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March 8, 1997

Nick Price


Q. What was going on in the front 9, and what was going on on the back?

NICK PRICE: Was fast asleep on the front 9 and I woke up on the back nine. The way this course is set up, that's what it's going to lend itself to. The greens -- I'm putting obviously really well, and I had had a tough time on the back 9 keeping the ball in the fairway. And I lost a bit of confidence with my tee-to-green game, my long game, and, it was tough. Every hole seems like it's angled and the wind is coming straight across you and it's like you've got to draw the ball into the wind or cut it into the wind, whichever way, to keep the ball in the fairway. If you hit a good, solid, straight shot, it runs through the middle of the fairway into the bunkers. It's difficult to keep the ball in play off the tee. And, it's just difficult. The front 9, I birdied No. 2. I holed a good putt off the back edge, and I hit probably one of the best bunker shots in my life. In, fact I hit probably the best and the worst, the best in No. 4. I think it was 38 paces. I holed it. And that got me 2-under. And, then I birdied the next hole and the next one and birdied No. 9. I just felt at the time if I just played, you know, nice and steady and didn't make any mistakes, I figured 14-under was going to be pretty much the winning score, or close to it. And, maybe I should have carried on and played aggressively. But, I think it's going to happen on this golf course. This golf course, you're just going to have a tough time stringing together 18 good holes. You're going to get caught out there, because it doesn't take much to miss a shot out there and end up in one of the fairway bunkers and hitting a crosswind. And, the greens were pretty slippery today as well. If I would have taken 70 at the start of the day, just a different way of doing it, 31, 39.

Q. I guess you're the anti-Norman here. He loves this place. And, he's comfortable. And, you've never really felt that comfortable here. Just explain that and also what's it like finally having a chance?

NICK PRICE: Myself, I've never played well, here. I'm as surprised as anyone. Obviously, my recent form, has got a lot to do with it. But, there are some changes to the golf course that I think suit my game a little more. Obviously, a little tighter off the tees with the bunkers and that, but I'm putting well, and that's something, I think, overall, I'm reading these greens better than I've ever done. I think the newer greens, to me, are easier to read than the old ones. And, I've got a good pace to my putt and I'm getting them started on-line. And that's been the real key, because I don't think I've ever really putted that well. I also like what he's done around the greens where you -- as you miss the green, hitting to 3-inch Bermuda. You've got these shaved areas. You can be creative with your chipping and you can run the ball. I like that a lot. I hope they can keep the grass from thatching over the next couple of years, but Bermuda has a tendency to thatch, when you try and crop it short like that. So there's several factors. It's just really nice to know that I can play this golf course. For a long time, I didn't think I could. Up until three years ago, I mean, I think I skipped two or three years straight because I was so frustrated.

Q. Were you considering not playing here this year?

NICK PRICE: No, no, I was going to play here this year. Last year I think I played my tail off here last year. I think I finished 18th. I figured I could move up a spot or two this week.

Q. Didn't the course suit your game the way it used to be and the way it is now?

NICK PRICE: He said you should eat that course up. I never felt comfortable. It's the angles more than anything else. Sometimes you feel that a straight shot doesn't work here. You've got to always maneuver the ball some way or another. It also helps -- I'm a low ball striker, and it also helps to hit the ball high here. So, I suppose the more it blows tomorrow the better off I'll be. There are some very, very difficult holes out there, not so much even like a 3-wood and an 8-iron, you say that's 360 yard par 4, but if you don't hit the driver or the iron or the fairway wood off the tee on the spot, you're playing out of the sand. And, some of these bunkers have got a lot of sand in them. It's part luck what kind of lie you get.

Q. How about 13, what happened in the bunker there?

NICK PRICE: I kind of hit -- I hit a 3-iron off the tee. It came up short in that bunker, probably -- and I was on the up-slope, but it was the kind of lie that you wanted to have a 2-iron, because there was no sand behind the ball whatsoever. There was just -- it had sort of been raked like this. The level was -- bunker was like this; the rake job came up and my ball was sitting on top. You wanted to chip out and run out. And, I was trying to hit it up the slope and hit it up nice and high and I nailed it. (Laughter.) It didn't cut the ball, though, and it pitched and I think I had 72 yards back to the flag.

Q. And the putt was 30 --

NICK PRICE: The putt was 30, 32 feet, somewhere around there.

Q. So that shot went a hundred yards?

NICK PRICE: Probably. I think it probably had a 30-yard help.

Q. We're hearing a lot of things about "rake jobs" this week.

NICK PRICE: I'm going to have to double my caddie's salary this week. The poor guy, he has a diploma in bunker raking this week. He's earned one. Probably you'll find the average this week is about, between 7 and 10, each guy. The other day John Cook, he did, I think, four holes in a row, fairway bunker, green-side bunker, fairway bunker, green-side bunker, and his caddie never caught up. Our caddie, Mark Brooks's caddie or my caddie were doing his bunkers, but, it's certainly a lot tougher in that respect.

