June 14, 1996
BLOOMFIELD HILLS, MICHIGAN
JACK NICKLAUS: I couldn't make anything happen, Dick. I was just terrible. I really wasn't very good. And most of the day, I kept double-crossing myself early in the day and then I got in decent shape. I was even par through 14. And then I just into the wind coming home which has been my problem trying to keep the ball -- keep my club left of my line swing and coming home I just flipped it down underneath myself and didn't hook it.
Q. Looks as if par is a beautiful word again at the U.S. Open.
JACK NICKLAUS: It is a good score on this golf course, a tough golf course, Dick. Even struggling a little bit with my golf swing, I still got it around in pretty good shape. I hit it so hard I knocked the face right out of my driver.
Q. Was that a little disconcerting when you got the new driver, when did you get it on 14?
JACK NICKLAUS: Yeah. It was prototype driver. We are fiddling with lofts and I think we worked a little too hard on getting -- shaving a little loft off of it and I think it probably just came apart. We have had a couple other ones like that on the prototypes. I hit a pretty good drive at 12 and then I hit a really big 3-wood and knocked it on the green. That is big for me. It is not a 5-iron. I saw Tiger hit it there yesterday. To knock it on there, for me, is pretty good and I played decently -- I played the next two holes fine and then in the trees left, right, left, left.
Q. This effort is not a ceremonial effort this week, I mean, you didn't come in here just for cruising; right?
JACK NICKLAUS: I was in position to put myself right in the middle of the golf tournament. I am 2-over par with four holes to play. I don't think 15 is all that difficult a hole if you hit a decent tee shot. 16 is not that hard. The pin is for the taking at 17. 18 isn't a very difficult hole. I bogeyed all four. If I par them or sitting in a position where, you know I got two, three shots out of the lead --
Q. You know even par is probably the magical number the way major championships progress?
JACK NICKLAUS: No question about it. I was in the golf tournament and I know Oakland Hills and I love the golf course. Playing well enough to compete and to let it get away from me the last four holes makes me -- looks like I am going to get to play tomorrow and if I get to play tomorrow then I just have to make a few birdies.
Q. Is this going to be your last Open?
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know. I said that this would be my last Open and that I really want the USGA to give me an exemption. And if they want to come back and give me a ceremonial exemption, you know, Pebble Beach, or someplace else like they did for Arnold, that would be very nice. But as far as being competitive, as far as playing 40 Opens in a row, 40 Opens in a row is a big number. And if I happen to win the Senior Open this year; qualify through other means, I'd love to play again, of course I would love to play again. But I really don't want to take a spot if I am not competitive and -- my golf game should be competitive. I don't see any reason why it can't be except for -- I just -- my golf swing. I just make too many bad shots. That is not your -- age or something else. That is just making bad golf swings. Certainly, my nerves are good. I don't have any problem with my putting, or anything else. That is not my problem. My problem is just that I am not -- I have been in about a five-year slump.
Q. We talked, as you were playing, Jack, about how you always competed so well and how proud you are of that and the fans want to be nostalgic because of your great career and -- in its twilight, at least, in terms of U.S. Open or major championships, so you are not nostalgic at all; you are still angry inside, and you want to continue to compete?
JACK NICKLAUS: Sure, I want to compete. No question about that. I love to compete. But that is why I felt like 40 Opens, age 56, you know, let the younger fellows take over. That is fine. I understand that. I understand we all have a length of time we are going to play and I have been very, very fortunate with what I have. I have played well. I have no regrets, whatsoever. But you know, any time I am out here, I want to do my best. I always have wanted to do my best and when I come home the last four holes at a U.S. Open make four bogeys, I don't care whether I am 26 or 56, I get upset.
Q. Hope to get a chance to talk to you on Sunday.
JACK NICKLAUS: I hope so. Thank you.
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