July 3, 1996
LES UNGER: Jack, you have had a chance to play the course this week and perhaps you can give us an evaluation and any other general observations.
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, the golf course is good. I think when I was here in '73 - which I don't remember much about it - seemed to me that the golf course was a little narrower then. I asked one of the boys in our group caddying; he said they had taken some trees out on the golf course over the last few years. Maybe I am right, maybe I am wrong - I don't know - but, anyway, the golf course is nice. You have got fair driving areas to drive the ball in. You have got -- greens -- golf course is in excellent condition. The greens are very good. It's a nice golf course. Kind of sur -- I don't mean that it is not surprising, but it is kind of surprising to me that I come back and I usually remember a golf course and years later I remember some of it, but I don't remember a lot of it. But I remember it was a nice golf course, and it is still a nice golf course. That didn't make a heck after lot of sense, but anyway... In other words, I like the course.
Q. Can't remember the course?
JACK NICKLAUS: Can't remember.
Q. Comes with age.
JACK NICKLAUS: Yeah.
Q. Goes with age.
JACK NICKLAUS: Goes with age, too. Yeah, that is right. And I guess the next - my game is decent. I don't think you will ever hear me say it is good again. But it is decent. And I like what I am trying to do and we will see how it goes.
LES UNGER: Questions.
Q. Give me your impressions of the final three holes, especially 16, 17, 18.
JACK NICKLAUS: 16 obviously is a hole that -- it is a big advantage to drive the ball in the fairway because you need to get the ball up the top of the hill or over on your second shot to make a shot at making a birdie, or unless you have got a blind third shot. It is a strong par 5. 17, obviously strong par 3. I mean, you are standing back there at 200-and-what... 38 yards I guess what they got - 222 - whatever it is - and you have got two-level green that has got to play a pretty good shot. Then 18 is a driving hole that you got to put the ball -- actually if you are going to miss a fairway, you are better off in the bunkers than you are to the left, but you want to cut the ball off the fairway, put it in there. Of course you got a blind shot into a green that is not - is not terribly pitched from back to front, but it is pitched pretty good. Pretty good finishing hole. Pretty good series of holes.
Q. What was the wind like?
JACK NICKLAUS: I didn't play them today. I just played nine holes.
Q. Is this a relatively easy golf course for you to play?
JACK NICKLAUS: Easy?
JACK NICKLAUS: What do you mean by easy? From what standpoint?
Q. With your game, is it a relatively easy golf course?
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't think there is any golf course that is very tough if you are playing well. And I haven't found any golf course that is very easy, if you are playing badly. We will just have to see. I don't know, do you mean do you think I can score well on this golf course if I play well? I think I can score decent if I play well, yeah, but I don't know how you ever can say a golf course is an easy golf course for your game. I don't know what you mean, Al. Does it fit my game? Yeah, it fits my game, if that is what you mean.
Q. Does the setup take the driver out of your hand a lot on this course now the way it is set up?
JACK NICKLAUS: Not a lot. You use the driver a fair amount of times. I am not sure -- probably first hole, I am not too sure, probably a driver. Got to slice it and I don't know how much I can slice a driver. I won't use a driver at 2nd hole. Use driver at the 4th hole. Use driver at the 5th hole, 6th hole. Won't use a driver at 8. Hit a driver at 9. Won't use driver at 10. Won't use a driver at 12. 13, par 5?
JACK NICKLAUS: Depends on the condition there. Really it is not a long 5 if you are playing it downwind, you really want to just put it in the fairway because you can still get home. Won't use a driver at 14. Won't use one at 15. Use one at 16 and use one at 18.
Q. Did playing Oakland Hills prepare you to play this?
JACK NICKLAUS: Not really, no. No, I think that Oakland Hills -- I didn't think I played very well. I felt like I was almost competitive -- felt like if I was a little sharper, I would have been real competitive, and I thought that I had the ability to be sharper. I was not real happy with the way I was hitting the ball up there and I am hitting the ball, I think, better now than I was hitting it there.
Q. Jack, how do you prepare now for a Senior Open? I know you used to gear your game around the Majors on the regular Tour. Now for the Senior Open, compare --
JACK NICKLAUS: What do I do? Well, I was thinking about coming up here last week. I didn't get a chance to, so I came up Monday rather than Tuesday. I really -- I wanted to get at least two rounds in. I got rounds in Monday and Tuesday. I felt like that was enough for the golf course. It is more preparing your game than getting to know a golf course than anything else. That is all you need to prepare for. I felt like today, with as windy as it was, nine holes of golf was enough today. I didn't want to go out and beat myself up for another nine holes of golf. I got two and a half rounds in. I think I know how I want to play the golf course. I think I am prepared enough for it. Last ten days at home I worked pretty hard on my golf game, so.... No different than I would do for any other time.
Q. What is the difference between the way they set up an Open course versus a Senior Open course? Is it easier?
JACK NICKLAUS: Length of rough.
Q. Is it easier for you to play well on a Senior Open course than it is a U.S. Open course?
JACK NICKLAUS: I would hope so. If it is not, they haven't set it up very well.
Q. Just length of rough.
JACK NICKLAUS: Yes, rest of the setup is pretty much the same. I don't think they really try to get the greens a whole lot different in a Senior Open than they do in a regular Open. I think you couldn't -- if you are playing the U.S. Open on this golf course, I don't think you would want to get the greens any faster than what they have got them for this. The rains slowed them down a little bit the last day, but you can't -- the slopes on these greens, you can't put them any faster than that. You can, but if you do, you can't play them. And so rough basically is the only difference; just the length of the cut. I think the fairway width and everything else is pretty much the same. Only other setup is obviously length. You take a few holes and they -- I don't know what we are playing this course at. What are we playing it at?
Q. 67. 68.
JACK NICKLAUS: What is the length of the golf course?
JACK NICKLAUS: What it is normally? What could you play it at, another 150 yards, 6,900, maybe. That is basically all, Bob.
Q. Disbite the passage of time, you used the word, your mental approach to the game and that being so important. Does the fact you won here in 1973 and had obviously great success here, is there any spillover effect? Does that help you mentally?
JACK NICKLAUS: I sure hope so. That is the only way I can answer that. Because I don't know. I mean, I know I won on this golf course. I know I can play the golf course. We will just have to see. I hope there is a spillover.
Q. Jack, you said you worked pretty hard the last ten days at home. Could you tell us what you worked on, if anything, in particular?
JACK NICKLAUS: Nothing particular. Just my golf game. Same thing that I always want to do if I want to prepare to play in a tournament, I want to prepare myself to be able to play in it. That is all. I didn't like -- I didn't like what I was doing at Oakland Hills. I felt like my weight got out on my toes, my arms too far away from my body and I -- I was -- Oakland Hills, I was a mini version of what I was at Muirfield Village where I double-crossed myself a whole bunch of times, aimed left and ended up hitting hooks. At Oakland Hills, I did the same thing probably, maybe half as many times as I did at Muirfield Village, and I know that my balance has not been where I want it and I have been trying to figure out where and why, so that is basically what I am working on, working on how to get my arms on balance with me -- myself on balance, so my arms swing underneath myself and if I want to hit the ball left-to-right, I can and I know it is going to go left-to-right rather than going left to left. I still probably hit some left to lefts, but I think -- I don't think I will hit as many.
Q. When you are working like that, are you working with Jim at all?
JACK NICKLAUS: No, I work by myself.
Q. In a marathon they say there is a wall at 20 miles psychologically and physically. Is there a wall in golf and age, either psychologically or physically, is there an age limit --
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know, I haven't got that far yet.
Q. Did you do anything besides practice at home? Make a quick trip to Thailand or something between Oakland Hills and here?
JACK NICKLAUS: I had a few trips. Sure, a couple.
Q. Where did you go?
JACK NICKLAUS: Oh, I had one three-day trip where I hit five courses Saint Louis, Victoria B. C., Modesto, Reno, and Aspen in three days then back home. And I did have a -- unfortunately, I had a trip to Huston for a funeral, but outside of that I was home.
Q. I know you said you don't have a lot of memories of 1973 but is there anything that still stands out in your mind from that tournament at all?
JACK NICKLAUS: I won. I won and my favorite picture came from here in 1973 with my son Gary, when he ran out onto the green. That is still my favorite picture of where I am involved in golf, but I really don't remember much about it. I really -- I don't even know what I shot. I have no idea. I don't have a clue. Anybody else have a clue?
Q. Where is Gary now?
JACK NICKLAUS: Gary is home. He is playing Golden Bear Tour this summer; going to Europe going to play some more over there. Playing Asia and Europe; home in the summer; then he is going back to Europe.
Q. How old was Gary at the time, Jack?
JACK NICKLAUS: Four. 18th green, I don't remember if it was second or third round. Jackie, of course, is kind of a -- he likes little pranks, you know, so forth; he likes to have fun. He got Gary; he said, "Gary, there is your dad out on the green, go out there and give him a big hug." "Where?" 4 year old kid, of course. He runs out on the green; jumps in my arms as I holed out. Barbara was mortified and Gary made the pressroom that day and as a matter of fact, he made it two days in a row. He spent more time in here than I did. I just -- I got a big kick out of it. I loved it. Barbara didn't think it was all that funny.
LES UNGER: Who was your partner that day, do you remember?
JACK NICKLAUS: The hole was over. Jackie wouldn't do that. He has got better sense than that. He waited. I was the last one to putt out. And then it was on the 18th green. He said, "there he is." Pushed him under the ropes, sent him out to me.
Q. Jack, do you have that picture somewhere? Is that in your office or something?
JACK NICKLAUS: Yeah, I got it several places, Jimmy. Got one hanging in Muirfield and one at home, I know of for sure. Thank you.
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