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April 18, 1997

Nick Price


WES SEELEY: 65, 69, 134. 8-under par for Nick Price and leader at the moment by two. First give us a weather report. What was it like out there?

NICK PRICE: Awfully cold. It was -- I guess it was probably around about 50 degrees, 48 degrees when we teed off, but with the wind blowing, it was in the -- you know, in the -- maybe the high 30s or 40s. It was very cold. But, as soon as the sun came up, the sun came over the trees, only comes over the trees around about, I don't know, about quarter past 8:00. I was on the practice tee; started warming up a little bit. And, you know, it was fine when you were in the sun, but when you were in the shade, it was very cold. Even now, I mean, out on 17 and 18 it is chilly. But, I think the guys on the front 9, it's just those two holes that are so exposed where it is really cold now. I think this afternoon, it is going to be pretty much the same as yesterday afternoon. Maybe the wind will die, I don't know. I got off to a solid started too. I birdied the second hole. I hit a 1-iron for my second shot just through the back of the green, chipped on to about six feet, made that. And then parred the next two. And par 5 I was just short there two, and chipped up to about four, five feet. And then I bogeyed 8. I hooked my tee shot a little bit on the left side of the fairway and was blocked out by the trees. And it was kind of hard because the wind was swirling a little bit. I wasn't sure, I kind of bailed out to the right and chipped on to about eight feet and missed it, came right back and birdied it with a 9-iron; hit it to about ten feet behind the hole. Next one was on 12. I hit 3-wood off the tee and 8-iron to about ten, twelve feet short of the hole. And then I holed a bomb on the par 3. Probably about 35-, 40-footer. I hit -- the pin was cut on the right-hand side; I had just aimed left and hit it about 35, 40 feet and made that. 17 and 18, I hit -- I think I had 160 yards to the pin on number 17, and the wind, again, you know, was -- felt like more into us than right-to-left, and I just hit this 5-iron and, absolutely blitzed it. I just flushed it, pitched over the bunker and over the back, just probably about 20 yards past the flag, and I had almost an impossible chip and I chipped it just through the fringe and 2-putted. And then number 18, I was trying to hold my 3-iron on the wind and I just didn't draw it and kind of left it straight. And, the wind got it and it went down just past pin-high about 30 yards, 35 yards from the pin. And I chipped up about just short of the fringe about 15 feet and 2-putted. So, but, you know, I am just really happy with the way I played today because when it is cold like that, it is hard to feel your grip, and it just takes you a little bit of time to get going. But, I got off to a good start birdieing both the par 5s, so that was ideal for -- then the rest today, I was just trying to hold the round together, just keep everything -- shoot anything under par today, you know, would have -- I would have been very happy with. And with the exception of the two bogeys today on 17 and 18, I played almost as well as I could.

WES SEELEY: What club on 14?

NICK PRICE: An 8-iron.

WES SEELEY: Questions.

Q. You think conditions are going to get any easier this afternoon?

NICK PRICE: Probably. I looked at the Weather Channel last night, that front has moved through, and I think the wind is going to die a little bit this afternoon, which, you know, is fine. I mean, I really don't think, you know, I could have improved the golf course "giveth and a taketh" and I had more taking today and yesterday. I have played myself into a very good position. Whatever is leading at the end of today, be it 9- or 10-under, or if it is 8-under, I am very happy with my position. And I just want to have a good weekend, have a good solid weekend and have a shot at it on Sunday.

Q. Nick, when did the green ribbon start? Was that just --

NICK PRICE: We started it in about -- let me think. It was Phoenix, around about Phoenix time we started it.

WES SEELEY: Last week of January.

NICK PRICE: Yeah, last week in January.

Q. That probably won't be the dramatic difference in morning and afternoon conditions today than it was yesterday, but do you feel maybe you had an opportunity to get way far out ahead today?

NICK PRICE: I had a putt on 16 to get to 11-under and, you know, if I look at it in a negative light, you know, I think, oh, well, you know, I sort of blew the last two holes. But, I am just thinking the whole picture and two rounds to shoot 8-under par, I think I did really well. But, you know, I think the guys this afternoon, it is going to be a little bit warmer for them. They are going to be able to hit the ball a little further than we were earlier this morning. And the course might play a little easier. But, with this wind, you know - you can go ask any one of those guys right now - they will take anything under par or around par right now and run to the clubhouse. So, you know, I am sure someone is going to get to 9-, 10-under par, though. The greens are just so perfect. And it is -- actually, it is funny how last week sort of conditions because you get, you know, from 20, 25 feet at Augusta and you are trying not to 3-putt, and here you get to 20, 25 feet and you are looking to make it. It is a totally different mindset. And, I think that is a relief to a lot of us getting out there saying, well, you hit it, you know, 4-iron or 5-iron to 25 feet instead of trying not to 3-putt, you can actually make a birdie (Laughs).

