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April 11, 2019
THE MODERATOR: Good morning in what is a very exciting annual tradition. I am so pleased and proud to introduce and welcome back to our interview room, the iconic legends, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player. Thank you, sirs, for being with us today.
Once again, they have provided a spectacular start to our tournament. But before we get started today with questions, I would be remiss not to take a moment to honor one of the true titans of this industry, a writer who boldly and uniquely painted so many of the game's most memorable moments with his prose, a great friend to all of us in this room, the late Dan Jenkins.
Dan had the distinct pleasure of witnessing the greatness of these two men from the front lines. He attended 68 Masters Tournaments, his first coming in 1951, and saw each of your victories in the flesh.
In recent weeks, we came across a few of his passages, some signature musings I wanted to share with the two of you.
He had the following to say of you, Jack, following the 1986 Masters: "On that final afternoon of the Masters Tournament, Nicklaus's deeds were so unexpectedly heroic, dramatic and historic, the taking of his sixth green jacket would certainly rank as the biggest golf story since Jones's Grand Slam of 1930. That Sunday night, writers from all corners of the globe were last seen sitting limply at their machines muttering, 'It's just too darned big for me.'"
And Gary, Dan had this to say about you as he described your heroic play at Augusta National in 1978: "He will fall down, come out of his shoes, hit it on the run and turn the golf swing into something that could be more closely identified with tennis or baseball, but he outworks and outtravels Attila the Hun, and there has never ever been a tougher competitor."
These are just a few of the words that Dan used to describe your feats on this course. Hearing these passages, we hope you could add some personal color to these stories. Jack, may we start with you?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, Jenky was a good friend, and through the years, Dan would come to me with one story after the other. I can't think of a lot. I do remember one in particular when I first really started to get to know him a bit was when I finished second to Arnold at Cherry Hills, 1960, and I heard all these stories about things that Hogan had said.
And you know, so anyway, Jenky came to me, he says, "Oh, I'll tell you exactly what Ben said." He said, "I played with a young kid today, if he had known how to win, would have won this tournament by several strokes." Well that was a far cry from what I had heard about everybody else, and that was the first sort of serious comment I heard come out of Dan Jenkins.
I loved Jenky's books. I can't even remember the names of them, but anyway, there were a lot of good ones. He was a very creative guy. He was a fun guy. I just really enjoyed his company. He was just a really good guy.
THE MODERATOR: Mr.Player?
GARY PLAYER: When I came here the one year, I was staying at the Bonaire Hotel in those days. First of all, I would say that Dan Jenkins obviously was a superstar in his work and was a great contributor to all of these gentlemen and ladies, but also to golf. And he had a sense of humor extreme.
Honestly, I remember this like yesterday. I was lying and reading the story about the Bonaire Hotel and how he explained it, it was very old and dilapidated then, and they were about to do a renewal, and he spoke about how you could hear the water coming up the taps and the room was so small that when you put the key in the keyhole the window broke (laughter), and the nice ‑‑ the room was so low; the mice were hunchbacked.
And honestly, he said, and I was told, I was facing the C, and it was the WC, I remember verbatim, this guy had a real sense of humor and loved golf, and I believe, which to me, is quite remarkable‑‑ this is my 62nd year here. To think that somebody was here for 68 years is quite remarkable.
Also, he attended, as I understand, 252 major championships in his career, that's quite remarkable, if that's correct. He's obviously a man‑‑ and I just loved‑‑ you see, there again with his humor. He put on his tombstone, you could endorse it: "It had to happen."
THE MODERATOR: Jack, if you would please comment on this. Dan Jenkins was so unique in the way he represented and wrote the industry. He started with a typewriter and finished with Twitter.
With that in mind, in your opinion, how have players had to adapt over these decades from going back to the typewriter to social networking, communicating their message?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I think that with the typewriter, you can actually change something. Once you got social media going, it's going. That's basically what's happened. And Dan was one of the guys you could sit down with, you go have dinner, and you know the next day nothing you talked about at dinner would be in an article. So that was important to us as players to be able to have the confidence in people to do that.
There's a number of guys you can do that with. But there's a lot of times, a new breed, sometimes you don't know them, they don't know you, and I don't necessarily blame people for writing what they think they have got and so forth.
But the old guys took the time to get to know you. I don't think with social media today, they don't take time to get to know people. I can barely text, so hard to speak beyond that.
I don't know, social media, Scott Tolley who is with me‑‑ you all know Scott‑‑ we do a fair amount on social media. Everything that goes on there comes through me and my comments. Scott does the writing. But it all comes from me, all the comments, everything we do. There's a big difference from what it used to be, there's no question about that.
THE MODERATOR: Finally, we all witnessed what was truly a phenomenal Augusta National Women's Amateur, and all of us congratulate Jennifer Kupcho on her victory. Would you both share your thoughts on this inaugural tournament and what it means for golf in general and women's golf, in particular? And if I may, I'll start with Gary.
GARY PLAYER: First of all, I'd just like to say there have been some chairmen in the past that were absolutely reluctant to change. I know I was quite severely criticized when Tiger and I were two of the players that said they should have a few women as members. I've seen the change that's taken place, having played in this 52 times and been here 62 times, I was so thrilled to see that you have a junior tournament, just things that promote the golf. Now, the tournament is a massive supporter for golf, and people watch this tournament, probably 1.4 million viewers. I know I was in China after this tournament one year, and I went to the gym three days in a row, and they're showing the Masters for three straight days.
But to see the change they made, and Winston Churchill, my all‑time hero, said, "Change is the price of survival." And to see that they have now followed suit and to have this great junior tournament here and now these ladies playing here; a few guys would turn in their grave because a lot of them stood up in front of these guys and said, "I will never allow a woman to be a member." So they will be watching that, from wherever they are.
But no, it was fantastic, and the standard of play and the support, I didn't think they would have as much support as they did, was really magnificent to see, and the standard of golf, which we see around the world today with the improvement in the equipment and the ball going 40, 50 yards further and greens like this and no more spike marks and bunkers raked like this, we are in our infancy to see what scores are going to happen.
