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August 21, 1997
LEE PATTERSON: Why don't we start you?
NICK PRICE: Me? Good start and good finish to my round in between, was a bit of a struggle. The course obviously played extremely long. Just if you didn't get the ball in the fairway, you know, you were struggling to make par. I think on No. 4 I hit a pretty good drive and ended up with about 228 or 230 yards to the pin uphill. It is more like a par 5. In fact, I think they have lengthened that hole and No. 13 by about 15 or 20 yards. It doesn't look like it, but when you get on there and you play it, it is considerably longer. Obviously, the wind conditions accentuate that. But the greens, the course is just in magnificent condition. It is actually a pity that it rained because it would have been playing really nice and fast by now. I think the greens are probably best I have seen them since they were redone.
GREG NORMAN: I agree with what he said. The golf course is beautiful. It was really -- you find with the soft greens and the soft fairways, even though the length is there to be played, I think you find the guys whether they are hitting 5- or 3-iron, were still going right at the flag. As Nick said, if it were firm, it would be a much more difficult golf course. But, I think the most important part around Firestone, every time you play here, is get the ball in play off the tee. If you do that, whether you have got 200 or 150 or 160 or 170, you have got to play aggressively. And I think you will find the scores are very indicative of the way the golf course has always been. 68, 67, seems like the regular scores around here, and today is no different.
LEE PATTERSON: Questions.
Q. It is any easier when you play together? I mean, you guys have been friends for a long time. Has it happened a lot this year or is this one of the first times?
NICK PRICE: I don't know.
GREG NORMAN: I don't think we played together in the first two rounds this year.
NICK PRICE: I don't think so.
GREG NORMAN: More in the third round together, but I think it is great, I really do because, you know, the little things that you guys don't hear and the way we support each other out there is nice. You don't want to see your friends or your playing partner play poorly so you give a little bit of encouragement. It goes both ways. I think that is a nice part about it. You are not out there trying to beat each other. You are out there to try and play the best golf you can, shoot the highest score you can. And, you know, it is our job. It is our office. We both respect each other's ability to play. But, we both want to see each other play the best we can play.
Q. How much of a factor was the weather?
GREG NORMAN: Well, the big difference here because, you got to understand with the golf course, basically is a north/south golf course. We had a west wind blowing. So, the wind was either right-to-left or left-to-right. I think there is only two holes really east/west or west/east. So, you are always playing a crosswind, you know, and that makes you concerned with some of the shots you are hitting, 3- and 4-irons. That is the difference here. If the wind moved around due north or due south, there are extremely long holes out there, played extremely long or a lot shorter. The golf course balanced out very well today. The west wind was a wind that makes you play hard. They had some good pin positions with the greens being soft as they are. It helped you get at them with 4- and 5-irons.
Q. Nick, how do you feel about your performance?
NICK PRICE: Good. You know, for me, just tomorrow, just trying to, you know, play the middle holes a little better. I did much the same at the Pro Am, got off to a good start, and from about 4 on to 13 or 14 nothing much happened, probably played those yesterday, I think, in over par as I did today. But, those are tough holes. These three pseudo-Par 5s, those 9 holes or 10 holes, and you just don't have any let up. You have got three par 3s or, you know, they all require long irons. 3-iron and a 2-iron and perhaps a 4-iron I think today, but, you know, you really got to hit your long irons well, as Greg said. But, just see if I can play those 9 or 10 holes in the middle tomorrow, even par, then hopefully score a little lower.
GREG NORMAN: You see, this sheet here doesn't -- this is not the yardage. The golf course we have been playing, like today, 13 they got down here 457. We played it like 475.
NICK PRICE: Yeah.
GREG NORMAN: And the 9th hole is about 480 now. Not 470. This is an old scorecard because they have lengthened the holes out there, you guys probably aren't aware of. Holes like that, when Nick says in the middle of your round you have got to get on a hole like 13, driver, 2-iron. He hit a beautiful drive down 13 today, but hits driver, iron onto very, very small greens. 16 has been lengthened. It is no piece of cake. I heard Jeff Sluman had to hit 4-wood into that green for his third shot. So those type of things that, you know, 18 being lengthened by maybe eight yards, so it is playing 407. The golf course is completely changed lengthwise. But, as Nick says, middle part of the golf course, even though you have got par 3s there, they are not short par 3s either.
