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April 5, 2018
MODERATOR: Good morning, everyone. How fortunate are we to have the two giants in our beloved sport strike the honorary tee shot at the 2018 Masters.
It is my distinct honor and privilege to introduce first Mr.Jack Nicklaus. His legendary record obviously includes 18 majors, including six green jackets, 45 Masters appearances totaling 163 rounds.
It's also a great honor and privilege to introduce Mr.Gary Player. His brilliant record includes nine majors, three green jackets, 23 consecutive cuts made at the Masters, 52 Masters
Appearances totaling 164 rounds.
JACK NICKLAUS: How many did I play?
JACK NICKLAUS: You've got to be kidding me. You've got to be kidding me.
GARY PLAYER: Life is full of surprises.
JACK NICKLAUS: That's the one I didn't know about.
JACK NICKLAUS: I guess you did.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you for being with us this morning and thank you for another magnificent start of the Masters.
Let's begin by talking about yesterday. Your threesome in the par 3 were 12‑under par, featured also a hole‑in‑one by your grandson. What was it like out there Mr.Nicklaus?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, yesterday, I said I didn't want to be disrespectful because six green jackets is pretty good, but that's about yourself.
But when something happens with your children or your grandchildren, that's far more special to you. And so yesterday I said was the greatest day I've had at Augusta National, and it was just absolutely fantastic. I loved it. The funny part about it was that‑‑ let me go back.
The three of us all played well. We all three finished in the Top‑10 of the tournament, which I don't think you're going to have too many groups that did that or have done it in a long time. Of course, Tom won it and Tom had eight putts and nine holes and two of them on the last hole, so he had six putts the first eight holes, and Gary played well. He missed a couple of short putts or he would have been right there, too, and I was 4‑under.
Anyway, so we all played well. And on Sunday, I was playing with GT home at The Bear's Club we played nine holes after Easter brunch, and I said to him, I said, "You really want to hit a ball on Wednesday?"
And he said, "Sure, I'd love to hit a ball."
I said, "Okay. You'll probably make your first hole in one if you do that."
He said, "Great, that would be a great way to start it."
Last night he was talking to his dad, he said, Wouldn't it be great to make your first hole in one on the shot there at that hole? Dad said, Well go do it. So we talked about it on two different occasions and he makes a hole‑in‑one, I said wow.
I've had all the grandkids hitting every year, and only one has gotten it over the water. That was Nick, the football player, hit it over the green, but he got it over the water, and he was going to make sure he did that.
I said nobody's hit it on the green yet. GT said, I want to get it on the green. Got on the green, and he got it in the hole. So anyway, yesterday was a really fun day, and it was always fun playing with Gary. It's always fun playing with Tom. We all were relevant as relating to our golf games, and when you do that, a lot of the old feeling of playing golf in competition actually comes back. We know it's only a little Par 3 Tournament, but still, that was fun.
GARY PLAYER: Certainly was.
GARY PLAYER: I never like to say never, but I wonder whether that will ever happen again, a 72‑year‑old, a 68‑year‑old and an 82‑year‑old, 12‑under par and all in the
Top‑10 on the scoreboard against these young guys. I don't know whether that will happen again. It's just one of those occasions.
But I think the most intriguing thing for me, I've always said the greatest word that exists in our lives is love, and it is exemplified with Jack and his grandson, and to see Jack in tears‑‑ and we have 22 grandchildren, so I can really understand and appreciate it.
To have your grandson with you there ‑‑ and Jack was in tears, and of course he got us all choked up, as well. It was a remarkable day, and the other remarkable thing is I get an e‑mail from my wife, who is in South Africa at the moment expecting our first great grandchild, she said, "Gee, it was so great to see you three guys play so well, and heartwarming to see the hole‑in‑one with Jack." So there she is in South Africa watching this. Amazing.
MODERATOR: Let's open it up for some questions, please.
Q. I'd love to know from both of you about this truly is a tradition like none other, the ceremonial tee shot, and what that means to you on a regular basis, and how much is Arnie a part of this, whether he's here or he's not here, to both of you?
GARY PLAYER: First of all, I was aware that Arnold was not there this morning, obviously, and greatly missed. He was probably the most charismatic golfer that ever lived, he and Severiano Ballesteros, I suppose. And was missed.
It was great fun for me to go out there, and we obviously don't play in the tournament anymore but to have a taste of the galleries and the cameras, and standing on the first tee where there's competition.
I said to Jack today, "Don't worry, I outdrive you now, but you outdrive me for 50 damn years." We've had a healthy competition. There's been no sulking or disliking opponents when they beat you. We've always had great respect. Jack is my best friend in professional golf.
I've always said that Jack Nicklaus, I know everybody knows his record in golf but I've always said that Jack Nicklaus is the greatest gentleman that I ever played with in my life.
I never had the opportunity of playing with Bobby Jones, who I had great admiration for. So it's a thrill coming back here, and meeting the Chairman and the ambiance of the place in the morning there. It's incredible, as you all know.
JACK NICKLAUS: I can't remember what the question was now (laughter).
We are on the first tee today, and Fred said, "Ten Masters Champions." I looked over at Gary and said, did you win four? I won three‑‑ I said, I didn't win seven.
So you could tell what that tee shot meant today. Got another green jacket for it.
GARY PLAYER: I thanked Billy for it. I said‑‑ make it 11 next year‑‑ (laughter) Fred, Fred.
JACK NICKLAUS: You asked about‑‑ I don't remember what you asked about.
We all miss Arnold. Arnold has been part of our‑‑ the three of us have been, you know, three amigos for a long time. We obviously miss one greatly. But it's always a thrill to come out on the first tee. It's a thrill to be part of the golf tournament.
I don't know why they seem to open up the fairway a little broader today, so we actually got to see where our balls went, much to my dismay (laughter).
I think we hit from the back tee, did we not? Reasonably so.
GARY PLAYER: Yeah, we did.
JACK NICKLAUS: And, you know, we watch our balls go halfway up the hill and sit there and say, "Oh, my gosh. That's as far as we can hit it."
But that's all right. Time moves on. Yesterday was a lot of fun to be part of the ambiance of what goes on here at Augusta. Always great for Gary and me to be able to hit the ball off the first tee to start the golf tournament off. I'm sure that‑‑ I remember when I started, I don't know, Freddie McLeod and Jock Hutchison‑‑ you started, what, a year before I did?
GARY PLAYER: Yeah.
JACK NICKLAUS: It's always been a tradition, and as you say, unlike any other. We like to be part of that continuation.
Q. This is a perfect segue for a new tradition, obviously, talking about one of golf's greatest tradition, Augusta National announcing they are inviting the greatest women amateurs in the world to play here in a final round. Your thoughts on that?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I don't really know much about it. I just sort of saw at announcement. But my comment on it was I think that's great that Augusta National would open up their golf course. I think they are playing down at our golf course‑‑
GARY PLAYER: Champions Retreat.
JACK NICKLAUS: However many rounds, three‑round medal play tournament, is that what it is? They are going to do that.
I said I thought it was great for the game of golf, it's great for women's golf and I think it's great Augusta National opens it up for the women. I thought that was a nice announcement.
GARY PLAYER: I think it's something that I never thought I would see in my lifetime. I vividly remember when they were talking about women being members of the golf club. Tiger Woods and I really stood up for them and said that they should be admitted into the club, much to our detriment amongst a lot of the members.
