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June 5, 2002

Jack Nicklaus


JULIUS MASON: Ladies and gentlemen, joining us at the 63rd Senior PGA Championship. Jack, I think we would like to hear some opening thoughts.

JACK NICKLAUS: I don't have many opening thoughts. I don't have many at all. I got in 12 holes yesterday and nine holes today, and I can't say I a whole heck of a lot. That's about it.

Q. Is there anything about this golf course you don't know, Jack?

JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I don't think I know the greens. I haven't played them since the greens have been changed. I can't recall when the greens were last changed. This is not what we did. They've been done since then, haven't they.

Q. Yes?


Q. '94.

JACK NICKLAUS: What we did was basically try to bring it back close to what it was before. That's what I thought. '94, that's when they got the rolly-pollys and all that kind of stuff. The greens are totally different than -- this is the first time I've played this since -- from tee to green, it's the same golf course, but the greens are totally different.

Q. How are you feeling?


Q. That's it? Where are you hurting?

JACK NICKLAUS: I'm not too sure. I'm all right. Some days I have good days, some days I don't. It wasn't too good today, but I'll be all right tomorrow.

Q. When was the last time you played here, Jack?

JACK NICKLAUS: I think '86.

Q. You appeared to be in some pain today in your round.

JACK NICKLAUS: I was not up today. I went into the trailer for about an hour and a half. I'm pretty good now. I haven't had that for a while. I think I'm fine now. It's best to stay away from golf for the rest of the day. That's all.

Q. After Memorial you were pretty pleased and you were going to take some time off, how much have you played in the last two weeks?

JACK NICKLAUS: Nine holes, until I got here. Since the Memorial Tournament I've played 9, 12 and 9, so I've played 30 holes.

Q. Did Tiger talk to you at all about his play. He won in Europe and came back and didn't play so well --

JACK NICKLAUS: I think he did pretty well. He beat me two out of four rounds. I saw him on the putting green Sunday. I said, "You let this old man beat you two out of three rounds." He was playing in front of me. I said, "Move along today, I don't want to be driving into you." And he said, "I'm going to put up a number today." He shot 66. We had a little fun.

Q. Jack, did Memorial tell you about where your game is at?

JACK NICKLAUS: It didn't tell me much about my game. I felt pretty decent. I practiced about 12 or 13 straight days. I did fine. I wore out, which I suspected I might, but the only way I know to get endurance is keep playing and keep trying to push the envelope a little bit until you get yourself back in shape. I'm obviously not back in shape. You just do the best you can. I'm certainly not back in shape here. Hopefully, if I keep playing and doing things, my back gets stronger. I get stronger with what I'm doing, the exercises I'm doing. Hopefully, I'll play more and more and more and just work myself back into it, but I may not. I think I will. I think I would have done something else by now if I hadn't. The golf game was there if I wanted to play. I had a stretch in the middle of the second round when I made 5 bogeys in about 9 or 10 holes, something like that. Outside of that, I played pretty well.

Q. Did you feel before that your game was in the kind of shape that you could contend in the PGA Championship this year?

JACK NICKLAUS: Good gracious. Everybody is applauding me for shooting 71. You don't compete when you shoot 71. I have no illusions about what I can do. I might be able to -- I don't know what I'll do around here. I haven't a clue. We'll just have to wait and see. Certainly if I play well around here, I certainly will have a chance to be somewhere, I suppose. But if I don't play well, I obviously won't be. If I just played and if I played just fair, I would be right at the lead. If I played well, I usually won here. I don't think that's the case anymore.

Q. You've talked about technology in the past and how it has affected the game. How does it affect the way you and some of your contemporaries play the course?

JACK NICKLAUS: It does the same thing at this course as it does at any other course, as far as shortening it. This golf course here is still a golf course you have to hit the ball straight and you have to hit the ball reasonably long. With the greens the way they are, they're certainly not over when you get to the greens. The greens have spice in them, a lot more than they used to.

Q. What do you recall about your first pro tournament? It was here in 1958. You were 18 years old. Do you have any recollections of that?

JACK NICKLAUS: A little bit.

