June 14, 2003
OLYMPIA FIELDS, ILLINOIS
NICK PRICE: I'll go through my birdies. First hole, hit a pitching wedge for my third shot from 108 yards to 20, 22 feet. No. 2, a 3-wood off the tee and then a pitching wedge to about eight feet, maybe six feet. No. 3, a 5 iron off the tee and then a 9-iron from about 145 to probably about 10, 12 feet. No. 4, an 8-iron to probably six feet, and then No. 6 a drive and a 5 iron to about 25 feet. No. 7, hit a 5 iron -- I hit a really good shot in there and it just was the wrong club, wind came up and got it and it plugged in the side slope -- upslope of the bunker on the left and I did well to make bogey there. No. 9, a three-putt from probably 35 feet, and the second putt I missed was about four, maybe four and a half feet. 11, I drove in the left-hand rough, played up short, wedged it on the green about 12 feet and missed it. 12 went in the rough, hit my second shot in the bunker left, knocked it about ten feet and missed that. 16, a drive in the bunker on the right, right up against the face. I hit a 9-iron out and chipped to about 18, 20 feet. And then 18 a 3-wood and an 8-iron to 18 inches, just my length.
Q. The first six holes and the next six obviously are playing about the same for everybody. The first six are shooting up, the next six are topping. You kind of ran into that. Was that more the course than anything that happened with your swing?
NICK PRICE: I think five bogeys is no excuse really other than my driving. I didn't drive the ball well. 10, 11 -- the bogey I made on 7 and 9, the one on 7 was a really good iron shot and I'd go back and hit that same shot again. It just must have caught a wind or a little bit of a gust. 10 I drove in the left-hand rough. 11 I drove in the left-hand rough. 12 I drove in the rough. The three hardest holes today on the golf course with maybe the exception of 8, I'm chipping out of the rough. It just made it very difficult. Then I started hitting the fairways again until I got to 16 and I drove it through the fairway there. I don't know, my driving just hasn't been the strength of my game. It has been throughout my career, and just the last two, three months it's let me down. If I have one wish tomorrow, that's to drive the ball in the fairway. I'd love to just have what I would call my bread and better Sunday at a major championship with a driver. It hasn't been strong. I think today I'm a little cagey, I tried to stear the ball a little bit with the driver, and tomorrow I've just got to go out and be positive and aggressive with my driver. That's the only way to get over that.
Q. Just one of the cruelties of this game that you've been putting pretty good and all of a sudden the driving thing?
NICK PRICE: Yeah, it's never-ending. As I said to you guys yesterday, my whole game feels like it's done a 180. It's not far off with my driver. I don't think it's as far away as maybe I'm making it out to be. I'm just -- I can't tell you how happy I am I've still got the game I have at 46 to be honest with you. I never thought I'd be --
NICK PRICE: It should be. I think I have a fair idea of what I do when I don't make a commitment in my drive, to my swing with my driver. I did hit a couple of good drives coming in, so hopefully tomorrow I'll put the ball in the fairway a little more often. That's going to be the key. If we have a carbon copy of today, I don't know, it's going to probably -- probably 7, 8-under is going to win.
Q. You said you gave yourself on outside chance. Do you give yourself a better chance now?
NICK PRICE: Even though I made six birdies today I still shot under par and I would have taken that at the beginning of today. I'm probably going to stay the same three shots behind or four shots behind, I don't know, but there's only two guys out in front of me really. Sometimes they get to playing each other and make a few mistakes. I know I'm going to have to shoot 1- or 2-under par to have a realistic chance tomorrow given the same conditions. If it's like this tomorrow, they're going to feel the pressure. You don't win the U.S. Open on Sunday, and all the players, the top five, six players on that leaderboard, are all aware of that. The fight starts tomorrow on the back nine.
Q. Is that when you expect from a U.S. Open with the wind up and it drying out a little bit?
NICK PRICE: We knew -- this is probably a little stronger than the wind we have in Chicago this time of year, but if we had had wind the last two days and these bright blue skies, there's no doubt maybe 3-under would be leading now.
Q. Are you surprised you still have the game you have at 46?
NICK PRICE: I'm happy. If you had asked me at 26 I would say I would be surprised. But now, as you get older in your career and older in life, you learn more about yourself and your golf swing and your tendencies, and I think that's what I've managed well. I try not to overplay because in this game you've got to be very fresh.
Q. The birdie on 18, did it affect the way you feel about today's round?
NICK PRICE: The par putt on 17 was huge for me. I hold an eight, nine footer for par. I was leaking out, there's no doubt about it. To finish 3-3 today certainly makes me feel a little bit better about tomorrow.
Q. It looked like you were having a very good time on the first six holes.
NICK PRICE: Oh, man. You dream about starting like that in a major championship, any round. It was a lot of fun. I just kept doing the right thing. I hit the ball in the fairway and hit a lot of good iron shots and kept leaving myself these putts uphill, which is what you want here.
Q. Given the game that you have at 46 and the things that you've said in the past about lengthening golf courses and equipment and so on, do you see yourself as sort of the standard bearer for the way the game ought to be playing as opposed to the way equipment has mandated it ought to be played now?
NICK PRICE: I don't know. It's a difficult question to answer. You know, I'm just amazed at how far the guys hit the ball nowadays. I wouldn't say that I am a benchmark, but I just don't want golf to lose -- and the powers that be in golf to lose sight of the fact that guys who hit the ball 275, 280 yards off the tee, you can't stop those guys from becoming great players by lengthening the golf courses. I think we saw a great example last year at Muirfield in Scotland where we played the British Open that it was 6800 yards and 6-under par won the championship, so it's not all about length. The more that they realize that, as in this week, this golf course doesn't play excessively long, but it's a wonderful test. If you look at the leaderboard you've got a cross-section of players in there. Furyk is a medium length hitter, Vijay is a long hitter. There's a lot of long hitters 'of the ball but there's also medium length hitters, so it's a good blend of this golf course.
Q. People talk about getting in a zone in a sport. The start you had -- did you feel you were in a zone and if so is it almost a case of good zone/bad zone today?
NICK PRICE: I knew I was going to make some bogeys today because it's almost impossible to go out there and play golf without making a bogey. Realistically par today was probably about 72, 73 because of the conditions. I'm saying to myself after I made those birdies, just play smart from here, don't make any double bogeys, don't make any mental mistakes and try and post as low a score as possible. With the exception of 11 and 12 where I drove it in the rough, I only really made two mistakes, which was -- even the one on 7 wasn't a mistake because I would go back and hit that same shot again. The three-putt on 9 was probably my biggest mistake today.
Q. The five birdies and five bogeys, but you had a birdie that tipped the scale at the end. Was that the way to end the round?
NICK PRICE: Dinner always tastes better when you make birdie on the last hole, and you can get a little extra sleep because you move down a group or two.
NICK PRICE: I gave him a hug when we finished. It's so hard. He does not want you to feel sorry for him, but you want to hug the guy because you just -- I don't know, I've just been through that and I know what it feels like. I mean, obviously I personally haven't been through it, but that same experience, and it's really hard. He's been such a wonderful friend to me over the years as well as to Tom, and Bruce and I, we always sit down and have a cup of coffee and a smoke. He's been a great friend, he really has. I gave him a hug and I just said enjoy tomorrow. What else can I say?
Q. Tom and Bruce were trying to keep it business as usual?
NICK PRICE: Yeah, but it's hard. Every green they walked on they got a standing ovation, and that was very touching. I just kept hanging back and let them enjoy it because I don't know how many more moments they're going to enjoy together like that. So you just give them the stage. It was very heartwarming to see the golf fans, and particularly the Chicago fans, come out and showed that emotion.
NICK PRICE: I've played with Tom a lot but obviously these circumstances are different. I wish he had played a little better today and I'm sure he does, too, but I think they had a really enjoyable time out there today.
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