July 26, 1998
PACIFIC PALISADES, CALIFORNIA
Q. Jack, obviously still know how to close. What a phenomenal round. Talk a little bit about how it just clicked in, especially on the back, you almost had a couple of eagles there.
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, yesterday was obviously not a source of pride (laughs). I wasn't very pleased with that and it is going to be the last round of golf I play for a while, so I wanted to try to do the best I could. And, I played pretty well. I had -- 67 was about as high as I can shoot. And I had -- I lipped out four putts in a row on the front 9 at 4, 5, 6 and 7. And, got it through in 35 and I felt like I shot - I should have shot 30. And then the back 9 I got almost chipped it in -- I did chip it in at 11 and almost holed my wedge at 17. And I hit one other shot in about six inches at 13. That was it. And, the sum total of those putts were about one foot for those three holes. And so -- but that is what I made, those three birdies. I couldn't make any other putts.
Q. How important will it be since you are not going to play for a while, Jack, to have the last round be a round?
JACK NICKLAUS: Any time you are playing your last round of any tournament, the round -- the round you played yesterday is always an important round, of the last round that you finish. So, yeah, it is kind -- I say it is -- I suppose it is a little bit source of pride to finish off the round and finish off the tournament with a decent round. I'd shot myself out of the tournament yesterday. All I had to do was shoot 72 yesterday and I am sitting right there so -- but I didn't.
Q. How did the hip feel today?
JACK NICKLAUS: My body was great. No problems whatsoever.
Q. You just continue to amaze everyone, 58 years old, a bad hip, shooting a low round of the tournament so far.
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, good round. I don't have -- my hip wasn't bad today. I spent the last two days with Peter Egoskue. And he is amazing so he got the thing very functional and as a matter of fact, I finished my exercise last night and ran back to the room. I haven't run a step in six months. So that was kind of fun.
Q. Were you feeding off the crowd a little bit today?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I did a little bit everyday. I suppose if you make some birdies, it is always nice to have people encourage you to play. I played a lot of good shots so was -- obviously they enjoyed it and I enjoyed it.
Q. Do you look at it almost, Jack, though as frustrating because of what happened on Saturday?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, but Saturday was the thing that had to happen. I had to -- as bad as I felt on Thursday and Friday, I had to go through the stuff with Pete, which changed me around and I just -- I had a different body yesterday and today it was totally different again. But it got better each day and I am very, very encouraged by what happened.
Q. Describe a little bit what exactly he is doing when he is working with you therapeutically?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, Pete believes the body is designed a certain way and supposed to function a certain way. And I think he is probably right. We are all designed pretty much the same. The body is a very predictable animal. It responds to exercise and he tried to get -- he says my left hip is not my bad hip. My right hip is my bad hip. So if we got the right hip working, then the left hip would function properly, too. And not take the brunt of what is not working. So he got the right hip working and all of a sudden the left hip stopped hurting. It was in a functional position. I was able to -- actually, it was really funny today, all I concentrated today was to be able to get the weight to my right side. I haven't gotten my weight to the right side in two months. I hit the ball 20 yards further. I had a blast today. I mean, that was fun.
Q. Is it also easier to forget about it, Jack, when you are playing so well?
JACK NICKLAUS: It has nothing to do with it, really. I mean, I didn't hurt yesterday, but I was struggling with my golf game. But I just hadn't gotten there. I didn't know how to change back over. And, it's always fun to play well. Of course you are probably right a little bit, you don't hurt as much as you are when you are playing well. But I was good today, really pleased with that.
Q. Do you think the lack of pain today is going to make your decision even more difficult as to what you have to do?
JACK NICKLAUS: No, I don't think so. I think that what I have always decided to do is -- my first option was to exercise, and even if the exercises work great, if they don't, at least, I will be in good condition if I have to do something. I mean, I know -- I haven't been able to exercise. I have been terrible. I have been putting on weight. I have got to get weight off. I have got to get physically fit so I can do something, and that will only help me if I have to have an operation. But, you know, I have believed in what Egoskue has told me for years. He has kept me playing for ten years. I didn't have to have a back operation when everybody told me I had needed a diskectomy and a fuse. My back hasn't hurt for a long time. If he thinks my hip will work the same way, I am going to go with him for a while.
Q. Do you have a target date, Jack, as to when you would like to play again and get?
JACK NICKLAUS: I am not going to play until next year anyway. I need some time to be able to readjust, what to do -- what I am going to do. I am going to have to change my life a little bit. I am going to have to get out of the airplane; going to have to get it home. I have to get into a more of a regimen and not so much of a travel schedule. I just got to do that. I am getting to the age where I should do that anyway. I have just got to be a little bit -- I am a pretty disciplined guy as it starts with, but I am going to have to be a little more disciplined.
Q. Has the hip taken a toll on your golf game a little bit?
JACK NICKLAUS: It is pretty difficult to go anyplace without talking about. Every place I go, first question you get is: How is your hip? I think that is -- I don't really -- I mean, I don't think I have any arthritis in the hip basically. I don't show that. All I do is show, you know, worn cartilage. And so from that standpoint, I am -- I think I can -- I am stubborn enough and determined enough that I am going to give it a try.
Q. Tired of us asking you about it?
JACK NICKLAUS: Oh, I think it is awfully nice that you care and I appreciate that.
Q. If, indeed, you go in the direction of surgical procedure when is --
JACK NICKLAUS: When might that happen?
Q. Any idea?
JACK NICKLAUS: Not now. Not after he proved to me the last two days that I don't need one. Now we are just going to find out how long it works. Not even works, but I mean, I had -- he proved to me the last two days that I can play pain-free. And he proved to me that my hip is still functional. Now, he grants -- he says yes, he says before he says I had a window to work in like this. He says my window is very narrow now, but he says - what I said in the press room to you the other day - I said my window is narrow, but he says he thinks he can do that. He did -- he did a pretty good job with it. I was tickled pink.
Q. What is his --
JACK NICKLAUS: I call him an anatomical functionist. (laughter). I gave him the name what he is.
Q. Should this course be part of a US Open rotation? I know there has been some talk --
JACK NICKLAUS: Should it be? I think you have to ask the USGA that question. Is the course capable? Of course, it is.
Q. As a golfer, would you like to see it?
JACK NICKLAUS: Honey, I am not going to be playing. I can't really answer that question. I think that the USGA has to answer it. I think if you are going to take a pick a golf course in the L.A. area, I think you pick this golf course, obviously.
Q. Will you still be playing on those TV events?
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know what I am going to do. My priority is going to be one thing: That is to get physically fit; to be able to do what I have to do, whether it is play golf or play -- or have surgery or do whatever I have to do. I am going to get as physically fit as I can. My guess is that -- my guess is I will probably still play them, simply because I think I will be fine.
JACK NICKLAUS: I have got probably four, five course openings and probably -- I have got the Shell Match to play and I have got a 3 Tour challenge. I know the Tour has a matchplay tournament coming on, the SENIOR TOUR has. It's a television thing, Andersen, for the regular Tour, I may play that. I mean, there might be an odd weekend or something I would play. For all intents and purposes, structured tournament golf, I am probably done with for the year.
Q. You can't do yourself anymore harm by taking this approach; is that a fact?
JACK NICKLAUS: I have to take a conservative approach because I can't destroy the head of the femur. If you destroy the head of the femur through the exercise which doesn't have any cushion there, then you make the operation mandatory. So that is the one thing that Pete said -- he says one thing we have got to do is we can't destroy that. Because I don't have the cushion that I should have.
Q. It is a good -- (inaudible) --
JACK NICKLAUS: I am ready. I can do all that.
Q. Doing the rope-a-dope?
JACK NICKLAUS: I finished my exercise last night and ran back to the room. I couldn't -- I haven't run, I can't remember. I said I wonder if I can run - ran without a limp, everything, no hurt. Didn't run far, but I ran. (Laughter).
Q. With all the success, the accomplishments, and everything else that you have done, where do you continue to get the burning desire to compete at such a high rate of consistency?
JACK NICKLAUS: I just like to compete. I like to challenge myself. I feel like I haven't found anything that excites me more than competition. And I don't care whether it is, you know, can be a -- doesn't have to be golf. I don't care whether I am playing tennis or what, you know, I mean, whatever thing is athletic I like or even business, for that matter, golf course design, I have always been a competitive guy no matter what. That runs my juices. I mean, it makes me excited and golf has been a thing that made everything else happen and I haven't found anything that I really like to do better than to compete at golf. Now, there is two things obviously one is if you are capable of competing, capable of playing, then you have a good time at it. If you are not capable, then it gets very frustrating if you have other things that keep you from competing obviously it gets -- it gets old.
Q. One more question about the course: How does it compare today -- how does it stack up the way it is today to the best courses in the country or the top courses in the country?
JACK NICKLAUS: Not as hard. I think that I think if you talked to the owners here, I think they would like to see the golf course -- I think the USGA will probably like to see the golf course a little bit tougher for a U.S. Open. You have got room to do several things on this golf course if they want to. I don't know whether -- I think that the whole secret to this golf course is to not mess it up for its membership. I think the people like it. It is a wonderful golf course. The Tour likes it. But, if you wanted to have an Open Championship to be able to do a minimum amount of things to it, to make it available for that situation, it won't take a lot.
Q. What kind of --
JACK NICKLAUS: I am not going to get into that.
Q. Basically if you can stay out of the rough it is a fairly benign course?
JACK NICKLAUS: No, I won't say it's fairly benign. I think Riviera is a nice golf course. It is a fairly difficult golf course, period. But I don't think it is what the USGA wants for the difficulty that they want for a test for the U.S. Open without making some changes on the golf course to make it -- I think that is why they are here this week am I correct, Craig.
CRAIG SMITH: They wanted you to win.
JACK NICKLAUS: I wanted to win. But, I think they wanted to find out how it stood up against the seniors. They wanted to see how the setup was. I think they could have had the rough a lot deeper if they wanted to. I don't think there was any -- the rough wasn't that tough. I mean, it was tough, but I shouldn't say -- it wasn't that deep. The greens, I doubt whether you'd want the greens a whole lot faster. Greens were fine. But, if you look at the golf course you have probably got about, oh, seven or eight holes that you could lengthen a little bit. You could probably bunker the golf course a little bit differently. You could probably bring the barranca into play a little bit more; probably create a lake or two if you wanted to. There are a few things that you could do on the golf course wouldn't be very difficult to do. And, I think that is not really for me to answer what to do. I think that is the gentlemen up there, him to answer it.
Q. You stand here doing this interview standing next to the statue of Mr. Hogan....
JACK NICKLAUS: I'd rather be standing next to Hogan. I enjoyed him and I enjoyed his company when we played. And he did very well on this golf course. Only wish I could have played half as well as he did out here. Yes, he is an honorary of The Memorial tournament next year, that is right.
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