Q. Like what?

JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I played the first two rounds with Charlie Sifford and Jerry McGee. Jerry McGee from Canada, not Jerry McGee that plays the Senior Tour. Charlie and I were kidding about it a little while ago. He said, "You got me in that second round, didn't you?" He shot 64-70, is what he shot the first two rounds. I shot 66-67 or 67-66, I don't know which it was, and then I played with Tommy Bolt in the third round. We were the last group. And Bolt was the U.S. Open champion. I remember some of the things that he did during that round, which I don't think I want to talk about here, but that was the time when he was on probation and he was deservedly so, I promise you. He had an 18-year-old kid shaking a little bit. Then I played the last round with Julius Boros, and I wish I could remember who the third was in that group, I don't remember. I remember copying -- I shot 76 when I played with Bolt and Wall and then I played the last round with those guys, or Boros, and I remember copying his rhythm. I used to do that all the time. I copied Snead, Hogan, whoever I played with that I liked, and I shot 68 playing with Boros and I finished 12th in the tournament. I played two U.S. Open's prior to that. I played the U.S. Open at Southern Hills and I played the U.S. Open at Inverness prior to that.

Q. Was that your first time --

JACK NICKLAUS: As a tour tournament. It was my first time here. And then they changed the golf course. There was the Rubber City Open, and they changed the golf course I guess for the '60 PGA Championship. And then the next time I played here was the World Series in '62.

Q. Jack, what's it like when you play with Watson and Player --

JACK NICKLAUS: I've played with the guys obviously a couple of times before. I've seen them both play. (Laughter.) Obviously Tom is probably -- Was Tom the defending champion ?

Q. Yes.

JACK NICKLAUS: Tom still plays very, very well. I don't think Gary and I play anywhere near as well as Tom does. I don't know why they have to saddle Tom with the two of us, but we'll enjoy it, Tom certainly will be, in my opinion, as strong a favorite, I suppose, as there is in the field, Tom or Hale. I haven't played enough to know who plays anymore. I heard a couple of guys say, "You're 50?" I said, "Yeah, I was 50 last year." But I'm sure we'll enjoy it. I always enjoy playing with Gary and Tom, so we'll have a good time.

Q. When you finished nine holes today and it was a struggle. Do you ever think, I can't do this tomorrow?

JACK NICKLAUS: I don't worry about that. I didn't like what had happened through the ball today. I just said I think I want to get that fixed before I go hurt myself, and that's what I went and did, and a little catch down there and I think they got that out pretty quickly. I'll just let it rest overnight. All I really wanted to do was play nine holes today anyway. I wanted to see the golf course and didn't want to push myself. I have four days of golf hopefully in front of me that I want to work pretty hard at. I do know the golf course. I know which way to go. It's just a matter of going out and playing it.

Q. You were talking at the Masters about exercises for your lower body. Is that what you're still doing?

JACK NICKLAUS: I never know what I'm doing. I do an awful lot of exercise work, and it's based a little bit on what you're capable of doing, and what your body will allow you to do. I haven't been able to do what I would like to do. I would like to be able to do a lot more than I do. I do what I'm capable of doing and it's generally kept me out of bad trouble. I haven't been able to do enough of it to be as good as I should be.

Q. Arnold said this is going to be his last Senior PGA, his last Open.

JACK NICKLAUS: He's going to play both of them?

Q. Well, as of now.

JACK NICKLAUS: He's going to play the open too?

Q. Yes. Is there a nostalgic part of your personality or being that says it's sad to see him at this


JACK NICKLAUS: The only part about it that's sad to me is I'm not far behind. Obviously Arnold has been a great competitor and great friend for a long, long time. We've played a lot of golf together, a lot as partners and against each other. We've had a great rivalry through the years. Obviously I'll miss that, but he's not going anywhere. He'll still be around and still playing. He's been a great friend from my standpoint in the game of golf. I don't think that whether his golf game is 65, 75 or 85, I don't think it makes a whole lot of difference from our standpoint, from the relationship. I'm as nostalgic as anybody else about stuff. I like history and the traditions of the game. And Arnold has been a very big tradition in the game.

Q. Do you think golf will ever see a rivalry like yours?

JACK NICKLAUS: It needs one. You need one. Tiger has to find somebody to come along to stimulate competition within the game. And certainly Arnold's and mine was a pretty darned good one and pretty lengthy one.

Q. Does the fact it has been so long since you've played here, are you feeling nostalgia about the last harrah at Firestone?

JACK NICKLAUS: I was not so much worrying about the nostalgia and the last harrah at Firestone, I was trying to figure out how to reach a par-4 in two. I had several of them out there. I was struggling out there. I said wait a minute. We used to play these holes with 3-woods and 6-irons and I'm sitting there with a driver and two-iron or 3-wood or something.

Q. Obviously, a lot has happened to you over the last some 40-odd years in this game. If you think about the last month, a really good tournament, your tournament, the opening of that museum down in Columbus, coming down here . I hate to use the word jaded. That's not the right word, but have these last weeks been different from the ordinary in terms of the impact on you personally with the game?

JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know about the game, what happened at Muirfield, we had a lot of nice things happen. The museum was certainly beyond my expectations, I suppose. I did not expect it to be what it was, nor did I expect the ceremony to be what it was. I've stayed out of that as much as I could. I didn't think it should be my place to stick my own nose in my own deal, so I stayed out of it. It was a nice ceremony. And of course the Memorial tournament went nicely. I didn't expect to play worth two hoots, but I played decently for a while, so it was fun for a while. Memorial is always busy for me. I had one or two events at a minimum every day from Friday prior to the tournament through Saturday night of the tournament. When you get that much -- that's normally all right if you're not playing, but when you're playing, and I wanted to play well the last day, I had dinner like at 10:00 on Saturday night, and I was thinking why, what am I doing, you can't play golf doing that. It was kind of fun. It was neat and I suppose if I had the opportunity to go through all that stuff every year and play -- have that problem on Saturday night again, I would gladly welcome that.

Q. I watched for awhile yesterday when you played with Christy O'Connor, and I think you telling him on the 11th tee, your second hole, that it takes you three or four holes, and I'm assuming that means --

JACK NICKLAUS: We took a break. After the rain?

Q. Yes.

JACK NICKLAUS: I didn't hit any balls after that. I just went back out and played. If I just go back out and play, it takes me three or four holes before I swing at it. That's what I was talking about. Is that what you mean?

Q. Yes. So it's not --

JACK NICKLAUS: If I walked out onto the tee 20 years ago, it would take me three or four holes, before I hit a golf shot.

Q. I meant more with the back and --

JACK NICKLAUS: I understand what you're saying. 20 years ago, it would take me three or four holes before I would swing at it, too, because you always go to the practice tee and hit 20 shots. But if you just come back out cold, which is what we did, because I just wanted to see the golf course. I wasn't too worried about hitting the golf ball, I just wanted to see the course.

Q. Can you par the 16th without hitting the fairway now? 1975 PGA, I'm going to ask you to reconstruct that hole?

JACK NICKLAUS: Driver, drop 6-iron, 9-iron a hard 137 yards, 25-foot putt. Next question.

Q. They had it posted in the locker room. Give us an outline of the hole and how you played it.

JACK NICKLAUS: I hooked my tee shot. I think I hit a 3-wood off the tee.

Q. You hit a driver because Angelo took your bag down the fairway because you realized the tees were up?

JACK NICKLAUS: I didn't remember that.

Q. I wrote it.

JACK NICKLAUS: I think you're right. It seems like a place I would hit a 3 wood. I tried to obviously do what I shouldn't have done with a driver. And then I dropped it back, and I hit 6-iron over the trees and got behind the trees. I heard Bob Rosburg say he's dead. As soon as I heard Bob Rosburg tell them on television I was dead, I knew I had a chance. 137 yards up over the trees, I took an 9-iron up over the trees about 25 feet behind the hole and made the putt.

Q. Did you know the hazard was there?

JACK NICKLAUS: Sure. I had never been in it, but I knew it was there.

Q. It was pretty far left?

JACK NICKLAUS: It's not that far left. There is no way you could reach it from where we had the tees yesterday. If you played the tee up, you could reach it, sure.

Q. Was that the most remarkable hole in your career, from the trouble you were in?

JACK NICKLAUS: No, it was remarkable hearing Bob Rosburg talk about it. That's all. I didn't think it was all that big of a deal. I just had a long putt. I've made long putts before for pars. Was that the third round?

Q. As I recall. Did you have any other spectacular holes like that?

JACK NICKLAUS: All kinds of them, but nobody ever talks about them, except me.

Q. Was that your most memorable hole here?

JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know.

Q. Considering the circumstances?

JACK NICKLAUS: I just gave you the memory. I don't remember what all the holes were. I think the playoff with Lee Elder was kind of memorable, because I holed like four putts in a row of 25 feet or something like that. I can't remember. I don't think -- I think I finally ended up winning, I think I wore Lee out. I had to make a putt at every one of them to keep the match going and I made them all. We played five holes. I played probably 120 rounds, 130 rounds here. I've had a bunch of them over behind the trees on 18. You can't do what you did before. The trees are too big. You used to be able to figure out a way to hit through there. Now you just get drops. Didn't Tiger get a drop?

Q. He claimed the score board was in the way.

JACK NICKLAUS: He got a drop, didn't he?

