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April 20, 1997

Nick Price


WES SEELEY: 65, 69, 69, 66. 15 under par. Nick Price.

NICK PRICE: I can't tell you how happy I am right now. There has been a lot going on and off the golf course for me, and, you know, I just try and put it aside and try and go out there and play. It has been pretty tough. But, you know, obviously, that is when -- I won this one for Squeek, and I just hope it gives him a boost. And I don't think I need to say anything more. It is just -- it is important for me to win, but it is more important for me to know -- for him to know how many people are pulling for him. I think he knows that now and there is not much else I can say in regard to that. I will try and give him a call tonight. Hopefully, he watched the whole thing, and he got a real charge out of it. Today I just got out there and I was so focused. The first I knew Brad was going to -- Brad is such a good putter, and if he hits the ball well, you know, I knew that he was going to make a lot of birdies out there. And it didn't surprise me -- I mean, it did surprise me, but he drained it from off the green on the first hole, and then I followed him in. And then he nearly holed his second shot on No. 3, and I holed it from about 30, 35 feet away. And then made a great save on the next hole from about 15 feet, and it was just like that setup the day. But the big thing for me, I felt, was that I didn't give him any openings. I didn't make a bogey anywhere. And I didn't dropback where there was a two-shot swing anywhere. And I think that was a little discouraging for him. But with the exception of maybe two holes today, I felt like I didn't miss a shot. I hooked a couple of tee shots on number 12 and No. 14 -- No. 15. But, other than that, it was just a little bit of doubt there in my mind as to which way the wind was blowing. And I tried to steer them down there. And -- but other than that, I hit the ball so solidly today, and it is very satisfying to go when you've got a lot of heat on you and you haven't won for a long time, and over here I haven't won for a long time. And to go out and shoot 66 the way I did, not make a bogey, I am very, very happy right now.

WES SEELEY: Can we go through the --

NICK PRICE: No. 1 I hit a drive and 8-iron to about 20 feet. No. 3: A drive and -- what did I hit there? 9-iron to about 35 feet. Number 7: An 8-iron to about two feet and number 8 about two-and-a-half, three feet, a 9-iron. Up-and-down from the bunker on 9; missed the green on 9 and knocked it up about three feet. And parred 10, 11. I think 12 was probably, when I look back now, was probably what -- you know, I hit a poor tee shot, then I tried to run it a little 7-iron hit it in the bunker. The pin is really tough there because it is just over the bunker. I tried to hit it just get it to pin-high, and hit a good bunker shot out to about four feet and made the putt for par. So that was really a key hole for me, I think. And then next birdie -- a good 16. I hit a 1-iron off the tee and I thought the wind was right-to-left. The thing just took off straight, pitched in the tree, came down. I had to keep an 8-iron under the tree. I was more concerned about the limbs in front of me. And I just didn't hook my 8-iron enough and went in the right-hand bunker. I hit a really good bunker shot up there to about three feet. Then Brad 3-putted, which really was the -- I think, that -- it was all over then, just to hit it on the green on 17 and hit it over the water on 18. So -- but, I don't know, I just putted so solidly the last two days, and when it seemed like my long game wavered a little bit, my putting saved me. And very similar -- 18 I hit a 3-wood off the tee, then a 7-iron from about 175 yards and to about ten feet.

Q. You missed the green on 4?

NICK PRICE: I did the same thing the last two days, I hit a 5-iron, just went straight through the wind over the back. It's a really difficult hole there. You want to take a 6-iron or one club less than you think. But, you know, if it gets up in the wind a little bit, it is in the water. You always start off playing the middle to the back half of the green. Both yesterday and today I hit it past pin-high. Yesterday, I hit it right over the green. Today, I was just at the back. Would have been on the green if it had been left a little bit. But, so, it wasn't right over. But it was -- I had to come across that shoulder. And hit a very difficult chip. And I chipped it -- my prime concern there was to keep -- make sure my next shot wasn't an uphill putt. And I just underrated it a little bit, and it came up about 15 feet, 16 feet under the hole. I holed a very good putt - dead straight putt.

