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July 11, 1997

Jack Nicklaus


PHIL STAMBAUGH: Jack, 67 today, gets you to 8-under-par, in position for the weekend.

JACK NICKLAUS: Yeah. Probably best position I ever been here. I don't think there's any question about that. I wasn't so sure after the way I started out today what would happen. I started out and bogeyed the first two holes. I mean, the 1st hole, I had a perfect tee shot, I hit a 3-wood off the tee and played a 9-iron. Just hit a bad 9-iron. Tried to hit it over the tree, blocked it out to the right and made bogey. The 2nd hole, I blocked a 1-iron, a little bit and didn't quite catch it. I had 185 yards in the rough. I just hit it up the right side. Went through the green and had an impossible chip and made bogey. I said, well, this is a good way to start. You get yourself in a nice position and you start off going bogey, bogey, all of a sudden now you're back in the middle of the pack. I did show some discipline. I hit a good tee shot the next one, showed some discipline. I said, okay, you can't really get the ball under the hole, don't try to get it back in the one shot, play a sensible shot. So instead of playing 1-iron, 3-wood trying to get in the green, took a 2-iron, put it up short of the green, left the avenue up the channel of the green to chip. I chipped it up about five feet and made it for a birdie. So, I got myself coming back. And, made a nice bunker shot at the next hole, almost holed it. 20-footer at the next hole. Then the 6th hole, I hit a 9-iron, and about, oh, I guess 15, 16 feet short of the hole, made that putt. That got me back to even par for the day. Then I hit two drivers the next hole, hit it just a little bit too far right, the ball went in the right bunker. I had a really tough bunker shot - not only the bunker I was in, but the bunker in front of me and the pin was tight to that bunker and a little bit of a downhill lie and I said, "Ooh, this is a tough shot." And I didn't know whether I could spin it or not. I did spin it. I said, "That's going to be close." The ball went in the hole. So I didn't have any complaints about it, about a 60-foot bunker shot. So, that got me to 2-under-par. Then I hit it in close to the next hole about five feet and missed it. And then I lipped it out at 9 from about 13, 14 feet. 10, I hit it in about five feet and made it, 7-iron in there. And 11 was 25 feet. 12, I had it in about ten feet, hit -- maybe 12 feet, 10 feet, I guess, hit a really nice putt there and I start walking in the ball in the hole because I thought it was in the hole. The ball went around the cup and stayed on the back lip. Didn't stay in. 13, I hit a driver and 4-iron about 20 feet, left it short for the eagle, made birdie. Made a really nice par at the next hole. Didn't hit my 1-iron as solidly as I wanted it and left it back a little over 200 yards and had to play a 3-iron. Didn't really want to flirt with the left side, so I got it a little bit right and had sort of an awkward chip, hit a pretty good chip, but it took off on me, ran about 12 feet. But, I made it coming back. So, that was really a key putt. And pretty good iron at the next hole, but it kicked right and went down the hollow. I 2-putted from the valley which was only about -- wasn't 35 feet. 16, I hit a 1-iron and an 8-iron about 15 feet and made that. Really nice putt there. And then 17, being sort of sloppy like I did yesterday, I played 1-iron, 5-iron, hit a pitching wedge about -- well, it spun back about 20 feet, left me about 30 feet from the hole. And, I 2-putted it. And then, 18, I had a nice 1-iron, 4-iron, about 25 feet. Hit a pretty good putt there, didn't go in. I'm obviously very pleased with the round, particularly when you start poorly, you keep your discipline, keep your plan of attack, and something good happened at 7, turned out to be a nice round.

Q. What improvements did you make after the first two holes?


Q. What improvements did you make after the first two holes?

JACK NICKLAUS: Scores, basically.

I mean, I didn't make any improvements. I mean, I just didn't -- I didn't hit bad shots, I hit good shots. I mean, I didn't do anything other than play golf, which I didn't do very well the first two holes.

Q. Sounds like you really got a game plan for this course. You're using a lot of irons?

JACK NICKLAUS: A lot of 1-irons. The course is playing fast. When this golf course plays fast, it's totally position golf course anyway. It's not a long golf course. I mean, it's long by yardage, by number, but not by playing. So you really need to put the ball in certain positions, and I think if I can hit my 1-iron out there and get it to run, go out 250 yards, I mean, good gracious, most of the time that's what you need. I mean, I think like 10, I played 1-iron yesterday, but the wind was in our face. Today I played a 3-wood. You play the places on the golf course.

Q. How many times did you use your driver?


Q. Apparently, not very many.

JACK NICKLAUS: I used it -- I didn't use it at 1, although I used it yesterday at 1. I think that's a position hole again. You don't want to be too close to that tree on the right. I used a driver at No. 3. I used a driver at No. 7. Depends on the conditions whether you'd use a driver at 9 or not. I did not use a driver at 9 today. Hit a driver at 13. That was it today. That's all I used it, three times.

