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May 31, 2011
MARK STEVENS: We'd like to welcome tournament host Mr. Jack Nicklaus. Jack, if you want to start off talking a little bit about the course and a couple of the changes that you made.
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, the biggest change we made was from last Thursday when we had seven-tenth inches of rain and anybody that saw the pictures of it, we were actually -- it was lake Muirfield, and now it's actually getting very fast. Golf course is good.
You know, you had a horrible spring all through the Midwest, as you all know, and very few days of sunshine. I think the record has never shown to have more than -- well, it's had over seven inches of rain in April and over seven inches in rain in May, and that has never been on record before, that we know of.
Steve has pointed that out to Nationwide. The golf course on Thursday, and I went back out on Friday, and I was amazed, I played the golf course, I thought the golf course was really pretty good Friday, then it just started getting better each week or each day. The golf course is terrific.
Obviously we have one change, major change, on the golf course, which is the 16th hole, and the 16th hole which used to play to about 214, plays about 200, 201, whatever they put down for the yardage on it. It's a little bit shorter. We took drainage that was coming through in the green that was piped, took that out and put a lake in that area. They ended up at the base at the top of the hill there, those of you that know the area there, the left of 16 was an area we had a little sort of drainage that went down into the creek that goes along 15.
And we used that area to -- we took where the drainage came from and we took the drainage and took it the other direction. In other words, instead of having it come down through the golf course, we stopped it there and took it back towards -- to the street out on Muirfield Drive.
And then they built a lake in that area, put a green alongside it. It's a kind of hole that I think will probably play easier with a good shot under the prevailing wind. The prevailing wind is a westerly wind, southwesterly wind, that usually when we hit the ball before the green was sitting sort of this way, and I think a lot of shots hit in there went through the green very easily or into the back bunker, and I never really cared for the way the ball went into that green.
So what I did is I took the green and put it more this way, which sort of lines up with the prevailing wind. And with the prevailing wind you have the ability to feed the ball back into the green so you don't have to worry about having to stop the ball as easily if you play a smart shot.
And if the wind turns the other way, if there's no wind, then stopping the ball on the green is not an issue.
I think that works out very well. The water is all along the left side of it. I think there's going to be a lot more 2s, there's going to be a lot more excitement. There's more gallery area. There's some hospitality tents there -- I don't know if you call them tents, what do we call them, skyboxes type things -- they're not skyboxes, either, but I don't know what they call them.
JACK NICKLAUS: Whatever they are. (Laughter.)
I think you're going to find a lot more birdies. I think you'll find a lot of fairly conservative 3s, and I think you'll also find a few double-bogeys that will come in there, which an errant shot will not be rewarded and a good shot will be rewarded, which is what a good hole should be anyway.
So the rest of the golf course, we really haven't made any changes on the golf course that have been significant. We did have a pin placement on the far right of the 14th green, which as the week goes on, as the greens get a little firm and they start to get fast, has been a little suspect. As a matter of fact, they got so quick last year that the Tour did not use it in the last round. So we took that and we had a 3 to 5 percent pitch back there, and we've changed the pitch up to maybe, I think it's 11/2 to 3 in that area now, which means that the ball will stay in that area and there will be no -- as a matter of fact the Tour came back and said, more than likely we'll use two pin placements back there rather than one now. They'll vary it.
I think you'll find 14 to be more exciting from that standpoint. It'll play better.
We did that. We did drainage along 14. Gabion -- they put surface there, we left the slope identical to what it was previously. My philosophy there has always been if you hit the ball in the back bunker, if you miss the green and you're chipping to it and the ball runs off the green, then the ball will stop on the bank, and we've cut the grass at an appropriate height for that.
If the ball hits on the bank and bounds one way, it'll go to the water. So that's -- if you hit the ball on the green and spin it back it won't go down to the water. It shouldn't go down to the water. It stays on the hill, which is what I've been trying to do. I don't like to shave the banks. I don't think that's the right thing to do.
But that's what we've got. I don't think there's any other changes on the golf course. I think that's it. That was a long answer to a short question.
Q. I guess there's two ways to go. I drove here from Richmond yesterday and all I heard about was OSU, and I figured I might as well start.
JACK NICKLAUS: I thought we'd get by at least one question. (Laughter.)
Q. You've already told us about the golf course.
JACK NICKLAUS: I can talk some more about the golf course. I think that -- let's see. (Laughter.) We've got the greens at about 12 1/2, 13 right now, they'll get a little bit faster as the time goes on; the 16th being a new green is a little bit firmer than the other greens so they'll monitor that so that the ball -- you'll be able to play a similar type shot into greens and hold.