Q. How important was that first putt that you made on hole No. 1 after Brad, who looked like he could be in trouble, he makes that birdie?

NICK PRICE: Yeah, you know, it is strange, because as soon as you get a good length putt to go in the hole; especially in the early holes, it, like, relieves, you know, well, your stroke hasn't left you and whatever. And that putt I hit went straight in the middle of the hole, and it was -- it was -- instead of being 1 ahead, I now was 2 ahead. That made a big psychological thing to know that, you know, I played the hole perfectly. I hit a good drive, good 8-iron, and then for Brad to make the birdie, and to make it on top of him, really settled my nerves, whatever nerves there were. That is the kind of ideal start to have.

Q. When you had it up there on 1, you were about 10, 15 feet, he is 60 feet off, he knocks it in. Did you almost a little bit say oh, here we go?

NICK PRICE: (Laughs) Again, I expected that. Like I said to you guys yesterday, I knew he was going to putt well. So, you know, it is just -- I knew he would drive the ball good today, and he hit a couple of errant tee shots. But, to me, to hole a putt right on top of his was very important.

Q. On 3, he hits it that close and taps it in (indicating), technically, you are tied. Was it important to you psychologically not give up that lead?

NICK PRICE: Yeah, I think -- if I could have picked -- I couldn't have picked a better time to hole a long putt, it was right at that stage. And, in fact, I didn't have a lot of break on that putt either. It was just outside the left edge. And the fans were getting pretty wild out there. And when I holed mine on top of him tapping in, it was just sort of "send a signal" that I wasn't going to lay down and, you know, let him just run away. And -- you know -- But it is funny. It is like you look at the putt that length, you say, well, if it doesn't go, if I want it to be this far away (indicating 8 inches), last thing you want to happen is a two-shot swing right there. The ball just fell in. That is what happens when you are putting well. I think I did so well this week, I just putted very, very solidly. I think my long game has been hardened by the fact that I haven't putted well the last year-and-a-half. And, now my putting is coming together. You always hit it at that time where you suddenly have a week where you strike the ball really well and the putts start going in. And that is what happened to me today. I, honestly, toward the end of last year, I didn't think I was ever going to putt that well again. Because I started working hard on putt -- on my stroke on all sorts of things and nothing would work. And then I switched putters two weeks ago to this one -- actually, tried it about three, four months ago. But I knew I needed something a little different at Augusta. And I got on the putting green at Augusta, I just had a beautiful feel with this putter. And, you know, I putted solidly last week. Didn't putt great. But I putted very solidly and found -- it is strange, because Jimmy, my caddie, didn't think I played that much better this week than I did last week (Laughs). And I -- 18-shot difference, you know (audience laughter) 3 over last week. But that is what Augusta does. So, there were a lot of factors that helped me to play well this week. I think the fact that I played solidly last week, and I didn't put in a score kind of fueled my desire a little more this week to prove it to myself that -- you know, that I don't really get on that well with Augusta. My game doesn't, anyway. I love it there. (Laughs).

Q. As somebody that has won in the past, a lot of tournaments, and would always put up good performances, did you ever worry that you wouldn't get the feel the way you feel right now?

NICK PRICE: There are times when you doubt it. There are certainly times. And, you know, last year at the beginning of the year, after having that '95, which was -- it was -- '95 was not a bad year, just wasn't as good as the year '94. But I felt my game sliding a little bit, and my short game particularly. But then I sort of righted it, because the beginning of '96, I got off to a very, very good start and, you know, I played well -- I had a lot of top five finishes in the early part of last year. All that -- to me, only thing that was holding me back was just making a few more putts. But, my putting felt so bad at that stage. I never thought about going to the long putter, but I was trying all sorts of things, reverse -- I mean, just -- it was awful. And, but, you know, I knew that if you go out and practice and you build a nice solid base and you just work on all the fundamentals and your speed, and that is what I do when I putt badly, my stroke gets very quick. And, I just chipped away, chipped away at all the little things that were bugging me with my putting; just all of a sudden they fell into place. The last -- South Africa, in February, I putted extremely well for three weeks there and, you know, I putted well at Doral. Then it kind of left me a little bit, Bay Hill, and TPC, I didn't putt very well and Augusta, so it is sort of like all the ingredients were there. It was just a question of waiting them to come together in one week. I couldn't be happier. Last week would have been really nice. But it is a bit farfetched for me, I think.

