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June 15, 1995

Nick Price


LES UNGER: Leader for the moment, Nick Price. We will go through the obligatories hole-by-hole so AP can do its chore for all of you.

NICK PRICE: 1st hole, a 3-wood off the tee 7-iron to about 30 feet. 2nd hole, 2 putts, and 2-iron in the bunker on the right-hand side; knocked it out to about 5 feet, par. No. 3, a drive and a 4-iron, to about 30 feet 2 putts. No. 4, a 3-wood off the tee and 8-iron to about 25 feet. No. 5 a driver, 3-wood, in the right-hand bunker, short of the green. Hit my trap shot. Came up on the green. It was probably about 15 -- 12, 15 feet short of the hole. Caught a bank and rolled off the green. Chipped it in for birdie.

Q. How far?

NICK PRICE: 30 feet. No. 6, driver and a 3-iron to about 30 feet. 2 putts. No. 7, a 7-iron to about 20 feet. No. 8, a 3-wood and a sand wedge to about 12 feet for a birdie. No. 9, a driver and 5-iron to the back end of the green. Probably 40 feet. 2 putts. No. 10 2-iron off the tee. 7-iron second shot, about 25 feet. 2 putts. No. 11, 5-iron to about 30 feet, 2 putts. No. 12, good drive and 3-wood which I pulled left into some thick -- I don't know what you call it. Of course, I hit a good shot out to about 10 feet and missed the shot and made a bogey. It felt like a par. No. 13, I hit 2-iron and 8-iron to about 35 feet. No. 14, a good drive and a 5-iron to about 6 feet. Made that for birdie. No. 15, let me think what -- hit driver off the tee and then 8-iron to about 35 feet, 2 putts. No. 16, a drive and 3-wood. Just short of the bunker on the right-hand side. Good chip up to about 5 feet. Made that. No. 17, a 4-iron to about 25, 30 feet. No. 18, a driver and 4-iron to about 6 feet and I hoofed it.

LES UNGER: We heard you made reference to your putting. When was the last time you felt so good about your putting?

NICK PRICE: Well, you know, I putted effectively today. I had a lot of putts from, you know, 25, 30 feet which I knocked up dead. It was a solid day with my putter. I holed a couple of good ones, on No. 8 and then the other one on 17 which was a bonus. The other rest of the day, I was sort of all around the 5, 6 foot range and that it was a solid day on the greens for me. I think I only missed 2 greens, though, maybe 3. I am trying to think of them, but I hit the ball extremely well and that is really what is the key to my round.

LES UNGER: Was the course changing from the time you teed off this morning 'til the last hole?

NICK PRICE: It is starting to dry out with the wind and the sun; that is what we are going to see. I think as the day progresses, it is going -- the greens are probably going to pick up a little bit of speed, you know. If it carries on this way by the time we get to the weekend, I think the USGA will be really happy because it will be more or less the way they wanted it to play.

LES UNGER: Questions, please.

Q. Nick, were you aware of the course record over that putt at 18?

NICK PRICE: No, I had no idea. I felt like I had a course record anyway. You know, you break 70 on this course and you have played your tail off and today was no exception. It was one of the better rounds I have played all year, but this is a very, very hard golf course and, you know, requires a lot of patience, so I wasn't thinking about any course records today.

Q. You looked like you and Ernie at some point on 16 were just amazed how far Tiger was hitting the ball?

NICK PRICE: Amazing. He just -- I don't think I have ever seen -- he is up there with John Daly. We were talking about that on 16 today. He hits the ball so far. I mean, I can't see where he gets all his power from, but the ball just takes off like a rocket. He outdrove me, I think, three times today by about 50 yards, and I think I am in the top 10 of the driving distance or top 15, so he has got some hitting power there.