I'd just like to say one thing, and that is we've got to slow this ball down, because one day a man is going to stand on this first tee‑‑ and I know I was ridiculed when I said it in front of British TV, BBC 20 years ago, players will hit the ball 400 yards. This is happening regularly. There will be a man standing on the first tee one day and drive it on the front edge of the green.
So we'd better start thinking, they are going to hit wedges to all the par5s, and golf courses like St. Andrews, this marvelous golf course, is completely obsolete. They can drive probably six greens. So I don't know where we're going. And our leaders of such have got to get together, even though it's a litigious society, they have got to get together now and form a ball for professionals that's different to the amateurs. Let the amateurs have anything they like. We need them to enjoy it. We need more rounds. But we have got to stop this; otherwise, it's going to be a joke, in my opinion.
MODERATOR: Jack, would you share with us, sir, your thoughts and feelings about the Augusta National Women's Amateur, and in your eyes what does it mean for golf and the growth of golf?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I thought that I‑‑ first of all, I'm amazed that Augusta National took it on, and particularly the Saturday before the Masters. I was kind of surprised when they took on the Drive, Chip & Putt Championship the Sunday before the Masters. That's a lot, when you're getting ready to put on a championship such as the Masters.
But I thought that it came off well. The girls played well. They had tremendous interest. I don't think any of those girls would probably have ever seen any more interest anywhere from where they have played before. Augusta has taken the lead in what they did in Asia and South America in getting amateurs to win their tournaments and be invited into the Masters.
It's just another place where Augusta National and the Masters Tournament has innovated in the game. I think it's really good that they have done that. They have taken the lead in so many things, and I think I'm proud to be a member. Proud to be part of what they do, it's part of what we do, because it's pretty special, and I think the girls tournament was great.
I can't believe that girl shot 67. That's a pretty good score. That's the same tees that we play, Gary. Maybe you haven't played there yet, maybe you're still playing the back tees, I don't know, but I go up as far as I can go, and I don't think they played up as far as I play.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you very much. We're going to open up now for questions.
GARY PLAYER: Do you agree on the ball?
JACK NICKLAUS: I do agree with you on the golf ball. The golf ball has gotten ridiculous. I have so many things on that. You don't need me on that.
The golf ball from 1930 to about '95 gained about six yards. From 1995 to 2005, about 50 yards, and that's a big difference. Probably the organizations won't tell you that, but that's exactly about what's happened.
Not only that, I used to be called Big Jack, and I'm 5‑8 now. I was 6‑foot at that time. The guys today are all 6‑3, 6‑4, 6‑5, and they all are good athletes that hit it nine miles.
Gary's right. Somebody is going to stand on the first tee and knock it on the first green here. I don't think there's any question about it.
I've seen guys drive it down there right now, 40, 50 yards short of the green, and it isn't going to take much to get it to the green.
Q. Obviously this is an occasion every year to talk about Bobby Jones. The two of you knew him personally, and we don't get the chance very often to talk to people who knew Jones, and I was just wondering, for both of you, just what endeared you about Jones or what impressed you the most about him?
GARY PLAYER: Jack has always been a massive fan of Bobby Jones, and I came along, unaware of all his great championships, I'm sad to say.
But first of all, I sat next to him at the Masters dinner every year, and I was just amazed. I always have had a great desire for the command of the English language, and there's no question, there's never been a golfer that had the manners that he has; a combination of these attributes, a combination of his manners and his command of the English language, and he speaks so humble.
And he sat there like this, he was so riddled, and I put his fork in between the fingers like that, and he said, "Would you please cut my meat?" And I cut the meat, and he dabbed it like that and ate it like that, and I remember asking him a question about the third hole.
I said, "You know, Mr.Jones, I could never birdie the third hole. What do you think about that?" "You're not supposed to birdie the third hole." (Laughter.)
But it's fascinating for me, I have such an interest in the theory of golf, and having watched players, having been a pro for 65 years, and watched swings and compared swings and mind‑sets and things, and I became‑‑ after Jack told me all about Bobby Jones and I started reading some of his episodes that he had, maybe, maybe one of the‑‑ well, maybe the greatest thing ever.
But the fascinating thing is, is that if Bobby Jones today went for a lesson, to most of the pros in the world, they would change his swing, as they did with Tiger. And Tiger had something similar, not exactly, but to Bobby Jones, and they changed Tiger's swing, to the detriment. So they changed his swing.
But if you watched his swing, and every superstar that's ever lived had the club pointed slightly to the right of the target, not laid off. They are teaching laid off now. Jack had it to the‑‑ every player that I saw that was a superstar, I think you've got to win six majors to be a superstar, every one of them had the club, other than Trevino.
And there he had that, and he had the most beautiful balance you've ever seen in your life, and played basically with a walking stick. If you look at the club at Lytham & St Annes, it's that thick, it's got a face that looks like a soup spoon with a few dots in it, and he hit a shot at Lytham & StAnnes out of the bunker that I would like to see any player today hit. It must have been 200 yards out of that bunker to put it on the green. I don't know whether it was to win The Open or the Amateur, but I stood there in awe to think that a man‑‑ particularly they never raked the bunker in those days, you raked the bunkers with your feet. There was no such thing as a rake.
So I cannot speak highly enough about this man, absolutely a genius.
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I agree with everything Gary said, except I think to be a superstar you've got to win ten majors (laughter).
GARY PLAYER: He always teases me about that.
JACK NICKLAUS: I got to know Bob Jones from‑‑ as a young man. When I was 15, he came to speak at the U.S. Amateur at the James River Course at The Country Club of Virginia, and I was 15 at the time.
I got introduced to him earlier in the day. I didn't know who he was, and I hit a second shot into the 18th green. It was a very windy day in the last practice round, and I hit a 3‑wood to get it on the green. He called me over and introduced himself. He said, "I've been here for quite a while, young man, I've only seen four people reach this green today."
