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March 5, 2003

Jack Nicklaus


Q. How we doing guys?

JACK NICKLAUS: All of these people here for an old man?

Q. Yes, sir.

Q: Have you ever played in the pro-am with Dan Marino before?


Q. How is he?

JACK NICKLAUS: Dan is a nice player. I played with Don before. He is a nice player. And as a matter of fact, I think, I won with Don here one year. Sure, we played, we have had a good time.

Q. Where are you playing this year? Is this the kind of a test rehearsal for Augusta?

JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I would never call Doral a test rehearsal for anything. I call Doral, Doral. I played here because I felt like my body last year was so bad that I couldn't play anything. I started playing a little bit this year, and I said if I'm thinking about Augusta, or the Memorial Tournament, or if I'm thinking about anything, why wait until I can see if I can play golf again. So I decided to play here, a golf course that I like, and a golf course that I always enjoyed. I have always been treated nicely here, close to home. So why not. I don't know if I will shoot a pair of 80's or a pair of 65's. The latter is probably not too likely. I just wanted to go play.

Q. How has the weight affected your game?

JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I'm sure the weight has something to do with it. The dietary thing that I'm on, I have this gal, she is here in Miami, Ricky Williams has done the same thing, Grant Hill has done the same thing. It's my own natural anti-inflammatories are working. I'm not by any means out of hurting, but I'm not hurting very much. I think it's because of this program that I'm on with her. Weight has been a byproduct of it, and I fell good, and I feel like it's time to play a little bit of golf. I don't ever expect to beat the world at 63 but I'm having fun.

Q. Is it fun, Jack, to be playing with your son, or at least try to qualify with your son?

JACK NICKLAUS: Gary? Doral was nice enough to give Gary an exemption, when he was down here playing I said it's obviously a factor in my decision, they gave him the exception a month ago or so. After playing the last couple of weeks on the SENIOR TOUR, excuse me, the CHAMPIONS TOUR, I thought that you know, why not. I'm going to come down here and watch him any way, why not play.

Q. How do you feel physically?

JACK NICKLAUS: I probably feel about 60 percent which is probably about as good as I'm going to feel at my age. I think that nobody has every felt 100%. But that's better then 10 percent than I felt last year which is pretty good. I feel good. I feel fine.

Q. Any comments on the new sponsorship, Ford, is this good for the tournament?

JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I don't know that much about it, I'm sure that Ford is obviously a fairly stable company, they are not going to disappear. I have been with Ford for 20 years myself. And they have always been good people. They always treated people nicely and I think that the players, I notice that Gary was talking about that last night, Ford has taken an active part towards the players rather than just putting their name on the tournament. The players appreciate it, and I think it will be good for the tournament.

Q. As far as the absence of the top-5 does that make any difference?

JACK NICKLAUS: No, that doesn't make any difference. They are not going to cancel the tournament. I went through that for 30 years every time Arnold or Gary or myself didn't show up. Are we going to have a tournament this week? Of course you are going to have a good tournament. The PGA TOUR is loaded with a lot of great players. I don't think that's an issue.

Q. Some people feel it's the perception --

JACK NICKLAUS: I don't think we need to talk about that. Let's talk about the positive rather than worrying about the negative.

Q. What are your plans after Miami?

JACK NICKLAUS: I don't have any plans yet.

Q. At this point are you leaning toward playing?

JACK NICKLAUS: I'm playing here this week then we will figure it out.

Q. When do you expect you will decide?

JACK NICKLAUS: Probably a week before. I don't know when I'm going to decide whether I will play or not. What difference does it make? I'm not going to compete anyway. Whether or not I'm going to wave to people as I run by, (laughs) so that's fine. I'm not too worried about that. Would I like to play? Sure I would like to play. I think I can shoot some good rounds. I finished 6th on one leg in 58 -- at 58 in '98. I have got 2 legs now so hopefully I should be at least that good or better. Of course, the golf ball has brought the golf course back into the realm of possibility again. Last year they were ahead of the curve and this year behind the curve already with one year obtained in technology. So if I went up there and played I think I can play the golf course. I don't know if I want to clutter up the field or not, let me find out how much I clutter up this one.