Q. Do you consider yourself an aggressive player who would benefit from that mindset here where you can take a run at a 20-footer?

NICK PRICE: To me, the last five, six tournaments, TPC, Augusta and Bay Hill, even though I haven't finished as well, I have been striking the ball and hitting the ball very well. And the difference this week is that I have just finish off -- once I got on the greens, I have hit a lot of close iron shots, but my putting is solid. And that has always been a key to my game. I think a key to anyone's game, but particularly mine, if I can stay in around about 28, 29 putts, then I am going to shoot under par most of the time. So, I just think the greens are so pure right now that I just hope that -- I have got a good feel for them, my pace has been good, just keep trying.

Q. How close are you to be where you were two, three years ago as a player?

NICK PRICE: In fact, someone asked me that question last week. And I would say from tee-to-green I probably have more control than I have ever had right now. I think I am swinging better. My swinging is more repetitive than it was. I am just -- my short game in that period, particularly '93, 1994, was as good as anyone's. And, I mean, I had to give it on average those two years an 8-and-a-half out of 10. And right now I am sort of down about a 6-and-a-half or a 7. So if I can get it up a notch or two, you know, I feel that my long game will take care of itself. It is just getting those putts in the hole. You know, when you are playing well like that, the hole looks this big. (INDICATING THREE FEET CIRCUMFERENCE) And that is what it did to me. It looked like a bucket, and I could chip it in, hole it out of the bunkers. As you putt better from the six feet range, it takes a lot of the pressure off your bunker playing and your chipping, then you don't quite have the tension and you just let the chips and the bunker shots happen. That is when you start, you know, chipping and your short game improves so much. I think that is basically what happens. It has been a very slow buildup for me because, you know, for the better part of 14, 15 months, my putting wasn't very good at all.

Q. Nick, I don't want to say this the wrong way, but when you were one of the best in the world, you came out of that period saying you really didn't enjoy the spotlight, limelight as much?

NICK PRICE: No, I think that was misquoted there. It wasn't the fact that I didn't enjoy it. The thing that I didn't enjoy was the fact that my time was shorter. I didn't have as much time to myself. And I have learned to manage my time better now. And that was the problem there. I just didn't manage my time well. And it was hard because, you know, I would get ten requests a week back home to do magazine articles, radio interviews, television interviews and, you know, I won a lot of awards and people asked me to go to awards ceremonies and do these things. Nowadays I get maybe two a week. That, I can handle. (Audience laughter.) But it is hard. I try and accommodate as many people as I can within reason. But every time you do something like that, you are taking away time from your family. So I have done a better job nowadays of handling that. I think if that does come around again, I am going to handle it a lot better. I will be able to -- I won't run myself as thin on time as I did during that period. In fact, that is something that I think, you know, Tiger and any of these young guys should go on a time management course, because -- and learn to say "no" sometimes.

Q. It is something you just learned from the experience?


Q. You didn't actually take anything to learn how to do it?


Q. You have to go through it to know what it is like; don't you?

NICK PRICE: I think it is harder for your family than it is for you because they spend less time with you. And I have got a young family now and I want to spend a lot of time with them. The thing that suffered the most is my fishing. (Audience laughter.) I don't fish as much anymore (Laughs.) My little boy is getting to about six now, too, so you can see he is getting a little interested in fishing. But, it is different. I think different stages of your life you have different enjoyment -- you enjoy different things, and right now, spending three or four hours with my kids swimming, or whatever it might be, is golden.

Q. If you reach a point at the end -- what are the consequences of saying no, is it just money or is it --

NICK PRICE: No, it is not money. It was -- money was never a factor in that at all. It was -- It is sort of like some -- it wasn't -- I prioritize my life more than anything. The most important things in my life are my family and my golf. And I have to allot them and allocate time each week and almost each day to both of those. And once I get into that time slot that I have allocated, I musn't do anything else. And, so, whether it means getting up a little earlier in the morning or staying at the golf course a little later, that is fine, but to accommodate people. But there are just certain times you just can't do everything. And -- but, I think most of the guys in the media, you guys are reasonable enough that if I say I can't do it, you have a substantial reason, then, you know, you don't. But every now and then, some guy will give you a hard time about it.

