March 3, 1998
Q. Can you tell us about the 18th hole today?
DAVIS LOVE III: I lost a lot of money on that last hole. I briefly had it. No, none of us really hit great shots in there, and I actually had a chance to make a birdie, but hit the putt so far by it looked like five was going to tie, but that was my first look at the course since it was redone, so it's a little -- seems like it's a little harder. It's harder to drive in the fairway, and the greens have a lot more slope to them than they used to. So I think it's definitely going to play a little harder because of the greens, much less the bunkers. The course is in great shape, though. It was nice to play with those guys. It's not often you get to play with three all families in one group.
Q. Did you not play last year?
DAVIS LOVE III: No, I got sick in LA and missed it.
Q. You can't compare the redo?
DAVIS LOVE III: No, but you can see on 18 where the bunkers were. And I think that all of us but -- I guess but Jack would have been in the bunker on that hole. So that, I guess those bunkers were a little severe, and I haven't seen the front. But I enjoy the course. It's definitely a harder driving course. It's definitely longer on the back. It's definitely tougher.
Q. Did those guys say you should have seen it last year?
DAVIS LOVE III: No. Because Raymond was in the group. But Raymond told me a few holes that were longer, and he told me the sand was much better than it was last year, and packed down. But the course is in great shape. So I'm sure it will be better this year, because it's in better condition.
Q. Did you go on 18 with a par?
DAVIS LOVE III: I did. Jack was in the right bunker, Raymond was almost in the lake and made newspaper 5s. And Nicki had about a 15-footer for par, and missed it.
Q. Was he on in two?
DAVIS LOVE III: He was long in the back right fringe and putted by about 15 feet.
Q. Were you on?
DAVIS LOVE III: I was just in the front fringe, probably 40 feet, I putted it about 12 feet by and made it coming back.
Q. They've got the rough up a little bit so it's not shaved?
DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, his ball rolled down the hill and got caught in about a foot of rough at the bottom. But if it comes off there with much speed it's still going in the water. If it's real slow it might stop at the bottom. Raymond's got caught up right before the rocks.
Q. Davis, has this week started you thinking a little bit about Augusta, is this your starting point?
DAVIS LOVE III: I started thinking about it after the PGA last year, so I don't think -- my year starts when we get to LaCosta and start trying to play good every week. I'm excited because we're back in -- back on my side of the country, where I'm a little more comfortable. But I'm just excited. I've got a good stretch five of the next six weeks, and I'm excited about playing. And there's a lot of great tournaments coming up for me. So hopefully, when I get to Augusta I'll play well and be ready.
Q. What are you doing in your down time, in your off time?
DAVIS LOVE III: I've spent a lot of time with my family, which I didn't really do the last year as much as I'd like. And we went to Idaho skiing for one week and back in January went to the Bahamas for a week, spent a lot of time home playing with the kids. But I played a lot of golf last week, because I was supposed to be in LA, but failed to commit. So I spent a lot of time practicing last week, but I've been doing a lot with the kids and riding horses with my little girl. A guy called me 11 o'clock Sunday night, and PGA TOUR.com confirmed it. The only place I could find out anything with information.
Q. You were packed?
DAVIS LOVE III: I was more than packed, I was literally going to bed and had an 8 o'clock flight out there. But I had bad luck in LA, two no commits, kidney stones and got beat in a playoff.
Q. When did you last do that fail to commit?
DAVIS LOVE III: LA, three or four years ago. Something about the end of the swing you don't commit and think you will later.
Q. Did Mark get all the way out there?
DAVIS LOVE III: No, he was going to go out there -- Mark O'Meara, I thought you meant my brother, Mark. I think he did. He made it all the way out there. It's embarrassing, but even more embarrassing if you show up and they say, "Sorry." Hopefully that will never happen to me again.
Q. Did that ever happen to you, Jack?
JACK NICKLAUS: No.
DAVIS LOVE III: He's got a lot more staffing.
Q. Jack, what did you think about the 18th this year compared to last year?
JACK NICKLAUS: I think it's a lot more playable golf hole. I think you can -- I think under this wind condition you could play what was there last year. But you get the southeast wind condition and really, or even northeast, you really -- unless you're as long as Davis or maybe another half a dozen guys you can't really keep the ball in the fairway, unless you hit a duck hook with a left, right crosswind, that's pretty hard to do. It was just -- it was very difficult to keep the ball in. And I think that the rough over there, frankly, is just as penal from the standpoint of playing a shot, because you really want to try to hit the ball on the green, and at least in the bunker you had a clean lie. But the rough was what we had before, and it was sort of dodgey, and I think even Raymond said he even thought it was a good change. So I think it's fine.