Q. How about the Nationwide, it's a family affair?

JACK NICKLAUS: It's not really a family affair. They were all playing. I try to play an event each year with my boys. Steven and I used to play out at Pebble Beach out at the AT&T. Gary and I played at Peter Jacobson's event. Michael and I played at Johnny Miller's event. Jackie and I played in the father and son. So that's one with each of them. Steve and I stopped playing at ATT, since I stopped playing, so when they asked and said would you guys like to play, yes, it's an opportunity to go play with Steve and play an event. Of course, Gary was going to play any way, and they invited the other boys, which was very nice. Some fellows that I work with up there, doing the tournament are guys that I work with. They made a big deal out of it. I thought it was nice. We decided to go play and have some fun.

Q. Jack, how much more likely do you think it would be that you can compete on the PGA TOUR, even occasionally if they would have controlled the golf ball and equipment?

JACK NICKLAUS: Well, if they would have controlled the golf ball and equipment I probably wouldn't have been playing golf the last 20 years probably, which probably is the way it should have been. We always felt like equipment was the issue that's kept a lot of guys playing. Guys used to be done by the time they were 40 years old. Equipment has kept the guys in it beyond that. And kept them in it long beyond even that. So I suspect there would be an awful lot of guys that wouldn't be playing golf, tournament golf, if it wasn't for equipment.

Q. Along those lines, has driving become a little bit of a lost art here since everyone drives it so well?

JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know if they drive it so well. They drive it so long. You still got to drive the ball reasonably -- that's why they have piles of rough out here, that's the only way they can control it. It's not just the golf equipment for the pros. I mean, how would you like to be the amateur playing this golf course for the last month waiting for this golf tournament? They go out there, hit it in the rough, hack it out, hit it in the rough, hack it out. We used to be able to play Doral as Doral for the resort. It was a difficult golf course, strong golf course. It didn't need to be tricked up. Now you got to narrow the fairways, now you got to raise the rough, now you got to do all kinds of things that really make it not pleasant for the people playing the golf course on a daily basis. And I could see it happening a couple of times a year for a U.S. Open or PGA Championship, that's only once a year but not for every golf tournament. So that factor is a factor. I think that, you know, Doral, the first year we played Doral, I think it was a 282 that won this tournament or something like that. I think I shot 283 and finished second or third, whatever I finished, whatever it was, somewhere in that area. This was always one of our stronger golf courses. All of a sudden now they shoot 65 every day, if they didn't have any rough, because of the golf ball, not anything else.

Q. Jack, how much was harder is it today for a short hitter shot maker than it was 20, 30 years ago?

JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I don't think it's any tougher now. What the golf ball has done, a short hitter is not a short hitter anymore. We played into the wind yesterday. I mean at 63 I don't hit the ball very far and I hit it 130 yards yesterday into the wind. I didn't hit it 130 yards from the hole 5 times in the of '60's and '70's. I'm playing shorter clubs than I played 20 years ago. That's not right. I mean what happens to the other guys, they are hitting irons off the tee to hit to the player of the same place.

Q. Proportionately, don't the shorter hitters fall that much farther behind the long hitters?

JACK NICKLAUS: I don't think so. The longer hitters have to lay it up a lot of places because they don't have anyplace to hit it.

Q. What did you use to hit into 18?

JACK NICKLAUS: I would say into the wind I was somewhere always between a 2-iron and 5-iron. The only time I ever hit an 8-iron into the green -- I would have hit an 8-iron yesterday is when we played downwind. We certainly weren't downwind yesterday, we were into the wind and right-to-left. I mean 17 was into the wind. It was a driver and I think a 7 or 8-iron yesterday. Normally for me 17 would be without any wind. So it's just gotten to where the golf ball has brought the game back. Actually if I play well, I probably can complete. I mean I haven't been able to practice. My game is not good. I'm able to play but I'm not able to practice a lot yet. And that's the same thing that has brought the game back where I can play Augusta. What does that do to everybody else, they have to hamstring them someplace to be able to make the golf course, so it's not a driver sand wedge, driver sand wedge.

Q. (Inaudible)

JACK NICKLAUS: Yes, sure. I don't have any problem with that. You don't hit it inside these 3 places, you hit it to the other side.

Q. (Inaudible)

JACK NICKLAUS: I don't care what scores guys shoot. That's never bothered me. If you are going to let the golf equipment go, let them go shoot scores, what difference does that make? I think you are penalizing the average golfer the weeks before the tournament, which I don't think is really a lot of fun for people. I think people get tired of seeing people play driver sand wedge, driver sand wedge. They enjoy seeing somebody playing a shot. The only time these guys play long irons is when they play a long par-5.

End of FastScripts....

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