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March 3, 2010

Jack Nicklaus


JACK NICKLAUS: When we got into the wind, we played one of the holes into the wind that we shouldn't have played into the wind. Hit driver, 3-wood, full 9-iron or something and 10, 50 or a hundred yards to the green at 10. That's crazy. People out here are watching, two woods and a 5-iron on a par 4.
The weather is the whole issue when you play here. If you have good weather, this course can give some low scores. If you have these kind of conditions, scores will be up a little bit.
The golf course, whoever I sat down with today, one of the pros, I had not played with, he came to me and said -- and so you know, it was one of the good pros, one of the guys that would know -- shows you how old I am. That story has been repeated, and most guys, they are tested. And the rough is not extremely severe, but it is enough. The greens are -- you go through a cold snap and the greens are probably not as perfect as they should be. But I think after a couple warm days, it will be fine.
But I think they probably did a pretty darned good job of the golf course, considering what happened in Palm Beach County in the last six weeks, we haven't had a blade of grass on our golf course in the last six weeks. To even have a golf course right now is pretty good right now.

Q. Have you played since the Skins Game?
JACK NICKLAUS: I played Senior Skins and then I played Father/Son a week ago Sunday, and I played Monday, this Monday, and today.
I'm going to play Monday at Seminole and I'll play Ernie's event down at the Bear's Club.

Q. (Inaudible.)
JACK NICKLAUS: I'll just bring it today --

Q. Not even a regular tour pro?
JACK NICKLAUS: When I played Ernie's event last year, I played from the back tees. I think I shot 86, 87. That's about the only thing I do -- I don't know would he would, but I'm 50,60 yards behind them. And these young guys that can hit the ball -- my game is not for public consumption anymore. If I do try to play golf, I just go and hide in the corner (laughter).

Q. Just out of the trap there on 18, what were you telling them?
JACK NICKLAUS: We were talking about, he pulls the ball out -- Drew was into the wind where he was trying to push the ball and really hit it hard and I showed him how to place it, a couple things like that. And he wanted to hit the ball left and so I gave him instructions; you don't need to do that, you just need to do this.
That's what the Pro-Am is about. You don't try to impose yourself over a guy, because then they won't play it and they won't enjoy it and they won't have fun. Just help them a little bit, give them a tip or two and let them play, and if they walk away, not only did they have fun, 'but Jack told me I could do it this way' without destroying their game.
Drew missed a putt at 15 -- and showed him the grip on the putter, and asked him when you try to thread a needle between two guys, what's your thought pattern when he does that. So you respond here, it's the same thing. You've got to keep yourself quiet and you've got to be composed to be able to hit the putt the same way. He had run away with the put. There's all kind of things that you do in golf that relate to other sports. I always talk about that kind of stuff, it's fun to me to relate to it.

Q. How's his game?
JACK NICKLAUS: Pretty good, and with the wind blowing 40 miles an hour, yeah, he hit some nice shots today.

Q. It's sounds like you had a good time today.
JACK NICKLAUS: Yeah, we had a great time. I'm happy. But I enjoyed the company. I enjoyed the day. I kind of embarrassed myself -- I'll go play with my friends and I'm quite happy with going out and enjoying the day and lose ten bucks or win ten bucks or whatever it might be. But to go out in a tournament in front of a bunch of people and television and you guys are here when I'm done, it's sort of -- I did that. Already been there.

Q. Inaudible.
JACK NICKLAUS: Arnold's tournament -- if he wanted to do it, and I wasn't ready to do it, and Arnold had it three or four years or whatever he's done it. Billy came to me and said --

Q. Do you see yourself playing more than one shot?
JACK NICKLAUS: I'd love to see them take the old guys -- of course, we talked about this ten years ago when they wanted to eliminate the other guys. Just have a Tuesday afternoon or a Wednesday afternoon, nine holes, all of the guys playing, everybody comes out and play, and enjoy and have everybody play together and have dinner and go home. They used to play nine holes. And, you know, it is what it is today, there's a lot more players, there's probably about 75, 100 players -- it's a different day.
It's not my event and I'm quite happy to do what they want me to do. I'm quite happy to be a part of it.

Q. You wouldn't mind --
JACK NICKLAUS: If Arnold and I wanted to go play -- which we don't -- (laughter) they would welcome it, I don't think there's any question at all.

Q. Inaudible.
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, yeah.

Q. Do you know what it means to people --
JACK NICKLAUS: Yeah, I'm sure it does mean something to them. I'd enjoy it. It would be fun. But it's symbolic of what the history is, and that's what it's all about. I'm sure that Gary will probably join us, and shortly. And the three of us -- I think he probably wanted me to do it next and then probably Gary.

Q. Will you be at the British Open?
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know. Depends. If I go to the British Open, it will be because the Royal Bank of Scotland wants me at the British Open. It won't be because I'm going to play golf. I can't afford that. (Laughter) but otherwise, I won't be there.

