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April 17, 2009

Nick Price


DAVE SENKO: Nick, thanks for joining us, take us through your 5-under 66. You started off even.
NICK PRICE: We started on 10. And my only bogey of the day was on 11 where I misread the strength of the wind and hit a 6-iron, went over the back of the green and didn't get it up-and-down. That was my only bogey, and from there in, I played really solidly.
Birdie on 13. Always nice to get straight back. I had a good opportunity to birdie 12, but come back and birdie 13, because we knew, we knew the strength of the wind was blowing at that stage that 16, 17, 18 were going to be really difficult holes today. I managed to make pars on those holes and to wait for the downwind on the front nine here and give myself an opportunity to score well.
So that's basically all I did was held my front round together through the front nine, my front nine.
And I made a really nice 2. I holed a 20-footer on No. 2 for birdie and that kind of got my tail in the air. I hit a good shot on 3. And 4, I missed a shortish putt for birdie on 4 and birdied those four in a row, with a good 40-foot putt on No. 7. But the rest of them were probably six, seven, eight feet.
All in all it was a good day but it always happened for me in the end, the last nine holes. But I'm playing solidly. I'm hitting the ball where I'm aiming which is always a good thing, and my putting has been pretty sharp. So I'm happy to be where I am.

Q. Are you surprised that you have not had the success that we all thought?
NICK PRICE: That's what Jimmy Roberts -- something happened to my game towards the middle, beginning to the middle of 2005. That's when my game went south.
You know, I struggled so badly through that 2005, 2006 and my first year out here. I lost my game, pure and simple. I couldn't hit the ball anything like I was. And you know, I think in an effort to try and compete on the regular TOUR, I tried to hit the ball further, and I think that went just me off the charts. It's not an excuse. That to me is if -- I just can't think of anything else.
And then, you know, about the middle of last year, I started feeling a change in my game. I started feeling that I'm going back to all of the things that I had done well, but of course, in that stage now, I played poorly for 3 1/2 years. Your confidence has taken a hell of a knock, and that's basically what happened to me. You know, I had an opportunity to win last year in Texas and kind of bungled that one, and then had an opportunity to win the next week in Baltimore. So at least I was starting to give myself opportunities to win, which I had not done for 3 1/2 years.
You know, I take it one step at a time now. But to be honest, I wasn't surprised at the quality of play out here when I came out, because I knew guys -- there were guys who had not had the careers that a lot of us have had on the regular TOUR, who were still as keep as can be to get out here and compete, guys like Denis Watson, who probably practices as hard as anybody out here, and you've got just so many guys whose kids have grown up.
My kids are at an age where I need to spend some time with them. I'm maybe not playing as much as the other guys, but I still feel that if I play well, I can beat them. Now my game is getting better.

Q. You had a great regular TOUR career, and you're a prideful man; how humbling was it to feel like you've lost your game?
NICK PRICE: Well, you have to change your goals. It's pure and simple; you go from out there and saying, you know, I went through probably a period of, say, from about 2003, maybe 2004, where even if I played well, I couldn't win on the regular TOUR. I felt that my game wasn't long enough, my game wasn't strong enough, except for maybe two or three course that is we still play.
And then there was so much pressure on when you got to those cores you felled like you had to perform, you felt like those were your only chances to win, Hilton Head, Colonial some of the other ones. So when I had an opportunity to win last year, it was a very strange feeling for me and something that I had not experienced for six, five years.
You know, you don't ever have to learn to win again. You just have to feel comfortable in that position. And so as the years progress from last year to this year, I'm getting more and more comfortable in that position. That's the bottom line. You don't become a confident person by just saying "I'm confident"; your golf shots tell you how confident you are.
If you know you are going to hit the ball within a certain distance and a certain accuracy, and you can play from there, that's what breeds confidence. You know that you can go out there and pull the trigger and you are not going to hit these off the wall shots like I was hitting.
I'm just happy my game has come back. For a while, I thought it was gone. I didn't think I would ever play well again. 2007 was just the most awful year for me, and it was hard, because everyone had high expectations of me, but no one had really watched how I played the year and a half before on the regular TOUR, which was abysmal. I contemplated, I told my wife at the beginning when I came out here, I said: If I'm not going to have fun, I'm not going to play. I'll retire gracefully and find something else to do.
But even though I didn't play well I had fun. I enjoyed playing with guys who had been my peers and guys I had grown up respecting and admiring and I enjoyed the ambiance of this Tour. It was so different to what we had on the regular TOUR, it was much lower-key, it was more fan-friendly. It was more sponsor-friendly. It was just a much -- it's just a much nicer Tour.
And if you come off that regular TOUR where you're signing thousands of autographs all week, and you've got so many media; this is a breath of fresh air, to be honest, it really is. I think you get to a stage in your life where you don't want all that fanfare. You don't want all of that attention. That's why I've loved being out here. That's why I continue to play. Because I can kind of sneak my way around here, kind of do my own thing and not get sort of completely caught up with all that. But it's great fun and the only thing that's been missing for me is my game, but it's coming back.

Q. Can you pinpoint to one particular tournament or driving-range session or was there something where you could see it coming back?
NICK PRICE: Not really, because it's a progression, again. It's almost like you feel like you've turned a corner and you're starting to move in the right direction.
I think golf is just like life where you go through peaks and valleys, peaks and troughs, and you know when you've had a really crappy time in life and you've bottomed out of a trough and you can feel it starting to come up.
How about the economy now? Basically I think we've been through the worst. We have bottomed out and we are starting to come back up. It might be slow, but that's how I felt with my golf game. I felt like it had bottomed out and it just started coming back up again. So where I am, I'm not sure, but it's getting better.

Q. A lot of guys over the years have tried to hit the ball farther, and their games have disintegrated. That's happened to a lot of people. Looking back, would you do tings differently, and would you tell people who are thinking, hey, man, I've got to hit it farther; would you give them some advice?
NICK PRICE: Here is the deal. When you look at the way that I played through the 90s, you know, when the equipment, the new equipment came along, the game that I had played changed. It changed dramatically. Now, when you have been a consistent winner, you don't want to go out there and play for 10th place or fourth place. You know what it takes to win on a golf course.
And when you see, you come to a golf course and they have added 30 yards to the tee, or they have added 180 yards to the golf course, you know in the back of your mind what it's going to take to win. You know how you have to play.
I could go back up and play, finish 15th, 12th on the regular TOUR with my other game, but I wasn't going to win, and that's not what I wanted. I wanted to still feel that I could win, and it just didn't happen. And people say, well, if you still say the same and whatever; but I still had a chance to win. And if I found that yardage, I might have had a chance to win but without that yardage, I couldn't. Like I said, it was maybe two or three golf courses.
If you look at the guys who are playing well in their late 40s, generally speaking, they are big guys. They are big, strong guys who have adapted to the equipment. One exception is probably Fred Funk. But Kenny Perry and Norman, he still plays great. I mean, Norman is an exceptionally talented athlete, and I think he could probably still win maybe on the regular TOUR, I don't know. But certainly in his early 50s he could have.
But it's kind of hard to go through that change, where you've worked so hard to perfect your game to a certain level and then they move the goal posts on you, that's what was really hard. Because I really felt that the game had not changed that dramatically.
Just to give you an idea, the USGA started keeping specs on the ball back in the 1930 was the first year they measured the distance the ball went, and they tracked it all the way to where the ball went today; in that 66 years, the ball averaged a foot per year in distance, so 22 yards in 66 years. From 1996 or '97 until 2004, it increased the same amount, 66 feet or 68 feet.
So we saw this quantum leap and it just so happened that was in a period when I was in my mid to late 40s. When you told your game up to be a certain thing and suddenly they move the goal posts, it's hard. As a winner, you want to keep winning. I could go to Doral, finish third; oh, nice playing, but I never had a chance to win. That's what kept Raymond Floyd and guys like that playing into their late 40s was the fact that they could still win.
A lot of people have said, why don't I go back to the British Open or PGA because I won? I say, well, I can't win, I would rather give my spot to a guy who can win it. Maybe there's a 25-year-old who sneaks into the championship like I did in 1982, you have a chance to win, and that might change his whole life. I certainly don't want to go to a major championship trying to make the cut. Geez, I would rather go finishing for two weeks, you know.
It's a mental change, and I think everyone goes through it, as you get a little older and you realize your body cannot perform like it used to, you can't change your goals; otherwise you're going to go to hell in a hand box. You have to change. A 70-year-old guy is not going to drive the ball 270 yards anymore, you know.
But having said all of that, my life is very good, I'm very happy, so please don't say anything negative. My kids are great, and I've loved every minute of my last four or five years on this Tour, two or three years on this Tour.
DAVE SENKO: Thank you.

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