June 13, 2003
OLYMPIA FIELDS, ILLINOIS
NICK PRICE: Well, it was good. I got off to a good start. I think the big thing was yesterday midway through the back nine I found a couple of things that I've been working on with David Leadbetter in my swing that kind of fell into place. Sometimes it just takes one key that gets everything going. I hit the ball really well today. I hit a lot of fairways, probably hit 15 greens if you include one fringe, so it was a day really set up by my ball striking. I made some great putts. You've got to do everything well to shoot 65 at the Open and I did today.
Q. Last year you were very outspoken on the setup at Bethpage. This year obviously it's to your liking?
NICK PRICE: I think it's fairer for everyone out there. You don't have to hit the ball 295 yards to play this golf course. I think on some occasions, yeah, they may have penalized the long hitters by putting bunkers through the fairway, but they still have the opportunity to hit irons off the tee and put themselves in positions. Bethpage I thought was brilliantly set up. It was just three holes that I had a real problem with, and that was 10, 12 and 15. If they had set Bethpage up like this, I think we probably would have had one of the best U.S. Opens of all time.
Q. How are you playing off the tee? Are you being aggressive?
NICK PRICE: Not really. I hit a lot of 3-woods. I hit a couple of irons off tees, just really position golf. You try and put yourself in the fairway every time, and occasionally I took a couple of chances when I felt good, but most of the time I was just trying to get the ball in the fairway.
NICK PRICE: You don't think about going out and shooting 65 at a U.S. Open. I basically wanted to break par and stay within four or five shots, but as soon as I got going and I started hitting the ball really well through about -- I birdied 5, which was my second birdie of the day, and then I turned downwind on 6 and birdied that and I'm three under par. I just got to play smart, and I did, and I picked up a couple more birdies.
Q. There's a lot of 40- and 50-somethings out there doing well. Any reason for that?
NICK PRICE: Viagra (laughter). No, I don't know. I think a lot of guys in my age group, certainly Scott Hoch and Jeff Sluman, who I played with today, guys are still practicing. I mean, that's the key out here. You can't come out here and not practice. You've got to put in the time over the months and over the weeks and prepare, and I think that's the difference. I think you're finding a lot of guys are still ready to practice and play hard, and I certainly have done -- my summers are a little slower because I take time off with my kids, but certainly January through May I'm working just as hard -- maybe not quite as hard as I did when I was in my 30s, but golf is still fun, and I think that's probably the difference for all of us.
NICK PRICE: Isn't it great? I didn't get to see any of his round yesterday except the highlights. He's a great player. To shoot 65 at age 53, gives us 46-year-olds hope.
Q. Compared to yesterday, where -- how is the course today compared to yesterday and where do you see it this weekend?
NICK PRICE: Pretty similar to what we played yesterday afternoon. You know, with this overcast, the ball -- the greens just aren't drying out. They are a little, but you need sunshine and you need that dry wind that Chicago is so famous for. Right now the scores -- Jimmy is seven under, I'm four under. Those scores are really there because of the weather conditions. If we had had hot, dry wind, it would be around even par. It would be maybe two, three under.
Q. You were talking about Tom's round yesterday. The story that you were aware of before, the relationship between him and Bruce, it's been a lot more publicized in the last 24 hours because he's done so well. Is this a story that has touched you at all?
NICK PRICE: I know exactly what they're both going through because of what happened with Squeak. You know, I knew -- I mean, halfway through 96 I guess it was, I didn't hold out much hope for Squeak, and although he was in our prayers and we were hoping that he'd pull through, it's an awful time, and particularly for someone -- a player and a caddie because you share so many emotions and experiences on golf courses and when you win tournaments and have success as Bruce and Tom have done, that's the only person that was there right next to you when you played great shots and did great things, and not necessarily meaning winning championships, but sometimes you hit a shot out of rough when you've got no chance and you hit the thing two feet from the hole and you and your caddie talk about it ten years later. It's those things that you miss a lot, but also the companionship because a caddie and a player, it's like a husband and a wife relationship. In fact, I probably spend more time with my caddie than I do with my wife. It's a very tough thing they're going through. Tom is very supportive of Bruce, and hopefully they'll find something that can fix him in the next four, five months.
Q. Did you watch at all yesterday?
NICK PRICE: I was playing.
Q. Did you watch the replay?
NICK PRICE: I didn't see it, no. I just watched him make a couple of putts. They showed the highlights this morning of that.
Q. When you go through an emotional situation like that, a real life-and-death type of a situation, how does that put this in perspective when you're out there and playing golf?
NICK PRICE: Golf is a game. I learned that when I was 18 years old when I was doing my national service when I lost three, four of my buddies when they were 18, 19. I learned a long time ago golf is a game. It's not the be-all-and-end-all of life. Obviously when you get a little older and you have family, that's more important to you than anything else. You've got to keep yourself in perspective, and I think sometimes people lose the real values and what's important in life.
Q. Squeak died early 97?
NICK PRICE: Yeah, right after the U.S. Open that Ernie won at Congressional, the Monday after the U.S. Open.
End of FastScripts....