Q. Do you think back to when you and Arnold won Pebble, were you more friends than competitors --
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't think we have ever changed that. You know, when we started travelling in 1960 -- Arnold was going to Columbus to pick me up, and we decided to play an exhibition, and that was three, four, five years. So Arnold and I got to know -- inaudible -- we played Ryder Cup Matches together, and two guys who don't like each other -- when we played, we always wanted to beat each other, and that's never changed.
I don't care whether it's in golf, or golf course design or commercials or whatever we are doing, we have always wanted to beat each other and that's not going to change. But win we go out to dinner with the other and have a glass of wine and slap each other on the back.

Q. Do you think PGA National could hold a major here, what would need to be changed --
JACK NICKLAUS: I think if you wanted to hold a major here -- you're holding a significant event, it would hold the Seniors PGA very well. And for a change -- I think the golf course holds up very well. It's holding up now. If you did have a major, would you change some things? It probably -- I think you'd probably put a little bit more spice within the greens, but then you'd probably ruin it as a resort course, even though it's a resort course now anyway. But yeah, it's a strong golf course.
And of course the time of the year -- the time of the year that you would play a major, you would have to come back here and play in February, like you did when I played the PGA in '71. '87 was a long time to play here.
But if you wanted to hold a major, and the PGA would be the logical major to hold, and it would be probably late February. I think it's ready right now. The players like it. You guys are giving it good coverage. They have pretty good attendance here. But I guess that's -- that's not my fault. I'm just answering your question.

Q. Attendance seems to be up quite a bit, the tournament seems to be creating a lot of buzz.
JACK NICKLAUS: I think over the years -- tried a few things that improved, and started to attract players. If you can attract the players, then the event will go off and level off and then it will -- try to get a location, and I just talked with Jim with the company that owns -- who owns this now, what's the name of the company? Well, go look it up. He was with Club Car, and then he's running this company and he comes out to me and he says how is the golf course, and so you see the ownership is concerned about the golf course. People will be all right -- but you know, he wants to improve -- your golf facility will get better, you attract a better field, as long as you keep the right attitude.

Q. Did the Bear Trap turn out the way you intended it to?
JACK NICKLAUS: No, not at all. It didn't turn out at all what I intended it to. I thought it would be nice little speedy holes and it turned out to be a Bear Trap. (Laughter).

Q. Because of the wind?
JACK NICKLAUS: The wind conditions. I mean, if you take those three holes without wind, they are not really particularly difficult holes. What are they, probably a 7-iron -- 3-wood, 9-iron, or eight iron, and probably a 7-iron on the other hole without the wind.
With the wind, tough golf holes. They are really tough. Yet, they can be played. Like today, here an old man played them in 1-under. I didn't hit any of the three greens, either. (Laughter).

Q. Where did you chip-in at?
JACK NICKLAUS: 17. I hit it on the front fringe and 2-putted from 20 feet. And 15, I hit it in the front bunker and holed a bunker shot on 17 -- holed a bunker shot on 17, and I said, there's a shot I could never play all my life and today it's the only shot I could play. (Laughter).

Q. Would it surprise you if Tiger came back for the Masters?
JACK NICKLAUS: It would it surprise me if he didn't. I've been very non-committal because it's none of my business. But playing golf, my guess as a golfer, he's going to probably try to want to.

Q. Do you watch the Masters final round?

Q. Cabrera?
JACK NICKLAUS: And Kenny Perry --

Q. They are setting the course up the last few years -- is that the way the Masters should be --
JACK NICKLAUS: No, I don't think they should change anything. You have tough weather and the golf course -- the greens all of a sudden -- and the players start to score. But if the weather is -- I don't think they should change the golf course.

Q. When you took time off, how long did it take you before you felt like you were playing to the point where you could come back and start playing competitively?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I think -- I played in the golf club three times a day -- and obviously at Torrey Pines he didn't play at all. I came back and I was in pretty good shape. I needed probably about a couple of weeks of good, hard practice and a tournament to get back to where I could play.
Of course, I had a lot more to come because I was playing very poorly when you when I got back and went for the Open. Under most years, I would do a similar-type thing and I would easily take probably two tournaments and a little bit of work. Probably two tournaments and a month of practice to get really good.
I mean, you're obviously asking because of Tiger. I think Tiger -- I suspect he will play something before Augusta, and I'd be very surprised if he doesn't play before Augusta.

Q. If Tiger does come back and come to the Champions Dinner, do you think it will be a little different?
JACK NICKLAUS: You know, his personal life is his personal life. He's a professional golfer and he's a sensational golfer. He's a great athlete, and you know, he'll figure out his own problems. And as a golfer, he'll come back and get his game in shape and play. That's what he does.

Q. Was it 200 or something like that, '99, what was it like the first time you decided to stop playing, after a certain part of your life that's so long --
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, anything, if it is your life, if it is your athletic life, and you stop it, it's tough to stop it, if you're still competitive. Once I played a tournament at 60 in 2000, I was at age 60, I was ready to quit. And the British Open was the next -- same thing after so many years of playing.
Tom is a different kind of cat. I can barely get it around the course -- (laughter).

End of FastScripts

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