to be expected.
Q. What was the winning stroke, as it turns out, on 12?
NICK PRICE: On 12, I was just short in two and I pitched up, actually hit the flag and finished up like this (indicating two and a half inches). He made 5. I made birdie there. We both birdied the next hole which was 13; parred 14; and then 15, we both parred and that was it.
Q. On 12 you chipped up and tapped in?
NICK PRICE: He gave it to me. It was like this - (indicating two and a half inches) - just in the leather.
Q. What were you stroke-wise through 15?
NICK PRICE: I don't know, I have to think now.
Q. 3-under at the turn?
NICK PRICE: Yes, I was 5-under today, yeah, 5-under.
Q. Ordinarily a round like that puts you among the leaders, in this tournament just puts you in another day?
NICK PRICE: Yeah, you got -- every day you start all over again. It is the nature of Match Play. You just got to go out there and do your very best each day. I probably may have shot 66 today the way I played for 6-under, and be very happy now, looking forward for a good tournament. Tomorrow is a brand new day. I mean, for most of us, I played a lot of amateur golf, and when you played a lot of amateur golf, you have played a lot of Match Play, and you know exactly what is ahead. Even though it was a long time ago, I still know what Match Play is all about. I could just as easily be on the plane now going home. It is the nature of Match Play. It is hard sometimes, because you can play well; and, I mean, I feel some other guys today who might be 4- or 5-under through 16 holes will get beaten. Because probably 50% of them -- the guys would have played, they would have won today. But that is what happens.
Q. What do you do the rest of the day?
NICK PRICE: I don't know, I can't remember finishing at 10:30 before (laughs).
Q. Going to sit and watch the tournament?
NICK PRICE: I don't know. I will go and practice then go and have some lunch. I don't know. I mean, I have got to find a lot of things to do to fill the time I got. Probably end up doing a lot of practice today though.
Q. What is your philosophy on Match Play? Do you play the player or the course; is it a mixture?
NICK PRICE: Your strategy on a hole is really determined by what your opponent is doing. But I try not to get too concerned about what he is doing, unless he gives me an opportunity; and by that I mean hits a poor tee shot, or hits a poor approach shot. Then obviously I am going to change my strategy a little bit. I might hit a 3-wood off the tee instead of hitting driver. I might hit my iron shot; so my approach shot to the middle of the green, as opposed to going for the flag. There is a lot of strategy in Match Play and the momentum -- I mean we had a perfect example on No. 5 today where he hit a drive and I drove it down the middle of the fairway, or actually just finished in the first cut of rough, and he drove it in the bunker and he had a 200-yard shot. He hit a great shot out of there just short of the green, and I pulled my second shot in the bunker and then hit it up ten feet and missed the putt and he'd had a 5-footer to make the putt and he missed it. Looked like I was going to win the hole off the tee shot. Then it looked even. Then he looked like he was going to win it and he missed the putt. That is something you have to deal with all the time. Normally in Match Play you find someone who is a steady player seems to always do well. Doesn't get too emotional.
Q. Is that the sort of thing when you are going to have that much ebb and flow -- (inaudible) does it make this much more mentally taxing?
NICK PRICE: It is. The guy who wins or the two guys that go through the final of this tournament or Championship, they are going to be very tired at the end of this week. I don't care how physically fit they are, how mentally fit they are, they are both going to be very, very tired people and you know. I remember in the World Match Play, the one we played at Wentworth back in I think it was 1988 when I lost to Seve in the final, I played something like 132 holes in five days. I tell you, it took me three days to recover from that. It was just really very, very taxing.
Q. Given that you are going to have to play seven rounds in five days, how nice it is to get a relatively comfortable win first day 4-3?
NICK PRICE: It is good, but there is no relevance on the rest of the week. I mean absolutely none whatsoever. Only thing that has any relevance to me is the fact that I played well today. And that I have to go out, but I might play again -- I might play exactly the same way I do today and lose 2-1 or something to someone who is a little hotter than I. So I think what happens for us as professionals, we play so much stroke-play that we -- you don't always want to take chances sometimes in stroke-play where you don't need to. But in Match Play, you are forced to. Sometimes that has an adverse effect on players. Certainly it is a change of mentality in this game. It really is, and change of approach.