So I said, well, I was very flattered, thank you. I knew Bob Jones was my father's idol, and I knew an awful lot about Jones from growing up at Scioto where Jones won in '26, and a lot of the members were still there, years later, as I started playing golf.
But then he came out and watched me play. And my dad told these stories enough times, but those of you who haven't heard them, he told me he was going to come out and watch me play the next day. I kept looking for Bob Jones, and I was playing Bob Gardner, who was pretty darned good player, Bob played on the Walker Cup and Eisenhower Trophy teams with me, and I had him 1‑down after ten holes, and all of a sudden here comes this cart down the 10th fairway, and here comes Bob Jones.
Came out on 11, I went bogey, bogey, double‑bogey, lost all three holes. Turned to my dad, he says, "Charlie, I don't think I'm doing Jack much good out here." I ended up losing the match 1‑down.
Then I saw him when I won the J.C. National Junior Tournament at Ohio State. He came and presented the trophy that year and representing Coca‑Cola, who was the sponsor at that time, and that was my next meeting with him.
Then when I was 19, I qualified for the Masters, and there was a little note in my locker inviting my father and me down to his cabin to have a little talk. We obviously went down, and a little note was there, and we went down every year.
The wisdom that I seemed to get from him was pretty darned good. We talked a lot about how he played, how he thought about things, how his seven lean years and how he used to run back to Sterling Maiden who was his teacher, and then finally he said after Sterling had finally worked with him to teach him how to not come back and be responsible for his own golf game, he said, "That's when I became a golfer."
There's a lot of things, and I was blessed that's the way Jack Grout taught me also, and I think he taught a lot from what Bob Jones had said, how to be responsible for my own golf game and not have somebody looking over the top of me all the time.
Jones was a very interesting man and very well educated, as you all know. Gary is absolutely dead right. His command of the English language was tremendous. I just ‑‑ I'll go through a little story.
My dad watched Bob Jones play at Scioto in 1926. My dad was just 12 years old at the time, almost 13. He sort of fell in love with Jones. And he played a little bit of young golf, my dad wasn't that much of a golfer, but in 1931 they had The Ryder Cup matches at Scioto, because my dad at that time was 18 years old, it was in the fall.
And my dad was walking along in the parking lot, and one of the security people said, "Oh, Mr. Jones"‑‑ my dad parted his hair in the center, looked a lot like Jones, he was about that build, and they took him into the clubhouse. And my dad, for those of you‑‑ some of you knew my dad, but he would go right along with it. He went on into the clubhouse, and they started introducing him as Bob Jones until somebody figured out who he was. And of course he obviously got thrown out of the clubhouse after that (laughter).
But he was very flattered that he looked a lot like Bob Jones and was mistaken for Bob Bones. I think that's one of the reasons why Jones became his idol and my dad always passed along the stories about Jones.
But he was‑‑ I never got to see him hit a golf shot. I've obviously seen some of his videos and things, as Gary has, but he had a marvelous golf swing, and with the equipment that he used, pretty amazing.
What I thought was really interesting, they didn't have‑‑ I could be wrong on this story, but I think I'm correct‑‑ they didn't have swing weights and weights in the day, and Jones had one club in his bag that he was never very happy with; it was his 4‑iron. When they finally got his golf clubs years after he had finished playing, they took his club, it was measured out, and there was only one club that was out of balance, and it was his 4‑iron. Pretty good for not knowing anything about what he had, just instinctively know that.
GARY PLAYER: Played every shot by eye, no yardages.
JACK NICKLAUS: Oh, really? They didn't have yardage books back then?
GARY PLAYER: They didn't have yardage books to read the green then, either.
JACK NICKLAUS: Crazy.
Q. I've been talking to past champions about what they did the morning before they won their Masters, those long mornings, long days, not teeing off until two in the afternoon. If you would reflect on those days‑‑
JACK NICKLAUS: We answered that one last night, didn't we. Gary and I, both pretty much the same. We both tried to sleep as long as we could. If I was going to play at 2:30 in the afternoon, I'd try to sleep as late as I could. I always like to get up about three hours before a starting time, just because I'm able to do my routine and a few exercises and have my breakfast, give me time to get to the golf course, give me time to organize what I needed to get ready to play an hour before I played and so forth. That was sort of my routine.
It wasn't anything special. It was just how do you use up your morning. I think the British Open was probably even tougher. The British Open we played like about four o'clock, three, four o'clock. That was even more difficult.
We didn't do anything special. Just got a good cheese omelette in the morning and went out and played. Gary?
GARY PLAYER: I prepared a little bit differently. First of all, I used to sleep‑‑ I remember The Open that I won at Lytham & StAnnes, I slept until 12 o'clock, and I could really sleep eight hours or I could sleep twelve hours. I've always been best with that, and that's why I've been able to travel more miles than any human being ever because I've been able to sleep on airplanes; otherwise, I would have been worn out.
So sleep was a very important thing for me. But then I would get up always and I would do quite a bit of meditation. I'd also sit in front of the mirror in a tai chi position and think about the things that were going to happen that day; that you're going to have adversity whether you like it or not. You're not going to hit every shot well. I'm not going to be concerned with Jack playing behind me and is going to be in contention all the time and they are going to be cheering and don't worry about that because he's also going to hit a bad shot or two.
I went through my rigamarole, which is quite complicated. Then I always had a cold shower to start with, and then I had a hot shower to get blood circulation, and I didn't overeat. I made sure that I ate sensibly, which was in my mind sensibly, but in many people's minds it wouldn't be. So I prepared in a different way.
Q. Jack, I'm sure you know this, but Jennifer Kupcho played the final six holes in 5‑under. That's a number that's familiar to you. I wonder what you thought about that.
JACK NICKLAUS: I didn't know anything about it other than I heard it yesterday. I didn't watch the tournament, but I saw some highlights of it. That's a fairly good finish. You said‑‑ did I finish 5‑under in '86?
