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April 19, 1997
HILTON HEAD, SOUTH CAROLINA
WES SEELEY: 65, 69, 69, 203, 10-under par for Nick Price, who I looked this up, will be going to the fourth round with the lead for the first time since the PGA you won in 1994.
NICK PRICE: How about that.
WES SEELEY: In this great land, at least. Perhaps not overseas.
Q. Which PGA?
WES SEELEY: 1994. The one he won most recently.
Q. Got a couple.
WES SEELEY: Tell us about your day.
NICK PRICE: Good day. I hit the ball very solidly all day. Obviously, the wind switched, which made things a little tougher today to read the wind. And also its strength and to see which holes it was affecting the ball on and made a couple of mistakes today with club selection. But, the shots that I did drop today were either through bad club selection or just misreading the wind. So, you know, I felt like I played very solidly today, and I made a couple of good par-saving putts, and just the kind of round that I wanted to shoot today. Just, you know, solid and under par and, you know, today with the wind, the way it was, as it has been, it is easy to sort of go out there and shoot 2-, or 3-over and basically give yourself too much work to do tomorrow. And, today, I just played really solidly. In fact, you know, when I didn't make a mistake, when I didn't misread the wind, I chipped well; I holed a good putt. So, it was a very positive round for me.
WES SEELEY: Take us through birdies and bogeys.
NICK PRICE: Sure. No. 5, a driver and 3-iron to just short of the green. I chipped up to about ten feet. And then number 10, driver, 7-iron to about four feet. 11: Drive, 7-iron, again, to about twelve feet. 13: Misread the wind a little bit there. I hit a 3-wood off the tee, and hit it in the bunker. And I had a terrible lie in the bunker. And, I got it out in the other bunker and then knocked it up about 15, 16 feet behind the hole and missed it. And then 15, I hit a sand wedge from about 81 yards, and the wind was really, howling straight down, with -- the pin was cut on the front. I thought, if anything, I would hit it a little long. I hit it about 30 feet behind the hole and misread the speed of the putt. Actually, I didn't misread the speed of the putt. I misread that the wind was blowing into me, and I didn't hit it hard enough; came up about four feet short and I missed it. So, then 18, 3-wood wood off the tee, 8-iron to probably about eight, ten feet.
WES SEELEY: Questions.
Q. One of my colleagues said that at one point you made it clear to the audience that you were not Tiger Woods. What hole was that on?
NICK PRICE: (Laughs) On number 15. I really bombed a tee shot down the par 5 there. I hit -- I think I only had about 211 to the front. But, you know, those trees are 60 feet or 50 feet high, and one guy shouted out in the gallery, he said: "Hit it on the green." I just said, you know, "I am not Tiger Woods." He probably would have pulled out a 6-iron and just flapped it right over the trees sort of -- maybe I should have. I would have made six another way. (Audience laughter.)
Q. Nick, can you speak to the fact that as you look at the leaderboard going into tomorrow, the guys who have the closest shot to you are all guys that have been there before with a lot of experience and are named guys.
NICK PRICE: Yeah, tomorrow I know exactly what I have to do. I have to go out and put a very solid round together. And, you know, Tom Lehman and Brad Faxon are exceptionally good putters, and if they, you know, hit the -- drive the ball well tomorrow, only thing that I have got is a shot -- is a 2-shot lead and 3-shot lead over them. So, I know I am going to have to play very well tomorrow, and just not make any mistakes. That is the big thing, because the way I am playing right now, I feel like, you know, the drop shots, I am making, are coming from mental mistakes and not from physical mistakes, so... But, you know, it is going to be tough tomorrow. I mean, I think it is going to be an exciting day because you have got Brad who is just a phenomenal short game player. And, he is prone to losing it a little bit with the driver. If he drives the ball well tomorrow, you know, he can make up those two shots in very quick time. But, I know exactly what I have got to do tomorrow, I have got to go out and play a good solid round.