Q. How strange it is going to be Thursday morning when you are normally starting a tournament to come out here and know half the field has already gone home?
NICK PRICE: I don't know. (laughs) I really haven't even thought about that.
Q. Are you going to think about the half that is gone?
NICK PRICE: That is basically what you start looking at now. I don't even know who is in my section, to be honest with you. I know that I am going to play Maggert or Fred Funk tomorrow, because I play the winner of that match. But passed that, I don't know who is in my bracket. I really have no idea; so I haven't even looked at it, because you don't want to start thinking three games ahead. Well, if I win this and he wins that and whatever, you are going to drive yourself crazy. Just go out there and play today.
Q. Is there a different dynamic between you and the guy you are playing that might --
NICK PRICE: But it all evens out in the wash, because we have all played -- if you had to take two players who are totally opposite, I mean, someone like Tiger and say Corey Pavin for example. When Corey Pavin was playing his best golf, he could shoot 66 and match Tiger's 66. I mean, there you got totally opposite players. So you have to be aware of the player that you are playing and the strength that he has, and try and take advantage of your strengths more than anything else. If I am going to play someone like Tiger who is hitting the ball a long way, I know I am going to be at a disadvantage on the par 5s. Any par 5 that I win playing against him is going to be a bonus. When you come to the shorter par 4s and par 3s, that is when I have got to take advantage of it; so if I start hitting poor iron shots on the short par 4s and the par 3s, I am going to be in a lot of trouble that day. But basically everyone is aware we all play the game a different way, and you just have to play to your strengths.
Q. Is there other ways to psych the other guy out, things like that, have you tried that at all?
NICK PRICE: I have never tried it, some -- ask other guys, but I have never tried it. Basically to psych a guy out is to keep making putts. That really irritates people (laughter). Including myself.
Q. How much pressure are the players feeling this week? You guys seem a little more tense?
NICK PRICE: No one wants to lose in first rounds. That is the hardest thing coming in here. But as I said, it is a bit of a crapshoot the first round. In fact every round is, you know, who -- on any given day, anybody in this field can beat anyone else. You know what I am saying? Everyone in this field can shoot a 64 or a 63 on his day. Tiger might shoot them a little more regularly than some other guys, but if you play against a hot player one day and your game is marginal, you are out of here. That is why I think maybe there is a little bit of tension in the air. Because guys are used to getting in there -- I was thinking this morning, as well as I am playing, if it was a stroke-play event, how much money would I make out of the purse at the end of the week. Well, I feel like I am probably playing well enough to finish in the Top-10 right now. But I might not get through the final 32. So, that is tough. I mean, because our whole game has always been based on four rounds and consistency and keeping your cool, playing through your bad patches. Here you can't play through -- you play through your bad patch. Here you might lose three or four holes to a guy and you are done. That is something that I suppose is a little bit frustrating, but who knows, I might go all the way through to the final.
Q. Does it almost feel like a major with the pressure, the tension?
NICK PRICE: No, it is just totally different. I mean, you always feel when you are playing one person you feel a certain amount of tension. One of you is going to lose at the end of the day. But it is a different beast altogether, Match Play.
JAMES CRAMER: Nick, why don't we go over your birdies real quick. Tell us the clubs.
NICK PRICE: Sure, second hole a driver and 3-wood, as I say, about five, six yards short of the green I pitched it in. Then the 4th hole, I hit a 9-iron for my second shot to about 22 feet. Made that. I bogeyed the 5th hole. I hit my second shot in the bunker; knocked it out about ten feet and missed the putt. No. 8, a 3-wood and an 8-iron to about 25 feet. Number 12, a drive and 3-wood just short of the green probably 4 yards short of the green, and I chipped up to about six inches. Next hole 13, a drive and pitching wedge to about 12 feet. I made that. Then just -- that was it.
JAMES CRAMER: Yes.
NICK PRICE: Okay.
JAMES CRAMER: Anymore questions? Thank you, Nick.
NICK PRICE: Thank you.
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