Q. It is not just us, it is sponsors?

NICK PRICE: It is everything. There is a myriad of things that pull you away from the golf course when you are playing really well. It is funny, because in our profession, whatever money that you make, you have to be there whether it is an appearance for a corporate outing or whether it is for your sponsor, Nike, or Goldwin or whatever. It may be they want your time. And whether it is a photo session or whether it is going to do a cocktail party to promote a new range of clubs, and that is when you go from where I was in the '80s and early the '90s, suddenly take five big leaps, and you are up here, it took time adjusting. I think I did pretty well, because '92, 3 and 4 I just kept going. I mean, I just kept going and going and going. And it got to a stage there in 1995 where I just said enough is enough, I need to just back out a little bit here. And, you know, it was sort of like a twofold circumstance; two sets of circumstance. One was that I wasn't practicing enough, and the other one was, you know, hey, it is nice to let someone else have the heat for a while.

Q. You mentioned going from what '83 to '91 or something like that without a win somewhere --


Q. What happened? What happened then?

NICK PRICE: Well, you know, I went through a huge -- I don't know, I think the '83 World Series took, first of all, a lot of pressure off me. I didn't lose my desire, but I maybe didn't practice as hard as I should have in '84 and '85. And then '86 things started changing for me, you know, met my wife in '85, then '86 I got all serious about golf again. It wasn't that I wasn't serious about it, but it wasn't the everything in my life in '84, '85. And then from '86, you know, just slow, steady progress, I guess, if you have a look. I hated playing golf the way I did early in my career where I would win one week and then I couldn't make a cut the next 5 weeks. And it is very hard to go out and compete. So, I tried in that period of six, seven years to get my game where I could perform week in and week out. And, you know, it was a lot of work on my long game. And, then when I got my long game, where I felt that it could perform week in week out, I didn't have a short game, because I had neglected working on my short game. Then I worked in '88 and 9 and '90 on my short game really hard, and it all seemed to come together in 1991. And, you know, just -- it was an awful lot of fun the way I did it. And, I respected and appreciated winning, probably more than anyone else because I had been through that lean period. I had won overseas in that period, but it was just a lean period, I suppose, because there were so many expectations of me after I won the '83 World Series. But, you have got to spread your career out as well. That is half the fun, you know, I mean, I didn't think that you know, when I turned pro 20 years ago that I would be in the situation that I am now. Never in a million years. So, I am extremely grateful.

Q. Can you tell us a little bit how Squeeky is doing?

NICK PRICE: It is very sad at the moment. I spoke to him yesterday morning. His bone marrow transplant didn't work. In about -- we found that out about five weeks ago. He then got a lung infection. It was a fungus; which they treated and then he found out after ten days after the treatment that it was the wrong fungus they were treating. So, they switched in this period. His whole system was getting worse and worse and worse. Anyway, then they started treating the lung infection. But, the lung infection wouldn't get better until his white blood cell came up which the count wasn't coming up. And, then the other day his blood cells, his white cell count started coming up and they found out it wasn't his marrow that was making his white blood cells, it was his mom's and his bone marrow that they had put in after they took his mom's out had, I guess there is a residue left in his body; it wasn't grafting back to his body. So, now the guy is, you know, he is right in between everything. And what is happened is his whole system is just getting worse and worse each week. I went to see him the Sunday before Augusta and, you know, I hardly recognized the guy. It was very, very sad. But, anyway his spirits were good at that stage and, you know, as good as anyone would be after what he'd been through. Now, we found out that yesterday, he was a bit apprehensive. In fact, he didn't want to have it done at all, to have his mom's, to go through another bone marrow transplant and that is about the only thing that is going to save his life right now. I spoke to him yesterday and I had been talking so positively to him for so long and yesterday, he was very negative on the phone and I just said: "There is too many people who have done too much for you and are pulling too hard for you for you just to quit on us now." And, you know, yesterday, apparently, I tried to call last night, but I didn't get through and then my wife told me this morning that he had had it done yesterday. So, you know, it is -- it is a very tough thing. I am sure anyone who knows people who have been through cancer and how -- and the chemotherapy, how it just -- it emaciates your body. The poor guy is just -- he is down to about 120 pounds right now. The hardest thing is his mind because he was in pretty good health even though he had the disease when he went in and now he has been through all this stuff; now he is sicker than he has ever been. And, he is no better off than he was when he went in. And, it must be very difficult.

