June 14, 1994
LES UNGER: You can say there are times you really don't need
any introduction and this is one of them. Since Mr. Palmer is
the Honorary Chairman of this U.S. Open, I will give him the opportunity
to take the first crack at the microphone or defer it up to you,
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, as honorary chairman, would you like to start
JACK NICKLAUS: Mr. Palmer, I think I'd like to pass it right back
since you are the guy here.
ARNOLD PALMER: Okay. I will start it off.
JACK NICKLAUS: Thank you.
ARNOLD PALMER: Just with some general comments about the tournament,
the golf course; what I have observed the last four, five days,
playing the golf course and seeing what is happening here, I think
it is significant that if we do not have rain, the golf course
will play pretty difficult. The greens are - I think Jack will
agree - about as fast as I have ever seen any greens on any championship
course. I don't think that is unusual here at Oakmont. I think
that has been kind of a tradition to have the greens fast and,
of course, there is -- nothing really changed on this golf course
in 50 years. I have been playing it that long, or longer, and.
I can't think of a golf course where I have seen, in five decades,
in five major championships, the same conditions. The only thing
that is any different over those years, the trees are a little
taller. There are a number of new tees that they have built to
lengthen the golf course a little bit. Other than that, from time
to time, there is a few bunkers that have been changed, but not
that much that you would notice to any great degree. So what we
are playing is the same golf course that was played in 1953, if
you wish. I think it will be a good championship and I would like
to think that somewhere between 280 and 284 will be the score.
Jack, I will give it to you.
JACK NICKLAUS: If they don't change the golf course, I think the
score will fall in that category too. I think somebody is going
to have to play awful well to break 280 this week. But then again,
you know, I think they probably thought that when Johnny Miller
shot 63 in the last round. The weather can change those conditions.
Anything can happen, but if it is these dry conditions, Arnold
is dead right on it.
ARNOLD PALMER: The golf course -- all I can say, ditto, basically.
The greens are about as fast and difficult, the greens, as I have
ever seen on any golf course, period.
LES UNGER: Can we have questions, please?
Q. When is the last time you played a round of golf together
here on this golf course since 1962?
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't think we have.
ARNOLD PALMER: We haven't.
JACK NICKLAUS: 32 years ago, on Father's Day. How is that?
Q. Can you talk about playing?
JACK NICKLAUS: Father's Day, 1962.
Q. Talk about what it was like there to be playing again.
JACK NICKLAUS: Today or then?
JACK NICKLAUS: Then we had a very competitive game against the
rest of the field. Today, we have a very competitive game against
ARNOLD PALMER: That is true.
LES UNGER: May we ask whose pocket is lighter?
ARNOLD PALMER: We are really anticipating playing on Father's
JACK NICKLAUS: We made the mistake of being partners today. Is
that what you mean? And I was a huge load. My partner saved me
from all kinds of disaster.
LES UNGER: Can we say who the others were in the group today?
JACK NICKLAUS: Couple of young guys. You wouldn't have heard of
Q. Arnold, talk about all the hoopla this week; just seems
to be a lot of attention coming your way. Would you address that,
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, I don't know -- you know, I think it is probably
just the tradition of what has happened over the years; the fact
that it is home. I have been here and I have been a member of
this club for many, many years. They talk about my -- I played
in five Open Championships here, but I played here in my amateur
days too. And I -- you know, my goodness, whatever number of thousands
of people that were out there the last few days, I know a lot
of them. I know them because they are from here. The ones that
aren't from here come from other places and I know them from there.
So it is -- I think Jack knows a lot of them the same as I do
now, so it is not an unusual situation. It is kind of a homecoming,
if you wish. It will be my final one in the Open.
Q. Current status of both your games; particularly driving
the golf ball.
JACK NICKLAUS: What was the question?
Q. How are your golf games, and particularly, how are you driving
the golf ball?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, my golf game, I think, has a chance to be
a lot better. Whether it is good enough to beat any competition,
I don't have any idea because it will depend on how I drive the
golf ball. I am driving the ball a little bit better but that--
I don't know if it is well enough to keep the ball in play.
ARNOLD PALMER: My game is very suspect. I think in deference to
Jack, about his game, I think I can probably drive it or get it
in the fairways and here, one way or another, but I am not sure
I can get it on the greens. Maybe, if they let us play alternate
shots we will --
JACK NICKLAUS: We will be good.
ARNOLD PALMER: I could drive it, and Jack could hit it on the
greens, and we will get someone to putt it and we will be all
JACK NICKLAUS: We can do that.
Q. Did you feel a lot more at home today than you did in 1962?
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know. I feel a lot more at home when I
am playing better, let us put it that way. I don't feel I am playing
very well right now, but that question has been asked of me 100
times about 1962 and all I kept -- I am just here to play golf.