Q. You are the first person in 18 years apparently to

win wire-to-wire here at the tournament.

NICK PRICE: And it is hard. That is a difficult thing. There is a lot of pressure on you. You don't sleep that great at night. And, the people are constantly reminding you that you are in the lead and it that is a difficult thing about winning wire-to-wire. But, I just kept saying to myself I have the confidence and that my game is solid and -- yesterday was a key day for me, though. Yesterday was very, very key because if -- I think if I was going to show any signs of slipping, that would have come yesterday. And I hit the ball extremely well yesterday too.

Q. With all your experience, you really have trouble sleeping at night?

NICK PRICE: It depends if the kids wake up. I try and stay awake until I am really tired so when I put my head on the pillow, I don't force myself to go to sleep. Late tee off times really help because sometimes that is one o'clock in the morning. But, when the kids wake you up at 6:30 every morning, you get tired early at night. So -- (Laughs).

Q. The win here in America on the U.S. TOUR, does it mean anything more than some of the other international wins?

NICK PRICE: It does, you know, we all know that this is the hardest TOUR in the world to win on - there is no doubt about that. I don't think that has ever been a question. The European TOUR, they have some very, very strong fields and strong events, the PGA, and some of the other ones, but I don't think anyone would question the fact that this is the -- week in, week out has the hardest players to beat in the world. And, it is just -- you know, it is very satisfying to come and I think the two wins that I had in South Africa certainly were a help in getting me to win today because if I hadn't won out there and I hadn't experienced winning, now I am looking at maybe 16 months before my last victory and I think that might have, you know, worked on me a little bit the last couple of days.

Q. Yesterday you talked about Nicklaus' ability in the tournaments when he was winning big to just steadily stay in there. And win by sort of attrition. You never had a huge lead in any point in this tournament until you came down to those last three holes. Can you talk about the way in which you won, not by blowing the field away, but by inching up?

NICK PRICE: Well, it is strange because you -- some guy commented, it is relevant, because on the fourth tee both Brad and I, the par 3, hit our tee shots purposely down the right side of the fairway. You could hear a couple of guys in the gallery saying: "That is the chicken root." (Audience laughter.) I mean, I want to see a guying stand up there and go with a 6-iron at the flag, you know, but that was very apt for that situation because, you know, you rather make a 4 on that hole like a coward than make a double-bogey like a hero. I think that is, you know, that is important. I said to Jimmy, my caddie, yesterday after we walked off the practice session I had, I said to him, "Tomorrow when in doubt, we go to the middle of the green because it is always better to hit a positive solid shot to the middle of the green than to try and you know, hit a negative little cut or a pull or whatever it is into a flag." And, that is what I tried to do today. When I had not the perfect yardage, when I was in between clubs, I went to favor the middle of the green. So, that is the recipe that I did so well when -- what I stuck to so well when I was playing well. But it is all fine to do that when you are putting well. If you are not putting well, you 3-putt from 25 feet and the next hole you go at the flag. So, you know, it is sort of a Catch-22 situation sometimes you find yourself in on the golf course. But, I think there were very few holes where I missed the hole on the wrong side or the short side or the long side when the pin was either back or front -- you know what I am saying? It was always -- I was always playing up to the flag or if the flag was on the front, I was putting back to it. That was important. Then every now and then, the flag just -- the perfect yardage and you just feel comfortable, the wind is helping you; then you go straight at it. No. 8 was like that today and No. 6 and No. 8 were like that and I just stiffed those two iron shots.

Q. Nick, do you consider yourself back or close to your old form and if not, what do you have to do to show yourself?

NICK PRICE: I got to win again pretty soon to get into that I think in the next 3, 4, 5 tournaments I have got to win another one and then I think -- I will be pretty much back to where I was. But I am going to savor this one in the interim.

Q. Do you feel like you have to --

NICK PRICE: I think the way I played today, this week, the scores, you know, certainly show that; especially that maybe I got the tough side of the draw Thursday Friday, you know, I am not far off where I was, I promise you. If I am, it is only a shot or two away.

Q. You said it doesn't fit your game at Augusta. What is the difference between there and Harbour Town?

NICK PRICE: You feel you can maneuver the ball here more. Little tee shots that you can't just stand on every tee and whale on it - just grab the driver and whack it. You have to be -- you know, you have to be able to shape the ball on this golf course which sometimes at Augusta you don't have to do. You just have to bomb it like this (pointing up in the air). Hit it up as high as you can and it is coming down as soft as it can. I think right from the very first time I played this golf course, I wanted to win on this golf course because it tested just about every club in your bag and I think today I didn't use my 3-iron. I used every other club in my bag except my 3-iron today. Which, you know, I think that is a sign of a very good golf course.

Q. Do you think Squeeky was healthy enough to be able to watch?

NICK PRICE: I hope so. I really hope so.

WES SEELEY: Where next will you play?

NICK PRICE: Atlanta. I got two weeks off and --

WES SEELEY: Anything else?

Q. Too early to start thinking about Congressional?

NICK PRICE: No. I start thinking about it soon as Augusta is over. But, in fact, it really flies, I think this is a good -- I think for the next 3 Majors, ball-striker's Majors, I really do believe that. Congressional is a long tough golf course, a lot of long irons; what a great test of golf Troon is. Winged Foot, you don't even have to say anything about Winged Foot. Only thing that might make it a little bit easier, it's in the middle of the summer and it is going to be softer. It might not have that fire and slippery, slidieness that it has at the normal time we played in June. But, I am sure they will have some serious rough there, though.

Q. Congressional you have done well at?

NICK PRICE: The first time I played there was in 1983 when Freddie Couples won and I think I finished two shots out the playoff. There were 5 of them that tied in the playoff and I finished 9th, so there were -- I think I was 2 shots back. I really like Congressional, but I haven't played there since they put the new greens in. But I spoke to Weiskopf a bit last year. He told me obviously he really liked it. You know, they did a good job of the greens.

Q. Nick, you had spoken about wanting to win here because of the quality of the golf course. A lot of people who win here also site the quality of the champions here. What it is like to be among them?

NICK PRICE: I was looking in the locker room, there is a poster in the locker room of all the winners and Arnold Palmer is right in the middle of it; then you look there is Jack, Hale Irwin. There is a who's who of golf there. Sort of thought it would be really nice to get my face up there as well, you know. But, I mean Faldo has won here. Langer has won here. Graham Marsh. A lot of guys don't realize how good a player Graham Marsh is. He was always one of my idols when I was growing up. But, you know, don't need to say anything else. Just look at the list.

Q. You started out saying a lot of things were going on and off the golf course. Obviously we know about Squeeky. Were there other things that have been on your mind?

NICK PRICE: Well, we are breaking our house down there about a month's time. We have rented another house. There is that. And, there is a couple of other contractual things that are going on which are pretty exciting. But, you know, I think Squeek is the main thing that I was talking about. But, there are some other things that -- the niggling things that sort of aren't sorted out yet, but --

Q. You are moving?

NICK PRICE: Yeah, we are moving about a mile up the street while they take all the lead paint out of our house.

Q. Can you talk about, early on, was it like a matchplay situation with you and Brad?

NICK PRICE: It seemed like it was starting that way. It was a punch and a counter punch. And, then he made bogey. He 3-putted No. 6 and then I birdied 7 and he bogeyed 7. So he went bogey, bogey, and I went par, birdie. So, it was a 4-shot swing, and then I birdied No. 8 and it was a shot ahead, and I was kind of keeping my eye on him and Lennie Clements and Parnevik, because they were all playing really well. After I birdied No. 8, I figured that if I parred in from there, then someone was going to have to play exceptionally good golf to catch me. And, I made one birdie from there on in. So....


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