For me, I'm a great believer in women's rights, and to see them have a junior tournament, which was heartwarming to see these young kids, I mean, it was just terrific, and the ability they have got, and international. And now to see this ladies tournament take place is just fantastic.
JACK NICKLAUS: When they had the Titleholders at Augusta, did they ever play here? Did not? Augusta Country Club.
Q. Gary used to jokingly refer to you as golf's greatest champion and also golf's greatest loser. Of all the moments you wanted to win so badly‑‑
JACK NICKLAUS: I didn't much like that description but that's okay. (Laughter).
GARY PLAYER: But he didn't lose much, you see.
JACK NICKLAUS: I tried not to be that.
Q. There have been some great moments of graciousness in loss, and I'm curious, as badly as you want to win, is that something you had to learn how to do, is lose with grace?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, my father was very big on sportsmanship and doing the right thing to your fellow competitor. When I was very young, he said to me, he said, "When that fella, the fella you're playing beats you, at whatever sport you're playing beats you, you should make him feel that you're very happy for him." Firm handshake, look him in the eye, and say well done.
And he says, "If you want to go beat your head on a locker later in private, that's your business. But right then, it's his day and not your day. Go out and make sure that he feels good."
I think that's pretty good. He did that to me, 11, 12 years old, and it was something that I think it's a very easy and not a difficult thing to do. You may not like it, but by gosh‑‑ I shouldn't say that I liked it, because I didn't like it. But it was like you actually learn that when you do lose, that actually other people, you should revel in their joy, because I think it's really nice that somebody else does. And as long as you have given your best effort, which I always felt like I did, then, by gosh, the guy beat me, then he deserved to get a good congratulations.
So I've sort of lived that way. I mean, first thing I said to Gary this morning, when he hit the ball by me today, and I turned around to him and said, "Well done. Nice hit. Nice going." I said, "You get your fourth green jacket." (Laughter).
You know, that's sort of the way I feel. And when you do it, it becomes part of your life. It's not hard to do. I find that as you get older, it's actually‑‑ you actually feel very comfortable. I'm talking about losing, but you feel very comfortable in losing because sometimes people just play better, and that's okay.
Q. Curious with the buildup from the PGA finishing up in August and waiting so long and the challenges of Augusta, was this the most difficult event to recover from once it was over, or was perhaps the U.S. Open or another one harder to recover from once it was done?
JACK NICKLAUS: You know, I had to learn that there were other tournaments in the country after Augusta. I played Augusta a lot of times and lost. I won in '63, '65 and '66, and I just expected to win every year.
I thought I would just continue to do that, because that's the only way, if you don't win the first one, you can't win the rest of them.
I had a couple years in there, '67 I missed the cut, but that was a humbling experience to miss the cut after you've won it twice in a row. But then the next couple years, I felt like, you know‑‑ and I think that it actually probably destroyed the rest of my year because I was so disappointed at not winning at Augusta, that I had a downer most of the year. I didn't play particularly well in 1967, 1968, 1969. I won a lot of golf tournaments, but I didn't play well during that year.
I put such a buildup to this tournament and the importance of winning that first major that it was to my detriment more times than positive. That was your question?
GARY PLAYER: It's interesting how we all have different opinions in life, which is what we should have, anyway.
I also came here expecting to win, and in 1978 when I won, I was seven behind and won, and then I went to the Tournament of Champions at LaCosta and I was seven behind Ballesteros, and won that. And the next week we went to Houston and I was six behind Andy Bean, and you know how big he is, he was my size when he was six (laughter), and he came up to me and said, "You little South African runt, you're not going to beat me like you beat Watson and Ballesteros."
I said, "Of course, not, I'm six behind," I shot 64 there.
JACK NICKLAUS: That's it?
GARY PLAYER: Yeah, I shot 64, 65, 64. And so it was a matter of how hungry you are and you're away from home and you're not at home, so you have a different philosophy. I see today, you look at this tournament here, I don't think I won 350,000 total prize money and Top‑10, 15 times, most number of times, three wins, three seconds. Now they win 1.9 million this week.
So if I was playing today; I love to play, for a start, and for the first prize of $1million every week, the way I was brought up, very poorly, I would be playing at least 35 tournaments, I could tell you that (laughter). No, that's a fact. That's a fact.
JACK NICKLAUS: You'd be playing 45 and they only play 43. (Laughter).
GARY PLAYER: It's fascinating for me to see what's happening in this game. I mean, the guys want to play in a golf tournament; there's an appearance, $500,000. I can't comprehend. So the golf around the world is going to suffer, because they want American players to play, and the appearance moneys are so high, some countries can pay but I wonder what's going to happen in the future. To me, it's not in my vocabulary.
Q. This tournament over the years has been really gracious to amateurs and offering them opportunities to play in this event. That being said, the last handful of NCAA champions have gone on to win TOUR events and TOUR cards. Do you hope that one day maybe that the NCAA Champion would earn an exemption into this event, as well?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, you know, I had not thought about that one way or the other. I think that the considerations of who gets an amateur exemption is thought out pretty well by a pretty experienced committee. And I think they have probably weighed what is there, and certainly if a NCAA Champion is good enough to win that, he's probably good enough one of the other tournaments that qualify him. He could be 17, 18, 19, 20 years old; I think he's probably got plenty of time.
So I would yield to their judgment because I think that's
‑‑ probably the most experience comes from that. Is that a good dodge? (Chuckling).
Q. What do you remember most about your NCAA Championship and how much did it mean to you?
JACK NICKLAUS: It always means a lot. What do I remember about it? Oh, I go back, I got a lot of funny things about that. My senior year at Ohio State, we were getting ready to go to the Big Ten Championship, and our coach came‑‑ my coach, Bob Kepler, came to me, says, Nick, I've never asked you to do anything for me before, and you've always performed for me, I'm going to ask you to do one thing. What's that? Only one team out of the Big Ten is going to get to go to the NCAA. Said, What do you need?
Said, I need to you spread eagle the field to take the team there. We did not have a very deep team. I won the Big Ten by 23 shots. We won the Big Ten by one.
So we went to the NCAA, which was played at Purdue and I was Medalist. In those days it was 36 holes and that was team championship and then he went to, low 64 went to match play. I was medalist and our second man was medalist in the NCAA.
Houston had Dick Crawford, who was two time NCAA champion, Joel Goldstein, who had an extra club in the bag and the last 36 shots‑‑ that's how we tied for seventh place.
So I remember it like it was yesterday. No, I loved my NCAA Championship but did I consider it at that time on par with the U.S. Amateur? No. Was it a good tournament? Absolutely. I think DeChambeau won both last time, he's the last one to do that.
I was very proud of that, and I love it but I felt my U.S. Amateur weighed a lot heavier than the NCAA.
Q. Two questions. Mr.Nicklaus, did the family do anything last night special to celebrate GT's hole‑in‑one?
JACK NICKLAUS: We all had champagne and GT bought it, but‑‑ or GT couldn't buy it because he was only 15, so we decided just to skip it. No, I'm kidding.
We had dinner here at the club and had a nice evening, with Billy Morris and his wife and our family, and nice, quiet dinner and everybody in the club came over and congratulated GT on his hole‑in‑one.
Q. Given the magical proceedings yesterday and how well you played and you're both architects and there are a lot of people expressing interest in building more par 3 courses these days, does that reaffirm your sense of the impossible importance of those kind of courses being built more into the future?
