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THE HONDA CLASSIC


March 3, 2013


Jack Nicklaus


PALM BEACH GARDENS, FLORIDA

Q. This day that you see out here, these have been some of the toughest conditions we've seen that long time. We'll have a fire side chat with you here about all sorts of stuff and one of the big subjects has been Rory McIlroy and I know you had a chance to get to know young Rory, especially the last couple years or so, and you've given him all sorts of advice. Based on what you see, the criticism that Rory has had, what's your take on what happened?
JACK NICKLAUS: You know, I don't really know what happened so I really‑‑ I haven't talked to Rory. I talked to him on Monday prior to the tournament and we talked about, he was struggling a little bit, driving the ball really well and he was struggling a little bit with his irons.
But he felt confident. And I said, well, don't worry about it. I said, you know, you're too good a player. The clubs will not make that much difference.
I look around, and maybe it's easy for me to say. I played, here in the States, I played with MacGregors I grew up, and when I went to England I played in the British Open and I played Slazenger England and when I went to Australia I played Slazenger Australia. Played the England small ball, played the B51 small ball and I was an able to go back and forth and back and forth and it wasn't that big a deal.
Now maybe the guys today, maybe they are so used to having one thing, but I always felt that it was your talent that plays, not the golf club. And Rory is so talented, he's a good kid. I think he's a little frustrated and he's frustrated with himself right now, and he's probably not playing his best, and also has a set of golf clubs that he's having trouble getting used to and one sort of plays off the other. He'll be fine. When Augusta rolls around, he'll be fine.

Q. So walking off the course wasn't the best.
JACK NICKLAUS: I think if he waited five more minutes he wouldn't have done that.
JOHNNY MILLER: I didn't like that part.
JACK NICKLAUS: He's a good kid and he tries to do the right thing and unfortunately it probably wasn't ...

Q. All these guys coming here, Jack, you have a chance to impart some pretty good wisdom when you get a chance to play some golf with Westwood‑‑
JACK NICKLAUS: I haven't played golf with any of them yet. They are here and I see them. It's really neat to have the guys down here. This is really, really a great place to live and to groove your game. It's really a nice place to be. I moved here 48 years ago.

Q. Do you feel like a proud father when you come out here and you see how this plays?
JACK NICKLAUS: It wasn't really meant to be that difficult. Just conditions made it so. They are not really long holes. If you look at 176‑yard par 3, you would think that wouldn't be all that tough, even though it's on the water.
But the wind conditions, you never know exactly what it's going to do to that ball coming around, some condominiums off the left to block the wind and you never know around the corner. 16 is not that difficult a hole, it's a simple tee shot, usually probably a long iron, 7‑iron maybe.
And 17, they did lengthen 17. I had it shorter than that and they came in before they did the tournament and lengthened it to 188. We used to have it about 165 to 170. That hole, when the wind is in your face and the tee is up and the water is sitting there, it's a tough hole.

Q. When you designed those holes, how much did you take into consideration your strategy, how would you have played those holes standing on the tee with a one‑shot lead?
JACK NICKLAUS: I didn't think that much about it at the time. It was originally a Fazio, George Fazio, and Tom did some I'm sure. But when I came in, all did I was try to make each individual hole a better hole or a different hole and tie it together. I had no idea that they were going to play that way.
I thought 4 was a pretty darned difficult hole and I thought 18 was a pretty strong hole but the ones sitting in the middle turned out to be the tough ones.

Q. Only been two birdies on 17 today. I couldn't help, your commenting on distance, so much of golf today seems about length and you purposely didn't.
JACK NICKLAUS: I love short holes. I always was a long hitter, but my favorite holes were always short holes. I always thought it was more fun to play a smaller green, a little bit more exacting shot. I love short par 4s. Short par 4s are my favorite of all golf holes. I loved to have to have a hole where everybody can play it but you've really got to play to play it.
If 17 is playing easy, then 15 will play much more difficult, because the wind has to come across left‑to‑right on 15 into your face and that ball is going to balloon up on you. And the second shot at 16, or the tee shot at 17, is going to be into the wind and then with the crosswind.
So you know, each time, very rarely do you find all three of them being difficult. It's a give and take with 15 and 17, and 16 just sort of falls in the middle. It can be dangerous, but most of the time, it's not.

Q. Seventh year of this wonderful set of holes and as this tournament and this championship has grown. Its paid great dividends for causes and things you're involved with.
JACK NICKLAUS: The Honda tournament actually got Barbara started here.
When the Honda moved from Fort Lauderdale, they came to me and asked us, they have always taken care of children's charities and would we have anything here and I told Barbara, well, Barbara, go for it. We started a healthcare foundation which benefits kids in this area. We are very proud and we have a couple of outpatient centers that are open, the last one being 21,500 square feet, and we have partnered with Miami children's hospital and we will really helped a lot of kids in this area.
Before we were growing up, we had to either send kids to Orlando or we had to send them to Miami. Now the parents could have care for their kids right here at Palm Beach and you don't have to travel and really, traveling with a sick kid is really difficult.
So we are very pleased with what's happened, we are very pleased with the support and we are very pleased for the Honda tournament. The Honda tournament has produced a lot of money for us, it produced the start of it and we are very pleased that Honda has been here, it's been successful and they have raised a lot of money for our foundation.

Q. 15, what do you think the toughest wind is at 15, especially a Sunday hole location back right?
JACK NICKLAUS: I always thought the prevailing southeast wind.

Q. So would that be into right‑to‑left then?
JACK NICKLAUS: Sort of. Because you're trying to fit it back there and all of a sudden‑‑ it's always knocking it down. Of course, that produces I think a little bit into‑your‑face, left‑to‑right on 17, which is always a very difficult wind. So the combination of the two makes it difficult. And then it makes your second shot at 16 a little bit more into the wind.
I think the prevailing wind is the toughest, so we don't have a prevailing wind here, we have I guess a westerly today, I don't think it's quite as northwest as it normally gets.

Q. There was a big story about Rory McIlroy, departed on Friday, what would be your sense of the next step, what would you recommend if Rory McIlroy were to ask you what he should do next?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, he hasn't asked me at this point. But I think Rory has just got to move on. It's unfortunate that he got himself in that position. And I really don't know the story, whether it was a wisdom tooth, or the TOUR actually says that you have to have an injury or what it is, I really don't know so I probably shouldn't comment on that.
But I know that Rory is such a good player, such a talented kid, and he's a nice kid and he wants to do right. He's had a little bit of a stretch ofnot very good ‑‑ not a very good stretch and it's easy to blame it on your golf clubs but frankly, I don't really buy that.
Because I look back at what I did: I played, I represented Slazenger England when I went to the British Open. So I played a set of golf clubs over there for that, and the small ball. Then I came back and played our clubs here. Then I go to Australia and I would play Slazenger Australia and I played the B51, little small ball down there, and I went back and forth on all those different balls, all those different clubs and frankly you just have to learn to deal with it.
Not everything is perfect, and you know, his talent is so much greater and much bigger influence on his golf game than his clubs. He could play with anything.

Q. You were No. 1 player in the world, they didn't have World Rankings necessarily in the beginning when you were out there but you were that guy forever and ever, and Rory is the No. 1 player in the world; what kind of a standard do you have to maintain? People want to see you, you have to‑‑ picking up your ball and walking in.
JACK NICKLAUS: He shouldn't have walked off the golf course. But that's‑‑ I think that that was unfortunate. I think if he would have thought about it for five minutes, he wouldn't have done it.
I think he's a good kid, he's a sharp kid, and I just think probably he's so frustrated with what's happening and the way he's played for the last month or so, that it just got to him. I think that would be my assessment. And I may be speaking out of school. I really don't know. I haven't talked to him.

Q. Be nice if he would give you a call maybe, pick your brain a little bit?
JACK NICKLAUS: I will see him. We talk quite often actually. Matter of fact, I talked to him on Monday, and we had this exact conversation before the tournament. We talked about, I said, don't worry about your golf clubs. You're too good and talented. That will come around. Just go play golf. If you need to get something, your golf clubs, I'm sure that Nike will work with him to do whatever he has to do to get what he has to get. He'll be fine.
When the Masters rolls around, Rory McIlroy is going to be playing just fine.

Q. The fact that he listens to you, that's an endorsement of the young man right there.
JACK NICKLAUS: I won here once, the PGA Seniors, very proud of it. It's a tough golf course, and the conditions change so much it becomes a different golf course every day.

Q. Something I've been wanting to ask you for a long time, I don't have remember reading or hearing you say that you made any major changes to your golf swing throughout your career. Jack Grout I think was your lifelong coach, basically. What was your take on Tiger he's basically changed his swing throw times now in his career; what's your take on that?
JACK NICKLAUS: I changed mine every day.

Q. You did?
JACK NICKLAUS: Every day.

Q. A tweak?
JACK NICKLAUS: A tweak. And I had subpoena major changes, the biggest change I made was probably 1979 I had a terrible year, and I played three times‑‑ touched a club three times in a six‑month period and I started back out in 1980 and I said J‑Grout, I'm a beginner let's start over. Changed swing plane and a few things that were major.
I always felt, and one of the things I learned from Bobby Jones, talking with him, that he always said about his seven lean years. He always said that until he learned to correct himself on a golf course, he never became a good player. And then once he did, then he obviously won 13 major championships.
And that's what Jack Grout taught me, just to continually change my game. I was never afraid in the middle of the Masters, middle of the U.S. Open, I don't care what it was, last round, if I didn't like the way I was playing, I would change my swing, I always did.
Obviously I played conservatively on a couple of holes while I was changing it so I didn't play myself out of the tournament, but I always felt like you can't play with something that's not working. So you've got to figure out, you go back to fundamentals, try to figure out what you can do, adjust it, play with it, and it shouldn't take you very long to get some confidence, if you understand who you are.
In other words, that's one of the things that a lot of kids have come to me and said, understand who you are, understand what you can do, understand, where do you make your mistakes, where do you have a tendency to be able to challenge things. If you understand that, then you can play within yourself and you can also correct yourself and play better.
So that's what I always tried to do, and it's served me well, but I changed my golf swing constantly.

Q. Thank you so much for joining us.
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, thank you and I appreciate the conversation.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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