What else can I say about the golf course?
Q. Go back to talking about your 16th tee shot at Augusta, too. Let's go back to this. You knew Woody Hayes, obviously. What, if you could paraphrase, would Woody think of this whole fiasco?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, my take on it is that it was no different than a father trying to protect his son, and if I had one of my kids that did what I thought was a fairly insignificant thing, I'd probably say, you know, Hey, we're not going to worry too much about that. We're going to try to just forget that.
Well, obviously the cover-up was far worse than the act. And once you got the cover-up, it became a situation where Jim had to say some things that turned out to be that weren't exactly truthful. And so that's where he got himself in trouble. That's where things -- I feel very bad for Jim. He's a nice man. I've said many times that if I had a boy at this age who wanted to play football, my grandson Nick up here was recruited by Florida State now, thankfully, but I would love to see him play for Jim Tressel. He's a good man.
I think unfortunately it's a situation they got caught in, and that's where they are. What's going to happen, I don't know beyond this point. The NCAA, it's more in their hands.
Once one of these things happens, by the time they get through digging they're going to find whether somebody had a hangnail someplace or not, whether somebody replaced it improperly.
Is that right?
Q. I don't know. What would Woody have thought about this whole thing.
JACK NICKLAUS: What would Woody have thought? I think Woody would have probably ended up doing exactly the same thing, but I think that maybe he wouldn't have had a news media that no matter what happens gets on the news. I mean, when I played -- I was playing when Woody was coaching, we were not under a microscope. A little thing happened that passed. Today a little thing happens and it's all over the world. I mean, it's not an indictment of anybody, it's just what it is.
I think Woody would have protected his kids. He probably did protect his kids. Woody was a good man. I think Tressel is a good man.
Q. Apologies to the media person here --
JACK NICKLAUS: You don't know a damn thing about Ohio State football, do you?
Q. No, David Graham and Greg Norman are both past champions here and they're also both major champions. Under the current Australian lineup of players, do you see any fitting that bill?
JACK NICKLAUS: You know, I frankly don't know. I frankly don't even know who's from Australia anymore and who's not. This is sort of a world game, and I don't really look at too much where a player is from anymore. Just look at his ability to play golf.
I think that's what the game has become. Why doesn't the United States dominate anymore? Well, if you look, the United States really is -- even though it's a country of over 300,000,000 people, there's a lot of places with more population than the United States. China has a billion 300 million, India has got a billion 300 million, pretty soon they're going to start producing golfers, which is going to make it even harder.
I don't know what the population of Europe is, but there's a greater population in Europe than there is in the United States. The kids that are coming out of each of those countries over there, having to survive the ability to get out of their own country, their competitive abilities become pretty good because they're not just one of many, they're one in a smaller country that goes to a larger situation.
And Australia is not a large population, South Africa is not a large population, but they both produce a lot of good golfers. Why, I don't know, but I think sport is a pretty big thing in your country. Sport is a pretty big thing in South Africa, and they produce good players.
Q. Given that international players have really started to roll over the top of Americans recently, do you think Greg Norman's desire back in the early '90s to have a world tour, do you think it's time we revisit that concept?
JACK NICKLAUS: Revisit?
JACK NICKLAUS: You're there. That's what you've got today is a world tour. You've got basically --
Q. I beg your pardon, in terms of playing tournaments all over the globe.
JACK NICKLAUS: They are doing that. That's what they're doing. You've got a form of it. What you've got is exactly what I thought was going to happen. You've got your major championships, you've got a few world championships, you've got the U.S. Tour, which has some very significant events, and I would certainly hope the Memorial would be called one of those significant events. We have the European Tour which has its significant events. You have your Australasian Tour which has some significant events.
And the players play -- a nucleus are -- they play a number of tournaments on the world tour, play those, and then they play and support each of their own individual tours, and some of the players go to those individual tours and support it. So you really have got a world tour.
In the form of what Greg had, I don't even remember what he talked about, but do you have a world tour? Of course you've got a world tour.
Q. Jason Day has had to withdraw from the tournament needing to take a break before the U.S. Open. I know you've just recently granted him membership to Muirfield Village. What do you see in young Jason?
JACK NICKLAUS: We did?
Q. Just recently.
JACK NICKLAUS: Did what?
Q. He has playing privileges at Muirfield Village.
JACK NICKLAUS: He does, and he's not here? (Laughter.) We'll take that away. (Laughter.) I did not know that.
Does Jason live around here?
Q. Yes, he's married a girl from Ohio.
JACK NICKLAUS: Oh, he did?
Q. I just wanted to get your opinion on his play these days because he's a young star in the making for Australia.
JACK NICKLAUS: He's a good player, and if he's got a gal from -- has he married a gal from Ohio?
JACK NICKLAUS: He should be here. (Laughter.)
Q. Two questions: The first one, coming from a tournament director's perspective, there's a situation now where certain international players, Europeans, can only play 12 tournaments as their limit. Do you think --
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know anything about it, Doug.
Q. Do you think if a player is, say, top 10 or top 50 in the world, he should be able to play any tournament he wants without being limited by restrictions?
JACK NICKLAUS: That is far beyond me anymore. You know, tournament policy board has changed and changed and changed, and whatever the rules are, the rules change -- I have not kept up with them. You know, I think that -- well, basically I always felt what was important is that you didn't want -- you wanted guys to come and play your tour, but you didn't want them to come and cherry pick your tour.
You felt like if you were an Australian you ought to support the Australian Tour, if you were a European, you ought to support the European Tour, and if you were Japanese, you should support the Japanese Tour, whatever it might be. But if you wanted to play in the other tour there's certain requirements to play those tours, whatever you need to do.
I don't care if you're No. 1 in the world or No. 60 in the world. If you have the ability to be able to -- if that's what you want to do and that's what you want to play, you ought to support what's going on.
And I think that the rules pretty much are that way, if I'm not mistaken, but I don't know the specifics of the rules. I think in philosophy that's what it is, if I'm not mistaken.
Q. That's about right. Someone like Martin Kaymer or Lee Westwood can only play 12 events in the U.S.?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, they chose not to be part of the U.S. Tour.
JACK NICKLAUS: And so I think where McIlroy was the same, right?
JACK NICKLAUS: How many guys -- but their main tour is the European Tour, so, you know, to try to -- what is the number they have to play in the U.S. to be part of the U.S. Tour, 15?
JACK NICKLAUS: That's a lot. That's a lot in this day and age. But I'm not the one that makes the rules. I don't want to criticize the rules one way or the other. But I think Tim and the tournament policy board know far better than I would what's going on right now.
Q. The other question I wanted to ask you is your last major championship round you played, would you have thought then that Luke Donald, who played with you that day, that's going to be the No. 1 player in the world some day?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I'm very happy for Luke. Luke's game has come a long way, but I will have to tell you that Luke is a member down at the Bear's Club down in Florida and he's there all the time, and there isn't anybody who spends more time working on his golf game than I've seen in Luke Donald. And he spends his time chipping and putting, chipping and putting, and I mean, he wears out the practice greens. We've got some really nice practice areas down there. There are several greens you can practice on. He wears them out. And I think that the effort he has put into it has been rewarded.
Luke is not the longest hitter on Tour, so he has to make up for it elsewhere, and I've always felt that Luke was quite capable -- he hasn't won a major championship yet. I always thought he was quite capable of winning major championships, but I think he'll have to pick the right conditions for him to do so and the right golf courses for him to do so.
If you get a big huge golf course -- let's say Augusta wet is a tough golf course for him. Augusta was not wet this year, and Luke did very well at Augusta. You get to the British Open golf courses, Luke will do very well at the British Open golf courses. Luke should always do well on the U.S. Open golf courses because length is not the primary factor. Sometimes you get to the PGA Championship and it becomes a rainy situation, becomes a little bit longer. Sometimes that may be harder for Luke, but there will be times when the golf course will be fast that he'll play well.
But I think it's a testament to the amount of work that he's done and the amount of effort that he's put into the game that he's being rewarded for it, and I'm very happy for him. Nice guy, nice kid. He's a heck of a player.
Q. You've done some changes to 16 based on the fact that you have The Presidents Cup coming up in a few years. You've also had other match play events, the Ryder Cup, the Solheim Cup. Is there any other area of the golf course where you'd like to do something with Presidents Cup or match play in mind?
JACK NICKLAUS: No, I don't think so. You never know what I might come up with. I mean, I've thought about 16 for five years before I did anything, and the -- I think that the -- one of the things that really sort of pushed 16 was probably The Presidents Cup to some degree. The reason for that is that when you go to match play, many matches finish around the 16th, 17th hole, and that area right there is obviously where things come together, and I didn't like to see those matches finish on a weakish hole.
I thought 16 was one of the -- I think I've told the story in here many times about when we first did the golf course, we took a poll of the membership on what their favorite hole was, and of course the first year we had 14 different responses. So that meant I have four holes to work on. I think 17 was one of those holes, which we've changed. I think 16 was one of those holes, which we've changed, and I don't remember the other two holes. I should go back and look at that because maybe I need to change two more holes. But I don't really think -- I think we've covered pretty much what we want to cover.
I think the golf course is a blend of power and a blend of accuracy and preciseness, and that's sort of what I like. I don't like -- I don't think we're a stand-back-and-hit it as hard as you want type golf course. In fact, I think most of the players we actually take the drivers out of their hands on a great number of occasions, which I think gives you pretty much any type of golfer, when you're speaking of a Luke Donald. Luke Donald would -- should do very well on this golf course because power is not the main factor. It's a combination.
But there are places where power matters. Power is certainly a big advantage at 7. It's a big advantage at 11. Both of those with good tee shots you can put the ball in position to get home in two. Without the power you can't do that.
So power is always -- we've got some strong par-4s that power certainly helps on, but we've also got some very short par-4s such as 3 and 14 and a variety of other ones that don't require power. Under prevailing wind, 17 doesn't require power, even though it's 485 yards. It's usually downwind, downhill, and the guys are hitting driver and a wedge to it. But it amazes me, too. I'm trying to figure out how to get there with two woods. But that's me. That's what I am today.
But I think the golf course is pretty good playing now.
Q. Three of the last four majors, the 54-hole leader has imploded in the final round. How did you handle sleeping on a 54-hole lead and did you get better at it as you got older?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I think -- I don't remember whether I was in the lead or not after 54 holes at Lytham -- no, I wasn't, because I played in front of Charles and Rogers. That was in 1963. But I bogeyed the last two holes to lose that. And certainly if I would go back and look at what I did and how I did it, I learned from it, and I didn't do that again, play stupidly.
Also I remember -- it wasn't a major, but I remember Pebble Beach in, it was about '65, Phil Rodgers was in the clubhouse and I needed a birdie on 18 to win, and a part of time -- I hit my third shot 20 feet by the hole, and I tried to win the tournament, and I ran it by 4 feet and missed it coming back, and I said, Why would I be so stupid, because here you are in a position that the worst I can do so go into a playoff with Phil Rodgers.
Now, Phil is a good player, don't get me on that, but I think my chances against Phil were pretty good, and I certainly wouldn't want to put myself in a position not to play the whole tournament for a 20-foot putt.
So I learned from those. I never three-putted again. That's the last hole where I had any kind of a chance to do anything, and I never did what I did at Lytham, bogeyed the last two holes, again. So I learn from that.
Now, I think I was in the last round of 12 majors, and I won 10 of them going into the last round. I had two of them, I don't remember what the two were. Maybe Lytham might have been one of them. I really don't remember what they were. But yes, you do learn.
Yeah, you learn -- and I think Tom Watson is a perfect example of that. Tom Watson had -- early in his career, I think he had -- I could be wrong, I think it was two PGAs and one U.S. Open and he blew it coming down the end. He didn't waste that experience. He learned from that experience, and obviously learned how to finish. I've been on the recipient of what he learned on a couple of occasions that he did very well.
I think it's something that you've got to -- sometimes you have to experience that before you learn how to do it, and so you're talking about obviously McIlroy and you're talking about --
Q. Dustin and Nick Watney at the PGA.
JACK NICKLAUS: Watney was last year?
Q. Three-shot lead.
JACK NICKLAUS: And McIlroy at Augusta this year, right? And what was the other one?
Q. Dustin Johnson.
JACK NICKLAUS: Dustin at the U.S. Open at --
Q. Pebble Beach.
JACK NICKLAUS: Dustin at Pebble. Dustin was right there at the PGA last year, too. But if you don't learn from it, then you're not paying attention. And if you don't sit back and say, Okay, why did I do this and why did I do that and why did I get myself in this position, what could I have done not to put myself in that position, everybody else is nervous, too. Everybody is nervous coming down the stretch. What do I have to do not to let that happen to me? How do I have to control that?
And if you turn that negative into a positive of something not to do and you say, Okay, I did these and they were wrong, what do I do and how do I do it and what do I concentrate and make myself do and how do I make myself think, then you learn from that. And I'm sure all those guys are very, very good players and they'll all learn from it.
Sometimes you have to hit them over the head twice, but in Watson's case you had to hit him over the head three times. But I wouldn't call -- I'd call Watson relatively cerebral. Tom has always been a pretty smart guy. He figured it out, but he was pretty young when it happened to him, too. But I think it happens to everybody.
Q. You said earlier that the golf course was actually starting to get a little fast.
JACK NICKLAUS: Starting to get quick.
Q. Your drainage here is very good since you did the redo. With the amount of rain that we've had, how fast -- if the weather stays the same, which is always a big if, how fast can it get?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I think the balls will run out of the fairway. I think the balls are running out of the fairway today. Here on Wednesday I think you're going to find that happening. I may be wrong, but I think you will. And I think you're going to find that they're going to monitor the greens, but I think they'll monitor them -- we certainly learned a long time ago not to let the greens get away from us.
And I remember one year, I think Tom might have won that year here, I remember I shot 79 the last round, and I mean, the superintendent at that time was another fellow, and I could have taken his head off. And it really wasn't because I shot 79; it was because he let the golf course get away from him because he was trying to -- he was doing it for the ego of the superintendent and what he thought was the ego of the golf course. We don't do that anymore, try not to do that anymore. We try to do it to what is fairness for the field and what's the best thing in the interest of the tournament and the game of golf.
Yes, do you try to make it difficult and make it the best test that you can? You certainly don't end up pouring water on it and change the way the nature of the golf course plays. If it continues to stay dry, then you let the golf course progress; but it's controlled progression, not just let it get way out of hand. We had those greens that last round, they were up to 17, 18. I mean, they were just out of sight.
I said, Why did you do that? He said, Wasn't that great? I said, No, it wasn't great. It ruined the tournament. It ruined the tournament for the spectators. I think you're watching the best players in the world shoot over 80, I mean, you don't want to do that. That's not what we're trying to do. There's balance.
Q. Given Tiger's injuries lately, how would you assess now, I know you get asked this all the time, but how would you assess his ability to --
JACK NICKLAUS: I would have no clue. Tiger called me Friday and he was trying to -- he said, I tried up until today to see if I'm going to be able to come and play, but I can't. He said, I'm still hobbling, and he said, I don't know whether I'm going to make the U.S. Open or not.
I suspect he'll make the U.S. Open, but I don't know whether he will. I don't know the extent of his injuries.
I told Tiger when I was on the phone with him, which is the same thing I've said to him a thousand times, Tiger, nobody ever wants records to be broken. That's obvious. I mean, I don't care who it is. But I certainly don't want you not to be healthy and not have the opportunity to play to break records. I want you to get yourself healthy, do what you have to do to go play, get your golf game back in shape, and I wish you well, wish you good luck, which I would say that to any athlete and anybody, because I think that's the way it should be.
But what his situation is, I don't know any more than you know about what I read.
Q. A number of years ago you told Tom Watson that his swing would get better with age. I guess you guys were playing an alternate shot thing, and he asked you something about his -- he had been hitting it a little bit awry, and you told him he would get better with age. What made you see that?
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't remember that, but it's okay; it has. (Laughter.)
Q. And what do you think about him winning at 61?
JACK NICKLAUS: I mean, Tom has been -- what a great win he had last week. I mean, here he is 61 years old and he's still out there beating everybody. The ability -- his ability to coil, and the flexibility of his body to fully wind up and be able to have -- without effort, the ability to finish his backswing has been to me the secret of his game as well as his ability to what he can do around the green. He's struggled off and on with his putter, but his putter obviously is not a big problem right now.
But he's always had a great short game, and his consistency, his tempo -- his tempo has always been a quick tempo, but it's always been Tom Watson's tempo, and he does a beautiful job of controlling that tempo.
Q. And just one other thing. Tom, as you mentioned, had problems with his putting, got the yips, he said, and just wondered, have you ever thought you've had the yips?
JACK NICKLAUS: Not with the putter. I was pretty close with chipping in '79, and when I started in 1980 I was sort of putting it around bunkers. I'm being a little facetious with that. I wanted to putt it around bunkers. Usually I just went ahead and chunked it into them.
But I did something about it. I went back out and I -- Phil Rodgers had been a good friend of mine for a long time, so I said, Phil, I really need some help with my short game. Will you help me? He said, Sure, I'd be delighted to. So in the 1980s when I flipped around and changed my short game, I never had a problem with my short game since.
No, I've never had the yips with my putter, but I've had things -- because I don't play much anymore it doesn't seem like I ever make a putt anymore, but I think it's alignment, it's my eyes -- I think everybody's eyes go over time, and if I line my putter up, nine times out of ten you'll see I am aimed to the right. Now I've got to hook it back. You're not going to make many putts if you're aiming one way and have to do something else to do it. Then other times you finally find a groove and you make putts.
Q. The Open Championship returns to Royal St. Georges this year. Can I get your comments on what you think of that golf course.
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, it was probably the most difficult for me to do well on. I think all the golf courses in the British rotation are good golf courses. I like them all. But I had more trouble at St. Georges than probably most of the other ones. Why, I don't know. Maybe because I felt like it was a little awkward in places off the tee to get a good alignment on the tee shots to keep it in play. And I think you probably play more drivers at that golf course than you do some of the other ones.
I've found most of the British rotation that it was more of putting it in a certain place, in a position, and you didn't really need to do that. If you go play at Lytham, if you go play at Muirfield, if you go play at St. Andrews, you're playing a lot of other clubs off the tee to put the ball in the right position, and I think St. Georges is a little harder for me.
One of the strengths of my game was driving, but also one of the weaknesses of my game was my driving, depending on what it was. And I never really mentally was as smart at that golf course or felt as comfortable as I did at some of the others, and that's certainly not the golf course's fault, that's my fault.
I always get a tremendous kick out of listening to guys saying, I'm not going to do any good here, that golf course doesn't suit my game. That's ridiculous. The reason they change the golf course and have different venues is you've got to take your game and suit it to the course, not take the course and suit it to you. You've got to learn how to change and do that. I didn't do it well at Lytham -- I mean, at St. Georges. But it's a good golf course.
Q. Going back to Tiger's injury, when you were at the height of your career and you had won like those 13, 14 major stages, was injury a concern because of your swing, because it seems his swing has caused a lot of his injuries?
JACK NICKLAUS: I think that's probably pretty observant. My swing never caused an injury for me. I think Tiger's swing, and I think a lot of the swings of today, are far more violent at the ball than some of the old swings. Some of the old swings were far more rhythmic. I don't think a lot of the swings today are as rhythmic as the old swings. I don't think the game is the same game from that standpoint. The game today is far more an upper body game, and we used to play more from the ground up. So I think that's pretty observant.
But Tiger's swing is what Tiger's swing is, and as much as you hear Tiger changing his swing, if you look at it on television, does it look any different to you? No, it looks exactly the same. Mine was the same, too. I'd make a lot of changes in my swing. Does it look any different to you? No, but in my head it was different and little things I did were different, but it was not a major change. It was not all of a sudden your hands are up here and the next week they're over here. No, you don't make that kind of a change.
But I think that the old swings of being fairly more rhythmic is -- but the equipment did that. It was because of equipment. Equipment has caused what's happened today in relation to golf swings, and teaching is because of the equipment.
I don't know. I don't really know what to say about Tiger. Tiger is -- I think he's had his left knee injury for a long time, and I don't know how he originally hurt it.
Q. He said a skateboarding thing. When he was a teenager he had a skateboard accident.
JACK NICKLAUS: Hurt it the first time? So, you know, I had one operation when I was playing. I had it in 1984 when I had hurt my left knee, but I hurt my left knee playing tennis, but I was 44 years old when I did it. I went and had it operated on and I won The Skins Game 17 days later, so it obviously wasn't a very major operation.
And I did the same thing to my right knee, and I didn't have it operated on, and I rehabilitated it the same way I rehabilitated the other one, and I couldn't tell you which one I had operated on.
Obviously my hip has deteriorated over time, but that was from a different thing, but that had nothing to do with my golf swing or what I did from an injury.
What was the basis of your question?
Q. The new swing, especially Tiger's new swing, is going to lead to more kinds of injuries than the swings like you and Tom had.
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I think probably Tiger's swing is probably not going to change at impact with the amount of torque and hitting against it and the violence that he has at the bottom of it, it's probably not going to change. If he did change it probably would lessen his injury, but that's not my deal, that's his deal.
Do I think he has probably tried to change some of those things? Yes, I think he probably has. I don't know what they are. I haven't been privy to that. But I think we all -- if anybody has an injury, they try to change something a little bit so it doesn't aggravate that injury. I think that's just common sense that you would want to do that.
I just don't know what he's doing to that.
Q. One of the themes over the past couple years has been the success of the players in their 20s. Can you talk about some of those players?
JACK NICKLAUS: The guys in their 20s starting to have success?
Q. Yeah, can you talk about some of the younger guys in the field.
JACK NICKLAUS: Yeah, we went for a long time where Tiger was the only multiple victory on the Tour. All of a sudden you've got a rash of young players that have come along. I think you go through cycles. I think you go through cycles of players that are really good players and some players that just don't seem to catch on. But the McIlroys and the Fowlers and the Days and those young kids that should -- all of a sudden it encourages -- the young kids say, Hey, they can do that, I can do that, so all of a sudden it brings it on. For a while it didn't look like anybody could bring it on.
Let's bring Steve Rasmussen up here, who is the chairman of Nationwide, who is our presenting sponsor. We thought Steve ought to come up here and talk a little bit about our partnership and what we're doing.
Having Nationwide -- let me just say what a great deal this is for us right now. Here you are in this economy, wanting to bring a sponsor into a tournament. You want to bring somebody in who has been involved in the game of golf, who likes the game of golf. You'd like to bring somebody in here that understands the traditions and so forth and is familiar with what we do here at Muirfield, and somebody whose charity involvement is very similar to what we're doing.
Obviously Nationwide fell into all three of those categories from day one. Obviously a local company that's a worldwide company that's based here. They've been involved on the Nationwide Tour. They've been involved on the -- have your own Nationwide tournament here in town, which is a Nationwide tournament, and of course our charity beneficiary for years has been the Nationwide Children's Hospital. How lucky can we get and how fortunate we are to have Steve and Nationwide here.
STEVE RASMUSSEN: Well, thank you, Jack, and I don't think we could be happier, either. This has been a marvelous beginning. The Memorial staff has been great for us, bringing this tournament off after we announced that we were going to become partners with Memorial, and we're looking forward to a great week. We've battled our way through the spring. We're in the homeowner's business, and we've been paying a lot of claims this year, and I attested to Jack, well, they haven't hit anywhere I've been, so hopefully we'll have sunny weather for the week at the Memorial. But at any rate, we're very pleased to be involved, and we're doubly pleased to involve ourselves and to continue to find a way to bring dollars into Nationwide Children's Hospital.
We were very fortunate to have our first inaugural Legends Luncheon earlier, and we were fortunate to have both Jack and Nancy Lopez there to raise some additional dollars for the hospital. It's been a real positive and a real pleasure for us.
Q. Kind of what Jack touched on, being a local company, as well, just does it feel like a natural marriage to be part of the event here at the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield?
STEVE RASMUSSEN: Well, it does. That was one of the big allures to us is we had a Champions event down in Atlanta, and then have had the Nationwide Tour obviously in all the locations we've had that. None of them have been home other than our Nationwide Children's Hospital event here.
So it's a real opportunity for us to just engage in our own community. Not just the charitable dollars to Children's Hospital, which is obviously incredibly important to us, but it's also important to the community at large. This is an opportunity for us to continue to showcase Columbus in a broader fashion, continue to showcase where we live and work every day, and we're very proud of this community. So it's a chance to showcase everything all the way around from our point of view.
And frankly, how can you find a better event than having the world's greatest golfer, one of the finest golf courses in America, and the fact showcasing golf here right here in central Ohio. We're very blessed here in central Ohio to have the quality of golf that we do have and continue to showcase that, as well.
Q. First of all, you both have obviously a charitable activity with Nationwide Children's Hospital. I'm wondering, Steve, how this new alliance will enhance, I guess, the charitable giving and the charitable things that are going on with the hospital.
STEVE RASMUSSEN: Well, I think two things. Obviously there's the direct dollars that come from the tournament, and I think that's obviously very important. But I think even more important is to showcase Children's Hospital more broadly, attaching it more to this event, so that people across America really know about Children's Hospital, and it's one of the finest pediatric hospitals in the country. We want to continue to showcase that, which, again, brings two things to the hospital; obviously more dollars coming at it in terms of various philanthropic dollars coming into the hospital, but it also enhances the level of us being able to bring more doctors and more research and capabilities into the hospital because it really does boil down to we want to showcase this hospital as the premier children's hospital in the country, and this is a step in that direction.
I don't know if Jack has got some comments, but that's our view on it.
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, we have that view obviously, and the alliance you've formed with our Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation, together we feel like we're very interested in wanting a pediatric children's -- pediatric health care across the country, and we feel like it's not just central Ohio, either. They're all across the country, we're all across the country, and we'd like to be able to expand that, develop that, so forth.
We have one thing here this week, I gave my pin away, sort of the yellow shirt thing, which is 1986 Masters I wore a yellow shirt, and the story goes back to Craig Smith, who is the son of Dr. Bill and Mary Lou Smith, who was a minister at our church, North Broadway United Methodist Church, I think that's the name of it, and Dr. Bill did our invocation here at the Memorial Tournament for, gosh, I don't know, 20-some years.
Anyway, he had a young boy who got rare bone cancer. I found out that he always wore a yellow shirt. We had a pretty good relationship and I stayed in touch with him obviously, and he always wore a yellow shirt to wish good luck for me, so I would wear a yellow shirt to support him. I've won several tournaments and I always obviously -- it was the yellow shirt, it was the yellow shirt.
When the '86 Masters came along, Barb and I started thinking about it, and I thought, I think I'm going to wear a yellow shirt today in honor of Craig, and I wore the yellow shirt and won. That sort of relationship came back and the story came out. I hadn't really said much about the story.
So this week we decided that we would -- we had these little pins maybe. Has somebody got one of the pins? Barbara has one. I had one and I gave it to somebody last night.
But anyway, what we're doing this week is -- we did think about something everybody wear a yellow shirt on Sunday, and I said, No, no, no, this is a golf tournament, and it's about golf. I think we can symbolize that very well with taking the putt that I made at the 17th hole at Augusta in '86 and put that onto a pin.
I've got to tell you a story. The pin was very small and had a putter sticking out of the top of it. I said, Guys, we don't need a putter. We're going to end up with a lawsuit that's going to cost us far more than we're going to raise.
So what we're doing is asking people if they wish to make a donation to pediatric children's cancer, and they can get these as they come in for $5 or whatever they want to give for cancer. We just thought it was another nice thing to do. We do events nationwide, and as we do that we'll do it to raise money for cancer. A lot of it will go for research at Nationwide Children's Hospital here in Columbus.
Q. Steve, everybody was asked this year where they were at the 1986 Masters. Where were you and what do you remember about it?
STEVE RASMUSSEN: You know, I was glued in front of my television set at home like I think a lot of America was and probably couldn't have been rooting any harder for this guy right here, and I think that was probably true of an awful lot of folks.
If my little bit of rooting helped, then so be it. But this guy played a marvelous round of golf, and it was a testament, I think, to his great skills and his career.
Q. Steve, obviously you've been involved with the Nationwide Tour for a while. Could you tell us if you were selling that Tour, which obviously they're trying to now for some sponsor, what are the benefits that you saw, or would see, in signing somebody up to be on the Nationwide Tour as a sponsor?
STEVE RASMUSSEN: Well, I think -- it was certainly true for us and it would be true for anybody, and certainly as we've gotten questions from potential sponsors from others, we have said this: The bottom line is it helped our brand, and it was -- at that point in time getting our brand recognition out more nationally was really important for us, and all the stops and locations, the use of that word "Nationwide" was incredibly powerful for us, plus all the discussions we got on The Golf Channel and in the newspapers and everything else. Getting that brand recognition was important.
So for that period of time, for us, it was a very important way to get the brand recognition out there, and I would say that to any sponsor.
I think particularly for sponsors that would be looking for that Tour that want to get more of an international flavor, because the Tour continues to morph with more international locations for the Tour. So again, not necessarily a fit for us because we're not international, but certainly for some companies it would be very positive because they're continuing to look for locations, not just in Australia, but other locations. So I think it's a great way to get your brand out with a really, really great brand ambassadors with the young folks that play on that Tour. Whether or not they migrated up eventually to the PGA Tour or not, great group of kids, and they really are out there trying to help us as much as we're all trying to help them.
It's been a great marriage for us.
Q. Just to follow up, this event, is this as much a branding exercise?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, it's both for us. It's part of a branding exercise, but it helps us focus the event and helps us focus our energy and also focus our ability to bring our clients and customers in and get them involved in what I consider probably one of the premier events we can do that at. So it serves more multiple purposes for us, and I think we -- it was a chance to migrate to another level, and frankly, there aren't many tournament events that are any better than this one, and getting our brand attached to it, having it local, having it involved with Children's Hospital, it was really a no-brainer for us.
MARK STEVENS: Thank you very much, and have a good week.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports