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April 15, 2010

Nick Price


DAVE SENKO: Nick, thanks for joining us. You come in as defending champ. Coming off three successful top 10 finishes, as well as a recent vacation in Egypt.
With that, if you could maybe talk a little bit about your trip, first of all, and then we'll get some questions.
NICK PRICE: Well, we were there 12 days and had a great time with the family. I don't know, I was in awe of not only the pyramids but also all the art work and the carvings that they have. It's not too often in your life that you get to see something that's 4,000 years old and has been preserved within that time.
So it was a real eye-opener for me and my family. The one thing that I enjoyed the most, I think we all did, was cruising the Nile.
Because when I was a young whipper snapper growing up in Rhodesia or Zimbabwe, you know, I dreamt and read books about all the African adventures going up the Nile trying to find the source of it. So, you know, that was something that was extremely special for me.
But toward the end I was really tired and ready to come home. You know, it's very hot there. Obviously it's desert. But we all had a great time. I'm glad that we got to do it.
It hasn't been the most perfect warmup. I think somewhere my swing and game is trying to catch up. Still coming over the Atlantic. Today I didn't play very well.
I knew that when we booked the trip that I was going to come into here without having practiced. As the day progressed I played a little better. Hopefully I'll be in shape tomorrow.
DAVE SENKO: Questions.

Q. (No microphone.)
NICK PRICE: You know, I think one of the hardest things, as you get a little older, the longer you're away from the game -- and I've had basically 13 days without swinging a club -- it's that much harder to get back.
I would be very surprised if I played -- if I contended this week, to be honest. It wasn't very good today. This is a golf course that's very penal. You know, you need to have your game, your long game in good shape.
You know, but stranger things have happened. Doesn't mean I'm not gonna try out there and give it my best, but it wasn't exactly the way I wanted to come in here.
But as you know, my family is more important than my career now. This was an opportunity with my son being 18 years old and off to college, and probably the last family trip we'll do. A little sad and selfish of me and I guess my wife, because he's gonna do his own thing now, which is great.
But it's a major steppingstone for us.

Q. Where is your son going to college?
NICK PRICE: UM. He's going to University of Miami. We were all happy about it until I found out how much it cost. (Laughing.)
No, it's a great school. That was his top pick, so he's off.

Q. Do you know what he's gonna study?
NICK PRICE: No, he doesn't have much of an idea yet. I guess he's like most 18 year olds. I was the same. I didn't know what I wanted to do. I think he'll find his sort of niche in life. I think the first year or two they do pretty general subjects before they specialize.
But I'm pretty sure he'll get in something with cinema and the engineering side of the movies. He's got a very creative brain that way. Who knows.

Q. (Question regarding Tom Watson.)
NICK PRICE: Yeah, isn't that great?

Q. What do you remember from that week, and is there any added pressure to kind of show that you really belong?
NICK PRICE: You know, I think Tom Watson's association with the USGA over the years and the way he's played certainly warrants an invitation. I was very surprised when they gave one to me, but they that felt my game was strong enough that I could win. And I think that's the case with Tom.
And also, going back to Pebble Beach, having won there in, when was it, '82? I mean, it's great to have all the past champions there. I don't know, Tom Kite is probably gonna try and qualify. If he gets in, that would be certainly great to have like the last, what would it be, four winners of the US Open there.
But I think he's justified an invitation. I thought that coming second in the British Open would have got him in there. Normally they take the top five or top six or whatever it is from each major championship, and that qualifies you into the remaining ones.
I was very happy he got that.

Q. (Question regarding Turnberry last year.)
NICK PRICE: You know, I just -- the amazing thing is, I don't think anyone, certainly an American-born player, has ever played links courses (indiscernible.) I won it once and came in second twice. He won it five times, and I'm certainly not anywhere in that category.
He is heads and shoulders above just about everyone when it comes to playing the British Open. He has an art of playing those links courses. He showed it to us last year.
So was I inspired? No, because I know I can't really play like he can on those courses. But I was so happy to see a man of his accomplishment and what he's done over the years contending. You could see the determination. You know, he loves to play that kind of golf.
I think if he had won wish for the rest of his life, it would just be to play on links courses either in Ireland or Scotland or England, because he has a passion for them.
You know, the practice rounds that I've played with him over the years, I learned a lot from watching the shots that he was trying to play. You know, I'd love to see him contend again this year.

Q. Is it surprising to see someone like Fred Couples come out and have the success he's right out of the chute on this tour? And what do you think about his game enables him to do that?
NICK PRICE: Doesn't surprise me at all. Freddy is a very much an inspirational player. When he's inspired, he plays great. That's been the story his whole career. When Freddy's down and he's not happy, he doesn't play well. If he's up and looking forward to playing, you got to watch out, because, you know, he can do what he's done the last four or five weeks out here.
I was surprised, you know, that he threw that 75 out in the second round at Augusta. The way I played with him, what three, four times in the last five weeks, his tee-to-green game is as good as I've ever seen it. It's very strong. He's hitting the ball is long way. As you probably saw at Augusta, he hit a lot of great shots.
I think had he putted a little better he probably would have had a chance to win. He didn't putt as well as some of the other guys were. But, you know, he's an incredible player. What was the second part of your question?

