July 21, 1998
PACIFIC PALISADES, CALIFORNIA
JACK NICKLAUS: Every time we play, Arnold plays great. I don't know what happens, but he plays well. Anyway, the golf course is really good. I think they did a nice job since we were here at the PGA. It was a tremendous change on the greens. Of course the fairways are excellent, rough is -- I don't think I played in any rough today. Pegged one; hit it about 30 yards. I guess the rough will be tough. It is tough around the greens. Reminds me an awful lot of -- not so much what we had in 95, but what we had here in 84, 85?
JACK NICKLAUS: The course reminds me a lot of what was here in 83. Golf course is quite good, I think.
LES UNGER: State of your game.
JACK NICKLAUS: It is reasonable. I have played pretty well in Detroit; hit the ball pretty decently. 3-putted way too much. I think I have corrected that. At least I hope I have. And I am looking forward to it.
LES UNGER: Physically you are doing okay?
JACK NICKLAUS: (Shrugs shoulders). Okay.
LES UNGER: Okay, we will switch subjects quickly. Questions.
Q. You said that you skipped the British Open just to prepare for several of the Senior Events this being one of them. Do you feel that that helped you prepare for this and what do you think your chances are as a result of the preparation you have done in this tournament?
JACK NICKLAUS: That's not what I said, but that is all right. What I said is that I felt like -- I didn't feel like I could at this stage of my career, three weeks in a row I would have an awful hard time walking and that I felt that the U.S. Senior Open was more important to me at this stage of my life than to be able to just participate in the British Open. That is one of the reasons why I made that decision. What was the latter part of your question? Do I think it helped me?
JACK NICKLAUS: I hope so. I took the week off. I really didn't play any golf. I went to England on Monday; opened up the golf course, came back on Tuesday and didn't play until Saturday. I played Saturday and Sunday. And did some work yesterday, didn't play yesterday, and here today. So a little bit of rest and a little bit of golf and that is really what I was anticipating anyway.
Q. Do you remember there has been a lot of discussion about the state of the greens here at the PGA in 95?
JACK NICKLAUS: State of the greens?
Q. Status of the greens in 95. Can you help us out here. Can you remember in what condition they were in back then?
JACK NICKLAUS: Yes.
LES UNGER: Will you share your --
JACK NICKLAUS: They are a bit like -- I guess I had heard my comment and I forgot a comment that I made about Birkdale - It was like hitting a ball in a pile of dirty laundry and they were a little bit like that here. They were very soft, very thatchy, very spongy that created a layer and the ball -- the greens were very slow and just didn't have any body to them. Greens are quite good now, Jim. I don't know whether they did this before Latshaw came on, but Paul has done a nice job, whatever it is. The golf course is in excellent condition. I mean, the greens that you remembered in 1995 are no longer here.
Q. Can you elaborate on the "Okay" when you were asked how you are physically? How is the hip feeling?
JACK NICKLAUS: Okay. I mean, it is not great. It is never going to be great. No, I have got nagging pains like every other guy. We wouldn't be seniors if we didn't have them. I walked 18 holes today. I did just fine and you know, I am not - knock on wood - I am not anticipating any problems, so, let's hope that doesn't happen.
Q. You talked about the importance of the Senior Open at this point in your life, playing -- winning here, playing well here. At what point in your life did this become an important tournament for you?
JACK NICKLAUS: When I turned 50. It is the most important of the Senior tournaments. That is the way I would look at it. Again, I think the most important tournament in golf to me, being an American, is the U.S. Open. As a Senior, most important tournament would be the Senior U.S. Open. I mean, I think that you are not talking about them being as important as U.S. Open or The Masters, British or the PGA. But as a senior, that is our most important event. And, I think that I have said many times I don't really -- I know I am never going to play like Jack Nicklaus of 35 anymore. I'd just like to play as well as I can play for Jack Nicklaus of 58. That is what I am. And so I don't have any -- hold any aspirations of being a kid again. I just like to be able to play as well as I can for what I have got and what my abilities are right now.
Q. Does it seem like you went from 35 to 58 pretty quickly there?
JACK NICKLAUS: I think we all did (laughter). Is that right, Al?
JACK NICKLAUS: And faster.
