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May 30, 2006

Jack Nicklaus


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: We'd like to thank Mr. Nicklaus for joining us for a few minutes in the media center for your annual visit. Want to begin with, you made a couple of tweaks on the golf course.

JACK NICKLAUS: A little bit. We've done a few things, but nothing to amount to much. But the what we've really done on the golf course is, you know what everything is, if I felt like we're trying to figure out what to do with the first hole. The first hole was such that it didn't used to be, but the guys are now driving the ball over the bunkers, and the bunkers don't have to be in play. And, well, do we want to redo the whole bunker structure, we moved the tee back 21 yards to put the bunkers in play. I think they function pretty well now. There will still be guys that knock it over. I think it's 290 or something. But that doesn't stop some of the guys.

But then we didn't do anything more on the front nine.

The 10th hole, which we lengthened a year ago, the bunker up there was really not much of a deterrent, they would whack it up there, if they hit it in the bunker, it was right on the line, if they hit it over, it would touch the downslope and go. If he put it in the bunker they'd knock it on the green and no big deal.

They had a little tree, that had been up there, it was a question mark when we did the golf course whether to keep it, well, 30 years later it's still there. It still had a rotten trunk, a hole in it to start with and still a hole in it. This tree can't possibly last much longer, take the tree, bite the bullet, force them to play the ball to the right of the bunker into the fairway or if they want to carry it, that's fine, but make the bunker a deterrent. And in each of those first two cases, we want to make sure for our membership, it didn't affect the membership, the membership won't be able to reach that bunker. They didn't change their tees.

We went to the 12th hole, and really did it more for the members than I did for the tournament, but it turned out to be kind of nice for the tournament. There was a couple of things I wanted to do. There was never a gallery area at 12, I felt. And it always sort of fell off and went away down the hill towards the 13th green. And I said I thought about it just doesn't look like a place to bring a lot of dirt, it doesn't really fit to the terrain. And so and I needed the tees larger, because I couldn't I didn't feel like there were two small tees up there and not enough to let the members come up and play it and still have it for the tournament.

So I bit the bullet and took out a couple of trees that were in between the trees. And as soon as I took out the trees, a light went out, and why didn't I think about this 20 years ago, if I take the tee and just drop it, about five feet, I really don't affect the look from the back, looking back, the bank is a little shorter, but it has pretty flowers and all that junk on it (laughter), but I would be able to create a gallery situation, without building it up, and bring the members to the top, and enough tee space for the members and for the tournament.

As it turned out we added basically a club to the hole by bringing it up there. It says 284, but if you have 284, you have three inches behind the mark. It will play about 275, from the middle of the green, where it played about 265 before, 264, something like that.

Plus it's downhill

Q. 265?

JACK NICKLAUS: Did I say that? Well, that's all right. I think in those terms anymore. 165. And anyway the members love it. You now have a gallery area behind it. We've got a bigger space for the back tee, which really works out well. And in combination when we did that, to do that it really worked into the bunkers at 13, which we had done about, I don't, I don't know, six or seven years ago. And I said, well, we're going to have to redo the bunker anyway, let's get more modern about the bunker. The bunker was 285 to carry before, now it's 308. I took the first bunker out which was really only a member bunker. But since the gallery area is there and a little bit of the roll it kept the balls off the tee. I put one bunker out a long distance and narrowed the fairway down a little bit. We took out a couple of trees on the right, which actually allowed us to push the fairway to the right. And that's about it.

The other thing that we did one thing we did with the fairways, was that about for the last couple, three years, I keep looking on television and seeing the checkerboard on the thing and I said I just don't like it. It's pretty, but it doesn't look like a golf course, it looks like something else. You know what I'm talking about? The way we cut the fairways in the cross cutting.

I liked the look of Augusta, but I don't like cutting the fairway into you, because I think that's I don't like that, because I think it makes you hit flyers, because the grass is lying into you, and I think it's not a it slows down the golf course, that's why they did it was to slow down the golf course. I felt like the other way around, I like my golf course fast, and I felt like it's much nicer lie to play with the grass lying down towards the hole. It's a much better shot, the fairways will play faster, so the balls can run farther. I don't mind that the course kept playing shorter, because it makes the fairways shorter. We cut the fairways all in one direction.

The last thing we did is a couple of weeks before the tournament I called and I said, "Would you make a call to the Tour and ask them what they want to do with the bunkers?" We spend money every year, to try and deep even the bunkers, do different things and the bunker has ceased to become a penalty. And I said if we came back actually even if we raked them the way we did when we started the tournament, we'd have an uncertainty of what the lie was. We were probably the cause of bunkers being perfect today. They used to rake them with a pretty good sized rake and it was clumpy, and the ball really never set very well in the bunker. And we started working here, how do you make a bunker so it really is a nice lie so you really have a clean lie out of it, and so that everything is consistent. We developed that rake that is used, the round rake, and that was our development here. And we took that and that's what everybody uses today.

Now all the bunkers are so perfect, there's no penalty anymore. Bunkers are really supposed to be a penalty. I don't care about them being a penalty, penalty, right now guys look at a par 5, if I don't get it on the green, and put it in the bunker, I know I can get it up and down and we move on.

I asked the Tour, and they have been telling the guys all year, the honeymoon is over, the bunkers are going to be a penalty. I said, "When are you going to do that?" We haven't done it yet. I said, "We can start it right here if you want to." And they said, "Fine."

We developed a rake here that put us on I think I think it's center of the middle of the tines are like two and a half inches, when means two inches spread between the spread of the rake. And it gives you a little bit of a waffling in the bunker, and it can be you can get a good lie or you might not get a good lie. And particularly in the fairway bunkers, if you hit it in the fairway bunker, you've got an option before you hit it in the fairway bunker that's most of the bunkers that were changed, to have a penalty off the tee shot, if you hit it in the bunker they hit it so far, and it doesn't make any difference, unless the bunker is 25 feet deep. I'll never forget the one they did at 5 on Augusta, and hoot I said no one is going to knock it out of here. I said, "That won't make a difference." And so anyway, that was sort of the issue. And so rather than having to change the bunkers all the time, we'll continue to change our bunkers, now we've got to get them consistent to all the bunkers on the golf course, we continue to change a few every year, but now I want them so when you hit the ball they say, "I don't really want to be in that bunker." But if they get in it then they have a chance of having a penalty. That was sort of the idea.

The Tour liked it, the Tour supported it 100 percent, and that's what we're doing.

I don't think there's any other changes that I can think of.

The only other change is out here for the players ease of getting back to the clubhouse. The Tour has asked us for years and told us we have a very awkward situation. And so we tried to figure out for years I've been trying to figure out how do we get the players across there. They finish their score card, they do their interview, and they can sign autographs right there, which they've done for years. Then they have to fight their way to the driving range or clubhouse. And someone is going to get hurt eventually, and guys have gotten poked and everything else. My greatest fear while I was playing golf, I always had my arm up here, to keep pens out of my eyes. Someone is going to get hurt, eventually, bad. So we felt like we were trying to figure out a way to get the players, once they did autographs, we could get them from the driving range to the clubhouse, they have the option to walk it or they can use that if they want. And the players I've talked to so far obviously like it a lot.

I don't think there's anything else. That's the best off the top of my head.

Q. This will be the first time ever you've never played in this tournament. Is it going

JACK NICKLAUS: Not really. I haven't really played the last three or four years (laughter) but I was here.

Q. Will that feel weird on Thursday?

JACK NICKLAUS: Not anymore. I'm used to not playing. And I felt like I thought about playing this year. I said, no, this is not the year. I retired from tournament golf last year, I reserve the right to be the host of the Memorial Tournament if I want to. My first year after not doing it, I shouldn't be even the host, that's coming back and playing again. I may come back the next year or year after and do that. Of course I got a tournament contract changed so that I would be if I came back or any of the other old champions wanted to play in the field not to take a place away from anyone else. I've left it open to do that if I want to, but I needed to stay away this year. Have you seen me play lately? I won't feel weird at all. It will be a pleasure not to play. I played Saturday, we had our Memorial club play. I played the back tees on Saturday and I cruised around here with 77, just easy as can be (laughter).