Q. 3, 7 and 13.

JACK NICKLAUS: 3, 7 and 13.

Q. Amazing.

JACK NICKLAUS: Didn't use it very many times.

Q. Jack, because of who you are, the fans always react to you. But, after it became clear that you were stalking the leader, it just seemed to me that their reaction picked up a little. Do you ever feed off that, still after all these years?

JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I think that everybody -- I mean, unless you're deaf, you know, I mean, if you don't hear them -- maybe sometimes people blank everything out. You can't blank everything out. It's pretty difficult too to. If you can hear, you can hear. I don't -- I mean, I get wrapped up in what I'm doing that it doesn't really do that much in this part of the tournament. During the last round, yeah, you might feed a little bit more off of it. But not so much during the middle of the tournament. I think -- I mean, I'm working as hard as I can to try and concentrate on what I'm doing. I can't really be out there thinking about somebody else doing something. I'm the only one that's got to do it.

Q. Jack, were the pins a little bit easier today than yesterday or were they similar?

JACK NICKLAUS: Oh, similar, I suppose. I might have had a couple tougher ones yesterday. They had a couple in sort of the fronts today that gave it a little bit maybe an easier run at it. A couple of them pretty tough today, though. The pin at 17 was a pretty tough pin. The pin at 18 was a tough pin. Pin at 2, that front pin, is a very difficult pin placement, brings the water action, brings the bunker, brings the right - both bunkers. A very difficult pin position. Like I didn't hit a good tee shot, tough second. Pin at 3 as all right. 4 was about the same as yesterday. 5 was a little tougher than yesterday. 6 was easier. 7 was tougher. 8, it's a tough little pin position, that front right on 8.

Q. Doesn't look it, but I imagine it was.

JACK NICKLAUS: That pin position?

Q. Yeah.

JACK NICKLAUS: There's nothing behind it. I mean, you hit the ball long there, you can't play. It was really funny. People asked me and I said to Eric as we were talking on the green, "Eric, that goes from, you know, getting old and don't remember anymore." I was sort of standing on the tee and I'm saying, "I can't remember what's behind that hole. I think the hollow is off to the right, it is not behind it." You're looking, you can't really see it. I got down there and sort of laughed at myself. I said, if I'd have really realized where the hollow was, I would have played it a little further left and given myself a little bit more green rather than hitting it right at the pin. I said now, that is a disadvantage-- it's usually a disadvantage in knowing the golf course because usually the guys that come in here, they say, I know everything about the golf course. Sure, I know where all the trouble is. They don't pay any attention to it. They just go ahead and hit the ball. They don't think about all those other things. I forgot about it. Couldn't remember, so it turned out to be an advantage to be forgetful - if you understand what my drift is.

Q. Yes. Sometimes like playing a new course --

JACK NICKLAUS: You don't do well because you don't really worry about what's there. Once you played it five or six times, you realize where all the trouble is, then you got to play the golf course a little bit more for the way the golf course is supposed to be played.

Q. Jacobs was in here saying he sees it more as a course for a fader.

JACK NICKLAUS: Oh, my gosh, no. This golf course sets itself up for right-to-left, period. I mean, that's my feeling.

Q. That's what he said.

JACK NICKLAUS: Maybe as long as he is, he can send the ball over all those -- in other words, as long as he is, maybe the dog legs really don't come to affect him. He can knock it over the dog leg and cut it back in. It may have been a fader for me 20 years ago, but it's not anymore. I mean -- if you look at some of the holes, I suppose he can cut the ball off the lake at 17 and still get home in 2. I couldn't do that. I have to hit it down the right side with a draw if I want to get it home. 18 is definitely a draw. I can't see cutting it off 18 at all. 1 doesn't really make any difference. 2 helps to fade it, keeps the ball away from the water. 3 really doesn't make a lot of difference. 5 doesn't make much difference. I think 6 is better fading. 7 is definitely a hook shot. 9 is definitely a hook. 10 is definitely a hook. 11, depends whether you're playing right or left. On 11, if you're playing right, it's a hook, if you're playing it left, it's a fade. 13 is a draw or can be played both ways, really. 14 is a draw. So, I think there's more draws on the golf course. 16 doesn't really make much difference. Play it either way. But as long as he hits it, maybe he thinks it plays that way.

Q. Have you gone for the right side on 11 very often off the tee?

JACK NICKLAUS: I don't think I ever have.

Q. No?

JACK NICKLAUS: No, I put it there for people who really want to get themselves in real trouble (laughter).