Q. In the final six.
JACK NICKLAUS: Okay.
Q. With an eagle. She had an eagle at 13.
JACK NICKLAUS: She eagled 13? I couldn't do that. Couldn't get it there.
Pretty special play. We can't find many of the guys do something like that, but have a young lady, what's she, about 20? 21? That's pretty good. I think she's going to do all right when she decides she wants to go play.
GARY PLAYER: It just goes to show, everybody talks about long hitting. I get so tired hearing about long hitting all the time, because if you look at two of the leading players‑‑ I won't mention their names‑‑ they were like 129th and 130th in accuracy, and they were 1 and 2 in the world.
If you look at 1986 when Jack won at the age of 46, quite remarkable. He was on the 17th green with a plus, minus 20‑foot putt. Seve was down the fairway at 15 with a one‑shot lead, 5‑iron to the green, knocks it the in the water, that long drive didn't mean anything.
Every putt you hole over that distance means something. So golf really is a game of putting today, of short game. It's not long driving. And it's the mind. We haven't scratched the surface of the mind. These women are coming into golf now, and these young people are coming into golf now, realizing that if they shoot par, it doesn't mean a thing. So they're adjusting their mind according to the conditions. And also the equipment is improving so much. It's quite remarkable.
If you really take clubs, we had a‑‑ one of my charity days in England, and we had all the clubs from, I don't know, 1920, and we had Tom Watson hit them. He couldn't hit them very well, and then Charl Schwartzel came, and it was remarkable. He had the same ball, and to see the difference. The ball was going 200 yards, and then it was going 360 yards. And to see the difference in the grooves and everything.
So the mind adjusts to time and sometimes it adjusts to the future, and that's what's happening. And so we know now, if you're just an ordinary player or do an ordinary score, you might as well not be a pro. And certainly people are going to turn pro, and they are not going to make it because they all think it's a bed of roses and don't realize it's a very lonely life, traveling with time changes, away from your dear ones and country and etc.
But the mind, I'm so convinced the mind is such a valuable asset, and I'm going to be repetitive and say we haven't scratched the surface yet.
So I'm not surprised they did that, but it's remarkable to see a woman, and the putting‑‑ and the greens are so good today. When I think of the greens we played on, the spike marks and old bermudagrass, if you look at a green today, honestly, this is why‑‑ how can you compare Tiger Woods to Jack Nicklaus? It's not fair. Let him play today with these greens and raked bunkers or bunkers all the same width, and with a driver and a ball that goes 50 yards further. This man finished second in 19 major championships, 19. This is what people forget when they want to make a comparison.
So it's very hard to make comparisons, but the greens are just like a snooker table today. If you've got any sort of a putting stroke and you hit it on line, it goes in and it doesn't bounce off. And also, people also don't realize, Bobby Jones, when you talk about Bobby Jones‑‑ I think when I played in my first Open Championship, they never changed the pin one day. The pin was there in the practice round and stayed there in the tournament. Can you imagine that?
I remember people getting in bunkers, and they couldn't get out at Lytham & St Annes. I couldn't get out, put it in the bunker there. And I went to Brigadier Brickman, and I made the biggest error. I said, "Man, I have an appointment." He said, "Yes." So I went in, and I said, "You know, just being in America, and I love The Open, in America they have got rakes all over at every hole, I love The Open; may I buy 18 rakes for this tournament?"
He says, "You little insolent bastard, get out of my office." (Laughter)
Now you see a guy sit on a green, "Zzz‑zzz‑zzz," (indicating raking/mowing) the green, they can adjust it; they have got air conditioning under the greens (chuckling. It's another world.
JACK NICKLAUS: Gary, one last comment on that. For somebody to have not played this golf course and to have made those putts, having only seen the golf course the day before, it's pretty sensational.
GARY PLAYER: It's really remarkable.
Q. You saw Tiger when he was a teenager. Now he's a middle‑aged man, father. What's it been like for to you see his career and life unfold, and where do you think he is now?
GARY PLAYER: I don't think there's ever been a man that had as much talent. You put him in categories, Hogan, the most remarkable golfer I ever saw from tee‑to‑green. You look at Snead, the greatest athlete that ever played golf, and the remarkable swing that lasted. I mean, when you judge a golfer, longevity must be part of judgment, not charisma and etc., etc.
If you look at Jack, he had the overall game he had; that's why he was such a champion. He had the overall game.
And Tiger, he had his difficulties to encounter, and I always said if Tiger never had the problems he had, which were numerous, he would have won at least 20, 21 majors. I don't think there's a debate about that. I don't think anybody would ever deny that.
Deane Beman once said, "Tiger will win 30 majors." I said, "Hold on, Deane. You don't know if a man is going to have an accident in a car, break his arm, have family problems, etc., etc. There are too many variables to be a superstar in this game."
But the man, what he was doing, can you imagine a man winning the U.S. Open by 15 shots, not five, 15, and the next week, or ten days later, he's having a lesson from a man and changes his swing and he goes downhill from there.
Now he's swinging beautiful, he's really swinging well, but now he's 42.
JACK NICKLAUS: 43.
GARY PLAYER: Now it's more difficult. Plus the fact that he's had four back operations‑‑ I was talking to him the other night, four back operations, three knee operations. The back is such a sensitive thing with nerves, you can be picking up your shoe and you could put your back out.
So it's going to be interesting. Everybody wants to see Tiger Woods win more majors because he moves the needle like nobody playing golf today. What you saw when he won that championship the other day, I don't think I ever saw excitement like that, even when Arnold was at his best, because they knew what he had gone through and how he had struggled, and everybody likes to see a man make a great comeback.
He had such talent, it was unbelievable. And for me it was very sad because we all like to see people develop and get a record that they have the talent to do.
So he had a spoke put in the wheel. He's accepted it very well. He's kept working out. It was very interesting for me, when he was playing his best, he was like this (indicating big). I watched him working out. The Golf Channel and all these people who don't know anything about the body, so to speak, were saying, "Oh, he's..." when he started playing badly, he was playing badly because he's muscle bound.