Q. If you don't knock it left, it wouldn't be in the way.

JACK NICKLAUS: He kept the game alive, didn't he, and won the tournament. You have to know where to hit it out there if you want to get a drop. I don't have any other memorable hole. This has never been a golf course of what I would call tremendous excitement. I think it's just a very strong good golf course, hole after hole after hole. It's not a course like The Masters where you turn around and you have got a stretch like 11, 12, 13. You don't have that kind of a stretch here. It's more solid golf here than the others. Not as heroic, I suppose, you might say. 16 was about the most heroic.

Q. They're not playing that at 625 or 635, are they?

JACK NICKLAUS: That's what it said, 635. That's where we played from yesterday.

Q. Three-shot hole then?

JACK NICKLAUS: I would think it might be. When you asked me the question, can you par it from the rough, I thought you meant if you drove it into the rough, can you possibly hit it far enough to hit the green in three. I didn't know how to answer your question.

Q. I was getting back to '75.

JACK NICKLAUS: I knew you were, but it took me a while to get there.

Q. What do you think about the affect it had on the course, 5 and 6 in particular?

JACK NICKLAUS: It didn't have any affect that I can think of. What affect would it have? Just opened up some air.

Q. Whether it was mostly aesthetic or it affected ball flight because of all those trees?

JACK NICKLAUS: I don't think so. When was that course built?

Q. First time or second time?

JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know.

Q. The first time was in '89.

JACK NICKLAUS: Who did the course?

Q. Fazio?

JACK NICKLAUS: Who did the greens in '94 here?

Q. Craig Schreiner?

JACK NICKLAUS: Who did the north course? Jones, Jr.?

Q. Jones, Sr., 10 years after this course.

JACK NICKLAUS: Senior did this course originally. And then who did the north course?

Q. Jones.


Q. Senior.

JACK NICKLAUS: Senior did the other course, too?

Q. Yes.

JACK NICKLAUS: I squeezed in there somewhere, huh? They have a variety of things happening out there. Is it 54 holes out there? Is that what it is? It's a pretty good complex.

Q. 63, if you count the nine-hole course on the other side of the north property.

JACK NICKLAUS: They have another one up there? George didn't even know about that one. I don't think it should make much difference. It's a little different look. Last time I played the 6th hole, the 6th hole was a pretty wide hole. The 6th hole was a pretty narrow hole now. It's very narrow.

Q. I think when they cut the trees down --

JACK NICKLAUS: They added a lot of trees. When the trees were way off to the side, it didn't make any difference. The trees that they've planted, it's been 16 years since I've played the golf course, and in 16 years the trees are going to grow pretty good.

Q. You made some changes to 16.


Q. The pond is bigger and you moved the green.

JACK NICKLAUS: Did I? Don't ask me. I don't remember. Raymond was telling me today we did the greens this way. I said no, I can't believe we did the greens like that.

Q. So you don't remember the shot strategy for 16?

JACK NICKLAUS: (Witness shakes head negatively.)

Q. That's why he's in the Senior Tour (laughter).

JACK NICKLAUS: We can get into a fight here, Jack. Basically, Tom Pearson from my office did most of it up here. I just worked with Tom to make sure he got it right where it should have been. As I recall, really all we did was basically try to put the golf course back. Was that the time when they lost the greens ? No, that was early '80s, and then they tried to redo the greens and they didn't make it, right? And then they had to do something and they had to come back and do the greens. We tried to put them back pretty much the way they were. We put a bunker in the back of 18. But I'm sure we didn't put that big hump in there.

Q. You changed 5.

JACK NICKLAUS: We changed 5 a little bit.

Q. A lot.

JACK NICKLAUS: Did I angle 5?

Q. Yes.

JACK NICKLAUS: Then maybe I did make a few changes. George, I don't remember. Good gracious. I have trouble remembering -- don't even get me on that, what I remember.

Q. The way you were feeling today, could you play another nine holes if you wanted to?

JACK NICKLAUS: I wouldn't have played very well, but I could play. I didn't want to aggravate something. I've been playing enough golf in the last year or so, I know when it's time to get off the golf course and do what I need to do.

Q. Are you 100 percent committed for the Open?

JACK NICKLAUS: What do you mean?

Q. You're definitely going to be at the Senior Open?

JACK NICKLAUS: I assume so, unless something -- I hope nothing stupid happens.

Q. Crampton I guess finished second to you five or six times. What was the deal on that? Are you still friends?

JACK NICKLAUS: What do you mean, what was the deal on that? You would have to ask Bruce that question. I don't have any problem with Bruce. He's the one that finished second. He would be the one with the problem.

JULIUS MASON: Jack Nicklaus, ladies and gentlemen.

End of FastScripts...

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