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June 1, 2006

Nick Price


TODD BUDNICK: Thank Nick Price for stopping in, after a 3 under, 69 the first round of the 2006 Memorial Tournament. Nick, a nice days, 3 birdies and just one bogey.

NICK PRICE: Well, just basically I played pretty well last week. And I carried that on, I played well yesterday in the Pro Am and the practice round. I just went out there and drove the ball well. I did everything well today. I may have left a couple of putts on the golf course, but kept the ball in play nicely, and then when I did get in trouble, missed a couple of fairways, and then saved par on the first and the 10th hole, which were really good especially the one on 10 was key.

But obviously the course is softer, so I think the guys will be more aggressive with their iron shots. But the course is in great shape. The greens were perfect, as always. And I think I was fortunate only hitting one bunker today, so that was good.

Q. I had a question about bunkers.

NICK PRICE: I knew that was coming.

Q. Since you're the expert here, anyway, about hitting in and getting out, the way they've raked them. Have you ever experienced that?

NICK PRICE: Well, I'm a bit confused, actually well, I heard someone say earlier in the week that this is the way that they used to rake bunkers way back when. And bunkers have always been hazards. Well, we've known that. I think the difference now is that the greens are running at 13 or 14. Back in the bygone era, when they did it before, the greens were probably running at about 6. And it's different hitting out of a bunker to a green where you've got no chance to get any spin on the ball. So I disagree with it. I don't like it at all. But I don't think there's one player out here that does. It's a bit of potluck, to be honest. You can get in there and have a perfect lie when it lands on top of a groove, then you can have another one that goes in the trough, in the bottom of it, and you've got no chance. It's potluck.

Q. What bunker were you in and what kind of lie did you have?

NICK PRICE: On 14, and I had to play away from the pin, which it's not the first time I think anybody has ever had to play away from the pin on that hole. But I had no chance of even it could have gone in the water if I had gone at the pin.

Q. Were you on top of the furrow or down in it?

NICK PRICE: I was in it.

Q. So you didn't save there?

NICK PRICE: No, that was my only bogey.

Q. How far was your putt?

NICK PRICE: 18 feet, maybe. I basically played out sideways.

Q. You don't anticipate this being a standard way to rake bunkers, on the PGA TOUR?

NICK PRICE: I hope not, I really do. In fact I think we have if you look amongst the Policy Board, the Policy Board have a rule that we have a standardized rake on Tour. I don't know what happened this week, I guess we lost our cut.

Q. Were you surprised? That was the biggest thing for this week, this was a surprise for everybody?

NICK PRICE: Yeah, it was a real surprise. We've heard talk in years gone by, of them changing the rakes and putting the long tooted rakes in there. It's kind of a waste, because he's got such beautiful sand in the bunkers, why put beautiful sand in the bunkers, if you're going to rake with these rakes. You might as well put crappy old sand in there. I don't know, I think it's an effort to try to make the scores go up, basically. I don't think Jack wants to see double digits win around here. It's an effort just to make the course play a shot or two harder.

Q. There's an argument that the better bunker player would benefit from this, but John Cook argued

NICK PRICE: It's potluck, because as I said earlier before you came in, you can land on top of the groove or the crown or you can go into the furrow. I've had yesterday in the Pro Am I hit three or four bunkers, and some of the guys I played with walked over and saw a couple sitting up beautifully, and some of them sitting right down in the bottom of the groove. It's a bit unfair in that respect.

Q. Did you make a change recently that got you back in the groove here?

NICK PRICE: A few things. I started playing well at TPC. And I felt my game turning around there and I spent a bit of time with Lead. And then I played well again at Hilton Head. I didn't putt well those two weeks, I think I finished 25th or 26th in those weeks. But compared to the way I had been playing it was refreshing. And my back went out at Wachovia. I pulled a muscle between my ribs at the back, here, and I was in a lot of pain. But I sort of played through that a little bit. Byron Nelson it was still a little sore. So I had a week off last week or the week before, Memphis, didn't play for four or five days, and knock on wood, it's been good since. And last week I played well and started putting well. It's not sort of one particular thing. I think it's a whole lot of factors, driving the ball straight and reading my lines.

Q. Did you hurt it during the round or practice round?

NICK PRICE: No, I was working with something with David. I was trying to hit the ball further like somebody else. It's hard to do when you get to 49 trying to hit the ball further. I was coming off my right side a little earlier in my swing to generate a little more power, and I just pulled it, basically. And it was very sore for about five or six days. I was the Advil King there for a while.

Q. You played here sporadically through the years, and you got an exemption this year. I read last week in Memphis where somebody said to you I think this might be your last year in Memphis, because you're turning 50. Is this year at all kind of like a farewell Tour for you?

NICK PRICE: Very much so. I don't think I'll get back into the TPC, unless I finish in the top 125. But I've paid my dues out here. I've had a great time, to be honest with you. And it's hard. I don't play as much as Fred Funk or as much as Jay Haas. I'm in a different stage in my life. Jay Haas' kids are grown. I'm right in the thick of my kids, they're 15, 13 and 10. And I want to spend a lot of time with them. And I have done that the last four or five years. And I'll continue to do that for probably another three or four years. My summer period is going to be spent with my family, probably until they leave our house or go off to college. But I am enjoying my golf now for the amount I'm playing and the amount I'm working at it. And I think I'm going to have more fun on the Senior Tour because it's not as competitive as out here.

Out here, someone like myself, I mean to have a chance to win I have to play almost mistake free golf on most courses. TPC and those I have more margin for error, they're not as long as some of the other courses that we're playing now. So I think going on to the Champions Tour and being more competitive is going to be more fun for me. And if I have more fun I might practice a little more.

Q. Did you write for an exemption this year with that thought in mind, one more time at Memorial?

NICK PRICE: They gave it to me. It came out of the blue. And I feel very honored, because I've played here sporadically over the years. I really have nothing against the tournament, other than it always rained here, and I got tired of sitting in the locker room. This course is such a wonderful golf course, and if it's hard and fast and firm it is such a great test of golf. But how many times have we had that in the last 20 years, since I've been on Tour? I think maybe twice. When it becomes a bit when it's muddy out there, it's a launcher's paradise. For that period I just felt like I couldn't compete here. And certainly if you look through the record books, you'll see all the guys that hit the ball a long ways have done exceptionally well here when it's wet. But when it's firm and fast, a little bit like it is now, I feel like I can play well.

Q. Especially before the rain fell last night, you probably felt

NICK PRICE: I hope it doesn't rain too much.

Q. Could you talk about what it's like for a guy your age trying to compete out here? Is it all about power? Is that the thing?

NICK PRICE: It's bloody hard. I tell you what, it's really hard because if I hit the ball further, it would give me a little bit more room for error. But I've got to play near perfect golf to compete against these guys. I tell you an example is the par 5. That's a perfect example. When I was playing my best, I could probably reach 2 or 3 out of the four par 5s. Now I'm lucky if I can reach one. That's not because I've got shorter, because I think I've added length with the equipment, but the par 5s have gotten longer.

You take Tiger or Phil, those guys can hit three or four of the par 5s, plus they're hitting medium for shorter irons on par 4s that I'm hitting longer irons into. It makes a huge difference at the end of the week. It's okay in one round, you can sort of sneak by and do it. But it really is determined by the conditions. Like I say, you get a little bit of roll. I'm hoping next week or the week after at Winged Foot it will be nice there.

Q. Did you practice any different knowing the bunkers and raking pattern?

NICK PRICE: You have to be steeper. It's like playing out of a semi plugged lie. You have to be steeper and the ball is coming out with no spin. I think everyone has adjusted for that.

Q. After you won in '94, when you won the last two majors, I think it was '94, what was the pressure like going into The Masters? Do you have any position on the pure slam versus the two year slam?

NICK PRICE: The pressure was it was a long time in between and I didn't really have that I never really played all that well in Augusta. I've had the odd good week there, but I've never really performed like I felt I should have there. To be honest, I think if you hold all four of those trophies at once, that's Grand Slam. I don't care if you win two one year or two the next year, but the purists will always say you have to do it in a calendar year. But I think what Tiger did, what was it, 2000, I don't know, but that will never be beaten or equaled.

TODD BUDNICK: If we could have your birdies, here.

NICK PRICE: No. 3 I hit a 9 iron to about 18 feet.

No. 5 I was just to the right hand side of the green, about 15 feet off the green, about 30 feet from the hole and I 2 putted.

No. 11, pitching wedge for my third shot to about 20 feet.

13, 7 iron to about probably 18, 20 feet, again.

TODD BUDNICK: Thank you.

End of FastScripts.

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