There's no such thing as muscle bound, folks. You watch these long drivers come out there, they have a neck like a role of dime; they look like a weightlifter and they get the club back below their back like that. Now, you can find a man who is thin, and he can only get the club back to here.
So you have to know what you are talking about when you are talking about training with weights, etc. Even at the age of 83 I still push 300 pounds with my legs.
Tiger is working out, he told me the other night, which was refreshing. I said, "You're swinging so well."
He says, "I'm not finished yet." That was nice to hear. To hear it come from him, "I'm not finished yet."
That's encouraging. Can he win five majors to beat Jack? I don't think so. If he can, everybody will take their hats off to him. But everybody likes to see him play well, and I cannot speak well enough about the man's ability that he had. He hit a shot the other day, I don't know if you saw it, he hit a bunker in the right‑‑ I don't know what tournament it was. He was in the bunker in the right, and the flag was over there, out of the bunker, he hit the ball around the tree like that. Nobody in golf has ever been able to do that.
Did you see that shot? Did some of you see that shot? He was in the bunker, and he had to slice it around like this, and finished 5 foot from the hole. He hit some shots that were quite remarkable.
But you know, you can't talk about long hitting, great putting, good looking, charisma, this and that. The record book goes, this man has the best record, I think by a long way. And also, not only in America. Many players win in their home country, and people write about how good they are, who never win many tournaments.
You take Byron Nelson. Everybody puts Byron Nelson in the top three, five players that ever lived. He's not. He never won hardly anything outside of America. So that's my opinion. If you're going to talk about the best golfers in the world, this man has a record everywhere, and people forget about that.
It's fascinating to see how Tiger is going to do. I'm sure we all are interested and hopeful that he will do extremely well.
Q. As you gentlemen were closing in on your career Grand Slams, you did not have a channel devoted 24‑7 to golf. You did not have social media scrutinizing your pursuit. Just wondering if you can put yourself in Rory's shoes as he tries to do this‑‑ I'm sorry, Gary, up here‑‑ as he attempts to join you in that exclusive club this week, just the distractions that he has that you guys didn't have back in the day.
JACK NICKLAUS: You want me to try that one?
You're right about social media and everything else. I never thought anything about Grand Slam. When I won the British Open in '66, I don't even recall anybody even mentioning it. It wasn't until probably ten years later, and we were I think at Westchester, and somebody said, "Oh, Gene Sarazen and Ben Hogan and Gary Player and you have won all the four majors; can we have a picture of the four of you together? You're the four that won the Grand Slam." "Okay." (Laughter.) That was it.
I never thought anything about it. Gary might have. I didn't. I think that today, I think if I were in Rory's position, which I assume is what you're talking, I would be looking at trying to win the Masters, not trying to finish a Grand Slam. I think to win the Masters, that's enough to worry about.
I think that Rory is playing probably better than anybody is playing right now, at least from what I have seen. Watched him practice a little bit last month or so. He's doing very well. I hope he's got himself focused on basically the Masters Tournament.
And if he wins the Masters Tournament, one of the rewards from winning the Masters Tournament would be that he would be one of the five players to have won the Grand Slam, or six or whatever it is.
So that's the way I would look at it, and I do think it is probably undo pressure put on fellas. Barbara always used to have the newspaper. She would get it in the morning. And she would get the newspaper and she would see an article, and she'd take it and she threw the newspaper away so I didn't see it. If there's all that kind of stuff, if you're smart, you probably shouldn't read all that stuff. You just move on and go do your thing and prepare yourself and go play.
GARY PLAYER: I did have an awareness of the Grand Slam when we had that photo taken, and I suppose everybody looks and reads and comes to their own conclusion. As far as Rory's concerned, you know, pressure is self‑embearing, and again, it comes back, it comes back to the mind. Whether he wins or not this week, he has the best swing in the field without a question.
I remember Tiger saying, "You think I'm talented? This guy has got even more talent." Well, I don't know whether that's true or not, but he certainly has an enormous amount of talent, and he hits the ball prodigious distances, which is perfect for this golf course, because this is not really what you'd call a great driving golf course, there's room.
So the talent is all there. And also, you know, for us, we can't help but think that when‑‑ I mean, I don't know what Jack's total was for his six wins here, but my three wins was $80,000. I'd love to be playing for a $2 million first prize. I wouldn't be nervous, at all. (Laughter.) I would have played‑‑ you people in this room can understand. I was poor. I made 30 pounds a month for three years. I'm not going to get choky and nervous about winning the Masters or any tournament.
And Jack will bear this, I can honestly say, I never choked in tournaments. He played with me. I never choked. Because I had this in my mind, I had nothing. I suffered. I struggled as a young man. My mother died when I was young. I had to cook my own food and make my own bed and lay in bed wishing I was dead.
It's all in the mind. My goodness, I see guys taking weeks off with a 1.5 million first prize. Me, would I have just played every damn week as much as I could (laughter).
But it's such an interesting world today. They have a coach for this, a coach for that, a masseur, this and that, and then they take a book‑‑ and they have got to stop this. I mean, the greatest putters in the world‑‑ there are no putters in the world today you can say putted better than Bobby Locke. Bobby Locke was the best putter that ever lived, and Tiger Woods was the best putter, and so was him. I never saw him take a book to read the damn green.
To read the green, you've got to look at a book. If you can't read a green, you should be selling beans. (Laughter) It's part of the game. Where are we going? Everything is so artificial.
And the other thing, we talk about speed of play ‑‑ I'm sorry digressing, but I'm quite frustrated. They talk about speed of play and yet you've got markers on the fairway; you have a book how far the green is, but they won't led you use a rangefinder. I mean, that speeds up play, a rangefinder.
Rory, it will be fantastic for him to win. If I had to pick somebody I would like to see win, Rory, because it would join the five of us, and it would give golf, which needs a big boost, it would give a big boost; the rounds are down, and golf, as we all know, it's time‑consuming and expensive, so we would love to see Rory win.