Q. How long was he with you?

NICK PRICE: Since 1990. Since 1990.

Q. You said he had his mother's bone marrow again?


Q. If it didn't work last time, why would it work this time?

NICK PRICE: It is the only option right now because his body is not accepting his bone marrow. So, apparently, it was really close, you know, there was a touch and go period there where they thought that his body had accepted it. And, right now his body is so down, that, you know, I don't know when they take it out or when they freeze it or whatever they do, maybe something changes. But, now they took it straight out of his mom and put it into him. So, there is a lot of healthy cells in there and whereas his cells may not have been that healthy after all the chemo and everything, so maybe this will be able to graft then.

Q. Is he having that done in Columbus?


Q. When you have a caddie/player relationship that long, what is the relationship? Can you describe it on the course?

NICK PRICE: Almost like having a second wife, you know, you are that close to the guy. I mean, there were times where you spend more time with the guy than you do with your wife because you see -- you wake up and have a shower in the morning; have breakfast off you go. Then you spend the rest of the day, eight hours, with your caddie. And, then did you are back to the hotel; have a shower and go and have dinner and, you know, you see your wife probably for about four hours of the day. You spend twice as much time with the guy during the tournament weeks than you do with your family. And, you know, it was kind of a great situation for us because he was in the middle of nowhere when he came to caddie for me and I was kind of in the middle of nowhere and both of us got together and we kind of jumped on the same motor cycle and just beat everyone. I mean, it was so much fun because he wanted to improve his caddying abilities and, you know, he was never, ever -- he would never ever shy away from any constructive criticism; neither would I. So, if I saw him on the golf course doing anything that I didn't think made him a good caddy, and vice versa, we would tell each other. It is kind of difficult because, you know, this is a game and we are highly strung people and we are under a lot of pressure and tension. But, there were times when he would just say, come to me and he will just say, "you are not acting like a professional; that is not professional conduct." Immediately you sort of think because you are so into what you are doing, and -- that what one of the things that I always respect about him because other caddies -- it is like I would never -- his job was never in jeopardy because he was criticizing me constructively. And, I miss not having him around.

Q. Who is your caddie now and what is your relationship?

NICK PRICE: Jimmy and I have been friends for a long time. Jimmy is actually a good player who just never made it, never made the great. And, he caddied for Mark McNulty about two years ago and, in fact, Squeek said to me when he said that he was going to go into the hospital, he said, "Nick, I think you should get Jimmy to caddie for you." I didn't even think about it. And as soon as he mentioned Jimmy's name, I called Jimmy up and, in fact, I asked squeak to call Jimmy. It is nice coming from a caddie, you know, and Jimmy was really, I think, touched when Squeeky phoned him. That is the kind of person he is.

Q. Jimmy -

NICK PRICE: Johnson.

Q. When did Jimmy take over, Nick?

NICK PRICE: He went overseas a couple of times, last year went to the British Open; then Dunhill Cup and Japan because Squeek couldn't go overseas. But, he took over full-time in Phoenix this year.

Q. Where is Squeek?

NICK PRICE: He is in Ohio State University Hospital, cancer hospital there.

Q. Was Sarazen the last tournament?

NICK PRICE: It is the last one he worked for me, yeah.

Q. Is it gratifying for you to see so many of the other golfers and --

NICK PRICE: It is wonderful.

Q. With the ribbon --

NICK PRICE: It is hard -- I have been on TOUR for such a long time and I think when I think of guys like who are off the TOUR now who are maybe in between the Senior TOUR and this TOUR, or even guys -- I think the biggest thing, you miss coming out on TOUR, are the guys and because I have never seen a group of guys and caddies -- caddies have been unbelievable. They have got together and they have done -- so many, they all come to me everyday and ask me how they are doing. And, it was a period of time where that got me down a little bit because I -- because I was telling people the same story. I owe it to Squeek to tell those people how he is doing. But it is great. I mean, I see people out - who I don't even know - walking around with ribbons on and I just wish Squeeky could see that. You want to put a video camera on top of your, they'd and walk around and see all these people who are doing it because if he could see that, it would cheer him up a lot. But, hey, doesn't matter what you do, when you see him in that hospital room, you know, it is so tiny, he has got all these pipes coming out of him. I mean, the guy is 42 years old, anyway....

WES SEELEY: Okay folks?

End of FastScripts....

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