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March 5, 2009

Nick Price


PHIL STAMBAUGH: Nick, thanks for joining us this afternoon here at the 2009 Toshiba Classic. Maybe just some thoughts. You come off a tie for seventh at Naples two weeks ago. Just some thoughts about coming here for this year's event at Newport Beach.
NICK PRICE: Well, I had heard from most of the guys on tour that this is one of the best events that we play on the schedule, and I can see why now. This is really a wonderful old fashioned golf course that I think obviously is not too hard. It's not too easy.
But I think it allows guys to make birdies and put on a good show, which what we're trying to do obviously. But I've heard also it's really well-supported. All the things that everyone is telling me, this is a great week. I think Toshiba has been a sponsor for, what, 15 years now? So they obviously feel it's a really good week as well.
All in all, I'm happy to be out here. I got off it to a little bit of a slow start this year. I took some time off after December. I played up until the Shark Shootout, and then took December and most of January off, and then started practicing again end of January and played a couple games here and there.
A little bit of rust that I'm trying to knock off. But all in all, things are going the right way. I played really well the last round in Naples. I shot 5-under and didn't make a bogey and just played solidly the whole day. So just need to find a bit of form.
Then we had a week off, so I tried to keep going and practicing a little bit more last week. I'm looking forward to this week. I really am. This is the kind of golf course that you're going to have to putt well on. I'm not sure what the winning score was, but it will probably be well into the double digits, 14- or 15-under. That equates to about 5-under a day. You're going to have to putt pretty well, so that's one thing I'm going to work on a little bit this afternoon.
But other than that, you know, there's not much. This golf course is pretty much straight there in front of you. There's not a lot of, what's the word I'm looking for? Any strange quirks to I can see why the guys like coming out here so much.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: We'll go to questions.

Q. Talk a little bit about your experiences out here. Sum up what you think you've done so far out here. Are you happy with what's happened?
NICK PRICE: Oh, you know, not really. What happened with me was back around '03, '04 my game started sliding pretty badly, and I could feel it going. You know, you sort of try and work on all the things that worked for you before when you played well.
In an effort to hit the ball further and to try and stay competitive out on the regular tour, I needed some things changed in my golf swing. Those pretty much stayed with me through the end of '07, toward the latter part of '07.
Then from the end of last sort of three or four months of -- sort of three or four tournaments of '07, and then pretty much last year I played solidly. I had some good performances but just didn't win.
That was frustrating. It's not totally frustrating, because I've got so many other things that I have to do with my life now with my family the way they are. My kids are 17, 15, and 12, so I'm trying to spend as much time with them as I can. A lot of guys out here, their families have grown up and their kids are off to college and they basically come and travel with their wives. I'm in a little bit of a different situation.
However, having said that, I have worked pretty hard toward the tail end of last year, and also a little bit this year, on just trying to get back to where I was with my golf swing. One of my strengths throughout my career was my consistency. That's what's been lacking more than anything else. I can still hit the shots, I just don't hit them often enough.
When you go through a trough like I went through -- because I'm out of the trough now. I'm on the way up. But your confidence also takes a real knock. So that's one of the things that I'm trying to build up now. Confidence is a slow thing. It's not something that just comes and slaps you in the face one day and says, Hi, I'm here.
I'm getting more and more confident and more and more self-assured out on the golf course. So hopefully one of these days something is going to fall into place and I'm going to win one. Hopefully the flood gates will break.

Q. I know you were talking about slow moving as far as confidence. But was there a tournament or shot or whatever that you said, Okay, I got this now?
NICK PRICE: No. It's not one particular thing, no. It's a buildup, you know, of playing. Sometimes confidence can be very fragile, in that if you're playing well -- I mean, last year after what happened to me in Texas, Austin, that really hurt my confidence. It wasn't so much from -- I shouldn't have let it hurt my confidence that much, but it did because I got a really bad break on the 15th hole that cost me the tournament. The next hole I let it get to me, and it compounded it.
I haven't won a tournament since 20002. The longer you're away, the harder it is to come back. I'm trying not to think about winning. Everyone is sort of talking to me, Oh, you should be cleaning up out there. Well, it's obviously not that easy out here.
I know that if I can play at a standard, then winning will take care of itself. I'm not even thinking about winning. I'm trying to get my golf game to a level where I know that it doesn't really matter which course I play on or which field I play against out here, I'm going to win. That's what I'm trying to do. It's a chicken and egg syndrome.

Q. Can you measure your confidence like week by week or by round by round?
NICK PRICE: You measure it, I think, at the end of each week. I think you look at each week and you say, Well, generally maybe I didn't score that well this week, but I played well, you know. So maybe I might make a few more putts and that sort of stuff and things will fall into place.
But golf is a strange game. No two days are ever the same. You have to be a chameleon out here and be able to adjust. The only thing that really stays a constant is the condition of your game. That's one of the things that, you know, I think I did so well when I was playing well and I've got away from doing.
So that's what I'm trying to get to.

Q. How would you describe the process of trying to get back in the winners' circle with the process of getting there the first time on the European Tour or PGA Tour. Similarities?
NICK PRICE: It's different. There's been a lot of water under the bridge. I honestly, deep down inside, never thought I would play as badly as I had the last four years, '04, '05, '06, and '07. I never thought I could play that poorly. If I hadn't had a short game and the experience that I had accumulated over the years, I don't think I would have ever made a cut in that period.
'04 was okay. It was sort of toward the middle of '05 when my game really went down. I tried to sort of look back and say, What happened? What was the overruling or the overriding factor that made me go that way? It's hard to put my thumb on it.
One thing was, you know, I still worked pretty hard at it, but the ball, I just didn't hit it where I was aiming and it wasn't solid. I didn't have my ball flight, which is something that I've always controlled so well in my game.
You take away a couple of strong points, hitting the ball out of the middle of the club and then the ball flight, and then you're a feather in a thunder storm. You can blow any which way.
But it's getting better. Saying all that stuff, I still manage to have fun and try and enjoy myself out there. Certainly my first year on the Champions Tour I didn't play at all well. I still managed to enjoy myself. It's an attitude change.

Q. Not to dredge up the painful past, but what was the bad break-in Texas?
NICK PRICE: Yeah, I think I had a three-shot lead playing the 15th hole, and I hit the 3-wood off the tee down there. I only had a 60-degree sand wedge to the hole, and the pin was cut on the front right-hand portion of the green. There's a tree that overhangs the front right-hand portion of the green.
This is only my second year of playing then. I think I may have played to that pin one time before. I hit my second shot, and I shoved it six feet from where I was aiming. I knew it was the right distance, but on the way down it caught the back end of the tree and kicked back 25, 30 yards and went into the water hazard short.
If it had just dropped straight down from the tree it would have ended up ten feet from the hole but caught back end and went in the water. I ended up making 6 there, and then dunked my 5-iron in the water on the next hole, which I probably would go back and hit exactly the same shot that I tried to hit there. But I think I got gusted. I got over it and I got a wind gusted, and it just slowed my ball down and it went into the water there and then nearly birdied 17 and another chance to birdie 18.
But that was a very hard thing to stomach. I was in total control the whole day, and then that happened.

Q. As former world No. 1, were you surprised at all by the level of competition out here?
NICK PRICE: I knew when he came out there were guys -- guys are always going to play well. I wasn't surprised at all. I knew the guys out here played well.
As I say, when you've been around the game long enough, you know what it takes to win. One of the things that you learn as you go along, is you look at a golf course like today and you say, Well, I'm pretty sure from some guy is a going to shoot, 7-, 8-under in one round, but generally speaking 4- or 5-under is going to win this, depending on the weather conditions.
We used to do that at the majors, too. You got to the U.S. Open and you always knew level par was going to win there. You have good feel for that. I'm not surprised the quality of the play, because I knew it was going to be good.

Q. You alluded a little bit before to off course. What are some of the things you're doing now away from the game?
NICK PRICE: I'm trying to be a good father and spend as much time with my kids as I can. They're at an age, 17, 15, and 12, that I need to be there as much as I possibly can.
I've got a golf course design company that keeps me busy as well. And then obviously with the sponsorship that I have I do quite a bit of corporate days now. It's busy.
But I try and take the summer off to be with my kids, because this is probably going to be the last summer with my son because he'll be gone this time next year because he'll be off to college and doing his own thing.
I don't play at all in July and August. A little bit toward the end of August. But all in all, you know, I play two semesters: February through to June, and then I'll start again the end of August and play through the tail end of the year.
For me to win the Money List on the Champions Tour, I've got to really play my tail off, because I'm giving the other guys a six-tournament start. I can't be selfish now and say to myself -- I did that for so long. I have to put my family first.

Q. I remember years ago we were doing a press conference and you were saying at the time that nothing comes before golf.
NICK PRICE: It was probably before I had kids.

Q. Yeah, back then. You can't have that mindset now.
NICK PRICE: You can't. Your wife and your family sacrifice so much. They make huge sacrifices because you're traveling, and your wife is basically a single parent. Now, certainly with my son she was. When he was born, '91, '92, '93, '94, she came with me and they would travel with me.
But then there came a period when he started school, which was in '96, '97. It's no coincidence that from '96,'97 my career went down a little bit because my priorities shifted.
I didn't have I suppose the single mindedness that I had back in the late '80s and early '90s. I still played pretty well, but you miss out on too much in life. If you're a golf robot, you just miss out on so many things. The last thing I ever want is to alienate myself from my kids.
So I try and keep a balance now, and the balance is hard. I'm out here for two weeks, but they're going to fly out here on -- they've got spring break next from Friday. They're going to fly out here and then we're going to go down to Mexico. So gone for two weeks and then they're going to be with me for two weeks.
Then I've got to go back to Florida and be gone for another week. I'm missing all the lacrosse games and things going on now. They understand.

Q. Is the schedule you have now on the Champions Tour, is that conducive to being a top golfer, or do you just make that sacrifice and say...
NICK PRICE: I can still win the Money List and I can win the Schwab Cup, I've just got to play a little better than the other guys do because my time period is a little shorter. I'm not ever doubting that I can do it. I know if I start playing at the level that I know that I can play at, then I can win, and I can win multiple times.
I've got get my game to that level. It's a real Catch 22. I've got to practice, and I've been trying to put in all the practice as much as I can. Is it enough? I feel like I'm putting in enough practice to be playing better than I am, for sure.

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