But for me, this is going to be actually the most exciting Masters to win that I can think of, because there are ten guys in there that really have such an equal chance of winning. It's going to be interesting.
JACK NICKLAUS: So we need to get a rangefinder for Rory so he can win?
GARY PLAYER: That will help.
JACK NICKLAUS: Rory's playing very well.
Q. The two of you have spoken so colorfully about the many changes in the game, but one thing that hasn't changed about competitive golf is that players still keep their own scores with a card and pencil. Is this a tradition that should continue, and could either of you share scorekeeping anecdotes from your long careers?
JACK NICKLAUS: Why shouldn't it? It's what the game has always been, is somebody kept your score. I don't think it makes a difference whether Gary keeps my score or I keep my score. I think it makes little difference, really.
GARY PLAYER: Yes, but look at Roberto De Vicenzo. This has always been a very debatable issue.
JACK NICKLAUS: He wouldn't have made that mistake if he was keeping his own score.
GARY PLAYER: We all make mistakes in life, and we are all quick to criticize, but Roberto, you see on television, you have a million people see him hit a 3 but he signs for a 4. Yes, that's his fault, but that's a very debatable issue. That's very cruel when everybody sees him do it and he signs for a 4.
Okay, you can say that's the rule. I played in Greensboro one year. I was six or seven shots ahead of Arnold Palmer. We played 36 holes the last day because we were washed out. And as it worked out, I had to shoot about a 76 to win the tournament. And I was doing my scorecard and the lady there‑‑ we didn't have professionals. We had maybe little young girls there at the time, and she said, "You're taking too long for your card. You've only got 15 minutes for lunch."
I said, "No, we have 30 minutes."
She said, "No, you have 15."
And I hand her my card, and I walk out of the tent by one yard like that, and I come back and I sign. But when I got on the first tee, I called Jack Tuthill, and I said, "Jack, I walked out of the tent by one yard; what's the deal?" He says, "Pack your bags."
So this business with the scorecard, at least today, at least today, you come in there, and they have all the scores that have been accumulated, and you can sit there and say, "Please read out my score."
So, I don't know, you come to your own conclusion, what is right and what is not. But there will be changes, like everything, in the scoring in some time to come.
Q. This marks the 50th anniversary of Tony Jacklin winning The Open Championship. Wonder if you could reflect on what that moment meant for golf and his contribution to golf, and as a brief follow‑up, he happened to win on the day my parents got married, and my mum used to say that Tony Jacklin ruined my wedding because all the guys were in there watching him finish off. If you have any thoughts on the secrets of being married for 50 years or more, that would be great.
JACK NICKLAUS: Tony hadn't been‑‑ I don't think anybody had won The Open Championship since Max Faulkner, the Englishman. I think that Tony‑‑ and I relate that more to The Ryder Cup that same year, really, which is partially in many ways why I gave him the putt that I gave him. I think that England had not had a champion in a long time, and Tony was a very special player and he worked very hard to get where he got and he won the championship.
I think it was well deserving. He continued to get better and play well. Tony's been a good friend for a long time. And Tony has come back and actually honored me with the concession thing in Sarasota, and you know, I think a lot of it happened largely because of that; our friendship has been for a lot of years.
He's had a good career. Was a great captain for The Ryder Cup. Had a very good record. Nice that he'll have some celebration, and your parents would have their 50th anniversary, too. Are your parents both still here? Well, I hope they have a nice 50th and celebrate right along and have a glass of champagne with Tony.
While we are here, Doug Ferguson back there‑‑ did he just walk out? Dougie, why did you go out? I was getting ready to say congratulations on your Lifetime Achievement Award last night from The PGA of America for journalism. So pass that on to him that I said congratulations, will you?
GARY PLAYER: I think we should also remember the two most charismatic players that ever played the game. It was Severiano's birthday this week, and also Arnold Palmer. When you get on the first tee today‑‑ and Arnold, Jack, and I travelled the world extensively, for promoting golf, not for making a lot of money. So those two, I think, will be sorely missed by most people this week.
Q. A lot of people would like to be in the situation where they are members of Augusta National.
JACK NICKLAUS: A lot of fellas would what?
Q. Like to be in the position of being a member of Augusta National, and you are actually in that position. What is it like being a member of Augusta National?
JACK NICKLAUS: It was a very nice honor to be asked. I paid my initiation. I paid my dues just like Rob did, right?
THE MODERATOR: Yes, sir.
JACK NICKLAUS: We continue to get a bill every year. Fortunately. Because sometimes some did not get a bill. But I have the ability to be able to bring, you know, my family up and play the golf course. I played the Jamboree here three weeks ago, I guess. I had the opportunity to play with Peyton Manning, who Peyton is a good member, and we had a lot of fun. Didn't play very well, but we had fun.
Only one negative. People that know I'm a member, I get a lot of calls, "Jack, would you take me to Augusta?"
I think I brought up‑‑ about a month ago I brought up my grandson, Nick, who plays football for the Dolphins. Nick said, "Hey, people‑‑ before I go back to football, can you take me up to Augusta to play?"
"Okay, Nick, you and about how many others?" (Laughter.)
Anyway, I only have 22 grandkids, I can't take them all up at one time. They don't know that. They don't understand that stuff.
But anyway, I brought Nick up here, and we played about a month ago, and brought Steve and Jackie with me. Steve, who was a burglar at 9, shot 75. Jackie shot 78, which he ‑‑ or shot 77 the first time he saw the course. I shot 85. It was appropriate the way I play.
It's nice to have that privilege to be able to do that. It was a great honor. Hootie Johnson asked me to join. I thought that was very special.
Q. A lot's been said about banning of cell phones here at Augusta. Do you think if other PGA events tried to ban cell phones, it would hurt the popularity and keep any fans away?
JACK NICKLAUS: I think they will probably change that shortly, I would think. Maybe I'm speaking out of turn, but the cell phone has become fairly common with every tournament, the PGA TOUR.
