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July 10, 1997

Jack Nicklaus


PHIL STAMBAUGH: 3-under 69 to start the 15th Ford SENIOR PLAYERS.

JACK NICKLAUS: Yup. Started it off just beautifully on the 1st hole with a drive about 200 yards down the left rough. 5-iron into the bunker. Out about 15 feet and missed the putt. That's a good start. Made my first birdie at the 3rd hole. I hit a driver and a 3-wood, ended up really an awkward shot. Really didn't have much of a pitch. Hit it about 22, 23 feet by the hole, made the putt. So that was a really nice one to get in. That was a nice one to get in. Missed a short one at the next hole. Missed about a 6-footer. Then I holed it from the back fringe about 20 feet at the next hole. Hit a 7-iron in about 20 feet on the back fringe. Long putt at the next hole. 7th hole, hit two drivers on the green. Had about a 20-footer for an eagle and I hit it fat. How is that? How do you hit a putt fat? But I did. I left it five feet short. Then made the second one. 20 some feet the next hole. 18, 20 feet at the next hole. 10, I hit a 1-iron and an 8-iron about eight feet, then made that putt. 20 feet at the next hole. 20 feet at the next hole. 13, I hit a driver and a 3-iron about 30 feet, I guess. I 2-putted that. 14, I hit it in pretty close. I hit it about eight feet there; missed it. 15, two putts from the fringe. 16, I hit a 1-iron, and a 5-iron. The ball ended up on the right fringe. I had one of the those pitches, went right straight down a slope. Actually, I hit the hole with the chip and ran about five feet by and I hit a very, very nice putt that just spun right clear around the hole. Came out. Then I made -- I mean, I accept that one. That was -- it happened. But 17, I don't know why I was even bothering to hit the ball down the right side of the fairway. I couldn't have reached the water with a bazooka. I put it in the right bunker. I had a pretty good lie. Hit a pretty good shot, I thought. Hit a 4-iron. Caught the lip of the bank coming out and went to the next bunker. Then I hit a 6-iron out, knocked it on the green, missed about a 12-footer. So I made bogey on that hole. So, I had two bogeys in a row. Obviously, if I'd screwed up 18, that would have spoiled the whole day, wouldn't it? I hit, what I thought, was a good 1-iron at 18. The ball, actually, just got around the hazard. I don't know where it hit. Must have hit and bounced straight up. I hit a 5-iron in about four feet and made it for birdie. So... 69.

Q. It ran through the rough, the drive on 18? It was in the high grass for a moment and ran through --

JACK NICKLAUS: Must have hit and bounced straight up. Because couldn't have gone forward. 1-iron is hooked, which I tried to hit, usually don't stop very fast. They usually roll about 40 or 50 yards. That's why I played it. I thought the tee shot was perfect. Got down there, the darn thing was just over it. So, obviously, it must have got caught in that grass somewhere. So, I guess, it turned out. I guess I was lucky, or unlucky, whichever way you want to look at it. But I hit a nice 5-iron in close to the hole.

Q. Pleased? Overall pleased?

JACK NICKLAUS: Yeah, I played pretty well. I really drove the ball pretty well. My iron game was pretty good. Control - I did play shots when I needed to play a shot, rather than just hit the ball, I was able to play the shot and play them all pretty well. I played pretty well. You know, three bogeys I don't like. But, you know, six birdies, I guess. That is one less than I made the whole Senior Open. I only made seven birdies the whole Senior Open. Can't win many tournaments doing that?

Q. Jack, you've won this tournament before, but obviously --


Q. -- not here. What would that mean to you to win on your course here?

JACK NICKLAUS: Well, aside from the fact that I haven't won this year. I'm not qualified for the Tournament of Champions. I haven't won a Major this year and qualifying me for the Grand Slam of Golf, I would be in a good frame of mind to go to the British Open. (audience laughter) I would feel competitive. It would give me a great boost mentally. Nothing other than that (laughter). Plus great satisfaction to win on a golf course that I was involved with.

Q. Historically, how have you fared on golf courses that you have designed?

JACK NICKLAUS: Some of them I've done already. Glen Abbey I've gone back 40 times, haven't won there yet at the Canadian Open. That's the first one I did by myself. Of course, I've won at Muirfield. I won at Kings Island in Cincinnati. We did that. I don't think I've ever won the first year of any of them. Let's see.

Q. Tradition.

JACK NICKLAUS: Tradition, I've won The Tradition.

Q. PGA National?

JACK NICKLAUS: PGA National, won that. Won the Australian Open on the course I did down there. I've done reasonably well. But, you know, see, people accuse me sometimes of designing golf courses to fit my game. If you look at this golf course, this does not fit my game very well. This golf course is a right-to-left golf course. If you look at this golf course, you want to hit the ball right-to-left, I mean, where you have to play a shot. You've got far more right-to-left shots on this golf course than you have left-to-right.

Q. Three on the par 5?

JACK NICKLAUS: Probably so, Carol. You have -- yeah. The 3rd hole is best played right-to-left, and the second shot. And the 7th of this hole is best played -- you can't play it if you don't play it right-to-left. Your second shot doesn't make any difference there. 13 definitely is right-to-left, both shots, or -- you can play it left-to-right off the tee. Definitely right-to-left on the second shot. 17 would be right-to-left into the green. 18 is right-to-left off the tee. 14 really sets up right-to-left off the tee. 10 really sets up right-to-left off the tee. 9 sets up right-to-left. I don't ever think about me when I'm doing a golf course. I think about what the land is, and how it fits and what the shot should be at that place. And some golf courses I turn out, they don't fit me. Some golf courses I do, turn out. Of course, a lot of it depends on how you route it. There wasn't much to route on this property. The only things we had to work with here was really wetland areas. You work around the wetland areas that we had, it just depends how you routed around them. We routed around them the way they best fit that way. Muirfield, actually, I don't know, the way I routed the golf course there, it actually plays both ways. It actually plays pretty well either way.

Q. That has been a common criticism.

JACK NICKLAUS: It a lot of times has. In my early golf courses maybe a little bit. I mean, I looked at it more as a left-to-right shot, as I stood there playing it. Today I don't look at it as a shot playing it. I look at it as what the land is and how does it best fit the land. I used to look at the shot and then fit the golf course to the shot.

Q. You think that criticism was appropriate in the early designs?

JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I took it to heart. You know, I think when you have something and people make comments about your golf courses, you listen. If you don't, I think you're stupid. I think that you can always -- we can always improve. So I've worked very hard on trying to balance my golf courses to where I have enough -- as many right-to-left dog legs as I have left-to-right dog legs, greens left-to-right, greens right-to-left, a variety of shots within the golf course, try to mix it up. Some golf courses, because of land, get a little imbalanced one way or the other and I try not to favor me.

Q. John Bland said today that you guys were talking about some of the changes you had made during the round today, at the 11th tee or something. Is that something you do a lot with playing partners?

JACK NICKLAUS: They just asked me a few things about the golf course and what we did. We didn't talk much about the changes. We talked about the golf course and how it played. You know, he likes the 11th hole a lot. He thinks -- likes the way we put the tee -- they put the tee up at 11 today, which Gil went ahead and hit a driver. It was very inviting for a driver today. He drove it right down in front of the green, made a little pitch up, made his birdie. I find if you want to take that gamble, fine, that's all right. That's why I gave it to you. But sometimes we've been playing the hole, the wind is in your face, they sit the tee in the back, you can't take that gamble. Where we played from today, you can probably take it almost under almost any wind conditions.

Q. Did the changes affect your game at all today or how you approached it?

JACK NICKLAUS: No. I wouldn't call them changes. They're just -- I call them sort of enhancements to the golf course. We looked at the golf course, played for about six years, we started talking about it a couple years ago, some of the things that I felt didn't play like I wanted them to play. I felt it was too hard to get into the 17th green. So, we opened the 17th fairway up, opened it up in front of the green -- we did those things to make that hole more exciting. I felt like 16 was a hole that fellows were playing too many 3-irons off of the tee or taking a driver and blasting it way down there. Really didn't want them to do that. I wanted them to play the hole into an area and into the green. I just felt like they weren't playing the hole the way it was designed. It's not designed to drive in that ten yard area. You got 10 and 18 where they were taking advantage of those two holes. They're driving through the left, running through the trees, up and down on the fairway, 18 hit it to the right, hazard. You do those things to shore up the course.

Q. I --

JACK NICKLAUS: Let me finish. Take another breath. The guys were still scoring well. So I really didn't do the golf course to make it more difficult. I don't think the scores will go up much. Maybe one or two shots for the tournament total. But I did it more for definition of the golf course, a better look, make it play better, and make you play the golf course more the way the golf course was designed, rather than cheating the design of the golf course. That is really what they did. Now you can say it.

Q. Would you have hit the ball on 18, the last year the same place you hit it this year, before the trees were added on the right side?

JACK NICKLAUS: That's the way I played it every year. Depending on the wind conditions, last year -- I'm not sure whether last year or the year before, I played with it a driver one year because the wind was right-to-left in our face every day. With the wind off of my left, the tendency is going to be to get the ball, get away to the right, you get over behind that. Now, if you hit a driver on that side, go right to the fairway, you end up getting blinded. That's what I didn't want to do. When I get those conditions, I would play the 1-iron and try to turn it into the fairway a little bit, let it run down through there. Sure. I would pick the club that fit the condition, but I would try to play it the same way.

Q. Thank you.

JACK NICKLAUS: That's what you were going to ask?

Q. Yes. You're 2-under yesterday, 3-under today. You don't seem all that happy about the round. Just the three bogeys that disturbs you?

JACK NICKLAUS: I didn't say I was unhappy about the round. I said I played very well. Nobody is happy when they make three bogeys, but I played very well. I mean, am I ecstatic about the round? No, I'm not ecstatic. I bogeyed 16 and 17 coming home. I could be in the lead of the golf tournament. But it was a very good round of golf. I certainly don't have any complaints.

Q. Jack, this week Greg Norman man spoke about the vulnerability of golfers at golf tournaments, how he felt there were a couple of occasions where he feared for his physical safety. Has that ever been a problem for you? Have you ever noticed or do you think things have gotten more vulnerable?


Q. You don't think there's any kind of a security problem at golf tournaments?


Q. Why do you think Greg thinks that?

JACK NICKLAUS: You have to ask him.

Q. Jack, you haven't won since The Tradition last year. Is that something --

JACK NICKLAUS: I haven't won what?

Q. Since last year's Tradition. Is that something on your mind?

JACK NICKLAUS: Anytime it's on my mind if I haven't won, sure. I want to win every week. I don't want to go over a year without winning a golf tournament, and I have, sure. I haven't played that much. Since The Tradition last year, what have I played? Six tournaments on the SENIOR TOUR and maybe eight tournaments after that. I may have played eight or nine tournaments. My golf game, early part of this year, wasn't very good. You know, we talked about that in here yesterday. My golf game is considerably better now than it was. So I've got a chance to put myself in a position to win. I mean, I had a good chance to win the Senior Open, and I didn't get enough into the hole to give myself a chance or put pressure on the guys in front of me.

Q. How many more senior events will you play this year?

JACK NICKLAUS: May be my last. This may be -- if I don't play British Open, may be my last event of the year. I mean, I'm going to play some Skins games.


JACK NICKLAUS: If I don't play the British Open, I won't play the PGA. If I play the British Open, I'll play the PGA.

Q. Definitely if you play British, you'll definitely play PGA?

JACK NICKLAUS: Uh-huh, yeah. Sure, I will. I'm going to play my son Gary out at Peter Jacobsen's event, I'm going to play a Shell match. I'm going to play a Skins Game, a couple of exhibitions. That's all I've got scheduled the rest of the year. Depends if I play well enough here that I think I can be competitive, I'll go play the British Open. I'll play the PGA. And, I might pick up another event or two. If I play well enough, if I win here, you know, then that will probably qualify me for the yearend Championship for the Seniors, so I'll play that. As I said here yesterday, my plan was -- earlier this year I felt like my hip was so bad; that I really needed to just pick a time, stop, take about five, six months and really rehabilitate rather than just keep playing, keep abusing. Just pick a time, say, "I'm going to stop here." And the way I was playing, I didn't think I would be competitive. I thought I probably would stop my streak at 150 at the US Open. If that was the case, then that was a good time for me to stop. I'm certainly not going to quit in the middle of the year if I think I can be competitive. I'll go ahead and finish out the events and try to play because I love to play. But I still have plenty of time after that to go do the things I need to do. I think I really just -- I haven't done a good, healthy work program for a long time. And I need to do that.

Q. Is a replacement an option?

JACK NICKLAUS: No, No. My hip's not that bad. It's not very good, but it's not that bad. As a matter of fact, it's gotten a lot better. I think it's doing pretty good, at least the things I'm doing are right. Obviously, if I continue to abuse it, I don't ever give it a chance to heal. And if it, in fact, is healing, which the fellow I'm dealing with says it is, so I've got to believe him.

PHIL STAMBAUGH: Thank you, sir.

JACK NICKLAUS: Does that make sense?

Q. Definitely.

JACK NICKLAUS: You got to do something that's right sometimes for yourself.

End of FastScripts....

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