May 6, 2003
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: It's been a quarter of a century since the PGA TOUR was in Charlotte and it's interesting how things change. The PGA TOUR as an organization and as a professional sport is vastly different than it was 25 years ago. The City of Charlotte is vastly different than it was 25 years ago. Quail Hollow, which was our home for the Kemper Open 1969 through 1979 is a much-improved, more challenging golf course, with the assistance of Tom Fazio and the impetus of the club leadership to make it such that it was 25 years ago.
With Wachovia, we have a new, terrific partner to continue the Tradition of the PGA TOUR, it's commitment to charity and giving back. I'd like to recognize and thank all of the folks at Wachovia, the CEO Ken Thompson and most importantly the chairman, Mac Everett, from Wachovia, for his leadership.
I'd like to thank Johnny Harris and the members of Quail Hollow for what's happened here and making the club not only available, but getting it in the pristine condition that it is. All of the players I've talked to -- and I've just been here today, ecstatic about the golf course, about the challenge it is going to present, and about their reception. And tournament director Ken Hoffman has done a terrific job with course conditions and getting ready for this championship.
There are a lot of special things about what this team has put together for this week. I think I can safely say that with just the inaugural event this week, this tournament will take it's place as one of the premiere events on the PGA TOUR. It will set a standard of excellence, along with some of our other tournaments for what is going to happen with the PGA TOUR over the next 25 years. And actually, we are delighted with the partnership that's been put together and what's going to happen this week.
Let me turn to a slightly different subject, and that is the World Golf Hall of Fame. Each year the World Golf Hall of Fame recognizes a number of individuals for induction into the Hall of Fame and they come on several different tracks. One of those tracks is the PGA TOUR and the ballots are in this year.
And this year, our congratulations go to Nick Price, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this fall and we welcome Nick Price as an inductee. And here is Nick Price joining us. (Applause).
Nick's career spans 21 years. He has won 18 times on the PGA TOUR, two PGA Championships, the British Open, THE PLAYERS Championship. He has also won 20 (ph) times outside the PGA TOUR. His career took off in the early 1990s when he won four times between '91 and '94. He won four times in '93 and six times in '94, including the PGA Championship and the British Open. In both of these years he led the PGA TOUR's Money List and was named Player of the Year both years.
His career has been one of longevity because he is now defending and will defend his title at the Bank of America Colonial in just a couple of weeks, and is already in the Top-10 this year. Truly a phenomenal career and we're delighted that that career competitively is being recognized in the Hall of Fame. He has been a champion on the golf course and in life. He maintains his same friendly demeanor through good and bad. He champions a number of great causes here in the United States and in his home in Zimbabwe. He is often referred to as, if not the nicest, one of the nicest guys on the PGA TOUR and certainly one of the most respected. Those qualities have been recognized a couple of times recently. He was recognized with the Jim Murray Award, which is awarded each year for the player whose cooperation, availability and accommodation to the media is at a superior level. He also was the recipient of the PGA TOUR's Payne Stewart Award, an award for sharing Payne's respect and the traditions of the game, his commitment to uphold the game's heritage of charitable support, his commitment to the meticulous presentation of himself and the sport through dress and conduct. And as such, Nick is recognized as a great role model for our younger players.
In October, on October 20, Nick will be inducted into the Hall of Fame, along with Leo Diegel, who won 26 titles including two PGA Championships, and Leo was selected through the veteran's category, along with Chako Higuchi, currently the Commissioner of the Japanese LPGA TOUR. She won 72 tournaments in a lifetime career. And we assume Annika Sorenstam, who becomes eligible as soon as she plays her 15th event on the LPGA this year. She has already met all of the criteria for introduction on the LPGA track.
Nick, this honor is well deserved. We look forward to your introduction on October 20th and we welcome you into the World Golf Hall of Fame and will welcome you as the 99th member on October 20th.
Ladies and gentlemen, Nick Price.
NICK PRICE: Needless to say it's a huge honor to be elected to the Hall of Fame, and it's something that you don't really dream about, and certainly I didn't as a kid growing up. I mean, I thought about winning major championships and just playing and winning as many tournaments as I could, but I can remember going to Pinehurst back in '82 when we had a tournament there, and -- inaudible -- Hall of Fame, some of the guys who I certainly respected over the years. Seeing some of the memorabilia that was on show there, it was an amazing thing and even then I never really realized that it was something that I would be elected to one day. I suppose it just goes to show that if you practice and you work hard, and you persevere, things do happen.
I'm really very honored. There is a lot of my friends in there, a lot of my compatriots who I play a lot of golf with, obviously Greg Norman and Payne Stewart, and also Bernhard Langer, all guys who I've had a lot of respect for over the years, along with Seve Ballesteros. It's been kind of hard hold back and to keep it a secret, and at least now I can make some phone calls and tell some of my friends how proud I am to be in there.
But I'm looking forward to October, and I want to congratulate the other three nominees on getting in there because it's something that is, indeed, very special.
So, I'm obviously have very honored and I want to thank everyone who has given me support over the years, and particularly my wife, because I don't think without her kicking me in the backside in the 80s and 90s I would be standing here accepting the nomination into the Hall of Fame. So she has been a great help.
NICK PRICE: Yeah, I suppose, Seve got in about '97, '98 whenever it was, and Greg got in two years ago, along with Payne. And now they have started inducting some of my contemporaries in Bernhard and Ben Crenshaw got in last year.
So in the back of my mind, I was kind of hoping that it was going to be my time, soon, and it happened sooner rather than later.
NICK PRICE: I don't know. Probably would have been a little frustrating, but I was absolutely delighted.
NICK PRICE: I think most of the guys as find coming over here playing America, particularly the Australians and the Southern Africans, we have to move out of our homeland to go play for any extended length of time. So travel became -- to me, it was a prerequisite in the early years. In fact, when I came over here, the traveling was so much easier, and obviously there are events around the world while I was playing here that I still wanted to play in, the favorites that I sort of participated in over the years. And you know, I just always said, I think when I look back and I think my role model in that was certainly Gary Player, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus; and the fact that they traveled extensively throughout their years, to other countries was an indication to me that that was what I wanted to do.
The case in point is the Presidents Cup coming up now where the impact of the Presidents Cup going to have on the Junior golfers and the golfers in South Africa is going to be huge. I think it's important that the top players certainly realize that, not only the financial benefits from traveling and playing in other parts of the world, but such a by-product of that is encouraging the youngsters and getting them to have a firsthand look at great players.
I think that's one of the things that I've been most proud of the fact that, you know, up until certainly two years ago, three years ago, I was playing a third of my golf overseas, probably 18 or 19 over here and about eight overseas. That was a really important thing for me.
I think sometimes you definitely have to learn to really -- inaudible -- don't have as strong a field. It's very hard, to win a professional golf tournament, and to try and win here. That was key for me. You know, a lot of my sponsors certainly wanted me to play internationally because it was something that I've done throughout my career.
NICK PRICE: I think being active is something that's important. Victories, I think I have a few more left in me. That's certainly a huge thing. I still feel that I can win -- I wouldn't say I'm at the top of my game and it's kind of hard to compete with how I was in the mid 80s and early 90s, but I still have a good game left in me.
NICK PRICE: It probably -- certainly the first win that I had at Akron in the World Series in '83, especially after what had happened to me at the British Open in '82. I think I had been in contention maybe two or three times between the two events, between the British Open and the World Series, and I had not really done as well as I would have liked to. And along comes the World Series and I played near flawless golf for four rounds, and that really was a huge stepping stone for me because the exemption that I got at that stage, you couldn't have asked for more as a first-year rookie on this tour to win an event that gave you a ten-year exemption.
The next one was probably the PGA Championship in '92, my first major at Bellerive. That was so significant for me because I had probably had three or four close shaves with major championships. I was starting to get a little frustrated particularly after '88 after Seve beat me down the stretch. I had just about everything -- and he still beat me. But, you live and learn, and three years later, I won my first major. So that was really very key.
I think what I'm probably most proud of is the way I played the back nine that day when I really wasn't hitting the ball as well as I was capable of, but I managed my game so well and I was just patient and waited for the other guys to make a mistake. So that was a big win.
I think the next two, the British Open is huge, but when I played at TPC, THE PLAYERS Championship in '93. That still probably ranks up as one of my greatest achievements because I played as well as I possibly could for four days. I struck the ball exceptionally well. If you've ever had a tournament that you think back on where you just absolutely hit the ball -- I mean, basically I felt like everyone else was playing for second place that week, and that doesn't happen too often.
NICK PRICE: I'm going to go out and have a look. Looking forward to it. All of the guys here are singing praises about the golf course. They are very impressed. For a first-time event, it's actually -- the guys have just done a phenomenal job here. Everything so far has been great and I haven't been out on the golf course yet. I'm going to be spending most of my time out there hopefully over the next four or five days. It's been done exceptionally well.
NICK PRICE: My putter, the one I won the British Open with in '94. That one will probably be -- I think that putter made the most significant putt I've ever made in my career. If it was a putter it, would be that one.
NICK PRICE: I tried to get it back, it doesn't work anymore. (Laughter.) -- used to say a putter has X amount of putts in it, and once you use it through that -- inaudible -- must be some truth to that.
NICK PRICE: I still work hard at hitting balls. Actually, it's interesting to see Freddie win two weeks ago, and everyone is talking about how he dedicated himself. Well, it isn't that he dedicated himself; he just got off his backside and started hitting golf balls. I hope most of us 40-year-olds like Jay had some kind of influence on him because Freddie is still a great player, as he's proven. It was good to see him come out and start practicing.
I love practicing, so even when I'm at home on my weeks off, I still hit balls and practice and I've been doing that, maybe not spending six or seven hours like I used to. I'm down to three or four or five at a push. But I'm still out there to where I can stay competitive on the Tour. My long game has been pretty consistent over the last ten years. Really, the difference is when I start putting well. Last year, I probably had one of the most solid putting years since '94 and that made all the difference to me. When you maintain a level in the Top-10, you're doing a lot of things well, but particularly, you're finishing out well, and that's what I did.
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