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September 20, 2006

Nick Price


NICK PRICE: You know, I was really surprised last year coming to this golf course. I heard some mixed reviews over the years, you know, some guys that didn't like it, some guys really liked it and I came here and really enjoyed the golf course.

PHIL STAMBAUGH: Nick, welcome back to San Antonio. You've won this Valero Texas Open in 1992. Just a couple thoughts coming into this week about coming back here.

It's not ultra long although I didn't play well here last year, I was coming off a pretty long break and shuttered up my house two, three times for the hurricanes and, you know, I really didn't prepare very well coming in here but this year I'm better prepared and it's one of those golf courses that I feel if I play well on I still may have a chance to win.

It's nice to be back.

These conditions are very similar to the conditions I grew up playing golf on back home. I know I said that about Oak Hill but just a really enjoyable week. I thoroughly enjoyed my time here last year and I think the rough on the golf course isn't quite as severe as it was last year so we may be looking for slightly lower scoring this year but the course is in, you know, 9 1/2 out of 10 condition. It really is. It's in wonderful, wonderful shape.

The greens are very good and it's a lot of growth. I know you guys have had a little bit of a drought here but the course is in great shape so we keep having weather like this I think we're all in for a bonanza this week.

Q. Is it a course, do you ever have more than maybe a 8 or 7 iron?

NICK PRICE: There's a couple of par 4s depending on which way the wind is blowing. Certainly No. 10 is a 5 iron, 4 iron, maybe 6 iron if I hit a good drive.

The next one is coming up the hill, what is that like No. 15, 15, 16 yeah, 15, depending on the wind, that can be a 4 or a 5 iron and then also No. 4 is pretty long hole if you get it into the wind.

Today we were lucky because the wind was kind of helping a little.

You know, it's a short it's the kind of golf course when I was playing my best golf that I would just relish every year.

I'm just sorry I didn't come here earlier but to be honest, you know, I had my contractual obligations in Japan with some of my sponsors. They always seem to want me over this time of year in September.

Obviously opposite the Ryder Cup, you know, a lot of players who are playing the Ryder Cup couldn't go to Japan but I could so I think I went there nine years in a row, nine, ten years in a row so it was tough and also the way this was re shuffled I guess it was around about '93, '94 when we first came here, it went from an October date to a September date and came on the heels of, you know, the PGA, the World Series and the Canadian Open which I've always played in and so on.

So it was really hard for me to play extended four, five weeks in a row. So, that was also part of the reason why I never came here.

Q. I think I've heard you say before this tournament had some special you have some special memories of this tournament. It was almost a turning point in your career.

NICK PRICE: Definitely. '92 I I won the PGA in August of '92. There's nothing better than following up a win in a Major Championship. A lot of players win their first Major and fall away into oblivion and never regain the form of having the ability to win a Major again.

I bounced back two months later winning this and went down to New Zealand and won down there. I would say from the PGA in '92 including this event was really the big stepping stone for me to, you know, what I always call the second half of my career.

First half being a journeyman and going through the motions and, you know, I won a tournament here and there and Overseas but I never really got on top of my game. From '92 to '95 I played as well as anyone.

Q. Talk a little bit, if you could, about the competition out here, some of the guys that are out here playing.

I know we've got some names out here people might not realize that being the Ryder Cup is at the same time. There is some pretty good competition.

NICK PRICE: Every week nowadays on the PGA Tour you want to win the tournament you have to play exceptionally good golf, even as you say there might not be the star game.

Justin Leonard, Fred Funk has played really well this year. These guys don't lay down and let you win. You have to play great golf. And I can guarantee you that anyone who comes out and watches this week is going to see some wonderful golf played here.

Q. Nick, could you talk about Bernhard Langer was in here earlier talking about kind of cranking it up for the Champions Tour, trying to get his game in shape. Said he's real close.

Once he reaches 50 next August, he said that's what he's going to do is the Champions Tour and that's what he wants to focus on.

He says he has a hard time going back and forth.

NICK PRICE: I can't believe he said he's cranking up. He's never cranked down. He's got a work ethic which is second to none.

You know, he's played a lot more than I have the last two, three years. I think that's going to show in the early part of next year when he gets on the Champions Tour.

You know, guys like Loren Roberts who kept playing hard through 48, 49 and even earlier from 47, say. I've kind of slowed down a little bit last two, three years and I've sort of kept my hand in it by playing a minimal amount of tournaments.

But, you know, I think it's very rare for me to get off that Champions Tour. I looked at it I was talking to a friend of mine the other day, we were having a beer. I said, "If I'm going to play say 15 events on the Champions Tour for the next four, five years, just looking at the history of the Champions Tour, once you get past 55, 56, seems like your body just doesn't work as well as it used to."

So, I'd like to play for four, five years and if I play 15 events that's 75 tournaments and I'd rather play in 75 events when I have a chance to win as opposed to trying to make a cut.

That's why I started playing golf was to win. I'd rather stay out there and feel comfortable. I think on any Tour, whether you play the European Tour and the U.S. Tour, whether you play the Champions Tour and the regular tour or whether you play an Asian Tour and the American Tour, it's very hard to bounce around.

I think Fred Funk and Jay Haas have both proved that the last couple of years.

It's hard to focus on both and play well on both. Fred has played better on the regular tour. He obviously feels more comfortable out here. If I was in his shoes I probably still stay out here until I felt I couldn't compete anymore.

For me, maybe one, maybe two events a year, I might sneak out to this Tour, but I've been beaten out here the last two, three years and, you know, the guys there's no other sport that you can really compete against guys half your age.

It would be an exception as opposed to a rule, you know, someone in their 50s coming out here and beating them.

I had my day in the sun out on this tour and I've had a great time. I'm ready to go on to I wouldn't say greener pastures, what would you say, what would be the right word?

I'm not going to say for one minute those guys out there, you know, will lay down. Those guys out there are playing some wonderful golf, too.

There's guys like Dana Quigley and Tom Kite, they play everyday. You know, I've got 50 other things I like to do outside of golf. So I'm not going to be out there, you know, building up callouses on my hands trying to I don't need to practice that much.

If I enjoy it and I feel that I can compete, then I will crank up my practice regimen a bit but I can't see myself hitting balls like I did when I was 35.

Q. Getting back to what Joe said, you're going back to the '90s it's a way for you to get back to Oak Hills.

NICK PRICE: I'm really looking forward to that. Mark McNulty and I speak a lot on the phone. He's been on the Champions Tour for three years I think it is, third year now, trying to find out I don't even know what's it's going to be like out there.

Everyone said you're going to love it. Other guys well, I don't know. I know I'm going to enjoy it because there's no cut and you get paid. You get a check every week. I've had too many weeks recently where I'm going home on Friday night.

More than anything else, I think it's going to be fun and that's what I want it to be. I really want to go out there and have fun and rib the hell out of those guys, you know, just have fun with the guys that I grew up playing with and I admire. A lot of those guys I admired as a kid.

I think that's the big thing. It's not to compete against the PGA Tour, it's the Champions Tour and it's its it's own entity and it's entertainment.

It's nothing about I mean we know those guys out there can play but to be honest they couldn't hold a candle to these guys out here and no one should even think otherwise.

It's a way of us going out there and playing two ProAms with guys and having fun. If it isn't fun for me, then I don't know that I'll play pretty much.

Q. Nick, when you talk about that, is that something maybe the PGA Tour has lacked, you've got a lot of characters that are now on the Champions Tour that we used to the Lee Trevios.

Does the PGA Tour maybe lack some of those guys with personality?

NICK PRICE: No. I think as you get a little older you relate more to the people of your time as opposed to the youngsters and there's still some wonderful characters out on the PGA to your.

The problem is there's a lot of them. There's a lot more good players and potentially great players than there were in my time, as in my time were before in Jack Nicklaus' time.

It's just a getting used to but people who are between 30, 31, 32 now when Tiger gets to my age oh, there's no one out there like you. But there will be someone out there like him.

There will be people who, players who will draw huge galleries and maybe not beat Tiger's record or Jack's record, but you never know.

There might be a guy coming right now who is 12 years old and who's going to dominate like Tiger did.

Q. The past few years you say you have kind of changed your schedule a little bit.

Since you were so focused in your practicing so much in previous years has it allowed you an avenue to sort of find some new things you enjoy to do like Norman has got his wine?

NICK PRICE: He likes his businesses. I like my idle time. I love to spend time with my family. And I've done a lot of that the last three years especially in the summertime taking the summer off with them.

This year for the 12 or 11 weeks that they were off for their summer vacation I played two tournaments. So that was important to me. I spent a lot of time with them because my kids are 15, 13 and 10.

I don't know how much longer they're going to be around. I think my son, another two years he's going to go off on his way, probably another three years my daughter, she's going to want to go off on her way.

From a selfish point of view, my kids aren't we aren't going to be a family that much longer and I'm enjoying that.

The teenage years I think it's really important for parents to be having a strong presence with their kids because they're so susceptible to so many other things that are around now.

So, this is a very quality time for me and I'll continue to do the same the next few years and take most of the summer off, which is unfortunate because that's when all the Major tournaments are but you know, like I say, you can't have your cake and eat it all the time.

You have to life is a balance. You know, I actually feel sorry for some people if they don't have something to do outside of golf because I love to fish, I love to fly, I love there's all sorts of things I enjoy doing and you know, God forbid something ever happened to me and I can't play golf it would hurt a lot but it wouldn't be the end of my life.

So, I've always been that way. I've always had other things that I like doing.

But, like I say, if I get my teeth in on the Champions Tour I get competitive, then I'll definitely crank up my practice regimen. Only needs that first one, two, three tournaments if you come close to winning, well if I just practice more, practice my putting a little bit longer, I made a couple more ten footers I would have won. That's what it is. It's the difference between 25th and 45th place. That doesn't really tweak me that much. You know what I'm saying?

PHIL STAMBAUGH: That's what Bernhard said, too.

NICK PRICE: It's hard. In the '90s one out of every three, four tournaments I had a chance to win. Now I played probably 30 events in the last two years and I may have had one or two chances to win. So the big adjustment there. You can't get depressed and down on it. That's just life, you know.

Q. You mentioned earlier kind of the difficulty after winning one Major to kind of not have a letdown.

What has been your observation of watching the kind of re emergence of Shaun Micheel this year, second in the PGA and match play?

NICK PRICE: Also Ben Curtis. Another one. It's an adjustment. There is an adjustment. There's no doubt about it.

I think you always look at where that first Major comes in a person's career. So if it comes early you sort of have to take Tiger and maybe a few other guys out of equation but I'm talking, you know, guys who are A players, they may not be A plus players.

I certainly would say anytime you win a Major you become an A player. If you win two Majors you become A plus player.

For Ben Curtis and Shaun Micheel, there's certainly that period where they had to adjust.

You know, they had so much money thrown at them right after that. There was so much opportunity open to them that they have to maximize that. That runs you down.

It's only when you get a little more mature and you realize what it's like to go through that first one that you don't make that mistake twice.

So, it's an interesting thing because, you know, I never wanted to be a one Major winner and I was determined after I won my first one where is the next one. That's what I wanted to do.

I'm sure those guys are the same way. They're looking now.

Q. I know maybe the atmosphere is slightly different.

How much did the environment around you change after you broke through with your first one? Did people come at you left and right?

NICK PRICE: It was a lot. I had a reputation as a pretty good like a B plus, A minus player my entire career and my career had built up and I was consistent a consistent performer and then when I won that Major it sort of confirmed to people that, you know, I was a player and, what was I, 35 when I won my first Major?

I was going to be around for awhile. Then when I continued to win it was great for me because I had these opportunities coming from all around the world to go play in other tournaments and I always enjoyed playing around the world. I did that before I came over here full time.

So, I think it's important when you're No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 in the world that you do travel around the world because if Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player never came to my country I would never have known what championship golf was.

I think Tiger and Phil and I think a lot of those guys, Tiger has been really good. Phil needs to step up to the plate a little bit more and go and play some events more Overseas just to give the young kids you get when you're a kid you're so inspired by seeing these giants in golf come along.

When I saw Jack Nicklaus I thought he was ten feet tall. It was like I read so much about him. When I saw him actually play it made such a huge impact on me.

I watched him play and I could see he was human. This guy, he would hit some crappy shots. He didn't hit everything straight in the flag and hole long putts all the time.

That's what you need to do and I was lucky that I did that. When I look back on my career I don't have one regret, really.

Only regret I had, I wish I had won the British Open in '88 because it would have jump started me.

When Seve beat me at the Open, my confidence didn't take a hit. When you get over the first hurdle the boom, the flood gates opened. I think it would have happened for me a little earlier.

I probably would be sitting here with another 6, 7 tournaments under my belt, maybe another Major.

PHIL STAMBAUGH: Okay. We all done. Thanks, Nick.

NICK PRICE: No problem.

End of FastScripts.

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