Q. How do you fight the tendencies to be too conservative then or is that bad necessarily?
NICK PRICE: It isn't. It is a feel thing. You go out there and the first five, six holes, if someone is making a run and you are not doing anything, and you feel that you are playing well, and you just take your chances and your opportunities when they come. But, don't try and do anything too foolish and shoot for pins that --maybe sucker pins where you want to get the ball up-and-down or there might be water close by. It is a very strategic -- the last 18 holes of a tournament are very strategic. You have got to keep an eye on what the leaders are doing. And, then adjust your game accordingly. And, you know, but a good start on this golf course always helps; especially with two par 5s on the first five holes.
Q. Nick, you hit a lot of greens, tremendous ball-striker. Brad is not as good tee-to-green. I know it is not matchplay tomorrow. But, does that -- can that work on your mind sometimes when the guys get it up and down?
NICK PRICE: Yeah, it does. But I am prepared with it, because I have played with Brad enough, it's not going to surprise me if he only hits nine greens and shoots 68, because that's the way he can do things. The other guys hit nine greens and shoot 74 and 75. But Brad, his strength is around the greens. He knows the way I play, too. I think Tom as well. We have all played enough with each other over the years that tomorrow, the guy who -- you know, who plays best probably is going to win. I mean, that is the most obvious statement you can make, but it is the truth. We have got to look -- each one of us is going to keep an eye on the leaderboard and see what each guy is doing. And they will adjust their games accordingly.
Q. There is a point -- when you and Faxon and Watson all play with guys who aren't well known guys, who are on the board and fell back, and it seems like every week or every other week this happens where there is a separation of named guys and non named guys. I asked Faxon the same question. What happens? Is it -- what happens where, you know, you and Faxon and Watson and guys like that sort of separate yourselves from guys like Clements and Maginnes?
NICK PRICE: I think I learned that in about '91 or '92, early '91, was that you don't have to go out there and hit every drive down the middle of the fairway or every iron shot on the green. There is more to the game than that. And when you miss a few iron shots or you miss a few fairways, you just gut it out. You make the best of it and go. And you don't feel that because you have missed three greens in a row, that your game is falling apart. And I think when I adopted that attitude and used -- say, you look at the whole day and you do the very best that you can on each hole, and then add it all up instead of being -- I think some guys tend to sort of not panic a little bit, but get down on themselves when they hit bad shots. And, you know, I think Nicklaus said the best thing about that. He said that he won so many major championships from simply hanging in when other guys faultered. That is basically what you do. You don't let the situation pressure you into making bad decisions on the golf course. And I think that is what separates, you know, really good players from your average players. That is what I learned to do over the years watching the other guys, was sometimes just lobbing a wedge 30 feet away from the pin. You know, sometimes when you are playing well, you feel well, I don't want to aim away from the pin. But that is the smart play. And take the water out, take the bunker out, and don't try and hit the perfect shot all the time. And then you can build on that. You build a good base of confidence to -- when you do hit a good shot, you are not surprised, because you have done all the right things. And I know, certainly, when I was playing really well in '93, '94, I wasn't making a lot of mistakes, and not mental mistakes anyway, so... And I think once you -- you learn that over -- some guys are blessed because they learn that when they are very young, like what Tiger has done and like Jack did and Seve did. But, most of us, you know, it takes ten or twelve years of playing this game to understand that. And, I think that is what Watson learned when he started winning, that he didn't have to go out there and just blitz every drive down the middle and go for every pin. There is a strategy to it. But, along with that strategy, you have got to putt solidly.
Q. Is there a learning curve with the wind here this week or has it been different every day? And, also, when you get to that turn on 16, is that a different golf course because of the wind?
NICK PRICE: It always has been. You go from these tree-lined tight; all of a sudden, 18 is the widest fairway on TOUR. And 16 is pretty wide, because you can miss it on the middle of 10 fairway and still have a shot to the green. Doesn't mean the whole is easy, just means that you have to be very precise with your length of iron shots that. That is what is very key there. It is hard because -- 16 today, I had 128 to the flag and I thought -- I walked up to the right and felt how strong the wind was and I just -- I felt like it was a club and a half maybe two clubs of wind, and I just hit this really smooth 8-iron which didn't even touch the wind; pitched 144 yards, which is normally what I hit my 8-iron. Then I figured out for 3 quarters of the ball flight, there is no wind; then all of a sudden, it just gets just past the front edge of the green or just short of the flag and it hits the rim and your ball is still going. That is what the difficulty is here. At least when you are in the trees, you have a pretty good idea of what the wind is doing. Once it is out there, you have the sudden change. It is different.