Q. When you rake a lot you leave a lot of bad lies, no matter how good the rake job is?

NICK PRICE: Relatively there's a lot of sand in the bunkers, because it's relatively new. And, I think next year, when the sand settles a little more, it will be a lot better. The ball still runs in the sand, it's so soft, and you get up, with the depression, you have a quarter of an inch of the ball below the level of the sand which makes it difficult when you try to put a little spin, when you're coming crosswind to a firm green, it makes it very difficult.

Q. How many were you in?


Q. Yes.

NICK PRICE: It's going to take a while.

LEE PATTERSON: Just go through the birdies.

NICK PRICE: No. 2, I hit the 9-iron for my second shot about 30 feet behind the pin, just off the back. No. 3: A 4-iron in the bunk -- No. 4: 4-iron until the bunker and bunker shot from about 38 yards, I think it was. No. 5: Drove it in the bunker left, hit a 7-iron out about 10, 12 feet behind the hole. No. 6: Drove it in the bunker on the right and 6-iron out to about 25 feet. No. 9: Hit a 5-iron to about 12 feet. 16: I drove -- hit 1-iron, I was trying to turn a 1-iron and hold into the wind, and hit it in the bunker through the fairway and over the back into the back bunker and hit it out about 14, 15 feet and missed it. And then 17, I hooked it in the left bunker; hit it in the right green-side bunker and hit it out about 6, 8 feet and missed it.

Q. Everybody is averaging 7 to 10. That's 7 to 10 per round.

NICK PRICE: I'm sure. I think I had 7 on the back 9. It's just very hard. You feel like you're threading a needle off the tee sometimes. I'm tempted tomorrow not even to use my driver, because I hit the ball on a flat trajectory. I get a lot of run on these fairways, and I think the 3-wood, sometimes if I pitch it over a bunker, it will run straight through the fairway into the other bunker; maybe hit my 3-wood and get to land a little softer and keep it in play. The last hole, 18, I hit 3-wood there the last two days. I can keep it in the fairway, but with the driver I'm going to run it straight through to the bunker every day.

Q. You haven't won on the PGA TOUR since 1994.

NICK PRICE: Obviously, it's a big thing to me, especially playing well the last six or seven months. I'm going to patient. If it doesn't happen this week, the way I'm playing, I feel like it's going to happen pretty soon. And, I don't want to put undue, unnecessary pressure on myself tomorrow saying that I have to go out there and win. What I want to do tomorrow is go out there and play each shot as it comes and do the very best I can and try and stay out of the bunkers.

Q. So you are going to probably use the 3-wood?

NICK PRICE: I'll use the 3-wood a lot more tomorrow. It depends on the wind.

Q. Nick, is this as well as you putted in a very long time?

NICK PRICE: Yeah, in fact, Sun City, three weeks ago, that was probably the best I putted since I won in Canada in '94. And, today, was a very good putting day. And what's been difficult for me is like conditions like today, when the wind is up a little bit, and you can lose your confidence on the greens. And, I just kept stroking them well today. I'm not going to tempt faith, but I feel a lot of my putting problems are behind me now. I feel like I'm on the right track.

Q. At Shinnecock in 1995 you were talking about how there's a double-edged thing to not winning in 1995 at that point, because on one hand you were disappointed not winning; but, on the other hand, you liked being out of the spotlight. Are you ready to come back in it?

NICK PRICE: Oh, yeah. I think the next time around would be a lot easier for me. I know what to expect. It was hard, because for two and a half, three years, it was like every tournament I went to I was doing articles and just having to do an awful lot outside of just playing golf. And, the last year or so, I've just been able to go out and, when I've been healthy, anyway, be able to go out and practice and do the things that I was doing well in those years when I was playing well. And, I'm getting back to that. I prioritized my life now. My family and my golf are the two most important things to me. And, I'm going to spend as much time as I can just focused on those two things. And, I'm getting a lot more fun out of it because my life is now simpler. But, it's hard. I think someone like Tiger Woods has probably been exposed to that, he's going to have that all his life. But, I went through seven or eight years where I would go on the practice tee unnoticed and walk into the locker room unnoticed and walk into the dining room unnoticed. And then to have all that happen in a short space of time, you know, it threw me off a little bit. But you live and learn, and I think I've learned from that. And I think the next time around, it will be a lot easier for me to handle.

Q. Is Greg waiting for you?

NICK PRICE: No, I've got another one this week. He's got all his family, so I brought one down, myself.

Q. Well, are you playing all the Florida tournaments?

NICK PRICE: Yeah, all Florida.

Q. What did you have for your second shot on 18, after you hit the 3-wood?

NICK PRICE: 4-iron.

Q. Do you feel like that's giving up too much? Obviously you don't, because you hit the 3-wood?

NICK PRICE: You know, I'm going to play that hole like a par 4 and 3/4. If I'm going to make -- if I make birdie there today, it would have felt like an eagle to me. In fact, that 4-iron was about as close as I was going to hit it to the pin, because I was actually aiming for the right edge of the green and hold it in the wind a little bit and if it went in the bunker, I would have taken it. One bad shot and you're going to make double, for sure, maybe even triple. You saw Brad Faxon on TV, probably one of the best around the greens player on TOUR, hit it out of the bunker and into the water, and holed the putt. So, it's a beast of a hole. I'm going to stalk that hole every day. And I have done.

End of FastScripts....

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