Q. What is No. 4 playing then, Greg? It was 458 on that thing.
GREG NORMAN: Got to be playing close to 480. I hit a good drive, you know, probably 255 little bit uphill, and I had 238, 228, 230 to the flag uphill. Trying to hit a 1-iron. They have lengthened the 4th hole by 10, 12 yards so that is 470.
Q. It obviously appeals to the fans. Does it get your blood pumping a little bit when you see Woods, Norman, Price, Els, Love, Nicklaus, and Cook all up on the leaderboard all within a shot or two?
NICK PRICE: To me, I am just out there playing my own game. I think Greg is doing the same, just out there trying to do the very best we can. And if you look at the people who have been in form recently, you know, I feel that you know, I have been playing very solidly and if I manage my game well, then I am going to have a chance to win. But, I think it is exciting for the people. But, for us, I don't know. We sort of only start looking at the leaderboard come Sunday,. I think you know what it is going to take. You look at the leaderboard to get an idea of what the pace that the guys are playing at, but really don't pay too much attention to the guys who are there at all, you know, until Sunday because then you have got to see who the movers and the guys who can really fire. And, you know, if you are ahead of those guys, you just sort of -- you play accordingly.
GREG NORMAN: Yeah, I have never been an individual player -- I don't play somebody else on the leaderboard. I think that is something that people think happens. We never do. It is great to have a leaderboard for television and spectators that have a lot of good names there. But the good named players are out there doing, as Nick says, we are doing our own business out there. If our business is good enough to keep us there, then that is fine. I am not one to -- I have never been a leaderboard watcher. I mean, I like to look at it as Nick does every now and then just to get a feeling of what is happening: "Am I in the thick of things or am I not in the thick of things." Sometimes it is hard to tell. But, I don't look at the leaderboard and say, "Oh, my God, this individual is up there or that individual is up there." If you get into that habit, you get into a one-on-one situation and you don't need that. There are 72 holes in this golf tournament and there are 43 other players playing along with you. They are all just as capable of coming in there and just knocking you right off.
Q. Nick, there was an article in Golf Week about a week ago about what you have been through this summer trying to play since Squeeky died. I wonder if you could just relate a little bit of that, your feelings about that?
NICK PRICE: Any time you lose someone that is close to you, other things take -- your life takes on a different perspective. And, the fire went out of my belly for a while because I just, I don't know, I missed him more than anything else. And, you know, through just after the U.S. Open I didn't play very much and I didn't really want to play. It is a difficult thing, you know, and time heals. You know, I am just trying to remember him for all the good times we had. But, I had a tough time accepting that he was never going to be back out here again because, you know, he died so suddenly. It was like three, four days and he just, you know, his health just took a really bad turn. And, up until that stage I have been extremely hopeful, very positive that he was going to come out miraculously. So it was a very difficult time for me. But, you know, time heals. Just trying remember all the good times, and my wife and I have spoken a lot about it and, you know, June and July were difficult months for me.
Q. Greg, how would you assess the year? There was a lot of interest after last year. You have a victory, but Majors would have been what you wanted. Can you talk about that?
GREG NORMAN: About my year? It has been a poor year for me.
Q. Do you know why that is?
GREG NORMAN: Probably extenuating circumstances. I think just a matter of the fact that the sport you go through, a cycle of having poor times, you go through a cycle of having good times. This year has been a very poor year, as far as I am concerned. I know I haven't applied myself to the game as much as I should have done. I definitely hadn't applied myself to my short game, my putting, in particular, like I have done through the years previous. And when that happens, you lose your ability to score. And when you lose your ability to score, you are going to have a poor year. I don't care how good you hit the ball or manage your game, if I am not -- I am not having my scoring game with me, I am not going to be able to play well. I think that is very indicative of how the year has gone. I understand that. I see that. It is just a matter of getting myself geared up to change all that and get myself ready for next year.
Q. Why haven't you applied yourself, Greg? Do you know?
GREG NORMAN: Just sometimes it doesn't happen that way. Sometimes you go out there and you do it, but you don't do it. I mean, we are all the same here. Don't think that I am the only guy here it ever happens to. I think we all get a little tired of it; all get a little tired of travel. Sometimes it is just hard to, you know -- Nick touched on how difficult it was for him in June, July for extenuating circumstances. We are all human beings, guys. Things do affect us. Things do get to us. You know, sometimes when you have been out here a long time, sometimes you feel like you want to get away from here. But that is just the way -- that is what we have inherited. That is what we've got to do. We are the only ones who know how to deal with it. If you recognize it, then you go ahead and do it.