Q. Difficult to read on the front; isn't it because --
NICK PRICE: Well, I have got a wind map and today I knew it switched to the west. At each hole I pulled out the map and have a look and see how it is working. But now I knew where it had switched. It had switched 90 degrees or maybe 45 degrees that it had shifted from yesterday. So, it just means trying to figure out -- That is the other thing that is difficult about this golf course is that so many holes run at different angles. They don't all run, you know, like on a Links course all this way out and then all this way coming in. (indicating straight) You have got a lot of holes -- when you think about 13, 14, 15 and 16 you have got four different ways the wind blows.
Q. I am not familiar with the wind map. Can you tell me what that is?
NICK PRICE: It is just a diagram of the course.
Q. And where the wind --
NICK PRICE: It shows each hole and then I just mark the wind on each of that. So that when you feel a gust, you have just got to say to yourself, hey, I know the wind is blowing this way; that is just a false gust I am feeling.
Q. Have you done that everyday this week?
NICK PRICE: Yes. I do it on most courses, like this where it is so difficult to read. If you played every hole like number 18, it would be easy to figure the wind out. But, it is not that way here.
Q. You talked about how difficult tomorrow might be. But, for you, at least on this TOUR, you haven't been in this position in a few years. Are you -- does that excite you? Do you feel confident about that?
NICK PRICE: It is great fun. It is nothing better, honestly, than playing golf well under pressure. To me, that is the ultimate kick. And, I have missed it. I mean, I have played -- I have had some good tournaments and that, but I think there is nothing better than going out there and, you know, if I shoot 69 tomorrow and lose by a shot, I am still going to be -- unless I bogey the last four holes or something stupid like that, but if I lose by a shot tomorrow and play really well, I can't do any better than that. But, it is hard to describe because you have got butterflies, but and I think you learn to use those butterflies to your advantage instead of detracting from your performance. That is why you see -- I think players when they are playing really well, they use that momentum and those butterflies to make them play even better. It is like I always called it the X. Factor. Okay, you are hitting your driver and your long game is an 8 out of 10 and your putting is 7 out of 10. But, then you multiply it by this confidence or X. Factor, or that pressure-thing, and it can just multiply everything so much better. I think someone like Tom Lehman, who had a year like he had last year, he felt that a lot last year. We were talking about it at Augusta last week, actually. You have got to get this momentum to build. My momentum, for this -- why I am here now, I think, started there January, or maybe in September, October of last year. It is not something that has just jumped up this week and slapped me in the face and say, hey, here I am. It is something that is just built up. And, I think that is how it happens for most guys.
Q. Did that come into play maybe a little bit after -- I guess you made the bogeys on 13, and 15; then you are facing 3 of the most windiest holes on the course.
NICK PRICE: You just keep plugging away. Keep doing the very best you can with each shot you are faced with. And, sometimes when you are playing really well, you don't even realize which holes you have birdied and which holes you have bogeyed. You remember the bogeys, obviously. But, sort of go around and you think, "Which holes did I birdie today?" Because you are so much so focused on each shot.
Q. Other than the wins in South Africa, the back-to-backs, you were in the hunt at Doral, I think?
NICK PRICE: Doral --
Q. You didn't putt real well?
NICK PRICE: I think I had 35 putts on the Sunday at Doral, which -- then again, I didn't hit the ball close, so it wasn't like an awful putting day. I just didn't make anything.
Q. Were you then close otherwise since, say, last September?
NICK PRICE: Let me think. Over here?
NICK PRICE: Oh, yeah.
Q. Other than the wins?
NICK PRICE: I finished fourth in Japan at the Bridgestone tournament. Fifth, I think, at the Sarazen; played really well at the Sarazen; just had a bad finish. Then Morocco, I finished second. Sun City, finished one back of the playoff. Montgomerie and Els played off. I finished one shot out of that. The Zimbabwe Open, McNulty beat me. I finished second there. So, I have had a lot of good finishes.