Q. Did you feel this round was coming sooner or later?

NICK PRICE: Well, I have played really well the last three weeks. I am not surprised that I played well today. I am surprised that I shot as low as I did. You know, I hit the ball -- I have hit the ball well the last two weeks; particularly and especially last week. Last week I played 36 holes and I only missed one green. My putting just hasn't had any kind of effectiveness. I figured I was going to play well today, but I didn't realize that I would be able to -- shoot -- was going to shoot as well as I did.

Q. Nick, your ball control out there today was so good. You always had the ball on the right side of the hole or below the hole. Does it kind of stimulate you when you come to a golf course like this where ball positioning is so important? Do you feel yourself getting even more excited?

NICK PRICE: Yeah, if you come in having hit the ball well the last two weeks as I have, I feel like I have pretty good control. A lot of times today I didn't even look at the flag. I just took the flag out of play altogether. Even with an 8-iron, I hit a couple of holes there where I had 8-irons until -- I just didn't look at hitting it in the pin; knocked it out, gave myself 25 or 20 footer up the hill from the correct side. There is an awful lot of strategy to play on this golf course, but you also have to hit the ball well. It is great having a good strategy. If you are not hitting the ball very well because you are still going to shoot 80 out there. Today, I did both well, and I think that is one of the things that would be with the U.S. Open, you just have to be so patient and, you know, try not to force anything out there. If you make your bogey, take it like a man and get to the next hole.

Q. Can you describe the lie you had at No. 12 looked like you were -- you had trouble seeing the ball?

NICK PRICE: I couldn't tell. Yeah, it was -- actually the ball was suspended in the air a little bit because it was lying on some grass. I couldn't tell how deep it was and there is always a chance of going right underneath it. So that is what I was trying to do. I was trying to focus on the height that it was. In fact, that is -- it was sort of like a bushy stuff that I have was in there. It wasn't grass. It wasn't that fescue. It was a bushy type of leafy tree, almost leafy bush. It is -- didn't have as much resistance as that fescue grass. As it turned out, I got a good break there - didn't look like it--

Q. What was the green you missed besides 12, Nick?

NICK PRICE: No. 2, the par 3.

Q. Nick, do you think that making the shot, the recovery shot on 12, was the key shot for your round keeping things together?

NICK PRICE: Well, you know, I have sort of made -- I made a judgment call. I suppose for myself this week, I said any par 4 that I have got to hit a 3-wood into -- I am going to play as a par 5. And you know, as I walked off that green and some guy said that was a good bogey, I said, no, I am really happy with it, it was par for me. There aren't too many par fours in this that I hit a driver 3-wood to, and I guess that is just a state of mind and I know that there are going to be more par fours this week that I am going to hit a 3-wood to it, but, if I had made that putt for par because I had about a 10-footer there, if I played that for par, then that would have really felt like I got out of jail there.

Q. Ernie said that you just played splendidly, he didn't say a 66 might be possible. Do you get a feeling that perhaps this might be Southern Hills all over again?

NICK PRICE: No. Southern Hills only happens once in -- I don't know, if it ever happens to me again, I will be very grateful, but Southern Hills was an exceptional -- was 6 day, 7 days for me, and I really don't -- I mean, I am not ruling it out, but I don't know if that will ever happen to me again.

Q. Nick, were you motivated at all by the disappointment in The Masters?

NICK PRICE: You know, that -- it is so far away right now, I don't even think about it. You know, The Masters is obviously a tournament that I really want to win badly and I have been disappointed in my play there this year, but I also have been disappointed in my play in the last 6 years. It is not that I am brand new at being used to -- playing poorly there. As I said, it is so far away right now. I am not even worried about it.