Q. How did you play today, Greg?
GREG NORMAN: I played okay. I had a poor start. I thought I played fairly well in the middle of the round, but to me, it wasn't starting golf. It was, you know, I hit a lot of poor shots, a lot of poor drives, but, then again, I hit a lot of goods shots. I putted well today. I scored well today. I got it up-and-down when I needed to get it up-and-down. So, this is the type of golf course where you have got to do that. You have got to probably hit a lot of good shots. I remember the year when Nick and I were in the playoffs, with Billy Mayfair. I remember that year. I played poor golf for 72 holes and the 73rd hole, I still played poor golf, but I won. So, you know, those are the strange things about this game.
Q. Last week at the PGA, then earlier this week there was a lot of talk about what has been referred to as "Passing of the torch," specifically with the winners of the four Majors this year being 20-something, every one of them.
GREG NORMAN: I think you are wrong there.
Q. Well, Davis Love is 33.
GREG NORMAN: Right.
GREG NORMAN: Davis would probably like to be 21.
Q. Tiger especially said that he didn't think that you guys -- that we finished hearing from you guys. He mentioned both of you specifically at PGA. What are your reactions to the so-called passing of the torch?
NICK PRICE: Hey, you know, I think you just got more better players now. I don't think it is fair to say that. Experience to me has always won out over any experience. But, you know, each to his own. Everyone can say whatever they want. But, I feel like I have got a few Majors left in me. You know, there have been 21-year olds that have been around a long time playing golf and Tiger is an exceptional talent. And the nice thing about when you are playing well and when you win a Major when you are 21 is you are going to have a long lifespan, hopefully winning Majors like Nicklaus did. But, you know, to say that there is a changing of the torch totally, I don't know about that, changing of the guard, I mean, there are still too many good players out here in their late 30s and early 40s. And, I think if you have a look at the shape that most of us try and stay in, we have learned from people like, you know, Raymond and Hale Irwin and Trevino and guys like that. If you keep playing and you keep yourself in shape through your late 40s, you can still contest. I think Greg is probably stronger now than he was in his mid-20s and I think he will probably be stronger in his late 40s than he was, you know, than he was maybe in his mid-20s again because he works out extremely hard. And, I think he is more flexible. And, so it is just a question of if he maintains the desire. Who is to say one of us won't win a Major in our late 40s? It is different. Tiger, it's his first year out. He is very keen in everything. We have been around a long time. It is not like experience is just going to shrivel up and crawl away.
Q. Greg, would you respond to that question?
GREG NORMAN: Well, I think I have responded quite a few times about that question. And, everytime I respond, somebody gives a snide remark about my response, so I think I better not say anything, really. But, I agree with Nick, I think you know, it is one of those things where I can remember Hale Irwin and Jack Nicklaus and Raymond Floyd, Raymond winning Shinnecock when he was in his mid-40s, Hale Irwin winning Chicago - I forget - Medinah when he was 46. Jack Nicklaus winning The Masters when he was 46. You are only as old as you want to make yourself feel. I am with Nick. I agree with him that the players now who -- I wish I started working out in my 20s like I have worked out for the last -- since 1990. I believe my game and my longevity would be a lot better off because the game of golf does take a severe toll on your body. And, as Nick says, Tiger has only been here one year. He has got another 20 years to go and until he gets to our age and then he is going to sit here and say, "My, gosh, 20 years has flown by. This is what happened." So, there is going to be another Tiger Woods, another Jack Nicklaus, and another Nick Price, and the wave will just keep coming along. I think it is great. I think the game is extremely healthy, the game of golf. I think it is going to stay healthy. I think everybody -- I know when we are out there in our 20s and 30s we had kids wanting to be a Nick Price or a Greg Norman. And hopefully there are still kids wanting to be that way. But, there are kids that want to be a Justin Leonard, Tiger Woods, Ernie Els and those guys. I think you will find right across the board I think the game of golf is better off for that because you have such a diversity of different talents and different abilities and different styles. You guys, really, the next 20 years should never get bored because there is always going to-- it is always going to be good. It really is. It is going to be wonderful -- it is wonderful for you guys to sit down and say the guys in their 20s are winning all the Majors, it is going to be a sweep, that is great. It might come along when all the guys in their 40s sweep it all. Who knows? I think that is wonderful. That, to me, is the wonderful thing of what we have got to look forward to not only from the players but from the spectators and the media. There is wonderful choices out there for all of us to lock on to and do what we want to do.
