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May 23, 2002

Jack Nicklaus


Q. You certainly finished in fury there.

JACK NICKLAUS: I was debating all week whether I wanted to take up a spot from somebody. And yesterday I just said, "Hey, I'm going to play." And I'm starting to get a little bit better. The last few shots I hit were pretty good. I started out this morning and hit two really nice shots at the first hole and made a nice par. It looked like I was going to be okay. Then I hit a terrible drive on two, into the hazard made a double bogey. I lipped out my sand shot for par and missed the three-foot putt. Then I hit a bad drive at 3 and had to pitch it out. And I said "Oh, boy. I'm three over par before I get started." And I played well. I had a lot of chances for birdies.

I had a reasonable chance at 4, reasonable chance at 5, humoungous putt.

And 6 I 3-putted. I holed a 10-footer for my second putt, from about 80 feet.

7, actually I got up-and-down out of the bunker. I hit a shot and the wind just put it in the bunker. I hit it to two and-a-half, three feet.

8 was a long putt.

9, I hit a 5-iron in about three feet and it just sort of made the putt. It was one that you either make it or you put it in the water. It was one of those putts.

I had a good chance at 10, didn't get it.

But at 11, I made a nice par up-and-down out of the back bunker. I don't remember the last time that happened, when I got up-and-down from that back bunker. I think it was probably sometime in the '70s. We did play here in the '70s, didn't we? And I gave away a shot at the next hole. I really hit a bad chip shot. I left it about 10 feet short to the right. I'm three over par, a little unhappy with myself and had a nice little 9-iron in. Put the 9-iron in about oh, I guess, 15, 16 feet.

I watched Vijay's putt and took a lesson off of it, dropped it right in the hole at the right speed. And I hit a nice drive but I couldn't get there on 15. So I laid up. Hit a 9-iron in about 15 feet. Watched Vijay roll his in, I rolled mine in right behind it.

Then I hit a 4-iron all week as hard as I could and I couldn't get to 16 yet. Today I hit a 5-iron, does that make sense? I hit it in there about five feet and made birdie. I had about a 25-footer at 17, which I misread a little bit. I thought it would go a little faster.

And then 18 I hit -- 18 was really fun because probably the best swing I made all day was my 3-wood off the tee and then I told my caddy, "I'm going to hold this and cut it up into the wind. I'm going to play a shot the way I used to play shots." And I did. I put it in about, what was that? Probably about 17, 18 feet. At 18. I made the putt. And that was, the 18th hole was really fun. I really enjoyed that. I had a 6-iron in. 3-wood and 6-iron. I had about 164 yards and I just cut it into the wind. The wind was actually helping but I worked it back in it.

Q. Was that because you hit it the way you used to?

JACK NICKLAUS: Yeah, because most of the shots I try the way I want to hit them and something else happens to them. But most of the shots today went where I wanted them to.

Q. Sounds like on the backside, Jack, you were feeling like old Jack. I can hear it in your voice.

JACK NICKLAUS: Let's call it Jack of old.

(Laughter.) I started gaining confidence with what I was doing. "Good gracious," I told Vijay, I said, "I shot three or four shots below my handicap." I've been carrying a two or three handicap at home all year. And I shot a 69 about a month ago and ruined my handicap. I went down to a one. So I'm, I shortened my handicap today by several shots. If you take a scoring average on this course, right? And I'll probably have to turn that score in and ruin my handicap again. Then I'm going to be back to scratch.

I really enjoyed that. It was fun. I'm glad, obviously glad I played. I don't know what will happen tomorrow. Doesn't make much difference what happens tomorrow. The way I'm playing, if I play this way again, I'll play a good round. So if I don't, I won't. But that's the way it goes.

Things weren't looking very good after the third hole. I thought I was going to make a 75. I was already three over par.

Q. You have been playing a lot of nine-hole rounds too. Were you a little anxious?

JACK NICKLAUS: Yeah, that's not how I would -- I really avoided doing stretching on the back nine. I've been playing and doing stretches in between to try to keep myself stretched. And I avoided doing that today because I didn't really hurt. I said I don't want to stretch because every time I stretch, I hurt for about 10 or 15 minutes after I do a stretch. And I just didn't do it and I held together fine. My body was great today. I can't tell you how tickled I was today.

Q. (Inaudible.)

JACK NICKLAUS: If I stretch, you'll see it. I promise you.

Q. But you obviously couldn't hit down as low as you would like to line up your putts. How does that affect you? Maybe you do that all the time, I guess is what I'm saying.

JACK NICKLAUS: Keep going you guys, see if you can get your foot out now.

(Laughter.) I haven't a clue what you're talking about.

Q. (Inaudible.)

JACK NICKLAUS: I just played, I just said, "okay, just play golf. One shot at a time. Play the golf course. Play what you're capable of playing. And whatever you shoot is what you shoot." And I said, "I can start doing, trying to do things, that was stupid. It was a stupid thing to do. Just go play golf and do the best I can." And I mean 71 is, you know, not a great round. I mean a good round for me, and it's a good round actually in relation to the field today. But years ago if I would have shot 71 I wouldn't be real happy, with what I -- but I'm tickled pink today.

Q. Is it a stretch to say that maybe the walk up 18 was reminiscent of the Jack of old? Does it bring back some memories or when was the last time you felt like that coming up 18?

JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know. I haven't played, I only played one tournament. This is, the last tournament I played last year was here. I haven't played in a while.