I think you should ask the PGA TOUR ask Jay and ask the guys at the TOUR if the cell phone has become a problem, or has it become something that's so much of every‑day life, that people have learned how to respect it and use it properly.
You all wouldn't exist without your cell phone; I understand that. I know a lot of people, they have had their privileges taken away coming here because of their telephone. We just felt like we had to get with the times, and I think Augusta will probably do that. A cell phone, you used to take a picture with a cell phone and made a click, right. Doesn't make any noise anymore.
I understand, somebody going up and saying, "Oh, hey, Joe, how's it doing‑‑ oh, excuse me, you go ahead and putt, I don't want to bother you." (Demonstrating fan talking on the phone while on course) I understand that (laughter). I think that's bad.
But the actual use of the cell phone within something now, it's part of every day life. I understand, I understand exactly what's going on here and I respect that. But I think that times have changed, and it sometimes takes longer to get things to change with it, but you know, not my call.
Q. What was the biggest distraction for you two from the galleries?
JACK NICKLAUS: From the gallery? Distraction? We never had any distractions from the gallery, really.
Occasionally Gary had the worst distraction in Dayton and that was when there were protests and so forth, and that was pretty nasty. Gary, that was one that he finished second in that he would have won it if he had not had all the stuff that was going on.
But I don't think I've ever had a distraction from the gallery that ever affected what happened in the tournament. Zero.
Gary, do you have any? I know you don't want to go through the Dayton thing.
GARY PLAYER: I wouldn't have gone through it ‑‑ if the question is there, I'm prepared to answer.
They wanted to kill me for two years. I played in Dayton, Ohio, and one year, they threw telephone books at my back twice; they threw ice in my eyes several times; they charged Jack and I on the green on No. 10 as I was getting ready to hole an important putt, and the ball is between my legs and they screamed on my backswing.
But I wasn't bitter about it. I mean, our country practiced the most terrible system, as America did, as well. So I just tried to there again make the adjustment with my mind, and I met people and I said, "If you want to kill me, you don't have to threaten me. I'll come to your office tomorrow and you can kill me. I'm not going to go home because I don't have a guilty conscience," and it was very difficult to play.
And then I had that in Australia charging me on the greens, and the police were grabbing them and they had a police van following me around for 18 holes; peace fellas walking around. The vans came in as the other one went out, going around the whole golf course, around me like that.
I had it in England when I was playing with Hale Irwin in the final of the World Match Play Championship. People, I was walking along the gallery, they would swear and use terrible things. But they are just part of life. We all have adversity and difficulties.
JACK NICKLAUS: Did you win?
GARY PLAYER: No. He beat me one‑nil.
JACK NICKLAUS: Who?
GARY PLAYER: Hale.
JACK NICKLAUS: So you lost two tournaments because of that. So the answer, the gallery did have a distraction to you.
GARY PLAYER: Letting you use your own imagination. I definitely would have won that PGA Championship. That's not even a doubt. I lost I think by one shot.
JACK NICKLAUS: You lost by one shot, Ray Floyd.
GARY PLAYER: At the PGA. So you see, I did win ten, you see (laughter).
JACK NICKLAUS: I was part of that with Gary. I saw it. I saw a lot of it. Gary and I were playing together, probably the worst day of it.
I remember one fella who was probably about 6‑4, 250, charged on the green and he was like this coming at me. I had my putter in my hand and I swear, I would have killed the guy, because I had my putter‑‑ I didn't know what he was going to do; and I reared back like this to hit him because I would have and he swerved off, saved his life, saved me and everything else.
What are you going to do? You have somebody, you don't know what he's going to do.
GARY PLAYER: The one guy that came charging, he skidded on the green and tore up the green. It was that beautiful bentgrass and soft, and they put it back.
I remember, you take that putter, boy, he just got the hell out of the way. Of course in those days‑‑
JACK NICKLAUS: He just got out of the way. I was just young enough and stupid enough to hit him. (Laughter).
GARY PLAYER: But I had policemen sleeping in my house here at Augusta with guns; U.S. Open for two years; and it wasn't very pleasant, I can tell you, but it certainly didn't do me any harm.
JACK NICKLAUS: We all had that. I've had on several occasions where I've had the police stay with me.
I had one place I was at one time, the officer was leaving, he gave me his gun for the night. He says, "Here, you might need this tonight."
I says, "Oh, really?" (Laughter). I left and went to another hotel.
But no, you're going to let ‑‑ you're not going to let one or two people destroy what you do and what you believe.
Gary Player has always been, as far as I'm concerned, a stand‑up, up‑‑ what's the right word‑‑
GARY PLAYER: Upstanding.
JACK NICKLAUS: ‑‑ guy as you could possibly have, and as great an ambassador as the sport has ever had; to put him in that position was 100 percent wrong.
Q. It's the 70th anniversary of the introduction of the green jacket for the winner. Wondering whether either of you could give us a tale or two about your jackets.
JACK NICKLAUS: Mine is a pretty long one if you want me to go through it. I won in '63‑‑ you've heard this story enough time. I'm going to tell it again, John. You want to hear it? You want to hear it again?
Q. Yes, please.
JACK NICKLAUS: Okay. Brought out a jacket. It was a 46‑long and I was a 43‑regular and didn't quite fit.
So the next year when I came back, they didn't ask me to go get a jacket. Didn't do anything. Never mentioned my jacket. Tom Dewey had a jacket, former governor, lost to Truman in the presidency. His jacket fit me and I wore his jacket for probably 15 years, maybe longer. Nobody ever mentioned, "Do you have your green jacket." Well, I had Tom Dewey's. I never got a green jacket.
Finally, I won six Masters. Still nobody had ever given me a green jacket. I always thought that's what we won here at Augusta National, but never did get one.
So I told the story to Jack Stephens in 1998 when we were getting ready to do the drinking fountain at 17. Jack Stephens said, "What? You've never been given a green jacket?"
I said, "No. Nobody's ever mentioned it."
