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March 2, 2011
PALM BEACH GARDENS, FLORIDA
DOUG MILNE: Thanks for joining us, this is your first Tour event since I believe 2008. Just maybe talk about what prompted -- I know this was kind of a home game for you.
NICK PRICE: Our schedule on the Champions Tour is such that we have these two-week gaps quite frequently, and one of the things that I said to my wife at the end of last year was, I sort of like was playing really well but I just couldn't -- I had the opportunity to win four or five times last year and ended up winning twice and I think it was a lack of continuity that sort of -- having these two-week break, even though I come home and play a little bit, you just lose that edge a little bit.
So I look at the schedule this year and I saw that this week was an off-week for us and I was going to be at home. Talked to my wife again and decided to take my Top-50 and use it for this year, because I probably won't use it after this year.
So the fit was there. It was a perfect fit for me really. You know, I may play a couple more this year, depending on how I play this week. Obviously the way Fred's played this year and John Cook playing well last week and then Corey playing well at the end of last year, it gives us a little bit of inspiration. But I'm just out here to have some fun and just feel the water and see how much I enjoy it.
My game is definitely in a lot better shape than the last time I played on the PGA TOUR in 2008. I'm just happy to be out here to be honest and just to enjoy and see some familiar faces. I'm amazed at how many of the guys, the refs and caddies that are still out there, some of them should be on the Champions Tour with us. (Laughter) But they are still out here. It's always nice to catch up. I think when you get away from the TOUR, it's not so much the golf and the travelling that you miss; it's the people. And that's sort of -- do some catching up this week.
Q. We were talking earlier with Lee Westwood about some of the stuff that comes with being No. 1 in the world, the good and the bad, and of course you were No. 1. Wonder if you could maybe think back to what were some of the things that you liked about it and didn't like about it when you were the No. 1 player in the world?
NICK PRICE: Well, the hard thing, '95 -- '94, '95 after having a strong '93, I had a lot of Media Days to do for the tournaments that I had won the previous year. And the same happened in '95. And I think it kind of caught up with me a little bit in '95. I had a tough time as a lot of you guys know, and I may have bitten off more than I can chew there for a while. It's a very, very difficult period in managing your time.
You know, you just have so many people tugging and so many things that you want to do. All I tried to do was stay focused on golf and if it interrupted my golf and my schedule, I said no.
But you know, do you have a lot of responsibilities as the No. 1 player, and you also have a lot of commitments that you just -- you are obliged or obligated to do.
And so you know, that was difficult for me. And I'm sure it's worse now, because the No. 1 player in the world, there's more spotlight on him. Especially with Lee having taken over from Tiger who had been there for so long. I'm sure that there were a lot of requests on his time. But if I had one word of advice for those guys, don't let it interrupt your schedule. And so if you can go out there or when you sit down at the beginning of the year and you make your game plan for the year, stick to it as much as you possibly can.
But you know, happy to see Martin Kaymer, what a great player he's turned into be, and I've been watching The European Tour on TV in the mornings on the GOLF CHANNEL, and this guy, he's for real. This guy's got a lot of game. I think like everyone, we just want to see Tiger start playing better, because we need four or five guys in the mix there in these major championships, and I just hope he starts playing better, that's all.
Q. Curious about your own decision to not play much PGA TOUR golf the last few years. A lot of guys in their early 50s have been competitive. It would have seemed you would have been, but yet you sort of elected not to do it.
NICK PRICE: I think that 2005, 2006 period, I've played so poorly, especially '06 and 07, and I really had no desire to come out here because I didn't think I could even make the cut in a lot of the events.
But as my game has improved, I feel like I'm a little more competitive now. You know, my tee-to-green game, the quality of my tee-to-green game has been really good the last two years, on golf courses that are obviously a little shorter than this.
So that's something that I've got to -- I have to get used to this week, probably hitting a lot more long irons. But the good thing about this week is the scoring I don't think is going to be extremely low.
So, you know, I played well here in the PGA I think in '87. I finished 10th or 12th, somewhere around there, but the golf course has changed since then but I think the equipment will probably balance that out a little bit.
So you know, the reason, basically, I don't do it, I didn't feel I was competitive enough. I'm 54 now and I've got probably another three or four years of playing at the standard that I am now and then it starts going downhill pretty bad. So I'd better make the most of it.
Q. You mentioned about the caddies and the refs, how about the players? What percent do you know of them?
NICK PRICE: Just in the two hours that I've been here this morning, Boo, I've known over the last couple of years, we have played a few of the Wendy's and a couple things together; Jerry Kelly, Kenny Perry, David Duval. Some of the young guys, they look a little different on television so you're sort of looking and saying, the guy looks familiar but I don't know his name, and I'm sure I'm going to irritate a few guys because some of the good players I wouldn't recognize.
