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March 30, 2000

Gary Nicklaus


GARY NICKLAUS: Biggest thing for me, best ball-striking round I have had all year. I wasn't really sure how I was going to hit it. Hit the ball terrible on Tuesday, worked on some things yesterday; got hitting it really well. Came over today and just hit it perfect. I missed about two or three shots the entire day. My only bogeys came from 3-putts: It was very positive as far as ball-striking is concerned.

LEE PATTERSON: Any questions?

Q. How well does your father know your swing? Can you just ring him up and get him to put it right?

GARY NICKLAUS: He knows my swing very well. But we don't really -- I mean, if he is with me, we will talk about my golf swing, but we don't talk too much about the swing when he is not around. Rick Smith is my coach and that is who I spend most of my time with on my swing. Not that I don't take advice from my father because he has got a little bit of knowledge out there. But he kind of let's Rick and I do our thing and he putts his two cents in when he feels he needs to.

Q. Who do you have on the bag?

GARY NICKLAUS: I have Mitch Knock (phonetic), defending champion.

Q. You tried nine times to break through and get a card here. How close were you to a stage of now or never getting out here?

GARY NICKLAUS: I went through times where I didn't want to play and I went through times where I kept saying I wanted to play. This year just -- last three years I kept getting closer and closer and this year I happened to do it. Just if I didn't see improvement in my golf game and my golf swing then I probably wouldn't still be playing. But I kept improving every year and here I am and looking to improve again this year and be better at the end of this year than I am right now. Just constant work on what you are doing and trying to improve.

Q. Up until last week you led the Tour in eagles?

GARY NICKLAUS: Tiger has been making a lot lately. (laughs).

Q. Has that been a strong point for you? Obviously it has been. But what has been the strongest part of your game and what have you needed to work on the most this early in the year?

GARY NICKLAUS: I really haven't had a strong part of my game right now. At least, so far this year. My ball-striking has been very suspect. Putting has been good at times, but very streaky, basically the weeks that I have made the cut and put me -- I have played decent, I have putted very well. The other weeks I really haven't putted well because my ball-striking has not been where I would like it. Today is really the first day that I have seen that -- the way I played at the end of last year, today is the first time I have hit the ball close to that.

Q. What was it that caused the transformation? What were you working on with Rick then over the last couple of days?

GARY NICKLAUS: Wasn't working with Rick the last couple of days. I was just out on the range and just was not hitting the ball well, just trying different things and tried one thing and it just happened to work, which is just relaxed my right arm a little bit and let it fold a little easier and all of a sudden it -- don't know what it did to the club just allowed it to get in the right position.

Q. Gary, are you rooting as hard as anyone for your dad to find -- turn his game around at this point and what do you think he can do this year?

GARY NICKLAUS: Most definitely. I see him right now, he is very frustrated because he has really put a lot of work in, really working hard on his game, really working hard on his body, physical conditioning and everything, and he is not seeing the results that he would like to see or that anybody else that is around him would like to see. And I think it is a matter of time before he does something and gets his confidence turned around. But I am really hoping that it happens sooner than later and hopefully next week is one of those weeks that he is -- only he can pull out.

Q. Has it been a point of pride with you (inaudible) to get the Nicklaus name back on the PGA TOUR and what are the advantages or disadvantages of lugging that name around?

GARY NICKLAUS: First I am trying to get my name out there (laughter) Who cares what the last name is? I just want to get myself out there and be a competitive figure on the Tour. But as far as the name, I mean, it helps. I get a lot more attention than maybe some of the other people that have the same -- have performed on the same level that I have so far, but you know, I have dealt with it for a long time and because my last name is Nicklaus and my dad happens to be the best player that has ever played, I am going to get a lot of attention and people are going to want to compare me to him. But as far as, you know, you do get -- there are some advantages. I get some invites where other people might not get invites. Right now when I do get an invite, I need to take advantage of it. I mean, I -- this is my career and I am trying to go forth and if that is what it takes for to get me to the next level and, you know, stay in the top 125 and be able to come back and play again next year, then that is what I have to do.

Q. Talk about people comparing your game to your father's, what do you feel you do almost as well as your father in any sphere?

GARY NICKLAUS: I think that -- obviously he was a great ball-striker in his heyday, but I think that his ball-striking was not -- he did something with the ball, he hit it left-to-right, left-to-right all the time; only hit it right-to-left when he had to. I think that when I am hitting the ball my best I probably hit it as good as he did. But he hit it that good all the time. I hit it that good every once in a while. But as far as -- I mean, how can I compare myself to him? I mean, he has won 70 golf tournaments and 20 majors and I have got a long way to go before I can even think about comparing myself to what he has done.

LEE PATTERSON: Go over your birdies and eagle too real quick. 4 is where we had the eagle. Started on the back. Birdied 13.

GARY NICKLAUS: I birdied -- where did I birdie?


GARY NICKLAUS: Yeah, 13 short one up the hill, hit a driver and sand wedge about five feet for birdie. Then the par 3, 3-putted, hit a good shot into the par 3; then just kind of had a little explosion in my hands on the first putt and knocked it about six feet by and missed that. Then I birdied the next hole which -- 17. I am trying to remember what 17 does. 17, hit a good drive down the middle; then hit a 7-iron just to the back fringe and made about a 15 foot putt. Made a good par at 18. Hit my second shot in the water; then got up-and-down from about 110 yards. 4th hole, good drive, good 3-wood to just over the back edge, chipped in.

LEE PATTERSON: How far was that chip?

GARY NICKLAUS: Probably 40 feet. 35, 40 feet. Then the next hole good drive, hit it in about twelve feet behind the hole. The par 5, I hit a really good drive there and a 3-wood on the back left part of the green and 2-putted. Then I 3-putted the last hole. Hit a good drive; hit a good second shot about twelve feet right of the hole; hit it a little firmer than I would have liked, had about two and a half feet coming back and my playing partner Tim Conley hit his putt on the same line and his kind of dove left. But it looked like it hit something and I just played mine straight in and mine dove left, the same as his did and missed it on the left side of the hole.

Q. Any conversations this week with your dad? You might need to help him with his swing a little bit.

GARY NICKLAUS: Yeah, we will be talking. I mean, --

Q. Advice that now that you are contending that there are different things you need to hear or not?

GARY NICKLAUS: Well, I try not to get too much because I don't like to start thinking about things, but I am sure we will have some conversations that are pertinent to this week.

LEE PATTERSON: Thank you. We appreciate you coming down here.


End of FastScripts….

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