Q. How long does it carry?

JACK NICKLAUS: The carry is not very far. Gil Morgan hit it over the first round, then he didn't hit it over today, which was a very smart play on his part today. The pin was in the front right. If you drive it over, even if you put it perfect, you don't have any shot. Where the pin was yesterday in the back left, it was a good play because you could hit it down onto that side and then you had the whole length of the green to play to. Yesterday wasn't a bad play at all. It was a good play yesterday. I think The TOUR, by putting the tee up one marker, encourages that shot. So I think that makes it more exciting.

Q. You played with Larry Gilbert a few times.

JACK NICKLAUS: Played quite a bit with Larry.

Q. What do you think of his game, how he's playing?

JACK NICKLAUS: Larry is a good player. Always been a good, solid player. Larry didn't ever play on the regular TOUR, as you well know. But, Larry's been a very good senior player. I've played with Larry, I think -- as a matter of fact, probably as much as anybody this year. Played with him, I think, PGA SENIORS. I think we played -- I think we played, Tampa, played Tradition. We played two or three times this year.

Q. Are you all set for Troon now?

JACK NICKLAUS: I think my golf game's all right for Troon. I think it gets down to whether I think physically I can do it or not. And I wanted to wait till Sunday to make that decision. Golf-wise, I'm confident that I'm playing well enough that I can go play. That was one issue. The other issue, I mean -- last year when I got over there, I mean, I got up on Thursday morning, couldn't even move.

Q. From the flight, you mean?

JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I have a horrible time with the cold weather and rain, that kind of situation. If you get that, then I have a hard time. We didn't have that last year. We had nice weather last year. But my body gets sort of whopper joggled from this sort of muscular dysfunction, I suppose. I mean, all the exercises that I do is to put my body functional. But, sometimes when I travel and get out of sync and over in cold weather, I can't get it back in. I mean, I wake up this morning and my left hip is over here and my right shoulder is over here. I wake up, I'm six inches off center every morning. By the time I finish with my exercises I bring it back and I'm up right and straight.

Q. Do you have a set regimen?

JACK NICKLAUS: Uh-huh. Every morning, every evening. It takes me -- did 20, 25 minutes in the morning, 45 minutes in the evening. I haven't missed a day for well over three thousand days, since the day after Thanksgiving, 1988, if you want to add that up. I don't know how many it is, but that's a long time. And I need it. I mean, if I don't do it, you know, sometimes I'll cut them short, you know because I don't have time, I'll do ten minutes rather -- I have never missed a day. I cut ten minutes, I can tell you when I missed ten minutes. Then I've got to make up for it in the evening or something.

Q. Have people told you that the need to do that comes from all the golf you've played or is it just purely your physique?

JACK NICKLAUS: I don't really have too much problem if I don't play golf.

Q. Is that right?

JACK NICKLAUS: Uh-huh. I mean, I'll hurt, and I can function and do things, but I can't go play golf.

Q. Got you.

JACK NICKLAUS: I can function through the day pretty good. But if I'm going to go play golf, I try not to do my exercises totally, you know, I'm a basket case by the end of the day. So I do them, yeah. I mean, as I said in here the other day, part of my feeling was that I needed to really take some time off sometime this year with my hip, I think it is doing a lot better. It's been the best it's been for several years.

Q. Is there any reason --

JACK NICKLAUS: I've been doing sort of an alternative medicine type thing, through electrical currents, this guy has been working with my hips. He thinks he's got it regenerating. Whether he does or not, I believe him. I've been able to do a lot of things I haven't been able to do.

Q. When did that start?

JACK NICKLAUS: I started it about seven or eight weeks ago now. And he thinks he's got it working. So my plan was, you know, if I wasn't going to go to the British Open was to take the rest of the year off and just -- because, obviously, if it is regenerating and I leave the muscles the way they are that got my body twisted, then I'm going to go back and keep injuring the place that's regenerating. So I really need to go physically, strengthen myself and add an additional set of -- a lot of different kinds of exercises that really puts my hips back and strengthens up my legs again so that if I am regenerating, it will regenerate properly and not destroy what's been doing, what's been happening.

Q. And you never walked away for long enough time for that to happen?

JACK NICKLAUS: No. I'm always continually back playing golf. But I wouldn't turn down a major championship if I felt I could compete to do that. So if I feel like -- if I feel fine Sunday, I'll go to the British Open, and I'll play the PGA, and then I'll be done. I'll just delay it a month. But if I can't, it will get me a month head start. That's all. I mean, that's just old age, part of life. I don't complain. I'm not complaining about it, it's just what I am.

Q. Thank you.

PHIL STAMBAUGH: All right. Thank you.

End of FastScripts....

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