GARY PLAYER: You know, the pace of play now, is becoming quite‑‑ it perturbs me when I see how long a round of golf is being played now, and I think that's to the great detriment of the game, the slow play, because it obviously costs the club a lot of money over the years if you multiply by five. So Jack and I both designed nine‑hole golf courses. As a matter of fact, I designed a 13‑hole golf course, as well.
Professional golf has never been more healthy but amateur golf, the rounds are down, as we know. So we need our leaders to come up with ideas that are new and to get more rounds of golf played, and so I think now, you can have your mother and father‑‑ you can go to a club and have breakfast. If you design it correctly, you can play four holes, six holes, or the full amount of 13 and get it done and you can be back home.
Today for a man to go and play golf, he leaves home, say it takes him an hour to get there and by the time he's teed off and it's five or six hours, which some of the rounds are taking now; and then he drives back home, he's away all day. Now, he's away all week, and so that's not conducive to great family life.
So I think that's been one of the problems with golf, so we need to get it to speed up. I mean, I'm flabbergasted, and I'm not going to criticize it but I find it hard to understand when you have in a tournament, I see these guys bringing out a book when they get on green to look where to putt. I really find this very hard to understand. I mean, I and Jack played many golf courses in exhibitions that we never played the golf course before we broke the course record. You put me on any course in the world; I can read the putt as well as if I played there ten times. I'm a professional golfer. This is something I have to be able to do. And there are special ways of reading and learning about a putt. The best putter that ever lived, Bobby Locke, taught me a lot of things about reading a green that a lot of players quite honestly don't know. So when I go to a golf tournament and you see the guys having three practice rounds and they play two rounds, five rounds on the golf course and now they are looking at this book where to putt. But I'm not going to criticize it. I'm not going to criticize it (roars of laughter).
Do you agree with me? What do you think, Jack?
JACK NICKLAUS: I think you're absolutely dead right. I think it's absolutely absurd. You've got a swing coach, you've got a medal coach, you've got a‑‑
GARY PLAYER: Chef. Pilot.
JACK NICKLAUS: You've got everything. And now you've got a book that tells you how to do it. It's also done by somebody who can't break 90. (Laughter) I mean, I play golf with people, and we go out, and they will say, what do you think here? They have a caddie for the first time. The caddie says, there's wind here, I think you have 5‑iron into the green. He doesn't have any idea what you're going to do. He has no idea how hard you're going to hit it.
To me, the game of golf is learning how to play the game and be responsible for everything you do. That's the fun of it. It's fun to learn how to putt greens and how to play clubs. You know, I was the first guy on the TOUR, and I got it from Deane Beman, actually, at the National Amateur in 1961 of walking off a golf course and getting yardages. Now everything is given to the guys.
I just thought that it was more fun to do those things yourself. And I think you become a better golfer. I think you become a better‑‑ understanding of what's going on and what happens.
That said, if it were all given to me back when I started in 1962 on the TOUR, I probably would have done exactly the same thing. If that was given to me and available to me; I can't criticize them for doing that because I probably would have done the same thing. But I always just‑‑ that wasn't your question. That had nothing to do with your question.
But anyway, let's get back to your question. Your question was about nine‑hole golf courses.
I think there's places where nine‑hole golf courses are appropriate, and where space is involved, it's an economic factor; it's maybe a water factor; there's all kind of things. It depends who is trying to build a golf course and what he's trying to accomplish, or she.
I've done quite a few nine‑hole golf courses. I've done 18 holes of nine‑hole golf courses, or par 3 golf courses. It's what you're trying to accomplish. Do I think we have a trend to want to go to nine‑hole golf courses? Probably not. People like to play golf. You don't have to play 18 holes, you know. You can go out and if you decide that you want to play golf for 2 1/2 hours, you go out and play 2 1/2 hours and you probably play about 12 holes, and if that's what you want to do, then go play 12 holes. That's fine.
But, you know, most developers that do a project, they really want enough real estate to be able to make the project viable, and I think they have a hard time with a par 3 golf course making the project viable. So I think that it's a balance. It's a balance of money. It's a balance of land. It's a balance of what's available.
GARY PLAYER: If you remember when we played, Ben Hogan never played with a yardage in his life.
JACK NICKLAUS: No.
GARY PLAYER: We never played with a yardage and we actually hit‑‑ I can honestly say, I hit the ball as close when I first started as when I had yardage. I could still feel. I remember I had a caddie at St. Andrews, and I'll never forget this and I never asked caddie where to putt. That's when I realized it's ridiculous. I asked, where is this putt? He said, "It's a straight putt with left tendencies. Keep it low." (Laughter) then I realized, we've got to do it ourselves.
JACK NICKLAUS: When I was doing yardages, I remember a young man who was now our head pro at The Bear's Club, Eric, started caddying for me, and the first tournament there, he caddied for me, we're out and I was out in the fairway and I had a shot to the green and I said, "Eric, how far do you have?"
He says, "About 155."
I looked over at him and said, "Eric, this is not about, about."
He went back, "153."
Thank you very much. He's never forgotten that. First tournament he caddied for me. What a great kid he is.
But to me, I always had‑‑ I walked my own yardages, so I knew what they were and I wasn't about, about. I was pretty much about exactly what it should be. That's what I wanted to do, but I wanted to find that out myself.
GARY PLAYER: What do you think about the slow play, though? They are looking at the pros and the young boys that are starting golf.
JACK NICKLAUS: It's terrible.
GARY PLAYER: They are emulating the pros.
JACK NICKLAUS: Gary, when we played, we used to play the British Open, and we would play in about two hours and 20 minutes or two hours and 25 minutes, right?
GARY PLAYER: Correct.
JACK NICKLAUS: In the tournament. That was standard, and it went to about 2 1/2 and went to about 2:35 and now four hours like it is in the rest of the world.
GARY PLAYER: More.
JACK NICKLAUS: Which is crazy. But the game of golf, we have basically three problems in the game of golf today, and I think all of them can be handled with a variety of different reasons. But the game of golf, the game is too difficult, the game, it's too slow, and it costs too much money.
Those are the average problems that we have that we need to address on occasions, and the governing bodies, I don't know what your conversations were but I know you had a conversation about the ball the other day, but I have no idea what the conversation was because I haven't seen it. But you have the bodies, to me, that run the game, should run the game and I think the Masters committee feels that way; that the governing bodies should do it and the Masters should not be above the game of golf, and I agree with that 100%. The USGA and R&A make the rules and should keep making the rules.
If you take the history through the years, the R&A have done a pretty darned good job of what they do. And we follow those rules and abide by them and the game has been a pretty darned good game because of those two organizations. I don't think we need‑‑ I think they are well aware of what our issues are and what the game's issues are, and I know they are working on them. Maybe we'd like to have them work a little faster on them but still, I think that they are well aware of what those issues are.
GARY PLAYER: They are going to hit a wedge in time to come. The whole TOUR will hit a wedge to the second hole here, the par5. They will hit a wedge to No. 13 and they will hit a wedge to No. 15.
JACK NICKLAUS: You've never done that?
GARY PLAYER: For my third. (Laughter).
JACK NICKLAUS: Oh, okay.
GARY PLAYER: I played with Trevor Immelman on Sunday, not anywhere near Dustin Johnson or Bubba Watson, and he hits a 7‑iron to No. 15. He hits a 7‑iron to No. 13 and he hits a 7‑iron to No. 2.
So if we don't stop‑‑
JACK NICKLAUS: Trevor?
GARY PLAYER: Yes. He can play. He can play. He doesn't putt very well, but he can really play (laughter).
JACK NICKLAUS: He putted well once.