Q. Earlier today we were talking to Graham Marsh and we asked him what he thought your chances were and he said: Well, they are good, but it depends on his health. Then he made a reference to the grass here being difficult to walk. And, he says it is like walking on a mattress and for some players, it would be very tiring. I wondered if you had any experience today like that or if that is --
JACK NICKLAUS: It is a pretty flat golf course. We have got a couple of hills to climb from the practice range, to the first tee, up the 18th hole, but outside of that, it is a relatively flat golf course; not much to climb. Maybe the cushion on the grass might even help me. I am not -- it is not one these golf courses where you are walking along cart paths and I am banging bone on bone, that kind of stuff, which is hard on me. I don't find the golf course any -- you know, extremely difficult as far as that goes. It is a long golf course. That is -- but that is long for everybody and most of the seniors are not used to walking I think like, Graham, he walks all the time and you know, great number of the guys walk, but a lot of guys don't. They get on the SENIOR TOUR; all of a sudden you get a little bit lazy; you get in a cart. Pretty soon it gets to become a habit, and when you get to a tournament that you have to walk, then -- you know, then it becomes tiring. I haven't been in a cart yet. So, I don't know. I am trying not to get in one.
Q. Does Riviera bring back any particular memories for you? You have played here several times. You have never won here.
JACK NICKLAUS: I have never won here. I have played well here on several occasions. Obviously the best I played here was in '83, I had a pretty good chance of winning the PGA here at that time. I have always liked Riviera. I think Riviera is a very good, solid golf course. I don't think it is a spectacular golf course from the standpoint of where you are going to have a lot of heroic golf shots and stuff because you don't have a lot of water hazards and a lot of severe penalties. It is just a good, solid golf. When Riviera is in good condition, at this time of year when you have got the rough, it is a more difficult golf course than it is in the wintertime when the guys play here and the rough is sort of dormant.
Q. Including yourself, who would you say should be the favorites in this tournament in this week the way the course is playing and the way it is set up?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I think you have got three names - if those three don't come to mind, I would be -- I don't even have to mention them with -- obviously with Morgan, Irwin and Nelson, those are the three guys that are playing the best golf, so those are the three guys you look at.
LES UNGER: Do you have a score in mind, what might be the winners?
JACK NICKLAUS: I would think if you shoot 280 you would win the golf tournament, I would think.
Q. Jack, how would you compare this to Birmingham, Michigan where you and Chi Chi ended up in that great battle?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, obviously, totally different kinds of golf courses, Al. Oakland Hills is a northern golf course and bent grasses and this is kikuyu, eucalyptus, totally different situation, so I think this golf course will play probably the longest of any of the Senior Opens that we play. I don't know what the -- measures 6900 yards and with kikuyu, which means no run in the summertime, that is a pretty long golf course for Senior golf. I hope we play every inch of it because I think it needs to be played. It is a good golf course and, you know, the way it should be, to produce the best player.
Q. Considering your recent announcement, I guess realistically this could be the last time you play competitively in this area. Can you talk about some of nostalgia here?
JACK NICKLAUS: Every week could be the last time you play, --
Q. Exactly. I am talking about playing here in southern California --
JACK NICKLAUS: -- Period.
Q. -- for the fans.
JACK NICKLAUS: No, I don't think it would be the last time I play. I certainly intend to play golf, you know, as long as I can play golf. I don't necessarily mean it would be the last time in Los Angeles. Why would you say that?
Q. Considering your announcement, talking about Riviera.
JACK NICKLAUS: What announcement?
Q. There was no announcement recently, a couple of weeks ago when you said you would be only playing mostly on the Senior Tour; is that correct?
JACK NICKLAUS: Yeah, why would that mean that would be the last time in the Los Angeles area? There are Senior tournaments in the Los Angeles area, I would think. I said -- you never know. I mean, I said that what was my intentions as far as playing golf, I said that I would -- I was going to try to play all four of the majors in the year 2000 if at all possible. And then I said -- and I said, period. And, I said beyond that, I would expect not to play much, very many majors. I may show up at The Masters, something like that. But, for all intents and purposes, if I played, it would probably be Senior golf. As a matter of fact, probably that is one of the reasons when I made the announcement a couple of weeks ago that most of the golf I am going to play from now on is going to be Senior golf.