Q. How did you play today?
JACK NICKLAUS: Spotty. I made some -- last night I was watching -- I was flipping through the channels last night and hit The Golf Channel and had the '65 Masters on, the last round, I watched a couple of swings. So I watched a few swings, I came out on the practice tee and moved 6 inches closer to the ball, and actually hit the ball fairly decent, I shanked the one on 18, I put my hands back up in the air where I've been having them for the last -- I don't know how long. But anyway, I'm not terrible right now. I'm not real good, but I'm not terrible yet. Terrible yet, how is that? I'm not terrible yet or real good yet, that's either one of them. I hit a couple of nice iron shots, and hit a couple of bad shots, but I expect that after making a change like I made. And I watched that -- everybody keeps saying you've got to get your swing longer, I went back to '65, my swing was right there, the club was right there -- why in the world do I need to hit it any longer? I hit it 9 miles from three quarter length, my hands were close at impact, instead of playing out here, which I've been playing. And the other thing that was really neat about it is today my hip never hurt a shot, which was great. So out here must put the pressure on my body more than I wanted it. So I found two benefits from it. One was, I hit the ball a little better, and two, that it didn't hurt. I really liked the latter part, because if I don't hurt I can learn to play again.
Q. There's been talk the last few weeks, when you see Houston break the score around here and next week looked like David Duval might break it, is golf becoming too easy, when you worry about the technology overpowering the sport?
JACK NICKLAUS: Davis plays a lot more than I do, I'll let him answer that first.
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I think you've got to take conditions when you look at scores. I think so many times people say they shot 30-under par. Well, you play a golf course that's built for a 25- or 30-mile-an-hour wind that blows every day of the year, and you play four days in a row and it doesn't blow, and John Houston is a birdie machine, anyway. And you put him out there with no wind and it gets going. One year he made 22 birdies and an eagle at Augusta. You put him on a golf course with no wind, believe me, he can get on a roll with anybody. I don't think technology did anything for John Houston that week that it wasn't doing for anybody else. How many did he win by? He didn't have any technology that anybody didn't have, just had good conditions. So I don't think -- I'm hitting it the same distance, and ask Jack, I'm not hitting any farther with a metal than I did with a wooden driver. Sure, golf balls are better, but I don't --
JACK NICKLAUS: He asked is the game easier?
DAVIS LOVE III: I don't think the game is easier.
JACK NICKLAUS: Don't you, really?
DAVIS LOVE III: I think the greens are faster. If you said is it easier, I'd say the courses are in better condition. Sure, there's a lot of guys, strong guys like Tiger Woods, but like Jack said, I guarantee you he hit it farther in his prime than I'm hitting it right now; wouldn't you think?
JACK NICKLAUS: Who?
DAVIS LOVE III: Me.
JACK NICKLAUS: You hit it right now? Than you hit it today? Yeah, where you hit it today, yeah.
DAVIS LOVE III: You hit it 30 yards farther.
JACK NICKLAUS: I hit it further than you hit it today, but I've seen you hit it a heck of a lot further.
DAVIS LOVE III: I'm saying my new driver is not like -- I'm not blasting it out there.
JACK NICKLAUS: Golf clubs today, some of them are designed to hit it further, some designed to hit it straighter.
DAVIS LOVE III: I don't have either one of those.
JACK NICKLAUS: But I think that -- I think the game is easier, I think that -- but I think it should be easier in many ways. The game is far more enjoyable for the average golfer with the golf ball that goes straighter, golf clubs that are more forgiving, golf courses that are in better condition, and when Davis is right, when we get golf courses
that -- when conditions are fairly easy, then the conditions are so perfect we're going to shoot low scores. And I don't think that you're ever going to change the technology. You're not certainly going to change -- asking the kids today to go back and play a wood driver or non-perimeter weighted club, it would be like in my era asking us to play wood shafts. The kids have had them their whole life, and that's where they're going to play. Many kids have never seen a forged golf club that play on the Tour. The only thing I think that has to happen is the only thing that we can control -- we can't control all the other things, there's only one thing we can control and it's the golf ball. Whether we change the golf ball or bring it back. The only reason you bring it back, I don't mind lower scores, the guys are better players, and there's more of them. That doesn't bother me. What bothers me is that two things, you can't separate yourself, because there's so many guys that play good, the golf ball goes so far and the equipment is so good, but that -- lost my train of thought. The golf ball -- you can't separate yourself and so many golf courses have become obsolete. So many wonderful -- I don't really think Raymond had to do all the things he had to do to this golf course, to make it tougher. I think what happened to the golf course is that the time with equipment the golf course was tough -- certainly he made it tougher than it was originally, I think. But the equipment is so good and the ball goes so far that it just sort of negates things we do.
Q. Is there any way that several of these courses will come back. Is there any way to bring them back?
JACK NICKLAUS: But that's what we do every year. Every time we go someplace we're building a new tee. I don't know the last time we went to the U.S. Open or Masters or British Open or PGA Championship that we didn't build a bunch of new tees, every time.
Q. How about bringing the fairways in?
JACK NICKLAUS: What you've done -- look what Congressional and Winged Foot were last year. Davis won at Winged Foot, he obviously drove the ball very straight that week. If you hit the ball in the rough you took your sand wedge and hit it out in the fairway. Now, I always thought that recovery shot was one of the prettiest shots in the game of golf. And that's eliminated, because you've brought the fairways in and the rough up. We never played rough that was like this years ago. The only reason they put rough like this now is because the guys shoot low scores.
