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June 30, 2001

Jack Nicklaus


MARTY PARKES: It's my pleasure to welcome two-time U.S. Senior Open champion Jack Nicklaus to the Media Center. Jack had a 69 today, 1-under par. It puts him at 2-over. Maybe, Jack, if you could talk about where you find yourself on the leaderboard right now.

JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know where I find myself with play suspended. No, I know where I am. First of all, I haven't been in contention for any kind of a major for a long time. It feels good. It feels good to finally get something out of a round. I think the putt I made last night at 18 coming in, after three straight bogeys, I was really down on myself, and I needed to make that putt. And I made it to keep me from going four straight bogeys. It sort of kept me thinking I could still do it. Even today I didn't start out. I couldn't get anything going. Every time I made a little mistake, I made a bogey. And I couldn't make any birdies. And I got around to 14 and I found myself only 3-over par with as sloppy as I'd played. The wind was a little in back. I said, "I need to get home here." I hadn't been able to get home all week at 14. I hit a good tee shot. I hit the 1-iron. I said, "Oh, my gosh, I hit it in the face", which was kind of a novel way to play a shot. And I handed the club back to my caddy and I told Scotty, "We used the face", and I said, "We haven't done that all the week." I actually got a bad break. It ran to the right instead of the left. Still it stopped on the fringe about 17 feet, I guess, something like that, from the hole. And I said, "Don't waste this one, give yourself a chance." I had the right line. And all of a sudden you take a round from 3-over to 1-over, it changes your whole mental outlook tremendously, two strokes. Eagles are big deals, I tell you. And I hit a really good iron at the next hole. And I left myself about 20 feet behind the hole. And I just didn't read the putt correctly. But the 3 on that, that's the first time I made 3 on that hole this week. I had about a 25-footer at the next hole. I didn't hit a very good iron, but I still had a pretty good chance of birdieing, the ball just didn't run down the hill. At 17 I hit a good tee shot. I had about 170 yards, I tried to take the 7-iron and bounce it into the end. I knew I'd never stop it on the green trying to carry it. The ball never bounced. It stopped on the upslope. And I got up there and looked at the chip shot. I said, oddly enough, I had a good lie. And I said I think -- this chip shot could be made. I don't often think that over a chip shot, but I did think it over that one. I hit it, and it landed obviously right where I wanted to. And I said, "Oh, my gosh, this thing's going to go in." And it did. The crowd went berserk right there. And so did I. But anyway, at 18 I hit a good drive, but the darn thing ran down the hill and ran into the rough about six inches again. I blade a really nice 9-iron out at 137 yards. The ball hit on the green and took off and ran to the back fringe. I'm sitting there saying, "Release, release, release". The ball hit and released. Came on back. I couldn't have had an easier putt. I had about a 2-footer uphill. That was kind of a neat way to finish up with two birdies.

MARTY PARKES: Questions, please. I'd just like to ask you to wait for the microphones. Questions?

Q. (Inaudible.)

JACK NICKLAUS: 10th hole, the green was so slow. I really hit a good second shot. I hit it off the right in the rough and I sliced the 4-iron around the trees. Put it on the left side of the green. I had about a 40-footer. I left it 10-feet short. I whacked it, I cracked it. The greens are really slow going up hills. I got up and hit another one. Really good second putt. Couldn't get that one to the hole. I'm pretty down because I drove it through the fairway with a 1-iron. I had a terrible lie. And I left it about 50 yards from the hole. I played a beautiful pitch shot six feet behind the hole and made it to save par. I missed the green on the next hole on the left side. Pretty good lie. Hit a terrible chip shot. Left it four feet short and made that. I kept struggling to keep from drowning. Then all of a sudden something good happened. I guess I just had patience enough to wait for it.

Q. That was a tremendous -- I think you described it as the ground shook. We felt the ground shake all the way at the clubhouse. Both at 17 and the shot as it rolled back down at 18.

JACK NICKLAUS: People were great. They were enthusiastic. They were enthusiastic all day, even when I was playing badly. There was a little bit more enthusiasm in the voices on 17 and 18 than there was the first part. But they still had a lot of enthusiasm all day. They were terrific.

Q. Jay Sigel earlier talked about the heat being a factor out there today. He felt he had one of the earlier tee times. How was the heat for you, how much of a factor was the weather out there today?

JACK NICKLAUS: I live in south Florida. I play golf in -- we play golf in the summertime. And this would be a pretty cool day. That would not be an issue, at least not with me. It was a hot day, yeah. It was a hot day. My shirt is sopping wet. That's why I borrowed the jacket to come in here. I like hot weather. I don't think I'd live in Florida if I didn't like it.

Q. We don't know what's going to happen with the weather today, but you have to feel like you have a big advantage now being able to finish the round before the weather delay. And if they don't get to finish today, they'll have to come back tomorrow. Do you think of that as an advantage?

JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I like the advantage if they had kept on playing. A little bit of wind, hard golf course, hard greens. If it rains, it will soften the golf course, which will make it easier. And the morning is usually easier anyway, because it's after overnight. I think they'll finish today. I don't know how big -- what's the weather supposedly?

MARTY PARKES: We're getting conflicting reports on that, but we do hope we'll be able to finish.

JACK NICKLAUS: I hope so. I'm sure all the guys would like to finish. There's conflicting issues on that. Maybe some guys don't like to come back in the morning and finish, but some guys say, "Hey, man, I've got an advantage. The course is tough out there for me, I've got to wait to regroup and come back." There wasn't anybody tearing it up. So to get a chance to regroup is usually pretty good. But I'm glad I'm done.

Q. You said it's been a while since you've been in contention going into the final day. Do you feel like right now that your game is at a different point than it's been in the last three to four years?

JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I don't think I'm playing all that well right now, but I've managed my game reasonably well. I think it's the kind of golf, I think I've said to you guys all week. I don't think it's the kind of golf course you can stand out there and hit classic golf shots. It's the kind of golf course you're going to manage your golf shots. You're going to play hooks, you're going to throw it up in the air, bump and run, do a lot of different things to try to manage your golf game. You say, it's not very pretty, but it's ugly. That's about what you're saying about what you're swinging. It doesn't look very good, but you hope it doesn't get too ugly as it goes up there and gets somewhere around the green. That's what you do with this type of a golf course. When it's hard and fast, you just sort of, I don't know what kind of shots, maybe you skank it around. I don't know. However you spell that. But you just sort of do those kind of things. My game I felt coming in here was pretty decent. I've actually felt it's been pretty decent all year, but I've just never scored. I did a little something before I came this week, I shoved my hands a little bit more in front of me, which allowed me to get it addressed to get me a little better swing plane. But I did the same thing with my putter by moving my hands up, and it put me back into the position where I putted most of my life. I've had trouble seeing the line with my putter. And I've been able to see the line pretty good this week. That's probably the best thing that's happened to me with the putting.

Q. Jack, do you think if your deficit stays three shots with one round to go, is that certainly something that you can --

JACK NICKLAUS: That's nothing. That happened in one hole. You never know. I don't look at that as being very much.

Q. Did you get any ideas on designing golf courses by playing Salem?

JACK NICKLAUS: I don't generally look at it while I'm playing. I generally look at it after the round is over. If I find a situation on a piece of property that fits something that I liked here, that's the way I do things. I'll go along and all of a sudden I'll see a piece of property and see a situation where it says, hey, you know X hole at Salem was a hole there that I kind of liked that golf hole. So I use that as a philosophy. But I do that with everything. If I played St. Andrews lately, I'll think about St. Andrews. If I played Augusta lately, I think about Augusta. I do a lot of that because it's fresh in my mind. I don't think there's anything new in golf course design. It's a matter of how you apply what you've seen and what's probably the freshest that's in your mind. I think that's kind of nice, too, because it gives me variety. I don't think there's anything here that would be anything different than what I would have seen someplace else. It's very similar to, maybe a little bit more severe than the Scioto that I grew up on. Not as long as Scioto, but similar in many ways. Not the present Scioto, but the Scioto that I grew up on.

Q. You came in today trailing Aoki, and he's still up there in front of you. Does that bring back any flashbacks from the Open, or is that too far behind you now to think about it?

JACK NICKLAUS: I don't think I trailed him there, did I?

Q. No. I mean competing with him.

JACK NICKLAUS: I see Aoki every week on the SENIOR TOUR. Not every week. When I play, I see him. No, I don't think much about that. If I play the way I did in '80, I'll think about it a lot.

Q. If things continue to hold up the way they are, the winner is going to be at or around par. Over the years did you gain more satisfaction winning the tournament by one shot at like 17-under par or winning the tournament by one shot at even par?

JACK NICKLAUS: I hate golf courses where you shoot 17-under par, except Augusta, which I did shoot 17-under par once. I much prefer to play a tough golf course, one that you're shooting around par, where par means something. I much prefer that. I've always preferred that. I always preferred a golf course to be fairly difficult and one that when you've made a birdie, you've really earned it. And you've got a lot of holes that you've really got to work for par. Maybe the gallery doesn't like that as well, but I'll tell you one thing, it produces better golf, because you really have to reach inside yourself a lot of times to make that bogey that's important or make a par that's really difficult. All of a sudden if you're playing a golf course where every time you go out, if you don't birdie every hole, you think the tournament is over. I really never cared much for those kind of courses.

Q. Just a follow-up on that. Fans seem to like watching U.S. Opens and the U.S. Senior Opens. You just talked about how you prefer these kind of courses. Why don't more tournaments use these kind of conditions to make the scores more challenging?

JACK NICKLAUS: Amen. I wish I knew. That's what we've been yelling about on the SENIOR TOUR. The SENIOR TOUR has done one thing that, this year they started out on the SENIOR TOUR making the golf courses more difficult. All the, you call them the name players, the guys that won a lot of golf tournaments were saying, "Hallelujah. Now we're finally going to have to play golf. Isn't that great." If you look at most of the guys, there's a lot of guys on the SENIOR TOUR that play golf for a living. And that's fine. I have no problem with that. And I think that's great. But there's a lot of guys that play on the SENIOR TOUR because they like to play golf. Certainly Tom Watson or Hale Irwin -- give me some names. Gary Player, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus.

Q. Tom Kite.

JACK NICKLAUS: Kite. These guys are golfers, and they've made their name. They've probably made enough money playing golf. Sure, they don't object to playing for money. That's the fun of it. It's a reward for playing well. I enjoy playing golf. And to me to go out and play a golf course that doesn't reward playing golf is no fun. I'd just as soon stay home. For me to go out and go to a putting contest, I can do that with my kids in the back yard. I've had this little bit of a beef with Tim about it, Finchem. We've talked about it. I said, Tim, I'd much rather go to the regular tour and play two practice rounds and play two rounds and miss a cut, or if I make the cut I feel good about myself playing, if I make the cut I feel good. It's a challenge to me. I feel good about it. Floyd falls in that category. We all feel that way. That's what we've been trying to get to. So they started out this way on the SENIOR TOUR this year. Then they had some squawks from the guys. Not the guys that I'm talking about, squawks from the other guys. So they reverted back. Why? I have no idea. It seems to me that the success of the SENIOR TOUR really is buoyed by the success of the marquis players to bring people to their tournaments. No problem with the other guys whipping our rear end every once in a while. That doesn't bother me in the least. But the marquis players are the guys that earn their way by playing tough golf courses. If you don't get excited about playing, you're not going to play or you're not going to play well. So when we get this kind of a golf course, you look at the leaderboard. That's a pretty good leaderboard, isn't it? All guys that you know. Guys that have all been good players. So that sort of tells you what happens. The guys that never learned to play these kind of golf courses or never learned to lay them because they didn't have success on them, don't do well on them. There's a few odd ones here, odd guys that every once in a while learn how to play. Dana has learned how to play and I think Doyle has learned how to play. There's a couple of other guys that have learned how to play that are pretty good players that have never had the opportunity. Summerhays. There's some guys here that are good players. But by and large the players that sell the tickets and the television contracts are the guys that have won the major championships through the years for the sponsors. And they'll do that when they play golf courses that are challenging. And when they play those kind of golf courses, I'll play more and those guys will play more. That's why I play a half dozen tournaments on the SENIOR TOUR. I don't want to go out and play splatty golf. That's what I call it. Greens are soft and slow and you sort of go splat and have a putting contest. I love a golf course like this. There was a comment on television about Nicklaus was complaining about the golf course, like the greens were like the tops of Volkswagens. Hell, that was a compliment, not a complaint. I like that. I enjoy that. I think that's fun. If you're good enough to keep the ball on the top of a hood of a Volkswagen, man, you've played a hell of a shot.

MARTY PARKES: Other questions?

Q. In 1980 in Baltusrol?

JACK NICKLAUS: Baltusrol '80 did you say? Okay.

Q. It was like a football game every day, the crowd was that loud. And you talked a lot about concentration, how you're able to -- that was one of the things you always liked about yourself that you were able to -- crowd noise wasn't ever a distraction, you didn't really mind it. Is it the same now? Do you do the same thing now?

JACK NICKLAUS: I haven't heard a whole lot of crowd noise lately. Usually when you're teeing off at times I tee off, you don't hear much. The crowds have been very vocal here this week. They've been very enthusiastic and very supportive. Not only of me, but they've been very supportive of all the players. I think everybody enjoys that. I don't think there's anybody who dislikes it. As long as you're not interfering with play. The people aren't running out on the golf course or -- at Baltusrol in '80 going from the green to the tee it was almost dangerous. If you recall that, I kept -- everybody was cheering me on, and they kept hitting me on the back. I was worried about really getting clobbered through that time. They were just being enthusiastic, and that was fine. As long as you don't hurt somebody or something, that's all I worry about.

Q. Early in the week you talked about being on swing 554 B, but that you were --

JACK NICKLAUS: I'm on C or D now.

Q. Has it changed?

JACK NICKLAUS: Oh, yeah. I want it, but it didn't last. That's why I need to go back out there and see if I can find E or F. I used to have a swing thought and it used to last for a few weeks. I have a swing thought now and it doesn't last for a few hours.

Q. You were talking about with the tee times, you've been teeing off at some times where no one is around. But could you talk about Sunday teeing off, what you're going to be doing tomorrow, what that's like, that atmosphere and that feeling you get knowing you're in contention?

JACK NICKLAUS: I'm sure that the people are going to be very enthusiastic. They're going to be very supportive. I think that's great. I like that. If anybody tells you they don't like it has got to be crazy. Of course you like it. My job is to play golf. Going out and trying to play the game and trying to play within my own composure, control my own emotions and so forth and so on, sure, I'll interact. But I've still got to be able to hit the golf shots and make the birdies and so forth and so on to make that happen.

Q. As we stand right now, Jack, does this recall '86 in Augusta, a few shots back and then a great final round to win?

JACK NICKLAUS: I'm closer now than I was there. I didn't have that many players. 6 or 8 players in front of me, I don't remember. Do you remember, Tom?

Q. It was like that.

JACK NICKLAUS: 6 or 8, wasn't it? But I was further back. I was about six shots back. I'm not going to be that far back here. I don't think. Augusta is a lot different than the U.S. Open and a Senior Open. There's a whole bunch of different conditions and so forth. There I knew that I'd have to go shoot a good round. That's one of the tournaments where they were shooting some pretty low scores. Not that low. Actually, I won it with 9-under I guess that year. Here tomorrow I'm 2-over par. I think if I break 70 tomorrow, I'll have a very good chance of winning the golf tournament doing that. And I probably won't have to shoot like a 65. I certainly hope I do, but I won't have to probably do that. And Jay Sigel had a good round today. When you get somebody in the back who breaks out and shoots a good round like that. Like Miller did at Oakmont, shot 63 being virtually by himself in the morning. Jay shot 64 this morning, making a bogey coming home. Nobody even knew he was on the golf course yet as far as the players go. I'm not in that position, and I wasn't in that position at Augusta. But that can happen, and it can happen if we get the rain, if we get rain and it slows the golf course up. The guy playing out early can get a good round, because the golf course is ready to be taken. I don't know. I don't know what I'm talking about, but I think I probably lost what your question was. Did I answer it?

Q. Yes. Just your recollection about '86, as you told us in the breezeway that day, that Saturday night, if you could make something happen on Sunday, you might be able to do something.

JACK NICKLAUS: That was a little different. I think I'm more in contention here than I was there.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about the relationship you have with the caddies. You had Angelo back in the '80s and '70s. You have your boys caddy for you in the majors. And every once in a while you'll swap with the guys that are working in the shop. How much do you rely on them out there playing?

JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I've never had a caddy ever pull a club out of the bag for me. I always do my own thing as relates to that. Basically I want the yardage, and then I sort of double check the yardage anyway. There was Scotty this week. Scotty was an assistant here for two years. I would think he would know the greens reasonably well, and I think he does. Although I don't think he's ever seen them quite this slow either. And he's never seen these pin placements. You wouldn't see these pin placements on a normal, everyday around the club. The boys, I enjoy having my kids caddy for me. All of them are good caddies. Angelo was an excellent caddy. And really what a caddy is, you heard the three ups of caddying. That's show up, keep up and shut up. And that's basically what most of them try to live by. But I'll turn around, and I think that most of it is, if they show up, that means that you're not mad at them, they're ready, they're prepared to be with you and do the things you need to do that day. Keep up meaning basically -- the three are a little bit more than just flips, flippants. You keep up, meaning you're there with the yardage, you're ready, I'm not waiting for you to do things. You're there with me doing things that I have to have you to do. Shutting up is talking when you need to talk. If I ask you a question, don't be offering advice. Don't be doing things -- those are all things that make a guy a good caddy. To have a personality that you're good with and a guy that you get along with and you can have fun with when you want to kid or if you hit a bad shot and he knows you're not mad at him, but you can pass it off on him, he helps absorb some of your displeasure of what you're doing. All those are qualities within somebody that you need to have as a caddy. And my kids have all learned that, to know how to do that. Angelo did very well. Scotty does very well. I've had very few caddies through the years that I've had a problem with. Every once in a while I get somebody that I just don't play well with, and I just say, you know, I think it's time maybe that we just sort of part company. But not very many. Did I answer what you wanted to talk about? I think a caddy is very important. I think a caddy can hurt you. I don't know how much a caddy helps you, but a caddy can certainly hurt you. I think that he helps you from the standpoint of not causing you problems on the way and being ready and there.

Q. If the rain softens up the greens considerably more, would you expect the USGA to set some more extreme pin placements, and would you like to see that to make sure that the course doesn't --

JACK NICKLAUS: They'd be hard pressed to outdo themselves.

Q. More front end, front corners, more front on right or left sides?

JACK NICKLAUS: I'm sure they've already picked out what they want to do tomorrow anyway.

Q. You think they'll stay with that regardless of the weather?

JACK NICKLAUS: Yeah. Actually, I said earlier this week, I think the probably made the right choice here this week. These greens are probably as severe greens as we've played in tournaments for a long time. They've slowed the greens up so that we could use the pin placements that they've used on the greens. If they hadn't slowed the greens up. Let's just say your golf course is only as good as your most usable green and speed. So if they've got it fast, they'd have to make all the greens the same speed. And they would have probably had a half dozen greens on this golf course if you only had one or two pins, and they were basically fairly mundane. By slowing it up, they allowed them to use a little bit of variety. I like fast greens, but I think they still did the right things.

MARTY PARKES: Any last questions? Okay. Jack, thanks so much for coming in. Good luck tomorrow.

End of FastScripts....

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