Q. Jack, I saw you were at the Indy Sunday, how did you enjoy the race and did you stay for the whole thing?

JACK NICKLAUS: I've never been to the race. We used to play the 500 over there. And the week before, a lot of times, this was years ago. And nine holes are inside the track, we played while they were doing all the qualifying runs and testing and so forth and so on. But I had never gone to the race. And we were invited this year. I've been invited quite a few years, but it's always been right at the Memorial Tournament. And I said I'm not going to that on a Sunday on a Memorial Tournament. I took them up on it and Barbara and Steve and his little boy went with us. Little Stevie drove the cars around inside, they have that little what do you call it machine, simulator, he drove that around, he didn't see anything, but he enjoyed that. No one else got to use the simulator except him. And we watched and it's loud, that part is for sure. We left with about 15 laps to go. We had the function here on Sunday night, so I didn't see the finish, but we saw the finish when we got back. Pretty good finish.

Q. Jack, is there any strategy to raking the bunkers with these rakes? In other words, having the furrows run parallel toward the green or perpendicular?

JACK NICKLAUS: We had it going the other way, but the Tour said they wanted it the other way. I don't care how you do it, I could care less. I think the Tour probably said it's not quite as much a penalty if you go towards the hole. I don't care which way you go. All I'm trying to do is make the guy think he doesn't want to be in the bunker, and it's not the place to aim for. To the right of 18. They don't want to be in the water, guys have tried tried to drive over the bunker, some still can, but they didn't mind being in the first bunker to the right, because it was a fairly flat, low profile bunker and you could play the ball. I can't figure out a way to deep even that bunker, so let's just make the lie uncertain. That way the guy is not going to just want to be in that bunker.

Q. How penal do you think it will be if you get the back right pin on, say, 14 and you're in that left bunker, running toward the water and can't get any spin on the ball?

JACK NICKLAUS: You can't get any spin on it anyway. It's virtually impossible out of that bunker, also you play a perfect, perfect bunker shot to stay on the green. They're not going to do that. They'll get some to go in the water, sure, absolutely. But they get some to go in the water when the bunkers are perfect.

Q. Don't hit it there?

JACK NICKLAUS: That's the whole idea.

Q. Compared to Oakmont type bunker, how do they compare?

JACK NICKLAUS: When I played in '62, you took a sand wedge and hit it out, that's all you could do. That was much deeper than what we have now. That was a big that was probably that deep (indicating), probably a ball deep and it was sort of like that (indicating). This is two inch spread, actually from edge of the rake to the edge of the rake, and it puts a thing but not nearly as severe as that.

Q. You're one of the best at picking the ball, would you be able to pick the ball?

JACK NICKLAUS: Not if it's sitting down. And that's the whole point. I went out and I played Saturday and, of course, when I was here Friday we went out and did a lot of bunker shots and fiddled around, they took the ball and threw it in the bunkers, and I didn't find that it was that big a deal. But you had to alter the way you play your bunker shot. They play the good bunker players only play one bunker shot because they don't have to hit anything else. Every shot I played to fit the situation. Matter of fact I was in two bunkers when I was out there Saturday and I got both up and down. And that was not an issue. I didn't hit the fairway bunker, but Jackie hit it in the fairway bunker some place, and he knocked it out on the green, so he got a lie he could play.

Q. Are you excited about having Phil here and does that do you need the offset to offset the loss of Tiger, how conscious are you of that?

JACK NICKLAUS: It's nice that Phil is here. I'd like all the guys to come play if they can. But you're not going to have everybody, every tournament, that's for sure. But I'm delighted that he's here, I'm delighted that we've got a great field. The look of the field is probably as good as we've ever had. Obviously I respect Tiger's wishes with his father, but I can't second guess him, what he's thinking, how long it's going to I had a similar feeling, obviously, when I lost my father at the same age. And I played about three weeks to a month afterwards. And I skipped the next couple of tournaments after that. And I felt like I needed to get back and play. He would have wanted me to play. So I think Tiger probably falls in the category of I think probably a combination of it takes the pressure off of him from playing every place, but also it also gives him time to get his feet back on the ground. It's a combination. He does not like to tell me that he's not going to play or he didn't like to tell Byron that he wasn't going to play, so it was really probably it was okay, he had a real reason to say, you know, I'm not going to play this year, I'm going to sort of bide my time, get over what I'm over with and then I'll come back to playing golf. I think that's fine. Everybody is entitled to do that.

Q. Did you have any conversation with him?

JACK NICKLAUS: I called him after his father died. And he wasn't taking calls. I talked to his wife. So I left a message and I told him if you want to call me, fine, if you don't, it's fine, you know what my thoughts are.

Q. Jack, is this bunker issue, is this an experiment for this year, will you maybe change it next year?

JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know what we'll do. I think the Tour the Tour has told the guys, and that's when we called the Tour and asked them, the Tour said we've told the players that the honeymoon is over on bunkers and that we're going to start making them a penalty. And I said, "Okay, where have you done it? And they said, "We haven't done it yet." That's not much of a honeymoon, they're still getting the same thing. I said, "Do you object to starting here?" And they said, "I can't think of a better place to start." My guess is they'll continue it in the future. And then I'm sure they'll modify it. I mean, we'll end up same as every other tournament, the Tour controls what we do, as it relates to the maintenance of the golf course, that's what they do, within reason. They ask us for ten and a half, we give them 14 on the greens. But we've done that every year. We usually are somewhere between 13 and 14 is where we are. And they'll develop what they want to have as a policy for bunkers. And ours is the first time of trying this and they'll probably adjust it.

We went out and had 150 rakes made over the weekend, and then we got them in and found as I was testing on Saturday, I found that once the bunker was raked the second time that the rake was too narrow and it just went right back to a smooth bunker. I said, "Okay, let's take every other tooth out." We took 150 rakes and cut every other tooth out of the rake, so we get as much spread as the original rake we use in the morning. It's an experiment, but it's going to be the Tour will come and settle on something, and they'll have a standard rake.

Q. You talked about when you played at Oakmont you had to hit them out with sand wedges, would you like to see them back to that, or do you think that's too dramatic now?

JACK NICKLAUS: It would be okay. Why do you put a bunker on a golf course? I think there's two reasons three reasons, one, is esthetically it's very pretty, it gives you a framing issue. Two, it guides you around the golf course or three, it's penal. It could be one of those three. To this point in time they've been esthetically pleasing and they guide you around the golf course, but they haven't been penal. So I think that third element needs to come into it. I thought that for a long, long time.

Q. Some of what you've done here the last ten years has been in response to the technology. How much No. 1, how many more places can you go back and add more distance? And No. 2, what else can you do, like you are doing?

JACK NICKLAUS: I don't really want I could add distance where it's practical. I could add distance a lot of places on this golf course, not a lot of places, but I have places I could add 20, 30 yards. But I don't want to add it on a hole that I think is really neat the way it is. I wouldn't think about taking 14 and putting some dirt back there. Why? That golf hole is one of the greatest holes in the country. The third hole is also a neat little golf course. They're both short par 4s, for these guys, they're probably a 2 iron or rescue or whatever they play and an 8 or 9 iron and wedge. But they've got a lot of spice in them. Length isn't everything, but you like to take the strategy of your golf course and make it be effective. That's why I put the other bunkers at 18, because the guys are negating the strategy putting it to the right and over the top. I don't care whether it's long, but I'd like to play the strategy the way the golf course is designed. No. 1, they shouldn't play it the way it is now. No. 2 plays that way, you've got the fairway that pitches down towards the water, they have to be careful. No. 3 doesn't need any length. No. 4, matter of fact, I shortened 4 years ago, if you remember. And if I want to go back there, I could, but I don't really it's 205 yard par 3, basically a difficult green. It has enough spice, it doesn't need it. Like they did the 4th at Augusta, they went back another five yards. I don't know what the player's reaction was to that, but I think that had to be difficult, and change the nature of the hole a lot. So I don't really want to change the nature of that hole.

5th hole, we don't have any room. And that's one of the reasons I did what I did years ago, even though it's an easy par 5, I don't care about that.

6, we got another 20 yards if we want to go back.

7, we don't have anymore space.

8, we have 20 or 30 yards, but why, the hole is really a nice par 3 the way it is.

9 is a little bit like 3 and 14, it's really kind of a it's on the top of the hill, and the small green is kind of fun.

10 has that big fairway back there, that's why I went back.

1, I have plenty of room to go back if I want to, but it's okay. Right now if they challenge the creek, they can get home in two. And they also have plenty of penalty if they don't.

12 happened to go back a club. I really didn't mean for it to go back a club, just only because I've got the space, but it didn't need to.

13, the adjustment in the bunker should take care of 13.

14, we don't need to.

15, we are going to go back on. We're taking the shelter house out, that's been the bathroom for quite a few years, it's an area that floods. And it's not really not sanitary wise, it's not good when the tournament is on. We're going to take that shelter house and move it over to the left of 18 on the other side of the creek. And we'll put the bleachers back, and move the tee back 20 yards. I don't make 15 where they can't get the ball up and get home in two. I think the excitement of that hole is to get up and get home in two. I don't mind the short par 5 there. 16 doesn't need anymore length.

17 certainly doesn't need anymore length and neither does 18.

I don't think there's anything more that I'm going to do to the golf course. The only thing I might do in time, if I need to, I might narrow the fairway, I've narrowed them to about 26, 28 yards, we did that a few years ago. I don't want it to be U.S. Open width, I think that's 20 to 22 yards is a little too narrow, leave it a little bit more than that, but don't make it so we've got I think we're pretty close to where we need to be.

Q. So you haven't felt

JACK NICKLAUS: Length is not an issue. It's how the course plays is my issue.

Q. I was going to ask you what, as technology keeps on you have guys hitting

JACK NICKLAUS: I hope in technology, somebody wakes up, eventually, to technology.

Q. On the subject of psychology, has that changed the art of shot making, does that still exist, or do people just hit it as far as they can?

JACK NICKLAUS: Sure it exists, but it's a different kind of shot making. In other words, Tiger is one of the different guys. Tiger is not a big kid when he grew up, and Tiger learned to play a lot of different shots. And that's where he learned to develop a short game and then he got big and strong. So he developed a different way than I did. I developed another way. I was a big kid, I hit it strong and I never bothered to develop a short game, and I probably would have been better if I had. But I had too much fun hitting the ball. But I always felt like I was never strong enough to take strategy out of play on a golf course. And obviously on occasion I would, if I got a downwind and could carry the bunker and do things, but an advantage in distance was always an advantage but never it didn't over power the golf course to such great degree that it eliminated everybody else in the field. And we still had to make shots. And today the kids the kids are talented enough to make shots and some of them do make the shots, but they don't have to, because of a lot of situations that it's far better off to go ahead and drive the ball 330 yards and play a 9 iron or wedge out of the rough than put a 3 wood in the fairway and play a 5 iron, they felt they could get a better score doing that. But my objective here is to take that driver and 9 iron out of their hand and put them in an area they're forced to play to an area, give them an odd hole where they can gamble and throw it out there, where they can take advantage of the golf course, rather than being a total power situation. They're quite capable of playing the shots. But they've never grown up having to play shots.

Q. This is obviously a very prominent TOUR event, how does the reality of the event today compare with the vision you had for it 30 some odd years ago?

JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I think that we looked at our tournament when it came out a long time ago as being probably one step right behind the majors. I think we're a step behind the majors, but I think there's probably another half a dozen tournaments that are probably a step behind today, the TPC, THE PLAYERS Championship and some of the world championships and something like that. There have been other things added to increase that level. The Tour still uses us very highly in the tournament package to sell. We are looked at as being a fairly significant tournament. I don't think that I think there are more tournaments today that fall under our category than did when we started, understand what I mean? In other words, when we started, I don't think there was anybody but they looked at us and the Canadian Open, frankly, at that time, and THE PLAYERS Championship was just starting, so it was it was all that was really right there. I don't think probably Canada PLAYERS obviously, the purse has gone up significantly, and they're changing their golf course again, and I don't know what they're doing, but I think they're trying to get with the times again. How significant the other tournaments are prestige wise, purse wise, they're huge, but prestige wise, that's another issue. Guys look at this golf course every year, if you ask the guys, their feeling is that they'd just as soon come here more than any place else. They love the golf course, and the way they're treated. And they think very highly of it. That's really what our goal was. Our goal was never to be a major championship, it was to try to be as good a tournament as we could be.

Q. I don't know how many dealings you have with Mickelson, but I wonder if you have noticed any changes in him or his game since he started winning majors?

JACK NICKLAUS: The question has been asked of me several times, but not this year, I go back to The Presidents Cup matches in South Africa, and that was 2003, and Phil, when we started having the meetings to come, a lot of guys would say, "I don't know if Mr. Phil is going to play or not play." I said, "Well, if he wants to go, that's fine, if he doesn't want to go, that's fine." It's his choice. All I want is 12 guys who want to be there and want to play. Because in '98 at Royal Melbourne, I don't think I had 12 guys that wanted to play. And we got our rear ends ^clobbered pretty good.

We had our meeting at Firestone, Phil came in, he was the first one in the meeting he said, "Hey, Jack, how are you doing?" He said, "I'm looking forward to going." Positive attitude. We went to South Africa, played five matches and it was 0 5. And yet he was probably the most enthusiastic, most upbeat, he kept it all week, and he was terrific. In my opinion, he was my most valuable player, even though he was 0 5. The reason he was my most valuable player is because he could have taken the team down with him, and he didn't. He bonded with the guys and everybody appreciated how he handled himself. I think that carried over the next year, after I got back I wrote him and talked to him about it and said, "I think this is going to be something that's going to change the way of your life, and the way you win things." And he won The Masters the next year. And he was terrific in the last Presidents Cup. And I think that he has changed I think that changed him a little bit, and moved him in a different direction. And when he finally got the win, I think that changed his whole outlook on golf. Is that what you're talking about?

Q. Yes.

You've always taken pride in being competitive and wanting to play if you can win. What will go into your decision to being a playing host or reconsider playing again?

JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I don't really know. Right now if you asked me, do I want to be a host, to me to be a host, I'd need to play a practice round or two, be part of the guys, play a couple of rounds, if I happen to make the cut, I'd make the cut. I'm not sure I could walk 18 holes every day. I played three times a week ago, which was my 7th, 8th and 9th time since The British Open, darned near killed me. I haven't done anything, all I've done is sit around and eat and get fat, that's all. I'm enjoying my work. I'm absolutely loving what I'm doing. I'm traveling twice as much as I ever traveled, going to places I never would have gone to before, doing things that don't require me to make sure that I watch what I do here, and watch what I do this, and make sure that because I've got a tournament coming up, I've got to make sure that I'm building myself for this. I'm kind of enjoying this I've done that for 40 or 50 years, whatever it was, and I'm enjoying not doing it. Would I like to be doing it? Absolutely, I'd love to still be playing golf, because I love playing golf. Once you can't play, and once you feel like physically you just can't do it, and then you get away from it and all of a sudden you try to play a little bit, and you say, "Wow, this is an ordeal." I went out there a pair of shoes I think I've played 25 rounds of golf in, I've got Band Aids on every toe from Saturday. It was ridiculous. I said, "What is this?" I've worn these pair of shoes a bunch of times, I had blisters all over the place. It's kind of crazy that you wouldn't think about your feet from that standpoint. Lugging around an extra 15 pounds is not a lot of fun. I've lugged around those pounds for a long time. Obviously if I'm working and all the other things, I'm not walking and doing the things I would to keep in shape.

If I came back, I'd want to be representative at least a little bit to play and enjoy it and not come out here and shoot a pair of '85s and say, "Gee, I was a nice host." I'd like to play decent and make the cut and be part of what's going on, or I'm not going to do that. I made the decision next year to be here and be part of it, but I'm not just going to go out and clutter up the field.

Q. Jack, without having to play practice rounds, is your routine going to be otherwise the same? Are you doing anything else, yesterday, today, tomorrow, that you haven't had a chance to do in previous years?

JACK NICKLAUS: Oh, no, I'm not doing much else, I'm doing the same thing. Before I just squeezed in some golf, too. But I started here at 11:00 this morning. I didn't do that in previous years. I would come in maybe at another time, prior to our captain's club meeting, but I would have played golf before that. I actually get to sleep this week.

Q. What do you think about Michelle wee's attempt to qualify for the U.S. Open, and her whole approach towards professional life?

JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know what her approach is. How would I know that? I haven't talked to her about it.

Q. She's playing a lot of different places.

JACK NICKLAUS: My feeling has always been, and I've said it a hundred times, is that I was always very upset on the Tour when I saw our players try to legislate against the foreign players coming in to play our Tour, and that's obviously since changed. But they used to legislate so they didn't come in and cherry pick our tour. I always felt if anybody had golf clubs and was able to qualify and eligible to play in a golf tournament, they can certainly tee it up. I don't care if that's a man, woman or child. Let them come play. If Michelle Wie, if that's her desire to come play and she has the ability to qualify for the U.S. Open, fantastic. I think it was wonderful for the game of golf. It brings a whole new element in that you've never heard before. On the men's Tour it says you can be a golfer, I don't know what the wording says, but anybody who wants to qualify has the ability to qualify, it's an Open championship. I think that's great. I have no issue with it whatsoever. No issue; matter of fact I support it.

Q. Jack, I was curious, from the time you started winning at Oakmont, and then Augusta and then Dallas and stacked up majors quickly, and obviously as a big favorite when you went to every major, at what point did there come a time when you were not the favorite or felt like you were the favorite at a major? Did it bother you, motivate you, did you care less, that you got a sense from the public?

JACK NICKLAUS: I played pretty much all the majors until about the mid '90s, probably.

Q. '98, yes. You played in all the majors?

JACK NICKLAUS: Did I play in all of them until '98, is that what it was?

Q. 146 of them, Jack?

JACK NICKLAUS: 140 some. I forget all about that, that was a long time ago, but I played probably a lot of majors beyond what I honestly thought I could win. But I always tried in my own mind to justify that I could. '98 obviously I finished 6th in The Masters, I could have won The Masters a year with a little bit of proper I can go back and take out a few shots that I could have changed that would have won that tournament. Realistically should I have? Probably not. But probably mid 50s, probably, my mid 50s, I felt like I was no longer realistically a legitimate contender. Is that what you meant?

Q. No, actually what I meant is when you went to a major and you were the guy you were the topic of every conversation?

JACK NICKLAUS: That was probably happening right around the time I won the Masters.

Q. '86.

JACK NICKLAUS: The middle '80s I was no longer the guy that walked in and they said, here comes Jack, we all better play for second, you know. That probably ended somewhere in my early 40s.

Q. Did you get a sense at all that happened when Miller was going great guns in the desert?

JACK NICKLAUS: Never played attention to it. I was too busy trying to figure out how to win or get my game back or what game I had to go play. I can't be worrying about I never worried about it anyway when I walked into a tournament to worry about whether someone was worried about me or not, I had enough problems to worry about myself, that's the only guy I could control. Is that what you meant?

Q. Paul Horning who called you the greatest golfer who ever played. Do you consider yourself the greatest golfer or does it embarrass you when you consider call you the greatest golfer of all times?

JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I tried to be the best I could be at my sport. What people's judgment of my abilities is basically based probably on your records. And that's the way you have to do it. Now, is my record better than Hogan's or my better than Jones's, or better than Tiger's? I don't know. I had won more majors than they have. I played a lot longer than they have. Jones played a short period of time. Hogan was interrupted by his accident and physically didn't play that long. Hogan really wasn't successful first major he was 33, 34. So from that standpoint Tiger obviously is on the same track that I was. He's coming as a young kid. Arnold's period was a short period of time, '58 to '64. '64 Arnold was the best player in the world for about seven years there, and that was but then he ceased being so. But I can't judge myself. I would never call myself the world's best golfer. I never would. I'm very flattered when people say that. I would never want to sit there and say, you're the best that ever lived, look at me. I just have never lived that way. I've never felt that way. And I never felt I also while I was playing, I could never climb that mountain to try to get better if I felt that way. And so and a little bit goes to the question you asked, when did that period stop, and it was probably in that period, during my early 40s.

Q. So you do not consider it would be foolish with your record to consider yourself not to be the greatest player that ever played?

JACK NICKLAUS: You could say arguably. But I wouldn't want to say it, because I'm just not built that way. You'll never hear me say that to anybody.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Mr. Nicklaus for joining us.

End of FastScripts.

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