Q. Donald Ross walked the golf course and he used to say, "You can't play a recovery shot from here anymore. Let's take that tree out, let's take that tree out." He felt one of the great shots in golf is the recovery shot. We don't have that anymore. That's how Arnold Palmer made his reputation. Seriously, I'm not putting Arnold down by any means. When he first started playing he did not hit the ball straight, out in the gallery, people hitting the ball and people are standing beside him yelling and screaming, you don't have those shots anymore.
DAVIS LOVE III: That's what's great about Augusta.
JACK NICKLAUS: Right. Because you can play those shots. I remember last time I won at Augusta, the shot that Norman played at 17 to make 3, and bogeyed 18. But he hit a terrible tee shot back by the 7th green, in between the trees, ran it up and made 3. What a great shot. Any other major championship he would have been chipping it out with a sand wedge, because he'd have been in rough like this (indicating).
DAVIS LOVE III: That's what amazes me. U.S. Open they'll grow the rough this deep and make every bunker perfect. If you hit it in the rough you've got to chip it out. You've hit it the same distance off line into the rough, it's like, almost like the bunker is not a penalty anymore, you've got to go into the rough to get a penalty. But I agree with Jack, that I don't understand how you get a new ball, a new version of the old ball that went 8 yards further. I didn't think it was supposed to go any further. But I think the -- saying the courses are obsolete, I think they need length, really. I think the greens technology --
JACK NICKLAUS: If the golf ball goes shorter it's the same thing.
DAVIS LOVE III: I agree. Who knows how to control the ball, because they say this is the longest ball ever, but next year, this one goes 8 yards further. How does it -- but I've been on Tour, I haven't gotten any farther, but the ball Jack played, this ball goes, I'm sure, goes a lot farther.
JACK NICKLAUS: How do you control -- how do you design a golf course? Do you design a golf course for the golf ball of today, where you're going to play with the golf ball of tomorrow?
Q. How are you answering that question when you design courses?
JACK NICKLAUS: It's very difficult. You have to sort of play another game. You have to all of a sudden -- you have to try to take the driver out of your hand in certain instances. I don't think that's what the game is meant to be. My golf courses today we go -- look at where they play the Senior Tournament of Champions on. That's a pretty good golf course, and 64, 65, 63, shoot nothing on it. There will be golf courses, Muirfield, we didn't bring 280 for the first eight or nine or ten years, and Tom Lehman shoots four 67s. I don't have a problem with guys shooting good scores. I think that's a compliment to the golf course to a certain degree. I don't mind the scores being a little lower, but pretty soon you get tired of wedge, driver, wedge, driver, wedge, driver, wedge. I opened up a couple of golf courses with Jackie, we co-designed, and I'll do the first hole and it's 405 yards, and this is a nice driver and a middle of the short iron, and Jackie will hit the second hole and say this is a short par-4, driver, flip, that's how he describes a hole, a 470-yard hole. I sit there, wait a minute, 470 yards is supposed to be a driver and a pretty good hit. And what's happening with equipment, the ball is letting that happen. And I don't think that's -- guys don't become as good shot makers, you don't have to play as many shots. A whole bunch of different things that happen. But I think, in general, the game for the average golfer, I think is far more enjoyable. I certainly wouldn't want to go back to a poorly conditioned golf course. I wouldn't want to ask the golfer to play a forged iron when he's got the big head and he plays it so much easier, what other choices do you have? You only have one choice. You have two choices, one is change the golf course, which costs a heck of a lot of money, or bring the golf ball back. It's the only course you have.
Q. You can't length add infinitum, because you're going to run out of ground?
JACK NICKLAUS: The only choice you have is the golf ball.
Q. How much time have you spent talking to Tiger Woods, he knows an awful lot about how you prepare for tournaments?
JACK NICKLAUS: Zero.
Q. He's telling us how you prepared for Majors and how you got ready --
JACK NICKLAUS: I'll have to talk to him sometime and find out about it.
Q. On the subject --
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know, I've forgotten. I need to learn again.
Q. On the subject of golf courses becoming obsolete, what do both of you see as far as the future treating Augusta?
JACK NICKLAUS: There's two things that happened at Augusta, one of two things are going to happen, first of all they changed the golf course in the mid '60s because of me, I won the tournament three out of four years, they put bunkers and tried to restrict where I could hit the ball. Now those bunkers are obsolete, correct? They're obsolete for you, aren't they?
DAVIS LOVE III: I like 2. You fly 1 and 2 and sometimes 18.
JACK NICKLAUS: 18, they moved tees back, moved them back at 15, 13, 11, 10, moved tees back at 9, 8, 2, 1. There's only so much land they have there. Next thing we're going to do, one, they've got to add another bunch of bunkers and put them in a place where Davis -- and particularly they have to do it for Tiger.
DAVIS LOVE III: Then I can't get to them.
JACK NICKLAUS: But they're going to have to do that or change the frigging golf ball.
DAVIS LOVE III: Or, and we don't want to sit here and talk about -- ask you questions, but don't you think that the fairways have gotten much softer -- I mean a bunch harder over the years? When I played -- I'm going to go up there next week, when I play there for fun the ball doesn't go anywhere, and all of a sudden Crenshaw is driving the ball at the bottom of the hill at 9, it doesn't seem right.