Q. Before you get away, could you tell us where the yardage differences are from the ones on our sheet to what you actually played in?
GREG NORMAN: You do the front and I will do the back. Lengthened the first hole by four, five yards, but they have got the tent there, so we wouldn't go back that far. Second hole has been lengthened by about five, six yards.
NICK PRICE: Yes. Third hole also. I mean, we could normally get that ball, you know, a lot further down the slope. So, it is hard to tell because the tees are so long as it is, so, by adding on another five or ten yards, it is very hard to tell.
LEE PATTERSON: Name the drastic ones, I guess.
NICK PRICE: No. 4 is probably 10 or 12 yards longer. No. 9 -- I am sure No. 9 is a little longer too, probably maybe ten yards as well. 13, definitely, I paced it off. I could see where the new grass has grown. It is 20 yards longer from the back of the tee to the old tee, to the back of the present tee. And 16 is another one. Maybe 18.
GREG NORMAN: 18 has been lengthened.
NICK PRICE: It is hard to tell.
Q. How long do you think 16 is playing?
GREG NORMAN: Well, Nick says it is playing close to 650.
Q. What about 18?
GREG NORMAN: I think 18 is about five, six yards. I think it is 470. If you look at all the extensions they have put on there, takes them up over 470, the long holes. We played it every bit of it today. (LAUGHTER)
NICK PRICE: (laughs)
GREG NORMAN: It is all right for those young whippersnappers who are 21 and us 40 year olds, here we go, there's good egg for you.
Q. What is this new Brad Faxon style putting?
GREG NORMAN: It is not a Brad Faxon style putting. We were just talking about stroke and comparison back in the '80s to now and I got away from that stroke. I use the putter - I have had this putter since I was 16 year old.
Q. How is it?
GREG NORMAN: It is an old blade putter that I have had for a long time. He was just drawing comparisons that the blade putter suits my stroke better when I stroke it this way instead of that Ping putter where I got too square, too mechanical. We were talking about it with Fred Meyer. That is what he noticed. And, you know, I think he is the best putter in the world. So, if somebody is the best putter in the world, best in anything, makes a suggestion to you, you are going to listen. And I have actually putted much, much better the last three, four weeks since I have gone with the putter. And, quite honestly, I have worked much, much harder too with it. So, it is like anything. Somebody gives you a lesson, you go with it. But, you have got to go with it, work hard with it. I have done that at home. I have practiced everyday for a couple of hours on my putting and I think it is starting to pay dividends.
Q. Could you have hit a better putt on 18?
GREG NORMAN: No, I could have hit the exact same putt, it will probably go in. It was a beautiful putt, couldn't do anything about.
Q. How far from --
GREG NORMAN: From the edge?
Q. No, from where you were.
GREG NORMAN: 45 feet.
Q. Is this at all analogous with the slump you went through--
GREG NORMAN: Totally different things. I couldn't compare the two. First hole driver 7-iron left of the green chipped onto about 9 feet, 2-putted.
LEE PATTERSON: 3.
GREG NORMAN: Driver 7-iron to about 15 feet. 8 driver 6-iron to about 66 feet, 3-putted.
LEE PATTERSON: Birdie on 12.
GREG NORMAN: 6-iron front bunker, holed bunker shot. And what was that next one? 17.
LEE PATTERSON: 14.
GREG NORMAN: Driver 6-iron to about 5 feet.
LEE PATTERSON: 17.
GREG NORMAN: 17, 3-wood, 7-iron to about 24 feet.
Q. How long was the bunker shot, Greg?
GREG NORMAN: What was the pin?
NICK PRICE: About 30 feet, 35 feet,.
GREG NORMAN: 35, 40 feet, yeah.