Q. You got a standing ovation coming up 18, how was that?

JACK NICKLAUS: That's always nice. I was really more worried about my putt than an ovation. Obviously, I wanted to make that putt. I'm a golfer. That's what I do. I'm not -- I think that somebody said -- Charlie said to me yesterday, "People want to see you play." And I said, "that's nice, but I got to be able to play." I don't want to go out there, walk around, shoot 85, wave to everybody with a false smile on my face. That's not me. I got to be able to play and I get my enjoyment from playing golf, not waving. People are great. But I can't go out and play for them. I got to play for me. That's the only way I can play. If I play for me and I do well if for me, then I'll do well for them. And certainly that's what I've always done. Now maybe that's selfish, I don't know. But it's the way that I think if you're going to be a golfer, you got to play golf. You got to do that. That's the way I played all my life. I think Tiger plays that way Tiger place, has to play his game and do what he does. And I think that's -- Hogan played that way. Other guys will play, you know, differently. That happens to be my makeup.

Q. (Inaudible.)

JACK NICKLAUS: I didn't hit a very good iron at four, I bounced it into the green. I hit a good tee shot on five and I couldn't have been more stymied. I had to play a little 8-iron out to the left. And then I played a nice pitching wedge into the green there. And I had my tee shot at six and I fanned the second shot. I played it over the bunker. I hadn't been hitting three iron solid enough to try to aim it, so I aimed it over the bunker and I pushed that to the right. Now finally I actually hit two really solid shots at 7. I was walking up sort of laughing at my caddy. I said I, hit a driver and a three wood on this par-5 as good as I can hit it and I still got a full 9-iron into there. Driver and 3-wood most of my life I obviously would get there. And that's when I started hitting the ball well. I hit a really nice iron at the next hole and I played really two good shots there. I played very good. I hit the ball really solidly. And it was -- it was a heck of a lot of fun. It really was. That's all I can say.

Q. Did you play -- the shot into 18, did you play the way you used to play it?

JACK NICKLAUS: I didn't say used to play. Maybe I did. I wanted to play it the way it should be played. And the proper shot was to take the ball 15 feet left of the hole, and hold it, give yourself the green, but not let it go left.

Q. Does that come from confidence from hitting a few good shots?

JACK NICKLAUS: No, that comes from years and years of experience of knowing the right shot to hit, but not being able to play it lately. But I played it. And I just said, I'm going to play it. Because that's the right shot.

Q. Could you play it if you were hurting?

JACK NICKLAUS: Oh, I'm hurting. I'm not hurting enough to keep from swinging a club. That's the key. I'm hurting. I'm sure of that. You get my age you never stop hurting do you, Kaye will tell you. That's fine. I have no problem with it. That's the way it is. I'm doing very well. I'm just delighted.

Q. (Inaudible.)

JACK NICKLAUS: I'll play a couple of events where I play with Gary or something where we play a Tour event together. Gary and I will play in Peter Jacobson's event together.

Q. Not official events?

JACK NICKLAUS: No. I'll play -- you know, this will be the only place I'll play on the PGA tour.

Q. The Senior Tour, the Senior Open?

JACK NICKLAUS: I'm planning on playing as much Senior golf as I think I can play. And within reason. I may play five or seven events if I can.

Q. Besides Majors where might that be?

JACK NICKLAUS: That's what I don't know. I said maybe a half a dozen. I'm going to try to play the Majors, which is four of them. And then I might pick up a couple extras someplace. Might go to the British Seniors, I might do -- I don't know what I'm going to do. But I would like it play. If I can play, and if I can do what I did today and feel like I did today, I'll probably play more golf.

Q. (Inaudible.)

JACK NICKLAUS: I'm not hurting, I'm not really hurting. If I was hurting I wouldn't be playing. That's probably the right thing to say.

Q. How much do you truly miss tournament golf?

JACK NICKLAUS: Oh, hey, you don't know how I basically sort of -- what's the right word? Went back and forth on whether to play here or not. And I want to play. And I dearly love to play. But I certainly don't want to make a fool of myself either. And I also, I said it and I mean it, and I mean that honestly. That I don't want to take a spot up from a young kid who has a chance. I don't care if it is my tournament or any other tournament. And unless I think that I can play halfway decent. And I know that I'm not -- I mean I'm here saying I'm delighted with 71. Half the guys would be chewing their clubs up with 71. If you're going to play any good golf you got play. And you got to play some tournaments. You got to be -- you got to go out and you got to say, okay, you may shoot 85, but you got to go back and get your skills back, you got to keep playing. Is that a good answer?

Q. (Inaudible.)

JACK NICKLAUS: When I went out to The Tradition I was like a kid in a candy store. I mean I felt like I could play again. Play a little bit. I didn't know how well I would play. I didn't think I would play real well and I didn't. Good gracious it's been six months since I played a golf tournament. Or eight months. It's been a long time. I wanted to play. I wanted to play here. But you know, also, I feel like I wasn't sure.

Q. (Inaudible.)

JACK NICKLAUS: No, I just hurt a little bit in the low back. In my butt. I wouldn't have played if I thought I couldn't play. I haven't been able to go, I haven't been able to make a move back here or here (Indicating) each place it just grabs me like a knife in places. I didn't have any of that today. If I would have had that I probably wouldn't have played. I'm all sore around it, but that doesn't bother me. That's not a big problem.

Q. You said you might scare a few people, even yourself.

JACK NICKLAUS: I scared myself, I haven't scared anybody else yet.

Q. (Inaudible.)

JACK NICKLAUS: I'm just sore. I played 18 holes without getting sore. Which is what I, which is what I said, I think I said to you guys yesterday, I said to some of the guys. I said my biggest problem is sometimes I warm up and I feel pretty good and by the time I get to the 6th or 7th hole all of a sudden it hurts me and I can't play. And that's what I didn't want to have happen. That's why I didn't want to take a spot from somebody. Because I was afraid of that happening. I'm fine. Had enough guys? Okay.

End of FastScripts....

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