home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


March 4, 1999

Jack Nicklaus


DAVE SENKO: We appreciate you coming in. We will get started. If you want to make any comments.

JACK NICKLAUS: I was basically asked, have you had a lot of requests; would you stop in for a few minutes before going out to watch Gary. I said, sure. That is why I am here. I will let you know I went to the doctor yesterday. Five weeks from surgery and he was -- biggest thing he was concerned about was unwanted bone growth meaning around the prosthesis which would limit the range of motion. I have not seen many doctors get excited. He put the X-rays above he said, "Jack, look at that, no bone growth." I was clean as a whistle. He basically released me to do whatever I feel like I can do. Took me off crutches, put me on a cane. He said, until you can walk straight -- when you walk straight and get your weight to where you feel like you can, you have good balance, he said throw the cane away and start chipping and putting, start swinging the golf club. Whenever you feel like you want to put a golf ball in front of it, go ahead and do it. I mean, he had first six weeks actually I guess -- he made it -- he didn't want me more than 50% or 90% bending in any degree. And, yesterday he had me try to tie my shoes, which I can't quite get to that one yet (points to left foot) Pulled my knee to my chest, which he never wanted me to go past 90 degrees. Now he wants it to my chest. This morning I got up, I did a program last night, program this morning and program in the swimming pool this morning and down here. I obviously put 100% of weight on the leg and go from there.

Q. Will you try and walk 18 holes today?

JACK NICKLAUS: I am hoping Senior is going to be around a little bit with the cart, occasionally, to sort of break it up. I don't think I am going to try that the first day. I have been walking a couple miles a day with crutches, which is -- that is putting like 50% of the weight on the thing, throw the clutches away. He wants 100% weight on this thing. It is a little different story.

Q. Does it feel a little shaky, I mean, balance-wise?

JACK NICKLAUS: It doesn't -- with the cane I feel more -- the cane is going like this, my leg feels all right, but it is not -- no, it is not stable. It is actually -- it is probably a little sore today because it is the first time I put any weight on it for five weeks.

Q. What have you been doing?

JACK NICKLAUS: I don't have much time to do anything else, what I have been doing I have had three exercise programs to do a day, walked four to six times a day for 10 to 20 minutes and supposed to be on my back for three times a day for 30 minutes. Try to add anything else in there, you don't have a whole lot of time for it. And I actually -- I did on the back thing until the swelling went. I got rid of the swelling in about two weeks. After that then I just -- I sort of skipped lying down and did everything else, and I had three programs everyday and I had my walks everyday and I was pretty good when I got up there. One of the first things the physical therapist said: Lie down, can you lift your leg for me. He says, can you hold it for eight seconds. I held it for about 20 seconds. He said, well, that is pretty good. So he was real happy with those things, so, I am doing pretty well.

Q. Did everything go as you expected? Were you prepared for everything? Any surprises?

JACK NICKLAUS: I have been a little different than most guys. Most guys with hip replacements, if you talk to Bobby Nichols and George Archer neither of them could sleep. He had a horrible time standing or sitting and just -- they were uncomfortable all the time. I wasn't uncomfortable. I didn't hurt at all. I didn't hurt any more before than I do right now. And until I started to try to do something. Then it got to be where down in Australia I was really bad because I couldn't walk -- I couldn't do enough exercise to get back to neutral. I think the reason why Egoscue stopped working for me was because of bone spurs that grew in there. My femur was totally bald, I had a big cyst up on the femur which eventually he said I would have collapsed it. He said the part that looked like it had cartilage wasn't cartilage, it was all bone spurs and growing in. So I could only turn it back in and couldn't get it quite to neutral. The bone spurs kept turning, it kept going to where I couldn't all of a sudden get there. And I think that is when Egoscue stopped working. He said I probably had bone on bone for five or six years. That is a guess. But my bursa sac has been dry for, I don't know how many years. Had a mess in there. I did enough exercise. Really didn't hurt when I was sleeping or anything else and so that was why I didn't really rush into it. I wasn't that bad except I couldn't do anything. Then all of a sudden it became a quality of life issue to whether I was going to do something or could not do something, functionally be able to do anything. I couldn't go to the store with Barbara. If I tried to go shopping or anything, no way in the world I could go with her - good excuse, but I would have really like to have been able to do it. Obviously couldn't do anything athletic and I really just wasn't much -- just going to the office and doing nothing else. So now as soon as I had the surgery my leg internal rotation which I couldn't get too much as I want, and my leg tracks (sic) straight. Biggest problem I am going to have right now is that the dysfunction which caused a lot of the problem, or added to the problem, I should say, in other words, both my legs are the same length right now but my left leg, if you measure them, put them out, would be longer than my right by a centimeter. That is probably because of rotation and compensation over time. That is one of the things we really worked on, me walking as straight, try to really force myself to be straight, try to extend my right leg as much as I could to be -- get it longer, try to do it -- of course, I am doing some of Egoscue exercises too to blend in what he is doing. Hopefully within two, three weeks I will be pretty normal. That will be a matter of when I can, you know, when I can start swinging a golf club; when I can start playing a little bit, and then, of course, what will happen -- then I am trying to walk, trying to play; then I will get swelling. I will get soreness and just a matter of when that blend-out is when I will be able to play.

Q. Do you miss playing golf?

JACK NICKLAUS: Oh, yeah, sure, I miss playing golf. Do I miss going out and playing poorly? No, I don't miss going out and playing poorly. I enjoy going out and playing well. Yeah, I'd like that.

Q. When was the last time you played?

JACK NICKLAUS: The last time that I played was July, at the Seniors and I took some time off. Didn't play from then until my wife told me I was going to play in the FCA Pro-Am up our way, which is the first part of December. I did play in that. And I can't say I played very successfully. Then I tried to play a few days later when I was in Australia. I couldn't resist playing a few holes at Royal Melbourne. I played about 12 holes down there. Both times I used a cart, you know, because I couldn't walk and then I felt like I had been doing my exercise enough. I was trying to prepare myself playing in January. So the end of December, after another three weeks off or so started hitting about 30 balls, then 50, next day hit about 75 balls, next day hit 100 balls, then I felt like I was going to try to play nine holes. I played with Gary nine holes between Christmas and New Years. It was quite evident to me that I wasn't going to be able to play golf this year, with that. So that is when I -- as soon as the New Years holiday finished, few days, I called the doctor and I made appointment on the fifth of January. Let's see, fifth -- yeah, fifth of January. He started drawing blood on the 6th of January and three weeks later I was operated on.

Q. Is this the longest stretch you have gone ever without hitting?

JACK NICKLAUS: No, I think one of the best stretches of golf that I ever had was 1980. In '79 I went from the PGA Championship 'til the first part of January, touched a club three times. And because I just felt like I was playing so bad, I wanted to get away from it. Then I started over, like I was a beginner with Jack Grout and 1980 was one of the better years I have had.

Q. What is it like being out here, a place you always played?

JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know I haven't been out.

Q. Just being in this room....

JACK NICKLAUS: I am looking forward to it. I am going to find out how far I can walk and how far I go before I get sore and I know I am going to get sore because I haven't walked at all on this leg. I am going to be walking today. He told me he says maybe you ought to take your crutches with you tomorrow. I said: How am I going to carry a crutch and a cane? How do you carry both of them? A little hard; isn't it?

Q. Senior giving you a hard time?

JACK NICKLAUS: Not yet. He will. Sitting right back there.

Q. Jack, are you ahead of schedule? On schedule?

JACK NICKLAUS: I would say I am ahead of schedule. He told me I wouldn't hit a golf ball for three months. He has now told me that whenever I am stable on my leg that I can start swinging the golf club, he said start chipping and putting. He says pretty soon you will just automatically put a golf ball in front it.

Q. Memorial is realistic to you?

JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know. I really don't know how I will react. Even yesterday, he said he didn't think I would make the Memorial, but if I don't, I don't. I am not going to rush it. That is a goal, but I don't know whether it is a realistic -- four months after hip surgery is pretty fast to walk that golf course.

Q. If you don't make Memorial would that rule out --

JACK NICKLAUS: You just keep going 'til I can play. When I can play, then I will go.

Q. Augusta?

JACK NICKLAUS: I am going up to Augusta just for a day.

Q. For dinner?

JACK NICKLAUS: For the dinner, yes. But I can probably play a senior tournament before I would play a regular tournament only because I can take a cart and sort of pace myself into that. I don't really know where the senior tournament falls at that time. Couple weeks probably after the Open I think would probably be U.S. Senior Open or the TPC so -- try to probably do that. Senior Open I have to walk too, though.

Q. You did well last year at Augusta. I guess with the hip being in bad shape, is the competitor in you curious or excited about what is going to happen when?

JACK NICKLAUS: Yeah, sure. I think it would only be natural that it would. I never knew when I was going to have a good day or bad day. I could go out last year at Augusta, I wasn't terrible. I mean, I limped but it didn't really bother me too much hitting golf balls. I had fatigue during the latter part of the round, but you get adrenaline flowing, you forget about things. Barb says I always limped a lot less when I was playing better. (laughter) but that -- everybody would do that. You just sort of put yourself up to it. And I was taking probably only about two Advil a day. I've never been big on taking much medicine. I know a lot of guys taking a dozen of them, so. I have never done that. I haven't had an Advil, well, obviously haven't had one for seven, eight weeks, ten weeks. So I haven't had anything. No painkillers since the first day after surgery, so I mean that is pretty good.

Q. How long were you in the hospital?

JACK NICKLAUS: Let me finish. -- competitiveness of me will really want me to see if I can play, yeah, absolutely. I want to see if I can. Now do I think I am going to come out and compete against the Tigers and Duvals and so forth? No, I am being realistic. I don't think I will do that, but you know, I think I will probably give them a little greater scare than I did the last time because I think I will probably be able to play a little better.

Q. What are some of things you miss about not playing in the Masters and are you coming to the Champions Dinner?

JACK NICKLAUS: Yes, Champions Dinner.

Q. What are some things you will miss after playing 40 years --

JACK NICKLAUS: Not playing. That is enough, I think.

Q. This year is the 20th anniversary of the SENIOR TOUR, has that progressed to a stage beyond what you thought it might have when the concept first came up?

JACK NICKLAUS: Well, SENIOR TOUR, when it first started, was supposed to be Ceremonial Tour. It is not exactly a ceremonial Tour anymore. It was supposed to be an event -- they are going to have half a dozen events a year to showcase the guys that aren't playing golf anymore but had the names of playing -- that is sort of why this Tour, I am sure is small, but it has just grown, grown, grown, I think it has done great. I think that you look at guys that are out there playing, you know, Gil Morgan, look at the success he has had. And Gil has had more success -- obviously Gil was a good player, no question about that, but he has had more success on the SENIOR TOUR than he did on the regular Tour as it relates to what is going on. And, you know, what Hale has done; a lot of other guys have played great. It has been terrific. New life for Jay Sigel. I mean, here is a guy, turned pro, played the SENIOR TOUR; now he is playing in -- what did they play for yesterday, I don't even know what the prize money was.

DAVE SENKO: 750, I think it was.

JACK NICKLAUS: First prize about two and a half, four --


JACK NICKLAUS: Those guys never dreamed that they would be doing that kind of thing.

Q. Would you consider playing the Senior tournament outside Boston --

JACK NICKLAUS: Yeah, that was one of the things that Bierbaum said yesterday. I was getting ready to walk away, press was up there. I said maybe we can get Jack here to play back in Boston? Yeah, and I am going to have to go and see him periodically. I have a golf course south f their in Plymouth that we are working on. Chances are might be a time that we will play. I never played there so I might. I am going to want to play some events, no question about that.

Q. What about the world Golf Village?

JACK NICKLAUS: Probably at a standstill. I don't think anything is even happening right now. I think they have had some problems up there. I think -- I don't know what the problems are. I don't know the company that we are contracted to do it for scratch golf, I am not sure hadn't been sold, I don't really know.

Q. Thinking about it, but nobody is saying anything?

JACK NICKLAUS: I don't really know. I honestly don't know. All I know I can't understand why it hasn't started.

Q. You have been up to Augusta since the changes?

JACK NICKLAUS: No, I haven't seen them.

Q. Any thoughts what you heard or read?

JACK NICKLAUS: No. I went through day before yesterday went looked at the changes I made at Muirfield, those were a lot more interesting to me.

Q. What did you think of those?

JACK NICKLAUS: They were good -- we narrowed the fairways up in Muirfield which is something that -- really kind of funny, we had the players report from last year and I have spent -- I have been resistent to changing the golf course up there and the report was that the players came back and about 80 percent said that the fairways were too wide. I said, well, if the players think it is too wide, then I am going to narrow it for them. So I did.

Q. Anymore room there with the property surrounding the homes and so forth, the length of that golf course anymore?

JACK NICKLAUS: Doesn't need anymore length. Golf course has got plenty of length. It's got 7200 yards, I think, basically available. We lengthened -- 13 is going to be a real bear this year.

Q. Two bunkers on the left side?

JACK NICKLAUS: Yeah, and fairways 30 yards wide now, rather than 50 yards. We added 50 yards to the tee.

Q. If you wanted to, is there anymore length?

JACK NICKLAUS: I can add room. Add length if I wanted to. Sure, I have got places. But I don't want to ruin the whole (inaudible) --

Q. If you stay on or ahead of schedule and come back in early June, what tournaments would you play the remainder of the year; are there any certainties?

JACK NICKLAUS: Not really. I don't think there is any certainty. I am going to take -- I mean, I would start with Memorial and then I would look at -- if I can't play the Memorial then it will probably be the Open. If I can't play the Open then I don't really know what is on the schedule. I would just go until I felt like I could play and I'd play. Then I would play a reasonable amount probably up until about through about August and then I might play a few odd tournaments in the fall just enough to keep my hand in so I won't be too bad coming up the next year. I won't go play all through the fall; I am not going to do that.

Q. What did Dr. Bierbaum tell you, when you do feel strong enough, good enough to play a tournament, how many you could play the rest of the year? Did he put a limit on that?


Q. Once you are in, you are in?

JACK NICKLAUS: Yeah, only limit I would have is my limit. He doesn't have any limit. Basically how you feel. I think the limit is going to be when I can play four, five days in a row. He said you will be playing golf by the Memorial Tournament whether you can play four, five days. He said with the fluid and swelling, whether that will allow you to do it. He said, I rather see you not get frustrated. Frustration is really one of things he is worrying about trying to do something and not being able to go it.

Q. Would you ride a cart on the SENIOR TOUR?

JACK NICKLAUS: I would to start with if I had to, sure.

Q. Do you think there would be people who might take that the wrong way given the Casey Martin situation last year? I know your point was not against Casey, if I remember, it was about setting the policy of the game, et cetera, but do you think people would take that and say here is what Jack --

JACK NICKLAUS: I can't play on the regular Tour. I have never taken a cart on the SENIOR TOUR. I think that if I had to use it, I don't see anything -- that is the rules of that game, I mean, do I want to take a cart? No, I don't want to take cart. I much prefer to walk. Obviously, you know, I can't take a cart when I get to the U.S. Open or the Memorial Tournament or any of those tournaments; but SENIOR TOUR is the SENIOR TOUR. It is not the walking Tour. (laughter) It is the walking-wounded, is what it is.

Q. Did the doctor, Jack, say anything about the reaction because of the nature of the surgery you had, did he say anything about --

JACK NICKLAUS: The surgery itself is not anything new. The ceramic. It is part of experimental program. I don't know that that is going to be any -- I don't know really know too much about that really. I didn't even though about the ceramic when I went up there. That was just -- that was just -- I happen to just be -- picked it out - he was one of 10 people, I didn't even know it until I got there. When he said he recommended ceramic, I didn't know ceramic from, you know, from a piece of wood as it relates to what you would put in there. I didn't. I was really going to him because of his expertise in procedure; not in material. Then he recommended the material because he said I would probably be back in five or six years with plastic. So he said Jack, he says, I got a good chance of not seeing you again, what we are finding about the ceramic and the wear patterns. I said, well, if I am going to have to be back for sure probably with plastic, why not take -- if I have to go, I can always put plastic in; if this doesn't last three, four years I can always put it in. Basically it is not like a total hip again. You are basically going in. They are not going to open you up and dislocate you. They will go and knock the ends off the prosthesis and put a different piece on. They don't -- they don't drill into your bones, all that stuff again.

Q. How is your pitching arm?

JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know, I am going to find out.

Q. Had you ever done that (inaudible) --

JACK NICKLAUS: I am throwing out a ball tomorrow night. I am going to find out whether I am going to throw it on one leg or two legs.

Q. Masters this week, what are your plans?

JACK NICKLAUS: I feel good today. I will come out and watch tomorrow. Hopefully if I feel good, then hopefully Gary makes the cut, I will watch on the weekend.

Q. Masters Week I was saying?

JACK NICKLAUS: I am sorry.

Q. You are going to come for the one day. What else are you going to do?

JACK NICKLAUS: Come up some time in the afternoon. I will probably go out and take a ride around the golf course if I find something to get me out there. I can walk out and go see the changes on the golf course; then I am going to the dinner and come home.

Q. Will you watch it?

JACK NICKLAUS: No, I think I am probably going fishing or something.

Q. Yeah?

JACK NICKLAUS: If I can. If I can figure it out. That is -- I sort of booked that week to do it. I don't have anything else on the schedule so I said I -- I can watch it on satellite that is easy, I am not going to sit around and watch a golf tournament. I have never done it yet; why would I do it now? No, I don't really -- I watched the tournament last week -- I watched -- I just happened to turn it on, I think, maybe on the 36th hole, I watched the last couple of holes. That is all I watched of that.

Q. What did you think of that the whole concept?

JACK NICKLAUS: I think Match Play is great. I think we should have Match Play tournaments. Do I like what it has done here in the game? No, I don't like it. Is that what you are asking me? Yeah, I think that you have got to have -- all you read in the newspapers the two weeks prior to the Match Play tournament was who was going to play who and qualifying for the Match Play. Half of the articles from Riviera was who was playing who; not Riviera. And I think the Doral has been hurt from it too. I think -- that I know Tim has got his own point of view on that, but I don't like the point of view that I am seeing -- it really -- with the Major Championships and you add a few of those tournaments, all of a sudden the TOUR becomes a satellite Tour, a secondary Tour. That is the one fear that I have had with it. I do like the idea of having the best players in the world playing against each other more often. I think -- and I like Match Play. I like what the concept is. I like what it is, but I think that it shouldn't be at the expense of the rest of the TOUR and I think school is still out on that. I hope they work it out because I think the concept is --

Q. What do you think?

JACK NICKLAUS: I don't have the answer for it. If they would have everybody's answer, we wouldn't have the problems you are facing this week or you faced a few weeks ago.

Q. A few years ago at the PGA Seniors you had played a practice round; been busy time for you. Played several holes and went home. Arnold talked a little bit about you were limping pretty bad. We all reacted, overreacted maybe. Can you tell us what that period was?

JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know what you are talking about.

Q. PGA Seniors?

JACK NICKLAUS: I don't remember --

Q. A couple of years ago everybody wrote about how you were limping real bad; you came in said, hey, no big deal the next day and were there times when you really were masking things for us where the pain was really bad?

JACK NICKLAUS: I always felt like I could play. Limping didn't bother me too much. What happened to me was that I never knew when it was going to happen but my left leg would start to go numb on me. That happened to me a lot. And then all of a sudden I had sort of like jelly for a left leg, and it just wouldn't support me. I had that happen to me. Not tremendous amount while I played in tournaments. But in this last fall when I started to go back, it happened every time I went to hit balls. I'd hit balls, maybe 10, 15 balls; all of a sudden I'd start to feel it go numb and then to jelly. That is when I knew I couldn't play. So it wasn't that -- I mean, I wasn't that bad before that. I mean, the problem was that I couldn't practice. I couldn't prepare. Remember, I said at the U.S. Open this year was that I'd played the two weeks prior to the U.S. Open, I played nine holes of golf; didn't hit any balls. That is why I didn't go to the British Open. It wasn't because that I wanted to end my streak or something else. I didn't think it was fair for me to go take a spot for somebody if I couldn't prepare myself to play properly in that event and so that is sort of why I ended what I was doing. So does it bother me not going to the Masters this year? No, I have ended my streak as it relates to that. I'd love to play The Masters. I'd love to compete in all of the majors, but I don't want to play on one leg and, you know, I don't know when -- how far that was going to manifest itself to whether all of a sudden it got jelly or maybe even broke a leg, I don't know -- no idea what was going to happen. Hopefully that problem is going to be over with.

Q. After going through this whole process, does it make you feel older, or more helpless, or --

JACK NICKLAUS: I have been very frustrated the last month. Every morning I say -- I sit there and Barbara would have to go answer the telephone because I can't get to my feet. I mean, Barbara put my socks on. If you ever try to put on a pair of those sort of real tights almost like suphose (ph) for phlebitis, for blood clots, try to get one of those on yourself and try to have somebody else put it on you, she did that for four weeks because I had to wear them for four weeks; can't get my shoes on. If I drop something -- I mean, I'd sit here, got my tooth brush, if I happen to drop the tooth paste or tooth brush, I have to say: Barb, can you come pick up my toothpaste. (laughter). I mean, that is the frustrating part. You just can't do anything. Now, I mean, I can bend over and do what I want to do. Still can't get to my left foot yet, I think four, five days of stretching which he has told me to do, I will probably to do anything that I can do. That is the only part that I have had that has been bothering me.

Q. Palmer and Player, building a golf curse, what is the status of that?

JACK NICKLAUS: Don't know. They were in the office last week, fellows who were doing it, and met with our guys and I know Player was there. Whether they will do it or get it together, I don't have any idea. It is a deal. I think Gary came to me said, Jack, he says, you know, please do this, I said okay. That is why I am doing it for Gary. Because he asked me to.

End of FastScripts....

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297