June 1, 1999
LEE PATTERSON: I think we're ready. We appreciate you spending some time with us. Maybe
just a couple thoughts as we start the week, then we'll open it up for questions.
JACK NICKLAUS: Okay. Well, at this point in the day it's pretty hard for me to have any
thoughts. (Laughing) So I think that obviously I'm delighted to be back. I wasn't sure
that I would get here. I had surgery, but I'm here, and certainly I fully intend to be
able to play all right. From that standpoint, it's fine. The golf course I think is as
good as it's ever been. I think we did a really nice job with the golf course in getting
it in condition. And they've blended the new greens and the old greens very well, and I
think they pretty much all play about the same. We've got a great field, and even looks
like we might even have good weather. I better knock on wood on that one. You never know
about that one.
LEE PATTERSON: That's right.
Q. Did you feel you had something to prove to come back this quickly? I mean, I don't
think Bo Jackson came back this fast.
JACK NICKLAUS: Bo Jackson wasn't playing golf. He was doing different things.
Q. Did you feel like you had something to prove to yourself?
JACK NICKLAUS: No. I had no desire to come back any faster than I thought I could come
back. Chronologically, it went sort of like -- for the first six weeks, Jack, I don't want
you to take a step without a crutch. That's what they said. I didn't. We actually
scheduled my visit at five weeks. It happened to be when both of our schedules allowed me
to see him again. After five weeks, off the crutches, on the cane. He said I don't want
you to walk without the cane until you can't limp. Another 10 or 11 days, I wasn't limping
anymore. I threw the cane away. He said when you stop limping, when you throw the cane
away, he says that means you're stable enough, you'll probably want to go chip and putt.
After you chip and putt, you'll want to take the swinging motions and probably pretty soon
you'll want to put the golf ball in front of it. He says do it when you feel like you can
do it. If it gets tired and it hurts, don't do it. I did. I started swinging a golf club
at about eight weeks. I stayed away from it for another week or ten days, I said let it go
a little bit longer, I feel too good. I stayed away from it a little bit longer, started
hitting a few balls. He said you can go -- I've been walking. No reason why I couldn't
walk. I had been walking -- I walked two miles a day from the third day with crutches. You
know, I just kept walking. That was part of my therapy. And pretty soon the golf -- I just
went out and started to play. I said I might as well -- if I'm going to walk and hit
balls, why can't I just play? I did. I played 9 holes, 9 holes, 18 holes. Pretty soon, I
just got tired of sitting around, playing golf. I'd been doing it for a month. So I didn't
see any reason why I shouldn't play a tournament. I went out and played with him, the
doctor. I played at the country club, walked the 18 holes with him. I said, "What do
you think?" He said, "Go play." It wasn't anything that I planned. I'd love
to have been back for the Memorial Tournament, which I was trying to do. I just happened
to do the things he told me to do, I happened to go in progression. If it had taken six
months, it would have taken six months. It didn't take six months, about three and a half
months and I started playing. I certainly have no complaints.
Q. When you came back home from the Philadelphia Tournament, did you work on anything
special that you decided you need to work on after that?
JACK NICKLAUS: Yeah, I worked on fly casting. I went down to the Keys and fished for
three days. (Laughing) .
Q. Did you think you were ready to play after that?
JACK NICKLAUS: Play fishing or play golf?
Q. Golf, not fishing.
JACK NICKLAUS: Oh, I thought you were talking about something else, Jerry. I got back,
I felt like after Philadelphia I probably needed to take a couple days off. I did. I went
down to the Keys, then I went in the office for a couple days. Finally, Friday I went out
and played like, about -- what did I do Friday? I must have played about 12 holes Friday.
Then I came up here on Friday night and played here Saturday. I played 18 holes here
Saturday - 18 here Saturday, 9 holes yesterday, 9 today. I'm not sure what I'm going to
do. Today was a pretty good rest. I just hit a couple balls today. I didn't feel like I
did much. I'm not tired. I feel fine. As far as working on my golf game, Jerry, it's hard
to work on endurance. And what I mean by that, my endurance is going to have to happen
over time. That was the six months the doctor was talking about. I know I don't have the
endurance I should have or could have -- I have the endurance I should have. I don't have
the endurance that I will have. And as far as working on my golf game, yeah, I'm working
on my golf game, and I can work on it, I came out here on Saturday morning when I got back
in town. I hit balls for two and a half hours, then went and played 18 holes. I mean I hit
a wall about the 10th or 11th hole. I shot 36 the front nine, 44 the back nine. It was
just like wham, that was it. That was as far as I could go. I just went ahead and they've
been playing a little club event here, so I went ahead and played in it. That's the things
that are going to happen to me. I can't go wear myself out. But as far as my golf swing, I
can work on it all I want. I think the weakest part of my game is my driving right now. I
think that my short game has come back reasonable. My iron game is reasonable. And I think
that it's just the strength to do the things I need to do with the driver is probably the
hardest part, timing. More a part of it than anything else.
Q. Jack, can you --
JACK NICKLAUS: That's a long answer to your question. I'm sorry. You won't use all
that, will you, Jerry?
Q. Over time. (Laughter.) A year or two. (Laughter.) Jack, can you describe how you
felt at least last year, the year before that, and how you feel this year physically,
coming to play golf here; the difference?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, George, I felt pretty good here the last few years. But, you know,
my hip was always a problem, but I could always exercise and get myself back to where I
felt good. Sure, I might fatigue as the day went on, and then I would get to limp a little
bit. But that really, I don't think, affected my golf game that much. I played around it.
However, now that my hip is different, I've gone back and tried to do some of the things
that I used to do in my golf swing and not accommodate a bad hip. What I mean by that is,
if you go out and watch me now versus last five years, you'll see that my stance is about
6-inches wider than it was, which is the way I played through most of my career. I think
my stance got narrow to accommodate my hip. I found myself, I couldn't brace myself on my
back foot, my hip couldn't take the spin out of the way. I couldn't stay behind the shot.
I played sort of catch up. I was up above in front of the ball, which is a powerless place
to play from. I played from there for a few years. I've been able to play golf that way. I
can't say that it's the best way for me to play golf. But I've played golf from there. I
think the opportunity for me to play golf more like Jack Nicklaus is in the future.
Because I don't hurt in the areas that I hurt before, and I think I'll have the
opportunity to work on the things and swing my golf club the way I used to swing my golf
club. Now whether I'm on the wrong side of the age curve or not, that's another story. But
as it relates to being able to work on my golf game, practice, do the things I need to
prepare, I think I'll be able to do that, which I haven't been able to do. I don't know
whether that answers your question or not. It's kind of a hard question to answer because
I didn't feel bad coming in last year, and I feel great this year. I don't have the
endurance, last year I did.
Q. Last few holes last year, you would limp. You could see it, watching you.
JACK NICKLAUS: I started to get dysfunctional. I didn't realize I was, but I would.
Q. Considering where you are now, how well you've come back, is it fair to expect you
to be a contender or even make the cut here this week?
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know what I'll be. I don't think that -- I don't think that I am
ready for the Memorial Tournament quite yet. I will have -- I will be just delighted if I
can play four days. And I would be even more delighted, obviously, if I were a contender.
But, you know, I don't expect that. My goal would be to play four days, I suppose. And
hopefully, get better each week beyond that. You know, as I said, I've said many times, I
didn't have a hip operation to come back to try to compete against David Duval and Tiger
Woods. I don't have any illusions to that. Every time I have that illusion, I go play nine
holes with Freddie Couples and see how hard it is to play five rounds when he's playing
sand wedge and all the rest of them are the same. It used to be the other way around. They
used to play five rounds and I'd play sand wedges. I don't have any illusions to that.
Q. Jack, you alluded to how you used to play golf and how you've accommodated your
swing in the last few years --
JACK NICKLAUS: I didn't realize I had, Dave, but I think I have. I don't think there's
any question about it.
Q. Would it be safe to say it didn't allow you to attack the course the way you had
done, and you think perhaps you might do that now?
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't think attacking the golf course has anything to do with it. You
attack a golf course mentally, not with your swing. You attack your golf course, I
suppose, if your swing -- if you have great confidence in your swing and ability to hit a
golf ball, yes, you'll have more confidence to be able to attack a golf course. But
actually, what I think I'm going to be able to do now, I think I'm going to be able to hit
the ball up in the air again. At least I have been. I've been able to hit the ball in the
air right now. I'm able to stand behind it. I think my power is going to come back to a
certain degree, obviously it's not going to come back to the degree the young kids have,
but I think it's going to come back a lot more than it's been in the last few years,
simply because I'll be able to stay behind the ball. I haven't been able to get behind the
ball and have the club behind me for year several years. The day before yesterday, Gary
had taken some pictures of me down Loxahatchie last couple of weeks, and so forth. Then we
took some pictures Saturday when I started working, Saturday and Sunday when I started
making changes. You could draw a line on the computer where my body was and how I could
get ahead of that line, now I'm able to stay ahead of that line. You never saw a baseball
player who stood on his left foot and knocked the ball out of the park. They're hitting
the ball out in front of them. You play a golf swing exactly the same. You are behind it,
stand there, let things rip from behind it. I think Duval is the picture of that that I
see on the TOUR today. That I think will come back. I think power will come with it. Will
it let me attack a golf course more? I'll hit the ball better.
Q. You said that opportunity to play like Jack Nicklaus is in the future, whether
you're on the wrong side of the age curve or not is another matter. Are you ready to
acknowledge that you are or are not on that? You have so many other endeavors --
JACK NICKLAUS: It's a long time ago. I'm 59. (Laughter.) I acknowledged that a long
time ago. I have not had a problem with that. I mean it's -- I've never said that I'm
going to -- I don't think that I would consider myself to be a contender for the TOUR
title anymore. But I said every once in a while I'd like to be able to play well enough to
scare the kids. That's sort of what I do. You never know, if you scare them for three
rounds, you might be able to play a fourth.
Q. That's what I'm getting at.
JACK NICKLAUS: Let's find out. I don't know. I would not expect so, but I didn't expect
my body to be as good as it is swinging at a golf club either. That excites me.
Q. Do you have a big, like, additional chunk in your day now that you used to spend
exercising or are you still required to do that?
JACK NICKLAUS: I still exercise. But I'm not doing much exercise --
Q. You talked about the three-hour routine you had.
JACK NICKLAUS: That's why I came back so quickly, because of all the exercise I did to
try to prevent surgery. When I got done with surgery, I had atrophy like everybody else,
but I didn't have nearly the degree most people have. Mine's come back pretty good. Even
my rear end, which he said would be flat for six months, is not flat anymore. And my
gluteus maximus or whatever it is, all kinds of muscles that atrophy, and they atrophy
fast. I think because of the exercise I was doing I came back pretty fast.
Q. You said from the third day you were exercising -- walking two miles a day; is that
JACK NICKLAUS: Not the third day, when I got home from the hospital, he wanted me to
walk for 10 to 20 minutes, 4 to 6 times a day. Now you add that up, you're going to walk a
couple miles a day.
Q. On crutches?
JACK NICKLAUS: On crutches. I did that.
Q. That was hard on your arms and shoulders, wasn't it?
JACK NICKLAUS: I'm strong. I'm strong. (Laughter.)
Q. But you did it four different times, you didn't do it all at once is what I'm trying
to get to?
JACK NICKLAUS: No, he didn't want me to do it at once. 10 to 20 minutes, 4 to 6 times a
day. Like taking pills. You space it out.
Q. Can you gain enough stamina between now and the Open to be strong enough to go
JACK NICKLAUS: Oh, I'm going to go there.
Q. To go physically for four days?
JACK NICKLAUS: Jerry, the Open, this will be a lot tougher than the U.S. Open. This is
a lot tougher than the U.S. Open. The Pinehurst is a relatively flat golf course. Of
course playing in Philadelphia is a hilly golf course. And that's why I went to
Philadelphia. I wanted to find out -- I didn't want to come here and play if I couldn't
walk in Philadelphia. I may be the only player in the field that walked in Philadelphia.
And, you know, everybody else was in a cart. They told us we could ride up and down hills
about six places on the golf course with our caddie. And the caddie and player could get
in the cart and go. I never got in the cart. I did that for a reason, though, I did it
because I wanted to try to keep building up my stamina, my energy, to be able to play
here. And my golf game should be better at the U.S. Open than it is here. You know, who
knows what it will be. It should be better.
Q. Jack, a short time ago you were talking about the young kids. You're scheduled to
play with Sergio Garcia tomorrow, practice round. What potential do you see in this
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know. I haven't seen him play.
Q. Have you seen him on TV?
JACK NICKLAUS: I've seen him hit one shot, two shots; a drive in the second shot and 15
in Augusta, when he was playing with Tiger and Hank Kuehne and -- I don't know who the
fourth was that day. But anyway, I watched them play, and that's the only shot I've seen
Q. Tiger said that he thinks Sergio is a better player at 19 than Tiger was. Simply
JACK NICKLAUS: Who said that?
JACK NICKLAUS: Tiger said he is?
Q. Tiger said he's a better player at 19 than Tiger was at 19 simply because he's
played all over the world.
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I don't think there's been many 19-year-old kids that have started
out on the TOUR in their first event and finished third. That's what he did, didn't he?
That's pretty good. I mean he won $33 in mine. (Laughter.)
Q. 33 cents.
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know whatever happened to that extra penny. I'm looking forward
to playing with him. I assume that he's in town?
Q. He's here, yes.
JACK NICKLAUS: Is he here today? Is he playing the golf course?
Q. He's certainly at the golf course.
JACK NICKLAUS: I haven't talked to him. I don't know what time or anything.
Q. Back to the exercise for a minute, Jack. You said you were exercising to try to
prevent surgery. How many years did that go on?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I did my exercise program for several years to just -- because it
was my exercise program for what I needed to play golf. Now from last July, when I decided
that it was time that I really aggressively tried to hit the exercise program to see if I
can avoid surgery, that was the first time that I did exercise to really avoid surgery.
And I stepped up that exercise program, stepped up the strength program, and it became
quite clear in December that that didn't work. Not from a strength standpoint, because I
did get stronger, but from a functional standpoint. I wasn't able to function properly. I
didn't hurt like I was -- I was sitting like I am right here, lying in bed, sitting at the
table talking, standing up, I didn't hurt. If I went to start to do something, then I'd
start to get dysfunctional and start hurting. I wasn't that bad until November, December.
Then finally, I tried to play golf at the end of December to try to get ready for January,
I knew there was no chance. So that's when I went ahead and scheduled surgery.
Q. Are you more pain-free now than say 10 years, 20 years, 30 years --
JACK NICKLAUS: I still hurt in all the same places except my hip. I'm, you know, I'm
not hurt. But I mean I never -- I think I've been pretty healthy for most athletes for a
lot of years. I never missed a tournament for -- or had to withdraw because of an injury.
I had two tournaments that I hurt my back in; '81 World Series, '83 Masters. They are the
only two tournaments I ever dropped out of. So I think that's pretty good. But we all have
hurts, we all have aches and pains. Yeah, I got aches and pains right now. But I mean
they're things I've had for years and I don't pay attention to them. I pay attention when
I go home and exercise. I exercise to get rid of them. When I get through exercising, they
Q. Has there been a discomfort factor for a long time?
JACK NICKLAUS: Not so much the discomfort, the hip was a function issue. The hip did
not allow me to be able to physically do what I needed to do to play golf. It wasn't the
issue that it hurt that much, it hurt. But not any more than my back hurt or my knees or
my feet or anything else. I could get around that. But the others I could always make it
work in play. The hip finally got to the point where I couldn't make it work. I mean that
was really the issue. That's when I decided I had to have surgery. Everybody said,
"Gee, Jack, you waited an awfully long time." Maybe I did wait a long time. The
doctor when he operated on me said, "Jack, you've probably been bone on bone for
years." I didn't know that. And the only part that I had -- all the X-rays that I
took, it looked like it was cartilage. When he got in there, he said, "Jack, it was
just massive bone spurs." He said, "Your bone spurs just kept growing in."
Pretty soon I couldn't get back to neutral. When I couldn't get back to neutral is when I
first started hurting. That was just December. Even when I was down at the Presidents Cup,
I could do my exercises in the morning, this is December, I could do my exercises in the
morning and I was pretty good. But once I started doing anything, I started walking, then
all of a sudden I get dysfunctional real fast. It just wouldn't hold. That's when I
started limping and hurting. I started hurting when I limped.
Q. Could you comment on your memories of Ben Hogan and the appropriateness of him being
honoree this year?
JACK NICKLAUS: It's quite obvious that Ben Hogan would have been our choice to be
honoree many years ago. But according to Ben's wishes, he wished not to be honored while
he was alive. So we obviously honored that wish, and when Hogan passed away, Valerie
actually wrote Barbara a letter and said that, you know, that Ben had always told her that
he wanted to be honored by Muirfield. And now that he had passed away, she was sure Ben
would have wanted to be honored. Obviously he was our first choice this last year. So to
have Hogan, who we obviously would have loved to have him be here himself, but Valerie's
going to be here -- and you know, my own relationship with Hogan, is that what you were
asking more than anything?
JACK NICKLAUS: My own relationship with Hogan goes back to 1960. The first time I met
him, I was paired with him at the last two rounds of Cherry Hills. That was a great
experience. He was great to play with. He was as courteous as he could be. He didn't say a
lot. Occasionally talked when he wanted to. But he wasn't a whole lot different than I
was. I don't like to talk a whole lot and listen to a bunch of jamber either. I like to
play golf. Particularly when I'm playing something I want to play well in. I don't want to
sit here and talk about what kind of birds are in the trees or something. But Hogan was a
terrific playing partner. I really enjoyed playing with him that day. The hot display he
made that day was just fantastic. He played very, very great golf. That was at the time
when he was starting to stand over a putt for ever. And he missed a ton of short putts
that day, but he also holed a ton of long putts. He may have preputted 5 or 6 times, but
he may have holed 7 or 8 or 10 putts out of 10 feet. After we finished with that, I went
back and I had a, you know, as I always did every time I played with Sam or played with
Ben, I always imitated their swing. I played like Hogan most of the rest of the summer,
trying to -- I always felt like I like to take my left and keep it ahead of my right and
never let it catch it. Hogan looked like he played that way to me and I tried to imitate
that. Kids do all those kind of things. So he was always an inspiration to me every time I
watched him hit golf balls. But I always got a big kick out of -- next year, we went to
the Masters, in '60, '61, and he was one of the first guys I saw when I walked in the
clubhouse. He says, Hey, fella -- because he called everybody fella. He said, "Hey,
fella, want to play?" I said, "Fine." Oakland Hills later in the summer we
played. He must have enjoyed watching me, too, as much as I enjoyed watching him. He must
have known I didn't like to talk either, I guess. But anyway, we had a -- we played a lot
of golf together from that -- not a lot, but a reasonable amount of golf from that
standpoint. I think maybe the last time I played with Ben was probably the final round of
the Masters in '66. I was in a playoff and won that. But I think he's the best shot maker
that I've ever seen, I don't think I've ever seen anybody his equal. He's, I think, for a
-- Hogan's career -- he didn't win his first major until he was in his 30s. And he, for a
period of time, he played from that period of time until he really -- what was the last
major he won? '53? '53 was the last one. From '48 to '53, I don't think anybody had a
record that was any better than that in that period right there. So obviously we're very
delighted to honor him this year. He's a very special player.
Q. As far as you know, did he really say what he said about you after that round at
JACK NICKLAUS: What he said to Dan Jenkins? He said Dan said that's too bad, Ben. He
said you had another Open. He said I played with a kid, if he had a brain he would have
won by ten shots. You mean that?
JACK NICKLAUS: That's what Dan said he said.
Q. What was your reaction to that?
JACK NICKLAUS: I didn't hear it until 20 years later. He was afraid I might get a
Q. Supposedly you said well, if he could have putted like me or putted a lick, he would
have won by 10 shots or something like that.
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't remember what I said, Jerry. I think I said enough.
Q. That was the lines that I have seen written.
JACK NICKLAUS: Could have been. Yeah, I think if he would have putted like I did, he
probably would have won by quite a few shots. But I mean, we started out even in the day
and I ended up beating him for the day, so I obviously had less putts because he hit more
shots to the green than I did. If he had putted like I did, he would have one.
Q. Did he hit 46 greens?
JACK NICKLAUS: 34. Hit the previous 18, then the 34. Didn't hit it quite hard enough,
left it a foot short. He left it a lot more than a foot short. But it was a foot short
from carrying on to the surface.
Q. Jack, this is arguably the strongest field since the Masters, very good field, and
it's not going to affect you. But in between times almost every week it looks like a
mystery guest list, the leaderboard. What do you envision; do you envision having any
reaction on, you know, television ratings or tournament sponsors? With the quote name
players vanishing between whether it's the World Tour escalating money --
JACK NICKLAUS: It's a hard issue. It's a hard issue. It's a hard issue. I think it's an
issue that Tim has to watch very carefully. I don't think there's any question about it.
Obviously, the players want to play in the four major championships. They want to have the
opportunity for players to play more often against each other in a smaller field, such as
a special tournament you're talking about, there's four of those, aren't there, this year?
Q. Three this year.
JACK NICKLAUS: Three this year. Then you have THE TOUR Championship, Player's
Championship. I think the Memorial is always going to have a pretty good field because
they like playing here, they like the course. But even so, you know, we don't get the
European players because the British PGA. Everybody's having a fight. Not a fight, but
they're having a -- they're trying to get players to play in the golf tournament. As much
money as they're playing for today, and you take the Majors and the three or four next
year, I guess they're going to have, right? The four next year, other two or three
tournaments that there's going to be, and to support your own Tour, which is how they're
going to qualify, they're going to have to qualify for this by supporting their own Tour,
there's really, you know, they're going to get their pockets pretty full, pretty quick.
And that's always been a worry. I have a big worry of the Tour becoming a secondary Tour.
And that's what you're asking. Sure, of course, it is. It's a fear I have. But I think you
have to have a balance. I think it's great that the guys have the -- the best players have
the opportunities to play against the best players in the world more often. I think that's
terrific. I've always supported that. But I don't want to support it at the detriment of
the European Tour, the U.S. Tour, other Tours in the world, you know, that their players
-- players in Europe want to see some of the European players play. The South African
players, the Australian players, Japanese players, they're going to want to see their own
players play in their country, so. And so there's a balance. I don't know what that
balance is. Basically, I think Tim pretty much said that this morning. He said we just
have to wait and see, see what happens and see how people react to it. I don't want to
react too severely until I see what happens. But I think it's a pretty obvious scenario I
Q. Jack, you are one of the game's great ambassadors. Have you thought about taking it
upon yourself to personally speak to Finchem, voice these fears?
JACK NICKLAUS: Sure.
Q. Have you spoken to him?
JACK NICKLAUS: I did a while back, yeah. But I haven't -- not in the last couple
months. I haven't seen him. I'll probably see him here. He might ask me, he might not.
I'll have plenty of time to talk to him about it. I don't think that, you know, my opinion
is any more important than somebody else's opinion.
Q. I think it is.
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know. I think you've got to -- you've got to look and see where
they're going to go and what they're going to do with it and how much more it's going to
grow into a World Tour and how much they're going to sacrifice the regular Tour to do
that. That's the issue you're talking about.
Q. When you were playing the big three matches, was there an effort there to make sure
the TOUR was not impacted negatively at all?
JACK NICKLAUS: We tried that. Also, when Tiger and Duval are playing a million-dollar
match today, or whenever they're playing that match. We had the opportunities -- Arnold
and I had several opportunities to play matches like that. John Miller and I had several
opportunities. We turned those down. We turned those down because at the time, the purses
that we were offered were just miles above the regular purses we were playing for. Today,
what Tiger and David are playing for are not out of line with the regular purses. Times
have changed. I'm not sure their matches won't actually help the game of golf. So I mean
you've got two sides to that story today. I feel like in the days when Johnny and I were
offered to play whatever the number was we were offered, I can't remember what the numbers
were, whether it was 100,000 or 500,000 or a million, I don't remember what it was, but it
was winner take all. It was way, way more than what the TOUR was playing for. Then I
thought that was out of balance. I think that to create a rivalry between David and Tiger
would be good. I mean good for the game, good for, you know, good for spectators and
people to enjoy. But I think they've got to treat that by winning golf tournaments, not by
necessarily having -- creating matches for it. And between the two of them, they've won
one Major on a professional Tour -- but Arnold and I had a rivalry, we won a lot of
tournaments on the Major Tour. I don't think there's any question they're the two best
players right now. But is it, you know, is that a rivalry created by -- for economic
reasons, or is that a rivalry that is for real? I think it ultimately will be. I think
they're so good.
Q. How many big three events were there a year usually?
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know. We played two events. We played one at Firestone and we
played one at Mauna Kea. There were four round events, canned for television, weren't any
other tournaments opposite that at the time. Then they were showing it -- I don't know
when they were showing it, next year. Is that what you're talking about, those
JACK NICKLAUS: Those weren't for a lot of money, though. Those were TV entertainment
productional ads. I wouldn't be playing today if we played for a lot of money then. I won
both of them so... (Laughter.)
Q. Jack, Tiger was in here earlier. He mentioned he played Pinehurst yesterday, and the
two things that stood out to him were he felt he could hit a lot of drivers out there and
secondly, he wants the short game imagination it requires. Can you address how you think
JACK NICKLAUS: I thought the course was set up well for both Duval and Tiger. Both have
a imagination around the green. That's sort of what I thought. I think that the golf
course, as I am told, has shaded all the banks. But they shaded the bank to high rough.
That will make the chip around the green very, very difficult. But I think the course --
you don't have to be long to play Pinehurst.
Q. Tiger also spoke today about his own -- he called it maturity or patience,
developing, and the importance of that in an Open -- people have talked about him not
being patient enough in an Open. Do you think that's a valid criticism or have you seen in
his game some patience?
JACK NICKLAUS: He was on my team at the America -- Presidents Cup. And I thought he
handled himself very well. I didn't think that -- I didn't see any lack of patience, nor
lack of confidence in himself to play. He came to me before the pairings. He said if
there's any opportunity for me to get Norman. He said see if you can make it happen -- he
wanted to play Greg. He thought it would be great for the matches. And, you know, he's
certainly not -- he certainly doesn't want to run away from what's out there. And he's --
he's, you know, I don't know what his own patience level is as he plays in some of those
tournaments. But I know what his talent level is. And I know what his confidence level is,
his belief in himself. He believes very highly in himself. He should.
Q. Do you still believe that he's a gifted -- as talented as you thought he was in the
JACK NICKLAUS: Yeah, I think so, Jerry. Yeah.
Q. He spoke in here about changing his golf swing, changing his body with exercise, and
he spoke about trying to play differently than when he first started out. And, well, he
mentioned things about the way you and Arnold Palmer played, he mentioned the two of you.
He said you guys had real strong hands and arms and played a lot with hands and arms and
he thought that would make a person more consistent. His talk right now is about
consistency in his game and not necessarily glorious things. Do you see a change from the
Presidents Cup from maybe when he was younger?
JACK NICKLAUS: Jay, I haven't watched him play that much. I didn't see him at the
Presidents Cup, four or five holes. I don't watch guys play golf -- four or five shots
there. But I think all players' swing fundamentals change a little bit as time goes on.
And I think that they have to revert back to basic fundamentals. I think everybody does.
And I think that's probably what he's saying. I think you play golf one way, and you work
on golf another way, and you try to make the two of them blend to be able to produce the
best score. Do you understand what I'm saying there?
Q. Yeah. You work on golf but you play in the subconscious. Is that what you mean?
JACK NICKLAUS: No, no. When you play golf, you're playing the golf course. You use what
your natural abilities allow you to do. That may not necessarily be fundamentally the
right swing that you should be using, but it's a swing that you've naturally come to. So
he's trying to adjust his body a little bit. He's trying to adjust himself a little bit,
so he can be, probably, a little bit more fundamentally sound under pressure. So that when
his natural instincts take over, they don't just supersede the fundamentals that he's been
working on and trying to put into his game that are the staples of his golf game. You
LEE PATTERSON: I think that's what he was talking about.
JACK NICKLAUS: I would think that's what he's talking about. But all of us do that.
I've done that for years. I always have to keep working back. Every year when I started
golf, I go back to Jack Grout and say, okay, I'm a beginner. That's why I like to take the
fall off. I'm a beginner, I start with the grip, posture, fundamentals we start with. I
try to -- I try not to get all the engaged swing pressures that you allow to happen while
you're playing to become my fundamental swing. And I think that that's -- that happens a
lot when you play a lot of tournament golf. He's playing a lot of tournament golf. But he
also realizes you have to be back and fundamentally sound through your instincts, not to
try what's fundamentally sound. A lot of times, if your instincts have a tendency to do
things -- Norman has a tendency to do some things. He has to gradually do that. I have
problems with certain things I do. We all do. I mean Hogan, you go back and read Hogan's
stuff, Hogan always had a snap-hook on his mind. Somewhere along the line he had to learn
how to fundamentally eliminate that from his golf game, so when his natural instincts took
over, that didn't come back in his golf game. So that you can play with freedom and
natural ability, but also within the frame work that you built in your swing and the
fundamentals that you set for yourself. That's very important.
Q. Bruce was talking about, that certainly was one of your greatest attributes. Is that
something you had to teach yourself at an early age as it relates to an Open, or is that
something that you felt you had naturally working for you?
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know. I think I was no different than most kids. I probably
slammed my share of kids in the ground, kicked my shirt off bags. But I also realized at
an early age that it didn't help me win the tournament or beat my player or achieve a
lower score. So I needed to basically be a little bit more patient with myself. Maybe I
just got more mature earlier than some kids and was able to learn to do that. And that's
patience, I suppose. Patience, maturity, I suppose.
Q. Does it relate to the Open, is that the hardest tournament to remain patient in?
JACK NICKLAUS: Generally. Generally.
Q. Did you feed off of that and make it sort of an ally for you as you played those
JACK NICKLAUS: Yeah, I think so. I think that I played so many Amateurs, and the
Amateurs are set up exactly like the Open. I played enough USGA events that USGA was
always set up in a certain way. It just really challenged your patience. And so I work
real hard at being able to maintain my control and play within myself in those golf
courses and do what I can do. But I was also pretty strong in those days and could pretty
much do a lot more than most people can do. But it's become a tremendous ally for you to
be able to do that. But to do that and then be successful at it and then believe you can
do it, then you really have to go with somebody who's never done it. Then you do become
patient. Maybe patience happened with me as I had success. Maybe they came together.
Q. As it relates to this year's Open, are you still of the mindset that the tougher it
is down there, the better chance you have to be affected?
JACK NICKLAUS: Yes.
Q. What type of chance do you feel like you have?
JACK NICKLAUS: Tim, I don't know. You've heard what I said here, about my chance here.
I'm hoping to play four rounds. If I could play four rounds of the Open, that would be
wonderful. If I happen to play four rounds, and be somewhat competitive, that would be
fantastic. Do I think I have a chance to win the U.S. Open or Muirfield? Realistically, I
don't. I don't, not right now.
Q. I didn't mean to win, I just meant to be competitive.
JACK NICKLAUS: Win would be my goal every time. Don't think I've discounted the
opportunity and the chance and the feeling and desire of winning -- to win. I'm just
trying to be realistic and honest with you. I'm going to Pinehurst and I'm coming out here
this week and trying to win this golf tournament. Absolutely, no question about that. Do I
think it's realistic? No, probably not. But I'm still going to approach it that way, play
the best I can within my ability. If I can keep Pamela awake back there, we can continue
the conversation. (Laughter.) She's nodding off back there. (Laughter.) You know me too
Q. We missed the Masters! (Laughing) Having missed the Masters, is there any more --
doesn't it make the Open a little more special for you to be back in the Majors?
JACK NICKLAUS: I hope it does. I haven't played a major since last year's Open. It
would be nice. It would be special.
Q. Any special feelings for Pinehurst?
JACK NICKLAUS: Pinehurst is my favorite golf course from the design standpoint. It
always has been. I like Pinehurst. It's a totally tree-lined golf course and there's not a
tree in play strategically. No water. It's a wonderful golf course. And I assume they're
going to have it around the green, the way it was meant to be. My bet is they won't have
it totally that way. What they're going to have, which is going to be absolute murder, as
I understand, is it's shaved around the green, then high grass 10 or 15 yards away. That's
going to be impossible play. You can't launch up a knob over a knoll, bounce up -- you
just can't do it. That's hard to do. You have to do a lob shot out of high grass. It's
going to take some imagination. Watson is fantastic at that kind of stuff. Seve is
terrific. Both Duval and Tiger are terrific at that.
Q. On the subject of the Majors, have you made a decision about the British Open?
JACK NICKLAUS: Entries close today.
Q. I know.
JACK NICKLAUS: I did not enter.
Q. You're not playing?
JACK NICKLAUS: I did not enter. First time I'm not entering.
Q. What kind of insights can you offer, it's been so long since you've been in
Carnoustie, about the course?
JACK NICKLAUS: I'm not playing.
Q. From past experience?
JACK NICKLAUS: Okay. It's just a long, tough golf course. Very difficult. Why am I not
going? Just because of here, week off, U.S. Open, week off, Senior Open, Senior Player
Championship, British Open, three weeks in a row. I know that that would be within six
months of surgery, that's just more than I can play. I said that's just crazy to even
think about. Two weeks in a row is going to be tough.
Q. Do you know when you last not entered the British Open, what year?
JACK NICKLAUS: Uh-huh. '61. I was an amateur. Every year since I've been a professional
I've played. Yeah, sure.
Q. You intend to play next year?
JACK NICKLAUS: Yes.
Q. Year 2000?
JACK NICKLAUS: Yes. I intend to play all the Majors in 2000. Whether that will be the
end of my Majors or not, we'll see. I hope not.
Q. Donald Ross, what's your assessment of his work?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I grew up on a Ross golf course. There's many different kinds of
Ross golf courses, Jerry. Some that Ross actually did, some that Ross partially did and
some that Ross sent plans. There's a lot of that kind of stuff. How many golf courses?
They claim something like 500 and something golf courses, whatever it is. There's no way
physically Donald Ross could have done even remotely close to that. I'm going as fast as I
can go and I'll never get to 300 probably. So the Pinehurst is where he lived. So that's
the input of Donald Ross. There is his continual tinkering and fiddling around with the
golf course to get it the way he wanted it and this is what you're going to see in the
Q. Was that maybe his best then?
JACK NICKLAUS: Oh, I think it's his best. I don't think there's any question it's his
best. I would think so. Maybe some other people have other opinions. But I grew up in
Scioto, which was a Ross golf course. They changed. It's no longer what I would consider a
Ross golf course. Scioto, growing up, is a wonderful golf course. It's not a Ross golf
Q. They're changing it again, aren't they?
JACK NICKLAUS: Don't know. Don't know. But there's a lot of Ross golf courses. You can
try to take Oak Hill and Scioto and try to compare the two, they don't look anything
alike. Or Seminole and take -- there's -- Brookside was a Ross course, wasn't it?
Q. Canton, Brookside is.
JACK NICKLAUS: I meant this one here.
Q. I don't think so.
JACK NICKLAUS: I was told yesterday it was.
Q. Canton, Brookside is. I didn't know this was.
JACK NICKLAUS: I was told that yesterday, I didn't know. I don't know. Maybe it isn't.
There's a lot of golf courses you play that are Ross's and haven't been touched. They're
very, very simple, easy small round greens, relatively flat greens or a lot of pitch, you
know, usually tilted. Always good, solid golf courses. But most of them have become good
golf courses over time. Oakland Hills was considered an original Ross golf course. Robert
Trent Jones redid the golf course, it looks like a Trent Jones golf course. But Pinehurst
is truly his golf course, that they left alone. I skirted around that. I don't know if I
answered your question or not.
Q. I forgot the question. (Laughter.)
JACK NICKLAUS: I skirted around, that's right.
Q. So what we'll see there is what Donald Ross really believed, whatever that
JACK NICKLAUS: I think so. I don't think he believed in the high rough that you'll see.
I don't believe he believed in any rough. That's the one thing -- that's the only thing I
disagree with. I wish they left it no rough, just skinny and let the ball go. The gallery
would stop half the shots. But when I won the North-South Fair in '59, the ball, when it
missed a green, it went forever. Sometimes you couldn't find a direction to get it back.
You'd have to play to another area just to get it back on the green after that. Seriously,
I mean, I shot over 80 both rounds in the finals at North-South and won it.
Q. Jack, do you feel that if they left it as it was intended to be played, it would
still be a stiffer test?
JACK NICKLAUS: Oh, yeah. I think so. I don't think the rough does anything -- I think
what Augusta did this year was terrific. Augusta's always played with no rough. And they
put just enough rough in not to keep you from getting the ball to the green but keep you
from being able to spin the ball to the green, which meant you had to play another kind of
shot. Which I think is great. And so you had to have a little imagination. To have rough
like this and all you do is take a sand wedge and chop it out, to me is boring. I mean
it's just not -- it's no fun. British Open, we played for years, most of the British Opens
we played for years where they never got any water into the rough, you had that tall,
wispy stuff, you never knew when you were going to get a lie, what your club was going to
be, you never knew how you were going to get through it. Sometimes you got a lie, got
lucky and you could play. It was a lot of luck of how it happened and where you were. To
have consistent rough and have that -- the ball running through the fairways are going to
stop all the time. It's never going to get in the trees, never really get in trouble. A
lot of times when you play a course that doesn't have a gallery on it, it plays a lot
different than when it has a gallery. A gallery's going to stop the ball. What are you
going to play out of? Centipede, sand spurs, buried -- chip it out of heel prints. That's
Q. What do you think they are trying to prove? I know they do it every year.
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't think anybody knows really what to do. I think they're doing the
best they can. And I don't think anybody really knows what to do. I think they're scared
of chewing Pinehurst up. And I think that if Pinehurst -- you have rain, I don't think
they're going to -- you can't get good scores. If they don't have rain and the course is
fast, they won't shoot Pinehurst. It's too fast. Play too tough.
Q. Can you give us a quick reaction on Watson on the Senior Tour?
JACK NICKLAUS: He's going to play well. I don't think there's any question about that.
He's a terrific player. He'll be a great addition. Guys, I've got to go. I have to get a
shower and get back to a 5 o'clock captain's dinner.
Q. Fast shower.
JACK NICKLAUS: Fast shower and exercise, too. I'm going to be a few minutes late. Thank
End of FastScripts