Says, okay. I got back the week of the tournament, he says, "You will go down to the pro shop and you will be fit for your green jacket," which is the one I've got on.
So this one here is 20 years old, at least 20 years old.
GARY PLAYER: Looks like it, too. Looks like it, too (laughter).
JACK NICKLAUS: It needs a little new blocking on it. But anyway, I think it's great.
I love the story of Gary's green jacket. You want to tell the story about Cliff Roberts calling you?
GARY PLAYER: I win the tournament and I assume when they put the jacket on you, that's your jacket. I'm so excited; I leave and I go home to South Africa with the jacket.
Three days later, I hear this call, "Gary, this is Clifford Roberts here." (Speaking in deep voice)
I said, "I hope you're not calling me reverse charges. Because you know, you had to make him laugh a little bit because he was quite a dour man. He said, "I believe, Gary, you've taken the jacket home to South Africa."
I said, "I did, Mr.Roberts."
He said, "Nobody ever takes the jacket off these grounds whatsoever."
So I thought very quickly. I said, "Mr.Roberts, if you want it, come and fetch it."
He saw the lighter side of things and he said, "Please don't ever wear it in public." It's not like today. I assume if you win today, you can wear it in public for one year; is that right? That's correct. So that didn't apply then.
But he said, "Just don't wear it in public." Obviously I never ‑‑ I put a plastic cover over it and never used it again until I came back.
JACK NICKLAUS: Can you imagine in those days Clifford Roberts going to South Africa to fetch Gary's jacket?
GARY PLAYER: Only a 40‑hour flight in those days with no jets. (Laughing)
Q. You talk about the mind and how that affects your play. I'm wondering how you compare eras for who had the most fun out there when they are actually playing in competition, your era or the era now? And are you able to flip a switch at all while you're playing, saying, I need to enjoy this a little bit more and not take it‑‑ when your mind starts playing games, you want to enjoy it because it's supposed to be fun, right?
GARY PLAYER: In fairness, in fairness, when we played it wasn't a business as such. Today, it is a massive business. You've got managers asking for $600,000 for a player to go and play in a tournament; $400,000 or $500,000 for one day. Things you hear, it's beyond compare.
But today is a massive business and people are separated more. I mean, when I won the Grand Slam, I wanted to beat the Grand Slam before Jack did, and who do you think helped? Jack Nicklaus. He said, "Gary, you coming with me to Bellerive to play in the tournament? If you want to win the Grand Slam, you've got to come and prepare properly."
I said, "Jack, I don't have the money. I've got to go to Greensboro."
He said, "Come with me." I went with him. Played a vital role in me winning the Grand Slam. Arnold Jack and I traveled‑‑ you will never‑‑ I don't care if you have another so‑called "Big Three." It will never happen‑‑ that will happen but you'll never have them live the life that we lived. We went every corner, Japan; we went to South Africa; we went Britain; we went around the world living together as friends, wanting to beat each other very badly, fierce competitors as they are today, but we had great friendship. I mean, I love this man. I love this man. He beat the hell out of me, and I beat the hell out of me but I love him. I love him like a brother and Arnold was the same.
And we lived together, in their houses. They came to my farm. We went to the game reserve. I went to Arnold's house; he did.
I spent time in Jack's house. I mean, it was a very unpleasant stay because I was playing in the PGA and we were tied going into the last round, you know, Barbara is giving scrambled eggs, and I'm thinking, "Hell, man." And she put my eggs here and I quickly put them back in Jack's plate and I took Jack's (for) mine, just in case she put something in the damn eggs. (Laughter)
But no, we had a life that was just fantastic, absolutely fantastic, and I think, understandably so; you had a man like Chi Chi Rodriguez, who was always joking. There were a lot of guys‑‑ we were always‑‑ actually, there was far more ‑‑ let me put it this way without being critical.
There was far more last laughter at golf tournament amongst the players than now, but I understand that. I'm not being critical of it, because it's a different era. Again you can't compare eras.
JACK NICKLAUS: I'll take a little different tact on that.
I think that having fun and playing the game of golf was what I thought the game should all be about. People have always asked me, well, what about the pressure coming down to the end of the round and I said, hey, that's what I want. I want the pressure. That, to me, is what's fun. That's what I worked so hard for to get in a position.
I didn't work hard to come down the 18th fairway at noon and then go back and watch television and watch who is going to win the tournament. I want to be there five or six o'clock; that's what you're asking, actually.
I always had a thing that I always did when I was playing in a golf tournament and I was getting near the end of the tournament, and the tension was going to happen. I always stopped at the 14th or 15th hole, whatever it might be, and I would just sort of stop, and when I felt like I was sort of getting into the middle of it.
I wanted to make sure that I enjoyed it. I just stopped, took a big breath and looked around me and said, look at how much fun these people are having. That's what it's all about. That's why I'm here. Put your mind, go have fun, go work at it but have fun with it, enjoy it, because that's what you work for. I did that quite often.
You know, other people do different things, but that worked for me. It took the tension off and got me relaxed to go play.
GARY PLAYER: When you played at Merion, and Trevino threw the rubber snake at you, was that a playoff?
JACK NICKLAUS: That was in the playoff. And that was not‑‑ everybody made a big deal out of the snake. Trevino was over there and he was‑‑ I'm sure Trevino was playing around and doing his normal game.
But he found this snake, which was one of his kid's snake, and he was playing with it over there. And I looked at him and I said ‑‑ I went like that (gesturing, coming toward) and he tossed me the snake, and we laughed about it. Everybody says, "Oh, Trevino tossed you a snake. He's playing a gamesmanship." I think he might have been playing his game. Trevino played that game all the time. But I'm the one that asked for the snake; he didn't ask for the snake.
GARY PLAYER: Trevino was a great character.
JACK NICKLAUS: Yes, he is.
GARY PLAYER: There were a lot of them.
THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you all so very much, and Gary and Jack, thank you very much, it's always a complete joy for you to spend some time with us. Thank you, sirs.
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