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April 19, 2009

Nick Price


PHIL STAMBAUGH: Nick, congratulations. Just going to go through a couple things for these guys. This is your first win on your 39th start on the Champions Tour. It's your third win here in the state of Florida. You won at Honda in '94 and then the PLAYERS.
First international winner since Denis Watson won the Senior PGA in 2007, and he's the fourth international player to win this event, joining Bob Charles, David Graham, and your fellow countryman, Mark McNulty.
With that, congratulations, Nick. Just if you would like to share some thoughts. I know you waited a while for this.
NICK PRICE: It was such a strange day. I mean, you know, I started off I felt very good. I hit the ball well on the range this morning, and I went out and I birdied the 1st hole with two good shots, and birdied the -- nearly birdied the 2nd, birdied the 3rd hole. Really tough birdie on 3. You know, it's a tough hole, and I birdied that.
Then I got on the fourth tee and I couldn't focus on where I wanted my 3-wood to go. As a result, I hit it in the water and ended up making 6. I was really irritated by the fact that I didn't focus on where I wanted on the ball to go. It was a mental mistake.
Anyway, I took my 6 and went to the next hole. Birdied the next hole, so I bounced right back. I had a chance to birdie the next hole, and then put probably the worst swing on the club that I had had all week and hit in the water left. Made another double. So now I don't know what to do.
Now I've made four birdies, and -- what did I make? I made three birdies and I'm 1-over par. So I'm thinking, I'm still in the hunt. I got to keep going. Made a beautiful birdie on 9.
Just the best shot I think I hit today was a 5-iron there from about 189 yards and hit it in there about 20, 22 feet and knocked it in. Now I've even par, and I'm really -- my emotions are going like this.
Then I played 10 poorly, and then 11 I had another one of those swings. I don't know what happened. I just had like a lack of communication from my brain to my body. I have no idea what happened. I hit the thing and I didn't even have a chance of staying in play it went so deep into the woods to make 5.
So now I've got a bogey double, and now I don't know where I'm going. And then made a really good tee shot, good second shot, and a nice pitch on No. 12. Then I got a little putt and couldn't even touch the hole. Then I've I'm thinking, What the heck is going on today? You know, I don't know what to look for. I've got no idea.
And then I birdied 13. I made a beautiful birdie on 14. I played the hole exactly the way you should have played it today: 3-wood, 3-iron, and a 9-iron to about eight feet and knocked the putt in.
Then holed a beautiful putt on 15, and suddenly I'm thinking to myself, What the hell is going on now? I look up on the board, and Larry Nelson has bogeyed and he's gone back to two behind and I've gone from being three behind to two ahead. Now I don't know what to do.
Anyway, three solid pars the last three holes. That's all I needed. But I'm absolutely spent right now. My emotions, my physical being, I'm going to sleep like a dead person tonight. I know that. Probably a bit of alcohol will help, too.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: Nick, if you have a minute, can we back up? Do you remember on No. 1 what the shot was?
NICK PRICE: I hit a 9-iron. 3-wood off the tee and 9-iron to about eight feet. That's No. 1.
No. 3, I hit a drive and a 7-iron to about probably 30 feet.
3-wood in the water on the next hole.
Next hole I hit a sand wedge to about probably 12 feet. Made that.
The double, drive in the water, chop, chop, chop, double bogey.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: What did you hit on 7 in the water?
NICK PRICE: With the tee shot, the drive.
NICK PRICE: And then No. 9, a 5-iron.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: 22 feet you said?
NICK PRICE: Yeah, 20, 22 feet, somewhere in there. Just pin high. Had 8-iron. I pulled it left and chipped out about four and missed the putt.
And then 11 was a 5-iron that went off into the woods on the right.
Then 13, I hit a 3-wood and a sand wedge to about probably 16, 18 feet behind the hole.
14, drive, 3-iron and then a 9-iron to eight feet.
15, a drive and a 6-iron to about 25 feet.
And then best hole of the day was my par an 18. I thought that was pretty brave. Played around the water. I mean, I avoided the water like the plague on the last hole. It was terrible.
Anyway, I got the job done, and I'm really happy to win here. It's a hard golf course win on, because when the wind picks up and swirls like it did today and the greens are firm and fast, the scores weren't really good all week. What a way to shoot even par today. Just looking at this card, it looks like Phil Mikelson's card.

Q. You said you were pretty spent on just the day and how was it strange. How much of that is that you felt like it was a tough round and how is it to get the monkey off the back of picking up the first Champions win?
NICK PRICE: I suppose I could have made 18 pars today, and it would have been so uneventful. I really felt like I was playing well. I played well yesterday and I felt like I was in control yesterday. If you take the three double bogeys out of the equation, one of them, for sure, I actually played pretty good.
I just two bad swings on the wrong two holes. I was trying to play positively and not sort of wimp out like I played 18, and it cost me.
But I don't even know what to -- I mean, I'm absolutely dumbfounded at today. I never play like that. I mean, I never every play like that. I might make five or six bogeys, but I never make three double bogeys. I don't know when was the last time I made three double bogeys in a round. I don't know. You'd have to go back.

Q. You look at it a the mistakes were mental?
NICK PRICE: The first one was, yeah.

Q. Are they far more infuriating than physical errors?
NICK PRICE: I took my medicine, because when I got to the next hole, I said, you know, just get back to refocusing. I hit a good 4-iron off the tee and sand wedge, and I birdied the next hole. That's immediate recovery. If you bogey the next after double bogeying, you've let it affect you. But I came right back, disciplined, and birdied that had hole, and then nearly birdied the 6th hole, the par-3.
Made the worst swing I've ever made all week on No. 7 and hit it in the water. You sort of the feel like you've been disciplined, but, anyway, I've just never done that before.

Q. As confounding as the round is, there's a lot to be said for the wheels coming off and you putting them back on. Looked like a couple times you were off to the side just sort of focusing yourself.
NICK PRICE: Yeah, I was just trying to, you know, obviously say to myself that even though with all the problems I had, I still had a chance to win. Any time you get a chance to win, you've got to stop yourself and refocus and try and say, Well, just keep plugging away.
That's what I did. But I don't know what happened those three holes, to be honest. It's the weirdest thing. Short circuit between the mind and body, I guess. I guess that happens when you get older, but it's never happened to me before.
It was tough. I mean, it was really tough. I just hope that, you know, what happened today gives me a little more confidence. Maybe I should play a little more conservatively. I don't know. I felt like I was doing all the right things today.

Q. You won 30 something times, but is this the strangest Sunday round that you can remember?
NICK PRICE: Without a doubt. Things are supposed to get easier when you get older. They're getting harder.

Q. He stole my question, Nick, but was that the toughest win you've ever had?

Q. Yeah.
NICK PRICE: Oh, without a doubt. That one and probably the first one I ever had, because I didn't sleep at all. At least I slept this week. Won my first tournament back in '79, a tournament in South Africa.

Q. What was that one?
NICK PRICE: It was called Asseng. It was on the regular South African Tour. You probably wouldn't know it. That was my first win. That was pretty hard. At least I played well. I didn't make the mistakes, I just couldn't sleep.

Q. So the final question is: What do you take away from this round?
NICK PRICE: I'll regroup the next couple days and just think about things, you know. You know, try and look at my thought process while I was hitting those bad shots, how I can go out and play under the gun again and not make the same mistakes. That's basically it.
Because today my good golf was really good, and I just got to remember that. But try and eradicate the double bogeys. You know, the four shots -- I mean, if I had hit those four shots on certain holes, I would have been able to chip and putt and maybe make a par, or at worst a bogey.
With those three holes, it was like, Why must I have a really bad swing on those holes? You know, it just didn't -- anyway, I'm not going think about that too much tonight.

Q. When you lose your concentration on double bogeys and so forth, what do you do to get back on course to get your mind back into the game?
NICK PRICE: That's the strange thing. I didn't feel like I lost my concentration. If I could honestly tell you that I lost my concentration I could have an answer for it. Maybe the fourth hole I did, but the other two I was focused and trying to just -- you know, the telemetry didn't work out for some reason.
When something bad happens to you out there, you just try and get back to refocusing and try and say to yourself, Well, it's not going to happen again. If I do this properly, it's not going to happen again. It did today, but I suppose the one thing I'm really proud of is the way I finished. You know, playing the last six holes three under par, which is not easy on this course.

Q. When you saw Larry Nelson on 17, were you aware that that was for bogey?
NICK PRICE: I kind of heard the gallery when he missed it. I knew it wasn't a birdie putt. You can always tell, you know, it was for bogey, that he made bogey. But I wasn't sure.
Only when I was walking up on the green I kept looking back at the leaderboard to see. You know, I made a really good putt there for my second putt. I probably had the slowest putt I had all day on the greens was my first putt. Yeah, I was aware of that, that it was for bogey.

Q. Did it change anything?
NICK PRICE: Oh, yeah. The way I played, you know, 18 going the roundabout way. You know, I wasn't going to take any of that water on. I think I played the 18th hole perfectly for a man who had a two-shot lead.

Q. In this tournament, having watched it over the years, there are so many first-time winners. Just seems there's never a runaway. Is there something about the tournament format?
NICK PRICE: It's a hard course get away from, because you're always going to have -- you know, it's kind of like the back nine of Augusta, because there are so many holes that can catch you here. There's really no let-up. You have to keep pulling the trigger and hitting your shots.
I think that's what made my win here so hard. The other golf courses that we play, if I played the way and even hit those shots today, I still would have seven birdies, but probably would have only made three bogeys.
But this course is pretty hash. I suppose that's a very good point.

Q. Were you watching the leaderboard?
NICK PRICE: Oh, yeah. I watch it.

Q. You always do that?
NICK PRICE: I watch it all the time. That's the only information we have out there.

Q. How unlikely do you think it would be to win a tournament with three doubles?
NICK PRICE: Well, you know, it's the hardest thing. I mean, like I say, I was just fortunate I made so many birdies because to make two double bogeys you've normally shot yourself in both feet, not just one of them.
I think if you make three double bogeys and a dropshot and shoot even par... I mean, I don't play golf like this. My whole career I never played golf like this, you know, so this is new territory for me. I don't know what to say. I hope it doesn't happen again. That's all.

Q. You should have no trouble remembering this.
NICK PRICE: No, no, I won't. My caddie will remind me of all the good things, and hopefully we'll be able to learn from the bad things that happened and forget about those.
Kind of hard to drink champagne out of this.

Q. When you're coming down the stretch, because this is a unique format with amateurs and having delays...
NICK PRICE: That made it harder, as well.

Q. (No microphone.)
NICK PRICE: It was really slow today. You know, God bless Vinny. I should've said something in the speech. We're very similar personalities. He's an introvert. He's a really nice person. I mean, I just thoroughly enjoyed playing with him this week.
A lot of times, you know, I play and I'm just, okay, let me putt, and he would let me do that. But the pace of play was really slow today, and that sort of kept rubbing salt into whatever wounds were there.
That's where you need discipline. You just -- I did, I knew it was going to get slow toward the back nine because the guys in the front and the amateurs take a little bit longer when they're under pressure. You get a little bit antsy out there sometimes, and I was.
But I'm very happy with the outcome, obviously.

Q. Kind of on a follow-up to that, yesterday you said you never forget what it takes to win. You have to remember what you have to go about to win. Does that kind of sum up today?
NICK PRICE: I think from the standpoint of your game, you know, when you look at -- like I know what my game is, and I know what I have to do in my game to win. I know -- that's what I think I was trying to say. You know, I think if I get to start hitting the ball a certain way and my short game is tight, then I know I can go to a place -- like I came here this week pretty confident that if I didn't screw up, I was going to have a good chance to win.
I practiced pretty hard the last two weeks and hit the ball really well two or three days before I came here. I was confident in that respect, and I knew that my game was in shape to win here.
Then there's a lot of other factors that come in here. You get the right side of the draw, you might have really bad wind in the morning if you play, and then it might rain at afternoon when you play the next day and you've got to make putts. But everything worked out great for me this week.
Today was, I don't know. I think the golfing gods are testing me. I really do. I think with a day like today, I kept sort of looking back and say, This game is testing you; just keep going. It's tested me for 52 years now, and my nerves aren't any good.

Q. Did patience win it for you?
NICK PRICE: No, no. The seven birdies I hit today, the shots that I hit to make those birdies, that what won me the tournament. I had some beautiful, beautiful iron shots today. I really did.

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