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June 16, 2000
PEBBLE BEACH, CALIFORNIA
Q. Is this likely your last U.S. Open?
JACK NICKLAUS: I'd say a pretty good chance of that. I'd say that the chances would be
very slim if I would play again. Even if I won the Senior Open, I think that -- playing
Pebble Beach, even shooting 82, what difference does it make what I shot. The place sort
of started in many ways my golf game . Actually, it was my second Amateur, but still,
almost 40 years later, it's a pretty fitting place to stop.
Q. Were you able to enjoy the fact, walking up the 18th, your favorite golf course --?
JACK NICKLAUS: Yeah, I enjoyed it. I would have liked to have played a little bit
better. Good gracious, I felt like I was playing with a marble out on the pool table out
there, and I couldn't get anything on the green. Everything just ran through the green all
day long, and you know, when I ran through the green, I made bogey every time, and I'm
sure a lot of the other fellows are going to have the same problem. But the golf course
was very difficult. I would have liked to -- obviously enjoyed my golf a little bit more,
but the people were great. You know, the golf course is great. The golf course is really
difficult today, but, you know, fun. Enjoyed the last few holes in spite of what I was
shooting, and, you know, it's -- I've shot 82 before; I'll shoot it again.
Q. Were you emotional?
JACK NICKLAUS: Sure, I get emotional. Absolutely. I think -- it's difficult coming up
the last fairway knowing it will probably be the last time you're going to come up the
U.S. Open fairway, sure. It's been a big part of my life. Hopefully, there's other things
in my life besides that, but, today, that was the biggest thing in my life and I enjoyed
it very much. Well, I just -- normally I hit a 3-wood off the tee there and play it as a
three-shot hole, and I was on the tee and I turned to Jackie and I said, "You know, I
have not tried to knock it on the green in over 20 years, let's see if we can knock it on
in 2 today." So I hit a drive good and -- I was 238 to the front of the green and
with a cross-wind maybe hurting a little bit and I took my 3-wood and hit it, and lo and
behold, it went on to the putting surface. You know, there was only one way I could get it
and that was through that opening. I knew I couldn't carry it with that cross-wind hurting
the ball a little bit. But I hit it right dead on the screws -- straight on. We don't have
screws in metal woods anymore, but straight on and 3-putted it. I'm fine. I've done that
-- probably at least once in the last five years. No, I played -- I don't know the last
time I played 36, but I played 27 -- we played 27 I think at Tradition one time this year.
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know. That's what we were just talking about. I don't know what
I will do. If I happen to win the Senior Open in a couple of weeks, that would be the only
way I would probably get an exemption unless I -- I don't know what happens with the other
stuff, but probably not. Maybe, probably not. If I happen to win and I got up next year
and I was playing real well and I decided I wanted to play, I'd play. But let's just enjoy
today, right now and say thank you to everybody, and I enjoyed it and it was great.
JACK NICKLAUS: Probably coming up the last hole, I would think. I was too busy chopping
out of the rough to worry about the end.
JACK NICKLAUS: I had three golf shots, as good as three shots could be hit, and ended
up -- my tee shot at 8 with a 3-wood and I cut the ball with a 3-wood and still drove it
through the fairway into the hazard. Dropped the ball back, hit a 7-iron, could not hit it
any better, and landed, I think, 20 feet short of the hole; one bounce over the green. And
then I hit the prettiest little fluff shot you've ever seen, and it hits between the
fringe and the collar and shoots all the way to the front of the green. Somebody was
telling me something -- on my favorite hole. The Open has always been the most important
tournament to me. It's a Championship. I'm an American, championship of my country and I
think that's -- it's the biggest tournament in the world for me. If I were not an
American, maybe the British might be the biggest, but I happen to think that the -- this
is our most important championship, by far. Well, this 82 -- about as much as the last
time I shot 82 at Pebble Beach. The only thing that redeemed this one was a walk up 18,
which was very nice, and then at the end to the round I got to put a number on the score
card to stop the bleeding.
JACK NICKLAUS: One word to sum up my relationship with the U.S. Open? One word, you're
making it tough, David. I don't know, I would probably have to say that it's been a --
obviously you can say it's been a great experience. But the U.S. Open, to me, is a total
examination of the game of golf, the way the course is set up, what is done, and I think
it probably -- to a golfer, it probably does more to make a man out of you than any other
JACK NICKLAUS: Because you don't always -- you know, you may shoot some 65s, but every
once in a while -- you shoot 82, too. I've shot high scores in the U.S. Open and I've shot
some low scores, and if you're just not quite on your game, it eats you alive, every time.
JACK NICKLAUS: I saw it on television. They replayed it and I thought that was very
nice. I saw Tom; we had a little hug after it was over. It was very nice. Bruce said he
had to give him a towel, he said, "Look at the wimp, I had to give him a towel to
play his third shot." Bruce is his caddy. I couldn't see. My eyes were blurry and I
was trying to go through the moment, and I topped the darned putt; hit it halfway. The
crowd not breathing? Well, if it did, it stopped so much, it stopped my putter, too.
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, he said -- he looked at me and he says, "You're going to read
your own last putt in the U.S. Open." And I said, "Do you see the top of the
cup?" And he says, "Yeah, I see it, too." We both saw the same thing about
every putt, but neither one of us -- or I shouldn't say neither one of us -- he couldn't
get me to hit it there. Any regrets that I didn't quit? What kind of a question is that?
Where did you dream that one up? I mean, you had to think a long time to get that one.
Anybody got another one?
JACK NICKLAUS: No. Actually, I hit -- I didn't hit a very good shot, obviously, but the
ball hit somebody and bounced about 20 yards left, and I was -- I was so dead. It was
really funny, because what really happened we were just sitting on the tee, and I was with
a couple of guys from the USGA, I don't mention their names, but they were all wondering
why the hole was playing so slow. And I said: "Well, because you guys won't play it
the way it was designed." They say, "What do you mean?" And I said,
"Well, the left side of the area is fairway. To bounce the ball in, if you miss the
ball left, you miss -- you have no shot whatsoever" -- everybody is missing it left,
and nobody has a shot, so nobody can make par. That's why the hole played tough. And it's
not that difficult a hole -- I would think it would be the hardest hole because you've got
the cliff on one side and you can't hit it on the other side. I said (inaudible) perfect
pitch. I hit it just in the edge and thought it was going to pop out -- and said next
time, fairway, which they need. Otherwise -- that's why the hole plays so hard. It's not
that hard a hole, just a 4- or 5-iron shot. Well, the game has grown tremendously. I don't
think there's any question about the game growing tremendously. Whether it's grown beyond
what I thought it would be, I don't know. I think that all sports have grown beyond what I
thought they would be. If I would look at things 30 years ago and you tell me that we're
going to play for this amount of money that they are playing for and the popularity of the
game has become that such -- but also you're going to tell me that guys are making $100
million playing basketball or football or baseball or whatever it might be, I'd have
laughed at you. It's the same difference. If that's the case, what they are doing, we're
still behind in golf. But what's really neat about the game of golf right now, and I like
it, is that the guys right now can play golf, and through their prize earnings, make a
living. We never could make a living from playing golf. By the time -- the best year I
ever had was a little over 300,000, and by the time you maintain two homes, travel, did
everything you did, you came out with a job that -- it was a nice job, but, you know,
that's the one guy on the TOUR that was the leading money winner was the guy that got
ahead. We had to do all kind of outside stuff was where we made our living. The guys today
can actually play golf on the golf course don't have to do anything outside, and a whole
bunch of them can make a living. That's what they have been striving for. I think Tim has
been doing a great job with that and I'm very proud to see what happens with the game.
JACK NICKLAUS: I gave the ball and glove to Jackie and asked him to save it, yeah. The
clubs, I'll throw away -- (laughs).
JACK NICKLAUS: I hope that I've had a part of it, sure. I'm proud to have had a part of
it. But, you know, somebody paves the way. The guys that came before us looked at us and
say: "Look how tough we had it and look what you guys have got." And of course
the guys my age look at what the guys have got today and it's probably going to be 20
years from now the guys from today are going to say, "Shoot, look what the guys have
got." But I think most sports are that way, and I have no problem with that. I've
played my game. I've played my golf and made my contribution to the sport and enjoyed what
I've done. I would not trade it for anything these guys are playing for today. The game
has been very, very good to me and I certainly have no regrets. And I'm not sorry I didn't
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I got up to a par and made bogey at 2nd, which is still
essentially a par for the way you would play the golf course, unless you missed it in the
rough. But I parred around on the -- (inaudible) -- when I made double-bogey at 5 --
(inaudible ) -- oh, now I'm going to have to struggle, you know, to make the cut. And I
didn't make a birdie at next hole, didn't make a birdie at the next hole and then the wind
came up. And I mean, the wind came up really good. The wind was really, really strong when
we played at 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and then it sort of died off as we got to 12. And I suppose
that was the wrong time for the wind to blow because that was playing -- the strongest
holes on the golf course right at that time. (Inaudible) -- there's a mill pond again,
isn't it. That used to happen when Hogan teed off, now it happens when Tiger tees off.
JACK NICKLAUS: As I say there wasn't that much wind when we played 5. A little bit of
wind at 6 and then 7 the wind started blowing. Then what happened at 8, I played as good a
tee shot as good a second shot as I could, and then walked off with double-bogey and I'm
saying, "Well, now I'm really going to have to play." And I couldn't make a par
after that. All I did was keep missing the edge of the green. I played a driver and 4-iron
to 9 and driver and 3-wood to 10; that's out in the fairway. That's pretty strong holes
with the way the wind was. And matter of fact all of us -- David -- (inaudible), but the
golf course (inaudible) -- I knew at that point that I had better enjoy the last nine for
no reason other than playing tomorrow.
JACK NICKLAUS: No, I'm ready to let it go, and I'm ready to let it go for a very good
reason, I think. And that is that I can't -- I really don't think that I can compete
anymore. And I think that I can occasionally play well if the conditions are such -- the
conditions got today where I had a horrible time trying to figure out what to do with it,
and the same happened at Augusta after the third round. I got in conditions; I didn't do
very well with them. But, no, I have no problems in letting go at all. As I say, I've had
44 great years at a U.S. Open. I don't know how many people have played more than that,
not too many yet. But -- how many -- what's the next to that, does anybody have any idea?
31? Who is that? Hale? Hale's only played 31? He's almost as old as I am. He (Tiger)
passes me in 2039? He'd better play hard. I have enjoyed it. It's been fun. I don't want
to play if I can't play. And I feel like -- I actually -- I hit the ball today and
yesterday the best I've hit the golf ball in probably four or five years. And I mean, I
shot 155, and that means that one of two things that I don't have the skills around the
greens anymore, I don't have the concentration, or I just don't have the golf game
anymore. If I think I'm playing well and shoot 155, then that's not very good.
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know any place -- I go home, I go home and play my home course
at home, I don't play leisurely. Unfortunately, I'm not built that way. What's wrong with
me is I'm just too competitive to just go play golf. I enjoy going out and trying -- I
really enjoy working at it. That's the fun for me. A leisure round of golf is of little
interest to me -- to me to go out and play golf, to grind at it and work at it and so
forth and so on. That's why I suppose I guess it's time for me to let go. Once I let go of
all of the other tournaments, the ones I let go this year, then I might enjoy some
leisurely golf where it's not important, because I don't have anything to play for or
prepare for and it will be fine. I don't know when. I can't afford it. Maybe I can win a
ticket for two from Arnold, I don't know.
JACK NICKLAUS: Absolutely. I mean, I'd like to play well. You know, my goal this year
is play four rounds in all four majors -- contended, actually if I keep hitting the ball
the way I am, I'm going to start playing pretty well some time, because I'm playing the
best -- as I say, I'm hitting the ball the best I've hit in a long time. Actually, using
the face of the club on the golf ball; it's making contact I haven't done much of that
lately, and I probably should.
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