JACK NICKLAUS: Dean Beman used to drive the ball the 9. In 1959, 1969 Dean Beman would drive the ball to the end of 9, they did not have the Bermuda base they have today. They used to be totally dry, they didn't have any base on them. When they got a little dry weather --
DAVIS LOVE III: It's not unusual to dry out at the bottom of the hill.
JACK NICKLAUS: What I'm driving at, that hasn't changed through the years. If the golf course holds any moisture, the golf course sometimes plays longer, if it's dry, it's the same as it was 40 years ago.
DAVIS LOVE III: They mow the rye grass up the hill to try to get it to slow down.
JACK NICKLAUS: But the ball doesn't roll any further now than it used to. Except the golf balls roll further.
Q. Jack, obviously that's not an enviable thing for a guy like Raymond to have to come back in and retweak a golf course.
JACK NICKLAUS: How many golf courses do you do that you don't retweak? How much changes have I made at Muirfield Village? I've made nine million changes at Muirfield Village.
DAVIS LOVE III: If you owned all the courses that you owned you'd retweak them, too.
JACK NICKLAUS: Hopefully, I've gotten better than I did then. I played in Australia at Greg's tournament. As soon as I'm there the Membership Committee ask on me like a tent, we want to do this, we want to do this. We're retweaking the golf course. That's not a big deal. And as much work as he did here to tweak that a little bit and try and make it more playable, you're not going to make it right the first time. I think the changes they made at 18 are quite good. They said they took out 7 bunkers, I found the two at 18 but nowhere else.
Q. Right side of 14?
JACK NICKLAUS: That wasn't in play. That was in play for resort guests. The only one that affected us really was 18. And I don't think the bunkers are quite as deep this year.
Q. Is the sand firmer, too?
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know if the sand is firmer, hopefully I didn't get in many of them. We played nine holes before we played the Skins game and I saw two buried lies. You had a buried lie at 15.
DAVIS LOVE III: At 15, yeah.
JACK NICKLAUS: I think the golf course is fine. The golf course is in excellent condition. I think the bunkers -- after a year, usually bunkers soften up as far as the slopes. I think the golf course is fine. Don't you?
DAVIS LOVE III: I only saw 9, and 9 I saw wasn't as drastic as everybody made it out to be.
JACK NICKLAUS: I didn't think it was bad.
DAVIS LOVE III: A couple of drives a little longer, and a couple of more bunkers. It looks like there's more sand because it's so much whiter.
JACK NICKLAUS: Did you play last year?
DAVIS LOVE III: No, I missed it.
JACK NICKLAUS: It's a big change from what it was.
DAVIS LOVE III: I don't have that bad feeling in my head. It looked nice to me, the fairways and the greens are perfect.
JACK NICKLAUS: It's in nice shape.
Q. Jack, when did you notice the condition at Augusta National, the course, itself, change, because Gary Player said that one time they had the worst fairways you guys played?
JACK NICKLAUS: That may be an exaggeration. Augusta's fairways weren't very good. You didn't know what they would be year from year until they put a Bermuda base. The common Bermuda they had some years it would be very skinny when they scraped it down, and really what happened was -- if you didn't get a good catch of rye, and the improvements in rye are much better, we had -- between '65 and '66 I shot 271 in '65 and I guess we played off of 286 the next year, 15 shots higher. And the difference was the fairways. They were just changed. Augusta doesn't have it anymore. They have all the different rise. And the fairways are basically the same every year. You get a couple of skinny areas, down by 13 in the trees, probably places like that. But for the most part they don't have that problem anymore, because now they have a Bermuda base underneath it.
Q. I've seen pictures on No. 12 where Couples ball stopped, one time that was heavy rough there.
JACK NICKLAUS: Years ago it was.
DAVIS LOVE III: The shape of the greens -- if you go look at all the pictures in the clubhouse and look at the course, the holes have changed and the 2 green is completely different and 16 used to be just a flip over the creek when they started. It's changed an awful lot. But like Jack said, courses change and evolve.
JACK NICKLAUS: I think the fairways are good now.
DAVIS LOVE III: 12 green used to be probably two or three times as wide as it is now. Things change over the years.
Q. Has the maintenance -- they put a lot more money in the maintenance of the course over the years.
JACK NICKLAUS: They used to put a lot of money but never got much out of it. Just like everybody else did. But as technology improves for golf clubs, or maintenance equipment technology has improved unbelievably over the last 10 or 15 years. All our golf courses are well maintained now.
Q. How much will you play this year? Are you playing more?
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know. Depends on how I play to a large degree. I play here, and then I'll play the same three I usually play around The Masters, the tradition, The Masters and the PGA Seniors, I'll play The Memorial Tournament, and then go from there.
Q. Jack, the -- seeing some of the notes of the old architects such as Ross, et cetera, that golf courses were not necessarily designed to be green and lush, et cetera, because of the maintenance available at the time. And were supposed to be hard and fast. And that could have added, perhaps, to the degree of difficulty of the golf course. Do you think that perhaps that we could get back to that? Do you think that should be a factor, too, do you think courses are too well conditioned?
JACK NICKLAUS: You're going to tell me that you're going to charge somebody 20 to $100,000 or whatever you're going to charge them to join a club, and charge them 5 or $6,000 a year to play that golf course or public facility and charge them $200, and I think this course is too well maintained and take the grass off the banks --
Q. But make the fairways hard and fast as opposed to soft, they're not going to do that?
JACK NICKLAUS: Get serious. Even in the golf courses where they do that, where it's natural in Scotland and England and so forth, their condition is ten thousand times better than it used to be.
DAVIS LOVE III: Oh, yeah.
JACK NICKLAUS: No, come on, that's not going to happen. It's not going to happen. You look at some of the old McKenzie greens which are Augusta, Cypress Point, Ohio State University or University of Michigan, courses that he designed the golf courses for greens speeds of probably five or six.
Q. You're not going to get that by anybody.
JACK NICKLAUS: Those golf courses are really difficult. That's why Augusta's greens are really tough. They have pitches on them that are really unbelievable. They aren't designed to do the speed we have on them now. But we do it. But we learn to play that. You go back and look at some of the old films and you watch us play in the U.S. Open and Masters, we're back with a 15-foot putt (indicating). There's none of this (indicating), gingerly letting it roll up across the green, no. In '62, you watch the film, and in '62 I guarantee we were pounding the balls in the greens, they were the fastest things you ever saw, they probably rolled 6 or 7 or 8. We thought they were unbelievably fast.
Q. Nobody got his game in peak condition for Majors like Jack, even if he said he forgot how he did it. What did you learn to make last year happen because you've been frustrated before? What were some of the mistakes you made trying to peak for the Majors in the past, and what did you do right last year?
DAVIS LOVE III: I think last year my mistake, and maybe not even last year, a couple of near misses the years before, was trying not to peak for the majors, trying to play good every week, week after week being ready to play. And when I got to a major championship I was in good form, and I was in the habit of, like Jack, always was, playing well. And it's hard to raise your game just -- all right, that one week it's going to be good. One year I won tournaments on all sides of the Masters. It wasn't that I played carefree and then all of a sudden The Masters I wanted to play good, but I tried to be ready. I try to work hard all year, and try to relax when I get there and do the same things. Obviously I can play good enough to win Doral this week, I should do the same thing when I get to Augusta. That's the trick, being able to do it and getting confidence in yourself. You don't want to just take it easy, but you want to be ready every week and be in the habit of playing good golf and going through your routine and all that and when you get there, let your ability take over and just play the game and don't try -- I was trying to do something extraordinary. I was trying to all of a sudden become somebody else, become Jack Nicklaus, and it just wasn't working. And I knew that if I could win THE PLAYERS Championship, I ought to be able to win the U.S. Open. That's easy to say, but it's the same game and it's the same players. So I had to get myself to the point of doing it enough times, getting close enough times to convince myself to just let myself -- let my game come out and just play. Sure, Winged Foot was a great week. I played that well in other tournaments, I finally was able to do it in a major. I had a good Masters and a couple of good Opens, but it's a whole different thing doing it for four days. And once you get the feeling, you want to keep doing it over and over again. But I think really it's a year-long preparation to answer your question.
Q. As many times as you've been to Augusta, what will you get out of going up there next week?
DAVIS LOVE III: Some good food, and a couple good nights sleep, there's no better place to sleep. I've enjoyed going up with some friends playing. I've been trying to push it back closer to the tournament, so this year is the closest I've played. Just getting more comfortable with the place. I can go in and say hello to waiters and staff and people that I know and say hello to more members. I'm comfortable in the clubhouse, I'm comfortable on the grounds. I think it's more a comfort thing rather than -- we don't have that luxury in the other Majors, switching every -- you go to Olympic Club, it's exciting, never really been there, you don't really know what's going on, it has an aura. And Augusta had that mystique about it, you were scared to take your shoes off and scared to go in the wrong door. And I think you just get more and more comfortable with the place. I'm sure to Jack, Augusta is just like another club to him. It's special and nice, but it's a club he feels a part of. And you try to get that and a couple member friends of mine have been smart enough to bring me up there.
Q. Did you do it every year?
DAVIS LOVE III: I've done it every year, I guess the past four or five years. And more mainly because it's fun.
Q. Because you won your Major last year, will this year be -- will you liberate or is the pressure even greater now that you have to repeat what you did last year?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, to me it's exciting that I won one and now I can go on and try to win more. When I came out I didn't say I want to win a major championship. I'd like to win a whole bunch of them. Obviously, you've got to win the first one and learn. I learned a lot in the ones I've been close in and I learned a lot last year, so hopefully just build on it. Sure, it's a major hurdle, it's a major goal, and one that I'm happy to get over. But I'm certainly going to try to build on it.
Q. Is there one aspect of the whole package that's a challenge for you this year, that you're sort of focusing in on or just trying to --
DAVIS LOVE III: I think trying to maintain my life the way it's been, not try to jump at too many things, not try to do too much. I have a lot of responsibilities, obviously, that goes with winning a tournament, like coming in and getting to play with these guys in this shootout that I've never been able to play in. Doing some things that take up some time. I think that's the challenge. And not chasing money all around the world, just focus on playing golf. Right now between now and Augusta I've got one thing to do, and that's play golf and get ready, and if I can keep that focus I'll play well. If I get lost in trying to capitalize on my new found success, then I'll go straight downhill. That's my challenge, I think. It's time management and staying focused on working on my game.
Q. How did you get ready for Majors?
JACK NICKLAUS: How did I get ready?
Q. Davis says he's going to play five in the next six weeks. What was your schedule like going into The Masters?
JACK NICKLAUS: I did it a little different. I don't know, I think Davis's ability is good enough that he could focus on a major championship and be successful. But he never found that worked for him. So he had to take the other approach, try to be ready all the time. My approach was always to just try to peak for the major championship. But play as much golf as I thought I needed and would put my game in the right shape. I started always looking at it and -- I'd take the fall off and start to prepare in California, play three or four tournaments, about three tournaments out West, and come to Florida and play a couple of tournaments and that's usually as much golf as I wanted. And hone the game a couple of weeks before Augusta and try to get ready to play. That's what I used to do. I used to try not to take a tournament in stride and make it like something else, I always put that tournament up here. But I believed I could raise my game. He had never won, he's now won, maybe if he wins another one, maybe he'll be able to raise his game that week. And you've got to believe it to be able to do it.
Q. So you go up early?
JACK NICKLAUS: I always go up early. I'll go up there early this year.
Q. The same question I asked him, what advantage or what do you get out of --
JACK NICKLAUS: Go up and play a round of golf that I enjoy, course that I enjoy playing. Takes care of not having to go on Monday. That way I can go Tuesday. I play a practice round, it gets me thinking about Augusta. Every year you go back, you say you've got to get some shots and do this sort of thing and you start thinking about it. I used to go up 25 -- 30 years ago, play a tournament the week before, meaning I'd go up play four rounds, keep the score, and walk away and say I shot 275 this week, 276 this week, and I worked hard to get my game up for it, and let it drop down and go back into the tournament.
Q. How many years did you do that, about?
JACK NICKLAUS: 20, 25.
Q. That long?
JACK NICKLAUS: 20 years, probably.
Q. When you're going to one of the places that change venues, would you start thinking about that venue?
JACK NICKLAUS: Do the same thing, maybe not play quite as much. But I would go -- I played exactly the same way. U.S. Open usually played two or three days and came home and went back. British Open, I went 10 days in advance and maybe played a dozen practice rounds a lot of times.
Q. Does Augusta change a lot on Thursday? Guys all says that Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday practice, and then Thursday it's a different course.
JACK NICKLAUS: No, it's just a tournament day. The course doesn't change. All of a sudden it changes in your gut, that's where it changes.
Q. When Tiger Woods was in here earlier he talked about the unbelievable limelight that he's in. Will this make it harder for him to accomplish over the course of his career what you've accomplished?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I've said the hardest thing he's got to overcome is you guys. Being in the limelight, being continually asked questions, totally being put on the spot, under pressure, under a microscope. And it's continually answering -- the average person won't ask him the questions you ask him. The average person will shy away from that. You guys will ask him the questions, "Tiger, are you going to win this year?" "How are you putting?" "You knocked the ball in the water at the 15th hole last year," you're going to be thinking about that. No person would ask him that question. You guys will ask that question. "You shot 40 the first nine holes last year, do you think you're going to get off to a better start this year?" Nobody will do that to him but you guys. And that's all right, but that's what he's got to live with. I never had to live with that.
Q. Why not?
JACK NICKLAUS: You guys were much nicer then. (Laughter.) The attention was so much different. I'm being facetious about that. But the attention was always different. There was a little bit of focus, but not the focus that's given today to this. And the level of importance that you guys put on it. It's just a game. Sometimes people don't think it's that way anymore. It's more important. It's not a matter of life and death, it's more important than that, you know. That's what they say about golf sometimes, some people. But I just think what he has had -- but of course you look at the other side of it, he has been put under that scrutiny and pressure day after day and that's what he's had all his life, from the time he started playing golf. So to me what looks like would be a very difficult thing for him is commonplace for him. So it's what he's had to live with, so I don't know. Probably that issue he's got and the other issue he's probably got is his desire. How long can he keep fueling the fires burning to want to just win, win, win, win, win. How many years can he do that? Those are the obvious questions. You guys will ask him.
Q. Philosophical question, as one of the greatest athletes of all time in a certain era, are athletes today who assert their greatness, even greater than guys 20 years ago because they bare up under that pressure?
JACK NICKLAUS: I think they have to be, because of all the outside influences. I think the athletes are better today and there's more of them. Was it harder for Bill Russell to be great in his time or Michael Jordan in his time? I think there's far more basketball players that are great today than in Bill Russell's time. Bill Russell was great, but I don't think he's any better than Jordan. Here's a guy that went out of the sport for a year and came back, and is still dominating. That's pretty special.
Q. The thing that's a constant that is not affected by changes in equipment or anything, what you were talking about, you believed you could raise your game, and that's truly -- that's something that spans generations.