GARY PLAYER: We're working on his putting. But the thing is, if we don't do something‑‑ we've never had a big man play golf here except George Bayer. These guys in college are weight training and lifting weights and coming out and being very strong, and they are all going to be hitting the ball at least 400 yards. You'll find guys that will almost drive the first green here at Augusta in 30 years' time.
When I said this on British television 20 years ago, this particular guy, I said, "They will be hitting many drives at 400." He scoffed at me. Dustin Johnson hit a drive 489 yards ten days ago.
JACK NICKLAUS: He what?
GARY PLAYER: 489 yards.
JACK NICKLAUS: Where?
GARY PLAYER: Austin.
JACK NICKLAUS: Did he really?
GARY PLAYER: We're seeing guys hitting 400 yards a lot.
JACK NICKLAUS: Must have been downwind.
GARY PLAYER: With professional golf, we're going to have to, have to, cut the ball back 50 yards, at least.
Q. I think you probably answered a lot of it, but seems like every year we come in here and talk about somebody breaking your record, Jack, of winning after the age of 46. Is all the things we just talked about kind of why you think that might happen, or might not? Do you think that might be possible?
JACK NICKLAUS: Oh, I think that the equipment has allowed golfers to play longer. I think their physical conditioning has allowed golfers to play longer.
So, you know, and I think that people just live longer and take better care of themselves as they have gotten older. So you're talking about whether Phil would have a chance or Vijay? I don't know, who else is over 46 here this week? I suppose‑‑ I don't know, is Ian Poulter? How old is Ian?
JACK NICKLAUS: 42, is that what you said? So he's not there.
Do I think Phil would have a chance of winning here? Absolutely. He's kept himself in nice shape. He plays well. He's been playing well. Sure.
There's somebody else that's in that age vintage‑‑ oh, Tiger's 42. But still, we used to consider 42 old to be playing any sport, and 42 is a young man today.
I think that maybe the equipment has helped on that but I think that that's‑‑ I mean‑‑ let's just go back just a bit. Everybody thinks that the era that they played in was probably the best era. I'm sure that Jones did and Walter Hagen did and Snead, and as we thought our era was great, the guys today think it's great.
I think that if you were a champion in one era, you would be champion in another era. Jones would have been a champion today as Tiger would have been a champion 50 years ago. I think the game changes, era changes, equipment changes, the courses have changed with it. We go back and look at the evolution of what a championship course used to be, I don't remember what year it was, but around the turn of the last century, they played Shinnecock, I guess, and you know what the yardage was back at Shinnecock back then for the U.S. Open? We talked about this yesterday, and I think I'm not too far, but it was about 4,400 yards. We've come a long way. Things have changed. Things have evolved.
It's not that‑‑ we're not criticizing the game of today. The game today is a fantastic game. We're not trying to bring the game back to when we played. I think the biggest objective with the golf ball, what we talked about, is to not obsolete‑‑ the golf courses we have, not have it cost so much money but they can keep buying land. Here at Augusta National, the conversation is are you going to take 13 back because you just bought a piece of Augusta Country Club; are you going to take No.2 back because you closed Berckmans Road, are you going to take No. 5 back because you closed Berckmans Road.
Those are all the result of technology, and are those the things we really need to be doing? You know, if it is, then Augusta National is the only place that I know in the world that's been able to keep up with what's going on. Every other golf course would be obsolete to that and they have to make changes as they have an event, which is generally what happens.
Is that what you really need to have happen? That's sort of the debate today and sort of what‑‑ how do we rein in what's happening in the world? How do we rein in what's happening with equipment? How do we rein in just to keep within the limitations of what the game‑‑ when you talk a golf course that becomes 7,500 yards versus 4,400 yards or play the British Open in two hours and 20 minutes, we were playing a golf course that was probably 6,500 yards at the time and now we're playing a golf course that's 7,500 yards. Does it take longer to play a golf course that's 7,500 than 6,500? Absolutely.
The R&A and the USGA are not as concerned about tournament golf as they are concerned for the overall game, men and women. That's what they are interested in, what's really best for the game and it's future, and I think they have done a pretty good job of that as time has gone on.
I have no clue what your question was and whether I ever answered any part of it. (Laughter).
MODERATOR: I can make a story out of that.
JACK NICKLAUS: Did I answer enough of what you asked? I apologize if I didn't, but I was trying to.
GARY PLAYER: 20 years ago, I said somebody of 50 or over would win this tournament, and Raymond Floyd came when he was 49, if I'm not mistaken, and he had a finish, I think he had a finish‑‑ in those days, we played on a more forward tee and I think a wedge to a 9‑iron to 17 and if he birdies or pars 18, he wins it at nearly 50.
We are living in a different era because nobody ever did weight training, had a traveling gymnasium, every green had a minimum of 2200 spike marks on it. These greens are exactly like a snooker table. We never had that. Every bunker is raked with a machine and now you can have guys come out here and they are going to live longer because, a, they are eating better. That is one of the biggest significant things is eating correctly for athletes, and we are in our infancy with that, we are in our infancy with the mind and we are still in our infancy, we still have networks criticizing golfers like Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy that they didn't play well because they are exercising with weights. Well, speak to Tiger and Rory and ask them about their opinions. Tiger told me if it wasn't for his weight training now with his back problems, he wouldn't be able to play.
I squatted with 325 pounds the night before I won the U.S. Open and I still pushed 350 pounds sometimes with my legs and I'm playing all right. I don't understand the conclusions these guys come to. So we are living in a different era, and somebody at 50, in 20 or 30 or 40 years' time will be equivalent of a man who is 25. The Cleveland Clinic will tell you, if you live another 14 years, they will give you an extra ten years of life. They are making enormous strides on the body and human brain. So we are in our infancy.
JACK NICKLAUS: He pushed it‑‑ he outdrove me on the first hole today. (Laughter.)
Q. I'm from Argentina, and as you both know, Roberto De Vicenzo passed away last year and there are some other gentlemen from Argentina in the press room, and I would like you to say something about‑‑ and it's 50 years from that Masters of 1968, if you remember, that Sunday. So if you can say something about Roberto, that would be nice.
JACK NICKLAUS: Roberto was a terrific player, terrific athlete. I remember my first U.S. Open‑‑ this will be something you wouldn't have known. I was 17 years old. I missed the cut. And I remember going out at Inverness in Toledo, and crawling up a bank in the third round, and I pushed‑‑ I stuck my head between some people's legs, and here was Roberto on the tee, and he had his 2‑wood and hit the ground and put the ball on the tee‑‑ didn't use a tee very often, put the ball on the ground, and he and Peter Thomson were playing that round. I watched Roberto play, and that's the first time I saw him play. I was 17 and that was 1957. Roberto beat me at Hoylake by I think two shots in 1967 maybe, was that where he won, 1967? Yeah.
I thought Roberto was a terrific player. He was a terrific gentleman. He represented your country well. He represented the game of golf well. And I saw Roberto not long before he passed in Argentina, and he was a good friend.
GARY PLAYER: I'd like to endorse those remarks, and I knew Roberto extremely well and played with him in the final round when he won The Open at Hoylake. I finished third to him.
I never forget, he hit that ball over the out‑of‑bounds and back on to the fairway and put it on the green. I think that the big issue with Roberto that very few people in America really realized, if you spoke to a young guy today, probably wouldn't even know how good he was. Roberto De Vincenzo, this is a big if, if he had been born in this country and didn't have to come here occasionally, and with time changes and with planes in those days ... he would have gone down as one of greatest players that ever lived. This man could really, really play. Well, he won The Open and, look, what happened here was a tragedy, what happened here. You go to a court case, you got one witness, you got a billion witnesses that saw him get a three but that didn't mean anything. It's quite sad that that happened.