WES SEELEY: Lost a playoff the week before the two wins.
NICK PRICE: Where was that?
WES SEELEY: South Africa.
NICK PRICE: No, Vijay beat me by a shot.
Q. When you won one of those tournaments in South Africa, you said a long the lines of this wouldn't mean that much back in the states, but it means a lot to me. Can you compare a win there with a win here?
NICK PRICE: I think when, you know, you look at the quality of the field that is there and I think the South African Tour have those three co-sanctioned events with the European Tour where there are a lot of good players. Guys who, like, Jesper Parnevik who most guys have never heard of before but there are a lot of good guys out there, Thomas Bjorn and Gogele, guys you don't know. But, I have played quite a bit with these guys, and they can really play golf. The win that I had at Sun City this year, I won by 8. I beat Frosty by 8. And, that was very satisfying for me because I just kept going away from the field as each day progressed. And, there was no slacking off in my game, in any way, for the last three days. And, it is nice when you haven't won, I mean, been nearly 14 months since my previous win that you just keep winning going away. Then the next week it was very tight against Frosty. I had a playoff and then I beat him in a playoff. So, I had two totally different wins in two weeks. And, I felt like my whole game and my mental game was pressured or tested.
Q. Did you play as well there as you are playing here or even better?
NICK PRICE: I think I putted better than I am putting right now down there. But, my ball-striking probably isn't as good as it is right now.
Q. I was also trying to work out exactly how many tournaments you have won since you last won on this TOUR; can you run through them?
NICK PRICE: Let me think. Morocco, Zimbabwe Open, and those two in South Africa. So, four.
Q. When was the ICL International, in 1994?
NICK PRICE: Yeah, that was either '93 or '94.
Q. Was that before or after Canada?
NICK PRICE: Before. That was early in the year, January.
Q. You said earlier that you missed playing well under pressure. Is that the reason you think you are back to it, that you missed it and you wanted it back?
NICK PRICE: No, I just think I have got off course there for a while. I have no reservation. I honestly believe if I hadn't got sick last year, because I was building that base at the beginning of last year, and that illness I had last year knocked me for six. It knocked me right off course. And, it was funny, as soon as my health started picking up again, my game picked up again. But, you know, usually I think that is one of the things that drive -- like you say what drives a successful businessman when the guy has got all the money in the world, you know, why does he keep want to do more -- why does a golfer, when he has won so many tournaments -- well, I have won maybe 32, 33 worldwide. But, you look at someone like Jack or Sam, what drives them to keep winning? I think it is just that desire to succeed. And, you know, that is why you go and practice. You want to go and practice. You want to win. And, all the money in the world is really lovely, but it is not the same as holding the trophy.
Q. I think fans obviously really enjoying showing up on Sunday and seeing big recognizable names on the leaderboard. Does that do anything differently? Do you get a little charge of having those guys right behind?
NICK PRICE: I have been through the full wave. I mean, I started off at the bottom where I am playing in the last group. I remember really well playing in Canada. I think it was 1984 with Nicklaus and Norman. I was leading by a shot or two going in the last round. And, on the first hole, I hit driver, 6-iron about eight feet away from the hole. Nicklaus hit it 30 feet and Norman hit it 25 feet. And, I don't think anyone saw me hit my second shot. And, I don't think anyone saw me putt either. As soon as they putted, everyone went. (Audience laughter.) I just remember that. I remember that so well. You just -- I think you earn your respect out here by coming back and knocking on the door and keep playing and that sort of thing. Not very many people who are like Tiger or Jack who come out straight out into, you know, winning mode.
Q. Having a couple of more guys like that up there tomorrow, does that give you a little charge going into --
NICK PRICE: Oh, yeah; especially if you beat them (Laughs)
Q. You said you needed 15 strokes last week from Tiger?
NICK PRICE: 20. 5 a day.
Q. 5 a day, okay. Would you need that many out here?
NICK PRICE: No.
Q. This is more suited for you?
NICK PRICE: I think -- let me be careful here. Let me be careful here. This course, I think, you know, it doesn't only test, you know, your driving game, but you have to hit irons off the tee. You have to hit 3-woods off the tee. You can drive it through the fairways here. You have to have -- There are very few holes where a guy can sort of just whale on it, basically. I mean, you look at 15 at Augusta. I mean, that is -- tell me a guy who is hitting a wedge in there hasn't got an advantage on me while I am hitting a 4-iron. You can say well that happens on any golf course, but it doesn't because a lot of the good golf courses have constrictions in the fairways.
Q. You very rarely have the club differential that you have at August on some of these holes?
NICK PRICE: That is it. It is very hard to look at someone who is hitting a drive and sand wedge into No. 18 when you know you have been playing that hole 30 minutes earlier and you have hit a good drive and a 7-iron and then the people can't understand why you can't spin the ball. (Audience laughter.) You know, I backed up one shot last week. That was on No. 15, the last day when I hit a sand wedge into the wind, it spun back this much. (indicating about a foot). I watched Tiger spin the ball back all week. So, I have no reservation. I said it the other day, whatever major championship he would have played last week, I think he would have won but not by 12 shots.
Q. You said you would be watching the leaderboard tomorrow. How far back will you be looking? What is within striking distance tomorrow?
NICK PRICE: I mean, if someone like Parnevik starts with 4 birdies, you know, he is going to be a factor. But, I don't know. I should imagine the winning score is going to be around about 12, 12 or maybe 13 under. Somewhere around there. Depends on the weather. If it really blows tomorrow, then maybe 10 or 11. So that means for anyone that is around about, you know, 4-, 5-under right now has a good shot at it.
Q. I am sorry to ask. I mean, how much will Squeeky be in your thoughts?
NICK PRICE: I think about him probably 30, 40 times a day. I mean, there are certain times when I am on the golf course where something will be there and it will remind me or he will come up with one of these quips; especially he was great at it when the fans would say something. He would come back with -- he is sharp as a tack with these rebuffs. And, there was a couple of comments today which I was thinking, well, I wish Squeek was here, I would have loved to have heard his comment to that guy or that person. So, it is hard. Especially the way I am playing now because the last time I felt like I was playing this well, he was right next to me and poor old Jimmy, my caddie, I keep on calling him Squeek. That is just -- that is just, you know, he understands. So...
Q. Do you have any news on him since you spoke to us?
NICK PRICE: Nothing right now. It is much the same. This next six, seven days is absolutely critical for him now. And, if he can get through the next six or seven days, I think he will be okay.
Q. How long does it usually take before they know whether it has worked?
NICK PRICE: He just had so main complications. Every patient varies. Because they respond to the treatment differently. The thing that really is tough I can't speak to the guy right now because he can't talk. He is not talking. He has got all these pipes in him, so everything, you know, I am going through Di, his wife, and she is not that easy to get a hold of either. People at the hospital, they have switched off the phone in his room because a lot of people had the number and they didn't want to keep getting -- but, then you go through the main switchboard and they sometimes don't let you through. That is hard. But I guess he needs his rest right now. And so that is why I am trying to do it through Di.
Q. Do you know if he is able to watch it on TV?
NICK PRICE: When I went to see him before Augusta he has a TV in his room there and he watches, but I think he gets a little depressed when he watches on TV because he has been in the hospital now 12 weeks and he sort of -- you know, it must be very hard. He is sitting in there lying in that hospital room that is pretty small and we are all out there laughing and joking in the sunshine. It is kind of hard for him to watch it sometimes. But, I told him the other day, had a good chat with him on the phone. I have been sort of been really good to him and I am trying to be positive and whatever. Then the other day he was just so negative on the. Phone I said, "Hey, you just don't know how many people have done so much for you that you can't just give up and say you are not going to do this." And, it seemed to work because it changed his attitude a little bit. Because he is stubborn. I mean, he is a stubborn fellow I know that. But anyway the next four, five days are really critical for him.
WES SEELEY: Okay, folks?
NICK PRICE: Okay.
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