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July 12, 1997

Jack Nicklaus


PHIL STAMBAUGH: Jack, even par 72 and at 208, you're one back heading into the final round.

JACK NICKLAUS: Well, that's where I am. Which round would you like to talk about? (laughter)

Q. Probably the front side.

JACK NICKLAUS: Okay, we'll start with the front side. Really the golf wasn't much different. Just got a couple putts in the hole. 1st hole was a long-ish putt and the second hole I really made a nice par. Hit almost the same tee shot I did yesterday, left myself with a 5-iron out of the short rough on the right just short of the green. I walked up and I guess it was a big pigeon walked out and looked at my ball and pecked it - moved it down the fairway. So I had to come back. That's the first time I've had a bird move my golf ball. So, obviously, I had to go back and drop it. And, parred that. 2-putted from off the green. And the 3rd hole I played nicely, nice tee shot down the right side, hit a 2-iron just off the right side of the green and chipped it up about two feet and made a birdie. Nice 4-iron at the next hole, but it ran through the green. But, fairly easy par. Easy par at the next hole - about 20-footer. Then 6, I hit a 2-iron, pitching wedge, about ten feet and made it. 7, I hit two drivers. They ended up just short of the green. Pitched it down about four feet and made it for birdie. Things were looking very easy - not too much problem. I hit a 6-iron on the next hole, which -- long-ish put, 2-putted it. Next hole I hit a 6-iron in about 12 feet, looked like I could go 4-under and misread the putt. So, obviously, I missed it. And, then I proceeded to bogey the next three holes without ever really missing a shot. Next hole I hit a -- 10, I hit a really nice 3-wood off the tee. The ball went about a yard too far, and it rolled sort of down into almost to the bunker in the rough, so I really couldn't control it and stopped it -- lucky to get it on the green, stopped it 35 feet from the hole. I 3-putted it. The only green I 3-putted all week. And then the next hole, I hit a 1-iron right up the fairway, ended up in a divot. That's not exactly the hole you want to be playing out of a divot over that stuff, with a pin tucked tight. I hit a really nice 7-iron out of there, hit right at the top of the bank, instead of going forward, rolled back down the bank, left me with virtually no chip shot really out of the high grass. So, I make bogey there. Then the next hole I hit a 6-iron, which I thought was a pretty good shot, which is the place to hit it on the left side of the green, let it work in. Hit it on the top of the knob and kicked left, instead of kicking right. So I went down the hollow and I took three to get down from the hollow. So that's three bogeys. I said, well, okay, let's regroup, and keep going. I hit a nice tee shot at the next hole, hit a really nice 1-iron that I couldn't stop, but ran through the green about four feet and I was only about 17, 18 feet from the hole, but right straight downhill. Hit a nice chip shot, about as good as I could hit, about four feet. And, both Eric and I read the ball to go inside the left edge and the ball broke left. So that was a nice mistake. So, I missed that. Then I made a nice par at the next hole. I didn't hit the tee shot far enough, 3-iron to the right of the green and chipped it down about, six feet and holed it. Not a very good iron at the next hole. Putted from the hollow about eight feet by the hole and made that. And, 16 I hit it about, well, I don't know, 16, 17 feet behind the hole, missed it. 17, I had no third shot whatsoever really, tried to hit a drive down the right side, and I didn't quite get it left far enough. And ended up having to lay it up. Then I had to play a pitch-and-run, so I practiced a shot for next week (laughter). Ran it up, hit a pretty good shot, hit it up about 15 feet short, didn't make the putt. 18, I hit a very nice 3-wood off the tee and then hit not a very good 8-iron to the right fringe, about, 30 feet, I guess and 2-putted it. That's it.

Q. When you say practice your shot for next week, have you made up your mind?

JACK NICKLAUS: Yeah. Yeah. I've pretty well -- I said that in here yesterday. I said I pretty well will go golf-wise as long as I feel good tomorrow tonight. When I wake up Monday morning, if I feel good, I'm going. If I don't feel good, I'm not going to go. (laughs) You won't know.

Q. That's right. (laughter).

JACK NICKLAUS: I have pretty well made up my mind I'm going to go. I think I'm playing -- in other words, I wasn't going to go if I wasn't playing well enough. And I think I'm playing well enough. I'm hitting the ball nicely, I feel confident with what I'm doing, you know, I don't really take much stock in what happened the last nine holes today. I played pretty good golf. I played pretty good golf to shoot 39, I tell you that. Sure, I missed a couple of shots, but it wasn't that bad. I managed my game reasonably well even when I hit a couple of bad shots. I'm playing well enough to go over there. That's the only thing is -- physically is the only thing I've been really concerned about. And I feel pretty good right now.

Q. If your little tweaks on the course were to make for an exciting tournament, you have certainly worked that out.

JACK NICKLAUS: I managed to do that. I had a chance to run away and hide, and I didn't do it.

Q. And you got, what, eight players a shot apart going into tomorrow?

JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know. You know. I don't know. I haven't looked. I don't have a clue who's there.

Q. Curtis Strange raised the question on TV, can you ever remember having the lead in a golf tournament making three straight bogeys?

JACK NICKLAUS: Yeah. I've done that a lot.

Q. Have you?

JACK NICKLAUS: Yeah. It's a familiar pattern. I've probably done it 20 or 30 times (wink).

Q. When was the last time?

JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know. How would I know? I don't keep those kind of things. I'm sure I've done it before, though. As a matter of fact, I'm positive I have. Probably made four bogeys or five bogeys, I don't know.

Q. Stockton was complimentary towards the changes that you've made. Do you like the way the course is playing?

JACK NICKLAUS: Yeah. The golf course plays very short.

Q. Part of it's running like crazy?

JACK NICKLAUS: That's what I'm saying. It plays very short. What we've done is we've made them play where they're supposed to play. And that's really -- I don't think that the changes have made the golf course any more difficult. They've just sort of defined the play of the golf course a little bit more, which I think is kind of nice. You weren't here earlier this week when I talked about it, but I said the changes -- we felt like the scores were low enough here that I thought it was a difficult enough golf course to start with when we first did it. But, the guys have shot low every year, so we didn't feel at all bad about putting a few bunkers or a couple of trees in to make them play the golf course the way it was designed. That's all it really is.

Q. Was it firmer and harder out there today?

JACK NICKLAUS: The golf course was hard, yeah. Golf course was like a rock, yeah.

Q. What kind of score will be really good tomorrow?

JACK NICKLAUS: Well, hard -- if we had any wind, then the golf course would really be tough. I mean, a hard, fast golf course is difficult to play. That's the most difficult to play. Long golf courses are the easiest to play, so. But, the guys have managed their way around here pretty good.

Q. When you say you're playing well enough to go over next week, are you dating it back to Memorial, essentially, or you feel right now --

JACK NICKLAUS: No. Memorial had nothing to do with it. I mean, sure, I played decently at The Memorial Tournament. But I want to know how I'm playing right now when I go there, not how I'm playing a month ago.

Q. It's now, how you feel right now, this week?

JACK NICKLAUS: Uh-huh. That's why I made the decision this week. Wouldn't that seem logical?

Q. Larry Gilbert has been asked many times about what it's like to play with you. He's been very respectful of you and all that. Could you just talk about Larry's game a little bit?

JACK NICKLAUS: He's plays very well. Every time I play with Larry, he plays well. All he does is keep telling me how well I play and goes out and whips me, so that's what he does. (winks) Larry's one of those guys that, you know, never did play tournament golf until he really got to be a senior. There's probably -- what do we have here a half a dozen or so out here that that's happened to and done quite well. As a matter of fact, you know, it's almost like a new life for him, or his first life from tournament golf. You know, Jim Albus was that way.

Q. Jimmy Powell?

JACK NICKLAUS: No, Jimmy played tournament golf. Wargo was one of them.

Q. Albus?

JACK NICKLAUS: I said Albus. You've got to listen, Carol, got to listen. But, there are four or five other guys, I don't know. I didn't -- Steve Veriato hasn't played very much, has he?

Q. Five years.

JACK NICKLAUS: Did he play that much? He didn't play a lot. John Jacobs never played our Tour. He went over and played in Asia.

Q. Colbert never did that well --

JACK NICKLAUS: I'm talking about guys that didn't play. See, there's a lot of guys that never played our Tour, so it's really their first run at playing US tournament golf. They get very excited about that.

Q. Laoretti (sounds like"they're ready.").

JACK NICKLAUS: They're ready to play, yeah, that's right. They've kept themselves in good shape and they're ready to play.

JACK NICKLAUS: It wasn't very exciting.

PHIL STAMBAUGH: Anything else?

JACK NICKLAUS: Wasn't very exciting really. It will be better tomorrow.

End of FastScripts....

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