He almost did the same thing the next week, and the PGA guy caught him and stopped him because he won Houston the next week and he wouldn't have won if he handed his card in.
As Jack says, he was a great gentleman, very gentle man, strong el torro. He was really, really strong.
Q. This is a question for both of you. In regards to Tiger this week, what are you most curious about his play?
JACK NICKLAUS: I've been amazed at how well he has come back. I've watched his golf swing. He's had to accommodate his fusion and I think that his golf swing is considerably better than it ever was because of that.
He actually had to correct a fault that he had, and I felt like in his swing, and by what he has had to do, I think he corrected it. I expect‑‑ I've said all week; I expect Tiger to certainly be in the hunt. He would certainly be one of my two or three that I think would be favorites to win this golf tournament. I think he'll play very well.
GARY PLAYER: He's been through a lot of adversity, and has handled it extremely well to come back to where he is now. So people, I think generally speaking, whether you're a fan or not a fan‑‑ I am a fan. But you can't help but admire people who survive through adversity because we all have adversity in our life, it doesn't matter who you are, and he had a lot of adversity.
And I had my doubts, particularly when he was hitting chips from here to there, he was duffing chips, I thought, man, this guy's gone. And to get over that‑‑ because Henry Longhurst always said, when you get the yips, you die with the yips. I never thought he would get over that.
He was swinging very poorly. He was sucking his hands in here and he was laying the club off. I never quite understood when you win the U.S. Open by 15 shots‑‑ not five, but 15, and the next week he's having a lesson with somebody else and he goes to another coach, and I never really understood that because you couldn't really get any better. He was phenomenal, and had he not done that, I really believe he would have won at least 20 majors. That was I think the problem with his career. It's only my opinion. We all have an opinion. Other people would say it's injuries, this and that, but the fact remains he did have a lot of adversities and came back remarkably well.
I wouldn't be surprised at all to see him win this week. This is a golf course that's made for him. He's been within five shots and close‑up, maybe two shots, I don't know exactly where, but he's been right in contention. This golf course, he gets more focused, and this golf course obviously suits him because of his short game, he's long still and has great clubhead speed and you don't have to hit it as straight here as a U.S. Open or British Open. And his short game is very good.
If you look at him on the practice tee, you look at him in the locker room, you look at him in the dinner the other night, he's a different person. He's far more relaxed off the golf course, but he'll still be as focused on the golf course. So wouldn't surprise me if he won. But Jack and I were just saying, I think this could be one of the best Masters, ever. When we played, there were probably 15 guys that could win. This week there are I think‑‑ some people exaggerate, but I think there are probably about 20 guys that could win. I think we're in for a tremendous tournament. I just don't see how anybody could win it outright this week. Certainly players that are playing well right now, and are confident of winning. It's going to be very exciting.
Q. Jack, would you mind saying whether you have the same feeling of excitement, or do you recognize that there is a palpable air of excitement this year that perhaps there hasn't been on the eve of this event in previous years?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, Gary's 82 and I'm 78. I don't get nearly as excited as maybe you because you have to write it (laughter). I look at the tournament as being, could be a really good tournament. As Gary said, an awful lot of people have the opportunity to win, probably more today than any tournament I've seen in a long time. Not only do they have name players that are capable of winning; most all of them are playing very well, and have been playing very well.
So I think‑‑ I can't say that‑‑ would you say excited? I don't get excited about a lot of things as 78 except for maybe a hole‑in‑one by my grandson. But will I watch with interest and be very attuned to what's going on‑‑ a lot of kids are members down at my course at home at the Bear's Club and I've had a lot of conversations with them over the last week that have come and talked to me and asked me about Augusta and playing and so forth and so on, which is very flattering for somebody my age to have a 23‑year‑old come and ask you that.
But it's‑‑ and I'm anxious to see how they play. I was excited when I played. I don't get a lot of excitement when I don't play. You understand what I'm driving at? There's a balance there, and as you get older, it's not like I'm jumping out of my skin because of the tournament, no, no. I'm going fishing tomorrow (laughter).
Q. Gentlemen, we've obviously talked about Tiger Woods returning, and it looks like he's going to be in contention as you both acknowledged. You're both sporting icons and you've travelled the world and you've achieved even more. If he was to go on and win a fifth green jacket this week, where do you think it would rank in the pantheon of comebacks?
JACK NICKLAUS: High?
GARY PLAYER: Extremely high. If you've followed it and seen step by step, it's incredible that he's come back like this. Incredible.
JACK NICKLAUS: Ten years since he's won a major.
GARY PLAYER: Yeah, ten years.
JACK NICKLAUS: That's pretty‑‑
GARY PLAYER: And if you took it frame by frame what he's went through, and everyone in this room knows, it's remarkable, remarkable. But you see he's so fit and strong, and if he never had his body in this shape, he would never have come back. Any scientist will tell you, if you don't exercise, that you will not last. Your body can't last. Your body deteriorates every year of your life when you get to a certain age. And he's maintained his fitness and clubhead speed, after all he's been through.
And his short game, his putting, he's a marvelous putter. And he's got a great mind, a great mind. So all in all, things are favoring him to do extremely well.
Q. Yesterday, obviously a very emotional moment for you. How would you describe GT's abilities as a musician and also as a golfer, and did you ever play an instrument growing up in high school or younger?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I could barely‑‑ no. (Laughter).
I took piano until I kept getting my fingers rapped by the teacher and I said, no, I don't think this is for me. And I wish I could have kept getting my fingers rapped because I wish I could play the piano today. I can hunt and peck and all that kind of stuff.
GT, sitting right beside you there, he's got a nice future in front of him. He's got not only the ability to play golf, which it's his call, whether he wants to play or not play, and how much he wants to play, that's about how much he wants to work at it and how much he wants to succeed; that's going to depend entirely on how much he puts into it. He's been given a talent in the musical world; he sings very well and plays the piano and guitar and plays by ear and picks up anything and can play it. That's a great talent to have those two things together and play and do all your life with, and play professionally or just have. He's got a great future in front of him and he's going to have a lot of fun.
Q. What does it say that he's essentially your only grandchild that's playing competitive golf?
JACK NICKLAUS: I think that, again, that's GT's call. A lot of the other grandsons play. They play quite a bit. But none of them have played and actually worked at it to the extent‑‑ JIII, he'll break 80, and Nick, who is a good football player, but he also plays pretty well. But none of them play competitive. GT is the only one that's been playing competitive golf. We may have some behind him that come along and play golf. I got a few more grandkids that are younger. His sister has just taken up the game in the last couple months. She's got a very nice golf swing, and I don't know what she wants to do. But I don't think it's‑‑ it's not important whether GT or any of the other grandkids play the game of golf. There's one out of a million make it to the TOUR, or more, whatever it might be.
You know, it's a matter of‑‑ Gary had the desire as a young kid to play the game. I had the desire as a young kid to play the game, and we both continue to do so, and we were fortunate that we were successful. But just because he's my grandson doesn't mean he's going to play the game, or want to play the game. That's his call. It should be his call. I think his dad feels that way. His dad hasn't pushed him into the game. Let him do the things that he would like to do and is good at, and he makes up his own mind about what he wants to do in life. He's only 15 years old. So give him some time.