I was a young kid. And I wouldn't have known what was going on
no matter what happened. I was here trying to win a golf tournament.
Now, as far as being at home, I don't care whether I am at home
or 10,000 miles from home if I was playing golf. I think Arnold
feels the same way on playing the game and we both want to play
our best and do our best any time we tee it up.
Q. Did you play in 1962 the four rounds before the playoff
without a 3-putt?
JACK NICKLAUS: 3-putted the first hole of the fourth round. It
was only one in 90 holes.
Q. Everybody talks about these greens. You have played them
so many times. Is that, in a way, just remarkable the way the
greens are here?
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know. I mean, if I look at it today, I
mean, I probably 3-putted - what? - seven, eight times today.
ARNOLD PALMER: At least.
JACK NICKLAUS: At least, yeah, I was your partner, remember?
ARNOLD PALMER: Partner.
JACK NICKLAUS: That is right, partner. I look back at it and I
knew how well I putted then. I putted very well - not that I made
a lot of putts - it was I just didn't miss any. I missed one putt
inside six feet the whole tournament, and when you do that --
and that was not my 3-putt -- when you do that, you are obviously
going to score fairly well if you can play at all. I didn't make
anywhere near the amount of birdies as Arnold did in that tournament.
I didn't, obviously, make as many bogeys.
Q. Arnold, would you talk about reflections on ending your
U.S. Open career? Are you happy? Are you sad? How do you feel
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, I am not unhappy. Everything comes to an
end and I really thought that I had kind of ended my U.S. Open
period a few years ago. To come back here and play is sort of
a little icing on the cake. I am happy I am here and I will enjoy
this Open Championship. And it should be my final one. It is that
time. I would like to play some respectable golf this week and
what are the chances of that? They are -- I would say on a scale
of 10, about a 3 or a 4, of my playing any kind of golf that I
would be happy with. But I will still enjoy the week. I think
the golf course is going to provide a pretty exciting Open. The
field is a wonderful field and that is what it is all about. That
is what it has been about since the day I started and it is still
going on and it is fun. It will be fun this week too. I think
seeing Jack here certainly reminds me of some of the days that
we have had together over the last 30, 35 years. So all in all,
I am very happy for what we are seeing here and the fact that
I am here.
Q. Do you remember, Arnold, the first time you played here?
ARNOLD PALMER: I was about twelve years old and I came here with
a guy by the name of Harry Saxman who was a member here and it
was one of the great thrills of my life, just coming here and
I remember almost every detail of that day at twelve years old
and as you know, that is 52 years ago. The fairways, bunkers,
rough - there were very, very few trees on this golf course. You
could see the entire back nine and from the 10th tee with maybe
the exception of the 16th green and I mean, it was just wide open.
It was grass. It was very much a links-period golf course, and
the same on the front nine. The Pennsylvania Turnpike wasn't there
yet, so that tells you something.
JACK NICKLAUS: It wasn't there?
ARNOLD PALMER: It was not there.
JACK NICKLAUS: Okay.
ARNOLD PALMER: As a matter of fact, if you want to know what was
there, there was an old railroad that ran up that draw -- there
was a bridge across it and the railroad came up under there because
I used to -- as a kid, I used to stand and watch the trains when
I was playing golf from under the bridge. So the answer is, yeah,
I remember it and I loved it. I thought it was the most elegant
locker room I had ever seen and it was. The wooden lockers were
the same as they are today; the carpeting on the floors; the little
bar just off midway back through the downstairs locker room, all
those things were just sort of a tradition and to come here and
play and then having played all these years, it has been a great
thrill for me.
Q. What did you shoot that day?
ARNOLD PALMER: I think I shot 82, which was pretty good for me.
Jack wanted to know if they had cars back then.
Q. Jack, listening to Arnold, is there a golf course for you
or a day for you that has a similar association, a memory in your
JACK NICKLAUS: You mean when I first came up as a young kid?
Q. That had the same type of attachment to you.
JACK NICKLAUS: Oh, I suppose that-- other than Scioto, it sort
of had that attachment to me because that is where I grew up.
All I heard around Scioto was Bobby Jones and he won the Open
there, and the Ryder Cup was played there and some great attachment
there. As relates to other golf courses; let's see, I suppose
that I go back to a couple of golf courses, I suppose, I was 13
when I played Cherry Hills, USGA Juniors -- not Cherry Hills,
Southern Hills, and my first U.S. Open when I was 17 years old.
I sort of go back to Inverness -- every time I go back there I
try to recall some of the things that happened to me there. But
I didn't have -- I didn't play at Oakmont when I was twelve years
old - if that is what you mean, no, I didn't.
LES UNGER: On behalf of everybody, we thank you and we are
honored to be here with you. Thank you for coming.
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