Q. (No microphone.)
NICK PRICE: You know, it seems like the guys that have done really well out on the Champions Tour have the long, loose, languid swings, and guys who have really great rhythm and tempo.
He's just got wonderful, you know, feel, touch. He's driving the ball as well as I've ever seen him, and really, really straight for Freddy. Once he does that, it's tough -- he's tough to beat.
But it's been great for our tour. In Newport Beach it looked like a regular tour event with the amount of people that came out to watch. You know, we can always do with players like Freddy.

Q. Following up on this a little bit, you were in the extended groove of great playback in the early '90s. You know what it's like. Can you just describe what it's like for a player to have the kind of run like he's having now, because you've done it?
NICK PRICE: Yeah. You just feel that you have no real weaknesses in your game. That's what it is. I think looking at the putting last week, we basically putt on greens that are 10 or 11 on the stimpmeter.
You get out to 12 and 13, it changes a little bit. You become a little more defensive, and obviously our nerves, they're a little more frayed than they were in our 30s.
So that maybe happened with him a little bit on those greens. I think his tee-to-green game was flawless last week. But you just feel like you can go out -- it's not a question of whether you're gonna shoot in the 60s, it's how deep in the 60s are you're gonna shoot.
You have this calmness within you and the confidence that you can -- some other guy can bring any game he wants at and you're gonna beat him. You make a mistake, and you're not really that concerned about it because you know you're gonna bounce back and make birdies.
His swing is about as solid as I've ever seen it, honestly. He's hitting the ball out of the middle of the club with regular monotony now. That's the scary thing for us.
If his back holds up, I don't know how long he can play. It looks like to me he's swinging a feather duster half the time. It's not like a golf club in his hand.

Q. What did you make last week at the Masters in the first round when it was Freddy and Tom and Bernhard and Sandy up there?
NICK PRICE: I'll tell you, I was not surprised to see Fred at the top of the leaderboard. I know how much he loves that golf course. Sandy, I saw he had shot 69, and Tom obviously shooting 67. I didn't get to see any of it on TV. I just opened up the paper and you saw the score.
I said to my wife, Look at that. Freddy is leading. Didn't surprise me.

Q. Do people forget how good the golf is out here, the fans?
NICK PRICE: Yeah, I mean there's certain golf courses, like you get a golf course around 7100 yards, there are guys out here that can still play really, really well on those golf courses.
When you start getting out to 7300, 7400 yards, it brings a different kind of -- it depends on the golf course and how much accuracy is a key on those golf courses. If it's wide open, that's not the style of game that most of us in our generation played.
Now it's about launching it and just hitting it as far as being. There's a bit of shot-making involved. You know, sort of plays more to the older type players. Unfortunately, golf courses have gone away from that.
But, you know, Freddy can win on the regular tour, no problem. Absolutely no problem whatsoever if he's loose and his back is good. I have no reservation.

Q. What was your journey like getting back from Egypt?
NICK PRICE: We left Cairo at 3:35 Monday morning; flew to Rome; jumped on the plane in Rome at about 9:30; got into Miami at about 5:00, and sort of fell into my bed at about 7:30.
So you know, it takes three or four days to get back. I think one of the reasons I didn't play very well today is my time clock is out. Hopefully tomorrow will be better and I can shoot 1- or 2-under par. You know, just stay within and then get better and better on Saturday and Sunday.

Q. If I could ask you another one about Watson. Yourself, always noted as a great ball-striker. Where did you put Tom in that?
NICK PRICE: I'll tell you what, if he had hit the ball in his day like he hits it now -- and he'll be the first one to tell you he figured something out back in the late '90s early 2000s with his shoulders. I think he's got a DVD coming out.
Tom doesn't let much out, so I'll have to buy the DVD to find out what it is. But if he hit the ball in his prime like he hits it now and the way he putted, who knows how many tournaments and majors he would have won. And it quite often happens that the older you get the more you know about the golf swing and the more efficient it becomes.
But you watch him on the range. It's an amazing thing. He goes out there and starts off with 4-irons. Most of us are trying not to get a hernia or break a -- pull a hamstring or something when you hitting sand wedges, and he just stands out there and starts rifling these 4-irons.
He's got something, so I'm looking forward to getting the DVD and seeing what it is. He might even give me one. I don't know.

Q. Does it sound different when he hits it compared to most guys. Can you tell?
NICK PRICE: He's always been little of a picker. He's never been a gouger or a divot taker like I am. I've always driven the ball into the ground and he's always swept the ball off the ground.
There are two trains of thought: Everyone will say the guy that hits the ball down sounds better, sounds more out of the meat. I just love the way that he's playing right now. I played with him last year at the TPC, the Senior TPC in Baltimore the first two rounds. It was flawless. Absolutely flawless.
I think he made one bogey and nine or eight birdies. It was really, really good to watch. Hard to believe that -- I kept reminding my caddie this guy is 60 and he's beating me like a drum here and making me look like a beginner. My hat's off to him.
It wasn't too long ago that I played with him in Augusta, and he really didn't really care. He was playing so badly and he had the worst attitude. And Bruce Edwards who was caddying for him, I said to Bruce on the 7th hole, I said, What's going on? He said, He don't want to be here.
So he's had a big change around in everything, which is great to see. He's certainly been a great asset to golf and to our tour.

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