Q. Next year you are going to -- the Senior Open goes to Des Moines, a place -- city that hosted one major. Compare -- do you like the idea of going to new venues and new courses and the like?
JACK NICKLAUS: I mean, yeah, I don't mind new golf courses. I kind of like -- you get kind of tired of seeing the same golf courses every year and we seem to go on a similar rotation to have it a little different. It is kind of nice, sure.
Q. Have you had time to make any determination about the treatment for your hip?
JACK NICKLAUS: Not really, Jerry. I have talked to -- I have talked to probably three doctors, I guess, that know what is going on and they just -- they all say it is a matter of not "If." It is "When." And, that is basically what my thing is. Now, whether you know, my first inclination is to get with the Ergoscue and step up my program and exercise heavily and see if I can keep myself functional and so forth and so on. When I do that, I am pretty good. But, it consumes my life, Jerry. I mean, early morning, late at night when I get done from here now I am going to the physio-trailer have them work on my hip; go back do an exercise program, cool down program, got to ice; then you go through your program in the morning. By the time you get done with it there's not enough hours in the day. It is not fair to Barbara or anything else. It is just not fair. So, either I just don't play golf, or I get something done to where I can, you know, live a normal life and play golf and do what most of the other guys do without having it being the topic of conversation when I walk in the pressroom or topic of conversation at home or topic of conversation at the dinner table. I am sick of it, you know, but it is a fact that that is there, so I have just -- I will just do what I think I have to do and if I have to do something, I will probably do it very quickly.
Q. What are the range of things that they can do for you? Would it means a hip replacement?
JACK NICKLAUS: Yeah, it would be a hip replacement, sure. I mean, either I exercise and try to maintain for a longer period of time or I get it replaced. That is basically it. It's a question of what kind of replacement. There are so money different ways of doing it. That is what I haven't -- that is what -- I sort of will wait until after this week and see the research. I didn't want to do it before because I didn't want to think about it here. I have talked to a couple of people, but I haven't really gotten into it.
Q. It might not be a total replacement; there is an option there you might not have to have a total replacement?
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know. I don't know that there was an option of having a total. If you are having a hip replaced, you are having a hip replaced, I would guess. Do you know what a total --
Q. I don't.
JACK NICKLAUS: I mean --
Q. I am not an expert on it.
JACK NICKLAUS: You are asking me -- if you have a hip replacement, you have a hip replacement. I don't think you do a partial hip replacement.
Q. Well, I was wondering if there was something they can do about replacing part of the cartilage or something like that or do you have to replace the --
JACK NICKLAUS: From everybody I talked to, it is not very successful. And my guess is that, you know, I walked around with a fellow today that was a trainer at USC and I guess he had been a doctor and he said: Jack, if you are going to do it, he says, just do it. I talked to enough people. To everybody else, it is easy to say. I have talked to people that say, hey, I have had two of them done, but anyway I will worry about it after the Open. Let's play golf this week.
Q. Do you feel well enough where you can make a serious run at this thing?
JACK NICKLAUS: I hope so.
Q. You mentioned three guys that are playing real well?
JACK NICKLAUS: But they all start out on the first tee even, same as I do. I got my partner back there' stomping at the bit to get in here.
ARNOLD PALMER: I said I am going to have to borrow some money to get through tonight if I don't get paid by Wargo.
JACK NICKLAUS: I owe you money too. You are going to take money from your own partner? You have got all the Skins.
ARNOLD PALMER: With a great deal of pleasure, I might add.
JACK NICKLAUS: Okay (laughter).
ARNOLD PALMER: Are you through?
JACK NICKLAUS: I am through. I will get out of here. You had enough of me?
Q. I have got one last question. How come Arnold and Les and Eddie and I all have beautiful blonde hair, platinum blonde hair, silver hair and you ain't got no silver hair, how come?
ARNOLD PALMER: It is coming around the edges.
JACK NICKLAUS: Only my hairdresser knows, right? (laughter). No, it is all due to good, clean living and vitamins, so they say. (laughs) What do you think it is due to? Don't you answer that? (laughs).
ARNOLD PALMER: Come on. I don't want to hurt you pushing you down. Come on, let me help you down. (indicating the stage).
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