Q. What was your distance in the 12 and what did you think when Tiger hit 4-iron in there?

NICK PRICE: Well, he hit 2 drivers today -- I had 229 yards to the pin into the wind. I had to absolutely smoke that 3-wood to get it up to the pin high and he got up there and I mean, he hit the ball so high it was -- I thought it was a 5-iron and I asked him, but on No. 5, the par 5, he hit a driver and a 3-iron that pitched on the green and I hit my 2 best driving 3-wood there and I pitched it in the bunker short of the green and he flew a good 8 yards passed where my driver 3-wood pitched, so I mean this guy has got some phenomenal power. It is -- it is actually fun to play with -- to see a guy -- Ernie and I we felt a little, you know, sort of powerless out there with this kid, you know. I don't want to call him a kid. He is 19. He is taller than I and hits the ball 40 yards further than I do, but on top of it, he is just such a nice guy. I think he has a really good head on his shoulders, and it is phenomenal. It really is. He is in Daly's league. He is one of the few that I have ever seen who has got just a normal looking golf swing; very fundamentally sound and hits the ball as far as John Daly. Normally guys got back swings or some goofy move in his swing; hits the ball so far, but this guy is just incredible.

Q. What does he have to do to become you know, a top flight golfer; in scoring?

NICK PRICE: Just keep playing. I think -- I think back there -- he is 19 years old. All he has got to do is just learn to play the game; maybe have a little more strategy. You know, today he made a couple of mistakes out there, but he certainly doesn't play golf like a 19 year old.

LES UNGER: Does he call you Mr. Price or Nick?

NICK PRICE: Nobody calls me Mr. Price - even my kids.

Q. Is this your best round in the U.S. Open that you can remember?

NICK PRICE: I shot 71 at Pebble Beach in the last round in '91, was it '91 or '92.

Q. 2.

NICK PRICE: '92. And I played pretty well that round. That golf course, par that day was about 77 it felt like. But I think certainly the best I have ever golfed.

Q. What did Tiger hit off of the 14th tee?

NICK PRICE: Hit a driver. Hit driver. I didn't see him use a lot of 3-woods today and I thought with his length he may have used a couple of 3-woods but he either used the 1-iron or the driver but he used the driver there. I mean, when I saw that ball fly, I thought it was going to pitch on the edge of the fairway. It flew 25 yards further than I thought it was going to go.

Q. Nick, you said that Tiger made a couple of mistakes out there. What types of mistakes did he make?

NICK PRICE: Mental mistakes. Hitting the wrong clubs, I felt on some of the holes and it seemed like he shot for the pin a lot today, which you know, I think the more U.S. Opens you play, the more you learn you take only a few opportunities when they come along to shoot at the pins, but he hit some great shots today.

Q. Nick, after winning 10 tournaments previous two years, what has been missing this year, did you find it today? Can you talk about what this might mean for you to get you back going?

NICK PRICE: What has been missing is my desire. I haven't -- I was actually very grateful to get out of the limelight for about three months. You know, April, May, -- March, April, May, I just wanted someone else to take the heat for awhile. I didn't like it. I have been in it for 18 months now and every time I go out, people would expect me to play well just wore me down. I had to get away from it for awhile because I was starting -- my personality was starting to change and I wasn't enjoying myself, so I got away from it, and really my game has been the same all year. I have hit the ball of the same. I have had a couple of bad weeks from tee to green, but I don't feel like my game has been any different to the way it was last year; just the desire wasn't there.

Q. On 10 after you managed to get your par, you and Squeaky seemed to look at the hole trying to decide a strategy --

NICK PRICE: I will change tomorrow, definitely. I played that golf hole today the hard way. I didn't quite catch my 2-iron and hit it in the rough. I am going to try and drive it all the way down with the 3-wood. The way the wind was blowing today, I could hit 3-wood and catch that downslope and get it down into that. If you have a look at that hole, it is sort of like a tunnel, so it actually is probably the biggest part of the fairway is down at the bottom there. So I will do that. Then you have only got a pitching wedge to the green. I think normally you play that hole right to left into the wind. I think that is the prevailing wind on that hole.

