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March 9, 1997

Nick Price


NICK PRICE: It was hard to get the ball close today, and I kept on hitting the ball 30 -- 25, 30, 35 feet from the hole, and I didn't make any. I made one long putt today -- two long putts and they were to save par. They were both for 2-putts, one on 3 from about 15 feet. I hit my first putt 15 feet by. And, then on No. 9, I hit it probably 15 feet again. Very difficult putt. Those were the only two putts I holed. And, I think the speed of the greens got me a little bit today. There were some that were extremely fast and some of them that were just sort of medium paced and when you don't get the speed right it's hard to read the right amount of break. But I did hit some good putts on the back 9. On 11, very good putt on 12. I hit a good putt on 13. A good putt on 14. 14, I just felt like I got robbed there. And 17, I hit a good putt, as well, just didn't break. So, I figured that 13-under was going to win. When I made the turn and I figured that Elky was going to play really conservatively on the back 9 and try not to make any mistakes, and he was 14 and I figured he'd probably play the 18th as a par 5, I would have, if I had two shots in hand. And I figured like 13-under was going to win. So I just couldn't -- I couldn't get past 11. But, all in all, really good week for me. Because I've never played that well on this golf course. And to shoot 11-under, it's refreshing to come to a golf course for 15 years or so, 14 years you've never played very well, and then all of a sudden you have a chance to win. So a good past four weeks for me, though. I'm kind of wishing that Augusta was next week.

Q. Were the conditions pretty much the same as yesterday?

NICK PRICE: A little harder and the wind had shifted a little bit, probably, I would say, 10, 15 degrees it had shifted from yesterday. The 18th hole, we played our second shots almost into the wind. It was -- whereas, yesterday it was more left to right. And it was harder, I think probably 5 to 7 miles an hour faster than yesterday. The way they tucked the pins, there were so many over the edge of the bunkers; you wanted to get past the pin and go on the long side and then you had this downhill putt. It was very difficult. And I think I hit -- if you count that last green on 18, as a green of regulation, I hit all the greens on the back 9. I felt like I should have made at least one birdie.

Q. I guess you heard the roar go up. Did you know it was Elky, eagle or did you see it?


Q. On 3.

NICK PRICE: We were on the tee. And, you know, we saw him hit and we heard the rotor. He didn't react at all at first, and I said to Jimmy, my caddie, I said, "he made it, that was a 2 roar." And, then he held his hands up. I think he was more stunned than anybody else.

Q. Nick, you seem like you're going after the ball as aggressively as you did a couple of years ago. Is that a by-product of everything falling together for you?

NICK PRICE: Yeah, I think the hard work that I put in the past -- since I got stronger, since like September. I took, I think, 3 weeks off after the Presidents Cup. And since then I've just got stronger and stronger. And then I had a month off in December. And that was really, I think, a big thing for me because it gave me time for my body to recoup. And I haven't looked back since the beginning of the year. In fact, the end of last year I played really solid, too. So I just need to bring my putter up a notch. That's the difference now. If I putted effectively today, I would have had a good chance. So it's a little frustrating at times. But, at least, I am putting well enough to get myself into contention. But, if you have a look at my graph for putt, it goes up great one day and sort of levels off and then up, I can't get it up a notch and get it -- but, then again, you know, I've only really been working on this change in my stroke for about five weeks, six weeks now, so that's really still early. There's certain things that I'm finding out, little idiosyncrasies; every day feels a little different, and I'm weeding out all the bad feelings, but I'm putting on 15 months of bad memories on the greens. I'm trying to eradicate that. If I do something sort of badly, I get a little defensive rather than aggressive. I think as my confidence -- to me, it's always a building thing. You have a good foundation, and you build from there. And I feel that's what I'm doing with my putting, my short game now.

Q. Have you talked to Squeaky lately?

NICK PRICE: Yes, I spoke to him on Wednesday. I tried phoning the last couple of days, but he's been out exercising and walking. He's doing fine. We're kind of hoping that he's going to be out pretty soon, of the hospital. I think today is his 29th day or 28th day.

Q. Where is he?

NICK PRICE: He's in Ohio state University Hospital.

Q. Nick, you mentioned that you've come out this year extremely strong after kind of a down period. We know in politics that such a thing is political will. Is there kind of a will behind what you're doing now, settle a personal thrust, something in your mind that you're focusing on?

NICK PRICE: I think toward the end of 1995 I faced a crossroads in my life, because there was -- here I was, I played so well in '92, 3 and 4. And '95 things started sliding away from me. And I realized then that my love for the game and how much I enjoy playing the game is so important to me; that if something takes me away from playing the game, I've got to try to get rid of it. Obviously, my family is very important to me, and it's easy to budget your time with your family and playing. But, it's all the other things that were coming in. So I just refocused, that's what I did. And I now spent more time practicing and doing what I feel like I do best, which is out on the golf course hitting balls. And it just simplified my life. If I hadn't got sick last year, I was playing well at the beginning of last year, and I think if I had not had that sinus problem, I would have been where I am, I would have been playing well throughout the whole of last summer. It was frustrating, because I felt like my game was coming. And, then I got this sinus infection, and for four months it was awful. I couldn't get out of bed in the morning. But, that's the way life goes sometimes. You sort of grin and bare it and go done on. It happened at a difficult time for me because I was on the way up.

Q. Did you take medication for that?

NICK PRICE: I take a nasal spray. I tried to avoid having surgery. The guy that I went to see, he said let's see what's causing it and if we can get the cause, then we can -- we might not have to treat the symptoms. And that's basically what's happened. I found I do have some allergies, and I've got to try to stay away from those. This nasal spray has just worked wonders, though.

Q. What are you allergic to?

NICK PRICE: Grass, would you believe? No, there's a couple things, potatoes, mildly allergic to potatoes. It's kind of weird.

Q. You and Elkington can trade stories about allergy stress?

NICK PRICE: He's been through the mill. He's really had it worse than I have. Yesterday he had to use a saltwater nasal spray, as well.

Q. What else are you allergic to?

NICK PRICE: Grasses. And, I try to stay off milk products as much as I can. That's something obviously that affects your -- what do you call it, breathing.

Q. Do they just discover the grass allergy in the last few months?

NICK PRICE: There's certain kinds. No, I had a test at the end of last year, in August of lags year, and they took a blood test and they check your allergies, whatever they are, in your blood, and that's what came out. There was two different types of grasses, but fortunately one is not Bermuda. It's probably that stuff they put on Augusta National. (Laughter.)

Q. Allergic to sand?

NICK PRICE: No, I get it in my ears and everywhere, just like everyone else.

Q. Do you have any explanation or any advice as far as maybe talk to David about how to kick one in when he's got a chance. He's been so close so many times?

NICK PRICE: I said to him when we walked off 18, I said David, "Keep doing what you're doing, something is going to come right." What he's going through is not uncommon. I think a lot of the really good players have been through that. Tom Watson, for example, he couldn't win for ages and all of a sudden he won the British Open in '75 and he never looked back. And, that's probably what's going to happen to David. He might play well in a major championship and everything will fall in his lap. But it's toughening him up, too. He's learning that -- it's not a good thing for someone to come out and just win straight away, because then you never appreciate winning as when you come second, a lot - I don't think, anyway. But he's going to do well. He's certainly got age on his side.

Q. Nick, did you hit a driver at all?

NICK PRICE: Yeah, only about four or five times today. Hit a lot of 3-woods.

Q. Nick, did playing well some place where you haven't played well, here, put you in a different kind of mindset for Augusta, where you haven't played well?

NICK PRICE: Yeah, it's always a good sign. Augusta, for, me is a putting contest. To me it's just going to be -- who putts best wins at Augusta, period. I've always said that there's no rough on the golf course, so that takes one of my strongest clubs out of my barks the driver, because everyone hits it in the fairway in Augusta. And it's just really all -- every guy who's won there always has an ability to putt, when he putts his best on a 9.5. I sort of -- when I putt great I get up in the low 9's, but I never putt day in and day out at that level, like Crenshaw or Faldo, those guys putt beautifully. Olazabal, all of those that have won The Masters. I've got to make sure my putting is the strongest part of my game when I go there. But I think just if you get your putting right for one week, you just kind of hope that it is that week. Because it doesn't matter what you do from tee-to-green there, it's once you get on the green.

Q. Which putter are you using right now?

NICK PRICE: A Bobby grace, it's called an

AN7. I've started using it will at Sun City last year. In fact I think since I've had that putter in the bag my worst finish is 3rd. So it's been good.

Q. How different is that from the Fat Lady?

NICK PRICE: There were some of the designs in the Fat Lady that I didn't like. We've made the head a little smaller and we've put this insert in. And it's really -- I feel like I can be aggressive on the quickest greens. So maybe that might do the trick on Augusta. Maybe I'll put a marshmallow insert for Augusta or cashmere or something.

End of FastScripts....

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