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December 14, 2012

Jack Nicklaus


DAVE SENKO:¬† Jack, thanks for joining us at the PNC Father‑Son Challenge.¬† I believe this is your 11th time you've played in this event.
Maybe just talk about the uniqueness of this and the opportunity to play with your son.
JACK NICKLAUS:  Well, you know, I think the format is really unique, and the reason why it's unique is that the fathers aren't going to turn it down because their sons want to play.
So you're going to get all the good players that you want, which is really nice.  I think that's kind of neat.  It's neat that the fathers want to play; it's neat that the sons want to play with them.  Or daughter, as in Fuzzy's case.  Is she the only girl?
DAVE SENKO:  Bernhard.
JACK NICKLAUS:¬† Bernhard's daughter, too?¬† And of course Arnold's grandson.¬† Or great‑‑ wait, he's got great grandkids.¬† That's just grandson, Peggy's boy.
But it's kind of nice.  It's kind of neat.  It's kind of fun.  We haven't played her for, what, three years?
DAVE SENKO:  Since '08.
JACK NICKLAUS:  Yeah, we missed '09, '10, '11, so we missed three years.  We all missed it.  I know Jackie played with me the last time, and so the next time when it comes back Gary says, It's my turn next time.  It's my turn next time.
So you got the boys that want to play.¬† If we have it again next year Jackie will play‑ unless Gary and I are defending champions.
DAVE SENKO:  Questions.

Q.  Since you already wrote the Arnold and grandson, is there a Nicklaus grandson on the horizon that might one day tee it up with grandpa?
JACK NICKLAUS:¬† Could.¬† Well, as long as my boys play‑‑ you know, Arnold didn't have any boys to play, so that's why it's grandkids with Arnold.
I've got 22 grandkids and only one that really plays golf.  He's 10.  That's Gary's boy.  You know, the other ones can play, but they have no real interest in it.  They all play everything else.
Will I end up with a grandson one day?  Maybe.  I think as long as my boys want to play I'll probably opt for that.

Q.  How much golf are you playing?
JACK NICKLAUS:¬† I don't play any.¬† I played 18 holes from May 31st to October 31st.¬† Since that time, I've probably played two rounds of golf in probably‑‑ this week I went out and hit some balls a couple times.
Like yesterday I ran around the course and hit three or four balls off each tee testing balls on half a dozen holes and never really putted or did anything.  Just sort of hit a few shots.
It's kind of a crash course.

Q.  And then also, for your kids obviously growing up in the shadow of dad has got to be pretty difficult.  What are you the proudest about with your son, Gary?
JACK NICKLAUS:  Well, all my kids, they all know me.  That's the best part about it.  And I guess that's my part and my wife's part.  Barbara has made sure that the kids know me and I've made sure that they know me.  They know their dad is their dad and not some guy that's off traveling every place.
That's the most important thing.  All my kids are well grounded and good kids.  Never had any issues.  All my grandkids seem to be well grounded and haven't had any issues.
So that's important to me that we've obviously ‑‑ I should say Barbara has raised the children very well and the kids have raised their kids pretty well.
So that's good.  It carries you on.

Q.  Are you looking forward to the pairing tomorrow?
JACK NICKLAUS:  We playing with Arnold tomorrow?  Are we?
Yeah.  Arnold and I played a few times together.  (Laughter.)  I think we'll have fun.  I don't think there is any question about that.
I think that we'll all play, Gary and Will's tee shots, and Arnold and I might do a little putting.  That'll be about it.

Q.  What kind of impact do you feel like Arnold has had on your career?
JACK NICKLAUS:  On my career?

Q.  Yeah.
JACK NICKLAUS:  Arnold proceeded me in about everything.  He's 10 years older than I am.  He led the way in many ways in what's gone on in the game of golf.  I think we're all much better off for having Arnold there.  No question about that.
We've always been pretty darn good friends.  I think we started traveling together my first year on the TOUR and did a lot of exhibitions together and our wives are good friends.
I think there are a lot of things that we've done together.  He's been a good role model for me.

Q.  (No microphone.)
JACK NICKLAUS:  No, I wouldn't think so.  You guys created that.  Now?

Q.  (No microphone.)
JACK NICKLAUS:  Well, once I won at Oakmont and then we went on the next year at Augusta, Arnold was the champion at Augusta and I won the next year at Augusta.  Then he won the next year at Augusta and I won again the next year at Augusta.  That builds on itself.
I think that probably from a sports rivalry, if there is such a thing, which I think is probably good for sports, I don't know many sports that have had a better rivalry than Arnold and I have had.
We've tried to beat each other's brains out the best we could on the golf course.  When we walk off the golf course, we shake hands and say, Where you going to dinner?  That's good.  That's we've done all our lives.  The rivalry has never become a bitter rivalry, which I would hope certainly that nothing like that would never be part of it.
I don't think his makeup and the way he handles himself is that way, and I don't think I do either.

Q.  Were there times when you were just focused on each other?
JACK NICKLAUS:  Too much.  Yeah, I think that there were times when we probably shot ourselves out of the tournament when we were playing with each other.  I think that happened more than once where we were so intent on beating each other we didn't focus on the golf tournament and the other people that were around.
That's happened several times.

Q.  When is the last time you...
JACK NICKLAUS:  That didn't necessarily mean one of us didn't win the tournament.  I think I remember when I won the Masters in '72, I think I shot 73 and he shot 75 or 6 the round we played.
We got done with it and we both looked at each other and we said, How stupid can we be?  He was out of it, and I came back and won.  Was that '72 or '75?  Yeah, '72.
But for the most part, we have competed very hard against each other.  I think that's very healthy.  We both felt it's healthy.

Q.  Can you remember the last time you guys have played in the same group?
JACK NICKLAUS:  Last time we played.  Masters.  No, no.  Houston was after Masters.  We played a scramble.  The winning team, we beat three or four teams that were older than we were.  (Laughter.)

Q.  You mentioned you haven't been playing a lot of golf, but it seems like any time something goes on in the golf world, most recently with the Ryder Cup captain, everyone wants to know what you think of it...
JACK NICKLAUS:  That's very flattering.

Q.  I saw you weighed in a little bit yesterday.  Can you expand on...
JACK NICKLAUS:  Weigh in on what yesterday?  What did I weigh in on yesterday?

Q.¬† Well, you agent was in ‑‑ it was just in stories online.
JACK NICKLAUS:  You're my agent now, huh?  Anyway, what do you want to know.

Q.  Expand on your thoughts.
JACK NICKLAUS:  What did I say yesterday?  What did you write about me yesterday?  (Laughter.)  He puts it together.
No, I felt like you've got a guy who wanted to be captain.  The U.S. wanted somebody to lead them, and the players respect and knows a winner.  Take him to Scotland, which is a place that will probably be tough for the U.S. team to play.  Probably not quite as tough as England.  I think the Scots are a little bit more forgiving as it relates in a sports way.
Tom texted us after my comments.  He texted Barbara because I don't get texts.  He texted Barbara and said to thank Jack for his nice comments.  He said, I really wanted to do this.  I thought that was nice.
That's what I was curious about, how much he wanted to do it.  He said he really wanted to do it and he really wanted to be there.  That's terrific.  I'm sure that's why he got the job.  I'm sure that's why when they went in to select, I'm sure they went to Tom and asked him, Tom, would you really like to di this?  I think he's pumped up to be able to do that.  I think that's nice.
That expanded enough for you?

Q.  Couple of things:  First of all, I believe you played with President Clinton a few weeks ago.  I know you've played with President Ford.
JACK NICKLAUS:  I played with him for a week a week ago.  (Laughter.)

Q.  There you go.  For a week.  I get it.
JACK NICKLAUS:  You didn't get it.  Takes a long time.  Nobody else on the golf course.  Actually it's faster than the last time we played.

Q.  You played him before?
JACK NICKLAUS:  Yeah, that's the third time.  First time was six hours and twenty five minutes with nobody on the golf course.  This was only five hours and twenty five minutes.
We had a great time.  I actually enjoy his company a lot.  He's a delightful person.  He loves the game of golf and he keeps wanting to learn.  He struggles a bit at it.  He actually has a basic nice golf swing.
But we had a good time.  Always had a good time playing together.

Q.  How many other president have you played with?
JACK NICKLAUS:  Not that many.  I've played a lot of rounds of golf with Ford.

Q.  Yep.  W?
JACK NICKLAUS:¬† Bush senior, not junior.¬† I always love the story with‑‑ I did a rally in Columbus for George on his second time around.¬† When we finished up, Gary was at the rally.¬† He said, Jack, soon as this election is over I'm going to give you a call and I'm going to bring your father down and you and I are going to play Gary and my dad.¬† Gary, you get my dad.
Anyway, he didn't call.  I was in the White House early the next year for the Presidents Cup.  I walked in the Oval Office, and the first thing he said is, Jack, I owe you an apology.  I said what?  You don't owe me an apology for anything.
Oh, yeah.  I told you that I would give you a call and we would go play golf as soon as the election was over.  He says, Jack, I can't play golf again until I get those boys out of harm's way in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He never played one round golf the whole second term he was in office.  I was supposed to play with him a month ago, and then he got sick, hurt his back, and so I've never had the opportunity to play with him.
I think that's‑‑ I don't think I've played with any other president, have I?¬† I was supposed to play with Eisenhower and he got sick the day we were supposed to play.
Arnold and I were playing an exhibition and he was going to be the third.  He rode around in the cart but he wasn't well enough to play.
That's all, I think.

Q.  Just wonder if there was a different feel to playing with one of the presidents, be it the secret service that are around or anything else?
JACK NICKLAUS:  They let them play golf.  They enjoy the day.

Q.  It's just golf?
JACK NICKLAUS:  Yeah.  They like playing with somebody else.  They are the president of the United States, but they're just another guy.  They're good guys.  They didn't get to that position without being good guys and treating people properly and respectful and everything else.

Q.  One other thing.  One other thing, one of your former Memorial champions, Vijay Singh, turns 50 in February.

Q.  Wondering if you could think of as many players who are as formidable turning 50 as Vijay is?
JACK NICKLAUS:  Not recently.  He would be the most recent one.  Who was the last one prior to that?

Q.  Freddy Couples.
JACK NICKLAUS:  Freddy would be probably the most impactful.  Freddy is a good player, but I don't think Freddy's record or his impact could be as strong as Vijay's on the senior tour.
Although I don't really know.  Vijay hasn't really played his best the last couple years, and Freddy was actually playing pretty good when he turned 50.  We'll see.

Q.  Vijay is in incredible shape.
JACK NICKLAUS:  Oh, Vijay.  He's a wonderful golfer.  If he wants to, he should have a great senior tour, senior career.  That's up to him.  I mean, I don't know whether he still wants to play the regular tour.  What does he say he wants to do?

Q.  Says he wants to try and play the regular tour mostly this year and next.
JACK NICKLAUS:  That's what all us guys did when we turned 50.  That's what I did; Raymond did it.  I mean, the most I played on the senior tour was seven maybe.  Yeah, I played six or seven every year.  I played the four majors and one or two others.
Then when I got too old to play on the other tour I really didn't want to play because I couldn't play anymore, so it works.  (Laughter.)

Q.  Sounds like Tom kept the Ryder Cup thing pretty quiet.
JACK NICKLAUS:  What do you mean, quiet?

Q.  Didn't let too many people in on the secret.
JACK NICKLAUS:  I didn't know it.

Q.  Did it come is as a surprise?
JACK NICKLAUS:  Well, you know, I can understand why Watson was selected.  I think the PGA wanted a real leader coming down the stretch.  Not that the other guys that could have been selected were not leaders.  They just felt that Tom was, in Scotland, the strongest of the people that could be considered.
There are other guys that I'm sure will have their turn.  But I was selected twice to do it.  I think it's a nice honor for Tom.  He'll do a good job.  No question about that.
And by keeping it quiet, I think he really emphasized the fact that he really wanted it, because I did not know he was being selected.

Q.  You said when you and Arnold played together you went really hard at each other and that was helpful.  Wondering what Tiger and Rory, if they develop that, could it be helpful to Tiger or would it hurt him?
JACK NICKLAUS:  No, it would definitely be helpful.  I think for Tiger, Tiger probably needs somebody to pop him a few times so he gets a chance to go pop it back, you know what I mean?  I think that's the way all sports work.
It's kind of good for you to get drummed a couple times, and then all of a sudden you say, I'm not getting drummed anymore.  I'm going to go drum that guy back.
That's sort of what rivalries are all about.  They always want to win and the competition is fierce, so that's good.  I know Rory gets along fine with Tiger.  I had lunch with Rory yesterday, as a matter of fact.  He's gotten a lot bigger.
I said, Don't lift yourself out of your golf game.¬† His shoulders have gotten very big and his arms have gotten big.¬† He said he's really been working out a lot.¬† He said he's really playing well and really looking forward to playing again next year.¬† I guess he is going to start in ‑‑ is it Dubai?

Q.  Abu Dhabi.
JACK NICKLAUS:  Abu Dhabi, he said, yeah.  In February?  January?
Yeah, he and Caroline are down in Florida.  I said, Why don't you come on over and play some grass court tennis.  So they may come over and play some tennis.  I invited them over.  I said, You and I will be partners.  You can run, can't you?
He said, Yeah.  My strokes aren't very good.  I said, Well, my strokes are all right but I can't run.  (Laughter.)

Q.  (Regarding Tiger.)
JACK NICKLAUS:¬† I think it'll help him.¬† Yeah, when you really don't have a pushing competitor, let's say, or a force that's pushing you‑‑ I mean, his force pushing him has always been my record.¬† That's still there.
But I think it may get stale during a period of time, and then all of a sudden you need to‑‑ maybe somebody else gives you a kick and boost to go.
Tiger certainly hasn't lost his talent.  Certainly hasn't lost his desire.  But he's got a few more guys out there now that can finish coming down the stretch than he had five, six years ago.

Q.  Are you going to the Orange Bowl to watch Nick?
JACK NICKLAUS:  Sure.  I go to all the games.

Q.  Prediction?
JACK NICKLAUS:  Well, certainly hope Florida State brings its team.  If they bring their team, they'll do fine.  We'll have to see what they do.  They've got to bring themselves mentally, because they almost lost a couple games.  They did lose one game.  They lost to North Carolina State because they didn't bring themselves mentally.  They almost lost to Georgia Tech, which should have never even been in the ballgame.
So hopefully they'll bring their game with them.  I think Jim will do a good job getting them ready.

Q.  Given what you said about Rory and Tiger, that Rory would make Tiger better, did Arnold and Tom and Lee make Jack Nicklaus better?
JACK NICKLAUS:  No question about it.  Started with Arnold, and then of course Arnold didn't win after 64 as far as a major championship.  He was in contention several times.  As a matter of fact, last tournament he won was '73.  I played with him last round of that in Palm Springs.
You know, Trevino came along in '67 and finished fifth in the Open, and then he won the Open the next year in '68.  He was a pretty darn good player.  He was no slouch.
Player never left.¬† He was always there.¬† He won more than anybody else.¬† Gary won nine majors?¬† Yeah, he's the next best major‑wise.
Then along came‑‑ you know, you had the Millers and the Weiskopf in between, but then along came Watson, who after he decided to learn how to win majors ‑ because he gave away three early in his career, as did most of the rest of us‑ he learned how to win and was a pretty darn good player.¬† I'll tell you, Watson was a heck of a player.
So each one of those guys when they came along and started playing well, I said, Eh, I don't want to get beat by them.  I got beat by them a few times and I beat them a few times, too.  I think that's good that you had that.  It's good for you.

Q.  A lot of people focus on 1973, you winning your first Masters.  How important was the '63 PGA when you had struggled down the stretch?
JACK NICKLAUS:¬† I mentally gave away the British Open the week before.¬† British Open finished on Saturday, and I thought I ‑‑ really finished things stupidly.¬† You don't need me to go through that.¬† I bogeyed the last two holes, through no fault of hitting good shots, just the fault of the five inches between my ears.
That was a very good lesson for me.  Turned right around to go from 55 degree temperature to 105 degree temperature in Dallas the next week was tough.  But I was young and seemed to handle it better than the other guys.  A lot guys were there with me that week.  I knew I was playing well.  There wasn't a question about that.

Q.  How important was it to actually win that then?
JACK NICKLAUS:  Well, I look back on it obviously it was important.  But if I hadn't won that I don't think it would have made much difference in my career, except I'd have 17 instead of 18.  I mean, really.  It was a nice win and it was great to win your first PGA Championship.

Q.  How do you like the way the clubhouse and things are going at Muirfield?
JACK NICKLAUS:  If we can afford it, it'll be very nice.  (Laughter.)  Don't laugh, man.  It's expensive.  We're redoing basically the whole clubhouse at Muirfield Village.  It will be ready for next year's Memorial tournament.
We've expand it probably ‑‑ we did a 6,000 square foot fitness center and cart barn.¬† Then we did about couple thousand square feet in sort of like an iconic tower, which is reading space.¬† Then we connected the clubhouse with a pavilion with six suites.¬† Instead of putting up a tent for the tournament there, we decided to build something permanent.
So that's a big addition, plus the fact we're getting the rest of the clubhouse, too.  Except for the locker room.  Haven't done anything in the locker room.  We'll do that next phase.  If we can afford a next phase.

Q.  Obviously this tournament is built on goodwill and some of the proceeds go to charity.  I'm wondering how competitive does it get out there with the guys?
JACK NICKLAUS:  Well, when your son's with you, you better be competitive.  When a son is with his father, he better be competitive.  Both are trying to show the other one that they can play.  So you've got a competition between the father and the son to try to make sure that the father and son do well.  That's a good, healthy thing to have.
Just from a players' standpoint and from a father's standpoint and a son's standpoint, that's something we really look forward to.
From the tournament standpoint, the tournament gets the benefit of it.

Q.  We have the father and son tournament coming back, but apparently Disney is not going to be on the schedule anymore.  You were the first winner of that.  Can you comment on what you see the TOUR being like in the next five years, let's say, as far as money goes?
JACK NICKLAUS:  I have no idea what it was like the last five.  Seriously, I don't pay a whole lot of attention to it.  I pay attention to the Memorial tournament.  You guys see it every week and see what's going on and read everything about the game of golf.  I don't follow it that much.

Q.  As a businessperson, do you see that the sponsors are still looking...
JACK NICKLAUS:  I think Tim has done an usefully good job in a pretty big down period to not lose what he had to a great degree and be able to grow and boost the game back.  I think he's done a terrific job.
The tournament golf is probably as healthy as it's ever been.  The game of golf itself is struggling.  I think it'll make a little bit of a comeback this year, but it's been struggling the last few years with the economy and so forth.
DAVE SENKO:  Okay, thank you, Jack.

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