Q. Does the experience playing in Europe give you advantage on a golf course like this?

NICK PRICE: You know, I think playing in Europe gave me a lot of experience. I don't think you can actually say there are a lot of linksy type holes out there. It looks like a links course but right now it is not playing like one. It is going to have to get a lot drier and firmer. You know, certainly the guy who designed this golf course I can see played a lot of golf courses; played a lot of golf on Links courses, and it is just different because you have poa annua here, fairways are little lusher. Even if it bakes out and gets really hard and fast, it is going to be -- it will be similar to a Links course.

Q. You use that phrase, your personality started to change.

NICK PRICE: I just got tired of people always asking me to do things, and I just really -- I got tired of you know, signing 3,000 autographs a day. I got tired of saying the same things to the same -- the same questions all the time, and you know, there was nothing wrong. I just -- I just got tired of it. I felt like I was starting to recent the fact that people wanted stuff from me where I should have been honored and you know, that was the hardest thing for me was the fact that -- when you start playing well not very many people come up to you and ask what they can do for you. They are always asking you what you can do for them. That wears you down. I mean every time someone comes and asks you something, they want something from you whether it is your time; your autograph; whether it this; whether it is something, and you know, I am easy guy in person and I just got fed up and I needed to get out of that for a while. I think everyone who plays well or gets into a situation where they have done well in the sports or anything they fall into that same -- they get into that same category. But then you just need to get out of it for a while.

Q. Nick, does being on this golf course do something to your desire to play the game?

NICK PRICE: Yeah, the last three weeks I have had the desire to play again. This is a terrific fantastic golf course, I mean, you know, playing with Raymond Floyd yesterday we spoke a lot about the golf course, and you know, there is only one bad hole out there as far as I am concerned; that is No. 9. The rest of the holes are just absolute classics and you have to hit the ball in the fairway. I am really pleased with the way the USGA has set up the golf course. You know, if you hit a good shot, it ends up on the green and you are putting and that hasn't always been the case.

Q. Expanding on the pressures, I guess on the modern athlete not only golfers, but for so many years talked about how a Palmer or a Nicklaus can handle this pressure that you say you are going through, the requests all the time. Do you think in today's era with the commercialism and the demand that it is almost impossible to go through this for a long time and are you sort of -- are you amazed that say a Nicklaus could go through it over the years?

NICK PRICE: Well, you know, with -- when you look and -- it is something that I am trying to explain to people. First of all, I can't speak on behalf of Jack or Arnold but I do know one thing. There certainly wasn't as many television crews around in the '60s as there are now. Now, you have got -- I mean, I did 7 television interviews before I came down here. Maybe CBS or ABC or ABC for that tournament that was it. You got ESPN; home video, Japanese, this guy asking you. It is difficult there in that respect. Everyone is asking you to do that and I think -- that is the way the game has grown so much. I certainly know in my time when I started playing well this is what I got to expect; look how many media people we have represented from all over the world. And it is great for golf, but it can be really taxing for you if you keep playing well and keep getting into the limelight. One of the things that I have learned over the last three months is that I am going to have to take more time off so that -- I used to be able to go and play 2, 3 tournaments then go home for a week; then come back out for 2, 3 tournaments. I am going to have to take two, three weeks off.

Q. Sort of defeat the idea of becoming a great -- could you imagine what it would have been like if you had won The Masters and coming in for the Slam?

NICK PRICE: I don't even want to imagine what it would have been like after I won the Masters. It is a serious thing, I am a foreigner, and I don't get looked on the same way as an American guy and I know that. The next American guy that starts playing well, he is going to have a very, very difficult time and he knows it too. And maybe that might be one of the things that holds him back - a few of the guys out there who are in that situation. But that is a modern, you know, that is a state of the union now and you know every player knows that, but the next American guy that comes along and wins back-to-back major championships his life -- he is going to have a very difficult time, you know, coming into that third major.

LES UNGER: We will let you go. I hope you can to eat some lunch. Thank you.

End of FastScripts....

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