It's a lot of fun. It's going to be a different week for me from what I've been used to. You know, there are a lot of guys out there still who I've played against.
Q. What about a guy like Anthony Kim who broke your record of 11 birdies in the Masters last year?
NICK PRICE: I played with Anthony in the Shark Shootout in 2008 or 2009. He played with O'Meara and I played with Charlie Howell and we were paired together in the first round. He's got a lot of game.
Listen, records are there to be broken. I don't think it will be long before that 63 that Greg and I shot there will be gone. You know, these guys are very aggressive now and if the conditions are just right like we got them on the days we shot 63 there, I'm sure that will tumble. I thought Chad Campbell was going to break it two years ago or whatever. He made a bogey somewhere coming in it. But that's part of getting old; your records get broken (laughing).
Q. You've been playing all over the world forever. Just with what's going on, all of the Europeans, the top four in the World Rankings, is it a cyclical thing in your mind?
NICK PRICE: Yeah.
Q. Or is there a reason why the Europeans are coming to the top right now?
NICK PRICE: I think golf is cyclical. I think we are going to see, if you look back in the 90s, there was a period where I think Woosie and Faldo and maybe Lyle and Norman and myself, we were all like in the top, say, five out of the top eight or seven on the World Ranking. I may have my dates wrong, but there was definitely a trend back in the early 90s and mid 90s toward the foreign players. And it was the U.S. players had it and now it's going back.
I think it is cyclical. I think it is something that, you know, we are going to see and it's healthy for the game, too, it really is. You've got to know that the people in other parts of the world are watching our tour and watching when these guys play, they are watching our tour a lot. And even when they don't play, they are watching our tour.
So golf, for the golf fan, it's become a much smaller world in that he can switch on his satellite and watch it live. I mean, we couldn't do that in the 60s and the 70s and even up to the early 80s, mid 80s.
And now, you've got the world is just so much smaller, and I think, you know, perfect example is what's going on in the Middle East now, with the Facebooking and all of this networking that's going on, we are seeing what it's doing there. So it's a healthy thing for golf, I really believe that. It has to be global.
If it's global, it's almost recession-proof in a way, because even in times of recession, some countries are thriving. And so they want the golf. And golfers will go and play anywhere for money. That's why we are professional golfers and that's what we do.
I think it's a healthy thing. I just hope that the new TV rights that they are negotiating now are strong so that we can continue to attract the world's best players here.
Q. Wonder if you could comment on the Bear Trap as far as being three difficult holes and if you feel that's the hardest stretch of three holes on Tour.
NICK PRICE: It's a very, very tough stretch. Obviously with the amount of water that comes into play and the length of those holes, and of course the wind is going to Howell this week I heard out of the northeast, which makes those holes play even tougher; and it's like -- I think every really, really good golf course, I don't want to say a great golf course; I think over the period of time with more tournaments, this will become one of the top golf courses on the TOUR.
You are always going to have a strong finish. There's no doubt here this makes for some very exciting golf at the end. I mean, two-shot lead going into 16 is no dead set you're going to win this tournament. And that's what the fans want to see, and they did a great job. Jack did a great job of revamping those three holes to make it that way.
Q. It's the 25th anniversary of the '86 Masters and obviously you were --
NICK PRICE: Some time ago.
Q. You shot that 63 on Saturday, and it seemed like the golf gods refused to allow that you 62 on the 18th hole. From your perspective, what was it like to see that put go in and come out and all the way around? And what is it like when you get going like that on that golf course and everything just seems to be falling in?
NICK PRICE: There were probably a few factors about that day. First of all it was my second Augusta and I had missed the cut the first year and I had shot 79 the first round with like six 3-putts. I putted so poorly and hit the ball tee-to-green really well. Those greens, they just terrified me. I grew up on greens that were very slow and very grainy where you actually had to use a bit of wrist in your stroke. There was a transitionary time in my career where I was learning to putt with my arms and shoulder, as opposed to the wrists. And even if you look at my stroke in some of the highlights there, you will see there as a little bit of a wristy flick to it.
But I was so frustrated and coming out on the Saturday -- on the Friday, I just wanted to make the cut and I shot 68. I played really well tee-to-green but I putted so much better. Saturday was just a lot of pent-up frustration and I didn't want to back off and I got on a roll and the ball was going on the greens where I was aiming it, and I made a couple early on and that just snowballed.
The putt on 18, one of my best lines of all time, I'm not the quickest thinker in the world and I got off 18 and was in the media center and some guy said, "What happened with that putt on 18?"
I said, "I think Bobby Jones' hand came up and just knocked it out and said 'that's enough.'" It was like I had had my fair share for the day. (Laughter) Ten birdies, and yeah it was one of the great rounds of my life.
But the Sunday, and I've spoken about this a lot, someone did a book about it and we went into detail about it on the phone; but that Sunday was one of the highlights, outside of me winning those three majors that I did it was one of the highlights of my golfing experience, my golfing life, because there was so much going on that day.
And Greg and I were in the last group, got back on 13 tee there and normally you look down 13 fairway and there's just a swath of people. And there were like 30 people watching us. (Laughter) it was like a Monday practice round. In fact, there's more people on Monday.
I got thinking and I'm looking at the leaderboard and I'm telling myself, we are not out of this, if we can put a strong finish. And I said to Greg, or he said to me, I can't remember, but let's get going here. Let's start playing. And man, he put on a finish that was -- up to 17, until he hit that second shot on 18; but the roars and the atmosphere. We were walking past 15, we were walking past 17 green on 15 fairway when Jack made that putt.
And of course the fairway -- the green is up a little bit so we can sort of see Jack's head and we saw the putter go up and we knew it was going in and the loudest roar I have ever heard on a golf course right then and there. And of course they said on the back of the patrons baths, do not run.
Well; people were running everywhere. (Laughter) You saw all of the guys just running trying to find a spot because they knew it was something magical that was happening.
And then you know, Kite had a chance; Seve hit in the water on 15. We were trying to figure out, 16, he should be there and you look on the leaderboard, they posted really quickly. But incredible atmosphere and just, I don't know how to say it. Even when I won my majors, it didn't feel anything like that, that atmosphere.
I think Augusta, because of that sort of bowl that you get down there on the back nine and because the par 5s, you're going to have three-shot swings on par 5s there; it's electric, that atmosphere on a Sunday.
And I think Billy Payne is doing a really good job of bringing it back because I think they lost it for a while I really do. They made the golf course so difficult that people would sort of poke their nose -- the winner would pose his nose in front with nine holes to go and play very stoically and conservatively and end up winning without any drama going on. But I think Billy Payne is doing a really good job of bringing that back in because that's one of the few golf tournaments I'll really sit down and watch the whole telecast on Sunday that, one and the British Open and maybe a handful of others.
Q. Well you answered just about everything right there?
NICK PRICE: Sorry. (Laughter).
Q. No, that was perfect. David and I were watching the broadcast of the '86n Masters last night, and it took a very long time for anybody, including television, to realize what Jack was doing. It wasn't until after he birdied 11 that they finally even really showed him much on television. When did you guys sort of get the feeling that something was happening in front of you, and when did it start to shift?
NICK PRICE: I think the turning point was when he eagled 15. Because he went from having a really good round going; I think he was probably, what, 4-under. He bogeyed 12; I remember he birdied 11 and missed that putt on 12. And then I think he birdied 13. So he was like 4- or 5-under playing 17 -- sorry, 15. He was 4-under and he made that eagle.
And suddenly he went from being a shot or two out of the lead. Because Seve, not far behind him, hit in the water and made bogey, and then Jack hit it like this on 16, and so there was really those last four or five holes. I think the people that were following him, knew that he was doing something special.
But when he made that eagle on 15, it was, oh, here comes Jack, he means business. And when he hit that 6-iron, I think we were on -- we might have been on 13 green, if I can get this right. Yeah, we were probably on 13 somewhere when that roar went up.
And you just had roar after roar after roar. I remember seeing Sandy Lyle in the locker room afterwards. I walked in there and he had played with Jack. I said, "What was it like"? It was like he was speechless. He couldn't describe it; Sandy, not the best at describing things, but he was just absolutely speechless. I mean, it was so funny.
Q. That was obviously a great opportunity for you to win the Masters. In a way, years later, did you regret not winning that one, or did it seem like this was destined to be, what happened?
NICK PRICE: I think if I had not shot 79 in the first round, I probably would have had a better chance of winning that Masters. But I think in the back of my mind, I was still scared about shooting a big number on Sunday. And you know, I'm 27 years old -- 26 years old at the time -- how old was I? 29 years old, I beg your pardon. And I had contested in a few majors before that, obviously the British Open and the PGA at Cherry Hills. But Augusta is so different. Augusta is like a lion's den, being thrown in with the lions. It's a very, very hard place as a youngster to win I think.