Q. I am from Chile. Do you think Joaquin Niemann will make the cut?
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know. I don't know who the professional is.
Q. He's an amateur.
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know him.
GARY PLAYER: The thing is, as far as making the cut is concerned, you can't say that anybody will make the cut. Jack missed the cut; I missed the cut, in our prime. That's a very difficult question to answer, sir, very, very difficult. This is his first time, right? His first time, a lot of pressure; maybe it isn't. We can't answer that. He's 20.
Q. He played in the Latin America.
JACK NICKLAUS: Is he the one that won the South America Amateur?
GARY PLAYER: Yes, six amateurs I think in the tournament this week.
JACK NICKLAUS: He must be a pretty good player.
GARY PLAYER: Very good player.
JACK NICKLAUS: We could use a good player from Chile. We need one from everywhere. So we wish him well.
GARY PLAYER: We hope he does.
Q. Assuming hypothetically you were the Commissioner of the PGA TOUR, and your tour was doing very, very well, professional golf is doing very, very well, and you kept hearing other people telling you that you need to make changes that could put your tour in jeopardy, what would you do?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, tell me what the changes are.
Q. I think you keep talking‑‑ you always hear Jack Nicklaus talking about reining the ball in, and you, as the Commissioner, don't want to rein the ball in.
JACK NICKLAUS: How do you know? You're asking me, if I'm the Commissioner?
Q. Yes. What would you do?
JACK NICKLAUS: No different than Augusta National does. I think that the ruling bodies of the game of golf make the rules of the game, and we play by them. That's what we did all our lives, and I think that the Commissioner of the PGA TOUR would do exactly the same. He might have his own personal opinions or he might have the opinions of what has been given to him by the majority of the players on the TOUR or on the board. That's his job to do and to carry it out that way.
I think that Jay, if my name happened to be Jay Monahan, I would be listening and saying, whatever the ruling bodies tell us, that's what we must support. That's what we do.
I don't think the TOUR or Augusta National or any place should put themselves above the ruling bodies of the game of golf that make the rules. I don't think Jay will. I think Jay will support whatever happens.
I think the players will support whatever happens. You know, I've only been at this for 41 years. 1977 is the first time I went to the USGA with the golf ball, and when Titleist made the large‑dimple golf ball, it went six, seven yards further, I said, guys, look at it now because this is going to become a problem. Because not only Titleist, who is a very good company and makes a very good product, they will continue and find this is an advantage for them and a company, they will continue to try to improve that, and then everybody else did, too.
Then when we got to 1995 and went from a wound ball to a composite golf ball they applied the same rules to both, and that's where we lost the distance in the golf ball. The golf ball went probably a change of six or seven yards from maybe 1930 to 1995. The golf ball from 1995 to 2005 increased probably 35 yards, and we think it's probably longer than that. Relates to the long hitter because the golf balls are designed, the harder you hit it, the less spin it has and the further it can go. The average golfer doesn't see that and probably doesn't show up on your records.
But the golf ball goes a long way. But you know, I don't think that Jay will put himself above the rules. I don't think the TOUR will put themselves above the ruling bodies of the game of golf. Did that answer your question?
GARY PLAYER: I disagree with that. I think that the ball is such a big problem now, but what is it going to be‑‑
JACK NICKLAUS: I agree with you. He was asking if we were Commissioner.
GARY PLAYER: Yeah, but I'm going to answer that and tell him if I was Commissioner‑‑ (laughter)‑‑ the thing is‑‑ that's what you want to know, if we were Commissioner; correct?
You go to St. Andrews this year, already they drive seven greens, so in time to come they will drive at least eight greens at St. Andrews, the Home of Golf, and you see what's happening here.
I think that all bodies should be vociferous, not in a militant way but in a constructive way, and I don't think anybody should be just relying on the USGA or the R&A because the people that really play the game and know it best are the professional golfers, because they are in the arena. I mean, if you look at some of the rules they have come out with, have been pretty sad. I mean, you take this putter and I think for amateurs, it's great. Let them keep this. I would make a rule‑‑ I would sort of put my point forward: Don't stop the amateur from doing this. We don't have enough rounds of golf. They are enjoying it, and if you stop it, they won't be playing rounds in the future. I think that Trevino, who is the most street‑smart guy I've ever seen in professional golf, he said they didn't have to make a fuss about this anchoring, all they had to do was make the putt of 52 inches, would have stopped it. Really they came out with a rule that is really insignificant. They are still holding it against their chest, anyway. It's not much difference and they are still anchoring the putter. So I think we need as the PGA or the tournament players division, both of them, need to be saying: We don't like this, and we'd like to give our opinions in a very strong manner that we feel this and they have to play their part. You can't just rely on the USGA and the R&A, as much as I respect them, but we also as professional golfers have to have more of a say and be in the arena to a greater extent.
JACK NICKLAUS: I think Gary is correct, but I don't think they want to debate the issues of the rule making in the press. I think that the USGA and the R&A will collect all of the data from the TOUR and all the tours.
Have they made a couple decisions we probably may not all agree with, but in general, they have been pretty good stewards of the game of golf for a long time. The game of golf, I don't think, would be in the good state that it is as we're sitting here today, without what the USGA and the R&A have done.
GARY PLAYER: But is it sitting in a good state?
JACK NICKLAUS: Gary?
GARY PLAYER: For professional golf, it's never been better. But rounds of golf where clubs are suffering, they are closing up golf courses; they are building golf courses longer and we are running out of water in the world. By the year of 2025, my brother was the leading environmentalist, he said, Gary, you're making golf courses longer and using all this water. He says, "We're running out of water." Cape Town, a significant city, don't have water anymore. It's going to happen in Nevada. You're going to be having to buy water from Canada. We're running out of water, and never mind water, but quality water hardly exists. We have to think of water, fertilizer, the costs, people are being levied and resigning from clubs because they come in and make the greens too undulating and don't want to play anymore. I think golf has a problem at the moment and we need to sit down and we need all bodies to give their opinion and sort it out. I think amateur golf, rounds of golf, it's changed. People are doing cycling now and other sports that are not time consuming. And, you know, young guys are told today: You didn't bring your cell phone. I'm a tradition list and I like the way you're not allowed to wear hats inside and have a cell phone‑‑ but if we continue that, rounds will be going right down. These young guys, unless they can take their cell phone with them and have their hat on, and unless they can have a little music on the golf course, I tell you what, the rounds are going to suffer even more. We are in our infancy of rounds going down unless we come up with a significant plan for rounds of golf to be improved. Think of all the golf courses existing where you can buy a golf course for a dollar today if you take over the debt because they're in serious debt and they're levying members and using more fertilizer and using more labor. It's not good. It's not healthy, I don't think.
I'm really quite concerned with it because the amateur game is the heart of the game, not the professionals. We're insignificant compared to the amateur, and I'm concerned about that.
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I am, too. I agree with it 100%, all that you said, but somebody has to have the directions to do it and that's why I think the USGA and the R&A are the best equipped to do it.
GARY PLAYER: Why aren't the PGA put on the same basis as the R&A and the USGA? The PGA, these are professional golfers who play the golf for a living. They should have an equal say with the amateur body. I don't know of any amateur body that runs professional sport‑‑ I hope I'm correct in saying this; I'm just assuming this‑‑ and I think that‑‑ I'm not against the R&A and USGA. I'm very much a fan, tremendous fans, but I think we need have the PGA and TPC in there with representation to get the professional point of view. If we had a man like Trevino on a committee, he would have‑‑ we wouldn't have this problem of still being anchored and putters here and‑‑ which would be different, and I don't think that golf, professional golf, I'll come back up with emphasis, on professional golf, we should be having all that have and he would have solved it like that because he's a pro golfer, he's street smart and plays for a living. And he told me, how could I be this dumb, just make the putter 52. Don't make an issue and upset people. Just say, guys, the putter has to be 52 inches long and that stops it without controversial opinions.
I think pro golfers and PGA and TPC should be part of this world body and you should have members from all around the world because it's a world game, and they have also got their opinions from their own respective countries. I don't think two bodies should make the rules for the entire world. All I want to see is more representation.
Q. You've had a front‑row seat to the rise of the game in Asia. Feels like we're on the cusp of a wave of great players making an impact. Where do you see the game going over there?
GARY PLAYER: I was captain of the Olympic Games for South Africa this year, men and women. So I spent two weeks at the Olympic Games, and I tell you what, I walked around with the ladies and the men. You look at Mr.Li Haotong, he nearly won the British Open this year. Of course we'd love to see a Chinaman win it, because if China‑‑ if President Chi would not to be so at this stage vehemently against golf, and he's got a good reason, because people were building golf courses without permits. It will come back I think.
But they have got wonderful golfers coming along. I met this young fella from China last night, Lin, who is playing as an amateur, strong. They have got 1.4 billion people. What a significant advantage. So we are seeing‑‑ I go over there every year and I see women and guys‑‑ well, the women won medals at the Olympics, the men are doing it. We are seeing them play and win golf tournaments all over the world. It's in its infancy. It's on a massive rise, a massive rise, because if you look at South Korea, did I think I would ever live to see South Korean women beat the American woman? I didn't give it a chance and neither did anybody in this room quite honestly.
They are not very wealthy and parents have the dream of seeing their children do well and they instill a work ethic that is beyond our work ethic because we have a sense of entitlement and we live in the lands of milk and honey. I did a clinic in Philadelphia the other day for my grandson, and I said, "Who wants to be a pro?" They all put their hands up. I said, "Not one of you have a chance."
And I gave them a shock, I wanted to give them a shock. They said, "Why not?" I said, "Your mother has breakfast on the table for you in the morning by seven o'clock, you go to school by car, you have television, air conditioning, a good bed, three meals a day, food, clothes. Those people have nothing. They don't even have one of them." So man, when they see a guy winning $1million, they are out there at 5:30 in the morning and they are in the gym and they are working on the mind and they got a new concept, and the Asian concept I think is superior to Western concept in my humble opinion. We are in for some mighty good players coming along, and they are right there now but it's going to be like a tsunami coming.
Q. Today the players travel with a large support team, the caddies are more actively involved, like Michael Greller, the yardage books are extremely precise. Both of you played in a time when you relied almost entirely on yourselves going forward. Is there a downside to this concept of building an outside dependency as you go forward in the game?
JACK NICKLAUS: Yes.
Q. And what would that be?
JACK NICKLAUS: You're not responsible. You need to be responsible for your own game coming down the stretch. Somebody who can't‑‑ I shouldn't say can't, who is not in your shoes, you're listening to somebody who is not in your shoes or who has never been in your shoes and you're relying on yourself and you got there because of your efforts and talent and work ethic to get there, not because of one of their's.
I can't‑‑ well, I am, I suppose, faulting all the stuff that goes with it but I just always felt like, Gary was responsible for his own game, Arnold was responsible for his own game and I was responsible, Hogan, Snead, Jones, right on down the line, were responsible for their own game and‑‑ we talked about this earlier.
To me, that's the fun of it and that's the self‑satisfaction of being able to go out there and through your efforts, win a golf tournament. Every time I see a tennis match and the winner goes, I want to thank my team.
What shot did they hit for you? You've got to play your own shots. As I said earlier, if I were given that information, I probably would have it, too. I would have had it when I was playing, but you know, I just happen to like what we did, and I love going to the golf course and looking at a golf course, as Gary was saying, looking down at a book, I mean, to find out how to read a green. I look at the green‑‑ I had to learn how to read that green. I want to learn how to do these things, and I think that's what makes you a better player.
I think that's why Tiger Woods was such a good player. His dad was smart enough to teach him how to play with conventional golf equipment, and teach him how to play shots, not just do what the golf club would do. I think that's why he was such a junior and why he was such a good amateur and why he won so much when he played because he learned and did this all himself. I think he got off of himself by going to so many different teachers and caused himself a problem. I think he's doing most everything himself now‑‑ maybe has somebody helping a little bit, another set of eyes, nothing wrong with that.
But determination‑‑ Bobby Jones, there was a note in my locker when I came here in 1959 and Bobby Jones said, I'd like to invite you and your father down to my cabin and have a little chat. We went down and ended up doing it every year. One year, Jones says to me, I was just another golfer and went through what was called my seven lean years, because my seven lean years, every time I made a mistake I ran back to Stewart Maiden and had him tell me what I was doing wrong. He says, When I learned to be responsible for my own game and learned how to correct myself on the golf course, and managed my own temper, that's when I became a golfer. He became arguably one of the‑‑ maybe the greatest golfer that ever lived. Certainly have an argument for that. And so that was something that resonated with me and Jack Grout, who was my teacher, that was‑‑ he understood that, and that's what he taught me. Taught me to be responsible for my own game, responsible‑‑ he said, I would be a better player doing that, and I was able to, Jack Grout came to hundreds of golf tournaments, never once ever stepped out on a practice tee. He stayed back in the back of the bleachers and just watched. Let me be responsible for what I was going to do.
I think that he got a great satisfaction out of doing that and I knew that when I came down the stretch‑‑ if I was not swinging the way I wanted to swing on the 70th hole of a U.S. Open or Masters and I didn't like it, I changed it right then. I didn't wait until I was done and destroyed my round. I changed it right then. I had a way of doing it because he taught me to be responsible, how to do that.
Now, I enjoyed that. I thought that was fun. I thought that was‑‑ got a lot of great self‑satisfaction out of doing that. Gary, you've done the same thing all your life. I think that's why, as I say, I think that's why Tiger on the golf course, Tiger's been really good at that himself. I think when he came down the stretch, he looked at a leaderboard and he saw Jones, Smith, whatever it might be on the leaderboard and he saw‑‑ but if he saw ‑‑ let's just say he saw player, Palmer, Nicklaus, he would have a different feeling of coming down that stretch with Palmer, Player, Nicklaus on the leaderboard than he would with Jones, Smith, whatever.
He knew that they were good players and he knew that he was going to have to play but if he saw the others, he knew they were self‑destruct and he was smart enough to figure out how to play that and win. That's playing the game. That's the fun of the game. I don't know how you can have any fun having ten people tell you what to do.
Did I answer your question? From my standpoint. Gary may have a different point of view.
GARY PLAYER: It would drive me crazy if I had to have a man standing behind me every time I went to the practice tee, standing there and watching me and telling me what to do.
But you have to remember, we are a different generation, and as my all‑time hero Winston Churchill said, "Change is the price of survival."
But I can only tell you from my point of view, and I'm not disregarding what they want to do. But I couldn't stand to have a man standing behind me or traveling with me or visiting every tournament and standing behind me and watch me hit every shot. The greatest striker of a ball I ever saw in my life was Ben Hogan with inferior balls and equipment and golf courses, etc., etc., and traveling by car. So what would have happened if he had lived today? There's no telling what would have happened. But they asked him, "Who is your coach?" He said, "If I can find somebody who can beat me, I'll have a lesson from him."
JACK NICKLAUS: Good all.
GARY PLAYER: He said, "The secret is in the dirt." For me, I'm a workaholic at golf and I can sit here and say and in humility and sincerity, this pair of hands hit more balls than any man who ever lived, because I was an animal at hitting balls. I never got tired. Even at 82 I'm traveling around the world and working hard. I'm blessed with energy. It's a gift.
But I enjoyed doing it because when I got in the arena and something went wrong, there's nobody will to tell you what to do. You've got to know what to do yourself. I think, and I say this, and with great respect, the reason that Tiger Woods never went on and won 20 majors, is I come back to what I said. He won the U.S. Open by 15 shots and then he's having a lesson from a pro, and then he's having a lesson from another pro. How good were these pros that he had lessons from. Those pros was probably marvelous teachers with amateurs, marvelous, but Tiger Woods, having a lesson from guys, could they honestly break 80 on this golf course? Could they break 85 on this golf course? Had they been in the arena to understand what this‑‑ there's a great difference with Jack, so appropriately said about his grandson. He says, "He's now learning how to play golf." There's a massive difference in playing golf and knowing how to play the game. As Jack said, too, there are a million young boys like that. The odds of him making it are remote, stacked up against him of making it, even with a grandfather like Jack because there are so many.
But you've got to be able to ‑‑ nobody is entitled to anything. And I think the people that have done the best, the boxers, the athletes, are the people that really struggled and found out and worked and went to bed and thought about it, not having somebody to tell you all the time this, and that. But look, if they like it, they must do it. That's the thing. I can't tell a guy, you mustn't do this or you mustn't do that. But personally, I could never have had a psychiatrist. I didn't need a psychiatrist because I could tell a psychiatrist what to do on a golf course. (Laughter) I knew a hell of a lot more about a psychiatrist teaching golf‑‑ I knew a hell of a lot more than he did because I was in the arena because I had to go through years of suffering and struggling and playing. And that's the best thing you can do. The best gift you can have bestowed upon you is adversity and going through the drill yourself and when people make it too easy for you, I don't know whether you appreciate it to the degree you should and I don't know that you reach the heights. Tiger Woods, it always frustrates me because we always want to see somebody break records, records are there to be broken and he was on the verge of breaking every single record that ever lived, in my opinion, the reason he did, because he changed his swing. He was perfection when he won the U.S. Open and after that he wasn't. He was laying the club off, he was sucking the club in here, doing everything that was detrimental to playing well. But that's my humble opinion and I'm not emphatic that I'm right, but for me, I can tell you, for me, that's what I would like. But if these guys like it, go ahead.
MODERATOR: Any other question, please?
JACK NICKLAUS: You didn't get an opinion out of that for either one of us.
Q. As you've been saying all morning, it really is a game of opinions. All around the world this morning, people are discussing this year's tournament and what will intrigue many of them is that so many players seem to have such compelling cases for considering them the likely winner. If you two gentlemen had to write down now the two names that you think will be in the final pairing on Sunday afternoon, who would your two names be?
JACK NICKLAUS: I'll let you go first (laughter).
GARY PLAYER: You want me to go first?
JACK NICKLAUS: Absolutely. I'm not answering that first.
GARY PLAYER: I would write two names down? It's impossible for a start. I think this years's tournament is very meaningful, that we need Tiger Woods to play well, because when he plays, the galleries are twice as many, the sponsors are happy, the public are happy and the ratings go up. There's no question, we see it. It's like a magnet. He draws people like Jack or Arnold did. It's like a magnet. It would be great if he could win.
We need Rory to join us in the Grand Slams. We need things that are going to enhance the game and by Tiger winning, by Rory winning, I think it would really enhance the game a lot.
I personally would pick two guys, I would pick Alex Noren and I would pick Rory McIlroy, if you're asking me to pick a winner this week with Tiger Woods right there. But it's impossible. I mean, you've got all these guys. It really is impossible to pick a winner in a golf tournament.
JACK NICKLAUS: You ought to keep going, Gary, because I can't pick any.
I've got so many that I have reasons for why I think they might win, and I've got a lot of the young kids that I've talked to that I would like every one of them to win. And I'll just keep my mouth shut.
You know, you've got from the McIlroys to the Justin Thomas to the Dustin Johnsons to the Jordan Spieths to the Tiger Woods to the‑‑ you know, you just keep right on going. I would rather sit back and watch, rather than knowing that I put my foot in my mouth.
GARY PLAYER: I hope I'm not putting my foot in my mouth.
JACK NICKLAUS: Generally only time I say, hope I'm not putting my foot in my mouth, take one out and put the other one in.
GARY PLAYER: My wife and I have a great debate, which is tougher to win, Wimbledon or The Open Championship. When you play at Wimbledon, you beat seven guys and you win the tournament, and you play in the same identical conditions. In golf here, you get a morning time, and it's perfect; you get an afternoon time and the wind comes up on the range, you're gone, as we saw at Muirfield, Tiger shot 86 or 89 in his private. Golf is very difficult here. It's crazy to say, you think‑‑ I said I want to see people win which will enhance the game. I would like to see all those guys do well obviously.
But the draw in a golf tournament, you think the first guy goes off at, say, 8:00 or whatever the time is, and the other guy goes off at two o'clock, what a change, a discrepancy in the weather.
I'll never forget James Braid, the young assistant came and said, Good morning Mr.Braid, it's a great day. He says, No, laddie, it's a great morning, it isn't a great day and you don't know what's going to happen.
JACK NICKLAUS: Looking out on the golf course right now, Vijay is the only one under par. The rest are even or over par. You have the thing in front of you, I assume.
Obviously the golf course is playing relatively difficult. I think that the weather, so much depends on the weather here at Augusta National. Had we gotten the forecasted rain that they were forecast for yesterday, had we got just a little sprinkle and had that rain, you would see nothing but threes, fours, fives on the board already‑‑ only one guy that's played more than three holes. Probably more, actually, because they are not playing that well. Anyway, weather being so much. If the golf course remains dry and fast, and if you avoid having the rain on Saturday, which I think is probably going to come, looks like it did, scores will be very high. If they get some reasonable scores, you've got some guys that are really good players, that withstand the first two rounds, and you get a little bit of rain on Saturday and all of a sudden you have soft‑ish conditions on Saturday and Sunday, then you'll see some really, really low and exciting rounds on the last two days.
It all depends, this golf tournament, as does The Open Championship or most any of them, I think that they are‑‑ I think that the organizers of the tournament have been brilliant about when they have chosen to play their championships. I think that's why the PGA has tried to go from August to May because they felt like August, the weather was just usually always soft and wet and they really could never get what they wanted out of a championship. The Masters always had as a change of weather, you never know what's going to happen at Augusta. Now you go to the PGA Championship at May and if they go north, you're not going to know what's going to happen in the weather. The U.S. Open is still in June, summer, you never know if you go north what you'll have in weather and the British Open, you just never know any time what you're going to have in weather. Weather plays such a big part and it's going to play a big part here this week. And that's going to, that weather is going to determine a tremendous amount of who‑‑ what names are on that leaderboard. You can't pick two of them.
GARY PLAYER: Very difficult. It's impossible.
MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so very much. And Mr.Nicklaus and Mr.Player, it's always the greatest of pleasure to have you us with.
JACK NICKLAUS: Sorry we talked so long. We were a little verbose.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports