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June 16, 1996

Jack Nicklaus


LES UNGER: Jack, you honor us by your presence. We appreciate you coming in today. While you may wind up playing again in the U.S. Open, I think, perhaps, we would just like you to reflect a little bit on what this event has meant and -- not to go back on all 40 of them - but your feelings as this event winds down.

JACK NICKLAUS: You don't want me to go over all 40?

LES UNGER: We tried that the other day.

Q. Hole-by-hole.

JACK NICKLAUS: I will go by the other ones that I forgot the other day. Well, coming in here this week, after playing very poorly at The Memorial Tournament, I certainly didn't want to come in here and embarrass myself like I did down there and see if I could play some decent golf, enjoy the week, see if I can be competitive. And when I started out this morning, I felt like, you know, you never know, I shoot 65, you never know what might happen in this golf tournament. Get something in the clubhouse. And I shot 65 here five years ago in the Senior Open, so I saw no reason why I maybe couldn't do it again. I think I was playing better then than I am playing now, and it became quite evident after the turn that I wasn't going to shoot 65 when I was 1 over. And so my objective the last 9 was to play good, solid golf, do the best I could, to obviously make as many birdies as I could, but enjoy the last 9 holes of what would probably be my last Open of where I would probably be a competitive player. Sure, I might play again if I win the Senior Open or the USGA wants to say, you know, good-bye five or ten years from now, whatever it might be, you know, and I would certainly consider that. But the last 9 holes I played pretty well, played decently, and only messed you up one hole, which was the 17th where I 3-putted. And coming down that stretch, the people were terrific. I kept just enjoying -- trying to enjoy the day and try to play decent golf shots. That is hard for me to do, too, because I have never been one to try to enjoy the surroundings. And I got to the 18th tee. I said "just let me put it somewhere in the fairway down there" so I can make a nice solid 4 and I go on, "woosh," hook over where all the people are. Now, I am off the bare ground with a 3-wood. I am saying, "oh, God, what am I going to do with this shot," you know. Anyway, I played, obviously, pretty good. Shot off the green, I had a really difficult chip, and with the grass laying heavy against me, I played beautiful little chip which actually I almost holed. And so, out of the last hole with 4 and what was -- a pretty decent Open for me, but could have been a lot better and that made me feel good. Made me feel like, you know, the last one that I played -- I certainly didn't want last year's to be the last one when I shot 81 the last round. I walked out of the parking lot at Shinnecock and I saw Judy Bell. I said "Judy, you know, I really don't want to play again, but I don't want 81 to be my last score in the U.S. Open." And so they were very nice to invite me back again this year, and I appreciate that very much.

LES UNGER: Question, please.

Q. Jack, knowing the conditions of this course, and the way some of these players are playing and how difficult it is, isn't it difficult for you to say you are not going to come back and play in a U.S. Open? I mean, let's face it, you played pretty well.

JACK NICKLAUS: Well, it is not difficult for me to say that. It -- it is doing just -- that is what it difficult. You guys have heard me say for 25 years that I am not going to play anymore. (LAUGHTER) You know, doing that is the difficult part; not playing. No, I felt like, you know, I was competitive this week. I had a really good shot at a good round the first round and didn't quite get it in the clubhouse. I had a good -- couldn't get any putts in the second round. I really played pretty darn good, except couldn't finish it. Third round, I played pretty solid. Then today I played -- I again played solidly, really didn't make any putts today, made nothing at all so when you don't make any putts, you are going to have a hard time really doing much. But I really didn't answer your question, I suppose. But I think at age 56 the chances of being at 57 being any better are not real good.

Q. Jack, you have had a lot of cheering coming up the 18th fairway at a lot of tournaments. How did this one rate with some of the other ones?

JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I would -- outside of the ones that I won, which were pretty nice, when you are coming up and you are coming up the last hole, you know, if you have got 4, 5 on the last hole to win the tournament, that is a little bit more special than just coming up the last hole with people saying, you know, "thank you," and "we appreciate you being here" and all that kind of -- which was very nice - don't get me wrong. That was awfully nice, but it was a totally different kind of thing; one that was pretty emotional from a lot of ways because it is something that you really don't want to have happen, because that says it's the last time. I really don't like that part of it. You know, I never liked saying that is the last time of anything. But through all the back 9, actually through the whole round, people were terrific. The people out here understood what my round today was, and they couldn't have been nicer, so coming up the 18th hole with the applause that we got and the reception that I got was pretty special.

Q. Do you know what my question is before I ask?

JACK NICKLAUS: I am going to make reservations. What I am going to do is -- I felt like I can play better than I played this week. I felt like I can be competitive, and if I didn't, if I felt like I could be competitive and didn't go to the British Open, I'd be kicking myself, so I am going to make my reservations. I am going to play the senior Open and the Senior TPC. If my body says I can go, then I will go. I mean, I have every intention of going. That is what you wanted to know, right, Mike?

Q. Yes.

JACK NICKLAUS: Okay. Where is Bob Baptist? Your watch is all right. Your watch is all right today. (LAUGHTER)

Q. If you are not going to be in the Open as a player, where will you spend Open Weekend next year?

JACK NICKLAUS: Where would I spend it if I am not here as a player? I don't know. Let us wait until that week comes around and call me and I will let you know. I don't know. I am certainly -- I certainly won't be at Congressional if I am not playing; is that what you meant? No. That would be very difficult for me to do.

Q. Jack, we would like to see you at the British, but of all the Opens, what is one of the the most special events that you remember about the Opens that you have played in?

JACK NICKLAUS: What is the special what? You had one word --

Q. What is the one of the more memorable events that has happened --


Q. That you can remember?

JACK NICKLAUS: I can remember four of them that were very special. I remember four of them that were very special and couple of others that got very close to being special. But you know, if you are a competitor and you really are competing to win, what is special is when you win. I mean, sure, '77 Turnberry when I lost to Watson, either way, we both played well. It was a special event. Because he just played better than I and I accept that. Watson -- as a matter of fact, Watson again, '82 Pebble Beach. He just finished better than I did. I finished pretty good. But that is still special to me. Any time when two guys are playing special -- and The Masters '75 when Weiskopf, Miller and I were coming down the stretch all right together; that, again, was a special type event because none of us gave the tournament away, and of course any time you win --. I mean, when I beat Arnold at Oakmont, obviously, coming down the stretch with Arnold and breaking Hogan's record in '67, Pebble Beach, you know, withstanding what was out there that week which was pretty tough, and then, of course, again at Baltusrol which where the people were just unbelievable during that. I thought it -- I thought I was at a hockey game is what it sounded like when we finished. When we got through, you know, the olympic chant, all that kind of stuff. Those were special moments, you know, you have several in the game where you find that are pretty special. The finish at Baltusrol 1980 was probably the most special of U.S. Open things. Today wasn't bad. But in a different way.

LES UNGER: Jack, thank you.

JACK NICKLAUS: We have got a non-talkative press group, boy, that is an unusual group.

Q. Is your family here?

JACK NICKLAUS: Just Barbara. Kids called this morning said, 65 is a reasonable score for dad's day. I agreed with them. I should have quit at the 16th tee. I think that is where I shot 65. No, just before --

Q. How difficult were the closing holes compared today?

JACK NICKLAUS: They aren't as tough. They are a little bit downwind, so I don't think they will have as much trouble. 17 is considerable easier and that is the only one I bogeyed. But I totally misread the putt. I thought it was a fast putt and it wasn't from the front. But I played an iron off of 16, which we have been playing woods all week. I played 1-iron and 8-iron, so if a guy uses his head a little bit, all he wants to do is put the ball in play; probably won't be playing a wood there. Of course, 15 was a tough pin placement that is back left that was very tough, and 18, you know, you have to be careful off the tee. I think a lot of fellows might be a little better off with a 3-wood off the tee there in the last couple of groups with the adrenaline flowing.

LES UNGER: Anyone else? Thank you very much.

JACK NICKLAUS: Okay, guys, thank you all.

End of FastScripts....

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