So you know, I would say that I played on Sunday with probably too much apprehension, and you know, not want to go shoot a huge big number, which if you had given me that same opportunity in '94, I probably would have won it. But it was a different time and a different person then I think.
Q. Jack is 17 years older and at the time 46 was considered very old to be winning any golf tournament, let alone the Masters. Did it ever occur to you when you saw his name up there, how is he doing this, or he's not going to be able to keep this up? Do you recall any thoughts like that, like where did he come from?
NICK PRICE: Well, when you think about it, not really. Because we had watched him hit balls and I had played with him a couple of times, and he still had the game. Obviously he could still hit the ball really well. But I don't think in his sort of -- maybe the year or two before, he was that motivated to play. I think that newspaper article that his wife, Barbara, posted on the refrigerator did a world of good, when the guy said he's washed up and he's done and dusted, clubs away and whatever. I think that was something that ignited him.
But he was only six years away from his great year in '80, which is not that long to be honest. And I honestly believe that if Jack it kept playing and kept competing, he probably could have won a major in his 50s. But I think he just said, I've done my thing and I'm going to do my thing and enjoy my family and my business and my grand kids and he's done a great job of that.
There's a lot more to life than just golf sometimes as we all know.
Q. Guys nowadays miss a point and think it costs them World Ranking points; how much is the focus now compared to when you were No. 1?
NICK PRICE: Because I think the entry, the qualifications for being Top-64 last week and Top-50 and getting into majors it's really important. But my advice to those guys, if you play golf and you play golf properly, the rest will fall into place. And if you are thinking over a 4-footer how much it's going to cost you if you miss it or how many points it's going to cost you, you're not paying attention to job No. 1, which is getting the ball in the hole.
Someone once said to me every 4-footer is the same and I said, not in golf, because if you play competitively, you've got a 4-footer for a triple, you've got a 4-footer for to make a cut, you've got a 4-footer for to win a major; you've got left-to-rights, right-to-lefts, and you have all of these different 4-footers. But you can approach it the same way. I think sometimes the guys lose focus of what they actually are trying to do, which is just shoot a score. So that would be my advice to them. But the World Ranking has definitely made a huge impression on world golf now, and rightly. So we needed it.
If they had a World Ranking back in the early 80s, I probably would have played in a few majors earlier in my career. But because it was so hard to get into them, you know, it was very, very hard to get into majors when I was 23, 24, 25, you had to win a tournament to get into the Masters or you had to go and qualify for the British Open and the U.S. Open, and so the World Ranking, it's a good thing. I'm really sure of it.
Q. Do you think golf is more intriguing when there's one dominant player?
NICK PRICE: I think you want a guy who dominates, but you also need those three or four guy behind him who are pushing. If you look through the period of golf, obviously Bobby Jones dominated in his era. But then around the war time, just after the war, you had Hogan, Snead and Nelson. And it was always, one would play well for six months and he would win everything and the other one would take over. So you had this really wonderful competitiveness amongst them.
And I think that golf would have been that much richer had Ernie and Phil contested Tiger through that period. But you know, Tiger had it all his own way and rightly so. He played phenomenally well.
But we do need the health of the game. You do need those three or four really good players vying for that No. 1 spot. People want to see those confrontations at the majors. I do, I want to see head on head, getting into a match-play situation in a major championship. It's healthy. I think it's healthy right now, golf.
Q. What is it like playing and sleeping in your own bed?
NICK PRICE: You know, it didn't happen very often. I don't know how many tournaments I've played here at home. Obviously a few Hondas in days gone by. The great thing is for me a lot of guys are going to be coming to watch me play, guys that I play golf with at McArthur and Hobe Sound. It will fun seeing all of the people. I just hope I can focus on my game.
Q. You've all but said it already, but do you think the '86 Masters is the greatest tournament of modern times?
NICK PRICE: For any of the ones I've played in, yes. I would loved to have seen that Watson and Nicklaus duel at Turnberry. I was doing my service at the time so I didn't watch any of it. That was great theatre, having watched it.
But when you look at how many great players were in the mix at that '86 Masters, wow. And the shots that Greg Norman hit, that shot that he hit on 17 may be one of the best golf shots I've ever seen under the circumstances in my life. He slipped on the tee and he hit this high hook onto No. 7 green there and he took a drop from some sprinklers and hit a 2- or a 3-iron. And I was standing in the fairway and I just looked at the shot and it pitched short, ran up, caught the contours and ran up and actually went right of the pin, if you could believe it, and left him the easiest putt on that green.
And when he made that, I mean, I thought he was going to win.
DOUG MILNE: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports