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March 2, 2000
LEE PATTERSON: Thank you. Very nice start to the tournament; comments about that then
we will take questions.
NICK PRICE: Pretty happy. Obviously, we got the best conditions today with the greens
being nice and smooth and the wind is very calm out there and when there is helps you on,
I think, the tough holes. Did make the start -- 10, 11, 12, 13 - start of the back 9 - and
14 -- a little tougher, but other than that, it was very favorable wind. I think the
scoring wind today. The greens were superb this morning, very few spike marks and I think
they will still be good this afternoon so we will still see some lowish scores this
afternoon. I played really well. I think I hit 16 greens and missed one green by about a
foot, so as far as I am concerned, I hit 17 greens and hit one par 5 in 2, so good -- I
beg your pardon, I hit two par 5s in two, No. 8 and 10. I putted solidly, but I felt like
I left a couple of putts out there. I got some new irons in my bag which I have really
worked hard on them the last six weeks, eight weeks, and they seem to be paying dividends
right now. Very happy. I had a lot of birdie putts today.
Q. Could you kind of run us through the Chipshot.com clubs; how much you work you put
into them? These are essentially your clubs?
NICK PRICE: Yeah, basically when we started talking to Chipshot back in August,
September of last year -- I have never really want to sacrifice my performance to play a
club that I didn't feel comfortable with, so when we initially started talking with them I
was adament about using a forged club which they were very keen on because not only do
they sell the brand names of all the clubs, but they sell copies, but they didn't really
have, what I felt, was a good players club, so I approached them and said how about if we
get to make some blades and some forged cavity backs for maybe the better players, and
they were all for that because it is going to encompass their whole line. Then anybody
that goes on the website will be able to buy a set of clubs; basically that is what we
tried to do. So I went to Tom Stites back in November of last year and spent a day with
him then, then another day. I have spent about four days with him subsequently and he has
now been taken on by chipshot to make their better player clubs, lower handicapped player
clubs and I have worked a lot with him. He is extremely knowledgeable and this is the
first crack he had with a set of irons, so I am very happy. Kind of it -- just basically
forged blades, which I have used all my career. The last -- I must say the last three,
four years have been very frustrating for me because some of the club deals that I have
been through haven't quite gone the way that I would like them to have, but I seem like I
am on track now and it is a huge comfort knowing that you can play the equipment of the
company you are endorsing. Life is good right now.
Q. What do you feel that you got left in you at this level?
NICK PRICE: A lot.
Q. How many more years do you think that you have that you will be competitive?
NICK PRICE: I don't know. I think it depends on your conditioning and depends on your
desire. I think the hardest thing for me now is to make sure or the most important thing
making sure I don't play too much because my family is growing and I don't really want to
spend as many weeks away from them as I used to. I'd rather just, if anything, cut down my
schedule, but when I am at home, I practice a lot. I love hitting balls, so I don't think
I practice any less than I used to. I probably just don't practice as long. I will go on
the practice tee and probably hit balls for two or three hours and then I will go off and
do something with my kids if they have baseball games or soccer games; whereas, times
before my kids were grown up, I would spend just about the whole day at the golf course.
But I am certainly spending as much time on the golf course, as many visits to the golf
course, but I just don't practice as hard. I think if the desire is there and you are in
good shape and you don't get injured, I don't see why you can't keep playing until your
mid-40s, I look probably for another two, three good years before I really start thinking
about maybe cutting back my schedule and thinking about that SENIOR TOUR. Maybe four, five
years of fishing. But I can't predict the future because if I keep playing well, I am
going to keep playing because it is a competitiveness, I think in anyone who has had a
career like mine, you want to stay competitive. It is hard nowadays to play for a Top-10.
I think when you have had the success that I have had or someone like Greg or any one of
us who are in our 40s now, finishing in the Top-10 is no big deal anymore. We want to win
and I think that that is what has motivated me; particularly for the last twelve years of
my career and if you take that away from me, I will have to either set new goals or start
cutting back. But as long as I feel like I can go out there and shoot 6-, 7-under in a
round, it is just a question of stringing four of them together.
Q. Has that meant that you have taken more chances on weekends than perhaps if the
chances didn't pan out you --
NICK PRICE: Yeah, sometimes -- maybe sometimes I have played a little bit too
aggressively, you know, on the weekends and paid the penalty. My fourth round scoring
average last year was very poor. But I had one of my best seasons financially last year
and consistency-wise. So if I had been able to finish off a little better last year, I
probably could have won two or three events. But it is funny, your life, your priorities
change and I am very happy playing well, but I am happier if I win. Whereas before, I was
very happy if I won and only just marginally happy if I played well. So it is kind of like
there is a balance to my life now that I think -- and I think as you get older, that is
the way it goes.
Q. If the weather stays similar to what it is today, would you hazard to guess how low
would it take to win this thing?
NICK PRICE: Somewhere in the round of high teens, 20. I mean, the greens are just so
pure, the guys are -- there is a lot of birdies being made out there and with the
conditions like this, you know, if the wind picks up a little bit, the fairways get narrow
because a lot of the fairways are angled to the wind, if the wind blows out the southeast,
I have always felt that is the hardest wind because you hit so many fairways or you drive
so many balls across the wind where the fairway actually sort of reduces its size there.
Like today, we are either hitting them into the wind or straight downwind, the fairways
are pretty generous.
Q. In your stretch of great golf in the early to mid'90's, do you see any similarities
in that and what Tiger has been doing and do you think it will be difficult for him to
sustain it knowing how hard it was to stay up there?
NICK PRICE: For me it was different because I had gone through the better part of 14
years of a career having limited success. I think I had won probably eight or ten times;
maybe a dozen times going into the early '90s. I had been cruising along at a nice level
and then suddenly all hell broke loose for me. The floodgates burst, all of a sudden and I
started winning. So mentally it was very difficult to approach my life from being just
another, you know, sort of journeyman professional and suddenly I am thrust into the
limelight. I had a tough time dealing with that. Because a lot of times there were
requests on my time and if I had to go through it all again, I'd probably do half off the
course of what I did. But I don't think it hurt me in that respect. It just -- I sort of
got into that situation and I didn't feel 100% comfortable. Tiger, on the other hand, he
has played like that from the get-go. So he doesn't know any different. He doesn't know
what it is like out there to finish, you know, to go through four, five years and not win
a tournament. So it is a totally different situation with him. So I don't have any
reservation that he is going to keep going. I think he is just going to get better. At 14
years old, most golfers I have always felt mature when they get to their mid-30s.
Hopefully when he gets to his mid-30s I will be on the SENIOR TOUR because if he gets a
whole lot better it is -- The other thing you have got to remember is that the kids who
are now in high school and just going into college have been watching him and he has moved
the mark up for them. They are hitting the ball harder and further; playing more
aggressively. So another four, five years that batch of kids is going to come out; I am
sure there is going to be some other Tiger Woods in there and some other players who are
just as good. Every time someone sets a mark or a standard, the youngsters are pulled up
to that standard. I think about when I was 15, 16 I was watching Gary play and Jack
Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer and the Weiskopfs and those guys, and you know, I try to
compare my game to their game when I was that age. Youngsters are now comparing their
games to Tiger's game. The coaches out there on the teams, on the university teams they
know how far Tiger hits the ball and they are telling these guys, get out there, do some
weights, do some stretching, some running, hit the ball further. I think that is what we
are going to see. We are just going to see a continuous batch of great young players
coming through hitting the ball along way, great short games, so Tiger will have to
elevate his game another notch. But he has got a jump on everyone right now.
Q. I am not sure there is any evidence to support this, but in light of Darren's win,
could you make the argument that perhaps international players are maybe a little less
intimidated by Tiger or less, I don't know?
NICK PRICE: Big difference -- to me it is like I have watched over the last however
many tournaments he won, and he has won those events, but the guys around him have made a
lot of mistakes and Darren didn't make any mistakes. That is what I have always said, this
game is not about how great your golf is, it is about how good the bottom end of your game
is. Jack Nicklaus was probably the best at not making mistakes under the heat and Darren
didn't make a mistake on Sunday. When he didn't make a mistake, Tiger had to force his
hand and Tiger wasn't playing that well. When you force someone's hand, when they are not
playing well, they are going to make mistakes. So the shoe was a little bit on the other
foot there for Tiger on Sunday. But there is no doubt, I mean, he has got to go out there
and play his best to win and if he doesn't there is three or four guys who are going to be
waiting behind who will, so it is very competitive out here now. The depth of players that
we have that can win tournaments and have won tournaments is substantial. It is just going
to get stronger too.
Q. Why are guys making mistakes, is it because they are with Tiger?
NICK PRICE: Maybe. Maybe. Maybe. A little bit of intimidation. It is very hard playing
with him because the galleries don't really care about what you are doing if you are
playing with him. They are more into what he is doing and you might be left with a
4-footer and he has putted out and they are gone. It can be a little intimidating. I think
you look for the -- the more experienced players can deal with that a little better than
the younger guys, but...
Q. What do you see as the separation level between Tiger and everybody else? In other
words, if Tiger is playing on his game, how many guys do you think can beat him if Tiger
is at the top of his game?
NICK PRICE: Depends on the golf course. It depends how many of the par 5s he can reach.
Q. Let's say Augusta, for argument's sake.
NICK PRICE: I don't think that is really a good analogy because Augusta is a bomber's
golf course. You can stand on the tee and just smoke it, you are hitting medium irons to
those par 5s where someone like myself, I am definitely at a disadvantage to him at
Augusta, but get me on a course like Hilton Head with him and I have got a chance to beat
him. So there is certain courses where if he plays really well it is going to be very
difficult to beat him. But everybody has strengths to their game. Tiger's strength is the
fact that he can drive the ball prodigious distances; got a good short game, but if the
course is a little narrow and he has to aim - anyone of those long hitters; I am not
particularly singling out Tiger, any one of the long hitters out there, if they have the
same target to hit at 280, 290 yards that the guys who have 250, 260, then we have got a
game; then we can play, but a lot of the courses that we play nowadays, the hazards,
bunker, everything are 265 carry. Most of us -- a lot of us out there can't hit it 265
through there. But Tiger and Duval and Mickelson and these guys can. So their playing
field is a lot wider than ours. They are just smoking these drives and hitting 9-irons
into par 4s where we are hitting drivers, 5-irons and 6-irons, very hard to compete
against someone especially when they start tucking the flags in corners, it is not
impossible, but it is harder, so depending on the golf course, anyone is beatable;
everyone is human, but there are courses that he is going to have -- the longer hitters
are going to have a big edge.
Q. There was a time when 10, 15 years ago where really long hitters didn't do a lot of
the other phases of the game well but now the guys you just mentioned, they are up there
in the Top-10 in other categories and everything. Are they that much better; that much
NICK PRICE: The guys -- there is a distinction, you look at the last 20 years of the
PGA TOUR, there is a distinction between the guys who are around their 30s and under who
just drive the ball prodigious distances, then the guys who have been out longer, the ones
who are really long maybe 15, 20 yards shorter than those guys. The reason being, my
opinion, is that the big hitter driver has allowed everybody to hit the ball harder. Now I
remember when I was growing up I couldn't hit the ball -- you couldn't hit the ball hard
with a wooden driver otherwise you'd snaphook it. There were a few guys who hit the ball a
long way with a wooden driver, but in comparison to today, I mean, if you have given
George Baer who was really a long hitter back in the '50s and '60s if you had given him
one of these drivers now he probably wouldn't hit it any further. He'd hit it a lot
straighter, but if you had given him that driver when he was 14, 13 or 14 years old, he
would have swung at it a lot harder than he did because the ball comes off straight off
these drivers. It comes off with a reduced spin and the drivers are very torque resistant.
You can hit it out the tee and the ball still finishes in the fairways. A lot of guys out
here who have played in my generation who were very mediocre drivers of the golf ball who
have been good because of the big hitter club. You go stand on the practice tee, I don't
want to sound like an old fossil here, and I can remember nobody ever had a four-knuckle
grip with a wooden driver. Only reason was because when you got under severe pressure you
would snaphook the ball. Look at how many of those kids have a four-knuckle grip. You
can't, you snap hook the ball with those drivers. It is very difficult too. What has
happened, guys are hitting the ball straighter, further off the tee and they are making a
lot of the old golf courses defunct. They are. There are some courses out there that
unless they start putting bunkers, like I say, you got to have bunkers all the way down
the right side; all the way down the left, so the longer hitters have the same amount of
fairway to hit to or to aim to as the medium hitters. Until we do that, these longer guys
that hit the ball a long way are going to dominate the game.
Q. What is the name of your club?
NICK PRICE: They are just chipshot.com irons. They are NP 57 model.
Q. What are you using for woods?
NICK PRICE: Bridgestone driver I have had for about two years. My Dunlop 3-wood I have
had that for -- started off Leadbetter in about 1989, I think.
Q. If you didn't win again on this Tour would you be completely satisfied with your
career or --
NICK PRICE: No.
Q. -- would you felt like you left golf out there?
NICK PRICE: I think I have a chance -- I have a chance to probably win another two,
three more majors at least. We kind of get -- I suppose when you get in your 40s - I don't
want to speak for the other guys - but for me, I get a little more up for the majors than
I do for normal Tour events. It is not to belittle the other events, but the major
championships are what it is all about for me. I think when you look back and you saw Jack
won The Masters at 46, that was a huge effort. That just shows you how much harder he is
trying in the major championships. I have, anyway for the last three, had years just done
my whole schedule around the majors.
Q. What did he shoot, by the way, today?
NICK PRICE: 6-under par.
End of FastScripts