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May 29, 2001

Jack Nicklaus


JACK NICKLAUS: Well, let's see. Start off with the golf course? The golf course has had a lot of rain, as you well know. But it's -- I think it's done very well. There aren't any really wet spots out there. Greens are firming up. Greens have got a reasonable pace on them. Golf course is good. I think Mike's done a nice job. I think the Tournament's' well-organized this year. I don't think we're having any problems. We've got a good field. We've got, let's see... We've got a couple changes on the golf course, which I suppose you all know about those. Those are mostly -- took the rough area out of right of the 5th green and put in a fairway to get the ball away from the green there with a bad shot rather than sticking for an easy chip shot. We did the same thing at 15 on the back right. We lengthened the 11th hole about 24 yards. And that will basically ensure that most of the players in the field, not all of them, will hit a driver off the tee. I saw a lot of guys playing irons there and another iron, I didn't think it was an iron-iron hole. I think most of them will have to play wood now off the tee or metal, whatever you want to call it. Either lay-up or take it home. 7th fairway we adjusted little bit too. Seventh fairway. A guy used to blast it over the bunker at 7. And there was a bunker out maybe 330, not even close to play. I moved it back in about 40 yards, 50 yards maybe. 285, something like that off the tee. Put it in the left side of the fairway. If you want to take, if you hit it right over the bunker perfect -- if you play it left of the bunker, you're going to hit the other bunker. Take it out to the right and try to hit it long, you're going to go through the fairway and it slips off into the rough. I'm making it more demanding for the guy to hit the long drive to put it in there, but there's -- still a good drive will have no problem getting it home in 2. That's about all we did on the golf course. We're delighted to have Payne this year as our Honoree. As you all know, I tried to back up a year, last year myself, and Captains Club wouldn't have it. So they announced Payne early last year. Sort of a help to me. And we're delighted that Tracey's here; and Aaron and Chelsea, Payne's two children are here. And I guess they got in here sometime this afternoon or should be here by now. Of course, we have the ceremony tomorrow afternoon. Paul Azinger and Dick Coop will speak on behalf of Payne. Paul as you know, Paul is probably as close a friend as Payne had. And Dick Coop, who worked with Payne on the mental side of the game. And then Tim Finchem will say a few words, and I'll say a few words. What do you want to talk about?

Q. Your thoughts on the Casey Martin situation.

JACK NICKLAUS: I think Tim Finchem said everything there is to say. I don't think there's anything else to say. I think the Tour certainly will honor and welcome Casey as the Supreme Court decision. And we all as players, it's never been an issue with Casey; it's been an issue with principle. Casey has won his point, and I think the Tour will embrace that and take care of Casey as far as that goes. As Tim said, he'll have the Policy Board review how much continued control they have over the game and their own rules. Nothing else to say.

Q. Over the last few years, you haven't changed your mind in any way about your original opinion on this, on the way you would have voted, had you been on the Supreme Court?

JACK NICKLAUS: I'm not on the Supreme Court. I don't have all the issues on the Supreme Court. I just know what I think about the game of golf. The idea is having a level playing field. That's all the Tour's wanted to have is everybody play under the same rules. And...

Q. Sergio Garcia, Jack, after winning Colonial, there was a lot of -- have been a lot of expectations about him. Do you think that win will, you know, is going to elevate his career?

JACK NICKLAUS: I think winning breeds winning any time. Any time that you can win a golf tournament, it gives you the confidence. The first one is always the toughest. This is his first one in the States. He's been close a couple times. That's what propels you. You got to win the first one. Once you win the first one, the second one becomes a lot easier. Sergio is a good player. He'll do just fine, I'm sure. He won on a pretty good golf course. Pretty good tournament to win.

Q. Percentage-wise, have you made more changes to the course in the last few years with the equipment changes, the ball, what it's doing? Do you find more and more having to do that?