NICK PRICE: First hole for me, I hit 8-iron to about 25 feet. Second hole was in the bunker green-side bunker I knocked it out to about a foot. Then No. 4 driver, 1-iron, poor 1-iron, second shot, left it short of the green by about, oh, 10 yards and pitched on to about twelve feet, missed that. Then No. 9 driver, 3-iron just short of the green about a yard short of the green. I chipped up about six, seven feet past the hole and missed that. No. 12, also in the bunker, short, on the up-slope. My ball actually just came out of its plug mark. It was a relatively easy bunker shot and I left it about seven, eight feet short. I missed that. Then long putt on 14. 5-iron to about probably 35, 37 feet, somewhere around there. 15, 4-iron to about 25 feet, 22, 25 feet. And then 18, 6-iron to probably about same, 20, 22 feet. Greg, we were right on the same line, so I got really good read off his ball, and --
Q. Nick, how did you play 16? You, too, Greg, what did you hit?
NICK PRICE: I hit a really good drive, probably one of my best of the day. Then 3-iron and I left myself 126 yards to the flag. So, driver, 3-iron and pitching wedge.
GREG NORMAN: That is exactly what I did: Driver, 3-iron, pitching wedge.
Q. How would that have differed from years past?
GREG NORMAN: Not really much. Under the conditions now, still would have been a 3-shot hole. Very rarely -- I think that hole plays better when the tee mark is up front - where it tempts the guy to really drive down the bottom of the hill and you still got 235, 240 to the flag and you have got water in front of the green. I think the hole was a much harder hole at the front tee, Nick, but it is -- you got a hazard down on the left, on the tee shot, really difficult driving hole to put it on there because there is so much slope on the fairway.
NICK PRICE: You have to go on the right-hand side.
GREG NORMAN: Now, you hit on the widest part of the fairway, what happens is if you don't drive it on the fairway here, you are going to be back there like Jeff Sluman was hitting 220 to that hole. So, irrespective, you have got to drive it on that fairway whether it is the back tee or the front tee.
Q. Any of your drivers plug today or come back, were they all releasing a little bit?
GREG NORMAN: Yeah, they were all going pretty good.
Q. I know you played Merion not too long ago. This golf course today with the clubs you guys have to hit really kind of a throw-back to years back, the long iron game. What do you think, does the Tour need more of this?
NICK PRICE: That is a really good question. I have always believed that the golf courses over here, particularly in recent years have been too green, you know -- I think Brad Faxon wrote a really good article about our courses, the way that they are very target oriented now, where you just fly the ball into the middle of the fairway and then you hit 9 and it stops on the green. There is too much of the wood tie, the severe bunkering in the face of the front of the green where you have to carry. It is clear cut most of the time on Tour where you have to stand there, you have got 180 yards and you either hit your 5-iron, you know, and you hit it well and it stops on the green. If you miss it, you are going to make bogey or double. Greg and I feel the same way about this. I know because we have often spoken about it. The bounce in the game is such an important part because golf is two games: One, in the air; one, on the ground. The more that you can incorporate the ground and bring in some shot-making where you hit little 6-irons and run it, you know, from 180 yards instead of just flying a 5-iron the full distance - but in the summertime it is very hard to do that here because of the amount of rain we get. You know, but I would like to see, you know, just enough rough that takes the spin off the ball and then anywhere around the green they are just shaved because like last week was typical where if you didn't have a 60 degree wedge in your bag, you were actually handicapped. Because every time you missed a green, you didn't even worry, your caddy was running back putting the divot back, you just carried the 60 degree because you knew that what you were going to use. So, it is very stereotyped in that way. I have always felt, you know, that the less rough, there is the more -- you bring the trees into play. Guys who might be sliding a tee shot, say, last week on like 17 or 18, where they have just pushed or slightly draw a tee shot, it gets hung up in the rough and the first two, three yards, then they wedge it out and, you know, wedge it on the green and it is who makes the putt there 10, 15 feet. Whereas, if there is no rough, the ball runs straight into the trees and the guy can't see the light of day because it is so dark in there. That is the way it should be. The ball should be allowed to run. But, then it is hard with all the galleries. You have people scampering all over the place trying to get out of the way of errant tee shots. But, I don't know, the more I play the game, the more I like to run the ball into the greens or give the option of being able to shape the tee shots and run the second shots into the greens.
LEE PATTERSON: Anything else?
End of FastScripts....