April 1, 2000
LEE PATTERSON: Very good round today. Excellent position heading into tomorrow. Maybe
just a couple of thoughts off the top of your head then we will open it up to questions.
GARY NICKLAUS: Played well today. Good off to a slow start, bogey in the first hole and
the 3rd hole, but then after that I played very solid. I missed a couple of greens, but
got up and down, actually holed a chip shot for birdie on 10. But it was -- hit a lot of
good quality golf shots; made some good putts and the result was a good score.
LEE PATTERSON: Any questions?
Q. Talk about the momentum that came from that streak of four birdies on the start of
the back nine and how that got rolling -- did that pump you up?
GARY NICKLAUS: Definitely. I mean, it was -- nothing really happened on the front, like
I said, I start out with two bogeys; then I birdied the two par 5s, the fourth and the
sixth hole and had a couple of chances, but it was just kind of going through the motions.
Then when I chipped in on 10, kind of got things going a little bit and then made a nice
putt at -- 10-, 12-foot putt at 11 and then about a 20-foot putt at 12, and I was just
hitting good iron shots right at the flag and leaving myself with good putts. Then I hit a
good drive, knocked it on the green and 2-putted on 13. Then I missed a short one at the
next hole. Then missed another makeable putt at 15. And missed a very makeable putt at 18.
So I did leave some shots out there. But I played very solid and felt real good about what
I was doing.
Q. Does this course set up well for you when you are playing well? Do you like the way
this course sets up well for your game?
GARY NICKLAUS: I guess so. (laughs) My scores are reflecting that. It is a very nice
golf course. It is long. It is demanding. It is not a golf course that guys are going to
shoot real low on everyday. I mean, it does open itself up for a lot of birdies, but if
you are not sharp it can jump out and bite you pretty quick too. I think that I have -- I
have played it pretty well. I think I have been pretty patient and I think it sets up well
Q. With as much as The Masters is in your family's life and everything, has your mind
thought at all about the fact it would be ironic if you would win here it wouldn't enable
you to get into the tournament?
GARY NICKLAUS: I don't know, does it enable you to get in?
GARY NICKLAUS: I wouldn't think so.
Q. Well 'til this year it --
GARY NICKLAUS: Obviously that is a tournament I'd love to play in. My father has been
such a big part of that tournament for so many years. Sitting back watching him all these
years, dreaming about one day being out there and doing the same thing he is doing. Of
course, I'd like to be in The Masters next week or next year, but it is definitely
something that I want to do.
Q. You are now in position to be a major factor in this tournament on the last day. How
are you going to prepare for that and how do you feel about going into Round 4 with a good
chance to win on a course you play so well at?
GARY NICKLAUS: I am going to try to do the same thing tonight that I did the last
couple of nights, hit a few balls after I get done, hit a few putts; go home have a good
bite to eat and get a good night sleep. Nothing real exciting; nothing -- nothing out of
the ordinary, just kind of try to keep my mind off of what is going on and what I have to
do tomorrow and get away from it; then come out and be fresh tomorrow.
Q. How much have you spoken to your father this week?
GARY NICKLAUS: I spoke to him after the first two rounds.
Q. His message?
GARY NICKLAUS: Keep playing well.
Q. (inaudible) (question regarding Europe)
GARY NICKLAUS: One full season. I played a lot of tournaments over there for probably
-- probably averaged about 6 or 7 tournaments for five or six years - one full season.
Q. Course conditions, I mean, it is getting drier, faster, windier, firmer, is that
going to keep a low number from happening tomorrow, going to be more difficult out there?
GARY NICKLAUS: Obviously the faster this golf course gets the more difficult it is
going to play. The greens, even though they are getting firm, they really aren't getting
the speed that you might think they would have. We were commenting on that on the back
nine out there today, Steve Jones and myself, about how they look a lot faster and they
feel faster but they are not getting the speed as they get the hardness, which I am sure
might come tomorrow, but we will see what happens.
Q. Playing around the world, how many near-misses have you had where you went into the
last round, say, one or two strokes within the lead and do any of those rounds stick out
in your mind?
GARY NICKLAUS: I had a couple -- I had about a six week period last year on the Nike
Tour where I had real good chances going into the last round to win and if I had good
rounds, I was in position, and I really -- a couple of good rounds but they weren't good
enough to win. But that is really the only time was last year on the Nike Tour.
Q. What have you learned from those rounds that you can take into tomorrow?
GARY NICKLAUS: I mean, you got to go into them and be patient and just play -- try and
the play the same tomorrow that did I today and yesterday and the day before. Don't do
anything different; just keep calm and be patient.
Q. Is there one thing from your dad's play over the years that you take from it more
than anything, any other thing, a quality of his play?
GARY NICKLAUS: No, not really. I mean, his game is obviously something that everybody
would like to take a lot of his game and put it into their game and there is things that I
do and there is things that I don't do and it is not because I don't want to do them, I
just -- maybe I am just as not as good as he is. (laughs). He talks about course
management and missing shots and short-siding. I am like, yeah, that is great, if you hit
the ball where you want to hit it all the time. If you don't hit it where you are aiming,
you are going to short-side yourself sometimes. So I mean, course management is the
biggest thing that I would like to take from him.
Q. How about the mental part of it at all?
GARY NICKLAUS: That is course management.
Q. Do you know Phil Mickelson at all? Have you played with him before?
GARY NICKLAUS: Yeah, actually I played with Phil. I think he was 16 years old the first
time I played with him. I think that is the only time I played with him actually. I mean,
I have spent quite a bit -- not a lot of time, but we know each other pretty well and Phil
is obviously a great player and look forward to playing with him tomorrow.
Q. Where was that round?
GARY NICKLAUS: Western Junior Cog Hill.
GARY NICKLAUS: What age is he right now? I think I was 19. I think I was 19.
Q. (inaudible) Was it a give-and-take conversation with your dad last night because --
(inaudible) he is not playing as well as you are?
GARY NICKLAUS: No, I mean, we just -- he is actually playing very well right now. It's
the best he has hit the ball in quite a while and he was just saying, you know, go out,
keep playing the way you have been playing, keep it going, and I am going to go out and
get myself back into this tournament. That was kind of the gist of the conversation.
Q. Is Gary Player your Godfather and is that who you are named after?
GARY NICKLAUS: I was named after Gary Player but he is not my Godfather.
Q. Do you ever discuss your game and golf and so on with him?
GARY NICKLAUS: I have, a little bit. When he comes down and visits my parents during
the PGA Seniors and a couple of other times during the year and I have always -- I mean,
not just Gary, it is a not -- whoever is in the position that Gary is in, whether it be
Gary or Greg Norman or Steve Elkington the other day, I want to try and pick their brain
and I want to try and get as much information from them and advice from them that I can. I
mean, that can only help me in the long run. I mean, these guys have been there and if I
can gain a little knowledge from their experience then that puts me ahead of the game.
Q. Thursday you said there wasn't really anything really strong about your game, but
you also said you came up with one of the best ball-striking days you had. Change your
mind on that? Anything standing out in your mind about your game?
GARY NICKLAUS: No, I am playing solid. I am hitting good drives, good iron shots and
good putts. I guess the weak -- only weakness I have had this week is probably my short
putts. I have had a few 3-putts and missed a couple other three or four-footers, but
besides that everything else has been pretty strong.
Q. What hole was it on the back nine that the putt just fell right on the lip
GARY NICKLAUS: 14.
Q. Was short putting a problem for you in the past or is it just one of those weeks?
GARY NICKLAUS: Not normally. I mean, normally it is the longer putts that is my
problem, but I have made plenty of those this week and I have missed some short ones. I
will go out and work on that this afternoon and we will try and eliminate that problem.
LEE PATTERSON: Thank you, we appreciate it.
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