JACK NICKLAUS: No, not necessarily. I don't think it's necessarily for that. You see, I suppose it's probably a reaction to it a little bit. Can't help but be a reaction to it. I think the game, if you look at our golf course and what has happened to the golf course, you want to make sure you're staying with the times. However, I think the big thing about the golf course, why I made some changes on the golf course was that we came to a point where our greens didn't percolate any more. We were going to replace our greens. When we got to the point of doing that, I said well, let's look at what we have to do with the golf course. If we're going to change the greens, we'll only get one shot at it. Hopefully, we'll do it right, and we aren't going to change the greens again, you know, basically forever, at least for the next 25 or 30 years until the sand or the rock or something fails, which is what happened last time. Our sand failed over time. We had a (inaudible) sand and it sort of set up on us. We weren't percolating one inch an hour, it got to be low enough we could never drain the greens. We couldn't fight Poa annua. We couldn't do anything. So, that's why we made some changes. That's why I made the major change at 5, why I made the change at 6. Why I made the major change at 7. We were going to change the green anyway. Why not? If you're going to do it, go ahead and do something that makes sense. I thought our par 5s are probably the easiest part of our golf course. I've always liked par 4-and-a-halfs. It puts excitement of being able to reach the hole and do those kind of things on the hole. When I changed the 5th green to make it a little bit, what I thought was a better strategy for the members, actually, because the way the members played before, they laid up on the left side of the fairway and it was the hardest shot into the green, or I mean the easiest shot into the green. But it didn't force them to play a good shot up to the right side, which gives them the best shot to the green. The more you put the ball up to the right side, the closer you play it to the bunker, the better angle you have of playing a pitch shot or you can take it all the way home, which I've asked the golfers to do. So the hole is the same, I'm just asking to do something different. 6 asked the pin placement back to the left. Had the opportunity do that. The par 5, 7th hole has been a piece of cake for the guys. It was absolutely roughly flat green, 565 yards, but never played very long. And so, I had to put a little spice into the green, which is what I did. They'll still shoot it low, but you're going to have a little harder time getting it close to the hole. You got to play a better shot. 11, we had the factor of Tiger, played it with a 2-iron? A 2-iron. How do you play a 5 with a 2-iron? That really upsets me. (Laughter) . I never played a par 5 in my life -- Yes, I have. When we played the small ball. British Open, the year I won it in Muirfield. I played the 17th hole par 5, with 3-iron off the tee and 5-iron to the green. You shouldn't play golf that way. That's not -- I liken the ball we played then to what the guys are playing today. So you ought to play some kind of reasonable club off the tee and play to the greens. So I said, well, the only thing I saw there was to lengthen the hole and make the tee shot a little more demanding. And if somebody wanted to go ahead and hit a drive down there, I'm not going to keep them from getting home. If he's going to hit a 2-iron, 2-iron, he's certainly going to get home. It's not for Tiger. It's more that I saw the guys playing 2-iron because they weren't going to get home, and playing as a three-shot hole. I wanted to force them into playing a wood shot off the tee, or at least -- or at least if they're not going to play wood shot, then the second shot is going to be a very demanding shot to put the ball in position to be able to play a good third shot. I tried to toughen that hole up a bit with that. We changed 15 a year ago. I tried to take away -- before you could just hit it anywhere left of the green. It was a fairly easy pitch shot. I don't mind them making eagles and birdies. I wanted that hole to be in that part of golf course, in a hole, a guy that hits a bad tee shot could hit a bogey maybe. A guy that hits a good tee shot has got a chance for an eagle. You've got a chance for a lot of swap of strokes. I wanted to keep that. But I wanted to not make it quite as easy. I don't think we've changed the difficulty of 3 or 4, from good shots, I've made the difficulty from making 4 from a bad shot, more difficult, which is all we did to the left of the green, by creasing the slope and the pitch off the left side and putting the bunker in the front. The rest of the golf course hasn't changed a whole lot. Put most the greens back pretty much the way they were, and really haven't added much in the way of tees to it. I might have a tee, another tee here and there, but not much, in answer to your question. A long answer to your short question.