JACK NICKLAUS: I think Tiger believes that. I think he's a very special kid. I think he believes that he can bring his game to a level. And that's why I mentioned Jordan. People, there's certain guys who can do that. And they're the ones who dominate what they do.
Q. Winning Majors 24 years ago apart, that belief has never really diminished in you, has it?
JACK NICKLAUS: It's fading quickly (laughter.) It's getting into the twilight. But I always believed that I could do it. I really think that if I had the same type of belief today that I had 15 years ago, maybe it 20, if I had that same belief, I still believe I could compete right now. I think my biggest problem now is it's been so long since I've competed well that it's very difficult for me to believe that I can do what I think I can do. I just don't believe I can do that anymore. And that's really what you lose. It's not that I don't want to. You just get out of the habit of believing.
Q. Jack, given the media question and everything that Tiger is going through, would a young Jack Nicklaus have a tough time surviving today?
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know, I think probably what happens is I would probably -- if I were playing the same way that I played -- the same type of record coming into as a pro as Tiger, I probably would have gone through the same scrutiny that he's going through. And I handled what happened in my time that way. I probably would have handled what happened today. But the magnitude of what he has, I think he's -- it's harder to do a lot of other things that I did, in other words he's got so many good players and so many things happening, for him to take time if he wants to go skiing or fishing -- I did a lot of that. I spent a ton of time with my kids. I spent a ton of time hunting, fishing, skiing, I played up until I was in my late 30's, I played in a basketball league. But I enjoyed doing other things. And my kids -- I was home in the fall, I didn't play a lot of -- I went to almost all the football practices.
Q. You had another life besides golf?
JACK NICKLAUS: Right. You find me over kicking football as much as I was hitting a golf ball. You don't see that happen as much today. Although Davis, what did he just say, he just went skiing, went fishing. Bruce Lietzke, there's a guy competing today in this day and age against the kids he's playing against and he does all the things that he wants to do with the other part of his life. And I'm saying I don't know whether Tiger does it or doesn't, but --
Q. It's difficult for him.
JACK NICKLAUS: I'm sure it is.
Q. You've talked about regulating the golf ball a little bit. How do you feel about Augusta in the future and its ability to sort of test players like Tiger?
JACK NICKLAUS: They either have to change the golf ball or change the golf course. He's going -- I wouldn't be one bit surprised to see him do exactly this year what he did last year. It wouldn't surprise me in the least. His type of game is so dominant on that type of a golf course, as was mine, compared to the other fellows. I could play badly at Augusta and still win. I couldn't play terrible, but I didn't have to play well to win at Augusta.
Q. You were a much better short putter than Tiger is by and large.
JACK NICKLAUS: I haven't seen him miss too many putts since he came out on Tour. But I felt like if I played -- I shouldn't say badly -- if I just played fair, I thought I could possibly still win. If I played well, I thought I would really have some bad breaks to lose at Augusta. That wasn't necessarily at the U.S. Open or British Open. I felt like I had to play well at those tournaments, because the other types of the game equaled themselves, but Augusta we didn't have the problems, my length, the hazards weren't there, I hit it over everything, same as he does. So when a guy is that dominant, he's going to -- I see no reason why he won't do it again.
Q. Are you saying that the tournament itself is at a crossroads, as far as determining what future path it's going to take?
JACK NICKLAUS: I think the golf course and the type of tournament it is, which is a tournament with fairly wide fairways and not much penalty for anything relatively errant off the tee, the length that he hits the ball and the things he can do on the golf course and the clubs he's going to play on that green are at such an advantage that it puts him in a position that if he plays reasonably well he should do the same thing. If he played just fair, he should probably still win.
Q. Tiger said earlier he's learned to deal with the crowds, but the thing that really bothers him is how aggressive his fans are seeking autographs and they don't -- that your fans don't do that to you, because they have more respect for you. Do you agree with that?
JACK NICKLAUS: No.
Q. What do you think the reason is that they're so much pushier?
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't think they're pushier. I think that people are people. I think you've got to be patient with people. I'm not saying -- I don't know what he does, I have no idea. But if I walk off of a 18th green at a golf tournament and I've got a couple hundred people who want an autograph or whatever it might be, there's about two or three ways I can handle it; one, I can push my way through the crowd and everybody that thinks they might not get one is going to push back at you. Or I could take my time, spend a lot of time, which I usually do, and sign autographs. Usually if I'm patient the people will be patient. And I think that he is a young guy with a lot of people wanting a piece of him. And it's -- he doesn't have time for all of it. That's a hard thing to deal with. And I think a little age and time will probably solve that and see how he handles it. But it's a difficult situation for him. But people are people. People are not trying to be mean. People are not trying to be rude. People are trying -- people in general are trying to be nice. If you give them a chance to be nice, they will be. And I think it just takes a little time to understand that. I certainly didn't understand it at his age. I'm not saying what he does, because I don't know what he does. But if that's -- if that was his comment, he's got to be patient. People admire him. People want a piece of him. So just take your time and you'll be fine.
Q. This is your 40th anniversary playing at Augusta. Do you remember your first round and who you played with and how did you set up the practice rounds?
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't remember who I played my first round with. I know who I played the second round with. I may have played with Jackie Burke, but I'm not sure. I shot either 74 or 76 or 76-74, I can't remember which it was. I remember I hit 21 greens, 8 three putt greens, and shot 150. I was out of the tournament. Arnold hit 19 greens, and was 141 leading the tournament. I do remember that (laughter.) And Art Wall was three shots in front of me and won the tournament. And the next year they put the ten-shot rule in.
Q. You mentioned a few names, Bill Russell, Michael Jordan. So few men over the last 50 years are synonymous with dominating a sport. You'll go down in history like that. As you move on, now, do you have any thought or reverie or any kind of philosophical feeling about just how dominant you were?
JACK NICKLAUS: I know I was dominant. I think all of us sort of realize you are to a certain extent, but you don't realize -- I think your success comes from not realizing you're dominant while doing it. In other words, I think that you're always wanting to climb a hill, climb a mountain, get better at what you're doing. If you ever think you're at the top of the hill then you're going to get passed. And so I think you've always got to keep trying to get better. And I think that's how people become dominant. Pretty soon -- if they're halfway up the hill and they're already dominant, in their own mind they're not, they're just trying to get better all the time. And pretty soon you do get better -- and the other guys look at you. You can't tell me there are too many centers that went in the league against Russell and they weren't looking to find out where he was, because they're going to get jammed down the throat. He earned that -- somebody looking over their shoulder for him.
Q. How aware were you of your intimidation factor on people?
JACK NICKLAUS: That's what I'm saying. Not while you're doing it. You're not aware of it while you're doing it.
Q. But you are now, correct?
JACK NICKLAUS: I go back and look at the record and say, that wasn't too bad (laughter.) And I don't mean that in a braggy sort of way. But I was very proud of that. But it was fun. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed a lot of it. But I enjoyed playing the game for the game. And I enjoyed getting better to get better. I enjoyed the work that I put into it to get something out of it. And I think that anybody that's good at something enjoys that. He better enjoy it, if you don't you're not going to be around long.
Q. When you play a tournament like this and the handful of others that you play, how do you approach those?
JACK NICKLAUS: I'm not even sure anymore. I always want to play well. Realistically how do I think I can do? I don't know. As I said, I think the largest part of -- whatever the word is -- for the most part my problem really revolves around my head. I don't have the belief that I had which I said earlier that I can do what I used to do. If I did, I think that I probably -- no matter how I hit, I think I could probably still compete somewhat, pretty close. It's been so long since I have. I have the same problem on the Senior Tour. I don't play enough golf to really be a competitive factor. I'll compete, get close in some tournaments and occasionally win one, just because probably my ability is good enough to do that. But I don't dominate, like I used to. I suppose if I went out and played 20 tournaments on the Senior Tour, 25 tournaments and practiced and worked at it and tried to do that, that maybe I could get myself in that position again to believe. But I've done that.
Q. Do you want to believe it?
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't really know if I want to again.
Q. Can you discuss the difference, the drop off in the seniors, guys come out and kick butt for the first three or four years.
JACK NICKLAUS: They get a new career, they get excited, they're absolutely like a new life to them. And I think it's wonderful. That's great. But like anything else, I like to play golf, but I'm telling you, getting out and doing what I've been doing for 40 some years gets old. I really do enjoy it when I can be somewhat successful. But usually by the time I'm doing that, I'm really enjoying it, I'm usually halfway through the golf tournament, I should have been doing it the week before to prepare myself.
Q. Is there a physical drop off after three or four years?
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't think so. I think it's mental, mental drop off more than anything else. As I say, Barbara keeps saying, why don't you go play? I don't want to, Barb. I frankly enjoy doing what I'm doing. I enjoy doing my golf course work, I enjoy being involved in the company, I enjoy seeing the boys grow in the company. I'm enjoying watching Gary play golf. I'd rather watch him play golf than play myself. That's probably why I play, the only time I can spend time around him is when I play golf with him. That's more fun for me. I probably watch better than I can play. And I think it's just a phase of life. I enjoy going out -- we went to Africa -- we played at Hawaii, Pebble Beach and Australia, played three weeks in a row, by the time I finished the third week I was playing decently. Played one bad round and three fairly accident rounds. Gary beat me by a shot. I love telling him I was mad at him. I was very proud of him. But then we went on to South Africa the next week. And we went down to watch Gary play, and I had two or three golf courses to work on. I had a ball. I don't watch anybody play golf. We went to Cougar Park, and took a couple of friends of ours with wives, we went in the park and saw four of the big five, and to see all those things, I never smelled any flowers along the way, all I did was play golf. And that's fun to do those things, and go out and watch Gary play. And then in the evening not having to worry about the next day, you can have some friends and sit down around and talk, and if I miss a half hour of sleep, no big deal. Those are things I've never done. And those are things I always avoided doing, because my No. 1 priority was to play golf and be ready. People say I'm getting melancholy, I don't really mean that. I really still -- if I thought that I could muster the mental desire and physical desire to go play again and whip some youngsters, yeah, I think -- I'd love to do that. But I just don't think I'm about to do it. I don't think I can put myself back together to do that. I don't have the desire to do it. But who knows, maybe we'll find lightning in a bottle and get some desire again.
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