Q. It seems that any time a course is changed at all nowadays the phrase "Tiger- proofing" comes up. 7, 11, did you do anything there? Discuss him winning twice here.

JACK NICKLAUS: Any tournament sponsor would be delighted to have him win twice. You got the best player in the game winning your golf tournament, it's a compliment to your golf course and your tournament. You'd love to have him coming back and winning. From the gallery's standpoint you want him to win four or five years in a row. You're assured of having, you know, people and everything else the next year be there. But also, you also want to have a competition. And I don't think that anything we did to the golf course was specifically for Tiger. I had to look at it as -- because what we did at 5 certainly isn't going to affect Tiger. What we did at 7 certainly isn't going to affect Tiger, or 11 or 15. They are all the same things. They affect how you play the hole in general, not how he plays the hole . You don't Tiger-proof a golf course. You don't ever Tiger-proof a golf course -- or they used to Bear-proof it years ago. But what they did at Augusta, when Augusta went a little longer, but they put bunkers in to force the longer player to drive it into an area. They haven't been doing that, they've just been going back. The more you go back to the golf course the more the advantage is to Tiger. That's -- I think you do the exactly the opposite. You take a golf course and tighten down the driving area, and force you to play better golf shots. See, like what happened at St. Andrews last year, Tiger drove it, 20 other guys could have, drove it past all the bunkers. There wasn't any bunkers in play. So they had a big old wide fairway to play to. In our golf course here for the most part, past the bunkers is fairly wide if you look at our golf course. So what you try to do, you try to bring your hazards into play for more players. So that it requires better golf not so much one individual. So length is not the issue I don't think. It's more putting the ball in play.

Q. Does the rain here having lengthened things increase the likelihood for him to win a third time?

JACK NICKLAUS: I don't think it makes a difference what you do here. His likelihood of winning third is always pretty good, he plays so well. But, I think the golf course, he likes the golf course. He plays it well. It's been -- it's pretty much the same conditions he won on a year ago and two years ago. So I would think that's pretty good for him. I would think when the golf course got fast would be the harder conditions for him to win on, because it would bring more, it would force him to be a little more careful with how he plays, and also bring some of the shorter hitters up to a longer distance on the course because of the faster run on the fairways. We're not having any run on the fairways right now. I was here when I came here two and a half week ago the fairways were very fast. And I guess I came in, got Memorial Tournament weather early. Brought it two weeks early for you. I thought we could get it out of here but we didn't.

Q. Jack, I understand you've already spoken regarding the Casey Martin ruling. Part of that ruling, the specifics of it were the walking was not fundamental to the competition in the eyes of the Supreme Court. I wanted it get your reaction to that.

JACK NICKLAUS: I think we ought to take them out and play golf.

Q. You think that would change their mind?

JACK NICKLAUS: I think that would change their mind. I promise you it's fundamental .

Q. What are your own expectations coming off of last weekend for your play at this tournament? Do you have any?

JACK NICKLAUS: I hit the ball fairly decently last week, but I didn't score very well. I can look at my golf game, and my golf game has been a pattern all year. I've just been, I don't play the par 5s well. And it's not that -- last week, I played them, you know, 2-shotwise pretty well. But I pitched the ball just horribly. I played the par 5s even par. I missed 3 greens last week from inside 65 yards with a sand wedge with nothing in front of me. You know, just hit them short. And I didn't actually bogey all those holes, but I missed 3 greens; made three 6s on par 5s. Only made 3 birdies. I don't seem to make anything from 10 or 12 feet. You're not going to score when do you that. I hit the ball, drove the ball pretty well last week. My iron game was decent. I probably averaged hitting -- 16 greens the first round, probably the worst round was 11 greens. So maybe I was probably 13, 14 green average. Which is not bad. Better than I have been. So, but I just don't score. That gets a little discouraging to feel like you've worked pretty hard at it, you feel you're hitting the ball fairly decently. And I hit it far enough. I don't hit it long anymore by the standards of these guys, but I hit it far enough. I just can't figure -- I look at the other seniors, gosh, every time I watch them putt, they hole everything they look at. You know one guy's 20 feet, one guy's 15 feet, and I'm 10 feet. They make two birdies; I walk off with a par. And it drives you crazy. That's been my game. I just need to -- obviously -- I've made enough putts in my life I suppose I'm getting even, but you know. (Laughter.)

Q. Other than the souped-up golf ball, which part of golf technology has really contributed to this long ball in your opinion?

JACK NICKLAUS: I think the golf ball is the biggest part. The only part you can control. You can control the golf club up a little bit, but you match up golf balls and golf clubs today, I can hit the ball straighter than -- I make so many bad swings and look up and the ball goes straight. You're sitting there, you know, how did that happen? And everybody else does the same thing. And the guys that are playing well and swinging well, the ball just -- they never miss a shot. I always used to play, in a tournament, I felt like when I was driving the golf ball, if I could put the ball or, you know, have it one day or two or three days I drove the ball well and only one day I put it in the rough half the time, I was having a pretty good tournament. Now, you should never put the ball in the rough. You put the ball in the rough some, but if you don't hit 10 out of 14 fairways or 11 out of 14 fairways you got a pretty bad driving day. We used to think that was a pretty good driving day. That's basically the technology of allowing a golf club to be very forgiving and the golf ball, you know, when the golf club's forgiving, you can go in and hit it, pop it.

Q. What about grounds (inaudible).

JACK NICKLAUS: Sure ground is a factor. There are a lot of factors. I don't think it's the biggest factor. We had well-conditioned golf courses 30 years ago. Not all of them. But certainly we've played up to Firestone, Firestone was always wonderfully conditioned. We played at Augusta it was always in good condition. We played U.S. Open was always good. PGA was always good. British Open was always good. We always had good conditions on a lot of golf courses and other golf courses were good. We had some bad golf courses in those days, condition-wise. But yeah, obviously the ground helps. And then, consistency of what they do on the Tour today, they try to make every course almost the same, which I'm not too much in favor of. But I think you should have variety within your conditions. You know, conditions are perfect today. Every golf course is good.

Q. How many British Opens did you win with a small ball?

JACK NICKLAUS: Two, I think. '66 and '70. I think I won the large ball in '78. I think. I'm not positive, but I think that's right.

Q. On the topic of equipment is putting still an equalizer in terms of no matter how well you're hitting the ball --?

JACK NICKLAUS: Oh, yeah. You putt badly, it equalizes you real quick. (Laughter.) Try to score real low with 36 putts. Doesn't happen.

Q. Just is there something courses could do in terms of just with the greens to try to help out equalize it more?

JACK NICKLAUS: I think they do. I think they do. You look at what you do in Augusta, you look at the pin placements today versus the pin placements 30 years ago at Augusta, they'd have laughed at you 30 years ago if you had said... "You're going to put the pin there?" And we play it today there. I look at Pinehurst when we played the Open down there. They expanded the greens and took the roll off so the greens, to get the ball off the greens to make it a little more difficult. They ended up putting half the pins off the rolloffs. They were never part of the Donald Ross golf course to start with. They're trying to make it more difficult doing that. I sort of believe that, you know, the golf course is the golf course. Let them go play it. If the equipment is that much better, you don't have to protect par. Even par is not -- it's not the question of protecting par, it's a question of making the golf course not obsolete. You understand what I'm take saying there? You can take -- the golfers are probably better today. Equipment's better, golf ball goes further. So they shoot lower, so what? I don't have a problem with that. The only problem I have is if the golf course they're playing, none of the difficulty ever comes in play. Saint Andrews last year. I won two British Opens at St. Andrews and I promise you every bunker was in play when I played. The golf ball did not go beyond those bunkers, you couldn't hit it beyond the bunker. Anybody. And I promise you Tiger wouldn't hit it beyond the bunkers if he was playing the same equipment we were playing. He played a different golf course than I won on. That's the only objection that I have is the golf course becomes obsolete. I've done 11 golf courses for Lyle Anderson who does Desert Mountain where we play the Tradition. He came to me, he said, "Jack, you did 11 courses for me. They are all obsolete." What do we do? This is ridiculous. How can you build a golf course and two years later it's obsolete? Only due to one thing: Golf ball. Something will get done with it. Somebody will wake up.

Q. Any specific fond memories of Payne you could share with us today?

JACK NICKLAUS: Well, Payne's obviously of a different generation than I am. I played a reasonable amount of golf with Payne. Always enjoyed playing with him because we always had fun. I always had a pretty good-sized needle that I used, and he always had a pretty good-sized one too. So we were always having fun every time we played. Always kidding back and forth. I think he liked that. I think he enjoyed -- he enjoyed the little needle and the gig and so forth and so on having fun with the guys and putting them on. He loved playing golf, he loved doing that. That's basically what I think he was about. I think he was about, he was a good family man, and I think he was about having fun and enjoying what he does. I think that's -- and I really , didn't know him that well, from that standpoint. But I mean, that part I did know and that part I enjoyed a lot. I always enjoyed being able to figure out some way to kid him about his knickers or something else. We always had fun with that and he'd always have something back for me. I don't know what it would be, but he always had something.

Q. Mental side of this game has always been a part of it since the start of the game. Some of the guys now on Tour use sports psychologists and things like that. What is your take on that? Have you ever entertained any kind of thought about it or had any -- (Inaudible.)

JACK NICKLAUS: I didn't have anybody need to tell me how, I didn't have anybody tell me how to hit it or I hit it poorly. I always knew when I hit it poorly. Didn't score. The guys today got a teacher beside them all the time. And a psychologists beside them. They got a trainer with them. You know, we weren't that wealthy in those days, I guess. It was you know, that's an expensive thing to have all those guys sitting around on your payroll. But today -- we didn't play golf for a living. We played golf so we could make a living. Big difference. The guys today play golf for a living. When you go out and win $10 million or, like Tiger has, or more than that playing the game of golf, you're making a living playing golf. Sure he makes a living outside of it, but he can make a living playing golf. And a lot of others guys can make a living playing golf. So when you're out there playing tournaments and that's what happens, you can afford to do other things and you need to have other help and other things going on or not necessarily need to but they do and they seem to think it helps. I don't have a problem with it, I just never felt I needed it. I had Jack Grout. Jack Grout never went to tournaments with me, or but I always went back to Jack and we spent many days together. We'd talk about the golf, and we'd talk about how you play and we'd talk about thinking part of the game and so forth and so on. I suppose my wife was more my sports psychologist than anybody. Barbara's always had the level head and the one if I wanted to discuss anything, I always had somebody I could discuss it with right there. That part was good. You know, fitness-wise, good gracious, we never -- lifting weights? You got to be kidding. Exercise? No. Come on, you don't do that, not playing golf. That was the way we always thought. Everybody thought playing tennis was terrible for you swimming was terrible for you. I played tennis all my life and I swam all my life. I think I played in a local basketball league up until I was almost 40. You know, my guys were great, because they say "You take him out under the basket, we are taking you out afterwards." The guys protected me. I think -- I played golf -- when I won a tournament, I played golf to win the game, played the game. I've always said I played the game for the game, and money would come if I played the game well. Meaning, that I would from endorsements or outside things that's where I would make my living. That's where I made my living. That's where most guys in the old days. Today you win the tournament, that's when you make your money. And a lot of guys don't have outside stuff because they don't want it. They don't need it. So it's a different game today. It's hard for had me to totally comment on that, I did comment. But it's hard for me to understand all of it, because the game was different for me than it was for the guys today.

Q. That's the perspective I have I needed.


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Mr. Nicklaus.


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